Week 5: Vegan Thyme Rolls & Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Caramelized Onion Dip – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

Can you believe it’s already week 5, y’all? Let’s see… what are we missing?? A bread, an appetizer, and desserts, right? Well, this week I’m serving up the bread and the appetizer, and next week I will wrap this whole thing up with the desserts! But, back to this week…

I will admit that, for the longest time, I was deathly afraid of making any kind of bread. (What an odd thing to fear, am I right?!) I assumed it was far too complicated to make your own yeast-y beast but, after actually giving it a go one time, I found out that making bread is not so much complicated as it is simply a little time consuming. Homemade bread though, is so worth the time it takes to make and so, for our Thanksgiving feast, I knew that homemade rolls were a must. I began working on a recipe for rolls that would compliment the other flavors of the meal but be able to stand on its own should you want to eat it by itself. What I ended up with were these soft little rolls with a little dried thyme in them which makes them taste herbaceous and earthy.

The rolls get started the same way that most breads get started -with a yeast base! In a large bowl, some warm water gets combined with a packet of active dry yeast and a little agave. The mixture gets a good stir and then it’s left to rest until foamy -about 5 minutes. Next, almond milk, olive oil, vinegar, dried thyme, and salt are added and that all gets stirred together. The last things to be added are all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. The dough gets worked with a spatula until combined then you’re going to pick up the dough ball, drizzle a little olive oil into the bowl, then return the dough ball back to the bowl -this oiling of the bowl helps the dough not stick to the bowl as it rises. Pop the bowl with the dough into your microwave or cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour.

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After an hour has passed, dump your dough out onto a floured surface and work, adding more flour as needed, until smooth -this should only take a minute or so. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut off a little chunk of the dough and roll it between your palms to form it into a ball that is roughly 1 1/2 inches big. Continue cutting off pieces of dough and forming it into little balls until no more unformed dough remains -you should end up with about 20-22 balls. Drizzle some olive oil over the dough balls, rubbing it around them if need be so that they are coated in it, then pop the dough balls onto a parchment lined sheet pan with just a little space left in between each. Place this pan into your microwave or cover with a kitchen towel and allow the dough balls to rise for an additional 30 minutes. (Told you, not so much complicated as it is time consuming!)

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After 30 minutes, transfer the sheet pan to a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms are just a little browner than that. Remove the rolls from the pan immediately so that they don’t continue to brown on the bottom. If making the rolls a day in advance, be sure to let them cool completely before transferring them to a storage container or bag.

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Vegan Thyme Rolls

  • Servings: 20-22 rolls
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (the “original” kind)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for bowl and formed rolls
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed in palm of hand before using
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + more for board
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and agave together then let this mixture rest until foamy -about 5 minutes. Next, add the almond milk, olive oil, vinegar, dried thyme, and salt then stir to combine. Lastly, add in the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour and work until dough ball forms. Pick up the dough ball, drizzle a little olive oil into the bowl, work some of the oil up onto the sides, then return the dough ball back to the bowl. Pop the bowl with the dough ball into your microwave, or cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for 1 hour.
  2. After 1 hour has passed, dump the dough ball out onto a floured surface and work, adding more flour as needed, until smooth -this should only take a minute or so. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut off a little chunk of dough and roll it between your palms to form it into a ball that is roughly 1 1/2 inches big. Continue cutting off pieces of dough and forming it into little balls until no more unformed dough remains -you should end up with about 20-22 balls.
  3. Drizzle some olive oil over the dough balls, rubbing it around them if need be so that they are coated in it, then place the dough balls onto a parchment lined sheet pan with just a little space left in between each. Put this pan into your microwave, or cover with a kitchen towel, and allow the dough balls to rise for an additional 30 minutes. You can get your oven preheated at this time to 400 degrees.
  4. After 30 minutes, transfer the pan to your preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the rolls from the pan immediately when done so that they don’t continue to brown on the bottom but be careful as they will be very hot. If making the rolls a day in advance, be sure to let them cool completely before transferring them to an airtight storage container. Rolls will keep in an airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


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Okay, appetizer time! I have a rule about appetizers on Thanksgiving day and that is do not go crazy with them. Why? Because, while Thanksgiving is a food-centric holiday, it is not about the appetizers. The last thing you want to do is fill up on an appetizer smorgasbord and then not be able to fill up on the big meal or the desserts, right? So pick a single app or a couple of apps but no more than that.

One of my favorite go-to apps is something I like to call bourbon whiskey caramelized onion dip. If you’re only doing a single appetizer then I highly suggest it be this because, simply put, it is damn fine. Vegan “cream cheese” serves as a base for oodles of caramelized onion goodness with a hint of bourbon whiskey to it. Served with mini toasts, plain pita chips, or veggies, it is addictive and loved by all who try it -even people who don’t like booze or onions!

It all gets started with you cutting 2 large white onions into strips. Toss those strips into a large skillet (the bigger the better) with a little vegan “butter,” and some salt, and cook ’em for 10 minutes over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add in a little brown sugar and some agave then continue to cook the onions until richly browned (aka caramelized) and super tender -about another 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are done, turn off the heat and pour in a couple tablespoons of bourbon whiskey. With a long lighter, light the bourbon whiskey on fire and allow that to cook off completely. When the flame has fully extinguished itself, add a couple more tablespoons of bourbon whiskey and repeat the lighting/burning process a final time.

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When the final bit of bourbon whiskey has extinguished itself, carefully (cause they’re hot) scoop out the caramelized onions and transfer them to a cutting board. Finely chop the onions so that they are in much smaller pieces then set them aside for use in a minute.

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In the pan that you cooked the onions in, turn the heat back on and bring the pan back up to low-medium heat. Toss in some vegan “cream cheese” and stir, as best you can, the “cream cheese” around until it starts to melt. Add in the caramelized onions you chopped up a moment ago as well as some black pepper then stir to combine. Once thoroughly combined, turn the heat off and transfer your dip to a serving dish.

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Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Caramelized Onion Dip

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

Ingredients

  • 2 large white onions, cut into thin strips
  • 4 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons agave
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon whiskey, to be added 2 tablespoons at a time
  • 2 1/2 (8-ounce) containers of vegan “cream cheese” (20 ounces in total)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut onions into thin strips if you haven’t done so already. Preheat a large skillet to low-medium heat. Add in “butter” and allow that to melt. Add in onions and salt, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add in the brown sugar and the agave. Stir to combine then continue to cook the onions until richly browned (aka caramelized) and super tender -about another 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the onions are done, turn off the heat. With the heat off, pour in 2 tablespoons of bourbon whiskey. Using a long lighter, carefully light the bourbon whiskey on fire and allow that to cook off completely. When the flame has fully extinguished itself, add 2 more tablespoons of bourbon whiskey and repeat the lighting/burning process a final time. When the final bit of bourbon whiskey has extinguished itself, carefully (cause they’re hot) scoop out the caramelized onions and transfer them to a cutting board. Finely chop the onions so that they are in much smaller pieces then set them aside for use in a minute.
  3. In the pan that you cooked the onions in, turn the heat back on and bring the pan back up to low-medium heat. Toss in the “cream cheese” and stir, as best you can, it around until it starts to melt. Add in the caramelized onions you chopped up a moment ago and the black pepper then stir to combine. Once thoroughly combined, turn the heat off and transfer your dip to a serving dish. Serve immediately. Serve with mini toasts, plain pita chips, or veggies. Leftover dip will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

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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!

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 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 Eggplant & Zucchini Gratin

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Oh how I love me a good tater. However, since I’ve been on my new diet, the humble potato and I just haven’t been spending a whole lot of time together. Don’t get me wrong, I still love ’em and allow myself one every now and then, but I just can’t eat them day in and day out like I used to. #SadFace

When I’m craving a potato-based dish but really can’t do it with potatoes, I start to get creative -that’s how this recipe was born. A couple weeks ago I randomly started thinking about gratin potatoes and how much I had hated them as a kid. That led into me realizing that I actually hadn’t had them since I was a kid and that perhaps I should give them a try with my now fully grown palate. After convincing myself that this needed to happen, I then worked out which other veggies I could substitute in place of the potatoes. I ended up using eggplant and zucchini and do you know what happened when I ate some of my eggplant and zucchini gratin? I struggled to figure out why I didn’t like that shit as a kid because it’s really good -even without my most beloved vegetable in it.

It all gets started with the making of a Mornay sauce -that’s just the technical name for a roux-based sauce that has cheese (in this case vegan “cheese) added to it. Vegan “butter” gets melted down over low-med. heat and then flour gets added. Once the “butter” and flour start to look a little foamy, unsweetened almond milk is added and the mixture is brought to a boil. After a few minutes, the heat gets turned down and the seasonings go in. Then comes the “cheese” -Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds this time. You’ll whisk until smooth then set your Mornay sauce aside until we’re ready for it.

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Okay, time to prep the eggplant and zucchini! Each gets washed and then, using the 3.5mm blade on a mandoline slicer, each gets cut up into slices. Just a quick word of advice about this step: I like to cut the stem ends off of the eggplant and the zucchini and then cut each veg in half before I put them on the mandoline. This works out much better because then I’m working with more manageable chunks and not big long wibbly-wobbly pieces.

After you’ve sliced the eggplant, take a knife and cut the circles into 3 even wedge-shaped sections so that the eggplant slices are closer to the size of the zucchini slices.

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Finally, it’s time to assemble our gratin. Generously “butter” a medium sized, circular or oval, shallow baking dish (mine was an oval roughly 10 inches by 8 inches). Alternating the eggplant and zucchini, lay the pieces in the dish so that they’re at about a 60-degree angle from the bottom of the baking dish. (For those of you who are angle challenged, all this means is don’t be layin’ the pieces flat in the dish but don’t have them sticking straight up and down either.) You’ll be working the pieces around the edge of the dish and then creating concentric circles inward until you reach the center where you’ll just fill the middle however is best for your dish.

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Next, pour the Mornay sauce over the vegetable slices being sure to make your way around the dish as you’re pouring rather than dumping it all into the center. Grab a spoon or a spatula and push the sauce around, where needed, so that the vegetable slices are nearly completely covered with the sauce. Wrap the dish tightly with foil then pop it into a preheated oven for 50 minutes.

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After 50 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and, using tongs or an oven mitt, remove the foil from the dish. Generously sprinkle the top of the gratin with some vegan shaker-style “Parmesan” and then put it back in the oven, uncovered, and broil until gloriously golden brown.

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When done, let the gratin sit for about 15 minutes before you serve it.

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Vegan Eggplant & Zucchini Gratin

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

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegan “butter” + more for greasing dish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2-3 garlic cloves + 1/2 teaspoon salt, mashed together to create a paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds
  • 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2-3/4 cup vegan shaker-style “Parmesan”

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a medium sized, circular or oval, shallow baking dish by greasing it generously with “butter.” In a medium sized saucepan over low-med. heat, melt 2 tablespoons “butter.” Once melted, add in flour and stir to combine. When the mixture starts to look foamy and light brown, add in almond milk and increase the heat to bring it all to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat to low and add in the garlic cloves you mashed into a paste with salt. Also add in the dried thyme, paprika, sugar, white pepper, nutmeg, and celery seed. Stir to combine. Next, dump in the “Mozzarella” and whisk until smooth. Turn off the heat and let the sauce rest for a moment until we’re ready for it.
  3. Using the 3.5mm blade on a mandoline slicer, cut the eggplant and the zucchini into slices. (Just a quick word of advice about this step: I like to cut the stem ends off of the eggplant and the zucchini and then cut each veg in half before I put them on the mandoline. This works out much better because then I’m working with more manageable chunks and not big long wibbly-wobbly pieces.) After you’ve sliced the eggplant, take a knife and cut the circles into 3 even wedge-shaped sections so that the eggplant slices are closer to the size of the zucchini slices.
  4. Alternating the eggplant and zucchini, lay the pieces into your prepared dish so that they’re at about a 60-degree angle from the bottom of the dish. (For those of you who are angle challenged, all this means is don’t be layin’ the pieces flat in the dish but don’t have them sticking straight up and down either.) Work the pieces around the edge of the dish and then repeat to create concentric circles inward until you reach the center where you’ll just fill the middle however is best for your dish. (For my dish, I just did a straight line in the the center.)
  5. Pour the sauce you made earlier over the vegetable slices being sure to make your way around the dish as you’re pouring rather than dumping it all into the center. Grab a spoon or a spatula and push the sauce around, where needed, so that the vegetable slices are nearly completely covered with the sauce. Wrap the dish tightly with foil then bake it for 50 minutes.
  6. After 50 minutes, remove the dish from the oven and, using tongs or an oven mitt, carefully remove the foil from the dish. Generously sprinkle the top of the gratin with vegan shaker-style “Parmesan” then put it back in the oven, uncovered, and broil until golden brown -about 2 or 3 minutes. When done, allow gratin to rest for about 15 minutes before serving. Gratin will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Vegan Quick & Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

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There are a lot of people in this world who only think of soup as being for the fall and winter, and I totally get that. There is nothing better than being all cozied up on the couch with a chill in the air and a big ol’ bowl of comforting soup in your hands. However, I’m not one of these people who saves soup making just for the colder months. I love soup even in the depths of summer and there’s one soup in particular that I’ve been craving as of late and that’s tomato soup.

When it comes to tomato soup there are a few different ways to make it but my favorite way is creamy. Creamy tomato soup is the best for 3 reasons: 1) it’s generally a little less acidic, 2) it has more flavor and a better texture, and 3) it’s prettier -because who the fuck doesn’t want their food to be pretty? #AmIRight

Now, my creamy tomato soup has an additional reason why you should love it and that is that it’s super quick and easy to make. It all gets started with you dumping a big can of San Marzano tomatoes, along with a few other things, into a medium or large pot over medium-high heat. Why San Marzano’s in particular? San Marzano tomatoes are less seedy and less acidic than other tomato varieties. Plus they sound fancy… should that be something you’re concerned with, I mean.

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You’re going to bring the tomato mixture to a boil then, once boiling, continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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After 5 minutes, you’ll add in the rest of the ingredients including the 3 things that make this tomato soup creamy -“mozzarella” shreds, “sour cream,” and almond milk. Give the whole thing a good stir, pop the cover on, and then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally just as you did before.

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The final step before serving requires an immersion blender (also called a hand blender or stick blender). Carefully, because we’re dealing with hot liquids here, pulse the immersion blender throughout the soup, especially over tomato or garlic clumps, until everything is smooth.

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Once all smoothed out, serve alone or with crusty bread, a grilled cheese (made vegan, of course), or topped with a little more “mozzarella,” fresh basil, or some croutons.

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Vegan Quick & Easy Creamy Tomato Soup

  • Servings: 2-3
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano peeled, whole tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 cup Daiya “Mozzarella” shreds
  • 1/2 cup vegan “sour cream”
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegan “butter”
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium or large pot over medium-high heat, combine tomatoes with tomato paste, olive oil, salt, sugar, black pepper, thyme, and onion powder. Bring to boil then, when boiling, continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients, give the whole thing a good stir, then place a cover on the pot and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes, again, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 20 minutes and with the heat turned off, use an immersion blender to smooth out the soup. Carefully pulse the immersion blender throughout the soup, especially over tomato or garlic clumps, until smooth then serve. Soup is best served freshly made but will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

Vegan “Cheesy” Black Bean Tofu Scramble

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I’M BACK!!!

(Cue the hysterical screaming!)

I have had quite the little break. If you recall, this whole time away thing started because my doctor put me on a really strict diet for weight loss in an attempt to get my chronic illnesses (mostly female-related issues) under control. Well, as it turned out, that really strict diet was basically controlled starvation and, just so we’re clear, my doctor told me upfront that it would be a challenging diet for a vegan to follow but asked me to give it a try -and try I did. I gave it almost 2 weeks of honest effort but, at that point, I just couldn’t keep up with it any longer so I made an appointment with a vegan nutritionist to remedy the diet to better suit a vegan. Ever since then, I’ve been able to maintain my diet, without starving, and have lost nearly 10 lbs., 4 inches off my hips, and 5 inches off my waistline! And now I’m back in the hot seat and ready to share some new recipes with y’all!

This weeks recipe is a classic vegan breakfast (tofu scramble) made “cheesy.” And black bean-y. (But mostly “cheesy.”) You can find basic tofu scramble recipes all over teh interwebs, and loads of recipes which jazz up said basic recipe too, but I hadn’t come across any like this so I think I’m actually filling 2 voids with this recipe -the 1st void being your empty stomach. #YoureWelcome

It all starts with the star of the show: tofu (although some might argue that the “cheese” is the true star but play along with me here). When it comes to making almost anything with tofu, you must drain and press out as much water from the tofu as you can. Why? Because if you don’t then whatever flavors you’re adding to your tofu won’t really get into the tofu. When people tell me that they didn’t enjoy tofu, I ask if they drained it and pressed out the water before they used it. Their answer 9 times out of 10 is, “No… is that something you’re supposed to do?” Yes, people, this is something that you’re supposed to do if you want your food to come out tasty and also not watery.

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Once you’ve drained and pressed your tofu, it’s time to get cookin’. In a pan over low-med. heat, with a little oil in it to help prevent sticking, you’re going to combine your tofu with the seasonings and the vegetable broth. Stirring occasionally, cook for 10 minutes.

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After 10 minutes has passed, it’s time to add it the black beans (a whole can of ’em) and a little onion. Give that a good stir to combine then continue to cook the mixture for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If your tofu is sticking a little feel free to add a little more oil to the pan.

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Now would be a good time to prep the spinach which will be added in a moment. All you need to do is wash it and then tear the pieces into smaller pieces making sure to toss any bothersome stems. I used baby spinach because that’s what was in my fridge but if you have… grownup? Adult? Big spinach? Whatever. You can use that. Or kale would work too. And fresh either way -frozen just can’t compare in this particular dish.

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When your timer dings, it’s spinach time. Add those little pieces of green goodness right on in there and then get excited because it’s time to get your “cheese” on!

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Top the spinach off with about a generous cup of your favorite vegan “cheddar cheese” shreds along with a splash of water. Pop a lid on your pan and cook for just 5 minutes more or until spinach is wilted and the “cheese” is gooey.

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Serve with a side of fresh fruit, potatoes, or toast, or stuff the mixture into a burrito with a little hot sauce or salsa for breakfast to-go! Either way, enjoy the “cheesy” goodness!

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Vegan 'Cheesy' Black Bean Tofu Scramble

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

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons oil + more if needed to prevent sticking as tofu cooks
  • 1 (14 ounce) package of firm tofu, drained and pressed to remove excess water
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 of an onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 cups of fresh spinach, torn into smaller pieces and stems removed
  • 1 generous cup of your favorite vegan “cheddar cheese” shreds
  • water

Directions

  1. In a pan over low-med. heat combine oil, drained and pressed tofu, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, paprika, turmeric, cumin, and garlic powder together. Stir and then cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, add in the drained and rinsed black beans and the finely diced onion. Stir to combine then cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little more oil as needed should your tofu be sticking.
  3. Prep spinach if you haven’t done so already then add it and the “cheese” to the mixture along with just a splash of water. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted and “cheese” is gooey. Stir before serving. Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up 4 days.