Veg in Cow Country

cooking (and eating) vegan and vegetarian in the midwest

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Souffle September 29, 2012

Filed under: Baked Goods,breakfast/brunch — vegincowcountry @ 8:11 pm
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I would never have ordered a soufflé at Panera. Although I do eat eggs and dairy when I’m eating someplace that’s not home, I avoid dishes that contain large quantities of either. I’m not even a fan of hot breakfast food — if I don’t eat breakfast at home, I’m more into donuts and pancakes and sugary stuff. But one morning, the office brought in Baked Egg Soufflés from Panera. I was hungry and had forgotten my usual snack. And when I get hungry, I get cranky. So I dug through the box and found one labeled spinach and artichoke – worth a try, right? It was amazing.

I didn’t even know what the heck a soufflé was – I’m not sure I still do, and I don’t care. I HAD to make a vegan version of whatever this was – a cheesy, savory, spinach and artichoke filling baked in flaky croissant dough! Idly, I googled “vegan soufflé” and found that I’m not the only wannabe vegan who fell in love with this decidedly-not vegan dish. Jessica at Clean Green Simple ( is very ambitious – she re-made Panera’s recipe into something that was not only vegan, but gluten free! I set out to make a simpler, gluten-y but still vegan version.

This is my high-tech tofu press. Good Housekeeping (circa 1985) informs me that a soufflé contains butter, flour, salt, pepper, milk, cheese, and eggs. No croissant crust. I knew I liked my version better…

I’m not above occasionally using prepared convenience foods (except for cake mix – cake mix is always evil). So I used Pillsbury crescent rolls – which, despite the prominent label “Butter Flake,” contains no actual dairy products. So apparently “flaky” describes this product in more than one way… (I’m aware that ingredients vary for lots of foods based on country and even region of the United States, so don’t take this as the case for what you’ll find at your grocery store). 

I used 8 ounce ramekins, they’re about 4” in diameter. One roll of crescent rolls was enough for 3 ramekins, and I had filling left over that would have filled another 2-3 ramekins.

2 rolls Pillsbury crescent rolls (or other vegan crescent rolls)

¼ cup white or yellow onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

½ can artichoke hearts in water, drained

2 large handfuls fresh spinach

Olive oil

½ block extra-firm tofu, pressed and crumbled

¼ tsp turmeric

1 to 1 ½ tsp salt

½ cup nutritional yeast

½ cup Daiya mozzarella shreds or other vegan cheese substitute

2 Tbsp Earth Balance (spread or sticks – optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in skillet; sauté onion, garlic, and artichoke hearts until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach until wilted. 

Mix artichoke/onion/spinach mixture and crumbled tofu in mixing bowl; add turmeric, salt, nutritional yeast, and vegan cheese.

Spray 5-6 4”, 8-ounce ramekins with cooking spray; use 2 to 2 ½ crescent roll triangles to line the bottoms and inside of each ramekin, leaving enough to fold over top. The top does not have to be completely covered. Fill ramekins ¾ full with filling; add 2-3 tsp Earth Balance, and fold excess dough over top.

Bake ramekins on a cookie sheet for 20-30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Homemade Soft Pretzels September 20, 2012

Filed under: Baked Goods,Comfort Food — vegincowcountry @ 5:28 pm

I always look forward to receiving my Penzey’s catalog. They have beautiful photos of food, and although I rarely find a recipe that is vegetarian or vegan, I do get some good ideas (and rack up a list of things I MUST buy next time I go by Penzey’s during business hours, which is rare). A couple of months ago, I found the recipe for Homemade Soft Pretzels – already vegan! I ripped the page out and stuck it on the fridge. See, my experience with yeast up until now had always involved the bread machine — that bread machine is pretty infallible. I considered that torn-out page on my fridge for some weeks… What if it falls flat? Worse, what if it blows up? 

I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what a “warm place” was for the dough to rise… A warm oven? At room temperature in the kitchen? Then two friends translated — one uses a cold oven, the other a cold oven with a pan of warm (tap) water alongside. Makes much more sense than “a warm place.” 

Surprisingly, these turned out pretty darn good on my first try! That hardly ever happens — but I’m certainly not complaining. Now that I know that the dough won’t fall apart, I’ll work with it a little more next time to make more perfect-looking pretzels. I followed the recipe exactly — ok, well, not exactly, as I substituted margarita salt for Kosher Style Flake Salt (don’t tell Penzey’s). Enjoy!

The recipe can be found at:


Almond Joy Cake April 8, 2012

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate!,Entertaining,Holidays — vegincowcountry @ 8:46 pm
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Three of my favorite flavors all in one cake — amazing! I was worried at first that the almost delicate, almond- and vanilla-flavored cake wouldn’t meet my expectations for a rich, decadent dessert, but I was happily wrong. This is a slight adaptation of a recipe I found here: I replaced the rather cumbersome frosting in the original recipe with my own favorite fudgy buttercream. It has been a big hit with vegans and non-vegans alike – definitely a keeper!

3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 c sugar
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c coconut oil (or double the canola oil)
2 Tbsp no-sugar-added applesauce
1 1/2 c unsweetened almond or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 Tbsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix sugar, oils, applesauce, milk, and extracts. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt. Add flour mixture slowly, stirring. Stir in vinegar. Cake batter will be thick. Line the bottoms of two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans with wax paper and grease the sides. Pour cake batter evenly into pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cake sit in pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on wire rack. When completely cool, cover bottom layer with frosting/almond/coconut mixture, then put other layer on top. Frost.

2 sticks Earth Balance margarine, softened
2-3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c dark cocoa powder
1/4 tsp almond extract
sliced almonds and coconut for garnish

1/3 of frosting
1/3 c sliced almonds
1 c flaked coconut


A Christmas Eve Tea Party December 26, 2011

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate!,Comfort Food,Entertaining,Holidays — vegincowcountry @ 9:54 am
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My mother, Pat ( took these photos – she has a nice camera and actual talent in photography! Her specialties are “tablescapes” – but only while the garden isn’t blooming. This was our family’s Christmas Eve Tea Party, at my place.

I set the table, and Mom was nice enough to forbear comment upon my use of (horrors!) paper napkins and a slightly wrinkled tablecloth (I don’t own cloth napkins, and I absolutely refuse to iron anything). Hey, when the cook also sets the table, certain shortcuts must be made (especially if the cook has to find time to smear a little makeup on and do something with her limp hair in order to pose for family photos)!

This dessert platter was my pièce de résistance – mini chocolate cupcakes (Crazy Chocolate Cake: and Lemon Bars (from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking). Tiered platter scavenged from Mom’s extensive collection of garage sale and Goodwill bargains, of which she is very proud. 🙂

Sometimes the simplest treats like fresh berries and orange quarters can compliment a meal perfectly. Mom contributed the floral arrangement – and Sister insisted on the bow, which sets it off great. I’ll have a hard time returning that cute little silver vase, but something tells me Mom will insist…

Dishes are Winterberry by Pfaltzgraff.

Sandwiches, clockwise from bottom left:

* Tomato-avocado-and-Vegenaise

* Ham and swiss (I wore gloves to prepare these – a sacrifice, yes, but believe me, a necessary one. Those sandwiches kept the peace.)

Combined platter on the right:

* Chickpea salad

* Cashew “goat cheese” with apricot preserves (Cashew goat cheese:

My sister the confirmed carnivore surprisingly declared her favorite to be chickpea salad!

(Note to self: never, EVER use cocktail bread again. It’s DRY. Find a bakery that will slice thin bread the day of or use English muffin wedges, as on the avocado-and-tomato sandwiches.)


Thanks, Mom!

Hope you and yours had a Merry Christmas also!

Lemon Bars

From Colleen Patrick-Goudeau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking


1/2 cup non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


1/2 cup silken tofu (soft or firm)

1 cup granulated sugar

Zest from 2 lemons

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons) [I had big lemons and got 1/3 cup out of one]

2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch [I doubled to 4 Tbsp, as per some online comments, and it set up perfectly]

Confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan with canola oil (or use a cooking spray) and sprinkle with just a light dusting of all-purpose flour

3. To make the crust, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the flour, and beat until the dough just comes together

4. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned

5. Remove crust from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling

6. To make the filling, blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until creamy, about 1 minute

7. Add the granulated sugar to the tofu, and blend until nice and smooth [I burned up the motor in my blender earlier in the day making cashew cheese, so used an electric hand mixer with great results]

8. Blend in the lemon zest, lemon juice, flour, and cornstarch

9. Pour the filling over the baked shortbread crust and bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is set

10. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool – if the filling isn’t completely set, it will set as it cools

11. To serve, cut into squares or bars and dust with the sifted confectioners’ sugar

Chickpea Salad

1 can or equivalent amount chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 – 3/4 cup Vegenaise

2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish

1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

4-5 green onions, sliced

diced celery, optional

smoked paprika, optional

Chop chickpeas roughly, with a knife or food chopper. Add Vegenaise to desired creaminess, then add relish, mustard, spices, green onions, and other optional ingredients. Chill at least 1 hour before serving. Eat on a sandwich or with crackers.


Homemade Waffles August 11, 2011

Filed under: Baked Goods,Comfort Food — vegincowcountry @ 8:19 pm

I prefer stainless steel cookware, and avoid non-stick like the plague. I have pet birds at home, and non-stick cookware, when overheated, emits toxic fumes that kill birds. Then I thought: if it’s not good for the birds, it’s probably not good for the humans, either… canary in the coal mine, anyone??? So when I went to buy a waffle iron without Teflon, I had to go “vintage,” which is ebay-speak for OLD! But it works, the cord looks to be in good shape (I watch it closely anyway and unplug as soon as I’m done with it) and the plates are removable for washing, and reversible to be used as a griddle instead of a waffle iron. Pretty neat!

Be sure to make these waffles with baking POWDER, not baking SODA, as I did once. Boy, that’s a lesson I won’t ever forget!!!

1 cup flour – I prefer white whole wheat flour

2 Tablespoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk of your choice

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix batter; heat waffle iron and if not non-stick, spray with non-stick spray. Make waffles as you usually do.


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies August 6, 2011

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate!,Comfort Food — vegincowcountry @ 9:35 am

This is another recipe that comes from my friends at Yahoo’s vegetarian_group. (Sometimes I don’t know exactly who contributed a recipe, so if this is yours, please contact me and let me know so I can give you credit!)

Non-dairy chocolate chips: Ghirardelli and Trader Joe’s

1 cup softened Earth Balance margarine

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 ¼ cup flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine softened margarine, sugar, milk and vanilla. In separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add dry mixture to butter/sugar mixture. Add chocolate chips.

Bake 8-10 minutes.


Deep Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Filed under: Baked Goods,Chocolate! — vegincowcountry @ 9:13 am

When I experimented with these, adding cocoa powder and walnuts to a favorite recipe, and removing other ingredients, I took a photo for Facebook. A co-worker commented that she knew these were on their way into the office… Oops! No… I kept them for myself. I made some to share the next week, and they were a hit. The key to these is the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder, which I have found only at Wal-Mart.


1 c softened vegan margarine

1 c brown sugar

1/4 c milk of your choice (I prefer almond)

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 c Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder

2 1/4 c flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 c walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine sugar, margarine, milk and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add dry mixture to sugar/margarine mixture. Stir in walnuts. Drop in spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.


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