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Category Archives: Dinner

Vegan Recipe – Stuffed Shells

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I love ricotta cheese stuffed into anything… ravioli, manicotti, stuffed shells, yum!  It was one thing that I was worried wouldn’t translate well into a vegan version.  I scoured Pinterest for a good vegan stuffed shells recipe and found one originally posted by PBS of all sources (link here).

2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
16 ounces extra firm tofu
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted
1 box jumbo shells
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

1.  Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Crumble into the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender along with olive oil, salt, oregano, garlic and nutritional yeast. Process on high until smooth and “ricotta-like”.
2.  Add the defrosted spinach to the blended tofu mixture.
3.  Cook shells in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain
4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour about ½ cup pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Stuff shells with 2 T of filling and place in pan, seam side down. Repeat until all shells have been stuffed.
5.  Pour remaining pasta sauce over shells, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve!

Yield: 6-8 servings

Stuffed Shells | A Vegan in Progress

Eric loved this version.  He’s not a huge fan of cheese, so he liked that it wasn’t very cheesy.  However, I missed that cheesy ricotta flavor, this seemed a little bland to me.  Since I was an idiot and cooked the entire box of jumbo shells at once, I had about half of the box left over from the first attempt.  I decided to try it again a few days later and make a few changes.

This time, I put in about half a tablespoon more nutritional yeast (I would have done even more, but Eric begged me not to make it too cheesy), I doubled the garlic, and I added about ¼ cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

The second version was my preferred recipe.  The sun-dried tomatoes added a little extra yummy to the filling and it wasn’t so bland.

Vegan Recipe – Moroccan Dinner

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You may recall that, while in Paris this June, we dined at a little place called Au Bon Couscous near Notre Dame.

Au Bon Couscous, Paris | A Vegan in Progress

Au Bon Couscous

We enjoyed that meal so much that we hoped to figure out how to recreate it.  I got some plain couscous from the bulk section at Sprouts and looked up a Moroccan Stew to accompany it.  I still think the recipe needs some tweaking (theirs was more broth and a little thicker), but this is pretty damn close.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 large carrot, diced (I used two)
1 large red pepper, chopped (I may also add a poblano pepper next time)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground turmeric
1-1/2 cup vegetable stock (I might make it 2 or more cups for more broth next time)
1 cup chopped tomato, canned or fresh (I used a portion of a can to get one cup, but next time I may just add the whole can for added broth)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (I didn’t know what they meant by cooked, so I sprayed a pan with olive oil cooking spray and lightly fried them in it until they were slightly browned.)
1 medium chopped zucchini (I didn’t have any!)
½ cup black olives (I used sliced)
approx. 1 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste


  1.  In a good size Dutch oven (I used my Martha Stewart cast iron casserole pot) fry the onion, garlic, carrot, pepper and celery in the olive oil for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add all the dry spices and stir-fry this for 1 minute more.
  3. To this add the stock and the tomatoes; simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Then add the chickpeas, zucchini and the olives, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the zucchini is cooked, probably another 10-15 minutes.  Add lemon juice, taste, and serve.
Moroccan Stew | A Vegan in Progress


I let mine simmer much longer than this suggests, hoping that the flavors would meld a little better.  Plus, Eric wasn’t home yet, so I wanted to keep it warm.

We spooned in a little Lee Kum Kee brand Chili Garlic Sauce to taste when we served ourselves and it added some yummy spiciness to the dish.

Moroccan Stew With Chili Garlic Sauce | A Vegan in Progress

With Chili Garlic Sauce mixed in

This would be a great dish for the cold months, but maybe not the best to have right now while we are having a triple-digit heat wave in Southern California.  It is really simple to make and yields a lot, but would be easy to double and freeze for the future.  I imagine that this would be a good dish to serve many people because they could choose the portion sizes of each ingredient to their individual taste.

Dual Dining – Southwestern Black Bean Casserole

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I have to sing my husband’s praises a little bit.  He is a major meat-eater, but he has really started to become more open minded about my new dietary choices.  Yesterday, he brought me a recipe that could easily be made vegan and asked me to make it for dinner tonight.  It’s Southwestern Black Bean Casserole, found here.

We were expecting some friends over, so I made it with both vegan and traditional cheese.  It came out about 40% vegan and 60% otherwise.  I carefully sprinkled the cheese so that it would be easy to cut and separate the servings by diet.

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth
2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 low-sodium whole-wheat tortillas (or 6 corn tortillas)
12 ounces salsa, no added sugar
1 cup shredded 2% Cheddar cheese / Daiya vegan cheddar cheese
1 (2.25oz) can sliced olives (optional)


1.  Preheat oven to 375°.

2.  Drain beans, set aside.  In a medium skillet, add oil; heat over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.

3.  Add black beans and broth, and continue cooking approximately 3 minutes.  Add cumin, black pepper, salt, and cilantro; stir to combine.

4.  Spray the bottom of an 8×8-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray (I used a 7×11 inch casserole dish and it worked just fine).  Add a tortilla (or tortillas if you are using a rectangular dish), a layer of black bean mixture,  a layer of salsa, and a layer of cheese; continue layering until all ingredients have been used. Top casserole with remaining cheese.  I sprinkled sliced olives on top of mine.

5.  Cover casserole dish with foil, and bake approximately 20 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly. Remove foil, and continue cooking 8–10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Southwestern Black Bean Casserole | A Vegan in Progress

Daiya Vegan Cheese on the right, regular cheese on the left

Next time, to make things simpler, I will probably just use two smaller Pyrex dishes for the different cheeses so there is no chance if it melting over to the other side.  You can see very clearly in the photo above the two different types of cheeses.  In terms of taste, I found the Daiya cheese to be a close replica of its dairy counterpart.  In terms of looks, it doesn’t melt nearly as well as regular cheese and is slightly unappetizing for those who aren’t used to it.  The recipe is very simple, tasty, and easily customizable so we will probably make it again.  Everyone enjoyed it enough for seconds.

Vegan Recipe – From-The-Pantry Pot Pie

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Yet another vegan crock pot recipe from my new cookbook, The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour.

I love pot pie, so I was looking forward to trying this recipe.  It’s very easy to make and very flexible.  You can use whatever leftover veggies you have (I always keep a few bags of frozen items on hand for meals just like this), and you can add beans in place of the seitan if you so choose.

For the stew:
1 small onion, minced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 large stalk celery, minced (optional)
1 1/2 cups cubed chicken-flavored seitan, store bought or homemade (I used some that I made and froze in this post) or use crumbled, cooked, vegan sausage or diced tofu, beans, or potato
1 pound frozen mixed green beans, carrots, and peas (you can use fresh leftovers instead)
1 cup water, add more if needed
2 tablespoons vegan chicken-flavored bouillon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons flour, if needed

For the biscuits:
1 cup white, whole wheat, or gluten-free flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup plain or unsweetened nondairy milk

The night before:
Place the cut-up onion, garlic, celery, and seitan in a large airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

In the morning:
Oil the crock of your slow cooker (skip this step if you use a liner like I do).  Combine all of the ingredients for the stew except for the flour in the slow cooker.  Add 1 to 2 cups extra water if you will cook it longer than 8 hours, or if your slow cooker runs a little hot.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving:
Add more water if the mixture is too thick, or add the flour if the stew needs to thicken up a bit.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

To make the biscuits:
Combine all of the biscuit ingredients in a bowl and work until it comes together into a dough.  Turn the mixture out onto a floured cutting board (or cover a cutting board with parchment paper as I did), roll out 1/2 inch thick (or smush it with your fingers like I had to – couldn’t find a rolling pin anywhere!), and cut into circles with the rim of a drinking glass.  Place in the slow cooker on top of the filling.  Turn the slow cooker to high.  Prop open the lid with the handle of a wooden spoon, or place a clean dishtowel under the lid to prevent condensation from dripping onto your biscuits (I just set the lid back down and a slight angle so that some steam could escape).  Cook an additional 30 minutes.

The bag of frozen veggies that we had on hand was peas, carrots, and corn, but no green beans.  I added the extra water as suggested and it definitely came out watery.  I added the flour and a few tablespoons of cornstarch, which thickened it up nicely.  The biscuits took a long time to cook… I left it on high for one hour and they were still pale in color and a little doughy.

Slow Cooker From-The-Pantry Pot Pie | A Vegan in Progress

I added a sprinkle of sea salt on top of each biscuit

However, the final product was delish!  I loved it and went back for seconds.  The slightly doughy biscuits seemed a little more like dumplings, but that’s fine by me!  In my opinion, it would have been perfect even without the seitan, but Eric really liked having it in the pot pie stew.  He said that it mimics the texture enough and is masked by the flavor of the vegan chicken-flavored bouillon in the stew, so you would just assume it was chicken if you weren’t told otherwise.  I have folded down the corner or this page because this recipe will be a regular one in our house!

Vegan Recipe – Kung Pao Chick’n

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I love Chinese food.  I love chow mein, cashew nut chicken, and kung pao chicken.  This is why, when I found a recipe for Kung Pao Chick’n in my The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour cookbook, I immediately added the ingredients to my shopping list.  First, I made the seitan as described in my previous post.  The rest of the recipe follows below.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
½ cups water
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons vegan chicken-flavored bouillon (I searched for half an hour at Sprouts and ended up finding this at Ralphs)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bell pepper, cored & diced
5 ounces mushrooms, diced
1 can water chestnuts, drained & diced
12 ounces or so of chicken-flavored seitan (I used one small Tupperware full)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Steamed rice, for serving
Chopped peanuts, for serving

The night before:  Combine all sauce ingredients and store in an airtight container in the fridge.  Prepare the bell pepper, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and seitan, and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

In the morning:  Combine the sauce, pepper, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and seitan in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About 30 minutes before serving:  Turn up slow cooker to high.  Make a thickener by mixing the cornstarch with some of the sauce from the slow cooker in a small cup, then add it back into the slow cooker and stir.  This thickens the sauce amazingly!

Right before serving:  Mix in the sesame oil.  Serve over steamed rice, and top with peanuts.

I deviated from the recipe a bit because I don’t like mushrooms and we ate the bell pepper before I made this meal, so we did without both.  Also, I forgot to add the sesame oil before serving.  I added chopped carrots and celery at the 30 minute mark.  I added broccoli to the meal and think it was a good addition, but it doesn’t hold up too well in slow cookers, so next time I will add it 30 minutes before serving with the carrots (so that it doesn’t get so soft that it dissolves).

Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chick'n | A Vegan in Progress


I have to say that this is one of the most successful recipes I have ever tried.  It was the most delicious Kung Pao I have ever eaten.  Eric loved it… we both went back for seconds.  There were leftovers enough for lunch the following day.  This will serve as my go-to impressive recipe for quite a while, I imagine.

Vegan Recipe – Vegetable-Stuffed Peppers

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For the fourth of July (sorry, I am very behind in my posting)… my parents and sisters invited Eric and I over for dinner.  My parents just got a new barbeque on which they grilled some fish and veggies.  I brought Vegetable-Stuffed Peppers made from a recipe in my Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly slow cooker recipe book.  I have found that, with some tweaking (such as substituting vegan cheese or just leaving cheese out), a lot of the recipes from the “Bean and Other Main Dishes” section of this book can be vegan.

The recipe is ideal for a 6-quart, oval slow-cooker and makes 8 very filling servings.

4 large green, red, or yellow bell peppers
1/2 cup Minute rice (I tripled this because the rest of the filling looked so soft and tomatoey that it seemed like it needed more substance.)
1/4 cup minced onions
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
2 tsp, lite soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (I tripled this, because I like garlic.)
28-oz. can low-sodium whole tomatoes
6-oz. can low-sodium tomato paste
15 1/4-oz. can corn or kidney beans, drained

As most slow cooker recipes are, this is very simple and much can be prepared in advance.  I also highly recommend using disposable crock pot liners because cleanup is so easy (otherwise the baked-on sauces are a real pain to scrub off).

1.  First, I combined all filling ingredients (except for the rice) in a large tupperware container in advance, made sure the lid was on tight, and shook it to mix the contents.

2.  When it was time to begin cooking, I added the rice and repeated the shaking to mix it in.

3.  Next, I carefully cut the tops off of the peppers (save those) and removed the seeds, then placed each pepper standing up in the slow cooker.

4.  I stuffed the peppers crammed full of the filling and put the tops back on.  The remaining ingredients were poured over and around the peppers.  This extra filling wasn’t eaten, so it probably would have been better to save the remaining filling for another recipe or maybe squeeze in another pepper or two.

5.  Then I covered and cooked it on low for 8 hours.  The book suggests 6-8 hours and, after my experience, I would only cook it for 6 hours because those peppers were damn soft after 8 hours.

6.  After cooking, we just cut each pepper in half (more like smushed each pepper in half with a knife because they were so soft) and served them in bowls.

 Stuffed Peppers | A Vegan in Progress

The end result was tasty and extremely filling, but in my opinion, too smushy and tomatoey.  In the future I may add both corn and kidney beans, cut the amount of tomatoes in half, kick up the spicy with salsa instead of tomato paste, and add some kind of seasoning or spicy peppers.  The awesome thing about most slow cooker recipes is that you can subtract and add whatever you like.  I am always making notes in my recipe books about doubling this or adding celery to that.  I look forward to trying this again in many different combinations until I find my favorite one!

Vegan Recipe – Lentil Tacos

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I hope to try and post a new recipe each week.  I may miss a week or two, but that’s my goal.

This week I tried a variation on the first vegan meal I made for myself – lentil tacos!

You will need:
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup black lentils
(Lentils can really be any amount or any kind.  Just keep in mind that they balloon up once cooked so you get a lot more than you think you will.  This amount made three servings for me, so I could take it to work for lunches.)
1/2 packet of low sodium taco seasoning
Any kind of salsa (I used salsa verde)
Tortillas or Pitas
Optional: vegan cheese, lettuce, olives

1.  I simmered the lentils for about 30 minutes and just taste tested them for consistency before draining the pot.

2.  I put the lentils in a bowl and mixed in about half of a packet of low sodium taco seasoning, making sure the lentils were coated evenly.

3.  I kept it simple and just layered the lentils and salsa in my tacos.

This makes a yummy and easy dinner when paired with a salad or some fruit.

To prep the leftovers for easy eating in the office, I mixed the salsa verde in with the lentils in a tupperware container.  Once at work I spooned the mixture into pita halves.