Grilled Cheese Sandwich for Grownups: Aged English Smoked Farmhouse

No matter how old I get, my love for a perfectly browned and crispy grilled cheese sandwich never fades. It seems kind of silly, but even when I found a fancy cheese like Miyoko’s Creamery Aged English Smoked Farmhouse on sale at Whole Foods, the first thing I thought of was making a grilled cheese sandwich!

Grown-up Grilled Cheese with Miyoko's Smoked Farmhouse | Orthodox and Vegan

The round thing that looks kind of like a burger is the smoked cheese!

I grabbed a variety of olives and teeny tiny pickles from the olive bar, and Tofurky Bologna slices. Believe it or not, before I went vegan, I used to love fried bologna and cheese sandwiches (and I also really loved spam). So I think even when I eat vegan junk food it’s a big step up from the way I ate before 😀

The cheese from Miyoko’s Creamery is hardly junk food, though. It’s made with cashews, chickpea miso, nutritional yeast, salt, and cultures to ferment it. Miyoko describes it as “Semi-hard with rich, smoky, sharpness that lingers.”

It’s so good I could just slice it up and eat it on its own. Luckily I saved some for this sandwich, though 🙂

Grown-up Grilled Cheese with Miyoko's Smoked Farmhouse | Orthodox and Vegan
Grilled Cheese Sandwich for When You Adult
2 slices of bread
Approx 1oz Miyoko’s Creamery Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, sliced*
5 slices Tofurky Bologna
1/4 C sliced olives
garlic powder

Lightly spread margarine on one side of each slice of bread, and sprinkle that side with garlic powder. Place one slice margarine side down on a skillet. Layer on half the sliced cheese, olives, bologna, remaining cheese, and top with the second slice of bread margarine side up.
Cook over medium heat until bread is browned, then very carefully flip the sandwich and brown the other side.

*You don’t have to weigh the cheese, just make sure it’s enough to cover each slice of bread.

Cashew cheese doesn’t get gooey when it melts, but it does soften and is delicious warmed, no matter if the box says it’s best served cold or at room temp!

What’s your favorite way to dress up a grilled cheese sandwich?

Louisiana Okra and Cheese Grits

As promised, today I’m pleased to share this Louisiana Okra and Cheese Grits recipe passed on to me by Esther, the dietitian from Rouses Market in New Orleans. All of the necessary ingredients can be found at Rouses, and luckily you can probably find these simple ingredients in your hometown, too!

Louisiana Okra and Vegan Cheese Grits | Orthodox and Vegan
Esther writes:
Here in Louisiana, grits are a staple in many dishes – don’t forget the okra and tomatoes! Usually, these come as sides, but I believe it’s time for them to join forces to become the main meal.

Louisiana Okra and Vegan Cheese Grits | Orthodox and Vegan
Usually this will include bacon or sausage, but not for this vegan dish.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 cups sliced okra
1 14.5 ounce canned (no salt added) tomatoes

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about three minutes. Add okra and tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese grits.

Vegan Cheese Grits
3 Tbsp Daiya dairy free shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grits
3 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Over the stove, boil water in a saucepan and add grits, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cover allowing grits to thicken – stirring occasionally. Once cooked to desired thickness, add cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve grits and top with okra and tomatoes!

Thank you, Esther!!! I shared my meal with two non-vegans, and they both enjoyed it.

I have to admit I used way more than 3 Tbsp of Daiya in the cheese grits, I can’t resist adding more fat to every meal 😀 I may have added something like 1/2 C. I also added a few cloves of finely chopped garlic with the onions in the okra stew.
I appreciated the simplicity of needing nothing more than salt and pepper for seasoning, it really did come out beautifully.

Shout out to Esther and to Rouses Market for taking the time to reply to my email, to send me a HUGE list of every single vegan item in the entire store, and for putting together this fabulous recipe. It’s obvious Rouses cares about their customers, and I greatly appreciate it.

If you’ve got a favorite southern food you’ve learned to veganize, let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to stop by a Rouses Market next time you’re in Louisiana.

Taco Bell Copycat Vegan Crunchwrap

Taco Bell Copycat Recipe: DIY Vegan Crunchwrap | Orthodox and Vegan
So, although I had gotten tons of requests for a Vegan at Taco Bell guide, I was still really surprised by the popularity of that post! So I figured I’d share this DIY Vegan Crunchwrap recipe with all you Taco Bell fans. It’s super easy, and you will wonder why you never tried it at home before 😀

Taco Bell Copycat Vegan Crunchwrap
flour tortilla shell or gluten free wrap (at least 10″)
fillings of choice
oil, for cooking

Start by quickly heating your tortilla or wrap in the microwave for about 12 seconds, so it will be flexible. While it’s in the microwave, get your lightly oiled skillet heating on the stove over medium heat. I usually just give the skillet a quick spray of cooking oil.

When your tortilla is warmed, place the tostada in the center. Layer on the fillings, keeping everything centered on the tostada. If you’re adding anything that could make the tostada soggy, first add a “protective” layer – I usually use a piece of lettuce.

Now, take the edge of the tortilla and fold it in towards the center. Hold it in place with one hand, and use the other to fold in another portion of the tortilla. Continue until you have made a sort of rounded hexagon…or in my case, a six-a-gon. Don’t have to be perfect!

Place your crunchwrap folded side down in the heated skilled until it begins to be brown – about 30 – 60 seconds. Flip it and brown the other side. Eat it as soon as it’s cool enough to handle, otherwise the tostada will get soft!

DIY Vegan Crunchwrap

I use a 10″ tortilla and I’ve never ever been able to get it completely closed. Ah well, I’ll just have to keep practicing which means I’ll just have to eat more crunchwraps.

*If you don’t have a tostada (a flat, round, toasted or fried little tortilla), you can use tortilla chips. Make a circle shape by placing the chips side by side with the pointed ends facing in. Different brands will be different sizes and you may have to play around with them.

Vegan Crunchwrap Fillings

You can pretty much put whatever you want in your vegan crunchwrap, as long as it fits. My favorites include:
-Refried Beans
-Frank’s Redhot Sauce
-Vegan Cheese (try it with Homemade Coconut Milk Cheese)

I put the cheese on last so it’ll get all melty – yum!! Even though I can never close the thing completely, I’ve never had an issue with my fillings spilling out. I think it’s because I layer it in such a way that everything sticks together inside.

Pro Tip: Add a second tostada or layer of tortilla chips to make your vegan crunchwrap EXTRA CRUNCHY.

What are your favorite crunchwrap fillings? Tell us below!!!!!

Response to Bon Appétit’s VeganEgg Review

Follow Your Heart VeganEgg

Vegan food has come a long way over the years. We’re living in pretty exciting times with the recent explosion of vegan products hitting the market, giving people a huge variety of alternatives to foods made of factory farmed animals. So when a friend pointed me to Bon Appétit’s critical review of VeganEgg, we decided I had to respond.
(It’s possible the review is an attempt at satire, but that should’ve been noted somewhere since this is supposed to be a reputable food magazine)

As soon as I could, I whipped up a beautiful omelet, capturing it all on video for you…an upside-down video because I don’t really have equipment for that sort of thing and I used velcro to attach my tripod to the handle of the microwave that sits above my oven. I really didn’t like that video. So…I tried twice more, forcing myself to eat an omelet each time. The final video, below, is about as good as it gets for me (my camera is perched on an upturned pot), and includes my cat going nuts playing with a pen.

Let’s talk about the review
1. “There are very few things I’m good at: finishing other people’s leftovers, ordering an appetizer so big I’m full by the time the meal arrives, and cooking scrambled eggs, the absolute limit to my culinary skillset.”
Right away he establishes his lack of cooking skills.

2. “I added two tablespoons of powdered egg to half a cup of water”
The water REALLY needs to be ice cold. Was it ice cold water, as directed?

3. “It’s probably three or four rubbery bites, tops.”
But the package clearly states 2 Tbsp with 1/2 C water equals one egg. You made one egg to divide between yourself and two guests.

4. “I made them salty baby food.”
Might have something to do with the “hefty dose of salt” you mentioned adding.

Response to Bon Appétit's Review of VeganEgg

VeganEgg makes a great omelet

On the other hand, one VeganEgg is a great serving size for one person, depending on how you serve it.

Now I admit VeganEgg is a little on the bland side. After all, for baked goods you generally wouldn’t want a strong sulfur taste that is characteristic of cooked eggs. So when you’re simply making a scramble, omelet, or quiche, you may want to liven things up with a little kala namak (black salt) – find it on Amazon. But other than that, I’m calling user error here. I’ve served VeganEgg to several non-vegans. Some knew in advance, some didn’t. They all agreed it had the taste and texture of eggs.

Response to Bon Appétit's Review of VeganEgg

But don’t just take my word for it. Thanks to a few other foodies, we can see just how beautifully VeganEgg turns out when used appropriately. Note: Some of these recipes may require more than one VeganEgg.

Check these guys out on Instagram:

Response to Bon Appétit's Review of VeganEgg
SunnyDazeAhead also made a beautiful omelet, complete with vegan sausage and hashbrowns

Response to Bon Appétit's Review of VeganEgg
_plantbased serves her scramble topped with Daiya shreds, and a side of avocado toast

Response to Bon Appétit's Review of VeganEgg
__lora’s amazing custard & raspberry pie

Response to Bon Appétit's Review of VeganEgg
Scramble on toast with mushrooms & vegan sausage by emmabrindley – I love ketchup on scrambled eggs 🙂

Response to Bon Appétit's Review of VeganEgg
And finally, a giant veggie quiche by vegan_cyclist

P.S. You can follow ME on Instagram @timetovegan

Looking for more recipes?
Vegan Quiche by The Spooky Vegan
Gypseavegan’s Chorizo Omelettes brought to you by the Herbivorous Butcher
Kale & Spinach Spanakopita by Eat Drink Shrink

Review: Vegan Beyond Beef Crumbles

Review: Vegan Beyond Beef Crumbles
This week I tried Beyond Beef Crumbles. I’ve had the Beyond brand Beast Burger, and it is amazing, so I wanted to check out their other products. Beyond Meat products are vegan, gluten free, and soy free. They bulk up the product with pea protein.

Review: Vegan Beyond Beef Crumbles
I bought the Feisty flavor. The stove top cooking instructions are simple: Add a little oil to a pan, and heat until warm. I could smell the seasonings so I thought maybe I wouldn’t have to add anything to the crumbles – especially since the name is Feisty, but after tasting it I realized that was not the case. I added salt, pepper, garlic, and chili powder (besides already having sauteed some onions before adding the veggie meat). Oh, I probably also added a little pinch of nutritional yeast since I add it to practically everything!

Review: Vegan Beyond Beef Crumbles
I made a quick layer dip with refried beans & Frank’s Red Hot Sauce on the bottom, then guacamole, Better Than Sour Cream combined with Follow Your Heart Bleu Cheese dressing, salsa, and finally the Beyond Beef Crumbles.

The texture of the crumbles was not as meaty as the Beast Burger, and they definitely have a more…vegetarian taste. Not bad, just not what I expected after the Beast Burger. The individual bits are also way bigger than, say, Boca brand crumbles. It made them kind of awkward to eat with chips. It’s also disappointing they’re already seasoned but still need to be seasoned! Still, if you’re avoiding soy and gluten, this is probably your best option. I would buy it for my gf friends.

What’s your favorite allergy-friendly vegan meat?

Cleansing Vegetable Soup

Vegan Cleansing Vegetable Soup Recipe
This is the other dish I brought to the Lenten potluck earlier this week. I looked through a bunch of detox soup recipes online, then used the ideas to throw together this gorgeous green vegetable soup. It’s packed with veggies, easy to make, and this recipe makes a large pot so you could eat it for days…I would have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I were more disciplined.

Cleansing Vegetable Soup
2 pounds dried split peas
2 heads broccoli
1 pound carrots
1 pound celery
1 bunch green onion
1/4 C peeled & chopped turmeric (or more to taste)
2 bunches kale
6 C vegetable broth (homemade or high quality store bought)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
optional: 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

Cook split peas according to instructions, allowing them to get very tender and soft (even a little mushy!).
Meanwhile, chop all the vegetables except kale, and add to large pot with turmeric and vegetable broth – include the leafy celery and carrot tops, they add a great flavor and are very nutritious. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, and simmer until veggies are tender and falling apart, adding salt and pepper to taste (and nutritional yeast, if using). Tear kale from stems and add to veggies. Simmer until tender.
Let the vegetables and split peas cool slightly, then blend in batches – I did a few ladles-full of vegetables along with a big scoop of split peas in each batch. You can blend it all until completely smooth, or leave some of the veggies in chunks.

Vegan Cleansing Vegetable Soup Recipe
At home, I serve the soup with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top and finished with Mediterranean black lava salt (I love finding fancy salts at Home Goods). The split peas bulk it up and make it pretty filling on its own, but it would also be wonderful over rice or potatoes. I bought a container of rice with chickpeas from the monastery, it had bits of onion and dill in it, and it was delicious with the soup mixed in.

This soup is oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day…unless you accidentally grab a vegetable broth with safflower oil in it, which is a totally unnecessary ingredient and why you should make your own broth. But it is better to eat the soup than let it go to waste 🙂

Lemon Ginger Chia Beverage

Hydrating Lemon Ginger Beverage with Chia Seeds
This may just be the most Lenten recipe I post this season. It was supposed to look beautiful and radiant in the sunlight, but I just realized now it even looks kind of swampy sitting in the grass like this. The swampiness isn’t exactly a fair representation, but let it be a warning to you: This is not a drink for the faint of heart.

I have a thing for drinks with a bite. This one, for example, is extremely tart and mildly bitter, with just a hint of sweetness from maple syrup. The chia seeds are added to make it more satisfying, and may also help keep you hydrated (anyway that’s what I keep reading) – important during the very strict fasting days at the beginning of Great Lent and end of Holy Week.

Lemon Ginger Chia Beverage
2 – 3 lemons, or to taste
1/4 C peeled ginger, roughly chopped
2 1/2 C water
maple syrup, to taste
3 Tbsp chia seeds
*optional: lemon zest

Juice two lemons (or more, if you prefer), and add juice to pot with water. Slice the third lemon and set slices aside.
Add chopped ginger and optional lemon zest* to lemon water and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out ginger chunks. Add maple syrup to taste (keep in mind this is supposed to be somewhat healthy…add just enough so the bitter and tart flavors don’t kill you). Stir in chia seeds. Place in a glass jar. Add lemon slices, and place jar in fridge to chill. Drink cold.
This recipe makes about two glasses.

*I carefully sliced the peel off my two lemons – not the bitter white pith, just the yellow peel – and added it with the ginger. Slicing is so much faster than using a zester!

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich

Yes, I am still celebrating Pizza Week, but I’ll be posting my pizza tonight. This morning I want to share a review of VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart. I’ve been purchasing it on Amazon since I can get free shipping with Prime (thanks to my brother for sharing access to his Prime account – did you know you can share access with multiple people??).

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich
It was selling out fast in the beginning. When I first heard about it, it was out of stock at every online retailer I checked, and I have yet to find it locally. After a week it became available, so I ordered two cartons and sent one to a friend. When my carton was running out, it was out of stock again! So a couple weeks later when it became available, I ordered four cartons all for me 😀 I used it to make scrambled eggs, omelets, a quiche-like dish, and even very experimental sunny side up eggs. I also did a very simple egg sandwich just because I love the taste of the VeganEgg with the VioLife herb cheese.

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich
For the sandwich, I poured the mixed VeganEgg into my skillet and let it cook over medium heat until it was firm, then flipped it and cooked a couple minutes longer. I used a biscuit cutter to cut rounds of egg the size of my bagel (I have a lovely antique set with nesting rings of several sizes).

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich with VioLife
I put tons of margarine on both halves of the bagel – I’m not vegan for my health! (but you could sub olive oil or coconut oil sprinkled with a little salt)

VeganEgg Breakfast Sandwich with VioLife
Then add a slice or two of VioLife herb cheese. But if, like most people reading this, you are in the United States without access to VioLife (YET), try it with Follow Your Heart’s Garden Herb cheese slices. You could also add your favorite vegan deli slices or vegan bacon.

Does it taste like eggs? YES. Okay, I don’t really know firsthand because I can’t remember what eggs taste like, although the consistency seemed right and I thought the taste was familiar. I made a sort of a quiche dish for a dinner party (recipe coming soon) and told everyone up front what it was. They all said it was like eggs, but in case I ruined it by letting them in on the secret ingredient, someone arrived late and took a big scoop. “Mmmm, who brought the quiche?” “It’s VEGAN.” “WUT.” So yes, I think it’s really similar.

VeganEgg Tips
-The instructions say to mix the VeganEgg powder with ice cold water – and they mean it! Put some water in a glass with ice when you get started, and pop it in the freezer or fridge while prep everything else. Then strain the water when you pour it into the measuring cup.

-If whisking, pour the water in gradually. Start with just enough to make a paste, and whisk to break up any lumps. Add a little more water, whisk until smooth, etc.

-Whisk the heck out of it!

-You can add a bit more water than called for to get more bang for your buck with the same great eggy results. Play around to see what works for you.

-The powder has a very mild/bland flavor on its own because its meant to also be used for baking. Personally, I would never waste it on baking when there are so many cheap alternatives! But due to the mild taste for that reason, I definitely recommend adding kala namak black salt for a sulfurous taste. It’s up to you how much, I usually do about 4 shakes per serving. I also add 1 tsp nutritional yeast per serving.

Overall, yes, this is an expensive little carton of eggs, but it’s totally worth it for a special treat or a shared meal with non-vegans. And it’s super fun to experiment with!

Big Qrunch Plate

Lately it seems like I’m hungry ALL the time. I feel like a big bear bulking up for hibernation! I usually have a supply of Qrunch Burgers in the freezer and try to find different ways to use them, other than just sticking them in a bun. They’re good “filler” because of the quinoa, and because of the great variety of flavors they come in.

Vegan Qrunch Burger Plate

The Qrunch Plate

As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of using recipes, but lately I’ve posted quite a few that have actual measurements. Well, not today. The Big Qrunch Plate is something you can throw together with what you have on hand – assuming you at least have the Qrunch Burgers 🙂 But here’s a guide you might use:

Big Qrunch Plate
2 Qrunch Burgers
sauteed and/or fresh veggies
dollop of vegan sour cream
seasonings to taste

For mine, I sauteed onions, garlic, bell pepper, and tomatoes, then added fresh avocado. I bought some less-than-stellar vegan sour cream from Trader Joe’s and seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, nutritional yeast, and dill, and it tastes much better. It went great with the veggies and Spicy Buffalo Qrunch Burgers, and was just the right touch for the Chef Ernesto breaded green beans I got from Dollar Tree – that’s what you see bordering the veggies & burger. The meal is gluten free if you leave out the breaded stuff (or make your own with gf breadcrumbs).

I finally felt full after this meal! What’s your favorite thing to eat during the winter months?

Baptizing Dough on the Theophany of Christ

Theophany Icon Decorated with Flowers

An icon of the baptism of Christ, decorated by my friend Carolyn (who points out she had some help from me and Melissa)

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan
Worship of the Trinity was made manifest
For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee
Calling Thee His beloved Son
And the Spirit in the likeness of a dove
Confirmed the truth of His Word
O Christ, our God, Who hath appeared and enlightened the world
Glory to Thee

Last night we celebrated an evening Liturgy for the feast of Theophany. This is similar to Epiphany, but unlike the West, our celebration focuses solely on Christ’s baptism and the appearing of the Holy Spirit. We talk a lot about the Magi during the festal period of the Nativity, so that’s over and done with for Theophany (which is a Greek word meaning “manifestation of God”). After the Liturgy for the feast, we have the Great Blessing of Water. In some areas, this means going outside and blessing a body of water – maybe we’ll do the Grand River one day! But for now, in our parish we bless spring water in a font inside the church. The people are sprinkled (or splashed, or drenched, depending on the zeal of the priest) with the holy water, given some to drink, and usually get a small bottle to take home. For the days and weeks following Theophany, the parish priest will do house blessings, also using the holy water.

There’s another Theophany tradition I just learned about last week when Father asked me if anyone in the parish knows how to make zalabia. First I had to google it. There are tons of variations, with some people using a wet dough and some using something more like bread dough, various shapes, and different toppings. The first person I contacted is my friend Nadira because I know she’s a great cook and can make just about any kind of Middle Eastern food, and whatever else she dreams up.

Nadira found a Jordanian recipe which is in Arabic. She translated it and whipped up the dough for us and the two of us, with help from her son Mutaz, tried our best to make beautifully golden-brown zalabia with just the right amount of crunch on the outside, soft on the inside, that doesn’t get soggy when the syrup is added.

Zalabia for Theophany
I can’t find any information online about why zalabia is served for the feast of Theophany, but as we were making it Nadira made the observation that we were baptizing the dough. You see, to make these little balls of fried goodness, you squeeze the wet dough up through a hole in the top of your fist, then quickly swipe it with an oiled spoon, immediately flinging it into the hot oil.

Watch the Zalabia King. When the dough hits the oil it sinks straight to the bottom, then shoots up again, rising to the top.

If you haven’t seen an Orthodox baptism, we don’t just pour water over the baby’s head – they are in the water and they get dunked (by the way, it’s also Greek tradition to completely cover the baby in oil, just like our little dough balls)!

Zalabia for Theophany
We made a large batch coated in simple syrup. Nadira added a little rosewater for flavor.

Zalabia for Theophany
Then a small batch was sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

We did burn some of the oil not thinking about the different smoke points for different kinds of oil (we had a different kind in each pot). We also forgot to bring a thermometer, which would have been super helpful…we burned a few pieces, but I am still going to eat them 🙂 At the end we decided we need a nice deep fryer with a filter and accurate temperature gauge if we’re going to do this annually, and we are going to do this annually because who doesn’t like fried dough covered in sugar???

We will perfect our recipe and technique, maybe figure out how to make all the different shapes, and then I’ll post the recipe here before Theophany next year so maybe some of you can treat your parish, or family & friends, too.

Blessed Feast to All!