Easy Vegetarian (or Vegan) Gravy

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is easy & can be made in 20 minutes.  It is delicious & even meat eaters will delight in it.  I brought it to a Thanksgiving diner yesterday & the hostess tasted my gravy & chose not to bother making a turkey-based version for her carnivorous guests.  Everyone ate the vegetarian gravy & all were pleased!  I used butter in mine but you vegans can just sub it out with a vegan butter/margarine or even olive oil.

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Easy Vegetarian (or Vegan) Gravy

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter (or vegan alternative or olive oil)

1/2 – 3/4 cup shallots (or onion) – minced

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

1 TBS soy sauce

1/2 tsp Marmite

1 tsp black pepper

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the stock in a pan.

Melt the butter (or vegan alternative) in another large stock pot.  Add the chopped shallots & cook a few minutes letting the butter heat just to the point of boiling.  Add the flour & whisk it in until it is smooth.  Lower heat to med-high & brown the roux just a bit – whisking constantly.  ImageImage

It should get very thick very quickly.  Add the soy sauce & Marmite & black pepper.  Whisk them in & then slowly add the stock in small increments.  Here is where you can control how thin or thick the gravy gets.  Let it thicken before adding the next portion of stock.  When all the stock is incorporated – you can cook it down to thicken it more.  If it gets too thick – add a bit of water.  And there you have it!  Enjoy!

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Vegetarian/Vegan Apple Sage Stuffing

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is super easy & really quite delicious.  I used a spice called Bell’s Seasoning –

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but I think this might only be available in the Northeast.  If so – just use poultry seasoning.

So – no fanfare today.  So much to do.  To eat.  To drink.  So I will just get on with the recipe.

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Vegetarian/Vegan Apple Sage Stuffing 

INGREDIENTS

7 cups cubed bread (even gluten-free bread if you like)

1/2 cup diced shallots (or onion)

5 celery stalks – chopped

1 Golden Delicious apple (or any apple) – diced

10-20 sage leaves

olive oil

2 cups non-dairy, unsweetened milk

4 TBS vegan butter

1 tsp Bell Seasoning (or poultry seasoning)

1 tsp dry sage

1 tsp each S&P

2 vegan egg replacements (or other vegan alternative – like – 1/2 cup pureed silken tofu)

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DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the cubed bread in a large bowl.

Heat a TBS or two of olive oil in a large pan.  Saute the shallots/onion & celery until soft.  Add the apple & heat through.  Add this to the bread.

Add another TBS of olive oil to the same pan & fry the sage leaves until they begin to brown – turning them a few times.  Drain on a paper towel, crumble them & add to the bread.

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Melt the butter in another pan & add the milk.  Warm it & add the spices.  Add this to the bread.  Add the eggs to the bread & stir to combine well.

Grease a casserole dish with butter or cooking spray.  Put the stuffing in there & bake, covered, at 350 for 45 minutes.

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Remove the cover & bake another 20 minutes or so – until the top is crusty & golden.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!

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Spicy Vegan Chinese Green Pepper Beef

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Another easy gem made from Trader Joe’s Beef-less Strips.  Of course – real beef could be used.  Green pepper beef is my bad-ass boyfriend Miles’ favorite Chinese dish so I expect I will post an actual meat version of this some time down the line.

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Easy as can be & rather delicious.  Mine was a bit on the salty side so be sure to use the low sodium soy sauce.  I added dark soy sauce but if you cannot find this – omit it.  I used a vegetarian oyster sauce.  As with the dark soy – if you cannot find it – omit it.

I bought white rice from a local Thai joynt – hence the take-out container.

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Spicy Vegan Chinese Green Pepper Beef

Serves two pretty easily

INGREDIENTS

8 oz Trader Joe’s Beef-less Strips (or other vegan meat) – or real beef

1/2 onion – sliced thin

1 1/2 bell peppers – colors of your choice – sliced thin

olive oil

cornstarch

1 cup water

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

1 TBS dark soy sauce (optional)

1 tsp black pepper

1 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

1 TBS ginger – minced

6 garlic cloves – minced

2 TBS brown sugar

1 TBS rice wine vinegar

1 TBS vegetarian oyster sauce (optional)

Cooked rice of your choice

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DIRECTIONS

Toss the meat in a few TBS of cornstarch to coat it.

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Heat a TBS or 2 of olive oil in a saute pan over high heat.  Sear the meat & the crushed red pepper until it browns a bit on all sides.  Set it aside in a bowl.

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Add another TBS of olive oil to the pan & cook the onions & peppers over medium heat until soft.  Put them in the bowl with the meat.

Add another TBS of olive oil to the pan & add the garlic & ginger.  After one minute add the soy sauces, water, black pepper, brown sugar, rice vinegar & oyster sauce.  Bring to a boil & let it thicken just a bit.  Add the meat & peppers & stir to blend.  Cook it down until the sauce is as thick as you want it & serve over rice.  YUM!

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Gluten-Free Polenta Crust Pizza & Pizza Towers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This couldn’t be much easier to make – unless you just bought a pre-made pizza.  Polenta (the quick cook kind) is done in 5 minutes.  Or – you could buy it like this:

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If you buy it like that – then these are just really glorified English muffin pizzas.  SO EASY!  If you buy instant polenta like this:

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then it comes together in about 5 minutes for a more traditional pizza – like I posted above.  For the towers – you need to chill it in the fridge for a while (30 minutes?) til it sets – like this:

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See?  I just poured it into a container – chilled it – then sliced it up & cut rounds with a cookie cutter (or the top of a glass).  The chilled polenta lasts for days & can be used to make little pizzas on the spur of the moment.

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I added a TBS or two of fresh thyme to my polenta as it cooked.  This is totally optional.

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So – calling this a recipe is overstating things.  I used some homemade red sauce that I had around.  You can use your favorite recipe (I have a 5-Minute arrabiata here & also a marinara) or a jarred version.

I used a combination of fresh mozzarella & Parmesan.  You can use any cheese or any other pizza toppings you desire.  I added fresh basil (and I recommend this as it really does add a lot) and a few sprigs of arugula.  Both of these are optional.  I found the larger pizza to be a bit more moist than I would have preferred so I really suggest the little mini pizzas over the larger one – even if you do not care to present them in tower form.  I’ve been popping little cookie-sized pizzas into my mouth all weekend.  I recommend it highly!

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Gluten-Free Polenta Crust Pizza & Pizza Towers

INGREDIENTS

Polenta (either pre-made or instant made as the package instructs)

Fresh thyme – optional (add to the polenta as it cooks)

Tomato sauce and/or sliced fresh tomatoes

Pizza cheese

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Fresh basil and/or arugula – shredded as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Make the polenta & either take a portion & spread it into a 1/4 inch pizza crust on a greased sheet or pan covered in parchment paper.  Cook at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the edges crisp.

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Top the pizza with sauce, tomatoes & cheese & cook until the cheese is melted & beginning to brown.  Garnish with basil and/or arugula & eat it up!  OR!

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Chill the polenta until it is firm (maybe 30 minutes – or overnight).  Slice it to your desired thickness & (optionally) cut it into little rounds.  Or – just open that pre-made tube of polenta and slice that fucker up.

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Place on a greased cooking sheet or on parchment covered pan.  I then doused mine with crushed red pepper.

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Bake these at 450 degrees for about ten minutes & then top them with sauce & cheese.

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Then bake until they look done to your eye.

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You can garnish them with basil & arugula & serve them like this or let them cool for about a minute & stack them.  You will likely need a toothpick spiked through the center to keep them from sliding into a gooey mess.  Whatever you decide – pop open a bottle of wine & get your munch on!

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Vegan Beef, Potato & Squash Curry with Gluten-Free Cauliflower “Rice”

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – before I get into this very easy recipe for Vegan Beef, Potato & Squash Curry with Gluten-Free Cauliflower “Rice” – let me begin my effort to prep the world for the upcoming release of my first novel – Bathing & the Single Girl.

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Is was inspired by my short film of the same name.  The trailer for that film can be seen HERE.  I will be releasing it as an E-book only (for now) and I hope to have it up for sale before Christmas.  It is a comic Hollywood mockumemoir about fading fame, excessive drinking, awkward sex and the horrors of dating (and bathing with) younger men.  I hope you will read it when it comes out!

Here is a quote from the book’s heroine:

“See?  I can be selfless.  As long as there is something in it for me.” – Ruby Fitzgerald

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OK, that said – let’s move onto this delightful recipe!  It is very easy & very customizable.  I used the vegetables I used here because I had them on hand.  You could sub out things you don’t like or do not have & use things like carrots or sweet potatoes or green beans or cauliflower.  Whatever.  You could also use real beef.  I made a special effort to only use really mainstream ingredients & skipped the typical Indian spices like garam masala and curry leaves – because I wanted everyone to be able to make this – even those without access to the more exotic ingredients.  Do not be intimidated by the length of the ingredient list.  If you have a spice rack, you probably already have at least half of the stuff listed.

I served this with the gluten-free (guilt free, too!) cauliflower faux rice but you could use any rice you like – especially the wonderfully aromatic & traditional basmati rice.   Because this is really just an Indian beef stew, it would also go nicely over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

The rice I made here used a bit of this stuff –

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which I buy at Super King for about $7.  You can buy it online.  You could use this or saffron threads threads or just a bit of turmeric to add color.

I also used coconut oil –

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and Trader Joe’s Beef-less strips.  If these are not available to you, use olive oil & and brand of faux beef you can find – or even a tofu or tempeh variety.  I used these little potatoes – but any potato will do.

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I used a butternut squash (half of one) and a red onion.  Sweet potato or brown onions all you have?  Use those!

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Vegan Beef, Potato & Squash Curry with Gluten-Free Cauliflower “Rice”

serves 4-6 easily

INGREDIENTS

For the cauliflower “rice”

1/2 large head cauliflower

1/2 onion – diced

1 TBS saffron liquid (or a few saffron threads steeped in 1/4 cup hot water for a few minutes) – or 1-2 tsp turmeric (for color)

2 TBS olive oil

Salt to taste

For the Vegan Beef, Potato & Squash Curry

Coconut oil (or olive oil)

2 (8 oz) packages of Trader Joe’s Beef-less Strips (or similar quantity of other vegan meat – or real beef)

Cornstarch

1/2 lb potatoes – cubed

2 jalapenos – diced (optional)

1 onion – diced

1/2 butternut squash – peeled & cubed (or a few sweet potatoes or carrots)

1 cup peas

Coconut oil (or olive oil)

2 TBS Madras Curry

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS ground coriander

1 TBS turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp salt (or more – to taste)

1 TBS ginger – minced

8 garlic cloves – chopped

1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (14 oz) can coconut milk (I used lite)

2 TBS apple cider vinegar

2 cups water

Paprika – as garnish

Fresh cilantro as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

For the Vegan Beef, Potato & Squash Curry

Toss the meat with a TBS or two of cornstarch until it is coated.

Heat 2-3 TBS coconut oil (or olive oil) in a large saute pan on high heat.  Sear the meat on all sides.  Set aside.

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Add another few TBS of oil to the pan & add the onion & jalapenos.  Saute over med–high for a few minutes or until soft.  Add the curry, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, salt, sugar, crushed red pepper, ginger & garlic and stir for about a minute.

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Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, apple cider vinegar & water & stir to blend.  Add the meat, potato & squash.

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Bring this to a boil & reduce to a simmer & let cook while you make the rice.

For the cauliflower “rice”

Using the grater blade of a food processor or just a regular grater – shred the cauliflower into a rice-like texture.

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Heat a few TBS of oil in a large saute pan & saute the onion until soft.

Add the cauliflower.  Add the saffron liquid or saffron threads & their steeping water or the turmeric and the salt.  Saute over med-high heat until tender – maybe 5-10 minutes.

Add the peas to the simmering beef curry & heat through.

Once the potato & squash are tender – serve your curry with the cauliflower rice & garnish them with the paprika & cilantro.  Eat way more than is decent or civilized because – what the fuck?  Why not?  This shit is vegan & gluten-free!  It is like eating air.  Really tasty air!

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Super Easy Spicy Vegan Orange Chicken

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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In case you haven’t heard – I wrote a HILARIOUS novel!!!  Read all about it HERE.

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I am not vegan but these Trader Joe’s faux meats are so inspiring to me!  (UPDATE – Beyond Meat vegan chicken is even better!) I mean, if you CAN eat vegan easily & deliciously, why wouldn’t you?  It isn’t like you can’t just go eat a burger or sushi tomorrow.  In fact, a carnivorous friend of mine is on that VB6 (Vegan Before Six) diet and dropped thirty pounds effortlessly.  Who among us wouldn’t like to a lose a few pounds while still feeling like the meals have been decadent?

Anyway – as I  said before, I am not typically a fan of seitan or tempeh or the other faux meats out there unless they are used sparingly & in busy dishes like vegetarian chili or pasta with a meat sauce.  One exception is soyrizo – which tastes pretty great but is very specific & can be overpowering.

However, my recent efforts with this brand of fake beef resulted in two of my new favorite meals – the Jameson Whiskey Spicy Vegan Beef Bourguignon and  the Mongolian Beef – seen below respectively.

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This Spicy Vegan Orange Chicken takes about twenty minutes & is better than take-out.  You might serve it with steamed broccoli or garlicky green beans and maybe use another variety of rice or quinoa.  But try it because it is an easy, guiltless, guilty pleasure.  Or – use real chicken – if you are a sissy.

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Super Easy Spicy Vegan Orange Chicken

serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Rice (optional) – I bought mine already cooked at the local Thai restaurant

2 (8 oz) packages vegan chicken strips (or similar quantity of real chicken strips)

2 TBS cornstarch

2-3 TBS olive oil

Zest & juice of two oranges

2 TBS minced ginger

8 garlic cloves – minced

1 cup soy sauce

1-2 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

3/4 cup brown sugar (or more, to taste, if you like it on the sweet side)

Scallions as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

If you are not cheating like I did (by buying cooked rice at a take-out joynt) – get your rice cooking.  The rest should be done even before the rice is.

Zest & juice the oranges & set those aside.

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Coat the chicken in cornstarch.  Add the olive oil to a large saute pan & fry the chicken (vegan or otherwise) until it is browned on the outside.  If using real chicken, be sure it is cooked through.

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Remove the meat & set aside.  If the pan requires it, add a bit more olive oil.  Add the crushed red pepper, ginger, garlic & orange zest & stir for 30 seconds or so.  Add the soy sauce.  Measure the orange juice.  If you have less than one cup – top it off to bring it up to a cup with water.  Add that to the pan.  Add the sugar & bring to a boil over high heat.  If it doesn’t thicken very quickly (less than 5 minutes), simply take 1 tsp cornstarch & 1/4 cup water & blend them together & add to the sauce.  It should thicken (at a boil) almost immediately.  Lower to medium heat & add the chicken.  If the sauce is too thick, add water.  If it is still too thin, cook until it thickens.  Serve with rice & sliced scallions as garnish – and with whatever veggie you prepared.  I went purist & just ate this like you see with no veggie.  It made for a pretty dense meal so I really suggest adding steamed broccoli, at least.  Enjoy!

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Jameson Whiskey Spicy Vegan Beef Bourguignon with Gluten-Free Pasta & Broccoli

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – I am officially obsessed with Trader Joe’s Beef-Less Strips.  The other day I made the easiest & most awesome Spicy Vegan Mongolian Beef.

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Last night I made this vegan variation of beef bourguignon & it was amazing!  Beef bourguignon is, basically, a French beef stew.  Many recipes call for cognac.  I didn’t have cognac so I used Jameson whiskey.  Many beef bourguignon recipes require a good 3-4 hours of cooking the meat in the oven.  This was made stove top in thirty minutes & I believe that would hold true even if you used real meat.  It was so Goddamn delicious – I ate it all – by myself!  I served it atop gluten-free spaghetti.

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You could use any pasta you like or mashed potatoes or polenta – whatever.  I also steamed some broccoli & added it to the plate.  It was really quite something & I sincerely hope you try it.  It is SO EASY & so yummy – I promise – you will make it again.

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Jameson Whiskey Spicy Vegan Beef Bourguignon with Gluten-Free Pasta & Broccoli

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

8 oz package Trader Joe’s Beef-less Strips (or other brand or similar portion of real beef – cubed or strips)

10 pearl onions (fresh or frozen)

3 carrots – chopped

5-10 mushrooms – cut in half (or quartered, if they are large)

1 TBS cornstarch (or flour)

olive oil

1/4 cup Jameson whiskey

1 cup red wine (use a decent one so you can drink the rest of the bottle with the meal)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 TBS tomato paste

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 tsp (or more – to taste) crushed red pepper (optional)

Fresh thyme

S&P to taste

1/2 lb pasta

Broccoli florets (enough to feed two as a side)

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DIRECTIONS

If using fresh pearl onions – put them in boiling water for 3 minutes & then drain under cold water.  Cut the ends off & peel.  Set aside.  If using frozen ones – jump ahead.

Dredge your meat (real or vegan) in the cornstarch.

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Put a thin layer of olive oil in a large saute pan & heat over high.  Add the meat & sear on all sides.  This will likely take longer if you use real meat.  Don’t worry much about under-cooking real meat as it will continue to cook as you add ingredients.

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Deglaze the pan with the Jameson whiskey (simply by adding it & stirring it in – scraping the bottom of the pan) & then add 1 cup red wine, the vegetable stock, tomato paste, bay leaves, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using).  Heat to a boil then reduce to med-low.  Add S&P to taste.  Ad several sprigs of chopped fresh thyme (leaves only – not stems).

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In another pan, add a glug or two of olive oil & over medium heat, saute the pearl onions, mushrooms & carrots.   Saute, stirring frequently, until they begin to sear or brown a bit (5 minutes or so).  Deglaze the pan with either more Jameson whiskey or wine (or water) and then add the lot to the beef stew pan.

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Continue cooking over medium heat until the carrots are tender.  If the stew is too thick, add some water.  If it is too thin – increase heat & cook until you get the desired consistency.  Lower heat & let it simmer while you cook the pasta & steam the broccoli.  I simply added the broccoli florets to the pasta for the final two minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.

Drain the pasta & broccoli & put some on plates.  Top with the beef bouguignon (and maybe extra thyme as garnish?) & serve with wine.  At least one bottle per person.  🙂

Or slop this stuff down with the remaining Jameson, in which case, the one bottle should be enough for two.  😉

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