Samosa Casserole with Cilantro Gravy

This recipe is one of the freezer meals I made a few weeks ago. I wanted something filling and flavorful to enjoy after a long, hard day. I thought of freezing one of my Samosa Pizzas, but I didn’t quite know how to store that. Then I though a casserole would be nice, very hearty from all the potatoes and it would freeze very well. And I had just bought a big bag of sweet potatoes, too.  So I essentially made a bigger batch of the potato filling from my pizza recipe, but used sweet potatoes instead. As for the gravy, I wanted something more the usual cilantro chutney. Something creamier, to really stand up to the sweet potatoes.Like how well hash browns go with saw-mill gravy. So I made up a cilantro version.

I made the casserole in disposable pan and covered it in foil. The gravy I made the day of, but you could freezer it as well. Just put it in a freezer bag.

This recipe makes one 8 X 10 pan, and 1 cup of gravy.
Samosa Casserole with Cilantro Gravy
Filling

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp mango powder
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tbs ginger, peeled and minced

1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp garam masala

2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or any other vegetable mixture you like)
Dough 
2 cups baking mix (I used Bisquick)
2/3 cup water
2 tbs tamarind chutney
Gravy 
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup water
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
2 tbs flour

Add the peeled sweet potatoes to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook until they are soft.

While the potatoes boil, in a small pot add the vegan butter and melt over medium heat.

Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander powder, and mango powder. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the garlic, ginger, and onions. Cook until the onions soften a little and it’s very fragrant.

Turn off heat and set aside.

Once the potatoes are soft, drain well and return to the pot.

Add the frozen peas and carrots, and the spice/oil mixture. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the baking mix, water, and tamarind chutney. It should make a wet dough, like for dumplings. Set aside.

Spray a casserole pan with cooking spray.

Spread the potato filling evenly.

Tear off dumpling-size pieces of the dough and evenly distribute over the filling.

Cover with foil.

To make the gravy,  blend the cilantro and water in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

add the oil to small pot over medium heat.

Once the oil is heated, add the fennel, cumin seeds, chili powder, and garlic salt. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the flour and quickly whisk it into the oil. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the pureed cilantro and whisk in quickly.

Cook for 3-5 minutes, until it begins to thicken slightly.

Remove from the heat and pour into another container to cool

Now you can let it cool, then pop it in the freezer.  Or you can bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. To bake after being frozen, 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. To thaw the gravy, place it in warm water and heat in a pot on the stove once it’s liquid again. You may need to add a bit more water on the stove to keep it from thickening too much.

I popped this in the oven after a long road trip to LA and back this weekend. It was totally what my whole family needed. Nutritious, tasty, and filling, Even the baby loved it. I hope your family loves it too!

Vegan Potato Pancakes

Potatoes pancakes just might one of the best foods on the planet. Salty and flaky on the outside, while soft and warm on the inside.  Do I even need to say anymore?

I grew up knowing them as Polish dish, but they are pretty much the same as Jewish latkes. That’s why I decided to use a Manischewtiz Potato Pancake mix—along with some fresh potatoes. I also used olive oil, not vegetable oil for frying.
And yes, fried white potatoes are not the healthiest thing ever, but they are a nice treat once and awhile. Just eat them in moderation and watch your portion sizes. And these are especially good with a side of homemade apple sauce (I’ll post that recipe soon).

This makes 6 servings (not gonna lie, we ate them all).

Vegan Potato Pancakes
1 box ( 3 oz) Potato Pancake Mix, with no eggs or dairy in it
1 large russet potato, shredded or riced (I riced mine)
1.5 tbs Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 tbs water, mixed together
3/4 cup cold water
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl, combine the mix, shredded or riced potato, egg replacer mixture and water. Mix together well.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Don’t put too much oil, this is just shallow pan fry.

Once the oil is hot, drop in a big spoonful (like up to 1/4 cup). It should naturally flatten and spread out. Repeat a few more times, without over crowding the pan. I fit four at a time in mine.

Fry until they are golden on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side.

Remove from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel or wire rack.

Repeat until the batter is gone.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some apple sauce and you have one tasty meal!

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.

Samosa Pizza

I have declared my love for pizza on here before. But I have never professed my loved for samosas. Delicious little fried pastries filled with veggies and spices then dipped in flavorful chutneys. What’s not to love? I am not a big fan of fried foods, but these are something special. I always order them at Indian restaurants and am heartbroken when I have share. So why would I not combine two of my culinary favorites?

This recipe makes 1 pizza.

Samosa Pizza

2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tsb vegan butter, divided
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mango powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ball of pizza dough, homemade or store bought is fine (try my recipe)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tbs ginger, peeled and minced
4 tbs tamarind chutney (if you don’t happen to have a mother-in-law who makes some, it’s pretty easy to find in stores nowadays
Cilantro chutney (try my recipe)

Fill a large pot with cold water and add the potatoes.

Cover and bring to boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft enough for a fork to be easily inserted.

While that boils, in large skillet melt a little butter.

Add the chopped carrots. Cook until they begin to soften.

Add the frozen peas. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until heated through, then set aside.

When the potatoes are soft, drain well and set aside for the sec.

Return pot the potatoes boiled in the stove over medium heat, add the remaining butter and let it melt.

Add the cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Toast them for one minute.

Turn off the heat.

Add the potatoes back in and mash/mix in with the butter. Don’t mash until totally smooth, leave some chunks.

Mix in the coriander powder, garam masala, and mango powder.

Stir in the peas and carrots.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Roll out your pizza dough into your desired shaped. Place it in a pizza pan.

Pre-bake the pizza crust into the oven 7-10 minutes, just until they are lightly golden.

Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool a bit.

Spread on the tamarind sauce.

Now glob on potato mixture. Spread it in an even, thick layer.

Next sprinkle on the minced ginger and garlic.

Bake for another 5-7 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Top with the cilantro chutney, and some extra cilantro if desired.

This was soooo good. We devoured the whole pizza pretty quickly. I just realized I need to make this for my soon-to-be son one day because it incorporates two of his heritages–Indian and Italian.

Potato and Leek Hash

I wanted a hot and tasty breakfast when I woke up this morning. Something filling, but not heavy. I had a few potatoes that needed to be eaten so I thought a hash was in order.

I got another organic vegetable box delivered the other day so I decided to add some veggies for more nutrition. The box came with two giant leeks. I think leeks are a seriously underrated food. They have the texture of a very soft celery mixed with a shallot. The flavor is like a mid onion and garlic. They are high in vitamin K and vitamin A. Like their cousin garlic, it also helps support the cardiovascular system. I love leeks because they provide that garlic/onion flavor, but with a bit more crunch.

This recipe makes one large serving (that is surprising low in calories!).

Potato and Leek Hash
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup water
1/2 of a leek stalk (the lower, whiter part—I have a recipe for the leafy part coming up), sliced thin
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 of a broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat a skillet with a little oil (I used coconut) over medium heat.

Add the potatoes and cook until slightly golden on the outside.

Add water and cover. The steam will cook the inside of the potatoes. Stir occasionally so they do no burn.

Once the water is evaporated, remove the lid. Add all remaining veggies. Cook until the carrots and broccoli are soft, and the leeks are slightly golden.

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I served mine over some basic scrambled tofu with some hot sauce on top.

A healthy and easy breakfast, great way to start off my day of cleaning and laundry :-/

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.

German Potato Salad

Last weekend Michael was a groomsman in a college friend’s wedding. That meant a trip to Lake Tahoe! I went there for the first time in March for his sister’s wedding and instantly fell in love with the area. We are already trying to plan a camping trip back there soon. The day before the wedding they had a BBQ at park right on the lake and requested everyone bring something to share.

Brunt Cedar Park in North Lake

I instantly thought German Potato Salad. My mom found the recipe in Cooking Light years ago and made it often when I was a kid. It’s WAY better than traditional potato salad. Light, but still creamy. Salty, but a little tang. However, the real recipe for German Potato Salad has bacon and uses the bacon fat to make a sauce. I still wanted it, so I decided to make a vegan version. I figured if it did not come out right, we can always just buy a veggie platter on the way to the BBQ.

I decided to use Bac-O Bits ( they are made from soy, check out my Mac and Cheese post) instead of bacon. However, I had some trouble deciding what to use instead of the bacon fat. Normally you cook the bacon, reserve the fat and use it to make a roux for the sauce. I thought about adding some olive oil instead, but the flavor would be wrong. And the more I thought about it, what is the point of making this dish healthier if I was going to load it up oil? Good fats are an important part of healthy diet, but there would be plenty of other food with adequate fat at the BBQ. No need to add more. So I decided to just skip oil all together and just use some water.

This recipe makes 15 servings.

German Potato Salad
5 lbs bag of red potatoes, washed and quartered
1 small onion, chopped
1 container of Bac-O Bits
1 cup water (add more as needed)
3 tbs flour
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbs brown mustard
4 stalks green onions, sliced
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Fill a large pot with cold water. Add the quartered potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft enough for a fork to easily pierce.

While that cooks,  saute the onions until soft (I did this was just a little water, but you can use a little oil).

Add the bacon bits and cook for a minute, just to warm them up.

Next add the water and flour. It should make a lose paste. Stir out any clumps.

Add the vinegar and mustard. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and return to the pot.

Add the sauce and mix well to coat every potato.

Add the sliced green onions, mix well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Let this sit for at least 2 hours, overnight would be better. I actually made this two days beforehand (mainly because there was no way I could make it at the hotel) and it was prefect.

This dish is served room temperature, and it has no dairy so no need to worry about it spoiling in the sun during your BBQ.

Veggie burger, water melon, chips, and German Potato Salad!

Everyone liked my potato salad, the Step-Mother-of-the-Bride thanked me for bringing it!

Beautiful weather, wonderful view of the lake in the distance.

Congratulations Jeff and Rachel! Your wedding was beautiful and I wish you a long, happy life together!

Krupnik: Polish Barley Soup

I mentioned before that I am predominately Polish and I learned about my heritage mostly from my amazing grandmother (see my Pierogi post). I am heartbroken to say she passed away this week. My family has another angel to watch over us all now. She died of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries to due to fatty build up. I originally went vegan after my uncle passed from a heart attack, vowing I would do everything I could to counteract my family health history. Now I know I will never go back to the standard American diet.  The best way I can honor her memory is to live a long healthy, happy life. I want to live to see my great-grand children. I will tell the stories my grandma told me about her mother’s life back in Poland, and teach them how to make delicous Polish dishes.

I heard my grandma mention barley soup before, but when she visited we usually made pierogi or kapusta. I have wanted to make this soup for awhile, mainly because it is already vegan friendly. This is popular dish is quintessential peasant food. There are various recipes with different vegetable variations. This is common version (and it happens to already be vegan). There are ones that have meat, but meat scrapes used to be hard to come by, so it was a treat on occasion only.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

Krupnik
Olive oil
1 large  yellow onion, chopped
2 cups porcini mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
10 cups vegetable stock (a few cups can be water)
1 cup pearl barley
1 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes. Cook until the onions are slightly translucent and the potatoes soften.

Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the vegetable stock.

Add the barley, parsley and the bay leaf. Mix together well.

Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and cook for 1 hour, stir occasionally.

Once the barley is cooked, season with paprika, salt, and pepper.

I garnished it with a bit more paprika and some dill. I also had a side of pickled beats and kapusta I bought at a Slavic store.

I miss you so much already my beautiful babcia. Thank you for teaching about my heritage. I will always be a proud little Polish girl.

Mushroom Baked Potato

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This time last year, Michael and I had only been dating for a month, so I decided to go all out to impress my new boyfriend. I made him a big steak dinner—which is a GIANT deal for a vegan. But, like I have said before, I do make non-vegan meals for the people I love because, well I love them! So, of course this year Michael requested another steak dinner, and I obliged. The rest of the meal was vegan though, so I ate everything else—and had some yummy wine.

I made a healthier version of the classic baked potato. I added mushrooms, vegan cheese, and chives. There are tons of methods to speed up the cook time for baked potatoes, but I don’t like them. This basic way is not hard and they come out prefect. It does take time, but just throw them in while you make make the rest of dinner, pick up the house, or do whatever else you need to do.

This recipe makes 2 servings, but can be easily multiplied.

Mushroom  Baked Potato
2 large potatoes
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup diced onions
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tsp season salt
1 tsp parsley
2 tbs Vegan Cheese (I used Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds)
Chives, chopped

Pre-heat the oven 475 degrees.

Wash your potatoes well.  Pierce the potatoes with a fork several times all around.

Wrap the potatoes in foil, and put them in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a fork can be easily inserted into the center.

While they bake, melt the vegan butter in a skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the onions and cook until softened.

Add the mushrooms, cook until softened and slightly golden.

Add the season salt and parsley. Then set aside.

Once the potatoes are ready, remove from the foil and cut down the middle–but not all the way through.

Top your potato with the cheese, mushroom mixture, and chives—or anything else you like.

I added some garlic sautéed green beans and Michael wanted creamed corn. Simple and delicous meal, and no big hassle or mess. I have all evening to spend with my sweetheart now.

Almost Fat Free Hash Browns

Breakfast is one of the hardest meals to eat out for vegans. No eggs, bacon or sausage. Plus most places use milk and butter in their pancakes, waffles, bread & etc. We are usually stuck with two options, fruit or hash browns. It is important to ask if they use butter on the hash browns, and if they can leave it out if they do. Most of the time they might look at you funny, but will do it.

Luckily I love potatoes so I am content with a small order hash browns. However, they are not the healthiest thing in the world. They are usually fried or pan-fried in tons of oil. A few years ago I discovered if you use a good non-stick skillet and a bit of cooking spray that you can get them as crispy as restaurants without all the bad fat.

Every kitchen should have a good non-stick skillet, so I highly suggest investing in one. Like I mentioned before, Michael and I moved into his grandparents old house. I use the non-stick skillet that came with house, and for some reason I cannot find the name brand on it. It works great, so just goes to show you sometimes you don’t need to spend a lot of money for a quality product.

This recipe makes 2 servings.

Almost Fat Free Hash Browns
2 small russet potato
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cooking spray
Non-stick skillet (Must be non-stick)
1/4 cup water

Wash and peal the potatoes.

Grate the potatoes.

Pat dry with a paper towels. Try to get as much liquid out as possible.

Shape into a large, flat patty. I suggest doing this on a plate.

Spray the non-stick skillet cooking spray and heat over medium heat.

Once it is hot, place the potato patty in the skillet. If you used a plate, you can simply flip it over into the pan.

Add the water and cover quickly. Keep covered until the water is evaporated, usually when it stops sizzling.

Uncover and let it cook until it is golden on the bottom.

Carefully, flip the hash brown over.

Let it cook on the other side until golden too.

Season with more salt and pepper, or anything else you like! You can add condiments and make it the main dish. Or, you can serve it as side with some Tofu Scramble and soy bacon. I sautéed some bell peppers and onions, and added a few spoonfuls of salsa.