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!

Thanks, Papa Murphy’s!

The last 24 hours of my life have made me feel like a miserable failure. First, we attempted to watch the horrific “comedy” Dinner for Schmucks, which, thank God, we were sensible enough to turn off about half an hour in. This morning, we went to Home Depot to get supplies to fix our broken stroller, and replace our kitchen faucet, which has been slowly decomposing for about a month.

After getting home, I realize that I’ve bought the wrong size nuts to fix the stroller, and our old faucet will not come off. When we decide to give up and hook everything back up, it has no water pressure. It is punishing us. And now we have to have a plumber come out tomorrow and fix it.

What I’m saying is, no cooking today. And thank you, Papa Murphy’s, for being one of the few places in town that doesn’t think I’m crazy for ordering a cheeseless pizza. And for being excited about us ordering vegan.

Baked Mac & Cheese

I’ll admit it. I’ve been totally spoiled by the VegNews Mac & Cheese. That stuff is out of this world! But it’s also pretty stinkin’ fatty, and I’m not always in the mood for the greasy food. Plus, it’s kind of a bear to cook–lots of boiling of various veggies, etc. And I do sometimes like a nutritional yeast-based mac, since it’ll provide me with tons of B12 vitamins! Go B12!

I turned to the Baked Mac & Cheese from, you guessed it, Happy Herbivore. I’d been interested in making an unmilk based cheesy sauce, too, since I’ve made the Appetite for Reduction one about a million times. And while it’s good, I often crave something creamier. Bring on the Mori-Nu and almond milk, baby!

And this was good–it falls somewhere in between my favorite macs, since it’s creamy and baked just like VegNews, but noochy, like AFR. I will say that it seemed to be missing something–I’m guessing either a pinch of nutmeg, or a dash of hot sauce. I put a bit of tabasco on it, and that helped round out the flavor a little. Lemon juice in the cheese sauce, perhaps? I’ll think of something.

You’ll notice that I paired this with some rockin’ Jerk Asparagus, also from AFR. That stuff can do NO WRONG. And you’ll think it’s going to come out all weird, and it doesn’t, it’s so easy and magical. I wish I made it more, but asparagus is sooooo expensive. I blame the man for that one.

Southern Home Cookin’

My husband thought this dinner tasted just like something your granny would make. But I guess she’d have to be your kick-ass vegan granny, which would be amazing. Of all the vegans I read about, senior vegans are the best. They went vegan in 1922, you dang whippersnapper!

Are you listening? I have two words for you. VEGAN. BACON. And BITS. Which makes it three, but you get the idea. Yeah. Happy Herbivore strikes again! I love these bacon bits. They were incredibly easy to make, totally fat free, and look and taste just like bacon. My clothes and hair even smell like bacon just like the (bad) old days!

So I smothered those bits all over some green beans. And made her baked beans (which seemed to be missing something, though I don’t know what), and hybridized the corn pudding/cornbread recipe. You see, I DID have silken tofu–yesterday. And then I went on some sort of crazed double-batch brownie extravaganza. Delicious,  unnecessary, and it stole my ingredients for corn pudding!

What I did was make half a batch of cornbread, added the full amount of jalapeño, corn, onion and turmeric, and baked it at 350 for 30 mins. That way both it and the beans were done at the same time. It turned out fairly well, if a little dense. I’ll try to get it right next time!

Brownie Madness

The brownie you see before you is so delicious, it’s possible that if you licked your screen, you’d get a taste of it.

This brownie is courtesy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I believe it’s the deluxe cocoa version, and it is truly magical. Not one to skimp on the awesome, I put both walnuts AND chocolate chunks in it. Oh, baby.

This second brownie is of my own design. Feast your eyes on it!
Using the the same deluxe recipe, I added peanuts (1/4 cup) and a peanut buttery spread on the top. To make the peanut liquid gold, just take 1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter, 2 T of maple syrup, and 1 T of unmilk. Mix together until smooth and creamy. If the peanut butter seems REALLY firm when you scoop it out of the jar, try microwaving to loosen it up. Since I keep mine in the fridge, I have to do that all the time. Before baking, pour on the spread and marble it into the top of the brownie.

When the voting was all said and done, my husband liked the first brownie the best, and I liked them both the same. I don’t know if this is common for all tofu brownies, but I think these taste better after being in the fridge overnight. It really condenses them into uber-fudgies. You can’t go wrong with that!

Tofu Goat Cheese Saved My Life

Yeah, I think that about sums it up. Tofu Goat Cheese rocks. Goat cheese is the only dairy product I’ve missed at all since going vegan. And it’s not like I have super-human powers to resist dairy, it’s just that it makes me feel so darn sick. Eating dairy only makes me think of how very, very sorry I’ll be later.

Of course, it doesn’t look pretty. But does real goat cheese look pretty? Nah. This is the Salad Niçoise from Vegan Family Meals, ala (now defunct *WHY!*) ReadyMade Magazine. I don’t think it’s as good as the one from Appetite for Reduction, for several reasons: 1. The dressing. Of course, I changed it from the original, which has about 90 grams of fat in it. IN THE F-ING DRESSING ALONE. I don’t think that’s necessary or delicious. Well, maybe it might have been delicious–but I digress. 2. The toppings. The chickpea-caper mash on AFR’s niçoise is frickin’ amazing. Tofu goat cheese is also frickin’ amazing. But I think it could better be used in more goat cheese friendly territory. Pesto? Check. Panini? Check.

So, I’ll be ditching the rest of this salad, but I will make the faux goat again. And again. And again. SO TASTY.




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.

Chickpea & Quinoa Salad

You know how you can tell if a person is a vegan? By the way they pronounce “quinoa.” It’s true! I started out just like everybody else, calling it QUIN-OH-AH instead of KEEN-WAH. And now I laugh at people and slap them across the face when they say it wrong. Though I am fairly certain that my bestest friend still pronounces it incorrectly and I love her dearly. And would never slap her in the face. Unless there was, like, a bug on her or something. Right?

Anyway, this is one of the salads in Appetite for Reduction that I’d been avoiding. My husband dislikes about 90% of the ingredients in this salad, so I didn’t know how I was going to present it for dinner and get a good reaction. And guess what? I didn’t. He gloomily ate about 60% of it, and then dumped the rest in the trash. Poor guy. But you know who did love it? The small child whose hand you see in that photo: “More beans, please, Mama!”

That’s my girl, that’s my girl.

P.S.–want to know if you’ll like this recipe? You can basically guess. It’s not one of those tricky ones that tastes all different after you assemble it. If you like those ingredients, you will like the salad. It pulls no punches.


Berry Muffins

I’m going to be honest here: I totally deviated from the recipe in Vegan Brunch, because I didn’t have soy yogurt. It’s just not something I keep in the house, because I rarely, rarely use it. Also, I’m still involved in my quest to rid myself of white whole wheat flour (blech), so I used it instead of the all-purpose. What emerged is the muffin you see before you, slightly darker, slightly flatter, still delicious.

 Mmmm…Earth Balance. I don’t like to bake with you (though I will), but I do like to spread your buttery goodness on things. This muffin was obviously not as cute and fluffy as it should be, but the blackberries and blueberries made up for the lack of beauty.

Once again, I would like to express my appreciation for the crumb of vegan muffins. SO MUCH BETTER than your average muffin. I don’t know how it’s possible. But it seems difficult to not have these come out delicious, even when you make substitutions.

Here is my altered recipe:

Not-Bakery-Style Berry Muffins (makes 6)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup + 1 T sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 T not-milk
  • 2 T orange juice
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup berries

Basically, follow the directions from Vegan Brunch: 375 oven, grease the muffin cups. Mix all the dry ingredients, then all the wet in a separate bowl. Add the wet to the dry, and mix VERY GENTLY. Then, fold in the berries. It’s okay if the mixture looks a little floury. That’s how you want it. Bake for 25 mins, and check for doneness by inserting a toothpick or cake tester into the muffin. Sometimes you’ll get berry residue on it, but check for raw dough. If it’s dry, take it out! Nothing tastes worse than an over cooked hockey-puck muffin.

Salade Niçoise

There is literally no angle in which this photo does not look weird. But I kinda love how it looks like I put this delicious salad on the wall. Salade Niçoise! I don’t know how to say it, but I do know that I’ve always wanted to eat it. However, even before the whole vegan thing, I didn’t eat fish. So this tuna-smothered salad was never meant for me.

Until now! And honestly, the chickpea mash with capers is so close to tuna, it sorta weirded me out. I felt like I shouldn’t be eating it, but there I was, loving every minute of it. The flavors are so complicated, yet everything comes together in a fantastic way–I wonder if that’s why all the ingredients are typically kept unmixed? That, and it looks gorgeous that way.

My only problem was my red onion was so strong, I thought it was going to wrestle me from the table and steal my wallet. I could smell the onion in the house for hours after dinner. Sheesh! Quiet down, onion!

Salad courtesy of Appetite for Reduction.