Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunrise Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan)

Happy Easter! We started our day with homemade cinnamon rolls, a Neal family tradition that has been carried over to the Phillips tribe (and welcomed with open arms I might add!).

These Sunrise Cinnamon Rolls have a traditional cinnamon roll base, with a dash of citrus love! No matter the Easter traditions, these are a delicious addition to any Springtime breakfast table. 


Sunrise Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: Approximately 1 hour
Rise Time: 2 hours (split)-Overnight
Bake Time: 20 Minutes

Cooking Stuffs:

1 1/4 cups Vanilla Almond Milk
1/2 cup raw sugar/brown sugar mix
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 Tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Margarine
1 teaspoon Vanilla or Almond extract
1/4 cup tepid water (no hotter than 120 degrees otherwise the yeast will die)
1 envelope of active dry yeast
4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose baking flour

1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Margarine (don't freak out, I didn't use it all lol)
Dash of Nutmeg (an aquired taste, you can skip this part)

3 Tablespoons of Orange Zest 

Olive Oil or Coconut Oil Spray

*I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer + dough hook to kneed the dough, but feel free to use a mixing bowl, and a counter top!  I've done it both ways, but today I was feeling lazy :/

In your mixer's bowl, or in another small bowl, start your yeast mixture: 1 packet + 1/4 cup tepid water.  If the yeast is live, it will start to slightly bubble after about 10 minutes.  If not...well, start again.  Make sure the water isn't too hot, as it will cook the yeast to death.  After about 15 minutes, turn on your mixer, and start adding the other ingredients:  Almond milk, sugar, salt, margarine, extract, and lastly the flour.  Do not add this all at once.  Allow the the dough to get thoroughly mixed before adding another cup.  The end result dough should be slightly sticky.  Shut off your mixer when it forms a dough ball, and cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel.  Let it rise for 1 hour.  It helps if your kitchen is slightly warm, I always set mine on top of the oven while its on.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

After an hour, it should have risen to almost 2x it's original size.  Remove from the bowl, and lay out on a well-floured board or counter.  Using a rolling pin, roll into a large, even, rectangle.  It should be about 1/4" thick sheet.  

I've always been a true believer of using as few bowls, pots, pans, utensils to make a dish as humanly possible, just because I hate doing dishes.  So when I make the filling, this applies as well.  Instead of mixing these ingredients in a bowl, I apply them right to the dough.  Take a butter knife, and butter the entire slab of rolled out dough (thin & glaze-like, not Paula Dean style!).  Sprinkle your raw sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the same fashion.  If you feel you are short on something, add a bit more!  Be careful however, they get sweet fast.  Nice additions are nuts, raisins, coconut or dried cranberries. 

When all your filling ingredients have covered your dough, it's time to roll.  From top to bottom long-ways, roll the dough into a log. 

Once rolled into a log, use a sharp knife to cut into 1 1/2" slices and lay them flat on their sides in a well-oiled 9x13" casserole pan.  Once they all have been cut and placed in the pan (you may have to reorganize them a bit to get them all to fit) cover them again with a damp kitchen towel and allow them to rise for another hour.  

When risen, place in the oven for 20 minutes to bake.

To Glaze:
Add the orange zest to the Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting and mix well.  Apply while the rolls are warm for best results.   

Tips for making these easy:
Make the dough and allow it to rise overnight & create in the morning.  
Create the rolls, cover the dish, and refrigerate and bake in the morning.  

Happy Baking & Happy Easter!  

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vegan Fry Sauce

MMM...made some sweet potato fries and some AMAZING vegan fry sauce to start my weekend! 

Easy Fry Sauce:
1/2 cup original vegannaise
5-6 Tablespoons ketchup

Mix thoroughly and serve!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pan-fried Eggplant & Spinach Pesto Pasta (vegan)

We have this restaurant in Spokane called Ciao Mambo.  It's one of my favorite Italian restaurants here, however it's nowhere having the requirements to feed a vegan.  It's classic Italian, cheese, cheese, CHEESE!

When Jake and I went there for a date night a while ago{Pre~Veg}I had THE BEST breaded eggplant ever.  It had marinara sauce, loaded with garlic, and was dripping with freshly melted mozzarella...heaven!

But healthy won out...and this dish was born.  Equally delicious and better for you too!  Enjoy!

Pan-Fried Eggplant & Spinach Pesto Pasta
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time; 20 Minutes

2 cups spinach
Large sprig fresh basil
Small handful green kale
1/8 cup flax seeds
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
Sprinkle of sea salt
1/4 cup Sesame seed oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup water

1/4 of a whole eggplant, per serving
Olive oil
Bread Crumbs (make sure they are vegan)
Rice Noodles

Boil water to cook the rice noodles.  Remember with rice noodles, they over-cook QUICKLY.  

While waiting on the water, slice the 1/4 of eggplant in 1/4" slices, and lightly coat in olive oil.  Fill a small bowl or plate with breadcrumbs and coat the oiled eggplant pieces in breadcrumbs.  Place in a medium heat pan and cover.  Check every 5 minutes or so, and as they cook, turn up the heat to aid browning.  Watch carefully to make sure they don't burn.  When they are cooked, remove from heat.  

For the pesto:  place all of the ingredients in the pesto list into a Cuisnart and blend until a thick paste.  Taste periodically for flavor.  If it comes out too thick, add a drizzle more oil or water to thin it a bit.  

To serve:  Mix the pesto and rice noodles, so that the noodles are completely coated.  Serve eggplant either on top, or on the side.  

Side note:  I chose not to peel the eggplant this time, however, I definitely would in the future.  You can eat eggplant skin like you would a potato skin, but both Jake and I agreed it was too awkward & difficult to cut.  Personal choice!  

Happy Cooking!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Carrot Cake

We celebrated the first day of spring just last week, and since then, it's been snow, snow, snow! That's Washington State for ya! :) Hoping to help it along (or at least get prepared for a yummy Easter treat) I tested out a delish carrot cake recipe I converted to vegan, complete with a yummy vegan cream cheese frosting. Yum, yum, yum!!! Happy Baking! <3

Vegan Carrot Cake
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 40-50 Minutes

Cooking Stuffs:

4 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2+ cups water
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups Raw Sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sprinkling of Sea Salt
2-3 cups carrots, rinsed&grated
Cinnamon Sticks for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all your ingredients in order of the ingredient list in a large bowl.  If it is too thick, add a bit more water so that it is batter consistency (mine did this because of the flax seed substitution).  When thoroughly mixed, pour into a slightly greased (no Pam spray for vegans!) 9x13 glass pan.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, and test with a knife or toothpick to ensure it is cooked through.  Allow to cool before frosting.  

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting recipe HERE

Happy Easter!!!


Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup Vegan Cream Cheese
1 1/2 to 2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

Using an electric mix, whip on high until fluffy.  Refrigerate until use.


The {vegan-sushi-is-completely-pointless-but-so-tasty} Roll

The {vegan-sushi-is-completely-pointless-but-oh-so-forkin-tasty} Roll was created because I simply decided I couldn't live without sushi in my life any longer.  I was first introduced to sushi when I moved to Spokane, because Wenatchee was a little behind the times...and it was love at first bite!  My favorites when I was starting out were the tempura-battered ones, but soon my tastes grew.  Now, being vegan, fish is an off limit eatable, but the alternative, California rolls (among a few others), are so boring!  The Roll is my attempt at everything delicious about sushi: the vegan way.  Happy Rolling!

Roll Time...
The {vegan-sushi-is-completely-pointless-but-oh-so-forkin-tasty} Roll
Prep Time: 30-40 Minutes

Cooking Stuffs:
Dried Nori (Seaweed)
(1) Avocado
(1) Cucumber
(1) Carrot

Vegan Cream Cheese

Spicy Sushi Sauce:
{Recipe: Here}

Wasabi Sauce:
2 Tablespoons of warm water
2 teaspoons wasabi powder (Mines from Huckleberry's)

Horseradish Sauce {Recipe: Here}
Soy Sauce
Pickled Ginger
Sesame Seeds
Poppy Seeds

Other Supplies...
Sushi Mats (World Market!)
Chop Sticks (World Market!)
Small dishes for dipping sauces (World Market!)

Go Here for Instructions:  They have pictures!!! :D

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spicy Sushi Sauce

1/2 cup Vegannaise
2 Tablespoons hot sauce
1/4 teaspoons sesame seed oil

Whisk in a small bowl, cover & refrigerate.


Horseradish Sauce

1/4 cup vegannaise
1/4 block of firm tofu
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons prepped Horseradish

Blend until smooth using a Cusinart or electric hand mixer.  Cover and refrigerate.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter

I was scrolling through, and found this recipe on the blog, 101 Cookbooks: A Recipe Journal.  Not a completely vegan site, (but all healthy) and all VERY delicious looking!!

101 Cookbooks: A Recipe Journal
Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Veganize Any Recipe...

Tips from VegNews Magazine:

Sweet&Hot Stir Fry

Confession #1:  Veggies bore me. 

I'm a huge fan of Asian food, but of course with Panda Express no longer an option, I must make take it upon myself to find alternatives! 

Spice rating for this recipe is about 5 out of 10.

Sweet n' Sour Stir Fry
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes

Cooking Stuffs:
Rice Noodles
White Sticky Rice
3 large Carrots, rinsed&chopped
2 Celery stalks, rinsed&chopped
2 kale stalks, rinsed&chopped
1 can kidney beans, drained&rinsed
1 can black beans, drained&rinsed

Sauce: (based loosely from a recipe I found on

1/3 cup white or rice vinegar (Note: rice vinegar gives better results)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon powdered cumin
1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 4 teaspoons water

In a rice cooker, start approximately 4-6 cups of rice, estimating 1 cup of rice per person eating (I always make extra for breakfast the following morning.).  In a saucepan, start your sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch.  Let the vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce,  hot sauce and spices mixture warm on low for approximately 5-6 minutes, before adding the cornstarch.  Mixing it with water in a small cup before pouring it in, will prevent lumps (ick).  While the sauce is warming, start prepping your vegetables for your stir fry.  In a skillet, mix the carrots, celery, kale, and beans, cover and allow to cook until tender.  When the sauce it fairly heated up, drop the rice noodles in, and turn the heat up slowly to allow them to cook in a timely manner.  Rice noodles cook especially quickly, so watch closely to make sure they don't get overly done.  When your stir fry and sauce are done, remove both from heat immediately.  

Use your rice as a base, with a large scoop of veggie stir fry and the rice noodle sauce to top!  



Vegan No Bake Cookies

It's a good week for chocolate.  
And an even a better week for the laziest (and most delicious!) recipe ever created.  

Vegan No Bakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
No Cook Time!!!  

Cooking Stuffs: 
2 Cups Raw Sugar (Mines from Costco)
1/4 cup organic Cocoa powder (I used Trader Joe's Brand)
1/4 Cup Vanilla Coconut Milk (Silk Brand)
1/2 Cup Earth Balance margarine (I probably didn't use the full 1/2 cup)
1 tsp Vanilla 
pinch of Sea Salt
 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used Adam's)
 2 cups Oats (I don't buy quick oats, so normal it is!)

In a pot on the stove, start with adding coconut milk on a low temp.  Stir in raw sugar, cocoa powder, margarine, salt, and vanilla.  When combined, add peanut butter as well.  Allow to mix thoroughly.  This liquid combination should never come to a boil, or even a high temp.  When the sauce is fully melted, shut the stove off and mix in your oats.  Use a cookie scoop to portion them out onto wax paper and allow them to dry overnight.  


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blackened Tofu

Anyone had blackened chicken?  I was in love with it before I jumped on the vegan train especially drowned in fettachini alfredo sauce.  Luckily, on accident, I created recipe of my own. 

I love it so much I have a hard time not eating it out of the pan... 

Technically I suppose it's just burned chicken, but it has a nice, crusty, seasoned layer on the outside that makes it crispy and delicious.  Enjoy!

1 package extra firm tofu
sesame oil
soy sauce
garlic, chopped
sea salt (soy sauce is saltly enough alone, so be careful)
Sprinkling of Oregano

Preheat a cooking skillet and throw in the garlic to brown.  Drain the tofu and cut into small cubes.  When the pan is hot (you'll know because the garlic will be browned lol), throw the tofu in and allow to cook for approximately 2-3 minutes or until it starts to get tender.  Spread the cubes evenly out in the pan and drizzle with a modest amount of sesame oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Toss and allow to cook slightly until it begins to brown.  If it's not browning, you may add a bit more oil.  When the majority of the cubes are browned, add about 4 Tablespoons of soy sauce in the bottom of the skillet, and allow the cubes to soak it up. Toss until completely brown and the soy sauce has evaporated.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Makes a good "crouton" for salads, or a quick, yummy snack.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easy Vegan Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Whip on high until fluffy!

<3 The Happy Insomniac

Friday, March 15, 2013

Black Bean & Rice Salad

This recipe has been around my house, I think pretty much forever.  Most college kids live on mac n' cheese...I pretty much lived on this.  I actually have the recipe memorized!  My mom's made it for years and without fail, the large amount it yields never goes uneaten.  As it turns out, now it's just as popular in my household, and a popular 'take-leftover-to lunch lunch'.

I actually had to call my mom to find out where it came from originally, and then tracked it down via Google.  It was originally published in Bon Appetit magazine in August of 1991, and is now posted on's website.  Track down original recipe HERE.

Tip: Jake's pretty miffed that I used the coffee grinder to grind cumin seeds for "fresh cumin powder",  use the Cuisinart instead...or buy a coffee grinder just for spices :)

Black Bean & Rice Salad 
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Chill Time: 1 hour

  • 1 1-pound package whole wheat rice 
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 medium bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly juiced orange juice 
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (freshly ground is better)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs, finely chopped

In a rice cooker, cook approximately 10 cups of rice.  Drain, rinse and prep your veggies.  If you're in a hurry, throw everything into the Cuisinart  *chop chop* and you're done.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, black beans, peppers, onion & cilantro.  In a smaller bowl, whisk the olive oil, juice, vinegar, and seasonings.  Pour dressing over the rice mixture while the dressing is still well mixed. If it settles & separates, whisk again before pouring.  Toss the salad thoroughly so that the dressing covers the entire salad.  Cover & refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.  

Always better the 2nd day!!!

Happy Cooking! :)   


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I've been craving potato soup all day.  So I came home, and made some.  It turned out wonderfully and was vegan to boot.  Enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Cooking Stuffs:

  • 6 Large Potatoes, washed 
  • 3 Stalks of celery, rinsed&chopped
  • 4 Cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 3-4 Cups Coconut milk
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 2 Tablespoons concentrated vegetable soup base (I use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base...any grocery store carries it, I think I got my jar at Safeway)

Seasonings to Taste:

  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chives
Using a sharp knife, slice each potato down the center to allow for venting, and microwave all six potatoes together on a plate for 8 minutes.  While your potatoes are microwaving: Set a large pot on the stove on medium heat and mix 3 cups of coconut milk & the veggie base, stirring well.  If the milk begins to boil, turn down immediately.  Add celery, minced garlic, and onion allowing them to cook thoroughly.  When the potatoes are done cooking, cut them into chunks and add to the pot.  Stir regularly, allowing the soup to thicken.  As the potatoes break down, add the remaining cup of coconut milk as needed to avoid over-thickening. 

Allow the soup to come to a slight boil, and serve immediately. 

Happy Cooking! 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Black Thumb

Basil plants #2 & #3 just croaked...I think I'm going to give up on trying to grow herbs :/

Bad-Day Banana Bread

Banana bread is amazing no matter why mood you're in, but this recipe definitely falls into the comfort food zone, is completely vegan-safe (cinnamon rolls...You're next, muahaha), and will turn any bad day upside down.

Generally, vegan banana bread seems to be particularly grumpy when it comes to either cooking all the way through, having a poor flavor, being to dry, lumpy, and just overall blah.  However, this one I tripled, which tells you how good it must be. :)

As always, most recipes I post are open to creative interpretation by the baker and often have room for add-ins to cater to your preferences. Extra goodies that would be good in this bread would be unsweetened coconut flakes, vegan chocolate chips, or sliced almonds.  Also, since it's not overbearingly sweet, it pairs well with strong coffee & tea (especially for those of you who are creamer fans)!

Bad-Day Banana Bread
Prep Time: 15-20 Minutes
Bake Time: 1-1 1/2 hours

Cooking Stuffs:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 Tablespoons flax meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • sprinkle of salt

In a large bowl, peel the bananas and using a potato masher, mash thoroughly.  Slowly stir in the remaining ingredients using an electric hand mixer or a wooden spoon (com'mon muscles!).  It should make a fairly thick batter that smells divine!  Pour into a loaf pan, 9x13 glass dish, or cupcake pan that has been greased with olive oil.  Bake for 45 minutes, then use a knife to see if the center is done.  If not, bake in addition 15 minute intervals until the knife comes out clean.  Allow to cool and serve.  Store in a sealed ziplock to preserve their freshness and they are completely freeze-able!

Happy Baking!