Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eight-layer Casserole

Casseroles are one of those comfort food dishes that just warm you up from the inside out. And what's not to love having a complete meal in one dish?? I found the original recipe in BH&G and made it vegan. Enjoy!

  • package old fashioned dumplings (12 ounces)
  • 1  pound  non-beef crumbles (i.e. fake ground beef)
  • 2  8-ounce cans  tomato sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1  8-ounce carton  Toffuti non-dairy sour cream
  • 1  8-ounce package  Toffuti cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2  cup  soy milk
  • 1  small onion, chopped onion
  • 1  10-ounce package  frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1  cup  shredded Daiya cheddar cheese (4 ounces)

Grease a 2-quart casserole or a 2-quart square baking dish; set aside. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot add beef, tomato sauce, basil, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. 

Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl beat together the sour cream and cream cheese with an electric mixer (or a spoon) on medium speed until smooth. Stir in milk and onion.

In prepared casserole or baking dish, layer half of the noodles (about 2 cups).

 Add half of the meat mixture.

Top with half of the cream cheese mixture. 

Top with all of the spinach.

Add the remaining noodles and meat mixture.

Cover and chill remaining cream cheese mixture until needed. Cover casserole or baking dish with lightly greased foil. Bake in 350 degree F oven about 45 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; spread with remaining cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with a side salad and a glass of your favorite vino. Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Beef(less) Stew

Beef Stew is hard to beat for down home, ultimate comfort food in a bowl. I used the Betty Crocker stew that we've eaten for years and made it vegan. I had some leftover mushroom gravy from a day or two prior and used it instead of the gravy recipe below. You really need to give this a try and you can add more or less veggies to your taste. 

  • 1 package Gardein Beefless Beef Tips
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 Dash ground allspice or cloves
  • 2 large carrots, pared & quartered
  • 4 medium potatoes, pared & quartered
  • 1 pound small white onions (I used frozen pearl onions)
  • Gravy (see below) 

In Dutch oven, sweat sliced onion and garlic 2 tablespoons hot canola oil, turning often. Add 2 cups hot water, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, salt, sugar, pepper, cloves and all veggies.

Cover; simmer until veggies are done stirring occasionally. (cook about 30 to 45 minutes)

Remove bay leaves and garlic. Add beef tips. Right before serving add gravy.

Serves 6-8.   
For gravy: combine ¼ cup water and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour till smooth. Stir slowly into hot liquid in the pot.  Cook and stir till bubbly. Cook and stir 3 minutes. Serve stew in bowls.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Minestrone Soup

The weather has been so back and forth I don't know whether to cook soup or fire up the grill. Last week was  a cook soup week and I decided to make a Minestrone with some veggies out of the frig. There were fresh frozen green beans from this summer and homemade vegetable broth to use, this turned out really delicious and filling.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/3 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup rotini pasta (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the green beans, dried oregano and basil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook 3 more minutes.

Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and the vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. 

Stir in the kidney beans and pasta and cook until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top with the parmesan.

Serve with a side salad, bread or crackers and your favorite red wine!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Salty Chocolate-Pecan Candy

This recipe was in an old Southern Living Magazine (one of my fav mags). Sweets are not something we have around the house on a regular basis, but chocolate is a weakness. The bittersweet chocolate bar was vegan but I could not find any white chocolate in the store that was vegan. You can probably order it online or find some at a whole foods store. I made this to give as gifts so I went ahead and used Bakers white chocolate. I'm not a huge white chocolate fan, and I do believe you just want the nice color swirls SO I think maybe a light vegan chocolate and a very dark one would be nice as well. 
I forgot to take a pic and this is the pic from the MyRecipes site. The other pics are mine.

  • 1  cup  pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 3  (4-oz.) bars bittersweet chocolate baking bars
  • 3  (4-oz.) white chocolate baking bars
  • 1  teaspoon  coarse sea salt or Kosher salt

Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

Line a 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal pieces. (You will have 48 pieces total.)

Arrange in a checkerboard pattern in jelly-roll pan, alternating white and dark chocolate. (Pieces will touch.)

Bake at 225° for 5 minutes or just until chocolate is melted. Remove pan to a wire rack. Swirl chocolates into a marble pattern using a wooden pick. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans and salt.

Chill 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 month. Trust me... those will NOT last a month in your home!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bacon, Spinach & Tomato Spaghetti

Simple, fairly quick-cooking recipes always catch my eye. Just because a person loves to cook doesn't mean they always have lots of time to put into a dish. This came together pretty quickly and was full of fresh flavors. The fresh garlic bread crumbs on top was a nice touch!

  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1cup Italian bread, cubed
  • 2 pieces LightLifef bacon
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Set a large pot of water on to boil.
Mince the garlic in a food processor, add the cubed bread, and process until coarse.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add crumbs and toast, stirring often, until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil into the pan and add the bacon. Cook until brown, move to a paper towel and set aside.

Drizzle the final teaspoon of oil into the skillet, place over medium heat, and caramelize the tomatoes and sugar until the tomatoes begin to brown (about 4 minutes).

Add the leeks and sauté for another 4 minutes until the leeks are wilted. This is about the time to drop your pasta into the boiling water to cook.

Deglaze the tomato mixture with the wine, and simmer until it is nearly evaporated.

Add the broth, vinegar, and pepper flakes and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.  

Add the spinach and thyme, stir, then add the bacon pieces and transfer the cooked pasta from the water directly into the pan. Toss to coat, season with salt and pepper, and divide between 2 plates.

Sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Black Beans with Sofrito

Dried beans are a pantry must have. Sunday I soaked a bag of black beans over night, the next day I drained them, added fresh water and cooked them until tender. I don't add salt or anything until they are tender, then I add seasoning. Using these cooked beans made dinner a snap last night when I whipped up the sofrito, added the already cooked beans and started the rice. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound black beans, soaked, drained and cooked
  • 2 packages sazon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Sea salt to taste

In heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, chile and garlic and sauté until softened.

Add oregano, cumin and bay leaf.

Sauté 2 minutes more.

Add black beans to sofrito. Partially cover and simmer 30 minutes longer. Start the rice.

Stir in tomatoes, vinegar and sherry and season with sea salt.

Cook, uncovered, an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over rice with plenty of your favorite hot sauce.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beef & Barley Soup

Gardein products are one of our favorites. Yesterday was going to be a stir-fry day, but the weather turned cold and it just seemed like a good day for soup. A few days ago this original recipe was on Facebook so I printed it to try. This version has very few modifications but I still haven't found a vegan Worcestershire so I left that out and there was no parsley in the house. Sadly my fresh thyme isn't looking very well and I had no dried so it was bumped as well. This is one flavorful soup and you won't be disappointed if you try it!
  •  1 package gardein beefless tips, cut each piece in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups onion, diced
  • 1 cup parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cups leeks, the white and some of the green
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 10 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup barley pearl
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste

 Heat oil in a large soup or stock pot. Add the olive oil, celery, carrot, onion, parsnips, mushrooms, leeks and garlic.

Sweat until carrots are softened and onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, red wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, pepper and barley. bring the soup to a low simmer covered, for 30- 45 minutes until the barley is tender.

While the soup is simmering, heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add canola oil and caramelize the gardein beefless tips well on all sides. 

Add the balsamic vinegar to soup and add more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Stir beefless tips into soup and serve with some bread. Enjoy!