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A hearty fall dinner

23 Sep

Time to use up those roasted veggies! Last night we had a big pile o’ veggies along with some quinoa, baked chickpea cutlets from the PPK, and mushroom gravy. We should do this more often because it’s one of Mr. HVC’s favorite meals! This was especially good with the roasted sweet potatoes, because the meal needed a little sweet to counter all the savory.

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The gravy is based off of this non-vegan recipe, with some modifications:

Mushroom Gravy:
-1/4 cup Earth Balance or olive oil
-1 onion, minced
-1 tsp salt
-16 oz diced mushrooms (I just pulse ’em in the food processor)
-4 cloves minced garlic or 2 tsp granulated garlic
-1/4 cup white wine
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
-2 cups water
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
-1/4 cup plain non-dairy milk

In a medium pot, saute onions in oil with salt over medium heat until they start to brown, about 10-15 min. Add mushrooms and saute 10 min or until they have lost most of their water. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Deglaze with the wine or equivalent amount of veggie broth. Sprinkle in flour stir that mix for a few minutes. It will be blobby and will start to brown. Add soy sauce, water, thyme, and pepper. Whisk to combine and bring to a simmer. Keep stirring for a few minutes until the gravy thickens, then mix in the soy milk and taste for salt. If it needs more savoriness, add some more soy sauce or a little bit of Accent (avoid Accent if you’re sensitive to MSG).

MoFo #17: Acorn squash, pear, and adzuki soup with sauteed shiitakes

17 Oct

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Whew, another long recipe title from Veganomicon! When I told Mr. Chickpea I was making this soup for dinner, he was…skeptical. He did not think the ingredients would go together *at all* and I just kept repeating “but, but, but Isa & Terry said this is a ‘precious jewel of a soup!’ Precious jewel, I must MAKE THE PRECIOUS!!!” Plus, I needed an excuse to test out my b-day present from Mr. Chickpea, a Vitamix! Wheeeeee! I foresee a long beautiful friendship between me and this blender.

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I do admit, it’s a weird combination of ingredients — onion, red bell pepper, ginger, Chinese five spice, pears, acorn squash, beans, and mushrooms. But I figured, Isa & Terry have never steered me wrong before, I’ve got the faith! Big surprise, it all came together really well to give a warm, comforting soup. The soup itself is slightly sweet, with a creamy broth and chunks of onion, squash, and pear, and beans mixed in. I really enjoyed the mix of textures. The mushrooms added a great savory flavor, but I have a weird texture issue with them so I think next time I might make really thin slices instead of just cutting them in half. Also, I don’t really think you need the adzukis — any mild bean would do well. One small can of the things cost me $2.65!!! Oh, the sacrifices I make for MoFo…

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MoFo #16: Portobello salad with spicy mustard dressing

17 Oct

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Well, the inevitable has happened: I’ve falled behind on my MoFo posts!!! Yesterday was supposed to be my salad day and even though I made the dish, I was too tired to write and upload photos. So here it is, to be followed in rapid succession by tonight’s soup post!

I guess this salad from Veganomicon isn’t necessarily a fall food, but it does have warm roasted mushrooms and a mustard maple dressing, which seems like a perfect cool weather salad. You start off by marinating some portobello caps, then roasting them in the oven for 30 min. Usually I just marinate my veggies (including mushrooms) in olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian seasoning, but I might switch to this recipe — a mix of wine, olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Pretty simple, but the wine really made it delicious!! I used some old chardonnay that’s been sitting in the fridge for a few months and it came out really well.

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The rest of the salad is pretty easy — greens, red onion, avocado, and chickpeas. The dressing is like a honey dijon, but the sweetener is maple syrup.

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We were both really impressed by this simple salad. The flavors just melded together really well and we were too stuffed to eat the rest of our dinner. Definitely a keeper!

MoFo #9: Autumn root vegetable salad

9 Oct

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Happy Tuesday!  My fall salad post for the week is the autumn root veggie salad with maple fig dressing from Veganomicon.

This salad feels fancy but it’s actually pretty simple — just field greens, roasted beets, sweet potatoes, and plain potatoes. It’s just kind of time- and dish-intensive. The beets are supposed to be roasted whole and the potatoes and yams are supposed to be boiled. Well I just cranked up the temp in my oven, pre-chopped all the veggies so they would cook more quickly, and roasted them all at the same time in individual foil packets. It was so much easier (and less to clean up!) that way!

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Excuse my ugly oven. I had a pie spill its fillings a while ago and I kept the smoking down by pouring baking soda on top of the mess…which I still haven’t cleaned up!

I pretty much hate making salad dressings, so this was my least favorite part, especially chopping an entire cup of sticky mission figs. They get sauteed with onions and garlic, which smelled amazing, then the pan is deglazed with a little white wine.

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After adding some maple syrup, dijon, and balsamic vinegar, the mix gets a whiz in the blender to yield a really chunky salad dressing. I think it would also be a great dip or a veggie glaze.

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I hastily threw everything together into the final salad because I was impatient and hungry. So it’s not the prettiest pic I ever took but I love all the colors! And it was delicious to boot. There’s something to be said for adding feta to sweet salads like this and I felt like it would have been a good addition. I think I’ll have to root around for a vegan feta recipe before I finish up these leftovers.

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MoFo #4 — Entree Thursday: Pumpkin baked penne

4 Oct

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Happy Thursday! Today I’m doing a main dish, and keeping with my fall foods theme I cooked up a baked pasta dish from Veganomicon. I’m sort of regretting my theme this week as we’ve been having an intense heat wave that is not really in line with warm, heavy dishes! I made this dish earlier in the week when it was 100 degrees outside…ugh! I had already bought the ingredients though, so yeah, I took one for the MoFo team, ha ha ha!

The pumpkin sauce for this dish is really, really good. I had a hard time keeping myself from eating big spoonfuls of it out of the bowl! The cream sauce is a mix of cashew ricotta, pumpkin, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cayenne. This is the first time I made cashew ricotta from V’con — my go-to ricotta is an almond recipe from Bryanna Clark Grogan — and I didn’t really care for the stuff straight out of the blender (it tasted really tofu-y) but it was delicious mixed in with everything else.
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I thought the pasta mix looked pretty gross, so of course I took a picture. Maybe this would be a good Halloween dish — gooey orange finger and worm mix?
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The topping was tasty, too, and I liked the addition of ground walnuts to the bread crumbs. I’m really getting into these ingredient photos; the spices always look so pretty!
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The finished product! There were a lot of components to put this meal together but it was totally worth it. The nutmeg really stood out in the sauce, which was rich and creamy with a ton of flavor. The crumb topping was sage-y and crunchy. The pasta:topping ratio seemed a little off to me, so I might use less topping next time. The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe is how hard it is to take a pretty photo! Everything just looks like a blob of pumpkin barf, but I did my best!
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I think this would be a great main course for Thanksgiving. It’s a very tasty and omni-friendly dish, even if there’s a little tofu worked in!

Since I’m trying to be a little more health-conscious, I made a few changes that didn’t seem to change the dish for the worse:

-the ricotta calls for 2 tsp olive oil. That’s not a lot of fat, but it didn’t seem necessary for this dish so I omitted it.
-I used whole wheat penne, which was fine as long as you cook it until it’s really soft
-I used whole wheat bread crumbs in the topping (the recipe doesn’t specify what type) and it added a great flavor
-the recipe calls for 1/4 cup margarine for sauteeing the bread crumbs. I halved this and it was totally fine.

MoFo #2 — Apple & Endive Salad with Maple Pecans

2 Oct

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Happy Tuesday! It’s fall salad day and today’s recipe is from one of my favorite books, Veganomicon. I love this book so much that I’ve given it as gifts and make sure to carry it in my luggage on trips to see my parents. It’s got lots of omni-friendly comfort food recipes as well as fancy pants stuff that I like to save for special occasions. Mofo is a great time for me to try out some of the fancier recipes (like a salad that requires 45 min prep time!), so last night I made pear & endive with maple candied pecans.

Toasting and candying the pecans makes this salad a little time intensive, but boy is it worth it! I love candied pecans — we give them out every year as Christmas gifts and even take them on hiking or backpacking trips as a sweet and energy-packed snack. This was the first time I used maple syrup as the sugar source and it was really delicious. It was also way easier to keep the sugar from crystallizing on the pecans.

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Since Mr. Chickpea doesn’t like pears, I swapped them for apples. Then I realized I only had green apples and my pics would look really boring. I rooted around in the cabinets for something red, deciding on a pinch of red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, and some leftover pomegranate seeds. I think I’ll do this every time I make this recipe because wow — although I didn’t really taste the pomegranate, the smokiness and slight bitterness of paprika along with the kick from the chile flakes really made this salad delicious.

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The verdict:
I don’t know if I would use endive again — it’s hard to find and expensive ($2 per piece!!) and I think you could sub in chopped hearts of romaine and not miss a thing. I didn’t have white balsamic, which is recommended for the dressing, so I’d like to try a sweeter vinegar and see what it’s like. The red wine vinegar, which is what’s recommended as an alternate, was just ok. The sweetness of the pecans and fruit complemented everything so well, and it’s such a light dish and seems so fancy, that this is definitely in the running for my salad course this Thanksgiving!

Snobby Joes

8 Mar

Just a pic from dinner tonight. If you’ve never had snobby joes from Veganomicon, stop what you’re doing right now and make them! I added a little TVP for texture but it’s definitely not a requirement.

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