Vegan Meatloaf Dinner: Take ONE

Trying out new things is kind of my jam and even if they don’t turn out photo-worthy, they are almost always tasty and I will always consider that a success. Always.

There are some vegan meat brands, like Beyond, which work very well as a direct meat substitute if you want to make vegan meatballs or Bolognese, but that’s not always available and that’s when you have to get creative and experiment a little bit.

Recently I wanted to make meatloaf, like old school, 1980’s style meatloaf with the retro feel but updated for, you know, the 21st Century vegan.

It tasted delicious but it wasn’t all that pretty. #Notsorry

My problem when creating this vegan meatloaf dinner was that I tried to make it too healthy, or rather too calorie-friendly and that impacted the structure of the vegan meatloaf. Oh, and maybe it had something to do with the vegan mince I used from Verdino, it isn’t an exact substitute so it needed more magic than I gave it.

Mujadarrah Inspired Cauliflower & Soya

I’ve been away for a while. A long while. First my husband had the flu while I was editing my latest book and then, for the very first time in my life, I was taken down with the flu as well. It was awful and an experience that I never, ever, ever want to experience again. So the blog had to take a backseat and now, I’m back. 😀

Yes, I’m calling this a mujadara even though there are no lentils in it. Sue me.

I wanted the flavors of this dish without the lentils so after a few adjustments, I was armed with tofu, a beautiful head of cauliflower and brown basmati rice, and I was ready to get the vegan mujadara started.

When it comes to cooking cauliflower, I prefer to cook it separately and usually in the oven because it gets those nice crispy edges in the oven or the air fryer. For this particular recipe, I used a combination of Indian spices and peanut oil, tossed with the cauliflower and then laid out on a baking sheet. It can take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes in the oven, or about 15 to 20 in the air fryer, but you should use your eyes and your mouth to decide when your cauliflower is perfectly ready.

Pick a rice and cook it according to the package instructions. I used brown basmati here because I wanted a grain with a bit of a bite.

For the rest of the recipe you’ll need: rehydrated TVP or tofu if you have it handy, onion, garlic, ginger, green chili pepper and Korean chili paste. The onions should be cooked until caramelized as this will provide SO much flavor to this dish and it is a key in any mujadarrah recipe.

Cook it on the stovetop until everything is fragrant and tender. Toss all the ingredients together and heat through, and then get your yum-yum on!

Garnish with thinly sliced scallions and you’re good to go. A delicious vegan meal in less than an hour.

What is your favorite way to eat cauliflower?

Vegan Burgers & Mushroom Buns & Fries

There’s no real secret to making a good vegan burger or delicious crispy fries, is there? I mean we all have our little tricks that we use but at the end of the day, it comes down to seasoning and bun type.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t all love a good burger now and again, am I right?

So instead of a long Friday post, I’m just going to show you some photos and give you a few tips that I like to use for the best vegan burger imaginable.

So I had this idea that I wanted a juicy vegan cheeseburger but instead of bread, I wanted to use the nice Portobello mushroom caps as the bun and as you can see…I didn’t think to count them before getting started.

Tip #1: Check your ingredients thoroughly and make sure you have enough to make what you want to make.

Tip #2: Use vegan Worcestershire sauce to season your vegan burgers. IF you make your own patties, add it during the mixing stage, if you’re buying pre-made patties, add a few toothpick holes and let the sauce get all the way into the burger. Some vegans use liquid aminos, but I haven’t used them yet so I have no opinion on them. If you do, feel free to share in the comments section!

I’d recommend using a grill to cook the Portobello so you get the nice grill marks and a “bun” that’s not too juicy.

Tip #3: Use the diner steam method to melt the cheese. Add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet with your burgers, toss the cheese on top and cover for about 1 minute or until the vegan cheese starts to melt.

The potatoes were tossed with herbs & spices and oil, and cooked in an air fryer for 13 minutes. That time is totally subjective and depends on how crispy you like your potatoes.

Add your favorite burger topping and enjoy…just don’t expect pretty pictures!

Vegan Sausage & Bean Casserole w/Garlicky Mashed Potatoes

I know, I know. Beans and sausage are both proteins and totally unnecessary in one desk. I know. Really, I do. In fact, most nights of the week I’ll be the annoying vegan making that argument. But a deal is a deal and when we decided, ages ago, that as long as we had the ingredients and the know-how, we would make the dish the other person requested to the best of our ability.

And we’d just bought some Verdino brand vegan sausages, and there are ALWAYS beans in the pantry, so I had no excuse not to do it. Other than being difficult, of course, which I am always happy to do.

But, I didn’t. Bummer.

But, life goes on.

He asked for Sausage & Bean casserole with mashed potatoes and this is what I came up with.

Before we get to the yummy smells and full bellies, we need to gather our ingredients.

Ingredients:
Cannellini beans
Vegan sausage
Onion
Garlic
Potatoes
Bell pepper
Dried chili peppers
Red wine
Tomatoes (fresh or crushed)
Vegan butter
Plant milk (I used almond, unsweetened)
Thyme
Bay leaf

You can cook the vegan sausages in the pan to start if you’d like, but I cranked the oven up and cooked them in there, turning every 3 to 5 minutes until good & crispy on all sides. It’s a good way to multi-task and a better way to make this a no oil added vegan dish.

Take a minute to get your potatoes boiling so everything finishes around the same time.

Next, heat up the skillet and add the onion, dried chilies and bell pepper, cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant.

Then, add the red wine and simmer until it starts to reduce.

Add beans and cover, simmer 10 to 20 minutes, or until a thick sauce starts to form.

When potatoes are tender, drain and reserve some of the starchy water in a measuring cup. Add the vegan butter to the same hot pot you used to boil the potatoes until it sizzles. Toss in the minced garlic until brown & fragrant, turn down heat and remove the pot to a sturdy, flat surface so you can give the potatoes a proper mashing.

Use plant milk and starchy water to get the consistency you’re going for and return to heat until its warmed through.

Take the vegan sausages from the oven and toss with the bean sauce, serve on top of the potatoes.

This meal is perfect when you want red wine in your dinner instead of with it, when the weather gets cold, which it seems be doing whenever it feels like for the past few weeks, or when you’re in the mood for a protein-heavy vegan meal. It’s pretty much perfect any way you look at it.

Enjoy and if you try this recipe, I’d love to hear/see it, so hit me up on Instagram.

Fire Noodles & Mongolian Style Tofu

These days I’m loving the mix & match meals that my partner and I have been enjoying. What is a ‘mix & match’ meal, you ask?

Easy, it’s a meal that can actually be two separate meals but you decide to put’em together to create something vegan and delicious. Some people, fancier people than me, might call it fusion but it’s not meant to be a modern statement on any particular cuisine type or anything like that, just a way for the greedy vegan in you to enjoy two things at once.

My hubs wanted Mongolian style vegan beef and fire noodles, and he asked which one would be easier to make and since he was so sweet to ask…I made them both.

The recipe name might not be pretty and to be honest, my photos leave A LOT to be desired. But what you really want to know is, was it delicious?

Hell yeah, it was!

You might think that making two separate dishes is more time consuming, but it’s not. Well, not as long as you do a little bit of prep work.

Step one: Gather your ingredients

I made enough for two adults who eat proper portion sizes, so use that as your best estimate for how much to use, or sign up for Cronometer or any other calorie tracking app. If you’re not there yet, consult the nutrition information on the package.

Step Two: Hydrate the TVP
Obviously if you’re using tofu or seitan or tempeh, you can just follow those instructions, but I used TVP so if you do that, I recommend getting it going as early as possible.

Step Three: Cook ginger, onion, chili pepper, garlic & scallions
I didn’t use any oil, just a bit of water to get it going before seasoning, but cook your veggies how you like.

Step Four: Add TVP to air fryer
I wanted the soy to be nice and crispy before adding it to the vegetables and sauce, if you want it less crispy, drain the TVP and toss it right in once the vegetables are done.

Step Five & Six: Make the SAUCE
The Mongolian sauce is soy sauce based with brown sugar and a cornstarch slurry to thicken. I added chili peppers and Korean chili flakes to spice it up, but you can add ketchup or bbq sauce or premade teriyaki sauce if you like.

For the fire noodles, I used Korean chili paste, butter, tomato paste, spicy mustard and water to thin out the sauce just enough that it was easy to toss the ramen noodles with it.

and there you have it, a quick and easy vegan dinner that will satisfy your craving for noodles, Mongolian beef or just Asian food in general. Don’t be afraid to improvise and taste as you go along.

What’s your favorite vegan mix & match meal?

Lazy But Tasty Vegan Dinner ~ Meatless Balls with Broccoli & Rice

I don’t always use meat alternatives when I cook, in fact I try not to use them too often just because you can’t go wrong with a plate full of whole food foods. But times are rough and sometimes your self-care just has to be a bigger priority without sacrificing healthy choices, and when that happens you need a lazy but tasty vegan dinner.

Lazy meals don’t necessarily mean vegan comfort food so just get thoughts of vegan pizza or deep fried cauliflower wings out of your head right now. Lazy mostly, for the sake of this vegan food post, means quick and easy.

Not a lot of prep time.

Not a long list of ingredients.

And it doesn’t get easier than this. Okay, yeah it does but you’re an adult and you still need to eat your veggies.

So. Eat. Your. Veggies.

All you’ll need is: vegan meatballs, rice, broccoli, onion, red bell pepper and whatever you want from your herbs & spices.

That’s it.

No more.

Vegan Cabbage Cakes & Garlic Mash

Looking for something greasy and fried without the hassle of deep frying? Or the calories? Yeah, me too and that’s how I found these yummy vegan cabbage cakes, and don’t worry, there’s more than cabbage in these babies!

These little cakes are satisfying to eat, packed with veggies, which means packed with nutrients and super easy to make. I realized after the fact that I should have tried to make these in the air fryer, but I didn’t so here we are.

Vegan cabbage cakes with creamy garlic mashed potatoes.

They key, I realized, to making a really good crab cake is the dreaded ‘u’ word. Uniformity. That’s right, all the veggies need to be thinly slice and as even as possible. You could probably even use a box grater or the grater option on your food processor for the cabbage, carrots, onion and garlic.

Hot & Spicy Tofu and Oyster Mushrooms w/Pickled Bok Choy

Some days you just feel like getting weird with it and on those days, well, you get weird with it.

I recently bought some new hot sauce, Crazy Bastard brand hot sauce, and so you know I had to indulge my love of all things spicy and delicious. I couldn’t go completely crazy because my partner does not handle the super hot foods all that well and I love him, so I guess I have to take it easy on the fella.

Mostly…

We still had some really good looking oyster mushrooms in the fridge and I knew exactly what I wanted, something simple so the hot sauce could be the star of the meal, and something to take the heat off if necessary. (It was totally necessary, btw)

So, if you’re ready to get hot & spicy, grab your favorite vegan meat alternative, mushrooms, bulgur and bok choy leaves and let’s do this! Oh, and let’s not forget the hot sauce.

Let’s start with the mushrooms because I like to put mine in the oven and let them get crispy on the edges while keeping the moisture in the big part of the cap. Dust off the dirt and grime with a wet napkin or towel, and trim them before you weigh them (if that’s your jam, but it’s totally mine).

Sweet & Spicy Apricot Mushrooms & Tofu Vegan Dinner

I don’t know about you guys, but I love to cook. I don’t have a problem with blasting some music or listening to a true crime podcast while I get busy in the kitchen. Whether it’s making my favorite dessert from scratch–brownies–or any other thing that’s asked of me, I’ll do it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m all that creative in the kitchen. I will mix and match with the best of’em. For example, I recently made Jerk Cabbage Ramen and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. But vegan cooking isn’t my main job, or even my second job. It’s more of a passion so when it comes to creativity, I have no problem looking to others for inspiration.

One of my favorite vegan food blogs is Rabbit & Wolves because they have tons of unique vegan recipes and they’re just complicated enough to be challenging without pissing me off. So a few weeks back I was scrolling through recipes in search of something delicious and made with mushrooms, and most importantly, something I hadn’t eaten in the past, oh I don’t know, six months.

And that’s when I spotted it. Sticky. Apricot. Mushrooms.

Yep, you heard me right. I was like, “what?” And then I immediately knew what I wanted my partner to make on our next Midnight Tokyo Diner night. But when that night rolled around, there were no apricots and no apricot jam anywhere in the house, because who the heck keeps apricot jam on hand?

Easy Vegan Comfort Food ~ Vegan Schnitzel & Cheesy Pasta

Many of my friends think that eating a vegan diet means always eating healthy, and it doesn’t. Sure, most days I try to eat a whole food, plant based diet with plenty of fresh & colorful vegetables, grains, beans and legumes.

That doesn’t always happen.

As a professional writer and self-published author, there is a lot on my plate and sometimes I just want something hot and yummy and not necessarily totally healthy, and that’s all right because I work out regularly and I am as active as possible when I’m not parked in front of a computer screen.

So when I want to eat a greasy vegan schnitzel with creamy cheesy pasta and broccoli, I do.

This post doesn’t require a full on recipe because you can find your favorite brand of vegan chicken, or make your own vegan fried chicken, and cook in the air fryer or the oven with your desired seasonings. I used garlic, black pepper and smoky paprika and popped it in the oven on 200C so it would be crispy enough not to get soggy on top of the pasta.