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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 – 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 – Tempeh Tornado

My apologies for missing so many weeks recently!

I know that I tend to make a lot of slow cooker recipes, but it’s what keeps us fed while I’m in school.  I promise some active cooking recipes soon.  In fact, I’ve got a brownie recipe for next week!

Anyway, I haven’t had Sloppy Joes in I don’t know how many years, but for some reason I decided to try the Tempeh Tornado recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour.  If you haven’t already – I really recommend picking up your own copy of the cook book, because there are so many awesome meals in it.  The Tempeh Tornado recipe makes a hearty sandwich filling that’s so nice and cozy.  It’s so good for warm dinners in the winter.  It also works really well for lunches if you pack the filling and the bun separately.

Please excuse the paper plate!  This photo is from when I enjoyed it at work for lunch!

Tempeh Tornado | A Vegan in Progress

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 packages (8 ounces) tempeh, cubed (I just crumbled it)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ bell pepper
  • Buns for serving

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes of 3 cups chopped fresh
  • ½ cup water  (Add a little more water if you will be cooking it for more than 9 hours.)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan chicken-flavored bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider, plain white or white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses (I didn’t have any and it was fine without)
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (This stuff is expensive!)
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder or smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon pasilla chile or regular chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (to taste)

THE NIGHT BEFORE:

Steam the tempeh in a steamer basket for 10 minutes.  This takes out some of the bitterness.  While the tempeh is cooking, mince the garlic and bell pepper,

To make the sauce: place all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the tempeh, garlic, and pepper, cover, and store in the fridge.

(You may have noticed this by now, but I tend not to prepare this stuff the night before, so I prepared everything in the morning and it worked out fine.)

IN THE MORNING:

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Serve as open-faced sandwiches or on buns.

Vegan Recipe – Asian Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

As you know, I have not had a lot of free time lately, so I have been lagging on lunch preparation.  Last night I realized that unless I wanted a plain peanut butter sandwich, I had nothing for lunch today.  So, Eric and I ran to the store to grab a few essentials, waiting to do a real shopping trip later since it was after 10pm and Sprouts was closed.

I knew that it had been too long since I had posted a proper recipe, so I quickly flipped through The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour book and found the recipe for Asian Tempeh Lettuce Wraps.  We had most of the ingredients on hand and I picked up the few extras while we were at the store.  Preparation for this one is minimal.  It would have been miniscule if I had a veggie chopper or a food processor, but I’m a pauper, so I chopped mine by hand.  It cooked while we slept and smelled delicious when we woke up.  Eric packed the filling in a reusable container for me and washed pieces of iceberg for wrapping.  As a last minute addition, I tossed the jar of Hoisin sauce into my lunch bag.

Slow Cooker Asian Tempeh Lettuce Wraps | A Vegan in Progress

I want more just looking at it now!

I looked forward to my lunch all day and let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  The flavors were delish and the Hoisin added a perfect amount of sauce.  The only issue is that the actual sauce that it cooks in stays very watery (even after I cooked it for an additional half hour on high with the lid off).  It was a big mess, dripping down to my wrist with every bite.  I would just suggest straining out the liquid since it has done its job in flavoring the filling and the Hoisin can take it from there.

This is wonderful as a wrap, but would make a very nice salad topping.  Loved it!

INGREDIENTS:
1 package (8 oz) plain soy tempeh, cubed
1 large stalk celery
2 medium-size carrots
1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained

FOR THE SAUCE:
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger, more as needed
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar or plain rice vinegar mixed with 1 tsp sugar
1/3 tsp red pepper flakes or sriracha
Whole iceberg or butter lettuce leaves, for serving

THE NIGHT BEFORE:
Steam the tempeh in a steamer basket/colander for 10 minutes.  If you have neither, you can cover the bottom of a stir fry pan with a layer of water and boil it, then add the tempeh.  I read that it works similarly to steaming since there isn’t enough water to really boil the tempeh.  The steaming takes out some of the bitterness.  While the tempeh is cooking, mince the celery , carrots, and water chestnuts.

To make the sauce: combine all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the tempeh, celery, carrots, and water chestnuts, cover, and store in the fridge.  If you are making it overnight for a lunch like I did, just put everything in the slow cooker, no need to refrigerate it.

IN THE MORNING:

Place the tempeh, vegetables, and sauce in the slow cooker and smash the tempeh with a spoon until it crumbles.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Add an additional 1 tsp grated ginger if its flavor has dulled.  Serve with whole lettuce leaves to wrap the filling in.

** The book suggests using the filling to make a banh mi sandwich.  Serve on a toasted sub roll with fresh bean sprouts, shredded carrots, cilantro, and some jalapeños.

Days Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, and Seventeen

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Day Fourteen: Gather vegan recipes

You would only have to check my blog or my Pinterest board to see all of the vegan recipes that I have gathered so far!  I think I’ve got this one covered.

Day Fifteen: Try a new recipe

Sarah Taylor of Vegan in 30 Days suggests trying one new recipe a week for a year.  That’s my vegan recipe a week goal as well.  Once the Fall semester begins, I will be working full time and will be at school until 10pm three nights a week, so this will be challenging to maintain.  Hopefully, with my slow cooker and some weekend cooking, I will be able to keep it up.

Day Sixteen: Eliminate fish and seafood

This is really simple for me.  I have never liked seafood and haven’t had more than a bite (just to try it and confirm that, yes, I still hate it) since probably 5th grade.

Day Seventeen: Commit to the kitchen

Taylor, author of Vegan in 30 Days, stresses the need to put a little more time into the preparation of our food in order to get a healthier outcome.  I have already committed to having a healthy green smoothie every morning and now that I have a new blender and got the hang of it, it takes only about 15 minutes a day from start to finish.

I use kale, spinach, and sometimes celery, with one green apple, around 5 frozen strawberries, a heaping handful of frozen mixed berries, and a splash of water and soy milk.  It’s simple to make, with many things prepared in advance, and I can take it with me to work in the mornings.

Sarah Taylor also suggests making one-pot meals, such as the slow cooker ones found in my favorite recipe book, The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour.  The preparation is usually small, but Eric and I get enough for dinner and leftovers every time.

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.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE:
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

REMAINING INGREDIENTS:
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

Voila!

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.

Day Eight

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Day eight in Vegan in 30 Days says to eliminate poultry.  I was definitely worried about this step because chicken and turkey were the only types of meat that I ever ate.  In Sarah Taylor’s book, she says that it was her biggest mental hurdle as well, but goes on to say that it was the easiest physical hurdle.  She points out that chicken doesn’t taste like much of anything, just the sauce and seasonings that is added to it.

Since I posted Day Seven, Part A, I have cut out the remaining meat from my diet.  It has been a lot easier than I had thought.  I began to realize that it wasn’t the chicken that I liked, but the food that happens to have chicken in it.  If I could get southwestern eggrolls from Chilis without the chicken (cheese too), I would be no less satisfied with the appetizer.  In terms of dining out, I can always try asking for menu items without certain ingredients, but in the case of something like southwestern eggrolls, I’m only going to get a vegan version if I make it myself.

This week, as part of my transition away from poultry, I tried making my own seitan, using a recipe from the 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.  You end up stretching the dough out and cutting it into pieces.  Once cooked, the pieces shrink quite a bit, so next time I may cut some even larger.  This seitan recipe is for use in slow cookers (it’s wetter) and it yields quite a bit of seitan, as you can see below.  It freezes well, so this will make vegan cooking a lot simpler!

Slow Cooker Seitan | A Vegan in Progress

Uncooked dough & cooked seitan in vegan broth

Packed up slow cooker seitan | A Vegan in Progress

The finished product, packed in broth

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.

Ingredients:
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!