Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

Sometimes I discover a great dish completely by accident.  Sometimes I even discover two ~ with the same ingredients!  A few weeks ago, I had some packaged vegan “meatballs” from Trader Joe’s that I wanted to use up in spaghetti sauce over pasta.  Hubby and I are avoiding wheat, so I had to find something else for us while the teenage vacuums ate the meatballs and pasta.  I had 6 or 8 small leftover Unburgers in the freezer.  I figured those would work for us as a kind of, well, flat meatball.  I layered them with spaghetti sauce and popped them into the microwave.  We scooped them onto cooked rice ~ and it was unbelievably good!  (Hubby did say he’d prefer not having the sunflower seeds in the Unburgers this way.  I didn’t mind them.)

Segue to last Friday.  I needed food prepared ahead of time that could be reheated in the oven for after church the next day.  I remembered just how good those Unburgers were as flat meatballs.  I didn’t have enough leftover Unburgers in the freezer (I was down to 1), and I wanted to omit the sunflower seeds this time for hubby’s and an allergic family member’s sake anyway.  So, I whipped up a fresh batch of very large patties (4 1/2-5 inches.)  I thought about trying to form them into balls and baking them, but I didn’t have the energy or time to experiment.  I layered the patties in a 4-qt. dish with spaghetti sauce, filling all the nooks and crannies with sauce, too.  (I had a loaded casserole and only 2 patties leftover.)  I covered the dish with foil and popped them in the frig until the next morning.  I put them in my automatic oven the next day set to bake for an hour along with some smashed potatoes.  Unfortunately, we had car trouble after church and didn’t get home and eat until much later than planned.  The oven had stayed warm for the most part, so I just turned it back on for 15 minutes or so when we got home to make sure everything was hot enough.

Surprise!!  My flat meatballs and sauce destined for topping the smashed potatoes had turned into something completely different!  The Unburgers soaked up all the excess moisture from the spaghetti sauce and became a marvelous super thick meatloaf!  I quickly pulled out some vegan-style “butter” and soy sour cream for the potatoes that were now without their saucy topping.  Everybody ~ all 7 of us ~ loved it!  And that 4-qt. dish?  Well, there was only half of it gone, even after J ate his fill.  Next time I will make a smaller pan and save the other Unburgers in the freezer for an “oh-no!-there’s-nothing-in-the-house-to-eat-fast-and-we-have-to-leave-soon” night.  (Come on…you don’t have those nights?  Then how about an “oh-no!-I’m-too-blasted-tired-to-cook” night?  Uh-huh…I thought so.)

So, now I have 2 recipes ~ sort of.  Wait…actually there are 3 things that can be done with the Unburger ingredients list.  How handy!  This is multi-tasking in triplicate.  😀

If any of you like to experiment, try forming the Unburger batter into meatballs and bake or fry them.  Then let me know how it comes out.

Vegan Flat Meatballs or Meatloaf

  • Leftover Unburgers (or a fresh batch)
  • spaghetti sauce (I used a fairly plain one with mushrooms)
  • rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes

Layer Unburgers with spaghetti sauce (plenty if you want saucy flat meatballs) and either immediately heat up and serve over hot rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes, or cover and refrigerate; heat at 375° for 45-60 minutes the next day and serve as a meatloaf-style dish.

Smashed Potatoes

A really upscale restaurant here in town serves “smashed” potatoes.  Not mashed.  Hmmm.  Come to find out, they’ve figured out a way that they don’t have to pay their staff to peel potatoes!  lol  Basically, they just cook red potatoes and mash them with the peels still on them.  Actually, it’s healthier for you to eat the peels, so, I suppose that could be their goal.

Since I love labor-saving things and healthy food, I decided to try it at home.  I scrubbed red potatoes and chunked them up, boiled them, and mashed them with non-dairy milk.  They aren’t “pretty” potatoes, but they taste good.

Smashed Potatoes

  • Scrubbed red potatoes, cut into chunks
  • non-dairy milk
  • salt to taste
  • non-dairy “butter,” if desired

Boil potatoes until very soft ~ you want them to break apart when you pierce them with a knife or fork.  Drain and mash with non-dairy milk (please make sure it’s not vanilla or coconut flavors!), adding “butter” if desired.

If you add enough non-dairy milk to them so that they are plenty moist, you may put them in a covered casserole dish to be reheated the next day for 30-45 minutes at 375°.  (Just don’t have car trouble so they are left in the oven extra long…or they come out not quite as moist as you had hoped…like the picture above.)

 

Mazidra

When it’s too warm to want soup ~ or you are just tired of a winter of it ~ but too chilly to serve cold pasta or potato salad for supper, what do you prepare?  Mazidra to the rescue!  It’s half “soup” and half salad!  Picky eaters can leave out the toppings they don’t like (or mom can insist they eat them.)  Triple the recipe for a crowd ~ or for hungry teenagers!

The base of this recipe came from 100% Vegetarian, by Julianne Pickle.

 

Mazidra

Lentils:

  • 1 c. lentils (rinsed and “de-stoned”)
  • 2-3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. (or more) chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 3/4 tsp. garlic powder if you’re in a hurry)
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet basil
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt (esp. use less if you only put in 2 c. of water)
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. Spike
  • 1 T. nutritional yeast flakes
  • 4 drops Liquid Smoke (don’t add too much, or it overwhelms the dish)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a touch of honey

Rice:

  • 1 c. brown rice
  • 2 c. water
  • 3/4-1 tsp. salt

Toppings (choose your favorites):

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced cucumbers
  • chopped onion (green or Spanish)
  • Sliced olives
  • avocado
  • non-dairy sour cream
  • non-dairy cheese or cashew cheese

Combine all lentil ingredients and bring to a boil.  (If you like soupy lentils, then use the full amount of water.  If you use the lesser amount, watch the level of broth toward the end of the cooking time.  When it gets just the way you like it, cover the pot to finish cooking.)  Simmer uncovered 45-60 minutes.

Bring the rice ingredients to a boil in a covered heavy-bottom pot.  Cook at medium heat for 30-45 minutes, until water is absorbed.  When there is just a tiny bit of water – or none – in the bottom of the pan if you push the rice aside with a spoon to look, take it off the heat, stir, cover, and set aside until the lentils are finished.

Let each person build their own layered plateful of rice, lentils, and toppings.

Serves 2-4

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

This rice pudding is reminiscent of the old-fashioned custard rice pudding I grew up eating (minus the raisins that I always picked out ~ why did Daddy like those?)  Mama used her mother’s thin, age-darkened recipe written in a spidery hand, which, instead of giving an oven temperature, called for a “slow oven” ~ because grandma had used a wood stove! It has always been my standard against which to measure all other rice puddings.

No wonder I was so unhappy with the rice pudding recipes I found when we became vegan.  Who wanted sweetened rice in a puddle of non-dairy milk?  Where was the pudding?  Where was the custard?  Was it even possible to get that without dairy ingredients and eggs?

This is a combination of several internet recipes from a few years ago.  It has the wonderful custard that so many sadly lacked.  It is not low fat, but it is exactly what I was aiming to replicate.

And if you must add raisins to duplicate your childhood memory, then *sigh* I guess that’s allowable.  🙂  Grandma’s recipe says to add 1 c. raisins.

Vegan Custard Rice Pudding

  • 6 c. cooked brown rice (I have used as little as 4 c., but 5-6 c. is much better) *
  • 4 c. Silk vanilla soymilk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 package Morinu extra-firm tofu
  • 3 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no liquid added)
  • 4 T. Earth-Balance non-hydrogenated stick “butter” (1/2 stick), softened
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (or sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder (or 1/2 c. more evap. cane juice)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Whiz in blender all ingredients except rice and cinnamon.  (If you don’t have a 56-oz. blender, then leave 2 c. of soymilk out and mix it with the blended mixture before adding rice in the next step.)  Stir blender mixture in with rice in a 3-4 qt. dish (a 9″x13″ cake pan is 3 qt.)  Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.  Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350°.

The top will split and crinkle as it cools just like grandma’s recipe! May be served warm, but I like it best cold.

*Note:  My cooked rice in this batch was a bit firm and somewhat dry to start the recipe.  It absorbed more of the “custard” than usual.  It was still very good, but since my favorite part happens to be the custard….I, therefore, recommend brown rice that is soft and moist, or use only 5 cups.

Black Bean Patties

I love a simple patty recipe.  A fast patty recipe that doesn’t involve 45 minutes to an hour in the oven.  One without a list of ingredients as long as your arm.  One that you might actually have all the ingredients for in your cupboard.  One that doesn’t require a multitudinous amount of chopping.  One that tastes good without a bun (for those with gluten issues.)  Oh, yeah…and one that the whole family actually likes, with no exceptions!  Whew, what a relief.

Black Bean Patties

  • 2 cans organic black beans, drained
  • 1 c. medium, or stronger, salsa
  • 2 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (for gluten-free patties, use certified gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 c. millet flour*
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder (opt., depending on the strength of your salsa)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (opt., depending on the strength of your salsa)
  • 2 T. melted coconut oil, preferably (if you are out of coconut oil, use extra virgin olive oil, but the coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids that are so good for you)

Put all ingredients except coconut oil into a food processor and process until only tiny pieces or flecks of beans remain.  Add melted coconut oil and continue processing, or mix together in a bowl.  Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.

If desired, you may spray or brush the griddle with olive oil to make it easier to form the patties, but it’s not required.  Heat griddle to 300° (I use a large electric pancake griddle) or frying pan to medium heat.  You may begin forming patties while it is heating.  Pile about 1/4 c. measure onto the griddle and smooth into a patty using the back of a serving spoon (bigger than a tablespoon from your silverware set, but not as big as a cooking spoon ~ I use this to scoop up the 1/4 c. approximate measure, too.)  Cook for 5 minutes; flip, press down lightly with the spatula to obtain an even surface on the bottom side, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Makes 12 patties.  Serve with guacamole, salsa, or ketchup, or on a burger bun.

*If you don’t have millet flour in your larder, you probably could substitute another type, but I haven’t experimented with different ones.  (Hey, when something works for me, I don’t mess with it!)  You also can put dry millet in a coffee grinder or strong blender and whiz it into flour.

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake

Finding a tasty vegan cheesecake can be hard to do.  Finding a tasty vegan cheesecake that doesn’t contain a bunch of processed products can be even harder.  With a search engine, I went seeking.  I ended up narrowing my search to just images, because if the picture didn’t look appetizing, I wasn’t bothering to read the recipe.  If the pictured cheesecake was thin or runny, I kept going.  If it looked like a stereo-typical vegan dessert (you’ve seen those, haven’t you ~ the ones people wrinkle up their noses at during potlucks and keep going?) then I didn’t click on the picture to see the rest of the info.

I finally found this one.  The picture was mouthwatering!  My stomach growled over it ~ and it didn’t have any funny ingredients.  I printed it out for trial.  However, the mix in the blender was SUPER sour (I always taste new recipes as I go to ensure success.)  I had to add extra stuff just to make it not pucker my whole face!  (I chatted online with the recipe creator who said that was what she was trying to make, because she loves tart things.  So, if that is your taste preference, check out her version.)  Even after extra thickening and sweetening, it had to be partially frozen to be thick enough to slice.  It was certainly edible (and nobody turned down a second piece, except my fussiest eater who only ate 1 bite and surrendered his first piece to ME!), but it wasn’t exactly what I was going for.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you?  At least you do if you’ve been reading my blog for very long.  Time for revamping into my own thing!  (I did shamelessly use Kier’s version of the crust ~ thank you…it was too good and didn’t need any changing.)

Now, this was more like it! (Tell me if this makes your mouth water when you see it.  Please…no licking the computer screen.)

Granted, this makes a HUGE cheesecake, so you might want to only make this when company is coming over.  But then again, have you ever wished for less decadent dessert leftovers for later?  Me, either.  I do suggest cutting this into 16 pieces at least.  We cut it into 12 and it was almost too much ~ too rich even for our family of sweet tooths.  (Although, nobody left a morsel behind on their plates…they just held their very full stomachs and laid around the living room like so many inert statues for a while afterwards.)

If you wish to make a smaller version, you can cut the crust in half and the filling into a third, but it won’t come out as thick as pictured above.  It will fit nicely into a 10″ pie plate then.

Vegan Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake  ~ 9” x 13”

 Crust ~

  • 2 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. almonds
  • 20 pitted dates
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Filling ~

  • 3 cans of Thai organic coconut milk – full fat, thoroughly chilled ***
  • juice of 3 small lemons (about 8-9 T.)
  • 3/4 c. honey or other liquid sweetener
  • 3 c. raw cashews (may be soaked 4-8 hours)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 3/4 tsp. salt

Topping ~

  • 2 12-oz packages of frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or other sweetener

In food processor, whiz nuts until finely chopped.  Add dates, vanilla, and salt and pulse until well mixed.  This can be a time-consuming process.  If your food processor isn’t very big or isn’t very efficient, try doing half of the recipe at a time.

Press the nut-date mixture on the bottom and up the sides of a 9” x 13” glass pan.  To see if there are any thin places, hold the pan up, tipped toward a window.  Press mixture toward any places that need more coverage.  Set aside.

Carefully spoon out the thickened coconut cream from the top of the cans of chilled coconut milk and place in a high powered blender.  Reserve the liquid for other uses, such as smoothies.  (If you do not have a strong or a big enough blender – 56 oz. – blend in two batches.)  Place remaining filling ingredients into blender in order listed so that the coconut cream turns into a liquid to help blend up the cashews.  Blend until smooth with no tiny pieces of cashew remaining.  Pour into prepared crust, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours.

Pour thawed berries into a glass bowl and sprinkle cane juice crystals over the top.  Mix until the crystals dissolve, breaking up the berries into a saucy topping.  Chill.

Cut and serve the cheesecake, spooning the raspberry sauce over the top of each piece as desired.  Or you may top the whole cheesecake with the berries and serve.

***Addendum:  I made this yet again, because we love it so much.  I used some less expensive, but still organic coconut milk.  It failed!  Well, it wasn’t a total failure, but close enough.  It was grainy, too moist, and not as flavorful.  I most highly recommend Thai organic canned coconut milk for the proper results.

Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces

Glitches in the system ~ or most probably in the system user ~ today.  So sorry.  I had posted this and then it got linked to another recipe that I haven’t posted yet.  I will try it again.  Hopefully, it works this time.  🙂

For more information on Soy Curls, please see this recipe ~ BBQ Soy Curls.

Soy Curl “Chicken” Pieces

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a frying pan.  Add the Soy Curls and continue heating over medium heat, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  When the broth is completely absorbed, spread out on a dinner plate and chill (5-10 minutes in the freezer or more in the refrigerator.)  When cold, you can add them to salads such as this.

Macaroni Salad

Some dishes become staples in the family and are prepared for years without a true “recipe” being written.  Then something throws a monkey wrench into the situation, and your standard fare has to be rearranged ~ or something substituted.

That happened with this recipe last year.  A friend came to visit and we went to the very large local health food store together.  She was nearly vegan, but my family is totally vegan.  I reached for a roll of Worthington’s Chickette Roll that I had used for years in this salad and other things.  She informed me that the recipe had been changed a year or two before and it was no longer vegan!!  *GASP!*  Say it isn’t so!!  *groan*  Back to the drawing board to find a “chicken” replacement.  (When will I remember to frequently re-read nutritional labels?  And why do companies “fix” something that wasn’t broken?)

The newest challenge for my family is to find a pasta that is gluten-free that we like.  I used a corn-quinoa type the time before last and it was good.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so we had a brown rice one the last time…not so good.  It was a little slimey feeling.  I didn’t mind it, but the family gave it a thumbs-down.  So, I went back to the corn-quinoa, this time in elbows.  I read the package again and noticed it said not to overcook the pasta ~ in big bold letters.  So I was scrupulously careful.  I didn’t want mush.  Oh…we didn’t get mush.  No, no.  We got just short of crispy!!  Somehow, between testing it while it was cooking in the pot and rinsing it in cold water, the pasta went from al dente to ewwwww.

My husband, who loves this dish and would eat it several times a week, decided it was worth it to eat it.  Some of the others decided to forego the “pleasure.”  I ate some, but I had a terrible stomach ache several hours later.  Moral of the story?  Don’t believe everything you read…even on food packages.  Cook your pasta well enough.

Macaroni Salad

  • 1 lb. pasta (elbows, shells, or rotini twists work well), may be gluten-free
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, diced*
  • 1 large cucumber, quartered and sliced*
  • 1 can black olives, sliced or quartered
  • 1/4-1/2 c. minced onion
  • “chicken” style veggie meat substitute (I use this.)
  • Veganaise, to taste
  • salt to taste

Please note – pasta doesn’t seem to come in 1 lb. boxes any more.  If you buy 2 boxes and fill the 13+ oz. one to near the top, it approximates 1 lb.

Cook pasta according to package directions, or until softer than al dente.  Rinse under cold water and drain.

Place the vegetables in a very large bowl.  Salt them and toss together.  Add the drained pasta and veggie meat.  Mix in Veganaise to taste.

Chill and serve.

*Feel free to use more ~ I often do.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Life has been kind of nuts lately.  (I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my attention has been more about a brand new granddaughter ~ and shopping for cute baby things ~ than this blog.)  When that happens, I need food that everybody thinks is special, but that takes very little hands-on time for me to prepare.  Since to most of my family sandwiches aren’t supper food, it takes a nice filling of some type to convince them that they can be!  (And now that I’ve found an acceptable form of gluten-free bread, each of my crew can have them again.)

This is based on a Step-Fast recipe, but it has been drastically altered.  In the original, the soy curls are soaked in salted water (enough to cover) for an hour and then squeezed out.  Then they are tossed with chicken-style seasoning and other items such a vegan mayo.  They were rather bland on the inside of the curls, though.  I find it works much better to use only the amount of water you absolutely need and that the water should be seasoned so that as the curls hydrate, they become flavorful in their own right.  Then whatever you dress them with only adds to the flavor, rather than being the only flavor.

Soy Curl Sandwich Filling

Heat water, Bragg’s, and chicken-style seasoning in a large frying pan.  Break up the soy curls a bit if there are any really long pieces.  Add the soy curls, tossing well and often to rehydrate.  Test a curl for tenderness.  If not soft enough, add a little more water at a time until you get the best texture.  You do not want excess liquid, or your sandwich filling will be soggy, but neither do you want tough soy curls.  If there is a question, I would opt for slightly chewier curls and allow the Veganaise to help with the softening during the refrigerator time.  You can also squeeze out any excess liquid if a serious goof occurs.

Place curls in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.  [If you are in a dreadful hurry to get supper on the table, get out a cookie sheet, and spread the hot curls on it and place in the refrigerator (or freezer, if you have the extra space, but check them often ~ the first time in about 15 minutes) until chilled.]

In a large bowl, mix the soy curls with the onion, relish, and Veganaise.  If possible, chill for an hour or more to meld the flavors.  Serve on bread or rolls as sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado, or on a bed of lettuce and cold rice as a “chicken” salad style dish.

Serves 6-8.

 

Cheesy Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

I was going to make baked potatoes and have bunches of toppings from which everyone could choose.  Then I remembered how much my husband hates “working” to “prepare” his food.  If it doesn’t hop onto his plate ready for immediate transfer to his mouth with no visible effort on his part, then he’s not really interested ~ especially if it’s a work day (he’s in construction and works hard all day.)  And he doesn’t like baked potatoes that much even if I spoiled him and fixed it for him.  So…scratch that idea.

Next idea.  Some kind of scalloped potatoes.  They went over very well.  And no one had to “fix” their own.  😉

I made these the day before so that when we came home from church, they would be in the automatic oven already toasty and ready for us to sit down to eat.  I baked them for 45 minutes at 350° on Friday, then the next day I set the timer for another 45 minutes at 375°.  We got home a little early and I began to wonder if they would get done fast enough, so I cranked the oven up to 400° for the last half hour.  They were hot all the way through – but not crispy on the edges at all (like I prefer!)

Per usual, this makes A LOT!  It’s perfect to take to a potluck, or a big family get together, or so you can have leftovers the next night (if you don’t have a human 17-yr-old vacuum like I do.)  Or you could cut the recipe in half if your family hates leftovers.  Another option is to split the recipe into 2 separate pans and share with another family who is having a tough time, is ill, or just brought home a new baby (like my son and daughter-in-law just did ~ making me a 1st-time grandma!)

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

  • 1 onion (at least baseball sized or larger), cut up into large chunks
  • 1 c. nutritional yeast flakes (NOT baking yeast)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika (more to sprinkle on top, if desired)
  • 2 lg. garlic cloves
  • 1 c. raw cashews
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 3-4 drops hickory smoke liquid
  • 1/4 c. melted virgin coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 c. non-dairy milk (not vanilla)
  • 5 lbs. boiled, peeled potatoes

Preheat oven to 400°.  Dice or slice the cooked potatoes and place in a 4-qt casserole.  (Mine ended up not quite sliced OR diced, because I left the whole potatoes boiling too long and a large number of them fell apart as I sliced them.)

Whiz the remaining ingredients, except the non-dairy milk, in a high-powered blender until smooth.  Add the milk and whiz briefly just to stir.  Pour over the potatoes and gently mix things together so that the potatoes get coated with the sauce.  Sprinkle with extra paprika, if desired.

Cover with lid or foil and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours (depending on how crispy you would like it to be.)

Optional:  Bake for 45 minutes, cool, and refrigerate until the next day.  Then reheat for 30-45 minutes at 400°.  If you are using an automatic oven, do calculate in some extra oven-heating time and add it to your 30-45 minutes.

NOTE:  If you choose to halve this recipe into a 9″x13″ pan, please remember to decrease the cooking time or the temperature of the oven.