Holiday Lentil Loaf 

What does a vegan who is nursing a toddler who’s allergic to soy, wheat, and cashews have for Thanksgiving? Lentils! I actually had this last year too before Jack developed his food allergies, because it’s that good!

I posted a lentil loaf recipe before, and I still make that one often. It’s more of a meatloaf than a holiday dinner.

I should have posted this last week, but life got in the way. My apologies! But this is good for any holiday as a poluty substitute. I actually assembled the loaf the night before and baked it the next day. It is very allergy-friendly and tastes great! Even my  meat-loving husband took several bites!

Holiday Lentil Loaf IMG_0439
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups brown lentils
2 carrots, chopped fine
2 stalls of celery, 
chopped fine
1/4 finely chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, 
minced
1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, 
minced
1/4 tsp fresh sage, 
minced
1/4 tsp thyme, minced
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 gluten-free flour
1/4 nutritional yeast
1/2 cup coconut aminos
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

Cook lentils according to directions on the package.

Cook lentils according to the directions on the package.

While those are cooking, sautée the carrots, celery, and onions in a little bit of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Then remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, add all remaining ingriedents, expect the salt and pepper, and whisk together.

Drain both the lentils and quinoa, add to a large mixing bowl.

Add the sautée vegetables and mix well.

Add the liquid mixture and also mix well.

Spray a roasting pan or baking sheet with cooking spray. Form a loaf on the pan with the lentil mixture.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until heated through and a light crust forms.

Cut off a slice and top with some vegan gravy. Enjoy a taste of the holiday season everyone can enjoy!

Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

This morning my husband accidentally woke the baby up early. And guess who had to get up with him? Anyways, I got to watch my favorite cooking show of all time, Good Eats. And the episode featured my favorite vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. I’ve seen the episode before, but kind of ignored it since I loved my sprout cut in half and pan fried. But today I paid attention and saw him make the most delicious looking dish ever. Shredded Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and pecans. I had all those ingredients in my fridge and couldn’t decide what to make, this recipe was just what I needed! I made it vegan and added a few ingredients too. This dish would make a fantastic healthy side dish for the Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
3 ounce raw pecans, chopped
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 ounces dried cranberries
1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the brussel sprouts and remove any brown leafs. Cut off the tip of the steam. Cut the brussel sprouts into shreds (or use a food processor like Alton did).

In a skillet over medium-high heat, lightly toast the chopped pecans. It will only take a minute or two. The color won’t change much but you will be able to smell the aroma. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the butter and brussels sprout shreds. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the sprouts soften.

Next add the cranberries and cook for one minute longer.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the olive oil and bread crumbs. Mix well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now dig into this delicious dish! Michael and I devoured the bowl. I even hoped Jack wouldn’t eat his  portion (I gave him just the sprouts, never give a baby nuts as they are a choking risk).  But he devoured his too! I will need to make this again soon, it was just so good!

Insanely Moist Carrot Cake

First off, I have some exciting news! I had my baby! Jack was born two weeks ago and he is perfect. Check out my other blog for his full birth story
My mom came for a month to help take care of us—for which I am insanely grateful. She left today and I wish she could come back already. She took care of all the cooking so I apologize for not having any new recipes lately. However, she made me an awesome treat for Easter that I wanted to share.
Carrot cake will always remind me of my grandmother. No one else in my family likes carrot cake but me, so she only made it when I was visiting. Sweet carrots, rich cream cheese frosting, and the smile on her face when I took the first bite. Such happy memories. Then my mom burst my bubble few years ago and told me she used a box mix. Oh well, I still cherish those memories. At least she would doctor it up with extra carrots, walnuts, and raisins.
So I asked my mom if she would make me a carrot cake for Easter. She also used a box mix but doctored it up. Now, no offense to late grandmother, but my mom’s cake was AMAZING. Light but insanely moist. Just the right amount of sweetness with light creamy frosting. 
This recipe makes one sheet cake. Because this cake is vegan and does not have eggs, it will not rise significantly. As a result, I would not suggest making this into a layer cake. 
Carrot Cake
Cake
1 box carrot cake mix (check to make sure it is vegan)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Frosting
1 container of vegan cream cheese 
1 cup powder sugar 
Pre-heat the oven to temperature for a sheet cake as specified on the box. 
Spray a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, mix together all the cake ingredients. Use the whole can of pineapple, juice included. 
Bake according the the directions on the box. However, since there are no eggs it may take a bit longer. Adjust the time as needed. Like a regular cake, a toothpick inserted in the middle should be clean when removed.
Once the cake is cooled, make the frosting. Mix together the cream cheese and powder sugar. It will just be a light frosting/glaze. 
Spread on the cake and let it set. 
It’s so insanely moist, I love it. Maybe Jack will take after me and love carrot cake too. Maybe he can have happy memories eating it with his grandma too. And maybe you can bake up this treat and make memories of your own.

Thanksgiving 2013: Thanksgiving Casserole

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful day with your loved ones. We had a wonderful time in Tracy, thank you so much Lori and James for having us!

I have a lot to be thankful for this year:
  • I am thankful to have married the man of dreams two months ago. Thank you for taking care of me this past few months, I know I have not been the easiest pregnant lady.
  • I am so thankful for my unborn son (I keep forgetting to make a gender reveal post….). This pregnancy has not been very fun so far, but I know he will be worth it. I can’t wait kiss his sweet little face in April.
  • I am thankful for my amazing parents. Thank you for always supporting me and loving me. We all might be crazy, but at least we can be crazy together!
  • I am thankful for all my amazing in-laws.  Thank you to my wonderful parents-in-law for being so kind and supportive through these crazy few months. And thank you to my wonderful sisters-in-laws for being so open and accepting from moment Michael brought me home.
  • I am thankful for my cats. Penny makes me smile everyday with her antics (Did you know a cat can be condescending?). And, I am grateful for Zoey’s snuggles. I am so happy my kama’aina kitties came to California.
So, as I said in my menu post, I made a layered casserole thing. I wanted baked tofu, stuffing, and mashed potatoes—but I did not want to bring 3 separate dishes. So I just combined them into one. It’s not that complicated to make, but a little time consuming.
Thanksgiving Casserole

Tofu Turkey Layer:
28 oz (2 blocks) of firm tofu, frozen then thawed
7 oz (1/2 block) silken tofu
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs herb de Provence
1/2 tps pepper
Stuffing Layer:
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 tbs celery leaf
1 tbs herb de Provence
1 tbs sugar
4 cups vegan stuffing mix (just check the label, it’s not that hard to find)
1 medium carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup onion, chopped finely
Mashed Potato Layer:
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tbs vegan butter
2 tbs vegan cream cheese
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Coat a dutch oven pot or a deep casserole pan lightly with olive oil.
Tofu Turkey Layer:
In a colander, drain the firm tofu very well. I mean get it as dry as you possibly can. Squeeze it out with your hands. Don’t worry about crumbling it.
Drain off the liquid the packaging liquid from the silken tofu, but leave this tofu still moist.
In a food processor, all the tofu, soy sauce, garlic, herb de Provence, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Pour into the dutch oven and smooth so the top is even. It will only cover an inch or so on the bottom.
Cover with foil and bake for one hour.
In the mean time…
Stuffing layer:
In a small sauce pan, bring the vegetable broth, cranberries, celery leaves, herb de Provence, and sugar to a boil over.
Reduce to a simmer. Cook until the cranberries burst open and soften.
Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, add the chopped stuffing mix, carrots, celery, and onion. Pour the broth/cranberry liquid in slowly, stirring gently.
Once the tofu has cooked for an hour, remove from the oven and spread the stuffing over top (without burning yourself on the hot pan).
Cover with the foil again and bake for 45 minutes.
And while that cooks….
 
Mashed Potato Layer:
Once your potatoes are peeled and quartered, add them to a large pot of cold water.
Cover and bring to boil.
Remove the lid and let them boil until tender (when a fork can be easily inserted).
Drain and return back to the pot.
Add the butter and cream cheese. Mash very well.
Slowly add a little bit of vegetable broth at a time until the potatoes come to a creamy but firm consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the stuffing layer has cooked for 45 minutes, remove the oven and spread the mashed potatoes on evenly (again, be careful).
Turn up the heat to 425 degrees.
Cover with foil and bake for another 30 minutes.
I served this with some simple gravy. I also had some cranberry sauce and corn. It was so delicious, all the flavors of Thanksgiving all rolled into one. Everyone else tried it too and said it was good! I would totally make this again next year.

Thanksgiving 2013: Slow Cooker Seitan Roast

As I mentioned in my previous post I was going to make a seitan roast in my crockpot for my work’s Thanksgiving potluck. It came out awesome!!! This is my new favorite way to make seitan. So easy, very little mess, and it was so juicy!

Crockpot Seitan Roast
2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 soy sauce
1 tbs herb de Provence
1 garlic, minced
1 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 large potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 stalks of celery,  cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into quarters

4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large blow, mix together the vital wheat gluten, 2 cups vegetable broth, soy sauce, herb de Provence, and garlic. It should form a moist—but not sticky-dough.

Knead the dough gently for a minute or two.

(I made my dough the night before and left it in the fridge overnight. I don’t think this changes the flavor or texture, so this step is optional).

Shape the dough into a loaf.

Place in your slow cooker.

Cover the loaf with the cut carrots, potatoes, celery, and onion.

Cover the loaf and veggies with the remaining vegetable broth.

Turn your cooker on medium-low and let it cook for 4-6 hours (I put mine in at 8 AM and it was ready around 12:45).

It’s ready when the seitan firm (but not hard) and no longer chewy….and obviously when vegetables are soft. There should be a little broth left (which should have tons of flavor by now and will make a great thin gravy).

I found a nice platter in the cabinet at work, so I sliced up the seitan and plated everything nicely. The president of the company—who is a big meat eater—took a sliced and liked it! I had to go back to work so I forgot to see if any was left afterwards….so  I am going to imagine it was all gone 🙂

This is a seriously awesome and easy meal, any time of the year.

Coconut Brownies

I felt patriotic and nice last week, so I made brownies for Independence Day. Michael requested brownies, so I decided to make a big batch and take half to work. To make them patriotic, I decided on red and blue sprinkles, mainly because I already had some at home. For the white, I decided against doing plain frosting. It was just too traditional and boring. I decided on shredded coconut instead, since I was already using coconut oil in the batter. Might as well just keep the same flavors going.

I used box mix for this, mainly because it was just easier. Vegan box mixes are not that hard to find, just read the ingredients. I do not eat processed and packaged foods that often, but a treat once in awhile is always nice.
I made double batch, but you can always just half the recipe and make one.
Coconut Brownies
2 boxes of chewy brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1.5 cups vanilla soy milk
1 can of chocolate frosting (I used Duncan Hines)
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
Red sprinkles
Blue Sprinkles
Pre-heat the oven according to the temperature on the box.
Spray a baking pan (I used a 9×11) with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, coconut oil, applesauce, cornstarch, and soy milk. Stir until smooth.
Pour the batter into the baking sheet and cook according to the directions on the package.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Once cool, spread on the frosting in a light layer. No need to make it fancy, it’s just there to make the coconut shreds stay.
Cover the frosting with the shredded coconut, covering up as much of the brown as possible.
Next sprinkle on some red and blue sprinkles.
Now you have a patriotic treat!
Michael and my coworkers liked them, yeah! And, if you change the sprinkle colors, they could be for any holiday. Red and green for Christmas. Yellow, pink, and purple for Easter. Purple, gold, and green for Mardi Gras. Black and Orange for Halloween. In your favorite teams colors for the Superbowl or the World Series too. Of what chromatic fun!

Vanilla Apple Pie

What does a nerd do when it is her day off and Pi Day? Make a Pie to celebrate!

Speaking of work, you may have noticed that I have not been posting as much lately. I got a new job, and it is great but very busy. I will get better about posting as I settle in more. Michael started a new job too, so I decided to make us both something special tonight for all our hard work.

I thought a pie for Pi Day would be nice, but a giant pie for the two of us is just impractical. So I made two mini pies. Michael requested chocolate or apple pie, and I went with apple because it is easier to make.  My parents went on a trip to Mexico a few weeks ago, and my mom send me some Mexican vanilla extract, and I have been wanting to use it all week.  I thought it would be a nice addition to classic apple pie.

Vanilla Apple Pie
1 pie crust, frozen or homemade (I used frozen)
4 Fuji apples, pealed and cubed
1.5  tbs vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbs cornstarch
Pinch of salt

If using frozen pie crust, let it thaw first.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray two small ramekins with cooking spray.

Roll out the pie crust on a well floured surface. Cut circles out of the pie crust that are a half inch larger than the radius of the ramekin. It’s okay if they are not perfectly round and there should be left over crust pieces.

Press the crust circles into the ramekins, reshaping them to fix it if need be. Make sure you press them in firmly and seal the edges as best you can.

In a small bowl, mix together the cubed apples, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt. Taste and adjust as necessary to your tastes.

Fill each ramekin with half of the mixture. They should be filled to the very full.

Take the remaining crust pieces and shape them into two circles large enough to cover the top of the ramekins with some overlap.

Now cover the ramekins with the pie crusts and seal the edges firmly. I crimped the edges with a fork to  make sure it seals properly and to make it look pretty.

Cut a small X on the top.

Sprinkle the crust with a little extra sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling starts to bubble up.

Let cool and enjoy a piece of 3.14159265….that’s as far as I know off the top of my head!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Finally, my last Thanksgiving 2012 recipe: chocolate pumpkin pie. This was actually a big hit with all the non-vegans on Thanksgiving too. It’s got more protein from the tofu. Plus it has less fat and no cholesterol.

And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the whole pie. I remembered half way through eating my piece. When I went back to take some, it was already half gone.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
1 16 oz can of pumpkin
1/2 block of silken tofu, drained
2 tbs of coco powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of soy milk
2 tbs of maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade is fine)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Pour into the graham cracker crust.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the center is firm.

Top with some vegan whip cream or my favorite, coconut cream.

Stuffed Pumpkin

source

This dish was fantastic and so adorable…too bad I forgot to take any pictures of it! I can at least post the recipe so you can make your own adorable little stuffed pumpkin.  I took this to my second Thanksgiving on Friday since we had to travel two hours. I just heated it up when I arrived.

Stuffed Pumpkin
1 small pumpkin (Mine had about an 6 inch radius)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 cups cornbread stuffing (I used a box mix, but you can make your own as well)
1/2 of a block of extra firm tofu, drained and dried well and cut into small cubes
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 of a small onion, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the stem off the top of the pumpkin and hollow out the inside (detailed instructions on my pumpkin craving post, just minus the actual craving part).

Coat the inside of the pumpkin with some olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine the stuffing, tofu cubes, chopped celery and chopped onions.

Stuff the pumpkin with the stuffing mixture. Make sure to leave a little room at the top. Cover the stem with foil and place back on top.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours. The pumpkin should be tender enough that a fork can easily pierce through it.

Now remove the stem, and cut into slices. You eat both the filling and pumpkin flesh. Goes lovely with some gravy.

Next time I promise to remember the pictures…

Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Stuffed Roast

I originally wanted a Tofurky Roast, but I did not find find any at Trader Joe’s. I did not feel like going to another store so I just settled for Trader Joe’s brand. While I still like Tofurky better, this roast was fantastic. It comes with its own gravy too. I served it over roasted veggies. Only a few people tried it for dinner, but those who did said it was good too. This would be a great options for those transitioning to vegetarian or veganism.

Before the oven, I accidentally forgot to take photos of it cooked…opps!

This recipe will work with any other alternative roast, just adjust the temperate and bake time as needed.

Turkey-less Roast
Olive oil
4 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 large carrots, cut into 1 inches pieces
4 large parsnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
Handful of brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 tbs herb de provence
Salt and Pepper
1 Trader Joe’s Turkey-less Stuffed Roast
1 cup vegetable broth, divided in half

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Coat the bottom of a roast pan with olive oil.

Prep and chop all the veggies accordingly.

Add the veggies to the pan, plus the herb de provence and the salt and pepper. Mix together to coat everything in olive oil.

Remove the roast from the packaging and place on top the veggies.

Pour half the vegetable broth over the roast.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the veggies are thoroughly roasted and roast is heated through.

Heat up the gravy packet that comes with the roast, pour it on, and enjoy a healthy and meat-free meal!