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Easy Vegan Pot Pie

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I haven’t been cooking a lot lately.  The main reason is that I’m pregnant and, in case you haven’t heard, pregnant women can be lazy.  I’m sure that women who are raising children while pregnant just fight through the nausea and exhaustion because they have kids to take care of, but I’m not there yet.  A full work day or even a long day of shopping makes me just want to lay on the couch for hours before finally going to bed.  Eric has been really great about taking care of me and picking up food to go because most of the time I feel like doing nothing.  However, I’ve been feeling pretty guilty for all my laziness and I understand the importance of cooking in advance so that I have food ready to just warm up when I’m feeling famished.

I searched Pinterest for interesting, but easy-looking recipes.  I have always loved pot pie.  I love the combination of the veggies, flaky pastry, and gravy-like filling.  So, when I saw this “Cheater” Vegetable Pot Pie, I decided to give it a try.  I left out the mushrooms because I don’t like those and I added a little vegan chicken bouillon for flavor and some of Trader Joe’s vegan grilled “chicken” strips.  I liked the recipe a lot, the only problem was how bland the filling was.  The non-dairy milk, flour, and veggie broth mixture definitely needed some major seasoning like vegan gravy might have.  We ended up just adding a lot of salt as we ate.

We will definitely make this recipe again, just trying some different ingredients using trial and error.

Easy Vegan Pot Pie | A Vegan in Progress

Pot Pie Filling

Pot Pie Filling

The slightly edited recipe below makes 7-8 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan butter
  • 2 red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • half cup of non-dairy milk (I used almond)
  • 2/3 cup frozen sweet peas
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry crust, thawed and rolled out (Pepperidge Farm is vegan)
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan chicken bouillon
  • Trader Joe’s vegan grilled “chicken” strips – use however much you like

Directions:

  1. Water saute the onion, kale, and carrots for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, potatoes, bell pepper, and celery and cover with the heat on medium/low for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the flour into the veggie mix, mixing until it’s all combined, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the veggie broth, almond milk, and vegan chicken bouillon.  Keep stirring until there are no flour lumps, then bring to a simmer.  It’ll start to thicken up in about 4-5 minutes.  Add the frozen peas, then remove from heat.
  5. Add Trader Joe’s vegan grilled “chicken” strips and a bit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, then stir.  Spray your 8 x 8 baking dish with some non-stick spray, then pour in your delicious veggie mixture. (I ended up making a couple of smaller individual pot pies and one larger one to share – this recipe makes a lot!)
  6. Cover with your puff pastry and cut slits in the top to vent.  Bake at 375 until the crust is golden brown, 15-20 minutes (or maybe more depending on  your oven).  Let cool for a few minutes, then serve.
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Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant and Artichokes

This is a slow cooker recipe with good flavor that adds some variety to our standard evening meal rut.  It’s from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.  My only complaint is that I’m not a fan of slow cooker recipes that require 30 minutes of prep and cooking before even putting the food in the slow cooker.  It’s not absolutely required, but the cook book says that cooking it in advance gives it the best flavor.

Moroccan Eggplant and Artichokes | A Vegan in Progress

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen artichoke hearts or 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup pitted and halved kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins or chopped dried apricots (I didn’t add these)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, for garnish (I didn’t have any)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, for garnish (I didn’t add this)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked chickpeas (optional – I am definitely adding those next time)

 

Directions:

  1. For the best flavor, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 1 minute longer.  Add the eggplant and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle on the coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and cayanne, and stir to combine.  Alternatively, omit the oil and saute these ingredients in a few tablespoons of water or combine them in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water, cover, and microwave for 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker.  Add the artichokes, bell pepper, olives, raisins, and chickpeas.  Stir in the broth and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook on Low until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.  Serve hot, sprinkled with the lemon juice, parsley, and lemon zest.
  4. Serve over couscous.

Vegan Recipe – Spaghetti Squash “Pasta”

In the new year, I have been trying to increase the amount of whole foods that we consume.  To me, this means coming up with creative ways to eat less processed food and re-think traditional meals.  I have already experimented with (and found that I love) cauliflower rice, so I decided to try spaghetti squash pasta next.

I followed these instructions from Colorful Eats for preparing the squash.  First you bake it a bit, then you cut it open and clean it out a lot like preparing a pumpkin on Halloween.  Then you use a fork to scrape out little shavings from the inside of the squash.  This took a whole lot of wrist strength, to the point where I felt that I maybe undercooked the squash.

Preparing Spaghetti Squash | A Vegan in Progress

Cleaned squash on the left, Squash shavings on the right

Once I was done preparing the spaghetti squash shavings, I mixed them with everything I would put in a typical Italian pasta bowl.  I added kalamata olives, tomatoes, basil, garlic, and just a little bit of a red pepper spread.

Spaghetti Squash Bowl | A Vegan in Progress

It has a little bit of a crunch in comparison to spaghetti, and the pieces are obviously shorter, but it’s got the feel of a bowl of pasta without the guilt.  Eric happily ate the leftovers on another night.  He said that he would eat it again, and so would I, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort.  It was kind of a pain to prepare, especially in comparison to the incredibly easy cauliflower rice.

Vegan Recipe – Spicy Eggplant Tofu

Eric and I recently tried a Thai restaurant that’s walking distance from our place.  I ordered a yellow curry with tofu entree the first time, which was your typical yummy curry.  The second time, though, I felt adventurous and ordered the Spicy Eggplant and Tofu dish.  I’m so glad I did because it was fantastic.  The crispy sides of the tofu cubes combined with the soft eggplant were perfect.  After ordering it a couple of times, I thought I might try my hand at making it.  I’ve already been successful in making the best Kung Pao ever, why not Spicy Eggplant Tofu?

Spicy Eggplant Tofu | A Vegan in Progress

I turned to my favorite recipe search engine, Pinterest, and found this blog post from Made Weekly.  I wouldn’t call it a recipe, it was more like a meal guideline.  I love the way she took the photo of the ingredients.  The photo and the simplicity of the meal over the other ones I found were what made me go with this particular one.

This was a complete hit.  Because I added a little extra cornstarch, the sauce was thicker and a little sticky.  It even looked sort of restaurant-quality.  It was super flavorful and filling and went perfectly with cauliflower rice.  Eric, my resident non-vegan loved it and looked really sad when I said there wasn’t much more.  When planning our dinners for next week, I asked if he would like it again and got an enthusiastic affirmative.

Below is my adapted version of the Made Weekly Eggplant Tofu Stir Fry.  There weren’t any measurements, and I threw it together without really measuring, so these are mostly estimates.  I was out of miso, basil, and ginger, so I went without and it was still great.  This made enough for two large servings, with a little bit left over.  Next time I would likely double it for more delicious, delicious leftovers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of firm tofu, pressed and cubed (My mom recommended popping it in the freezer for half an hour to an hour before slicing it and it really does hold its shape in the pan better that way.)
  • 1 eggplant, cubed (I had never cooked with eggplant before and didn’t know how to approach it.  I don’t know what I was worrying about, because I just cut the ends off, cut it in half, and cubed the rest with no problem.)
  • Approximately 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
  • Approximately 2 tablespoons of cornstarch (Use only 1 Tablespoon if you want a thinner sauce.)
  • Approximately 1/3 cup sesame oil (This is totally optional and not mentioned in the Made Weekly post.  I just didn’t have any miso, which I knew was a major flavor contributor for this dish, so I used some sesame oil, but didn’t want to overpower the meal, so I also used grapeseed oil.)
  • Approximately 1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or any basic cooking oil)
  • Approximately 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • Approximately 1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • Some red pepper flakes if you like it spicy
  • Miso to your liking (I didn’t use it.)
  • Basil to your liking (I didn’t use it.)
  • Ginger to your liking (I didn’t use it.)
  • About 1/2 a head of cauliflower for cauliflower rice

Directions:

  • First, soak the eggplant in salt water for about an hour to reduce bitterness (a trick from my sister, Alli.
  • Drain, press, freeze, and cube tofu (see above for why I recommend freezing it for a bit).  Heat cooking oil with a little sesame oil for flavor.  Add tofu cubes to the oil and drizzle liquid smoke lightly over all of the tofu cubes.  This is my tofu trick.  It smells amazing and makes the tofu a really interesting addition to the meal, rather than a bland hunk of protein.  Stir it continuously so it doesn’t burn until the tofu is brown and crispy, then set aside.
  • Whisk together garlic, miso (if you’re using it), soy sauce or tamari, vinegar, a splash of water, and cornstarch.
  • Fry eggplant, ginger (if you’re using it), and garlic in oil (I used the same oil from cooking the tofu) until it begins to soften.  Add soy/tamari sauce mixture and stir until sauce thickens and eggplant is fully cooked (it will look yellowy-brown rather than white).
  • While the eggplant is cooking, chop your 1/2 head of cauliflower into floret-sized chunks so that the food processor will be able to handle it.  Pulse the food processor until the cauliflower bits are about rice or bulgar-sized.  Place cauliflower into a microwave safe container with a lid.  DO NOT ADD WATER.  Pop one corner of the container so that steam can escape.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until it’s all warm enough to eat.
  • Add tofu and toss it all together.  Mix in red pepper flakes (or allow each diner to add it at their discretion, as we have to do it in my house) and basil.
  • Eat your seriously delicious meal!

Vegan Recipe – Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili

As part of our non-traditional Christmas dinner this year, I offered to bring chili over to my parents’ house.  I found this recipe on Hangry Tales through Pinterest.  It was relatively easy to make and the extras froze well for satisfying lunches.  The chili was smoky and flavorful and absolutely awesome with some vegan scoop-shaped corn chips.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (1 3/4 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro

I know that seems like a lot, but hang in there!

Directions:

  1. In a large crockpot, add all ingredients except for the quinoa and cilantro.  Stir until very well combined.
  2. Turn it on at high heat for at least 5 hours, depending on the type of crockpot you have. I did 8 hours and then kept it on warm until it was eaten.
  3. Stir in the quinoa and cilantro at the very end, (and I topped it with a little quinoa for looks) and serve warm.
  4. It will keep well in sealed containers in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Vegan Thanksgiving

For many years, my youngest sister, Allison was the only vegan in the family.  However, for the last two years, we have been lucky enough to celebrate cruelty-free as a family.  I thought I would share our recipes for a tasty, cruelty-free Thanksgiving.

Vegan Thanksgiving | A Vegan in Progress

 

Moist Stuffing with Quinoa

Thanksgiving Stuffing | A Vegan in Progress

This is a very simple stuffing recipe, with a little interesting addition of quinoa.  I love stuffing this way, with a little vegan gravy.  Some people may be interested in making a from-scratch stuffing (it’s certainly healthier that way), but as you may know, I’m more of a semi-homemade cook.  My mom also made a drier, from scratch stuffing for those in our family who prefer it that way.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Mrs. Cubbison’s Classic Dressing (I found this brand at Ralphs, but any vegan box stuffing will work)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup (1 and a half sticks) of Earth Balance butter (the recipe calls for 1 cup, or 2 full sticks, but that felt like too much and this tasted perfectly fine)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegan chicken flavored boullion
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth for the quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon vegan chicken flavored boullion for the quinoa

Directions:

We are going to make the quinoa first.  I think the instructions found here make the best quinoa, I have just made a couple of changes below, based on what I did.

  1. Cover the one cup of uncooked quinoa with cold water, enough to wash it thoroughly.
  2. Then drain through a fine mesh strainer.  Allow to dry for 20 minutes to remove all the water (I just propped the strainer up over the sink to drain).  Don’t skip this step because it will come out mushy.
  3. Toast clean, dry quinoa in a dry pan until you can smell the nutty flavor that has now been brought out in your quinoa, about 5 minutes.  This also removes any additional water that may have been left behind by the rinse.  This is a good time to start the stuffing if you want to be time-efficient (instructions below).
  4. Remove quinoa from the pan, set aside.  Add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon of vegan chicken flavored boullion to the pan.  Stir until the boullion dissolves.  Bring broth to a rapid boil.
  5. Add toasted quinoa to the broth and cover, leaving the lid at a slight angle to vent steam.  Reduce your heat to medium-low and maintain a strong simmer.
  6. Cook for 16 minutes or until all the broth is done.  Remove from heat and remove the lid.
  7. Allow to cook and rest for ten minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Next up, stuffing.

  1. In a large pot, melt vegan Earth Balance butter on medium heat.  Add chopped onion and celery and saute until translucent.
  2. Gradually stir 2 cups of vegetable broth and 2 tablespoons of vegan chicken flavored boullion into the pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, add both bags of stuffing mix and blend lightly.  Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Blend in the quinoa and fluff the stuffing with a fork.

 

Vegan Gravy

Vegan Gravy | A Vegan in Progress

I have never made gravy myself and didn’t want to attempt it this year.  I got a 24 ounce tub of Shallot & Thyme vegan gravy at Whole Foods for $5.99 and felt it was worth it to not have to make it myself.  It tasted great, but if you are interested in making your own, this recipe from Our Veggie Kitchen looks good and relatively easy.

 

Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto | A Vegan in Progress

This recipe can be found in The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.  It is made in a slow cooker, making it great for multi-tasking in the kitchen, but I also found it helpful to have something that could be warmed up and served in a slow cooker rather than on the crowded range or in the oven once we got to my parents’ house.

My only complaint was that the risotto came out a bit bland.  I think some more (and fresh!) seasoning would have helped.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cooked butternut squash or 1 1/2 cups pureed cooked fresh
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Add the water, rice, squash, nutritional yeast, thyme, sage, and rosemary to the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (I cooked for 2 hours, checked it, then added half an hour), until the rice is cooked through but still al dente.  Stir every 20 to 30 minutes, adding extra water if needed.  Season with salt and pepper and taste and adjust the herbs.  This makes 6 servings, so I doubled it to make plenty for Thanksgiving.

 

String Beans with Vegan Garlic Butter Sauce

Ingredients:

  • About 1 1/2 pounds of fresh green beans, cleaned, with the stems cut off
  • About a handful of wax beans (yellow string beans), cleaned, with the stems cut off
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted vegan butter, I used Earth Balance
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
  • A dash of salt

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, heat minced garlic and butter until butter is melted.  Let it sit while you cook the beans, making the flavors meld completely.
  2. Fill a large, separate pot about halfway, add a dash of salt, and bring to a boil.
  3. Put cleaned beans into the boiling water and cover, cooking for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Drain beans, toss them in the butter sauce, and add a little more salt to taste.

 

Vegan Crescent Rolls

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls | A Vegan in Progress

This is pretty self-explanatory, but Pillsbury Crescent rolls are vegan, so I just made a batch of those.

 

Mini Alfredo Pot Pies

Mini Alfredo Pot Pies | A Vegan in Progress

My mom made mini pot pies using Beyond Meat chicken-free strips, Victoria Vegan alfredo sauce, puff pastry, and fresh veggies typically found in pot pies.  They were really cute and tasted great.  However, I always feel like Beyond Meat strips are huge, so they probably would have been better had she cut those smaller or removed them altogether, because the pot pies would have tasted great, even without meat replacement!

 

Purple Mashed Potatoes

Purple Mashed Potatoes | A Vegan in Progress

Rather than the same old, predictable mashed potatoes, just veganized, my sister Samantha made purple mashed potatoes!  It certainly helps the overwhelmingly brownish/beige plate trend that you usually see at Thanksgiving.  There’s no specific recipe that she follows, but here are the general directions.

Directions:

Wash and peel purple potatoes.  Boil until fork tender, then process in food processor until creamy.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Mashed Parsnips

Mashed Parsnips | A Vegan in Progress

In an effort to have a dinner full of variety, Samantha also mashed parsnips.  Again, no real recipe here, but general directions are below.

Directions:

Wash and peel parsnips.  Boil until fork tender.  Roast fennel and garlic, then place in food processor with parsnips.  Process until creamy, then add some dill, black pepper, and sea salt.

 

Maple Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Candied Pecans

Brussels sprouts | A Vegan in Progress

Samantha introduced me to brussels sprouts this year!  They were pretty good actually, I thought they had a flavor like broccoli.  I’m already thinking that a balsamic vinaigrette brussels sprout dish would be great.

Directions:

Wash sprouts and remove any loose or wilted leaves.  Cut them in half and toss in olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, then toss in maple syrup and roast in the oven for another 10 minutes.

 

Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger & Vanilla

Sweet Potato Soup With Ginger & Vanilla | A Vegan in Progress

Allison used this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Post Punk Kitchen.  It was very flavorful and was a nice, little addition to the meal, again, adding variety.

 

Orange Cranberry Sauce

Allison made this special version of cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest from an orange, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place cranberries in a saucepan with water and cover. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, remove from heat.
  3. Mix in agave and oj and let sit for 5 mins.
  4. Garnish with zest.

 

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie | A Vegan in Progress

Lastly, Allison made a tasty pumpkin pie using this recipe, again from Post Punk Kitchen.

Give these and other cruelty-free recipes a try this Thanksgiving!  The animals and your guests will thank you!

Vegan Recipe – Sriracha Tofu Wraps

I recently found myself wanting to cook with tofu again, since I had done so little of it in the past.  I also wanted to try making something with Sriracha sauce.  I came up with Sriracha Tofu Wraps.

Sriracha Tofu Wrap | A Vegan in Progress

It was relatively easy to make.  First, I started with preparing the tofu much like I did in my Tofu Vindaloo with Cauliflower Rice post.  For the sake of ease, I will post it again here.

Directions

1.  Ahead of time, maybe in the morning (or at least an hour ahead) press the tofu.  You can use any technique you like, but I placed a towel on a plate, then paper towels on top of that, sandwiched the tofu between more paper towels, then another plate, and stacked cans of beans on top.

2.  Cut the tofu into the strips.

3.  Marinated the tofu using Liquid Smoke and a little bit of Tamari sauce (like a soy sauce, without the salty flavor).  I let it marinate for about 30 minutes, but I’m sure it would only improve if it sat longer.

4.  Next, I tried a great tip that I found at delish.com, I tossed the marinated tofu strips with about 1/2 a cup of cornstarch before pan frying it.  It helps create a crispy outer coating.  Pan fry the tofu until all the sides turn a golden brown.

Sriracha Tofu | A Vegan in Progress

Spread any kind of hummus on a tortilla, add the Sriracha, and roll up.  This is the lazy version, but I bet the recipe would be even better with some greens.

Sriracha Tofu Wrap | A Vegan in Progress