Sunday, April 20, 2014
Lucky Seven from previous trip to Veggie Heaven
I previously wrote about my first trip to Veggie Heaven in Austin, Texas. It is a very small restaurant in downtown Austin that serves mostly Asian-inspired vegan and vegetarian dishes. The décor is not a big draw, but the food has been consistently good, and incredibly inexpensive. I wanted to share with you photos from my second trip to Veggie Heaven.
Last time my brother and I tried the veggie spring rolls. This time we tried the veggie pot sticker. They serve you 6 pan-fried pot stickers for $4.60, so definitely great for sharing. These vegan pot stickers have shredded cabbage and carrots, and vegetable protein (I presume from soy), and comes with teriyaki dipping sauce. These were good. I would recommend the spring rolls and pot stickers.
Veggie Pot Stickers, Personal Photo
I was not crazy about the steam buns, but my brother is a fan. You can get 3 varieties, all vegan, for $2.50 each. The Steam Bun has tofu, mushrooms, onions, cabbage, carrots, and vegetable protein. The Curry Bun has tofu, onions, and other vegetables cooked in curry sauce. My brother tried the Sweet Bun this time. It has sweet red bean paste inside.
Sweet Bun, Personal Photo
We shared two entrees, both vegan and $6.95 each. Most all the entrees come with a choice of steamed white rice, or brown rice. One of our entrees was Spicy Tangerine Mushrooms. The mushrooms were fried in a tempura-like batter. They were coated in tangerine sauce and served with steamed broccoli. This was a very good selection.
Tangerine Mushrooms, Personal Photo
Our other entrée was Protein 2000. Not a very enticing name, but one of their most popular items according to the menu. It is “vegetable proteins made from soybeans” (I presume TVP) in a brown sauce. It is served with broccoli also. The medallions of vegetable protein definitely have a firm, chewy meat texture. In fact, I had trouble cutting it with my fork. I had to just bite it off. I found it tasty, and texturally acceptable.
Protein 2000, Personal Photo
I would recommend Tangerine Mushrooms and Protein 2000, as well as our two previous entrées, Lucky Seven and Eggplant Tofu.
Eggplant Tofu, Personal Photo
Serving of Mexican Lasagna, with a dollop of sour cream
I’ve recently seen several “Mexican Lasagnas” posted around the web and decided to try one. Some used flour tortillas, and some corn. Although I generally prefer flour, I thought they might get doughy, and make it difficult to cut the finished lasagna into wedges. I bought white corn tortillas. I layered my lasagna with simple ingredients- refried beans, Spanish rice, black beans, corn, and cheese.
I had read a Martha Stewart recipe for enchiladas where you fry the tortillas in oil, then coat them with enchilada sauce, so I decided to do that. I fried each tortilla in coconut oil, then dipped them in sauce for each layer.
I spread refried beans for my first layer, topped with cheddar cheese and chopped black olives.
My second layer consisted of black beans and corn. I spread a little shredded queso fresco on top of the beans and corn (not pictured).
Layer three was some Spanish rice I had made, which was loaded with sautéed red and green bell peppers and sweet onion. I topped this with a little enchilada sauce.
Layer 4 was cheddar cheese and queso fresco.
Layer 5 was another layer of refried beans, cheddar cheese, and chopped black olives.
The final layer was another layer of black beans, corn, and quseo fresco.
I topped the lasagna with a seventh corn tortilla, fried in coconut oil, then dipped on both sides in enchilada sauce.
I covered my lasagna in foil, careful make the foil domed so as not to sit directly on the lasagna.
I baked for about 40 minutes at 350°. I removed it from the oven, topped it with shredded cheddar, then returned it to the oven a few minutes to melt the cheese.
I let the lasagna cool for about 5 minutes, then cut it into quarters. I topped it with sour cream. Guacamole, salsa or pico de gallo would be great too. I have a lot of friends who would throw on some slices of jalapeño on top. I live in Texas. I have friends that throw jalapeños on everything!
Spanish Rice in cornbread bowl. Personal Photo.
I used to love Spanish Rice Rice-A-Roni. The old version called for a can of stewed tomatoes, and had the rice and pasta. You would cook the pasta-rice mix briefly in oil in the skillet to brown the pasta. It always reminds me of Turkish rice pilaf. Lately I’ve only been able to find the whole grain Spanish Rice, which does not have pasta, and you don’t brown it. I doctor it up similar to what I’ve always done, and it’s still a favorite. I add extra white rice. I like the mixture of the two rices.
1 box whole grain Spanish Rice-a-Roni
1 cup medium grain rice
1 can diced tomatoes
3 ½ cups water
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 medium sized onion
¼ cup coconut oil
Clean bell peppers and remove stems and seeds. Chop peppers and onion. Sauté onion and bell pepper in coconut oil or olive oil.
Add rice from Rice-A-Roni box, additional rice, tomatoes, water, and flavor packet from the box.
Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
If you can find the original Spanish Rice-A-Roni with vermicelli pasta and rice, you are essentially going to cook per package directions. Clean and chop onion and bell peppers and sauté. Add rice and vermicelli and brown pasta. Then continue per package directions.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Vegetarian Mushroom Burger Recipe- Make Veggie Burger, Shepherd Pie, and Ravioli With This Veggie Burger Mixture
Veggie burger patty made from chopped mushrooms, ready for
all the fixins. Personal Photo.
I tried a mushroom-based veggie burger recipe last week. I was home alone for the week, so I used my mushroom burger mixture 3 ways. I made a small Shepherd’s Pie, a large veggie burger, and mushroom ravioli. Make sure to scroll down and see my photos.
I’ve tried several vegetarian burger recipes that were quite tasty, but I wanted to find a veggie burger recipe for a patty with the taste and texture similar to a ground beef burger. I made some inquiries as to the secret of a great tasting and textured veggie burger. The conclusion? The secret to a great veggie burger is mushrooms.
So the search for the best mushroom-based veggie patty was on. I found this recipe on about.com, which was adapted from Lisa’s Mushroom Burgers. I think this recipe is a winner. Still not quite like a ground beef burger, but I think I’m on my way. I followed the ingredients pretty closely, except I only had a pound of Baby Bella mushrooms, instead of 1 ½ pounds of mixed variety mushrooms. I reduced the other ingredients accordingly. Also I finely chopped my mushrooms instead of doing a large rough cut.
Mushroom Veggie Burger
Here’s my version of the basic recipe:
1 lb Baby Bella mushrooms
2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, ¼ to 1/3 cup, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup quick oats
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
1 medium egg, beaten
½ tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
I separated the stems from my mushrooms and covered them with water. I changed the water once, then washed them again in a bowl of water. I let them dry on paper towel.
I finely chopped my onion in the food processor. I put the garlic in the food processor too, but it left some chunks, which burned when frying the patty, so next time I will use my garlic press. Set aside onions and garlic.
The original recipe instructs to roughly chop the mushrooms, and shows a photo of a burger patty with fairly large slices of mushroom. I didn’t think the burgers would hold together very well with such big pieces of mushroom, so I pulsed my mushrooms in the food processor.
Sauté onions and garlic in coconut oil or olive oil. Set aside in a bowl. Sauté mushrooms in hot oil, about 10 minutes. Drain any liquid.
Combine onions, garlic, and mushrooms with remaining ingredients.
Mushroom burger mixture, Personal Photo
For burgers, form into 3 to 4 patties and fry in hot oil, about 5 minutes per side.
Mushroom Veggie Burger frying
I chopped and sautéed my mushrooms, garlic, and mushrooms the first night, and refrigerated until the next day. That second night, I combined all the ingredients, and set about dividing my mixture for my 3 dishes. I put about 1/3 cup of my mixture in a glass container and refrigerated for making ravioli the third night. (I didn’t want to store it for more than 24 hours because of the egg.)
Next, I made myself a nice large patty and fried it nice and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. I refrigerated it for day 4.
The remaining mushroom burger mixture I used to make a small Shepherd’s Pie. I placed the mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish.
Mushroom Burger veggie mixture
I topped the “meatloaf” with corn and peas. I had boiled some potatoes and prepared whipped potatoes with the potatoes, butter, and milk. I also added in some Parmesan cheese. I topped my casserole with the potatoes.
Mushroom burger topped with corn and peas, then potatoes
I baked my Shepherd’s Pie at 350° for about 50 minutes.
Shepherd Pie hot out of the oven
Overall, I was very pleased with the results. I had used a very large egg, and will reduce the egg next time. The mixture needs egg as a binder, but the jumbo sized egg was a little too much, and affected the texture. Also I might make individual sized casseroles next time, and fry the patty first, which will help the texture. I have already eaten 2 meals from my Shepherd’s Pie, and still have a portion in the frig. I might make some brown gravy to pour over the portions next time. Since this recipe does not have meat, there is not the juice that hamburger would produce, so I’m going to try gravy.
Serving of Shepherd's Pie
The third day I have Shepherd Pie for lunch. As with many things, it was better after being refrigerated. It helped the flavor and the texture.
That night I made my ravioli. Wonton ravioli is easier than it sounds. I place a rounded teaspoon of mushroom mixture on a small wonton wrapper. After placing the filling on the wrapper, just wet a finger and run around the edge of the wrapper. Fold wrapper over, pressing the air out, and pressing the edges to seal.
Veggie Mushroom Burger mixture on Wonton skin
Drop ravioli into boiling water, about 3 at a time. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then spoon onto a cooling rack, or onto a colander, being careful not to overlap ravioli.
Boil ravioli 2 or 3 at a time, Personal Photo
Serve with favorite pasta sauce. I used Bertolli Alfredo sauce. This super simple ravioli was fabulous! I made 6 raviolis, intending to eat 3 and have a salad. I was going to share 3 with a friend later, but I’m afraid I ate all 6!
Mushroom Ravioli with Alfredo, Personal Photo
On day 4 I made a nice large veggie burger for my lunch. I used all the “usual suspects”- cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mayo on an onion roll. This was a really good burger.
Mushroom Veggie Burger ready to eat
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Ratatouille over Rice Pilaf, Personal Photo
Having used the website AllRecipes.com many times, I recently subscribed to AllRecipes magazine. I found this recipe for Back-Burner Ratatouille, made in the crockpot. I’ve never made Ratatouille before, but this was really easy, and turned out great. I tweaked the ingredients a tad, and made some minor adjustments to the instructions.
1 28-oz can of petite diced tomatoes
2 zucchini squash
2 yellow squash
1 onion, finely chopped
½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tablespoon Lawry’s garlic powder with parsley
or 3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 cup spaghetti sauce
Wash squash and eggplant. I partially peeled my eggplant, removing ½” to 1” strips of peel evenly spaced with equal widths of peel. Cut vegetables into ½ inch cubes. Red, yellow, orange, &/or green bell pepper would be a nice addition too.
Place cubed zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant in crockpot. Add tomatoes, onion, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Vegetables in crockpot, ready to cook
Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours. Stir twice during cook time.
Ratatouille after about 5 hours on high in crockpot
Add tomato paste, spaghetti sauce, and coconut or olive oil. I used a large spoonful of Arriabiatta sauce, a large spoonful of Paul Newman Sockarooni sauce, and coconut oil. Stir to combine.
Cook uncovered 30 to 60 minutes on high to thicken.
Serve over rice, pasta, or polenta.
I served my Ratatouille over Turkish-style rice pilaf, and it was really good. I have seen Ratatouille over polenta and Ratatouille over pasta on Rachael Ray’s website. Rachael also has Ratatouille wraps, paninis, pizza, and more.
Friday, April 4, 2014
Welcome to my collection of crowd-pleasing vegetarian dishes. Whether you are a meat eater trying to embrace vegetarianism, a vegetarian with meat eaters in your household, or a vegetarian who entertains guests who are meat eaters, you’re sure to find some new favorites here.
Vegetarian ideas included in this post:
Veggie Burgers & Sandwiches
Vegetarian Soup & Chili
Beans as a Meal
Family Style Casseroles
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Breakfast for Dinner
Veggie Burgers & Sandwiches
Portabellas on the grill. Personal Photo.
I was really surprised how good portabella mushroom burgers are. My favorite version is a grilled portabella mushroom cap served on a Hawaiian roll or onion roll with mashed avocado, caramelized onions, and a slice of cheese.
I scrape the gills from the mushroom caps and grill them on the Foreman grill. I mash my avocado like I’m making guacamole and spread it on the bottom bun. I load the portabella cap down with caramelized onions, using an entire largish onion for two burgers. I like cheeses such as cheddar, pepper jack, Colby jack, or Swiss.
Blue Plate Diner Veggie Burger
Veggie Burger with Blue Plate Diner patty. Personal Photo.
There are tons of recipes for homemade veggie burgers. I personally stay away from the TVP (texturized vegetable protein) patties, and prefer something made from ingredients like grains, beans and vegetables.
I stumbled on a video of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives with Guy Fieri at the Blue Plate Diner, featuring their famous veggie burger. They revealed all their ingredients, but not a recipe.
The burger is made with garbanzo beans, black beans, oatmeal, celery, onions, and seasonings. I gave it a try, but wasn’t satisfied with my proportions. I wrote up a recipe with modifications based on my lessons learned.
Italian Lentil and Rice Veggie Burger
Lentil & Rice veggie patty with Swiss, dill spread, lettuce, tomato,
onion, on sandwich flatbread. Personal Photo.
If you want to make a homemade veggie burger patty, but are looking for something a bit simpler than the Blue Plate Burger, try the lentil and rice veggie patty from AllRecipes.com. I’ve made this one with a few modifications. You can check it out on my post, VeggieBurger- Italian Lentil and Rice Patty.
Want to See More Veggie Burgers?
Check out my Vegetarian Burger Recipe Index for overviews of 32 veggie burgers. I’ve also done a blog post on veggie burgers at restaurants.
Grilled Vegetable Panini
Celebrate summer with a sandwich made from delicious grilled vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, onion, and red peppers. Spread crusty bread with something interesting like homemade pesto or olive tapenade. Top with vegetables and your favorite cheese.
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich
Eggplant Parm Sandwich, Personal Photo
Try your eggplant parmesan on a sandwich, instead of with pasta. Place your crispy battered eggplant slices on crusty bread with sauce and cheese. Try a little Panko in your eggplant batter, and serve on garlic bread slices, or a baguette. Mozzarella cheese is the default, but why not throw on a duo or trio of cheeses.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled cheese sandwich- American & sharp cheddar,
fried in coconut oil. Personal Photo
Who doesn’t like a great grilled cheese sandwich? Go one better, and make a grilled 3-cheese sandwich! Pick two mild cheeses, then maybe a third with a little punch. Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, and cheddar, for example. Fry in butter or coconut oil, or heat on a Panini press, and serve with your favorite vegetarian soup. One of my favorite soups is La Madeline’s Tomato Basil Soup, which you can buy in a jar at the restaurant, or in some grocery stores. My local HEB (Texas) carries it at the same price as the restaurant.
Nutella & Banana Panini
Nutella & Banana Panini, Personal Photo
For a sweet treat, try a simple and delicious Panini. Spread Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread on one side of your bread. Top with banana and other piece of bread. Heat on Panini press. Decadent!
Sandwich with black bean chipotle patty, fried egg, sweet onion, and
mashed avocado on an onion roll. Personal Photo.
Lay out a spread for DIY sandwiches. You could fry up a variety of Gardenburger or Morningstar veggie patties, such as Black Bean Chipotle, Portabella, Sundried Tomato Basil, Asian, or Chickpea burger patties. Fried eggs would also be great. Lay out the mayo, mustard, salsa, guacamole, and hummus. Slice up some onions and tomatoes. Include lettuce, spinach, and cheeses.
Dozens of Sandwiches
Once you start exploring vegetarian sandwiches, you may find the possibilities are endless. Check out my effort in my post, Veggie Sandwiches- Over 50 Sandwiches without Meat.
Vegetarian Soup & Chili
Vegetable Soup, Personal Photo
My mom made the best vegetable soup when I was growing up. She used fresh from the garden vegetables. I use frozen and canned vegetables, but this soup is still a crowd pleaser. I make this soup in a huge stock pot. I used to put half of it in the freezer, but now I share with two of my friends who have fallen in love with it.
Start with tomato juice, and add shredded cabbage, chopped broccoli, chopped spinach, pureed carrots, diced tomatoes, and sliced okra. Add cubed potatoes, lima beans, corn, and English peas. Sometimes I season the soup with Italian seasonings, and sometimes I use Indian spices.
5 Bean Vegetarian Chili, Personal Photo
I make chili with three- to five- different kinds of beans, and onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato juice, pureed carrots, and spices such as cardamom, coriander, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon.
Beans as a Meal
Pinto Beans, Personal Photo
When I was growing up, we had meat almost every meal. Usually something battered and fried in pork lard. Those were the days! Anyhoo. Even though we were clearly meat eaters, one of our favorite meals was pinto beans with sweet onion, cornbread and potato salad.
Mom always cooked the beans in the pressure cooker, then boiled them until the broth got really thick. I cook them in the crock pot, and cook them on high for a couple hours at the beginning or the end of the cook time. This usually results in beans with a nice thick sauce. I could eat myself silly on some good pintos!
Navy beans, black-eyed peas, giant white lima beans, and 15-bean mix (or 12- or 13-bean) all make great meatless meals too.
There are other creative ways to build a satisfying meal around beans. A great guide is Romancing the Bean, by Joanne Saltzman. You can read an overview of these ideas in my post, Bean Dishes- Vegetarian Cookingwith Beans.
Chicken-less Pot Pie
Vegetarian Pot Pie with butternut squash, mushrooms, and artichokes.
Veggie Pot Pie with broccoli, carrots, corn, peas, and mushrooms.
I love a good pot pie, and have made a number of vegetarian variations. I found that I don’t miss the meat at all. I use an 11” X 13” baking dish, and two cans of cream soup, two cans of milk, a variety of vegetables, and top with a refrigerated or frozen pie shell. I bake for an hour at 350°.
My ultra easy version is cream of potato soup and a 16-oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables, usually green beans, green peas, corn, and lima beans. Another favorite combo is cream of mushroom or cream of potato soup, butternut squash, baby bella mushrooms, broccoli, and artichoke hearts.
For more ideas and combinations, read my post, MeatlessMonday- Vegetarian Pot Pies and Hand Pies.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Individual Shepherd's Pie from Rachael Ray's recipe
Why not try a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie? Rachael Ray has a version with the “meat” patty made from lentils, brown rice, grated carrots, and grated red beet. It was fairly labor intensive to make, and not that tasty to me. I suggest finding a favorite veggie burger recipe or veggie meatloaf recipe, and using it for the “meat”. Many say that the secret to a great textured veggie burger or meatloaf is mushrooms, so I tried this recently. I liked it much better.
Top with English peas and corn, then spread with a thick layer of freshly mashed potatoes.
Inspired by the classic Tater Tot Casserole, we put leftover French fries to good use at our house. Sometimes we store a variety of fries in the freezer until we get enough to cover the bottom of an 11” X 13” pan. Lay out the fries, then cover with a mixture of canned cream soup, some milk, and frozen mixed vegetables. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. This is surprisingly good. You can get the specifics in my post, My Fast and Easy French Fry Casserole. Just omit the ground beef.
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Great macaroni and cheese has milk and eggs, resulting in a soufflé-like texture. I come from a large extended family of Southern women who make homemade baked macaroni and cheese with no recipe. I did much the same, and it felt like a crap shoot every time, holding my breath hoping it would turn out okay. I always used elbow macaroni, Cracker Barrel cheese, Carnation evaporated milk, butter, and eggs. But I could never remember from one time to the next (usually each Thanksgiving) how much of each.
I finally decided to make myself a recipe. The next time I made mac and cheese, I measured everything and wrote it down. After it was done, I promptly made revisions to my recipe, and have been using this recipe ever since.
Serve my homemade baked macaroni and cheese to your guests along with two or three vegetable sides. Trust me, no one will care much what the sides are. You could try variations like adding vegetable such as broccoli or tomatoes.
You can find my recipe in my post, Baked Macaroni and Cheese.
Breakfast for Dinner
When I was growing up, none of us were breakfast eaters. Sometimes though, we had “breakfast” for “supper” (aka dinner). Try one of these selections as the centerpiece for your breakfast supper.
Strata with spinach, onion, mushrooms and cheese.
Strata is a layered dish made with bread and eggs. I save up leftover or stale bread in the freezer. I like to use a variety of breads. I tear it into cubes and store in the freezer until I need it.
Start by soaking your bread in an egg and milk mixture. Top with vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and bell peppers. Add some cheese, and top with another few beaten eggs. I bake mine in an 11” X 13” dish at 350° for about an hour. I have prepared several versions of this dish, which is always a hit.
Vegetable Egg Scrambles
Scrambled eggs with sauteed onions, mushrooms and spinach,
with tomato wedges. Personal Photo.
I can’t take the pressure of turning out a perfect, unbroken omelet, or the hassle of having to prepare several. Or maybe it’s just ADD, and I don’t have the patience. I just scramble enough eggs for everyone, starting with sautéed vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, or asparagus. I call it Eggs and Stuff.
You can sauté your vegetables, then set aside while you prepare your scrambled eggs, then top the eggs with the vegetables. Usually I sauté my veggies, starting with the more firm ones, and finishing off with the quicker cooking ones like spinach. I leave the vegetables in the pan and add in the eggs. I top them off with some shredded cheese.
Pancakes & Waffles
Chocolate chip pancakes, Personal Photo
I don’t like sweets first thing in the morning, but I enjoy pancakes for late lunch or dinner on occasion. My favorite may be chocolate chip pancakes. I find that the chocolate chips sink to the bottom of the bowl, so I pour out my batter on the griddle, then sprinkle with chocolate chips.
Fruit works well with pancakes. Mix in some fresh blueberries, or mashed bananas into your pancake batter. Slice bananas or strawberries to top pancakes.
If you like a crispy texture, pull out the waffle iron. More endless possibilities.
Grits and Tomato Gravy
Scrambled eggs with cheese, biscuits, grits and tomato gravy
The secret to grits is to get them really creamy. This means cooking them a really long time. I buy the quick cooking 5 minute grits and cook them 20-30 minutes. In general I like cheese and coconut oil in my grits. For a special treat, I occasionally make tomato gravy. I’ve watched my mom make milk gravy and tomato gravy many times. My milk gravy comes out really good. My tomato gravy is pretty good too, but never as good as Mom’s.