Tag Archives: casserole

Stroganoff Non-Hamburger Helper

25 Feb

A skillet meal the gloved one would be proud of....Lefty, not Michael Jackson. But I bet he'd like it too.

When I was a kid, the sight of few human beings made me as happy as a vision of Betty Crocker’s anthropomorphic meal-time-in-a-box mascot, Lefty the Helping Hand, hanging out on our kitchen counter. Because that meant only one glorious thing: Helper was coming!

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom is not a fan of the kitchen. So Helpers were a common sight in our house — much to the joy of little Bridget. They were so gooey. So noodely. So salty. So yum.

In particular, I adored the 1990 version that featured Lefty wearing a Russian hat:

The Berlin wall is down! Creamy noodley goodness for all!

Anyway, that was 24 years ago. Flash forward through slap bracelets, Tamogotchis, Britney and Justin’s matching denim ensembles, MySpace and the resurgence of all things Apple, and while 29-year-old Bridget no longer eats animal foods, I still cherish the hell out of some Helper memories.

So, not too long ago, I decided I was going to turn this most-dear childhood staple into something a little healthier. The first step? Way less salt. And, obviously, no artificial preservatives. Easy peasy.

Now, your typical stroganoff sauce consists of sour cream, oil, butter, beef broth, onion, garlic powder and salt and pepper. As you know, I don’t play with those first four items. So I improvised. I traded out cashews for the artery-clogging trifecta of cream, oil and butter, added apple cider vinegar for the sour tang, and replaced the beef with a combo of vegan, meatless soy crumble and vitamin-D-packed mushrooms. Mmm, shrooms.

I also felt the need to squeeze some green into my ode to a healthier Lefty. I went with a cup or so of frozen peas, but spinach or kale would be a good plan, too.

The results did not disappoint.

Before I give you the play-by-play on how to whip this up, here’s a little info on why cashews are so awesome:

Cashew apples. These are a thing, apparently.

Cashew apples. These are a thing, apparently.

While they’re not fat free by any stretch of the imagination, cashews certainly kick butter, cream and plain old olive oil’s asses. First of all, they’re actually less fatty than some of  their other nut brethren, and they boast unsaturated fat (the kind that’s good for you).  They’re also made up of a bunch of minerals, which make your skin, hair and nails all pretty-like. Plus, cashews provide B vitamins, and they contain several antioxidant compounds regarded as anticancer agents. Also, they’re actually a seed (Mr. Seed to you). Who knew?

And now, let’s pig out!…

Stroganoff Non-Hamburger Helper
Serves ~4

Ingredients

Sauce (makes about 3 cups)

  • 2 cups non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup soaked raw cashews
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A generous shake of dried parsley
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
Everything else
  • 6 oz. non-egg noodles
  • 6 oz. vegan meatless crumbles (I used Gardein)
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or other veggies, such as kale, spinach, etc.)
Directions
  1. To make them as creamy as possible, soak your cashews for at least a half an hour. If you are lucky enough to own a Vitamix or similarly turbo-powered blender/food processor, then you can skip this step.
  2. Combine all your sauce ingredients in your blender/food processor, and whiz until smooth.
  3. In a non-stick skillet, combine noodles, sauce, mushrooms and peas and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
  4. When mixture bubbles, turn heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Dig in!

Bon apetit! 

The fastest chili mac casserole in the west, plus dairy-free chocolate milk

22 Jun

Delicious. No cows required.

Delicious. No cows required.

If you’re responsible for feeding one or more finicky children (or child-like adults), listen up, because these recipes are made for you.

My chili mac casserole and chocolate milk are omnivore requested, tested and approved, and possibly my most kid-friendly recipes to date. Plus, they both have the added benefit of being stupid easy to throw together, whilst harboring zero animal products or gluten. And, oh yeah, they taste fantastic. Amazing, I know. (Full disclosure time: I grabbed the gluten-free pasta off the store shelf on accident. But, you know what, it turned out yummy. So, there you go).

But before I launch into the recipes, allow me to drop some knowledge about one of the star ingredients in both.

Mmm...HFCS!When people find out someone in their vicinity no longer eats animal products, one of the most common concerns they feel the right need to voice is, “but where oh where do you get your calcium?!” (Because it makes complete sense to pipe up with nutrition advice when a fellow human is noshing salads and tofu, but when they watch you scarf down McGarbage on your way to a triple by-pass at 30, your diet is totally none of their business…) “Never fear,” I tell these folks, “well-rounded plant-based diets contain plenty of calcium. And one of my favorite sources is almond milk.”

It’s creamy, can be used exactly like you’d use cow’s milk in any recipe, and is devoid of lactose (an enemy of many tummies), growth hormones, cholesterol, and sneakily hidden sweeteners. Plus, unlike cow’s milk, almond milk is a rich source of magnesium and vitamin E, as well as selenium, and manganese. And calcium-fortified, unsweetened almond milk has 50 percent more calcium per serving than regular cow’s milk — yet only 30 calories per serving, compared to 90 calories in skim cow’s milk and 150 calories in fat cow’s milk.

Now, some of you might be wondering why I didn’t just drop a blob of Hershey’s chocolate syrup into my milk and call it a day. Because I think high fructose corn syrup is the devil’s sweetener, that’s why.

So let’s all calm down, eat some calcium-rich casserole, and wash it down with a nice, frothy glass of calci-yummy, better-than-moosual chocolate milk.

Chili Mac Casserole
Serves 4-5

Mmm. I wish I could embed scents. You're missing out.

Mmm. I wish I could embed scents. You’re missing out.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans vegan chili (I used Amy’s, medium-level spice. But if you’re less lazy than me, you can use about three cups of your homemade chili)
  • 3 cups spinach, chopped (you could use kale here, too)
  • 8 oz. pasta (I used gluten-free penne, but really, whatever floats your boat will work)
  • 1 batch of Aunt B’s Cheese Sauce (recipe here)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumb topping (optional)

‘Role it Up

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Follow the package instructions to cook your pasta (gluten-free pasta usually has a shorter cook time).
  3. While your pasta is cooking, mix up all the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a blender or food processor.
  4. Dump your drained pasta back in the pot and pour in the cheese sauce, chili, and spinach, and stir until combined.
  5. Pour the whole mixture into a lightly greased (I used olive oil spray) casserole dish.
  6. If you like, top with breadcrumbs for an added crunch factor.
  7. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
  8. If you can drum up enough patience, allow the casserole to cool a bit before serving. Or let the kids burn their tongues out of their skulls. That’ll teach ’em!

Non-Dairy Chocolate Milk
Serves 2

Thirsty?

Thirsty?

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsps organic, pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 drops vanilla
  • 2 heaping tsps pure cocoa powder

Simply blend all the ingredients together and chill in the fridge. If you don’t have a blender of food processor, you can use it whisk, but it might take a while.

Bon appetit!

Cheesy chick-none and veggie casserole

13 Feb

Mmm...smell the traditionalism.

Just like grandma’s casseroles. Minus the love.

There’s something nostalgic and comforting about a casserole. In fact, when it comes to the old “is there anything more American than…” question, I firmly believe that a casserole can give apple pie, baseball and debatable foreign policy a run for their money.

Gma love.

Me and my Gma. She was a real rad lady.

Casseroles are also some of my favorite dishes, because they’re simple to assemble, please even the stingiest of pallets, make for days of delectable leftovers, and they remind us all of our grandmother’s cozy kitchens (unless you had a rare casserole-less grandma, in which case I invite you to borrow the memory of mine).

For me, this cheesy, seitan- and veggie-full recipe achieves all the important casserole criteria — and I can assure you that it has been thoroughly omnivore tested and approved.

Final note: While the seitan works well as a hearty chicken replacement, and it’s a great source of protein and iron, you can just as easily double the amount of mushrooms and the dish will still be “nomnomnom” worthy.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces whole wheat rotini noodles
  • 1 lb of seitan
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Bridget’s Nommy Good Cheeze sauce (ingredients below)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (for some crunch, if that’s your bag)

Bridget’s Nommy Good Cheeze Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 3 Tbsp unbleached flour (chickpea flour is gluten free, FYIzzle)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (recommended for those of us who enjoy a good kick in the mouth pants)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Conjure a casserole

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook and drain the pasta, then put it back in the pot and set it aside.
  3. Brown the seitan in a large skillet on medium heat (add 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil if you like), and break it up into bite-sized pieces while you’re at it.
  4. Combine the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl or food processor.
  5. Transfer the sauce to the skillet, add in the veggies, mix well, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Pour the skillet contents into the pot with the noodles and mix well, then turn the whole lot out into a greased casserole dish.
  7. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs before baking uncovered for 30 minutes.
  8. Allow the dish to cool before you start shoveling the yummy casserole goodness into your face hole.

Bon appetit!

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