Homemade Salsa


Last week on my way to the Farmer’s Market I was dreaming of chips and salsa. I love good Mexican food and unfortunately we don’t have any great Mexican restaurants near us. Since I had Mexican food on the brain I decided to use the fresh tomatoes and peppers from the market to make homemade salsa. This is a delicious, smooth salsa that can be adjusted to your preferences. We have been using it in quesadillas and dipping chips in straightaway all week.

Homemade Salsa

I bought 3 pounds of beefsteak tomatoes at the farmers market. This is not the place to use heirloom tomatoes. Roma or beefsteak tomatoes work really well here. The first step is to seed your tomatoes. In my experience if you don’t remove the seeds your salsa will end up being very watery.

Homemade Salsa

I like smooth salsa, as does Trey, so I let the food processor do the work in this recipe. I added all of the ingredients to the food processor and pulsed it until it was the right texture. Then the real fun began…taste testing. This recipe, and most salsa recipes, are just a methodology. How much salt and acidity you need will really depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes and the spiciness of your peppers. You need to taste the salsa and adjust accordingly.

Homemade Salsa

I love the taste and texture of my salsa, especially after it has been in the refrigerator overnight. This gives all the flavors a chance to marry. Try making homemade salsa yourself this summer. It will be a perfect addition to your tacos, quesadillas and breakfast burritos.

Homemade Salsa

Homemade Salsa
Restaurant style smooth, spicy salsa. Delicious on its own with chips or added to tacos, quesadillas and burritos. Adjust the seasonings to your preferences.
  • 3 pounds Fresh Tomatoes, seeded
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 small Red Onion, diced
  • 2 Jalapeños, see note
  • ½ cup Cilantro, stemmed
  1. Add all of the ingredients to your food processor. Pulse until your ideal texture has been reached. Taste for seasoning. Adjust salt and lime juice to your preference. Serve!
Seed your jalapeños for a milder salsa. Leave some seeds and ribs for a spicier salsa.


Ultimate Vegan Toast – Homemade Butter & Jam

Vegan ToastToast is my all time favorite food. I can eat it morning, noon or night. It is the ultimate comfort food in my book. While I like almond butter and strawberries on toast or avocado toast, my favorite toppings are simple. Good (vegan) butter and good (not too sweet) jam can’t be beat. To make the ultimate vegan toast I bought my favorite bread and made my own vegan butter and jam.

Read More »

Meatless Monday: Spicy Peanut Noodles

Spicy Peanut Bowl

I like weeknight meals that fall into one of two categories: Ready in less than 30 minutes -OR- Components can be made in advance and assembled quickly.

My Spicy Peanut Noodles fit into the later category. This is one of my favorite meals to make when Trey has a late practice. Early in the day I slice all of the veggies, cook the noodles and make the sauce. When we get home from his practice I toss everything together and we can sit down to eat 5 minutes after walking in the door.

Read More »

Saturday Shares 7.25.2015

Saturday Shares Header

Saturday Shares are things I have read, found or seen this week that I find interesting.

Homemade Cashew Soy Yogurt – I used to love yogurt in my pre-vegan days. I have never found a store bought vegan yogurt that I really liked. Either the taste or texture was always a miss for me. I made this recipe this week and it was life changing. Perfect texture, perfect sourness and no sweetener.


Important Vegan Nutrition Articles – I read two thought-provoking articles this week that really stuck with me about vegan nutrition. One is by Genny Messina, a well-known vegan Registered Dietitian. Her work is always intriguing and backed by science. Her article Preventing Ex-Vegans: Why Nutrition and Nutritionism Matter focused on the fact that as vegans we need to be guided by science, rather than grandiose claims that as long as you are eating “healthy” you will get enough nutrients.

The other article was written by a popular vegan blogger, Sayward Rebhal. Titled When Vegans Get Sick this article highlights the challenges vegans face when they don’t experience the perfect health they hoped for when they became vegan. As you can imagine this article was very personal for me, since I don’t experience perfect health. Sayward talks about how we can help, rather than ostracize, vegans who aren’t feeling well.

The Homemade Vegan Pantry – The original recipe for Cashew Soy Yogurt came from Miyoko Schinner. My success with that recipe inspired me to order a copy of her new book.

Homemade Vegan Pantry

Earlywood Wooden Utensils I read about Earlywood Utensils this week on the Pinch of Yum blog. Their handcrafted wooden tools look incredibly beautiful and are designed to last a lifetime. I’m planning to order a long serving spoon and scraper in the future.

Peach Cobbler Smoothie – Summer peaches are one of my favorite foods. This smoothie recipe looks like a great way to use up any overripe peaches. I love that the recipes includes oats, since it makes smoothies a bit more filling.

Artifact Uprising Photo Books –  When Trey was a baby I was pretty good about putting together a photo album each year using iPhoto. As he has gotten older I have slipped up and have several years worth of digital pictures sitting on my computer. These incredible books from Artifact Uprising are inspiring me to get my pictures off my computer and into a book we can enjoy. I admire the company for their eco-friendly practices, as well as the fact that they hire adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to assemble their products in Seattle.

Photo Credit - Artifact Uprising

Photo Credit – Artifact Uprising



Cold Brew Coffee & Protein Smoothie

I didn’t develop a taste for coffee until a few years ago. Shortly after I started enjoying soy and almond milk lattes I realized my body didn’t handle that much caffeine very well. Harrison can attest to a few very rapid fire conversations post latte! I switched to decaf and I’m back to a regular speaking pattern. In the winter I use my Nespresso machine to make decaf latte’s but last summer I started making cold brew decaf coffee for the warm weather.  Cold brew coffee has a less acidic taste than hot brewed coffee that I really like. Lately I have been adding cold brew coffee to my protein smoothies to get a boost of nutrients with my coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee PintrestI have read multiple ideas on the best grind for cold brew coffee. Some people recommend fine ground, some medium and others coarse. My favorite coffee shop is Timeless Cafe in Oakland. This all-vegan coffee shop is a dream come true. Their pastries, food and drinks are all incredibly delicious. I also buy my coffee there. They advised a fairly coarse grind for cold brew and since I love everything they do I followed their advice.

Cold Brew CoffeeIn addition to the varying advice on grind levels you will also see every recipe for Cold Brew Coffee seems to have a different ratio of grounds to water. For my taste I like 4 cups of cold water with 1 cup of coffee soaked for 24 hours. I purchased this CoffeeSock a few months ago and it has made the cold brew process really simple. It is designed to make cold brew coffee in a Mason Jar. You can definitely just strain out the coffee grounds if you want to skip the coffee sock.

Cold Brew Coffee

After 24 hours of soaking I have about 4 cups of coffee that is fairly concentrated. I often mix it with soy milk for a quick iced coffee drink on my way out the door. My favorite thing to do is to freeze at least a cup of the coffee in ice cube trays. I make cold Mocha Protein Smoothies using 1.5 cups of soy (or almond) milk, 4 coffee ice cubes and one scoop of Chocolate Sunwarrior Protein Powder. The coffee balances out the sweetness of the chocolate protein powder. This is a great mid afternoon pick me up during the warmer months.

Cold Brew Coffee


Meatless Monday – Vegan Pesto

Years ago I made the mistake of telling Harrison I thought basil “smelled like summer”. I have no idea where that line came from, but it was so lame and so unlike me that he has never let me live it down. If he smells basil anywhere in his vicinity he stops, smells the air and says “Wait a minute. Is it just me or does it smell like summer?”. So bad. Pesto is the ultimate way to use up summertime basil. I like to make batches all summer long and freeze the extras in ice cube trays. My go to vegan pesto recipe uses cashews and lots of lemon. I like to make it very thick and then thin it out as needed depending on how I’m using the pesto. Having pesto on hand makes Meatless Monday meals a snap.

Vegan Pesto Pintrest

The idea to use cashews in pesto instead of traditional pinenuts comes from Dreena Burton. She has a delicious Lemony Cashew-Basil Pesto recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Once I started using cashews in my pesto I never went back. Cashews make the pesto very rich so I don’t end up needing as much oil. Cashews are also considerably less expensive than pinenuts.

Vegan Pesto

Trey loves pesto in any dish. Recently I have been adding it to his grilled cheese (made with Follow Your Heart slices). He can’t get enough. His favorite way to use pesto is definitely in pasta. The kid loves his pasta! When I use the pesto in pasta I always take out 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set it aside. Then when I mix the cooked pasta with the pesto I add the water in small amounts to thin the sauce to the right consistency. The starch from the pasta water helps the sauce stick to the pasta.

Vegan Pesto



Other favorite vegan pesto uses:

  • Top a lackluster store-bought vegan pizza with pesto to add creaminess and a punch of flavor
  • Use pesto as the base of vegan pizza – works especially well if using a cornmeal crust
  • Add more oil and vinegar for a unique salad dressing or to drizzle over sliced tomatoes
  • Use pesto as a base spread for bruschetta appetizers
  • Use as a spread for vegetable sandwiches
  • Add to soup (either store bought or homemade) – my favorite is to stir pesto into minestrone

What are your favorite ways to use pesto?

Vegan Pesto
Versatile vegan pesto that can be used on top of pasta, on pizza, as a sandwich spread or in bruschetta. The possibilities are endless.
  • 1 large bunch Basil
  • ½ cup Cashews
  • 2 small or 1 large clove(s) garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  1. Pick basil leaves off the stems. Place in the food processor with cashews. Pulse until cashews and basil are finely chopped.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients and run food processor for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. The pesto should be fairly smooth. Add more water or olive oil if needed. Taste for salt.


Saturday Shares 7.19.2015

As I mentioned earlier this week one of the reasons I started my blog was to participate in the blogging community. Many of my favorite bloggers share weekly or monthly lists of things that they have seen, read or tried that they enjoy. I’m going to start doing that here at Vegan Gretchen with my Saturday Shares posts. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday Shares Header

Julie Hasson Freezer Jam – I have not gotten into canning and have never made jam since I am concerned I would poison my whole family. Julie’s freezer jam made with Instant Clear Jel looks like the perfect homemade jam – no cooking required. My Clear Jel arrived yesterday so I’ll be making it this weekend.

Kris Carr Safe & Affordable Skin and Hair Care Brands – Kris Carr is one of my favorite authors/resources for information. Lately she has been putting together reports on makeup that is cruelty-free and made without toxins. Her latest report is on drugstore brands. I love a good deal!

Petit Vour Beauty Subscription – I have tried and loved the Beauty Box from Vegan Cuts, but I wanted to try another cruelty-free beauty subscription. I’m looking forward to receiving (and reviewing) my first box in a few weeks.


Homemade Vegan Butter – I’m late to the game on this one, but I’m intrigued by the idea of making my own vegan butter substitute.

New Nordic Ware Bundt Pan – This arrived on Thursday and I’ll be testing a new bundt cake recipe in it this week.


Korean Tofu Bibimbap Sandwiches – We love Korean food in our house and this sandwich looks completely delicious

Ta-Nehisi Coates New Book – Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most thoughtful and insightful writers regarding race in America. I have long been a fan of his writing for The Atlantic and I’m just starting his latest book, Between the World and Me.  The book is written as a series of letters to his teenage son and explores the history of race in America.



Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale – The perfect time to stock up on fall fashion at a discount from my favorite department store.



Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Before I ever went vegan I started taking cooking classes from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Colleen’s class really opened my eyes to the possibilities of vegan cooking. I started volunteering with her and eventually acted as an assistant for classes she was running for Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)The classes focused on helping people with cancer or who were interested in cancer prevention. I had a lot of fun helping helping Colleen and learning more about the preventative aspects of a vegan diet. Over the course of the classes I decided to become a vegan myself.

The classes came with a cookbook and it was filled with very simple recipes. They were great starter recipes, but most needed some tweaking to bump up the flavor. One of my favorite recipes was for a chocolate mousse made with silken tofu. Over the years I have modified the recipe and made it my own.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pintrest

Read More »

A to Z Survey

I have been an avid blog reader for the last 10 years. One of the reasons I started writing this blog was to actively participate in the blogging community.

I love when my favorite bloggers post surveys so you get to know them better. One of my favorite bloggers is Gina Harney at Fitnessista. This week she posted an A to Z survey from another great blogger, Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers. I enjoyed reading their answers and thought I would share my own:

A – Age: 37
B – Biggest Fear: Fish. I can’t stand being around them in the water. When Harrison and I were dating we went to Hawaii and I went snorkeling with him. Afterwards my jaw hurt from clenching the mouthpiece to the snorkel equipment so hard. Never again!
C – Current Time: 9:39 AM
D – Drink You Had Last: A glass of William Hill Chardonnay. One of my favorites.
E – Easiest Person To Talk To: One of my closest friends, Elisa.
A to Z Survey 4
F – Favorite Song: Hard to pick just one, but I’ll go with “Don’t Leave Me” from Blackstreet
G – Grossest Memory: Trey broke his arm when he was 5. He was playing with his cousins and fell. I heard him scream and ran out to see what was wrong. He held out his arm and it was completely crooked. Thank god for endorphins or I would have fainted.
A to Z Survey
H – Hometown: I moved a lot as a kid. I was born in Rochester, NY and spent the 6 years before college in Menlo Park, CA. Harrison and I lived in Oakland for 10 years before moving to the suburbs. So I guess would call the Bay Area my hometown.
I – In Love With: My family (Harrison, Trey, and our dogs Zeus and Lana)
A to Z Survey 3
J – Jealous Of: People who make the time to meditate everyday. I aim to be one of those people.
K – Kindest Person You Know:  I’m fortunate to have a lot of kind people around me, but if I have to pick one I’d say my aunt, Jerolyn.
L – Longest Relationship: with Harrison – married for 11 years and together for 13
A to Z Survey 2
M – Middle Name: Michael. No that is not a misspelling of Michelle. My parents thought Michael would be a cool middle name. Not so cool growing up, but I’ve gotten used to it.
N – Number of Siblings: 2- my brother Rick and my sister Hanna
O – One Wish: That Trey lives a long, healthy, happy life
A to Z Survey (1)
P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: Harrison
Q – Question You’re Always Asked: “Is that your son?” and “What do you eat?”
R – Reason To Smile: Watching Trey run. He is in his element and has a look of pure joy on his face.
S – Song You Last Sang: Back that A** Up from Juvenile. Yep. Disclaimer – Trey was not in the car during said singing.
T – Time You Woke Up: 6:30 AM
U – Underwear Color: Black
V – Vacation Destination: The Stanford Inn in Mendocino, CA. It is such an awesome hotel right above the ocean. They welcome dogs and have a vegan restaurant. Harrison threw me a surprise 30th birthday party there. I haven’t been back since but I’m itching to go.
W – Worst Habit: Getting too frustrated, too fast. I’m working on it.
X – X-Rays You’ve Had: Way too many to list! Lots on my stomach.
Y – Your Favorite Food: Chips & salsa. Now I’m hungry.
Z – Zodiac Sign: Virgo
Your turn – answer any of the following in the comments:
  • Last song you sang out loud?
  • Favorite food?
  • Vacation destination?
  • Reason to smile?
  • Question you are always asked?

Summertime Tomato Bruschetta

Do you have any foods that you love in certain preparations and hate in others? I’m that way with tomatoes. I find them abominable on sandwiches. I have no idea why anyone would want tomato (or mayo for that matter) on their sandwich. It is rarely a good tomato so it adds no flavor and turns the whole thing to mealy mush. However, I love tomatoes turned into sauces and salsas. Fresh tomatoes only appeal to me at the height of summer and in a select few recipes. One of those recipes is bruschetta. Summertime tomato bruschetta with tons of basil and garlic on thick, crusty sourdough is heavenly.

Tomato Bruschetta Labeled

Read More »