creamy potato pot pie for one, and a tip for carrying your hot little pot!

Okay, now I need to start getting caught up on things I made before the trip. I seem to have misplaced some pictures somewhere, but I found this recipe for potato pot pie that I meant to post quite a while ago. If you are hungry for carbs, this is the recipe for you! Preheat your oven to whatever temp you need to use to bake your biscuit (see below).

I would say this is a medium size potato. I like to leave the skins on, so I gave it a good scrub and then chopped it.

I added what seemed to be an equal portion of onion.

I cooked the onion and potato in margarine until the potatoes began to get soft and the onions clear, and then added fresh garlic, salt & pepper. I found some canned mushrooms in the fridge and decided to add those, too. If I hadn’t been in a rush I would have also added celery, and maybe carrots.

While that was cooking, I whipped up some Bisquick biscuit dough for the topping. I made just enough to cover my casserole, not even 1/4 of the recipe. I preheated my oven to whatever temp it said to bake the biscuits at, I think it was 425.

Now back to my potatoes and things. Once the potatoes were soft, I sprinkled them with about 4-6 tablespoons of flour and stirred to coat.

Then began adding my milk alternative (unsweetened almond, in this case) a little at time. At first it just looks like a creamy sauce….

then it starts to look like cream of potato soup. That’s perfect.

I put it in my little pot,

then covered the mixture with the biscuit dough.

I baked mine for about 20 minutes, then spread some margarine on top and browned it under the broiler.

See how pretty and golden brown?

But how will I get this extremely hot pot to my grandmother’s house for dinner???

I got a clean dish towel and sat the pot in the middle…

pulled one corner over the center,

then folded over the opposite corner…

then used the unfolded corners to tie a nice, tight knot.

And if there weren’t enough carbs in the casserole itself, the side dishes my family prepared for that day’s meal were MORE potatoes, and corn. It wasn’t their fault, they didn’t know I was making a carbalicious pot pie for myself.

It sure was good. I love carbs, I’m not ashamed. We should all indulge once in a while….

vegan red cabbage casserole for one

One of my former coworkers is looking for dinner ideas for her daughter who is on a dairy free diet, and I told her I’d try a few casserole ideas. This one was very tasty, although it needed some tweaking. I will explain more below. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350.


I started by sauteing some onion in Smart Balance, about 1/4 cup in 2 tablespoons.

Two cups of red cabbage

Add it to the mix. Stir to keep it from browning. Add whatever spices you like – I kept it simple with salt, pepper & garlic.

Once it’s cooked until *almost* done (soft), add flour. I thought 2 Tbsps would be enough for a single serving, but…I would now recommend 3 to 4. Stir to coat the veggies with flour and taste. If it’s at all bland, even a little…

add more seasoning. You’re about to add plain, unsweetened (unFLAVORED) almond milk, so it needs to be well seasoned – just try not to go nuts.

Over low heat, begin adding almond milk about 1/4 cup at a time. Keep adding and stirring until it thickens into a nice creamy sauce…

unlike what I did. I started with 1/4 cup, then dumped in another 3/4 and got soup. I figured it would thicken up the rest of the way in the oven. More on that later.

I bought this cute little clay pot at the 2nd Best Sale at church – I actually got a set of four, but for now I’m just using them to make One Pot meals : ) Not one pan or one utensil, mind you, but a meal that in the end will be served to me, myself and I in one singular clay pot. Just because it’s cute.

Anyway. Fill your baking dish. Note how mine is filled almost all the way to the top. Bad idea.

Now, I did actually manage to use only one pan this time by cleaning the one I cooked the cabbage in. Here I am browning approximately 2 Tbsp of Panko bread crumbs.

Until they are nice and golden.

Sprinkle them over the casserole. Now cover the dish so the crumbs won’t burn. The funny thing about putting the top on this little pot when it’s filled pretty much all the way….

It would’ve overflowed without the top anyway, but putting the top down also smashed the crumbs into the casserole.

Now back to the amount of flour. 2 Tbsps didn’t quite thicken it up enough…plus I only baked it for 15 minutes because I was so hungry. I bet 25 would’ve done the trick. Did I really not have 10 minutes to spare so I could have a delicious creamy meal instead of a tasty soupy meal? Was I that hungry? I need to learn to be patient. But on a lighter note, isn’t that purple color beautiful?

Smashed Potatoes

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Well, about a week ago we got the official word, my dear friend C is moving out to Boston to study Byzantine chant. This past Sunday we had a going away party, and everyone brought something to share. I got a little overambitious and decided to make four somethings, of which only three made it.

The first of these is a big ol’ pan of smashed potatoes! The other night when my BFF was in town, she mentioned her dad makes them. I told her they sound very good and might end up on my blog in the near future. Well, sometimes the future is nearer than we think.

Here is a pan of red potatoes fresh from a bake in the oven. Some looked a little dry because I always, ALWAYS have the temperature set too high when I bake potatoes. I think I did 450 for 40 minutes. But in a convection oven, I think that’s like baking them at 475 for 55 minutes or something!

I left them right in the pan and used a potato masher to smash them down. It’s okay if they fall apart a little, but don’t get carried away. Remember: Smashed, not mashed.

Now, I don’t know about everyone else, but when I eat a baked potato I like to smother it in margarine and spices. Then when I get down to the skin, I like to add more margarine and more spices. This time I only put margarine on the top, but LOTS of it, and seasoned the potatoes really well (salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder). You could try to do both sides, I just don’t know how well they’d hold up.

Bake them at 450 (or 425 convection) until the tops get nice and crispy and brown. Mine weren’t browning quite as nicely as I wanted them too, so I pulled them out and lightly drizzled olive oil, using a spoon, over any uncooked-looking spots. Then I added a teeny tiny bit more spice, and put the pan under the broiler until…

The potatoes looked like this. And I did not have a single one left over after the party, so thanks for the recipe BFF and Mr. BFF’s dad! Another party post coming soon.

homemade vegan pot stickers with sun dried tomato pesto

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So, I mentioned earlier I had vegan pot stickers at The Green Well, and they were tasty but few. Once again I had leftovers to use up, so I decided to make my own pot stickers and pair them with my leftover sun dried tomato pesto.


I started with a cup of flour, 1 tsp of baking soda and approximately 1 tsp of salt.


Mix it up. To this I added a couple tablespoons of vinegar, and a few (three, I think) tablespoons of olive oil. You may need to add more oil if your dough is too thick, but just add a little at a time.

Stir.

Keep stirring until you get a nice dough. For my filling I decided to use a simple combination of minced onion and green pepper.

Tear off a bit of dough and flatten it on a floured surface. If the dough is very sticky (I told you to add the oil slowly!), flour your hands or sprinkle a little on the dough OR just add more to your bowl of dough and fold it in.

I accidentally deleted the picture of the filling sitting on the open dough round. Sorry. But after you put in about 1 tsp or so of filling (depending on the size of your pot sticker), fold the round over and press the edges together with your finger. Make sure it’s sealed nice and tight.

Add the pot sticker to a pot of boiling water. Don’t let the water boil *too* hard or your dough might get mushy. Let the pot sticker boil until it floats to the top. Then turn it over and let it boil another minute or two. Of course you can do more than one at once, but doing more than 3 or 4 may cause the water to cool down.

Remove from the water and add to a pan of hot oil to saute on both sides until…

They get a nice golden crust. You may want to add a light sprinkling of salt to each side before it’s browned, depending on your sauce.

When my pot stickers were finished, I removed them to cool on a dish and began sauteing the leftover onion and green pepper in the pan with oil. To be honest, after making about 10 I was so hungry, I just decided that was enough. I saved the rest of the dough for later.

Anyway, so I started cooking the extra filling, and once the onions started getting soft I added some of my leftover pesto.

Then I added a little water to thin it down.

The pot stickers, cooling in my favorite eating dish : )

Nice crust, huh?

With the pesto.

The outside was crunchy, the inside was soft and moist. Eaten with the pesto sauce it kind of tasted like pizza. That gives me an idea… I could make these with the pesto inside and have a pizza roll….yum. But I didn’t think of that at the time, and last night I used the rest of the pesto for something else. I’ll post that later!

vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookie chocolate brownies!!!!!

As I mentioned yesterday, this Sunday I’m hosting the coffee hour at church, so I’ve been baking up a storm. Not like a tropical storm or anything, but a nasty drizzle with a slightly annoying wind. It all started when I made my old standard, the gluten free peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. I whipped up a huge batch, threw a baking sheet of 24 small cookies in the oven…waited…cried.

Actually, I’m very proud of myself because I didn’t really cry this time, but I was super disappointed. Not sure what I did wrong, but the cookies kind of melted and bubbled, they were way too soft, in odd shapes and sizes and breaking apart when I removed them from the pan. Dang. I put in the next tray anyway, but with more space between the cookies, and hoped for the best. But it was not the best. I put the rest of the dough in the fridge and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it. In the meantime, I had a bunch of broken cookies. Thus, the cookie brownie was born. I used this Easy Double Chocolate Chip Brownie recipe from Nestle Toll House as a guide, but of course I veganized it. Preheat your oven to 350, grease a 9×13″ pan.

The offending cookies.

Chop, chop, chop….

Chopped.

I did 1 1/2 cups, thinking I’d use them to replace the nuts and the unmelted chocolate chips. So for the actual brownies:

I started by melting 1 cup Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 C Smart Balance Light in a heavy sauce pan (actually a neat vintage pressure cooker) on low.

Let it melt some. Stir. Let it melt some more.

Stir until smooth.

Like this.

Now, remove the pan from heat. It would be time to add eggs, except I am instead using 2 large bananas that have been mashed. I also added approximately 2 Tbsp coconut milk beverage.

In they go. I was tempted to stop right here and eat the chocolatey banana mixture with a spoon. Luckily I have at least *some* self control.

Stir to combine.

Next I added 1 1/4 C flour, scant 1 C sugar (do you really need to add an entire cup of sugar to a cup of melted chocolate? NO), 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp vanilla extract. I know, it doesn’t look very pretty. That’s okay, we’re not finished.

Stir it all in. I added just a sprinkling of chocolate chips. Now where’s that greased 9×13″ pan?

Pour in enough of the brownie batter to cover the bottom of the pan evenly. Now sprinkle the chopped cookies on the batter. I ended up using just over 1 cup.

Use the remaining batter to cover the cookie bits. Don’t leave any batter to lick off the bowl when you’re finished – scrape it all off! I have a feeling the cookie chunks will get hard or burned if they’re not covered with batter.

Now into the oven. Since I use a convection oven, I baked mine at 340 for 14 minutes (the instructions said 350 for 18-22). I think they probably actually finished at 12. I learned you check brownies for doneness the same exact way you check a cake – stick a toothpick in the center. Of course when you have hot melty chocolate chips in there, it gets tricky, but I bet you’ll be able to tell the difference between that and raw-ish brownies.

Brownies. I don’t remember what regular brownies taste like, these might be a little more cake-like. I didn’t eat one because I want to have enough for Sunday! But there was a thin film of brownie on the bottom of this pan when I took them out, and I ate it and it was really good : ) It was also VERY sweet, even though I cut down on the sugar. Next time I might use only 1/2 C.

They also were pretty soft, so after I cut them, when they were still in the pan, I put them in the freezer to firm up. I removed the pieces when they were frozen. I wonder if I should add a little cornstarch or something next time to firm them up some more, but I’ll tell you how it goes tomorrow!

Lenten gruel #2, pumpkin

Today is day two of my Lenten gruel extravaganza. I had an old can of pumpkin sitting around, so I decided to go with it. I started this one almost the same as yesterday’s, by boiling about 1 cup of onions in 1 cup of water until they were clear, but I also added 1 clove of garlic, chopped.


If you want to see onions boiling, take a look at the original gruel recipe.

Next I added 1/2 cup canned pumpkin. I ended up adding a whole other cup of water because the pumpkin made the gruel so thick, and I hadn’t even added my oat flour yet.

I think I ended up adding about 1/8 cup oat flour, and 15-20 shakes of salt.  I dunno, something about the canned flavor, it needed some sprucing up…but I’m trying to stick to my original plan of nothing remotely fancy.

After I gave it a taste, I wished I could add some sort of fat. On an oil free day, like today, I would normally turn to tahini or coconut milk for that, but…I don’t think tahini would improve the flavor, and I didn’t have any coconut milk. Plus I wouldn’t want it to be sweet. So, I went for fillers instead.

These plain old, extra plain, non-flavored Kavli Crisp Breads! So tasty, like dipping cardboard in my gruel! Haha. It’s definitely better when I eat them with a spread.

While I was eating the first bowl, I realized the best thing in the world for this gruel would be to blend or process it. Eating a big chunk of onion didn’t do anything for the pumpkin flavor, but once I started chewing it was…different. In a good way. But I won’t be able to experiment with that tomorrow because I’ll be moving on to another flavor!

vegan gruel: a perfectly lenten meal

Gruel. It doesn’t sound very pleasant. I never really knew what it was, but it’s what I imagined I was eating while staring down a hot bowl of soupy oatmeal on a cold winter day. Guess what? I was pretty much right.

Gruel was a staple item in many a Medieval home, mostly the homes of peasants, and could be made with millet, hemp or barley, or more recently, rye, wheat, rice…or oats! The grains would be ground in a mortar, then simmered in water or milk. Believe it or not, people didn’t mind eating it. After all, Oliver Twist did ask if he could have some more…how bad could it be?

Since the Dormition Fast started today, I decided to try something different. I decided to feed myself gruel Monday through Friday during the fast. Lenten meals should be simple and cheap, nothing fancy. I don’t want to eat bad tasting food, but since I already abstain from The Big Three (meat, eggs & dairy) every day, I want to make a change in my diet that makes me feel like I’m actually keeping the fast.

So anyway, tonight I made my first Lenten gruel.

I measured one cup of water and got it heating on the stove top on high in a small pan. The green & black thing is my pair of onion goggles, the foam is supposed to keep the onion from burning your eyes. I like wearing them even when I’m not cutting onions.

Here we have one heaping cup of roughly chopped onion. I used yellow, but white would be fine.

By the time you finish chopping the onion, your water will probably be boiling. It slowed down a little when I added the cold onion, but that didn’t hurt anything.

Back to boiling in no time. Let the onions boil until they are soft and clear.

I have this little coffee mill that I only ever use to grind oatmeal. I put in about 1/4 cup oats, but I didn’t use it all.

Once the onions were clear, I started adding the oat flour 1 spoonful at a time. I also decided to add another 1/4 cup water because I was really hungry.  I kind of wanted to just dump in all the oatmeal, but if it gets too thick it’ll be more like porridge, and that’s for another time. Gruel is supposed to be somewhat loose and soupy.

Like this.

It made a decent size bowl, just enough to fill me up. For now.

Without getting fancier than I’d like to, there’s really no way to make it pretty; however, there is a way to make it tasty – add a pinch of salt! And then, if you’re like me, add another pinch or two.

That’s it: Water, onions, oat flour, salt. I actually really liked it, and I’m looking forward to trying a variation tomorrow night.

vegan pizza day!!! part 1

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I love pizza, and yet somehow I didn’t know Vegan Pizza Day even existed. Until last night, when I found out it’s TODAY. I made enough dough for four pizzas, and so far I have made (and eaten) one.

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I was so excited when I found this Time Life cookbook. The pizza recipe actually makes a pizza just like some of the stuff I had in Italy. So, to begin:

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3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp salt. Way in the background in the blue bowl, in my liquid measuring cup I have 2 packets of yeast, a pinch of sugar and 1/2 cup lukewarm water. I always put the measuring cup in a bowl of hot water, just to make sure it stays warm. Of course, it’s about 90 out, so probably no worry of that today.

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After the yeast does its thing, pour mixture into the flour & salt, add another cup of lukewarm water and 1/4 cup olive oil*. Mix it with a fork or your fingers until you can gather it into a rough ball.

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Like this. Kinda looks like Jabba the Hut, but we’ll make him pretty. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until…

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the dough become smooth, shiny and elastic. Lightly dust with flour and place in a large clean bowl, cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, you’ll want to get started on the sauce. Ideally, the sauce should cook for an hour.

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This is where I stray from the recipe a little, because I just start throwing in spices and things without measuring. It’s very simple, though. Saute approximately 1 cup of chopped onion in olive oil until they become soft. Then add about 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped. It’s best if you wait to cook the garlic for 10 minutes after cutting, but more on that in another post.
Then I added some spices: oregano, basil, a couple bay leaves, salt, pepper, onion powder. I like to let them cook in the oil for a minute or two so the oil becomes infused with all that flavor. At least that’s my hope. I added one 12oz can of tomato paste to that, but I am not putting sauce on all four of my pizzas. I’m not sure if 12oz would be enough for four. Anyway, fill that tomato paste can with water and add it to the paste, stir it all in until you get a sauce. Add water a little at a time until you get the thickness you want. Add about 2 tsp of sugar to cut the acidity, unless you want heartburn. Let it come to a boil, then turn the heat down low. Let it cook about 10 minutes, then taste it and more spices if needed. Let it cook over low heat for another 50 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 500.

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Now your dough should be ready. According to the cookbook, dividing the dough into four balls will get you four 10″ pizzas. At 10″ you’ll have a “regular” thickness for the crust, but I like to stretch mine to 12″ for extra thin crust. Lightly sprinkle some corn flour on your baking sheet. I usually start by rolling my dough on a floured surface, then when it gets manageable I toss it onto the pan and finish stretching it with my fingers.

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Now spoon on some of your delicious sauce, and spread it around. I like mine all the way out to the very edge of the crust.

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You can see in the picture the sauce is spread a little thin on the near edge, we’ll return to that in a minute. Add your toppings. I wanted to keep it simple, so I’ve just got mushrooms and onions and drizzled a little olive oil over it, then the daiya cheese.

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Pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown on the bottom.

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Nom. The sauce burned on that spot where it was too thin. That was not my favorite part of the pizza, but i did still eat the whole thing. I’ll post my second pizza later tonight.

*For an oil free crust on a strict fasting day, just replace the oil with warm water.