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Guys! This week’s Friday Five comes from one my all-time favourite food bloggers, Isa Chandra from Post Punk Kitchen! I mean,come on, her site is amazing, she has a bagillion cookbooks, and her cookie recipes are to die for (exhibit A, exhibit B)! So take a second to find out why she’s a loveable vegan with an affinity for squash butts. Yup.

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Thai it up

Good morning! Just a quick recipe today as I’m running late for school. What can I say about this soup? It’s simple to prepare, makes enough for leftovers, and is just really damn tasty!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Thai corn and cilantro soup
Serves 4-6 

1 tbsp veggie oil
1 tbsp chopped hot pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tbsp ginger
6 cups veggie stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups corn
1 can coconut milk
1/2 package tofu, cut into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 cups fresh cilantro, chopped

Begin by heating the oil on medium heat and cook the onions, garlic, ginger, and hot pepper until just soft (about 5 minutes).

Add veggie stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in the soy sauce, corn, tofu, coconut milk and 1/2 cup of cilantro (save the rest for garnish).

Allow soup to simmer on low heat for at least 15 minutes (longer= more flavour) before serving. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with the remaining cilantro and enjoy!

Well here we are again, hello Friday, nice to see you! Is it just me or are the weeks just flying by lately? This week’s edition of Friday Five comes from one of my closest friends who only recently adopted a vegan diet. She is studying to be a nutritionist and has told me that progress in her program is slow to recognize the benefits of a plant-based diet. This is frustrating to hear, although not all that surprising.  But I am thankful for people like Nikki who can advocate for the nutritional advantages of being vegan. Go Nikki!

Lindsay with the hungry birdie in NYC last winter

Well hello little birdies! My name is Lindsay, and I am a ukulele playing vegan living in Toronto (we are a growing breed, I assure you). I am also the leader and organizer of Vegetarians In Their Twenties (VITT), a Toronto Vegetarian Association group (http://www.veg.ca/).

It is my pleasure to guest post on this inspiringly beautiful autumn day! With the cool crisp fall air, comes thick scarves, a plethora of pumpkins of every corner, and compelling conversations based on the age-old Halloween question “Is that person wearing a costume, or…?”  I am lucky to live in a neighbourhood in Toronto that feels more like a small town than a busy metropolis any day of the year. Most of our Sundays are spent exploring the countless little shops in our area, visiting the dog park with our pup and returning home only to throw some Simon and Garfunkle on the record player and tidy up.

Today, with the cool fall  Lake Ontario breeze brushing up against my cheeks, I found myself longing for a warm tea and vegan treats. Naturally, I stopped by one of the Beaches’ best kept vegan secrets that I feel compelled to share with all of you: D’Vine  Gelato Lounge and Coffee Bar (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/d-vine-gelato-lounge-and-coffee-bar-toronto). Though not everything is vegan here, they often serve up herbivore friendly soups, and offer a mouth watering array of delectable vegan sweets! Our favourite is the pea’not’ butter bars and Vegan/Gluten Free Cupcakes. There are few things more relaxing than enjoying an oversized green tea and mounds of vegan icing on a lazy fall Sunday afternoon.

I challenge all of you wonderful readers to get out and explore your neighbourhoods today. What kind of vegan treats can you find in otherwise unsuspecting areas? I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy the thrill of finding something I can munch on in places I never thought I would be able to! I hope you all get a chance to steep some goodness, explore your neighbourhoods, and enjoy this seasonally perfect day! Until next time birdies… xo

Chris is a friend of mine from school and a fellow vegan. It’s been so wonderful to meet a few other vegans in the program (mainly because it gives us an excuse to go here more often). I admire Chris for his social advocacy skills- especially when it comes to his passion for veganism- and I like to think he admires me for introducing him to Daiya cheese! Needless to say, I’m thrilled that he agreed to answer the Friday Five this week, enjoy!

Spooky sweets

Halloween is right around the corner and although I’m still stumped for costume ideas, I certainly didn’t need convincing on the cupcake front! As I’ve mentioned, I’m a somewhat tentative baker and not one to get creative with my own sweet concoctions just yet. But I got this fabulous recipe from Jess’s wonderful blog and these babies were pretty close to perfection! The only changes I made were reducing the amount of Earth Balance in the frosting (hey, I can be sensible sometimes) and adding a pinch of cinnamon for a seasonal flair.

Not that cupcake baking ever needs to be justified, but I whipped these up for a bake sale at school. I can’t remember the last time I helped out with such an event but it felt nice to contribute to a good cause. All of the funds went to organizations that help at-risk women in the Ottawa area. Lately, it’s been so easy to get consumed in my law school bubble of lectures, readings, assignments and exams. It really is as crazy as everyone said it would be. But it’s important that myself and my classmates get our noses out of our books and our butts out of the library every now and again to realize that there is, in fact, a world outside of law school. And dare I say (gasp!) even more important things than academic success. Coming from the perfectionist that I am, this is much easier said than done. But every pot luck, bike ride, and bake sale for a good cause is helping me not to forget the things that I’m passionate about. After all, I still want to come out as me at the end of this whole ride!

Vanilla Halloween Cupcakes
Makes one dozen

1 cup almond milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sunflower or canola oil
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup organic all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the almond milk and cider vinegar in a large bowl and set aside to curdle for about five minutes. Add in the oil, sugar and vanilla and stir until well combined. Sift the remaining dry ingredients into a separate bowl before slowly stirring them into the wet mixture. Beat (or whisk) together until smooth.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way full and bake for about 16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be patient and allow the cupcakes to cool completely before icing.

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream
1/3 cup earth balance vegan margerine
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp almond milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Red and orange food colouring
Vegan jujubes (check for no gelatin!)

Whip the Earth Balance and the vanilla together. Add in the sugar and almond milk a bit at a time until the mixture is smooth. Add in the cinnamon and food colouring. To get the orange, I used about two parts yellow to one part red. Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes and top with jujubes! YUM!

Fried fiesta

When I discovered that this vegan queso dip existed, I got more than a little excited. After promptly ordering several jars of the stuff, there was nothing left to do but wait for its arrival. Clearly, the sauce made for some fabulous nachos but I wanted to think of a more creative way to enjoy it. Enter: vegan Mexican cheesy pierogies. Crazy, I know! But they turned out to be just as amazing as I had hoped. Crispy on the outside and ooey-gooey on the inside. Paired with fresh salsa, they made for quite the Saturday night feast!

If you aren’t all as eager as I am to order vegan cheese dip off the internet (but really, is that weird?), then adding a pinch of cumin to this recipe would work well too. And I imagine throwing in some Daiya and non-dairy milk wouldn’t be too shabby of an option either. Whatever you choose, these pierogies really are as good as they look. And come on, doesn’t everyone love themselves a little fiesta?

“Cheesy” Mexican Pierogies with Homemade Salsa
Serves 4 

Pierogies:
20-30 eggless dumpling wrappers
3-4 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup vegan cheese sauce
Vegetable oil for frying, amounts may vary

Salsa:
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 scallions, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Begin by boiling the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Once fork tender, drain and mash, adding in the Earth Balance, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, saute the onions in 1 tbsp of veg oil over medium heat until soft and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir onions and 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce (reserving 1/4 cup for later) into the mashed potatoes and set aside.

While the potatoes are boiling and the onions are cooking, simply combine all of the salsa ingredients and refrigerate until time to eat.

Working in batches of 4-6, carefully add about 1/2 tsp of the cheesy potato mixture to the centre of each dumpling wrapper. Top with a dollop of the reserved cheese sauce and fold into half moons, sealing edges with a fork. The pierogies can be fried immediately, but I prefer to steam them first in order to soften them up. Steam for no longer than one minute per batch. In a large pan, heat about 1 tbsp of oil over medium and fry pierogies for about 3 minutes per side, until crispy and golden brown. Repeat until all of the pierogies have been cooked. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until it’s time to eat.

To serve, top the hot pierogies with salsa and garnish with a slice of lime. Sit back, relax and enjoy with a cold beer!