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 Green Chile “Chicken” Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Green Chile 'Chicken' Soup

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

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When your mama asks you to make her birthday cake, you hit pause on your damn diet and you make your mama a birthday cake. #MamaDidntRaiseNoFool

What kind of cake did she want? Chocolate! And boy, did I ever deliver. This cake, my chocolate cake, is so light, fluffy, insanely moist, and decadently rich. If you’re a fan at all of chocolate cake then you simply must try this recipe. (If you don’t, they will revoke your “chocolate cake fan” card -of this I’m sure.) For my mom, I finished it off with some caramel frosting but you could use pretty much any frosting you’d like to top this bad boy. With that said however, you could also seriously just eat this cake naked -as in hey there, frosting haters, it’s perfect for you too!

Besides being delicioso, this cake is also very easy to make. The first step is to whisk together the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. The wet ingredients for this little lovely include a heap load of sugar (always count sugar as a wet ingredient), almond milk, some of the deepest darkest coffee you can find, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce. Once all of that has been thoroughly combined, it’s time to add the dry ingredients in. The dry ingredients include flour, cocoa powder, some leavening agents, and a little salt. The batter should still be fairly liquidy upon whisking the dry ingredients in and that’s exactly what we want because liquid equals moisture.

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The next step is to pour the cake batter into a prepared pan -I used a 13×9 pan which I greased with a little “butter” and then lined with parchment paper. (The greasing helps keep the parchment paper down while you’re pouring the batter in.) Now, you could also use this batter to make cupcakes, or 2 (9-inch) rounds, instead of a 13×9 cake. Should you elect to make either of these I’d suggest that you start your timer with 30 minutes, rather than 45 minutes which is how long the 13×9 will bake for, and go from there.

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When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out nearly clean. And as with any cake, be sure to let it cool completely before applying frosting -if you’re frosting it, that is. Like I said, it’s moist enough that frosting is totally optional.

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Vegan Moist & Rich Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: as a 13x9 cake, serves 12-16
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Vegan “butter” for greasing pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup dark coffee, brewed (Make sure this is measured as an actual cup rather than a coffee cup -I used my Keurig, made the largest cup size, then measured out 1 cup worth.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Burnt caramel frosting or the frosting of your choice (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 13×9 pan by greasing it and then lining it with parchment paper. (The grease helps the parchment stay put when you’re pouring the batter in later.) If you’re not wanting to make a 13×9 cake but rather cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, prepare those pans as needed instead.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar with the almond milk, coffee, vegetable oil, and unsweetened applesauce, and whisk until smooth. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk again until smooth. (The batter will still be pretty liquidy but that’s exactly how we want it to be!)
  3. Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the 13×9 cake comes out nearly clean. If doing cupcakes or 2 (9-inch) rounds, start with 30 minutes on the timer and then check the cakes with a toothpick and see if more time is needed. When done, if frosting or decorating, let cake cool completely first.

Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

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Sweet, buttery, and a little toasty -that’s what this frosting is.

It was inspired by my mom who asked me to make her a chocolate cake with caramel frosting for her birthday. I knew that I could totally handle the chocolate cake part but the caramel frosting part? I hadn’t made vegan caramel before, let alone attempted a caramel frosting. Thrown for a loop, I decided to turn to that wonderful world of information that we call the internet where I learned that you can make vegan caramel using unsweetened, full fat coconut milk. With a little tweaking on the ideas I found online, I managed to come up with a recipe for a caramel frosting that has a slightly burnt, toasty flavor to it which contrasts nicely with the overall sweetness.

Now, it’s not the quickest frosting to make but it is pretty easy.

First things first, you’re gonna grab a small pot and pop it onto your stove over medium-high heat. Pour in a can of coconut milk and then add in some vegan “butter,” a little brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently, then reduce the heat to simmer. Here’s where the time factor comes into play -you’re going to let this simmer for 1 hour, whisking it about every 8-10 minutes.

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When an hour has passed, add in a dash of vanilla then carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, slowly add in powdered sugar (scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed) until the desired consistency is reached.

Since I was frosting a 13×9 cake, which was remaining in it’s pan, I opted to kept the frosting on the softer side adding only 2 cups of powdered sugar to it. If you’re using this frosting for cupcakes or cookies though, where it needs to really stay in place, you’re going to want to add more powdered sugar. And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.

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Vegan Burnt Caramel Frosting

  • Servings: enough to frost a 13x9 cake
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 a stick of vegan “butter”
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk with “butter,” brown sugar, and salt. Whisk everything together then bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 3 minutes, whisking frequently. After 3 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, whisking occasionally.
  2. Turn the heat off and add in the vanilla. Carefully transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, or to a large bowl that you can use a hand mixer in. With the mixer speed set to low, add in the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. For a softer frosting, for a non-layered cake, add 2 cups of powdered sugar. For a more stiff frosting, for layered cakes, cupcakes, or cookies, add a little more powdered sugar until you reach the consistency desired. (And no, this isn’t one of those frosting recipes that makes 3 gallons of frosting. Why? Because this isn’t a lay-it-on-thick kind of frosting in the first place. Keep it light, keep it simple, and you’ll enjoy it more, I promise.)