Category Archives: fall

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili

Hey folks! It’s another Dinner and a Movie night! I don’t know about you, but this new year has been keeping me so busy! I’m definitely trying to make time for more blogging and especially for more ‘Dinner and a Movie’ nights! They are our favorites!

This week we watched Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (one of our all-time favorites) and made “Jack Skellington’s Bone-Chilling Chili” (aka Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili). READ ALL ABOUT OUR FUN MOVIE NIGHT HERE!!

If I have learned anything from having two kiddos, it’s that ANYTIME (esp. Dinner and a Movie night) is a good time to dress up!! So… “don’t be afraid”  to pull out the costumes & the Jack-o-lanterns for this spooky movie night! 😉

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Crock-Pot Vegan Chicken & Mushroom Casserole

(This is a crock pot recipe, but it only cooks for 1 – 1  1/2 hours & is best if you can occasionally give it a stir.  It can even be started the night before and assembled before cooking. Start cooking this 1  1/2 hours before serving time.)

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Fall calls for the start of comfort foods. I can’t get enough thick soups and casseroles this time of year! I remember loving my mom’s chicken noodle casserole when I was a kid. Though this is not based on her actual recipe, it is kind of like my veganized version from my childhood memory. I have been trying more crock pot recipes out lately & intend to try more, especially the long-cooking ones… It’s amazing to come home from work and smell dinner cooking. Its like having your very own private chef! This would be an easy dish to take to a fall pot luck!

I was so pleased that my 3 & 5-year old kids liked this. In fact, I didn’t tell my daughter she was eating seitan (she thought it was “tofu chicken”, which she loves) until she was into her second serving and asking for more of the “tofu”. She was even giving me seriously exaggerated “MMM”‘s! every time she had a piece (she was loving it so much she was rolling her eyes with every bite!).  When I told her she was eating seitan -& loving it – her eyes practically popped out of her head! LOL… We have had numerous failed attempts at finding ways to get the kids to eat seitan, it’s just not one of their favorites. SO, I was stoked it was a hit! Hurray for another delicious & healthy recipe that they enjoy! 🙂  I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! This could easily be baked in the oven in a casserole dish though I until I try it myself, I cannot vouch for oven temp/cooking times as of yet.

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Vegan Chicken & Mushroom Casserole B.B.C (Before Bread Crumbs)

Crock-Pot Vegan Chicken & Mushroom Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms ( I used 2 cans, which rang in at about 8 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp vegan chicken-flavored bouillon (I used one square of Edward & Sons Not-Chicken Bouillon Cubes by dissolving it in a bit of the milk, heated)
  • 4 cups plain unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups seitan, plain or chicken-flavored, torn or chopped into small cubes. Use store-bought or homemade seitan. (I actually used plain seitan and it was great… One box was about 1.5 cups &I had about a 1/2 cup already in my fridge that I threw in to use it up.)
  • 8 oz dried pasta shells of choice (whole wheat or regular – I used some penne noodles but most anything would work.)
  • 3/4 cup peas (opt. – I just love peas, so I added some in there!)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme dried
  • salt and pepper to taste (the veg bouillon cube is so high in sodium I didn’t add any additional salt)
  • 2 Tbsp flour, if needed to thicken
  • Bread crumbs or topping of choice (think panko, crushed Ritz, crushed potato chips, French fried onions…)
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A few of my ingredients.. though you could also use fresh mushrooms and peas if you choose.

1) To make the cashew cream sauce, blend in a food processor until smooth & creamy:

  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

2) Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent, about 3-5 min. Add the garlic and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms reduce in size and are tender, 5-10 min. (If you use canned mushrooms, just cook 5-10 min as well to blend flavors.)

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At this point you can refrigerate both the sauce and the veggies, separately, until the next day if you are preparing this ahead.

3) Oil the crock of your slow cooker and combine the sautéed veggies, cashew cream sauce, disintegrated bouillon cube, milk, seitan, pasta, thyme & pepper in the slow cooker. Mix thoroughly and cook on high for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the pasta is al dente. Give it a good stir about every 20 minutes or so.

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Ready to seal her up for an hour and a half to cook and thicken up!

4) If the pasta is ready but the sauce isn’t thick enough, stir in the flour. This should help thicken it up. (Note: I added in the flour to find that after I had taken the lid off the crock pot, it thickened up more on its own very quickly!) If desired, add your topping before serving. Devour!!

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D’oh! I forgot my bread crumbs!!! (I did add some a moment later once I was eating and realized they had been forgotten!! I put a little fresh basil on mine.)

This was truly delicious & easy. Will make again for sure. Id love to try baking it in the oven sometime with some French Fried Onions on top.  Let me know if you try that! And as always, suggestions and comments are appreciated!

Vegan Manicotti

With my plate pretty full from working during the week & getting used to my daughters school routine, I’m on the hunt for some fast & easy dinners… So are you, right?!  Most days I work until 5:30-6pm, so I love a good homemade meal that I know the kids will eat AND that I can whip up fairly quickly. Kids or no kids, one can never have enough recipes like that in their possession!

In my experience, most kids – and some adults – are finicky eaters (one time they love something and the next time they wont touch it!) so I get really excited when I make something that my kids really love EVERY time. It is so comforting to know when they are going to bed with a nice full belly! Here’s a few links to some of our favorite family meals that are fairly quick to make: fettucini no-fredo, biscuits and gravy, soysage casserole (prepared ahead), homemade vegan mac, pancakes/waffles (sorry no direct link, theres too many to choose from!), pot pie, homemade pizza… &  spaghetti with meatballs!

My family loves this tofu ricotta! I love it for a few reasons – it is fast, it is versatile (it makes several meals – lasagna, manicotti, ziti), the dishes can be made ahead or frozen, & its  healthy- the ricotta is full of protein (tofu) & vitamin B-12 (nutritional yeast), two things that are especially great for vegans. In fact, I think this ricotta just so good that I keep putting off trying vegan ricotta using cashews, a recipe I’ve been meaning to try FOREVER! I’ll get around to it soon, it’s just that Vegan Gourmet Soy cheese is very accessible to me and I personally think its delicious. I have never tried to make this ricotta recipe with Diaya, but I’m sure it would be yummy too. Let me know if you try that!

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Vegan Manicotti

Manicotti is super easy and simple. The hard part is stuffing the noodles without splitting them! (Be sure to cook up lots of noodles cause they split fairly easily.) I think the best, fastest & most attractive way to achieve this is to use a pastry frosting piping bag or making your own by cutting the tip off the corner of a large freezer-ziplock bag. You can also just stuff jumbo shells if you prefer… They are easier to fill, but I find them messier overall. (TIP: Another quick meal to make with this ricotta is making baked ziti – cook & drain ziti noodles and just stir it all together (ziti noodles, ricotta, and sauce), shred some more cheese on top and bake it up!)

You will need :

  • 9×13″ baking pan
  • 1 jar of sauce
  • 1 batch of Tofu Ricotta (recipe below)
  • 1 box of Manicotti Noodles (Ferrara is what I usually use)

1) Make this tofu ricotta in a food processor. Blend all ingredients but pulse the basil in last, if you are using fresh basil.

  • 1 block tofu (I like to use extra firm)
  • 1 cup shredded vegan gourmet mozzarella, packed
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh is best!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil – pulse in last! (2 tsp – 3 tsp if using dry basil)

2) Cook noodles according to box. (Mine cooked about 8-9 min.) Take the noodles out of the boiling water when they are done and lay them on paper towels to wait until they are cool enough to handle.

3) Spread a little sauce in the bottom of your 9 x 12 baking dish. Now fill the noodles carefully with the tofu ricotta by spoon or piping bag (I recommend the piping/ziplock bag method).

4) Arrange the stuffed noodles side by side in the pan. Cover with sauce and bake 25 minutes at 350 F. That’s all there is to it!

Serve with fresh garlic toast or bread. Mmmmmm! So easy and satisfying!

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The proof is on the plate… or in this case, an almost empty plate!!

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Arlo in action! Chomp! Chomp!

I cant even tell you how happy I am now that I found my camera!  Blogging recipes isn’t as much fun when you can’t share the visual of the finished product! More to come very soon! 🙂

Apple Rosemary Scones

Since we have a seriously enormous rosemary bush growing in our front yard, I am always wondering what I can make that includes this delicious aromatic herb. Our rosemary bush is so large, in fact,  that it is now blooming in age with beautiful purple flowers. We use rosemary regularly in pastas, sauces & in general cooking… sometimes we even place a bunch of stalks of rosemary in a jar of water to freshen up the room, but… in a scone?  I admit I was a bit hesitant to try this combination (which you can guess means made my kids extremely hesitant to try it!), but, how will you know if something is for you or not unless you give it a try, right?!  Once again, an important lesson I try to teach my kids daily comes out through baking! (One more reason to love the kitchen!)

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Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh rosemary?!

Warning: The wonderful aroma of these scones will fill up your house and make your tummy growl! These scones are perfect for spring or fall. They are light & crispy on the outside, & soft on the inside. I think they are best served warm. Add butter if you like.  If your kids are anything like mine, they love to help in the kitchen  – so send them out to help pick the rosemary… or perhaps even the apples, if you are so lucky!!

Tip: If you make big scones, you can heat them up the next day in your toaster oven, carefully cut the scone in half horizontally and add a soysage patty to make a mini biscuit-sandwich! Can you say “Wow?!” Oh sorry!… I didn’t realize your mouth was full! Mmmmmmmmmm………….. Delicious!

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Apple Rosemary Scones

  • 1  1/4 cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed gently
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1  1/2 cups diced sweet red apples (about 3 small apples)
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 Tbsp dried & crushed)
  • a little sugar for sprinkling (raw sugar or brown sugar)

1) Preheat oven to 375. Mix the milk and vinegar in a large measuring cup. Set aside.

2) Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Add the shortening in clumps, mixing in well with a pastry cutter, a fork or your hands. Break it up until it is in little pea like crumbles. Add the rosemary and apples.

3) Mix the oil and vanilla into the milk/vinegar mixture. Create a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour the liquid into the center. Mix until it is all just moistened, flipping and folding the batter this way and that, trying not to overmix.  A few dry-looking spots are okay.

4) Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop & drop the scones onto a parchment covered baking sheet.  You should get 12-16 scones, depending on the size you scoop them. Sprinkle the tops with some sugar, then bake 18-22 minutes until the tops & sides are lightly browned. Transfer to cooling rack to cool and enjoy warm! Devour!

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Apples + Rosemary = Heaven (who knew?!)

African Sweet Potato Soup

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Mmmm… I really love soup, especially when its cold outside! This is the first time I made this African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter, Black Eyed Peas and Beans and it turned out so delicious! This soup is also gluten free, and makes a great hearty bowl if you are having company.  This could easily be a New Years dish since it contains black eyed peas… Perhaps next time I make this, I may try adding in some greens!

(I slightly altered the recipe below from the original one here @ the gluten-free goddess. The original recipe also includes jalapeno and cilantro. The jalapeno I decided to leave out because my kids don’t usually care for spicy foods, and the cilantro I left out because I didn’t have any! I also used a white onion instead of a red one. What can I say?…. It still tasted absolutely great!)

I was pleased that my kids tried and (more or less) liked this soup.  My son scooped his bowl clean… I think he could sense that it contained peanut butter (hahaha) which is one of his favorite foods! My daughter wasn’t as big of a fan, but she did finish her bowl for me.  I am a sucker for peanuty soups… especially ones like this. It makes about 4 adult servings. We served ours with a side of coconut jasmine rice, which the kids always love! It would also be great with some cornbread. The peanut butter can be substituted for almond butter or sunflower seed butter if you have allergies.

African Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red or green Thai Kitchen curry paste – hot or mild, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 1 14-0z can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups broth
  • 1/2 cup 100% natural peanut butter + 1/2 cup hot water (to equal 1 cup) I recommend using chunky peanut butter to give it a little  extra texture and crunch in the soup.
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red hot pepper flakes
  • Juice from 1 big lime
  • 2-3 tsp brown sugar (or agave nectar), to taste
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1) Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the curry paste and cinnamon; stir for a minute to mix the pol with spice. Add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, yellow pepper. Stir and cook the veggies for 5-7 minutes, until softened.

2) Add the black-eyed peas, white and black beans, broth, melted peanut butter, red pepper flakes and cilantro.

3) Bring the soup to a high simmer, cover, and lower the heat. Keep the soup on simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, 25-30 minutes.

4) Stir in the lime juice and sweetener. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro, if you please!

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This delicious soup is packed with flavor AND protein!

P.S. This soup could easily make a ‘Dinner and a Movie’ night with Disney’s ‘The Jungle Book’.  That was kinda my original plan. My kids love hearing about different places in the world (in this case, Africa) and how different people live  and how our lifestyles are alike or different.  It makes for a great educational conversation!  However, somehow on this night we got sidetracked &  we never got around to putting in the movie!

Getting ready for the Big Thanksgiving Feast!

Somehow, Thanksgiving has snuck up on me this year!! I’m sorry I haven’t shared more recipes with you, but I did provide some links below to some of the things I will be making and more!

We are having a family feast for 21 this year on Thanksgiving day at my mom’s, so I decided to pitch in and bring a few things to help out! Plus, since many others at the feast are not vegan, it’s fun to bring a few dishes to show everyone that vegan cooking is incredibly delicious! It just so happens I have a  3-pot crock-pot cooker, so I chose dishes that would work with that. Another great thing about using a crock pot is that I won’t need to use the busy oven at my mom’s for reheating anything – I can easily heat things up just by plugging it in and stirring every now and then! You can’t beat that!

So, here’s what I’m bringing to share…

  • 1) my vegan pumpkin pie
  • 2) vegan macaroni and cheese (my moms mac-n-cheese recipe, veganized)
  • 3) maple pecan sweet potatoes (from the cookbook ‘Vegan Holiday Kitchen’ by Nava Atlas)
  • 4) and something I like to call “Green beans a’la Terry” (a recipe from my friend and old co-worker, Terry, who works at the Grit, my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Athens, GA)

Sorry – I haven’t put any of those recipes listed above on my blog (except for the pumpkin pie)! But don’t sweat it – there are TONS of recipes online that have been making me drool! Here are some recipes that I thought looked awesome from some other sites that I wanted to share!

  • The Post Punk Kitchen has an awesome looking maple pecan pie I am planning on making if I can squeeze it in… and there are many more holiday dishes to peruse here! Check out the Thanksgiving page.
  • Mmmm. We just made these scalloped potatoes tonight. We made them (minus the fennel) and they were spectacular! Definitely making these again!

  • The Gluten-free Goddess always has an amazing list of holiday friendly foods. Check out her list vegan and vegetarian foods here!
  • And don’t forget about Vegan Dad. He makes some amazing food! I have a “must-try” list accumulated from his blog site!
  • Another good site to explore is Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Life website. Full of good recipes and other veggie news!

If you are new to my blog, you may have missed some previous veggie side dishes that are great for the holidays, such as my lemon maple sweet potatoes, cauliflower mashed potatoes , butternut squash soup, green bean casserole, maple roasted parsnips, agave glazed carrots,… and these pot roast veggies cook up beautifully and easily with a tofu-turkey roast.

You definitely don’t need a turkey to have a delicious holiday meal, but if you need or crave that “meaty” centerpiece, I recommend the Tofurkey roast (available at most supermarkets) or a Field Roast.  Or you can make your own homemade tofu roast (which is a bit more complicated but worth the effort). The Post Punk Kitchen makes a yummy looking seitan roast on their Thanksgiving page (see link above). Regardless of what foods you choose to make, remember the purpose of the holiday is to relax and enjoy the company of those around you!

Vegan Caramel Apples

Just in time for Halloween, I have found a recipe for THE MOST AMAZING vegan caramel apples I have ever tasted. This vegan caramel is even better than the classic non-vegan caramel that I remember from my childhood… which is truly hard to beat! Vegan, soy-free, gluten free… this “caramel” is mostly made of brown rice syrup & coconut milk, so you could almost call it healthy, right?!  I will be making this vegan caramel again very soon to make  old-fashioned square candies, rolo-type candies & more! I can hardly wait to experiment! This stuff is GOOOOOOD!!!!

Vegan Caramel Apples

(makes 4 caramel apples)

  • organic apples
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • dash salt (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp earth balance vegan margarine (the soy free variety if you desire it to be soy free)

1) Wash and dry apples. Remove the stems. Insert a popsicle stick at the stem point. Cover a plate with wax paper or parchment paper and set aside.

2) Combine coconut milk, brown rice syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat  and heat until boiling. Whisk constantly to prevent it from sticking for about 10 minutes. It should thicken quite a bit.

3) Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and margarine.

4) Start drizzling the caramel quickly over each apple with a spoon, and spreading it a bit around the apples as you go. (Feel free to sprinkle and press them into chopped salted peanuts or chocolate if you so desire!)

5) Let the apples sit in the fridge for a bit to harden. DEVOUR!

Thank you, Vegan Action, for this amazing recipe! It is magnificent!