Deep dish pizza

When I make pizza, I tend to be that person that puts a ridiculous amount of sauce, cheese, vegetables, etc, on top, and then suddenly my pizza is way too loaded with everything.

Not that I mind horribly.

But, I thought it’d be fun to make a deep dish pizza for once, where I can literally fill the crust with all my favorite toppings & have no limit!

It was a good life choice. Mmm. Still happy about this one.

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Deep dish pizza
Homemade pizza crust
2 small cans tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced onion
1/2 tsp black pepper
Other toppings – black olives, mushrooms, spinach
Mozzarella cheese (optional)

  1. Make pizza crust & set aside to rise.
  2. Saute vegetables with a little olive oil and italian seasoning.
  3. Mix together all remaining ingredients except cheese.
  4. Press pizza crust into 13×9 inch pan. Bake crust for 5 minutes at 450 F.
  5. Pour tomato/topping mixture into crust. Sprinkle cheese on top if desired. Bake another 15-25 minutes.
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Stuffed tomatoes with quinoa & mushrooms

When I was in France, my host mom made this wonderful dish with baked tomatoes. I just loved the texture of tomatoes cooked in the oven like this, so of course I had to find a healthier, veggie version of this dish. =)

The last time I went shopping, I realized quinoa was slightly cheaper if I bought it in bulk as opposed to a box, so I filled up a bag… and bought $14 worth of quinoa. I clearly have no concept of how much quinoa I actually need. But it’s not going to go bad anytime soon so I’m not too concerned. This just means there’s going to be a lot of quinoa dishes coming up! Tehee.

I also was really excited to make this recipe because it was an excuse to use up some of my herbs I’ve been growing! I’ve never grown anything myself before, but I’ve always loved the idea of a small herb garden. Despite my black thumb, they’ve been growing okay and I was pretty pumped to try some fresh herbs! They were quite yummy indeed. Of course, you can use dried parsley in this recipe, but the flavor of fresh herbs really is a special treat. =)

Enjoy this simple but yummy dish!

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Stuffed tomatoes with quinoa & mushrooms (adapted from Honey & Milk)
6 medium tomatoes
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp dried minced onion
3/4 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (or 2 tsp dried parsley)
Pepper & salt to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and set aside.
  3. Remove the insides of the tomatoes with a spoon and toss insides in food processor. Arrange the hollowed tomatoes in a 13×9 baking dish, sprayed lightly with olive oil.
  4. Blend tomato insides until smooth.
  5. Heat garlic in a pan with a little olive oil, just until fragrant (30 seconds). Add in mushrooms and cook until most of the liquid is gone.
  6. Add in all remaining ingredients, including water, tomato puree, and dried spices. Cook until much of the liquid is gone. If the quinoa is not yet fluffy, add more water & cook until it is a fluffy, light texture.
  7. Stir in fresh chopped parsley. Fill tomatoes with tomato puree/quinoa/mushroom mixture. Place tomato tops on stuffed tomatoes. Spray lightly with more olive oil.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until tomatoes are very wrinkled and soft.

Vegan southwest bake

So, my mom used to make this wonderful southwestern egg bake, and it was one of my favorite dishes. It had eggs, it had cheese, it had sausage, it was nowhere close to vegan. But I decided to mess with this dish dramatically and make something that fits my current diet but tastes just a bit like mom’s cooking. 🙂

Basically, I used the same idea behind the tofu quiche to make this recipe vegan. And while I could have just replaced the sausage with vegan sausage, I prefer using whole vegetables instead of meat substitutes. They are cheaper & better for you, so I changed the entire dish up with a load of veggies!

Warning: I really love the spice in this dish so I went a bit overboard. If intense spices are not your thing, you might want to cut the amount of certain spices down a bit! 😉

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Vegan southwest bake
6 flour tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips
16 oz mushrooms
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 red bell peppers
2 cups spinach
1 can black beans (15 oz)

2 packages extra firm tofu
1/8 tsp black salt
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/8 cup milk of choice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
Pepper to taste
Miso to taste

5 roma tomatoes
3 green onions

  1. Cook mushrooms with soy sauce until most of their water is gone. Add in other veggies and seasonings.
  2. In a greased 13×9. baking dish, layer half of the tortilla strips with the veggies on top. Repeat layers.
  3. Blend tofu with black salt, nutritional yeast, milk as needed, and remaining seasonings.
  4. Pour tofu mixture over contents of baking dish.
  5. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 30-50 minutes.
  6. Arrange tomato slices over the top. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  7. Sprinkle green onions on the top & serve!

Mashed cauliflower bowl

Have you ever had those mashed potato bowls from KFC?

They’re absolutely awful for you, I’m sure. But pretty delicious right?

I decided if KFC can put things on mashed potatoes & call it dinner, then I can too! Only, of course, I healthified it up and added my favorite ingredients. So, it tastes nothing like the KFC version, but it tastes yummy, so I’m fine with it.

And yes, one of those healthy ingredients was cauliflower. Essentially, this is a bowl of mashed veggies (aka cauliflower) with more veggies on top! Which is pretty darn healthy & quite delicious.

Mashed cauliflower doesn’t taste exactly liked mashed potatoes, but I think it’s pretty yummy too & a great substitution for a lighter meal.

Hope you like it as much as I did!

cauliflower bowl

Mashed cauliflower bowl (adapted from Fat Free Vegan)
2 bags of frozen cauliflower (1 lb each)
1/2 cup milk of choice
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp vegetarian broth mix
4 tsp cornstarch mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 tbsp butter of choice

2 cups spinach
3 Roma tomatoes, diced

  1. Steam cauliflower on stove for 8 minutes or until soft (cook in a covered pot with a thin layer of water on the bottom). Drain in a colander on the stove when finished.
  2. Combine milk, water, seasonings, & broth mix in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to boil, add the cornstarch/water mix and stir until everything has thickened. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in another pan on the stove, saute tomatoes until softened and most water is gone. Add in spinach and cook just until wilted.
  4. Press any remaining water out of the cauliflower. Blend in a food processor until smooth. Add in sauce mixture from stove along with butter and blend all until well combined. Top with cooked tomatoes & spinach.

Mushroom gravy (adapted from Oh My Veggies)
Olive oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp thyme
8 oz mushrooms
3 cups prepared vegetable broth
1 1/2 tbsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp butter of choice
1/8 tsp black pepper

  1. Saute mushrooms in a medium pan with olive oil, onion powder, and thyme for several minutes, or until all liquid is gone.
  2. Pour in broth and bring to a boil for 15 minutes (or until gravy has reduced significantly).
  3. Add flour/water mixture to gravy mixture on stove. Turn heat down to low and simmer until slightly thickened (2 minutes or so).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in butter & black pepper. Pour over mashed cauliflower bowl.

Simple pasta shells

Though I love experimenting with crazy new vegan ideas, sometimes this causes problems for me.

For example, my attempt to make vegan mayo a few days ago turned out very scary. But then I fed it to my dog, and he liked it!

Sometimes my friends aren’t quite willing to try the crazy concoctions I come up with. My boyfriend has been teasing me for awhile now that I put cauliflower in everything… which is only slightly true. 😉 But seriously, I think cauliflower is amazing. (Stay tuned for a new cauliflower recipe soon!)

Anyway, I thought it was about time I made something that was naturally vegan. Making crazy items taste like alfredo or creamy soup is certainly fun, but I think it’s time I get back to the basics. Time to make some dishes that don’t need cream or creamy substitutes to be delicious. Dishes that don’t even need cheese!

I created this recipe because strangely enough, I couldn’t find any stuffed pasta shell recipe that didn’t involve cheese or a cheese wanna-be! Why can’t you stuff pasta shells with other things?? Well, I decided you can!

I present to you, simple veggie stuffed pasta shells. Enjoy!

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Simple pasta shells
1 box large pasta shells
8 oz mushrooms
3 cups spinach
2 small cans of tomato paste
1 medium can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Bring water to boil in a pot on stove and cook noodles for 8 minutes (al dente). Drain in sink when done.
  3. Meanwhile, pour 2 cans of tomato paste in a large bowl. Slowly add water and whisk until desired consistency.
  4. Add diced tomatoes and all seasonings to tomato paste/water mixture. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  5. Dice spinach and mushrooms. Add mushrooms to a large pan on the stove. Sprinkle some italian seasoning on them. Cook over low until most of the water has gone. Then add chopped spinach to pan and saute just until wilted.
  6. Pour a small amount of the tomato sauce in a 13×9 in pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Take the cooked noodles & stuff them with the spinach/mushroom mixture. Set these in the pan (you will probably need more than one pan).
  7. Once you have stuffed all the noodles, pour a generous heaping of the remaining tomato sauce over the top.
  8. Cook uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes, or just until desired temperature has been reached.

Egg-less quiche

Wow, it has been awhile since I’ve posted on here! This is due in part to Christmas break with the boyfriend’s family, leftovers from my parents, and an amazing study abroad trip to Tanzania.

But, it’s time to get back to the cooking after all. =)

Quiche has always been something I enjoyed greatly, so I thought it would be wonderful to make a vegan version! I also finally bought a tofu press and I’ve been itching to try it out. So far, I’ve been having mixed results. I’ll keep you updated on my tofu adventures!

There’s a lot of recipes for quiche with crusts out there, but I personally don’t love crusts on my quiche. I feel like crusts are just a way of holding the good stuff together. And given that this quiche holds together well enough, I chose to skip the quiche. Plus, I eat enough carbs in other foods, makes sense to take out the unnecessary ones!

Kala namak (also known as black salt) is a great spice that adds just a touch of egg flavor to dishes. It’s not absolutely necessary in this quiche if you can’t find it, but I would recommend it. Turmeric is also optional- it doesn’t change the flavor at all but adds a pleasant yellow tint to the quiche.

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Egg-less quiche 
2 packages of extra firm tofu
1/4 cup milk of choice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp kala namak (or substitute table salt)
1/4 tsp black pepper
Vegetables of choice (spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms)

  1. Press tofu until most of the liquid has been drained.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Meanwhile, saute vegetables until tender. Set aside in a bowl.
  4. Once tofu is ready, break into chunks and add to food processor, along with milk and all seasonings. Blend for several minutes or until creamy.
  5. Add blended tofu to bowl with vegetables and stir gently to combine.
  6. Lightly grease a pan with olive oil. Pour in vegetable/tofu mixture and smooth over top.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Spinach walnut pesto pizza

Remember awhile back when I posted a recipe for my perfect pizza crust? I lied. I found a new recipe that I very much prefer. My favorite type of crust is thin crust, but I haven’t been able to find a great recipe. They all turn out medium in size, which is okay, but not exactly what I’ve been craving.

Enter, a recipe for pizza crust without yeast! Of course! Yeast makes the dough rise higher, so if you don’t add yeast, the dough will be much thinner! I’m sure there are serious pizza crust makers out there who are very upset with me for suggesting that you don’t need yeast, but I think this pizza crust was way more delicious than my usual. Feel free to experiment yourself depending on whether you like thinner or thicker crusts.

In terms of the spinach walnut pesto, I created it for several reasons – I’m not a huge fan of basil, I am trying to be a bit more vegan and leave out the parmesan, and pine nuts are far too expensive for my tastes.

This line of thinking is what led me to spinach walnut pesto! It turned out delicious and pretty beautiful too.

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Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Spinach walnut pesto (adapted from SparkRecipes)
4 cups spinach
3/4 cup walnuts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

  1. Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth.

Perfect thin pizza crust (adapted from Vegan Sandra)
2 cups flour of choice (I used half whole wheat & half white)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold water

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Mix all ingredients except water in a large bowl. Slowly add the water until dough is just slightly sticky.
  3. Flour countertop, hands, and dough and knead for a few minutes to make sure all ingredients are mixed well.
  4. Spread out dough and top as desired (e.g. with pesto and sauteed veggies).
  5. Cook in oven for 8-12 minutes.