Thursday, January 31, 2013

Spring Mix

Let me tell you something about spring mix...

If I wanted tart tasting, untamed weeds in my salad I would get it from my yard; not pay your for them...Now, make my salad with real lettuces.



This is a pretty simple dessert to make. Takes a little time, but it is easy to keep all of the ingredients on hand. (Phyllo  in the freezer) I didn't take many progress photos...Sorry folks!


Grease a 9X13 pan; using a paper towel apply some butter substitute.

1 Package (one roll) Vegan Phyllo Pastry

1 Cup Butter Substitute, melted. I always melt butter slowly on the stove...I hate microwaves, and butter always explodes.

1.5 Cup Chopped Nuts (I did a combination of pistachios, cashews, walnuts, macadamias, almonds, and pecans all raw.) I pretty much always have these on hand…unless I ate them all.

2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon


1 Cup Water

1 Cup Sugar (I used evaporated cane juice; same, same.)

1.25 Teaspoons Vanilla

2 Tablespoons Agave

Grind the nuts in a small food chopper or food processor…if you only have a knife…chop a lot…

Mix the nuts and cinnamon in a bowl.

Unroll the phyllo, cover with a damp towel, if you work fast enough this shouldn’t really be necessary…but I don’t want to be blamed for you having crusty unworkable phyllo.

Remove and lay four sheets in the bottom of your greased pan. If the sheets are too big for the pan just let it kind of work up the sides, or scrunch them down a bit…Using a basting brush spread melted butter substitute on every friggin’ inch of that dough J

Sprinkle the nut/cinnamon mixture over the top.

Layer 2 more sheets of phyllo, brush with butter, top with nuts…repeat his until you have 8 sheets of phyllo left…If you run out of the nut mixture, just make some more…until you have enough. I always have a stockpile of raw nuts. (Bahahaha)

When you have layered the top 6-8 sheets of the phyllo brush the top with the remaining butter substitute.

Using a SHARP knife cut into your desired serving size. I chose to do 2x4 and then cut each of those into triangles.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour at 175. If your oven will not go this low, bake at 200 and until the top is crisp and golden brown. Because the temperature is so low it may seem like it will NEVER be done…but it will and it will be AMAZING.

When the pastry has been cooking for about 20 minutes, start making the sauce.

 Boil the sugar and water and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the Vanilla and agave and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This should create a sort of syrup, runnier than maple, but thicker than say…Gatorade.

By the time you are done with the sauce the Pastry should be ready to come out of the oven.

Spoon the syrup over the baklava immediately. Make sure to drip some between the cut edges and down the sides of the pan.

 And let it cool. It may seem like you are going to make it soggy and floppy…but you aren’t. I assure you, you are making it more and more delicious with every spoonful.

When the pastry cools each piece will be a crunchy, slightly chewy, sugar coated, cinnamon filled treat that no person can resist. (Unless they have no taste at all; or just suck generally)

I used a thin metal spatula (my tofu spatula) to remove the baklava from the pan and set out on plates. Do not do this until the dessert is completely cooled.

OK, now you can eat it…and if you “accidentally” destroy the first piece you should probably destroy the evidence…

Yeah…so, you’re welcome.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lasagna - Spinach, Mushroom, Sausage.

OK! I am finally taking a minute to write down a recipe from Christmas. I don’t really have time to do it…and I am feeling guilty for all of the other things I should be doing, but I feel the same way about not posting here. This recipe has many components…it is definitely one I plan ahead for and make pieces, in advance.

This also makes a HUGE lasagna…so bear that in mind. I suggest making a few reasonably sized lasagnas…and freezing or sharing…I love sharing.

For many people Lasagna is an indulgence, this recipe is nearly guilt free…A bit on the carbs, with the noodles, but you know what…? Just make it with zucchini noodles or something. I can’t tell you how many times I ate this for breakfast. To any non-vegan folks who are reading this…it is a great way to get the same flavor without all of the crazy fat that dairy cheese and animal proteins add. Let me make you a lot healthier…GO VEGAN.

Part One:

Make a batch of my MARINARA

Part Two:

Cashew Ricotta

I stole the basis for this out of VEGANOMICON, but in my true fashion I changed it, because that is what I do.

1 Cup Raw Cashews

½ Cup Lemon Juice

¼ Olive Oil

6 Cloves Roasted Garlic (About half a head squished out into the processor)

1 Block ‘o’ Tofu (Crumbled)

3 Teaspoons Basil (Dried)

2/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast


Blend everything but tofu and spices in a food processor (SANTA BROUGHT ME ONE!!!! So I can say this now.)

Add tofu and spices. Blend…Mixture should be thick and mostly smooth. You do want some texture from the cashews!

Part Three:


One Recipe Marinara

One Recipe Cashew Ricotta

1.5 boxes boiled lasagna noodles (Or however many you need to fit your pan with 3 or 4 layers) Lay flat when finished; dry, flat, cooked noodles make a better lasagna

8-10 Larger Mushrooms Cut, not too small though!

4-5 Cups Spinach

1 Package  Tofurky Italian Sausage (cut into chunks)

1-2 Medium Sized Tomatoes sliced (Not ‘necessary’, but I love the way it looks)

Cover the bottom of your pan with a thin layer of sauce, and layer noodles

Cover noodles with sauce. Layer ½ of the mushrooms, ½ of the sausages, and ½ of the spinach over the saucy noodles. Spoon in 1/3 of the remaining sauce, and 1/3 of the cashew ricotta.
WOAH! That is blurry...Sorry Folks.

Layer with noodles again, repeat step above.

Layer final noodles. Evenly spread remaining sauce over the final layer of noodles. Add even dollops of remaining cashew ricotta and top with tomato slices. A sprinkle of something green would probably go a long way here. (My family is averse to green things generally…so I saved a small headache and skipped it)
Bake at covered at 375 for a 45 minutes. You want the sauce to be bubbling and the edge noodles to be crisp! Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
Resting before consumption. See the crisp edges, and the cashew ricotta gets a little brown...Mmm...

VERY IMPORTANT: Take it out of the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. (Less if your lasagna is smaller) This will give it time to cool and tighten up. Then you won’t have sloppy, disassembled lasagna…and you can take pictures of it and post it to IG. Also, less chance you will burn your mouth. Use this time to make a salad or set the table.

This is one of the few times I have ever made lasagna in my life. It is so easy, but time consuming. I have to say, this is one of the best tasting things I have ever made. The mushrooms are key. It is very important to not “over sausage” (hehe) the lasagna…let the vegetables do the work.

Ok.  Go forth and make White Girl Italian Food.

A Night for the Animals (Progress Posting)

I have been working for The (vegan) Caterer for about 9 months at this point. It is amazing; it is employment I feel truly passionate about. The entire process encompasses so many parts of my life that I absolutely LOVE. Business, cooking, event planning…We had been toying with the idea of hosting a benefit and around the holidays we started putting feelers out…those feelings were returned :)

We first found the location for the event. A great small space in SE Portland called Union/Pine. It is a great venue that can play host to around 150 guests. We have had small gathering type events there previously and the owners are truly a joy to work with.
The most important task was finding a great place to bestow all of our fundraisings on…it took some time, but we settled on Green Acres Farm Sanctuary in Silverton, Or. It was important to us that the beneficiary was ethical, and local. Much of the theme of our benefit is about creating a great community, and supporting the elements of it. We are so glad to have been introduced to Green Acres, and look forward to working with them for future events!
After we locked down the location and the date we contacted our AMAZING graphic designer, Stacia Murphy Graphic Design, to help us add the information to our website and she created our flier. She has done our entire website and helped us with many other small projects.
The ins and outs of the event have unfolded along the way. We have found a guest speaker, business owner and activist Tim Hitchins will be speaking about the importance of building the vegan community, representatives from Green Acres will be giving a presentation about their property and all of the great animals they have been fortunate to rescue.
In order to spark a lot of interest from the community I compiled a list of vegan businesses from around the area and started calling, asking for donations for a huge raffle. All items are vegan and cruelty free! I am completely flattened by the level of generosity I have experienced in my time doing this. The offerings from these companies speak well to the theme of the event. We are all here for a common purpose and it is highlighted by this show of kindness.
Here is a list of the great items we have in hand (In Alphabetical Order.) This list does not even include the others we still have to pick up, or those which are still in transit!
·         Akemi Salon - $45 Gift Certificate, 4 bottles of various hair care products
·         Back to Eden Bakery - $15 Gift Certificate
·         Blossoming Lotus – Two $25 Gift Certificates
·         Bye and Bye - $50 Gift Certificate
·         Canteen – $25 Gift Certificate
·         Dancing Monkey Acupuncture - $75 Initial Treatment
·         Dream into Change Consulting – Gift Certificate for an initial consultation
·         Food Fight – Red Canvas Bag, to be filled with miscellaneous specialty items!
·         Green Acres Farm Sanctuary – Tote bag, t-shirt, stickers, magnets, buttons, and a tour of the farm
·         Green is the New Red – An autographed book written by Will Potter.
·         Heidi Ho Veganics – Had donated our time in the kitchen for all of the food prep!
·         Helios Eco House Bend – A 3 night stay for 4 guests at their exclusive award winning rental! Worth $920!!
·         Herbivore Clothing  Company – Grab Bag! A great gift bag of items worth $45!
·         My Own 2 Hands – Local Handy man Charles Evans has donated Two $50 Gift Certificates for services! Help with your DIY, or other nagging issues you may need a pro for!
·         Oak Barbershop – Gift Certificate for one Haircut.
·         Scapegoat Tattoo - $70 Gift Certificate for a tattoo and a T-shirt!
·         Sip Juice Cart - $20 Gift Certificate
·         SweetPea Baking Co. - $25 Gift Certificate!
There are many more items in the works and on hold! I have been posting them up on our Facebook and the Event Page as they are received!
At this point we have sold nearly 60 tickets! We are capping tickets at 100. All tickets can be purchased at The (vegan) Caterer.
In other exciting news, I contacted the genius behind Will Travel for Vegan Food and invited her to the event. She is a great blogger and traveler who is going around the US eating at all of the vegan spots each state has to offer. Since we are not a restaurant I thought this would be a great opportunity for her to taste what we have to offer! She has created a contest to get someone to come as her date! I have been following her on Instagram (@wtfveganfood) for many months, and I look forward to meeting her.
We have also contracted a new local company to run the bar. Merit Badge will be taking care of all of your libations for the evening. It is a ca$h bar, but all proceeds will go to Green Acres Farm Sanctuary! YAY! Check them out for all of your event needs as they relate to alcohol! These folks are amazing to work with! They are creating some custom drinks for all of the guests to enjoy. Don’t forget to tip!
In addition to calling around and posting on every social media outlet I have at my disposal, I have been all over Portland posting up our flier, in vegan businesses, places where vegans frequent and other awesome locations! I have been told by many folks that they have seen the flier! Stacia did such an amazing job on it. I hope it is the first of many to come.
We have a great roster of volunteers who will be running the door, raffles, helping with the food service, and setting and cleaning up. This event could not happen without the generosity of these people, and we are forever grateful for their contribution.
We have most of the large details handled…and it is time for the nitty gritty planning stage. Tablecloths, napkins, chairs, what I’m going to wear J…you know the REALLY important things. Truly, these are the things that make these events memorable. I look forward to ironing them all out!
I suppose, I better get it handled! Check in soon for more details, follow The (vegan) Caterer on Facebook, Twitter (@thevegancaterer) and I am on Instagram as @stepherr. The event on Facebook is public so please invite yourself and buy a ticket!
 **Please note: If you are unable to attend we have created a [DONATION] button on our event page. Just because you live half way across the world doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to help out a great organization like Green Acres!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Homemade Marinara

Getting Saucy. 

My mother makes the best marinara. It is so simple...BUT I love lots and lots and lots of vegetables in all of my stuff...So I do what she does...but I add a bunch of vegetables...I was making a HUGE lasagna so I made a massive amount of sauce. YAY!

3 huge cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup onion
1/2 cup celery
3/4 cup grated carrots
2 LARGE cans of tomato sauce. Make sure it is low sodium...I don't like a lot of salt in my food generally...
1 large tomato, or a few Romas
Dried Italian Seasoning. (Fresh is fine if you fancy.)
Salt and Pepper (See your seasonings...)

Pan over medium heat, smidge of oil. Toss in the prepared vegetables, and sweat. Just until they are soft, you want a bit of texture after the sauce simmers. 

Add the Sauce! Stir, bring to a boil...then turn it down to a simmer.

Cut your tomato and add it to the sauce. It will provide you with a slightly more rustic and homemade texture. People will think you made your own sauce from the get go...TRICKY.

Sprinkle a generous amount of pre-mixed Italian seasoning...You can use a fresh mix of herbs and spices too...but yeah, that isn't how my mom does it, and this was in my cupboard...

Stir it all in and let it simmer for a really long time...hours. Stir occasionally. (If you don't have hours fine, just do it for a while...but the flavor will be way better and the sauce will be SOOOOO much better if you let it roll for a long time...Good way to do this is in the crockpot...Think about it.)

Since you will be waiting so long I suggest you eat this sandwich for example...

Still cooking...

Serve it with your meal, or let it cool completely before putting it in the fridge for later use.

I chose to use it to make this ridiculous Lasagna...for which the recipe will be added in due time. As a preview I will let you know that it has...Tofurky Italian sausage, spinach, mushrooms, cashew ricotta, and freshly sliced tomatoes...Yeah...It was by far the best lasagna I have every had...and I almost never say that about anything I make...

Rocky Road

I am going to try to get all of my  horribly delicious, sugar filled treats from over the holidays up...And then I will pretty much only post about healthy crap...I am supposed to do a figure competition this July. Mmmyeah, so that's what's up.

Rocky Road:

1/2 bag of Dandies cut into smaller pieces. Unless you get mini dandies...then don't cut them.

1 bag vegan chocolate chips.

1/2 cup raisins

1/2-3/4 chopped nuts, save some for sprinkling on top...I like walnuts or pecans. Whatever you have on hand will do.


Melt 3/4 of the bag of chocolate chips. I do the bowl over boiling water....some people prefer the microwave...

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl...MIX. Add melted chocolate...Make sure it is evenly coated.

Spread evenly in a metal non-stick pan that has been sprayed with oil.

Melt the remaining chocolate and spread on top...It just looks a little nicer...makes for a more smoothly paved road ;) Then sprinkle some extra chopped nuts on top...

Refrigerate for a while...Turn out of the pan.

Cut into pieces.

Stack 'em up and then take some pictures...or don't

SHARE...because you don't need to eat this much candy on your own...

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Is How I Activate

Many folks who know me would have never guessed in a million years that I would be sitting here writing to you as a vegan. Not just “vegan” being someone who abstains from ingesting any foods made of animals or animal byproducts, but a full-fledged, non-leather buying, synthetic material wearing, cosmetic scrutinizing, compassion practicing, anti-speciesist,  human being. Hell, ask me the same question a year ago and I probably would have said the same thing.

I came across a quote last week:

You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will every need.

                                --Sara Teasdale

When I read that, everything I have been doing and developing was put in this perfect little word nugget, and I am excited that I found it. I learned something about myself in that instant.

I have been vegan for less than a year. I’ll tell you, it feels like longer…but then I listen to people tell me stories about 5 years ago…10 years ago…15 years ago…20 years ago…and I feel like less, like I haven’t done enough, like I will never do enough. There is some truth to all of that. I know I cannot devote all of my time to fighting for the rights of animals and the health of our planet.

In addition to being a member of mainstream America…I am not an anarchist, I do not go directly against the grain. I prefer to redirect people, give them new information and help them formulate new opinions. I feel very little can be accomplished by arguing, through violence, and other forms of disobedience. It is not in my nature to break rules; I’d rather change them.

So , how can I be an activist? I don’t know the answer to the question…but here is what I have going on right now…

In the name of my employer…The (vegan) Caterer…We are hosting a benefit for Green Acres Farm Sanctuary. This sanctuary has been around for 5 years, and just in the past year and a half became a qualified non-profit. The husband and wife team host dozens of rescued animals who live permanently, as well as fostering puppies and dogs from a nearby no-kill shelter. We are so excited to be able to help create awareness for this amazing organization which is doing all it can to save animals from needlessly being exploited and murdered.

In addition to benefiting a great organization the purpose of this benefit is to bring together as many people from the community as possible in support of a common goal. To listen to respected community member and business owner Tim Hitchins discuss the importance of building a strong foundation of businesses, organizations and individuals to drive the movement forward and into a positive light. So far we have tid-bits of information, but I am on the edge of my seat waiting to see what the rest of the talk has in store.

As I have begun coordinating this benefit I have become overwhelmed by the community’s response. I have yet to be turned down by any business for product donations for our raffle. Every raffle prize will come from a vegan business from around the northwest! It is an amazing feeling to pour your heart and soul into something and have the response of people be exactly everything you ever hoped and imagined it could be.

As someone who can without a doubt still count my vegan and vegetarian friends on one hand it is an incredible experience. This benefit is like my sweet 16 of veganism…my coming out party…I’m here to help, support and give whatever I can so we can all work toward our common goal.

In all my success collecting prizes and support from local businesses, I hope that we are successful in recruiting individuals to join us for the event. The ticket holders, the people who want to support this amazing organization, and be a part of the foundation of the community. On paper it is a sure thing…but we need people to come celebrate the love in their own lives with a group of people who share interests and concerns for the welfare of the planet’s many creatures.

I personally invite you to attend our benefit this Valentine’s Day, February 14 at 7pm. Please bring dates, friends, acquaintances, and anyone who may be curious about veganism. It is a great opportunity to show non-subscribers all of the benefits of being a part of something so amazing; something that has changed my life in a very short time, and would no doubt contribute to their quality of life.

Click HERE to purchase tickets!

For more information please visit The (vegan) Caterer

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Meat Free Athlete

I just joined this website...MEAT FREE ATHLETE...I have scoped it a little. You can submit articles, recipes, meet people in a facebook-y way. I really like the idea. I need to surround myself with more conscious people, and I think this may be a great way to get started.

Check out the site, know that it isn't exclusively for vegetable eaters, and think about becoming a more compassionate human.

Enjoy your day.