Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m back from my hiatus, and what better time to jump back into blogging than just before Thanksgiving?!

Although we’re closer to family now, my partner and I are staying with our tradition of cooking an all-vegan Thanksgiving feast. For the past several years, the star of our Thanksgiving has been a Tofurkey roast. This year, however, I’m mixing it up and making an entirely different entree: Tofu En Croute. En Croute is a French term that means food wrapped in pastry and baked (literally, “in crust”). The wrapped item can be anything from beef (think Beef Wellington) to mushrooms to fish. Mine is going to be filled with tofu, veggies, and a creamy sauce. I’m using the recipe from Vegan Dad as a base; we’ll see how close I come 🙂

Other items on the menu will include:

  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Herbed Stuffing
  • Creamy Mashed Potatoes
  • Larry’s Gravy (my father-in-law’s recipe)
  • Corn, rolls, etc. (the usual Thanksgiving suspects)
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Tarte Aux Pommes

I’m looking forward to lots of time in the kitchen, lots of leftovers, and of course, lots of wine (a cooking staple, for sure!).

Stay tuned for lots of great new recipes and cooking experiments in the coming weeks. In the midst of moving and starting my new job, I’ve been faithfully jotting down notes and snapping pictures (although the lighting situation in my new kitchen leaves something to be desired). In the meantime, please check out this video on Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-a-Turkey program and consider participating in a cruelty free Thanksgiving this year!

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Changing Seasons

As you may have noticed, it’s been awhile since the blog has been updated. Among other reasons (including a scratch on my cornea that kept me away from computers for a while), I am getting ready to move. We are headed back to Kansas! I have accepted a librarian position at my alma mater, Wichita State University. As a result of the craziness associated with changing jobs and moving halfway across the country, the blog will probably remain quiet for a while longer. But I have been faithfully cooking & snapping pics … so here’s a little preview of what you can look forward to in the coming months.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Garden Salsa

Comforting Lentil Soup

Ginger Peanut Pasta Salad

Smokey Vegetarian Bacon

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Coconut Tofu and Veggies

I love, love, love peanut sauces. On veggies, on pasta, on anything! This time I decided to expand my go-to peanut sauce recipe and try it with marinated, baked tofu. The result was a delicious, peanuty success!

Coconut Tofu and Veggies

  • 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 1 handful green beans, cut into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. coconut flakes
  • 1/4 c. cashews
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice

Peanut Marinade

  • 1/4 c. peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. agave nectar

While tofu is pressing, whisk together all ingredients for the marinade. Cut tofu into triangles or cubes and drop into the bowl with the marinade. Toss gently and leave marinating in the fridge for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice.. You can use this time to prep your veggies and rice. After about 30 minutes, place tofu pieces on a lightly oiled cooking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F. Set aside the remaining marinade. Turn tofu once during cooking. Meanwhile, toast the coconut and cashews in a small frying pan on medium heat until fragrant and coconut is lightly browned.

Stir fry veggies and add remaining marinade during last few minutes of cooking. Gently stir in the tofu. Garnish with coconut/cashew mixture and cilantro. Serve over brown rice.

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Fried Zucchini and Eggplant Pasta

This is my take on Eggplant Parmesan. As I mentioned earlier, our zucchini has finally started flowering (although from the looks of the plants, I think we’ll only get a few more out of the garden this summer). In hindsight, I wish I would have baked the breaded squash and eggplant instead of frying it. Not because I don’t love fried vegetables (because I really do), but because the leftovers turned rather soggy from all the oil that had soaked into veggies while frying. I didn’t love that. If baking, I would probably go for about 10 minutes on each side at about 375°F.

Zucchini and eggplant

Fried Zucchini and Eggplant Pasta

  • 8 oz. pasta (I used macaroni, but spaghetti or linguine would be more traditional)
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into coins
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into coins
  • 2 c. bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 c. soy milk
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Your favorite pasta sauce

Boil the pasta and set aside. In a bowl, mix lemon juice and soymilk together and let sit for a few minutes.  Heat a good amount of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Mix bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper in another bowl. Dip the zucchini and eggplant coins in the soy milk mixture, then the bread crumbs, then the soy milk, and finally the bread crumbs again before placing in the hot pan (I have to keep repeating the mantra “wet, dry, wet, dry” to myself during this process). Fry a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Once all the coins are fried, place slices on top of pasta, then top everything with pasta sauce. Enjoy!

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A Make Ahead Breakfast: Steel Cut Oats

One of my goals this summer has been to start consistently eating breakfast. It’s not so hard when you don’t go into work until 9:30 am, but once fall comes around and I’m back to my 8 am schedule …. let’s just say sleep will start becoming more of a priority than breakfast. So I’m a big fan of anything that will let me sleep a few more minutes. And if that means an already prepared breakfast, well, I’m in!

If you’ve never had steel cut oats before, I would seriously reconsider. Especially if you’re any kind of oatmeal fan to begin with. I’ve stopped buying the yummy Quaker Oats packages because it seems silly to spend the money when you can just as easily make oatmeal the old fashioned way. Steel cut oats have a firmer consistency than regular oatmeal; they have more of a bite to them, which I really like. This recipe is great because you can adapt it to whatever you have on hand (almonds, cranberries, raisins, walnuts, etc.).

Overnight Oatmeal: Steel-Cut Oats

Adapted from this recipe.

  • 1 1/2 c. steel cut oats
  • 6 c. water
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a large saucepan, boil the oats in the water for 1 minute. Stir in the raisins and cinnamon stick. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. The next day, uncover the oats and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the oatmeal is cooked and creamy but still a little bit chewy, about 10 minutes. Top your oats with your favorite oatmeal toppings to sweeten the taste. I like brown sugar and maple syrup; Will likes PB&J.

*The prepared oatmeal can be refrigerated up to 1 week. Rewarm in a microwave and thin with water if necessary before serving.

Make ahead breakfast

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Zucchini Muffins

Fresh zucchinis!

We’ve been waiting all summer to harvest zucchinis and we finally got to pick some (you’ve probably noticed zucchinis sneaking in to recipes lately). One of my automatic go-to recipes for zucchinis is my mom’s zucchini bread. It’s moist and delicious and easy to veganize. So you can imagine my excitement when I pulled these babies out of the oven and popped a muffin in my mouth. Only to find out …. they were not sweet AT ALL. In my excitement, I forgot to add the sugar 😦 They’re definitely still edible, and Will actually likes them better; he called them “healthy.” But I still think next time I’ll try to remember and add the sugar! I added a little soymilk to the batter because it seemed awfully dry. I’m not sure if this is because I used part whole wheat flour or because I forgot about the sugar. If you do remember the sugar, and find your batter is a good consistency, feel free to leave out the soy milk.

Zucchini Muffins

  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. sugar (!!)
  • 1 c. finely shredded unpeeled zucchini
  • 1 mashed banana (optional; I had one over-ripe so I decided to throw it in)
  • 1 egg replacer = to 1 egg (I used EnerG Egg Replacer)
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. soy milk

In a mixing bowl stir together flours, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and baking powder; set aside. In a mixing bowl, blend together sugar, zucchini, egg replacer, banana, and oil. Stir flour mixture into zucchini mixture. Add soy milk if needed. Divide batter in 12 muffin tins (lined). Bake in a 350°F oven for 14 minutes or till a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack. (For a loaf of bread, bake 50-60 minutes).

"Healthy" muffins

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Black Bean Burgers

Last night I was in the mood for burgers. I love the black bean burgers from Chili’s, but always end up feeling gross after eating there because of their heavy hand with the salt shaker. So, I decided to make my own! I am really excited about these burgers because I came up with the recipe all on my own and I think it turned out great. I also whipped up a batch of speedy hamburger buns and baked french fry wedges (coated in chili seasoning).

Burgers after baking

Black Bean Burgers

makes about 6 burgers

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • egg replacer = to 1 egg (I used EnerG Egg Replacer)
  • 1/2 c. oats
  • a few pinches of cilantro
  • up to 1/2 c. flour

Mash beans in a bowl, leaving a few of them whole. In a blender, process onions and garlic. When you achieve a fairly small dice, drain the onions and garlic in a mesh strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Do the same with the shredded carrots. Add to mashed beans, along with spices, egg replacer, oats, and cilantro. Use your hands to mush everything together. It will be really sticky at this point. Slowly add flour, a little at a time, until the burger mixture is less sticky but still sticks together well. I added just a little less than 1/2 cup. Preheat oven to 375°F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Also spray your hands lightly to form the mixture into patties. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip the burgers and bake another 10 minutes.

Burger & Fries

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