Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Chickpea Couscous Bowl

When I’m feeling down, I have a few go-to recipes.  Tonight it was my Black Bean Soup which I omitted the liquid on and just made black beans and rice.

The other night my husband chanted, “Couscous! Couscous!” when asked what he wanted. So I guess that meant I was making couscous!

I typically keep all of the ingredients on hand, so it’s almost always a “Sh*t I forgot to cook” meal.  But as a bonus, it has won over every single person who’s tried it.  It’s packed with fiber and protein, it fits into one bowl, it makes everyone happy, it’s cheap, it’s easy and best of all it’s comforting.

There are 3 key ingredients.

Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base, it’s my favorite bullion.  It literally tastes just like chicken.  And if you’re one of those vegans that says, “If you want to eat meat or have stuff taste like meat, then why did you become a vegan?” you can just find your way out. 🙂

Whole Wheat Couscous:

I’ve never seen this in the grocery store, but the whole wheat couscous in bulk at a health food store is cheaper than packaged couscous anyway, so why not?  If you’ve never worked with couscous – it’s easy.  Bring 1 1/2 cups water or broth to a boil (some fat optional), stir in 1 cup couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let it set for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork, and it’s done!  I love the stuff.

And last, but not least – Blurry TVP.  But regular TVP will work as well.  TVP is Texturized Vegetable Protein.  It’s what’s leftover from soy beans when the oil has been extracted.  It’s extremely inexpensive, versatile and LOADED with protein.  I don’t use it very often, but it’s perfect in this recipe.  Use equal parts water and TVP.

So those are the 3 basic ingredients.  From there I add a can or two of Garbanzo Beans, and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables.  When I have a little more time, I saute some onions and garlic first.    But that’s about it.

So here’s about how I do it.

In a small pot or saucepan, saute (optional)
1 large onion, minced
3-5 cloves garlic, minced 

1 cup water
Chickpeas – 1 or two cans, your choice
About 3 cups worth of bullion – in this case 3 Tbsp

When the chickpeas are desired tenderness, add some mixed vegetables (I usually use an entire small bag).  This time, mine had corn, carrots and asparagus in it this time, but usually I use the standard variety.

Return to a boil then add TVP and cook until liquid is completely absorbed.


Bring 1 1/2 cup “chicken” broth to a boil.  Add 1 cup couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Mix the two together.

Salt to taste and serve topped with plenty of fresh ground pepper, and some Earth Balance for a nice buttery flavor.

Baby Approved


Oatmeal topped with Apples

{cubed apples – sprinkled with cinnamon and microwaved for 2-3 minutes – over your favorite oatmeal, topped with soy milk}

baby approved

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[Vegan] Potato Soup

This recipe, is, by far – my husbands favorite soup.  I won’t tell you that he prefers it with ham, but it’s still his favorite without the ham.   I’m hesitant to even call it potato soup, really, because I typically put in more celery than potatoes because I love the taste of celery soup – but you don’t have to.  So for me, I should really call it celery soup.

A week ago, I posted instructions on making a Roux.  So if you’re not familiar with how to make one, please review that post first as it’s a very important part to making this soup.

Vegan Potato Soup

My omnivore husband’s top 5 vegan soups:

1. Potato Soup
2. Black Bean Soup 
3. Lentil Chili
4. French Lentil Soup
5. Scarborough Fair Soup 

In a soup pot, combine:
1/2 cup celery, chopped (use as much as you like, I end up using 2 cups)
1/2 cup onion, diced (Again, I use more-about a cup)
3 cups water
4 tsp No-Chicken Base – Better than Bullion (or equivalent to 4 cups in other chicken flavored vegetable bullion)

Simmer until celery and onion is tender then add
3 cups potatoes, diced

Once you’ve added in the potatoes, start your roux.

In a microwave, warm (for a couple of minutes – to take the chill off)
2 cups soy milk (if you use almond or rice, you may need to increase the the flour and butter)

In a separate sauce pan, melt, over medium heat
4 Tbsp Earth Balance or other butter

When melted, whisk in
5 Tbsp flour

By the time you’ve added the last of the flour, you’ll have a thick dry paste.    Slowly add in your warmed milk, about 1/2 cup at a time.     Wait before adding more milk until the previous addition has thickened.   By the time you’re done you should have a cake batter consistency.

Again, for instructions or troubleshooting on making the roux, check here.

Once the roux is done, and the potatoes are tender, pour the roux into the soup pot and add salt and pepper to taste.


Lentil Chili with Roasted Red Pepper and Black Olives

I actually have a number of other recipes that should be posted before this one, but this ended up being somewhat of a rare occassions when the sun and the moon and the stars and Jupiter and Mars all aligned, so it gets to jump the line.

Why?  Let me count the ways.  But first, have a gander.

Lentil Chili

So every week I make 1-2 “pot meals,” as I call them.  Basically something that makes a large portion of food that we eat for lunch the day I make it (usually) then we pack them away for lunches for the week.  We make two so we can alternate.

Well this week my husband and I recieved some significantly devastating news that we can’t even really talk about because there’s still 5 more months until the outcome is certain, and unfortunately even then it may be dragged out more…. but I digress.

The point is, our routine got knocked off kilter a bit by a wave of depression which was subsequently followed by take-out Chinese and Subway.  No pot meals were made, and over the weekend I (my husband doesn’t work on the weekends) ate off leftover chinese.

So here Sunday rolls around and I’m still wondering WTF I’m going to make for the week.  It’s really difficult for me to cook on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so I needed to figure out something – fast.

While I was looking for recipes, Kalyn posted one that sounded interesting for her Meatless Monday recipe.  But after reading the ingredients list I realized that I literally had all the ingredients on hand – which has never happened.   So this morning I made it and I didn’t change a thing other than I only had not-chicken bullion, so I used that rather than vegetable broth.

Everything about it is brilliant, and it hit number 3 on my omnivore husband’s favorite soup list.  It was easy, I was able to prep the cooking while the foster baby was noshing on some cheerios.

Lentil Chili

Incidentally, this recipe contains black olives – which yes, sounds odd, but turned out to be REALLY good and, in my opinion, essential – even though I’m not a huge black olive fan.

In a small amount of oil in a soup pot or dutch oven, sautee until brown
1 medium to large (I used large) onion, chopped finely

Once the onion browns a bit add in
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

And continue cooking for about a minute ore until the garlic is fragrant.    Once the garlic and onion are cooked, add in the spices:
2-3 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp (more or less depending on taste) Chipotle powder

Sautee the spices for about another minute or two until the spices are very fragrant.  You may need to add a smidge more oil, or about a Tablespoon of water to make sure the spices don’t burn.

From there, you’re going to add the bulk of the chili
1 cup brown/green lentils, rinsed and drained
1/4-1/2 red lentils, rinsed and drained
6 cups vegetable broth, or equivelant water/bullion (I used not-chicken bullion cause that’s all I had)

Bring the entire mix to a low boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are soft.  The time will depend on the age of the lentils, mine took about 45 minutes.    Now’s a good time to taste to adjust the spice or add salt if you want.

Once the lentils are tender, add in
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz (I used more) can black olives, drained and chopped
1-2 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onions

Continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes, or until the chili thickens.

Kalyn suggests serving with wedges of lime, but I did not test this suggestion yet.


Our Favorite Veggie Burger

Like many foods, veggie burgers vary wildly based on tastes.  This happens to be our favorite recipe, adapted from one that was shared with me by Katie at Shamrock Vegan.

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients.  Odds are the only two things that you don’t have in your kitchen are TVP and Vital Wheat Gluten for binding (optional).

We combine the dry team in Ziploc baggies (except the gluten) then just add the wet ingredients later on when we’re ready to make them.  My (omnivore) husband and our foster baby (12 months) both love the hell out of these burgers.  Oh, and if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, they just make a really cheap substitute, they’re worth trying!

veggie burger

In a bowl (or Ziploc bag if you’re wanting to save this for later), round up the dry team:
1 cup TVP
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 flour (any kind)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional)

If you’re going to make these now, go ahead and add the wet team:
2 Tbsp Ketchup
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp peanut butter, rounded (the spoon, not the peanut butter)
3/4 cup boiling water

Mix all the ingredients together and let set for 15-20 minutes while the TVP soaks up the water and seasoning.

Then kneed in
2 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten

Yes, kneed.  Just like you would have with meatloaf.  Only you’ll wanna do this a few minutes.  And you want it about the consistency of ground beef, so if it’s dry add a few Tablespoons of water.  Keep mixing this until the gluten is activated and starts pulling apart in strands.  There isn’t a ton of gluten, so don’t expect a lot, you just want to see it sticking together rather than crumbling apart.

Anyway, make patties and cook these bitches up!  You don’t want them too thick because you want them to cook all the way through and for the gluten to ‘set.’  But brown them up nicely, I cooked them on medium in the tiniest bit of oil for about 10-15 minutes per side.


French Lentil Soup

This easy, but flavorful soup, ranks number 3 in my husbands favorite soup recipes – which is nice, because it’s easy and as are most vegan soups – it’s cheap!   It doesn’t have a heck of a lot of veggies in it though, so be sure to serve it with a big salad!

French Lentil Soup

Nope,  it’s really not pretty.  AND, if you look at the ingredients, you’ll probably think to yourself, “Self, that doesn’t look very exciting,” and in a way your self might be right, it’s not exciting, but it IS loaded with a lot more flavor than you would expect thanks to the team players leek and vinegar.  Did I mention it’s pretty good for you too.

And, my husband (and his family) loved it, so it really is worth a shot.  Just don’t skip shit, ok?  They’re all important. 
In a bowl, cover
1 lb French green lentils
with boiling water (with the water at least an inch or two over the lentils) and let sit for 15 minutes – then drain

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot saute for 20 minutes or until onions are translucent:
4 cups chopped leeks (about 8) – white white and light green portion only
4 cups chopped onions 
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin

To the stockpot add and saute for an additional 10 minutes:
3 cups diced carrots
3 cups diced celery

Add to the pot,
3 Quarts Vegetable Broth (I used better-than-bullion brand No Chicken Base)
1/4 tomato paste
The soaked (and drained) lentils

Cover pot and bring to a boil, then continue simmering, uncovered, for 1 hour or until lentils are fully cooked.

When sufficiently cooked, add
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar or Red Wine

Serve hot and enjoy!

Curious what my (omnivore) husband’s top 5 soups are?

1. To be announced – This isn’t on my blog yet.  Soon!
2. Black Bean Soup
3. French Lentil Soup
4. Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup
5. Italian Vegetable Soup


Scarborough Fair White Bean Soup

At heart, I’m a hippie.  Well, maybe on the surface a little bit too.

So when I saw the title of this soup, I absolutely had to try it.  There was no choice.  It’s a very simple, very mild soup and it’s perfect the way it is.   I told my husband that it’s my future “sick” soup which I will make in place of chicken noodle.  For some reason making vegan chicken noodle soup has been a little bit on the difficult side.

I just can’t find any vegan chickens.  (My husband rolled his eyes at this joke)

If you’re not familiar with Scarborough Fair, listen:

While listening, eat:

Scarborough Fair Soup

In a small amount ofolive oil OR water, saute until onion is translucent:
1 small onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced  Another vegetable you may want to add is zucchini, but you wouldn’t add this till near the end.  I wouldn’t suggest any vegetable that has a very strong flavor.

Add to the vegetable mixture,
6 cups vegetable or chicken flavored broth (I use Better Than Bullion No Chicken)
1/3 cup tomato paste

Cook until celery is tender and add,
1/2 – 3/4 cup pearled barley
1/2 tsp each – dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
salt and pepper to taste 

Continue cooking for about 30 minutes, or until barley is puffed up and tender

When barley is done, add in
1 can white beans 

If you want zucchini, now’s the time to add it.  Continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so.


Have I mentioned that I still can’t bake anything because we’re on our third stove and the oven still doesn’t work properly?  Not sure why my landlord thinks that it’s cheaper to buy multiple used stoves rather than do it right the first time.


Apple Pie Oatmeal (crockpot)

I’m alive!  I swear!

It’s been pretty hectic around here.

Sudden foster son (baby!) + the legal and other crap associated with it + asshole family drama + school + emergency move + work and the rest of life = Quite a bit of heck.  Thankfully my husband gives such incredible support.

Anyway, I don’t have photos cause I still don’t know where my gosh darned camera is – STILL.  I kept not posting with the hopes that it will pop up, but frankly, it’s in one of dozens of still sealed boxes that are pretty low on my concerns list right now.

So for the time being, you’re just going to have to visit the source.  This was absolutely brilliant and delicious.  The only change I would make to the original recipe is to remove the skins because I was sharing with a 10 month old that only has 2.5 teeth.  I had some pretty wicked tough, sour apples, so I did cook it a little longer than she suggested, but I don’t recommend doing it.  I wished they had a little more bite.

Oh, and I might add some toasted pecans or walnuts…

Rest assured the husband figure loved this, and the baby figure was very very angry that I wasn’t feeding it to him fast enough, and he made very yummy noises, so I’m guessing he loved it too.

Pics and original recipe at Kalyns Kitchen.

  • Peel, core and chop (roughly, in various sizes) 2-3 Granny Smiths (Apples. Not actual grandmothers please.)
  • Add them to a lined  or non stick sprayed crock pot.  (I used a 4 quart, Kalyn used 2.5, so use what you’ve got)
  • Add in 2-3 Tbsp sugar or equivalent of Stevia or Splenda (you can add more later if you want it sweeter), 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon or apple pie spice, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3-3 1/2 cups water. 
  • Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes on high.
  • Stir in 1.5 cups rolled oats and cook for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, depending on how you like your oatmeal.
My first taste of this I wasn’t so terribly sold on it, but I let it sit for another couple of hours before we ate it and it was even better, topped with some soy milk… mmmmmm!
Enjoy. 🙂  We’re making it again on this Sunday, it was easy and quick enough I was able to do it while the baby ate his snack puffs.


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Gardeners Pie

If I were a Shepherd, I wouldn’t eat my sheep.  So I guess in a way, this could still be called Shepherds pie.  Maybe it should be called Shepherds-that-love-their-flock pie.   My husband keeps calling it Gardeners Pie though, so I think that’s what we shall call it from now on.  Side note, as a child I never really thought about it – but Jesus is always referred to as a Shepherd.

Does that mean that Jesus sheared, skinned and ate his disciples after making sure they loved and trusted him?  Hmm, I think my husbands story makes a little bit more sense now.

Gardeners PieI’ve been afraid to try this because I wasn’t so sure how the Boca crumbles would taste in it, but we were both pleasantly surprised.   He couldn’t even tell it was vegan (he’s an omnivore) and was solidly sure that we could trick people with it.   I’m actually really looking forward to making it again, and next time I will definitely make a double batch.

This recipe is based on a combination of the America’s Test Kitchen and the Joy of Cooking recipe for standard Shepherds pie.  With the addition of peas and corn. 🙂

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you how to mash potatoes.    If I do, odds are you shouldn’t be cooking.    And if you shouldn’t be cooking, why are you looking at my blog?  Go away.

No, really.

Mash some potatoes.  We used about 4 medium potatoes mixed with Earth Balance and Tofutti Sour Cream.  You could also use Soy Milk.  Add your salt, pepper – the whole shibang. Or would that be shabang? Hmm.

Preheat ye old oven.  400 degrees-ish.  (We’re not baking anything but sarcasm today)  Skip this step if you’re going to be putting it away to cook the next day.  Duh.

In a standard frying pan, in oil saute until carrots are slightly tender
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced

When the carrots are slightly tender, stir in
1 package of frozen Boca Crumbles (or your favorite meatless crumbles)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cook until ze crumbles are no longer frozen, then make a small section in the middle of the frying pan and melt about a tablespoon of Earth Balance (or other margarine) or some oil and mix in a tablespoon of all purpose flour to make a paste.

Slowly whisk in
3/4 cup  vegetable or un-chicken broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste or Ketchup (shhh)
2-3 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
(Ahem, you can also use A1, it covers both-ish)
pinch dried thyme (do not confuse this with time – it would be most difficult to collect)

Simmer the mixture until sauce has reduced slightly and the entire mixture is nice and thick.  Then add in
1/2 cup of peas
     1/2 can corn

Cook until peas are cooked, taste and add salt and pepper as needed

Place in a square 8×8 baking dish.  Or something else that will contain the mixture topped with potatoes.  Come on people, you know what to do with this!!

Oh, and bake it.  400 for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are browned – or not.  Clearly we did not wait that long.

If you want, cover it with aluminum foil and refrigerate.  Cook it tomorrow, but put it in a cold oven and heat it up to 325 for about 20 minutes, THEN raise the temperature.


Corn Chowder


Mmmmm, soup.  Seriously, sorry about being MIA.  Between taking care of a baby, and losing (then subsequently finding) my camera, and starting school, it seems as though a lot of my life has been put on the back burner.  Vegan corn chowder

Since we’ve had a little visitor, I’ve been relying on my comfort foods – soup.  In the rare moments that we’ve found time to feed ourselves, at least soup is ready to just be heated up and easy to pack for work.   I know it’s hot, but I just don’t care.  I love soup, and I love how easy it is to make and pack.  You’re going to be seeing a lot of it from me for a bit, while I adjust.

Since going vegan, there’s one particular soup that my husband misses the most.  It’s one that my family has loved for years and I’ve made probably a hundred times.  Um, by the way it’s not corn chowder.  It was ham and potato soup.  Corn chowder would have been less embarassing.

Anyway, I’ve been less than eager to attempt it since I had no clue how it would turn out when using non-dairy milk.  Anywho, the other day, the stars aligned and I had all the ingredients for the potato soup (minus the ham, cause I didn’t want to waste perfectly good fake ham on a soup that was a bust)… or so I thought.

So I started to make the soup, but then realized I was missing my favorite ingredient – celery.  It sounds silly, but I really really like cream of celery soup, and I love the way celery tastes in potato soup.  I couldn’t make celery and potato soup without celery, so I decided to search around to see if I had anything else that I might use in place of celery – and I did.  A can of creamed corn.  So… I tried Corn Chowder for the first time ever, and the result was a yummy, slightly sweet, tummy warming soup.

This didn’t win the hubby figure over, but he doesn’t like creamed corn, so it wasn’t because of a bad soup as much as his particular taste.

In your standard soup pot combine
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups water
1 Tbsp not-chicken Bullion (I use Better Than Bullion brand)

Bring to a boil and cook until onions are tender.   Then add in and cook
About 3-4 cups of diced potatoes
1 Tbsp pepper, or to taste
1 tsp salt, or to taste 

Meanwhile make a roux.  In a separate small saucepan melt
3 Tbsp vegan margarine
then whisk in
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
When a paste is formed, slowly stir in
2 cups soy milk (If you want a sweeter soup, use original or you could use almond milk.  Otherwise, use unsweetened soy milk)

The goal is to have thickened soy milk, but since soy milk doesn’t react the same way that milk does, I found myself letting it cook for a tid bit until thickened afterwards instead of relying on the same roux methods I’d been using with standard milk.   I also could have just been in a rush.

To make a standard roux you do need a little bit of patience.  Each batch of milk should start thickening before adding the next bit.  But whatever.  Do what you gotta do.

When the potatoes are tender, add in
1 Can creamed corn

When the roux has thickened a bit, add it into the potato and corn mixture.  Enjoy!


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