Vegan Chick’n & Waffles

Finally! Dinner & A Movie night is back! I hope you enjoy this Dinner and a Movie, featuring the ever so popular ‘Shrek’ quadrilogy! Feel free to watch ANY of the Shrek movies with this meal. We watched all four of them over a couple days and ended up eating this meal with the final movie  Shrek –  Forever After.

Read all about our movie night by clicking here! As always, feel free to comment and send me suggestions or ideas! Thanks! Hope you enjoy!

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!

Flax-Berry Pancakes

This is one of our all-time favorite pancake recipes!! They whip up in a jiffy and my kids wolf them down even faster!!  I often can’t seem to cook them fast enough to sit & eat with my kids at the table! (In my opinion, a decent sized griddle is worth the $20 investment if you don’t have one! You can make more pancakes at once and they cook more evenly.) I don’t know about you, but we love having breakfast food for dinner on occasion!

These are made with blueberries (one of the best fruits you can eat for your health) and also flax seeds (a great way to get your omega-3’s without eating fish!).  Flax seeds are so incredible healthy and they also make the best egg-replacer. If your not on the “flax-train”, its time to buy a ticket! They store wonderfully in the freezer (whole or ground) for maximum freshness.

This recipe is from ‘Vegan Planet’ by Robin Robertson, which is one of my favorite vegan cookbooks.  I like to use fresh blueberries whenever possible. When you use frozen berries, sometimes you end up with purple-ish pancakes – which is no biggie – my 5-year-old daughter definitely doesn’t complain!

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Flax-Berry Pancakes

  • 1  1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sweetener (I like agave nectar or maple syrup, but raw sugar works too)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1  1/4 cup soymilk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed)

1) In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

2) Blend or whisk the flax seeds and water until thick. Let side for a minute, then whisk again. Add the soymilk and vanilla. Whisk well!

3) Pour wet into dry, mixing until just moist. Fold in the berries.

4) Pour pancakes onto griddle (Personally, I like to use my 1/3 measuring cup for a good size.) Cook until bubbly, then flip. Repeat with remaining batter! Devour!

Serves 4

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! 🙂

Sesame Sweet Marinated Tofu

(First  A Quick Note from Your Vegan Neighbor:  Hi everyone! Please forgive me for being away so long – unfortunately during the move I misplaced my camera! I know its around here somewhere & I am one box away from coming across it & I will fill this post with pictures asap! I’m glad t0 be back! As always, feel free to send me suggestions for future posts or Dinner & a Movie ideas!)

I wish I could’ve shared this gem earlier in the summer! I was gonna call this recipe “sweet sesame marinated tofu”, but my kids love this recipe so much, we decided that flipping the words to sesame-sweet made a better name – because now they tend to call it “sesame stweet tofu” 🙂

My daughter just started kindergarden… I really can’t believe it. The time I part-dreaded/part looked-forward-to has finally arrived! Sending off my girl into the big world… It’s a big step for her and a dose of reality for me. My baby is growing up and a new chapter in her life – and mine – is beginning. I’m getting the hang of waking up at 6 am and making her lunch, getting her dressed, fed, ready… Some mornings I feel like I am in school too!!

I struggled with the idea of homeschooling, which I find wonderful for many reasons, though I think my daughter is one who will thrive in the social environment of which modern day public school is… Plus she’ll have access to some things that aren’t as accessible to me daily (computer lab, science equiptment, my undivided attention for 8 hours).  Now that I’m working outside the home anyway, I’m not home as regularly to teach her as public school can!

(By the way, making a packed lunch that is healthy & exciting to eat is an art that I am trying to master! I’m intrigued by these bento boxed lunches, but haven’t ventured there yet. When I do, you’ll be the first to know! Right now, I’m just packing her favorites and keeping it healthy!)

I wanted to make this recipe because my daughter LOVES snacking on these straight from the fridge. They are an excellent quick go-to healthy snack for anytime, such as right after school or while dinner is cooking! They are also an excellent topping for salads… a great way to incorporate a little extra protein (and hey, maybe get your kid to try a salad)!  I strongly recommend using the firmest tofu you can find. I like to use bulk tofu, which is usually super firm!

Sesame Sweet Marinated Tofu

makes 16 squares

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 Tbsp tamari
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (add last * see directions)

Turn the tofu on its side and slice the tofu in three slices lengthwise. (I cut down the middle first then cut each side in half carefully). Then lay the tofu flat and cut vertically and horizontally, turning it into 16 squares.

1) Using a large nonstick pan, lay out all 16 squares of tofu.

2) Add all of the other ingredients (except the sesame oil) right on top, drizzling the brown rice syrup and sprinking the ginger over the squares, then cook on med-high heat, jiggling your pan occasionally. Once you see the liquids cooking down some, flip your squares over carefully, then continue cooking until most liquid is gone.

3) Lower heat to low-medium and drizzle the 1 Tbsp sesame oil over the top. Cook until only slightly wet. Let cool on pan for several minutes after cooking, then refrigerate until ready to use. Store with any extra “sauce” and refrigerate.  Eat right from the fridge or on top of a salad! Before serving on salad, cut each square diagonally (making two triangles).

This tofu accompanies this Nori Sesame Dressing like a dream come true! Keep refrigerated & eat frequently!

Don’t you… Forget About Me!

Man… living in todays modern world with no internet connection is ROUGH… I havent had an internet connection since mid-March… Long story… I will say that I just moved and I havent had the chance to get my internet hooked up yet, but I hope to have it and my blog up and running again by next week. (Im at work on a break right now!) Im bummed that I have really missed some good holidays and opportunities to share recipes. Obladi, oblada, life goes on! Man, I miss you guys & I hope you have missed me. So, here’s to next week! I’ll bring the food! 😉

Nori Sesame Dressing

Wow… Spring already? Boy is time flying… and there has been a lot going on at your vegan neighbor’s house lately, which has been making things seem to move along even faster. Most recently, I started working at an awesome little shop downtown. (In fact, it was my first job in town when I moved here 13 years ago!)  It’s great to be back again (despite being away from my kiddos) because I really loved working there and being downtown. I reluctantly let this job go when I got hired to work as the bread baker full-time at the Green Scene Baking Company (a vegan bakery/restaurant), which is no longer in business… not because the food wasn’t great, but because the owner decided to move to California and become a nutritionist! I’m sure all of Athens misses the Green Scene – I know I do!

Anyway, I apologize for not posting for so long – I promise it’s not a sign of things to come!! I just needed some time adjusting to my new schedule and some other changes. And now that I’m a working mom (*all mom’s are “working moms” but what I mean here is outside the home), I will be able to relate more easily to those of you in that position, and I’ll try to post more recipes that will help make dinner simpler for everyone! That said, I am more than ready to start sharing some of my favorite spring & summer recipes with you!

Nori Sesame Dressing

This salad dressing may be familiar to those of you who have actually eaten at The Green Scene. It was one of the most popular salad dressings and was served on a mixed greens salad. (picture coming soon!)

Mix in food processor until clumpy:

  • 3 sheets Nori (look for this in the Asian section of your grocery store)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds

Then add:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water (I usually add > 1/2 cup, but you may choose to add the other 1/4 cup if you desire a thinner dressing)
  • 3/4 cup sesame oil (drizzle in slowly, last!)

BLEND ~ BLEND ~ BLEND

Apply to greens (with salad toppings of choice) and DEVOUR!