Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Stuff

My youngest, Morgan, decided she wanted to make Pecan Pie Truffles from the Well's Vegetarian Thanksgiving site.  They did taste delicious, but the chocolate dipping was a little harder than she anticipated.  While our truffles did TASTE delicious, they didn't look nearly as perfect as the ones pictured on the web site.     We did omit the bourbon because I'm cheap and bourbon is expensive and we wouldn't use the rest of it anyway.  We just added a little water and vanilla extract.  They were still yummy.  

We also made the Pumpkin Molasses Cookie Dough Balls from the Peas and Thank You website.  Love Mama Pea's reci-peas!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two Cranberries

I grew up with the canned cranberry jelly making its appearance at our Thanksgiving table, sliced in little rounds.  I had no idea what a real cranberry looked or tasted like until I was an adult.  Then my Mother made this recipe:

Cranberry Relish

1 package fresh cranberries (but stick them in the freezer at least the day before making this dish)
1 medium naval orange
1/2 - 2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp brandy (optional - brandy is not something I have on hand and it's too expensive to buy for a tablespoon, so I leave it out or either add a little bit of brandy or rum extract)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (also optional - we don't like it with nuts - we're nutty enough)

Coarsely chop cranberries in a food processor. Remove to a bowl. Take ends off the orange, cut into eighths, remove seeds, and process until chopped fine. Add to cranberries. Stir in remaining ingredients. This tastes better if made at least one day before serving.

My daughters love this, especially Brooke (my middle child) - she will eat it with a spoon!  My mother-in-law also adores this one.

The second one is my favorite.  When my Mother first made it, I was a little put off.  Apples and ONIONS?  Raisins and CELERY?  Are you feeling well, Mother Dear?  But I decided to try it.  And it is SO good.  Very different, but in an awesome way.  So now we have TWO cranberry dishes on our Thanksgiving and Christmas table - and neither one is shaped like a can.

Cranberry Chutney

4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups sugar (or less)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery

Place cranberries, raisins, sugar, spices, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce and simmer, 15 minutes or until berries pop. Add onion, apple, and celery; simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. SO good and very different.

Cranberry Chutney on the left, Cranberry Relish on the right.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Grilled Green Beans with Golden Almonds

I found this recipe online for Pan Roasted Green Beans with Golden Almonds.  It looked really good (and their picture is DEFINITELY better than mine), but I thought I could add more flavor to the recipe and I wanted to grill the green beans.  They also barely cooked their shallots and I caramelized and crisped mine.  Delicious!  

8 ounces green beans, trimmed
about 1 tbsp Pampered Chef Citrus Basil Rub or lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 cup blanched whole almonds, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil + more for marinating the green beans
1 large shallot, sliced thin
zest from 1 lemon

Add the cleaned, trimmed green beans to a shallow container (or even a Ziploc bag) with olive oil and Citrus Basil seasoning - I didn't measure the olive oil - it was probably somewhere around 1/2 cup.  Do this earlier in the day or even the day before.  When you are ready to grill the beans, drain them from the seasoned oil and grill until just cooked through with slight char marks.  You want them to still have a little crispness to them.  Place on a serving platter and keep warm.  

Meanwhile, toast the almonds in 3 tbsp olive oil until golden brown.  Remove from the oil and set aside.  Add shallots to the oil and cook, stirring frequently, until they are caramelized and slightly crispy.  Add almonds back to the pan and toss until heated through again.  Top green beans with the almond/shallot mixture.  Add lemon zest to the top.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vegan Apple and Sage "Sausage" Dressing

This is SOOO good!  I made it last year using Field Roast brand Italian sausage and my SIL (not vegan) immediately commented on how good it was, "...and I don't even usually LIKE Italian sausage!"  I knew I had a keeper on my hands!  I've adapted it to suit our tastes (as usual) and this is the result.

1 small loaf of fresh bread (this year I used a rustic Italian bread from Whole Foods), cubed and dried in the oven
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup diced celery
1 large onion, diced
2-3 links of Field Roast brand sausage (this year I used the sage variety), broken apart with your hands rather than in neat slices
1 large crisp apple, peeled, cored, and diced in larger chunks - you don't want it to be as small as the onions and celery
2/3 cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
2 cups vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray or use an empty wrapper from your Earth Balance margarine.

In a large bowl, melt margarine over medium heat.  Add celery and saute' for a minute or two.  Add the onions and saute' until soft.  Add the sausage, apple, and nuts.  Continue sauteing until the onions are translucent, the apples are barely cooked, and the hazelnuts are lightly toasted.

Remove from heat and pour over the bread mixture.  Toss together.

Add about half of the broth and stir.  Keep adding broth until the whole mixture is moistened to the consistency you like.  I prefer mine a little on the drier side as opposed to mushy.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes, basting during the last 10 minutes with a little more broth to ensure a crispy top.

Serve with Mushroom Gravy.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mushroom Gravy

I first made this mushroom gravy last year for Thanksgiving and also served a traditional turkey gravy for the meat eaters at my table.  However, the mushroom gravy was the first to disappear so this year I only made the mushroom gravy.  No turkey gravy at all.  Even still, I needed to make another batch for the leftovers, as it was gobbled up yet again and I had tripled the recipe!

Vegan Mushroom Gravy (doubled, which I usually have to do for my family of five)

4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
20 mushrooms, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 to 1 tsp poultry seasoning (or you could substitute whatever herbs you like - sage, thyme, etc)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste - throw some cayenne in there, too, while you are at it!

Heat oil until shimmering.  Saute' onions until clear; add garlic and saute' one minute more; add mushrooms and saute' until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.  Add soy milk and cook, stirring, until it is thick.  Add vegetable broth and seasonings.  Cook, stirring, until gravy is thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Butternut Squash Bisque

My middle child and oldest daughter is definitely a foodie and has been since she was tiny.  About six years ago when she was just 11 years old, Whole Foods opened up in a city near us.  We loved going, especially when they had samples.  One day we tasted a Butternut Squash and Crab bisque and Brooke instantly fell in love.  She decided that she wanted to make that for the family for Thanksgiving.  She had cooked before, but never something this "fancy" and with so many steps and definitely never for people outside our immediate family.  But she was excited.  We found this recipe online, which she followed to the letter, and the results turned out deliciously!  For many Thanksgivings, she has repeated this delicious soup.

This year, I asked if she'd make a vegan version for me.  She did and it was probably even better (to my memory) than the original.  So, here is (as much as we can figure) her adaptations.

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup dry sherry
1 cup Silk soy creamer
2 tbsp vegan margarine
3 shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
cayenne pepper to taste (we used about a heaping 1/4 tsp)
salt to taste

Add margarine to a large stock pot and melt over medium heat.  Add shallots and cook, stirring, until soft.  Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.  Do not let the shallots or garlic brown.  Add the sherry and cook on high until almost all of the liquid is reduced.  Add the butternut squash and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook on a fairly high heat until the butternut squash is soft, stirring often so it does not stick and adding more water if needed to keep the squash covered.

Puree in batches, being careful not to fill the blender too full or you will have a hot mess on your hands - literally.  Don't ask me how I know this.  Wash out the stock pot and return the puree to the now pristine pot. Add soy creamer, salt, and pepper and cook on low until heated through.  If your squash is not very sweet, you may need to add a little sugar, but we have never needed to do this.


Apple-Cranberry-Ginger Pie

I absolutely love the flavor of ginger.  I could suppose it comes from that being my name and all, but for many years I really did not like ginger in anything - didn't like gingerbread or Chinese foods with ginger.  It tasted like soap to me.  But over the years, something happened.  My taste buds changed and I decided ginger wasn't so bad after all.  And now I adore it, as does my daughter Brooke.  My Mother regularly sends care packages (since she's on the Left Coast and we are in the Deep South) and they almost always include crystallized ginger for Brooke and ginger peach tea for me.  And you can usually find fresh ginger in my fridge and even in my freezer (frozen into little ice cube sized portions of minced ginger).  So when my Mother included this pie recipe in with a care package, I knew it would be making an appearance for Thanksgiving.  It was SO good.  And so ENORMOUS!!!  And I have not one picture of it!  I'm a terrible blogger.  :::sniff:::

You can use premade crust for this pie if you wish, but a homemade crust is just so easy and tastes so much better.  Here's my recipe for a two-crust pie:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
6 tbsp cold Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, cut into small pieces
5-7 tbsp very cold water

I cheat and make mine in a food processor with a dough blade.  So easy.

Combine flour and salt in the food process with the dough blade in place and pulse once or twice to combine  (or in a large bowl and mix well).  Cut shortening and margarine into the flour by either pulsing the food processor blade or using a pastry blender or two forks.  Add water 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing just a time or two (or mixing with a fork) after each addition until the cough is just moist enough to form a ball.

Divide the dough into two equal portions; gather into two balls and flatten each to 1/2" thickness.  Cover; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth to about a 14" circle, about 1/8" thick, and carefully transfer to your pie dish.  Flute edges.  Place a round of waxed paper over dough and weight with beans or pie weights.  Par-bake the pie crust for about 5-7 minutes.  You don't want it to brown.  Remove from oven.


10 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (Granny Smiths are perfect)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
3/4 cup sugar (or less if you use a sweeter apple)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Stir all the ingredients together and pour into your prepared pie crust.  Actually "pour" is not the proper word. Mound might be.  This pie will be HUGE!  It will be the biggest apple pie you have ever made!  And it will be delicious!  Anyway....Roll the remaining pie dough for your top crust.  Arrange over the mountain of apples.  Trim the edges, leaving a 1" overhang.  Flute edges.  Cut a few slits in the top crust.  Bake until crust is golden  and filling is bubbling, about 30-40 minutes.  You will definitely want to put a large cookie sheet on the rack below this because it more than likely will bubble over.  Trust me on this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Recipe Thief

I must admit, there are a few recipes I make and don't mess with at all.  The first is Susan from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping.  It is to die for!  This actually could be a dessert! I absolutely love it.  I made it for the first time last year along with the traditional marshmallow topped one that was my Mama's holiday standby.  This one disappeared before Mama's!  I even had to reluctantly admit I liked it better!  So I highly recommend you go to her blog and check it out.  You will NOT be sorry!

The second recipe is Sunny Anderson's Crunchy Sweet Brussels Sprouts Salad.  I saw this recipe on TV while cleaning in the kitchen a few days before Thanksgiving last year and thought it would be a nice, fresh addition.  And I was right.  It is delicious!

A Vegan Cajun Thanksgiving

Okay, so the title is a bit misleading.  Our Thanksgiving table was not totally vegan, simply because I'm the only non-meat eater out of my husband's large family.  I do have one sister who is pescetarian, one who is vegan, and my dad is vegan.  That's out of two parents and nine siblings.  (Yes, I said nine.)  However, none of my family was at MY Thanksgiving :'^(  since they are all scattered from Oregon to Louisiana and many spots in between.  All of my in-laws are meat eaters.  However, since I host Thanksgiving, much of our dinner was vegan.  There was a turkey and a ham, but guess what was left over and not eaten? guessed it.  All the vegan sides and desserts were gobbled up.  Here's our menu:  

Turkey and Ham
Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque (with a portion made vegan for me - my daughter made this)
Vegan Mushroom Gravy
Mashed Potatoes (SIL)
Cornbread Dressing (MIL)
Vegan Apple and Sage "Sausage" Dressing
Carrots (SIL - vegan)
Grilled Green Beans with Golden Almonds (vegan)
Corn (duh - vegan) 
Vegan Sweet Crunchy Brussels Sprouts Salad
Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry Chutney and Raw Cranberry Relish (vegan)
French Bread (BIL - vegan)
Vegan Apple-Cranberry-Ginger Pie 
Vegan Pecan Pie Truffles
Turtle Cheesecake (I purposely didn't want to veganize this - I didn't want it to tempt me!)
Pecan Pie (MIL)
Vegan Pumpkin Cookies

I don't have a ton of photos because it's hard to take pictures with a pack of ravenous wolves lot of hungry guests who are ready to eat.  I do have a few and will include them with the recipes.  Otherwise, just trust us. It was delicious!  

We had a lovely Thanksgiving and I am so thankful for all my enormous family - in-laws included!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Falafel Pitas with Tomato Cucumber Salad

I do absolutely love Middle Eastern food.  I do love a good falafel, but sometimes good ones are hard to find.  In the Greek/Lebanese restaurants many times they are very dry.  I've tried making them at home once before, but that was a disaster and they completely fell apart while cooking.  So when I saw this recipe in Fine Cooking, I wanted to try again.  Another bonus to this recipe is that it is sauteed rather than deep fried, making it a healthier option.  

My littlest (and pickiest) baby girl helped me in the kitchen.  "Baby girl" is perhaps misleading - she is 15.  We had fun cooking together.  The bonus?  She announced (after eating two pitas) that this was the best vegan meal she had ever had.  Whoo hoo!  

Here's the original recipe from the website, but I doubled the recipe and those are the amounts given below.  I did not double the amount of oil in the recipe, though.   

***NOTE*** Since I used chickpeas that I had cooked and frozen (I do this with all my beans), I just thawed them and rinsed them off.  HOWEVER, the next time I cook chickpeas, I am going to slightly undercook some for falafel, as I think this would work a little better.  My mixture was a little wet and I needed to add about 1/4 cup more breadcrumbs.  

2-15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained or the equivalent of cooked, dried chickpeas 
7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 cup plain fine dry breadcrumbs (or more if needed)
3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (or an equivalent amount of diced Roma tomatoes)
1 large cucumber, seeds removed, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4" thick
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
8 pitas, warmed

Heat the oven to 425°F.  In a food processor, pulse chickpeas, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, cumin, coriander, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper into a chunky paste.  Add the onion and breadcrumbs and pulse until it starts to come together and you can form the mixture easily into a patty.  Add more breadcrumbs if you need to.  Form the mixture into 1/2" thick patties.  I used my large Pampered Chef scoop and it made 15 patties.  The scoop made quick work of this.  

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the patties, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, and cook until nicely browned, about 2 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more.  Transfer patties to a baking sheet.  Repeat with 2 tbsp more of oil (if needed) in the pan and brown the remaining patties.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until patties are heated through, about 5 minutes.  (I wrapped my pita rounds tightly in foil and put them in the oven a few minutes before I added the patties.)  

Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and cucumber with the lemon juice and 1 tbsp of oil and lemon juice; salt to taste.  

Split the warmed pitas and stuff with falafel and tomato-cucumber salad.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scrapbook Night

 Tonight I had a scrapbook class and needed to make something relatively simple for dinner, but also make a snack and dessert for my scrapbook class.

Our family loves Lebanese and Greek food.  Whenever we'd go to a restaurant, even before being vegan, I'd usually order a vegetarian plate.  I always had Mujaddara on my plate because I just loved it so much.  My family...not so much.  One day, just a couple of years ago, I decided to make it myself.  It was so much better than any I had ever had at a restaurant and, to my complete surprise, my family gobbled it up!  It is easy to make; it just requires a little baby-sitting.


1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp vegan margarine
1 tbsp olive oil

Melt the margarine and oil with a pinch of salt in a large skillet; when hot, add the onions.  Set heat on medium-low and stir occasionally until very soft, about 30 minutes.  Turn heat to medium high and keep cooking and stirring often until deeply browned and sweet, another 20 minutes or more.  Deglaze the pan with a splash of water.  Stir and set aside.

Lentils and Rice

3/4 cups brown or green lentils (not red or French)

1 cup long grain white rice
2 cardamom pods

Meanwhile, cook rice and lentils separately according to package directions, adding the cardamom pods to the rice and removing once the rice is cooked.

The lentils should be tender, but not mushy or soupy.  They should retain their shape.

Combine rice, lentils, half the caramelized onions, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and a splash of olive oil in a large pot or skillet.  Add about half a cup of water and heat everything together until fragrant, warm, and combined.

Turn into a serving dish.  Top with remaining caramelized onions.  You can also top with chopped fresh parsley and pine nuts if desired.

Rustic Apple Tart

This tasted much better than it looked.  I struggled with the pie crusts, though, and was reminded once again why I so prefer to make my own pie crusts rather than taking the easy way out and buying the frozen or refrigerated ones.  If you DO use a purchased pie crust, make sure you read the ingredients.  Some contain lard.  

2 pie crusts, one on top of the other on a large pizza stone and roll out over the edges of the pan 
6 large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced - I used a combination of Winesap and Virginia Gold
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 heaping tsp cinnamon (I used The Pampered Chef's Cinnamon Plus, which is probably like an apple pie spice with a little nutmeg, cloves, and allspice)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or more if your apples are tart)

Roll out dough over your pizza stone or other flat, heavy baking sheet, using a dusting of flour to keep it from sticking to the pan and the rolling pin.  You want the dough circle to be about 16-18" in diameter or so.  Please don't measure it, though.  Just guess.  I'm not that particular.  Combine apple slice and remaining ingredients.  Mound in the center of the dough and fold the edges of the dough up over the apples.  You just want it to keep in the juices.  You can brush the exposed crust with your favorite non-dairy milk and a sprinkling of sugar if you wish.  Cover the exposed apples loosely with a circle of foil that you have brushed with melted margarine or spritzed with a little nonstick spray.  This prevents your apples from drying out and getting to brown.  You can remove this for the last 15-20 minutes of baking time.  Bake at 350° for about 50-60 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned.  

Please forgive my ugly crust.  Remember I said I had issues with the premade crusts.  I had a terrible time with it breaking and tearing.  I really do prefer making my own crust.  So next time I'll include my homemade pie crust recipe.  It really is easy to do.  I don't know why I thought the purchased ones would save time.  The tart may have looked pretty rough (although it is a "rustic" apple tart - rustic usually means not pretty), it tasted delicious.  Not cloyingly sweet, but the natural sweetness and the delicious flavor of the Virginia Gold apples really shined through.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Moroccan Spiced Tofu with Couscous

This is probably one of my favorite meals - after my Vegan Alfredo, of course.  It was not originally a vegan dish.  It came from The Pampered Chef "29 Minutes to Dinner, Vol. 2" cookbook.  But it was SO easy to veganize!  

For the couscous:  

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (or any kind of nut you like - I was out of almonds tonight, so I subbed toasted chopped hazelnuts and I think I like it even better than the almonds)
2 cups high quality vegetable broth
1 tbsp Pampered Chef's Moroccan Rub (if you want to make your own, you can click HERE)
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots (or any other dried fruit you might like - we frequently substitute dried cherries)
1/3 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1 1/3 cups uncooked Israeli couscous (this is different from the tiny couscous - it may also be called pearled couscous)

Combine broth and rub in a large microwave safe cooker (or in a saucepan on the stove).  Microwave, covered, on HIGH for 2-3 minutes or until the broth comes to a boil.  Add chopped apricots and cilantro to the broth; stir.  Microwave, covered, on HIGH for 5-7 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Stir in nuts and cilantro.  

For the tofu:

1 package extra firm tofu, sliced into 6 slices, drained and pressed to remove excess moisture
1-2 tbsp Moroccan Rub
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp apricot preserves, melted
vegetable oil or olive oil

Add a drizzle of oil to a skillet or brush a grill pan with oil and heat over medium-high.  Season the tofu slices with the rub and salt; pat or rub the seasonings into the tofu.  Add tofu to the pan and cook until browned and crisp on the outside, turning once.  Transfer tofu to a serving dish; brush with melted preserves.  Serve with couscous.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spanish-Style Stuffed Peppers

This has been a family favorite recipe for many years.  It was a vegetarian dish, not vegan, but with the simple elimination of the cheese from the dish and just adding cheese to the top for my family, I can have a vegan option.  You can add shredded vegan cheese to this if you'd like.  

We have to triple this recipe for our family.  The original recipe (that I'll post here) serves four.  Without my adult son (who rarely ever eats with us), we are four.  But as I said, we have to triple the recipe.  Yes, they like it that much.  

1 pkg yellow saffron rice
2 medium red bell peppers
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced (or you could use a poblano pepper if you like them - I don't)
1 green onion with top, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
3/4 cup shredded vegan Mexican cheese blend, divided (optional)
2 tbsp water

Prepare rice according to the package directions.  We use this kind:

Check the ingredients.  Not all packages are vegan.  The one that our Target carries has chicken bouillon in the mix.  You can also make your own saffron rice if you prefer not to use a packaged product.  

As the rice cooks, prepare the bell peppers.  Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stem.  In a large skillet, add the 2 tbsp water and place the peppers in the skillet; cover tightly with a lid and steam on medium to medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or until the peppers are crisp-tender.  Remove them from the skillet.  Pat them dry and set aside.  You'll use this skillet again at the end.  Put the lid back on it and set it aside.  

In a separate skillet, heat oil; add bell pepper and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and garlic and cook for a minute or two more.  Add green onion and half of the cilantro.  Stir and cook just until the green onion starts to soften slightly, another minute or two.  

Stir vegetable mixture into the rice.  If you are using cheese, add 1/2 a cup.  Place bell peppers cut side up into the skillet where you steamed them originally.  Spoon rice mixture evenly into each pepper.  Top with remaining cheese (if using).  Add a little more water to the skillet if it has evaporated - you don't need much.  Cover with a lid and heat over medium-low for about 3-5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted.  (If you aren't using cheese, you can skip this step).  Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.  

Serves 4.  (Or at my house, one and a half ravishing wolves - I mean kids.)  

I have served this as a side dish for company with other Mexican/Spanish/Tex-Mex dishes.  After cooking them, I do cut them in half again for a smaller portion.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Vegan Enchiladas

These were a special request from my non-vegan (but heavily veggie) 17-year-old daughter for her family birthday party.  I've made them twice now and they are delicious!  It is Ayinde Howell's recipe featured in the New York Times made a little healthier.  When I first made them, I figured the calories and came up with 900 per serving!  Yikes!  When I made them the second time, I was able to reduce that to about 500.  Not "diet food" but definitely better!!!  

What I will do next time is actually DOUBLE the sauce recipe.  That will increase the calories slightly, but I'm going to keep the oil at the same amount and see how that does.  The calorie increase will be kept at a minimum that way.  

Vegan Enchiladas

For the sauce:

1 tbsp vegetable oil (I use olive or grapeseed)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded (if you're chicken) and diced
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
8 oz tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
sea salt to taste

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat oil until shimmering.  Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno pepper.  Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add seasoning.  Add water and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.  Cook on medium, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened.  

For the filling:  

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used one - if you see you need more, you can add another)
1 pound firm tofu, drained and loosely crumbled (I prefer Wildwood's sprouted tofu in extra firm or super firm)
10-12 flour or corn tortillas (we don't like corn, so we use flour or a mixed grain tortilla)
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded (if you're scared) and diced
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp Pampered Chef Southwest Seasoning (or you could sub 1 1/2 tbsp cumin and 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder)
2 tbsp soy sauce
sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°.  In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat oil until shimmering.  Add crumbled tofu and seasoning and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and somewhat crispy and any liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.  

Add 2/3 of the onion and half of the bell pepper.  Add garlic and jalapeno.  Cook about 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add cilantro and soy sauce.  Mix well.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  

While the tofu mixture is cooking, wrap the tortillas tightly in foil and place them in the oven for about 10 minutes to warm.  Keep them wrapped until you are ready to assemble the dish.  

To assemble, in a shallow casserole dish large enough to hold the enchiladas in one layer, add about 1/3 of the sauce to coat the bottom of the dish.  Unwrap the hot tortillas and spread one side with the sauce, about a tablespoon.  Add a few spoons of the filling and roll the tortilla tightly.  Place seam side down in the casserole dish over the sauce.  Repeat with the remaining filling.  Pour remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining onion and bell pepper.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Garnish with chopped green onions and black olives, if desired.  

See.  Mine needed to be just a wee bit more "saucy."  But they were SO good!  The birthday dinner was at my in-laws and was one vegan dish besides all the meaty tacos and fajitas.  I'm the only vegan in our family.  But even still, we only brought home one for Brooke's lunch the next day.  The rest were devoured!