My Favorite Winter Soup: French Lentil with Tarragon and Thyme (and a Side of Cornbread)

French Lentil Soup

Of all the recipes I’ve made from “Veganomicon” (and there are still a ton that I haven’t made), I’ve probably made this French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme the most. (You can find the recipe here.) The soup comes together really quickly; just chop the onion and carrots and throw it all into a pot to simmer. I like to serve mine with crumbled cornbread on top, making it a hearty and filling meal for a cold winter day.

Enjoy!

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Vegan Round-up: Burritos, Meal Planning and Smoked Buns

Caffe LatteI haven’t exactly been living up to my New Year’s resolution of blogging more, have I? Excuses, I have them. But you don’t want to hear those. I hope the New Year is treating you well. Here are a few things I found on the Web to send you off into the weekend. I hope all is well!

I’m making these delicious-looking burritos for our lunches next week.

Where did Vegan Yum Yum go?

I’m curious about Luminous Vegans’ experience with Well Vegan, a vegan meal-planning site. (I still want to make this site more about meal-planning.)

The New York Times has some great recipes if your New Year’s resolution was to go vegan.

Smoked Tofu Buns? Um, yes, please.

Here’s another new vegan cookbook I’d like to add to my collection. Too many to choose from nowadays!

Have you heard? David Bowie is putting out a new album! Here’s the first single (hopefully it won’t get taken down):

Have a great weekend!

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!

Sunday Brunch: Crockpot Hashbrown Casserole, Whole Wheat Biscuits and White Bean Gravy

Sunday Brunch

More often than not, I end up making pancakes on the weekend, not that there is anything wrong with that. But we were both craving something a bit more savory on Sunday. I’ve made this wonderful Weekend Tofu and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole from “The Vegan Slow Cooker” before. (Though the book has tons of great recipes, it’s worth buying just for the casserole.) I’ve also made these Herbed Whole Wheat Drop Biscuits from “Vegan Brunch” before, too.

My usual go-to gravy is a simple white gravy, but it’s not exactly healthy. So as I was looking through “Vegan Brunch,” I decided to try out her Navy Bean Gravy, but I substituted cannellini beans for the navy beans. And, wow, I think this might be my new go-to gravy. The picture you see above was taken the day after I made the gravy, so it had thickened considerably, but right off the stovetop it was a wonderfully creamy brown gravy that worked really well with the herb biscuits. And while it still has white flour in it, the beans add more nutritional value than a typical white or brown gravy.

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: Sweet Potato Muffins with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

Okay, I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew this week. I know I owe you guys some recipes from our Thanksgiving meal. I started an online class on Monday that is offered through an awesome site called Coursera. Have you heard about it? It offers free online courses from top universities. For example, I’m taking the Think Again: How to Reason and Argue class, which is taught by two professors especially for Coursera students — one professor is from Duke University and the other from University of North Caroline Chapel Hill. My husband is taking the Intro to Astronomy course, which is also taught by a professor from Duke University.

Anyway, there are tons of courses available if you’re into continuing education — especially free continuing education. (I promise I’m not getting paid by Coursera — I’m just a nerd when it comes to these things.) But as fun as the class has been, it’s thrown a wrench into my blogging schedule, which was already sporadic at best.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a recipe that I adapted from “Big Vegan” for sweet potato muffins. The recipe is perfect for any sweet potatoes that you didn’t use from Thanksgiving. These little guys are hearty and delicious — the perfect breakfast for a cool fall morning.

Sweet Potato Muffins with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
Makes 12

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil spray
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegan sugar
1 1/4 cups peeled, cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
12 tablespoons unsweetened rice milk (soy or almond will do)
1/2 canola oil
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.

In a food processor or blender, combine sugar, sweet potatoes, milk, oil and ground flax seeds and blend until smooth and creamy. Add to your flour mixture and combine, being careful not to overmix. Add the cranberries and fold them into the batter.

Fill your muffin liners to the top and top with the chopped walnuts. Spray the tops lightly with the vegetable spray so that the walnuts do not burn.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (my oven runs hot), or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Vegan Thanksgiving 3.0: The Food

I can’t believe Thanksgiving has already come and gone. I hope you all had a good one! We decided to make our vegan Thanksgiving spread yesterday since we had family obligations all day on Thursday. I got a little bit of a late start yesterday, but it came together pretty quickly and turned out really well. I’d say, it took me about 3 hours total to make everything, and that’s with a crappy oven and hardly any counter space (one day I will have a new-ish, more spacious kitchen … one day).

While I still opted for a traditional spread this year, I did make a few changes from last year. For example, instead of making Sweet Potato Balls, I just made simple roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. Not only did it cut down on time, but the vegetables were a nice change in texture. I also changed up my Green Bean Casserole recipe from last year, and for the better.

But one major change from the past couple of years was that I made my own vegetable stock, and, wow, what a difference in flavor. I used the Simple Stock recipe from “Vegan Soul Kitchen,” and made it on Wednesday evening. (You can find the recipe here.) I poured the finished batch into large pitcher so it was ready to add to my dishes when needed. Prior to this, I had never made my own stock before, but I was so surprised at how easy (and cheap) it really is; I highly recommend it.

The Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes from “Vegan Soul Kitchen” were just as good as I remembered them. I had planned on making a mushroom gravy recipe, also from the same cookbook, but I ran out of mushrooms between the stock and the green beans. Instead, I just made a simple brown gravy that actually turned out really well.

I’ll post recipes for my gravy, along with my Green Bean Casserole, and Sage, Apple and Carrot Stuffing soon. I’ll also post dessert pictures.

I know it’s a little late, but I am so thankful for all of you coming to and reading my blog!

Vegan Thanksgiving 3.0: The Menu

Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been excited for Thanksgiving for a few weeks now (I clearly need to find a hobby). But as excited as I’ve been, I’ve had a hard time getting my act together in terms of finalizing a menu and shopping for food. I think I’ve been too preoccupied by other cooking-related events leading up to Thanksgiving: We attended a Thanksgiving potluck with friends this past weekend, and I’ve got to make a couple of dishes for a meal my brother is hosting on Thanksgiving Day (this is why we’re pushing our vegan meal to Friday).

Last night, however, we finally made it to the grocery, list and menu in hand. After perusing the Web to find new recipes, I’ve decided to stick with what I know and have settled on a menu that is actually much simpler than what I’ve made in the past. I’m not making my Sweet Potato Balls since I made them for the potluck. In its place, I’m roasting butternut squash. And I’m using some help again for my stuffing. Overall, it’s going to be less fussy this year — I hope.

Here’s my finalized menu. I will post pictures and recipes (more detailed than last year) this weekend. I hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving with lots of love and good food!

Dinner:

Green Bean Casserole
Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts
Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes (from “Vegan Soul Kitchen“)
Sage, Apple and Carrot Stuffing
Mushroom Gravy
Tofurky
Rolls
Cranberry Sauce (in a can, of course!)

Dessert:

Pumpkin Roll (from “Sweet Vegan“)

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Tart

Our downstairs neighbors and friends have a Thanksgiving potluck every year, which is always a lot of fun. This year, I decided to bring my family’s Sweet Potato Balls in vegan form, which are practically a dessert. I also decided to bring this Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Tart from “Vegan Pie In The Sky.” The tart is incredibly easy to make; you just need to allow a few hours to make the crust and then let the whole thing set up in the fridge. The authors, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, warn in the recipe’s introduction that the tart is extremely rich, and, man, they weren’t joking. Granted I was really full from dinner, but I could not finish my slice even though it was really, really delicious.

Also, on a side note, because of family obligations, we’ve decided to have our vegan Thanksgiving feast on Friday, but I will post pictures from the meal soon after. I hope you all are well!

Vegan Fish Sandwich and Coleslaw

I made these delicious little fish filets for the first time a few years ago. ( You can find the recipe here.) Yes, making the filets does involve frying in oil, but don’t be scared. I usually don’t have a lot of luck frying food, but these have turned out each and every time I’ve made them. The key is to make sure you press the tofu for at least an hour, and make sure you put enough oil in the skillet. I always use my cast iron skillet and fill it about a quarter of an inch deep with canola oil. Test the temperature of the oil by sprinkling a few panko crumbs in there. If it sizzles, it’s ready to go.

I served my fish filets on rye bread with a dollop of homemade tartar sauce (Vegenaise, dill, pickle relish) and mixed greens. On the side, I served a baked sweet potato and homemade coleslaw.

I hope you all are well!