Saturday, March 10, 2018

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Photo courtesy of Crafty Lumberjacks

This past Christmas, Jen was fixing a holiday meal for a mixed vegan and non-vegan crowd. She didn’t want to disappoint them with a dish that didn’t leave everyone feeling satisfied - holiday meal-level satisfied. Working with her brother Andrew and his partner Dennis of the Crafty Lumberjacks – Vegan Shepherd’s Pie was born. Even the non-vegans of the crowd said that they would be able to eat vegan food all the time if it tasted like this. A carnivore converter - it was a Christmas miracle!

Shepherd’s Pie, traditionally made with lamb, is definitely one of the meatier comfort foods that comes to mind. We bet most people would be skeptical of a vegan version, thinking you wouldn’t be able to get that same rich flavor. But this recipe will not disappoint! So tell your friends and relatives to wear their stretchy pants when you make them this dish, because they are going to be stuffed after this meal, holiday meal-level stuffed!

If you haven't already, check out Andrew and Dennis of Crafty Lumberjacks' site - they have tons of holiday and craft inspiration that looks amazing!

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

For the filling:

1 recipe for tofu crumbles, recipe below which can be made ahead (or substitute with store-bought crumbles, such as Beyond Meat)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups vegetable stock
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces (1 package) of frozen vegetable medley

For the topping:

6 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon (such as Better than Bouillon)
1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk of choice
Salt and pepper to taste

1.      Preheat the oven to 350F. Assemble the tofu crumbles per the recipe below. While the crumbles are in the oven, prepare the mashed potato topping. Add potatoes to a large pot of water, bring to a boil and let cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft. 

2.     While the potatoes cook, prepare the filling. In a large saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil and onion. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3.     Add flour and stir until it is golden brown and has a soft paste consistency (about 3 minutes). If it gets too dry, add more oil.

4.     Slowly whisk in the vegetable stock and continue whisking until it is smooth, and the flour has incorporated. 

5.     Add the rosemary and stirring occasionally, let simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6.     While the gravy is simmering, drain the pot of potatoes then add the potatoes back into the pot. Add the plant milk, margarine, salt, pepper and bouillon. Mash until well combined, set aside. 

7.      Add the tofu crumbles and frozen vegetable mix to the gravy then pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.

8.     Spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the filling. Place the casserole dish on a sheet pan and bake at 350F for 25 minutes, until the topping is just starting to turn golden. Let cool for a few minutes, and serve!

Tofu Meat Crumbles:
(Recipe from

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon soy sauce (gluten-free if preferred) 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 block extra-firm tofu, drained (no need to press it)

1.      Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

2.     Mix the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, olive oil chili powder, garlic powder, and liquid smoke together in a large bowl. It will make a brown paste-like texture.

3.     Crumble the block of tofu with your fingers into the bowl along with the seasoning. Mix the tofu crumbles with the seasoning making sure all of the tofu is evenly coated. 

4.     Spread the tofu crumbles evenly over the pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, stopping to stir the tofu every now and then. Keep a close eye on it towards the end so that it doesn't burn. You want the tofu to be nice and browned. The smaller crumbles will be darker than the larger crumbles, and that's ok because it will provide a variety of texture.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Much like it's friend ketchup, BBQ sauce is a pretty unhealthy condiment. Since kids eat this sauce like it's a side, we went ahead and made a healthy version. For grownups, we like to add some hot sauce and red chili flakes. Your kids may even like a bit of a kick, so go ahead and add some heat. They might surprise you!

3 tablespoons homemade ketchup (recipe below)
2 teaspoons vegan Worchester sauce
1 teaspoon prune baby food
1 teaspoon orange juice
Dash of cinnamon
Salt and Pepper

1. Mix all of the ingredients together. Keeps well in the refrigerator.

Cauliflower and Potato Mash

If your child is a fan of mashed potatoes then this is the recipe for you. Some kids don't care for the texture of cauliflower so we've mashed it and combined it with a traditional favorite, the mashed potato. Did you know that cauliflower is a great source for protein? And if your kids are anything like most, it's hard to get that protein in. Your child will not taste the cauliflower in this dish but that doesn't mean we think that you should keep them in the dark. Tell them all about it! (For some folks, they prefer to tell them AFTER their kids taste it, whatever works) If you kids dig this dish, start adding more cauliflower than potato.

Cauliflower and Potato Mash

(Makes about 4 large servings)
25 mins

1 pound potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pound cauliflower florets
5-6 tablespoons low sodium vegetable stock
salt & pepper
onion powder
garlic powder
Suggested seasonings and extras: olive oil, dried dill, hot sauce, hot sauce

1. Boil the potatoes and cauliflower until tender, drain and mash by hand.

2. Slowly add stock, 2 tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached.

3. Season to taste with some of our suggested seasonings and extras.
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Monster Muffins

Baking with kids is one of the best activities in the kitchen. Lots of pouring, measuring and stirring. These muffins are hearty, healthy and sweet. We love piping on cool designs with greek yogurt, like this scull and crossbones for halloween. 

(Serves 6 kiddos)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed in 3 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup zucchini, grated coarsely
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flax seed, agave, oil and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients, stir just to combine.

3. Mix in the zucchini, banana, and walnuts. Pour evenly six ways into a muffin tin lined with paper cupcake holders.

4. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before eating.

Black Bean Dip

Ok, so by now you've realized that we love black beans! And what's not to love? It's super healthy, packed full of protein, vitamins and fiber. Plus it keeps bellies full longer. Now we've done black beans and rice, black bean soup, and here's the dip. Kids love dip. Let's face it, dips make life just a little bit better. This dip is really simple and super easy. Encourage your kids to create a design on top with chips. Plating is everything. You eat with your eyes first! This is a great dish for kids in the kitchen who can help add spices and seasonings.

(Serves two kiddos)

1 can of black beans
4 tbsp soy yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salsa
Garlic powder to taste
Salt to taste

1. In a small blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth or until desired consistency.