Week 4: Vegan Pumpkin & “Bacon” Mac-N-“Cheese” & Vegan Coconut Cornbread Dressing – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

Week 4 is here and this week is all about transforming recipes that I’ve already shared into new recipes that are absolutely perfect additions to your Thanksgiving table! The first recipe that I’m transforming from “everyday” to “Thanksgiving” is my mac-n-“cheese” which I shared with y’all back in March.

The original recipe is quick, easy, and beloved by all who try it -it’s actually in the top five list of most popular recipes here on the blog! For as popular and great as it is though, it is not exactly a recipe that most would pick for their Thanksgiving menu. To remedy this, because mac-n-“cheese” should never be left out of the fun, I decided kick the original recipe up a notch by adding to it… drum roll, please… pumpkin and “bacon.”

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The pumpkin, of course, makes this dish oh-so-fall but it also adds to it a nice earthy quality to our mac while the “bacon” adds a lot of bold smokiness and a little change in texture.

To get started, we must first get a pot of pasta cooking up. Just like with the original mac recipe that I shared, my pasta preference is a shape that resembles a double elbow or open spiral. (It’s often called either Cavatappi or Cellentani.) Once you’ve got the pasta going, you’ll need to get the “bacon” going as well.

In the pot that you’ll make the “cheese” sauce in, saute up the bacon of your choosing. I love Benevolent Bacon but if you’re looking to decrease the smokiness of your mac then you might want to opt for a different brand. When your “bacon” is done, remove it from the pot and set it aside for use in a moment.

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To the pot that you just plucked the “bacon” from, a little “butter” gets added and melted down. Once melted, an equal amount of flour is added and the mixture get stirred together then cooked until foamy and light brown. Next, unsweetened almond milk joins the party and the whole mixture is brought to a boil and kept boiling until thickened which should only take a minute or so. Now it’s time to reduce the heat and add the “cheese” and pumpkin! Once those have been fully incorporated, the final step to complete the “cheese” sauce for our mac is to add the “bacon” that we cooked earlier along with some seasonings.

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With the “cheese” sauce completed you can now toss in the cooked noodles, give the whole thing a good stir, and then enjoy!

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Vegan Pumpkin & 'Bacon' Mac-N-'Cheese'

  • Servings: 6-9
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of Cavatappi or Cellentani pasta
  • Oil and salt for pasta water
  • 1 package of your favorite vegan “bacon,” cut into half-inch pieces or smaller
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) bag of Daiya cheddar-style shreds (about 2 cups)
  • 1-2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Directions

  1. In a pasta pot, or other large pot, start pasta cooking in accordance with the instructions on the pasta’s packaging for al dente pasta. Be sure to add a little oil to the pasta water (1-2 tablespoons) to help prevent the pasta from sticking together as it cooks and also add a decent amount of salt (2-4 tablespoons) to infuse the pasta with a little flavor as it cooks. In a separate large pot, that you’ll eventually make the “cheese” sauce in, cook the “bacon” in accordance with the instructions on the “bacon’s” packaging. When the “bacon” is done, remove it from the pan and set it aside for a moment.
  2. In the pot that you just removed the bacon from, add the “butter” and allow that to melt completely. Once melted, add flour and stir to combine. Continue stirring until mixture is foamy and very light brown in color -about 2 minutes. Add almond milk and turn the heat up to bring to boil. Boil, while stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes to thicken sauce base a little. After 2-3 minutes, reduce heat to medium and add in the “cheese” and canned pumpkin. Stir until they have fully been incorporated into the sauce base -about 2-3 minutes. Add the “bacon” you cooked earlier as well as the nutritional yeast, salt, pumpkin pie spice, pepper, garlic, onion, and paprika and stir to combine. If your pasta is not ready yet, turn the heat off on the “cheese” sauce until the pasta is ready to be added to it.
  3. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and then add it to the sauce. Gently fold the pasta into the sauce to coat each noodle then serve. Leftovers will keep fresh in an airtight container in fridge for 3-4 days.


Okay, time for the next transformed recipe! This recipe turns my coconut cornbread, shared with y’all back in July, into a dressing. No, not like a salad dressing but like a stuffing dressing. So why call it a “dressing” and not a “stuffing?” Well, frankly, because it is not getting “stuffed” into anything -certainly not the tortured dead body of a sentient being, that’s for damn sure. #GoVegan

It all gets started a day in advance. A day in advance you’re going to want to make the coconut cornbread. The day of, to help the cornbread dry out just a little bit more, you’re going to cut it up into about 1-inch cubes, transfer the cubes (and any crumbs) to a lightly greased sheet pan, and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. Once the cubes have been baked, set them aside for a moment and move on to the next step.

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The next step in our coconut cornbread dressing involves some prep. Half of a large white onion and 2-3 stalks of celery need to be finely diced. You’ll also need to small dice 2 Granny Smith apples which have been peeled and cored. Last but not least, in a small bowl you’re going to whip up substitute for 1 egg using Ener-G egg replacer and the instructions on the Ener-G box.

In a pot or large skillet, 1 stick of vegan “butter” gets melted down and then the onion, celery, and Granny Smith apples that you just prepped get tossed in. Cook these, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. (The shorter time, 10 minutes, will result in these elements keeping their individual textures while the longer time, 15 minutes, will result in each of these things being softer. You do you, boo.) Once those have been cooked, low-sodium vegetable stock gets added along with the egg substitute, some Bragg Sprinkle, agave, salt, and pepper. Everything gets a good stir and then it is time to build our dressing in the baking dish that it will bake in.

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I opted to use an oval baking dish but you can choose whichever shape you want as long as it is on the larger end of medium size. Spray the dish with a little non-stick cooking spray, or grease it with some vegan “butter,” then fill the bottom of the dish with half of the cornbread cubes/crumbs. Layer on half of the onion, celery, and apple mixture then repeat these two steps to complete the layering process. Cover the dish tightly with foil and then bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

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When done, keep the foil on until you’re ready to serve so that the warmth and moisture are not lost in the meantime.

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Vegan Coconut Cornbread Dressing

  • Servings: 6-9
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Non-stick cooking spray or vegan “butter” for pan
  • 1, day-old, coconut cornbread
  • 1/2 of a large white onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, trimmed (ends removed) and finely diced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and small diced
  • Ener-G egg replacer for 1 egg (follow instructions on box)
  • 1 stick of vegan “butter”
  • 1 1/2-2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg Sprinkle, crushed in palm of hand before use
  • 2 teaspoons agave
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare a large sheet pan by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray or lightly greasing it with “butter.” Cut the day-old coconut cornbread into about 1-inch cubes then transfer the cubes (and any crumbs) to the sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Once the cubes have been baked, set them aside for a moment. Prep the onion, celery, apples, and Ener-G if you haven’t done so already.
  2. In a pot or large skillet, melt the “butter” down then add in the onion, celery, and Granny Smith apples. Cook these, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. (The shorter time will result in these elements keeping their individual textures while the longer time will result in each of these things being softer.) After 10-15 minutes, add in the vegetable stock, Ener-G, Bragg Sprinkle, agave, salt, and pepper. Whisk or stir this mixture well then turn the heat off.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with vegan “butter,” a baking dish that is on the larger side of medium size. Fill the bottom of the dish with half of the cornbread cubes/crumbs. Layer on half of the onion, celery, and apple mixture then repeat these two steps to complete the layering process. Cover the dish tightly with foil and then bake for 15 minutes. When done, keep the foil on until you’re ready to serve. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.


Well, that’s it for week 4, y’all! There are only a couple weeks left and then it’s show time! Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes from my Thanksgiving series be sure to tag photos of your feast on social media using #aCITSIthanksgiving so that they can be found with ease by me and others who did the same. See you next week!

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Week 3: Vegan Balsamic Roasted Green Beans – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

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So we’ve come to the halfway point -week 3! This week is all about the green beans -a favorite vegetable of mine! Before I went vegan, I really did not enjoy green beans but, since going vegan, I think my palate has changed because now I can’t get enough of them. My favorite way to eat them is raw however, for Thanksgiving, I think most people would much rather have them cooked and so that’s just what I’m gonna do.

This recipe couldn’t be any easier and the green beans that you get to enjoy from it are simply addicting. They have a wonderful tart-sweet, peppery flavor that is the result of just 5 ingredients that you probably already have on hand –balsamic vinegar, olive oil, agave, salt, and black pepper. They’re perfectly cooked so that they’re tender but still have a great snap to them, and they’re so, so, incredibly juicy because there ain’t no skimpin’ on the saucy goodness that coats them.

To get started, we must first make the saucy goodness that I just mentioned. In a bowl, you’re going to combine the balsamic vinegar with the olive oil, agave, salt, and black pepper. Give these things a good whisking, to ensure that everything mixes and mingles as it should, then set this aside for a moment to prep the green beans.

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Now, let me take a minute to give you a great tip about prepping green beans. Are you ready? Okay, here goes… don’t bother with it! Why take up some of your precious time on Thanksgiving day with prepping green beans one by one when you could just buy a big ol’ bag that’s already been washed and prepped for you?! Save yourself some time and get the ready to use ones. It’ll be our little secret, I promise.

So with your ready to use green beans uh… ready to use… you’re going to go ahead and lay them out across a large sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper.

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Using either a pastry brush or basting brush, or a steady pouring hand, get half of the balsamic mixture onto the green beans. Pop the pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes has passed, pull the green beans out, give ’em a flip to ensure even cooking, then add the remaining balsamic mixture by whatever method you chose to add it before. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 25 minutes.

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When the green beans are done they’ll be wrinkly in all the best ways. Transfer them to their serving dish but be sure not to leave any of the balsamic mixture on the pan -that’s flavor and no flavor gets left behind on Thanksgiving day, y’all. You can use the corner of the pan to pour the settled balsamic mixture over top of the green beans just before serving so that they look all glossy and delicious upon arriving to your table.

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Vegan Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 generous tablespoon agave
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (32-ounce) bag fresh, ready to use green beans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a large sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar with the olive oil, agave, salt, and black pepper. Whisk this mixture well then set it aside for a moment.
  2. On the sheet pan you prepared earlier, lay out the green beans in as much of a single layer as possible. Using either a pastry brush or basting brush, or a steady pouring hand, get half of the balsamic mixture onto the green beans. Reserve the other half of the balsamic mixture for use in a moment. Pop the sheet pan into your oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. After 25 minutes has passed, pull the green beans out of the oven, give them a flip to ensure even cooking, then add the remaining balsamic mixture by whatever method you chose to add it before. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 25 minutes. When done, transfer the green beans to the serving dish of your choosing and then, using the corner of the sheet pan as a spout, pour any balsamic mixture that remains on the pan over top of the green beans just before serving so that they look all glossy and delicious upon arriving to your table. Leftover green beans will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

 

Week 1: Vegan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy, & Vegan “Turkey” – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

Week 1 of my Thanksgiving series is here y’all and this week I’m talkin’ “turkey,” tackling the gravy of your (vegan) Thanksgiving dreams, and fancying up some mashed potatoes! Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes in this series for your Thanksgiving gathering, use #aCITSIthanksgiving if you post a pic on social media! Now, let’s get started with the “turkey!”

When it comes to the “turkey” on my Thanksgiving table, I trust other folks to make it for me! Yup, that’s right, I do not make my own vegan “turkey” substitute! Instead I go with Gardein’s Turk’y Cutlets! These things are flavorful, crunchy on the outside, have a really great “meaty” texture, and yes, they taste just like the real thing. I suggest you account for 1-2 cutlets per person at your Thanksgiving table. Most people will likely only eat 1, because their plates are going to be filled with lots of other yummy stuff too, but people with bigger appetites or those who eat less sides might want 2. The cutlets come 4 to a bag and I pay about $4 a bag at my local WF.

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So Gardein recommends that you bake the cutlets and I do too if you need to make more than 2 or 3 bags worth but, if you’re only making a couple bags, I suggest you fry them! Shallow frying them in a large skillet will give them even more crispy crunch and flavor, and it just takes about 3-5 minutes per side over medium heat to prepare them this way.

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When they come out of the pan I like to let them rest on a paper towel for a minute or two to let any excess oil drain off and then they’re ready to enjoy. But wait, you say, what about the gravy that come with the cutlets?? Well, you could use those 2 little packets but there really isn’t much in them. A better idea is to toss that pittance of gravy back into your freezer for use another time and make your own from scratch! Why, here’s a mighty fine looking scratch-made gravy right here…

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To make your own gravy from scratch, you must first make a roux. (Remember, all a roux is, is “butter” and flour cooked together!) Once the roux is starting to look a little foamy, you’ll then add in some low sodium vegetable stock, give everything a good whisking, and then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 3 minutes to thicken, whisking occasionally. After 3 minutes you can turn off the heat and add in all of the flavorful goodness that makes this gravy so delicious.

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Now, here are all the details (in legit printable recipe form) for the gravy but be sure to continue scrolling after this because I’m going to delve into the mashed potatoes in a moment!

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Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy

  • Servings: makes about 2 1/2 cups
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium tamari
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme, crushed well in palm of hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt “butter.” When melted, add in the flour and whisk to combine. When the mixture becomes slightly foamy, add in the vegetable stock and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes to thicken, whisking occasionally.
  2. After 3 minutes, turn off the heat and add in the remaining ingredients. Whisk or stir until everything is well combined. If serving right away, carefully transfer to serving container or gravy boat. If not serving right away, leave in pan for up to 1 hour, covered, and before serving reheat for 1 minute over medium-high heat, while whisking, to bring back to temperature and to remove any skin that may have formed at the top while the gravy was sitting. Leftover gravy can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days.


So we have the “turkey,” and we have the gravy, now we need some mashed potatoes! These mashed potatoes are so good that you can enjoy them without gravy if you wish. What makes them that good? A magical little thing called roasted garlic! It sounds super hard to make but it’s actually quite easy.

To make roasted garlic you’ll need a big ol’ whole head of garlic and some olive oil. Cut about a quarter to a half of an inch off the top of the garlic head, discard that little hat piece, then peel off some of the looser outer layers from the remaining chunk. Place the garlic head on a sheet of aluminum foil and then drizzle it with about a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Bring the edges of the foil up and squish them all together to create a completely closed foil packet around the head of garlic. Pop this onto a small sheet pan and then bake it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. When the timer is up, remove your roasted garlic from the oven and let it rest for about 15-25 minutes so that it’s cool enough for you to handle. When it’s cool, unwrap the foil and retrieve the garlic cloves from the head using the point of a small sharp knife. Set the cloves aside for a moment while we get the potatoes started.

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To get the potatoes for our mashed potatoes going, we need to do some prep! Wash 2 1/2 pounds of red potatoes then, using a knife or potato peeler, remove the ugly bits, if any. We want as much of the skins on as can remain on so try to remove only what is absolutely necessary. Next, cut each potato down into about 1 1/2″ square pieces and toss those pieces into a large pot filled about halfway with some water. Pop the pot onto your stove and boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are fork tender.

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When the potatoes are done, drain them then dump them into the bowl of your stand mixer. (If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use a large bowl and your hand mixer or a potato masher instead.) Add in the roasted garlic cloves you made earlier, some vegan “butter,” “sour cream,” salt, and pepper, then mix until smooth.

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To serve, I like to garnish the top of the potatoes with some fresh chives.

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Vegan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of garlic, whole
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds red potatoes, washed but not peeled (it’s okay to remove any ugly bits with small knife or potato peeler)
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 1/4-1/3 cup vegan “sour cream”
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off a quarter to a half of an inch at the top of the garlic head, exposing most of the cloves inside, discarding the cut off piece. Peel off some of the looser outer layers then place the garlic head on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle it with about a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Bring the edges of the foil up and squish them all together to create a completely closed foil packet around the head of garlic. Pop this onto a small sheet pan and then bake it for 45 minutes. When the timer is up, remove your roasted garlic from the oven and let it rest for about 15-25 minutes so that it’s cool enough for you to handle. When it’s cool enough to handle, unwrap the foil and retrieve all of the garlic cloves from the head using the point of a small sharp knife. Set the cloves aside for a moment while we get the potatoes started.
  2. Cut each potato down into about 1 1/2″ square pieces and toss those pieces into a large pot filled about halfway with some water. Pop the pot onto your stove and boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes when done.
  3. In a stand mixer (or a large bowl with your hand mixer or potato masher), combine the potatoes with the roasted garlic cloves, “butter,” “sour cream,” and salt and pepper to taste. Mix just until smooth then serve topped with fresh chives (optional). Leftover potatoes will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to a week.


Well, y’all, that wraps up week 1 in my Thanksgiving series! Come back next week when I take on sweet potatoes!

 

 

Vegan Creamy “Cheddar” Zucchini Cakes

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The other day I was having a serious craving for something fried and “cheesy.” I guess it really should have been expected after I hopped on Pinterest in search of my next hair color but instead ended up getting lost in recipe pins for nearly an hour -most of which were so not diet friendly or healthy in the slightest. #ButDamnDidTheySureLookDelicious

I knew that I had nothing pre-made on hand that would satisfy my craving so I’d have to make something. I had the “cheesy” part covered, thanks to my always stuffed-to-the-brim “cheese” drawer in the fridge, but I needed something more, something that I could snuggle up with the “cheese.” Shredded zucchini, I thought, would be just the ticket. I ended up forming my zucchini mixture into little cakes and, when they were done, I was quite pleased with the results and my craving had been thoroughly satisfied.

The outside of the cakes are ever so slightly crisp, just enough so to hold everything together and give you a little change in texture as you take a bite, but the inside’s where it’s at. Inside you’ll find zesty, creamy, ooey gooey goodness that just might remind you of mac-n-“cheese” or “cheesy” mashed potatoes -either way, it’s yummy for sure. I enjoyed mine as a snack with a little vegan “sour cream” on top but I could totally see making these for breakfast in place of hash browns or serving them up alongside some vegan “chicken” for lunch or dinner. No matter what time of day you choose to enjoy them, the procedure’s the same and it’s a pretty quick and easy one at that!

First things first, 3 medium size zucchini get washed and finely shredded. Once shredded, you then need to squeeze as much water out of the shreds as you can. With as much water out as you can get out, the shreds will then get tossed into a large mixing bowl along with Daiya “Cheddar” shreds (that have been cut into even smaller pieces), some nooch (nutritional yeast), Ener-G egg replacer (just the powder this time -don’t add water to it), and some seasonings. Everything gets mixed together really well and then it’s time to form the cakes!

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To form the cakes, take about 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture in the palm of your hand and pat it out into a little puck-like shape. (I opted to wear some food safe gloves while I made the cakes just to keep the process a little cleaner but this, of course, is optional!) Once the cakes are formed they then get dipped in a mixture of whole wheat flour, salt, and pepper, and then they’re ready to be fried.

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In a large skillet, just enough oil to shallow fry gets brought up to about medium heat. When you think the oil is hot enough you can test it by dropping in a piece of leftover zucchini mixture from your mixing bowl -if it sizzles up, you’re good to go. Using a spatula, gently place the cakes into the oil and fry on each side until dark golden brown in color. (The cakes will still be pretty soft and that’s fine -we’re not going for super crunchy fried exterior with these but rather just a very light little crisp shell to hold everything together.) Once the cakes have all been fried up, let them rest for a minute on a paper towel before serving.

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Vegan Creamy 'Cheddar' Zucchini Cakes

  • Servings: 4-6 cakes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3 medium zucchini, washed, finely shredded, and squeezed/pressed to remove as much excess liquid as possible
  • Generous 1/4 cup of Daiya “Cheddar” Style Shreds, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Ener-G (just the powder -do not add water as per the instructions on the box)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • About 1/4 cup whole wheat flour + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Oil for pan

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded zucchini with the finely chopped “cheese,” nutritional yeast, Ener-G powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Mix everything together really well then set this mixture aside. In a small bowl or shallow dish, combine the whole wheat flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Whisk flour mixture with a fork then set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, pour in just enough oil to shallow fry and allow that to come up to about medium heat while you’re forming the cakes. To form each cake, take about 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture in the palm of your hand and pat it out into a puck-like shape about 3/4 of an inch thick. (Wear food safe gloves, if you wish, to keep this process a little cleaner.) Take the formed cake and gently swirl it around in the flour mixture until evenly coated on all sides. Repeat until you have all of the cakes made.
  3. To ensure that it’s at the right temperature, test the oil by carefully dropping in a piece of leftover zucchini mixture from your mixing bowl -if it sizzles up, you’re good to go. Using a spatula, gently place the cakes into the oil and fry on each side until dark golden brown in color, about 3-5 minutes per side. (The cakes will still be pretty soft when done and that’s fine -we’re not going for super crunchy fried exterior with these but rather just a very light little crisp shell to hold everything together.) Once the cakes have all been fried up, let them rest for a minute on a paper towel before serving. Cakes are best enjoyed fresh but can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Vegan Green Chile “Chicken” Soup

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Earlier this year, while at the hair salon, I smelled something that made my nose very happy -green chile chicken. My hair stylist (and friend) had asked if she could eat her lunch while my hair color was processing. Upon me giving her the okay, she popped open her food storage container and that’s when my nose started twitching with delight. I immediately asked her what that delicious smell was. As she rattled off the ingredients, including some non-vegan ingredients as she herself is not vegan, my brain started to work out how I could make it vegan. I then started to think of the different ways in which I could take this dish and that’s when I landed upon the idea of a green chile “chicken” soup!

This hearty soup comes together really fast, as in 30 minutes fast, and it all gets started with half of a little ol’ onion, some oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and sugar. All of this gets tossed into a cast iron dutch oven (or other large coverable pot) where it will cook down for about 10 minutes over low-medium heat.

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After 10 minutes, everything will be darkened and aromatic. Don’t worry if some of this goodness is crusted onto the bottom of the pan -the liquid we’ll add in a moment will lift all of that off with ease!

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To the onion mixture we’ll add in 2 cans of cannellini beans, some no-chicken broth (you could use vegetable broth instead if you can’t find no-chicken broth), frozen sweet white corn kernels, green chile enchilada sauce, a little water, and some diced green chile. Stir to combine then cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. While this cooks, you can get the “chicken” done.

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For this recipe, the “chicken” I preferred to use was Gardein’s Teriyaki Chick’N Strips minus the teriyaki. (The teriyaki sauce comes in a a little bag so you can easily opt to not use it as I have done with this recipe. They do sell just the strips without the teriyaki sauce but I can’t ever seem to find them, hence why I turned to the Teriyaki ones, but if your grocery store has them you can use those ones!)

Put the strips in a skillet with a little oil and then brown them up -this should take about 13-15 minutes over low-medium heat. Once browned, cut the pieces up into more bite size bits.

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When the 15 minute timer is up for the soup, turn off the heat and add in the “chicken” you just made as well as some chopped fresh cilantro. Stir to combine then enjoy!

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Vegan Green Chile 'Chicken' Soup

  • Servings: 4-5
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a white onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil + more for the pan the “chicken” gets cooked in
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of low-sodium or no sodium added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetarian (vegan) no-chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 generous cup frozen sweet white corn kernels
  • 1 cup green chile enchilada sauce (reduce to 3/4 cup for less heat)
  • 1/2 cup water (increase to 3/4 cup if you’re reducing the green chile enchilada sauce or if you desire a more liquidy soup)
  • 2-3 tablespoons canned diced green chile
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag Gardein Chick’N Strips or Gardein Teriyaki Chick’N Strips (discard teriyaki sauce packet or save for use in another recipe)
  • Small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped + more for topping each bowl (optional)

Directions

  1. Finely dice onion, if you haven’t done so already, then set aside. Place a cast iron dutch oven (or other large coverable pot) over low-medium heat. Add in oil, the onion you prepped a moment ago, salt, pepper, cumin, and sugar, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until darkened and aromatic. (Don’t worry if some of this goodness is crusted onto the bottom of the pan -the liquid we’ll add in a moment will lift all of that off with ease!)
  2. Add in the drained and rinsed beans, no-chicken broth, corn kernels, green chile enchilada sauce, water, and diced green chile. Stir to combine then cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While this is cooking, prepare the “chicken” strips.
  3. In a skillet over low-medium heat, combine a little oil with the “chicken” strips. Cook strips for 13-15 minutes until dark golden brown, flipping or stirring the strips occasionally to ensure that they are browning evenly. When strips are done, cut each into more bite size pieces. Set pieces aside until soup is done.
  4. When soup has cooked for 15 minutes, turn heat off and add in the “chicken” strips and a small handful of chopped fresh cilantro. Give everything one final stir then enjoy! Soup will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days.

Vegan Brunch Burritos With Basil Gravy

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People often ask me, “How do you come up with recipes?” To which I reply, “I meditate while holding onto a fork and a spoon and they just come to me.”

If only…

But, on rare occasion, it kind of actually does happen like this. You see, every now and then an idea will just pop into my mind that seems so perfectly formed and destined to be that I’m compelled to do something with it. One such example of this appears as an element in the recipe I’m about to share with y’all.

The other day I was reading a book (for school) about this guy who was a park ranger in Arches National Park. As he delved deep into describing the landscape and the plant life of the area, speaking nothing of food, a most random idea popped into my head: basil gravy. I set my book down to ponder for a moment this idea which was either absolute nonsense or a stroke of genius. Believing it to be the latter, I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and I scribbled down a quick recipe for basil gravy -aka white or cream gravy with a lot of basil and a little bit of garlic in it. A couple days later I made the idea of basil gravy into a reality and my-oh-my what a damn good reality it was.

When I added the basil gravy to tofu scramble, roasted potatoes and onions, some vegan “cheese,” and then wrapped it all up in a burrito it was absolute perfection. Seriously the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever had but to call it a breakfast burrito just seemed so… inappropriate. It was so much more than just a breakfast burrito. The basil gravy had kind of elevated everything. It needed a new descriptor and so it became the brunch burrito.

It all gets started with the making of some burrito filling elements: potatoes and onions, and tofu scramble. 3 russet potatoes and 1/4 of a white onion get diced up and tossed into a pan with a little oil. In another pan, some oil and a block of firm or extra firm tofu (that’s been drained and had it’s excess liquid squished out) get combined with low-sodium vegetable broth and seasonings.

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The potatoes and onions will cook for a total of 28 minutes, over medium heat, with you stirring them every 7 minutes. The tofu scramble will cook for 14 minutes, over medium-high heat, and then for 7 minutes, over low-medium heat, with you stirring it every now and then.

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When done, the potatoes and onions will be crunchy and deeply browned to the point that they might almost appear burnt in some spots -which is perfect. The tofu scramble will be fluffy and golden brown. Set each of these aside for a moment while we warm the tortillas and make the basil gravy.

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For these burritos, I wanted them to be big and beautiful so I used tortillas that measured 1′ in diameter. The larger size makes them not only impressive (and filling) when done but also easier to fill when you’re assembling them. To get the tortillas ready for our fillings we will need to warm them. You can do this by either placing them in the microwave for a couple seconds or you can wrap them in foil and place them into a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

While the tortillas are getting warmed up, grab a big generous handful of fresh basil and pop that into a blender with a clove of garlic, a nice pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and some almond milk. Blend until smooth then set aside for a moment.

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In a small pot over medium heat, melt some “butter.” Add in an equal part all purpose flour then stir and cook the mixture until lightly golden and foamy. Pour in the basil mixture you made a moment ago, turn the heat up a little, and whisk until thickened. This should only take about a minute and then you’ll have basil gravy.

Quick note about the thickness of the basil gravy: Because we are putting this gravy inside of a burrito, and don’t want it to drip out or sink to the bottom, I’ve elected to make it pretty thick. Should you want to use this gravy in another recipe, I’d recommend adding more almond milk until you reach the desired consistency for the dish you’re using it with.

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To assemble the burritos, grab a warmed tortilla and smear a nice amount of basil gravy in the center. (It’s hard to tell from the photos but my smear of basil gravy is about 3 inches by 5 inches.) Sprinkle on some “mozzarella” shreds as well as some “cheddar” shreds then add on an even layer of the potatoes and onions. Top the potatoes and onions with an even layer of tofu scramble and then finish the layers off with some more “cheese” and basil gravy. Close up the burrito and then enjoy!

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Vegan Brunch Burritos With Basil Gravy

  • Servings: 4 large burritos
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the potatoes:
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3 medium size russet potatoes, washed and small diced
  • 1/4 of a white onion, small diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the tofu scramble:
  • 1 (14-ounce) package firm or extra firm tofu, drained and pressed to remove excess liquid
  • 2/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Oil for pan
  • For the basil gravy:
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Generous handful of fresh basil
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1/2 stick vegan “butter”
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • For building the burritos:
  • 4 (12″ diameter) tortillas
  • Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds
  • Daiya “Cheddar” shreds

Directions

  1. Small dice the potatoes and onions if you haven’t already done so. Drain and press the tofu if you haven’t already done so. For the potatoes: Pour oil into a pan over medium heat. Add potatoes, onions, salt, and pepper, and cook for 28 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, get the tofu scramble cooking as well. For the tofu scramble: In another pan over medium-high heat, combine tofu with vegetable broth, seasonings, and a drizzle of oil, and cook for 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 14 minutes, turn the heat down to low-medium and cook for a final 7 minutes. When both the potatoes and tofu scramble are done set each aside for a moment.
  2. Warm the tortillas by either placing them in the microwave for a couple seconds or by wrapping them in foil and baking them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. While the tortillas are warming up, make the basil gravy. For the basil gravy: In a blender combine almond milk, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, and blend until smooth. Set this mixture aside for a moment. In a small pot over medium heat, melt the vegan “butter.” Once melted, add in the flour and stir. Cook the “butter” and flour until lightly golden and foamy. Pour in the basil mixture you made a moment ago, bring the mixture to a boil, and whisk until thickened. This should only take about a minute.
  3. To assemble the burritos, grab tortilla and smear a nice amount of basil gravy in the center. Sprinkle on some “mozzarella” shreds as well as some “cheddar” shreds then add on an even layer of the potatoes. Top the potato layer with an equal layer of tofu scramble. Top it all off with another sprinkle “mozzarella,” “cheddar,” and some more basil gravy. Close up the burrito and enjoy!

Vegan Circle City Chili

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Chili is one of those dishes that can be made literally a gazillion different ways. There’s thin chili, thick chili, spiced up chili, spicy chili, meaty chili, veggie chili, white chili, green chili… you get the picture. With so many different varieties, some might wonder which is the best and the truth is, as with almost any food out there, it’s all just a matter of personal taste.

While you might love a chili so spicy that your tongue falls out, someone else might love something a bit more mellow. There is no perfect, best, or “right” chili recipe that works for every single person but there is however that one recipe that you go to again and again because your mouth just can’t get enough of it. For me, that one recipe would be my Circle City Chili. It’s thick, dark, slightly sweet, not too spicy, and a little smokey. If your taste for chili is simpatico then you’ve come to the right place, my friend.

It all gets started with some prep. (This is the most laborious part of this recipe but you can do it because you’re fucking amazing!) You’ll need to small dice half of a white onion, half of a green bell pepper, and half of a red bell pepper. You’re also going to cut up 6 tomatoes -yes, fresh tomatoes! No canned tomatoes for this recipe!

The best way that I’ve found to get those tomatoes broken down is to put them into a pull chop container. I cut the tomatoes in half or in 3rds so that they’ll fit into the pull chop container and then give the cord about 8-10 pulls. You’ll want to transfer the tomato pieces and their liquid into a bigger bowl so that you can then repeat the pull chop process with the rest of the tomatoes.

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After you’ve prepped the veg, you’re gonna get cookin’ some veg. In a large coverable pot or cast iron dutch oven, heat some oil up on medium heat for a minute or two. Add in the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper, then cook this trio for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After 10 minutes has passed, it’s time to add in everything else -2 different kinds of beans, the tomatoes we prepped earlier, frozen corn kernels, water (or a little water and a little ale or beer, if you’re so inclined), tomato paste, and a whole bunch of seasonings. Give the chili a good stir to ensure it’s all combined then cover the pot and cook for 30-40 minutes on low-med. or medium heat -the chili should be bubbling pretty good but not boiling. Be sure to stir occasionally.

 

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When the chili is done it’ll be darker in color and thicker than it was 30-40 minutes ago. Serve it up with your favorite toppings or just enjoy it all by itself -either way, you can’t go wrong!

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Vegan Circle City Chili

  • Servings: 6
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 6 medium size tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a white onion
  • 1/2 of a green bell pepper
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup water (or 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup ale or beer)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Toppings (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut the tomatoes in half or in 3rds so that they’ll fit into a pull chop container. Place 3 or 4 tomato chunks into the container then give the cord about 8-10 pulls. Transfer the tomato pieces and their liquid into a bigger bowl or container so that you can repeat the pull chop process with the remaining chunks of the tomatoes. Set the prepped tomatoes aside for use later then small dice the onion and bell peppers, making sure to remove the seeds from the peppers.
  2. In a large coverable pot or cast iron dutch oven, heat the oil up on medium heat for a minute or two. Add in the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 10 minutes, add in the remaining ingredients. Give the chili a good stir to combine everything then cover and cook on low-med. or medium heat for 30-40 minutes -you want it to be bubbling pretty good but not boiling. Be sure to stir occasionally. When the chili is done it’ll be thicker and also darker in color. Serve with your favorite toppings (optional). Chili will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days.