Vintage Goes Vegan: Hot-Dog-and-Eggplant Casserole

I’ve been trying to gather inspiration to try out these recipes through ingredients I already have around.  I recalled that several of the recipes in the books used hot dogs, so when I was at the store a few weeks ago, I bought a package of Smart Dogs.  All of the other ingredients are staples in my pantry and refrigerator, anyway, so when I came across this recipe, I knew I had to make it.

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I was discussing the idea of this one with my friend, and both of us agreed it was an odd combination.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone raving over eggplant and hot dog casserole, so I was a little worried about wasting a whole bunch of perfectly good food.  I knew the eggplant part would be good, but I didn’t know how to feel about the hot dogs.  But, the point of this is to try new things I wouldn’t otherwise try, so I did it!  The verdict?  It was good, and actually got better as left overs!  If you’re feeling like trying something a little off the wall, Hot-Dog-and-Eggplant Casserole may be just for you.

Ingredients:

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1 medium eggplant (mine was a little smaller; in the recipe, it says you should have 5 cups, and I had about 4)
flour
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 small clove garlic
1 lb frankfurters, cut in 1 inch pieces (I used 6 of the smaller sized Smart Dogs)
1 can (1 lb) tomatoes, undrained (mine was 12oz)
Cooked rice (I used farro, but also ate the left overs on pasta!)

Because of the smaller amounts on some ingredients, this went from 6 servings according to the recipe to 4 generous servings!

Directions:

  1. Peel eggplant. Cut into 1-inch cubes; measure 5 cups (note that mine only measured 4 cups). Toss eggplant with flour to coat lightly.
  2. In hot oil in large skillet, sauté onion intil tender – about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggplant, salt, pepper, basil, and garlic. Cook, stirring ocassionally, until eggplant is lightly browned.
  4. Add hot dogs and tomatoes, mixing well. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice (or in my case, farro, or really whatever you want!).

Makes 4 servings

I also made the left overs into a calzone, with a little Daiya, so be creative with your left overs!!!

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You’ve Lost Your Noodle! Lasagna

When I was on my weight loss journey a few years ago, I was looking for ways to enjoy delicious foods, but maybe cut back on the carbohydrates a little bit (mostly in the pasta and bread-y forms).  That was when I found a recipe for eggplant and zucchini lasagna, using those two plants instead of noodles.  Now, back then, I wasn’t vegan, so the original recipe was full of cheese and egg and the like.  I have since learned how to adapt it to make a simple, healthy, and delicious vegan recipe.

One thing that I should let you know is that this is a recipe that pretty much requires a special kitchen tool – a mandoline slicer.  The ability to make slices all the same thickness is pretty important to the success of this recipe.

Most of the time, I make it very, very simple, but under the ingredients list, I’ve added a few possible (and delicious) add ins!

Topped with a little red pepper flake and additional nooch, for extra love.

Topped with a little red pepper flake and additional nooch, for extra love.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 1/2 of a small eggplant, sliced thinly length wise (use the thin blade on a mandoline)
  • 1 medium/large zucchini (you may not use all of it), sliced thinly length wise
  • 1 package of firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup dairy free cheese alternative (this time, I used Daiya, but I usually use the Follow Your Heart shreds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped basil
  • 2 diced up cloves of garlic
  • Options (including, but not limited to):
    • mushrooms!
    • kale!
    • spinach!
    • add crushed red pepper to the sauce to make it spicy!
    • ground meat substitute! (Beyond Meat’s Beefy grounds would be my recommendation!)
    • you could also sub the tomato sauce with my vegan alfredo sauce, if you’re into that kind of thing!

Directions (this is a recipe big enough to share!  It’s technically 4 servings, but you or a guest may end up eating half of it, it’s so good!):

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and spritz a little oil on the base of a 9×9 glass baking dish.
  2. In a bowl, combine the tomato products, fresh herbs, and chopped garlic.  Place a small amount on the bottom of the dish, just enough to give a little coating.
  3. In another bowl, combine the pressed tofu, nooch, salt, pepper, dried basil, granulated garlic, and 1/4 a cup of the cheese alternative.  This should look and taste kind of similar to ricotta cheese.  The addition of the cheese alternative is to help it be a little sticky, so the lasagna holds more shape.
  4. Place a layer of zucchini/eggplant on top of the bottom layer of sauce.  You can do this several ways – you can alternate layers of zucchini and eggplant, or you can mix them.  Although the image I have included shows the eggplant cut into rounds, I recommend lengthwise for either application (I was just using left over eggplant from the other day – you can also use all zucchini or all eggplant, if you’d like!)
  5. Layer the tofu ricotta mixture, followed by about another 1/4 cup of cheese, and top with sauce.
  6. Repeat this process until you run out of tofu mixture and sauce.  Then, top with one more layer of zucchini/eggplant, and the remaining cheese.
  7. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted.  Let sit for 15 minutes, and enjoy!
The whole shabang, right out of the oven.

The whole shabang, right out of the oven.

Penne Alfredo with Kale and Mushrooms

While I was at the grocery store yesterday, someone mentioned they wanted pasta, and I came to the conclusion that I, too, wanted pasta.  I felt like a mushroomy, creamy, sauce was just what I was in the mood for, so I stocked up on crimini mushrooms and headed home.

Mushrooms are one of my favorite things to base dishes around, since I have found them to be very versatile, as well as totally delicious.  Before I stopped paying for cable, I used to watch a lot of Food Network TV shows.  A lot.  I actually attribute this to my ability to cook, since I really never did it beforehand.  Alton Brown’s show, Good Eats, was always a favorite, and one year I remember him making my favorite holiday dish from scratch – green bean casserole.  Since then, I have always made it with fresh ingredients, and it’s been super simple to adapt to my veganism.  I’ve made the mushroom cream sauce and mixed it with pasta before, but I recently decided to play around with it and try to get the flavor of an alfredo sauce with the mushrooms in it.  I feel like I nailed it, and was in the mood for this delicious sauce again last night.

Something about pasta with a cream sauce was just begging for greenery, however, so I added about half a bunch of lacitano kale. Really the only reason I used this kind of kale was because it’s so much easier to cut up into strips than curly varieties of kale, and I was going for that abundance of kale that only thinly shredded bits would be able to give me. Served with a side salad, this was a delicious, hearty, and vitamin filled vegan meal worthy of writing about.

kale mushroom alfredo

Without further ado, here is the recipe for my Penne Alfredo with Kale and Mushrooms.

Ingredients:

  • 1 serving of the vegan alfredo sauce (recipe here)
  • 1 serving penne (or other pasta of your choice, but the sauce will stick really well to penne)
  • about 150g, or 1-1.5 cups, sliced mushrooms (I used crimini, but you could cut up portobello mushrooms or use white button.  Nothing with too strong of a flavor, though)
  • 1/2 of one large bunch of kale (I used lacitano, but any kind will work, and you can also adjust the amounts for your taste)
  • oil to saute the mushrooms and kale in
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • optional: some kind of vegan protein source (I used smokey tempeh strips, because I thought the smokey flavor would lend well to the sauce)

Directions (makes one serving):

  1. Cook your pasta according to the package.
  2. Follow the directions included for the vegan alfredo to make the sauce, but add the dried rosemary as well.  It works beautifully with the mushrooms and kale, and although optional, it shouldn’t be!
  3. In a large saute pan, cook your mushrooms until they’re browned and have expelled liquid.  Add the kale on top and cover, allowing it to steam for a while.  ***If using a protein, cook during this time.
  4. When the pasta, sauce, and vegetables are done, test for seasoning and combine ingredients.
  5. Enjoy!!

Portobello Steak with Mixed Green Spaghetti Squash

I’ve had a George Foreman grill for years.  When I ate meat, I probably used it… twice ever.  Just in the last 4 months, I’ve used it close to 10 times.  Why?  I discovered the joy of cooking portobello mushroom caps on it.  After they’ve been marinated and grilled, they’re easily one of the tastiest things I can make at home.

A word about spaghetti squash – it doesn’t taste like spaghetti, so don’t get your hopes up, if you haven’t had it.  That’s usually the first question people ask me when I tell them I had some of it for dinner.  It’s a squash, and it tastes like one.

Anyway, I hadn’t been on a serious grocery shopping trip in close to two months.  I went out of town for Thanksgiving, then for work, then Christmas showed up pretty quickly, and I went out of town again for New Years.  So, yesterday, I did the first half of my grocery shopping.  I decided to make something new with my spaghetti squash, and that lead to this!

ingredients

Ingredients: spaghetti squash, portobello mushroom, beet greens, kale, Beyond Meat chicken-free strips, lemon, garlic, an array of spices, and not pictured: balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cooked spaghetti squash (I boil mine, but you can bake them or even microwave them!  Just make sure they’re cut in half first)
  • 1 large portobello mushroom cap
  • 4-5 beet green leaves
  • 3-4 kale leaves
  • 1 serving Beyond Meat chicken-free strips
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • however many cloves of garlic your heart desires
  • assorted herbs and spices (I used basil, parsley, rosemary, lemon pepper, and crushed red pepper)
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
1. Boil a large pot of water (large enough for your spaghetti squash. I always just cook the whole thing). If you don’t have a grill, preheat your oven to 450 (for your mushroom)
2. Zest your lemon (set half aside) and squeeze half of the juice into a container that will fit your portobello mushroom. Add salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Mix together, and add your cap, gills down. I always do this in a sealed tupperware so I can flip it around and get the whole thing coated. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes in the marinade. If you’re putting the mushroom in the oven, go ahead and do that right after the 10 minutes is up.
3. Take your leaves, then pile and roll them up to chiffonade (this is a fancy word for “cut into strips”). Here’s a picture:

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4. Sauté your greens with olive oil and garlic. They’re going to need a little time to soften.
5. When the spaghetti squash is done, remove it from the water. I like to place it in a bowl and use my fork to scrape it out. Here’s another picture:

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6. Right about now, I would put my mushroom on the grill. It only needs about 5 minutes on the GF, closer to 15 if you’re baking.
7. Take the scraped squash and drop it in with your greens, and add the Beyond Meat chicken-free strips. Mix them together, and remove from heat. Add the rest of your zest and lemon juice, as well as any spices you want.
8. When your mushroom is done, remove it from the grill or oven, and slice as desired. Plate, and enjoy!

(note: unlike meat, you can use your marinade without heating it and pour it on top of your mushroom.  It’s delicious!  I showed a friend this, and she totally thought I was eating a steak.)

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Sweet Potato Chili Pie

I’ve been eating a lot of sweet potatoes for the last year, if you haven’t noticed.  I love them.  I’ve been experimenting more with different ways to eat them.  Today I decided to try a “shepard’s pie” kind of approach, utilizing the chili I made today (https://jackieisgreen.com/2015/01/05/bean-chili-basics/).  It was awesome.

Ingredients (serves 1 as is, but obviously easy to adapt):

  • 1 serving of bean chili (see link above)
    • Note: I used garbanzo beans, black beans, white beans, and pinto beans, a can of diced tomatoes, 1 jalapeño, cumin, lemon pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne, turmeric, ground ginger, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, basil, and my favorite hot sauce.
  • 1 small-medium sweet potato, peeled and mashed
  • salt, pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, and garlic
  • Beyond Beef beefy crumbles

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Take the serving of chili and put it in a ramekin, and mix in the Beyond Beef.
  3. Top the chili with the mashed sweet potato.
  4. If all of your ingredients are already warm, it only needs to bake for 8-10 minutes to get nice and hot.  If they’re both cold, you’ll probably want closer to 20 or 30.

That’s it!  If you’ve already made the chili, it’s super quick and east to throw together and make this.

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Bean Chili Basics

Part of my “New Year’s Resolution” is  to update this blog more.  Hopefully, I can stick to it, but be advised, that may mean the only pictures are the finished product!

One of the things I’ve been making for a while now is bean “chili.”  It’s a great option for cold weather, as well as for when I’m broke and can’t afford to buy a wide array of my usual groceries for the week.  I usually have between 5-8 servings, depending on the combination of ingredients that I use.

This isn’t so much a recipe as a method.  Depending on the flavor profile and availability of ingredients, you can make many, many different variations on this basic idea.

The Ingredients:

(The first two are the very basics that I use in every recipe for this chili)

  • 4 cans of beans (I recommend a variety – my standards are black, pinto, garbanzo, and either red or white beans)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes

(everything else below is a list of optional ingredients that I may add in)

  • potato (regular or sweet) diced very small
  • onion
  • jalapeno
  • lentils
  • fake meat (“beef” or “chicken”)
  • canned diced chilies
  • corn
  • bell peppers

(this is a list of herbs and spices that I have used; utilize different combinations based off of what flavor profile you’re looking for)

  • salt
  • pepper
  • lemon pepper
  • cumin
  • smoked paprika
  • parsley
  • basil
  • tumeric
  • ground ginger
  • cayenne pepper
  • cinnamon
  • hot sauce

The Method:

  • Drain the liquid from and rinse all of the cans of beans and dump the contents into a slow cooker
  • Add the diced tomatoes, and their liquid
  • Add in whatever addition ingredients you may want to use, then spices.
  • Mix everything together!
  • If you’re looking to eat within the next two hours, turn your slow cooker on high.  If you’re making this before work and want to come home to a hot bowl, turn it on low.
    • Note: I’ve left this on low all day and it’s been pretty dried out, so if this is the plan I may recommend adding about 1/2 a cup of water before you leave.  Or, I’ve actually used this opportunity to add a lot of water and make a really delicious soup!

The best part about this recipe is using it in different ones.  Some examples are: chili on sweet potato fries, chili mac and cheese, chili over zucchini fries, etc.  Tonight, I plan on trying something new!

Meatless, Not Beetless, Monday

My life has become a lot more hectic lately, so I haven’t been very creative in the food making.  Sorry!

 

Last week, I decided that I would finally try to go to one of the farmers markets in my area.  It was not as big as the one I used to go to when I lived in Orange County, CA, but it was pretty well stocked.  I only bought a handful of things, but among them were 3 kinds of kale and a bunch of golden beets.  I love beets.  I remember the first time I ever had them was in a salad at a Claim Jumper around 10 years ago, and I thought to myself “WHAT ARE THESE NUGGETS OF PURPLE MAGIC?!”  I don’t always buy beets, but when I do, I get really excited to eat them.  If you haven’t tried them, you should.  They’re sweet and delicious.

So, my beets, their greens, and the copious amounts of kale lead to the creation of this recipe for Monday night.

 

Coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, faro, Gardein beef less strips, kale, beets, zucchini

Ingredients: Coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, faro, Gardein beefless strips, kale, beets, zucchini

 

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 2 small beets, and their greens
  • 1/4 cup farro, dry
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 6-8 leaves of kale
  • 1 serving beef less strips, or any protein alternative of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Prep:  Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 450.  Clean beets, and cut off the ends.  Wrap them in aluminum foil, and roast until soft.  This will depend on the size of your beets, but takes usually in the 40 minute range.  Once they are roasted, their tougher outer skin will peel right off, and they’ll be beautiful and delicious.  Then you can slice them up!

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  1. While the beets are cooking, cook the farro according to package directions (it’s a 2.5:1 water to farro ratio)
  2. Wash, dry, and chop up all of your greenery and the zucchini.
  3. In a large skillet, add the coconut oil and cook your protein.  Remove from the oil when cooked, and add your greens and zucchini.  When the greens are melted and the zucchini is soft, add in the faro, protein, and sliced beets.
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to your personal taste, really), and serve up!

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