Category Archives: Comfort Food

TLAT — My New Favorite Sandwich


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I LOVE the TLT at Om Cafe in Ferndale (and now Traverse City too!). I developed a bread/sandwich thing while pregnant and certain aspects of it have not yet left me. I still crave that sandwich regularly, but haven’t had it in several weeks.

Today I got the babe down for a nap and found myself starving — I only had juice I made this morning. What I really wanted was that TLT. Then I realized, I had the ingredients to make a pretty good rip-off myself.

I started with organic tempeh. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically a bunch of fermented soybeans smashed together into a brick. It’s really high in both fiber and protein and also has good amounts of iron and calcium.

I started by cutting the brick in half, then cutting each half into three thin slices. I browned the slices in a sauté pan in a little bit of oil and seasoned them with Miracle Blend from Michigan’s own Alden Mill House.

sandwichI popped a couple of slices of bread into the toaster and sliced a small tomato and an avocado. My favorite method for that is to cut the avocado into two halves, use your knife to make slices while still in the shell, then use a large spoon to scoop them all out at once.

I grabbed my Organic Girl 50/50 blend and a jar of Follow Your Heart Pesto Vegenaise I picked up a couple of weeks ago but hadn’t tried yet.

In about 5 minutes, I built this sandwich and I have to say — DELICIOUS. This will definitely be a go-to when I’m having a TLT craving. Don’t worry, OM. I’m still your biggest fan.

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Spicy Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Chili

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A few weeks ago I came across a recipe online for a pumpkin lentil chili and I finally made it last night! It was supposed to be beef-based, so of course I axed that. You can find the original recipe HERE. I tweaked a few things based on what I had on hand (I can’t find the jalapenos I KNOW I bought for the life of me, I wanted a few more lentils since there was no other protein, etc. in it). So, the following is what I did.

The pumpkin flavor is hidden and it makes the chili thicker and creamier. If your kiddos (or perhaps a picky spouse!) like chili you could take the spice down a bit and this is a way you can hide some extra veggies in there. Pumpkin does add a little protein as we as several vitamins.

I think you could just as easily throw all the ingredients into a crock pot for a couple of hours too. Either way, give yourself a little time. This needs to simmer for an hour or two.

Ingredients
• 2/3 small can pumpkin
• 1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce
• 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (any variety will do)
• 1 c. dried lentils (I used brown lentils)
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 c. vegetable broth
• 1 green pepper, diced
• 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and diced, some adobo sauce added.
• 3 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
• 1 tsp. oregano
• 1 1/2 tsp.  chili powder
• olive oil

Garnishes: I garnished with Daiya cheddar flavor vegan cheese, Tofutti sour cream and sliced green onions

1. Saute onion, garlic and green pepper in a large pot or Dutch oven. I used my new favorite, the amazing Calphalon Dutch Oven I got as a wedding gift this summer. I use it for everything. If you are using fresh jalapenos, I’d add them now too.

2. Once the onions, etc. are softened add everything else! Let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. I had some after 1 1/2 hours and there was still a little “bite” to the lentils, but it was 9:30 p.m. and I was hungry! Round two is going to be delicious (and probably spicier!) tonight. Enjoy!

Vegan Spinach Lasagna

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Oh. My. Word. We have just finished eating and I promise, this lasagna tastes like the “real” thing. I guess that’s not even fair to say. This WAS real lasagna, it just doesn’t use cheese. Thus, I’m full, but not heavy. Feel satisfied, but not greasy.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler. I took it from a back version of Vegetarian Times. You could easily adapt this to include all kinds of vegetables, but this simple recipe is definitely a keeper. 

Ingredients
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 2 c. chopped yellow onion (about 1/2  to 3/4 large onion)
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 10 oz. bag fresh baby spinach
• 24 oz. firm tofu, drained
• 8 oz. vegan cream cheese
• 1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
• 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
• 5 1/2 c. pasta sauce
• 12 uncooked lasagna noodles
• 12 oz. vegan Italian sausage or soy crumbles, broken apart (optional)
• 1 c. vegan shredded mozzarella
• vegan parmesan cheese (I added this on my own for a little extra something)
• salt and pepper (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Fill your 9 x 13 pan with hot tap water and soak noodles until ready to layer lasagna. This is a little trick I do with noodles that are supposed to be boiled. It’s a lot less hassle and the noodles still cook through every time.

2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat and sauté onion and garlic for about five minutes, until softened or golden. Add spinach and cook for a few minutes, until wilted.

3. Transfer mixture to food processor, along with tofu, cream cheese, basil and nutritional yeast. Process until smooth and resembles ricotta. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Drain noodles and set aside — paper towels work.

I mistakenly thought I had a large can of crushed tomatoes at home, so I couldn’t whip up my go-to marinara. I did, however, have a jar of Newman’s Own Marinara (I swear I don’t work for them — I just happened to have N.O. items two days in a row). I found one jar not quite as much as I would like, but it got us by just fine.

4. Spread 1/4 of the sauce on bottom of a 9 x 13 glass pan or other baking dish, then layer the lasagna as follows:
4 noodles
half of filling
1/4 of sauce (and a quick sprinkle of parm, if using)
4 noodles
rest of filling
sausage,  if using (we went sans sausage for this)
1/4 of sauce
4 noodles
rest of sauce
shredded mozzarella and more parm

5. Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes or until bubbling (30 should be plenty though). Uncover and bake another 15 to 20 minutes more, or until noodles are done and cheese is melty. With my noodle trick, they should definitely be done!

6. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

I threw together this easiest soup ever last night in about 15 minutes before heading to a friend’s to pass out candy. Boy was I glad I had when I returned home this afternoon after chaperoning my stepdaughter’s school field trip to the zoo — five hours mostly outside in 40-degree weather! I paired it with a vegan grilled cheese sandwich and felt like I was her age back in my mom’s kitchen on a cold day.

Ingredients
• 1 c. celery, diced
• 1/2 c. yellow onion, diced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 3, 14 1/2 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I grabbed a few different kinds — Italian herbs, roasted garlic, and fire roasted tomatoes. Use whatever you like!)
• 3/4 c. cream (of course, you could use regular whipping cream if you’re not vegan, but why when there are so many vegan creamers? I went with my favorite — So Delicious Coconut Creamer.)
• 3/4 c. water
• salt and pepper
• chopped fresh basil (the store was out, so I bought one of those squeezy bottles of organic basil. Worked for me!) Add to taste.

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat and cook diced onion and celery until softened.

2. Add cans of diced tomatoes and heat through.

3. Leave chunky or, like I did, grab your handy immersion blender and blend until it’s smoother, with not as many chunks (but not completely smooth).

4. Whisk in cream and water, season with salt and pepper and add basil to taste (I put in probably 2 Tbsp. of the basil paste).

5. Enjoy! It’s that easy.

Vegan Crockpot Lentil Sloppy Joes

I made vegan crockpot lentil sloppy joes on Fox 2 Detroit’s morning show for their Meatless Mondays segment. Check it out!

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=11212

Crockpot Lentil Sloppy Joes: MyFoxDETROIT.com

Vegan Asparagus Frittata

My Aunt Janet wins the award for Family Cheerleader. If anyone in the family passes a test, graduates, posts a photo to Facebook or sneezes, she is johnny-on-the-spot and “Likes” it, commenting something encouraging, within seconds. Following my culinary victories (I don’t so much share the failures! Except for that one time…) has been no different.

When my family visited her and her husband, Harv, in Orlando last February, she was excited to expand her culinary horizons into the vegetarian/vegan world and we took a little tour of the nearby Whole Foods.  One big introduction that day was my beloved vegan Daiya cheese (which just came out with a new block form of cheese, though I have yet to witness this in person). She was excited to experiment with it and we made some simple pita pizzas the next day for lunch.

The funny thing about Janet is that she was the epitome of a picky eater as a kid, or so the story goes. As one of six children, Grandma June wasn’t about to tailor make dinner  for each of the kids. Apparently Janet chose to make herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost nightly versus eating what the rest of the gang was eating. And now, here she is in her snowbird condo, reinventing her diet, just as she as continued to reinvent her life. It makes me happy when she reports in that she made an I Eat Veg recipe and I love getting texts from her with pictures of something new she tried.

This was true on Wednesday night when I got this picture of a vegan frittata — her first experience with tofu — and she loved it! I asked her to share the recipe and definitely will be making this at some point.

 

Thanks Aunt Janet!

Here is the recipe for the Asparagus Frittata…..we both loved it and it warmed up beautifully the next day!

Ingredients
• 2 Tbsp. unrefined peanut oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 c. asparagus, sliced in 1/2-inch diagonals
• 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
• 4 ounces vegan cheddar cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 lb. firm tofu
• 1/4 c. water
• 1/2 tsp. sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large
skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, asparagus and bell
pepper; cook, stirring, until the asparagus is tender crisp, about 5
minutes.  Add the cheese; remove from heat.  Stir until the cheese
begins to melt.

2.   Pulse the tofu, water, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt and
pepper to taste in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour
into a large bowl.  Stir in the vegetable mixture.  Pour into an oiled
9-inch pie pan, oven-safe skillet or shallow casserole; smooth the
top.

3.   Bake until set, 45 minutes.  Let cool before cutting into wedges,
ten minutes.  Serve warm with (optional) salsa.

I didn’t use any salsa and I used some pepper jack and cheddar Daiya
cheese because I wanted to use them up and I sprinkled a little extra
on top before baking 🙂   I think it would be equally delicious with
broccoli, mushrooms, or anything else that sounds good!

Vegan Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

I recently stopped by my favorite fruit and vegetable stand  to pick up a few things for dinner. I had glanced at a few recipes earlier in the day for stuffed acorn squash and knew I had most of the ingredients at home, so I just picked up two acorn squash, an onion, some mushrooms, some herbs and hoped for the best. Of course, I didn’t get around to making it, so when I had to run to my hometown this weekend I brought all the ingredients with me so I would have some “real” vegetarian food to eat while I’m here. I made it quickly when I got into town and, thanks to my early-riser nephews, I  have time to write this blog this morning.  🙂

There were several recipes for stuffed acorn squash that sounded good. Usually I end up combining several recipes, but when I came across this one on Healthy Crush: A Love Affair with Living Well, I realized I had all of the ingredients, so I decided  to make it verbatim.

This would be a great recipe for vegan Thanksgiving — it’s beautiful, it looks like fall and it tastes great. AND, there is a ton of extra filling so any meat-eaters could try it — it’s already gotten the thumbs up from 5 meat-eaters who tasted it last night. This recipe proves that eating healthy and eating vegan don’t have to be boring or bland.

Ingredients
• 2 large acorn squash
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• sea salt and pepper to taste
• 2 c. quinoa, uncooked
• 1 med. yellow onion
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 1 c. chopped mushrooms (any variety)
• 1 pkg. organic tempeh or 1 c. chickpeas
• 1 c. chopped fresh basil
• 2/3 c. raisins (I used golden)
• 2/3 c. pine nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds (I had pepitas on hand, so I went with those — I think walnuts would be good too)
• A few splashes of soy sauce or tamari
• A sprinkle of cayenne (mom’s not into heat, so she didn’t have any and I didn’t bring my own — so I omitted)
• A sprinkling of chopped fresh sage (I imagine jarred rubbed sage would be just fine too)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds. Place in oven-proof baking dish face up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes.

2.  While the squash is baking — make the stuffing! First prepare quinoa according to package directions. Place 2 c. quinoa with about 4 c. water (I always do just under — maybe 3 1/2-3 3/4 c. water). Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.

3. Dice/chop onions, mushrooms, garlic and tempeh and or chickpeas (I used tempeh because I had it on hand) and saute with a tiny bit of oil and a few splashes of soy sauce in a large saute pan. I actually started with the onions and garlic, then added in the mushrooms and tempeh. I sprinkled with salt and pepper, tasted and adjusted — adding a bit more soy sauce.

4. Add cooked quinoa to mixture and mix well. It seems like a lot — and it is. But the ratio ends up working really nicely together.

5. Add raisins, basil and nuts to the mixture.

6. At this point, the acorn squash should be just about done. (It really was perfect timing). Overfill with the mixture — I piled it as high as I could without it spilling over. If you’re aren’t vegan, Healthy Crush recommends topping with some goat cheese. I imagine feta or parm would be pretty good to. Place back in oven for 15 more minutes. The squash should be beginning to brown a bit and everything should be heated through.

7. Sprinkle with chopped/rubbed sage and dig in! There will be tons of stuffing leftover, but it’s delicious on its own too. If you like, the mixture will freeze easily for you to eat as a side dish another time.