Vegan “Cheese” Crackers

 

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I live… shall we say… in a bit of a vegan bubble. My fridge and my pantry are always stocked with a fine selection of vegan dupes which makes me forget sometimes that I don’t live in a vegan world. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it means that I’m not missing out on anything that I love by being vegan. It also means that I’m not surrounded by cruelty constantly in my own home. But it’s also a curse because I’ll see chicken on a menu and for a split second I’ll assume that it simply must be Gardein or something because, in my little bubble, all chicken is “chicken.” #IfOnly

The other day at “Tarjeh” I experienced this very thing as I stood in front of a wall of cheese crackers that were on sale -note I said cheese and not “cheese.” For a moment I found myself trying to figure out which variety to get. Then, not 5 seconds later, I snapped out of my bubble and literally said out loud, “oh, none of these are vegan.”

Sure, you can find vegan versions of the crackers I was looking at but, on that particular day, there were none to be found. That’s the day this recipe was born. Necessity, as they say, is the… well, I don’t know how that saying goes but you know what I mean. I was hankerin’ for “cheese” crackers and so I made “cheese” crackers. Now, I feel as though I should interject a warning here: these things are highly addictive! They are crunchy, savory, salty, and so satisfying. They have not 1 but 4 different “cheeses” in the mix -plus, there’s some nooch in there too for even more “cheesy” flavor!

It all gets started in a large bowl where some melted “butter” gets mixed together with some softened (almost melted) “cream cheese,” and Ener-G Egg Replacer for 2 eggs.

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Once those things are all smooth then it’s time to add in some nooch, “cheddar” shreds, “mozzarella” shreds, “Parmesan” shreds, and a whole slew of seasonings. Look at all of that “cheesy” goodness! #HeartEyes

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Next comes the flours –coconut flour and all-purpose flour. I originally wanted to do all coconut flour, because it is super healthy for you (low-carb, high fiber, etc.), but found that I personally liked the crackers better with just a wee bit of all-purpose flour thrown in there too. After the flours have been mixed in it is time to actually make our dough look like crackers!

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Dust your clean counter top, or a pastry board, with a little all-purpose flour then you’re going to roll out your dough into a very thin sheet. Ideally, you’re aiming for the thickness of a traditional cracker which is around 2/16-3/16 of an inch thick. If you don’t get it thin enough then the edges of each cracker will be crispy but the middles will be kind of biscuit like so take your time with this part and do it right. If the dough begins to stick to the work surface, or the rolling pin, then it’s okay to add a little more flour as needed.

Once the dough has been rolled out, use a knife, pizza cutter, or ravioli wheel, to trim the dough down into a rectangular or square shape and then to cut that shape down into bite size pieces about an inch square in size. You could also use say… a mini fish cookie cutter… if you wanted to please the young’uns, or old’uns like me who still eat like young’uns, but this is completely optional! When the crackers have been cut out they can carefully be transferred with the help of a spatula to a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. (You don’t want them to touch but they can be pretty close to one another since they won’t really rise or spread during the baking process.) Continue to roll out whatever dough you have remaining, and cutting it into crackers, until you have all of your crackers cut out and then it’s time to bake ’em up!

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Pop your sheet pan into a preheated 450 degree oven and bake the crackers for about 5-8 minutes on each side. You’re looking for them to be pretty dark in color -almost burnt in some spots. When they’re done, transfer them to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before serving.

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Vegan 'Cheese' Crackers

  • Servings: 60-70 crackers
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of vegan “butter,” melted
  • 1/4 cup vegan “cream cheese,” softened in the microwave to the point where it’s slightly melted
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 2 eggs (follow instructions on box)
  • 1/4 cup nooch (nutritional yeast)
  • 3 tablespoons Daiya “cheddar” shreds
  • 3 tablespoons Daiya “mozzarella” shreds
  • 3 tablespoons Follow Your Heart “Parmesan” shreds
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour + more for work surface and rolling pin

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. Set pan aside for a moment. In a large bowl combine the melted “butter” with the softened, slightly melted, “cream cheese,” and Ener-G Egg Replacer for 2 eggs (made in accordance with the instructions on the box). Beat or whisk until smooth then add in the nooch, “cheddar” shreds, “mozzarella” shreds, “Parmesan” shreds, garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, dried dill weed, dried parsley, and paprika, and stir to combine. Lastly, add in the coconut flour and 2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour and work the dough to ensure each of the flours are fully incorporated.
  2. Dust your clean counter top, or a pastry board, with a little all-purpose flour then turn out your dough onto the surface and roll it out into a very thin sheet. Ideally, you’re aiming for the thickness of a traditional cracker which is around 2/16-3/16 of an inch thick. (If you don’t get it thin enough then the edges of each cracker will be crispy but the middles will be kind of biscuit like so take your time with this part and do it right.) If the dough begins to stick to the work surface, or the rolling pin, add a little more flour as needed.
  3. Once the dough has been rolled out, use a knife, pizza cutter, or ravioli wheel, to trim the dough down into a rectangular or square shape. Use the same tool to then cut that shape down into bite size pieces about an inch square in size. When the crackers have been cut out, carefully transfer them with the help of a spatula to the sheet pan you prepped earlier leaving about 1/4 of an inch between each cracker. Continue to roll out whatever dough you have remaining, and cutting it into crackers, until you have all of your crackers cut out.
  4. Bake the crackers in your preheated 450 degree oven for about 5-8 minutes on each side. You’re looking for them to be pretty dark in color on each side -almost burnt in some spots but mostly dark golden brown. When done, transfer the crackers to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before serving. Crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Vegan Apple Cinnamon Rolls With “Cream Cheese” Icing (Optional Overnight Instructions Included)

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Christmastime is all about traditions! One tradition my family holds near and dear is that, on Christmas Eve, a sweet treat is prepared to be enjoyed the following morning while opening presents. It’s always one of two things: donuts or cinnamon rolls. This year it will be the latter of those two and that recipe is what I’m going to be sharing with y’all today!

Now, of course, it’s hardly ever the same recipe from year to year whether it be donuts or cinnamon rolls. I am, after all, a person who likes to get creative in the kitchen. So this year, I decided to do cinnamon rolls with apples in them and a light, lovely “cream cheese” icing rather than a heavy frosting -although I do love a good frosting! The whole apples and cinnamon rolls combination thing is a match made in Heaven -which makes sense because pretty much every sweet apple recipe out there, including my own apple cake, has spices of some kind in it!

It all gets started with some warm water, white sugar, brown sugar, and a packet of yeast. These things get combined and then they get left alone for about 10 minutes so that the yeast can bloom. While the yeast is blooming, now is the perfect time to get some “butter” melted down -we’re gonna need 4 tablespoons of the stuff. It’s also a good time to prepare the Ener-G Egg Replacer, according to the instructions on the box, for 1 egg.

After the yeast has been allowed to bloom for about 10 minutes, the melted “butter” and the egg replacer you prepared a moment ago can get added along with a little apple cider vinegar and just a bit of salt. Stir to combine then it’s time to add some flour. You’re going to start with 2 cups of flour and then, should you need more (and you probably will), you’re going to add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time. My dough required the 2 initial cups plus about 6 more tablespoons of flour to come together as you see below. When the dough has come together, place a towel over the bowl and set it somewhere to rise for 2 hours.

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After 2 hours has passed, grab a round cake pan and generously grease it. Set your prepared pan aside for a moment. Next, the green apples required for the rolls can be washed, peeled, cored, and then cut up into 1/4″-1/3″ cubes. Set these aside for a moment.

On a large pastry board or your clean and dry counter top, sprinkle out some flour and then turn out your dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangular-ish shape about 9 inches wide and 13 inches long. Over top of your rolled out dough, room temperature “butter” gets smeared and then brown sugar gets sprinkled on. Then, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice join the party and, last but not least, the apple cubes you cut earlier get tossed into the mix. Once the apple cubes are on, give them a gentle pat with the palms of your hands so that they hunker down into the dough a little better.

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Beginning on the longer side closest to you, start rolling up the dough as tightly as you can without squishing everything out. Continue to roll the dough away from you until you have reached the end of the rectangular-ish shape. If the ends of this log o’ dough are perhaps a little thin or wonky, feel free to cut those off. To cut the rolls, cut the dough in half and then continue to halve the remaining sections until you have 8 even rolls cut.

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Place your rolls into the pan you prepared earlier and then cover them tightly with plastic cling wrap. If you’re making these beauties overnight, place the covered pan into your fridge and then, in the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and let the rolls rest on the counter for 1 hour prior to baking. If you want to enjoy these rolls on the same day, let them rest for 45-60 minutes on the counter, or until doubled, and then bake them off. Either way, the temperature and time remains the same -the oven should be preheated to 350 degrees and the rolls should bake for 25-28 minutes. When the rolls are done, they will need to cool slightly before you can ice them.

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Either while the rolls are baking or while they’re cooling slightly after baking, make the icing by combining “cream cheese” with almond milk, powdered sugar, and some vanilla in a bowl. Beat these ingredients together with a hand mixer and then, when ready to serve the cinnamon rolls, pour the icing on top of them evenly.

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Vegan Apple Cinnamon Rolls With 'Cream Cheese' Icing

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

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed + 4 tablespoons brown sugar, packed (for filling)
  • 1 packet active dry original yeast
  • 4 tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted + 3 tablespoons vegan “butter,” room temperature (for filling)
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 1 egg (follow instructions on box)
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4-2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see step 2 for details) + more for rolling out dough
  • 1 1/2 green apples, washed, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4″-1/3″ cubes
  • 2 generous teaspoons cinnamon
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Cloves to taste
  • Allspice to taste
  • 4 tablespoon vegan “cream cheese”
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water with white sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and yeast. Stir gently to combine then let this mixture rest for about 10 minutes so that the yeast can bloom. While the yeast is blooming, melt 4 tablespoons of “butter” and prepare the Ener-G, according to the instructions on the box for 1 egg, if you haven’t done these things already.
  2. After the yeast has been allowed to bloom, add to the yeast mixture the melted “butter,” prepared Ener-G, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour to this liquid mixture starting with 2 cups. Should you need more (and you probably will), add more flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes together. (My dough required the 2 initial cups plus about 6 more tablespoons of flour.) When the dough has come together, place a towel over the bowl and set it somewhere to rise for 2 hours.
  3. After 2 hours has passed, grab a round cake pan and generously grease it. Set your prepared pan aside. Also, prepare the green apples required, if you haven’t done so already, by washing them, peeling them, coring them, and then cutting them up into 1/4″-1/3″ cubes. Set these aside for a moment. On a large pastry board or your clean and dry counter top, sprinkle out some flour and then turn out your dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangular-ish shape about 9 inches wide and 13 inches long. Over top of your rolled out dough, 3 tablespoons of room temperature “butter” get smeared on. Next, sprinkle across the dough evenly 4 tablespoons of brown sugar, the cinnamon, and then the nutmeg, cloves, and allspice to taste. Lastly, the apple cubes go on. Give those a gentle pat with the palms of your hands so that they secure into the top of the dough a little.
  4. To roll the dough up, begin on the longer side closest to you and start rolling the dough away from you as tightly as you can without squishing everything out. Continue to roll the dough until you have reached the end of the rectangular-ish shape. If the ends of this dough roll are perhaps a little thin or wonky, feel free to cut those off. To cut the rolls, cut the dough roll in half and then continue to halve the remaining sections until you have 8 even rolls cut. Place your rolls into the pan you prepared earlier and then cover them tightly with plastic cling wrap.
  5. If baking the rolls the next day, place the covered pan into your fridge and then, in the morning, remove the pan from the fridge and let the rolls rest on the counter for 1 hour prior to baking -get the oven preheated while they are resting on the counter. If making the rolls on the same day, let the rolls rest in their covered pan at room temperature for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size, then bake them off. Whether making the next day or the same day, the temperature and time remains the same -the oven should be preheated to 350 degrees and the rolls should bake for 25-28 minutes. When the rolls are done, let them cool slightly outside of the pan for about 10-15 minutes before icing.
  6. Either while the rolls are baking or while they’re cooling slightly after baking, make the icing by combining “cream cheese” with almond milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat these ingredients together with a hand mixer and then, when ready to serve the cinnamon rolls, pour the icing on top of them evenly. Cinnamon rolls will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. To reheat, if desired, microwave a single roll for 15-20 seconds.

Vegan Rich & Creamy Broccoli Soup

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I’m back!!!

Y’all, it’s been a crazy few weeks since I wrapped up my Thanksgiving recipe series. I took a little time off to move and unpack and then, just as I was getting settled in, I got hit with the worst cold I’ve ever had! #Yuck

While I was sick, there was only one thing that I was craving and that was soup. I didn’t have the strength to make some during that week of tissues and tears (big dramatic baby here) but, when it finally passed, I got my ass in the kitchen and made this luscious little dish to satisfy all of my cravings.

Now, believe it or not, there are quite a few people in this world who hate broccoli -my mom is one of them. I, on the other hand, am one of the rare few who loves broccoli. I wanted this soup to satisfy not only me but also the people who aren’t fans of this particular veg. To accomplish this, I built a nice, rich, savory base which has things like vegetable broth, roasted garlic, potatoes, and something called Vegeta in it. The flavor of the broccoli, thanks to this base, becomes subtle enough for the haters but complimented nicely enough for the lovers like me. I then made everything good and smooth so that nobody would end up with a mouthful of broccoli chunks but rather a spoonful of creamy goodness. My mom ate a big bowl of it and said, “You know I hate broccoli but I actually like this soup.” Yes, folks, I think I hit the nail right on the head.

It all gets started with a head of garlic -how can anything with a head of garlic in it be bad?! About an hour before you wish to start making this soup, go into your kitchen, grab a big ol’ head of garlic, and chop of the top 1/4-1/3 of the head to expose the cloves inside. Peel off some of the looser outer papery layers and then pop the head onto a piece of foil. Drizzle into and over the head about 2-3 tablespoons of oil and then squish the foil up and closed around the head to enclose it completely. Place your little packet of deliciousness onto a small sheet pan and then bake it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. When done, allow it to cool for about 15 minutes so that you can retrieve the cloves without burning yourself. Set the cloves, and any oil that remains in the foil packet, aside for a moment.

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With your roasted garlic done, you can begin the actual soup making process -and what an easy process it is! Rough dice half of a yellow onion and get it into a large pot, with a little oil in it, over medium heat. (I love making soups, or anything really, in an enameled cast iron dutch oven but if you don’t have one of these then don’t worry because any large pot will do.) Cook the onions for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.

While the onions are cooking, cut up 2 large, peeled russet potatoes into small cubes no bigger than a half of an inch wide. Set the cubed potatoes aside for just a moment until we’re ready for them.

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After the onions have browned slightly, the potatoes you cubed a moment ago get tossed in along with vegetable broth, water, a can of drained and rinsed white beans, a whole bunch of seasonings, and the roasted garlic you made earlier along with any oil that remained in the foil packet. Stir to combine then bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes then reduce the heat just a bit and allow the soup to soft boil for 5 minutes. Next, 2 bags of frozen broccoli florets get added and then the lid goes on. Continuing soft boiling, covered this time, for about 10 more minutes.

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When the potatoes are tender, add in some of your favorite “cheddar” shreds and a little nooch (nutritional yeast). Stir to combine then it’s time to make this soup creamy!

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Turn the heat off and then, using an immersion blender, blend until no lumps or chunks remain. Be sure to keep the blender straight up and down, and submerged when on, because we’re dealing with hot liquid here and we don’t want to splash it on ourselves. #LessonILearnedTheHardWay

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When it is as smooth as can be, serve with just a bit more “cheddar” on top and some crusty bread on the side (optional).

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Vegan Rich & Creamy Broccoli Soup

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

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of garlic + 2-3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion, rough diced
  • 2 large russet potatoes, washed, peeled, and small diced
  • 1 (32 ounce) box of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can reduced sodium or no salt added white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tablespoon Vegeta
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon reduced sodium tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (10 ounce) bags of frozen broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup “cheddar” shreds + more for garnishing (optional)
  • 1/4-1/3 c. nutritional yeast
  • Bread bowls to serve in or crusty bread to serve with (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop of the top 1/4-1/3 of the garlic head to expose the cloves inside. Peel off some of the looser outer papery layers and then pop the head onto a piece of foil. Drizzle the oil in and over the head then squish the foil up and closed around the head to enclose it completely. Place the foil packet onto a small sheet pan and then bake for 45 minutes. When done, allow it to cool for about 15 minutes so that you can retrieve the cloves without burning yourself. Set the cloves, and any oil that remains in the foil packet, aside for use in a moment.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, add in oil and rough diced onion half. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the onions are lightly browned. While the onions are cooking, cut up the 2 large, washed and peeled russet potatoes into small cubes no bigger than a half of an inch wide, if you haven’t already done so. Set the cubed potatoes aside for just a moment until we’re ready for them.
  3. After the onions have browned slightly, add in the potatoes along with the vegetable broth, water, white beans, Vegeta, sugar, tamari, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and the roasted garlic you made earlier along with any oil that remained in the foil packet. Stir to combine then bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes then reduce the heat just a bit and  soft boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the frozen broccoli florets, stir to combine, then cover the pot and continuing soft boiling for about 10 more minutes until the potatoes are tender and the florets are warmed through.
  5. Turn the heat off then, using an immersion blender, blend so that no lumps or chunks remain. Be sure to keep the blender straight up and down, and submerged when on, to avoid splashing the hot soup around. When smooth, serve with just a bit more “cheddar” on top and some crusty bread on the side (optional). Soup will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days.

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.

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!