January: 1 Tasty Month

january vegan banner

Man alive. Lady alive.  This month was soooooo yummy. It was also mostly-vegan; definitely not all, but it was super tasty and I’m already yielding the benefits of this catalytic lifestyle.

In order of amazingness. All VEGAN! Pictured below, also in order of amazingness.

  • Oh MY God, Veggie Pot Pie
  • Roasted Cherry Tomato and Eggplant Pizza
  • Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Pinwheels
  • Breakfast: The only breakfast recipe you’ll ever need again.
  • Sweet Potato Fries with Roasted Pepper/White Bean/Horseradish dip
  • Arugula and Cantaloupe Salad
  • Butternut Squash Rancheros, Cornbread
  • Potato Salad (Warning: So tasty you don’t notice they are chickpeas in it. What? Fine, don’t try it, more for me!)
  • Sticky Banana Bread Breakfast Bowl
  • Chocolate Chunk Brownies
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OMG Veggie Pot Pie

Vegan pot pie? Can that even be delicious…or even look the same? YES. And more than satisfying; sinful. When I sit down to veganize a recipe, I always consider WHY I’m craving what I absolutelyneedtomakebeforeIexplode. My gut reaction; I take some time to as my belly what makes this food delicious. Is it taste? Texture? Nostalgia? One particular ingredient? Color? To kill a craving, try to get to the heart of why you love the omnivorous foods you love, and make your substitutions accordingly.

For this, I turned to the ‘book. According to my family and friends, crust is the driving force behind a serious pot pie jones. That one was easy, a cheat that I will love and use for all eternity: puff pastry! Accidentally vegan, depending on the brand; who knew! Next time, I’ll go with my gut and cook the pastry separately (note the lack in golden-brown crispiness). I did, however, cook the second pastry from the package, on a separate pan. I heard you, I listened; I give you top AND bottom crust.

The meat: Brussel sprouts. The star of Thanksgiving 2012 firstmeal was Will’s version of Saveur’s Oaxacan Stuffing.  It was my first experience with the sprouts; even without being surrounded by bread casserole, the veg were pretty darn tasty. And hearty. Here, they were roasted with salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a sprig of rosemary.

The gravy: I am still giving myself a pat on the back for this one. This was my inspiration for the pot pie. When I first ventured into super healthy cooking, I fiddled with cauliflower potato combos in various stages of mush. One crushing vegventure ended with a crushing sloppy manilla mess that was too thin for anything other than a sauce. Boo, at first; then it occurred to me. Mashed potato sauce? Ummmm……OKAY! In the current rendition, I didn’t thin it out as much as it needed. In Josie-show terms, I was too nervous to try a vegan butter or milk substitute, and didn’t want to overload the gravy with vegetable broth taste. It was a little thick, but salty and creamy. I’ll take it.

All together: it was hearty, creamy, salty, flaky, with a good mix of chunky brussel sprouts and the usual carrots, corn and peas. It somehow lasted for several dinners and lunches. LOVE!

Roasted cherry tomato and eggplant pizza. So good. Ask Ashley.

Roasted cherry tomato and eggplant pizza. A healthy vegan alternative, which didn’t leave you wanting for cheese. For reals.

Spinach, sun dried tomato and roasted garlic pinwheels. YUMMY!

Spinach, sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic pinwheels.  Veganized version of this gem, the first recipe I cooked for a crowd. Thank you Ina!

Blueberry lemon pancakes...The only breakfast recipe (or pancake base!) you'll ever need again.

Blueberry lemon pancakes…The only breakfast recipe (or pancake base!) you’ll ever need again.

This month I discovered a vegan baking secret that has changed my cooking and baking. Where was I before I learned of the incredible rapid rising power of baking powder?? I suffered from floppy baked vegan baked goods for too long. You can find the recipe here, read on for one minorbutmajor change.

Note: I rarely follow a recipe to the letter of food law (I hardly follow any directions. I’m pretty sure that stopped in middle school). For these babies I did; please save yourmouths the agony and add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt instead of 1 T. of salt. ZONING OUT, didn’t even realize what I was doing; especially since it was in the recipe. Another tip: always make a test pancake. Unless you want to waste 45 minutes getting psyched for 100 pancakes only to have them taste like the ocean. Almost as bad a crummy french toast casserole. Almost.

My favorite mix-ins: blueberries, lemon zest and a little lemon juice. And some brown sugar. Vegan or not, this is one badass pancake recipe. TRY IT. I promise you won’t be sorry. And, it’s pretty cool to see the batter rise once it’s mixed! ❤ baking powder.

My favorite new way to char a pepper: lay it across the flame on my gas stove top. YUM!

My favorite new way to char a pepper: lay it across the flame on my gas stove top. YUM!

  

Sweet potato fries, hand sliced by W. Seasoned with Old Bay, salt and pepper. Roasted pepper dip with chick peas, tahini,  horseradish, lemon and parsley. GAME TIME FOOD!

Sweet potato fries, hand sliced by W. Seasoned with Old Bay, salt and pepper. Roasted pepper dip with white beans, tahini, horseradish, lemon and parsley. GAME TIME FOOD!

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No more BORING SALADS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Arugula, cantaloupe, pepper, a teeny bit of purple onion, and crushed almonds.

No more BORING SALADS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Arugula, cantaloupe, pepper, a teeny bit of purple onion, & crushed almonds.

Butternut squash rancheros and cornbread!

Butternut squash rancheros and cornbread, adapted from PPK!

Accidentally vegan cornbread: Betty Crocker package! Egg substitute: ground flax-seed mixed in water. Mix ins: corn and scallions. Budget tip: Check prices between isles. In our grocery store, dried herbs and spices are cheaper in the ethnic foods section than in the baking needs isle. Score!

Sadly, I do not have a picture of the potato salad. I mention the dish only as a shout out to those of you that can’t imagine how life’s worth living without eating animal product-laden delights such as p-salad. Vegan potato salad exists, without any weird soy products or crazy ingredients, and is totally delicious. Vegan potato salad. Not a unicorn.  Stay tuned for more dets.

Banana bread breakfast bowl: I posted a sneak picture of THIS recipe earlier in January. This time I meant to follow the recipe, I just…read half of it and estimated the rest.  It was delicious; next time I’ll leave the bananas in chunks, instead of mashing it, as the recipe suggests. Oops.

Aaaaaaand there aren’t any brownie pictures, because, well..there aren’t. But an accidentally vegan rec: read your labels. There are TONS of boxed mixes without powdered milk or egg, waiting right under your nose. PETA has a fancy list of tons of accidentally vegan products. Go nuts!

So what are you eating? What are your must-eats when it’s cold, gray and you can literally not leave your house or you’ll be fined/jailed?

Happy reading; happy eating…happy blizzarding!

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