Enchiladas!!!!! (Please say in Oprah’s excited voice for appropriate effect)
December 16, 2010, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Vegan Entrees, Vegan Lunch | Tags: , , , , , ,

Okay, finally! Something not soup! Not that I didn’t love the french onion soup, the curried sweet potato & black bean stew, oh and then there was that delicious lentil soup, and the apple squash one, too.. soo many soups! So when we had bookoodles of leftover tortillas from the night we made chickpea soft tacos and then decided to not be very hungry, I thought to pick up a jar of enchilada sauce and turn it into magic. This is one of those times where I consulted no recipe, just went with instinct.. which I believe to be one of the best ways to improve your intuitive cooking skills. It turned out really great… better than any one of those cheap, flavorless mexican places!

Black Bean Enchiladas with Chipotle & Garlic Sauce (serves 2)

5-6 10 inch flour tortilla shells
1-2 cans of black beans (drained/rinsed) just depending on how “filled” you want your tortillas, we used 1 1/2
2 TBS olive oil/canola oil
1 small onion, chopped in half moons
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 jar enchilada sauce (we used an all natural brand that I can’t recall the name of, but it was chipotle and garlic flavored)
1/4 tsp each of the following spices: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder (or 1/2 pack of premixed taco seasoning)
salt and pepper to taste
shredded vegan cheddar (enough to completely cover top of enchiladas)

Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, adding 3/4 of your onion slices & cooking until translucent. (3-4 minutes) Add your drained and rinsed black beans as well as spices. Once thoroughly heated, add enough broth to cover the bottom of the pan. Let it reduce. You want the beans and onions mixture to cook down and thicken into almost a stew-like consistency. Add more veg broth if needed. In a separate pot I combined the enchilada sauce and the rest of my onion, just because I wanted caramelized onions in the sauce. If you don’t want to deal with all that, just add all the onion to the beans. Get out your baking dish (a 9×9 dish or smaller, you don’t want to have to spread the enchilada sauce too thin or it won’t coat all the tortillas.) I put an empty tortilla down in the dish & spooned some bean & onion mixture into the center in a line & then rolled it up and pushed it to the edge of the dish. I repeated this with 5 or 6 tortillas until the mixture was gone and the dish was filled with enchiladas. Pour the enchilada sauce over the top of the tortillas, making sure to coat them all well. If you don’t have enough sauce, you can always add some tomato sauce to it to increase your volume. Cover the top of the enchiladas with your shredded cheese & bake covered with foil for 15 minutes. Remove foil & continue baking for 5-10 more minutes until cheese is bubbly. Top with vegan sour cream & dig in!

French Onion Soup
December 14, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Vegan Entrees | Tags: , , , , ,

Ok, if there are any of you readers left… you must all be soup nerds like me. I haven’t posted something requiring more than three teeth in months. Regardless, I can’t help but share every new soup I try because there is simply nothing better when it is snowing outside & the wind chill is hovering around zero degrees. This is not only the first time I have made french onion soup, but also the first time I have ever had a steaming bowl all of my own. I used to sneak a spoonful of melty cheese or a soppy crouton from fellow eaters bowls if they ordered some, but I was never interested in the half moons of onion floating below. I never liked onions growing up (and still won’t go near a raw one) but within the last two years I have come to absolutely adore the sizzling scent and sweet caramelization of onions sauteed in a pan with a little oil. When I found out french onion soup was one of Erin’s favorite foods, I thought I certainly needed to give it a try during these dreary, cold months. P.S. Let’s all just mourn the loss of well lit photos now that it gets dark at 5pm.

I was re-reading through a cookbook that I purchased on my first trip to Chicago two summers ago entitled “The Chicago Diner Cookbook.” The Chicago Diner is a landmark vegan/vegetarian restaurant in Boystown, a notably gay friendly neighborhood of Chicago. I went to the diner during my trip and had a vegetarian reuben sandwich & the best vegan strawberry milkshake in the history of the world. I noticed the cookbook displayed on a shelf in the diner only because I thought the cover was so highly unattractive. Once I asked to see a copy I flipped through the pages, all the more disgusted with the mediocre layout/design/font choices therein, but was absolutely stoked with the selection of recipes. I reminded myself to not judge a cookbook by its ugly cover and purchased it as my souvenir from Chi Town.

Two years later I’m finally glad I bought it. I tried a few recipes during my initial excitement about it, but my novice cooking knowledge led me to use the wrong end of the leeks in the potato & leek soup… and the homemade polenta was just…. not as exciting as the kind in the shrink wrap tube. So now that I’m desperate for new & exciting cold weather cooking… I began leafing through and remembered why I bought this book in the first place. First stop: French Onion Soup… next on the menu, Vegan “Beef” (seitan) Stroganoff… JUST. CAN’T. WAIT.

French Onion Soup (adapted from The Chicago Diner Cookbook)

3 T EVOO or Canola oil
3 large Spanish onions, cut into half-moon slices
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 bay leaf
Any combination of vegetable broth and water equaling 6 cups/1 1/2 quarts (I did 1 quart broth, 1/2 quart water)
2 T flour (for thickening)
3 T dark miso (I used red)
1/4 cup tamari (soy sauce)
salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf french batard or other crusty bread
2-3 slices per person of vegan mozzarella (or if using real cheese, provolone or gruyere)

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, add the oil, onions, and herbs. Cook, stirring often, for about 15 minutes (or until all of the onions have caramelized.) Add your flour before adding broth to avoid it clumping. Add your stock/water and stir to combine. Let simmer 15 minutes. While simmering, preheat oven to 350, or prep it to use your broiler. Slice your french loaf or other bread in 1 inch thick slices (or dice into 1 or 1 1/2 inch cubes and drizzle with oil on a baking sheet – bake for about 5 minutes or until golden.) We did both. I did thick slices for our initial meal and made croutons for easy lunch travel.

Once done simmering, remove two cups of broth (its okay if onions get in there too!) and add miso, mixing well with a spoon or whisk until it dissolves. Add back to soup. Add your tamari, salt and pepper. If you use regular sodium tamari, add less salt. I always use reduced sodium so I can salt to my own liking.

Fill your bowls (oven safe ones!) 3/4 full. Soak both sides of your slice of bread before placing on top of your soup. Cover with cheese slices. Bake or broil until the cheese is golden & bubbly. I put the bowls on a small baking sheet to make the oven part easier.

Now, what is better than those strings of melty “cheese” as you slurp your soup?

More soup & exciting news!
December 8, 2010, 3:39 pm
Filed under: Vegan Entrees | Tags: , , , , ,

Alas, here is another soup recipe. I know we must seems like crazy soup people around here… and our house must smell like Katrina Devort’s from Juno… but I tell you, the smell emanating from our home last night could probably make angels sing. This relatively simple combination of spices, sauces and veggies with lentils made for one of those meals that will get you merrily through the cold winter & suddenly wishing it was cold out in July so that you could have more lentil soup. I think I just need a blog wholly devoted to soups and stews, because there is honestly nothing better & more filling when its cold out & with all the holiday craziness it’s so nice to spend 20 minutes cutting up a bunch of veggies & throwing some spices and beans in a pot & letting it do all the work for you while you wrap gifts, trim the tree, & re-re-re watch Love Actually.

This recipe comes yet again from my go-to healthy vegan cookbook, Terry Walters – Clean Food who also happens to have a new book out, Clean Start! Clean Start has 100 more exciting, healthy, whole food filled recipes for everyone from the beginning cook, to those who have been around the vegan block a few times. I know what I’ll be asking someone for for Christmas! The thing about Clean Food that makes it my go to cookbook over all the others is that it is organized by season. I don’t have to search through a whole book of recipes for something that will fit my winter fancy, I can just flip to the Winter section (of which all the pages are light blue) and easily find something to make that utilizes the veggies growing that time of year.

Lentil Soup (adapted from Clean Food)

1 thumb-size piece of kombu (a sea veggie that infuses foods with alkalinizing minerals, iron, and iodine, also tenderizes legumes & reduces their “gaseous properties”)

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 stalks celery, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used canned whole tomatoes & added the sauce, too)

1/4 cup red wine

4 cups dried lentils

6 cups vegetable broth, 6 cups water (or any combination of 12)

1 T rice vinegar

2 T maple syrup

2 T molasses

1 T tamari

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper  to taste

Put your piece of kombu in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Once soft, rinse & mince. Set aside. In a large cast iron or soup pot saute your garlic & onion until translucent. Add your chopped celery, carrots, tomatoes, and red wine. Rinse your lentils & add along with your 12 cups of liquid (any combination of broth & water). Add your vinegar, molasses, maple syrup, tamari, kombu and salt/pepper. Stir to combine & bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer & continue simmer for two hours. Stir occasionally. Adjust your s&p before serving if needed! Terry makes a suggestion that if you want the soup to yield a more decadent flavor (I mean could it get any better already?) add 2 T dutch process cocoa powder when you add the maple syrup. Once you try the soup without it, you’ll think… jeez this would be good with that cocoa powder, too!

I also have a bit of exciting news to share! Starting in January, I will begin hosting either a monthly or bi-monthly meat-free potluck series entitled Stone Soup Suppers! I have been working with my good friend Adam Wagner on the concept and promotion of the event, and we have finally set a date for the first dinner to be January 30! I’m very interested in bringing together the vegetarian and vegan community in Cleveland, and believe that if this is successful it will be a way to build friendships & relationships over clean, healthy, cruelty-free foods. I just can’t wait! We’re going to have limited seating of 12 guests for the first dinner, and the location is still TBD. I’m trying to find a unique/free spot, and am looking to move the dinner to a different location each time. This is an image of our promo poster for the event!

Vegetable & Seitan Pot “Pies”
November 4, 2010, 9:10 am
Filed under: Vegan Entrees | Tags: , , , , ,

I made a veggie pot pie (an actual pie) over the summer. I made a whole wheat crust that although it was certainly the healthy route, I found myself wishing every time I took a bite that instead I was experiencing a flaky, light crust. So when I decided to brace myself for Veganomicon’s epic battle of a veggie pot pie with seitan recipe, I opted for using phyllo dough and making individually sized pies in ramekins. Sometimes I honestly think Terry and Isa are just screwing with us when they say “1 hour 20 minutes” ’til veggie pot pie heaven! Three hours after I began mixing together ingredients for the seitan, I think I was finally ready to put these ramekins in the oven… maybe. True, I had never worked with phyllo dough (and now I know why) so that added on some time. But lets get real. This wasn’t dinner, this was a circus. I didn’t even manage to get a half-lit photo of the final product with the flaky phyllo crust on top because it was near 7 pm before anything landed on the table (and I began at 3.)

Now that I’ve ranted about how annoying this was to make. . . I’ll give you a brief rundown of all the steps it took to get from the grocery store to the ramekins. First of all, if you have Veganomicon and decide to brave this recipe, don’t use the chickpea flour unless you already have it. I used to be convinced that I needed all these crazy flours to make it right, but they just cost more than regular flour and tend to work equally well. So I mixed the ingredients for their seitan recipe (which I love and make often). I’ve tried some seitan recipes from other bloggers, etc. and finally realized that a shitload of paprika and pepper are NOT necessary to make good seitan. I don’t think I use either.

The best seitan recipe (makes enough for 3-4 people, 1 lb.)

1 cup vital wheat gluten

3 T nutritional yeast

1/2 cup cold veg broth

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, grated/pressed


8 cups cold water & 3 veg bullion cubes OR 4 cups veg broth, 4 cups cold water

1/4 cup soy sauce

How to:

Mix gluten flour and yeast in large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix veg broth, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic. Pour wet into dry and stir with a wooden spoon until the moisture is mostly absorbed. Use your hands to knead the dough until it becomes elastic. Cut into 3 pieces and knead those each separately to thoroughly stretch out the dough. Place in pot with broth & bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour. Turn pieces occasionally with a spoon. Now they are ready to slice into strips or cut into cubes. Once you cook the pieces up in some olive oil and let them brown, they will look less….. gray and creepy. You can saute, braise, bake, etc. etc. with seitan. It’s lovely for that chewier, heartier texture you sometimes want in a vegetarian/vegan meal.

So once you’ve done all that it has already been at least an hour. So I’m assuming that time wasn’t included in the hour/20 suggested. Now its time to make the rue, not so hard. I spent a million years chopping up all the veggies and doing balancing acts because I had no room in our tiny kitchen to put everything. Once you’ve got all that done & poured into your pie pan or ramekins… you can either go “oh shit,” because you forgot to make the pie crust OR pull the phyllo dough out of your fridge that you’ve hopefully been thawing for 8 hours. I honestly had no clue, even with the internet’s help as to how to work with this stuff. I ended up getting 5 sheets apiece on the ramekins, but they just weren’t enough. I wish I had put them in the bottom of the dishes as well… but I was scared they wouldn’t puff up if they were covered by the pie filling.

All in all, this wasn’t a total win, but it did end up tasting quite nice on a chilly fall night. I kind of wish I had scrapped the seitan altogether and saved it for my favorite seitan dish EVERRRR (Braised Seitan with Winter Veggies over Mashed Potatoes) but it’s always nice to try new things!

Curried Sweet Potato and Black Bean Stew
October 21, 2010, 2:49 am
Filed under: Vegan Entrees | Tags: , , , , , ,

Every time I make a stew or a soup I think about Rachel Ray saying “stoup” in that hoarse, mannish voice of hers and I re-qualify my belief that I have never and will never make a stoup, only soup or stew. This sweet potato and black bean creation is most definitely a stew. Heck, it’s practically a side dish. I will admit I probably overdid it on the arrowroot powder. I definitely wanted a stew, not a soup, so I put in a whole tablespoon. Whoops! I’ve thinned out my leftovers with a bit of water, which does the trick. I can’t even explain how enjoyable this stew was. Everyone goes on and on about how healthy sweet potatoes are, blah blah blah, I just eat them religiously because I love them in any form. You can “boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew!” (Lord of the Rings nerd reference) I mean seriously, a cooked sweet potato is the poor vegans dinner of kings, am I right? So when I landed on Everybody Likes Sandwiches post for Curried Sweet Potato & Rice Autumn Stew just a day or so after returning from Ohio’s Amish Country with this . . .

I knew it was sweet potato destiny. I mean this thing is monstrous. I got it at a roadside farm stand, complete with an Amish buggy ride to and from their pumpkin patch. The first thing my Mom said when she saw this beast was “How are you ever going to cook that?” At the time I just mumbled something about tin foil and hours in the oven, but this stew made it only too easy for me to just dice up the potato and plop it in my dutch oven. I wanted to show the relative size of the sweet potato, and I thought Mason would be a fine comparison. Maybe we need to cut back on his cat food a bit, hmm?


But back to how wonderful this stew is. . . no one wants to stare at my cats behind all day but me. For whatever reason, this stew kept reminding me of my mother’s sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving. I hoard, literally HOARD/COVET/STEAL/BEG/BORROW/LIE/CHEAT/SWINDLE, etc. etc. for this casserole. I mean duh, both are sweet potato heavy, but this stew is VEGAN! It’s HEALTHY! It’s got black beans, veggie broth, curry, rice, etc. in it. Like let’s get real?! I think it was the rice that threw me to be honest. The rice was kinda al dente because the stew only cooked about 30 minutes, so it had a little bite to it which reminded me of the nutty crunch in my Mom’s casserole. Basically just try this. And if you are so inclined, go lighter on the broth (maybe 3 cups) or heavy on a thickener (like arrowroot, or cornstarch) and bring this to Thanksgiving dinner as a fab vegan alternative to the buttery rich sweet potato casserole that people tend to have. So here is the recipe, adapted from EBLS original.

Curried Sweet Potato & Black Bean Stew (adapted from EBLS, serves 5-6)

1 T olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 carrots, finely diced

1 small onion, finely diced

2 stalks celery, finely diced

2 medium or 1 VERY large! sweet potato, diced

4 cups veg broth

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 T red curry powder

1/2 T arrowroot or cornstarch (for stew-like) consistency

1/2 cup rice

pinch of salt and pepper

1 T maple syrup
Heat oil in large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute garlic and onion until onion is translucent. Add carrot and celery and continue to saute until tender. Add everything else, excluding the maple syrup. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer for 25-3o minutes. You want the sweet potato to be fork tender. Add maple syrup at the end if you wish!


soup season begins: apple squash
October 13, 2010, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Vegan Entrees | Tags: , , , ,


My dutch oven is here to stay. It is officially the time of year to make lots and lots of soup/stew/chili, what have you. Soups are the best. Why? Because you’ve always got leftovers, you can make soup out of practically anything you’ve got hiding in your pantry, and your tummy always feels warm and happy. Get me some homemade soup, a good loaf of crusty bread for dunking, and watch me curl up into a ball of cold weather happiness.

My first soup of the season was a savory black bean soup. I have every intention of posting the recipe once I make it again and get a few good photos, but until then let’s get started with a classic fall soup consisting of two fall staples: apples and butternut squash. I went on a fall foliage tour this weekend with my parents through west central Ohio, and then followed that up with a day long trip to Ohio’s Amish Country on Columbus Day. I’ll have more on that in another post, but these fall themed excursions left me with a big pile of apples & a hefty supply of squash.

I forgot since last fall how long it takes me to peel and cube a butternut, but I could definitely tell my bakery job is making my hands and forearms a lot stronger. Once I got through the butternut and peeling/coring/cubing 4 apples, I was so glad I was only 20 minutes away from soup. That’s the thing about soups and stews… unless I’m popping it in the crockpot early in the AM to be ready by dinner, I have trouble fussing over a recipe that takes over an hour to prepare. After a quick prep & 20-30 minutes in the dutch oven, I’m ready to be eating. This soup is no exception. I served this soup with a loaf of cranberry walnut crusty bread from Blackbird Baking Company (mmm,mmm) and the combo of apple, squash, cranberry, and walnut made me feel like Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka when she ate the 5 course meal gum. My senses were seriously under the impression that Thanksgiving dinner had come early this year. Don’t you love how food evokes memories?

Also, this recipe is so simple. Not too many ingredients, and relatively inexpensive ones at that.

apple butternut soup

1 large butternut squash, peeled & cubed (1”)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 TBS canola oil

4 large apples, peeled, cored, cubed (I used Honey Crisp)

4 cups vegetable stock

1 cup rice milk

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

sea salt to taste

In a large pot over medium heat, saute the onion in the oil until translucent. Add all the ingredients into the pot. Cover, bring to a boil, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until butternut is soft. Puree the soup through your food processor, with a handheld blender, or scoop out into your regular blender (thats what I did) and pour back into pot. Serve with crusty bread.

Once everything is diced and sliced, just dump it in the pot bring it to a boil & then lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes or until the butternut is soft.

Cranberry Orange Walnut Loaf
October 13, 2010, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Vegan Breakfast, Vegan Desserts, Vegan Tidbits | Tags: , , , , , ,

When I worked at Barnes & Noble in college I always got mildly giddy about the crisp, cool time of year where the cranberry orange scone would arrive in our bakery case. I wasn’t a self-proclaimed baker or vegetarian cook yet, and something about these flavors (even in their ready to thaw & bake form) ensnared my senses. I would plan our baking schedule in the cafe so that a pan of these scones would just so happen to finish in the oven as it was time for my lunch break to begin. The acidity of the orange, tartness of the cranberries. . . it was a match made in autumnal heaven.

So as early fall began to grace our Ohio doorstep, I came across a recipe for cranberry orange bread in Veganomicon and decided it was time to take on the flavor combo in my own kitchen. Since loaves like this often have walnuts in them, I thought what the heck and threw some of those in as well for that nutty texture.

I used real cranberries, as opposed to the sweetened/dried kind. If you aren’t much for the tartness of real cranberries, I would definitely go for the Craisin style. I loved how the orange zest baked into the loaf. I could see all of the flecks of orange as I cut into the loaf. Serve it up with some apple cider or black tea & watch When Harry Met Sally, immediately.

cranberry orange walnut loaf

1/2 cup soy milk

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar in the raw

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups APF

1+1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp all spice

1 TBS grated orange zest

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Combine soy milk, OJ, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and allspice. Mix with hand held blender until it is smooth. Fold in your zest, cranberries, and walnuts. Spoon into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, test with knife to ensure the center is done!


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