Vegan Vacation Menu Monday

As usual I didn’t make everything last week. There were a few going out to eat days, and a friend had us over for some yummy broccoli potato soup.

Also I veered off plan and made some ham and cheddar muffins for brunch yesterday. I found the recipe in a new magazine called Clean Eating. It’s interesting and has cool pics, but mainly had meaty recipes. The Muffins actually called for Yves Veggie Ham, so they were one of the vegetarian muffins. Their recipe isn’t posted on the web, but here’s a similar one, just add 3/4 cup ham, 1 Tb. brown sugar, and leave out the herbs to make it like Clean Eating’s. All the meat eaters thought they were tasty, so I’d definitely make them again.

I’m going to the beach for the weekend, but I’m bringing my crock pot so we can have dinner at the beach house instead of going out every night. Since I’ve been cooking at home more we are getting pickier about what we want to eat. That’s causing us to eat at home even more, and as a result eating food that’s generally better for us.

Monday: leftover white beans, bbq riblets, and steamed veggies (Gardenburger riblets are super yummy!)

Tuesday: Out to eat with Jules

Wednesday: Biscuits and Gravy for Ginger’s bday (Christy brings an egg dish)

Thursday: Beef-less Broccoli Lo Mein and Wonton soup

Friday: Tempeh con frijoles

Saturday: Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Sunday: Snobby Joes

You too can participate in Menu Plan Monday, just go over to I’m an Organizing Junkie and add your menu to Mr. Linky.

Recipe – Vegetarian Slow Cooker Lasagna

Slow Cooker Thursday

It’s slow cooker Thursday!
See other great recipes at Diary of a SAHM

I cooked a lasagna on Monday using this recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine – I think it was last month’s issue. This link will get you to their site and more slow cooker recipes for oatmeal, vindaloo, and a chocolate pear cake too!

I’m going to repeat the recipe here for your convenience, but you really need to go check out the site. There are so many free recipes that are super tasty! I am going to also include in this post a second recipe with the modifications I’m going to make the next time I make it.

This recipe makes a crockpot full of food. I think you could serve 12 people, we served 6 (with some seconds) and still had lunches for 2 days for 2 people. If you don’t have any tempeh, you could a Lightlife’s Gimme Lean or a previously frozen block of tofu (not silken!) thawed and crumbled, even some chopped up Boca burger or Boca sausage would work just fine.

What the heck is tempeh anyhow?

Tempeh has a meatier texture that most people love, and it mellows the flavor if you boil or marinate it before adding it to your dish. In the lasagna below, you don’t have to do either. It’s really a great first tempeh dish to try.

I’ve been using a lot of tempeh lately, and I know some of you haven’t used it before. It looks kinda scary when you first open the package, but remember it is just a fermented soy food – one with a great texture. If you use tofu often, you will be surprised with tempeh’s sturdiness, and the fact it does have more flavor on it’s own. I still prefer to have it mixed in with sauce or a marinade.

Vegetarian Times Magazine’s Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna
Serves 8

“Many people don’t know that the crock inside a slow cooker is ovenproof and you can transfer a dish like lasagna into the oven (up to 400°F) for 10 minutes to brown the top,” says Golino. Just be sure the pot is hot, to avoid drastic temperature changes that can cause it to crack.

1 medium onion,quartered
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 Tbs. dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled, plus 1 clove minced (1 tsp.), divided
1 8-oz. pkg. tempeh, cut into chunks
1 28-oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for oiling slow cooker
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
8 oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 16-oz. jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
1 16-oz. container low-fat ricotta cheese, divided
1 cup grated Swiss cheese, divided

  1. Place onion, basil, oregano, and 2 whole garlic cloves in food processor; pulse 6 times, or until onion and garlic are chopped. Add tempeh, and pulse until tempeh is ground. Add tomatoes, oil, salt, and pepper; pulse until chunky sauce forms
  2. Combine spinach and minced garlic in bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Coat bottom and sides of 4-quart slow cooker with oil. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over bottom, and cover with layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them in pieces to fit around edges. Spread 3/4 cup spinach mixture over top. Place 1 layer roasted red peppers over spinach, and top with 3/4 cup ricotta. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce over ricotta. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup Swiss cheese. Repeat, layering noodles, spinach, peppers, ricotta, Swiss cheese, and tomato sauce. Top with 1 more layer noodles and remaining spinach, tomato sauce, ricotta, and Swiss cheese.
  4. Cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Let stand uncovered 10 minutes before serving.

PER SERVING: 322 CAL; 22 G PROT; 14 G TOTAL FAT (5.5 G SAT. FAT); 32 G CARB; 31 MG CHOL; 762 MG SOD; 6 G FIBER; 8 G SUGARS

Spinach Lasagna GeekPoet’s Redo – Not tested yet

Be warned that this is not a tested recipe , but the one I will follow the next time I make it. Use at your own risk – or just put whatever you like in it.

Ok, so why would I do anything differently anyhow? First off, I can never leave good enough alone. Your family would probably be happy with the recipe above. And certainly no one would expect that soy products were being slipped in. Perfect for kids and picky spouses.

The comments I received from my loyal and brave testers prompted me to think of a way to incorporate more noodles, and possibly a way that the noodles would not be as soft. Three layers of noodles really doesn’t seem like enough pasta for a whole slow cooker of stuff. I’m not even sure if the delicate balance of not too much liquid and mushy to not dried out and icky can be done cooking noodles in a Crockpot all day.

It might end up being a weekend slow cooker dish so I can cook it for only 5 or 5 hours, but during the week what I cook goes for about 8 – 9 hours. If any of you have tips about this I would love to hear them!

Serves 8

  • 1 medium onion,quartered
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (or 8 cubes Trader Joe’s frozen basil)
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, plus 1 clove minced (1 tsp.), divided (can also use Trader Joe’s frozen garlic 1 cube = 1 clove)
  • 1 8-oz. pkg. tempeh, cut into large cubes
  • 1 28-oz. can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes (or tomatoes with basil)
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for oiling slow cooker
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 16-oz. pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
  • 16 oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 16-oz. jar roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16-oz. container low-fat ricotta cheese, divided
  • 1 cup grated Mozzarella cheese, divided
  1. Place onion, basil, oregano, and 2 whole garlic cloves in food processor; pulse 6 times, or until onion and garlic are chopped. Add tempeh, and pulse until tempeh is ground. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oil, salt, and pepper; pulse until chunky sauce forms. Put in a large bowl and fold in ricotta.
  2. Combine spinach and minced garlic in bowl, and season with pepper.
  3. Coat bottom and sides of 4-quart slow cooker with oil.
  4. Spread .5 cup of the tempeh tomato mixture to cover bottom of slow cooker, and cover with layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them in pieces to fit around edges.
  5. Spread a thin layer spinach mixture over top
  6. Place 1 layer roasted red peppers over spinach
  7. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over red peppers.
  8. Cover with layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them in pieces to fit around edges.
  9. Spread 1 cup tempeh tomato mixture.
  10. Cover with layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them in pieces to fit around edges.
  11. Repeat, alternating layers with spinach, red peppers and mozzarella, with ones of the tempeh tomato mixture until the slow cooker is almost full or you have made 6-8 thin layers.
  12. Top with 1 more layer noodles and remaining tempeh tomato mixture and mozzarella cheese.
  13. Cook 8 hours on low. Let stand uncovered 10 minutes before serving.

To make it vegan, just mash some soft tofu or better yet use this recipe for a more proper tasting tofu ricotta. Almond cheese makes a great mozzarella cheese substitute.

Recipe – Vegan Tempeh and Sausage Jambalaya

This was my one of my favorite meals from last week’s menu plan. And it was my lunch for today, I love leftovers!

I used this recipe as a base, but as usual went off in my own direction. My only complaint about the recipe is the directions aren’t quite right, so I’ll give you the step by step of what I did.

This recipe makes a ton, but you can freeze some for one of those days that you can’t bare to think about cooking dinner.

Vegan Sausage Tempeh Jambalaya

  • 1 package tempeh cubed
  • 2 cups not-chicken broth (or substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco or hot sauce of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning – no or low sodium if possible (make your own with these recipes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 – 4 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, minced
  • 1 yellow or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne or other hot pepper blend
  • 1 package boca vegetarian sausages
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup rice
  • water
  • pepper
  1. Marinate the tempeh overnight (or a couple of hours) in a mixture of the chicken-less broth, hot sauce, garlic, and cajun seasoning. If you are using seasoning that has a ton of salt like Tony Chachere’s, make sure you are not making the marinade too salty. I really recommend making your own spice blend.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot that has a lid. It needs to be a pot large enough to hold the rice and all the liquid, as you will cook everything in this one pan.
  3. Drain the tempeh and reserve the liquid, we will use it later in the recipe.
  4. Brown the tempeh and set aside.
  5. Add more olive oil if needed and saute the onion until translucent, then add the bell peppers. Saute for about 5 more minutes.
  6. Put in a total of 3 cups of liquid – a combination of the stock you marinated the tempeh in and added water to make up the difference.
  7. Put the tempeh, sausage, black pepper, can of diced tomatoes, and rice all in the pan. Mix well.
  8. Now is a good time to adjust the seasonings if you want to make it hotter. Of course, you can do this right before serving.
  9. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
  10. Take a peek and cook for 10 minutes more if needed.

Serve with hot sauce on the side and a big salad.

Vegan (-a-gogo) Menu Plan Monday

We went out a few extra times last week, so I didn’t cook as much as planned. The jambalaya was by far the best dish of the week. I’ll post the final recipe I used on a separate post later today.

Monday: Vegetarian Times Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna I added tomato paste to the tempeh mix, and some bottled sauce because it looked a little dry to be cooking all day. To make it vegan, just mash some soft tofu or better yet use this recipe for a more proper tasting tofu ricotta.

Tuesday: Slow and Easy White Bean Cassoulet

Wednesday: Chickpea cutlets with mustard sauce from Veganomicon

Thursday: Beef-less Broccoli Lo Mein and Wonton soup

Friday: Tempeh con frijoles – only I’m going to try mine in the slow cooker and this week I’m really going to make it!

Saturday: Slow Cooker Corn Chowder and homemade bread (from the bread machine)

Sunday: Snobby Joes

You too can participate in Menu Plan Monday, just go over to I’m an Organizing Junkie and add your menu to Mr. Linky.

I’ve been using a lot of tempeh lately, and I know some of you haven’t used it before. It looks kinda scary when you first open the package, but remember it is just a fermented soy food – one with a great texture. If you use tofu often, you will be surprised with tempeh’s sturdiness, and the fact it does have more flavor on it’s own. I still prefer to have it mixed in with sauce or a marinade.

You can find it in most larger groceries (Kroger, Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods, and Food Lion in my area) in the produce section, with other refrigerated products like tofu and Lightlife products. Natural food stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s will have it as well.

Tempeh has a meatier texture that most people love, and it mellows the flavor if you boil or marinate it before adding it to your dish. In the lasagna above, you don’t have to do either since it will be mixed in with sauce and spinach. It’s really a great first tempeh dish to try. It’s my first time using this particular recipe, so I’ll post tomorrow if I would make any other changes next time.

Why use tempeh at all? First off, it’s less processed than tofu. And while I do use lots of Boca products, it’s nice to pare dawn the processing in other dished I prepare. It has a more fiber and protein than tofu and more nutritional info can be found here. And even Recipe Zaar has a ton of tempeh recipes, so find one that interests you and give it a try!

Recipe – Vegan Slow Cooker Hot and Sour Soup

Slow Cooker Thursday

It’s slow cooker Thursday!

I have been wanting to try Stephanie’s (The CrockPot Lady) Hot and Sour Soup Recipe, and as I was putting together I realized I was making enough changes to justify writing out the recipe again here. I use a few ingredients that everyone might not have on hand, while I suspect everyone has the things Stephanie used on hand on hand. Make sure to check hers out too, I bet you’ll get as inspired as I did!

Hot and Sour Soup

  • 1 package silken tofu, cubed
  • 2 cups No chicken broth (vegetarian – you can substitute regular veggie broth)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1Tbl Better Than Bouillon, No Chicken Base, Vegetarian (I know it seems redundant, but this paste adds extra richness and depth)
  • 1/2 package of sliced button mushrooms
  • 8 dried shitakes (you can sub fresh ones, just double the amount)
  • 1 can bamboo shoots, cut into thin strips (this is what takes the most time)
  • 3 garlic cloves (Trader Joe’s has pre-minced cubes in the freezer section)
  • 2Tbl minced or grated fresh ginger (do not use ginger powder on this one, skip it if you don’t have any)
  • 2Tbl soy sauce (use low sodium if possible)
  • 1t sesame oil (plus more for garnish)
  • 1t chili paste (I used sambal oelek with garlic. You can get this at a Chinese grocery or make your own with this recipe)
  • 2T rice wine vinegar (Use brown rice vinegar if you can, or apple cider vinegar in a pinch)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen (or fresh) peas

Throw everything except for the peas in the Crockpot and cook all day (about 7-9 hours). Come home hungry, add the peas to the slow cooker, and add more vinegar and chili to make it just right for you. When you serve pour a few drop of sesame oil on top of each serving.

It’s easier to make these adjustments after it’s cooked all day. If you’re like me, you’re making this as soon as you roll out of bed. And I don’t know about you, but my judgment is too impaired to decide if something is going to be too hot at that point in my day. And you can always serve some chili sauce on the side for your fire-breathing friends (yes, that means you Christy)!

You can use any tofu you have on hand, of course, but silken is my favorite for hot and sour soup. If you haven’t used this kind before the texture may surprise you. It really is silky, but will hold together while you cube it. Some silken tofu comes in a package that doesn’t have to be refrigerated and it last for about a year. It’s great to have a few in the pantry. You can also blend some up in a smoothie, or make a yummy chocolate pudding or mousse from it. In the mousse video she used the kind that comes in packaging that needs to be refrigerated.

Recipe – 2 Easy Vegan Chicken Dishes Even Meat Eaters Love

Ok, let it be known that I am not a vegan. I do truly believe eating vegan is better for you, which is why I prepare so many vegan dishes. Some people cut out or down on meat, dairy and eggs for medical reasons, some for ethical reasons. But no matter what your reasons are, we all stay attached to certain comfort foods or cravings for something from our childhood. These chicken-less dishes can help with that as well as feed our meat-eater friends and relatives.

While vegan recipes on the web have become easier to find, finding ones that your meat eater guests like can be a little more problematic. Not to mention how hard it is cooking for picky eaters of all kinds and ages. So, I thought a few recipes that are almost effortless and quick would be welcome for last minute company, or just a day that you hardly had time to breathe. Come home and make a meal in less than 30 minutes – without meat or watching Rachael Ray!

The ‘fried’ chicken patties I use are Boca Original Chik’n Patties. They are vegan, 160 calories each with 6 g of fat, 16 g protein and 430 sodium. The sodium is a little high, but I have trouble finding pre-made food that has much less. If you know of a brand, please let me know.

Chicken Parmigiana

Directions are for 4 servings. All of my meat eater friends love this. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but they say it’s similar to veal parmigiana. I think it’s the white interior.

  • 1 box Boca Chik’n Patties
  • Pasta - Whole wheat angel hair is a great introduction to a healthier pasta, and if you cook it about 5 minutes more than normal, most people have no idea they are eating whole wheat.
  • Pasta Sauce – You can use your favorite bottled sauce, or make a marinara if you have the time
  • Grated Mozzarella - You can use the real thing if you’re not a vegan, or I recommend the Follow your Heat VEGAN GOURMET Almond Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 and place chicken patties on a baking sheet, unless it’s non-stick, oil it first.

In a large pot put your water on to boil for the pasta. Put chicken in oven as soon as it’s preheated, it takes about 12 minutes for the patties to cook. Once the water is boiling put in the pasta. You can turn the patties in the oven is you like, I don’t and they turn out just fine.

When the pasta is done to your liking, drain in a colander. Take the chicken patties out of the oven and top with a small handful of cheese and put back in the oven for it to melt. Put sauce in the same pot you cooked the pasta in, and heat it over medium heat until hot. Plate up the pasta on plates and spoon sauce over. Reserve some sauce to top the patties with. Add a patty per plate and pour some of the reserved sauce over.

Top with Parmesan – regular or vegan depending on you! Serve with salad and garlic bread and your guests will be very happy.

Chicken and Gravy

There are tons of vegan gravy mixes on the market, but if you have time the fresh gravy is well worth the 15 minutes it takes. I serve this with either white rice or mashed potatoes. Depending on where you’re from, you may have a leaning to one more than the other. I’m sure brown rice would work, but this is childhood comfort food for me and this is one of the few meals that I eat white rice.I always serve a veggie side of green beans to round it out. It only takes a look around in your fridge or freezer to find out what you’ll be serving!

  • 1 box Boca Chik’n Patties
  • 1.5 – 2 cups Milk - soy, almond or rice
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms or 4 links Boca sausage
  • 1 Tbl. Flour - for thickening. I have used wheat only, but feel free to experiment!

Start your rice or mashed potatoes before the gravy. Put the chicken patties in a preheated 350 oven.

Gather your ingredients around the stove. This will go faster than you expect.

In a nonstick skillet, over medium heat, add your mushrooms and cook until soft. If you decide to use sausage, put the frozen links in and as they thaw a little chop them with your spatula. Sprinkle the flour in, and be careful not to burn it. Add the first cup of milk and whisk until thick. Depending on timing you may need to adjust the milk or flour to make the gravy thinner or thicker.

If all works right, the rice cooker will ding and your veggies are steamed when you pull the chicken patties out. It’s a super easy meal that hits that comfort food spot.

The gravy is also delicious over biscuits, and no one complains about biscuits for dinner.

Vegan-a-lishious Menu Plan Monday

You too can participate in Menu Plan Monday, just go over to I’m an Organizing Junkie and add your menu to Mr. Linky.

Last week was a good week for dinner Spaghetti and Bean Balls as well as Smokey red pepper ‘n’ beans gumbo from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. Of course, I didn’t cook over the weekend. Had Chinese and Mexican instead. And tonight, well, I had a veggie corn dog.

I think I did pretty good though. And I still have some leftover gumbo for lunch tomorrow! I keep planning 6 or 7 meals, knowing that I will miss a few or reorganize my week. It’s been a huge help having a plan and we’ve been eating much better because of it.

Monday: Pasta Della California from Veganomicon – pasta with avocado, broccoli, and arugula

Tuesday: Southern Fried Tofu with slow cooker sweet potatoes and steamed green veg

Wednesday: Tempeh Chili con Frijoles

Thursday: Slow cooker hot and sour soup, beefless and veggie stirfry possibly this one

Friday: dinner out

Saturday: Vegan Jambalaya

Sunday: Slow cooker potato soup to make this vegan swap soy creamer for the milk.

Longing for Spring Swap Pictues

Joanna is the best swap partner ever! This is my first swap and I could not possibly be happier!!

Ok, these are crappy pics from my phone. Our dog picked today to escape from the fence so my gf is building a new and cannot take pics. Also I have no idea where the camera is. I will try and post better photos as soon as my gf gets the fence completed. Why am I not building the fence too? Besides being nellie as heck, I pulled a muscle in my back from catching the dog. So I am exempt.

Here is an over view picture:
overview.jpg

I got a cool quilted bag with tons of pockets, a springy memo pad with a magnet to put it on the fridge, a frog stitch marker and Yankee tea lights – meadow mist scent:

frog2.jpg

Mary Kay Satin Hands and Body, and Ferrero Rocher chocolates:
marykay.jpg

Super cool yarn with soy and corn:

tofutsies.jpgcornyarn.jpg

And too cool pot toppers for my plants!

bir123d.jpg frog.jpg

I love it all!

Recipe – Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Slow Cooker Thursday

It’s slow cooker Thursday!

Another super easy vegetarian chili that can be made with ingredients that are probably in your pantry now. This is my default party dish.

Other than the cooking time, it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to put the while things together. I cook my beans in the slow cooker the before I go to bed and add the rest of the ingredients in the morning. You could always substitute canned black beans if you don’t have enough time to cook them from scratch.

1 pkg. dried black beans
2 sweet potatoes cubed (I don’t peel mine, but I usually buy organic ones)
1 can diced tomatoes (can be with garlic or chilis)
1T – 5T Chili powder (to taste – I use about 4T usually)
1T unsweetened cocoa (really it makes a rich sauce)
1T garlic powder

Before you go to bed put dry beans and cut up sweet potatoes in a crock pot with water about 3 – 4 inches above them. Cook on high all night.

When you get up in the morning, add tomatoes and spices to taste. Add more water if needed. Cook on low all day. The sweet potatoes ‘melt’ into the chili, so you can hide veggies from kids and picky spouses.

You can cook more or less depending on your schedule. It reheats and freezes well, so don’t be afraid of leftovers.
A ready to eat chili dinner will welcome you home!

If you’re making it for a group of people (or party), you can dress it up with an assortment of toppings for your guests to choose from. (plus they’ll think you worked lots harder than you did!) Here are a few that I have used:

  • minced fresh onions
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • green chilis
  • chopped fresh tomato
  • diced avocado
  • plenty of bottled hot sauces to choose from
Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 221.9
  • Total Fat: 0.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 256.3 mg
  • Total Carbs: 42.3 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 12.9 g
  • Protein: 12.7 g

Vegan bean balls were a hit!

The bean balls from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook p.189 were amazing. I was a little worried that it would take to much time to make them, since I didn’t make them ahead of time and wanted to eat in less than an hour. But I was so wrong! Just dump ingredients into a bowl, smash some beans and mix everything together and make little balls. I cooked mine in the oven using mini-muffin trays. I read a tip on making meatballs that did it that way, and it helped me keep them all a consistant size. They took about 25 minutes to cook.

I actually did not make any changes to the recipe, which is unusual for me.  You have a choice to use steak sauce or tomato paste, and I have to say I felt like the steak sauce took it to another level. I served them over whole wheat angel hair with a bottled organic tomato sauce.

I had some left over, so I’ve frozen them for a bean ball sub later on. Honestly, I’m looking forward to it.

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