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Category Archives: Vegetarian

Can have animal products, just no meat of any kind

Granola Recipe

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I’ve had an irrational fear of making granola for a long time.  I have no idea why or what it was about, but for some reason the idea of making granola seemed so daunting.  Well, my package for my April foodie pen pal was about to go out and I wanted to make something home made.  I had most of the supplies, so it was a matter of picking up a few things and getting the courage to attempt to make granola for the first time.  I decided to go with a pretty basic recipe and then got fancy at the end with some coconut.  Hopefully the pen pal likes it!

Granola Ingredients:

  • 3 cups regular oats (do not use instant)

    Ingredients

    Ingredients

  • 8 oz sliced or slivered almonds
  • 8 oz dried cranberries
  • 6 oz sweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bag add the oats, almonds, and cranberries.  Add to these the cinnamon and the salt.  Mix the dry ingredients well.

Dry ingredients

Dry ingredients

Add to the bag the oil, honey, and extract.  Using either your hands or shaking the bag well, make sure everything is WELL coated.  The oil needs to coat the oats to allow them to toast evenly.

Wet ingredients added

Wet ingredients added

Line a baking sheet with either foil or parchment paper and spread the ingredients out evenly.

Ready to be baked

Ready to be baked

Set the oven for 325 F and cook the granola for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes are up, add the coconut to the mixture and try to bring the stuff on the edges into the middle.

Coconut added

Coconut added

Cook the granola for another 10 minutes before again mixing the granola from the outside in.

Just 10 more minutes....

Just 10 more minutes….

Turn the oven down to 300 F and cook for one last 10 minutes.  Remove the granola promptly and allow to cool.  Enjoy!

Close up of finished product

Close up of finished product

Some variations are possible.  I’d probably try other dried fruits the next time.  Dried blueberries would be amazing!  I also think other nuts like pecans and walnuts would work really well.  I’d also want to try this with non-sweetened coconut.  I think that would save a bunch of calories without sacrificing taste.  Also, using coconut oil instead of canola oil or using agave syrup instead of honey would be great substitutions.

Chinese New Year Dinner

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Chinese New Year Dinner

My mom has organized a Chinese New Year dinner in Philadelphia for the past few years.  I haven’t been able to go for some reason or another, but this year my mother-in-law decided to treat my husband and I to it for our birthdays.  I must say that it was a great present.  First of all, the food is absolutely amazing.  I found every course to be wonderful, but some items were more amazing than others.  Secondly, the chef accommodated my food restrictions.  I was able to have a mostly vegan meal with only a bit of dairy in the mango puree.  Thirdly, the place is a BYOB AND there is no corkage fees!  I brought bourbon with ginger beer to drink with my meal, but there was wine, a drink called Cinnamon Toast Crunch (tastes like the milk leftover from the cereal sitting in it), margaritas, and plenty of other stuff.  Lastly, the place may not be the fanciest of places, but the chef was so personable that it made up for it.  A million times over for sure.

Here’s the list of the courses and food:

  • Appetizers:  Vegetable spring roll, salt crusted tofu, fruit salad (the one on the plate had mayo, which was switched out for one that did not), eggplant “hamburger”, and tofu sushi with fries
  • Intermezzo: Mango puree with ice and an envelope with a dollar for good luck
  • Main Course: Tofu! in a sweet and slightly spicy sauce, rice with lettuce and corn and jicama, a “kebab” of fried tofu balls, pineapple, eggplant in a spicy sauce
  • Sides: pasta with veggies (jicama, snow peas, green beans, carrots, lotus root), veggies for all (green beans, black mushrooms, corn, and sun-dried tomatoes)
  • Dessert: fruit salad and a candy

A special thanks to Chef Joseph Poon for his hospitality and wonderful personality.  He does walking tours of Philly’s Chinatown along with teaching cooking classes and hosting dinners.

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Lasagna Soup

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Lasagna Soup

Well, it’s official.  It’s cold.  Like REALLY cold.  So, most nights I really just want something warm and hearty to eat.  Lasagna would totally fit that bill. Unfortunately I find making lasagna a little more tedious than what I would normally have on a weeknight.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE lasagna.  I think I asked my mom to make lasagna for my birthday dinner for YEARS!  So, when I saw this recipe for lasagna soup, I knew I had to make it, with a few tweaks.  I stayed pretty true to the original recipe, but I will make some suggestions at the end to make the soup a little different each time.

Lasagna Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oilLasagna soup ingredients
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 Tofurky sausages
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1-2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 14oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 6 cups veggie stock
  • 8 oz lasagna noodles or fusilli
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Sweating onions and garlicHeat the olive oil over medium to medium high heat.  Add the onion and sweat for a minute or two.  Add the garlic and cook another few minutes until the onion is translucent.   Add two of the sausages that are cut up in slices.  With the third, crumble before adding to the pot.  Cook another minute or two.  Add tomato paste and the oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and allow to cook until the paste turns darker in color.  Sausage added

Add the tomatoes with their juices and the veggie stock.  Turn down the heat and cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer.  While the soup is cooking, heat water in a separate pan to cook the noodles in.  Salt the cooking water well.  Break up the noodles if using lasagna before cooking.  Drain the noodles and rinse them off.

Cooked noodles

Cooked noodles

While the soup is simmering and the noodles are cooking, make the ricotta topping.  In a bowl mix the ricotta cheese, nutritional yeast, and the salt and pepper.  Mix well and set aside.

Ricotta mixture

Ricotta mixture

After the soup has simmered for at least a half hour, ladle into bowls for serving.  Add some noodles to each bowl then top with a dollop of the ricotta mixture and some shredded cheese.  If you have any fresh basil you can add  some ribbons to each bowl or top it off with a few more shakes of red pepper flakes.

Soup simmering away

Soup simmering away

There are a few changes that I’d make the next time I cook this soup.  The first is that I’d probably add some spinach to the soup.  It wouldn’t add too much to the soup to take away from the flavor and would add so much more in the way of nutrition.  I may also add other veggies like zucchini and squash when they are in season (or if I’d preserved any for next winter).  If you wanted to make this vegan, use Daiya shredds instead of the mozzarella.  To sub for the ricotta, use firm tofu that you can either process in a food processor or with a fork and smash to little chunks.  Flavor this with some salt and spices and maybe a touch of lemon juice to use as ricotta in the recipe.

Enjoy!

Composed soup

Composed soup

Turkey Substitute Roundup

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So, I’ve been a vegetarian for half of my life now.  That means 15 Thanksgivings without turkey.  The first couple of years it was all about the sides.  I know PLENTY of people that aren’t vegetarians that prefer the sides anyway.  So, it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal to just not eat turkey.  Well, the years went on and my cooking skills did in fact increase (or at least I wasn’t burning things in the microwave anymore…).  I decided to throw a Thanksgiving holiday dinner for friends when I had moved to Baltimore, so I thought I should serve something “turkey like”.  Here are four different turkey substitutes that I have served at Thanksgivings or other holiday dinners.

Tofurky

This is the most well known substitute and when you tell people you are a vegetarian on thanksgiving, they will for sure ask if you are going to eat one.  There are some big pros to this item.  It’s both a protein source and has stuffing in one, so you don’t HAVE to make more stuffing.  The gravy that comes with it may look a little strange, but is actually quite good.  It’s actually the best prepared vegan gravy I’ve found.  The biggest downside I’ve found to the tofurky is that when it cools, it gets kind of rubbery.  The taste is fine, but the texture becomes slightly offensive.  I’ve never tried any of the “fancy” ways to prepare  the roast, but there are some fun recipes found on the site.  Tofurky is vegan.

Quorn Turk’y Roast

This was my second foray into a turkey substitute.  I had tried the naked cutlets and really liked them, so I wanted to try the roast.  THIS WAS GOOD.  Like really good. Like not just as a substitute good.  I’ve been told it both looks like and tastes very much like a pork loin, but I would have no idea.  The interesting thing about quorn is that it’s made from mycoprotein (mushroom derivative).  Before you condemn this product for being mushroom, it doesn’t actually taste like mushrooms.  My sister who HATES mushrooms loves this.  I would not follow the instructions on the box and cook the roast IN the packaging.  Take off the plastic and roast it with veggies.  I don’t eat this anymore as there is egg in the roast, but if I ate eggs this would be what I eat.

Field Roast

I wasn’t able to try the celebration roast, which apparently is pretty delicious, but I was able to snag a Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute.  The texture is a bit like soft vegan sausage.  And I did not really see a distinction in between the sausage part and the stuffing that was supposed to be there.  BUT.  This was pretty tasty.  The inside was very flavorful and had lots of herb flavors.  I made this with some stuffing and some southern style kale for a Manucci thanksgiving this year.  I think it went over pretty well.  This is vegan and very delicious.

Gardein Holiday Roast

So, I’ve been saving the best for last.  This is by far the most delicious turkey substitute out there.  And I really wouldn’t even qualify the roast as only JUST good as a turkey substitute.  It’s just plain old DELICIOUS.  I actually went back to Whole Foods to try to get some more and they were completely sold out.  Gardein is pretty new in the vegan substitutes field, but it has quickly exploded into the field.  I haven’t found a bad product yet and I will continue to keep trying as many products as possible.  I actually followed the basic instructions by the blog Meet the Shannons to make the roast and stuffing.  FYI, make stuffing with cranberries in it from now on.  SO PRETTY!  The only downside to this product is the gravy.  It needs doctoring up.  For SURE add some spices like thyme, garlic, and rosemary.  It adds so much to the fairly bland gravy.  This is totally vegan.

 

Apple Raisin Challah

Apple Raisin Challah

 

I can’t believe I haven’t posted in two weeks.  I really didn’t mean for the time to get away from me, but with life and the Jewish Holy days, the blog unfortunately fell into the background.  But I have been cooking a bit and canning a little, so I have been trying to keep up with life in general.  I had a craving for some challah, and since the New Year was on us, I thought I’d take a stab at it.  My first try wasn’t a complete failure, but I think between using both whole wheat flour and a flax egg, there was way too much graininess going on.  The challah didn’t have the light and airy flair to it that it should.  This recipe uses Ener-G egg replacer in it, and I think the results were SO much better.  I could actually knead the dough without it falling apart.  Awesome.  My recipe is a kind of piecing together of two different recipes found here and here.

 

Rum soaked currants

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (I used rapid rise) plus 2/3 cup warm water

    Challah Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp divided honey
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (I used canola) plus more to coat bowl
  • 4.5 tsp Ener-G egg replacer plus 5 TBSP water (or 2 large eggs and one egg yolk)
  • 1.5 tsp salt (I used Kosher)
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium apples (I prefer a tart apple, but sweet would also be fine) diced
  • 1/2 cup currants soaked in spiced rum and a cinnamon stick overnight
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Add warm water to yeast and 1 tsp honey and set aside.  You are waiting for the mixture to get foamy.

Yeast mixture

Dissolve the Ener-G egg replacer in the water (if you use slightly warm water, the powder will dissolve a bit better).  Add the egg replacer,  honey, and oil to the yeast and mix well.  Add flour and salt to the mixture all at once and stir until the dough is mixed but uneven.

Uneven dough

Add the cinnamon and turn out dough on a lightly floured surface to knead.  Knead for 5 to 10 minutes.  You want the dough well worked, but not so much that it becomes tough.  Lightly oil the bowl and add the dough back to the bowl.  Let the dough rise for an hour covered.

Dough ready to rise

Dough in quarters

After an hour punch down the dough and cut the dough into quarters.  Take one of the quarters and flatten it out into an oblong shape.  Add 1/4 of the apples and currants to the flattened dough.  Roll up the dough so that it stays long and pinch the ends to close the rope.  Do this with the other three-quarters and keep the finished ropes covered to help retain moisture.  Next, take two of your ropes and place them parallel to each

Flattened dough

other and right next to each other.  Take a third rope and weave it over and under the two ropes, but perpendicular.  Take the fourth rope and weave it so that all ropes form an over under with the others.  The ropes are going to be crossed over the rope closest to it in a counter-clockwise

Currants and apples to dough

fashion, then in a clockwise pattern.  Look at The Shiksa Blog’sinstructions for how to do this.  She has some great pictures.  Place the loaf on a baking sheet with parchment paper covering it and let the dough rise again for 20ish minutes (more is fine).  Right before placing the loaf in the oven, mix the last teaspoon of honey with a teaspoon or two of water and brush the tops of the loaf.  This will give the loaf a nice coloring to it.

Rope

Ready to bake

Bake the loaf at 375 F for 45 minutes.  Check the loaf half way through to make sure it’s baking evenly.  When finished, the challah will be nice and brown.  Allow the challah to cool, then enjoy!  The challah can definitely be made the day before (and maybe two days) it’s needed.

Finished Challah

 

Veggie Egg Rolls

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Veggie Egg Rolls

I thought I’d start off the new month with an easy to make recipe.  I don’t pretend to be gourmet, though sometimes I wish I was.  But most of the time I need food that is filling, fast, and delicious.  It’s also a bonus when I make food that my husband likes as well.  This is one of those recipes.  I used to LOVE eating veggie egg rolls from a take out restaurant, but I felt SO guilty eating a big roll of fried food.  So, I decided I wanted to make my own baked version.  Let me say that this version is by no means a final one.  I would change some things around next time, which I will mention at the end of the recipe.

Baked Vegetarian Egg Rolls

  • Egg Roll Wrappers (I used Nasoya, but I just received some vegan coconut wraps you could try)

    Ingredients

  • Package of coleslaw mix
  • 3/4 cup frozen edamame
  • 2/3 can of water chestnuts chopped
  • 2/3 can of bamboo shoots
  • 2 tbsp + rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Sriracha

Heat sesame oil in pan on medium high heat and add frozen edamame.  Allow the beans to cook for a bit, maybe two minutes or so.  Add in the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts and stir fry for a minute or so.

Edamame, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts

Add in the package of coleslaw mix and stir.  You may need to add this in batches.  After the cabbage has cooked down a bit add in the vinegar, soy sauce, and sriracha (if using).  Stir to combine and cook for just a minute more.

All ingredients in

Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.  On a clean surface take one wrapper and place so that it looks like a diamond.  Add about two tablespoons of filling to the wrapper.

Place filling in wrapper

First fold the bottom corner up over the filling.

Fold up the bottom next

 Next fold in the two side corners.

Then fold in the sides

 Lastly, roll the wrapper until it’s completely covered.  Don’t pull too hard as the wrappers rip fairly easy.  Repeat this process until you finish with all your filling.  Mine made 14 rolls with lots of wrappers left over.

Assembled rolls

Place rolls on a greased pan and either spray the tops with spray olive oil or if you want an egg wash.  Place in a 400 degree oven for 15ish minutes.  I would check on them after about 10 minutes and see how much longer they may need.  Take out the rolls and enjoy!

Done!

What I would do differently next time….  I would use my wok.  I think I could get a better crunch on the vegies this way.  My inside wasn’t mush, but I wanted a bit more of a bite.  I might also try pan frying my egg rolls so that they get more of a sear to them.  Again, I think this recipe is really versatile and can be changed around to whatever you may have on hand.  I would love to have put mushrooms in this, but my husband would have killed me.  You could easily add chicken to this to make it meaty or add tofu if you prefer over edamame.  Again, easy peasy.  Also, these freeze REALLY well.  I stuck a few in the sandwich sized ziplock bag.  I put them in the fridge overnight to thaw and they were fine when I went to use them.  Oh, and USE SESAME OIL for sure.  A little bit goes a long way, but it totally adds a depth of flavor that this recipe needs.  Just remember to store it in the dark as it can go rancid fairly quickly.

Vegetable Tian

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Vegetable Tian

I originally wanted to make this recipe for Thanksgiving this next year.  I have it in my recipes on my Pinterest as a recipe that I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving.  With Passover being here, I wanted to make something visually appealing and delicious as well, so this recipe seemed to fit the bill.  There is nothing in it that makes it specifically FOR Passover, which is why I like it even more!

If you’ve never used a mandolin before, you are missing out.  It makes slicing vegetables in precise widths SO much easier.  And there are other inserts to use, including ones to julienne as well.  Caution: BE CAREFUL.  I totally sliced my thumb while slicing my potato.  Secondly, only FIRM vegetables can be used on a mandolin.  Do not try to cut the tomato unless you have a really nice one with serrated edges or something of that sort.  My $20 mandolin from Bed, Bath, and Beyond is not the most sophisticated piece of equipment.

Vegetable Tian

  • 2 TBSP  olive oil (divided)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 3 large roma tomatoes
  • Salt, black pepper, and thyme
  • Optional: parmesan cheese or possibly nutritional yeast

Preheat the oven to 375.  Coat your baking dish with olive oil non-stick spray (use a round baking dish since it looks better).  Heat a pan to medium then add the olive oil and onion.  Cook until the onions are translucent, about eight minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, until the garlic is softened.  Add the onion and garlic to the baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in 1/4 in slices.  Or use the mandolin.  In a single layer, arrange the vegetables in the pan on top of the onions and garlic.  If using a circular dish, layer one vegetable on top of the next, leaving a slight overhang with each vegetable.  Keep going around the edge and then add to the middle.  Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, and thyme.  Drizzle the last tablespoon of olive oil on top.

Cover the dish with tinfoil and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.  Uncover the dish and grate the cheese on top if you plan on using it.  Bake for another 25-30 minutes to allow the dish to crisp up.  Enjoy!

Note: I cooked this dish to the point of cooking the potatoes through, then planned on finishing it at my mom’s, which would crisp up the veggies.  It didn’t happen.  It also wasn’t in the oven long enough.  So, make sure you get it nice and crisp at the end so it doesn’t get soggy.