Chocolate mint cookies.

Last month, my American pal Hannah sent up the ultimate care package including Girl Guide cookies. You know, the stuff us hosers definitely can't get up here? She included a pro tip of keeping those little dandies in the freezer and she was NOT incorrect. The Thin Mints are officially gone and it's been real.

With great panic and a sparkle in my eyeballs, I made a few test batches of these and am pretty pleased with the turnout. Shove some ganache on these if you fancy, but I like them as is. Sure, they look pretty beat without a chocolate coating, but still on point. Garth, that was a haiku.

Yields approx. 2 dozen

Ingredients I
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Ingredients II
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/3 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

In your mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy.

Add in all of Ingredients II and continue to mix until a thick dough is sorted out.

Shape into a disc and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Dust some flour on your table.  Roll out to about 1/8" in thickness. I patted the dough down with my hands first, then finished rolling with a non stick rolling pin.

Use a little glass or biscuit cutter to get roughly 2 dozen cookies cut out. Bake for 10 minutes on the button, and place on a cooling rack when done. 

Top with ganache if you like. I've been a fan of VeganBaking's recipe for a minute.

Keep in the fridge or freezer in a zip bag or cookie tin 'til they're gone.

Fried pickles (WHY?).

The best part about having pregnant pals is having people to regularly snack with. It's Canada Day in the Great White North, Amanda and I hit Osborne Village for Streetfest and experienced modern-day humanity to it's fullest extent. Amanda also experienced "frickles", which are cheesy, eggy deep fried pickles. I haven't had deep fried pickles in a minute. Our evening ended some early. I worked on the Etsy shop, pet two VIP bunnies, then made the greasiest decision of my long weekend. This recipe makes about 20 little "coins" - don't let the guilty-of-being-hungry photo fool you.

Ingredients I - Batter
1 cup soy milk
2 tbsp lemon juice

Ingredients II - Dry
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp white flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Massive pinch of salt

Dill pickles - sliced or quartered

Oil for frying

I used a tiny vintage enameled cast iron pan and filled with 1/4" oil. Turn your stovetop up to medium high (I hit mine up to 5/7)

Combine Ingredients I in a cereal bowl, let sit for five minutes. 

In a separate, small bowl, combine all of Ingredients II.

Cut pickles. Be stupid sure to dry them on paper towels! Ever had an oil burn? Ever struggle to sound like that resulting scar tissue was from something way cooler? Dry the pickles up good. Toss them in the bowl of batter, which is acting as your buttermilk, with one hand. Drop in your bowl of dry starch, and mix with your other, clean hand.

Slowly slide them pickles in the hot oil. Listen to these crucial fellas whilst frying, or the recipe won't turn out right. I fried mine for about 2 minutes per side.

These little dandies are done when golden brown. 

Place on a plate with newspaper to get some of that grease outta there.

Eat 'em up with spicy mayo, ranch, etc. Essentially, any of Follow Your Heart's dressings will do the job JUST fine.

Need a dip quick? Mix up 2 tbsp vegan mayo + 1 tsp Sriracha and thank me later.

Vegan friendly fish tacos

Fish tacos. "Fish" tacos. Phish tacos (yikes.)? Shallow fried tofu, coated in English-style fish + chip batter, on a bed of red cabbage, freshly chopped cilantro and a spicy mayo. Plant based fish tacos, enough to feed a Canadian army of 2.

Yields: 6 fish tacos - though this recipe is easy to half or double!

Ingredients I : The Batter
1/2 cup Fish and Chips batter
1/4 cup ice cold water
1 ice cube

Ingredients II : The Tofu-Fish
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into triangles, strips or torn into bite-size chunks
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp old bay seasoning

Ingredients III : The Toppings
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Ingredients IV : The Sauce
3 tbsp dairy free mayo (my favourite is Vegenaise!)
1 tsp lime juice
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Considerably Optional
- Sliced avocado
- Chopped tomatos
- Skip the spicy sauce and go straight for mayo
- Finely chopped pickles

Did you know a ton of fish + chip battermixes are vegan friendly? They're primarily a flour of sorts (wheat, corn, rice, etc) in which you mix 2/3 cup of ice cold water to every 1 cup of batter mix. 

To start on Ingredients II often muck about with the batter mix directions and do 1/4 cup ice cold water to 1/2 cup batter mixture plus an ice cube. This does the trick wonderfully for half a block of extra firm tofu, or about 1 cup of dunkable proteins/vegetables. My favourite is the Club House brand.

For Ingredients II, slice/tear up your tofu or protein source, and throw it in a zip baggy with the lemon juice and old bay seasoning. Pop in the fridge while you prep your other toppings.

Prep Ingredients III, by thinly slicing your red cabbage and chopping up your cilantro.

Sort out your sauce. Add all of Ingredients IV together and stir well. Taste test for seasonings. Add in a little extra spices, mayo, garlic or lime juice if needed! 

Get ready to shallow fry your tofu. In a 6-8" non stick pan, place about 1/8"-1/4" oil in your pan and turn onto medium-high. 

Wait about 2 minutes for the oil to heat up. In the meantime, roll your marinaded tofu in your batter mixture (Ingredients I). 

Place a small piece of your battered tofu in the centre of the pan. In a moment or two you should hear some satisfying ttszzzz sizzling action.

Shallow fry on each side for a few minutes, or until each side is a crunchy golden brown.

Assemble your tacos - I start with the red cabbage, add cilantro, the fish, and drizzle with sauce. If you'd like, add some sliced avocado or a bit of habanero sauce!

Massaman curry.

A rich, nutty curry with a slight bit of heat to it. I served mine over rice with a peanut garnish. If you've ever stepped foot down the ethnic aisle at your grocer I'm sure you've seen Cock Brand canned and bottled goods. The little rooster logo isn't quick to miss, and the items are always very reasonably priced. Here are just a few familiar items. The curry pastes are my FAVOURITE and set me back a toonie at the best of times. They last ages and refuse to expire, really. I highly recommend 'em. On to the recipe.

*If serving with rice, get started on this now before prepping your curry.

Ingredients I
4 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds

Ingredients II
1/2 white onion
1/2 cup coconut cream
1 tbsp curry paste (I used this brand) or to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp lemon grass
2 tsp vegan fish sauce or Kikkoman soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp course black pepper

(Toast all of Ingredients I in a frying pan on medium for 3-5 minutes. Place in a coffee grinder/mortar and pestel until ground to a dust then place Ingredients II and grind to a paste.)

Ingredients III
1 can coconut milk
3/4 cup peanut butter

Place all Ingredients I, II, and III in a small pot and stick on medium high. Allow this to come to a boil for a few minutes, than simmer on low to thicken.

Bring to a boil 2 cups of vegetables. I used: potatoes, broccoli and onions. Boil until fairly tender with a slight bit of crunch. 

Place the vegetables in the simmering curry and stir well.

Serve with rice. Top with peanuts.

Vegan portobello Philly cheesesteak

Made from massive mushroom caps, this meal for two whips up in a jiffy for under five bucks. While I've never had a cheesesteak in my whole vegan Manitoban life (despite Tim Horton's badly hoping to pull off recycled brisket paninis as cheesesteaks?), I pulled flavours from some interesting sources to embody a juicy, mock-beef taste.

Mushrooms are sliced as wide as your pinky finger, about 3/8", and marinaded in a slight bit of garlic, oregano, ground coriander, and the not-really secret ingredient: hoisin sauce.

A green bell pepper and a small white onion are marinaded in a shot of oil and balsamic vinegar to take the bite off.

Ingredients I // The "meat"
4 portobello mushroom caps
1/3 cup vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp Kikoman soy sauce
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 heaping teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
-- 2 tsp flour, set aside

Ingredients II // Peppers + Onions
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp  pepper

Ingredients III // Cheese sauce (optional)
2/3 cup cheese alternative (I used Follow Your Heart mozzarella style shreds)
1/3 cup soy milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

A few buns, rolls, sub buns, etc. 
(I used a 12" submarine bun, sliced in half and toasted.)

Be sure to read the directions over beforehand, I've set them in a particular order so there's no time wasted and you can get these on a plate post-haste! Essentially, you will slice and marinade your mushrooms, slice and marinade your peppers/onions. Create the cheese sauce while these marinade. You'll then fry up your peppers/onions in one pan, your gently squeezed steaks in another.

Start by prepping the mushroom steaks. Flip the mushroom caps over, use a spoon and scrape the, ugh, gills out. (This is without a doubt the most irrational dislike I have for any vegetable.) Pop the stems of and quarter them, no use in wasting those! Awful mushroom lashes, however, can gtfo. Place all of Ingredients I - minus the flour - in a large, non-reactive bowl and cover tightly with cling wrap. Give the bowl a good few shakes to get the marinade evenly displaced. Set aside / place in fridge. The flour will be added in later, to just the marinade, so hang tight.

Next, slice up vegetables in Ingredients II and place in a small non-reactive bowl. Add in remaining ingredients in this batch. Cover tightly with cling wrap. Give the bowl a good few shakes to get the marinade evenly displaced. Set aside / place in fridge.

Let the two bowls sit in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes. 

In this time, prep the optional cheese sauce. Place all ingredients, except the flour, in a small pot or pan. Cook on medium-low until bubbling. Add in flour. Whisk and whisk until flour is incorporated into cheese sauce. Continue cooking on medium low, taste test to ensure flour is cooked out (this takes about a minute). Once cheese sauce is ready, place in a small bowl.

Turn your stovetop onto medium-high. Pour peppers and onions into your non-stick pan or skillet. 

Do the same in another non-stick pan or skillet for the mushroom steaks. However, be sure to give the mushrooms a slight squeeze and let the juice fall back into the bowl they marinaded in. 

I cooked both the veg + the mushroom steaks for about 7 minutes. Toward the tail end of this 7 minutes, whisk the 2 tsp flour from Ingredients I into that bowl of mushroom steak "au jus". Once there are no more lumps, pour into the pan of mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms no longer look floury/cloudy and have a bit of a gloss to them.

Toast your rolls if you like. Place the mushroom steaks on first, followed by the peppers/onions, and top with optional cheese sauce.