Grilled Veggie Sandwiches with Hummus & Avocado

GrilledSandwichesAll right. I have two confessions. First, these aren’t technically grilled, nor do they have avocado on them. *GASP* I know, I’m sorry. But let me explain. So, it’s very early spring here in Colorado and the outdoor grill, much like my legs, are still winterized. But, I do have the spray tan of grills . . .
20140414_175759 Now, about that avocado. I’ve had 4 avocados sitting in a paper bag on my counter for about 5 days and they are still rock solid. I made the mistake of trying to cut into one and it was like stabbing a butternut squash. And if that wasn’t enough, I tried a second avocado and ended up with the same results. In fact, I couldn’t even get the halves apart! I was all ready to place the beautiful slices of avocado next to the fresh basil . . .

noAvocadoIn spite of these culinary catastrophes, I assure you, the “grilling” process worked beautifully, and the avocado would be a grand addition to these sandwiches.

INGREDIENTS:

Marinade

1/2 C balsamic vinegar
1/2 C red wine
1/4 C olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

The rest

2 small zucchini, sliced length-wise
1 red bell pepper, cut into wide strips
1 eggplant, sliced length-wise, then again length-wise
1/2 large onion, cut into wide strips
1 avocado (preferably real and not imaginary), sliced
1 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C hummus, homemade (easy) or store bought (even easier)
6 French rolls, or other sandwich bread

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip bag. Add the veggies and let them marinate in the frige for about an hour. Turn the bag over halfway through. Spray the grill pan with a small amount of cooking spray and heat pan over medium heat. Using tongs, place the veggies in the pan. I recommend putting as many slices of bell pepper on as you can because they’ll take the longest to cook. I also suggest flattening them out a little so that you can turn them over to cook both sides. The zucchini and eggplant will take about 3-4 minutes per side.
20140414_181655I continued cooking all of the zucchini and eggplant, transferring the cooked slices to a large sheet of foil and sealing it up while everything else cooked. Everything stayed nice and hot. I then added the onions while the peppers continued to cook.
20140414_182013Once the vegetables are cooked, start assembling your sandwiches! (You can toast the bread first, if you’d like). Spread on some hummus, add the veggies, basil and of course, a few beautiful slices of avocado. Enjoy!

 

Pine Nut & Cashew Ravioli with Fresh Mushrooms, Tomatoes & Basil

PineNutCashewRavioli2I’m finally back with a new recipe! As much as I love them, I don’t use pine nuts often because they’re rather pricey, but I picked some up on sale. They add such a decadent flavor to dishes and this is no exception. Combined with cashews, they make an ideal stuffing for ravioli. The fresh veggies on top complete the meal.

INGREDIENTS

Dough

1-1/2 C semolina flour
1/2 C whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C warm unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbs olive oil

Filling

1/2 C pine nuts
1 C roasted, unsalted cashews
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 C fresh spinach

Topping

2 Tbs Earth Balance
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 C cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 C fresh basil, chopped
2 Tbs red wine
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

You can soak the nuts for several hours to overnight, or to speed things up, in a medium bowl, pour boiling water over the nuts and let sit for 2 hours. Sometimes, I only soak them for an hour or so; I don’t mind if the filling isn’t perfectly smooth, so it’s up to you. To prepare the dough, whisk together the two flours and the salt. Whisk in the warm almond milk and oil. Sometimes it’s easier to use your hands to combine everything; use what works. Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside. To make the filling, drain the nuts and add them to a food processor. Process them for about 30 seconds to get them a bit pureed. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree 1-2 minutes until smooth. Set aside.
20140411_173050As you probably recall, I like to use my pasta maker and a ravioli plate to make raviolis, and I have to say, the process gets easier and quicker each time. I recommend at least getting a ravioli plate—you can find one for under $20 on Amazon.
20140411_175640I ended up with 44 raviolis . . .
20140411_183459I then let them sit for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I prepared the topping. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes and basil; season with salt and pepper. In a medium skillet, heat the Earth Balance and add the garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook for two minutes, then add the wine and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms soften. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and basil.
20140411_185555Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the ravioli (about a dozen at a time) for 3-5 minutes. They will float to the top and puff up a little when they’re ready. I usually serve them as they finish cooking so they stay hot. If you want to cook them all first, I suggest transferring them to a large, oiled baking sheet. Otherwise, they’ll stick together. Serve with a scoop or two of the fresh topping and enjoy!
20140411_191407

Empowered Noodle Bowl + A Giveaway of The Oh She Glows Cookbook!

DSC08248I was thrilled to have an opportunity to post a recipe from Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook AND be able to give a copy away to one lucky reader! I’ve been glued to this cookbook since I received it because not only is it full of beautiful photographs (about every recipe has a pic), but the recipes look downright delicious. Like Liddon, I had some unhealthy eating (or should I say, not eating) habits before I went vegan. I can truly say that a vegan diet saved my life. This is a great cookbook to have in your collection because it is full of tasty, healthy recipes that use only whole, minimally-processed ingredients. If you’ve been a fan of the Oh She Glows website, you’re going to love this cookbook with 75 brand-spankin’ new recipes, plus 25 updated reader favorites. So if you want to win this beautiful cookbook, leave a comment; it’s that easy! You have until midnight (PST) on Sunday, April 6. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, April 7th. 

Empowered Noodle2

You’ll love Liddon’s Empowered Noodle Bowl, two ways: Thai Peanut & Orange-Maple Miso on page 153. I decided to make both dressings and honestly, I can’t tell you which one is my favorite; they’re both delicious. The Thai Peanut is thicker with some garlic kick, whereas the Orange-Maple Miso is a tad thinner and milder. They’re both easy enough to make, so why not do both? This is a fantastic lunch or light dinner, that comes together rather quickly. I like how the veggies take precedence over the noodles—it’s not a heavy pasta dish, but rather, a bowl of fresh veggies with some noodles thrown in and coated with a tasty dressing. A winner for sure.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Thai Peanut Sauce

1 large garlic clove
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs natural smooth peanut butter
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 Tbs + 1 tsp low-sodium tamari
1-2 tsp granulated sugar

Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

3 Tbs light miso
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs tahini
1/4 C fresh orange juice
1 Tbs water
1 tsp maple syrup

Salad

4 oz gluten-free soba noodles
Extra virgin olive oil, for the noodles
16 oz bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 carrot, julienned
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds, for serving

DIRECTIONS

To make the Thai Peanut sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until completely smooth. Do the same for the Orange-Maple Miso Dressing.

Empowered NoodleCook the noodles according to instructions on the package (5-9 minutes). Drain, rinse under cold water and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with a little of the olive oil, then toss with the veggies and dressing of your choice. Top individual servings with sesame seeds and enjoy! If you like the looks of this recipe, you’re going to want this cookbook, so leave a comment and you just may get it! Good luck!

DSC08246With the Thai Peanut Sauce
DSC08247With the Orange-Maple Miso Dressing

 Reprinted by arrangement with AVERY, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © GLO BAKERY CORPORATION, 2014.

Quinoa & Kale Pitas with Tahini Dressing

QuinoaKalePitasThese are packed with some of my favorite ingredients! Quinoa is loaded with protein and the kale is well . . . it’s kale! We all know kale is high in iron, calcium and several vitamins. Check out these 10 Health Benefits of this super green. I also threw in some pepitas, which are rich in vitamins, beta carotene, and protein. I made a pretty big batch so that I can nosh all week (especially post workouts), but feel free to halve the recipe if you’re fearful of getting quinoa’d out. (Inconceivable! ;-) )

INGREDIENTS

Filling

2 C tri-color quinoa
4 C vegetable broth or water
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C red onion, diced
3/4 C green onion, sliced
2 C mushrooms, diced
1 bunch kale, leaves removed and chopped (stems discarded)
3/4 C pepitas

Dressing

2 large cloves of garlic
1 Tbs tahini
2 Tbs yellow/light miso
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C cold water
2 Tbs chia seesds
1/4 tsp black pepper

The rest

Pita pockets
Avocado slices

DIRECTIONS

I recommend making the dressing first. It’ll be a little runny, but letting it sit for 20 minutes or so, will allow the chia seeds to do their thing and thicken up the dressing. In a food processor or blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Set aside.

DSC08213In a large soup pot, combine the broth (or water) with the quinoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

DSC08214Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add the red and green onions. Saute until softened and a tiny bit browned. Add the kale and mushrooms and saute until the the kale is bright green, about 5 minutes.
onionskaleFold the veggies and pepitas into the cooked quinoa.
DSC08215I placed a little dressing inside the pita,  along with a slice or two of avocado, then added the filling, and topped with some more dressing. Enjoy!
QuinoaKalePitas

Asian-Inspired Risotto

AsianRisottoYep, I’m still on my risotto kick. This time, however, I gave it an Asian twist by adding bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and a touch of sesame oil (among other seasonings). This is a unique and delicious change from the usual risotto dish and would be great paired with some veggie crystal rolls. Yum!

INGREDIENTS:

4 C vegetable broth
1 Tbs red miso
1 C water
1-1/2 C Arborio rice
2 heads baby bok choy, chopped
2 C shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3/4 C green onion, sliced thin
1/2 C Sherry cooking wine
2 Tbs Earth Balance
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-Spice blend
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs tamari ( or soy sauce)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. In a Dutch oven, whisk the 4 cups of broth and 1 tablespoon of miso; stir in the rice. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Fifteen minutes before the rice is done, begin steaming the bok choy. Steam for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms and green onion.

bokchoyWhen the rice is done (most of the liquid has been absorbed), stir in the one cup of water,sherry and Earth Balance. Stir vigorously for 1-2 minutes—it’ll thicken up. Next, add the nutritional yeast, five-spice blend, sesame oil, and tamari. Stir well for at least a minute. Fold in the bok choy mixture and enjoy!

 

Tofu & Shiitake Stir-fry with Soba Noodles

sobanoodlestirfryThis is such an easy and tasty dinner to throw together—as long as you remember to give the veggies time to marinate. Even it’s just an hour, that’s quite all right. Feel free to use your own favorite veggies, but keep in mind, that you may have to marinate certain vegetables separate, depending on whether or not they need longer cooking time. The vegetables I chose could be all cooked together at the same time, so it made this dish a breeze.

INGREDIENTS

Marinade:

1/2 C tamari
2 Tbs brown rice vinegar
2 tsp agave
2 tsp sesame seed oil
2 Tbs sherry
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs ginger root, grated
1/2 C green onion, sliced

The rest: 

8-oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
14-oz pkg. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cubed
3/4 C snowpeas, cut in half
6 to 8 oz buckwheat soba noodles ( I like Hakubaku brand. They come in a package of 3 separate rolls of noodles. I used 2 of the 3)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs arrowroot

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a resealable bag. Mix it up well, then add the mushrooms, tofu and snowpeas. Coat the vegetables thoroughly and lay flat in the refrigerator for at least an hour, turning over once, half way through.

DSC08184In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Drain and reserve the marinade in a measuring cup; you should have about a 1/3 of a cup; set aside. Saute the vegetables over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until they begin brown. Meanwhile, heat the water for the noodles. They’ll only take 4 minutes to cook once adding them to boiling water, so it will all come together pretty quickly.

When the vegetables are about done, whisk the arrowroot into the reserved marinade. Make sure you don’t have any clumps. Pour it into the skillet, coat the vegetables well, and reduce the heat to low.

DSC08187Drain the soba noodles and serve with the vegetable mix on top. Enjoy!

 

Wild Rice & Potato Stew with Field Roast

WildRicePotatoFRStewCan you tell that I’m loving my new Dutch oven?! But really, this could be made with a regular soup pot too, but it’s way more satisfying to get use out of a new kitchen toy. This is a little similar to the Creamy Wild Rice Soup, but I revved it up by adding a Field Roast sausage (which we all thought, made the soup) and some other seasonings. I also didn’t have to prepare a roux, so it was even easier. This stew is perfect for a cold and wintry night. We’ve been socked in with LOTS of snow and temps this week haven’t risen much above 12 degrees. Our rain chain is certainly feeling it . . .

rainchainINGREDIENTS:

2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1/2 large red onion (about a cup)
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 C vegetable broth
1 C wild rice mix (I like Lundberg’s Wild Blend)
1 Field Roast sausage (either Apple & Sage, or Italian Seasoning flavor), crumbled
3 small red potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 C Tofutti sour cream
1/4 C almond milk
3 Tbs flour
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper, to taste

DSC08174

DIRECTIONS:

In a Dutch oven (3Q or larger) or in a large soup pot, melt the Earth Balance over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook 4-5 minutes, or until they are softened. Stir in the garlic and Field Roast and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes. Pour in the broth and rice; cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 40 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and cook covered for another 20-25 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, milk and flour until well blended; stir into the soup. Season with the Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper.
soupsLet it cook a few minutes longer until heated through, then enjoy! (Serves 6)
wildricepotatoFRStew2

Bowties with Butternut Squash

bowtiesbutternutWe decided that this is one of those dishes that could easily put you in a food coma if you’re not careful. (Like the cashew cheese pasta—happens to us every time). The sauce is a basic roux that I then added seasoning and some roasted butternut squash to. Next time, I think I’d add some mushrooms and peas, but this dish is also delicious with just the squash.

INGREDIENTS:
10-12 oz bowtie pasta
1 med butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
4 Tbs flour
1/3 C white cooking wine
1-1/2 C almond milk
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
3/4 tsp sage
Salt and pepper, to taste
vegan Parmesan, optional

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400. In a medium bowl, coat the squash with the olive oil, then spread onto a baking sheet. Roast the squash for 30-40 minutes, stirring them once halfway through.
DSC08170
Meanwhile, boil the pasta until al dente, then drain. But while the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt the Earth Balance. Slowly add the flour and whisk until thick and smooth. Next, whisk in the white cooking wine and blend until smooth. Little by little, add the almond milk, whisking until thickened over medium heat. Add the nutritional yeast, sage, salt, and pepper. Fold in the squash and remove from heat. You can either keep the pasta and sauce separate, or combine the two. Serve immediately and enjoy!

bowtiesbutternut

 

Easy Baked Risotto

BakedRisottoThis is a lot like the Creamy Wild Mushroom Risotto, but this one requires a lot less work, especially when it comes to stirring! I recently purchased a Dutch oven and decided to try making risotto in it. So much less work! Mine is 5-quarts and this recipe only took up about 1/2 of the Dutch oven, so I would think even a 3-quart one is plenty big enough.
DSC08169Risotto is a very versatile dish, so you can add whatever vegetables to it that you’d like. I stuck with spinach, onion and mushrooms, but feel free to add peas, asparagus, Swiss chard, kale . . . you name it.The great thing about using a Dutch oven, is that if you want to make this a side dish, you’ll have plenty of time to throw together the main entree while this cooks. But served with a salad and bread, this risotto makes an ideal main entree.

INGREDIENTS:

5 C vegetable broth
1-1/2 C Arborio rice
1 Tbs olive oil
1 C onion, chopped
16-oz mushrooms (cremini or white), chopped or sliced
2 C spinach, chopped
1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C white cooking wine
2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1-1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. Combine 4 cups of the broth and the rice in the Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. While the rice is baking, prepare your other ingredients. In a bowl, combine the spinach, lemon juice and salt; set aside. Next, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until softened and a little brown. Add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more.
20140126_171053I also combined the nutritional yeast, thyme, pepper, and salt in a small bowl to make it easier to add it all at once, when it comes time to add them.
DSC08164Once the rice is done (most of the liquid has been absorbed), add the remaining cup of broth:

20140126_172828Next, stir in the white wine, Earth Balance and seasoning. Stir vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until the risotto is thick and creamy. Stir in the mushrooms mixture, along with the spinach.
DSC08165So good! Serve immediately and enjoy!
BakedRisotto

Layered Eggplant with Cashew Cheese

EggplantThis is part lasagna, part eggplant “Parmesan.” I originally set out to make the latter, but I didn’t want to use packaged vegan cheese. Homemade cashew cheese has become a favorite around here, especially with Italian food, so I decided to give it a try with this. The recipe for the cheese is the same from the Butternut Stuffed Shells and I think it turned out delicious! I didn’t soak the cashews very long—maybe just an hour—and it still turned out creamy and smooth. This makes about 6 good-sized portions; great for a larger group, or for having leftovers.

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium eggplant, peeled (a carrot peeler works great) and sliced into 9 thin slices
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
2 14-oz can diced tomatoes (I used the Italian variety), undrained
1/2 C white wine
1 Tbs dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1/4 C flour
2 C panko or breadcrumbs
2 Tbs Italian dried seasoning
1/2 C Ener-G Egg replacer powder
3/4 C almond milk
1/8 C water
Olive oil for frying

Cashew Cheese
2 C raw cashews, soaked in water for up to 2 hours, then drained
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
2 Tbs lemon juice
2-3 Tbs almond milk
1 tsp tahini
1/2 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

To make the cashew cheese, combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If you want it thinner, feel free to add more almond milk and/or lemon juice. Set aside.
DSC08139Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the garlic over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the onion and saute for 7-8 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften and brown. Add the tomatoes, wine, basil, and oregano, stir to combine, and lower heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

DSC08137While the sauce is cooking, combine the egg-replacer powder with the almond milk and water in a shallow bowl. Do the same with the Italian seasoning and panko, and add the flour to a small bowl.

breadingDust the entire eggplant slice with flour, cover with a thin layer of egg-replacer, then coat with the panko. Eventually, you might have to add a little more water to the egg-replacer dish in order to cover all 9 slices. In batches, place the eggplant slices in a skillet with enough oil to fry—about 2 minutes each side. Try to avoid flipping the pieces more than once, otherwise, you’ll end up with lots of fried chunks of breading in the skillet.
unfriedandfriedPlace finished slices on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat process until all 9 slices are done. Next, coat the bottom of an 8×8″ baking dish with a ladle of the tomato sauce. Place 3 slices of the eggplant on the bottom and spread each slice with cashew cheese. Top with sauce, then repeat process.
layeredCover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces and enjoy!

Creamy Wild Mushroom Risotto

risottoWow, has it really been this long since my last post?! I guess the holidays will do that. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and so far a good 2014. I’ve made this risotto several times now, and I swear we love it more each time. Sure, there’s a little prep work involved, as well as some constant stirring, but I promise you, it’s worth it. You can even read a book while you make this. Seriously. Have a book  handy because you  might as well get some reading done as you stir. (A glass of wine wouldn’t hurt either).

INGREDIENTS:

3/4-oz pkg. dried shiitake mushrooms
3/4-oz pkg. dried porcini mushrooms
3 C vegetable broth
3 C fresh spinach, chopped
1/8-1/4 C lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 large onion, chopped small (about 1 C)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
16-oz cremini mushrooms
1-1/2 tsp thyme
1 C Arborio rice
1/2 C white cooking wine
1-1/2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
1/8 C nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

To begin, soak the shiitake and porcini in very hot water for about 30 minutes. Once re-hydrated, drain, wash, and chop the mushrooms up small; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, lemon juice and salt; set aside as well. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tbs of olive oil and add the garlic. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat, then add the onion. Saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the cremini, shiitake, and porcini mushrooms and cook 10-12 minutes, or until they have cooked down. Add the thyme, Arborio rice, and remaining olive oil. Combine the rice well in the pan and cook 3-4 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

DSC08122

Add about 1/2 C of the broth and stir constantly until completely absorbed; repeat, adding only a 1/2 C of broth at a time. It will take about 20-30 minutes. (Good time to have a book handy). Next, stir in the spinach mixture and cook 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach has cooked down. Stir in the Earth Balance, nutritional yeast, and black pepper. Enjoy! (This is great with some oven-roasted asparagus and garlic toast)!

DSC08128

Wild Mushroom & Miso Soup

MushroomSoupFor mushroom lovers like us, this soup certainly made us very happy. Some friends had brought it to a get together and we all demanded the recipe. It is from The Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  This soup requires just a tad of prep work, but then it all goes into the slow cooker. Not only is this soup savory and full of flavor, but the mushrooms are packed full of immune boosters—perfect for fighting off the winter chills and colds.

INGREDIENTS:

1 (1/2 oz) pkg dried porcini mushrooms (I could only find the 3/4 oz package, which I used all of)
1 C hot water (I added a bit more since I used more mushrooms)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 leeks, (mostly white parts and a little of the green) sliced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked peppercorns (I used ground—didn’t have the peppercorns)
1 bay leaf
8-oz shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and thinly sliced (I recommend adding more–they cook down quite a bit)
8-oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quartered (Again, I’d add more)!
6 C vegetable broth
1 C water
1/4 C miso
Optional: fresh snipped chives

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, combine the dried porcini mushrooms and the hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes, using a fine mesh strainer, drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Finely chop up the porcinis and set aside. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, carrot and celery for about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, and porchinis. Cook for a minute, then add the reserved liquid.

vegmixTransfer to a slow cooker and add the shiitake and cremini mushrooms, along with the broth and water.

20131208_125234

Cover and cook on high for 3 hours OR on low for 6 hours. Stir in the miso and cook on high for 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and ladle into separate bowls; garnish with chives. Enjoy!

Layered Polenta Casserole

Polenta casseroleThis is how tonight’s post-dinner conversation went between father and son:
        “This is going to be deee-vine for tomorrow’s lunch,” father said as he placed the leftovers in a container.
        “Wait, who said you get them all?” his son said, grabbing hold of the dish.
        “You will lose an arm, son,” father said firmly. 
A wresting match in the kitchen ensued. I don’t know who the victor was; I walked away, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating the leftovers for breakfast. Yes, it was that good.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pre-made polenta log (I used the sun-dried tomato & garlic variety), cut into 18 slices
2 C spinach, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 C mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 C bread crumbs or panko
1/2 C Parmezano Sprinkles (recipe below)

Parmezano Sprinkles: (from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook)
1/2 C blanched almonds

2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
1-2 tsp light miso
Heaping 1/4 tsp salt

Sauce:
4 Tbs Earth Balance margarine

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 Tbs flour
1 C vegetable broth
1/4 C almond milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

20131124_181417

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. To make the Parmezano Sprinkles (which I recommend making ahead of time) combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until you have little crumbles . . . then refrigerate.

Parmezano Sprinkles Combine the chopped spinach, tomatoes and sliced mushrooms in a bowl along with the basil, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

20131124_180102To prepare the sauce, melt the Earth Balance and add the garlic. Saute about 2 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Next, add vegetable broth a little at time, whisking constantly until everything is incorporated over medium heat. The sauce should begin to thicken. Slowly add in the almond milk, an 1/8 C at a time and whisk thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Add a ladle of sauce to the bottom of an 8″ baking dish—just enough to coat the bottom. Place 9 slices of the polenta on the bottom and sprinkle with about 1/4 C of the Parmezano Sprinkles.

20131124_181953Next, layer on the spinach mixture—pack it down if you have to, but get it all on there. Top with the remaining 9 slices of polenta . . .

20131124_182152. . . then remaining sauce, the bread crumbs, and another 1/4 C of the Parmezano Sprinkles.

20131124_182430(0)Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let it sit for  about 5-6 minutes before digging in. Enjoy!
20131124_185917

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Looking for Thanksgiving meal ideas? You’ve come to the right place! This lasagna, is downright amazing—your guests will be demanding the recipe.  A similar dish that would also be great for Stuffed Bird Carcass on the Table Day, would be these Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with Cashew Cheese. So this dish is definitely less complicated than you might think. I recommend preparing the squash and tofu ricotta ahead of time and keeping them in the fridge until ready to use. Because I didn’t saute the mushrooms, the only things I had to do come suppah-time, was boil the noodles and make the white sauce—both no-brainers . . . I promise. Speaking of noodles, I prefer to use the old fashioned kind simply because the no-boil ones are too short and I have found that they don’t always get cooked completely. Should your noodle preference differ from mine, that’s quite all right . . . you get to make those executive decisions in your own kitchen :-) I just like that I can cut the cooked noodles to fit my pan. Either way, this won’t disappoint!

INGREDIENTS:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
4-5 garlic cloves
Olive oil
1/8 C almond milk
4-5 C mixture of shiitake and button mushrooms
Salt and pepper
15 + a few extra lasagna noodles

Tofu ricotta
14-oz tub extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 C nutritional yeast
2 Tbs lemon juice
Optional: 1/4 C vegan mozzarella, shredded

White sauce
1/4 C Earth Balance margarine
6 Tbs flour
1 C vegetable broth
1/2 C almond milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425. To prepare the squash, I recommend peeling the squash and dicing it up. I have found that if you’re going to just puree it anyway, this is the fastest way to roast a butternut squash. As long as you have a decent potato peeler, this step will be a breeze.

squashToss in a bowl with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. I decided I might as well roast some garlic too, so I took about 6 cloves, cut the tops off (leaving them in the skins), placed them on some foil, drizzled some olive oil on them, then loosely wrapped them up.

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Spread the diced squash on a large baking sheet (along with the garlic) and roast for 30 minutes.roasting

Next, transfer the squash and the garlic cloves (which should slip right out of the skins) into a food processor. Add about an 1/8 C of almond milk and puree. It’s up to you how smooth you want to puree the squash, but I recommend not having too many big chunks remaining. To prepare the ricotta, throw all of the ingredients in a food processor, except the cheese, and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and if using the cheese, stir it in.

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Slice up the mushrooms. I had just about 4 cups of sliced shiitakes and since we’re obsessed with mushrooms, I decided that wasn’t enough, so I added some white button mushrooms . . . perfect.

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Preheat oven to 375. To begin, I suggest starting the sauce about 5 minutes before you start the water for the noodles. In a medium saucepan, melt the Earth Balance, then whisk in the flour until fully incorporated and you have a thick paste. Add a little broth, then whisk until smooth. Do this until you’ve added all the broth. Whisk it constantly over medium heat until it begins to thicken. Slowly, and bit by bit, add the almond milk, whisking continuously until it thickens. Reduce heat and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Keep an eye on it and don’t let it burn. Hopefully by now, the noodles are about ready. Don’t over-boil them—they’ll cook more once in the oven. Otherwise, they’ll rip while assembling the lasagna. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to keep them from sticking to each other. Ladle some sauce on the bottom of the pan—not a lot; just enough to coat the bottom. I used a 9×13″ baking dish, so I placed 5 noodles vertically in the dish and cut a couple of inches off one end. Spread half of the squash mixture on the lasagna noodles. Then spread a couple of tablespoons of the tofu ricotta on each noodle. (I didn’t use all of the ricotta–I had about a full cup leftover). Next. layer on half of the mushrooms.

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Repeat process with another 5 noodles, the rest of the squash mixture, more ricotta, and the remaining mushrooms. Top with the last 5 noodles and pour sauce on top. (I added a little more almond milk to the sauce because it had gotten a bit thick). Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy!

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Black Bean and Chick’n Enchiladas

EnchiladasSorry it’s been so long since my last post; been a busy bee, I guess. Sometimes, it just feels like a faux meat night and I was craving these enchiladas. They’re a breeze to prepare, but taste like you slaved away in the kitchen. This would also be a good meal to entice those meat-eating friends of yours to come to the table and give veganism a chance.

INGREDIENTS:

1 16-oz pkg. vegan chicken strips, defrosted (Morning Star, Simple Truth, or Gardein brands all make their own version)
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14-oz can Rotel (tomatoes with diced green chilies), drained
1 16-oz jar 505 Brand green chili sauce
1 C Tofutti sour cream
4-oz Tofutti cream cheese
1/4 C almond milk
Optional: 1/4 to 1/2 C vegan pepper jack shreds
Optional: salsa, guacamole
7 flour tortillas

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl whisk together the sour cream, cream cheese, vegan pepper jack (if using) and milk. Stir in the Rotel, black beans and chick’n strips.

DSC08093Scoop the chick’n mixture evenly into 6-7 flour tortillas and place into a 9×13 baking dish. Cover with the green chili sauce.

DSC08096Cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes. (Make sure the foil isn’t touching the tortillas too much, because it will stick to them). Enjoy with some guacamole and salsa!

Enchiladas

Gnocchi with Roasted Vegetables

GnocchiMy mom made this dish for me a few weeks ago and I’ve been anxious to make it for the family. It’s so easy to prepare. The only difficult part was actually finding this fancy little product . .

DSC08073My mom had used Knorr’s Vegetable Homestyle Stock, but I had a hell of time finding it—or I should say, finding the vegetable flavor. Of course the beef, chicken, and low-sodium chicken ones seemed to be available, but us vegemites seem to get left out. I eventually found them at Safeway, but only one of the two Safeways in town (Taft and Drake for you locals). Anyway, this stock is ideal for this dish. It’s extremely concentrated; like a paste, so all I had to do was add a little water, and volia! it was ready.

The gnocchi on the other hand, was pretty easy to find . . .

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INGREDIENTS:

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, cut into big slices
1 large zucchini, cubed
1 large yellow squash, cubed
2 C carrots, cut into cubes/chunks
2-3 C mushrooms, quartered
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 tubs of Knorr Vegetable Homestyle Stock
2 (16-oz) pkgs. gnocchi

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. Prepare all of the veggies. (When peeling a butternut squash, a decent potato peeler works just fine). Combine all the veggies (except the mushrooms) in a large bowl. Drizzle with just a tiny bit of olive oil and teensy bit of balsamic vinegar. You don’t want the veggies dripping with oil; use enough to just barely coat them. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet. I used two pans—the vegetables won’t roast evenly if the pan is too crowded; they’ll steam instead.

DSC08071I roasted them for about 30 minutes before adding the mushrooms (that I prepared with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper). All ovens run differently and cooking time also depends on how large the vegetables are cut. Roast another 10 minutes or so. A good time to start the water boiling for the gnocchi would be right before you throw the mushrooms in.  In a small measuring cup, combine two tubs of the Knorr stock with about 1/2 C of water. Heat in the microwave for about a minute.

knorrThe gnocchi will only take 3-5 minutes. I divided the drained gnocchi in half and added them to the two pans of veggies. I then poured 1/4 C of the stock to each pan and coated everything well. I ended up combing both pans into one . . .

DSC08078That’s it! So delicious . . . enjoy!

Mexican Stuffed Shells

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I had been seeing recipes for this dish floating around and decided to try make my own vegan version. You might not think to combine pasta and Mexican food, but it’s not unlike my Mexican Pasta Casserole. Easy and delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

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Filling:

1 Tbs olive oil
1 (12-oz) pkg. LightLife veggie crumbles (or other ground “meat” of your choice)
1 C onion, diced small
1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
1 packet taco seasoning
1/2 C cilantro, minced
2 Tbs lime juice

Sauce:

1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
2 tsp Ancho chili powder (or other chili powder)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic
2 jarred roasted red peppers
1 (4-oz) can diced green chilies

The rest:

1 box jumbo shells (approx 45 shells)
1/2 C green onions, sliced
1 (4-oz) can sliced black olives
Vegan shredded cheese
Optional: vegan sour cream, salsa

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions and bell pepper. Saute until they begin to soften and brown. Add the veggie crumbles and cook another 5-7 minutes. I mixed the taco seasoning with about a 1/2 C of water and poured it into the skillet and combined it with the veggie mixture. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and remove from the heat. Let it cool.

DSC08060Meanwhile, boil the water for the shells and prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the tomato sauce and seasonings. In a food processor, puree the garlic cloves and roasted red peppers. Add the puree to the sauce, along with the green chilies and cook over medium heat. Once the shells are ready, drain, rinse and place them on a large baking sheet. (It keeps them from sticking together).

DSC08061Place about a 1/4 C of the sauce on the bottom of a 15″ baking dish. Stuff each shell with about a tablespoon of filling; place in dish. I ended up with about 42 stuffed shells with a few leftover. Top with remaining sauce, green onions, olives, and cheese.

DSC08063Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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Marinated Field Roast Gyros

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Yep, go ahead, bookmark this one right now; I’ll wait . . .

Ready? Did you get it? OK, so these are pretty outstanding. They look darn good, too. I made similar ones quite a while ago, but I wanted to change them up a little. I also made the pitas myself, which I assure you, is completely worth the effort. Store-bought pitas tend to be dry, but these are incredibly soft, plus there aren’t any hidden ingredients. I highly encourage you to make your own, but you can certainly buy them. Flour tortillas would also work great. Because I love Field Roast and their simple, healthy ingredients, I thought I’d use their Celebration Roast . . . simply brilliant!

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You’ll need a little bit of prep time for this meal, so you’ll probably want to start everything earlier in the day, if possible. I let the Field Roast mixture marinate for about 4 hours and the pitas (with the dough-rising time) will take a while too. Don’t let that scare you though! The processes are super easy and you’ll be glad you took the extra time.

INGREDIENTS:

Pita bread recipe
or flour tortillas

Gyros/Marinade:

1 Field Roast, Celebration Roast
1 large red onion, sliced
1/2 C tamari or soy sauce
1/8 C olive oil
1 Tbs vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1-1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper

Tzatziki Sauce:

8-oz plain almond or soy yogurt
1/2 C Tofutti sour cream
2 tsp garlic powder
1-1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbs fresh mint, minced
2 Tbs fresh dill, minced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 of a large cucumber, shredded and squeezed of all water

The rest:

1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 of a large cucumber, sliced
Lettuce, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Slice the Field Roast loaf into 12-14 slices, then cut each slice into strips.

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In a large ziplock, combine all of the marinade ingredients and mix well. Add the Field Roast slices and onion to the bag, seal it up and refrigerate for 4-6 hours, turning the bag over a few times.

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Meanwhile, prepare the tzatziki sauce by whisking everything together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until mealtime.

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When it’s time for dinner, pour the Field Roast/onion mixture along with all of the marinade into a skillet and saute over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed and the Field Roast begins to brown, about 10 minutes.

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Fill the pita with some Field Roast mixture, a slice or two of tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and some tzatziki sauce. Enjoy!

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Bowties with Veggies and Roasted Garlic Ricotta

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I’m so happy there are some leftovers! The original recipe uses real ricotta, but not only did I make use my go-to ricotta recipe, I also added/omitted some ingredients. Ricotta cheese has so much fat it’s ridiculous (10 g/fat, 6 g/saturated fat) so even if you do eat dairy, I urge you to try my tofu-version that contains 5 grams of fat, and only 1 gram of saturated fat. Plus, you’ll also benefit from the protein and the no cholesterol! Also, if you think roasting garlic is a pain, it’s really not. It’s so easy to do and takes only 30 minutes, in which time, you can prepare all of your ingredients. Ideally, if you can roast the garlic and make the ricotta the day before, it will be even more flavorful by the time you make this dish. I think you’ll find this is a great main meal or side dish that will please even picky eaters.

INGREDIENTS:

 Tofu-Ricotta:

14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 C nutritional yeast
2 Tbs lemon juice
Optional: 1/2 C Daiya Mozzarella shreds

The rest:

1 lb bow-tie pasta (any variety would be fine)
6 cloves of garlic (or more if you want)
Olive oil
1-1/2 C cherry tomatoes, halved
4-6 C fresh spinach, chopped
2 C mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 C reserved pasta-cooking water

Ricotta Pasta

DIRECTIONS:

To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 425. Cut off the tips of each garlic clove and place on a piece of foil; drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up loosely in the foil, place on a small baking sheet, and roast for about 30 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

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Meanwhile, however, prepare your other ingredients. To make the “ricotta,” combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, but don’t blend it yet until the garlic is done. You’ll want to add the garlic cloves and blend everything together, along with the 1/4 C of the reserved pasta-cooking water. So until the garlic is ready, at least throw together the ingredients to get started. Cook the pasta according to package instructions while you saute the mushrooms in a small pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Chop your spinach, slice those tomatoes, and finish off the ricotta by adding the newly roasted garlic and water. (For the garlic cloves, gently squeeze an end and the skins should come right off, then discard).

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Drain the pasta and rinse with hot water to remove as much starch as possible. Return the pot to the stove and over medium-low heat, add the spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms; saute with a smidgen of water until wilted and heated through.

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Add the pasta and ricotta and combine everything thoroughly, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!

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Vegan French Onion Soup

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I’ll be honest, I never really ate French onion soup before my vegan days, so I’m not sure how it’s supposed to taste. My guys were the ones to decide if this one passed the test. The Ninth Grader liked it a lot, but found it a little salty (I used broth and miso). The Husband liked it, but didn’t care for the vegan cheese—he admitted that the  real cheese is what made it so great before. I myself, loved the vegan cheese and I found that it all worked so well. Of course, the salt-factor didn’t seem to be a problem for me, which I’m thinking is because I spent the day (from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) walking over 15 miles along one of Fort Collins’ trails and pretty much sweated out any salt, so I was needing it! You can certainly just use water for this recipe. This recipe serves 3.

INGREDIENTS:

3 Tbs olive oil
2 extra large onions, sliced (about 8 cups)
4 C water (or broth)
1/3 C miso
3 Tbs water or broth
1 Tbs thyme
Black pepper (and salt, if needed)
Vegan cheese

Croutons

1/2 a loaf of sourdough or French bread or baguette, sliced
Olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

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Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large soup pot and add the onions. Cook them over medium heat for about 30-40 minutes, or until they soften and begin to brown.

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Meanwhile, make the croutons. Lay them out on a baking sheet, brush with oil and place under the broiler until browned. Flip them, brush with oil and broil again.

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In a small bowl, combine the miso, thyme and tablespoons of water or broth.

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Add the water/broth and miso mixture to the onions and bring to a boil.

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Fill bowls with the soup, top with the croutons and cover with cheese. I used the Daiya shreds and also sliced up some of the Daiya Swiss slices:

French Onion collage

Place the bowls onto a baking sheet and place under the broiler for just 1-2 minutes.

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Enjoy!

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Homemade Fettuccine with a Pesto-Butter Sauce

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It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of August. Right now, I can see a few leaves on the Sumac trees outside my window, already turning red. I feel as though I missed a great deal of our Colorado summer, spending it rather, in different parts of the U.S. (and in one case, another country). We experienced the gorgeous summer days of Victoria, BC, Seattle, San Francisco, a couple balmy days in San Diego, Sacramento, Napa, and finally wrapped up the season’s fun in New York City. I feel truly blessed that I was able to go on these trips with the people I love and adore. This morning, I was reminded of how lucky I am to have such times and that my family and I have our health. A young teacher at my son’s school, passed away last night from cancer. He had just celebrated his one-year anniversary with his wife. I didn’t know him, but he was to be my son’s English teacher this year. My heart goes out to his wife, who is also a teacher at the school. It makes me appreciate even more, the times spent together as a family. One of my favorite times is cooking with the Ninth Grader and the fun we have together making messes in the kitchen. This meal would not have come together without his help; him holding up the sheet of pasta dough while I crank it through the pasta maker. It may have looked like a circus stunt, but the results were nothing less than spectacular.

INGREDIENTS:

Pasta dough:

2 C semolina flour
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 C warm almond milk
2 Tbs olive oil

Pesto Sauce:

2 to 2-1/2 C fresh basil leaves
1/2 C parsley
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 C lemon juice
1/4 C olive oil
1 C pine nuts (sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds would work great, too)
3 Tbs Earth Balance margarine

The rest:

2-3 C mushrooms, sliced
1 C green onions, sliced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large tomato, diced
1 C walnuts, chopped and toasted

DIRECTIONS:

To make the dough, whisk together the flours and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the warm almond milk and olive oil. I recommend using your hands to then blend everything together thoroughly. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. I divided the dough into fourths and proceeded to feed each section through the pasta maker to make long sheets, then through the fettuccine portion. I found that four hands make this job much easier, if not necessary. You’ll want to let the pasta dry up a little. I don’t have any pasta drying racks, so I improvised . . .

Drying pasta

These methods worked beautifully. Time-consuming, perhaps, but a necessary step—otherwise, you’ll have a bunch of fettuccine noodles stuck together in one big mess. While the pasta drying, make up the pesto. You can also make this earlier in the day to save time. Toss the basil, parsley, oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend for about a minute. Add the nuts and blend until smooth. Transfer to a covered dish and refrigerate until ready to use. To make the sauce, I added about half of the pesto and 3 Tbs of Earth Balance to a small saucepan over medium to low heat. Let the butter melt, stirring often.

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Now would be a good time to get a large pot of salted water boiling. While you’re waiting, heat the one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet and add the mushrooms and green onion.

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Saute 3-5 minutes, depending on how cooked you want the mushrooms to be. Meanwhile, the Ninth Grader toasted the walnuts in a small, dry skillet.

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Have your dinner plates ready because once the water is boiling, the small batches of pasta will cook quickly. I think I cooked all of the pasta in 4 batches. This recipe will easily feed 6 people. The pasta will stick together if you cook it all at once, so I recommend having everyone dish up as you go. You can also drizzle a little olive oil over the cooked noodles to keep them from getting sticky. Top each serving with a tablespoon or two of pesto sauce, mushroom mixture, tomatoes, and walnuts. Enjoy!

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Meatless Mushroom Ragu

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Hello! I didn’t forget about all of you; I’ve had a very busy month of traveling. I spent a couple of weeks traveling around Northern California on a little book tour—you can read about it HERE if you’d like. I now get to spend 8 days in New York City this month with my dear friends Kerrie and Nicole! I’ve thrilled to be going on this trip, especially since I’ve never been to the Big Apple. I’m hoping I get a chance to check out some of Alicia Silverstone’s favorite NYC vegan eateries while I’m there. Any recommendations of your own?

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying not living out of a suitcase for a few days and I finally got back in the kitchen. I recently picked up The Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook and decided try the meatless ragu. I made a few changes to the recipe, however. You may not think to haul out the slow cooker during the summer, (let alone for vegan food), but it beats using the oven to heat up the house and we’re not regular grill users, so the crock pot is a great idea. The only trouble is that the smell of everything cooking might make you hungry all day. Most of the recipes in the cookbook include instructions for what to prepare the night before and what to prepare the next day—a real time-saver. There wasn’t much to do the night before, so I threw it all together in about 15 minutes around noon.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 C onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Field Roast sausages, Italian Seasonings flavor, crumbled
1 28-oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 C mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs port wine
Chopped fresh basil
Optional ingredients: diced zucchini and/or bell pepper
1 lb Rigatoni pasta

DIRECTIONS:

In a large skillet, cook the onion in the olive oil, until the onions are tender, a bout 3-4 minutes.

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Transfer the onions to the slow cooker. Next, add the Field Roast to the skillet and over medium heat, saute until browned, 3-4 minutes as well.

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Transfer the Field Roast, tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and pepper, vinegar, and wine in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

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Serve over cooked pasta and top with fresh basil. Enjoy!

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Polenta Marsala

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It’s great to be back with a new recipe! I haven’t worked with polenta much, so I decided to take the easy route and use the pre-cooked version.

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It’s great when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Having always liked Marsala-anything, I wanted to give it a try with polenta, another new favorite around here. The recipe calls for flour, but feel free to make this meal gluten-free by using another type of flour, such as rice flour. The Husband called this “f***ing brilliant.” Need I say more?

INGREDIENTS:

1-18oz tube of pre-cooked polenta (I used the basil garlic variety)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
2 C mushrooms, sliced (I recommend cremini or baby portobello)
1/2 C green onion, sliced
3 Tbs Earth Balance
1/4 C flour, any variety
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp black pepper
1  to 1-1/4 C vegetable broth
1/4 C Marsala cooking wine

DIRECTIONS:

Slice the polenta into about 18-19 slices.

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In a small bowl, combine the flour, marjoram, and pepper; set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the polenta slices. You may have to do a couple of batches, like I did. Brown the polenta, about 5-7 minutes on each side.

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Once they are all browned, set aside. Wipe out the skillet and add the Earth Balance. After it melts, whisk in the flour mixture. Over medium heat, add the broth and Marsala, little by little, continually whisking until it’s smooth. You may have some extra broth leftover at this point, but hang onto it in case you need to thin the sauce out more later. Add the mushrooms and green onion, and mix together. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms cook down a little. You may need to add a little more broth to thin the sauce.

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Add the polenta slices to the pan and carefully fold them into the sauce. Simmer on low until the slices are heated through again. Enjoy!

Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Cashew Cheese

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A BIG thank you goes out to Luminous Vegans for this outstanding recipe. When I saw it a couple of weeks ago, it immediately bookmarked it. This also reminds me a bit of the Sweet Potato Ravioli I made a while back, which was also a favorite. Everyone loved this—a keeper for sure. The only thing I did different was made a full box of jumbo shells (about 40 shells), otherwise, I followed the recipe as it was. These are not overly squashy tasting, thanks to the amazing cashew cheese. You can make the filling ahead of time and store it in the fridge until ready to use, which is a time saver, but not a must. From start to finish, it took me about an hour and a half of (easy) prep and cook time.

INGREDIENTS:

1 box jumbo shells

1 large butternut squash

1/3 C chives, chopped

1/3 C basil, chopped

salt and pepper

1 jar marinara sauce

Cashew Cheese:

2 C raw cashews, soaked in water for up to 2 hours, then drained

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

2 Tbs lemon juice

2 Tbs almond milk (I did add about another tablespoon)

1 tsp tahini (I accidentally used a tablespoon, hence, the extra almond milk, but it all worked out)

1/2 Tbs onion powder

1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450. Cut the butternut squash in half. Roast for 30-45 minutes. Oven temps and cooking times vary, so check after 30 minutes; the squash should be tender and soft.

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Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine all of the cashew cheese ingredients and puree until smooth. Pretty easy. In a medium bowl, combine the chives, basil, squash and about 1/2 to 3/4 C of the cashew cheese.

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Season with salt and pepper.

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Of course, while all this is going on, boil the shells (10-15 minutes). Once drained, stuff each shell with the filling. Don’t get too heavy handed—you can always add more to any of the shells.

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Layer on the jarred marinara sauce. I used about 3/4 of a jar. The rest will be great for a quick spaghetti lunch this week.

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Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

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Vegan Oven Tacos

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Every week, when I’m writing up a grocery list, I always ask for dinner suggestions. It never fails. “Tacos.” It’s become a joke around here. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest for Oven Tacos, I knew my hegans would be very happy with a vegan version. These were definitely a hit. I had to laugh when the original recipe said that after the ground beef is cooked (yack!) “drain the liquid.” Oh, just say what it is! Grease! Melted animal fat! Ahhh . . . I love it; being vegan means never having to say, “drain the liquid/grease/fat.” Speaking of which, the Boca crumbles have zero fat, I use “no fat” refried beans, and there is no fat in the tomato sauce. Obviously, these aren’t totally fat free, but can you imagine the fat content alone in the original ones? Yikes! So, not only are these amazing, they’re actually healthy for you. I’ve discovered these great whole grain taco shells that really are delicious. Psst . . . by the way, this makes A LOT. I made 13 tacos and had some filling left over, so I recommend either serving these to a crowd, or freezing half the filling for the next taco night.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 bag Boca Crumbles

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 Tbs olive oil

1  15-oz can no fat refried beans

1 small can diced green chilies

1 packet taco seasoning

1  8-oz can tomato sauce

Daiya cheese shreds

13-14 taco shells

Toppings:

green onion, sliced

sliced black olives

fresh cilantro, chopped

diced tomatoes

guacamole or diced avocado

salsa

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until softened and beginning to brown. Add the Boca Crumbles and cook 4-5 minutes, or until they are heated through. (No need to drain any “liquid”)! In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the seasoning mix with 1/2 to 3/4 C of water;  stir into the Boca mixture. Next, add the tomato sauce, green chilies, and beans. Combine well over medium-low heat.

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Fill the taco shells with the mixture. I wanted to leave plenty of room for toppings, so I filled them about a third of the way up, but feel free to use as little or as much as you want. Like I said, I made 13 tacos—enough to fill a 9×13 baking dish, so if you’re making more, you’ll want a larger dish. And be careful, they break easily with the thick filling inside (especially after they’re baked). Sprinkle with some Daiya cheese.

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Bake for 10 minutes. The bottom portion of the shell (that has the Boca filling) will have the awesomeness of a soft taco, but the flavor of corn. THEN, the top half is crunchy—best of both worlds!

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Load them up with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

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Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

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Lettuce wraps are a favorite around here, especially since we can be picky and add what toppings we want. Oh, and they’re fresh and easy to make. I suggest having all of your ingredients out, ready to go, and even chopped before anything else; it just makes life easier. I was inspired by a Vegetarian Times recipe, but I made lots of changes by adding ingredients and omitting some. That’s the beauty of these . . . they’re so versatile.

INGREDIENTS:

Filling:

2 8oz pkg. tempeh, broken into chunks
5 large mushrooms, diced
1 can water chestnuts, chopped (I didn’t have any, but I would have used them if I did, so these are certainly optional)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs fresh garlic, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1/4 C vegetable broth
1/4 C fresh mint, chopped
1/8 C lime juice
1 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs toasted brown rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp brown sugar

Sauce:

1/8 C lime juice
1/8 C water
1/8 C sugar
2 Tbs tamari
1 Tbs brown rice vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbs yellow  miso
salt and pepper, to taste

Toppings:

2 carrots, shredded
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced into strips
Fresh basil, sliced into strips
1 C green onions, sliced
1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
1/2 C chopped peanuts and slivered almonds (also chopped)
12-16 large lettuce leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. To make the filling, pulse the tempeh in a food processor. Depending on your preference, you can pulse it until you’re left with course pieces, or process it a bit more like I did. It can be difficult to get a consistent texture if you want larger pieces.

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Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute, then add the tempeh (and water chestnuts, if suing) and broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook ten minutes. Stir in the remaining filling ingredients and heat thoroughly.

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Since you were so efficient in your prep work . . .  ;-) you’re ready to fill the lettuce wraps! Place a scoop in the center of the lettuce leaf and add your favorite toppings, and drizzle with about a tablespoon of the sauce. Enjoy!

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Tofu Sliders

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This recipe is from Vegetarian Times, but I made just a few alterations. The original recipe is called “Kung Pao Sliders,” but I’m not sure where the kung pao is because they weren’t spicy at all—the recipe only calls for an optional pinch of cayenne. The recipe also says it makes 16 sliders and I sliced the tofu the same way and ended up with just 14. Next time, I’ll actually just cut large slabs instead of using 2 per slider, because they were pretty small. If you want them to have more of a kick, I suggest adding more cayenne, or some sriacha to the slaw mixture. Ok, with all of that out of the way, I have to say, these were quite delicious. The slaw is really flavorful and any leftovers would be great eaten alone, or on some rice or noodles. I made some fries to go with them and it was a great meal. (I guess you can call it “Frasian” dining . . .)

INGREDIENTS:

Sliders:

1 14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, patted dry

4 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce (I used tamari)

2 Tbs natural cane sugar

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp cornstarch

(I also added 1 Tbs yellow miso)

slider buns

Slaw:

3 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

2 Tbs vegan mayo

2 Tbs creamy peanut butter

5 tsp natural cane sugar (I reduced this to 2 tsp)

2 Tbs rice vinegar

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 tsp black pepper

4 medium carrots, julienned* (I recommend 2 carrots, as there was a lot of slaw left—unless you’re fine with that)

2 medium (I recommend small ones) zucchini, julienned*

1/4 C dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

Optional: sriacha or other hot sauce for some heat

*Another option is to use a peeler and make ribbons of carrots and zucchini—this can be much easier than julienning them.

DIRECTIONS:

I recommend making this a couple of hours ahead of time to allow the tofu to marinate and give yourself plenty of prep time. The recipe says to cut the tofu into 8 slices lengthwise; halve the slices to make 16 pieces. I did the best I could. (Again, next time I’ll make larger cuts)

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In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, cane sugar, toasted sesame oil and cornstarch. (This is also where I added in the miso). Pour about a third of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and place the tofu squares in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over the tofu to coat it.

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Cover and chill while you prepare the slaw. Basically, whisk together all of the slaw ingredients (minus the veggies and peanuts) in a large bowl. Stir in the carrots, zucchini, and peanuts. Cover and chill.

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Preheat oven to 375. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and transfer the tofu to the sheet. The recipe says to drain the tofu, but I just poured the marinade over the tofu.

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Bake 20-25 minutes, then flip and bake 15-20 minutes. I reduced the times a little from the original recipe because mine seemed to bake pretty fast. Every oven runs different, so just check them often to make sure they’re not burnt to a crisp. On to assembling them . . .

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Add about 2 Tbs of slaw and you’re ready to eat! Enjoy!

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Veggie Bowties with Mushrooms and Walnuts

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This always makes for a great, quick lunch—or even a few lunches. I love veggie pastas and this one, from Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, is made up of spinach, beets, and red bell pepper. Aside from the wonderful flavor, it doesn’t hurt that there are 8 grams of protein per serving (1/4 C), as well as vitamin C and iron.

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INGREDIENTS:

8-oz vegetable bowtie (farfalle) pasta

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 C mushrooms, sliced

1/2 C walnuts, chopped

2 Tbs Earth Balance

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cook pasta according to package instructions. In the meantime, melt the Earth Balance over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the walnuts and saute them 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and saute until they begin to brown; season with salt and pepper. Combine the mushroom mixture with the pasta and if needed, season with more salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Alfredo Ravioli (and a beautiful white morning)

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First, I had to snap a few pictures this morning of the snow because by tomorrow, most of it will be gone. This is a photog’s dream and the time I love snow—so beautiful.

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So anyway, as you probably know, I go through phases when I discover certain meals. For example, when I discovered stuffed peppers, I made about 10 different versions . . . same with frittatas and tofu scrambles. Now I’m on to my latest obsession: Ravioli. At least I have the process down to a science so preparation goes a lot smoother. I was hankering for some of this Alfredo sauce, but I was also craving ravioli. Typically, I don’t like to pair ravioli with a heavy sauce, but to hell with rules; this was too good not to try. I changed up the dough a little because I didn’t have enough semolina flour and it worked out nicely. These are stuffed with tofu ricotta and fresh spinach—a fabulous combo. For a more in-depth description on using a ravioli plate, check out this version.

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

1 C semolina flour

2 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 C almond milk, warm

2 Tbs olive oil

Filling:

14-oz pkg. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and crumbled

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1/3 C Daiya mozzarella (optional)

2 C chopped spinach

Sauce:

1 C raw cashews

2 Tbs pine nuts

1-1/2 C water

4 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp garlic, minced

1/16 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

Start with making the dough. In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt. Create a well in the middle and slowly pour in the almond milk and oil. Using a spoon, or your hands, combine well. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, cover with plastic, and set aside.

Next, throw together the ricotta. Combine all of the ingredients, except the spinach and cheese, in a food processor and blend well. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the spinach and cheese. Set aside.

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Next, roll out the dough. I used my pasta maker, but you may certainly use a rolling pin. Lay one long sheet over the ravioli mold and fill each pocket with just over a teaspoon of filling.

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Lay another thin sheet of dough over the top, press down and use a rolling pin to seal the edges. Again, refer to this post on how to use a ravioli plate. Place the raviolis on a baking sheet and repeat the process until you have used up all of the filling. I had just a small amount of dough left, but not much. I had 75 raviolis when it was all said and done. Cover and set aside.

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Time to make the sauce. Using a blender, grind the cashews and pine nuts to a fine powder. Add the nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, garlic, nutmeg, and salt. Blend until completely smooth—about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk over medium heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes; stir in the black pepper. I sauteed the mushrooms first, then stirred them into the sauce.

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Keeping the sauce warm on very low heat, bring a large pot of water to a boil. I cooked about 12-15 raviolis at a time for about 4-5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, place them in a strainer. Serve immediately, or lay them out on a large pan, otherwise, they’ll stick to each other. You can drizzle a little olive oil on them as well, to keep them separated. Ladle on some sauce and enjoy!

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Vegan Deep Dish Pizza

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There are certainly more than one way to make pizza—this one in a 9×13″ baking dish, plus you can use whatever pizza toppings you want. I used Pillsbury’s pizza crust, and yes, I know . . . even though it’s vegan, it’s not the healthiest food, but it’s definitely not a staple at our house and it worked perfect for this meal. Whichever crust you decide to use, you’ll enjoy this deep dish classic!

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INGREDIENTS:

1 Pillsbury Pizza Crust

1 Tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips, then cut in half

2 small zucchini, sliced thin

2 C mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices

24 slices of veggie pepperoni

1 Tbs Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

Daiya cheese mozzarella shreds

Optional: 2 Field Roast sausages, Italian flavor, crumbled

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and then add the garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes.

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Add the can of tomatoes and combine well. Let it simmer for 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, line the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish with the pizza dough. It doesn’t need to be perfect—as seen by mine . . .

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Bake for 6-8 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375. Next, sprinkle a little Daiya cheese on the crust, then spoon the veggie mixture on top of the crust. I left a little bit of an edge all the way around.

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Top with some more Daiya cheese and the veggie pepperoni.

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Bake for 20 minutes. Cut and enjoy!

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Cashew Alfredo and Roasted Asparagus

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The Alfredo recipe is from The Kind Life and is probably the best vegan Alfredo sauce I’ve tried thus far. The taste and consistency is perfect. The only thing I added was some nutritional yeast and some sliced mushrooms. Paired with the asparagus, it was a fantastic meal!

INGREDIENTS:

Alfredo:

1 C raw cashews

2 Tbs pine nuts

1-1/2 C water

4 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp garlic, minced

1/16 tsp nutmeg

1-1/2 tsp salt (I used 1 tsp)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 C nutritional yeast

4 C pasta (I used 16 oz of orecchiette, a.k.a “suction cup pasta)

1 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced

Asparagus:

1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed

1-2 Tbs olive oil

Salt

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl, coat the asparagus with the olive oil and season with salt; set aside. To make the sauce, grind the nuts in a blender until you reach a fine powder. Add the nutritional yeast, water, lemon juice, garlic, nutmeg, and salt. Blend until completely smooth—about 1 minute. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk over medium heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes; stir in the black pepper and mushrooms. It won’t take long to thicken up and stir it often to keep it from burning.

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Transfer the asparagus to a baking sheet and as soon as you add your pasta to a pot to boil it, throw the asparagus in the oven. Incidentally, they’re both take about 14 minutes to cook.

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Turn the asparagus halfway through—about 7 minutes. Cook another 7 minutes.

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Perfect!

Drain the pasta and serve with sauce ladled on top. (The Eighth Grader cut up his asparagus and added it to the pasta and loved it). Enjoy!

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Gluten-Free Burrito Bowls with Avocado-Lime Rice

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This is my new favorite versatile meal. I saw this recipe for the avocado rice, where they also suggested making burrito bowls using it. Obviously, I wasn’t keen on their meat and dairy version, so I made my own, healthier ones. I also made some changes to the rice recipe by using this awesome rice from Lundberg. The guys tend to be white rice kind of men, but there were no complaints! It’s a blend of sweet brown rice, short grain brown rice, long grain brown rice, whole grain Wehani (brand) rice, whole grain black Japonica (brand) rice.

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And I have to mention the quite ingenious Velcro re-closeable bag!

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This is such a fresh, simple, and healthy meal where everyone in the family can create their own with their favorite fresh ingredients. Now, my new favorite ingredient . . . is this tri-bean blend. Organic and on sale for $1 a can! Love these. Packed with protein and fiber.

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So, on to the recipe!

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 6 bowls)

Rice:

3-1/2 C water

2 C Lundberg Jubilee rice

2 avocados, mashed

1/2 C cilantro, chopped

zest and juice from one lime

The beans:

3 cans tri-bean blend (black bean, pinto, and kidney)

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp Ancho Chili pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 C water

The rest (toppings):

Green onion, sliced

Tomato, diced

Daiya cheese

Sour cream

Lettuce, chopped

Salsa

Corn tortilla crunchies/chips

DIRECTIONS:

The rice will take 35-40 minutes, so you’ll want to get that started first. Bring the 3-1/2 cups of water to a boil, add the rice, stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Check after 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a small to medium saucepan, add the beans, seasonings, and water. Heat on low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

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When the rice is done, stir in the mashed avocados, cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.

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Fill a bowl with about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of the avocado rice . . .

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 . . . layer on some beans and toppings and enjoy!

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Homemade Gluten-Free Ravioli

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Nothing says Easter like ravioli, right? Well, if you’re vegan and some of your dinner guests can’t eat gluten, then yes, raviolis are an ideal Easter meal—or for any occasion, actually. In all of the excitement, I didn’t get a good picture of the finished product with the amazing garlic-butter-walnut sauce, but I did get one with some regular raviolis that I made as well.

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In addition to the raviolis, one guest brought some delicious vegan horseradish mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans and another guest brought this incredible corn and avocado salad.  So, I was living on the edge when I decided to not do a test run on the gluten-free dough before the big day. Luckily, it turned out ok, but not before having a slight meltdown when the GF dough wouldn’t fully cooperate with me. First off, don’t try using your pasta maker; the dough will fall apart. You’re better off using a rolling pin and lots of GF flour to roll it out. Believe me, it’s doable and worth the extra effort; just be patient. I also recommend using a ravioli plate like this one—and that goes for any type of raviolis—it just makes life easier. For the filling, I made two: pureed beet/cashew and tofu ricotta with spinach and mushrooms. Make it easy on yourself and prepare these fillings ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use. If I was unable to eat gluten, I would miss homemade pasta, especially raviolis, so I’d be making these all the time. Our GF guests loved them and happily took the few leftovers home with them. My friend Kerrie gave me a conversion for GF flour and regular flour a while back and uses it for most things, so I thought I’d give it a whirl for pasta. Basically, for every 1 cup of regular flour, use 7/8 C of rice flour and 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum—worked like a charm.

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:

1-3/4 C white rice flour

7/8 C brown rice flour

3 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

1 C warm almond milk

2 Tbs olive oil

Spinach-Tofu-Mushroom Filling:

14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/3 C nutritional yeast

2 Tbs lemon juice

3 C fresh spinach, chopped

3 mushrooms, diced small

Beet/Cashew filling: see link above

Garlic-Butter-Walnut sauce: (I was feeding a crowd, so for 3-4 people, you may want to halve the sauce recipe)

1-1/2 C walnuts, chopped

6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

1-1/2 C Earth Balance margarine, cut into pieces

DIRECTIONS:

To make the spinach filling, puree the first 9 ingredients in food processor. Set aside, or refrigerate until ready to use. The beet filling will take just over an hour to prepare, so keep that in mind if using that one. (click on link above to see instructions).

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To make the dough, combine both rice flours, xanthan gum, and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer. On medium speed, slowly add the oil, then the warm almond milk. When it’s fully incorporated, form it into a ball and refrigerate if not using right away. The dough will probably work better if it’s room temperature.

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On a constantly-floured surface, roll out the sections of the dough into long pieces, big enough for your ravioli plate. I wouldn’t bother using the plastic mold part, as it will easily break through the dough. Gently use your fingers to create a small dip where the filling will go. Fill each dip with about a teaspoon of the filling. If using the spinach one, place a few pieces of mushroom on top of the filling. Roll out another long piece of dough and place it carefully over the top of the filling and gently press down. You can use the rolling pin to then finish the process. (This is a great YouTube video showing how to use the plate). Here’s a pic of the regular dough with the fillings:

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I was pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out. A couple of them had some a filling peeking out, but they still cooked up great.

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Let them sit for 20 minutes. While this is happening, prepare the sauce. In a medium, dry saucepan, add the walnuts and brown them over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the Earth Balance. Stir over low to medium heat until the butter is melted and reduce the heat to low.  To cook the raviolis, boil them, about 4-6 at a time, for 3-4 minutes, or until they float to the surface. I usually give them a minute more, just to make sure they’re heated though.

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I’m happy to tell you that none of them fell apart and they were delicious. The regular ones seemed to taste a little sweeter, but otherwise, they tasted very much like regular raviolis! Top them with a ladle of the garlic sauce and enjoy!

Buffalo Cauliflower Potato Pizza

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This is going to blow your mind. This turned out to be the most amazing pizza—ever. I was inspired by Kelly over at Vegan Thyme who made this using Gardein, but because Gardein never seems to agree with me, I thought I’d sub in cauliflower. A friend had made buffalo “wings” from cauliflower and used this recipe from PETA. If anything, try the wings—they are incredible! (just double it if you’re feeding a crowd). March Madness, anyone? Can I tell you how excited we are that our CSU Rams have advanced?! GO RAMS!!

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So, making cauliflower wings is definitely going to add to your prep time, so I recommend enlisting some help. That’s why you had kids, right? The Eighth Grader was a great sous chef. I also made several changes to the original, just based on what I had on hand, so feel free to tweak the recipe. This recipe is going to require a certain timing of tasks, but thankfully, they’re all easy to do. So, get ready for some amazing pizza that you won’t mind making again and again!

INGREDIENTS:

Wings:

1 C almond milk

1 C flour (any variety)

2 tsp garlic powder

1 head cauliflower, chopped into pieces

1 C buffalo wing sauce (I used Wing Time)

1 Tbs olive oil or Earth Balance, melted

Dough: (I made a quick, no-rise pizza dough. So if you like a thin crust, crispy dough, this is a good one to use. Otherwise, if you have more time, I recommend a yeast-based one).

2-1/2 C flour

2-3/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs olive oil

3/4 C to 1 C warm water

Pizza:

3 large russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced thin (my sous chef used a potato chip slicer—major time saver)!

3/4 C red onion, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp black pepper

5 mushrooms, diced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 tsp olive oil

Daiya mozzarella, optional

Vegan ranch dressing (Try Follow Your Heart Vegan Ranch or make your own)

Sauce:

2 Tbs flour

1/3 C warm water

3 Tbs Earth Balance

1 C vegetable broth, warmed up

Dash or two of red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

So, first off, prep the potatoes. Once they’re sliced, place in a bowl of water with 1 tsp of salt and let sit for 30-45 minutes. This is a good time to make the dough and chop up the mushrooms, celery, and cauliflower. Drain the potatoes and season them with the rosemary, basil, and pepper; stir in the red onion.

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To make the dough, mix the dry ingredients together in a stand mixer. Slowly add the olive oil and warm water until you have a dough that is just slightly sticky. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes.

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This is where timing comes in. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dough to fit an 11″x17″ pan. I actually let it hang over the edges a little to account for shrinkage:

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Stick with a fork in several places and bake 5 minutes. This is also where you’ll need a hand. While your amazing helper lines the crust with the potatoes and onions . . .

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. . . you’ll want to be making the “wings.” Pretty easy: Preheat oven to 450. Whisk together the milk, flour and garlic powder in a medium bowl. You’ll have a pancake batter-like consistency. Add the cauliflower and coat them completely; transfer to a baking dish.

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Bake for 15-18 minutes . . .

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While they’re baking, whisk together the wing sauce and olive oil (or Earth Balance). Loosen the cauliflower if it’s stuck to the dish. Pour the wing sauce over the cauliflower and bake another 5-8 minutes.

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Now, while those are baking, saute up the celery and mushrooms in the olive oil. Also, start the sauce in a small saucepan. Combine the 2 Tbs of flour and 1/3 C warm water; set aside. Melt the 3 Tbs of Earth Balance in a the pan and add 1 Tbs of the flour-water mixture and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the rest over medium heat. Just a little at  time, add the broth. Whisk until thickened; add the red wine vinegar.

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So now, your wings are ready to come out of  the oven. Throw the pizza in the oven (still at 400 degrees) and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes start to brown on the edges. This is a good reason to use a slicer to make them thin, otherwise, they’ll take too long to cook and your crust will be lovely shade of black. I then chopped up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

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It even looks like chicken pieces! Try not to eat it all yet. Combine the cauliflower in a bowl with the celery and mushrooms and pour the sauce over them and coat well. When you have just a few minutes left on the potatoes, sprinkle the top with a little Daiya cheese.

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Yum!

Cut into squares and top with the cauliflower/veggie mix and ranch dressing. Thoroughly enjoy!

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Field Roast and Avocado Burritos

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Yikes, it’s been a while. I have so many new recipes on my list to make, but I’ve been so busy with various different projects, that throwing together a simple favorite has been all I’ve had time for. I’ll get back into the swing of things. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be emerging from the cold and depressing days of winter! We even got our garden started this weekend. (I’ll be bringing you Garden Watch soon). In the meantime, here’s a fast and simple meal that is ready in less than 30 minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs chipotle-flavored olive oil (or regular)

1/2 C yellow or white onion, chopped

1/2 C red onion, chopped

4 Field Roast Sausages, Italian Seasoning flavor, crumbled

2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced

4 Flour tortillas

Other (optional) burrito fillings: vegan sour cream, salsa, cilantro, diced tomatoes, Daiya cheese

 

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DIRECTIONS:

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook 5-7 minutes, or until they soften. Add the Field Roast and cook over medium heat until heated through, again, for 5-7 minutes.

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On a warmed tortilla, layer on some sour cream, Field Roast mixture, avocados, and any other burrito fillings you want. Roll up and enjoy! (See, I told you it was easy)!

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Beet Ravioli with a Garlic-Butter Walnut Sauce

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I’ve had this “Sexy Beet Ravioli” bookmarked since last April and I figured it was high time to give it a try. After 3 hours and 15 minutes in the kitchen, the meal was ready (this included making a salad). Good thing it was worth it! This dish definitely ranks in the top ten meals I’ve made and despite the long prep time, I’d make these again for sure. You have to like beets. Even though I’ve eaten them plenty of times, I’ve never roasted them before, but piece of cake! The original recipe said it yielded 12-15 raviolis. It was hard to gauge what size raviolis that made, so I decided to double everything. I would have been fine to just double the filling and the sauce, but not the dough. Luckily, the dough is outstanding and I now have a batch in the freezer for another pasta meal. With the doubled filling, I got about forty-eight  1-1/2″ square raviolis. Don’t be freaked out by the prep work. You can certainly make up the dough and filling ahead of time and store until ready to assemble the raviolis. Regardless, freshly made pasta is just going to take more time, but in the end, it’s worth it! (Perfect for a Valentine’s Day dinner)!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough: (not doubled)

2 C semolina flour

1 C whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp salt

1 C warmed almond milk

2 Tbs olive oil

Filling: (Doubled)

2 beets

2 C raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour in water

1/2 C water

1 tsp salt

2 tsp nutritional yeast

Garlic Walnut Butter sauce: (Doubled)

8 Tbs Earth Balance

8 cloves of garlic, crushed (You could roast the garlic while roasting the beets . . .)

1 C walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

To roast the beets, preheat oven to 425. Scrub the beets clean, remove the greens, and wrap in foil. Roast for one hour. You can also be soaking the cashews during this time. To prepare the dough, whisk together the flours and salt. Create a well in the middle and slowly pour in the warmed almond milk and olive oil.

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Blend well with a spoon, or your hands and then transfer to a clean surface. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth, un-sticky ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to use. Refrigerate if not using right away.

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To make the filling, drain the cashews and add them to a food processor. Chop up the roasted beets and along with the other filling ingredients, add them to the food processor.

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Process until smooth. You’ll end up with a very hot pink filling!

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I used my pasta maker to roll out the dough, but you can also use a rolling pin. I also used my ravioli plate, which was the best thing to happen to raviolis . . . it’s so easy to use and it ensures a closed edge, unlike using a fork. You can find one at Amazon . . . this one is for $13!

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Perfect raviolis!

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the raviolis—about 8-12 at a time—and remove with a slotted spoon once they float to the top, in roughly 2-3 minutes. I transferred them to a large colander, but be sure you drizzle with a little oil as they will a stick to one another as they cool.

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The sauce is quite easy to make and you can just throw the ingredients into a small saucepan while you cook the raviolis. I didn’t brown the garlic, I just threw it all in at once, let the butter melt, and stirred it every minute or so.

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Serve the raviolis with a drizzle of the sauce and thoroughly enjoy!

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Curry in a Hurry

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I’ve never made a curry sauce before, but I had a general idea of what went in it. I did make a rookie mistake, however, of trying to make it a little thicker by adding a smidgen of arrowroot and water. It made it a little clumpy and a bit too thick . . .it didn’t affect the taste, but I recommend not trying to thicken it up. All in all, it turned out delicious and I’d definitely make this again, especially because it came together in no time. I didn’t make it spicy, but we did top off our servings with some sriracha, which was perfect! I steamed some veggies, but you can saute them, too.

INGREDIENTS:

2 C long grain white rice

3 C water

2 tsp Better than Bouillon paste

Sauce:

1 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 Tbs curry powder

1 can coconut milk

1/2 C water

1/2 tsp Better than Bouillon

1 Tbs sugar

1 tsp dried basil

3/4 tsp dried ginger

Salt and pepper

The rest:

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 C edamame

1 C mushrooms, sliced

1/2 C green onion, sliced

1 can sliced water chestnuts

Optional: Sriracha or other hot sauce

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DIRECTIONS:

Whisk together the 3 cups of water and 2 tsp of bouillon paste; bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and cook on low for 15 minutes. Prepare your veggies how you’d like: steaming or sauteing. (minus the green onions)

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Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat the olive oil and then stir in the curry powder; cook for 2 minutes.

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Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Combine the 1/2 C of water and 1/2 tsp bouillon in a cup, then add to the sauce pan. Whisk in the coconut milk and season with the basil, ginger, and salt, and pepper; add in the sugar. Let it simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Ladle over the cooked rice and veggies and add some heat, if desired. Top with green onions. Enjoy!

Zucchini, Tomato & Ricotta Tart

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This was so good and so easy to make! Yes, I know, puff pastry—even though it’s vegan—isn’t the healthiest of foods, but once in a while, it’s okay. In fact, it’s downright fun to come up with recipes using it. This is the perfect time to break out the mandolin slicer (if you’re brave enough). I’m still too freaked out to use it after my mishap with it.  Anyway, I used my go-to ricotta cheese recipe which makes more than what you need for this, but the rest will freeze well or keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. It’s great mixed in some cooked pasta with veggies, or small batch of a stuffed shells. You can also just halve the recipe if you’d like. This dish works as a main meal, or cut into small squares, is ideal as an appetizer. Check out these other tart recipes: Savory Vegetable Tart and Savory Asparagus Tart.

INGREDIENTS:

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
2 tomatoes, sliced thin
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Ricotta:

14-oz tub of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 tsp basil (sometimes I use fresh basil–about a cup)
1 tsp rosemary (Again, you can use 1 Tbs of freshly chopped rosemary)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/3 C nutritional yeast
Optional: 1/4 to 1/3 cup of vegan mozzarella, shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to fit an 11″x17″ cookie sheet. It’s ok if the edges go over the side—just tuck them in. Stick with a fork in several places.

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Bake for 7-10 minutes (check it to make sure it’s not browning). You want it just toasted:

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To make the ricotta, combine all of the ingredients (except the cheese, if using) in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl, then stir in the cheese.

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Spread about a cup or so of the ricotta onto the puff pastry. You can use as little or as much as you’d like. Top with the tomato slices. I got about 9 slices, so I spaced them evenly on top.

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Next, layer on the zucchinis. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges of the crust brown the zucchinis are tender.

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Transfer to a large cutting board, then cut and enjoy!

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Mexican Pasta Casserole

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I’ve made a similar casserole, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients. I changed things up given what I had to work with. I love how easy and delicious these kinds of casseroles are—they make for the perfect winter meal.

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

1  14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (or a can of Rotel with green chilies), undrained

1/2 C Tofutti sour cream + any extra for serving on top

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1 packet of seasoning mix (taco, burrito or fajita)

1/2 C shredded  Daiya pepper jack cheese

1/4 C almond milk

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

The rest:

2 C uncooked pasta (any variety—I had a mixture of ziti and elbow mac)

1 Tbs olive oil (I used chipotle-flavored)

2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

1/2 of a bell pepper (any variety—I used orange), chopped

1/2 C onion, chopped

1-1/2 to 2 C mushrooms, chopped or sliced

1  15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

4-5 green onions, sliced

1 C cilantro leaves

Optional ingredients: black olives, diced avocados or guacamole

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375. While cooking the pasta, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Over medium heat, saute the bell pepper and onions until they begin to soften, then add the black beans.

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Cook for another 3-4 minutes, then add the mushrooms.

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Cook until the mushroom cook down a little—just a couple of minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients and mix well. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, along with the sauce; blend well. Transfer to a 13×9″ baking dish.

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Cover and bake for 20-25 minutes. Top servings with some green onions and cilantro and any other optional ingredients. Enjoy!

Potato-Leek Chowder

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I’m finally back and I bring with me a satisfying, flavorful soup that is perfect for a winter’s night in. It’s quite easy to make, particularly if you have an immersion blender (which I don’t, but I suspect I may find one under the tree come Christmas ;-) )

INGREDIENTS:

5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ dice

2 large leeks (mostly white parts with a little of the green parts), chopped

4 C veggie broth (I really like Better than Bouillon)

3 Tbs Earth Balance

2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

6 Tbs nutritional yeast

1 C almond milk

2 tsp shallot salt

1 tsp celery salt

2 dashes black pepper

2 dashes white pepper

Optional ingredients: croutons, vegan cheddar shreds, sliced green onion, vegan sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the Earth Balance and garlic over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute about 10 minutes, or until the leeks begin to soften.

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Add the potatoes and broth and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. I prefer to not cook them too much, as I don’t want real mushy potatoes. I then transferred the soup to a food processor, working in batches. Each time, I added 2-3 Tbs of the nutritional yeast and some of the almond milk until I was out of each. I try not to blend it too much, as I like a few potato chunks left in there. If you use an immersion blender (any suggestions on brands, anyone?) slowly add the milk and nutritional yeast as you blend the soup. Season with the salts and the peppers and serve with your favorite soup toppings! Enjoy!

Flaky Harvest Vegetable Squares

These were amazing! I thought they’d be a pain in the butt to make, but actually, they were pretty easy. They took some time, but other than that, they were simple to make. And so delicious! The recipe is from Vegetarian Times and I substituted the Brussels sprouts with asparagus and elephant garlic with just two large cloves of garlic. Next time I make these, I’d probably chop the carrots  smaller than the recipe says, but otherwise, theses were fantastic! And why wait until next Thanksgiving? These are great as a fall/winter meal.

INGREDIENTS:

1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets

1 medium onion, sliced

3 Tbs + 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided

1-1/4 tsp salt, divided

3/8 tsp black pepper, divided

2 heads elephant garlic (again, I used 2 regular cloves of garlic)

2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce, divided

3 Tbs white wine

1 Tbs cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tsp thyme

10 stalks of asparagus, cut into thirds or fourths

10 baby carrots, cut into thirds or fourths (rather than in half on the diagonal)

10 button mushrooms, halved

6 shallots, peeled and quartered

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed

Almond milk, for brushing dough

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425. Set aside about 20 cauliflower florets in a bowl. Toss the rest with the onion and 1 Tbs olive oil; season with 1 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.

(I’d break up the cauliflower more than this)

Spread onto a baking sheet. Wrap up the garlic and 1/2 tsp of the olive oil in some foil and place on the baking sheet.

Roast 30 to 45 minutes. I roasted them for about 25 minutes—the onions were getting too browned. (Another reason to break the cauliflower up smaller).

Squeeze the warm garlic from it’s skin into a food processor and add the cauliflower/onion mixture and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if you’d like.

Combine the wine, cornstarch, remaining 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, thyme, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, and 1/2 C water in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a wok or skillet. Add the reserved cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, and shallots. Stir-fry for 5-7 minutes, then add the cornstarch mixture and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

Roll out the puff pastry into a 12-inch square. Cut into four squares. Chill for 15 minutes on parchment paper.

 

The recipe says to place a 1/4 C of the cauliflower puree in the center, but I found that when I got close to last four (of the 8 squares) I was running low, so I recommend using a bit less than a quarter cup per square. Top the puree with about a 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture. Again, so easy on the 1/2 cup–it was close.

Fold corners of the dough over the vegetable mixture, pinching the corners together.

I made these ahead of time, so I covered and refrigerated for about 2 hours before baking them. When it comes time to bake, brush with almond milk and bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes. Delicious!! Enjoy!

Vegan Sweet Potato and Ricotta Ravioli with a Butter-Garlic Cream Sauce

I’m very proud of this meal. And it was certainly a labor of love. Three hours of labor, to be exact. (Although that includes the Caesar salad I had to make). Luckily, many of the steps involved can be made way ahead of time and kept in the fridge, making assembly and cooking time a breeze. It may have taken a while to make, but it was nothing compared to my first attempt at raviolis. I got wise and bought a ravioli mold that made the process so much easier!! (Check out this great YouTube video on how to use it). I threw together a butter-garlic cream sauce which looks pretty weird, as you can see, but I promise you, it tastes better than it looks. After using the ravioli mold, I’m excited to try other types of ravioli—it’s less daunting now that I’ve got the right tools. The sweet potato and tofu ricotta are an excellent combo! You can also try my soy-free version. I made enough dough and filling to feed an army; I easily could have made a 100 raviolis. The leftovers are perfect for freezing and saving for another meal. Feel free to half the recipes for the dough, fillings, and sauce to make about 50 raviolis. (One serving is 10-12 raviolis). Even though there are several steps to this meal, they’re very simple and there’s nothing like fresh pasta!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough

2 C flour

2 C semolina flour

1 tsp salt

2 Tbs olive oil

1-1/2 to 2 C water

Sweet Potato Filling

2 sweet potatoes

3 large green onion, minced

2 Tbs almond milk

Salt and pepper

Ricotta Filling

14-oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

1/3 C nutritional yeast

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

Butter-Garlic Cream Sauce

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 C Earth Balance

3 Tbs flour

3/4 C to 1 C almond milk

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Begin by cooking the sweet potatoes. I cooked them in the microwave to save some time—only took 10 minutes. Scoop out the potato and mash it with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the almond milk and combine well. Add the green onion, salt, and pepper; set aside. To make the ricotta, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth; set aside. To make the dough, combine the flours and salt in a large bowl of a stand mixer (you can use a food processor too). While the mixer is running, slowly add the oil, then water until you reach a somewhat damp (but not too sticky) dough.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for 3-5 minutes. I used my pasta maker to roll out flat sheets. You can easily use a rolling pin instead. Lay a sheet of dough over the metal portion of the mold. Place the plastic mold on top and press gently, creating pockets for the filling. Place about a teaspoon of each filling into each pocket.

Place another sheet of dough on top and press down, sealing the edges and flattening the top. Using a rolling pin, roll over the top to create the raviolis. (Again, check out the You Tube video at the beginning of the post to see this magic happen).

So much better than trying to make by hand! The mold was worth the $20 I paid for it. Let the raviolis sit for about 20 minutes. To make the sauce, combine the garlic and butter in a small saucepan and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, one tablespoon at a time. Slowly whisk in the almond milk, using enough to reach a semi-thick consistency; keep warm.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a spatula, I placed 12 raviolis at a time, into the pot. Boil for 5-7 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a colander.

Repeat the process until they’re all cooked. (For the last dozen, instead of removing with the slotted spoon, I placed the colander in the sink and poured the remaining raviolis and boiling water into the colander. That way, the other raviolis that cooled off could be somewhat reheated).

Drizzle a ladle of sauce over a serving of the raviolis and enjoy!

Lasagna Soup

 

Well this was unexpected. So earlier this afternoon, I was reading though the 131 blog entries from my Google blog reader (after being out of town for a while) and came across this recipe from That Was Vegan? I immediately bookmarked it. Then I realized I had hungry he-gans to feed and not much to work with. I wasn’t planning on going to the store until tomorrow. Anyhow, it was love at first read . . . even though I didn’t have all the ingredients for the original recipe, I figured I could make it work with what I had. I even borrowed a can of diced tomatoes from my good friend (and neighbor). (Thanks, Jessie)! You don’t have to use lasagna noodles, but if you’re like me, chances are, you’ll have an opened box of lasagna noodles leftover from a bygone (yet fabulous) lasagna. This is the perfect soup to use those rogue noodles! I added a couple of Field Roast sausages and made some other alterations and it came out fantastic. Try this with some diced zucchini or mushrooms for some variety.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 Field Roast sausages, Italian variety

1 Tbs olive oil

2-1/2 tsp dried oregano

3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp dried rosemary

28-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes

9-10 lasagna noodles

7 C water

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1/2 C spaghetti sauce

2 bay leaves

1-1/2 Tbs dried basil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Daiya cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, garlic, Field Roast, and onion.

Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender.

 

Add the oregano, red pepper flakes, and rosemary; stir to combine. Add the diced tomatoes (juice and all), spaghetti sauce, 6 cups of water (you may want to add more later), the two bay leaves, and the bouillon (I chopped it up first); bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Break up the lasagna noodles and add to the pot. Let simmer 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked (you may need to add more water). Remove the bay leaves and serve with a sprinkle of Daiya cheese. Enjoy!

Field Roast and Spinach Enchiladas (a.k.a. Best. Enchiladas. Ever.)

These were seriously enchilada magic. They were also very easy to make, which may have been because The Eighth Grader helped out. With or without help in the kitchen, you’ll have plenty of help eating these! This is also a great dish to trick those meat-lover friends and family and later, you can do the happy “Ha-Ha That Was Vegan And You Loved It” dance. (But try not to gloat too much). ;-)

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 C vegetable broth
2-1/2 tsp Ancho chile pepper
1-1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 jarred roasted red peppers
2-3 large cloves of garlic

Filling:

2 tsp olive oil
2 Field Roast sausages, Chipotle style, crumbled
1 C onion, diced
5-6 C fresh spinach, torn into pieces, or chopped
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

The rest:

6 large flour tortillas
Daiya cheese shreds

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium saucepan, combine the diced tomatoes, broth, Ancho chile pepper, cumin, oregano, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook five minutes, or until the onion softens and begins to brown. Add the Field Roast and black beans and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

While the filling is cooking, place the roasted red peppers and garlic in the food processor:

Add just half of the sauce and puree until smooth, then return it to the saucepan and combine with the other half of the sauce.

Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir the spinach into the filling mixture. You may need to add a tiny bit of water to get the steam going. I poured a little vegetable broth in. Cook until the spinach just begins to wilt, then remove from the heat.

To assemble the enchiladas, place about a third of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Fill each tortilla evenly with the filling and top with a sprinkle of Daiya cheese. I used a combo of cheddar and jack.

Roll up tightly and place fold-side down in the pan.

Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle some more Daiya on top.

Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Top with some Tofutti sour cream, cilantro, and green onions (diced avocado is great, too)!

Enjoy!

Quinoa and Rice Stir-fry with Cashews & White Beans

 

When I want to create a quick and filling dinner, I usually reach for quinoa or rice. Mixed with veggies and nuts, it always makes a great meal and very handy leftovers. I threw in some white beans, too and ended up with a flavorful, protein-filled dish that is nearly gluten-free. The rice mix I used contained wheat, but you can sub in another variety to make it gluten-free.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa

1 box Long Grain Wild Mix

4 C vegetable stock, divided

2 C mushrooms, chopped

6 green onion, sliced

1 C cashews

1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 C white wine

1 C fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Start by getting the rice and quinoa going. In a medium saucepan, bring 1-3/4 C of the stock to a boil. Add the rice mix and seasoning packet, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 25 minutes.

Start the quinoa about 15 minutes before the rice mix is done. In another medium saucepan, bring the remaining 2-1/4 C stock to a boil and stir in the quinoa. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes. In a large skillet, toast the cashews over medium heat until they begin to brown; transfer to a boil and set aside. In the same skillet,  heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the mushrooms, green onion, and white beans, and saute 5-7 minutes.

 

Stir in the rice, quinoa, and white wine; saute 3 minutes.

Stir in the parsley and cashews and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

French Bread Pizzas

Now this is pizza you have eat with a fork and a knife. These really are a no-brainer to make, but I’ll post them because sometimes the easiest and quickest meals can be the hardest to come up with. I didn’t feel like taking the time to make dough, let it rise, knead it . . . so using French bread is a way around that. Just add your favorite toppings . . .

 . . . and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Vegan White Lasagna

So there are moments in history where you want to slap your forehead and say, “Seriously?” The OJ Simpson acquittal. . . Lady GagGag’s meat dress . . . the recent attacks on Sesame Street . . . Oh, and the terrible call that cost cost the Green Bay Packers the game against the Seattle Seahawks a couple of weeks ago . . .(that’s for you, Jessie)! I had a moment of forehead-slapping-followed-by-a-REALLY? when I forgot a key ingredient in this meal. Pesto. See . . . I even made it:

But I made it earlier in the day and forgot to use it. Wheresma pesto? In the fridge. For those of you unfamiliar with “wheresma,” let me give you a brief history. My dear and wonderful husband apparently earned the nickname, “Wheresma” because he often asked, “Where’s my (this)?” “Where’s my (that)? Enduring, right? No. Wheresma makes an appearance every once in while . . .

Anyhoo . . . I have to admit, the lasagna just wasn’t the same without the pesto. I highly recommend you don’t forget this ingredient. It was still tasty and leftover-worthy, but it didn’t have the flavor I was hoping for, so don’t forget the pesto!

INGREDIENTS:

Ricotta:

1 12-oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 C vegan mozzarella

Pesto:

4 C basil leaves
1 C Italian leaf parsley
1 C pine nuts
4 cloves garlic cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 C lemon juice
2/3 C olive oil
6 Tbs vegan Parmesan cheese

White sauce:

3 Tbs Earth Balance
1/4 C flour
2 C almond milk
1/2 C white wine
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
1/3 C nutritional yeast (this is in the ricotta, so if you can leave this out, otherwise, I think it’s a great addition)

The rest:

12 lasagna noodles
5 C kale, cut into 1-2″ pieces
2 C sliced mushrooms
1 C onion, diced
olive oil
Vegan mozzarella, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Save yourself a headache by making the ricotta and pesto a day ahead, or at least earlier in the day. (Just don’t forget about them). For the ricotta, combine everything but the vegan mozzarella in the food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. To make the pesto, combine everything but the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth. Add the nuts and Parm and blend well.

I like using traditional lasagna noodles, as opposed to the no-boil variety. The trick is to not boil them too long. They’ll cook the rest of the way later on in the oven. I also made a small batch (8″x8″) pan, which meant cutting 2-3″ off the noodles in order to fit the pan. I ended up with 4 layers, but feel free to make 3 layers in a 9×13″ pan. So . . .to begin, start the noodles. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook 5-7 minutes, or until the onions get tender. Add the mushrooms and kale and cook a few more minutes, until the mushrooms soften and the kale wilts.

To make the sauce, melt the Earth Balance. Slowly whisk the flour, a little at a time until you reach a thick paste.

Whisk in the milk a little bit at a time until there aren’t any clumps left. Stir with a whisk over medium-high heat until thickened, about 7 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 350. Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water. Pour about half of the sauce mixture on the bottom of an 8×8″ baking dish. Lay 3 lasagna noodles (you’ll need to cut the noodles to fit) on the bottom of the pan. Spread on about 2 Tbs of ricotta on each noodle, then a layer of the pesto. Top with a thin layer of  the mushroom/kale mixture.

Repeat layers, ending with the final three lasagna noodles. Pour the rest of the sauce on top. Sprinkle with some vegan mozzarella if you’d like.

Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy!

Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole

 

Quinoa and black beans are two proteins that are just meant to be together. The original recipe for the burgers is from Vegetarian Times, but I made a few alterations. I also added a slice of Daiya cheese (Havarti style wedge) and I made some guac to top it off. The recipe also calls for steak seasoning, and as a vegan, I don’t typically stock up on that stuff, so I went with a blend of Old Bay and a Garlic and Wine seasoning. And don’t expect a dry consistency with these burgers—they’re crispy on the outside and soft and moist inside. These can be made ahead, and even frozen, so they make a great lunch as well when you don’t have a lot of time.

 

INGREDIENTS:

Burgers:

1/2 C quinoa (I used a blend of red, wheat, and black quinoa which I found in the bulk section of the store)

1 C onion, chopped fine

6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped fine

1 15-oz can black beans, drained, rinsed, and divided

2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp Garlic & Wine seasoning

1/4 C flax seed

5-6 hamburger buns

Guacamole:

2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded

1/2 C diced tomatoes

2 Tbs red onion, diced

1 Tbs lime juice

1/4 C cilantro, optional

2 tsp Mt. Elbert All Purpose Seasoning from  Savory

 

DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups of water with the quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, in a skillet, combine the onion and sun-dried tomatoes. The oil left on the tomatoes will be plenty of oil for sauteeing. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion softens. Add 3/4 cup of the black beans, garlic, seasoning, and 1-1/2 cup of water. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

 

Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor, along with 3/4 cup of the quinoa and process until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the black beans and quinoa. I also added some flax seed to the mix. Season with salt and pepper.

(Yes, I know, it looks really unappetizing right now…)

I made these earlier in the day, so I covered the mixture and let it cool in the fridge for about an hour. When you’re ready to make the patties, preheat the oven to 350. Spray a pan with cooking spray and set aside. Make 5-8 patties (depending on how large you make them) and place onto the pan.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, then flip and bake another 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the guac, mash the avocados with a pastry blender. Add the other ingredients and combine thoroughly.

If using Daiya cheese, throw a slice or two onto the burgers during the last minute of baking—it’ll melt quickly.

Enjoy!

Mushroom and Barley-Stuffed Peppers

 

I know, stuffed peppers again?! But they’re so easy to change up and try new ingredients combinations. Like most stuffed peppers, these are easy to make, but allow some extra time, especially using barley as it takes 45 minutes to cook.

INGREDIENTS:

3 bell peppers, cut in half and seeds and stems removed

1 C pearl barley

2-1/2 C veggie broth (I like to use Better than Bouillon vegetable base)

1 Tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 a large onion, diced

1-1/2 C mushrooms, diced

1/4 C pepitas (shelled and toasted pumpkin seeds)

2 Tbs fresh rosemary, minced

1/2 to 1 tsp shallot salt

Black pepper, to taste

2 Tbs white wine

3 Tbs of Earth Balance, divided

Parmezano sprinkles, optional

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium sauce pan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the barley, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onions and cook until tender and slightly browned. Add the pepitas, rosemary, shallot salt, and pepper. Cook another 5 minutes over medium to low heat.

 

Once the barley is cooked, add it to the skillet, along with the mushrooms, and stir well to combine. Add the white wine and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Stuff the peppers with the filling and press down, adding as much as possible to each one. Place them into a large baking dish. Add a cup of water to the dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 30 minutes. Once baked, top each pepper with a half a tablespoon of Earth Balance, replace the foil, and let sit for 5 minutes. Top with the Parmezano Sprinkles, and enjoy!

Baked Tofu Tacos

 

This was a delicious experiment. The Eighth Grader suggested these tacos, so why not? Tofu’s the chameleon of plant-based foods. I had bought some seasoning mix from Savory Spice Shop   that we thought sounded interesting, and decided to try it out on these tacos.

I think it works best to try to marinate the tofu in the seasoning for a few hours. (These tacos tasted even better the next day).

INGREDIENTS:

16-20 oz extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

2 Tbs Seasoning mix of your choice, divided

2-4 Tbs Olive oil, divded

1 onion, sliced

Taco shells

Lettuce, chopped

Tomatoes, chopped

Salsa

Avocado

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the tofu into little slabs . . .

Line a baking sheet (preferably with sides to catch the oil) with foil. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix with about 1 to 1-1/2 Tbs of olive oil. Brush the foil with a little of the mixture, then line the pan with the tofu. Brush the tops and sides of the tofu with the olive oil mix. If you can cover and leave the tofu for an hour or two, that would be great. You can also combine the the 2 Tbs of the mixture and olive oil in a bag or dish with the tofu and marinate it that way.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake the tofu for about 15 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Turn the tofu slices and brush the remaining seasoning/oil mix on the other side. Bake another 15 minutes or so, again, until the edges begin to brown.

While the tofu is baking, saute the onion slices in a little olive oil over medium heat.

Once baked, cut each slice in half, longways.

I transferred the tofu to the onion pan.

Scoop into some taco shells, add a slice or two of avocado, some lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa. Enjoy!