Pecan Crusted Sweet Potato Casserole

I went home for Thanksgiving and my mother is a huge fan of anything and everything maple, she is also a huge fan of sweet potatoes, so when I found this recipe it seemed pretty obvious that I should make it, especially since my family aren’t exactly into the whole “vegan,” lifestyle.  This also re-warms really well and makes a great dish for leftovers.

I found the original recipe here: Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, but I made a few adjustments to make it my own.

4 large sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp vegan butter of choice

1/4 cup soy creamer (I used silk)

1/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping

1/4 Cup vegan butter of coice

1/2 Cup brown sugar, packed down

1/3 Cup unbleached white flour

3/4 Cups chopped pecans

2 Tblsp maple syrup

 

I started by choosing a casserole dish for baking, and preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

I placed the sweet potatoes in the microwave for about 13 minutes after stabbing each potato with a fork 4 times each.  After that, I took the skin off of the potato, after they are cooked like this, you can easily peel off the skin with your hands.

I then mashed in the butter with the sweet potatoes until it was to a nice smooth consistency and added in the rest of the ingredients, and stirred it all in.  I did all of this just in the casserole dish for less clean up.

For the topping I placed the pecans in my food processor on low for a few seconds until the pecans were chopped.  Then put the rest of the ingredients for the topping all together and spread it on top of the sweet potato mixture.

By now the oven should be preheated and I popped the casserole dish in the oven for 45 minutes.

 

The hardest part about this dish was waiting for it to cook for 45 minutes.  It tasted good, it was easy, and it makes good left overs, what more could you ask out of a thanksgiving dish?

 

Maple Pecan Caramel Cookies

Because my family are skeptics about anything tasting remotely good that is a vegan product, I decided to cook a lot of maple foods while I was at home to try and appease my mother’s taste buds.  These cookies were delicious, a little messy to make, but overall pretty easy for a homemade cookie recipe.

I got the idea for these cookies at: Fragrant Vanilla Cake

For the cookies:

1 Cup maple or sugar of choice

1/3 Cup coconut oil

1/4 Cup vegan butter (let stand until room temperature for easier mixing)

1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 tsp maple extract

1/2 Cup maple syrup

2 1/2 Cups unbleached flour (the original recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, but I had the unbleached on hand)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 Cups pecans chopped (the original recipe called for roasted pecans, I used raw)

Carmel:

1 Cup maple sugar or unbleached granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp agave nectar

1/3 cup full fat coconut milk

1 Tbsp vegan butter of choice

1/2 Tbsp maple extract

1 tsp salt

In a standing mixer I placed the vegan butter and sugar in and began mixing, slowly adding in the coconut oil and then the rest of the ingredients into the mixing bowl.

Once the batter is mixed let it sit in the fridge for a while so the batter becomes more solid, I left mine in for a few hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 and roll cookie dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches, I always tend to make mine a little too big, and they turned out just fine.

Put the cookies in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they start to puff up and turn a golden brown color around the edge.  Let the cookies cool on a cooling rack over wax paper.  Once the cookies are cooled down drizzle the caramel over the cookies.

(I found it easier to decorate the cookies if I put the pecan topping on the cookie and then drizzled the caramel over the cookie so the caramel served as an adhesive to keep it held down to the cookie)

Caramel-

In a sauce pan bring sugar, water, and agave nectar to a boil, stirring frequently so the sugar all dissolves.  after it is at a boil, lower the heat to low and let boil for 10 minutes stirring on occasion.  After the mixture has turned a deep amber color take the sauce pan off of the heat and slowly add in the rest of the caramel ingredients and stir well.

The original recipe said to place the caramel in the fridge for a while, but because there was so much food already in there for Thanksgiving I made an ice bath in the sink and let it sit in a few inches of cold water with ice until it reached the desired thickness.

Overall, the cookies tasted delicious, but the caramel once at room temperature turned back to a more syrupy substance, so the cookies were fairly messy.  I would make the batter again for sure because I love maple, but maybe add in some chocolate or carob chips and not put the caramel sauce on top just because of the mess.  The nutty flavor of the caramel was really good, but I’m not sure if it was worth the stress of decorating and having to leave in the refrigerator to thicken up.

Baked Artichoke Dip

As the outsider misfit Vegan in a family full of post low-carb enthusiasts Thanksgiving isn’t exactly something to be mind-boggling excited about, or even remotely exciting.

So, I decided that I would try to make something that both non-vegans and I would eat.  Even though whatever I was bringing was the only thing that I’d be eating.  I decided to make a batch of baked artichoke dip with cashew parmesan and tofutti mozzarella.  No one realized that it was Vegan until my immediate family told the rest of them… I think it would have been more interesting to see how it would have turned out if no one knew, but I guess there’s always Christmas.

I bought a bag of baked scoop tortilla chips to use for dipping, but any choice chip could have worked out.  I was going to make some dehydrated chips, but the time got away from me.

(For spinach alternative see the note at the bottom)

I made a lot as a dish to pass, but if you are making the dip for yourself and not many people, you may want to half the recipe.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

For the artichoke dip I used:

2 8oz containers of Tofutti Cream Cheese brought to room temperature

1 cup of nayonnaise or your choice of mayo substitute

2 cloves of garlic

2 14 oz drained cans of artichoke hearts

salt to taste

1 1/2 tsp smoked or hot paprika

2 slices of tofutti mozzarella cheese

1 cup parmesan cheese (recipe below)

Parmesan Cheese:

1/3 heaping cup of nutritional yeast

2/4 heaping cup raw cashews

1/4 -1/2 tsp salt

place all ingredients into food processor and blend until well combined and powdered

Preparation

In a blender or food processor blend 2 drained cans of artichoke hearts and 2 cloves of garlic

In a mixing bowl add all of the ingredients and the processed artichoke hearts and garlic and mix together until it is smooth or at desired consistency.

Rip apart small pieces of the tofutti mozzarella and blend with the rest of the ingredients.

Place the mix into a medium to large-sized casserole dish

There will be excess parmesan cheese, sprinkle the rest on top of the dish along with sprinkles of paprika and salt for color and taste.

Place the casserole dish in the oven at 350 degrees and cook for 30 minutes, and then check.  My oven is a little slow so I put mine in for about 40 minutes.

Wait until the top is lightly brown and then serve with dipping chip of your choice.

Note: I didn’t put in spinach in the dip because the original recipe I played with didn’t call for it, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t do one can of drained spinach and one can of drained artichoke hearts for a more common spinach and artichoke dip, or 2 cans of spinach for just a spinach dip!

Effortless Raisin Pecan Oatmeal

After yesterday’s almost extravagant breakfast I didn’t have the effort to do much besides put the food on the spoon and put the spoon in my mouth.  So, I decided to make oatmeal, one of the easiest breakfast foods to make.

3/4 Cup instant oatmeal

1/2 C boiling or hot water

1/4 Cup Raisins

1/2 a handful of pecans (walnuts are also a softer nice nut to put in oatmeal)

a splash of soymilk

about 1/2 tsp cinnamon

a sprinkle of brown sugar

Place the oatmeal in a medium sized bowl

add the hot water and then stir

Add all of the ingredients and mix as much as desired.  If you like your oatmeal a little more watery then go ahead and add either more soy milk or more boiling water, I prefer it a little more firm with the raisins for consistency.  Also, other dried fruit tastes great in oatmeal, like dried cranberries or cherries!

Adding the pecans (or other nut of your choice) also adds protein to your morning.

It also only takes about 5 minutes to make 🙂

French Toast and Seitan Breakfast

This was om-nom-nom worthy, for sure.

The french toast flavor was absolutely delicious.  Most of this breakfast was made from left overs from other things that I made this week.  The bread was starting to get crumby and I didn’t want to take the time to make a better seitan sausage, so I improvised, and it worked out pretty well.

It’s hard to get my boyfriend to come over in the morning unless I offer gifts of free breakfast food, so I tried to make something that he could put syrup on- because he likes it way more than I do.

For the french toast I used 4 large slices of bread- if you’re using typical store bought bread this recipe may cover 5 to 6 slices, for home made bread that is a little thicker or texas toast this recipe will be for about 4 slices. (double or half the recipe depending on how many people you want to serve, it will still be just as good, I originally tried this with 2 slices)

French Toast:

4 large slices of bread

1/2 C pecans (I used raw pecans)

1/2 C water

6 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

grated ginger (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon

In a food processor or high speed blender chop the pecans until they are chopped pretty fine.

Then add the water, syrup, vanilla extract, pinch of salt, and cinnamon to the mixture in the food processor.  Process the mixture on high for about a minute or until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Coat the slices of bread in the mixture for about 5 minutes in a large bowl or dish

Put a small amount of oil on a skillet and put the slices of toast on the skillet for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Do not over crowd the skillet, do how ever many slices at a time your skillet will allow, but if they get too close they can start to cook to one and other and fall apart when you go to serve them.

On top of my french toast I put a little hint of powdered sugar, a few pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup- but put any of your favorite toppings on the toast and serve immediately.

For the Seitan, I used the left overs from the wontons.  I used 8 oz of seitan cubed wheat protein.  I used the West Soy brand, it’s in a blue box (24 g a protein in one serving for 140 calories!- 2.5 servings in the 8 oz box)

I cut the seitan up and put it in a smaller skillet with olive oil.  I stirred the seitan to be sure it was entirely covered in oil.

1 clove chopped garlic

2 whites of a green onion (a few dices from the green if you would like)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika (more to flavor if you’d like)

salt and black pepper to taste

I fried this on low-medium stirring it to be sure it got evenly browned while I worked on the french toast.  You could fry it on medium for about 10 minutes, checking it and stirring it as needed.

Taste, and add any extra spices and oil you need for taste, and serve immediately

(owl coffee mug does not appear when meal is prepared)

It’s a delicious and protein packed breakfast for a Saturday morning- it’s a nice beginning to the day after Friday night ;)!

Seitan Cabbage Wontons

1 8 oz pack of seitan, chopped in food processor

2 1/2 Cups nappa cabbage shredded in a food processor

add to the cabbage and seitan mixture:

1 tsp mirin

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

stir the mixture so it’s coated.

in wonton shells add about a teaspoon of mixture into the shell and then follow the brand of wontons you bought on how to seal them up, that will be the easiest way to be sure they hold.  An easy way is just to take a small bowl of water and wet the edges and stick them together to make little triangular wontons.

Cover the wontons with a damp towel while the rest of them are continued to be folded up.

When the wontons are all made, take out a skillet and fry the wontons in oil (I used olive oil, but canola or vegetable oil would work as well).  I drizzled soy sauce on the top of the wontons right as they got off the skillet.  Be sure not to load the skillet too much, so you can flip the wontons when ready.  I did 5 at a time in my wok.

These were pretty good, they tasted delicious but I tried to follow the recipes out of a cook book instead of out of the packaging and didn’t look pretty.  So, I would recommend following those directions.  Finding wonton skins without egg whites took a while to find, but they are available.

Home Made Fries

Last night we had what I would consider a “faux-giving dinner.”  Because we all have a second family at school we have a school family thanksgiving.  Being a vegan and having friends that are not, I decided that mostly, I would make whatever I wanted to, because that would be the only real thing that I was going to eat.  I made golden potatoes cut into wedges, seasoned, and then baked.  I bought Tofutti sour cream and salsa to put on top of my potatoes, and personally I think it was delicious.  It was a complete comfort food, not necessarily the best thing for you, but it was excellent.

I know that the photos aren’t the best, but these were taken on my phone at dinner.  The potatoes may not look that good… or like potatoes at all, since they’re smothered in salsa and sour cream, but I can guarantee that they were yummy!

For the potatoes I used Golden Potatoes:

cut the potatoes into wedges

for each potato that you make add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to a skillet- I made 12 potatoes for the potluck, but for the recipe I will do it in a set of 3-

in the skillet add

a teaspoon of black and a teaspoon of white sesame seeds

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

salt and black pepper to taste

cut a lemon in half and squeeze one half of juice into the mixture

when the oil stops vigorously bubbling add in the potatoes

in the skillet fry up the potatoes, be sure to stir the potatoes into the oil so they are entirely coated, do not place the potatoes on the skin side so the whites can get brown.

after about 3-5 minutes on both whites side for the potato put the potatoes into a large pan with a tight lid.

put the potatoes into the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes and then flip the potatoes to their other side, and return them into the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve the potatoes immediately, I choose to get sour cream and salsa for mine, but a nice honey mustard dip or ketchup would be fitting as well!

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