Friday, December 31, 2010

Saturday Stumbles

The It's Come 2 This Saturday Stumbles asks for favorite blogs stumbled upon in 2010. Here are mine.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop: Kelly is ridiculously nice and thorough and, though our definitions of "real" food may vary, I really enjoy reading her insights on food.

Once A Month Mom: Tricia does an insane amount of work every month putting together a month's worth of meals complete with grocery list, day-long cooking guide to cook everything in one day and recipe cards. You see this all over the web, but not like Tricia does! And now Christine has joined the crew to provide a diet menu. So, now I'll have two choices for what to vegetarianize! Yay!

Miz Helen: Oh my goodness. She is so sweet and her cooking just reminds me of the prototypical grandmother. My "cook" grandmother passed when I was very young, but some of Helen's homey treats make me remember my grandma fondly. Delicious.

Chubby Vegetarian: Justin's recipes are super fancy. Sometimes they're a little too fancy for my everyday menu, but I just love to read what adventurous new recipes he comes up with. One of my favorites is how he makes "bacon" out of diced mushrooms and bacon salt. Yum!

And, for my fifth and final blog...a not entirely food blog.
Lifeasmom: Jessica does a lot of different things on her blog (she has food elsewhere, too). My favorite recent post was her 2011 Book Club. Not all the books are my style, but I just think that's really cool to host a book club on your blog. And, she includes an option to veer off the prescribed book path. Super inventive.

Thanks to all these bloggers and bloggers everywhere for all you do!

Taco Seasoning Recipe

Taco Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup dried minced onion
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons oregano, crushed.

Mix all ingredients, put in an airtight shaky container for spices. Makes about 2/3 Cup taco seasoning blend.

New Year's Day Hoppin' John Shopping List

I'll be making a good luck black-eyed peas and collard greens dish for New Year's Day and I want you to be prepared with the ingredients in case you want to make it that day as well.
Here it is:
Crockpot Vegetarian Hoppin' John
  • Ingredients
    1 pound dry black eyed peas, soaked overnight
    4 C chicken-style or veggie broth
    1 pound vegan smoked sausage, sliced
    1 7 oz. can chopped green chiles
    1 bunch of collard greens or kale, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 dried hot pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp. hickory smoked "bacon" salt (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1-2 C long-grain white rice

House Seasoning

House seasoning
Adapted from a Paula Deen recipe
4 parts kosher salt
1 part black pepper
1 part garlic powder

I keep this in a large shaker near my prep area and add it to just about any recipe that calls for salt and pepper, to taste. It adds a delicious extra kick.

Dawn of the Meatless Recipe Resolution

Tomorrow is Day 1 of 2011 and the first day of my personal challenge to convert traditional and family favorite recipes--one per day--for each day of the year. It's a pretty daunting New Year's Resolution when I let myself think about it. Eep! What have I done? Do I really need to cook a meatless recipe every single day? Simply put, yep.

For my combination family--vegetarians and omnivores in our bunch--we need some sort of compromise to make all of us happy. I am tired of throwing away food when I try to make "real" meat for my husband that I can't really taste test properly or eat if he hates. I tried for a while to eat meat, but my reason for not eating meat isn't philosophical (unfortunately). I just don't like meat, never have (apparently I even snubbed meat baby food as an infant).

So, I'm even more tired of making multiple meals for a single family. It's bad enough that I need to figure out which things can be sent with my husband to work that will reheat well. Some things just turn out icky in the microwave. So, this is it. The final day to laze about making meals whenever I wish. Tomorrow ushers in the new era of organization and omnivore-friendly vegetarian recipes. Eep!

 OK, deep breath.

I will be chronicling what I make each day and am hoping to bring a new recipe each of the 365 days. I will definitely post my daily conversion each of the 365 days of the year, hopefully without repeats. The vast majority of those recipes will include meat substitutes. I'd also like to welcome vegans to the site, but my recipes will be geared primarily toward vegetarians and omnivores who choose to eat some vegetarian meals (for instance, Meatless Monday participants). Vegans, please see my post on Vegan Dairy Conversion to convert my vegetarian recipes to suit your needs.

So, fireworks, pew pew! Welcome to the challenge. Please be gracious and send me your recipe suggestions via comment here or by email at

Welcome to Veggie Converter 365.

The Veggie Converter

Is 'Fake' Meat Real Food?

Everyone please go check out and contribute to the debate on Kelly's blog about whether "fake" meat products are real food. Kelly's site is a great source for whole food cooking and philosophy. Jump into the debate here.

To get you up on the debate, here is what I commented about the question after comments back and forth between myself and other Kelly the Kitchen Kop readers:

Hello all,
Trouble-stirring vegetarian here. ;) haha. I actually, like you Kelly, am against vegetarians who try to push their agenda on omnivores. People have been eating meat for centuries, back off. I mean, I’m married to one, I like him. I actually had someone comment on my blog that we should bind together as vegetarians to convince meat-eaters to stop destroying the environment by eating meat. I politely informed her that I do not push my beliefs on anyone else and that sustainable agriculture and food is actually the solution to the problem she presented.
But anyway, I looked at that Quorn site, I hadn’t heard that it was super-processed before (though of course, all fake meats are processed to some level). Maybe I’m missing something. What I read is it’s mold from the soil check, (it’s a mushroom, which is fungus, like all other mushrooms it’s a mold from soil originally…that’s real food). So then, what do they do to make it, um, “chickeny”?
Well, they grow the mold, feed it, then heat-treat it. OK, I’m all right with that. Then they bind it with egg goo and meaty-texturize it. Weird, but I’m still OK. The texturizing gives “it some of the grained character of meat, and it is pressed either into a mince resembling ground beef; forms resembling chicken breasts, meatballs, and turkey roasts; or chunks resembling diced chicken breast.”
We probably have different definitions of real food, that’s inevitable. As a vegetarian with an omnivore, meat-loving husband, our definitions of real differ. I just don’t like meat, don’t like the taste or the texture. So part of me rebels even against the fake stuff. But, it’s just different enough that I like it and just similar enough that my husband does, too. If it were up to me, we’d eat tempeh and meat-free all day. He’d choose steak and hot dogs.
So, bottom line, yes, I think, for us, it’s “real food.” It’s low on chemical processing, high on good ingredients (protein for me is super important as a recently pregnant and now nursing mom). But, for you, it may be “fake.” Everyone’s definition likely varies in numerous degrees.

I’m sure we’ll all enjoy the debate. I’m excited to hear what everyone thinks! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Day for Giveaway and ...We're Moving!

Hi everyone, I hope your preparations for New Year's are going well. As a reminder, your last day to enter to win a $25 Gift Card is here. Go comment HERE to enter.

Also, we're moving out into the ocean of the web. The site will be located at in honor of the official launch of my New Year's Resolution posts. The blogspot site should redirect to that domain, but just in case be sure to update your bookmark!

Thanks and have a Happy New Year.

Soaking Dry Beans

I may have gone a bit overboard on the first major dry bean purchase.

Well, my local wholesale club has forced my hand to do something I've been meaning to do for a long time now: buy more dried beans. I rarely do this because canned beans are so easy! But, dried beans are healthier and much cheaper. It just takes a bit of a time investment to prepare them. I used to buy canned black beans by the flat at the wholesale club, so it was relatively cheap. But, alas, they stopped stocking them! I have no clue why as I'm sure I could've supported a few employees on my black bean purchases over the years.

So, when I made Black Beans and Rice with Sausage, I used up the last of my precious cans of black beans. Here we go, I thought, buying a can at a time at the grocery store. And then I remembered dry beans and wanting to make the switch.

I learned the technique I use over at Crockpot 365. It's really easy and all it takes is a little forethought. You can get about 3 15-oz. cans worth of beans out of a 16-oz. bag of dried beans. Go to Stephanie O'Dea's site for more detailed instructions, but the bottom line is, soak the beans overnight in the crock-pot (with the heat off). In the morning, dump the bean-colored water out. Put the beans and about 2-3 inches of water back in the crock-pot and cook on low for 8 hours. So, it's a day-long process, but it's really beneficial. Freezing and storage instructions are also detailed at Crockpot 365 as well.

I'm off to soak by black-eyed peas in preparation for my New Year's Day dish.

Happy soaking!

Black-eyed peas when the process is complete (nearly filling a 4-quart crock).

For even more about cooking dried beans, check out this Stolen Moments post.

This post is linked at Tip Day Thursday.

UPDATE: I've found with a few beans, rinsing, then immediately skipping to the cooking process (without the 8-hour soak) yields better results for us. This is particularly true with garbanzo beans/chickpeas, which get super squishy if you do the soak and cook. I definitely prefer the texture from skipping the 8-hour soaking process.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vegetarian Black Beans and Rice with Sausage Recipe

OK, I'm still experimenting as I've never had the type of meatless sausage (soy-free) I'm trying here, but I needed a bit of comforting after the cranberry meatballs. So, old standby Black Beans and Rice. Tasty all on its own, now with spicy chorizo-style sausage. Yum! This is just destined to be delicious. 

This would also make a great New Year's good luck dish for Saturday if you replace the black beans with black eyed peas.

Black Beans and Rice with Sausage

1 lb. (package of 4 links) Chorizo Sausage (I used Field Roast chipotle flavor sausage)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can or 2 C black beans, drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 3 cups veggie stock 
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice

  • Optional toppings: 
    • dried cilantro, mozzarella cheese or queso fresco

  • This is so simple. Put all the ingredients (except sausage and toppings) in your rice cooker, press brown rice or cook button. Meanwhile, brown the sausage links in a pan and slice. Return to your rice cooker about 15 minutes before scheduled end time (this depends on your cooker) and throw in the sausage link slices and stir. Serve topped with cheese and cilantro when cycle is complete.

  • Alternate stovetop directions. Cook rice with veggie stock, beans and chiles as directed for stovetop. Saute sausage with onion. Combine sausage and rice, top and serve.

The Results
Oh wow. This is a total vindication for meatless meats after yesterday's Cranberry-Barbecue Meatballs recipe debacle. It is delicious and (if you choose cheez or leave off the cheese, completely vegan). This is my first experience with a Field Roast product, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Yum! Fantastic. Smoky and slightly spicy chorizo-style sausage with a great texture. I normally would've put the sausage in to cook with the rice, but this doesn't have a true casing after you remove the plastic so I was afraid it would break apart in the rice cooker. However, I think it would be good to put a bit in with the rice to soak the flavor into the rice next time. Leaving maybe 3/4 of it for sliced bits would still bring the yummy sliced sausage texture.

This post is linked at No Whine Wednesday, Countdown to 2011, What's for Lunch Wednesday, Ultimate Recipe Swap, Recipe Swap Thursday and What's on Your Plate?.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vegetarian Cranberry-Barbecue Meatballs Recipe

So, what, am I on a meatballs kick now? Am I changing the blog to "Meatless Meatballs 365?" No, well, at least not yet. But those Meatless Meatball Subs were so good and they made me think of Stephanie O'Dea's cranberry party meatball recipe that I have yet to try. And I had this huge bag of cranberries leftover from when I made the Best Cranberry Sauce Ever. So, bottom line is, yes, I'm now addicted to both cranberry sauce AND meatballs. 

Oh, well, I'm OK with it.

Vegetarian Cranberry-Barbecue Meatballs
1-2 lbs. (packages) meatless meatballs (I used one package Quorn meatballs). Use 2 if you like it less saucy. You could also use the meatballs from the Meatless Meatball Subs, without the Italian herbs.
1/2 C barbecue sauce
1 can (16oz) jellied cranberry sauce or 2 C homemade Cranberry Sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce

Cut cranberry sauce into slices, if applicable
Place sauce into bottom of stoneware insert
Add barbecue sauce and soy sauce
Top with cooked or frozen meatballs.

Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-4
The cooking time depends on if your meatballs are frozen, thawed, or freshly baked.

The Results
These are, hm, different? All right, I'll just say it. These are absolutely awful. Granted, I was low on barbecue sauce, so that may be part of it. And I'll admit I wasn't all that fond of these Quorn meatballs in spaghetti. I'm not normally a meatball person. I like marinara or "meat" sauce on my pasta, why bother with meatballs? But those meatball subs were so tasty! I thought I'd turned it all around. My relationship with meatballs was fresh and new and beautiful. Now it's crushed. 

It's like a weird, too sweet and too sour combination. I don't know what exactly is bad about it, but in general it took two yummy sauces and combined them to be gross sauces. This is an epic failure. It could be the Quorn contributed to the failure. The recipe seems sound to me for the real meat. It could also be the fact that I didn't use the can of HFCS sauce. Maybe that's the key in this one. Oh well, we knew there'd be days like this. 

Now I just have to decide whether to dump these in the disposal an feel super guilty or wash off the meatballs and save them. First step is seeing if the toddler likes them. She likes weird things sometimes. If you try this recipe with the original ingredients or with just the meat swapped and it turns out well, let me know. If anyone has a recipe failure story, feel free to comment about that, too. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Dec. 27

Reminder: only a few days left to win a $25 Gift Card! Just comment HERE to enter.

Last week's successes:

This week's hopefuls:
Meatless (vegan for me) Monday
Our delayed Christmas feast tofurky

Friday--New Year's Eve, woohoo!
Saturday--Day 1 of my New Year's Challenge to cook meatless every day in 2011 
Vegetarian Hoppin' John

Don't forget to comment if you chose to do a Meatless Monday meal. I'm trying to do vegan Mondays as most of our meals are already meatless.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Sub Recipe

I finally got around to making these meatball subs I found over at Once a Month Mom earlier this month. Mine are more mushroom meatball sub with cheese and mushroom cranberry juice sauce, but hey, whatever. Here's the way it was intended. Enjoy.

Mushroom Meatball Sub with Brie and Mushroom Red Wine Sauce
Serves 4
1 lb. package ground "beef"
1/2 C mushrooms, finely chopped + 1 C mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, diced, with 1/4 C reserved
1 egg
1/4 C plain bread crumbs
1/4 C red wine + 3 T red wine (I substituted cranberry juice)
1 tsp. dry rosemary
1/2 tsp. thyme
Salt and pepper

12 1-inch cubes of brie (I subbed shredded Mozzarella as I had it on-hand)
1/4 C butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 C beef-style vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
1-2 T flour
1 toasted loaf of french bread or ciabatta

1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2) Combine the "beef", 1/2 C finely chopped mushrooms, 1/4 C onion, egg, bread crumbs, 3 T of red wine, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Make a thin patty with the mixture about the size of your palm, put a piece of brie in the middle, and roll into a ball.
3) Place meatballs in a glass baking dish or baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes at 400 degrees, until brown.
4) While the meatballs are baking, start making the mushroom sauce.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the rest of your onions and the garlic for about a minute before adding 1 C sliced mushrooms, and fresh rosemary. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add "beef" broth and 1/4 C wine and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in as much flour as you want to get the sauce to the thickness you desire.
5) Put the meatballs in the sauce and toss to coat. Slice the meatballs (or use them whole) in the toasted and sliced bread and top with sauce and extra brie.

The original recipe can be found here but I came by it by way of Tricia at Once a Month Mom.

The Results
I imagine it would've been "fancier" with brie and the French loaf. But, alas, I'm a sucker for what I have in the pantry. I had the mozzarella and the day-old frozen Baldino's sub shop rolls. So, that's what I made them with. And, yum. This was really good. I used "Gimme Lean" beef-style ground soy protein and it worked really well consistency-wise for the meatballs. If you're soy-free, try using Quorn beef-style crumbles and adding an extra egg. 

I'm not a huge fan of stuffing things inside other things. I mean, why not just put it on top, why make it hard, right? But I did, because I try to stay as close as possible to the original recipe the first time I make it. Hey, stop laughing, I said "try" and the meat swap doesn't count. Anyway, I did it as I was told, like the little recipe-following automaton I am. And I'm glad I did! These were cheesy and delicious, it was like a little surprise inside I almost forgot about. 

Go make them tonight. I think it would be good with marinara or bolognese sauce, instead of the mushroom red wine sauce, too. I think you could make these into good hamburgers with cheddar cheese inside and "bacon" on top. So moist and fantastic. 

What's your favorite way to dress a "hamburger" or make meatballs? I love this meatball recipe, but as for hamburgers, I like mine with avocado, blue cheese and "bacon" on top. I'll have to try stuffing them with provolone cheese next time.

This post is linked at Just Another Meatless Monday, Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays My Meatless MondaysJust Something I Whipped Up, Hearth and Soul HopSlightly Indulgent TuesdaysReal Food WednesdayHomemaker Monday and Delicious Dishes.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Leftovers Recipe Roundup

Tofurky Perfect Holiday Leftovers Sandwich

Merry Christmas everyone! Now that the Turkey or tofurky has been consumed (at least in part) for the holiday and the mashed potatoes are filling up your tupperware, here's a roundup for all the holiday leftovers recipes posted thus-far on the site.

Leftover Tofurky (or Turkey):
Tofurky Perfect Sandwiches
Substitute cubed leftover tofurky/turkey for the following "chicken" recipes.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadillas
Chicken Marsala
Chicken and Broccoli Rolls

Leftover Mashed Potatoes:
Potato Croquettes
Potato Pancakes/Grilled Cheeses

Do you have a favorite leftovers recipe? Post a link or brief description here. Happy holidays! 

Don't forget to enter to win the gift card HERE.

This post is linked at Friday Potluck.

Best Cranberry Sauce Ever Recipe

OK, so I noticed this year (because I have two babies and I pay attention to this stuff now) that canned cranberry sauce is chock full of high fructose corn syrup and other nasty stuff. So, first off I made a Food Network recipe on the stovetop. But, it's kind of a pain to do when the babies are up. So, I thought, I recall a crock-pot recipe in Stephanie O'Dea's book. I combined them and yum.

Crock-pot Cranberry Sauce
  • 2 C cranberry juice
  • 1 (6-ounce) bag sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 C fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Gala apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 4 tsp. corn starch 

Spray crock with non-stick cooking spray. Add the cranberry juice, cranberries, apples cinnamon and sugar to crock. Cover and cook on high for about 3 hours.
Stir every hour or so. When the skin from the cranberries has softened, the cranberries will "pop" when pushed with a spoon up against the side of the crock.

Smoosh all of the cranberries. Stir well.

Heat enough for it to be warm throughout. 
Remove 8 ounces of the liquid to a small bowl and whisk in the cornstarch. Slowly add the cornstarch-juice mixture (slurry) to the cranberry mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for an additional 15 minutes with the lid off.
Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl. Refrigerate until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve.
The Results
This is super yum. And it's free of HCFS if you're worried about that. It's so super easy and delicious. And, while some recipes call for gelatin as a thickener (which is not vegetarian as it is basically boiled down animal collagen, ick), this uses cornstarch instead. So, slather this on to your tofurkey and call it a Christmas sandwich!

This post linked at Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays and Tasty Tuesdays.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Win a $25 Gift Card: One Week Remaining

Only one week to go in the $25 com Gift Card Giveaway! There are a ton of restaurants that participate in these gift cards' redemption and they never expire. Check your zip code HERE to learn which of your favorites or restaurants you've been wanting to try participate. You can earn bonus entries by following here, on Twitter or "liking" on Facebook.

This giveaway will end on 12/31/10 at 12:00PM EST an entry will be chosen at random and announced on New Year's Day.

Mandatory Entry: Just comment HERE. Tell me about your favorite fake meat or meatless recipe. Be sure to either post a link to your blog or an email address contact. You may also send your email address to if you would rather not post it. Email addresses will not be shared or saved past the contest completion date. Please tell me the name your comment is under if you send an email. If winner cannot be reached within 48 hours to claim prize, a new winner will be chosen. 

Bonus Entries:
  • 3 entries: Follow via Google Friend Connect/RSS Feed (or tell me in a comment that you already do so).
  • 2 entries: Like Meatless Monday Moms on Facebook.
  • 2 entries: Follow VeggieConverter on Twitter.
  • Can be done twice daily, there must be 3 hours between tweets. Tweet: #Win a $25 GC to from @KristiArnold13
  • 5 entries: Blog about this giveaway and link back to Veggie Converter 365.
Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

Note: this giveaway is not a sponsored post or product. The prize was purchased and not given nor was any compensation given.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vegetarian Beefy Potato Enchiladas Recipe

I found a really yummy-sounding turkey and potato enchiladas recipe. I'm of course going to convert it into a ground faux beef and potato enchiladas recipe. I'm excited. This is what I intended to make for my Meatless (Vegan) Monday, but alas I was doing holiday things and ended up eating out that day. So here it is. This recipe is vegan and can also be made soy-free and gluten-free pretty easily. For those not going soy-free and living in the south, Publix now produces a Greenwise brand "beef" crumble, which is cheaper than the name brands and would be good to try here.

Beefy Vegan Potato Enchiladas

3/4 pound ground round "beef" or soy-free "beef" crumbles
1 Cup frozen diced onions
1 (4.5-ounce) can green chiles
1/4 Cup taco seasoning or (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning mix (I'm using homemade taco seasoning, which is way tastier and gluten/junk free...recipe follows)
1/3 Cup water
1 Cup refrigerated hash brown potatoes or homemade (be sure to get the all-natural variety if using the prepackaged hashbrowns)
10 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
2 Cups shredded Cheddar cheese (or vegan cheez for vegan option)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Preheat large sauté pan on medium 2–3 minutes.
2. Add "beef", onions, and green chiles. Cook 5–7 minutes, stirring frequently, until meat is warmed through. Stir in taco seasoning, water, and potatoes.
3. Assemble enchiladas as follows: lay tortilla flat and place 1/4 cup meat mixture on tortilla. Roll tortilla to form cylinder shape and arrange seam side down in 10- x 13-inch baking dish. Repeat with all tortillas.
4. Pour enchilada sauce over filled enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese and bake 12 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
5. Top with your choice of tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and sour cream, if desired. Serve. (Makes 5 servings.)

Original recipe can be found here.

Taco Seasoning Mix
1/4 Cup instant minced onion
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. crushed red pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano, crushed.

Mix all ingredients, put in an airtight shaky container for spices. Makes about 2/3 Cup taco seasoning blend. Yum.

The Results
To meet my Vegan Mondays obligation to myself, I went without cheese. Gasp. (Because I didn't want to buy vegan cheese for one dish.) But these were surprisingly fantastic without cheese. Yummy filling and cooked to perfection. I used gluten free enchilada sauce (Las Palmas) and I have to say I did not really like the flavor of the sauce. But, the rest was delicious and adding a little salsa fixed the flavor for me. I think the green chiles and taco seasoning in the filling really make this dish. The hashbrown-style potatoes lend a great texture. Definitely a repeat (probably with cheese next time).

PS: Don't forget to enter a comment here for a chance to win a $25 gift card. Restaurants all over the country take these cards. You can look up your zip code for a list of those that participate in your area.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Win a $25 Gift Card

Comment to enter the giveaway for a $25 gift certificate. Tell me about your favorite fake meat or meatless recipe! My favorite recipe is "Meaty" Lasanga though Crockpot Chili is a close one, too. I just love Quorn fake meats of all kinds, the "beef" grounds are my favorite. A comment will be chosen at random for the winner and announced on New Year's Day. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

There are also ways to attain bonus entries for the contest.

This giveaway will end on 12/31/10 at 12:00PM EST.
Mandatory Entry: Just comment here. Be sure to either post a link to your blog or an email address contact. You may also send your email address to if you would rather not post it. Email addresses will not be shared or saved past the contest completion date. Please tell me the name your comment is under if you send an email. If winner cannot be reached within 48 hours to claim prize, a new winner will be chosen.

Bonus Entries:
  • 3 entries: Follow via GFC/RSS Feed (or tell me in a comment that you already do so).
  • Worth 2 entries: Like Meatless Monday Moms on Facebook (and tell me here in a comment that you did so).
  • Worth 2 entries: Follow VeggieConverter on Twitter.
  • Can be done twice daily, there must be 3 hours between tweets. Tweet: #Win a $25 GC to from @KristiArnold13
  • 5 entries: Blog about this giveaway and link back to Veggie Converter 365.
Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

*Note: this giveaway is not a sponsored post or product. The prize was purchased and not given nor was any compensation given.

Online Contests

Monday, December 20, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Dec. 20

"Beefy" Potato Enchiladas for Meatless (vegan for me) Monday

Vegetarian "Meaty" Lasagna


I'm going to try this one again, but this time I'm going to use the soy chorizo and maybe diced green chiles. I will update the post with the new results.


Don't forget to comment if you chose to do a Meatless Monday meal. I'm trying to do vegan Mondays as most of our meals are already meatless.  


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vegetarian 'Meaty' Lasagna Recipe

Lasagna has been our go-to holiday centerpiece since my sister and I went vegetarian sometime in the early 1990s. That was in the days before Tofurky and other vegetarian centerpiece options. At the time, we just did cheese lasagna. Over the years, we've tried different adaptations and, most recently, we've been doing the fake "beef" lasagnas. My sister started using an herbier recipe from Better Homes & Gardens and we recently tried it out for the holiday meal. It's pretty similar to our traditional recipe. The original is just missing some of the extra spices and the egg, which helps hold the pieces together a little more sturdily. The adapted recipe uses a 'deep-dish' lasagna pan, since the veggie meat comes in 1 pound packages and our family loves leftover lasagna.

Vegetarian "Meaty" Lasagna
1 package Yves 'ground round' (usually found in a refrigerated case in the produce department) or 1 bag Quorn "ground beef" crumbles (this is a soy-free micoprotein option)
1 C chopped onion (1 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning mix, crushed
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1 tsp. fennel seed, crushed (optional)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 pound (1/2 box) or 9 dried lasagna noodles
1 beaten egg
2 C ricotta or whole milk cottage cheese (I used ricotta because I had it already)
1/4 C grated parmesan, Romano, or asiago cheese
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil (frozen basil cubes from Trader Joe's or the squeezable tubes of basil are great time-savers here)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz. shredded or sliced Swiss cheese

For meat sauce, in a medium saucepan cook onion over high heat until caramelized. (Onions should be well-browned at the edges and translucent.) Add garlic and "ground round".

Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, italian seasoning, oregano, fennel seed, and pepper. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain noodles; rinse with cold water. Drain well.

For filling, combine the egg, cottage cheese, the 1/4 c Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, and the basil.
Layer 1/3 of the cooked noodles in a deep 13x9 baking dish. Spread with half of the filling. Top with half of the meat sauce and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Top with the last 3 noodles, 1/3 or the mozzarella cheese, and swiss cheese. If desired, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake 375° oven for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.

adapted from Lasagna recipe, Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorites (1999)

original recipe:
3/4 # ground beef, ground pork, bulk pork sausage, or bulk italian sausage
1 c chopped onion (1 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 7 1/2 oz can tomatoes, cut up
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 t dried basil, crushed
1 t dried oregano, crushed
1 t fennel seed, crushed (optional)
1/4 t pepper
6 dried lasagna noodles
1 beaten egg
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese or 2 cups cream-style cottage cheese, drained
1/4 c grated parmesan or romano cheese
3 T snipped fresh parsley (optional)
6 oz sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

The Result.
Drool. That's it. But really, this one consistently fools my meat-eating uncle and father. And even when they do remember that I wouldn't be eating it if it were made with ground beef, they love it. It is delicious. Nice and spicy (not hot, just herby) and so deliciously cheesy. I'm not sure this one is possible with vegan cheez, but it's worth a shot for sure. I also surely cheated the amounts of the cheese. I think I ended up using double the Swiss and about 2 extra cups of mozzarella. This is another great starter recipe for those who are trying to go vegetarian or feed a family of mixed meat and veggie-eaters. So tasty. And, it freezes really well. Just slice it into serving-size squares and flash freeze on a cookie sheet before throwing it into a Ziploc bag.

This post is linked at Menu Inspiration MondayReal Food Wednesday, Cooking ThursdayLet's Do LunchLife as Mom and Prairie Storie's Recipe Swap Thursdays and Friday Favorites.

PS: Don't forget to enter a comment here for a chance to win a $25 gift card. Restaurants all over the country take these cards. You can look up your zip code for a list of those that participate in your area.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vegetarian Italian Sausage Risotto Recipe

Mmm...risotto. So good and so easy to do as a one-pot meal.You can also do this one in the rice cooker. For that method, cook the sausage and onion ahead, throw all the ingredients except cheeses in the rice cooker and press "white rice" for a fuzzy logic cooker, or depress the button for a standard rice cooker. Stir in cheese after cooking cycle is complete and allow to melt on warm cycle.

Vegetarian Italian Sausage Risotto


1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

16 oz. Italian "sausage" (original recipe calls for sliced links, I used ground Gimme Lean sausage-style meat instead)

1 C apple juice

1 C onion, diced

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1.25 C rice

1 cup Chardonnay or dry white wine (can also sub apple juice)

3.5 cups veggie broth

1 cup peas, frozen

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

1/2 cup Romano Cheese, grated


In a large saucepan, cook the "sausage" in apple juice. Remove from pan and slice, if applicable. Heat oil in a large stockpot, add sliced sausage and onion, cooking until browned and softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cook for one minute longer. Add wine and rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in 3 cups of the chicken broth. Lower the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until broth is absorbed. Add the rest of the chicken broth slowly, stirring until rice is cooked and creamy. Stir in peas and cheeses; cook until heated through. Serve.

Freezing Directions:

Follow all directions above. Allow to cool. Package in freezer containers. To serve: Thaw. Slowly warm on stove top, in slow cooker or in microwave. You may need to add a little chicken broth to bring it back to it’s creamy texture.

Servings: 4

The Results
This really is a good recipe as it started out, but I think my mistake was in switching to sausage crumbles. They just don't have the oomph of the link sausage. So, this is BORING. It's kind of like eating the sausage gravy from biscuits and gravy, but mixed with rice. I had this with my Red Lobster-style garlic cheddar biscuits and the biscuits saved the meal. Next time I think I'll try it with Soy Chorizo and maybe some green chiles.

Well, I couldn't get the soy chorizo at the regular grocery store and I didn't want to go all the way to the specialty store, so I made "chicken soysage" and replaced the link sausage with that. And oh my goodness, yum. The rice, like before, was delicious. And with the added spice of the chicken soysage the whole thing was way more yummytastic. I didn't use the green chiles. Instead, I dredged the "chicken" pieces in egg and milk and then flour spiced with red peppers, salt, pepper, garlic and Italian seasoning. I pan fried those pieces for a few minutes and then put all bu the cheese into the rice cooker (I used brown rice this time). It was so good. I highly recommend it either with the link soysage or this "chicken soysage" creation and brown rice.

Find the original recipe here.