Tag Archives: comfort food

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! 

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!

Pizza pie in your eye

28 Dec

No animals required for this yum-o-rama.

No animals required for this yum-o-rama.

Oh my lawd, I loves me a pizza. Don’t let the other kids tell you you can’t eat pizza anymore if you don’t consume animal bits. Untrue. Observe…

The story behind my above prize pizza pie begins with a happy accident and my own inability to play by the rules…

The pie crust dough is super savory thanks to my fabulous co-worker, Eneris, screwing up a quiche she made for my birthday. The crust called for a tub of regular Tofutti cream cheese, but she grabbed the herbs and chive version on accident — and a star was born.

And now on to my inability to follow instructions.

I recently got on a calzone kick. The only problem is I can’t quite stop myself from piling on the ingredients, and then my calzones explode and, while they are tasty, they don’t look very pretty.

Calzone explosion

Did you know calzone is Italian for “a tasty mess?” True story.

So, one day I said to myself, “Self, screw this calzone business. Tonight we create a pizza pie.”

I hopped on Google for a recommended baking temperature and time and this caught my eye: a Tebow family recipe for all my football- and meat-loving friends.

Then I gots to the cooking…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour (I used one cup whole grain whole wheat and a half cup pastry flour to make the crust flakier)
  • A stick of vegan butter (Earth Balance buttery spread is the stuff of dreams)
  • An 8-ounce tub of vegan cream cheese (I prefer Tofutti Garlic and Herb)
  • A half cup each (or however much you’d like) of diced: mushrooms, green peppers, red onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • A 6 oz. can of pizza sauce (I like Muir Glen organic basil and garlic)
  • A link of Tofurky italian sausage, cut into bite-size bits
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme (strip the leaves off the stick and discard it)
  • Italian seasoning (to taste)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

To make your freaking yumtastic dough, follow this recipe. But instead of regular cream cheese, grab yourself some chive and herb or garlic and herb.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 and grease a standard 9-inch pie plate/tin.
  2. Flatten your yumtastic dough with a floured rolling pin (or wine bottle, if you don’t have a rolling pin handy) and place it in the pie pan.
  3. Warm 2 Tbsps of olive oil in a medium skillet, then throw in your sausage to warm it up.
  4. Add the pizza sauce to the skillet, stir in your veggies, thyme, italian seasoning and garlic and then let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove skillet from heat, and fold in the spinach and basil.
  6. Pour contents of skillet into your pie pan.
  7. Top with vegan cheese, and a touch more Italian seasoning, if you so desire.
  8. Pop the pie in the oven for 40 minutes, until the cheese is melty and the crust starts to brown.
  9. Let the pie cool for about 15 minutes, so it’s easier to cut.
  10. Enjoy!!

I hope you love this pizza as much as my roommate and I do, which is to say we ate the whole thing in less than a day.

Have fun playing with the toppings, and by all means let me know how your experimenting goes.

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