Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

  Shepherd's Pie

   This is an entrée I love serving to meat-loving friends.  It’s fun to watch them try to figure out where the beef is!  It tastes like it’s there, but in reality it’s not.  Invariably, they have to admit this is a great version of the fat-laden Shepherd’s Pie they’re used to.  All the flavor, minus the artery-clogging cholesterol…what’s not to love?

As always, cook once but eat twice.  This recipe is easy to throw together if you have leftover Vegetarian Taco “Meat” http://vegtutor.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/recipe-vegetarian-taco-meat and cooked brown rice in the freezer.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. Vegetarian Taco “Meat”

1 1/2 cooked brown rice

1 small onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 tsp. olive oil

2 tsp. dried basil

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 c. dry bread crumbs

Bottom Layer:  Place Taco “Meat” and brown rice in a large bowl. Saute vegetables in oil for 4 – 5 minutes, then add to bowl with Taco “Meat” and rice.  Add spices, Dijon mustard, and bread crumbs. Stir with a large spoon to mix ingredients. Season with sea salt and pepper if desired. Spread mixture in an oil-sprayed glass casserole dish.

  Top Layer:  If you’re smart, you have leftover mashed potatoes on hand to make this recipe as simple as can be. If you don’t have any leftover mashed potatoes, here is a recipe:

Mashed Potatoes

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 qt. water

1/3 c. unsweetened rice, soy, or almond milk

1 – 2 Tbs. organic butter or substitute

salt and pepper to taste

   Bring water to a boil and add potatoes.  Reduce heat and cook 15 – 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add seasonings and use an electric mixer or hand masher to mash potatoes.  Add milk a little at a time as you mash until potatoes are thick and creamy with no lumps. Adjust seasonings to taste.

   Spread thick layer of mashed potatoes on top of the bottom layer of Shepherd’s Pie. Top with vegan parmesan cheese or Gomasio if desired.

   Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 -45 minutes

   Cut into thick slices and serve with vegan gravy.

December 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

Chen Vegetarian House, 709 Penn Ave. West Reading, PA 19611- Phone: 610-374-2288 or www.chenvegehouse.com

Chen Vegetarian House is an all vegetarian Asian restaurant with a full menu of vegetarian dishes to choose from…just what the health-minded people of Berks County have been waiting for!  Tonight was our first visit there and I was impressed.  We will be going back!  Although this is a small establishment, probably more geared to take-out than dining-in, our experience was entirely enjoyable.

We entered the newly remodeled restaurant (next to Haute Chocolat) and were promptly seated at one of the two tables by the window.  Several other tables were available near the take-out counter.  Our server answered all our questions and explained the menu (Yes, EVERYTHING on the menu is vegetarian — even the chicken, the beef, the pork, and the seafood).  They do not use MSG in any of their food.  We talked and drank green tea until our dinners arrived.  The spring rolls were piping hot and very fresh (not frozen and reheated).  My Pad Thai was delicious, seasoned perfectly with not too much “chicken” and lots of crunchy bean sprouts.  My husband ordered General Tso’s “Chicken” (his favorite) and we were both impressed by the quantity and presentation.  Our meals were delicious and the service was efficient and courteous.

Chen Vegetarian House also features something other Asian restaurants don’t offer — fresh vegetable and fruit juices (3.99) and fruit smoothies (4.29).  Hallelujah!

The menu states that lunches including white or brown rice, hot & sour soup or spring roll, and entrée are only $5.99.  To save time you can pre-order online and pick up at the counter. Business hours are Mon. – Thurs.: 11 am – 10 pm, Fri. and Sat.: 11 am – 10:30 pm, and Sun.: 12 pm – 9:30 pm.  Visa, Mastercard, and Discover are accepted.  Now until 1/31/2014 is their Grand Opening and you get 10% off a minimum $20 order!

If you want a healthy and delicious meal for not a lot of money, then I would highly recommend Chen Vegetarian House.

November 1, 2013 at 7:59 pm Leave a comment

Tomato Chips

This is the easiest way I have found to preserve your abundant tomato harvest.  Only two ingredients besides the tomatoes, and so simple!

The first thing you will do is thinly slice the tomatoes — not more than 1/4 inch thick.  Spread the slices in a single layer on the dehydrator mesh tray making sure the slices are not touching each other.  There is no need to line the tray with a teflex sheet or parchment paper.20130917_211051 tomato chips ready for dehydrator, 2

Lightly sprinkle each slice with a little Herbamare (or any sea salt and herb seasoning you desire). Then top with some nutritional yeast. Dehydrate for 6 – 8 hours or overnight.  Store in a tightly covered glass jar in the pantry, and they’ll stay crisp all winter. 20130921_134958 tomato chips jarred, 2

Bet you can’t eat just one!

September 30, 2013 at 3:47 pm 3 comments

Vegan Wendy’s Frosty

There are several versions of a Vegan Wendy’s Frosty out there.  I’ve tried a few, and played around with the recipe until I came up with one that suited me.  Of course it isn’t full of fat like the original, but it is cold, sweet and creamy.  If you like chocolate, but not the fat and calories that go with it, then I think this version will satisfy very nicely. Hope you like it!

This recipe makes enough for two large servings — one for you and one for a friend.20130812_122328

Ingredients:

3 frozen bananas, broken into pieces

2 Tbsp. carob powder or cacao powder

12 -15 ice cubes (depends on the size)

3/4 cup almond milk

12 – 20 drops vanilla stevia

Method:

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender (one that can crush ice).  Turn on high and blend until smooth and creamy, stirring occasionally if necessary.  Add a little more almond milk, if necessary.  Adjust the amount of vanilla stevia to suit your taste. Yum!

August 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

Veggie Lasagna

A word to the wise: If you’re trying to change your family’s eating habits to a healthier vegetarian diet, please don’t serve them a green smoothie or a blended salad to start out.  Unfamiliar and unrecognizable food like that will only shock them into resistance. Give your family something they are used to, something they can identify and already enjoy eating — but make it healthier, lower in fat and calories, with no animal ingredients.  This is a delicious recipe even a carnivore can enjoy.  It may become one of your family’s favorites!

Ingredients:

1 chopped onion

1 clove minced garlic

1 lb. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

8 oz, sliced mushrooms, rinse well and drain

12 – 15 lasagna noodles

1 container (12.3 oz) Mori-Nu silken tofu, drained and mashed with a fork

¼ c. vegan parmesan topping, plus another 1/2 c. reserved for top

1 Tbs. parsley flakes

1 tsp. oregano

1 ½ tsp sea salt

12 oz. shredded vegan mozzarella (Soya Kaas or Daiya are good brands)

1 ½ qt. any good meatless spaghetti sauce (reserve 1 c.)

Method:

– Cook noodles according to package directions.

–Saute onions, garlic and mushrooms in 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add thawed, drained spinach and toss together.

–In a large bowl combine: tofu, ¼ cup veggie parmesan and spices. Add sautéed vegetables and mix together with a fork.

–In an ungreased oblong casserole layer:

A thin layer of sauce

¼ noodles

¼ sauce

¼ tofu mixture

¼ vegan mozzarella

Repeat this process three times.

–Spread reserved 1 cup sauce over top layer of noodles.  Sprinkle with ½ cup vegan parmesan topping. (At this point lasagna can be covered and refrigerated for several hours.)

–Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (allow additional 10 – 15 minutes if lasagna has been refrigerated.)

For easier cutting, let stand for 15 minutes after removing from oven.

May 15, 2013 at 10:18 pm 2 comments

Raw Pizza Crackers

We made these raw crackers in this week’s Cooking for Health Class, and they are delicious! Serve them with a dip, hummus, or eat them plain.  You will enjoy the pizza flavor which can be enhanced by adding garlic or red pepper flakes if you like your pizza spicy.  The recipe makes two full trays of crackers.  The photo shows how many crackers you will get from one recipe (of course that depends on how big you make them, too).  Easy to make ahead so take some to the next party  — enough for yourself and to share!                                                                                                   20130403_180507 Pizza Crackers

Ingredients:

2 cups ground flaxseed

2/3 cup whole flaxseed

2 large skinned plum tomatoes

2 Tbs. Italian Seasoning

1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

2 Tbs. nutritional yeast

1 1/3 cups whole raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup sesame seeds

2 cups water (add up to 1/2 cup more, a little at a time, if needed)

Optional additions:  garlic powder, red pepper flakes, onion powder, chopped fresh basil

Nothing needs to be soaked.  Simply mix all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well.

Spread 1/2 batter on each of two dehydrator trays covered with teflex sheets or parchment paper.  Use the back of a spoon to spread batter evenly about 1/4 inch, thick keeping batter as square as possible.  (If you have a round dehydrator you could drop batter by spoon and spread into individual rounds).

Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 2 hours. They should be starting to harden.  At this point, take a sharp knife and score the crackers (don’t cut all the way through) into squares or triangles as big as you want them to be. (If you score the crackers now they will be easier to break apart when finished).

Pizza Crackers on Tray

Lower temperature and dehydrate at 105 degrees for 6 – 8 hours, until crackers are firm enough to move (go to work, go to school, go to bed).  Remove teflex sheet (some of the crackers may separate along scored lines…that’s okay), and continue to dehydrate at 105 degrees on mesh dehydrator tray until crackers are completely dry and crisp.

Separate crackers along scored lines.

These can be stored in an air-tight jar in your pantry for weeks…but they won’t last that long!

April 4, 2013 at 10:49 am 1 comment

Easter Onigiri

Onigiri may be new to Americans, but in Japan it is a common snack and bento box lunch treat for kids. Usually, they are small round or triangular rice balls filled with vegetable surprises.  Onigiri is an ancient food that history tells us was wrapped in leaves and carried by Samuri warriors into battle.  Today, making the cutest Onigiri, shaped and decorated like animals or people, has become somewhat of a crafty competition among Japanese mothers when preparing school lunches.

Easter Onigiri

With Easter approaching I was inspired to try making something I’d never seen — Easter Onigiri! It was a little tricky getting the colors I wanted naturally, without going the standard food coloring route, but I think these turned out pretty cute.  They’re really not that hard to make and would be a fun project to do with the kids.  What a colorful addition to an Easter buffet table instead of the usual hard-boiled eggs — and no messy eggshells to deal with!

Ingredients:

1 cup sushi rice

3 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. evaporated cane sugar

1 1/4 sea salt

1 sheet nori (to cut up for decorating)

Fillings:  1/2 inch slices canned baby corn, pickled radish (yummy!), red bell pepper, thawed frozen corn, diced avocado, etc.

I recommend making one color rice at a time.  To make the different colors you will need:

1 tsp. Turmeric - yellow

1 tsp. red beet powder (I’m sure Hallelujah Acres BeetMax* would work, too. You may have to adjust the amount to get the color you want) – pink

1 Tbs. Hallelujah Acres BarleyMax* – green (For brightest color, in a shaker cup put 1 ice-cube the BarleyMax and enough water to measure 1 1/2 cup. Shake vigorously until ice-cube dissolves. Add mixture, foam and all, to rice and cook as directed)

If you want to decorate white eggs, then add no coloring.

Method:

Rinse and drain rice several times (It takes about 5 times until the water is no longer cloudy). Place in a heavy saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and whatever coloring you choose. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to med/low. Simmer 12 minutes (don’t peek!) Remove from heat and let stand 1 minute.

Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, and sea salt. Mix in the hot rice until the liquid is absorbed. Spread on a foil covered baking sheet to cool for about 5 minutes.

Place a square of plastic wrap over a 1/2 c. custard bowl. Scoop a spoonful of rice into center of plastic wrap making a thumbprint indentation. Fill indentation with your choice of fillings. Cover with another spoonful of rice and pull up sides of plastic wrap. Twist and squeeze wrap around rice, forming a tight, smooth egg shape around filling. Unwrap and place onigiri on a large flat plate.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Decorate Onigiri with cut up nori.  Have a bowl of water nearby to glue down nori decorations.  If rice sticks to your fingers wet them to solve that problem.  I used die cut stamps (the kind used for scrapbooking) to stamp out flower and duck shapes, and a paper punch for little dots. Be creative — go wild!

*www.hacres.com

February 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm 1 comment

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