Category Archives: Main Dish

TLAT — My New Favorite Sandwich

I LOVE the TLT at Om Cafe in Ferndale (and now Traverse City too!). I developed a bread/sandwich thing while pregnant and certain aspects of it have not yet left me. I still crave that sandwich regularly, but haven’t had it in several weeks.

Today I got the babe down for a nap and found myself starving — I only had juice I made this morning. What I really wanted was that TLT. Then I realized, I had the ingredients to make a pretty good rip-off myself.

I started with organic tempeh. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically a bunch of fermented soybeans smashed together into a brick. It’s really high in both fiber and protein and also has good amounts of iron and calcium.

I started by cutting the brick in half, then cutting each half into three thin slices. I browned the slices in a sauté pan in a little bit of oil and seasoned them with Miracle Blend from Michigan’s own Alden Mill House.

sandwichI popped a couple of slices of bread into the toaster and sliced a small tomato and an avocado. My favorite method for that is to cut the avocado into two halves, use your knife to make slices while still in the shell, then use a large spoon to scoop them all out at once.

I grabbed my Organic Girl 50/50 blend and a jar of Follow Your Heart Pesto Vegenaise I picked up a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t tried yet.

In about 5 minutes, I built this sandwich and I have to say — DELICIOUS. This will definitely be a go-to when I’m having a TLT craving. Don’t worry, OM. I’m still your biggest fan.


Quick Chickpea Tikka Masala


In a continued effort to utilize the many magazines I get, I decided to make this version of chickpea masala out of the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. From first cut to eating it was about 45 minutes — I’ll definitely make this again! It’s really close to another version I’ve been making for years (which you can find HERE in this 2010 post). The main difference is the lack of cauliflower here, which makes this even more of a pantry recipe. The only fresh ingredients you need are an onion, ginger (which you could keep jarred in the fridge for when you’re in a pinch) and a serrano pepper (which technically you could do without — it just wouldn’t be spicy).

I only changed up a couple of things — I threw in a whole onion because I knew the other half would go to waste and I used two serrano peppers to spice it up a bit (I like things spicy these days and hey — at 38 weeks pregnant if it helps move things along…). I don’t have Greek yogurt around — and would rather keep it vegan anyway — so I didn’t use that. In the other version, I use coconut milk so I would gladly add that or coconut creamer in the future, but went without tonight.

I started my brown rice, made the rest of the recipe and by the time it came to the  “simmer for 15 minutes” part, there was about that long left on the rice — perfect! I cleaned up and before I knew it — dinner was served.

Here it is!

• 1 Tbsp. oil
• 1/2 medium onion, diced
• 1 Tbsp. garam masala (I might add a bit more next time…. or my extra peppers might be overpowering the spices in the recipe…)
• 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
• 2 tsp. grated ginger
• 1 serrano chile, minced
• salt
• 2 15-0z. cans chickpeas, drained and rinse
• 1 28-0z. can crushed tomatoes
• 1/2 c. Greek yogurt (or I’d say 1/4 c. coconut creamer or milk, or more to taste)
• 1/4 c. chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté 5 minutes or until softened.

2. Add garam masala, tomato paste, ginger and serrano, and season with a bit of salt to taste. Sauté one minute more.

3. Stir in chickpeas and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt and cilantro.

Spicy Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Chili


A few weeks ago I came across a recipe online for a pumpkin lentil chili and I finally made it last night! It was supposed to be beef-based, so of course I axed that. You can find the original recipe HERE. I tweaked a few things based on what I had on hand (I can’t find the jalapenos I KNOW I bought for the life of me, I wanted a few more lentils since there was no other protein, etc. in it). So, the following is what I did.

The pumpkin flavor is hidden and it makes the chili thicker and creamier. If your kiddos (or perhaps a picky spouse!) like chili you could take the spice down a bit and this is a way you can hide some extra veggies in there. Pumpkin does add a little protein as we as several vitamins.

I think you could just as easily throw all the ingredients into a crock pot for a couple of hours too. Either way, give yourself a little time. This needs to simmer for an hour or two.

• 2/3 small can pumpkin
• 1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
• 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (any variety will do)
• 1 c. dried lentils (I used brown lentils)
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 c. vegetable broth
• 1 green pepper, diced
• 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and diced, some adobo sauce added.
• 3 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
• 1 tsp. oregano
• 1 1/2 tsp.  chili powder
• olive oil

Garnishes: I garnished with Daiya cheddar flavor vegan cheese, Tofutti sour cream and sliced green onions

1. Saute onion, garlic and green pepper in a large pot or Dutch oven. I used my new favorite, the amazing Calphalon Dutch Oven I got as a wedding gift this summer. I use it for everything. If you are using fresh jalapenos, I’d add them now too.

2. Once the onions, etc. are softened add everything else! Let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. I had some after 1 1/2 hours and there was still a little “bite” to the lentils, but it was 9:30 p.m. and I was hungry! Round two is going to be delicious (and probably spicier!) tonight. Enjoy!

Vegan Spinach Lasagna


Oh. My. Word. We have just finished eating and I promise, this lasagna tastes like the “real” thing. I guess that’s not even fair to say. This WAS real lasagna, it just doesn’t use cheese. Thus, I’m full, but not heavy. Feel satisfied, but not greasy.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler. I took it from a back version of Vegetarian Times. You could easily adapt this to include all kinds of vegetables, but this simple recipe is definitely a keeper. 

• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 2 c. chopped yellow onion (about 1/2  to 3/4 large onion)
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 10 oz. bag fresh baby spinach
• 24 oz. firm tofu, drained
• 8 oz. vegan cream cheese
• 1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
• 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
• 5 1/2 c. pasta sauce
• 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
• 12 oz. vegan Italian sausage or soy crumbles, broken apart (optional)
• 1 c. vegan shredded mozzarella
• vegan parmesan cheese (I added this on my own for a little extra something)
• salt and pepper (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Fill your 9 x 13 pan with hot tap water and soak noodles until ready to layer lasagna. This is a little trick I do with noodles that are supposed to be boiled. It’s a lot less hassle and the noodles still cook through every time.

2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat and sauté onion and garlic for about five minutes, until softened or golden. Add spinach and cook for a few minutes, until wilted.

3. Transfer mixture to food processor, along with tofu, cream cheese, basil and nutritional yeast. Process until smooth and resembles ricotta. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Drain noodles and set aside — paper towels work.

I mistakenly thought I had a large can of crushed tomatoes at home, so I couldn’t whip up my go-to marinara. I did, however, have a jar of Newman’s Own Marinara (I swear I don’t work for them — I just happened to have N.O. items two days in a row). I found one jar not quite as much as I would like, but it got us by just fine.

4. Spread 1/4 of the sauce on bottom of a 9 x 13 glass pan or other baking dish, then layer the lasagna as follows:
4 noodles
half of filling
1/4 of sauce (and a quick sprinkle of parm, if using)
4 noodles
rest of filling
sausage,  if using (we went sans sausage for this)
1/4 of sauce
4 noodles
rest of sauce
shredded mozzarella and more parm

5. Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes or until bubbling (30 should be plenty though). Uncover and bake another 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are done and cheese is melty. With my noodle trick, they should definitely be done!

6. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas


When I first started dating my husband he pretended he had the desire to learn to cook, so that first Christmas I got him the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook. All of the recipes are budget-conscious, have only a handful of ingredients and are easy to make. It’s a great, simple cookbook for both those just starting to cook or just starting to eat vegetarian.

I had him pick what he wanted to learn how to make first and he chose a simple black bean and sweet potato quesadilla recipe. Well, he opted to paint his daughter’s room during our “class” but popped out every now and again to check the status and pretend to be absorbing my instruction. Six years later, I’m still the one making the quesadillas, but that’s OK. I made some tonight inspired by that first simple recipe. Still delicious after all these years.

• 1 14.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated
• 1/2  med. yellow onion, diced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. coriander
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1-2 handfuls fresh spinach
• your cheese of choice (I went with Daiya cheddar vegan cheese)
• olive or other oil

1. Dice, chop, etc. all vegetables as noted above. Feel free to add more or less of any given ingredient. For the sweet potato, use a box grater or the grater plate on your food processor. I finally got to use the grater on my new Magimix three-bowl food processor. Worked great and took about 5 seconds.

2. Add a small amount of oil to a saute pan (1 Tbsp. should do it). Saute onion until beginning to soften, then add garlic and cook for about one minute. This would be a good time to toss in some minced jalapeno or other hot peppers if you’re into that kind of thing.

IMG_50813. Add grated sweet potatoes and saute until soft (you can always smell when they’re done too — when it starts to smell like sweet potato fries, you’re good!). Add spices and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.

4. Add beans and lightly mash with a potato masher or fork. This isn’t a must, but if you mash them they help form the glue that keeps the two sides of the quesadilla together/keep the ingredients inside the quesadilla AND it can be a vehicle to sneak other veggies in there. Oh — and feel free to use whatever peans you have on hand — black bean, pinto, white beans, you name it.

The more they’re all mashed together, the less the little ones in your life will take note of all the goodness they’re ingesting. I stopped here tonight, but you could finely dice just about anything and include it. If you’re trying to sneak things, you could use cauliflower, which smushes up really well with other things.

5. When it’s all cooked up to your liking, heat a griddle pan or another large sauté pan over medium heat (or if you’ve only got one pan, just remove the contents to a bowl and use the same one). You can spray the pan with an olive oil mister or something. but it’s not technically necessary. Then, build your quesadilla.

I lay one large flour tortilla down and put a small sprinkle of cheese down (again — more glue). Put a layer of filling from the other pan. I try to spread it out evenly and get pretty close to the edge. I then top with a good amount of cheese and another tortilla.

6. Let it sit until the bottom starts to brown. Using a large spatula, quickly flip over. If you’ve mashed the beans, etc., not too much stuff should fly out mid-flip. If you’ve got whole beans in there, beware!

7. Continue to cook until the cheese is all melty and the bottom tortilla starts to brown and get a little crispy. Remove onto a cutting board and cut into four wedges (I prefer using a pizza cutter).

8. Serve with salsa, hot sauce, guacamole or sour cream (I went with Toffutti Sour Supreme vegan sour cream tonight and Newman’s Own Medium Roasted Garlic Salsa. Delish! These store really well in the refrigerator and can easily heat up again in the microwave or on the stove top. You can even send them with the kids to school!

Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

I threw together this easiest soup ever last night in about 15 minutes before heading to a friend’s to pass out candy. Boy was I glad I had when I returned home this afternoon after chaperoning my stepdaughter’s school field trip to the zoo — five hours mostly outside in 40-degree weather! I paired it with a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and felt like I was her age back in my mom’s kitchen on a cold day.

• 1 c. celery, diced
• 1/2 c. yellow onion, diced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 3, 14 1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I grabbed a few different kinds — Italian herbs, roasted garlic, and fire roasted tomatoes. Use whatever you like!)
• 3/4 c. cream (of course, you could use regular whipping cream if you’re not vegan, but why when there are so many vegan creamers? I went with my favorite — So Delicious Coconut Creamer.)
• 3/4 c. water
• salt and pepper
• chopped fresh basil (the store was out, so I bought one of those squeezy bottles of organic basil. Worked for me!) Add to taste.

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat and cook diced onion and celery until softened.

2. Add cans of diced tomatoes and heat through.

3. Leave chunky or, like I did, grab your handy immersion blender and blend until it’s smoother, with not as many chunks (but not completely smooth).

4. Whisk in cream and water, season with salt and pepper and add basil to taste (I put in probably 2 Tbsp. of the basil paste).

5. Enjoy! It’s that easy.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

I’ve made these for a client and my own family this week — they are delicious. I made the vegan version for my family and that is what’s photographed above. The store was out of the “cheddar style” Daiya vegan cheese, so I got the mozzarella style version and it was still delicious. This recipe is really easy to make too. Enjoy!

Serves 4

•  28 oz. can of whole, peeled tomatoes
• 2 tsp. chili powder
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 3 Tbsp. canola oil or other high heat oil
•  salt and pepper
• 1 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 medium potato, grated
• 2 tsp. oregano
• 2 c. cheddar cheese or vegan cheese
• 8 flour tortillas
• 2 green onions, thinly sliced/chopped

Preheat oven to 450

1. In a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes, chili powder, half the onion, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper or until smooth

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of remaining oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining onion and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes.

3. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add black beans, sweet potato, oregano and salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp. each). Cook, tossing frequently, until sweet potatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes.

4. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in 1 c. of cheese.

5. Spread one cup of tomato sauce  in bottom of 9×13 pan. Roll up bean mixture in the tortillas (about 1/2 c. each) and place seam side down in pan.

6. Top with remaining tomato sauce, cheese and green onions. Bake on top rack of oven until cheese is belted and bubbly, about 10 to 15 minutes.