Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lentil Casserole a'la The Young Ones

Who remembers the British comedy from the 1980s titled The Young Ones?  It only aired two seasons but my friends and I were... well... obsessed. It is a show that depicts the antics of four seemingly incompatible and decidedly unique guys who lived together as roommates.  It is hilarious. Not in a normal way but in a sort of sick, twisted but really funny way.

Anyway, over the weekend a bunch of us got together to do a Young Ones marathon. The first episode of the first season, titled "Destruction" begins with the "hippie" of the group preparing dinner- a lentil casserole.  Of course I had to make a lentil casserole for our gathering!  If you would like to watch this episode just click here.  Absolute classic!

You will notice, though, I failed to include the dish detergent in my version of the lentil casserole :)  It still turned out great!

Lentil Casserole

For the casserole:
1 cup lentils, rinsed
2 cups white wine
1 cup  water
2 tsp mixed herbs (I used rosemary, thyme, marjoram and tarragon)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large carrot, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 kale leaves, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, rough chopped
1/2 cup pecans, rough chopped
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
2 cups unseasoned croutons (they type used to make stuffing)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt to taste
1 tbsp melted vegan butter
Paprika for sprinkling (optional)

In a sauce pan add the wine, water, sugar, and mixed herbs.  Over medium high heat, bring to a boil and then turn heat down to low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

While lentils are simmering add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium.  Add the carrot, green onions, red pepper and kale.  Season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables sart to soften and the kale is wilted.  Turn off the heat and and the pecans and walnuts. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Once the lentils are cooked add to a casserole dish and stir in the sautéed vegetables. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn the heat in the oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare the topping by putting the 2 cups croutons to a large bowl with the 3 tbsp olive oil and thyme.  Add salt to taste.  Place on top of the casserole and pour the melted vegan butter on top.  Sprinkle with paprika if desired and place back into the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Drunken Braised Mushroom Stew

I recently bought the most beautiful fresh organic cremini and shitake mushrooms at Wegman's. They really deserved special treatment so I decided to go all out and braise them in a wine sauce, something you might typically see in a short rib type recipe.

This was so easy to pull together and it was absolutely delicious. I served it over pasta and have some left over which I am going to serve on some toasted crusty bread- sort of like a mushroom crostini.

I hope that you are inclined to try this- if you like mushrooms and wine you really cannot go wrong. And as a bonus it really makes the house smell great while cooking!

Drunken Braised Mushroom Stew

2 tbsp vegan butter
9 shitake mushrooms sliced thick
12 oz cremini mushrooms sliced thick
1 carrot peeled and diced
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
t tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 cup hearty red wine
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp flour
Vegan sour cream (optional)

Heat 1 tbsp of the vegan butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook just long enough until they start to brown but do not yet release their juices.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  

In the same pan add the other tablespoon of vegan butter. Add the carrot and shallot and saute until the shallot turns translucent and the carrot begins to soften. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook for a minute or two.  Pour the wine and vegetable stock into the pan and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil until the the liquid is reduced by about half.  Add in the mushrooms and flour, stir and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer, uncovered until the mushrooms are tender- about ten or fifteen minutes.

Serve over pasta or rice with a dollop of vegan sour cream if desired.

Note: the mushrooms should be thickly sliced so that they retain their meaty texture.  Be sure to choose hearty mushrooms as button mushrooms will not stand up to braising very well.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Biscuits

I am really enjoying fall.  I love squash of all sorts and have been enjoying cooking all sorts of squash dishes.  Since no one in the family but me seems to like it I  have been eating a lot of it! I finished the squash casserole I recently made in a weekend- all  by myself! Hey, no shame in that!

Perhaps it is a result of a Middle Eastern and Italian background where big family gatherings were always centered around food... and lots of it!

I decided to try pumpkin biscuits.  They just sounded good to me.  I browsed the web, found a bunch of recipes and what I came up with was really a mix of a bunch of different recipes, but to be sure, I will give credit to this one for most of my inspiration.

Pumpkin Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour plus some for dusting
1 1/2 tbsp raw turbinado sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp cold vegan butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup non dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened)
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp agave nectar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper.  Add the vegan butter and use a pasty cutter or fork to incorporate the butter.  The mixture should be the consistency of rough crumbs.  Set aside.

In another bowl mix the pumpkin, non dairy milk, molasses and agave nectar.  Slowly add to the dry ingredients mixing until a dough forms.

Dust a cutting board with flour and roll the dough to a one inch thickness.  Using a biscuit cutter or other round mold cut the biscuits out and place on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Place in the oven for about 15 minutes.  They should be golden brown.

Remove and cool on the baking sheet slightly before serving.

Note- I served these with a roasted jalapeño "butter".
Note: The dough was quite wet.  Just use enough flour to keep it from sticking to your board.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brussels Sprout Casserole

You may recall that I have been "practicing" for my holiday meal this year (I have Christmas dinner this time).  I tried this "Beef" Wellington with Bourbon Sauce recipe made with Field Roast and it was awesome.  Along with it I mad a Brussels Sprout Casserole; it is almost exactly the same as this Green Bean Casserole but with Brussels sprouts.

I am torn between which one I like more- the green bean or the Brussels. I am thinking I make one casserole at the holiday divided on each side- one side green beans and the other Brussels sprouts.

I am feeling pretty good about the upcoming holidays this year.  How about you?

Brussels Sprout Casserole

~ 1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts cut in half and lightly steamed
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, melt 1/4 cup of the Earth Balance and add the flour.

Allow to cook for a couple of minutes stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, garlic and onion powders. Stir constantly, until sauce thickens to the consistency of gravy. Whisk in the vegetable oil and nutritional yeast.

Place the steamed Brussels sprouts in a bowl and add the gravy. Toss to coat. Put the misture into a small casserole dish.

Top with the French fried onions.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and warmed through.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Squash Casserole

I love, love, love squash of all kinds. Unfortunately the rest of my family does not share my love of squash. But, that does not stop me from cooking with it- especially during the fall months.  Who knows maybe one of these days I will find one they like As they say... try, try again!

I thought this was really great. Total comfort food! I used this basic recipe but instead of using zucchini or yellow squash I used what I had on hand- one small acorn, one small butternut and one small delicata.

Absolutely delicious!

Squash Casserole

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 delicata squash, peeled seeded and cut into pieces
1 medium red onion, diced
1 egg replacer (I used Ener-G)
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
3 tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese (I love Parmela)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp vegan butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On the stove top lightly steam the squash and onion until just tender.  Drain and put into a large bowl.

Add the egg replacer, mayo, vegan parmesan and salt and pepper to the squash mixture. Toss lightly to coat.

Turn into a casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and pour the melted butter ove the top.  Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and warmed through.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whole Wheat Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Lemon Caper Sauce

I have had a couple of packages of pre-made gnocchi in the house for a while.  We keep threatening to cook them but never seem to get to it.   A couple Friday nights ago we opted for simple and easy since we were heading out later that night.

Doesn't really get much simpler or easier than gnocchi so I decided to go for it. I had the Wegman's brand, the whole wheat variety, on hand. The stuff is pre-packaged and sold in the pasta aisle, requires no refrigeration and is quite good.

I decided on mushrooms and capers because I think they make a really great combination. And, with the lemon the flavor reminds me of piccata- something I really love.

This was the perfect quick meal before a night out on the town!

1 lb whole wheat gnocchi
5 oz shitake mushrooms, sliced
Juice and zest of one lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup capers, drained
Vegan Parmesan cheese for sprinkling (I love Parmela)

Boil a large pot of water and prepare the gnocchi according to package directions..

On the stovetop in a medium to large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil and, vegan butter.  When hot add the mushrooms,  thyme and pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are starting to soften (a few minutes) and add the lemon juice, zest and pepper. Add cooked,drained gnocchi and capers to the pan and lightly toss to coat.

Serve sprinkled with vegan Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

White Bean Butternut and Kale Soup

I put some navy beans in water to soak one evening without any real plan for them. I was thinking  about a soup of some sort but wasn't 100% convinced so I turned to my Vegan Version Facebook friends to ask for advice.  They gave me all sorts of wonderful suggestions! A big shout out to all of you!

When I went to cook up the beans in the morning it was cold and drizzly so I decided to stick with the soup idea.  I made a variation of my own White Bean and Kale Soup inspired by one of the suggestions I received.

The result?  A delicious hearty and heartwarming soup great for a chilly drizzly day.  And lots of leftovers for later, too.

White Bean Butternut and Kale Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
8-10 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups chopped curly kale, chopped into small pieces
4 cups cooked white beans* (I used Navy)
1 small butternut squash. peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped parsley

In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil, garlic and onion.  Saute for a few minutes until onion starts to become translucent.  Add the kale and continue to saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.  Once the kale is wilted, add 3 cups of beans, the butternut squash chunks, 3 1/2 cups of vegetable stock and the Italian seasoning. Simmer for about fifteen minutes.

While the soup is simmering, in a blender mix the remaining cup of beans and stock until very smooth.  Add to the soup along with the chopped tomoatoes and continue to simmer for at least another five minutes or so.  Re-season with salt and pepper if desired/needed. Add the parsley, stir and serve.

*If using canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse the beans well.  The amount is about equivalent to 2 1/2 15 oz cans.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fried Sausage Macaroni Bake aka Leftovers

Remember the Sausage Macaroni Bake from the other night?  Crazy good comfort food!  And LOTS leftover- the recipe made a ton!  So what do you do with leftover mac and cheese like stuff?  Fry it, of course!

The only addition to the leftovers was a little bit of So Delicious Coconut Creamer to moisten the mixture a bit and some bread crumbs to roll the sausage macaroni balls in.  I chose olive oil for frying- you could use whatever oil you prefer.

I will be honest, I only took one bite of these (decadent). Mr. Meat and Potatoes ate a couple of them.  Quite good!

Fried Sausage Macaroni Bake

Leftover Sausage Macaroni Bake
Coconut Creamer (I used So Delicious Original)
Bread Crumbs
Oil for frying.

Add enough coconut creamer to the leftovers to moisten but not enough to make it runny.  Form macaroni mixture into balls in your hand and roll in breadcrumb.

Heat enough oil to cover a bottom of a skillet over medium high.  When the oil is hot carefully put the macaroni balls in the oil. Allow to brown and turn gently to ensure browning on all sides. Remove and place on a paper towel in order to soak up any residual oil.

Serve while still warm.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Beef" Wellington with Bourbon Sauce (Holiday Prep)

My Mom and I usually "split" the holidays.  Each year one does Thanksgiving dinner while the other does Christmas. This year, I got Christmas.  I actually like  Christmas a little better because Thanksgiving dinner feels just a little too "predetermined" to me.

I am already thinking about what to do for Christmas dinner. I want something that everyone will like and is elegant but not to overwhelmingly time consuming or difficult. While I normally don't mind lengthy or complicated recipes, I want to really be able to enjoy my family on Christmas and not have to spend all my time in the kitchen cooking.

This "Beef" Wellington was something that just sort of came to me one day.  I love Field Roast and we all know everything tastes better wrapped in puff pastry, right?  So I figure the two together would be pretty close to a Wellington. I did not do the duxelles that is traditionally done with a Wellington but if I am feeling ambitions at Christmas time, I may.

With the Wellington I made a bourbon sauce (that was great), some herbed smashed red bliss potatoes and a Brussels Sprout Casserole (that was awesome, too- recipe soon). It was a wonderful family meal that a vegan, a vegetarian and two omnivores enjoyed. I think this will be Christmas dinner this year!

Have you started to think about the holidays yet?  What will be on your table?

"Beef" Wellington with Bourbon Sauce

For the Wellington:
1 Field Roast Celebration Roast, thawed
1 package puff pastry, thawed

For the Bourbon Sauce:
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (I used Woodford Reserve but you can use a less expensive bourbon)
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
1/2 cup or more vegetable stock (you may want to adjust for desired consistency)
1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2-1 tsp Gravy Master (adjust for desired color)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut one sheet of puff pastry into fours.  Slice the field roast into four equal sized portions (I cut the rounded ends off and reserved them for another use).

Place one slice of Field Roast on each puff pastry section and pull the puff pastry together over the slices. I did this by pulling opposite corners in and attaching them to one another in the center.  Pinch to seal and place sealed side down on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining puff pastry and Field Roast slices.

Place in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

During the last five minutes or so of cooking prepare the sauce by heating the Earth Balance in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the bourbon,vegetable stock, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper.  Add the flour and whisk until smooth.  Add the gravy master until the desired color is reached. Continue to heat a few more minutes until sauce has reached the desired consistency.

When ready to serve, slice each Wellington in half and drizzle with sauce.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Sausage Macaroni Bake- Yes, It's Vegan!

Sunday was one of those "there is nothing in the house to eat" sort of days.  Instead of going grocery shopping I opted to spend the beautiful fall afternoon with my daughter and nephew at the skate park. They skate boarded and rode their Ripstiks to their little hearts content while I soaked up the sunshine and brisk air.  Clearly I made the right choice- it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

But that doesn't change the fact that there was not too much in the house. I took out some Gimme Lean Sausage to defrost before we went out thinking I will figure something out when I get home.

When it came time to make dinner I looked around for some inspiration and decided on some elbow macaroni, some vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream.  What I ended up with was a really flavorful dish that definitely falls into the comfort food category.

Its a simple meal for a weeknight- takes almost no prep at all.  Give it a try and let me know what you think; I am pretty sure you will like it!

Sausage Pasta Bake

1 lb elbow macaroni
1 package Light Life Gimme Lean breakfast sausage
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 8 oz package vegan cream cheese, softened (I used Tofutti brand)
10 oz vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Paprika for sprinkling (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil. When hot add the Gimme Lean sausage and break apart using a wooden spoon. Add the tomato paste.  Continue to cook until the sausage is nicely crumbled and warmed through.

Add the sausage, cream cheese, sour cream, garlic and onion powder and salt and pepper.  Stir to incorporate into the macaroni. Ideally, you will want to do this when the macaroni is still warm as it makes it easier to combine the ingredients well.

Pour into a lightly greased casserole dish and sprinkle the top with the panko breadcrumbs and, if desired, a little bit of paprika.

Bake at 340 for 40 minutes or until bubbly and warmed completely through.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vegan Care Package Swap

This is my first year participating in the Running With Tongs Care package swap.  I was paired up with the lovely Sam of Quantum Vegan and wow, I couldn't have asked for a better person to swap with!

The premise of the swap is to pick up some of your favorite vegan goodies and send them to the person you were paired up with. They do the same for you. Apparently this is the fourth year of this swap, I wish I had known about it earlier.

Sam and I have known one another via the blogospbere for a while- I am a reader of her blog often and we correspond on Twitter and Facebook, too. So, how neat that we were paired up to do this!

Sam sent me an awesome box of goodies filled with things I had never tried before.  And she was thoughtful enough to include many things that are locally produced in the area she lives.

Contained within the package was:

Lundburg Rice Chips (they were delicious)
Lundburg Wild Rice Blend (funny we each sent that to the other!)
Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
emmy's Dark Cacao Raw Vegan Macaroons (TO DIE FOR)
Primal Seitan Jerky (both mesquite lime and Thai Peanut)
Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix
Dried Pineapple and Mango (one of my favorite snacks)
Rad's Tea Party Soap (it smells WONDERFUL)

As good as everything listed above is... my favorite part? The beautiful, hand written note she included explaining why she chose the things she did and providing information about the products.  Just so thoughtful. Thank you so much Sam!  I really enjoyed your thoughtful choices and am glad to know you!

I am looking forward to next year's swap. This was just too much fun!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Mushroom Bruschetta

Recently a friend sent me a link to a mushroom bruschetta recipe that looked great, except that it called for fontina cheese.  I figured I would try my hand at something similar, vegan of course.

It turned out quite well and is omni husband approved.

I hope you enjoy!

Mushroom Bruschetta

5 oz assorted fresh mushrooms, rough chopped (I used shitake and baby bella)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 cup coconut milk coffee creamer (I used So Delicious brand)
1/4 vegan mozzarella shreds
Salt and pepper to taste
8 rounds crusty bread (I used a ciabatta)
Vegan parmesan for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, thyme, garlic and salt and pepper.  Saute until mushrooms release their liquid and are reduced by about half.  Set aside.

In another skillet heat the vegan butter and all purpose flour over medium heat until lightly browned and thickened.  Add the coconut milk coffee creamer and whisk until smooth.  Add the vegan mozzarella shreds and continue to whisk until melted and a thick sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the bread rounds on a baking sheet and heat in the oven for a few minutes until starting to toast.  Remove from the oven, top with the mushroom mixture and some of the melted cheese mixture.  Return to the oven for about five minutes until heated through.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with vegan parmesan before serving.