Baked Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

grilledcheeseYou guys. I discovered a tip for making grilled cheese that will blow your mind.

Are you ready?

You can bake it in the oven. And … it turns out better than cooking it in a skillet!

A week or so ago, I had whipped up a pot of tomato soup and wanted grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it. I typically use my cast iron skillet to make each sandwich one by one, but I was looking for a way to make multiple sandwiches at once (we have a big appetite). Apparently, other people have wondered the same thing and I found a recipe online for baked grilled cheese sandwiches.

All you have to do is preheat your oven to 450 degrees. From there, butter one side of your bread (I use Earth Balance), throw your cheese in the middle (Daiya slices work perfectly), and bake on one side for 6 minutes, then flip to the other side and bake for 4 to 6 minutes. And, voila! You can make as many as your sheet pan will hold at one time.

It’s the little things …

Recipe: Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese

Balsamic Brussels Sprout Grilled Cheese

Brussels sprouts seem to be the “it” vegetable, and for good reason. Gone are the days of mushy, bland, boiled Brussels, and in are the delicious, caramelized versions that your mom certainly didn’t make. And as much as I love just tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and then baking, it’s nice to come across a recipe that takes them to whole different level. Such is the case with the Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese on How Sweet It Is. I knew as soon as I saw the pictures that I had to try to make a vegan version, which wasn’t that difficult to do.

For my version, I used a regular French-style baguette, which worked out great, but the next time I make it (and there will be a next time because the sandwiches were so delicious!), I do want to use a multigrain bread as in the original recipe. Because I did use a baguette, I put the slices until the broiler as open-faced sandwiches to help melt the cheese. For the cheese, I used Daiya Mozzarella Shreds because I happened to have some on hand, but there is a Havarti-style wedge that would work as well.

The balsamic reduction really makes the sandwich, adding a nice sweet and tangy touch to the Brussels. (And if you have any extra left over, it’s wonderful drizzled over strawberries or a seasonal fruit.)

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 pound brussels sprouts, stems removed and chopped or shredded
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 oz. Daiya Mozzarella Shreds
1 French baguette, sliced into four equal parts and sliced long

Directions

To make the balsamic reduction, add 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. The fumes from this will be pretty strong, so you might want to open a window or turn on a fan, and, whatever you do, don’t stand directly over it. After about 8 to 10 minutes of whisking, the vinegar should have reduced to about half the amount and should coat the back of spoon. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet oven medium heat and add olive oil. Toss in the shredded Brussels sprouts, garlic, and salt and pepper. Cook down for about 5 minutes or until golden and wilted. Set aside.

Turn on the broiler. Place your baguette slices on a baking sheet or a cast iron skillet, sliced sides up. Top with the Brussels sprouts and drizzle with the vinegar reduction.

Balsamic Brussels Sprouts Open Faced

Top with the Daiya shreds and place under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes and check constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn. Press the slices together to form a sandwiches. It’s a bit messy, but so, so good.

Enjoy!

Yes, It’s Vegan: Pillsbury Artisan Pizza Crust

Veggie PIzza

A couple of months ago, we were invited over to our friends’ house for dinner. They made these wonderful little vegan pizzas on a thin, whole-wheat crust. I thought for sure that the crust was homemade, but I was surprised to learn that it was actually Pillsbury’s Artisan Pizza Crust.

Now, flash forward to this past weekend and we finally remembered to pick some up from the grocery to make at home. Our friends had divided the dough into smaller pizzas, which made for a thinner, crispier crust. We decided to just leave the crust as-is, which made for a thicker, chewier crust. We topped ours with a simple tomato sauce, Daiya Mozzarella Cheese, green olives, cremini muchrooms, onion and mixed greens.

The final result was way better and way cheaper than any kind of vegan pizza we could get around town (sadly, Louisville has a lack of vegan pizza options unless you want to just get it without cheese). And it took about 20 minutes total to make, which is less time than it would take to pick up a pizza or have it delivered. I still love to make homemade pizza dough, but this is a great option if you don’t have the time to spend waiting for the dough to rise.

Recipe: 30-Minute Chili

I’m all for those chili recipes that require all-day simmering and layers upon layers of special seasonings. But when I’m not in the mood to wait around, I make this quick and easy chili recipe that only takes about 30 minutes. It’s a great base chili recipe that you can easily build upon for more unique flavor.

The picture you see above was a scoop from the bottom of the pot, so you can’t really see the chunks of green pepper and onion, but they’re there. I like to serve mine with Daiya cheddar shreds, diced white onion and oyster crackers.

Of course, with most soups, it tastes better the next day, but it’s pretty good right away, too.

30-Minute Chili

Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green peppers, diced
2 cups TVP
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
3 15 oz. cans of kidney beans
5 cups tomato juice
3 cups water
2 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
1/2 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Drizzle olive oil into a pot over medium heat. Throw in the diced onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Throw in the garlic and green pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the TVP and stir. Add the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato juice, water and seasonings. Bring to a low boil and then turn the heat to medium-low to simmer for 25 minutes. Serve with cheese, onion and crackers.

Enjoy!

Split Pea and Apple Soup

I don’t know if I’m in the minority here or not, but I love split pea soup. And while the picture doesn’t do it justice, this Split Pea with Apple Soup from “The Vegan Slow Cooker” is quickly becoming one of my favorite versions. For one, it’s made in a crockpot, and two, it packs a ton of flavor for only having a few simple and healthy ingredients. The apples add just a touch of sweetness and work so well with the split peas. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar on top adds another level of flavor to the soup.

What you see in the picture was my lunch today. I combined the soup with a grilled cheese (Daiya) and apple sandwich. The perfect meal for a rainy, fall day.

The Traveling Vegan

As I’m sure you all know, maintaining a vegan diet can be quite a challenge when on a road trip and while staying in another city — especially if that city doesn’t have ready access to the ingredients you’re used to using. Thankfully, though, with a little planning (and a large cooler), you don’t have to sacrifice your diet to stay full while away from home.

My husband and I went on a small road trip this past weekend. The trip itself wasn’t that long, but we were going to be gone for two nights. We had access to a kitchen, but I really didn’t want to dirty up more dishes than necessary. We also didn’t want to spend the money on meals that were elaborate. Thankfully, with the help of some prepared foods, we were able eat fairly healthfully and cheaply. While not exactly enlightening, I thought I’d share a few tips and meal ideas that we used for eating vegan on the road:

Breakfast: Homemade muffins or banana bread are perfect because they travel well and last a while. If you don’t have the extra time to bake, bagels or cereal are a great standby.

Lunch: Again, homemade is always better, but canned soups, along with Daiya cheese, crackers and sliced fruit are always a good way to go. If you need to eat while on the road, pasta salad, tabouli and hummus, or chickpea salad sandwiches are great options.

Dinner: Casseroles that you make ahead of time are my favorite because all you have to do is heat it up when you get to your destination. Lasagna works in the same way. But if you do have to cook, basic spaghetti is quick and can easily be rounded out by mixed salad greens and freezer rolls. Veggie burgers and oven fries work well here, too.

Snacks: Cliff bars, nuts, dried fruit, bananas, homemade cookies — all pack well and will last from the beginning of the trip to the end.

The one thing we’re bad about doing is not planning for the trip back. This happened when we took a road trip to Florida last fall. That’s when we usually hit up Taco Bell for a Fresco Bean Burrito or a Seven Layer without cheese or sour cream. It’s not great for you, but it’s vegan.

What meals to you like to take with you on the road? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Review: Daiya Cheddar Wedge

If I had a dime for every person who, when they find out I’m vegan, says, “I could never give up cheese!” Let’s just say this blog would look a whole lot better than it does. The great thing about being vegan today is that you don’t have to “give up” anything; you just have to find the right products to replace the ones that you currently use.

I FINALLY got my hands on the new Daiya Cheddar wedges that just hit the market. You would have thought I won the lottery when I spotted them on the shelf. I promise no one got hurt, but I do think I scared a few people.

My first impression was that the package is really small for the nearly $5 price tag. But when I opened the package, I found that the block of cheese is the same size, if not bigger, than a block of the fancy cow’s milk cheese you see at Whole Foods. So, really, the price isn’t so bad.

Reviews of the cheese had led me to believe that it wasn’t very firm, but I found just the opposite to be true when I cut a few slices. Is it as firm as a traditional block of cheddar? No. But it sliced easily and held its shape.

I’ve tried many other brands of block-style vegan cheese and they were all pretty gross. My biggest worry when I heard about the wedges was that they wouldn’t taste very good cold. And I was relieved to find that not to be true. The cheddar had a nice tang to it that worked really well by itself, or with crackers and slices of apple. And I was surprised by how rich it was; a few small slices go a long way with plate of fruit and crackers.

This product certainly gives me more options for my lunch dilemma. I can’t wait to try the other varieties.

Up next this week? I’m making Japanese-inspired hot dogs with wasabi fries, as featured in the latest issue of VegNews. I’m also making a pot pie using my slow cooker. I’ll have posts on those later in the week.

I hope you all are well!

Vegan Weekly Roundup

Hey there! I hope you all had a great week. This was yet another week of cheap and easy meals for us that weren’t really blog-worthy, so I apologize for the lack of posts. So, in lieu of any food posts and pics, I thought I’d offer a roundup of some of the vegan-related posts that piqued my interest this week.

Much-needed lunch ideas.

Interview with Bryant Terry, author of “Vegan Soul Kitchen” and “The Inspired Vegan.”

Helpful food storage and safety tips.

A review of the new Daiya Wedges (I haven’t seen them in Louisville yet).

A video recipe for Vietnamese Caramel Cooked Tofu. Yum.

A new vegan-friendly lunch spot if you’re in or around Louisville. Can’t wait to try it.

My idea of the perfect staycation.

Or if you want to get away, a vegan lodge in Grenada.

Weekend Tofu and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

If you’re looking for a good, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast, this dish is for you. It’s the first recipe I’ve made from the newest cookbook in my collection, “The Vegan Slow Cooker,” and it was delicious. Hash browns are layered in the bottom of the crockpot, vegan cheddar (I used Daiya) was layered on top of that, and then a mixture of silken tofu and spices is added to the top. Paprika and freshly ground pepper top it off before it cooks for two hours in your slow cooker. The tofu mixture firms up nicely to the consistency of scrambled eggs.

I wasn’t sure how flavorful it would be, but the final result packs a ton of it. Still, while the recipe is great on its own, the next time I make it, I’m going to add onions and green peppers to bulk it up and add extra texture and flavor. We added a few drops of hot sauce to give it a kick.

Next up? Hungarian Mushroom Soup. Can’t wait.

Vegan Food Happenings

Sorry for the lack of posts; it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the meals we’ve had recently.

Our meals have mostly consisted of finding ways to use up all the greens we’ve been getting with our CSA pickups. We’ve gotten a couple of bunches of purple kale, which is really, really good. We also got some sugar snap peas that are awesome in stir-fry.

Also, to my photographer friends out there: Can you please tell me why my pictures are blurry in the middle? I can’t figure it out.

I hope everyone is well!

Banana Biscuits from “Vegan Diner”

Mushroom and Onion Pizza

Beans, Greens and Cornbread Bowl

Mix-and-Match Stir-fry