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Hot List: Light Vegetable Broth

Light Vegetable Broth

Light Vegetable Broth

This week’s Hot List topic is about vegetable broth, in particular one that mimics chicken broth. I had been using Better Than Bouillon‘s No Chicken Soup Base for a few years whenever I wanted to impart a “chicken” flavor to my recipes. The problem (and there always seems to be a problem with convenience food products) is that it contains a lot of sodium. I’ve thrown together homemade stocks before, using whatever vegetables I had on hand. The results were not consistent and not very flavorful. So I started leafing through my vegan recipe books for homemade stock recipes that had an appealing variety of ingredients. Roberto Martin’s New Vegan Cooking had just what I was looking for. (If you’re not familiar with Roberto Martin, he was the personal chef for Ellen Degeneres.) His recipe for stock has just the right mix of vegetables for a light, yet robust-tasting, vegetable stock. The recipe calls for leeks as as option, but I would definitely use them. The stock comes out very flavorful and with a nice yellowish color. There are a lot of other nice recipes in this book, so it’s worth adding to your collection. I use this stock in recipes like this Spanish rice or any other recipe that calls for chicken stock. ‘m loving this recipe and suggest doubling the recipe and freezing in pint containers. Buy the book and make it a Vegi-curious day.


31 May 2016

Holy Mole Memories: Mushroom Enchiladas

Mole Mushroom BurritoSometimes things turn out differently than we expect them to. I recently purchased an Instant Pot and made the Holy Mole Black Bean soup from Vegan Under Pressure. It turned out great and while it’s a healthy recipe it was way too rich-tasting for me. Since I had a lot left over, I portioned it into four pint-size containers and popped three of them into the freezer as I had plans for that fourth pint. (Here’s where I get all teary-eyed and sentimental.) When Bruce and I were first dating, one of our favorite restaurants was a small Mexican place in New Jersey called Pecos. I still remember the life-sized statue of a mariachi musician posted at the entrance. Pecos closed down before we moved, but its memory will live on in our hearts. I always ordered their chicken enchiladas with mole sauce and a side of Spanish rice. Mole is a Spanish sauce made from chilis, nuts and chocolate. I made it at home . . . once. The recipe had an ingredient list that was an arm’s length and a multi-step process, so I haven’t made it since. As soon as I tasted this soup made I knew it would make a good mole sauce for enchiladas. The filling recipe came together with whatever I had on hand — mushrooms, peppers, onions and garlic. The pint of mole soup was the perfect amount of sauce for four enchiladas.(Yea! I have three more pints ready for use in the near future.) If you don’t own an Instant Pot or the Vegan Under Pressure cookbook or don’t want to make your own mole you can use a store-bought sauce. If you don’t care for mole you can always substitute your favorite enchilada sauce. Just one bite of these enchiladas transported me back to that little Mexican restaurant that we remember so fondly. Make some memories of your own and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Mushroom Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

2 extra large portobella mushroom caps, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teapoon cumin powder
About 4 tortillas (whole wheat, white, brown rice, etc.)
1 pint of mole or enchilada sauce (see note)

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water, then the onions and peppers. Saute until light brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute before adding mushrooms. Continue to saute until mushrooms are brown and liquid has evaporated. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with mole or enchilada sauce. Fill enchiladas (about ¾ cup per tortilla), roll and place seam side down on top of sauce. Cover with remaining sauce. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Note: I used the Holy Mole Black Bean Soup recipe from Vegan Under Pressure cookbook, but you can use any sauce you like.

17 Feb 2016

Mystery Meat: Mushroom Gyros


When I was working up this recipe, Bruce told me a story that happened many years ago while patronizing the grease trucks at Rutgers University. One of the trucks was selling Gyros, a Greek sandwich made with some type of ground meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and Tzatziki sauce wrapped in a pita. He asked what kind of meat they used on the gyros and, to the chef’s dismay, another student waiting on line replied, “It’s a mystery, nobody knows.”  If you’ve ever had a gyro before you’re probably familiar with the greasy slab of animal by-products revolving ever so slowly on a rotisserie. Even though I threw back a few Gyros in my younger days, that meat is still a mystery to me. I wanted to use up some more of that box of portabellas from last week and thought I could make a mushroom mystery meat substitute to use for my Gyros. I started the “mystery” part of the recipe the day before by making a mushroom-chickpea loaf seasoned with marjoram and rosemary. If you can’t find marjoram in the store, you can purchase it at Penzeys. It’s definitely a nice addition to your spice rack and this recipe. You can substitute oregano or thyme if you don’t have it. The next step was to make the Tzatziki sauce, which is a blend of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and red wine vinegar. I found a soy yogurt recipe in The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook that’s made with cashews, soy milk and vegan yogurt starter, but feel free to use whatever yogurt you can get your hands on. When you’re ready to assemble the Gyros, warm up a few pocket-less pitas, layer on lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sliced mushroom loaf and pour on the Tzatziki. It’s no mystery to me: these Mushroom Gyros are filled with all that is good. Make yourself a Mushroom Gyro and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Mushroom Gyros

Makes 6 to 8 wraps

  • Olive oil (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped (portabellas or cremini recommended)
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons dried ground rosemary
  • 1 can chick peas, drained
  • 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon No Chicken or No Beef Base
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worstershire or Soy sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Pocket-less pita bread
  • Lettuce
  • Sliced tomatoes and onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch loaf pan with oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

Lightly coat non-stick skillet with olive oil. Saute onion until lightly browned. (You can saute onion in water by adding 2 tablespoons of water at a time to prevent sticking.) Add mushrooms and continue to cook until brown and most of the liquid has cooked out of them. Add marjoram, rosemary, soup base, Worstershire or soy sauce, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and place in food processor along with chick peas. Process until a chunky paste is formed. Press into prepared loaf pan and bake until firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool overnight before slicing.

 Tzatziki Sauce

In small bowl, stir together:

  • 16 ounces plain, non-dairy yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

To assemble Gyros:

Place pita bread on piece of aluminum foil. Layer lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mushroom gyro slices and Tzatziki sauce. Roll up forming a conical-shaped wrap and secure with aluminum foil.


23 Oct 2015

Make Room for Mushrooms . . . Burgers, That Is

Mushroom BurgerMove over beef and make room for MUSHROOMS. Last week, we picked up an assortment of mushrooms to bring to our friends in New Jersey. Well, with all the other stuff we had to pack up, we forgot to bring the mushrooms. Damn! So now, I’m on a mushroom mission and decided to start off with some type of burger. One of my pet peeves with veggie burgers is that they don’t stick together and squish out of the bun. Since mushrooms contain a lot of water, I decided to saute them with onions, garlic and herbs before adding to the other binding ingredients. Potatoes go nicely with mushrooms, so I microwaved and mashed a few. Then, I threw in a brown rice-quinoa-wild rice blend and toasted walnuts for some contrast in texture.  I opted to cook them outside by using a grill pan on the barbeque. As long as I was out there, I might as well grill some onions. Topped off with a squirt of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, these burgers were tasty . . .  and they behaved nicely on the bun! I served them with a side of sauteed greens from Kranz Hill CSA (the recipe is from the Clean Start cookbook). Buy the book, try my Mushroom Burgers and make it a Vegi-curious day!


Mushroom Burgers

Makes 8 burgers

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 pound mushrooms, chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ground

¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari

1 cup cooked potato, mashed

1 cup cooked brown rice/quinoa blend

½ cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Heat 2 tablespoons of water to non-stick skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened and lightly browned, adding more water to prevent sticking. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until browned, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and ground fennel and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce and remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Form into eight burgers, about 1/3 cup each. Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once, until brown on both sides.

Alternate cooking methods:

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with oil and heat on medium-high. Brown burgers on both sides, about 5 minutes each side.

Lightly coat a non-stick grill pan with oil and place on grill. Pre-heat grill on medium-high. Brown burgers on both sides about 5 minutes each side.



28 May 2015

Jamaican Red Bean Stew

Jamaican Red Bean StewI ordered Vegan Slow Cooker for Beginners to give as a Christmas gift. As so often happens, the book didn’t arrive in time, so I kept it for myself. (You can never have too many cookbooks.) I’m not a big crock pot fan, but I do have a handful of slow cooked recipes that are worth waiting four to eight hours for. The nice thing about slow cooking is that all of the flavors really get to mingle and the aroma that fills the house throughout the day is delicious. If you won’t be home while dinner is cooking, be sure to use a slow cooker with a timer. Okay, back to the recipe.  I was looking for a break from bean dishes like 3-Bean Chili, Red Beans & Rice and Pasta Fagioli, so I was thrilled to come across a recipe for red beans made with Jamaican flavors. This dish is a medley of red beans, yams and carrots seasoned with coconut milk, curry and allspice. I altered the recipe to make it into a stew and served it over rice. I imagine it  would be nice served over quinoa as well. Something different and certainly delicious! I also made a Banana Brown Betty recipe from the book that’s worth trying. There are a lot of other nice recipes, so buy the book. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Jamaican Red Bean Stew

You will need a 4 – 6 quart slow cooker for this recipe.

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped carrots
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained (1 cup)
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1 large sweet potato, chopped (2 cups)
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups red kidney beans (2 15-oz. cans)
1 cup light coconut milk (canned)
1 to 2 cups vegetable stock

Add two tablespoons of water to a non-stick skillet and saute garlic, carrots, onions and sweet potatoes until slightly browned. Stir in seasonings and continue cooking until aromatic. Add tomatoes and heat through. (If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the sauteing step and simply place all ingredients right in the slow cooker.) Place in slow cooker; add beans, coconut milk and 1 cup of stock. Cook on low for six to eight hours, adding more stock if necessary. Serve over your grain of choice.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.



25 Mar 2015

Buy the Book: Thug Kitchen Cookbook

Chickpea SammiesMy nephew Paul and his wife Shonda sent me the Thug Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas. Funny thing is, we sent them the same book. Great minds think alike, I guess. I’ve been giving cookbooks as gifts for many years, so I decided to start a category on Vegi-curious called “Buy the Book” so I can share some of my favorite reads. Today I made Smoked Almond and Chickpea Salad Sammies,  (pictured in this post) from the Thug Kitchen cookbook for lunch. The sandwiches are made with home-made smoked almonds, chickpeas, avocado, onions and celery and are so tasty. I used “Seeduction” bread from Whole Foods Markets. If you live near a Whole Foods, definitely check out their breads; if you don’t, simply use your favorite whole grain bread. One word of caution: in addition to tossing together some awesome recipes, the Thug Kitchen also tosses quite a few “F’s”. Once you get past this, you’ll be in for some good eats. I also made  Wedding Ball Soup with White Bean Balls and Kale from the book. The bean balls are a little time consuming, but well worth the effort. If you want to keep it simple, just make the soup. It’s all good. Thug Kitchen eat like you give a f**k . . .  buy the book! Thanks for being Vegi-curious. (more…)

25 Jan 2015

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