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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Balsamic Roasted Green Beans

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

 

Week 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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


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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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


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

 

 

Vegan Creamy “Cheddar” Zucchini Cakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Creamy 'Cheddar' Zucchini Cakes

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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