Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Tofu and Dumplings

I can’t properly express how thrilled I am about this recipe, for a couple of reasons.

1. I’ve never made dumplings before.  And somehow they turned out perfect.  This was a virgin voyage and it turned out great the first time around.  Veganized and slightly adjusted the taste of my inspiration from The Apron Archives.  My pictures look wintery, hers are much much warmer.  I’ll fix the color on my camera soon, I swear……..

Dumplings

2. After making this, my omnivore husband confessed to me that he never has liked dumplings, but he wasn’t going to tell me until after he tried mine (I love him so much for putting up with my experiments).

Dumplings

3. Found a new favorite.

Tofu and Dumplings

4. Ultimate comfort food.

In a jar

5.  Re-heats well in my jar of holding.

Dumplings of Awesomeness

6.  Fluffy fluffy fluffy dumplings of awesomeness.

This replaces my Potless Pot Pie on the favorites list.

Ok, so make no mistake this isn’t the most healthy of recipes.  I used standard Bisquick for simplicity, and a good amount of butter.  But, it’s worth it.  I’ve never made dumplings before, so I did a considerable amount of research before attempting this – and the trick is to do it thusly:

1. Mix the dough VERY little.  You may still see bits of unmixed flour.
2. Let it rest a few minutes before plopping it.
3.  After dropping the dumplings into simmering liquid, COVER AND COOK FOR 15 MINUTES WITHOUT REMOVING THE COVER.

And number 3 is the most important part.  I wish I’d taken a picture of the dumplings prior to cooking – these babies tripled in size!

In a stock pot, soup pot or dutch oven (what I used), melt
4-5 Tbsp Earth Balance or Vegan butter

and Sautee until browned
1 large onion, chopped 

When the onion is browned, whisk in
6 Tbsp flour
until a paste is formed. If it’s too dry to make a paste, add a bit more Earth Balance or a drizzle of water.

Typically you’d need to add liquid in slowly, but this sauce thickens as it cooks and more as it cooks a bit.  So just keep going.

Whisk in
6 cups chicken flavored vegetable broth (such as Better than Bullion No Chicken Base)

Add
1 cup non-dairy milk
6 stalks celery – sliced
1 cup chopped/sliced carrots
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper 

While waiting for the celery to soften a bit, DRY FRY
1 package pressed and drained tofu (or vacuum packed – which is what I use), cubed

*Note you do not HAVE to dry fry the tofu here, but it really helps with the texture.  On the cubes I didn’t dry fry enough, they just tasted mushy rather than having any bite.

When the celery or carrots have softened a bit, add
2 cups cubed potato

While the potatoes are cooking, mix together (until JUST barely mixed)
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 Tbsp melted butter
dried herbs of your choice – I used chives and parsley

(this is where they rest a bit)

When the potatoes are tender (but not soft), drop spoonfuls of the dough into the simmering liquid, then cover and cook for 15 minutes. During this 15 minutes DO NOT REMOVE THE LID.  As I have learned, the STEAM is what cooks the dumplings properly.

After 15 minutes, remove the lid, remove from heat and let rest for about 15 minutes, then serve!

Omnivore husband and 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.

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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.

5 Comments »

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

4 Comments »

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.

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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.

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

Enjoy!

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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!

 

1 Comment »

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

Toe-Mate-Oh's

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!

NOM

Class dismissed.

3 Comments »

Italian Vegetable Soup

I really am a soupatarian.  It’s going to be in the 90’s today (as usual) and I’m having hot soup for breakfast, and probably again for lunch and for dinner too.  Surely I cannot be the only person on the planet that eats soup in the dead of summer, or eats the same thing 3 times in one day.

Italian Vegetable Soup

Yes, it’s a big picture.  Deal with it, I love the texture of this damn thrift store bowl. 🙂

Anyway, each week I make what I call a “pot meal.”  Basically the idea is it’s big ol’ pot of something really healthy and packed with veggies that I can take with me all week to work.  I work 3pm to 11:30 and my husband doesn’t usually get out of bed till noon (he works till 4 am) so we have very strange eating schedules, and since I only see my husband for 1-2 hours, the last thing I want to be doing during that time is mussing with lunches.

So instead, on Saturday or Sunday I try to make what usually ends up being a big pot of soup.  That way it’s ready to go.  I usually supplement it with other things.   For example, for dinner I’ll have this with a basic salad , tomorrow I might have a Tofurkey Sandwich with it.

Anywho, the thing I love about Vegetable Soup is that it’s so versatile.  What I put in it depends on whatever the heck I happen to have leftover from the week, or what vegetables I happen to have in my freezer.

While this isn’t really a recipe, there are some rules to getting this right.

First rule of soup club is we don’t talk about soup club… err… have a good base.  Something to know about this, is that any soup that has tomatoes in it will inevitably taste better the second day.  I usually make it the day before.

Prep round – Figure out your base.

The base for me is whatever canned tomatoes, and bullion and water (or broth).  This particular one has vegetable stewed Italian tomatoes with juice – chopped up (or squished with your hands – that’s fun too).   But you can use not-beef bullion or not-chicken bullion as well, and you could use diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, rotel tomatoes, etc.  You get the picture.

Round 1 tough vegetables

Onions *
Garlic *
Celery*
Carrots
Turnips
Rutabagas
NOT potatoes

*You can cook the Onions, Garlic and Celery prior to starting the base I don’t do it because I’m lazy.   I don’t suggest putting potatoes in this round, or else you’ll get mushy.   Also, here you can start adding in spices. I added Italian seasoning mix, and some Mrs. Dash (I dunno why, but it was there and somehow ended up in the soup), but you could use taco seasoning and make a more southwestern soup. I don’t suggest salting at this time.  Start cooking this on a light boil while you cut up the round two vegetables.

Round 2 vegetables wanna be tough vegetables

Green Beans
Potatoes
Cabbage
Leeks
Bell Peppers (I do not like these in soup but whatever)

When the desired tenderness, taste for spices / salt and make some adjustments.  Add some heat!

Final Round

Cooked Beans – if canned, drained and rinsed
Zucchini – I cut the seeds out, ewww.
Corn
Greens  (Spinach, kale, etc)
Okra

You don’t need to cook the final round for long, just enough to warm stuff up and tenderize the Zucchini a little – maybe 5-10 minutes.  It will continue to cook even after removed from the heat, the soup stays hot for so long.  Now is also the time to salt it.

As for salt, I always use Herbamare.

If you’ve never tried this stuff, I highly highly recommend it.  It’s an herbal salt, so it’s technically a seasoning salt, but a very neutral one.  I use it on literally everything.  Um, except on sweet stuff.  I don’t think this would taste good on Tofutti ice cream at all.

Anyway, voila – you have enough soup to eat for a week, yay!

Italian Vegetable Soup

2 Comments »

Black Bean Soup

Yes, I made this again.  I liked it so much that I made it twice in one week.  Don’t judge me.  Just look at the picture, then go see the recipe and make it.

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