Product review: Gardein Golden Fishless Filet

Whenever I am in a store’s freezer section, I always scan the shelves looking for new vegetarian products. The blue packaging of this Gardein product caught my eye! Vegetarian fish?! Yes please! And hey, it’s actually VEGAN. So this comes with 6 battered “fish” pieces in a package. I baked them in the oven and served them with vegan tartar sauce, French fries, and onion rings. WOW, these were good! The batter was really crispy and the “fish” was very flaky inside. They could have tasted a little fishier, but they were still excellent. I seriously could have eaten the whole package myself. I think next time I make them I am going to make fish tacos! Excellent product, Gardein!

rating: 9.6


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Roasted Garlic Soup with Asiago Crostini

Hello, garlic. This is not a soup that you can make on the fly. You have to roast the heck out of some garlic for over an hour. But man, is this good?! I doubled the recipe so I could have leftovers (I love leftovers), so I roasted 12 bulbs of garlic! My house smells incredible! My 7 year old loved this soup and really liked the crostini. Do make the crostini, they go really well with the soup. Even though this one does take some time, it’s worth it.

rating: 9.6

Roasted Garlic Soup with Asiago Crostini
(Food Network magazine, Oct. 2014)

prep time: 20 min.
cooking time: 1 hour 50 min.
total time needed: 2 hours 10 min.
makes 5 cups


For the soup:

6 large heads garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock (I used vegetarian “chicken” stock)
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup heavy cream
Chopped fresh parsley, for topping

For the crostini:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1 sourdough baguette, sliced 1 inch thick on the diagonal
1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese


Make the soup: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tops off the garlic heads to expose the cloves and remove any excess papery skins. Place on a large sheet of foil; drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Close the foil around the garlic, leaving a space between the tops and the foil, and place on a baking sheet. Roast until soft and fragrant, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from the foil, let cool and squeeze out the garlic into a bowl.

In a large heavy soup pot (preferably enameled cast iron) over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the roasted garlic and cook, stirring, until slightly thick, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook until a dark golden roux forms, stirring frequently, 5 to 6 more minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock and stir to incorporate, then repeat until all of the stock has been added. Add 2 cups water in 1-cup increments, stirring after each. Add the Italian seasoning, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and stir to combine well. Bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crostini: Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the paprika and oregano and mix well. Place the bread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with the oil-spice mixture. Top each slice with about 1 teaspoon cheese and bake until the cheese is melted and the bread is starting to crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the cream to the soup and cook at a very low simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Ladle into small mugs or bowls; top with parsley and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with the crostini.

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“Beef” Stew VI

Not sure where the name came from, but this is a very highly rated recipe on! It was really good, but I think I prefer this one.  I used three bags of Gardein Beefless tips in place of the beef, and then vegetarian “beef” broth in place of the beef bouillon. My house smelled awesome while this was cooking! Again, this was good, but I prefer the other one.

rating: 8.5

Beef Stew VI
(All Recipes magazine, Oct./Nov. 2014)

serves 10


2 pounds cubed beef stew meat (I used 3 bags of Gardein Beefless Tips)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cubes beef bouillon, crumbled (I used vegetarian beef broth)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

1. In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef in oil over medium heat until brown. Dissolve bouillon in water and pour into pot. Stir in rosemary, parsley and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
2. Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the pot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 teaspoons cold water and stir into stew. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.


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Bow Ties in Garlic Cream Sauce

Okay, one more from Chloe Coscarelli and her new cookbook! I am on the waiting list at the library to get it and I can’t wait! I had a few problems with the sauce being “grainy”. I have a Ninja food processor, and I just couldn’t get the sauce to become super smooth. Not sure if I need a Vitamix or some other beast to do that or what. But, this tasted great! Husband couldn’t believe it was vegan! The raw cashews I did soak in water overnight (she didn’t mention that, but maybe that’s why it was still grainy?). The sun-dried tomatoes really add a lot to this dish, so don’t leave them out!

rating: 9

Bow Ties in Garlic Cream Sauce
(Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, Chloe Coscarelli)

serves 4-6


1 pound farfalle (or gluten-free pasta)
1/2 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup raw cashews or blanched almonds
*2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 pound sliced mushrooms
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add farfalle and cook according to package directions. Right before draining, add sun-dried tomatoes to the boiling water. Then drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and let cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat. In a blender, combine onion, cashews, water, lemon juice, and salt. Process on high until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a large pot or skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft and lightly browned. If needed, add more olive oil. Add cream sauce and reduce heat to low. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add sauce to pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

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Italian Apple Cake

I don’t bake much, but my favorite apple cake is this. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to try another apple cake, but I got an email from Chloe about her new cookbook coming out, and this recipe was posted. It was good! It wasn’t overly sweet. I wasn’t sure how big the apple slices were supposed to be, though, and I feel like maybe mine were too big. Anywho, this was still good, and hey, it’s vegan! My 7 year old (who isn’t too big on sweets- what???), wanted to take some of this to school in his lunchbox!

rating: 8

Italian Apple Cake
(Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, Chloe Coscarelli)


1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
3 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
Powdered sugar for serving


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round pan and line with parchment paper. Grease again.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a large spoon until just combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be very thick, but the apples will release moisture as they bake.
Arrange some of the apples in a circular pattern to cover most of the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Then gently fold in the remaining apples into the batter. Spoon the batter into the pan, being careful not to disrupt the apple pattern on the bottom. Use a spatula or your fingertips to pat it evenly into the pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the center is set and the cake is lightly browned on top. Rotate the cake halfway through baking time.
Once cooled, run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake, and gently unmold so that the apple design is on top. Peel off the parchment paper. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.



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Product Review: Amy’s Pizza Bites

These are new from Amy’s Kitchen: Cheese Pizza Bites! They are already cut up into 3″ squares, and you can microwave them or bake them (which is what I did) and they are ready in a snap. Of course with a cheese pizza, you can add whatever toppings you want, but we decided to keep it plain and simple and stick with the cheese. These were good! My kids did like them, although my 4 year old got frustrated picking up the squares (they were a little messy). These are nice to have on hand for a quick snack or dinner!

rating: 9


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Hummus Pomodoro with Warm Pizza Crust

We let me say right off the bat that I didn’t attempt the warm pizza crust. I just didn’t have time. But, I did make the hummus, and it was really good! It had a good flavor and the tomatoes and oil on top added a little something something, but I am on the fence about the drizzle of balsamic at the end. We ate this with some garlic crostini I got at the grocery store.

rating: 8.5

Hummus Pomodoro with Warm Pizza Crust
(Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen, Chloe Coscarelli)



1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, chopped
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Pizza Crust:

1 pound pizza dough
All-purpose flour for rolling
Olive oil for brushing
Sea salt


For the hummus: Combine beans, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides with a spatula. Adjust seasoning to taste and transfer to a bowl. Top with chopped tomato and basil, and drizzle with oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve with warm pizza crust.

For the pizza crust: Preheat the oven to broil. Divide dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface until about ¹⁄8 inch thick. Place on a baking sheet, brush both sides with oil, and season with salt. Broil for 2 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, then flip using tongs, and broil for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned in spots. Cut into triangles and serve warm with hummus.

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