Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Southern New Years (Collards, Black Eyed Peas and Cornbread)

Apparently, if you eat black-eyed peas on New Years Day, it is supposed to bring you good luck for the new year.  I like to pair mine with collards and cornbread to make it a truly delicious “southern” new years meal. I grow my own collards (which is truly easy in Georgia – they seem to grow well in all seasons, but esp fall and winter, when you don’t really have to worry about any bugs eating them up!).

You can use canned or dried black-eyed peas to make this dish, though when you use dried beans, they must be soaked first and the water ratio and cooking time in the recipe changes.  I haven’t made this with dried beans in a while so I am going to share the recipe for using canned black-eyed peas.

The cornbread recipe is not my own… I got the recipe from Cooks Illustrated magazine.  You would be pleased to know that it won the Blue Ribbon at the Iowa State Fair, which surprised many people, since the cornbread was vegan!  I did change around some of the actual directions to my own, which I found made it easier to prepare and didn’t seem to change the outcome at all.

I will add some pictures when I make this tomorrow! I’m just getting a head start and I wanted to share this so YOU can make it tomorrow or on New Years day as well! 🙂

Black Eyed Peas with Collard Greens

  • 1 cup onion, chopped well (white or yellow)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3  1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3-4 cups packed prepped collard greens*.  I think that’s about 10 large leaves… I would buy 2 bunches if you are getting them from the store to ensure lots of greens
  • < 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 heaping Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained (my favorite brand is Eden)

1) Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil and set aside.

2) Bring the broth to a boil in a large stockpot and add the collards.

* To prep collards, first wash them.  Then chop off the stem up to the base (or you can remove the thickest part of the stems by simply cutting them out from about halfway up the leaf, which makes it much easier to roll them up).  Stack and roll 2-3 leaves up tight, like a cigar shape.  Then slice them, cutting into about 1/4″ slices.  I usually save some of the thick stems and toss them into the pot as well, usually cut in 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces.

3) Add the spices, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke and onion/garlic mixture and cook (covered) on simmer until the collards are tender, stirring occasionally. This usually takes about 45 minutes, give or take.

4) Add the canned black-eyed peas and continue to cook on simmer, at least another 30 minutes, until flavors have some time to blend.

Blue Ribbon Cornbread

    • 2 Tbsp ground flax-seed + 6 Tbsp water
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup cornmeal
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 4 tsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup soymilk
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 1 cup canned corn (this is my personal touch to the recipe)

1) Heat oven to 425 F and spray an 8×8″ square baking pan with non-stick spray.

2) Mix ground flax and water. Whisk well. Wait 2-3 minutes, whisk again. Set aside. (The original recipe says to boil water, add flax and reduce heat to medium low, simmer 3 minutes until thick and set aside. I tried this and it didnt seem to make any difference to me either way, and I think my way is easier.)

3) In medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.

4)  Add soymilk and canola oil to the flax mixture and whisk it together really well.  Fold into flour mixture and mix until just mixed – try not to overmix. Fold in corn gently and pour into the prepared pan.

5) Cook for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes in the pan, then cool for 10 min out of pan.  Cut and serve!

Portobello Green Bean Casserole

There is a dish I feel must be consumed at some point during every holiday season… a green bean casserole. I admit, I meant to make this before Thanksgiving!  In fact, I meant to share several good holiday-ish h’oerderves, but now I find it is already 3 days until Christmas and I find myself repeatedly asking, “where did the time go?!” (Did I mention that I haven’t wrapped a thing yet?! Thank goodness my husband is taking the kids to his mom’s for the day today, so I can spend my day wrapping all the gifts!)  

I don’t know if I mentioned before, but there are, I believe, 11 birthdays in my family (among the two biggest family-gathering-holidays, Thanksgiving and Xmas)  just between November and January – oh – and that does not include my friend’s birthdays!  So, as you can imagine, my brain has been pretty busy remembering to mail cards, make food, make plans regarding how and when we are having get togethers (& what I am to bring), buying gifts, etc., plus the every day to day life… “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans” – WELL SAID, John Lennon.  With all this going on, my poor blog has been neglected 😦  Well, one of my new years resolutions is to make sure I don’t slack off on sharing vegan deliciousness!  )You may be interested to know that I acquired an ice cream maker at an early christmas gathering… & I can’t wait to try it out!)

My kids are funny about green beans.  For some reason, they don’t normally like fresh green beans.  However, they will totally eat up canned green beans (only the regular cut kind, not the french cut) and they REALLY eat ’em up when we play a game I like to call “Buh-Bye Green Bean” (where we put one in our mouths and suck it in really fast – they think it is hilarious and it really makes them excited to clean ALL the green beans from their plate!).  This is one recipe using fresh green beans I found that they enjoy, and I hope you & yours do too!

Buh-Bye Greenbean!

I came up with this recipe after scoping out several green bean casserole recipes and then combining my favorite bits and pieces of each one, until… TA-DA!  A delicious green bean casserole appeared… like magic 🙂  Well, almost.

~Portobello Green Bean Casserole~

  • 1 1/2 – 2 oz fresh green beans (prepped and cut into 2″ pieces) 
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 block xtra-firm silken tofu, crumbled well or pureed (I like the Mori-Nu brand… though I bet a 1/2 – 3/4 block of regular drained tofu would work just as well as the silken tofu)
  • 3 large Portobello caps, cut into chunks (or a pre-sliced 6oz pack of caps works just as well)
  • a large box (1 qt) of Imagine brand Creamy Portobello Soup (you can use anywhere from half to the whole thing…  I usually use 3/4 of the box.
  • 1/2 tsp dry dill
  • 2 Tbsp butter/soy margarine
  • 1 1/2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 can (6 oz) French’s fried onions (or make your own)

    Gather ye rosebuds (or in this case, ye ingredients) while ye may...

1)  Preheat your oven to 375.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the green beans for about 6 minutes, strain, rinse with cold water & set aside.

2) In a skillet, heat olive oil.  Add onion, garlic & cook about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until soft.  Set aside.

3)  TO MAKE SAUCE: heat about half of the box of soup (or up to 3/4 of the box) with the margarine.  Add the tofu* and all other spices.  Cook until it thickens up a bit and becomes a little more “saucy”. Add the mushroom/onion/garlic mixture. Stir together well.  (*If crumbled, the tofu will look chunky… if this is gonna be an issue for you, simply puree the tofu before adding it to the soup, or use an immulsion blender if you have one -just make sure to do so before adding the mushroom mixture.  Adding the tofu helps give the casserole that thick creamy goodness, plus protein/vitamins.  Personally, I think I prefer to puree mine into the soup.)

4) Pour the beans into a 9 x 13 casserole dish (or 8 x 11.5 if you must) and pour the sauce over the top. Mix slightly. Cover and bake about 15 minutes.  Remove top/foil and add the 6-oz container of fried onions.  Bake another 15-30 minutes until browned and bubbly.

before the final bake with the onions on top

Voila! It's all done when it's nice and cripsy on top

The color of the creamy sauce is dependant on how much soup is used. If you use more soup, your sauce will appear darker.

P.S. Truth be told, the last time I was making this (yesterday) I somehow forgot to let my soup/sauce thicken… maybe it was the 2 kids running circles around my legs, grabbing onto me while screaming and tickling each other… MAYBE.  Anyway, I forgot to let the sauce thicken, and before I knew it, I was pouring it over the green beans, creating a very watery looking green bean soup! Not appetizing.  SO… I ended up having to deconstruct my casserole by straining out all my veggies with a slotted spoon (which was a huge pain in the arse) so I could cook the sauce down to thicken it up. Take my advice – don’t let that happen to you!  Ay-yi-yiiiiii! Sometimes kids can be so distracting! 🙂

Who ME? Distracting?! (Buh-Bye Greenbean! See YA!)

Soysage Casserole

This is a great breakfast or dinner casserole.  I could literally eat this for every meal – and so could my kiddos 🙂  It can also be made ahead of time, which is great if you are a busy body.  I included this in the “child’s play” category because it’s easy to assemble, but mainly because the kids love helping tear up the bread (though obviously they can’t help cook the “soysage”!).

For this recipe, I prefer using Lightlife Gimme Lean “sausage”, though any other kind of vegan sausage would surely work (though I have never used another kind).  Some people don’t care for all these “fake meat” products, but for the most part, I find them tasty and a quick healthy source protein.  Having been vegan for 10+ years now, I have tried almost every brand of fake meat, cheese & other non-dairy products out there and I’m always open to trying anything new that I see. Some faux-foods have been not-so-great, but I definitely also have ones that I truly enjoy & find delicious!  If you ever want to know my opinion on a product, don’t be afraid to ask! (P.S. I do not get paid by any company whose products I show… If I am endorsing it, it’s because I truly think its great to use in my recipes.)

That being said… onto the bread!  I find that the heartier/granier the bread the better the casserole.  I would not recommend using a really soft bread, as I have found through experience.  I really like using Masada 6-Grain bread. I cannot stress this enough-  a thick, hearty (or grainy) bread makes the best casserole!

This recipe has been adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Planet, though I have made several changes to the original recipe.

~Soysage Casserole~

  • roughly 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cups crumbled soy sausage (I like to use two tubes of Lightlife Gimme Lean Soy Sausage, prepared as directed below)
  • 2 blocks soft or firm tofu, drained and then crumbled
  • 2 cups soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground or whole fennel seeds (if using whole, chop them up into little bits – this is usually what I do)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8-10 slices of bread

1)  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the soysage* and cook, stirring until browned. This will take several minutes.  Once browned, remove from heat & set aside.

*If you are using Gimme Lean Soy Sausage, do this by tearing it into little bits (roughly 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces) and throwing them right into the skillet.  It’s a little sticky and mushy… just keep ripping it into small pieces (you can chop them up further with a spatula if necessary while you’re stirring them around with the onion) then continue following recipe above, cooking until lightly browned.

2) In a large bowl, combine the crumbled tofu, milk, thyme, fennel, and a little salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well, then mix in the sausage mixture and set aside.

3)  Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a lightly oiled shallow 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Pour the sausage mixture evenly over the bread and set aside several minutes until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes or overnight. If it looks a bit dry anywhere, it doesn’t hurt to add a splash of soymilk where needed.  (If you do refrigerate until morning, let it come to room temp before baking.)

4)  Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake until the casserole looks puffy and lightly browned, about 45 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  Let cool slightly. Devour!

Mmmmm! I could eat this for every meal!

Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

When someone asks me what I would do if I had all the money and time in the world… several things come to mind.  First off, I love being a mom.  Trying to teach my kids how to be good people is the most important job in the world to me. But that is a job that will never go away, regardless of time or money!  So… next up is helping animals – I am extremely passionate about animals. I love rescuing animals (all 4 of my current pets were rescued) & teaching others to respect and love animals, and I love to show people how many ways there are to help animals, like eating vegan (hence my blog). I would love to operate an animal shelter and rescue/foster animals that need help.  Another thing I love and completely lose myself in is producing art, but it seems (at the moment) I have less time for that now that I am chasing down two little kids!  And last, but certainly not least,  I LOVE to bake!  Cookies, muffins, scones, bread… I definitely feel I am more of a “baker” than a “chef”.  And not only does my baking come from the heart, but it also helps (in a small but important way) bring my love of animals to the table – no pun intended!! I love to produce yummy things from the oven and simultaneously introduce people to the joys of baking without using animals as ingredients 🙂

That being said, I would love to share with you one of my most favorite breakfast scones recipe. No one can deny the goodness of the combination of bananas and chocolate.  (And yes, you can easily find vegan chocolate chips – and I’m not talking about carob chips, which I personally don’t care for.)

Here's one of my favorite kinds of vegan chocolate chips! These chocolate chips are tiny, cute & delicious!

I also find that using part whole wheat pastry flour gives a fluffy end result that wouldn’t turn out the same if you used only white flour. Mmmm. I just pulled mine out of the oven and they smell so good I can barely wait for them to cool for 5 minutes!!

Banana Chocolate Chip Scones

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1  1/2 cups chopped bananas (or about 2 small bananas)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • <1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 6-7 Tbsp soymilk
  • capful of cider apple vinegar (about >1 tsp)

1) Mix both flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder in a large bowl.  Mix well.

2) Cut in 1/3 cup canola oil with a fork and crumble well to eliminate all balls of oil.  Start with a fork and then use your hands if you wish.

3) Mix in the fruit / chocolate chips

4) In measuring cup, measure the maple syrup, soymilk & vinegar.  The liquids should measure (total) just at 3/4 cup. Whisk them together well, then pour the liquids into the dry mix and fold until it is just mixed.  It may take a minute, just keep folding it over and over from all directions until all the flour is mixed in and no big patches of flour are present.  The batter will be thick.

Measuring out the liquids... be sure to whisk it together well before adding it to the bowl!

5)  Scoop by using a 1/2 cup measuring cup onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  When I do it this way, I get 7 scones.  Press them down slightly in the middle  (they will spread a little tiny bit in the oven).

6)  Bake at 400 for about 12 minutes until bottoms & sides are lightly browned.

Bake until golden brown & yummy looking!

If you ask me, nothing goes better with a delicious chocolate chip scone than some delicious coffee in a Cookie Monster mug!

Variations: You can replace the chocolate chips with nuts, or add nuts to the batter as well.  You could also use strawberries instead of bananas, though I have never done that with this recipe.  I have another recipe I prefer for strawberry/chocolate chip scones with walnuts, which I will probably share another time!