Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Pesto and White Bean Pasta – Meal Idea

I do not have a pesto recipe, I actually happened upon a jar of vegan pesto that was on clearance at my local mega-mart for $1.29 (originally $8.99), so I snatched it up.   I actually held on to it for a while, because I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it.  I can’t just eat a plate of pasta without some sort of protein.  Finally I found a recipe for white beans in pesto, so I figured we’d give it a shot.  It was a winner.  Unfortunately my pesto to pasta ratio was a little low because I didn’t listen to my husbands suggestion, so I would suggest 10 ounces of pasta to a 6 ounce jar of pesto.

Did I mention my awesometastic husband made this? ❤  And it was both husband and toddler approved.

Pesto with White Bean and sun dried tomatoes

Most pesto’s contain cheese, so be sure to read the ingredients!

While the pasta is cooking (or rather the water for the pasta is heating)…

In a warmed non-stick frying pan drizzle a small amount of the oil from a jar of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (optional, you can use olive oil of course).
When the oil is shimmering, add
1 medium onion, minced

Whilst the onion is cooking, slice about
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes and add to the pan 

Sautee until onions are translucent.  Add:
3-5 minced garlic cloves
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 

Stir spinach in the pan briefly, then cover until wilted – about a minute or two.

When the spinach is wilted, and pasta is drained, mix them all together along with ze jar of pesto.



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.


Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheeze



I know this would appeal to someone.  And it really was semi edible for me, but for some reason when Nutritional Yeast goes over a certain level of volume, it suddenly becomes unappealing to me and I have no idea why.  In any event this is a recipe that is somewhere between the Butternut Squash Mac N Cheeze and FatFreeVegan’s Easy Macaroni and Cheeze.


So if you like the standard vegan Macaroni and Cheeze recipes, you may want to try adding a smidge of roasted butternut squash. :)’

Recently, I learned that my favorite use for Nutritional Yeast is on potatoes…. 🙂  Yum!



Leave a comment »

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.


Rotini and Cashew Cream Sauce

While I’m hesitant to call this macaroni and cheese, that’s essentially what it is – but in the vegan world.

Macaroni and Cheeze

I’ve been vegan for 4 months now, and two other times I tried mac n cheeze.  The first time contained mustard, which was so unappealing that even my dogs wouldn’t touch it.  The second time was a boxed version, and I couldn’t get past the grittiness of the flour which was what made it thicken.

So this, this was my third attempt.   I found this particular version thanks to Angela at who found the original recipe at Epicurean Vegan.

So before I continue, rest assured that this past the Omnivore husband test, but it was easier to accept as a cashew CREAM sauce rather than a “Macaroni and Cheese.”

Since I’m not quite sure how she feels about other people publishing her recipes, I’ll ask you to visit her site for THE RECIPE.  When I have adjusted the recipe to our tastes (we used Almond milk and the combination between the light miso, cashews and almond milk made it rather sweet).

But, for some information on it, it features – raw cashews, miso, lemon, a handful of other ingredients and of course lots and lots of noosh.  This recipe would also be fantastic over vegetables.  Clearly, you can use whatever pasta you enjoy, my husband noted that with more garlic it would have been similar to alfredo.

Also…  I have just purchased Quinoa for the first time.  I’ve never tasted it, cooked it, and barely ever seen it…  soo…

[UPDATE:  While the re-heated version of this wasn’t as PRETTY, we decided it tasted better reheated.  We also decided that it turned out pretty sweet, so next time we’re going to try to make this into more of an alfredo with more garlic, etc.  Also, this shits addicting!!]

Does anyone have a favorite quinoa recipe that they would like to share for me to review?


Black Bean and Couscous Salad

This colorful salad is refreshing and packed with protein and vegetables.  It’s equally delicious served chilled or at room temperature.  If you like cilantro, this is a must.

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while, and I wish I’d tried it sooner as it turned out to be a big hit with the hubby.  At first we both viewed the result of the recipe with concern, even suspicion.  All the worries were put to bed after the first bite of this salad.  All the ingredients came together to form a refreshing light salad. This would work well as part of a picnic or at a family dinner.

  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (or water and bullion)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped (I used red)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup canned corn kernels, drained
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained
  • dash ground mustard (optional)
  • salt and pepper to tasteWhile chopping vegetables, bring 1 1/4 cups broth to a boil and stir in 1 cup couscous.  Cover and remove from heat.In a large bowl,  mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and dash of ground mustard.Fluff ze couscous with a fork then mix in remaining ingredients and serve immediately or chilled.
1 Comment »

Vegan Lo Mein with Tofu

I think I must have been Asian in a past life.  I’m addicted to anything that even remotely has any Asian flare to it.  Some days I feel like I could drink soy sauce straight out of the bottle.  Prior to going Vegetarian/Vegan, when ordering American-Chinese there were usually three things I ordered.

Tofu Lo Mein

One of my top choices was Lo Mein.  When I became a Vegetarian/Vegan I was thrilled to know think that Vegetable Lo Mein could at least still be an option.

Much to my chagrin,  Lo Mein noodles are generally NOT vegan.   Hey, it’s only been 3 months, I’m still learning!

Thankfully, Susan at the Fat Free Vegan posted a recipe for Baked Spring Rolls and Low Fat Lo Mein which inspired me to make some Lo Mein of my own.  With a few changes, and a little bit of oil (but not much), I whipped up some super easy Lo Mein with ingredients I could find in any grocery store.

Did I mention I don’t own a Wok?  For shame.

I wanted to make the recipe as easy as possible, and in some ways complicated it for myself.    So for the sake of ease, if you don’t have a Wok, use a covered fry pan (or a shallow soup pot, I won’t tell – just have a lid).

First, get your Tofu ready.   Do whatever you like to do to press it.  I have yet to join the tofu express crowd, so I still use the paper towel and heavy stuff method.

1 Block extra firm tofu, sliced and pressed

For the Marinade (double this now to use as your sauce for the Lo Mein and save some time later):
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp brown sugar (or regular, if you don’t have any)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (I used seasoned)
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp minced ginger (I used paste)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
Chili Sauce to taste (I used Sriracha)

optional – sliced onions

Place all ingredients in a bowl, plate, or bag – mix and marinade the tofu for AT LEAST one hour.  I mean it!   If you marinade it longer, be sure to chop it up into the lo mein because it will be especially salty. 🙂

After it’s marinaded, bake at 400 degrees for 20-45 minutes, turning halfway through) depending on how chewy you like your tofu.  You could fry it as well to give it a nice crust.  I typically opt for baking.

While your tofu is marinading or baking, start some water boiling and move on to the next stage.

1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti noodles.  I used fettuccine and slightly regret it, but not overly so.
1/2 – 1 bag of coleslaw mix, depending on how much you like veggies (hey, I’m lazy – sue me!)
1-2 carrots, cut into matchsticks – I cheated and used pre-matchsticked (is that a word?) carrots
1 container sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
2 cups (or 1 container) bean sprouts
1 cup chopped scallions
2 cloves garlic, minced
optional – sliced onions, but this would make it take a little longer

Cook the pasta, al dente – rinse and set aside.

Coat pan in a thin layer of oil.  You don’t need much, unless you opted for onion.  Heat over medium heat.  If you opted for the onion, cook it now by itself until translucent.  Either way,  then cook the garlic, just for about 30 seconds until fragrant.

Next, throw all but the bean sprouts in, and stir it around a bit.  Once the pan has seemed to dry out (about 3 minutes or so), throw in the bean sprouts about 2-3 Tbsp of water in, and put the lid on.  The goal is to steam everything the rest of the way.

Stir occasionally, but you’re done when everything is crisp tender.  Won’t take but a few more minutes.

Dump spaghetti in the pan (See where having a soup pot might be handy here?  And to think you doubted me), and pour the extra Marinade you made over it, stir around and then serve.

To be honest, I used the leftover marinade from my tofu…. oops!  Almost forgot the tofu.  Ahem, yes.  Top with said tofu, and nom away.


%d bloggers like this: