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.


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.



1 medium eggplant (mine was a little smaller; in the recipe, it says you should have 5 cups, and I had about 4)
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!


  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!!!


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: 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.


  • 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

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:

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:

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.)


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 (  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


  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.


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


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!


  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!


Sweet and Spicy Enchilada Casserole

I don’t really have a story or witty anecdote to introduce this recipe. It was a long week. I hope you’re not disappointed.


Ingredients: black beans, enchilada sauce, firm tofu, tortillas, zucchini, sweet potato, and mushrooms

Ingredients: black beans, enchilada sauce, firm tofu, tortillas, zucchini, sweet potato, and mushrooms

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • 6 small tortillas (I used Trader Joe’s vegan corn and wheat tortillas)
  • 1/2 cup of black beans
  • 2 oz tofu
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/2 sweet potato
  • 8-10 mushrooms
  • 1 bottle of enchilada sauce (or be really amazing and make your own!)
  • Seasonings (I used sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Stack your tortillas on a plate, pouring a small amount of sauce in between each one.  Set them aside.IMG_1932
  3. Chop your tofu into small cubes and add to a bowl with your black beans.
  4. Chop the rest of your vegetables and sauté until they begin to soften.  Add in the tofu and black beans, then seasonings.IMG_1934
  5. Beginning with a layer of tortilla, build your casserole layer by layer! Because I used a 9×9 inch glass pan and my tortillas were much smaller, I cut them in halves and then cut half of those into quarters.  Once completed, pour any remaining sauce on top.IMG_1936
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 5.
  7. Cut, serve, and shovel into open mouth.



The Most Controversial Macaroni and Cheese

The one recipe I’ve been wanting to try and make vegan for a while is my vegetable filled macaroni and cheese.  However, I’ve been afraid to do it, because I wasn’t very confident in how it would come out.  It’s difficult to cook something and have it fail, you know?  My entire plan was to make it exactly how I would have made it before, but with vegan ingredients, since that seemed like it’d be my best bet.  What if the almond milk did something weird?  What if the cheese didn’t melt, or clumped up, in the attempt to make a sauce?  But, I finally decided to give it a go.  The worst thing that could happen would be me throwing it away and eating something out of the freezer, so I didn’t feel like I had much to lose (than some wasted ingredients, that is).

I decided to see if anyone wanted to come over and be a test subject (I fully support human testing) for this mac and cheese experiment, so I posted about it on everyone’s favorite social media network.  What I didn’t realize was the controversy I had created by calling my potential food creation “mac and cheese,” since it would neither contain traditional macaroni nor cheese.  A pretty unnecessarily brutal argument broke out regarding the animal-alternative industry’s nomenclature involving alternative products like cheese, and how vegans are essentially all hypocrites because if we don’t want to eat something because it’s animal based, we should just stop trying to create vegan versions of it, and we don’t accept where our food comes from.  I was pretty taken aback at all of this; how did my simple invitation to my friends turn into an attack on my lifestyle that has absolutely no negative effect on anyone else?  I was accused of being a judgmental, pushy, hipster vegan for defending my lifestyle choice on the basis of my morality.  It was great.

I guess what I ultimately don’t understand is why this, out of all of my other lifestyle choices, is the one that gets attacked most regularly.  I didn’t realize that, by becoming a vegan, I was offending so many people.  I don’t run around chanting, “I am a vegan, and all of you non-vegans are terrible people!!!!” so I don’t really understand why I am constantly under attack.  Hey, guess what, I also don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs!  No one seems to want to attack me for that, though.  I share my recipes because I like food, and I think that it’s great when people make the decision to go vegan; I never do it to convert all of my friends/the universe to my lifestyle.

Anyway, let’s get to this recipe, yeah?

Ingredients: nutritional yeast, flour, almond milk, pasta, vegan cheese alternative, vegan buttery stick, mushrooms, jalapeño, zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes.

Ingredients: nutritional yeast, flour, almond milk, pasta, vegan cheese alternative, vegan buttery stick, mushrooms, jalapeño, zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes.

Ingredients (this is for 2 servings!)

  • 2 servings of your choice of pasta (I did whole wheat elbows, although I very nearly purchased shells)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 cup of milk alternative (I used unsweetened, plain almond milk)
  • 3oz of cheese alternative (since I had two kinds of “cheese,” I used 1.5 oz of each)
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • Seasonings (salt, paprika, pepper)

**Note that all of the following ingredients are completely optional.  If you don’t want vegetables infesting your food, leave all of these out.  You can absolutely make the recipe with just the ingredients listed above.  This is just what I like to add!

  • 1/2 jalapeño
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 5-6 asparagus stalks
  • 1.5 oz mushrooms (I prefer crimini)
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, or 1 small roma tomato
  • Optional: a slice or bread or some bread crumbs, for the top!


  1. Cook your pasta choice according to package directions, minus a minute or two.
  2. Melt the vegan butter, and add the flour.  Cook these together until they bubble a bit and expand (you’re creating a roux!).  Add your milk alternative and stir over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Add your cheese alternatives and stir until melted goodness happens.
  3. Add your nutritional yeast and spices.
  4. Once this is done, add your pasta to the sauce.  If you are not adding vegetables, you are done!

If you are going to add the vegetables, complete the following steps while the pasta is cooking:IMG_1923

  1. Finely dice the garlic and jalapeño, and chop all of your other vegetables into bite sized pieces.  Sauté the garlic and jalapeño until they soften a bit, and then add all of your other vegetables.  Cook them until they become soft and begin to give up most of their liquid, maybe 5-7 minutes.
  2. After you have completed steps 1-4 above, add the vegetable mixture into your mac and cheese.
  3. Put it all into a dish, and get ready to eat!


  • If you want a crunchy bread topping, preheat your oven to 425.  If you don’t have bread crumbs, toast a slice of bread and cut it into cubes.  Put your bready goodness on top, and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Pull out and shovel into your mouth.