Taco Pasta

Yesterday evening while waiting for my son to wake up from his nap, I was browsing on Pinterest. I came across this pin for Taco Pasta. Noodles with a Mexican-style meat sauce. It looked so good and I hadn’t had an actual home cooked dinner since my mom left a week ago. So I decided to quickly make a vegan version of it before Jack woke up.

I did not use a taco seasoning packet like in the original recipe. I never buy spice packets like that, too high in sodium and you never know what else in there exactly. Just make your own spice blend with your own fresh spices.

Taco Pasta
5 oz Penne 
Olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped fine 
1 clove if garlic, minced 
1 package of vegan ground beef (I used Tofurky Ground Beef Style
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano 
1/2 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp chili powder 
1 cup salsa (I used pico de gallo) 
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese ( I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1/2 cup vegan sour cream 
Vegan cheddar cheese, optional 
Cook the pasta according to the direction on the package. 
While that cooks, add a little olive oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat. 
Add the onions and sauté until soft. 
Add the garlic and the ground “beef”. Cook until the “beef” is slightly browned. 
Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Cook until fragrant.
Turn the heat to low. Add the salsa, cream cheese, and sour cream. Mix well and cook until heated through. 
Once the pasta is ready, drain and return to the pot. 
Add the “meat” sauce to the pasta and stir together well. 
Serve it up and add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top if you wish.

Michael was really happy to have a home cooked meal and so was I. This was so filling and tasty after several says of frozen food and sandwiches. I love the tang from the sour cream.

Black Bean Burgers

My best friend brought over a ton of black beans—like two Costco cases. So I decided to make some black bean burgers! This is a pretty easy recipe that can be adapted to your own tastes. Unfortunately, I am 31 weeks pregnant and suffering from severe heartburn so these are a very basic recipe. You can add in more spices, grated veggies, and even some peppers. But these still came out delicious and very satisfying.  I also baked these, rather than pan fry them like most other recipes do. If you aren’t suffering from horrible heartburn or counting calories, you can absolutely fry them in a bit of olive or coconut oil.

Did I mentioned these freeze well too? Just wrap them individually in wax paper and store in a freezer bag for up to 2 months.

This recipes makes 4 large or 8 small patties.

Black Bean Burgers
2 cans (30 oz) organic black beans
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 tbs flaxseed
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/4 tps salt
1 tps cumin
1 tps smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder
Water, as needed
Hamburger buns (I used potato buns)
Condiments and veggies

In a large bowl, mix everything together except the buns and condiments/veggies. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes. This allows the oatmeal to puff up and absorb some of the liquid from the beans. If it is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time. It should be a little gooey, but still hold a bit of shape.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Shape the black bean mixture into patties. I suggest doing this on the baking sheet with a spoon because the mixture can be very sticky.  I made 4 large patties, but you can always make smaller ones.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn up the oven to broil. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let them cool for minute or two.

Toast your buns, pop on your burger, and top with your favorite condiments.

I had to keep my condiments simple. Just romaine lettuce, stone ground mustard, and a bit of ketchup. However, I could have loved some vegan pepper jack cheese, Veganaise with some chipotle mixed in, tomatoes, and pickles. And try making my Homemade French Fries or my Sunchoke Fries as a tasty side dish.

Deep Dish Pizza

Do you know how to make a food blogger very happy? Buy her a new stove!!!!

As you can see from the rust ring, the old
stove hadn’t been moved in over 60 years.

As I mentioned before, we moved into Michael’s grandparent’s old house and inherited all the old stuff that came with it. Including the original stove from the the 50s. It’s a nice stove and still works, but as Michael put it, “People have landed on the moon since this stove was made.” There was a good sale on end of the year clearance stuff at a local appliance store so we checked it out.

We got a GE 30″ Free-Standing Gas Convection Range, for around 45% off. It was delivered Friday and I was so excited! Finally burners that don’t need a lighter to light! A stove with a digital display and a working timer!

So for our inaugural meal, I decided to make a vegan deep dish pizza. I used a lot Daiya mozzarella, Tofurky Italian sausage, and lot of veggies. I made it in a 9×9 casserole pan since I don’t have a deep dish pan (and couldn’t find my cake pan). I like the square shape, the corner pieces had a crunchier crust.

Deep Dish Pizza
1 red onion, diced
1 cup white mushrooms, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 meatless Italian sausage, diced (I used Tofurky)
1 ball of pizza dough (try my recipe)
1 cup of pizza sauce
1/4 cup cilantro leafs optional
1 cup fresh Spinach
1 cup dairy-free mozzarella cheese ( I used Daiya)
Red pepper flakes, optional

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree.

Saute the red onions in a little olive oil until they soften.

Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release their water.

Add the bell peppers. Cook until all the veggies are soft and slightly golden. Set the veggies aside.

Lightly brown the diced Italian sausage, set aside when done.

Lightly oil your baking pan.

Roll the pizza dough the shape of our pan (big enough to have it go at least half way up the sides too) and about 1/8 inch thick.

Place the dough in the pan and work it in gentle so it covers the bottom and the sides.

Spoon half the pizza sauce on to the dough.

Sprinkle on the cilantro, if using (it’s Michael loves it on everything).

Place the spinach in an even layer on top.

Now evenly spread the veggie mixture.

Then the diced sausage.

Pour on the rest of the sauce.

Lastly, sprinkle on the cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble.

Turn the oven to broil and bake for 5 more minutes or so, until the cheese starts to get slightly golden (remember that vegan cheese does not get all bubbly, it will just burn).

Let this cool for a few minutes before you cut, it will be so much easier and stay in one piece.

Sprinkle with a little more cilantro and red peppers flakes if desired.

It’s not quite like an authentic Chicago deep dish, but that is probably for the best. As good as they are, they are insanely unhealthy. Michael pretty much inhaled this pizza, didn’t care that it was vegan at all. He was sad when I told him we finished the whole pan!

This was a great inaugural dish for my new stove. Can’t wait to make more delicious vegan food with it!

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili

In celebration of the Giants making it to the World Series, I told Michael I would make him whatever he wanted to eat during the game. He eagerly requested I make a version of Wienerschnitzel‘s chili cheese dog and chili cheese fries. So I did some research on the web and found a copy cat recipe. I made a few small changes, and used soy protein crumbles instead of ground beef for mine. This recipe is proof that vegans don’t just eat boring salads!

This make 4 servings of chili, enough for chili cheese fries and a chili dog for two people.

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili
1/2 of tube of Lightlife Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
3 cups of water
1/8 cup corn starch
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs tomato paste
4 tbs chili powder
5 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbs white vinegar2

In a skillet over medium heat, crumble up and brown the ground beef.

In a small bowl, whisk together the water, corn starch, flour, and tomato paste.

Add to the browned ground beef crumbles.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the sauce is at desired thickness.

Put the chili on some fries and a hot dog—or anything else you want! And don’t forget to add a little vegan cheese too.

This was soooo good. And WAY healthier than the real stuff.

Sloppy Joes

This morning that commercial for an “unsloppy joe” recipe came on. Michael and I both turned to each other said we wanted sloppy joes for dinner.

Don’t bother with pre made sauces in a can. Sloppy joes are just as easy to make on your own. It is really just tomato paste and seasoning. I used Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style in place of beef. And I added bell peppers for more nutrition.
This makes about 4 sandwiches.
Sloppy Joes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tbs agave
1 and 1/4 cup  water
Salt and pepper to taste
Buns or Rolls
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Saute the chopped onion and bell peppers until tender.
Add the jalapeños and “ground beef”.  Cook until heated through.
Add the tomato paste, agave and seasonings. Mix together well.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens slightly.
Serve on the rolls or buns.
I made coleslaw with a light vinaigrette as a side dish. This was exactly what we wanted, so good!

Go Ducks: Yell-O and Green Nachos

For the past 6 years of my life, every Saturday from September to December is taken over by Oregon Duck football. I am proud graduate University of Oregon and needless to say, I bleed green and yellow. I loved going to the games with my sorority sisters and yelling “O” until we went hoarse. I have sadly had to spend the past seasons and this one cheering from Hawaii. But just because I am in the middle of  the Pacific doesn’t mean I don’t get all ducked-out. I either go to a local sports bar or watch from home, but regardless I have my jersey on and shout like a maniac.

Today the Ducks face off against LSU, a game that will sure deserve a special blog post. So I decided to make something green and yellow (U of O colors), and finally settled on nachos. I made queso sauce from nutritional yeast and used salsa verde for the colors. Plus some jalapeños for some spice and because they are little O’s. I wanted to top it all off with some vegan sour cream, but my store was sold out.

I just realized this is also fitting because our coach is named Chip.

Yell-O and Green Nacho
Queso sauce:
4 tbs vegan butter
1 and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, divided

3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup unsweetened, plain soy milk

1/2 tbs garlic powder
1tps cumin
1 tps parkia
1 tps chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper
The rest of the stuff:
1/4 medium onion, chopped
1 cup soy” beef” crumbles (I used Smart Ground)
Tortilla chips
Salsa verde
Jalapeños
Vegan sour cream

To make the queso sauce, add the vegan butter and 1 cup of the nutritional yeast to saucepan over medium/low heat. Incorporate the two together to make a sort of roux. It should clump together and get a little golden.

Add the vegetable broth and soy milk. Whisk together so there are no lumps.

Add the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder and pepper. You can add salt if you like, but mine didn’t need it. Mix together well.

Reduce the heat to low. Let it reduce and thicken, stirring frequently. Taste it after awhile, if it need more “cheese” flavor, add some more nutritional yeast.

In skillet, lightly brown the chopped onion. Then add the soy crumbles. Cooked until heated through.

Once the queso sauce is smooth and thicken slightly, it’s time to assemble.

On a large plate or platter, scatter desired amount of chips. There is enough sauce for at least 5 serving so be generous.

Next sprinkle on the soy crumble mixture.

Now pour on the queso sauce.

Now add the desired about of salsa verde.

If your store didn’t run out of sour cream like mine did, add a few dollops.

Top with desired about of jalapeños so your nachos are yelling “O”.

Turn on the Ducks game, open a Widmer (or any other fine Oregon brew) and get ready to cheer! Win the days boys!

Cincinnati Style Chili

I had heard of Cincinnati style chili before, but never had the chance to try it. The other day I was trying to decide what I want to make next for my blog when I saw something on the Food Network about some restaurant in Ohio that famous for their chili (can’t remember the restaurant or what show it was) and thought it looked delicious.

Cincinnati style chili is more like a sauce than a chili. It was first made by Macedonian immigrants who wanted to expand their restaurant menus. It consist of not only traditional chili ingredients like chili powder and cumin, but has some unusual ones like chocolate, cinnamon, and vinegar. I like savory/sweet combinations so I knew I was going to like it. The real version has worcestershire sauce (not vegan since it is fish based, though there are some vegan versions out there) and ground beef. I omitted the worcestershire and used Smart Ground Veggie Protein Crumbles instead of beef.   
The chili is normally served over spaghetti or a hot dog since it is more sauce-like, though it is good enough to eat on its own. I got to give it you Cincinnati, you make a very fine chili. I will definitely make this again sometime. This recipe is based on one from foodnetwork.com called Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati Style Chili

  • 1 large onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs smoked paprika
  • 1 and 1/2 fps ground cumin
  • 1 fps ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili turmeric 
  • 1 package Smart Ground Veggie Protein Crumbles  
  • 1/4 cup red wine 
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs cider vinegar 
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato sauce (I used a pasta sauce) 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsweetened chocolate
  • Salt and pepper to taste 





Heat cooking spray in a large pot over medium heat. I made mine in sauce pan but I only made a single serving. Add the onions and garlic, cooked until the onions are translucent. 



Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and turmeric. Thoroughly coat the onions and garlic. 



Add the protein crumbles and cooked until the crumbles are heated through. Don’t worry if the spices start to stick to the bottom of the pot. 



Add the wine, soy sauce and vinegar to deglaze the pan, make sure to scrap all the brunt/stuck stuff off the bottom of the pan. 



Next add the tomato sauce and chocolate, mix together well. 



Cook for about 15 minutes until the chili tightens up a bit more.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 










I boiled up some pasta (ok, it’s actually ramen noodles, I didn’t have any spaghetti on hand and I am a college kid!) and slathered the noodles with the chili. Traditionally, the dish is then topped with kidney beans, onions, and TONS of cheddar cheese. I just went with some kidney beans to keep it healthier. 


Lentil Loaf

I must confess, I have a love for infomercials.  My new favorite is that meat loaf pan that supposed to make the perfect loaf every time.  I question if the thing works but it made me want a delicious lentil loaf.  Meat loaf was one of the few meat dishes I actually liked when I was growing up, so I was kind of skeptical to see if a lentil one would compare. And I was surprised that it did! Now I make them often. Savory, a litte “meaty” and if you make them right, they can even be a little juicy.

Lentils are a pulse (don’t worry, I had to look that up too) that is part of the legume family. Their seeds are little lens-shaped pods that are high in protein, vitamin B, and fiber. They were consumed by neolithic Middle Easterners as far back as 13,000 years ago. And, surprisingly Canada is the top producers of lentils today.

Now, don’t judge this dish until you try it. It does not taste like a big pile of bland beans at all. Cooked lentils have a slightly “meaty” texture, which is why I love to put them in pasta sauces to create a heartier dish. The key to making a good lentil loaf, just like a meat loaf, is getting the consistency right. Make sure there is enough liquid and gluten in the mixture so it will stick without being mushy.

Lentil Loaf
1 cup dried green lentils
1/2 tbs vegan butter
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1 tps Italian seasoning
2 tbs tomato paste (or ketchup works just fine)
1 tbs soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pick through the lentils and throw out the bad ones. Soak the lentils overnight.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the vegan butter.

Drain and rinse the lentils. Add to skillet. Cook until the lentils are slightly golden.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray (I didn’t use a loaf pan because I think it is a pain to remove the loaf in the end).

In a large bowl, add the cooked lentils, cooked oatmeal (it must be already cooked, it will help the load adhere together) and the onions. Mix together well. Mix in all remaining ingredients.

Shape into a loaf on the sheet pan. Feel free to top with ketchup like a meat loaf before you pop it in the oven if you like. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is a little golden.

I ate mine with some steamed green beans and some ketchup. So delicious. It makes nice leftovers the next day too. I think I will make a simple gravy for it tomorrow night, and maybe some mashed sweet potatoes.