Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Basic Stir Fry

Even though I’ve made Asian inspired foods a few times now, they’re still intimidating to me.  Until I made this, I didn’t feel comfortable just “throwing some stuff together.”    But making this stir fry made me realize that I have everything I need to make a good stir fry.   And it doesn’t mean having a Wok – although that would help – OR a lot of oil, if you don’t want to use it.

Stir Fry

Since stir fry should be an easy to make meal, I’m going to post this as ingredient suggestions rather than an actual recipe, with very simple instructions because frankly that’s what I wish I had when I first started.

First let me tell you what I think are essential ingredients for flavor:

Soy Sauce

That’s it!  That’s all that’s actually essential.  That is the basic, but you’re not going to get a very complex flavor from it and will probably feel like something is missing.  So from there you can add:

Honey or Brown Sugar – if you tend to like sweeter stir-fry’s
Broth – if you like it saucy (yeah, baby!)
Sesame oil – Yum!  Highly recommended – to me this is essential
Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar – Essential in our house
Crushed Red Pepper
Sriracha Chili Sauce –
Also essential in our house
Corn Starch slurry – if you want a thicker sauce
Sweet Chili Sauce – Also essential in our house

Ok now, for the veggies –
If you’ve eaten Chinese food, you probably know which vegetables you like, but the idea is to simply chop them up about the same size.     But here are some suggestions:

Sweet bell peppers
Snow Peas
Sugar Snap Peas
Bok Choy
Green Beans
Bamboo Shoots
Baby Corn
Mung Bean Sprouts

Do you notice that I did not include water chestnuts?  Those things are a freaking abomination!

So, what to do?   I’m going to make this easy.

Heat your wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat, add some oil – peanut is suggested, but I always use olive (I use about a Tbsp for 4 servings, then steam the rest).  Add the onion for about 30 – 60 seconds, then add the rest of the vegetables and cook until desired tenderness.    I sautee briefly then add a few tablespoons of water and cover for a few minutes.   

While it’s cooking, make your sauce mix.  For example what we made was APPROX:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
Some bullion (I don’t freaking know how much!)
2-3 Tbsp water
lots of garlic! About 5-7 cloves
2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil

When the veggies are almost desired tenderness – which is usually in the tender crisp range, pour the mixture over it and cook for a few more minutes, being sure to toss to coat. 

Top with tofu if you want and serve over steaming brown rice. 🙂  Nom.


Tofu Rice Casserole

First, let me tell you that as an omnivore, I was never really a fan of the standard chicken and rice casseroles.  They just always seemed to lack any kind of depth and just tasted like… well, cream of mushroom soup. 

However, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll notice a common theme – I love one pot meals.  I just do, and I always will.   As this recipe stands, it’s not a one pot meal, exactly – still need some veggies to go with it, but next time I make it I will probably add broccoli and cauliflower and make it a one pot meal.  We shall see!

This won my omnivore husband over, even though we were both extremely skeptical.  He had seconds and was eager to take leftovers to work – which, as it turns out, reheat well.

Um, about the picture… have you ever known a casserole that looked good? 

Oh, and by the way.  Don’t skip the curry powder.  And don’t give me any of that “I just don’t like curry” bull.  This isn’t a curry, the curry is just in there for a bit of flavor.    The original recipe had 1 cup of Nutritional Yeast in it, so you could add more if you wanted to.

Tofu Rice Casserole

One of the important things about this is to use extra firm or super firm tofu.  In retrospect, I might have marinaded the tofu maybe in some not-chicken broth or something along those lines, but it was still really great the way it was.

This is now a “favorite.”

Prepare 1 cup of rice however you do it.  White or brown will do the trick, I’m not giving a rice cooking lesson here, people – figure it out.  You should end up with about 3 cups cooked.

Meanwhile in a large pot or pan, saute – cook until onions are translucent or browned
1 large onion, chopped
8 to 16 ounces of mushrooms, sliced – depending on how much you love mushrooms
5 cloves garlic, minced

When cooked, add
1 Tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan margarine or oil
3-4 Tbsp flour

Whisk flour into melted butter until mixture becomes a paste.  If it’s too dry, add more butter or oil then whisk in
1 cup not-chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups non-dairy milk, (I used soy)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 package tofu, cubed – extra firm or super firm – pressed or vacuum packed
salt and pepper to taste 

Continue cooking on low heat until sauce thickens then add whatever vegetables you would like such as a bag of frozen cauliflower and broccoli (thawed, of course) or spinach.   I used fresh spinach in the picture above, but next time will be using broccoli and cauliflower combined.

Pour mixture into a greased (I “buttered” it) 9×13 baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes covered, and 10 minutes uncovered.

Without the tofu this would also make a great side dish.

1/15 update: Made this again using made-ahead brown rice, and 2 bags thawed broccoli with an additional 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup broth and just barely had enough to fit into the pan, but it fit and it was absolutely perfect. 

I will only be using broccoli from now on.


Tofu Potless Pie

I must admit.  This was a super lazy recipe, it was very easy and I used shortcuts whenever possible.  For veggies I just used frozen mixed vegetables, because – well – did I mention it’s a lazy recipe?

Um, as for the biscuits. Take my advice and find your own way, or stuff them in a vegan pie shell if you’re lucky enough to have them about (or have the patience to make one, I didn’t).

Crackers ended up being perfect after I wasted my time ruining biscuits in my stupid, stupid oven.

tofu pot pie


Prior to cooking, marinade 1 lb super firm tofu (pressed, of course – I use a non water-packed brand )  in 3 Tbsp soy sauce

In a large covered saute pan or in a pot, cook
1 large onion, chopped – until translucent

Add in and cook
Marinaded tofu
1-3 potatoes, cubed
1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables

2 cups water
1-2 Tbsp chicken flavored vegetable bullion (I use Better than Bullion brand)
1/2 tsp both thyme and sage OR poultry seasoning powder

Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast or until thickened


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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.


Omnomnomagon and Chickpea Salad Sandwich Filling


The Omnomnomagon is after my Chickpea Salad Sandwich Filling.  Unfortunately, he was too late.  There may or may not have been some casualties. 

So I must say, I have to thank Postmarked Heart for the inspiration to finally try this, but I didn’t follow her recipe.  I wasn’t exactly trying to mimic tuna salad as much as just enjoy something on it’s own…

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical about this – thinking that it would just taste like hummus with mayo and other things mixed in.  But, I was instantly sold.  Not only is it incredibly inexpensive to make, it’s super tasty and healthy to boot.  Yes, I said “to boot.”  Got a problem with it?

I found myself eating it right out of the bowl I made it in, but you could use in however you’d use chicken or tuna salad.  On crackers, in a pita pocket (my favorite), or stuffed in a tomato.  If you want to put in on a sandwich, I highly suggest mashing up the chickpeas a lot more than I did.  Otherwise, you will be picking chickpeas off your boobs.  Yep, I did.

In a bowl, bucket or hat, smoosh to your desired smooshiness
1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained (don’t suggest rinsing)

Then mix in
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 Tbsp Veganaise, or your favorite mayo
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried dill weed
salt and pepper to taste


It really does taste even better after it’s chilled and marinaded for a while, but I nommed on it right away…

While this did pass the test of 3 male omnivore coworkers, the husband figure needed a little more convincing.  We shall try again, I think we’ll try the old bay next time. 🙂


Chickpeas and Quinoa

My two favorite things.  Quinoa is a very recent ingredient for me, but turns out it’s the perfect grain for this dish… or for any dish, for that matter. Incidentally, if you used brown rice instead of quinoa, a double batch of this recipe costs less $5, even with canned chickpeas.

I will say though, that my coworkers have remarked that quinoa looks like everything from sperm to fish eyes.  Mmmm… fish sperm eyes?

Anyway, because this dish is so freaking easy, I decided to show you just how easy it is in pictures.  To find the recipe, you’ll have to go HERE.

But for now… just enjoy how easy this recipe really is.  Don’t be lazy, just try it!

Onions, duh!

Spices in an oil pool.

Spice Paste


Cawwots. I was lazy, they were pre-match sticked. I didn't feel like peeling and chopping

Stir and cook

Add zee chickpeas

Pretend there is a pretty picture of nicely chopped of Zucchini here.  That’s important, and somehow I forgot it!


Class dismissed.


White Vegan Pizza

Have I mentioned that I sincerely believe that Pizza is a food group?

Don’t let the broccoli scare you away.   Don’t believe me?   Just listen to my husband, he’ll tell you it was good!  Just gotta find him first… hmm, where’d he go?

No seriously, this was NOT another Ranch Dressing Failure.

white pizza

As I posted before, we were brain washed at a very young age by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And no, I’m not going to link to them.  If you don’t know who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, you are dead to me.

Seriously though, who was the genius that brainwashed kids, that were already scarfing down sugary cereal while sitting in front of a TV, to be forever completely in romantic love with a dense layer of carbs topped with tons of bubbly shredded milkfat and chopped unidentifiable animal parts.

Le sigh… yep, I still miss it.  No way around it.

Anyway, after making the Tofu Ricotta O’ Doom recipe,  I came up with the idea for this pizza which is LOADED which vegetables and contains no faux cheese other than the Ricotta recipe.  I contemplated adding tempeh but realized it’s already loaded with tofu, so it seemed kind of redundant.

Since pizza is almost always simply made to taste, this is an approximation of the ingredients we used to give you an idea of how to get this super filling, scrum-dilly-umptious pizza in your own home.

Oh, before I start – we use Mama Mary’s  Ultra Thin Crust.  It crisps up, and isn’t 93234234526623 carbs per serving.  But, a downside is that we do need to pre-cook many of the ingredients prior to topping, because it cooks in about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven according to preferred crust instructions.  *If using a thicker crust but still like a bit of a crisp, try putting the pizza pan or upside down cookie sheet in the oven to preheat while preparing the rest, then simply slide the pizza onto it.

Heat a frying pan to medium and add
     2 Tsp Earth Balance
     1 medium onion, chopped (we always use red)
     pinch of salt , being careful to put on the oven and not in the pan itself

Cook until onion until slightly translucent and add
     5-7 mushrooms, sliced (we used baby bellas)

and Continue cooking until slightly browned

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, combine
     1/2 Riccotta O’ Doom recipe
     1/2 bag cooked frozen broccoli, chopped into desired size (or fresh of course)
     4-5 cloves garlic, minced
     2-3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
     Salt or Herbamare (preferred) to taste (about 1-2 tsp)
     Fresh Ground pepper to taste
     pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
     drizzle of olive oil

When mushroom and onion mixture is finished cooking, add to Ricotta and Broccoli Mixture and top pizza.   Cook following crust package instructions, but keep in mind that due to the large number of toppings it may take a bit longer to cook.  The Ricotta mixture will start to brown just a little, but won’t turn golden brown.

Just use your crust as a guide.

white pizza


Chili Mac with Kale

It boggles my mind how food – when cooked by another party – is ALWAYS so much more scrumptious than if you were to cook it yourself.  I love it when my husband cooks, it really makes me happy and gives me a much needed break.

chili mac kaleYou know another thing I love?  Easy recipes.  You know – the ones that take less than 30 minutes and less than 3,000 steps.   This is one of those recipes.

Thanks to Susan from FatFreeVegan for posting this recipe.

Many people do not follow a low-fat diet, and I don’t as much as Susan does, but I have to eat fairly low fat because my gallbladder hates me.  And, since my husband and I work full time and have obligations outside of work as well – ease is of utmost importance.   I will be going back to school in just a few weeks, so being the amazing husband that he is – he’s promised to cook more to help out.

In a medium soup pot, cook
     2 cups elbow macaroni until al dente 

Drain pasta and set aside.  In the same pot, add a small amount of
     olive oil
and saute
     1 medium to large onion, chopped – until translucent
3 cloves garlic, minced
and cook until fragrant

When onion and garlic is cooked, add in cooked pasta and
     1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
     1 1/2 cups water
1 can corn, drained
4 tsp Chili Powder (not chili pepper)
     1 Tbsp chipotle Tabasco or 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper
     1 16 ounce can pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or, 1 can chili beans with sauce)
     4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
     5 cups kale, thinly sliced (or one bunch)
     salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Feel free to add some additional heat as desired.

It doesn’t get easier than that!


Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Did you know it’s pronounced Key-Nwah, not Kwinowa.

I am especially blonde sometimes. And not just, “Tee-Hee I’m a ditz” moments, but full fledged “I’ve somehow managed to put my shoe on my head and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why my husband is looking at me like I am an alien with 30 heads. Doesn’t it belong there?”  I’m so blonde that the family has coined the phrase “Izzy-isms” which refer to a method of speech that’s so special it’s reserved only for those who can flunk pre-school (I didn’t really), or says things as ridiculous as, “I’m as confused as a blind cat.” (I did.)

When I’m not galavanting around in a straight jacket, I like to spend my free time making up words without realizing it – like Sabobo (for swiss cheese?  Really??), or twisting words within a sentence such as, “Your cold is nose.”

So it really came as no surprise to me when nobody knew what I was looking for the first time I asked for this Kwinowa product.  Either that, or they played dumb just to see me squirm.  Silly wanna be hippy girl.  I clearly was NOT cool enough.

Since I’m high and mighty enough now, it’s KEENWA PEOPLE, GET IT RIGHT.  GEEZE!


Hubby found the original recipe, conveniently located on the back of the Quinoa box.  This is the Izzy-fied version and the he was sweet enough to make for me.  Yes, HE made.    I wanted to eat the whole darned batch.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, saute
     1/2 medium onion, chopped
     1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced (or about half a standard container)
     1 Tbsp vegan margerine or butter

When onion is translucent and mushrooms are browned,  stir in
     1 can diced tomatoes, drained – juice reserved
     2 cloves garlic, minced
     1/2 cup salsa
     1/2 can garbanzo beans or about 1 cup, drained and rinsed
     1/2 cup matchstick carrots (optional)
Simmer over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.  Use reserved juice to add moisture if mixture becomes too dry or begins to burn while cooking.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add
     1/2 cup Quinoa (rinsed and strained)
     1 cup water
     1 tsp un-chicken or vegetable bullion
Bring to a boil then reduce to a low and cover.   Let it simmer, stirring occasionally until all liquid is absorbed (about 8-12 minutes).

When done, the grain appears soft and translucent and the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain.

When quinoa and vegetable mixture are cooked, combine and stuff into
      4 large or 6 medium seeded green peppers

Place peppers in baking dish with remaining tomato juice or about 2-3 Tbsp water and bake, covered, for 40-45 minutes or until desired pepper doneness.


Spinach Tofu Manicotti

My husband and I are so ridiculously thrilled by how this recipe turned out.   I don’t really know why I said optional on any of the ingredients, since the whole darned thing is one big optional recipe.  Just don’t skip the ricotta, shells or sauce.  I think you’d have a pretty difficult time still making stuffed manicotti.  If you somehow succeed without the use of shells, ricotta or sauce, please let us know.  That would be pretty darned nifty!

Spinach Tofu Manicotti

Jason, if you see this picture - I don't mean to suck at food photography, it just comes naturally!

If you’re new to my blog, be aware that my husband is an omnivore and my taste tester.  He still eats meat and dairy, so don’t try to pull the ‘oh, well you’re vegan you probably don’t even remember what cheese tastes like’ card.  I won’t say this tastes exactly like ricotta, really good ricotta has a very special level of awesomeness to it.  But, I will tell you that my husband (who isn’t Italian) couldn’t tell the difference and scarfed the hell out of it and I’d probably bet if the person wasn’t Italian, or a chef, they wouldn’t be able to either.

I happily report he also was eager to take it to work to nom on.  Can’t wait to make lasagna with this!

Also, the serving size on the box said 3 shells.  We were stuffed after 2, so keep that in mind.

Place a generous layer of tomato sauce in bottom of baking dish.

Mix together
     1 ricotta recipe
     1 package spinach (optional)
     1 cup non-dairy mozzarella (if using vegan gourmet, might want to process this-not shred) (reserve some for topping)
     Italian seasonings
     Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
Additional garlic powder  to taste (optional)
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional) 

Place half of mixture into a Ziploc or paper pastry bag.  Cut the corner of the Ziploc bag (or tip if using a pastry bag)… small enough to still fit inside the manicotti shells, but large enough to allow ingredients through.

Squeeze entire mixture, in 2 batches, into
      1 Box manicotti shells

Top with
     more than enough tomato sauce (not optional – didn’t you see what I said earlier??)
about 1/4 a cup of water to mix into the sauce (unless you precooked the shells)
and bake, covered, at 375 for 1 hour.
After baking, remove aluminum foil and top with
     reserved cheese (optional)

Continue baking, uncovered, until cheese gets as melty like as non dairy cheese can get.

This new recipe format was inspired by seeing this post on  It reminded me a lot of the format in the Joy of Cooking which somehow one day I simply forgot I loved.  I’m not sure how I forgot other than the fact that I haven’t opened one of my old cookbooks (yet) since the day I went vegetarian and vegan.  I will, one day.  But for now, I’m learning mostly new things.  Anyway, you can see the format of the Joy of Cooking on Google Books and you’ll see why I like it.  Sadly, I’m not creative enough to come up with it on my own and not only needed the inspiration, but also the reminding.

I’m lame like that.


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