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Lemon Rosemary Risotto, Roasted Glazed Beets, and Beefless Tips in a Garlic and Thyme White Wine Sauce

3 Apr

This past week I had the luxury and ever-so beautiful blessing that comes with having your very own kitchen to work in. I know, it sounds a little weird, right? But when you think about food and creating recipes as much as I do, having your own kitchen–meaning one in which there will be no interruptions (save for the occasional dog begging for scraps) and one that’s always clean and thus, always ready to use–is the equivalent of an artist having their own studio in which to paint, or play music, or write. Now that I live with three other folks, the tranquility required for the process isn’t always there and so, in these moments when it is, I take on “projects,” otherwise known as “outrageously awesome whole meals that take more than 30 minutes to put together.”  So, today, I come to you with not one, not two, but three recipes! Each recipe can be made separately if you have limited time to devote to the whole meal or want to pair them with different entrees/sides, or you can combine them to create this exact marriage of tart, sweet, and savory!

I visited my mother recently and she, like I, doesn’t like to send anyone out her door without food. Especially her children. She gave me beets and she gave me Gardein Beefless Tips. The Arborio rice was on sale at the grocery store. So, this meal was serendipitous, really.  I’ll be brief about it because the pictures speak for themselves. The risotto is wonderfully creamy, lemony, and savory. I wanted to make something that tasted “clean” and savory all at once. A pairing of lemon and rosemary seemed fitting. I suggest using only as much lemon zest (grated lemon peel) as you can handle. I originally used 1 tablespoon and realized it needed to be taken back so, I’ve made a correction here for a suggested amount. The roasted beets are to die for, that is, if you like beets. They took the longest to cook so, I got started on those first and saved the glaze for last.

The beefless tips were utterly delicious. They came about from the memory of this meal, using white wine and mushrooms and the rest was improvised on cobwebbed memories of how to cook meat. I was so amazed at how well they took to the wine sauce, how savory they were, and how well they stood up to my memory of steak tips. In fact, they did this so well that, if you’re a vegan who simply never liked the taste of meat or who is easily put off by things that taste a lot like meat, I would forgo making these. But, if you want something incredibly delicious and something with which to impress non-vegans who swear on their lives that they “could ‘never’ be vegan because they like meat too much,” here’s your rebuttal. You’re welcome.

Buon appetito! Continue reading

Cajun Sausage, Bean, and Vegetable Casserole

2 Sep

Here’s a little tidbit about me: I love casseroles. I love the idea of casseroles, I love the presentation of casseroles, I love eating casseroles. I even love to collect nice, vintage casserole dishes. I think I just have a fascination with putting things in the oven “unfinished” and then having them come out all nice and warm and whole. It’s like magic! I think this is where my obsession with lasagna comes from.

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a casserole. Recently, I decided to get into the habit of eating more beans, and I particularly enjoy firm beans for their texture — kidney beans in particular. So, I wanted to make a hearty bean casserole, like a stew, except less soupy. And I wanted it to have a certain kind of jambalaya-esque flavor and tone about it so, it appears seitan sausage and okra was in order!

This recipe is heavy, but in a good way. It fed me for a week too. If you had any doubts about vegans never  being able to “get full” or eat more than just wimpy salads, this will prove you very, very wrong. Like I said, the flavor of this casserole is reminiscent of a jumbalaya. If you want more kick, just add more cayenne pepper. I think it’s fine without, but I’m also kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy food. I really like how easy this was to make and how much food it made. I’ll be making it again soon when I want something hearty and satisfying but without all the fuss. To break up the procedure, I made the sausages in advance, the night before, but you can make them an hour before starting the casserole.

Enjoy! Continue reading

Cajun Seasoned Seitan Sausages

2 Sep

I’ve been craving Field Roast sausages for a while now. I used to buy them all the time because their texture and flavor is impeccable and because as a starting vegan, I didn’t know how to cook without still having the space for meat on my plate occupied by something meat-like. As far as flavor and texture go, I think they’re the best vegan grain meat product on the market, and besides Gardein, the most texturally gratifying. But, hell, they’re kind of expensive to buy often, just like any good processed food is, vegan or non-vegan. Nowadays, I don’t even understand the need to “fake it,” but who can resist seitan?

So, with a recipe in mind for a Cajun inspired sausage and bean casserole (which I’ll post in a moment), I knew I had to take matters into my own hands and start making sausages from scratch. This way, I could make larger amounts, save a whole lot of money by using common vegan pantry ingredients I already had, and have the satisfaction of making something really cool and delicious. I was going to cook them in 15 minutes using my pressure cooker, but I couldn’t find my steamer insert and I figured that most people don’t have a pressure cooker so, this might be a more convenient way for most, although it takes 45 minutes longer. Trust me, it’s worth the whole hour.

These sausages are so very delicious and have a nice “chew” to them. Let’s all hail seitan for that! In fact, I ate two right out of the oven. I couldn’t wait. They are incredibly simple to make and don’t really require a lot of effort. Most of the time you spend on these will be waiting for them to come out of the oven; the prep will only take about 10 minutes. You can use these in casseroles, alongside your tofu scramble in the morning, in hot dog buns topped with onions and hot peppers, on pizza, in rice dishes, or pasta dishes — basically in any dish you would normally use sausage.

I hope you love them too!
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Creamy Tomato Basil Soup and Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

11 Aug

Even in the summer, I can’t help but crave piping hot soup. I love soup. In fact, it’s my favorite food. Yes, it really is. I think it’s because it’s really the one dish that can be made so many different ways out of so many different ingredients — isn’t that the idea behind “stone soup”? But seriously, soup is comforting every time. And when you’re lucky enough to be sitting in an air conditioned home, then it really doesn’t matter if it’s 90 degrees outside. When I was younger I used to have these “episodes” (I guess one could call them that) where I needed to have soup, like, on our way up to the White Mountains to go hiking, I’d suddenly need soup — mid-drive. My mom is the same way, it’s very much like, “Pull the car over at the next restaurant! I need soup!” It got to the point once when we would bring thermoses of soup if we were going on long weekend or day trips. My mom calls these episodes “soup attacks.” They seem to be less frequent these days, I don’t know why, but neither of us is ever far from the urge to make or eat soup, regardless.

That being said, it’d been a while, but this little concoction came about when I was having a soup attack. I didn’t even know it until after I was done eating, of course, when I’d successfully licked the bowl clean. This soup is thick and smooth in flavor, thanks to the addition of cashew cream. The use of whole tomatoes makes it just a bit chunky and hearty, the way I like tomato soup to be. The beauty of this soup is that you can make it as chunky or smooth as you’d like, it’s just a matter of blending less or more. I used only half a cup of basil, but you can use more if you want a stronger basil flavor.

The beautiful grilled cheese is the usual salty, cheesy goodness that compliments any tomato soup well. Is there anything Daiya can’t do? I doubt it. Continue reading

Vegan Scallion-Pepperjack “Cheese” Corn Muffins

9 Jul

Corn muffins. Delicious, delicious corn muffins. I love corn muffins. Especially when they’re cake-y and not crumbly and dry. These corn muffins have a soft, almost cake-like texture and they are subtly sweet with just the perfect hint of that savory taste that’s reminiscent of breakfast. I’ve seen similar versions made with bacon and I was going to incorporate tempeh bacon into the mix, but it’s really not necessary. This was just enough. If you like butter and jam on your toast, you’ll probably like these. All I know is that I made six, and I ate three in one sitting and three later that day. I feel no shame. No shame.

Although I’m not super impressed with how the sprinkled cheese looks on top (because if you don’t cover Daiya in the oven it doesn’t get all gooey) they still taste fabulous and the flax seeds give it a nice speckled look! If you want, you can make an aluminum foil tent to cover them while they’re in the oven and see if that works to make the cheese all gooey-like on top, or you can simple put all the cheese in the muffin. Again, it doesn’t matter, these are so delicious no matter what you do! Serve these up with your next batch of tofu scramble or chili, or just whip ‘em up for your next on-the-go breakfast — I like mine with a little Earth Balance Butter. Either way, I’m sure they’ll put a smile on your face. This recipe is a standard corn muffin recipe, feel free to improvise with different flavors!  Continue reading

Mexican Polenta Pie

6 Jun

Recently at dinner one of my friends remarked that he wishes Boston had an all vegan Mexican restaurant. I thought to myself, “Well that would be wildly popular, no doubt!” Then I thought about what kind of items besides the standard burrito and taco would be on the menu. Then I remembered that Daiya Foods had just released this behemoth of a vegan cheese — pepperjack — and that I had picked some up after having been shocked out of my boots at its appearance at my local natural foods store, in my current town of Middle Of Nowhere, NH. And so, with Daiya pepperjack shreds in hand, a pie dish, and some beans — I got to work. And this delicious, belly filling, comfort food creation is what came of it.

This is a great dish to take to your next potluck or party, or just to make for your next Mexican inspired home cooked dinner. My one word of advice is to go easy on the hot peppers (or omit them) if you can’t take the heat. I originally made this with one full cherry pepper. I don’t recommend it unless you like really, really spicy food. Either way, this dish is delicious and you are bound to impress!

*If you can’t find the Daiya pepperjack near you yet, try the cheddar shreds. Those would work well too. And if you can’t find Daiya near you or in your country, try ordering some online, asking your store to carry it, or when all else fails, use another vegan cheese you like or omit the cheese altogether.

Continue reading

Herbed Mashed Potatoes with Teriyaki Gardein Beefless Tips

24 May

So I wasn’t going to post this one, but I figured, “What the heck? Why not?” This recipe isn’t involved, it isn’t fancy — basically, it isn’t time consuming. But it’s damn good. I have to admit, I didn’t measure anything out when I was making this so, bear with me. Also, I’ve been trying to stay away from using processed foods like grain meats and cheeses because they can be expensive, hard to find, and generally not as healthy as omitting them from your diet. But hey, for you beginner vegans, sometimes, this is the kind of stuff you want to eat, right? So, here’s something I cooked up one night when I was feeling super hungry and not entirely creative. It’s meat and potatoes, literally. All I need now is a beefcake vegan husband. God help me… Continue reading

“Beef” and Barley Stuffed Peppers

27 Apr


I have a confession to make: I’ve never had a stuffed pepper before. Ever. I know, I know, it’s practically crazy, but it’s very, very true. That being said, I took matters into my own hands two weeks ago and figured out the basics. First you take a pepper, then you stuff it, then you bake it, then you eat it. Simple enough. I think the hardest part was figuring out what I wanted to stuff it with. Rice was too conventional and polenta was too mushy. Barley seemed like the right choice. And heck, why not through in some soy crumbles and Daiya for the “beefy/cheesy” effect?

This was delicious. In fact, it was probably my favorite of my own recipes so far, besides my lasagna. I basically love anything you can cook in an oven, obviously. My only regret was that I only made two; one for me, one for mom. These peppers were really big though, even for organic ones. The good thing is that there was plenty of beef and barley stuffing left over so, I ate some of that. If you’re serving more than two people, you will have enough stuffing for about 4 large peppers.

Trust me, you’re going to want to make this. Continue reading

Carrot Cake Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese Top Filling

17 Apr

Here’s a little tip of the hat to one of the recipes I’m most known for among friends — my carrot cake oatmeal cookies. I’ll get around to posting those little lovelies someday, but for now here’s a little something more “suitable” for breakfast, or if you’re like me, this is somewhat of a “wholesome” dessert. They’re really more like cupcakes than muffins, but since they’re not loaded with frosting, I’m not quite sure they can win it in the cupcake category. Either way, they are sweet and delicious, especially for the carrot cake aficionados like me. These are sure to please. Happy baking! Continue reading

Vegan American Chop Suey

6 Apr

I’ve recently been told that my food is “fancy.” I’m not sure if I’m to take this as a compliment or as a comment on having “complicated” or “involved” recipes. Or maybe the people who say this just eat veggie dogs and Amy’s frozen dinners, I don’t know. I’ve certainly never thought that the recipes I’ve posted are at all fancy or involved, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be making them. I just don’t have that kind of time…or know-how! I just like to cook. And I like to take pictures that aptly depict the wonderful taste of the food. Sometimes that involves a wine glass in the background, I guess.

In any case, here’s a very un-fancy dish. I promised myself I wouldn’t post “basic” recipes because I feel like most people who want this kind of food can easily find it elsewhere by doing an internet search. I also want to try to avoid using prepackaged vegan meat substitutes because some people can’t find them easily and they’re not exactly typical of a healthy vegan diet and can be misleading to non-vegans. Nonetheless, here’s a satisfying quickie for all you busy moms, hungry students, and just plain ol’ lazy bones like me: American Chop Suey.

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