Monday, January 31, 2011

Meatless (Vegan) Monday Challenge: Week #1

Are you already a vegetarian or vegan, and want to join in on the Meatless Monday movement? Don't feel left out! Join my challenge to do Vegan Mondays!

Or, are you a meat-eater who wants to highlight his or her meatfree creations for Meatless Mondays? Are you looking to incorporate more vegetables into your family's meals?

Then you're in the right place because Veggie Converter & Becoming Brea are hosting a Vegan Monday Link-Up!

Today's Meatless Vegan Monday meal is Curried Chickpeas, Cauliflower and Kale.

The international Meatless Mondays movement is honored throughout the blog world. Here on Veggie Converter, you will be able to comment or link your Meatless Monday meals while I post my Meatless Monday challenge to myself, Vegan Mondays. If you're a vegetarian or vegan blogger and would like to be featured for Vegan Mondays, link up, or contact

Now for the link-up rules: post your link to a meatless (vegan or vegetarian, or even an attempted meatless) recipe that you've posted on your blog. Of course, if you'd like to follow either Veggie Converter or Becoming Brea, that would be great, too (but that's absolutely not required—this is about the FOOD!).

Next week, a reader recipe that was linked up this week will be highlighted on Meatless (Vegan) Mondays. Each week you link up or comment, gives you an opportunity to be featured the following week.

Please join us for the inaugural Meatless (Vegan) Monday link-up event. What Vegan or Meatless Monday Meal is your family having today?

Veggie Converter 365

Menu Plan Monday Jan. 31

Don't forget to check out the Meatless (Vegan) Mondays: Week 1 link-up.

Last week's successes:

Last week's failure (if you're looking for a challenge):
There were really no failures this week. My husband; however, would call the Brown Sugar and Bacon-Stuffed French Toast a failure. Weirdo doesn't like coconut.

This week's hopefuls:
It's the week of the Big Game, so I've kept that in mind and posted several recipes that can be used for Game Day treats! I'll also be posting a Game Day Recipes Round-Up this week.
Monday Day 31
Meatless (vegan for me) Monday
Tuesday Day 32
Mexican (Taco) Tuesday
Wednesday Day 33
Thursday Day 34
Leftovers and Pantry Frankenstein Creation: Chickpea Cauliflower Bread

Saturday Day 36
Sunday Day 37 Sunday Brunch
Don't forget to comment if you chose to do a Meatless Monday meal.

This post is linked at Menu Plan Monday and Fit Meals Monday.

Meatless (Vegan) Monday: Vegan Curry Chickpea, Cauliflower and Kale Crockpot Recipe

Day 31.

This one is a vegetarian option to start, but I've added a bit of optional "meat" to make it more husband friendly. I was looking for things to do with my CSA vegetable box, which included kale and cauliflower among other things, and found this great Indian fusion dish. I've made some extension alterations, including turning it into a crockpot recipe.

Chickpea, Cauliflower and Kale Curry
2 Tbsp. olive oil oil
1 medium onion
3 large cloves garlic
2 anaheim peppers (optional)
1/2 C "sausage" slices
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 bunch kale, chopped
3 C cooked chickpeas
1 jar tomato paste
1 Tbsp. curry
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 can coconut milk OR 1 1/2 C coconut water and 1/2 C almond milk

Put all ingredients into crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve over rice.

Recipe adapted from original here.

The Results
Yum. I love curry and chickpeas. So curried chickpeas is kind of a no-brainer. I normally would've just added coconut milk to this, but what I had was leftover coconut water from my bacon experiment. So, I used that with a little almond milk instead. It's not as thick and creamy, but the flavor's great. Normally I skip or reduce the salt in most recipes (I halved it here, but initially put in less). With the soaked and cooked dried beans it really needed the salt. But, if you used canned chickpeas, you might want to taste first and add the salt later, if needed.

I hope you're all having a great Meatless or Vegan Monday. What are you having for dinner tonight? Be sure to check out the Meatless (Vegan) Monday link-up for even more meatless recipe ideas.

This post is linked at Just Another Meatless MondayHappy Homemaker MondayHomemaker MondayMeatless MondaysMingle MondayDelectable TuesdayTempt My Tummy TuesdayDelicious DishesReal Food Wednesday and Hearth and Soul.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Brunch: Vegetarian Bacon and Brown Sugar Stuffed French Toast Recipe

Day 30.

OK, so, this recipe turns out to be more for me than for the meat-eaters. But I get an A for effort. Primarily, I think, it failed because real coconut that you dry yourself just does not turn into bacon like bulk coconut. It fails to become smoky enough and instead tastes like smoky toasted coconut. I love it. My husband, the meat-eater who I do these conversions for in the first place, HATES coconut. But, I digress. French toast. Drool. Bacon, drool. Put em together, uh, YUM!

Bacon & Brown Sugar Stuffed French Toast
1 whole coconut's worth of "bacon" (about 3-4 C)
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (Tofutti makes a good vegan version)
3/4 C brown sugar
1 T. maple syrup (or 1 t. maple extract)
12 slices bread
4 eggs (Sub 2-3 ripe bananas bananas for vegan)
1/3 C milk (I subbed Almond Milk)

Combine softened cream cheese, brown sugar and maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes with an electric mixer or about 5 minutes by hand. Refrigerate both bacon and the cream cheese mixture until using.

Spread the cream cheese-brown sugar mixture onto one side of each slice of bread. (I actually mixed it all in together since my "bacon" was pre-crumbled and spread that all on the bread.)

Add 3-5 slices of bacon on top of half the bread slices. Cover with the remaining slices to make sandwiches.

Whisk together the eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Sprayed skillet or griddle with non-stick spray and set on medium-high heat. Dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture (I had to dip four sides because I missed that whole "shallow" bowl part. Sigh. Cook about 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and toasty. Recipe adapted from Kate's at Stolen Moments.

The Results
Holy cowabunga Batman. This is stinking delicious. It's like this weirdly smoky toasted sugary coconuty cheesy glob of deliciousness inside French toast! Who doesn't love that? Turns out neither my husband nor our toddler love that. Good! More for mommy! It's almost like a samoa cookie, or whatever toasted-coconut name they're calling those Girl Scout cookies nowadays, stuffed inside French toast. So. Good. Again, it tastes NOTHING like bacon, to me. Or to my meat-eater husband. But it is FANtastic. Next time I'll go get the bulk coconut and make it actually taste like bacon and share. Maybe.

What are you having for Sunday Brunch, Breakfast or Lunch?

Veggie Converter 365

This post is linked at Sundays at One Food Club, Just Something I Whipped Up, CravingsMy Meatless Mondays and Potluck Sunday.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Stumbles Jan. 29

I've had a crazy good week for blogging, and otherwise in fact, in spite of the flu. Take that, flu! Speaking of which, the cheese-free week was not terrible. In fact, I feel so much better I've decided, at the least, to seriously limit my dairy in the future. I found and made some great cheeseless recipes. I did not try the vegan cheese, but I wouldn't hesitate to try it in the future. 

I've had several recipes featured and my blog featured AND a blogger award granted to me. Awesome. For more on the award and who I appreciate in blogging this week, see blogger award and recognition. Thanks to all the lovely ladies who featured me this week and to those who create great blogs for me to follow. You'll find those who featured my blogs and recipes in my "Features, memberships and sponsors" sidebar. Thanks ladies!

But, on with the favorites.

Fried Nutella Ravioli: What? Yum. As you well know, I'll probably find a way to bake or crock pot bake these instead of frying! Girlichef has a lot of great pasta recipes.

Black Bean Brownies: At first I had no idea what to think of Angie's recipe. Black bean brownies? What the heck? But, I really love zucchini brownies. Maybe this is a similar venture. Then again, maybe black beans and chocolate are delicious together. Either way, it's worth it as an experiment.

Ham Solo in CandyBaronite: Hilarious. I'm going to have to head over to Booturtle's to steal borrow her Han Solo candy mold to make these with coconut bacon.

Vegan RoTel Dip: Even if you don't do this vegan-style, you have to appreciate the lack of Velveeta. My husband hates velveeta, so I definitely appreciate this (and I could sub cheese if I chose. Plus, velveeta's creepy like twinkies and never goes bad.

French Onion Soup: I love French Onion soup. But, of course, it has beef stock in it. So, I'm digging Vegan Miss' vegan version and I love the retro cookbook. Hilarious.

There are so many more posts that caught my eye this week, this is but a few. Thanks to all the bloggers for sharing your knowledge with all of us.

Are you a food blogger? Meat-eater? Vegetarian? Vegan? Please consider Joining the Meatless (Vegan) Mondays Challenge.

This post is linked at Saturday StumblesFriday Favorites and Share Your Faves.

Vegan Slow Cooker Chicken Korma Recipe

Day 29.

I know, I'm still obsessed with Crockpot 365. But that's OK, because this was fantastic. But...I actually didn't make mine in the slow cooker. I thought about making it the night before and didn't, because my 4-quart crock doesn't have a timer and I didn't want it to burn if I overslept. So, instead, I made this in the morning in my rice cooker! I <3 my rice cooker. It's my pretty pretty appliance, yes it is. But, you can do this either way. I also left out the sour cream/yogurt because, as patient as my husband is about his vegetarian meals, he's not fond of the homemade vegan sour cream. So we just put our various sour creams on top!

Slow Cooker Chicken Korma 
serves 4 
4 C "chicken," cubed
1 large potato, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped (I added this because I like more veggies in my meals)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (to add later)
cooked white or brown long grain rice for serving

 Use a 4-quart slow cooker. Put the chicken into the bottom of your pot. Add potato and onion. Pour in the tomatoes, and add garlic and all spices. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3 to 4. Discard the cinnamon stick, and stir in the sour cream or yogurt. Serve over rice.
So, what I ACTUALLY did was put it all in the rice cooker (including my 1.5 C brown rice and about 3 C water, but of course not the sour cream) and pushed the Brown Rice button. I have a fuzzy logic rice cooker, which I love. I suggest you invest in one, but I think you could swing this in a regular rice cooker as well. This came out AWESOME.  OK, moving on, you can serve this with naan, pita bread or the bread of your choice.

This recipe is adapted from Steph's original delicious crockpot version.

The Results
Wow. Yum. This is not as saucy as Steph's version, probably because I cooked my rice in with my meal. But it is so simple and fabulous. And I think the sour cream on top was good, but not totally necessary. I loved it and I will definitely put this on my future repeats list. It's not spicy at all but it's super flavorful.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Blogger Award and Recognition

I'm relatively new to blogging so I don't even know enough to expect awards. I certainly didn't anticipate getting one less than a month into my personal challenge. I'm surprised and touched that Stephanie of Wild Crickets felt such a connection to my blog that she thought to award me a Stylish Blogger Award.

Wow. I did a little happy dance. As a primarily "for fun" and for information blogger, I wonder what people get out of reading my blog (and sometimes IF they're reading my blog). 

This week has been one full of recognition for me. I've had six fellow bloggers recognize my blog or feature a recipe since Monday. It's so amazing, I was a bit overwhelmed by the sudden attention. And, I now have nearly 100 GFC followers as well. So, thank you Stephanie and thank you to those who featured my blog and recipes. Your attention and appreciation of my work is truly appreciated.

The rules of the award are as follows:
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
  • Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award
My seven things..

1. I'm a former newspaper editor, I have a degree in journalism, photo sequence specifically, from the renowned University of Missouri School of Journalism. I was a reporter (mostly city government and cops & courts beats) and newspaper editor for eight years prior to mommyhood. While I'm not deciding the news for entire communities anymore, I feel like I'm still using a little bit of my degree when I write my blog. It's not your standard hard-hitting journalism, but it keeps me writing, which I love.

2. I have another degree, which I do not use at all, a Master's of Science in criminal justice. No, I never aspired to be a police officer, though I have the utmost respect for those who do, particularly after working with so many during my career. I wanted the degree to better understand my beat in reporting (cops & courts). And I once considered going to law school.

3. If you're a regular follower, you know this already. I HATE to fry. I know hate is a strong word and I don't use it lightly. And it's not for the reason you might think. I mean, I consider it a bonus that it's healthier to bake things or cook them some other way. But no, I'm just bad at it. I end up splash-burning my hands or, as happened once, setting my kitchen aflame.

4. I am a vegetarian because I just don't like meat. It's a textural thing mostly, sometimes it's taste, too. I just think it's gross. If it were up to me, I'd eat tofu or vegetables all day long. Seriously. Brown rice with veggies and baked tofu plan? Sign me up! But, my husband likes meaty things, so this is our compromise. I like a lot of the fake meats, too, but if it's too meaty, I don't like it (see just about any post including Gimme Lean sausage). I consider it a bonus that I don't eat animals and the health benefits are great. But I would be a total hypocrite if I pretended that was my primary reason, as I have some leather lurking in my closes somewhere, still.

5. I love to read. My husband finally convinced me to buy an ereader for myself (I rarely buy myself anything, I nearly have to be kicked and dragged for self-shopping). And I LOVE it. I wasn't sure I'd like reading non-paper books, but it's so great just to be able to re-fill my reading list with the touch of a button. Click, new books! Sweet! And with the e-ink, it's really great on my eyes, so not as weird as reading on the computer.

6. I was born a yankee. I was born in the Midwest and went to college there, but now live in Atlanta. I went to junior high and high school in Georgia, so I'm sort of an adopted summer. I love it here, but sometimes it's still a culture shock.

7. I worried about having kids. I worried whether I would be a good mother and whether raising children was the right choice for me. I always wanted kids, but wasn't sure if I should have them. But, wanting won out and I'm so glad it did. There are hard times, of course, but the joy those little girls bring is amazing. Now we'll just have to see whether I can convince my mommy brain to stop at 2! Some days it's easier than others! 

Now for the blogs I enjoy following every day. Though there are a ton of huge blogs, as I like to say, that I follow, I tried to stick to some of the medium-size or smaller blogs so I could give some attention to those. I'm not basing this on any "followers" numbers, just a feeling, So I hope I'm not insulting anyone by saying they are not "big-time," as I'm by no means an expert on blog traffic. But, just FYI, I am stalking the following "big-time" bloggers also: Steph at, Tricia at and Kate and

15 of my favorites:

Sexy Vegan Mama—I love her blogs, but I really love chatting with her. She has a great personality and is just a ton of fun to communicate with on twitter and the like. And who doesn't love reading about creative desserts? It's a challenge to bake vegan, but she does it with gusto. Yum.

Midnight Maniac—She hosts an awesome Meatless Monday link-up and does a lot for that movement, I think. She also has a great classy, retro feel to her blog. Fun!

Miz Helen's Country Cottage—So awesome. She cooks meat, but I love it. I've converted quite a few of Miz Helen's yummy country cottage creations.

Vegan Miss—She is doing the coolest thing right now. She's recreating vegan versions of the recipes in this hilarious old cookbook called, "Dishes Men Like." I love it. And the recipes sound delicious once she de-meats them. 

Around My Family Table—Wendy's Tip Day Thursday is such a great idea. I love it.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop—She probably is big time, but I've not seen her around the blogosphere as much as the others above. As you can see from the post I linked you to, we often disagree, but I think we're both OK with that. I love her take on things and she's really inspired me to use more whole foods. That's something I've been struggling with in the mixed-eater family here. But, it's a work in progress. Full disclosure: While this is not an affiliate link, I'm a member of Kelly's affiliate group, but I really do love her blog or I wouldn't have joined.

Hey What's for Dinner Mom—She hosts a "Just another Meatless Monday" link-up, which I love. And her blog design is super snappy.

Turning the Clock Back—Another well-designed blog and she has a lot of great material on going green and "turning the clock back" to a more simple time.

The Big Red Pot—Coupons aplenty and delicious recipes, too.

Vegan Eats & Treats—She does delicious vegan desserts, primarily, and she's been posting lately on her yoga-training trip in India. Way cool.

Vegan Dad—He doesn't post super often now that school is back in session, but he has some really creative vegan dishes. I particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter fare.

My Kitchen in the Rockies—Simple, delicious recipes. Her chicken soup was a fantastic one to convert. 

Finding Joy in My Kitchen—SnoWhite and her Frog Prince are just so pleasant to read about and they have some super yummy-sounding recipes, too. I'm planning to make her homemade bagels next week. Drool.

Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles—What? I know, she does do recipes, though. No, I don't have a preemie, but I do have an on-the-tiny-side toddler, and she really helped me a lot with potty training. Plus, her recipes sound good, too.

Sweet Treats by Jesseca—Nutella Crepes, yum. And sometimes she does savory recipes, too. Yum. 

OK there we go. Again, if you aren't into awards, know that I recognized you because I love your blog, not for any other reason. I don't mind if you ignore it. So, if you would like to, follow the rules and pass on the award. And, yum to all your tasty recipes! Good luck to all of you lady and man bloggers. I really need to find more of those men bloggers! I have only one or two I follow. But I digress. Thanks again to Wild Crickets for the award.

Join the Meatless (Vegan) Monday Challenge Link-up

Are you already a vegetarian or vegan, but want to join in on the Meatless Monday movement? Don't feel left out! Join my challenge to do Vegan Mondays!

Or, are you a meat-eater who wants to highlight his or her meatfree creations for Meatless Mondays? Looking to incorporate more vegetables into your family's meals?

The international Meatless Mondays movement is honored throughout the blog world. Here on Veggie Converter, you will be able to comment or link your Meatless Monday meals while I post my Meatless Monday challenge to myself, Vegan Mondays. If you're a vegetarian or vegan blogger and would like to be featured for Vegan Mondays, link up, or contact

The only restriction for the link-up is to post a meatless recipe. You are welcome to post vegan recipes, of course, and hearty (though imperfect) efforts at meatless meals will be appreciated.

Next week, a reader recipe will be highlighted on Meatless (Vegan) Mondays. Each week you link up or comment, gives you a chance to be featured the following week.

Please join me Monday for the inaugural Meatless (Vegan) Monday link-up event, Monday Jan. 31.

Vegan Pepperoni Pepporanata Pizza Recipe

Day 28.

This is a bit unusual for me, I found a vegan pizza recipe that I'm going to convert a bit the other way. Instead of making this veggie-friendly, I'm going to make it omni-friendly by adding some vegan pepperoni to the pizza for the meat-lover in the family. I'm making the vegetarian recipe "meatier." This could be a whole new world of recipe conversions. :) But I think I'll keep it to once a week at most. 

Vegan Pizza Pepporanata
Pizza crust dough of choice (recipe follows)
Green Pepper, medium size, thinly sliced
Red Pepper, medium size, thinly sliced (I skipped the green and upped the others as I didn't have it)
Yellow Pepper, medium size, thinly sliced
Orange Pepper, medium size, thinly sliced
Onion, big, thinly sliced
1.5 Tbsp. Olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 package vegan "pepperoni" slices (optional)

Yield: 8 rectangles

Switch on the oven to 400F. In a large cookie sheet (use the one which you think will fit the pizza dough) add all the ingredients except the pizza dough. That is, the thinly sliced peppers, onion, garlic, oil and the seasonings. Mix it well and spread it on the baking sheet.

Cook it for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Then broil for another 5 minutes, keeping the oven door open. Transfer the caramelized vegetables to a plate or wax paper.

Usually while baking the pizza dough you have to oil the baking sheet. Since we have roasted the vegetables already you can see that the baking sheet is already greased. So simply remove the dough from the can (if using prepackaged) and unfold it on the cookie sheet or place your homemade dough on the sheet. Spread it evenly to cover the cookie sheet. 

Top the dough with the cooked pepper and onion mixture evenly.

Bake it for 12-16 minutes, until the bottom turns golden brown and the top is also baked enough.
Adapted from original recipe at egglesscooking.

I always use my Betty Crocker pizza dough recipe, so here it is:

Pizza Dough
2.5-3 C flour
1 C warm water
1 packet yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Mix up the dry stuff, mix up the wet stuff. Combine and stir/mix until it pulls away from the bowl. Knead for 5 minutes or so and then loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for 30 minutes. Roll it out with a floured pin and place it on your cookie sheet, bake as directed above with toppings.

The Results
You're going to call me crazy, but I completely did not miss the cheese in this pizza. I had myself all psyched up to think of it as focaccia bread or some other flatbread so I wouldn't miss my cheese. But, deep down I knew it was pizza and I HAD to miss the cheese. But I didn't. This was so flavorful and rich and my omni husband said "it doesn't even need the pepperoni" and "it actually may be better without the cheese" after he added cheese to some leftover slices of his pizza. Delicious. Absolutely the best homemade pizza I've ever made, cheese or no cheese. I highly recommend you make it. Tonight. It's easy and so, so good.

This post is linked at Friday PotluckCravings, Friday Favorites and Fat Camp Friday.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pantry and Food Budget Challenges

I am participating in Project: Food Budget and the Pantry Challenge at I will be continuing my series on leftovers casserole, or whatever Frankenstein Leftovers Creation I make out of my pantry and my fridge leftovers every Thursday. This week, we spent $22 for groceries. That puts our monthly actual spending at $352, with a budget of $400. So, hooray! We are under-budget. I have all the groceries for the remaining week and will start a new budget soon for February.

Leftover Creation: Vegan Potato, Cabbage and Sausage Soup Recipe

Day 27.

I based this recipe loosely of The Flying Biscuit's (an Atlanta restaurant) Potato and Kale Soup recipe. But, I'm using the leftover cabbage, potatoes and kielbasa from Monday's Kielbasa and Cabbage. The proportions to be used for the new soup will kind of depend on the amount of you leftovers, but I'm just going to give you the recipe both ways (for use with or without leftovers).

Potato, Cabbage and Sausage Soup 
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp. margarine
1 clove garlic, minced
4 C veggie stock
1 oz. miso paste
5 potatoes, cubed
3 C cooked cabbage, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried hot mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
2 links vegan kielbasa, diced

Put margarine, garlic and onion in large stock pot and saute until tender. Add veggie stock, miso paste and potatoes, bring to a boil. If you had leftover onions and potatoes, reduce the amount of these veggies accordingly. Add thyme and dry mustard. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Add cooked cabbage and any leftover veggies, heat through. Use an immersion blender to blend up about half the soup and leave the rest chunky. Add diced kielbasa, heat through and serve with optional toppings: cheese and sour cream.

The Results
So delicious. And it really was a great, I'm not feeling super soup. We're going a little soup nuts here, as the toddler and I both have a bug. I love the original potato and kale soup (which has no meat and has milk in it) but I thought the cabbage and kielbasa would work great with this soup. I left out the milk since we're dairy-free this week and I just don't think soy milk would taste right in this soup. This is not a runny soup, this is one of those hearty, thick soups you could probably eat with a fork. Some would call it a stew-soup, stoup.Yum!

This post is linked at Recipe Swap ThursdayFrugal FridayCrafty Friday and Cookbook Sundays.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Day 26.

When dreaming up this blog, this was one of the first family-favorite recipes that popped into my mind to convert. It's a great comfort food. It was just a matter of finding the right original chicken noodle soup to convert into a veggie version. This one from My Kitchen in the Rockies is nice and simple without any added nonsense.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 6-8.
7 1/2 cups chicken-style veggie broth or vegetable homemade stock
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 onions, diced
3 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I leave this out due to allergy and increase my other veggies)
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp. dried sage
2 1/2 tsp. house seasoning mix (4 parts kosher salt, 1 part each black pepper and garlic powder)
4 C of cubed vegan chicken substitute (chicken seitan, Mah Way chicken nuggets, etc.)
about 1/2 pound egg noodles
3 Tbsp. margarine
3 Tbsp. flour
1 oz. miso paste or 1/4 C nutritional yeast

In a large pot, bring the broth, bay leaf, onion, celery, and carrots to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sage, salt, pepper, and chicken breasts and simmer, partially covered, until just done, about 25 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir the margarine and flour together to form a paste. Remove the bay leafs from the pot and whisk the butter mixture into the liquid. Simmer until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cooked egg noodles and miso paste (or nutritional yeast) and simmer until just heated through. (I actually just turned the heat back up the last 10 minutes and threw in the raw noodles, that worked fine.)

Recipe adapted from My Kitchen in the Rockies' original recipe.

The Results
Holy cowabunga this soup is fantastic. It is so rich and flavorful. My sister and I have been discussing the use of nutritional yeast for a soup thickener. It's supposed to make veggie broth more, I don't know, greasy or thick like real chicken broth. I didn't make it out to the specialty store that stocks nutritional yeast, so I grabbed some miso soup paste at my grocery store. It's yeast, too, so I figured it'd be about the same impact on the broth. Whether it's because of the more stock-like broth or because of the fantastically simple ingredients, this soup is absolutely fabulous. Our toddler, who is about to turn 2, actually said "mmm...mmm....good" after she swiped some of my noodles from the chef's test bowl.

Tip: I suggest, if you're planning on eating this the next day or expect a lot of leftovers, cook and package the noodles separately. While still delicious, the noodles get super soggy and turn this soup into more of a pasta dish when stored overnight in the soup.

This post is linked at No Whine WednesdayRecipes I Can't Wait to TryFull Plate ThursdayLaura's Tasty TuesdayWordless WednesdayWhatcha' Makin' WednesdayIt's a Keeper ThursdayFriday Favorites and I'm Lovin' It.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vegan Chickpea Cutlet Chimichangas Recipe

Day 25.

This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's really not that daunting. The main reason for the long list is I did this recipe gluten free and dairy free. So it is vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. If you're not dairy-free or vegan, feel free to sub in real sour cream and cheese. These cutlets look like they'd be fantastic all on they're own, but I wanted to do them for Taco Tuesday, so I'm making mine into strips and making chimichangas. Yum.

This is really super easy and the prep time is quick. You can even do it in your food processor if you don't want to use elbow grease and a potato masher. After that, plop it in the crockpot and you can serve burritos buffet style like tacos. Or, you can go the extra step and roll them up and top the "burritos" with sauce, bake them and call them baked chimichangas. (An ode to my hatred of frying, again.) You're welcome to fry yours, if you're not frying-inept like me. 
This is the texture the mixture turned out
after hitting it with the masher for a while. 

Chickpea Cutlets
Makes 4 Cutlets or 8-10 Strips
1 C cooked chickpeas
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 C vital wheat gluten (I'm subbing mashed potato flakes for a Gluten Free & in my pantry version)
1/2 C plain breadcrumbs (crumbs from GF bread if you're doing the GF version)
1/4 C vegetable broth or 1/4 C water
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 garlic cloves (pressed or grated)
1/2 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. Hungarian paprika (smoked paprika)
1/4 tsp. dried rubbed sage
olive oil for lining crockpot

Filling Options
Refried or whole black beans
Cheese (cheez for vegan option)
Diced green chiles
Diced onion
Diced jalapenos

Optional topping
1 C veggie broth 
House seasoning (salt, pepper and garlic powder) to taste 
2-3 Tbsp. flour 
1 C sour cream (or vegan equivalent, recipe follows)
2-3 Tbsp. Taco seasoning

Vegan Sour Cream
1 10.5 oz. package soft or silken tofu
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. sweetener
1/2 tsp. salt

Process ingredients until smooth and refrigerate up to four days.

You will also need 8-10 tortillas.

Mash the chickpeas and oil together until no whole chickpeas remain.

Add remaining ingredients and knead for 3 minutes until strings of gluten have formed. Or until your patties are sticky enough to form into wads.
The original recipe pan fries, but I'm going to use crockpot365's falafel method as the basis to crockpot bake these cutlets. Mainly this is because, as I've said many times before, I HATE frying. It's not just because of the healthy thing (that's a bonus), I tend to forget or get distracted and say...set my kitchen aflame. Or, I get those splatter burns on my hands. No fun. So, here we go.

For cutlets, divide dough into four equal pieces. Flatten each piece and stretch to roughly 4x6 inches.

For strips, divide into 8-10 equal pieces (about 2x3 inches). 

Put about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil into the bottom of your crockpot stoneware insert. Dip each side of your cutlets or strips into the olive oil and then place into your crockpot. Tip: If needed, place foil layers sprayed with non-stick spray between layers of cutlets/strips. This will depend on your crockpot's size. I recommend lining the bottom of the crockpot with foil, after making them. The ones just in the crockpot bottom (I made a double recipe in my 6-quart), got a little mushed up.

Cook on high for 2-5 hours. The chickpea delights are done when they turn brownish-golden. You can flip them halfway through the cooking time, but they will brown on top even without flipping. Be sure to check them every hour after 2 hours as they can easily burn. If necessary, remove lid for 15 minutes to dry out cutlets at end of cook time.

*You can also bake them. Preheat oven to 375 and lightly oil a baking sheet. Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes. Flip patties and bake another 8-10 minutes till firm and golden brown.

This chickpea cutlets are adapted from The PPK's original recipe, which I found via Veggie Burgher.

Once the strips are complete, gather your fillings and tortillas. Place cutlet or strip in tortilla, top will desired fillings. Optional topping: combine 1 C veggie broth and salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste in a saucepan. Combine 2-3 Tbsp. flour and 1 C sour cream (or vegan equivalent) until smooth. Gradually stir cream mixture into broth, boil and stir until thickened. 

Place your chimichangas in a baking dish, pour sauce over top and heat at 375 for 15-20 minutes to make it all melty and delicious.

The Results
These cutlets are so delicious to me. It's like a sort of Americanized falafel patty (the spices are totally different). I love it. And the chimichangas. Wow. So good. I even loved the vegan sour cream, which I thought might be totally weird. I tried them in both non-baked burrito-style and the complete baked chimichanga version and loved both.

The crockpot experiment was not a total success. The bottom layer strips and cutlets (I made a double recipe) were a bit burnt on the edges and the top layer was a bit soft. They all tasted great, even the burnt parts, they were just a little crunchy really. But, if you're going to try the crockpot way I suggest checking your cutlets frequently after the first 2 hours to check for burning; placing foil under each layer; and removing the lid for the final 15 minutes of baking to allow the cutlets to fully dry out and crisp up. As I was making mine for chimichangas, it worked out great and didn't matter a bit that some of the strips fell apart. But, for cutlets, it might be annoying.

This post is linked at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Works for Me WednesdayReal Food Wednesday, What's Cooking Wednesday?, Crockpot Wednesday, Tip Day ThursdayFrugal Food Thursday, Cooking ThursdayMake it with ... Mondays and Let's Do Brunch.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meatless (Vegan) Monday: Vegan Kielbasa and Cabbage Recipe

Day 24.

I looked at a lot of recipes to find something to do with this Tofurky Kielbasa we bought. My husband likes kielbasa (the meat stuff) and I've never had it. We love German hot slaw (my grandmother's recipe), so I thought I'd try Kielbasa and Cabbage as it seems kind of similar. After tinkering with several different recipes, I came up with a conversion. I had to tone down the spices due to the toddler's sickness, but that can always be adjusted.

Kielbasa and Cabbage
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 head cabbage, chopped
2 sliced potatoes, about 2 C
Tofurky kielbasa sausage substitute, 1 package (4 links)
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C water

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until potatoes are tender.

The Results
Funny. The toddler and I loved the kielbasa. My husband did not. He said it was "OK, but nothing like real kielbasa." Never having had real kielbasa, I really liked it. The cabbage and potatoes were a little on the bland side, but a dash or two of red pepper flakes and house seasoning (garlic powder, salt and pepper) fixed that up on the parents' plates. I think I would try it grilled next time and make the cabbage the somewhat traditional German way on the stovetop with more vinegar, sugar and "bacon" to be served on the side.

This post is linked at Just Another Meatless MondayHappy Homemaker MondayMeatless Mondays, Homemaker MondayMenu Inspiration Monday, CravingsMidnight Maniac Meatless MondaysTuesdays at the TableDelectable Tuesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Delicious DishesHearth and SoulTasty TuesdaysTempt My Tummy Tuesday and What's for Lunch Wednesday?

Menu Plan Monday Jan. 24

Last week's successes:
Last week's failure (if you're looking for a challenge):
"Tuna" & Veggie Burritos were just too mayonnaisey and weird for me. It was kind of like eating chicken salad, without the crunch, inside a tortilla. No thanks.

This week's hopefuls:

Monday Day 24
Meatless (vegan for me) Monday
Tuesday Day 25
Mexican (Taco) Tuesday
Wednesday Day 26
Thursday Day 27
Leftovers and Pantry Frankenstein Creation (I'll figure out something to make that day based on what we have in the fridge and pantry.)

Friday Day 28
Pizza Friday
This will be a tough one this week, with no dairy.
Vegan Pepper and Pepperoni Pizza

Sunday Day 30 Sunday Brunch
Don't forget to comment if you chose to do a Meatless Monday meal.

This post is linked at Menu Plan Monday.