Nacho Tots Casserole

I think this would be the perfect dish to bring to your neighborhood potluck or to your Thanksgiving feast with family.

It has the tastes and textures that omnivores are used to, and it seems almost the perfect “gateway” recipe to living a vegan life. It doesn’t hurt at all that it is just plain delicious!

– Linda Nelson

Nacho Tots Casserole

First make the cheesy sauce.

Nacho Cheezy Sauce
3 cups soy milk or other non dairy milk
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup raw cashews (these will need to soak for a couple of hours or overnight unless you have a powerful food processor or blender.)
3 tablespoons oat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Add all of the ingredients to a blender jar or food processor. Blend the mixture on high until all is smooth

Pour the mixture into a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer while whisking. Once it simmers, turn the heat down, and cook while whisking until the sauce has thickened.

Now make the casserole!

1 tablespoon oil or cooking spray
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (I didn’t have any, but I’m sure they would add to the dish.)
1 recipe Nacho Cheezy Sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 two pound bag of potato tots, thawed
paprika for sprinkling
hot sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass casserole dish with olive oil or oil spray.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, and cook, until the onions are soft and slightly browned.

Stir in the scallions and the hot sauce, if using, into the cheese sauce. Add salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the onions and the thawed potato tots. Gently fold the sauce in just until all is coated. Scoop the mixture into the prepared pan, and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 15 minutes.

I added 1 cup of black beans and 1 small can of sliced black olives to the top of the casserole after the initial 15 minute baking time.

Bake another 5 to 10 minutes after you’ve added toppings until the casserole is piping hot.

Remove from the oven and add chopped tomatoes, sliced scallions, or anything else you’d like to the top, and serve.

This was adapted from the excellent Vegan Casseroles book by Julie Hasson.


Grandma Stonebrook’s Sugar Cookies

My family is a family of bakers, so I can’t imagine a celebration without homemade goodies.

My grandmother’s anise sugar cookies were big, thick, and the stuff of magical memories for me. It took very little to veganize her recipe, and the taste is identical to what I remember.

Our celebratory foods can taste the same while being so much kinder when we leave the animals out of them.

– Linda Nelson

Grandma Stonebrook’s Sugar Cookies


5 cups all purpose flour (my grandmother had 18 grandchildren to please, but you can halve the recipe.)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup soy milk
2 teaspoons anise extract
1 tablespoon anise seed (these are optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or with parchment paper.

Cream the sugar, vegan butter, and anise extract until smooth. Sift in the flour and baking soda, and mix with a wooden spoon, and then with your hands adding splashes of the soy milk as you do so. You might not need the full 1/2 cup.

Mix until you have a soft dough and fold in the anise seed, if using.

Work with about a fourth of the dough at a time. You can put the rest in the refrigerator to keep it from getting too soft.

Roll the dough out to the desired thickness on a lightly floured surface. Use cookie cutters of your choice and place the shapes on the cookie sheet with about 1/2 inch space between. Bake for about ten minutes or until the cookies are golden.

This dough can be refrigerated or frozen. My family used to make a big bowl of dough and then use it all up over several days.

Let the decorating begin! All of the cookies pictured here were made with the same dough. I often use wafer papers with edible, vegetable dyes and/or India Tree food coloring. This is expensive, but a little goes a long way.

Vegan Hot Buttered Pretzels

Here, by popular demand, is the recipe for Vegan Hot Buttered Pretzels. I do want to urge everyone to make a batch of homemade vegan butter (recipe available here) first. It really is a necessary ingredient in this recipe. It isn’t hard, and it is so worth it to make your pretzels irresistible.

– Linda Nelson

Vegan Hot Buttered Pretzels

Ingredients for the dough:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, or 1 cup warm vegan beer

Baking soda wash:

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda


coarse salt
3 tablespoons melted vegan butter

I have also made cinnamon sugar pretzels and chocolate glazed pretzels, too, but the crowd pleasers remain the buttered and salted ones.


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is mostly incorporated. Turn out on a floury surface and knead for five minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and flip the dough over once so the top surface is oiled. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and allow it to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Oil a baking sheet.

Move the dough to a lightly floured work surface, divide into six equal pieces, and allow to rest for five minutes.

Mix the 1/2 cup water and the baking soda in a small bowl. Make sure the baking soda is all dissolved.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 20 inches). Form into a pretzel shape (there are many tutorials online for this.) Brush each pretzel with the baking soda wash. This will give them that nice, rich, brown color.

Space the pretzels on the baking sheet and bake for 4 to 5 minutes before rotating the pan. Bake for an additional 4 or 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Brush with the melted vegan butter, salt to taste, and enjoy.

These are best straight out of the oven, but they are really good even once they cool. They can also be re-warmed in the microwave.

Cranberry Cherry Sauce

I grew up on the cranberry sauce from a can that plopped out on the plate still in can form, but we can do much better with this recipe in our holiday recipe series .

It isn’t just good for your Thanksgiving seitan roast or tofurky. I love it atop roasted butternut squash or potatoes, and it is a great topping for a vegan toasted cheese sandwich.

Cranberry Cherry Sauce


1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup tart dried cherries (I use the tart Montmorency cherries from Trader Joe’s.)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice or more depending on how thick you want your sauce to be.
1/2 cup sugar


Place all ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce has thickened. It only takes about twenty minutes! This may be served warm or cold.

Butternut Squash Soup with a Cranberry Swirl

I know we’ve already posted a butternut squash soup, but this one is completely different. The cranberry swirl adds such a blast of flavor!

– Linda Nelson

Butternut Squash Soup with a Cranberry Swirl


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and chopped
3 pounds of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into small pieces
4 cups vegetable broth (the commercial brand I suggest is Better Than Bouillon; make sure to get the vegan one!)
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cranberry sauce, homemade or canned
2 tablespoons orange juice


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, cover, and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in allspice, ginger, potato, squash, broth, and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer uncovered until the vegetables are soft. This will take about thirty minutes.

While the soup simmers, blend the cranberry sauce and orange juice. If you’re using whole cranberry sauce, strain the solid pieces out. I poured mine into a squeeze bottle.

When the squash is very soft, turn the heat off, and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. You can also blend in a regular blender though be careful to blend in portions so that you don’t have a hot soup volcano!

Ladle into bowls and swirl a bit of cranberry mixture around. Enjoy!

Adapted from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson.

Caramel Popcorn Balls


Here is another in our series of holiday recipes. We’re not even pretending these are healthy so don’t eat too many!

Caramel Popcorn Balls


1/4 cup vegan butter or coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup vegan marshmallows, cut up, if they are the big ones
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon corn syrup
5 quarts popped popcorn – that is a rounded half cup with our air popper


Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat except the popcorn, and stir until all is melted, and it is just beginning to boil. Pour over popcorn and stir with a wooden spoon. Wait until the mixture is just cool enough to handle, and with greased hands form into balls.

Warning: the mixture will be hot and sticky so be careful!

Cranberry Tart

cranberry tart
The third entry in our holiday recipe series is a jewel-toned tart made with cranberries.

It is easier to make than a more traditional pie, and we think it will earn you rave reviews at your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Festivus

– Linda Nelson

Cranberry Tart

1/4 cup vegan butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 twelve ounce bag cranberries
zest of one orange or one lemon
One single pie crust


Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a nonstick cake pan well.

Mix the vegan butter, brown sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan and stir until the butter has melted. Pour into the cake pan and place the cranberries on top evenly. Sprinkle the orange zest or lemon zest over the cranberries.

Roll out the pie crust and arrange it over the cranberries tucking the edges in around the pan rim. Cut into the crust to allow for venting. Bake for 40 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust. Place a large plate over the tart and flip it over and out. Tap the cake pan before removing it to loosen any stuck bits. Make sure to flip while it is still warm.

This is adapted from Pies and Tarts with Heart by Dynise Balcavage.

Italian Warming Chowder

Today’s recipe is the first in a series of recipes that we think would be great to serve for the upcoming fall and winter holidays.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have extended families who are vegan or who are even tolerant of our compassionate way of living. We hope some of these recipes may help to keep the peace or even get cousin Tom or your sister to start thinking of making changes.

All recipes in this series have been omnivore tested and enjoyed by vegans, too.

– Linda Nelson

Italian Warming Chowder


1 can diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound zucchini, thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced or chopped
1 1/2 cups white wine (check for vegan choices)
1/4 cup vegan butter
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic, or to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
several grinds of black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup soy creamer or coconut milk


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the ingredients from tomatoes to bay leaf in a 4 quart baking dish. Cover the dish tightly, and bake for 1 hour, stirring once or twice. Blend in the creamer or coconut milk, remove the bay leaf, and serve.

Add a green salad and some crusty bread for a simple Halloween meal, or include this on your Thanksliving table.

Grits Casserole

This is my go-to casserole for brunches and breakfasts. It is fast and easy to make, and the leftovers may be better than when it is hot from the oven.

– Linda Nelson

Grits Casserole

1 3/4 cup soy milk or other non-dairy milk
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
salt to taste (I leave it out since the sausage has enough salt for our taste)
1 cup quick cooking grits
1 cup vegan bacon or sausage (I always use Field Roast Italian sausage that I’ve browned in a wok before adding)
1 cup corn (I use the Trader Joe’s roasted corn, and I always add more!)
3 tablespoons vegan butter
1 cup vegan cheezy shreds (I use Daiya)


Preheat the oven to 350, and grease a 9×13 baking pan.

Heat the non dairy milk and the vegetable broth together until they boil. Add the grits, and turn the heat down to low. Cook and stir until the grits begin to firm up, though don’t allow them to get stiff.

Stir in the vegan butter, vegan cheese shreds, and vegan sausage or bacon, and mix until all is incorporated.

Scrape all into baking pan and bake 45 minutes or until it is puffed and golden.

This is adapted from Robin Robertson’s 1,000 Vegan Recipes.

Free Chickens Soup

I’m posting this recipe for Free Chickens Soup in tribute to our Amandine, Clementine, Hikaru, Orion, Jason, Jewel, Joy, Phoenix, Phoebe, Beatrice, Coriander, Hypatia, Nutmeg, Harumi, Kotori, Tolstoy, Da vinci, Trudy, Annabel, Bibi, Autumn, and our never to be forgotten Guinevere, and to all chickens everywhere who suffer and die for someone’s cup of soup or omelet.

Chicken free soup is better for us and best for the chickens.

– Linda Nelson

Free Chickens Soup


4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups thinly sliced, chicken-style seitan
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup diced onions
2 teaspoons ground sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup linguine, broken into small pieces, or any other kind of pasta. I like to use small shells


Combine the vegetable stock, seitan, celery, carrots, onions, sage, thyme, and bay leaves in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours. About 30 minutes (time depends on what kind of pasta you choose) before serving, add the linguine to the slow cooker and stir well. Turn the cooker on high and cook until the noodles are tender. Remove the bay leaves before serving.