Sweet, Sour & Spicy Meatballs

Isn’t it funny when you make something as an afterthought, and it ends up being the best part of the meal? I’d planned on making Orange Scented Broccoli and Scallion Potato Pancakes from Appetite for Reduction, but I couldn’t think of a third item for the plate. Our meal needed a little more protein, but I was stumped. I didn’t feel like tofu, seitan, or beans. What was I to do?

On our weekly trip to Trader Joe’s, I purchased both chickenless chicken nuggets and meatless meatballs. When I got home, I realized the nuggets had egg in them (bummer!) but the meatless meatballs were indeed vegan. I’d been thinking of making orange “chicken” as the missing piece of this meal. But–no dice. So, sweet, sour, spicy and altogether wonderful meatballs to the rescue! I literally threw this sauce together in 5 minutes, shoved the meatballs in the toaster oven, and that’s about it. And they were awesome. Amazing. Almost indescribably perfect. Really! I suppose that sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, but for all the effort I put into these, I think this recipe came from Divine Providence instead of my own brain.

Does God give out awesome meatball recipes? I guess so!

Sweet, Sour & Spicy Meatballs (makes enough sauce for 12-15 meatballs):

  • 12-15 vegan meatballs (you can cook the Trader Joe’s ones from frozen, check your recipe or other brand for different info)
  • 3 T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy sauce or tamari)
  • 2 T dark brown sugar (maple syrup would also work)
  • 1 T sweet chili sauce
  • 1 T ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp habanero hot sauce (or any sweet hot sauce will work)
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Mix all the ingredients except the meatballs in a small mixing bowl. Add the meatballs and stir to coat. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pick up individual meatballs on a fork and place on a sheet of foil on top of a cooking sheet. You want them to be coated, but not dripping, with sauce. Save the rest of the sauce in the bowl and set aside.

Bake meatballs for 10 to 12 minutes, then return to the bowl. This time, you can pour out the sauce and meatballs together back on the same piece of foil, and return to the oven for another 2-3 minutes. This gives the sugar a chance to get really gooey, and make a nice thick coating on the outside of the meatballs. Garnish with some pretty little sesame seeds.

If you want to make a ton more, I’m pretty sure this recipe will expand out make as many meatballs as you want. However, I’d caution about adding a lot more liquid aminos/soy sauce. That can get pretty sodium-filled pretty fast. You can always use water or veggie broth if you need the sauce to stretch a bit further. Just use common sense, because too much water could make it bland.

If you were wondering about the other parts of dinner–they were great! I made the broccoli completely incorrectly (I added basically everything at the wrong time) and it seemed pretty fool-proof. The scallion cakes should have probably been thinner, but I’m hoping that they toast up nicely for lunch tomorrow.

Braised Potato Leek Soup

I’ve always wanted to have my own recipe for potato soup, since it’s one of my favorite things to eat. And it’s one of those foods you absolutely can’t get from a can–the texture is too slimy, the flavor tinny. I’ve attempted this soup before, but always with tons of cream and butter–so it left me feeling heavy.

Hello, veganism.

What gives this soup a rich flavor is braising the leeks, celery, carrots, onion and garlic before putting in the other ingredients. It has a creamy texture and sweet flavor, but no cream. Or butter. Just veggies and happiness.

Braised Potato Leek Soup (makes about 10 servings):

  • 4 small leeks (or 4 cups of leeks), chopped (the smaller the leek you get, the better the texture and flavor)
  • 1 small red onion (peeled and cut in half)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup baby carrots (or a cup of diced carrot)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, or 3 average-sized ones (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 3 cups unmilk (I used rice milk)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt, depending on your preference
  • chives or scallions to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Get out a large soup pot. The largest one you have! Heat 1 tsp of oil (or spray with cooking spray) over medium heat. Add the leek, onion halves, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat until the leeks begin to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the cauliflower, potatoes and 1 cup of broth. Cover and cook until all the veggies are very tender.

Now, this is the tricky part, because the soup is HOT! But you’ll want to put portions of soup in your blender and puree until smooth. If it needs a little help getting smooth, add the rest of the broth as you puree. The finished mixture should be the texture of very loose mashed potatoes. Lower the heat to a simmer and put the soup back in the pot. Add all the unmilk and the salt. Return to a uniform warmness, but not to boiling.

Garnish with chives or scallions, add salt and pepper to taste. If you happened to have some fake bacon bits on hand, this would be a great time to use them!

Even More E2: 3 Bean Chili, Two Ways

I realize as I type this that I still need to make the E2 meatloaf. I just get side tracked! And this week I was put off my meal planning by the GIANT ENORMOUS POT OF CHILI that I made from this recipe. It says that it feeds 6 to 8. 6 to 8 what? Obviously not humans. Maybe professional wrestlers. Or Hulks. But this made easily 8+ servings for us, plus 2 quart-size freezer bags of leftover chili. I’m pretty sure that my grandchildren will be eating that chili someday.

As you can plainly see, this chili is not sexy (which begs the question: can chili be sexy?). But it is packed with basically every form of protein they could think of, with three different beans and a whole pound of tofu. As for taste? It has a lot of ground coriander, but no cumin, so it doesn’t exactly taste like traditional chili. It’s sweet from the addition of carrots, apple (see? What isn’t in this chili!), and molasses. It’s not something I would necessarily make again–probably because if you’ve made it once, you have enough leftovers to never need to make  a second batch!

To use up even more of this chili, I decided to make chili dogs for dinner this week as well. Because the texture of the original version is so…chunky…I ran it through the blender a bit to get it the right texture for hot dog chili. Behold!

The daiya really made the difference, giving it an authentic chili dog flavor. And I made the buns myself, using the same recipe for rolls from Thanksgiving. I’ve made that bread twice since we had it on November 24th, so you know I love it. Or I just love carbs. Whatever.

Recipe from the Engine 2 Diet.

No Harm, No Fowl: Vegan Thanksgiving 2011!

Last year I was an omnivore, and the centerpiece of my Thanksgiving table was a giant turkey breast. It was roasted over fennel, and had a bacon lattice over the top. It was decadent for sure, and fattening for certain. Never again! Bring on my all-vegan Thanksgiving, which was even better than last year: just as delicious, no one died, and it isn’t killing us from the inside, either.

Bacon Wrapped Torkey, from the Happy Herbivore. (Just assume when I say “bacon” it’s fake-bacon.)

Root Veggie Mash (potato, turnip and rutabaga), my idea!

Polenta Stuffing from Appetite for Reduction.

Honey Wheat Rolls (more hardcore vegans than me can use brown sugar rather than honey. Also, sub out the butter for applesauce! You’re welcome!) from November’s Vegetarian Times.

Everything together, including Cranberry Sauce, Green Beans with Almonds, Bacon, and Garlic, and Mushroom Gravy all over that mash!

Pumpkin Cheesecake from Happy Herbivore. I even made the pumpkin myself! And I topped it with a cream sauce made from 1/4 cup cashews, 2 tsp maple syrup, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of rice milk. My husband took one bite of this and announced it to be “perfect.” It really was the best pumpkin dessert I’ve ever had, and I can’t believe it’s not terrible for you. Because it is just as amazing as any full-fat counterpart. Beautiful!

This year I’m so thankful for my family, friends, and of course, the decision we made to eat a plant-based diet. It’s given us back our health, and brought me happiness in so many different ways. Not only did I lose weight (and my husband, did, too) but we’re doing something great for our long-term health, for animals, and for the environment.

I know that this is just the beginning of the adventure, and I’m so excited for what next year will bring. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Black Bean Salsa Dip

I was trying to make a sort of black bean hummus with this recipe, but failed to realize that the liquid-to-bean ratio would make it distinctly wetter than hummus. No worries! It tastes great, is essentially fat-free, and is easily scoop-able on a chip.

Black Bean Salsa Dip (makes…3 cups? I forgot to measure and I ate a ton of it):

  • 1 15-oz. can of black beans (or two cups of cooked beans)
  • 2 T onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 T cilantro
  • 1  jalapeño
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Enjoy!

 

E2 Week: Mushroom Ginger Soba

Engine 2 food is undeniably some of the prettiest food I’ve ever made. I don’t get it–is it the technique? Because I’ve made dinners with all these ingredients before: soba noodles, baby bok choy, carrots, kale, mushrooms–but they weren’t as startlingly lovely as this.

The flavorings: a smidge of mirin, tamari, and rice vinegar weren’t quite enough to make this not bland, however. The garlic and ginger added something (and I tossed in red pepper flakes for fun), but I still needed to spice this up with Sriracha at the end. I’d love to make this again, but it needs a little flavor bump: maybe sautéing the garlic and ginger with the mushrooms would provide a flavor boost. Maybe even a dash of miso. Or just less broth, since the sauce calls for a full cup and a half.

At least now I have a lot of black sesame seeds. That should be fun! Now to remember to roast them first…

 

Southwest Pizza

After long debates with myself about calling this “Mexi-corn Pizza” I decided that was a) too racist, and b) too…corny to be posted on the blog. So, Southwest Pizza it is! Which is really more honest, anyway, since this doesn’t exactly resemble Mexican food in any fundamental way. Except for the cilantro and corn. And avocado.

This was one of those meals where I thought, “vegans get to eat this? And it’s healthy?” but it totally is. It’s weird when something feels sinfully good, but is also incredibly good for you. I suppose that’s what veganism is all about.

Southwest Pizza (makes 1 large pizza):

  • 1/2 recipe of pizza dough from Vegan with a Vengeance, or any kind of premade or other recipe dough you like.
  • 1 jar salsa (use as much as you like. I’d recommend getting something that seems saucy, as opposed to fresh salsa. I like Trader Joe’s.)
  • 1 small summer squash, sliced VERY thin
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 of a small onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s fake ground beef (it’s awesome) or any brand you like. You need about 1/2 cup of total fake meat.
  • 1/3 cup daiya pepperjack flavor (you can omit this, but it is delicious!)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • cilantro for garnish. And flavor!
  • hot sauce (I recommend Tapatio for this)

Now, roll out your dough. Have I given instructions about how to make pizza before? Yes! The real difference between this pizza and the link is that you order the toppings different: salsa, onions, garlic, squash, corn, then beef. Bake until the squash is done, being careful not to overcook the crust (so if you need to turn down the temp a little, that’s fine). Add the daiya, and cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, until it’s nice and melted. Let the pizza cool and add the cilantro, avocado, and hot sauce.

Other toppings that would taste great: black olives, green onions (sprinkled on with the cilantro), green peppers, and diced green chilies.

My husband gave this pizza a rating of: “It made both my stomach and mouth happy.” Good enough for me!

 

Swedish Meetballs

Man, back in the day Swedish Meatballs were my jam. I used to make them all the time, with a recipe that would horrify anyone, not just vegans. First–bag of premade frozen meatballs. Add to that a jar (A JAR) of premade beef gravy, and a cup of sour cream. Throw in some instant rice and you have yourself a meal. Also, please let me state that I was a teenager when I was doing this, so I obviously didn’t know better. And you should be happy that I was at home making hideous Swedish Meatballs instead of…whatever it is normal teenagers do.

Anyway, now I’m a vegan and I know better, so I’ve made delicious Swedish Meetballs for you to enjoy guilt-free. No cans of gravy for you, mister!

Swedish Meetballs (serves 4):

  • One half recipe of Happy Herbivore’s Meatless Balls (teehee) or any recipe you like that makes 12 meatballs. You can even just cook some undoctored Gimme Lean in ball form and call it a day.
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth (or more, if you like a thinner sauce)
  • 1 T liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 2 T vegan Worcestershire sauce (I usually make the Happy Herbivore version)
  • 2 T cashews (they don’t need to be raw, you can use whatever)
  • 2 T onion flakes
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T vegan mayo
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 T cornstarch (use two for a SUPER THICK sauce)
  • 3/4 cup water

First, make your meatballs. I usually just make a ton and then freeze them in useable amounts, so I already had meatballs ready when I started this tonight. Easy!

Now, assemble the sour creamy secret sauce: take the cashews, onion flakes, and water, and place them in your food processor/blender. Let them sit for about 15 minutes. Now, add the red wine vinegar, mayo, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch. Blend until really smooth. The sauce should still be quite thin, that’s what you want. It’ll thicken when you add it to the mushrooms.

Okay! Now start your mushrooms. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a large-ish skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, until soft. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Now, add in your mushrooms. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the veggie broth and liquid aminos and lower to a simmer for about 10 minutes. With the heat on low, add the creamy sauce to the mushroom sauce and stir until thickened to your liking.

Serve over rice or noodles, with the meatballs on top. I like to have asparagus with this dish, too, or some bread. Or if you’re feeling all IKEA that night, have some lingonberries!

Oktoberfesting

I love October. It is easily my favorite month of the year, followed only by December because it has my birthday in it. And because I’m still delighted by snow in December, not horrified by it and shaking my fist at the sky like I am in February.

Anyway, October is also the one time of year I drink beer. I don’t really care for beer, but out of due respect to Oktoberfest, and the one and a half years of German I took in college, I down half a bottle and call it a day.

I made Beer and Cheese Bratwurst! Well, obviously not really bratwurst, but it was still plenty delicious. My only possible complaint about them was that they were too sweet, but I find a lot of vegan meat to be sweeter than it’s evil meaty counterpart. Anyway, here’s the recipe:

Beer & Cheese Bratwurst (makes 4 large sausages):

  • 1/2 cup white or pinto beans
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup TVP
  • 2 T daiya (or other vegan) cheddar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp ground marjoram
  • pinch allspice
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch caraway seeds
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 cup of vegan beer, cider, or ale
  • 1 T soy sauce or liquid aminos

First, mash the beans really well with a fork, then add all the dry ingredients (including fake cheese). Mix them together really well before adding in the wet–the vital wheat gluten will make it come together super fast. Roll your sausages up in foil (see these directions) and place in your steaming apparatus. Steam sausages for 40 minutes, then let rest for at least an hour in the fridge. Reheat by baking (in a conventional or toaster) oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Or grill!

As delicious Oktoberfesty sides to the sausages, I made baby potatoes roasted with onion powder and garlic powder (it makes a delicious crust on the outside) and some braised cabbage (basically following the recipe for seitan and cabbage from Appetite for Reduction but with no seitan). I didn’t know you could cook red cabbage the same as green–but you can! And it’s just as good! If not better!

So get your Oktoberfest on!

Alfredo Pesto Pizza

There isn’t nearly enough vegan food out there with artichoke hearts. I adore artichokes…who doesn’t? My husband wanted pizza this week, so I came up with this Alfredo Pesto PIzza using a bit of left over ingredients we had from other meals this week.

Alfredo Pesto Pizza (makes 1 large pizza):

  • One half recipe for pizza dough from Vegan with a Vengeance (or any kind you like–or premade–whatever works!)
  • One half recipe of alfredo sauce from the Happy Herbivore
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup garlic cloves (I’m not joking)
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15 oz?) can of artichoke hearts (in water–not the marinated in oil kind)
  • 1/2 cup white/navy beans
  • 2 T daiya mozzarella or cheddar (optional)

First, make your pizza dough. If you bought the premade kind–lucky you!

Second, make the alfredo sauce, adding the basil leaves when you puree everything. Don’t bother to cook the sauce at all after this step, just pop it in the fridge to wait.

Now, take all those garlic cloves and your onion and bake in a 350 degree oven until they are nice and soft. You’ll want to spray them with cooking spray, and use the veggie broth to deglaze your pan. When they are roasted, let them cool and then roughly chop up the garlic. At this point you can also cut the artichoke hearts into quarters, so they’re more manageable for the pizza.

Assuming you rolled out the pizza dough and have it on your pan/stone, you can now assemble! Obviously put on the sauce first, then do the beans, then the artichoke hearts, then garlic, and top with the onions. That seemed to be the easiest way to get everything on evenly. Don’t put on the daiya yet!

Heat the oven to 500 degrees (crazy, right?) and put your pizza in there. Check for doneness at 15 minutes, it will probably need another 3 minutes after that. If you’re putting the fake cheese on, do it in those last three minutes. That will give it plenty of time to melt, but no time to get weird.

You can also top this (after it comes out of the oven) with some chopped roasted cashews. I love cashews and basil together–they are magical!