Cajun Cakes & Dijon Broccoli Rice

Oh, Happy Herbivore. Just when I thought you couldn’t get more awesome, you decided to invent chickpea cakes. Well, maybe not invent, but certainly publish and share them.

These. were. sensational. Sort of like eating fried chicken, in that they were spicy and crunchy, but mostly like eating a really great falafel. I can imagine that the next time I make these, I’ll make them nugget-size and there will be BBQ sauce dunking. Oh, the dunking! I think I’ll actually try the chickpea tenders recipe, too, for a less spicy taste.

The dijon rice and broccoli was really good. I found the mustard flavor to be a little behind the scenes, so next time I’ll probably punch that up a bit. Or use some really great sweet and hot mustard I have, that I almost never get to use on anything.

Totally awesome (and really simple) dinner, provided by the Everyday Happy Herbivore.

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.

Eggplant & Spicy Sausage

Have I told you how much I love the Spicy Sausage recipe from Happy Herbivore? LOVE IT. So insanely good. And somehow, it manages to taste better every time I make it. This time the texture was amazing–so soft and squishy, but a little crusty on the outside…aaah. And I made it a touch less spicy by adding only half of the cayenne it called for–I discovered the last few times I made this sausage, it was uncomfortably spicy.

For this dinner I just cooked some rotini pasta, and tossed in the marinated eggplant and zucchini from the Trader Joe’s freezer section. Since it comes pre-marinated, it already has it’s own sauce. Just toss with the pasta and you’re good to go. Of course I sprinkled on a little nutritional yeast, and a touch of balsamic vinegar doesn’t hurt, either.

Add in a little crusty bread and this dinner is done! And super easy.


Spicy Sausage and Collard Greens


Do you like sausage? Do you like spicy, spicy sausage?

Me, too!

This is another dinner from the Happy Herbivore. I think I’m starting to figure out why she’s so happy. Seriously. This dinner was fantastic. My only complaint was that the collard greens were a little on the bland side, but when doused liberally with hot sauce (as suggested) they perked right up. I loved this sausage recipe, too, though it did come out a little spongy. But the flavor was just right, and the kind of spicy I like–not too hot to stop eating it, but your lips burn and you break out into a sweat. I also, I LOVE spicy food during hot weather. Don’t you?


Tamale Pie

Guess what, you guys! I got a new cookbook! I bought The Happy Herbivore, and so far I’m digging it. This the first meal I’ve made from the book, but I’ll be making another one tomorrow night, and I’m interested to see how it comes out.

This recipe for Tamale Casserole reminded me of a family dish we used to make called Tamale Pie. And while this dish bears little resemblance to the meat and cheese-filled heart-attack-inducing disaster that tasty item was, I loved it. I did make a few substitutions, which ended up with me having six portions instead of the recipe’s original four. Not really a problem, since this kind of casserole almost always tastes better the second day!

So here’s what I did:

  1. Instead of jarred salsa, I made my own, probably about a cup and a half
  2. I used 2 cups of beans instead of half a cup
  3. I added 2 cups of cooked bulgur (though you could use any sort of meaty grain you like)
  4. I added a small can of diced green chilies (because my husband loves them)
  5. I added 8 oz of tomato sauce (so that things wouldn’t get dry–they didn’t!)

I really liked my substitutions, because of their enhanced nutritional profile (hello, protein!) and that they bulked this up enough that I didn’t need to divide the cornbread topping. And the cornbread? HELLO. Delicious. I am always skeptical about making applesauce baked goods, but this worked. It didn’t rise much, but I think that’s because I went the extra cornmeal route, since this would be a very corny topping.

Also, serve with Tapatio. You’re welcome.


Spicy Mac!

This dish is, for me, what hot dish is for Minnesotans. My mom’s recipe for “Mexican Mac & Cheese” is one of the most comforting foods that I know. And as a vegan, I can’t exactly pound down the sour cream and cheese sauce like I used to. This recipe was high on my list for veganization, and I’m proud to report that it turned out perfect. It wasn’t one of those situations were it tasted “almost the same” or “sorta all right” but rather tasted virtually exactly the same as the original. Even my picky omni husband thought it was a pretty perfect rendition. So, enjoy!

Spicy Mac (serves 4 to 6):

  • 8 oz shell pasta (I used brown rice pasta, because it’s what I had)
  • 1&1/2 cup pinto beans (I used anasazi beans–if you can find them, they are the best beans EVER)–oh, and PS–if you’re using a can of beans, just use the whole can.
  • 15 oz can Ro-tel
  • 7 oz can of green chilies
  • 1 small onion plus 2 T, diced
  • 1 small bag of frozen peas, carrots & corn
  • 2 tsp Tapatio (it’s like Tabasco sauce, but awesomer)
  • 1/2 recipe for Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction
  • 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (drained after being soaked in water for an hour)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 T red wine vinegar

First, start the water boiling for your noodles. Then, prepare the cheezy sauce. Once the water is boiling, put the noodles in and cook until almost al dente. You want them to still be a little stiff, or they turn to mush in the casserole. Now, in a large bowl, mix the small onion (without the extra 2 T, you’ll use that later), beans, Ro-tel, green chilies & frozen veggies together. Add the noodles, stir, and then add the cheese sauce. When everything is nicely coated in sauce, add the Tapatio. Put the mixture in a 13×9 (or smaller, just adjust cooking time) casserole dish, top with shredded cheese, and bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

While your delicious casserole is baking, make the cilantro-cashew cream topping (adapted from Vegan Brunch). This is so easy! Simply take the cashews, 2 T of onion (told you!), cilantro, red wine vinegar & water and mix in a food processor for anywhere from 2-5 minutes. You just want everything to be nicely smooth, with no chunks of nuts at all. If your food processor is like mine, the cashew cream will never come completely smooth. It’ll still taste pretty great, though. After blending, put the cream in the fridge to cool down.

When your casserole is done, take out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. You don’t want to burn your face on hot noodles. When serving, remember to put about a tablespoon of cilantro cashew cream on top of each, and you can always put on as much Tapatio as your heart desires.

Polenta and Chili!

Let me begin by stating that I think I made this wrong. Based on the photo in Vegan Brunch, I think this is supposed to mostly beans with a little topping of polenta. So why did I get ten tons of polenta, and just a smattering of beans? Let me also state, for the record, that apparently this recipe can be altered any number of ways with delicious results. Because this was awesome! Pretty much just like having chili with cornbread in it, except I really love the texture of the polenta. And I forgot to put the serrano peppers in (I accidentally threw them out–why?!) so I dumped hot sauce on at the end. Also, the avocado I was going to put on top went bad. And I forgot to take a picture of the cashew sour cream (which may be my new favorite thing in the universe).

So, 1,000 mistakes later, this still came out just as delicious. I don’t think I could have asked for more.




Pad Thai Déjà vu?

Never have I felt so confused by a salad.

I will literally swear to you that I think I have both made this salad and posted about it here before. But now I’m starting to think that maybe I made it before I started posting, but I can remember taking a picture of it last time. Argh! I don’t have that many posts that I can be this confused. Oh well.

So, here we go. Do you like peanuts? Me, too. Eat this! Do you like bean sprouts? Yes? EAT. If you read this blog at all, you know I have a deep love for two things: 1. Sprouts, and 2. Spelt. I will eat almost anything that has sprouts in it. I think especially mung bean sprouts, because my mom used to grow them in the kitchen when I was a little kid. It was like a magic trick–dried beans go into a wet paper towel and then *poof* bean sprouts appear. I thought of them as alien cigarettes (daughter of a smoker) and used to pretend to take a drag off of one during lunch break. Oh, the innocent times of smoking a bean sprout to impress your friends.

I love the super freshness of this salad, plus the fact that you can make it insanely spicy. I love a lip-numbing salad, the hot and cold next to each other is so fascinating. Anyway, this recipe from Appetite for Reduction is a keeper. Word to the wise, add some edamame to the top for added protein.

Oh, and as a side note–what other vegan cookbooks should I invest in? I have all of Isa’s, but I’d like to branch out a little bit.

Chorizo, Grits & Sweet Potato Biscuits

Oh, man, was this breakfast spicy. I actually couldn’t finish all of it, because my mouth was burning a little. I have to admit, that was slightly my fault, as I decided to take the extra step of dousing my already fiery chorizo with hot sauce. Still, tasty tasty. The chorizo had that distinct seitan flavor, which can be off-putting if you aren’t really used to it. But the texture was great–soft and squishy but not greasy. And the flavors were there, though I think most of the chorizo I’ve had had more of a kick to it. I’ll work on that.

Grits! I could write a love song to grits. Look at them, all fluffy yellow. The garlic (6 cloves!) was perfectly mellow, and the jalapeños weren’t too spicy. I did forget to add the salt while cooking, but just sprinkling it on at the end worked out perfectly. I also added more than the two tablespoons of nooch, because I freaking love that stuff. How could anything as weird as nutritional yeast taste that good? It looks like fish food. Ooh, I love it.

I’ve made the sweet potato biscuits about a million times, but this time I used whole white wheat flour. I bought a bag of it, thinking it was white flour, and now I’m trying to use it all up. I hate the texture of it. It’s very heavy and coarse, and everything I bake with it comes out grainy. So I mostly just use it for stuff like this, when I’m making a side dish and don’t really care if it’s perfect or not.

Recipes for sausages and grits are from Vegan Brunch, and the biscuits are in Appetite for Reduction.

Now That’s a Spicy Wiener

I attempted to make some sort of vegan Germanfest in my house, with mixed results. Step 1. Faux Italian sausage instead of faux brauts. Step 2. “Hot Dog” bun that looked like a mummy’s turd. Step 3. Enough dijon mustard on that sausage to make me feel like the back of my head was going to fly off, hit the ceiling, and then snap back on like it was attached with elastic. YIKES.

I’m going to say, right here, that you should not ever think to serve German side dishes with Italian sausage. The spices…so very, very, very wrong. And I’m totally going to salvage that sausage for a delicious Italian meal sometime in the future, don’t worry. And my sad, sad little roll actually ended up tasting sorta pretzely, so it wasn’t that bad. I need to figure out what the heck is wrong with my bread. I think that the bag of yeast I bought from Costco about four years ago is probably old. Though every time I say “I think my yeast is old!” to my husband, he can’t help but get the giggles.

Do you like my caramelized onions though? I am a hot shot with those! Here’s the easy way to do it!

Caramelized Onions:

  • 2 medium or one really large sweet onion (I like Maui onions), cut in half and then into slices
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup veggie broth

Spray a cast iron skillet (if you don’t have one, you should. Really!) with some cooking spray or heat up a little oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cover the whole deal with tinfoil (really nestle it on there). I check back with it when I either smell the onions getting brown, or about every 5 minutes. Once the bottom layer is browned, take the foil off and put in the wine and broth. Stir, and let them cook off until the liquid in the skillet is mostly gone. TA DA!

Also, I love sauerkraut. I cannot stress this enough. And since I can’t eat pickled eggs anymore, that sweet sweet kraut is getting me through.

Sausage recipes are in Vegan Brunch. And I’ve been working on chorizo, too, so you’ll see that soon!