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.

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.

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.

Vegan Corn & Potato Chowder

You know how sometimes you’re scrolling through Facebook and you see a vegan dish that calls to you? Well that’s what happened to me with this meal. There is no long story about why I love it or why I was craving it, just a simple case of I saw it. I wanted it. I made it.

Back in my non-vegan days, I couldn’t not stand chowder because I have never been a fan of milk or heavy cream, but after seeing a photo, I decided to give a shot. So, after a long walk on a very cold day in Romania, I whipped out my ingredients and tried my hand at vegan corn & potato chowder.

The ingredient list for this vegan chowder is pretty simple:

Vegan Brunch Recipe ~ Hangover Edition

Happy New Year!

I’m not much for resolutions and all that, so my sincere hope for you is that 2021 is better than the previous year. Cook better. Eat better. LIve better. Be better.

And I just might be able to help you with the first two. Maybe.

Full disclosure: I was not hungover when I whipped up this recipe but as I put it all together, it occurred to me that this the perfect vegan breakfast fry up for when you consume a little too much booze the night before. But hey, even if you don’t overdo it, this is a great vegan meal to put together on a Sunday afternoon, or any other day you enjoy brunch.

Unlike most vegan breakfast recipes, you won’t find tofu scramble here but not becuase I don’t love them, I totally do. The real reason is just simple oversight, I thought I had firm tofu in the fridge and when I went to search for it, surprise! No tofu.

The Easiest Vegan Sweet Potato Pie EVER!

Although Thanksgiving in the United States has come and gone, the season for sweet potato pie is still upon us and I, for one, think that as long as you can find sweet potatoes then you have time/room for pie!

And when it comes to making vegan desserts, I know that sometimes all the substitutions can make vegan baking a daunting task but this vegan sweet potato recipe is easy and delicious. And the best part? No pie crust!

If you’re in the market for a quick and easy vegan pie, keep reading.

Let’s start with the vegan pie crust because, and I can admit this because we’re all friends here, it is my vegan baking weakness. The first problem is that here in Romania I have a hard time finding actual vegan butter, it’s just margarine which has too much water to make a good vegan pie crust. The second problem is that I have yet to make a vegan pie crust with coconut oil that didn’t just go limp and lifeless.

Visch & Chips – Vegan Fish & Chips: Take Three

I know what you’re thinking because I’ve been thinking the same thing myself, when is this woman going to give up on her quest for a proper vegan fish and chips? The answer is, “Probably a few more times.”

Seriously though, this time my goal wasn’t to make this dish taste anything like vegan fish & chips, but rather the goal was to get that crispy cornmeal crusted crunchiness on the textured vegan protein. So in that regard, I would say that this is a win.

But I must warn you, it ain’t pretty.

For starters, let me explain the reason for the odd spelling. I spent some time living in Germany and there, fish is spelled “f-i-s-c-h” and my concession to that was “v-i-s-c-h” and so there we have it, Visch & Chips.

Okay, now that we have that settled, let’s talk about the simplicity of this easy vegan fish & chips dish.

Beyond Meatball & Brussels Sprouts Shepherd’s Pie

This is a pretty simple vegan recipe, especially if you’re already familiar with the ins and outs of making vegan Shepherd’s pie. You’ll need: protein, vegetables and of course…MASHED POTATOES!!!

This isn’t one of my own creations but I saw something similar on the internet and then a few weeks later the market actually had a good batch of Brussels sprouts, which honestly had been looking a little sad and depressing for the past few weeks. And even better, they were small enough to accommodate this kind of dish.

If you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts then you’re probably not cooking them right, but I highly recommend this easy vegan recipe to re-introduce you to the tiny cabbage cousin.

The ingredients list for this vegan shepherd’s pie is pretty easy:

Beyond Burgers (2)
Potatoes
Oat & almond milk (no sugar)
Vegan butter
Brussels sprouts
Vegan mozzarella

That’s it. Sounds too simple, right?

There’s no such thing but this is a quick and easy weeknight vegan dinner, ya know, if you’re looking for one.

The photos for this particular meal weren’t all that exciting, but that’s just because the meal is so simple and compact.

Step 1: Clean the Brussels sprouts and mark a little ‘x’ in the bottom, then boil about 3 minutes or until softened. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through, just enough to get the cooking process started since they will finish in the oven.

Step 2: Grab the Beyond burgers and season with salt, pepper, smoky paprika, minced garlic and ground cumin. That will make them plenty flavorful, but add whatever herbs & spices you prefer. Form them into bite sized balls and pan fry or drop in the air fryer for a few minutes. Feel free to add sautéed onion to this and combine the vegan balls, sprouts and onions before it’s time to put everything in the oven so the flavors meld together beautifully.

Step 3: Clean & chop the potatoes and bring them to a boil. When properly softened, mash with plant milk and vegan butter until smooth. Add vegan mozzarella and you’re all set.

Step 4: Assemble. We opted for individual glass ramekins but you could totally put this into a casserole dish and serve it family style.

Step 5: Bake.

Step 6: Eat.

It’s just as easy as that, I swear!

If you want to cut calories from this 700 calorie vegan meal, here are a few tips:

Omit the vegan butter, using some of the starchy water from the potatoes to get the same smooth, creamy texture.

Use one Beyond burger for the vegan meatballs and increase the Brussels sprouts.

Take out the vegan mozzarella altogether. It’s just there for flavor but mashed potatoes don’t need no stinkin’ vegan cheese to taste good!

If you try this meal out, I’d love to see photos! Hit me up on Facebook or Instagram!

Vegan Pub Fare: Falafel Balls & Baked Fries

One of the things I’m always trying to do is find ways to take the greasy foods I love and make them a little bit healthier and more calorie friendly. Thanks to my trusty air fryer, that’s now a possibility. But there are some days when you want to just pop some stuff into the oven and call it a day.

Right?

When it comes to falafel, you usually end up with a lot of oil for frying so this was a challenge. Let’s see if you like what I’ve come up with!

This is a relatively easy dish to make and even more so if you don’t have to stand in front of the stove, turning the vegan falafel balls so each side gets nice and crispy. If you have your own vegan falafel mix recipe, feel free to use it, or just grab these ingredients from the pantry:

Garbanzo beans
Onion (grated)
Parsley (optional)
Nutritional yeast
Soy sauce
Garlic
Flour (whole wheat or chickpea)
Water (only if the mix is too thick)

I prefer to pulse the chickpeas alone in the food processor first so they break down and get crumbly but you can always do everything all at once if you’re a lazy vegan. Season with salt, pepper and smoky paprika, or whatever else you feel like using and form into balls.

You might need to let it rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes and if you have time, I suggest you do that…maybe while the oven preheats (or the oil heats up if you decide to deep fry).

Form the falafel mix into balls and lay on a lightly greased parchment paper, cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegan balls start to crisp up. If you find that it’s taking too long, turn on the top heat and crank up the heat for an extra 5 minutes.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can bake the falafel and fries at the same time!

For the potatoes, just cut into the desired shape/width/length and season. We went for a spicy cajun-masala blend because of the creamy lemon & dill veggiegurt dipping sauce (which I forgot to photograph) so they came out a little on the spicy side.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until crispy and you’ve got easy vegan pub food in 30 minutes or less!

I haven’t had falafels in a long time and this was a good, pita-free, way to enjoy them without sacrificing my love of potatoes!

If you decide to try these vegan falafel balls, please share the recipe with me!