Thursday, November 22, 2012


Thanksgiving Turkey Fruit Centerpiece

 I'm in New Jersey visiting family and friends and having fun prepping for Thanksgiving festivities.  I decided to take on as many traditional dishes as I can, and try my hand at transforming them into 100% plant-based deliciousness.  Thanksgiving is not just for omnivores, although I think this spread will please everyone!  Here is what's on my menu:

Stuffed Wild Mushroom Balls
Seasoned Seitan Roast
Wild Mushroom Gravy
Forbidden Apple Walnut Cranberry Stuffing
Roasted Root Vegetables
Coconut Pumpkin Bread

Stuffed Wild Mushroom Balls
makes 25-30 balls

1 1/2 cups or 1 (15.5oz) can of chickpeas
1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp liquid aminos
1 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Daiya (vegan cheese) pepperjack

In a food processor, pulse chick peas, mushrooms, garlic, & parsley until coarsely ground but not pureed.  Add remaining ingredients except Daiya.  Pulse to combine

Scrape mixture into a large bowl and knead until well blended.

Pinch off a small piece of the mixture and press into your hand to make a flat disc.  Put a small ball of Daiya in the center and roll the dough into a ball around the Daiya.  Repeat with remaining mixture.

Preheat to 375º.   Oil a baking sheet and add balls to sheet.  Bake 11 minutes.  Remove and turn balls.  Bake another 11 minutes.  Serve hot.

Seasoned Seitan Roast

1/2 cup cooked or canned cannelini beans
1/4 cup liquid aminos
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp tyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven 350º.  In a food processor, process beans, liquid aminos, oil, water, and wine until smooth.

In a large bowl combine flour, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, thyme, sage, parsley, and black pepper.

Stir wet mixture into dry mixture to make a soft dough.  Knead for 3-5 minutes and shape into an oval loaf.  Place loaf on a n oiled sheet of foil, and enclose it in the foil.  Place enclosed loaf in a 10" baking pan.  Add 1" of water to the pan and tightly cover entire pan in foil.  Bake for 1 hour and 45 min.  Let cool completely before slicing.

Wild Mushroom Gravy

8 oz Crimini mushrooms, diced
2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup liquid aminos or soy sauce
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp rosemary
10 cups water
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup each balance buttery spread
2/3 cup All purpose flour

In a large pot, over medium heat, sauté  mushrooms, potatoes, carrot, onion, and olive oil about 5 minutes.  Stir in liquid aminos and herbs.  Add water, salt , and pepper.  Cook over med heat about an hour.

While keeping the broth, strain veggies from the broth and process them in a food processor until smooth.  Stir processed veggies back into the broth.

In a frying pan on high heat, melt buttery spread and stir in flour.  Stir continuously and ladle in about 3 scoops of broth/veggie mixture.  Cook on high, stirring, until thick and smooth.  Stir this mixture into the pot of broth and cook on medium about 20 more minutes.

Forbidden Apple Walnut Cranberry Stuffing

1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 cup forbidden rice
1 tsp salt
1 10 oz bag of stuffing or cubed loaf of white bread, dried and baked until toasted
1/2 cup earth balance natural buttery spread
1 large red onion, diced
6 stalks of celery, diced
2 apples, peeled and diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup vegetable broth

In a pot over medium heat add oil, forbidden rice, bay leaf, and minced garlic.  Sauté about 4 minutes.
Add water and reduce heat to low.  Cook rice for about 35 minutes until water is absorbed and rice tastes tender.  Remove from heat.  Let cool.

In a nonstick skillet, over med heat, cook earth balance butter, onion and celery about 8 minutes.  Add apples and cook another 5 minutes.  Stir in herbs, salt, and pepper.  Cook 2 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and toss with rice, bread, cranberries, and walnuts.

Preheat oven to 450º.  Spread stuffing in a baking dish and drizzle with vegetable broth and olive oil.  Cover with foil and bake about 20 min.  Remove foil and bake another few minutes,  until top is golden brown.

Roasted Root Vegetables

3 carrots, peeled
3 golden beets, peeled
1 large turnip, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
2 butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400º.  Cut vegetables into approximately 1" cubes.  In a large boil stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well to combine.  Spread mixture in a baking sheet.  Bake uncovered in oven for an hour.   Change oven setting to broil.  Broil veggies on high for about 3 minutes.  Serve hot.

Coconut Pumpkin Bread

1 cup chopped walnuts
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/3 cups coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice blend
1 1/2  tsp cinnamon
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sliced dried apricots or dates
2/3 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease a 9x12" baking dish.

In a large bowl, stir to combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.  Add pumpkin, oil, coconut milk, apricots.  Stir to mix well.  Fold in most of the coconut saving some to sprinkle on the top.  Stir in most of the walnuts leaving some to sprinkle on the top.

Spread batter in baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining coconut and walnuts.  Bake approximately 60  minutes, or unil toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before serving.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pasta Fagioli

Matawan, NJ

A fast, easy, warm, comforting meal that is easy on the wallet.  Bon aptit!

Pasta Fagioli with homemade garlic croutons

Pasta Fagioli
cook time: approx 30 minutes.  Serves 4

¼ of a yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 yukon gold potatoes, chopped ½" cubes
3 tbsp red wine
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp fennel seed
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
15 oz can chick peas or great northern beans
½ lb orzo, ditalini pasta, or elbows
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

In a large pot over medium heat, add oil.   Sauté onion, garlic, and potatoes 5 min.  Add wine.  Stir in parsley, oregano, fennel seed, paprika, pepper, cayenne, red pepper.  Continue to sauté until wine is mostly absorbed/ evaporated, about 5 more minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes, water, and bay leaf.  Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered.  While that simmers, pour half of the can of chick peas into a bowl or food processor.  Mash with a fork  or process, until puréed.  Add this purée and the other half of the chick peas with their juice into the pot.  Add pasta.  Simmer, stirring often, until pasta and potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat and stir in spinach until it wilts.  Serve hot.

*Indulge by adding veggie italian sausage crumbles

Garlic Croutons
2 slices of thick cut bread
1-2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Let slices of bread dry out on a paper towel for about a ½ hour (or use day old bread, bread going stale).  Cut bread into 1inch squares.
Drizzle each square with olive oil, and sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Toast in oven or toaster oven, turning once until crispy and golden brown.  You can also opt to pan fry them over med-high heat until crispy and golden brown.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Road Trip!

Somewhere in Oklahoma...


  A slight change of plans leaves Sean and I without the RV for the next 6 weeks or so, on a cross-country road trip to the east coast, visiting with family and friends.
So how do we live out of a Dodge pickup truck, on the interstate, for several days with a strict plant-based diet?

Here are some tips for a successful vegan road trip:

1. Bring a camp stove!  If you want a hot meal that doesn't come from a truck stop microwave, I highly recommend a small one or 2 burner camping stove.  Don't forget a pot and a pan.  (camp stove recipes to follow)

2. Pre-mix spice packets.   This is so great for road trips or camping trips, and I've been doing it for years.  In a ziplock bag or empty spice jar, I always pre-mix an italian seasoning blend, and in another I pre-mix a southwestern spice blend. These come in so handy on the road.

Italian spice blend- equal parts garlic powder, oregano, fennel seed, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper
Southwestern spice blend- equal parts chili powder, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

3. Research in advance.  Know what stops you might want to take along your route to find good produce and bread.  You can also look into veg friendly dining options in cities along your route, but if you're in the middle of nowhere, you should be prepared to feed yourself.

4. Bring easy non-perishables like rice, pasta, and cans of beans (don't forget a can opener!).  Also stocking up on veggies that can last a few days without refrigeration or in a cooler is a good idea.  Potatoes, tomatoes, kale, onion, & avocado are some great choices for your trip.  A small bottle of olive oil comes in handy and travels well, as does tempeh or vegan deli slices for quick sandwiches.

5.  Bring a trail mix to snack on.  Dried fruits and nuts are fast, easy, and you can eat them while you drive.

Easy camp stove recipes:  

Rotini with Potatoes and Cannellini Beans
serves 2-3 cook time 10-15 min

½ lb whole wheat rotini pasta
1 large yukon gold potato, cubed ½" cubes
2 tsp italian spice blend (see above recipe)
1 can cannellini beans
3-4 leaves of kale, discarding vein, chopped
½ cup cauliflower, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil

In a pot, add potato and water for boiling the pasta.  When water boils, add pasta.  After 5 minutes add beans (with their juice) and cauliflower.  When pasta is al dente, add garlic and kale to water.  Strain immediately.  Return to pot.  Stir in spice blend and olive oil.

Rice and Smoked Tempeh
serves 2-3 cook time less than 10 minutes (Gluten Free)

1 cup cooked rice
1 tsp southwestern spice blend (see above recipe)
1 zucchini chopped
½ of a red onion, chopped
3-4 slices of tempeh, chopped
1 tomato chopped
½ tsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp olive oil

In a pan over med heat, add oil, onion, tempeh and liquid smoke. Sauté 5 min.  Add rice, zucchini, tomato, and spice blend.  Sauté just until hot.  Serve immediately.

* Great with corn chips or wrapped in a burrito shell.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stuffed Butternut Squash

11/6/12  Moab, UT

Delicate Arch - Arches National Park, UT

  It's been almost 2 weeks here in Moab, UT.  I've been so busy exploring, hiking, climbing and living it up, desert style.  What an amazing place. 
   I feel very lucky to be able to spend time here.   But also felt  guilty making hot delicious food and having fun, while my friends & family in NJ were being affected by hurricane Sandy in a major way.  Not only without electricity for several days, but my parents home was badly damaged and they can't occupy it again for months. 
   So here I am, fully prepared for a disaster of that sort, with solar power, a back-up generator, a 40 gallon tank of water, and a warm RV to sleep in, all the way out in the sunny Utah desert.  They are all evacuated, huddled, cold, bored, worried and waiting out the power outage, with their belongings left behind.  Some were left with nothing at all.  What a helpless feeling.  
  Thankfully they were all safe through the storm and are now trying to work together and help each other get some normalcy back.  I hope to head there soon and help in any way I can.  
  For now, some comfort food.  My friend just brought me this butternut squash straight from the garden in northern Utah.  The sweet orange flesh of squash balances perfectly with  tomato, garlic, onion, fresh herbs and rice. 

Butternut Squash stuffed with rice, tomato, and herbs

Stuffed Butternut Squash
serves 2
1 Butternut squash
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup soy recipe crumbles or breadcrumbs
1/4 c onion, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine

Preheat oven to 350º.  Cut squash lengthwise.  Remove seeds.  Put squash inside down in a casserole dish, filled with 1/2 inch of water.  Bake about 30 minutes, until squash is tender.  Dump remaining water.

On med/high heat on the stove, heat a pan and add onion, garlic, crumbles.  Cook 5 min.  
Carve out inner squash, leaving a 1/4 inch border to the skin. 
To pan with garlic and onion, add tomatoes, carved squash, oregano, fennel, parsley, olive oil, red wine, rice, and salt & pepper to taste.  Mix together well, and spoon mixture into squash.  
Bake, stuffed side up at 350º 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot.

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