Week 2: Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

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Week 2 is here and it’s time to take on sweet potatoes, but first, a confession… sweet potatoes aren’t my jam! I have a crazy-obsessive love for normal potatoes but that love never extended to the potatoes cousin, the sweet potato. I am well aware however, that no Thanksgiving feast is complete without ’em, and so, I knew that I needed some kind of sweet potato recipe in my Thanksgiving series!

Now, growing up, there was always a small dish of mashed sweet potatoes on our Thanksgiving table. (The dish was small because my mom was the only one who enjoyed eating them.) On top of the dish, a thick, toasted, gooey layer of mini marshmallows created a blanket that I wished I could have been under. I always thought to myself though, why do we need two mashed things? That was the starting point for this recipe.

These little babies are roasted which gives them a great texture. They are also coated not once but twice in a cinnamon glaze which has just the right amount of sweetness but is still savory and full-flavored. Right before serving, I like to add in some dried cranberries for a tart, chewy element, and a little more color, as well as some pecan halves for a little bitter, nutty crunch -but of course, each these are totally optional. Whether you choose to fancy ’em up with toppings or not, I’m sure you’ll find that this recipe is quite delicious and perfectly suited to replace any ol’ mashed sweet potato recipe that normally adorns your table. And dare I say, I may actually have enjoyed these… #ConvertInTheMaking

It all gets started with the making of the cinnamon glaze! In a large bowl, maple syrup gets combined with some melted vegan “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, low-sodium tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The whole mixture gets a good whisking and then it gets set aside for a moment while the sweet potatoes are being prepped.

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4 medium size sweet potatoes get washed up well then completely peeled and cut into pieces that are about 1-inch square.

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Once all of the sweet potatoes have been cut up, dump them into the bowl with the glaze in it. Fold/stir everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to a large sheet pan lined in parchment paper. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

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After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. With what you reserved earlier, glaze the sweet potatoes again by simply pouring the glaze over them evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender.

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To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional).

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Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze

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

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 generous tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme, crushed in palm of hand
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Dried cranberries, to taste (optional)
  • Pecan halves, to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a large sheet pan by lining it in parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the maple syrup with the “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk this mixture well then set aside. Prep sweet potatoes, if you haven’t done so already, by washing them, peeling them, and then cutting them down into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Toss sweet potato pieces into the bowl with the glaze and stir/fold everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to the sheet pan you prepped a moment ago. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. Pour the glaze you reserved earlier over the sweet potatoes evenly then return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender. To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional). Leftover sweet potatoes will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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


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

 

 

Vegan Creamy “Cheddar” Zucchini Cakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Creamy 'Cheddar' Zucchini Cakes

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Vegan Lunch Box Brownies – Facebook Poll Question Winner

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Way back in March of this year, on Facebook, I posed a poll question to y’all -should brownies be frosted or left naked? Surely, I thought, it would be nearly impossible to have a true winner because I, myself, think each are pretty tasty in their own right. But y’all knew what you loved and overwhelmingly so. Naked brownies won by a mile! Fast forward 7 months later and here I am with my recipe for just such brownies!

Now, of course, these brownies were greatly inspired by all of you who participated in my little poll but they were also inspired by the brownies of my childhood. It wasn’t every day when a brownie came along in my young life so, when one did, I savored it to the point of almost studying every delicious morsel. In doing this, I figured out that the perfect brownie is one that’s fudgy, but not crazily so, soft, decadently chocolatey, and there simply must be some kind of nut in it. For me, that nut is the pecan but of course you’re free to choose the nut you enjoy the most. When it all comes together it’s magic -and easy to do magic at that!

It all gets started by combining the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt get whisked together until smooth. Once smooth, some melted dairy-free chocolate gets added along with some applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and a little vanilla, and the whole thing gets whisked once more until smooth. Next, chopped pecans get folded in and with that our brownie batter is complete!

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Dump the batter out into a parchment lined 9×9 pan. Using a silicone spatula, pat the batter down and around so that it fills out the pan evenly, then use the spatula to smooth out the top a little. Pop the pan into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. When the brownies are done and out of the oven, keep them in their pan and let them rest there for 15 minutes before pulling them out to cut and serve.

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Vegan Lunch Box Brownies

  • Servings: 9-12
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free (vegan) chocolate chips or chunks, melted in a double boiler or in the microwave
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or whatever nut you would prefer)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×9 pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Once smooth, add in the melted dairy-free chocolate, applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla, and whisk once more until smooth. Fold in the chopped pecans.
  2. Dump the batter out into the prepared pan then, using a silicone spatula, pat the batter out so that it fills out the bottom of the pan evenly. Use the spatula to smooth out the top of the batter and then place the pan into your preheated oven for 25 minutes. When the brownies are done and out of the oven, keep in pan for 15 minutes before pulling them out to cut and serve. Brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Vegan Circle City Chili

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Vegan Circle City Chili

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

 

Vegan Coconut Cornbread

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For those of you who don’t know this already, I have a brother named Thomas. He’s a couple years younger than me and we are two very different people. He’s a tech-savvy gamer-geek and I’m a crystal-loving, cow-hugging, artsy-fartsy free spirit. With that said however, there is one major thing that we have in common and that’s our love for food. We both enjoy cooking and baking (and eating) so our conversations are often very food centric. (Thank goodness you don’t gain weight just by talking about food!)

Our food centric conversation last week was about his upcoming birthday. I, as usual, offered to make him anything (vegan) that he wanted for dinner and he, as usual, said tofu scramble because he really loves my tofu scramble. Here’s the thing though, we both eat tofu scramble like all the damn time, so I told him that he should pick something that he doesn’t eat on a regular basis, something special, and that’s when he said he’d like some cornbread. (Of course I’ll be adding some main course to go with the cornbread, since cornbread alone isn’t dinner in my book, but I digress…)

Now, cornbread isn’t the most interesting thing ever, and y’all know I love to add my own special little twist to things, so I started to think of ways that I could jazz it up for my brother’s birthday dinner. He loves all things coconut, and I’m on a low-carb diet, so I thought that perhaps I should add in a little coconut flour. Then I thought that I should also add in coconut shreds, as well as coconut milk, to really amplify the coconut flavor. Then I remembered that I had some leftover amber ale in my fridge and figured, Why the hell not? It sounded crazy. It looked crazy on paper as I was writing it all down. But then I tried it, and had some other people try it, and there was no doubt that this crazy-ass recipe was crazy good.

My brother may not get to eat it until his birthday next week but y’all can try it right now! The first thing we’re going to do is prepare the egg replacer. For this, and most of my recipes, I use Ener-G egg replacer. In this case I took some of the egg replacer and mixed it with a little amber ale and a little water to create my “eggs.” Don’t worry if it’s a little clumpy, we’ll work those clumps out later when we add this to our cornbread batter. For now, just mix it as best you can then set it aside.

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Next, in a large bowl, you’re going to combine the cornmeal with the coconut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Whisk these dry ingredients together.

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Now we are going to add in the wet ingredients which are coconut milk, vegan “butter” (melted), the egg replacer we made a moment ago, and a little bit of sugar. Whisk everything together once more and then we’re going to trade out our whisk for a silicone spatula.

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Toss in the frozen corn kernels and coconut shreds then fold them into the batter using a silicone spatula. Be gentle and don’t overwork the batter but do make sure that there aren’t any clumps of frozen corn.

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Generously grease an 8-inch square pan then pour the batter in and flatten the top, if needed, with the spatula. Pop this baby into a preheated oven and in just 30 minutes you’ll have coconut cornbread! You’ll know it’s done when the top is a lovely medium shade of golden brown and a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean. Honey butter fan gone vegan? Try mixing a little agave with some vegan “butter” and smear that on a big ol’ piece of this cornbread for something so good your tongue will be crying tears of joy. #YoureWelcomeTongue

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Vegan Coconut Cornbread

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

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer + 3 tablespoons amber ale + 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (13.66-ounce) can of coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Coconut oil for pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare an 8-inch square pan by generously greasing it with coconut oil. Prepare egg replacer, if you haven’t already done so, by combining it with the amber ale and warm water. Stir with a fork or mini whisk to break up as many lumps as you can then set mixture aside for a moment.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, coconut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Add in the coconut milk, melted vegan “butter,” egg replacer mixture, and sugar. Whisk just until batter is smooth and all of the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated.
  3. Toss in frozen corn kernels and shredded coconut then fold everything together making sure to break up any clumps of frozen corn.
  4. Pour batter into greased pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. You’ll know cornbread is done when top is medium golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Will keep in airtight container in fridge for up to a week but is best hot out of the pan.

Vegan “Buttermilk” Fried “Chicken”

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In case you weren’t aware, writing recipes is quite the process indeed. Throughout said process, I’ll oftentimes end up with a sheet of paper that frankly looks as though someone who was possessed (and had a pen) got their hands on it. Now, I can only really focus on so many recipes at a time so most of the these chicken scratch papers end up getting tossed into a big ol’ pile waiting for their day to be perfected and shared with all y’all. Well, the other day, one recipe that’s been sitting in that pile since I started my blog finally got it’s day to shine.

When I hit the 10 pounds lost mark last weekend, I decided that I was going to give myself a cheat day and there was only one thing on my mind: fried “chicken.” This recipe, like I said a minute ago, had been in the pile o’ recipes since I started this blog in January. It just kept getting left behind in favor of other recipes which were a little less daunting. I mean, homemade vegan “meats” of any kind are serious business -fake meats have got to deliver. Despite my consternation though, I so desperately wanted to get it done for my cheat day so I got busy tweaking the recipe to perfection. A few batches later I had done it and was able to eat what I was craving for my cheat day. #DeliciousDeliciousSuccess

My fried “chicken” recipe is very traditional. You have your “chicken” pieces (made mostly of textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten for comparable protein values to actual chicken), a buttermilk-esque bath, and then a dredge (flour with salt, pepper, and just 2 other seasonings). Once coated, each piece is fried then finished off in the oven. The end result is something that has a nice meaty mouth feel and is perfectly seasoned. I could definitely see (if I wasn’t dieting) pairing up these fried little lovelies with my white gravy, biscuits, and mac-n-cheese for a picnic, or with waffles. #Drooling

It all gets started with some prep. The textured vegetable protein (aka TVP) is going to get plumped up with a little vegetable stock so that it’s ready for us in a moment when we make our “chicken.”

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We also need to prep the buttermilk-esque bath as well as the dredge. The buttermilk-esque bath is simply a combination of unsweetened almond milk and vinegar -use either normal vinegar for this or white wine vinegar. The dredge is all-purpose flour with some salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder mixed in. Whip up the bath and the dredge each in their own bowl then set them aside for a moment so that we can make our “chicken” mixture.

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For the “chicken” mixture, stir the TVP, vital wheat gluten, and seasonings together just until combined. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not overworking this mixture otherwise your “chicken” will be a little tough and chewy and ain’t nobody got time for tough and chewy “chicken.” Let this mixture to rest for a moment to allow the gluten to properly set.

Now would be a great time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. You will also want to get a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) ready by adding enough oil to shallow fry -about a half of an inch. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces.

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Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour dredge to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 (of 8 total) pieces -I’ll explain this in just a second.

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Before you gently place your pieces into the frying pan using a fork, test that the oil is at the correct temperature by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then the oil is ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little.

Once the oil is ready you may begin frying. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepped earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.

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Once all of the pieces have been fried and are on the prepped sheet pan, bake them for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) then serve immediately for the best eating experience.

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Vegan 'Buttermilk' Fried 'Chicken'

  • Servings: 8 pieces (enough for 3-4 people)
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) + 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 2 teaspoons vinegar (normal or white wine)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • oil for frying (canola oil works great)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine TVP with vegetable broth, stir then set aside. In another small bowl, combine almond milk with vinegar, stir then set aside. In 1 more small bowl, combine flour with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, stir then set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the re-hydrated TVP with the vital wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to create the “chicken” mixture. Stir mixture with a fork just until combined. Allow mixture to rest for about 3 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. Prepare a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) by filling it with enough oil to shallow fry -about half an inch of oil. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour mixture we made earlier to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 pieces -we will only be frying 4 pieces at a time so no need to make all 8 pieces at the moment.
  4. By now the oil in your frying pan should be at the correct temperature but test the oil to be sure by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then it’s ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little before placing your “chicken” pieces in. Once the oil is ready you may begin frying by gently placing your “chicken” pieces down into the oil using a fork or spider skimmer. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepared earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.
  5. When all of your “chicken” pieces have been fried and are on the sheet pan, place the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let the pieces cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) and then serve immediately for the best eating experience. Any uneaten pieces can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 3-5 minutes -just until warmed throughout.