Fo Reals Life

March 31, 2014 March 31, 2014/ Morgan

Ever get a craving that you just can’t shake? (Story of my life!) I wanted some yummy Sloppy Joe’s that tasted like the stuff I grew up with – the stuff, yes friends, in a can! Of course I wasn’t going to just grab a can of that stuff and go so I had to make my own. It was silly easy, delicious and I must say the very dang best vegan Sloppy Joes i’ve ever had! 

I call them Sloppy Mo’s because, well, 1.) my name is Morgan and 2.) I also go by “mom” a lot. A LOT. I’m thinking about changing my name. And not telling my child what my new name is! Hahah! Just kidding of course. 

But really, if you miss that beefy delicious mess on a bun you have got to try this out. The Mr. even requested that I make it again for him to have while I’m out of town! Since it’s so incredibly easy to make I just had to oblige. 

6-8 servings 

  • 1 (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar (malt or rice vinegar work great!)
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb (16 oz) crumbled tempeh
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Blend the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, sugar, molasses, yellow mustard, garlic and vinegar together until totally smooth and set aside (I used my Blendtec but you could totally use an immersion blender!) 

Cook the chopped onion, pepper and tempeh in a nonstick pan over medium high heat until the onions are translucent and the tempeh is slightly browned. Add a bit of water as necessary to prevent sticking. 

Pour in the sauce and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook until it becomes thick and delicious! 

March 31, 2014/ Morgan/ March 25, 2014 March 25, 2014/ Morgan

Need a big bowl of awesome today? You’ve got to try this! If you’re a fan of Pho (“fu”) you will no doubt be excited to dive in to a bowl as soon as you can. NOW, just a little caveat: I do not claim that this is authentic in any way. There, now that’s out of the way let’s focus on making (but mostly EATING) a delicious veggie and tofu noodle soup!!

This pho starts with a very fragrant broth and then you add in tons of different fixin’s! It’s a great soup for a group of people that all like things a little different. You can make your own bowl extra spicy, extra brothy, with more Baked Ginger Tofu, tons of cilantro, or however you desire! I like lots and lots of herbs, lime juice and chili garlic paste – yummmy!!

Oh and with tons of the Baked Ginger Tofu. It is, by far, my favorite baked tofu recipe to date! 

Vegan pho is a much lighter soup than a traditional meat pho but I really prefer it like this! (Lighter just means that I don’t feel so heavy and gross after eating a huge bowl.) 

Oh and I had to throw in a picture below of what it looks like once you start devouring it. It’s still gorgeous and tempting once you stir everything together. 

  • 4 large shallots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 large thumb size pieces of ginger, cut in half lengthwise
  • 6 carrots, roughly cut into chunks
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, tops and bottoms trimmed off and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns 
  • 10 cups of water
  • reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce to taste (I used a bit more than 1/4 cup. You may want more or less.) 
  • juice of 2 small limes

Preheat your broiler and place the shallots and ginger, cut side up on a baking sheet. Cook until they are charred and blackened in spots along the top. 

Throw the shallots, ginger and everything else into a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 90 minutes (You can also do this in your pressure cooker the same as you would make any broth.) Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard the stuff left in the strainer. 

You can make this broth ahead of time and refrigerate it or freeze it if you like. We freeze soup broths in large wide mouth mason jars (leave around an inch of headspace to prevent breaking your jars!) 

Baked Ginger Tofu

This is my FAVORITE baked tofu recipe ever. I could eat it every day. It is super delicious in this soup!

After you have pressed your tofu and sliced it up place it in a zip top bag. Add in all of the remaining ingredients, close the bag and press all of the air out. Let the tofu marinate in the bag for half an hour or longer. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat. Place the tofu on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. 

Bake for 20 minutes and then take out and flip. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned. 

Vegan Pho Soup

  • Vegan Pho Broth (recipe above!) 
  • 3/4-1 lb wide rice noodles
  • lime wedges
  • mung bean sprouts
  • reduced sodium tamari
  • sriracha or chili garlic paste
  • minced jalapenos or serrano peppers
  • baby bok choi or sliced cabbage, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds
  • cilantro
  • basil (thai basil if you can find it!) 
  • mint
  • shredded carrots
  • sliced green onions
  • thinly sliced red onion or shallots
  • sliced Baked Ginger Tofu (recipe above!) 

I’m not kidding when I say that the herbs (cilantro, basil and mint) are NOT optional! Neither is the lime juice. Those just make this soup what it is. Beyond that, feel free to use what you like and leave out what you don’t. Adding every one of these things will result in a super amazing soup that is very refreshing and satisfying! 

Boil the noodles in water until they are cooked according to the package directions. Drain them and add them to each bowl. Ladle some soup broth on top. 

I like to set up the table with all of the fixings laid out so that everyone can add what they want in the amounts that they want.

This soup has all of the qualities and ingredients to balance out a great mix of salty, sweet, sour and spicy so add extra tamari, lime juice and hot sauce as needed! 

March 25, 2014/ Morgan/ March 12, 2014 March 12, 2014/ Morgan

But really, who didn’t eat grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup growing up?! It’s a classic kid dish. I want my daughter to get to eat it too – of course in a healthier version without a bunch of processed stuff (like Daiya – blech!!!) and without any animal products. I think we will be eating these two recipes for a long long time. 

Now, just a fair warning – this is totally a vegan Velveeta-like American cheese sandwich, not an artisanal aged cheddar-like cheese sandwich. I grew up with the processed cheese slice grilled cheese sandwiches and I freaking LOVED IT. Loved it. It’s simple, delicious and satisfying! It’s a huge kid with my kid!! She says “Don’t forget the pickles!!” 

Now are you ready to dig in to a childhood classic?!  Got any others you’d like me to remake??? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best!! 

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • 12oz  (about 1 cup) silken tofu (such as Mori-nu Soft Silken Tofu)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons miso paste (white, “mellow” or red work!)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice 
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional, for color!) 
  • 3 Tablespoons tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour. If you cannot find it you can use rice flour or cornstarch but it won’t have the same texture so try to find tapioca starch sometime!)
  • bread! As much as you need. This makes a lot of sauce so you can make many grilled cheese sandwiches!

Blend everything together until it is very smooth. I use my immersion blender for this! Heat the sauce in a small saucepan over high heat until it comes to a boil. Make sure you stir constantly while making this sauce so it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom. Continue to stir while boiling until the sauce becomes thick. Remove from the heat.  

Heat up your pan (I used my shiny new cast iron grill pan that I am totally in love with!!) for you sandwiches. Spread a bunch of cheese sauce over one slice of bread and slap the other piece on. Grill them on a dry pan until browned on each side (really, there is no need for butters, oils, or anything else – it gets lovely toasty in a dry pan!!) Serve up with your tomato soup – which, by the way, you may want to start before you start making sandwiches! 

Tomato Soup:

  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of tomatoes (either whole or chopped)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or stevia to taste)
  • salt to taste (for reference, I used about 1/2 teaspoon. How much you use will depend on how salty your broth is and how salty you like soup!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

Saute your onions in a nonstick pot with a tablespoon or so of water over medium high heat. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. 

Stir in the vegetable broth, tomato paste, canned tomatoes and sugar. Bring up to a boil and then put on the lid. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes. 

Take the pan off the heat and blend the soup. Again, I use an immersion blender for this. It’s PERFECT for blending up soups right in the pot! You can also use a regular blender though you may have to blend in batches. 

Once blended stir in the soy milk and add salt to taste. 

If you need to reheat some later make sure you reheat gently. 


March 12, 2014/ Morgan/ March 06, 2014 March 06, 2014/ Morgan

Growing up I loved getting to eat out. My parents usually took us to Mexican restaurants (or Tex-Mex places really.) There was one that we went to in the town I grew up in where we even got to eat lunch seated right next to the 42nd President’s mother – which was a big deal when you were 6 years old. (Can you guess where I grew up?!)  

I always wanted either a bean burrito or cheese enchiladas. With lots of beans on the side. And cheese dip. 

Things have changed a lot but at the same time things haven’t changed at all. I still want to eat plates of cheese enchiladas with beans on the side but somehow I thought that wouldn’t really be delicious anymore since we are vegan. 

Wrong. WRONGIDTY WRONG WRONG WRONG!!! Let me sing it to you.. “wrrrrrrooooonnnnggg!” 

There were the most yummylicious enchiladas I’ve had in a long long time. It made me feel like standing on the table and singing. Or maybe like sitting on the floor under the table coloring like I did when I was younger. Either way, it made me feel joyous. 

So now, even though I really don’t do “regulars” at dinner time I am going to have to make an exception for this one. It’s easy, delicious and one of those foods that makes me feel like I’m a kid with no worries again. (This and potato soup!) 

Oh and don’t forget the chips, margaritas and side of beans! Yuuummm!!

  • 1 batch Vegan American Cheese & Ro*tel Dip 
  • 1 package corn tortillas (10-12 count)
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste (should contain only tomatoes!)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons salt free chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons rice flour (or cornstarch) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cilantro and sliced green onions to garnish (also consider some sliced black olives or avocado – yum!) 

Preheat your oven to 375. 

First make the Vegan American Cheese & Ro*tel Dip. Try not to eat too much while you’re getting the rest of the stuff for the enchiladas ready!

Now to make the enchilada sauce – Blend the tomato paste, water, rice flour, spices and salt together in a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling turn it down to low and let it simmer until it has thickened. Whisk it regularly while it is simmering to prevent any burning. You may want to add a bit more salt to taste at this point. 

Get out a large casserole dish (I usually use a 9×13 glass casserole dish for enchiladas.) I press a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan first to prevent major sticking. Then spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan or the parchment paper. 

Warm up your corn tortillas so that they are pliable enough to roll. I like to wrap mine in a lightly dampened paper towel and microwave. The paper towel keeps them moist so that they are less likely to break. (But really, don’t worry too much if they crack a little. You are going to cover them in sauce. Then you’re going to eat them. It doesn’t matter that much.) 

Now take a warm corn tortilla, spread some of the Vegan American Cheese & Ro*tel Dip inside and then roll up. Place it in the casserole dish on top of the sauce. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. If you have extra cheese it will last in the refrigerator for several days as long as it is covered well. 

Now pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas. Spread it out to cover all of the tortillas. 

Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until warmed throughout. 

Serve them with some brown rice, roasted vegetables and borracho beans! 

March 06, 2014/ Morgan/ February 27, 2014 February 27, 2014/ Morgan

My favorite thing in the world right now is to take unhealthy junky (but delicious!) foods and transform them into much healthier meals! It makes me feel like a scientist or a magician. Is that kind of like a wizard alchemist? Yeah that’s what I feel like. A plant strong food wizard alchemist! 

Super. Duper. Yummy. Seriously, you should make these. Maybe even double the recipe. 

These sandwiches are crazy good. I didn’t even think I would have been so incredibly satisfied after eating one. I am thrilled!!! Smokey browned mushrooms, seasoned onions and peppers all under a creamy tangy cheese sauce!? Plus some jalapenos and chile flakes.. OHHH Heck yeah I’m thrilled. I’m thinking this would all be amazing stuffed into a huge baked potato (so you don’t need buns, yall!) 

This Liquid Smoke, Wright’s, is the only one I can find locally that doesn’t have any other weird ingredients. Some other brands have sugar, soy sauce, MSG, food coloring and other crap in them. This one is just condensed liquid smoke – nothing crazy. If you don’t like the stuff, use smoked paprika or leave it out all together. 

makes 4 sandwiches

  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, sliced thin
  • 1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, cut into strips
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
  • Basic Cheese Sauce! Recipe below
  • 4 buns (I get mine at Trader Joe’s – no crazy ingredients! Also check out a local bakery for buns, french rolls or whatever you can find that fits into your diet.)

First make the cheese sauce below so that it is ready to go. This is a relatively quick cooking meal so you want your sauce ready when your filling is ready. 

Heat a large nonstick pan (cast iron works great!) over high heat and add the mushrooms to the pan. Cook them in a dry pan for several minutes until they are nicely browned. Remember to stir them so they don’t burn. Once they are brown add in the soy sauce, liquid smoke and black pepper. Stir for about a minute and then transfer them from a pan to a plate or heatproof dish. Set aside. 

Now place the pan back over high heat and add all of the peppers and onions. Stir in the oregano, chile flakes and salt as well. Cook until the onions and peppers have started to brown. I like some of them to be pretty dark like you would see them when you have fajitas. 

Stir in the mushrooms to warm them back up and then take the pan off the heat. 

You can toast your buns before assembling if you like (I do!!) by putting them under the broiler until they are lightly browned. 

Now just load up the sandwiches, top with some hot cheese sauce and DEVOUR! Really, you don’t need me to tell you that because you’re going to do it. I like these served with baked fries and maybe a slaw. I’ll get back to you with that slaw recipe real soon, alright?! 

Basic Cheese Sauce

  • 12oz  (about 1 cup) silken tofu (such as Mori-nu Soft Silken Tofu)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon miso paste (white, “mellow” or red work! Can’t find it? Use soy sauce/tamari instead.)
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Blend everything together until it’s very smooth. Heat it up until its as warm as you want for the sandwiches. It’s that easy! You can do it in a blender, food processor or I use my immersion blender for this (I LOVE my immersion blender!! It’s so easy to clean and I’m so lazy that we are a match made in heaven! ha!)  You’ll have plenty leftover but I’m sure you can think of something to put it on, right?! (Baked potatoes, broccoli, pasta, cauliflower, baked french fries, burritos, etc..)