admin / January 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Baked Beans

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One vegetarian food that I’ve never thought matches or exceeds its meat counterpart is baked beans. They don’t seem to have the depth of flavor and I think that’s because of the lack of one ingredient- bacon. The result is an absence of the smoky undertone that is a must for baked beans. So last week I set out to try and make what I hoped was something close to the real thing. I opted to use a slow cooker partly because of a little laziness on my part, but mostly to give the beans a chance to get soaked in all the flavors, and my second trick; vegetarian bacon bits. (I purchased a can of these from Augason Farms). I usually need to make adjustments after a first run recipe I’m testing but have to say these are pretty close to the meat version. My thought is serve them with a fried egg on top and toast. Maybe this is the making of the perfect Meatless Monday breakfast.

Ingredients

1 pound bag of navy beans

1 cup ketchup

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup agave nectar

1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/3 cup bacon bits

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Good pinch of black pepper

2 cups vegetable stock or water

Method

Wash beans and then soak them for at least six hours. Drain the water and then rinse them again. Place the beans in a slow cooker.

While the beans are soaking, in a medium size bowl mix all the other ingredients (except for the stock) together and place the bowl in the fridge.

Drain the water from the beans and then rinse them again. Place the beans in a slow cooker.

Add the ketchup mixture and coat the beans and then slowly add the stock. Make sure everything is mixed well and then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 8-12 hours.

(I found the navy beans took longer to cook than other beans I’ve prepared in a slow cooker so taste test them after eight hours. Also if you feel they need some salt, add it once the beans are cooked).

Makes 8 cups.

 

admin / January 23, 2015

Quick and Easy Nacho Mac and Cheese

 

Not sure where this week went but as promised here is the quick mac and cheese recipe using some of the leftover mix from Monday’s tofu recipe.

I always keep cans of various types of soup in the pantry so the nacho flavored one took care of the sauce part of this recipe, speeding things even more. I also had some cherry tomatoes that needed to find a recipe and thought they gave this dish some color. Also had some half and half leftover and used that but milk or even non-dairy milk will work too. If you wanted to add more to it you could use tuna or even leftover chopped chicken. (I’ll post a photo of this dish sometime next week)

4 ounces elbow pasta

I 10 ounce can Campbell’s Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup

½ soup can half and half or milk

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese or cheese of your choice

½ cup of the crushed tortilla/spice mix from the Taco Tofu Bites recipe

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and coat a medium sized casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook elbow pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta cooks, saute the tomatoes until they’re slightly softened.

Drain the pasta and put it back in the pan you cooked it in. Add the soup, half and half and cherry tomatoes and stir together so everything is well-blended.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and then sprinkle on the tortilla/spice mix and top with cheese.

Bake it in the oven for about 5-10 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling and the cheese has melted.

Serves 4.

admin / January 19, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Tofu Taco Bites

Ever since I made the Crispy Tofu Nuggets from the Vegan for Fun cookbook by Attila Hildmann I’ve been experimenting with different coatings to see what I can come up with. My latest combination, and I think the best so far, is this taco coating mix. By adding more or less spices you can vary the heat level.

The coating makes more than you actually need but don’t throw it away because you’ll need it for the quick and budget friendly recipe I’ll be posting later this week.

If you’ve not cooked with tofu before here’s a reminder about how to make it more ‘workable’ especially in a recipe like this where you’ll be handling it a lot.

As soon as you bring it home put it in the freezer for a few days. Remove it and let it defrost thoroughly. Remove it from the package and drain it. Place it a medium sized saucepan and cover it with water. Bring the water to a boil and let the tofu cook for about ten minutes. Drain it, let it cool and then press out as much water as you can and let it stand for another ten minutes.

I’ve found this combination of freezing and boiling really causes the tofu to become a hardier substance which reduces the risk of it falling apart in a recipe and takes away some of the ‘wobblyness’ that some people dislike with tofu.

 

Ingredients

1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu

For the batter-

½ cup all-purpose flour

Good pinch of both salt and pepper

About ¼ cup water

For the coating-

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cups crushed tortilla chips

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (more if you’re brave)

Oil for cooking

Method

Once you’ve drained the tofu, cut it into bite size pieces (as big or small as you like). Place them on a plate.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and pepper and chili powder and make sure they’re evenly distributed. Slowly add the water until you get a runny paste like consistency that will cling to the tofu. Set this mixture aside.

In a bowl add the crushed chips, chili powder, cumin and chipotle chili powder and mix everything together. Pour the mixture onto a large plate.

Dredge each tofu bite with the flour mixture and then roll onto the plate with the crushed chip mix, making sure each bite is well coated.

Repeat with the rest of the bites and place them on a plate and let them sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Over medium high heat add about three tablespoons oil to a skillet and cook the tofu bites, turning so each side gets crispy and browned. You might need to add more oil to the skillet as you go. Place on a plate that’s been lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil.

Serve immediately with salsa or sour cream. These are also great with seasoned French fries!

Serves 4.

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admin / January 12, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Vegetarian Scotch Eggs

I’m always looking for ways to turn meat centric recipes into vegetarian ones and my next challenge was the Scotch egg. A childhood favorite of mine, and if you’re not familiar with it, it’s a simple recipe of a hardboiled egg encased in sausagemeat. It’s then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried.

I’ll admit I had lots of challenges with this one but I’m glad I didn’t give up because it’s a tasty dish that I think rivals its meat counterpart.

My first problem was what to use in place of the sausagemeat. It would need to be something that could be wrapped around the egg and something with a savory/herby taste. I’d been using stuffing in another dish and knew I had my answer.

Next challenge was getting the stuffing to stick to the egg. Scotch eggs are usually rolled in breadcrumbs but adding more bread to the recipe seemed pointless so I opted for Parmesan cheese which actually gave them a tasty shell.

And finally, I’m not a fan of deep frying and don’t have a deep fat fryer so I opted to saute them in a skillet which was a big mistake so for this one I highly recommend deep frying these for better results.

I also decided to make a sauce to accompany them.

Hope you’ll agree these are worth the effort and replace the meat version perfectly.

Ingredients

4 hard-boiled eggs

2 cups pre-made stuffing

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (the type you find in the containers in the dairy aisle)

Oil for frying

For the dipping sauce

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Generous sprinkling of pepper

Dash of rice wine vinegar

Method

For the Scotch Eggs-

In a bowl, add the stuffing and egg and mix together well.

Take one of the eggs and a handful of the stuffing and begin molding it around the egg. This does take some patience but don’t give up. Do the same with the other three eggs.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese onto a plate and gently roll the eggs so they get coated. If some of the stuffing begins to pull away just mold it back.

Put the eggs on a plate and put them in the fridge for at least an hour so they can set before you fry them.

Deep fry them for about 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Set them on a paper towel lined plate and serve immediately with the sauce.

For the Sauce-

In a small bowl combine all the ingredients together and put in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the Scotch eggs.

Serves 4.

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admin / January 5, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Golden Beet and Cranberry Salad

About this time of the year I begin craving salads again. This one uses a mix of spring greens and baby kale and combines it with two favorites of the late fall/winter season, golden beets and cranberries. The beets are sweet, the cranberries have a slight bite to them, and pull all the flavors together with a miso dressing and I think this scores a hit with any salad lover, especially on a cold winter’s day.

Ingredients

For the salad

1 pound (about 4 medium sized) golden beets

¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries

5 cups spring green/baby kale salad mix (washed and dried)

For the dressing

2 teaspoons sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

½ tablespoon white miso

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

¼ teaspoon coriander

Good pinch black pepper and ginger powder

 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim, wash and peel the beets and cut into one inch cubes. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with some oil, salt and pepper and toss everything together again so each piece of beet is evenly coated.

Bake for around 20 minutes or until they’re caramelized and golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Place the spring green mix into a bowl, add the beets and cranberries and toss well.

In a small bowl combine all the dressing ingredients and blend them together.

Right before serving add it to the bowl with the salad mix, beets and cranberries and toss well making sure everything gets a coating of dressing.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

 

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