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?

Vegan Mince & Mushroom Stroganoff

Back in my non-vegan days, I wasn’t a big fan of any type of stroganoff. I don’t like adding sour cream to warm dishes and overall, I just thought it was too weird and creamy with tough beef. I realize now that maybe it was the cook that was problematic and not the dish, but I generally stayed away from it.

Until recently and my ongoing love affair with mushrooms.

We always have mushrooms in the fridge, provided we can find them. White button mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms. Porcini, Enoki, Portobello and my favorite, chanterelle mushrooms. I. Love. Them. All.

But this was my partner’s night to choose, so it wasn’t just mushroom stroganoff, there was some Naturli brand vegan mince added for good measure. So, let’s do this!

This dish is easy to make and doesn’t require very many ingredients. BUT if you want to add more and fancy it up, the choice is yours.

Couscous & Vegan Mince Stuffed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms. They are just…delicious.

You can use them as the ‘meat’ replacement if you’re just starting to transition to a vegan diet or lifestyle because they are sturdy and heavy and did I mention, delicious? You can grill them, fry’em, roast them in the oven or pop them in the air fryer. These suckers are very versatile, use them in your favorite mushroom vegan Buddha bowl.

I will put mushrooms in any vegan recipe I can from vegan risotto, to shredded barbecue oyster mushrooms on a bun and even vegan burgers.

I recently came across some of those giant mushrooms that are just perfect for a night of stuffed mushrooms, and then I found out that the new Romanian vegan food brand, Verdino, made a mince and I knew I had to try it out!

The hard part of any stuffed mushroom recipe is figuring out what to stuff it with. Do you load it up with veggies or look for a protein source? Since I already knew the Verdino mince was on the menu, it was time to fill up the giant brown and white mushroom caps.

I decided to keep this vegan dinner recipe simple with easy ingredients for both components of this dish. Inside the mushrooms are: couscous, shallots, sundried tomatoes, garlic, green bell pepper and vegan mince not meat.

Just saute the shallots, bell pepper and garlic, add in the mince last unless it’s really greasy, then add it first so you won’t need to add any additional oil, a perfect option if you want an oil-free diet option. Season and cook until brown and warmed through, set aside.

I recommend that you give it some time to cool down before you handle the mixture because you will end up using your hands.

Now, while this is all going on, you’ll have to make the couscous. Bring salted/seasoned water to a boil and add the couscous. Stir and remove from heat and, voila, couscous.

Annnnd, while you’re doing all that, you should get the mushrooms going in the oven unless you want them to get super water logged while stuffed. Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are still firm but starting to crisp around the edges.

Stuff the mushrooms with your vegan mince mixture and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Oh and as my Hubs suggested, add cheese on top if you want, but you don’t need them.

If you mis-measured the way I did, put the rest of the mix on the plate to make a ‘bed’ of stuffed mushroom goodness.

Since we know this isn’t a proper vegan dinner for any grownup vegan, what will you add with these stuffed mushrooms? You can go with fries because they DO go with just about everything. But I opted for carrot, garlic & ginger soup instead. Please be kind because the photo, well, it isn’t pretty.

It was a very satisfying vegan dinner recipe and it was pretty quick to put together. It was the perfect bistro night dinner, at least in my opinion.

As for the Verdino mince, it was delicious and not too oily. I added a few basic seasoning like salt, black pepper, garlic granules and smoky paprika and that was all it needed. If you find it, give it a shot, and tell me in the comments what’s your favorite brand of vegan mince not-meat?

Chickpeas & Shredded Mushrooms with Turmeric Rice ~ Done in 30 Minutes or Less

What do you do when you still have one more dinner to make and its the day before grocery day? Hit up the pantry for staple ingredients and use whatever fresh leftovers you have. Duh.

The grocery store we frequent has kept a big fat smile on my face with all their mushroom offerings. Usually the options are crimini, button and oyster mushrooms. But lately they’ve had enoki, chanterelle, king oyster and even Caesar mushrooms, which means we have been gobbling up mushrooms like they were going out of style. Or, in my husbands words we have more mushrooms than any two humans can eat in a week.

I think we’re both right.

Anyway, back to the delicious vegan food.

The ingredients here are pretty basic and perfect for those nights when you need to eat dinner but you don’t really feel like cooking.

Chickpeas
Oyster mushrooms
Basmati
Turmeric
Ginger
Onion
Garlic

That’s it. Oh, and oil to toss the mushrooms in before you season them and pop’em into the oven for 30 to 45 minutes.

For the rice, add salt to the water and bring it to a boil. I like to add the turmeric when I add the rice so it colors every grain a beautiful golden color when it’s done.

Mix it all together for an easy bowl meal or serve it separately for the picky eater who doesn’t like his/her food to touch, also known as vegan kids!

There you have it, folks, a thirty minute vegan meal perfect for when you want to order delivery but can’t because…reasons.

Vegan Chanterelle Mushrooms & Black Rice Bowl

I don’t know how you guys feel about mushrooms but they are one of my all time favorite things to eat, even more so after adopting a vegan lifestyle. There are so many ways to cook, flavor and enjoy mushrooms that it’s almost impossible to get bored or tired of them. Check out my Beyond Stuffed Mushrooms! And if you’re lucky and happen upon a package of King Oyster or Enoki mushrooms, consider yourself lucky. In my (current) neck of Romania, those are what I consider a TREASURE find because they are so hard to come by.

But when I find myself staring at Chanterelle mushrooms in the mushrooms section, well my vegan heart does a little pitter-patter because I know that I’m gonna go a little bit crazy. These suckers are so flavorful and versatile that I actually can’t get enough of them and my only real problem is figuring out how to make them the star of the dish. Okay, that felt kind of like a Chopped intro, didn’t it?

Now, I don’t want to get your hopes up because there is one downside to chanterelle mushrooms and it is that they are a monster to clean. It takes forever. Literally.

At least it used to. But a few moments of internet sleuthing and I came upon a website that was the MOST helpful in finding a more streamlined way to clean them. All you’ll need is a bowl of water and a kitchen towel or paper towel, but be prepared to change that water a few times because these are very dirty mushrooms.

That sounded kinda dirty, didn’t it?

Three hundred years later and the mushrooms are clean…now we can cook!

This was another easy vegan meal, at least if you don’t count the time spent cleaning, with a simple ingredient list mostly made up of pantry staples.

You’ll need: smoked tofu, mushrooms, bell pepper, corn, onion and rice, plus herbs & spices.

I thought about using the air fryer for these but they have so much water I was worried how it would work, so I opted for my trusty mushroom pan which is the opposite of a non-stick pan. So…a stick pan? Just kidding, a good stainless steel pan is your BFF when it comes to cooking mushrooms. Either way, cook them in a pan without oil, stirring often until a lot of that water has rendered and cooked itself out. Then you can add some fat if you want and start sauteing them until brown and slightly crispy.

When the mushrooms start cooking without rendering any more water, I added the smoked tofu because I also like to have the brown parts a little crispy. When those two are close to done, I added the onion and bell pepper while I cut the corn from one fresh cob. While all that is happening, the black rice is cooking for about 20 minutes in my waste free broth.

See how brown and crispy the mushrooms are? In my opinion that gives them an excellent depth of flavor that means you don’t need to go crazy with herbs and spices, just enough to make the ingredients shine.

This is the brand of black rice I normally use but sometimes the “bio” section will have one type of organic black rice that I also love. But use what you can find and what’s right for your budget. And if you’re worried about the color, don’t be. This rice is rich in antioxidants and fiber, plus it gives a simple vegan dish a very fancy air about it, don’t you think?

With a little bit of planning and prep work, this meal can be on the table in about 30 minutes, 45 if you include the mushroom washing time but in my opinion it is totally worth it because one does not happen upon Chanterelle mushrooms regularly.

Not to mention, this is the perfect calorie friendly vegan meal to pair with an ice cold beer plus a tall glass of water!

What’s your favorite mushroom dish?

Simple Vegan Dinner

When I cook a simple meal, I try to make sure that I still get some fresh veggies in the mix and of course, potatoes.

Sometimes simple means letting someone else do the hard work, which is exactly why I ended up with these delicious vegan chicken sticks that are oh so delicious. It cuts down on time in the kitchen and that doesn’t mean you have to eat cereal or a cold sandwich. It means you keep it simple, nutritious and tasty.

I am an admitted potato-a-holic and I never pass up an opportunity to enjoy them. In any form.

A quick boil and you can mash these up with any seasoning you like. I chose vegan butter, salt, pepper and roasted garlic because nothing goes better with ANY type of potatoes than roasted garlic.

If you’re not in the mood for broccoli or salad or anything overtly healthy, may I recommend mushrooms? They are delicious, low calorie and you can add a little bit of extra fat to get them good and tasty. I sauteed oyster mushrooms with onion and bell pepper. Add some Worcestershire sauce and herbs, and you’re almost there.

Nothing makes my mouth water more than buffalo style anything. Chicken sticks, tofu or cauliflower, I’m not picky. Just fry it up, or bake it extra crispy and toss it in something spicy and buttery and we’re in business.

It’s not fancy but it was tasty and calorie friendly and let’s be honest, some nights that is about as good as it gets.

Right?

Totally Plant Based Mushroom Bourguignon!!

I have always been a big fan of mushroom. Stuff them with a bunch of savory flavors, grill’em up with onions and put them on a burger and I couldn’t be happier or add them to an Asian style soup and let me at it. But since adopting a plant based diet mushrooms and I have become close. Very close.

Why?

Mushrooms are thick and hearty, versatile and easy to cook. Plus they have this wonderful gift of taking on the flavors their cooked with so even a picky person like me doesn’t feel like I’ve had mushrooms for three days in a row. One of the things I really missed when we lived in Germany was the distinct lack of portobello mushrooms. When I did find them–that one time–I stocked up and when shroom crazy for a few days.

In Romania there has been no portobello sightings but there are plenty of crimini and oyster mushrooms and if you look very carefully you’ll find delicious chanterelle mushrooms which have become my second favorite over the past couple years. And since going vegan has in no way dimmed my love for all things French, today we have mushroom bourguignon!

I’ve made no secret of my love of wine, traveling or potatoes so this dish shouldn’t surprise you at all. And if you’ve ever tried the traditional version of this meal, you might think it’s more difficult than it is.

It’s not, trust me. Follow the instructions and use your judgment and you’ll be fine.

Oh and do your prep work ahead of time. You don’t want to be peeling and chopping once you need to get that wine down in the pan, unless you secretly moonlight as a TV chef.

Okay so the first thing  I did was clean and cut my mushrooms. I sliced the oyster mushrooms the long way so, when cooked, they have a texture similar to shredded “meat” and I chopped the crimini mushrooms so they were bigger to give the dish a bit more substance. I had to cook them in batches and you should too because mushrooms release a tremendous amount of liquid and you want to cook them until there’s a bit of crispiness around the edges.

I used olive oil and vegan butter to cook the mushrooms and I know it’s a big decadent and not as fatty as I would normally go but this is bourguignon and if you’re gonna do it, you must do it right-ish.

When the mushrooms are done, it took me about 15-20 minutes, set them aside and add another splash of oil and a pad of vegan butter into the pan and then add the shallots, carrots, celery and thyme sprigs and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Toss in the garlic and I added chopped celery leaves because they are full of flavor and added a nice depth of flavor.

Now the hard parts are mostly done, I hope you’ve already peeled and chopped your potatoes because you’ll want everything finished at about the same time.

Once the garlic and celery leaves have cooked for a few minutes, it’s time to add tomato paste and red wine. I chose a local Romanian red wine, dry and full bodies, and it worked! Let the wine simmer until it reduces by about a third and then you can add the mushrooms and finish seasoning it to taste.

We paired this with the rest of the wine and of course, a neighbor contributed some cognac to the meal so we were all warm, toasty and totally full from a hearty meal with plenty of mashed potatoes. I would caution you to keep the mashed potatoes simple and let the bourguignon be the star of this show.

I should have let the carrots cook just a bit more, so make sure you give them enough time to cook before you add the wine. Luckily I don’t mind a few crunchy carrots in my food but it was a mistake on my part.

The wine made that mistake much easier to accept and it was the perfect buzz to help me get back to the writing cave!