About 2 weeks ago my husband and I decided to go to the Humane Society to check out the available dogs.  We've done this several times before but we never came home with anything.  Well, this gal really stole our hearts!  We instantly knew that she was going to be the perfect fit for us!  Weighing in at 86 lbs. is our newest member of our family and her name is Lucky!  She is an English Setter and Chow Chow Mix.  Despite her size, she does believe that she's a lap dog but we're loving every bit of it!  She is about 4 & 1/2 years old. 

I've wanted a dog ever since I moved out of my parent's house and my husband never had a dog but he knows that my family are huge dog lovers!  He was hesitant at the idea but then it really started to grow on him.  In our last apartment that we lived in we could've had a dog but we chose not to.  The apartment wasn't big enough and neither was the yard.  We thought that it would be unfair.  So, we decided to wait until the time was right so that we could give our future dog everything that they would need and want.  Well, now that we're moved into our first house, we have a large yard, and I'm moving along quite well in my knee recovery, we felt in our hearts that the time was right.  We just had to find that special dog.

When we came into the Humane Society our attention immediately went to this beauty!  She was shaking and scared but she showed quite a bit of interest in us.  When we started to walk away to check out the other dogs Lucky stood up and barked at us one time.  It was as if she was saying, "Hey, where are you going?  I want to go home with you!"  So we decided to meet her and when we walked into her room we formed this instant bond!  She couldn't stop licking our faces and she was so excited to see us!  So, we took her home!
So far, Lucky has been doing great and the cats really seem to love her.  Hope has grown up with dogs so she didn't take long to warm up.  Hope especially loves getting doggy kisses...it just melts my heart!  Hiro took a little bit longer but each day they get closer.  I think he was just intimidated by her large size and he thought she was going to eat him when she was only trying to sniff him!  They figured each other out though!

Here are all three of them passed out last night!  We couldn't be any happier!  She's such a great dog, a quick learner, a huge lover, a bed and couch hog, and she gives the best hugs!  We plan on doing some classes with Lucky to work on socialization and basic obedience through positive reinforcement.  I have a feeling that she may be the star of her class!  A huge Thank You to the Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee...we've found the perfect dog!

I love a good tomato soup!  Heck, I love soups!  I love taking them for lunch because it's so quick and easy to throw into a container and go out the door!  Tomato soup has a special place in my heart though!  It brings back some great childhood memories!  This tomato soup is loaded with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, and it's packed full of flavor!  The pasta in this soup helps not only to thicken it but also to fill you up!  I must warn you, this soup is addicting!  I adapted this recipe to be vegan.  The original recipe is from Cooking Light and I was making it for years!  After I went vegan, I noticed that this recipe can easily be adapted!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


2 tbs. Earth Balance Butter (you can use the sticks or the spread)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup chopped celery
1 & 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 tsp. dried basil or 2 tsp. fresh basil
1/4 tsp. black pepper
28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (Do Not Drain)
1 cup uncooked small pasta (you can use stars, alphabets or mini rings)
1 cup unsweetened plain soy milk

How To:

Cook the pasta according to package instructions.  While you are preparing the noodles you can start your prep for your veggies. 
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until tender.  Add the broth, basil, pepper, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the cooked pasta and remove from heat.
In a food processor or blender add half of the mixture and blend until smooth.  Place in a large bowl and repeat the process for the other half.  Add the mixture back to the saucepan and stir in the soy milk and the remaining pasta.  Cook on medium-high heat until heated all the way through (about 2 minutes).
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This recipe gets 5 stars from me!  I couldn't believe the amount of flavor that came from this dish!  I thought that they would possibly end up a little bland but much to my surprise they did not!  I loved how this recipe had a different twist.  I've had stuffed peppers but I've never had stuffed tomatoes!  I actually think that I like these a little bit more than stuffed peppers too!  I found this recipe on Pinterest and it from Kristina at the Design Sponge blog.  If you're looking for a great recipe to mix things up I think this one is perfect!  Plus, tomatoes are at their peak right now so it's the perfect time to put those tomatoes from the garden to good use!

What I Did Differently:

I actually didn't change a thing!

Overall Thoughts:

I will be making this recipe again!  I absolutely love tomatoes and I think this recipe is fantastic!  I couldn't stop eating them!
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This recipe gets 5 MAJOR stars from both my husband and I.  Not only is this recipe really easy to cook up, it also tastes amazingly delicious!  I say "amazingly" because the ingredients are so simple but yet they create this mouthwatering, flavorful dish!  I found this recipe on Pinterest from Christine at the Hippy Homemaker blog.  Christine found this recipe on the Chloe's Kitchen blog but I couldn't locate the original recipe on the website.  However, I'm VERY grateful to have found it on Christine's blog because this is by far one of my most favorite lasagnas!  I was hesitant on cooking up a vegan lasagna because I was afraid that it wouldn't be the same as the non-vegan lasagnas but this recipe really blew my husband and me away.  This recipe will definitely go on my favorites list!

What I Did Differently:

The only thing that I did differently was that I grated some Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese on top.  I used the block cheese because that's what I had on hand. 

Overall Thoughts:

We are actually making this again because it was so great!  The leftovers are perfect for lunch during the work week too!  This will be my go to recipe for lasagna.  My husband said that I shouldn't change a thing!
This soup is one of my all-time favorites!  It's savory, creamy, filling, it's easy to make, and it's packed full of vitamins and nutrients.  I love a good hearty soup on cooler weather days and lately it's been feeling more like fall in Wisconsin.  I always make up a huge pot of this because it's so darn delicious!  My husband and I usually make one dinner out it and then we take the leftovers for lunch for the rest of the week.  This soup is so hearty that it can stand as a meal all on its own!  This soup also freezes well!


1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup hot water
3 tbs. sesame oil
24 oz. of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
8 cups mushroom broth
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
2 cups water
11 oz. package quick barley
3-4 cups fresh kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
6 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tbs. minced fresh thyme
1 tbs. dried dill
1 tsp. pepper

How To:

Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and pour one cup of boiling water over the mushrooms and submerge them completely (I used a glass 2 cup measuring cup and placed a small bowl on top of the mushrooms to submerge them).  Set aside and let soak for at least 10 minutes. 

In a large stock pot over medium heat, add the sesame oil, baby bella mushrooms, onion, carrots, and celery.  Cover and cook until the mushrooms & onions are tender.

Meanwhile, remove the shiitake mushrooms and reserve the water.  Slice the shiitake mushrooms and add them to the pot of veggies along with the garlic and sauté for two minutes.

Add the reserved water from the shiitake mushrooms along with the rest of the ingredients.  Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the barley puffs up and is tender.  The barley will puff up before 30 minutes but I like to let the soup cook a little longer to allow the flavors to develop more.
So Sunday afternoon my husband and I got back from grocery shopping and we were a bit hungry. I wanted to make something quick and I had a huge juicy tomato calling my name!  So, I decided to make a sandwich but I wanted to make something that was a bit more fancy...something that you would expect at a little café or casual restaurant.  My husband has always liked the Tomato & Mozzarella Panini from Starbuck's.  I wanted to do something similar to this but with a bit of a twist and make it vegan, of course!  So, I set out to make one heck of a Tomato Basil Café Sandwich!  I think this was a huge success because my husband was saying the other night that he wanted me to make more of these sandwiches!  This recipe makes 2.


2 Vegan French Baquette rolls (I found mine at the local grocery store, Pick N' Save)
Olive oil
4 large tomato slices
1/3 chopped basil
4 slices of Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella
2 tbs. Veganaise
Salt & pepper to taste

How To:

Turn on the broiler.  Slice the rolls in half length-wise without cutting all the way through the other end (like a hot dog bun).  Place the rolls on a cookie sheet.  Brush the inside of the rolls with olive oil or use an olive oil pump sprayer to coat (I used the sprayer so I'm not sure how much you would use if you brush the inside but the goal is to get a light coating of oil).  Place 2 tomato slices on the bottom half of each bun & place a slice of mozzarella on each tomato slice.

In a small bowl combine the basil with enough olive oil to make a sauce (about 2 tbs.).  Evenly divide the sauce and drizzle on top of the tomatoes & mozzarella.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Place under the broiler and cook until cheese is bubbly and melted (about 5 minutes).  Remove from the oven.  Now that the cheese is soft you can spread it a bit more on
the tomatoes if you like !  Spread the top half of each bun with a tablespoon of veganaise.  Enjoy!
Are you in need of an enjoyable quick and healthy breakfast during your crazy work week?  My husband and I were so I baked up some of these bad boys!  These muffins were incredibly moist, fulfilling, and absolutely delicious!  I usually eat one of these with a banana in the morning and I'm out the door.  These are really easy to make and they keep fresh all week long!  Try out this recipe to get out of your breakfast rut!  I've got a recipe using oat bran in the works and I'm also working on a recipe that omits the oil.  I'll keep you updated!


1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tbs. apple cider vinegar
4 tsp. Ener G Egg Replacer*
4 tbs. warm water*
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 bananas, pureed
1 cup unprocessed wheat bran*
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

How To:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a muffin pan or use baking cups.  I like to use the unbleached baking cups.

In a small bowl combine the milk & vinegar with a whisk and set aside.  The milk will thicken a bit.  This creates a buttermilk alternative.

In a large bowl whisk together the egg replacer and water until well mixed.  Add the brown sugar and whisk until well blended.  Add the pureed bananas, wheat bran, vanilla, oil, and milk.  Whisk together until well blended.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula until well blended.

Evenly spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and sprinkle with the walnuts.  Lightly press the walnuts in.  Bake on the middle rack for 20 minutes or until the muffins spring back after lightly touching.  Let cool completely and then store in covered container.  I use my 13" X 9" baking dish because it has a cover and these fit in it perfectly!

*You can use a different egg replacer if you'd like.  Just make enough for 2 eggs.

*I found this in the bulk bins at Outpost.  Don't use wheat bran cereal!
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I won't lie...I've been missing a Caesar Salad ever since I went vegan.  I used to make the BEST Caesar Salads from scratch but they always contained animal products like egg yolk, anchovy paste, non-vegan Worcestershire (contains anchovies), and parmesan cheese.  I was baffled on how to recreate the dressing and make it taste the same until I came across this recipe on Pinterest!  This recipe is from Steph at the Whole Food Lab blog.  This recipe is a 5 star winner!  I was so impressed with how it tasted almost exactly like the Caesar Salad dressing that I used to make!  I did some add ins to make it more similar and I think it turned out perfectly!  I served up a big plate of this with some leftover Fettuccini Alfredo.  This salad was perfect!  Usually I make homemade croutons but I've just been so busy this last week with an irregular working schedule so I opted to get some vegan sesame salad nuggets.  I think next time I'll make my own croutons though!  Either way, this salad really satisfied my cravings!

What I Did Differently:

I thought this recipe was missing 2 ingredients...nutritional yeast & pepper.  I added in a heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast to simulate the taste of parmesan cheese and to give a vitamin B-12 kick.  I tossed the romaine lettuce with the dressing and then I added a lot of fresh cracked pepper on top and then tossed it in.  It turned out perfect!

Overall Thoughts:

I thought this recipe was a really interesting combination of ingredients!  I would have never thought of putting all these together for a Caesar Salad Dressing!  What a genius Steph is!  This will be my go to recipe for Caesar Salad from now on!  Thank you Steph!
It had been a little cold over this last weekend and it was tricking me into thinking that Fall was just around the corner.  I really started to crave some comfort food but I wanted to stick with something that was simple, vegan, healthy, and contained a good amount of vegetables.  Suddenly, I started thinking into my childhood of some great comfort dishes that my Mom used to make.  I started to ponder on stuffed peppers and I quickly thought of a great and easy idea to make them vegan and to replace the meat with whole ingredients; skipping the fake meats.  The answer...tempeh!  I've discovered a new love for tempeh and it works very well in this dish!  My husband, the omnivore, was really impressed with this dish.  This dish will easily satisfy the non-vegans!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  The recipe below serves 4.


4 bell peppers (any color but I think red & green are best)
1 & 1/2 cups uncooked instant whole grain brown rice (you can use regular brown rice but I did instant to get it done faster)
8 oz. package of tempeh
1/2 of a small sweet onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
Veggie broth for sautéing (about 1/4 cup give or take) or you can use 1 tbs. oil
15 oz. can organic tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbs. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
Follow your Heart Vegan Gourmet mozzarella cheese (the block kind) 

How To:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cook rice according to the ratios and instructions per package.  My box of instant rice was a ratio of 1 cup rice per 1 cup water for 2 servings so I used 1 & 1/2 cups rice and 1 & 1/2 cups water and it turned out perfect.  I just followed the cooking instructions on the box.  I used the Minute rice brand.  When done cooking, set aside.

In a large pot, fill with enough water to cover the peppers and bring it to a boil.  Cut the tops off of the peppers trying not to waste a lot.  This is how I like to cut mine.
I like to cut just the top off and then I take the knife and separate and take out what is left in the middle.  I then slice a little off of the bottom to make it sit evenely. 

When the water comes to boil, add the peppers and cover to cook for 2 minutes.  Drain the peppers and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, crumble in the tempeh, add the onions
& garlic, and add enough veggie broth to sauté.  Cook over medium heat until the onions are tender.  Add the jalapeno and cook until tender (about 3-5 minutes).  Be sure to add more veggie broth if the mixture begins to become really dry. 
Reserve 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce.  Add the remaining sauce, brown rice, black pepper, parsley & thyme, and cook until heated through.

Stuff the peppers generously with the mixture.  Place in a baking dish or a dutch oven.  Top with remaining tomato sauce and grate the cheese on top. 
Bake covered for 30 minutes.  If using a baking dish, you can cover it with aluminum foil.  Enjoy!
This sauce is so awesome!  I never really cared for the real alfredo sauce because of the weird aftertaste.  However, this sauce doesn't have that and it tastes absolutely amazing!  I just love using cauliflower in creamy dishes because you would never be able to tell!  I adapted this recipe for the sauce from Lindsay at the Pinch Of Yum blog.  To make this recipe vegan I used unsweetened soy milk and Earth Balance butter in place of the regular milk and butter.  I also added about 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to give it a bit of a parmesan flavor without being overpowering.  I topped it off with some baby bella mushrooms and fresh steamed broccoli to make it even more delicious!  So here's the veganized version of fettuccini alfredo!


1 lb. fettuccini noodles, cooked
2 tbs. Earth Balance butter
8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
6 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 & 1/2 whole cauliflowers)
6-7 cups of veggie broth or water (I used veggie broth)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated pepper
2 tbs. nutritional yeast
8 oz. package of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
12 oz. package of frozen broccoli, steamed

How To:

Cook the fettuccini according the package instructions.
In a large pot bring the broth or water to a boil.  Add the cauliflower and cover; cooking until tender (about 6-7 minutes).  Do not drain.

While the cauliflower is cooking melt the butter over low heat in a small skillet and add the garlic.  Cook until the garlic is softened making sure not to brown the garlic.  Set aside.

Transfer the cauliflower with a slotted spoon to a large food processor.  Add one cup of the remaining vegetable broth or water, the sautéed garlic & butter, salt, pepper, milk, nutritional yeast, and olive oil.  Blend until smooth and add more milk or veggie broth/water until you have reached your desired consistency.

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms in some veggie broth.  Cover for the first few minutes until mostly tender and then remove the cover to cook off the excess liquid.

Steam the broccoli according to package instructions.

Place the noodles in a large bowl and top with the sauce, mushrooms and steamed broccoli.  Enjoy!