Oh, shepherd’s pie, you have eluded me for so long. I tried my hand at lentil shepherd’s pie, mushroom shepherd’s pie and then I realized where I was going wrong: I had to combine the two. Using a mix of crimini mushrooms, wild mushrooms and brown lentils gives it a unique texture and flavor combination. Use fresh wild mushrooms if they are available in your area. This is great comfort food on a cold, rainy day. It’s also convenient to prepare ahead of time and bake when needed for company or after a busy day.

Mushroom Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbsp Earth Balance

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 firm roma tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped

10 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 oz dried wild mushroom blend (I used Trader Joe’s) (reserve soaking liquid)

1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed

1 tsp fresh thyme

1 tsp fresh rosemary

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups mushroom broth (from soaking dried mushrooms)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup peas

2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water

sea salt and fresh pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onions for garnish (optional)

Mashed Potatoes

6 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced

3 tbsp Earth Balance

1/4-1/2 cup of non-dairy milk (I use rice)

salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water and salt. Drain when soft. Add Earth Balance and milk to pot and heat through. Add potatoes back in and mash with a potato masher. Add more milk as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Mushroom Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Mushroom & Lentil Mixture

1) Saute onions, celery, carrot in olive oil and Earth Balance for about 5 minutes

2) Add garlic, tomatoes, crimini and wild mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are cooked through

3) Add vegetable stock, mushroom stock, herbs, spices (except salt) and tomato paste; bring to a boil

4) Add lentils, bring back to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Toward the end of cooking, stir in peas.

5) Add cornstarch mixture until sauce is thickened and then remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6) Set on the bottom of a casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle nutritional yeast and paprika on potatoes.

7) Bake for 25-35 minutes, until top is golden and mixture is bubbling. Slice and serve. Garnish with green onions.

Preparation Time: 45 Minutes

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Servings: 6

Alternatives: If fresh herbs are not available substitute dried. Herbs de Provence work wonderfully in this recipe.

Mushroom Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

I love food processors. It makes throwing together delicious meals super easy. I created this chimichuri black bean recipe out of my love of fresh ingredients and easy preparations. Once the chimicurri is prepared, it only take 10 minutes to put this soup together and 30 to let it cook though you’d never know it from the flavor it packs.

Chimichurri and Black Bean Soup

Chimichurri and Black Bean Soup

Chimichurri
1 small onion
5 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, seeds removed
5 culantro leaves (or large handful of cilantro)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 teaspoon of salt
Fresh ground pepper

Place onion and garlic in food processor and chop until small but not mushy. Add jalapeño and culantro leaves and pulse until integrated. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until well combined. Refrigerate for at least two hours to develop flavors.
Yield: 2 cups

Chimichurri Black Bean Soup
1 cup chimichurri
1 small can of spicy tomato sauce
2 cups cooked or canned black beans
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups water plus bouillon cube OR 3 cups vegetable stock

Instructions

In a large soup pot, warm chimichurri for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Add beans and water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Serve as a soup or over rice. Top with extra chimichurri sauce and vegan sour cream.

Chimichurri Black Bean Soup

Chimichurri Black Bean Soup

Notes:

  • For less spice, omit jalapeño pepper from chimichurri and use plain tomato sauce instead of spicy tomato sauce.
  • If pressed for time, you may use chimichurri immediately. Allow both chimichurri and soup to cook a bit longer to allow flavors to develop.
Three Bean Pumpkin Quinoa Chili

Three Bean Pumpkin Quinoa Chili

It’s winter, which means it’s cold, everyone is sick and it’s time for some hearty chili. It’s really hard to screw up chili, you just need to throw a bunch of ingredients in a big pot, put some spice on it and let it cook for a bit and ta da! Chili. I’ve been making chili for so many eons that I rarely experiment with variations but today I felt inspired! I wanted something super robust and chock-full of nutrition so I incorporated pumpkin and quinoa into my basic recipe. The results are mouth-watering. Enjoy!

Three Bean Pumpkin Quinoa Chili 

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 jalapeño peppers, minced

1 12oz pumpkin beer

1 tbsp chipotle pepper powder

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp cumin

2 bay leaves

3 cups vegetable broth

1 15oz can pumpkin puree

1 280z can crushed tomatoes

3 15oz cans of beans (I used 1 kidney, 1 pinto, 1 northern)

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup frozen corn

Organic Provisions

Organic Provisions

Instructions

1) Warm olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Add onions and kosher salt. Sauté for 3-5 minutes then add bell pepper and carrot. Sauté until fragrant.

2) Add garlic and jalapeño pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

3) Add pumpkin beer and mix well. Cook down for 3-5 minutes. Add spices (chipotle powder, cayenne, cumin).

4) Add remaining ingredients except quinoa and corn. Cook at medium to medium high for 30 minutes then bring back to a boil and add quinoa. Cook until quinoa is cooked through then add frozen corn and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes.

5) Cook longer if too thin, add more liquid if too thick. Remove bay leaves and serve.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1-1.5 hours

Servings: 6-8 bowls

It’s fall, it’s time to eat potatoes and root vegetables with every meal. I was craving potato soup this morning but didn’t feel like following my potato jalapeño soup recipe plus I’m out of jalapeños (sinful, I know!) I was also feeling lazy so I wanted the soup to make itself. That’s not too much to ask for, right?! I decided to roast yukon potatoes with onions and a head of garlic and then puree the whole thing and add milk. Easy, right? So easy. Here’s what I did:

Roasted Potato Onion Soup

6 yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed

1 onion, cut in half and sliced thin

1 head of garlic

3 tbsp of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of paprika

pinch of cayenne

3 cups of vegetable stock or water

3 cups of non-dairy milk

2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 425. Scrub potatoes clean. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Cut onion in half. Slice into half moons. Toss potatoes and onions with olive oil, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper; place in baking pan. Cut bottom of garlic bulb off and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and place in baking pan.

2) Bake potatoes, onions and garlic bulb at 425 for 3o minutes. Pull out garlic and bake potatoes and onions for an additional 10-15 minutes. When soft and browned pull out of oven. Mash with a potato masher.

3) In a soup pot heat up vegetable stock or water with a bouillon cube. Pull out garlic cloves from roasted bulb and add to stock. Add mashed potatoes and onions. Puree using an immersion blender (or blend in a blender prior to adding to soup pot). Add milk (I used rice milk). Stir well.

4) Add nutritional yeast (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for an additional ten minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour (total)

Servings: 4-6 bowls

Like most children, I grew up eating tuna salad sandwiches. It was always such an easy meal for my mom to whip together with little effort and once I became old enough, it was one of the first things I started making for myself. Though I never cared for seafood as a child, canned tuna was just one of those staples I didn’t even think of as seafood, I just liked it in a sandwich. Now that I’m all grown up and have eliminated all animal products from my diet, I miss some of the staples from my childhood, not for the content but for the ease of preparation and the satisfaction they brought me. I’m a firm believer that anything can be veganized and when I started seeing chickpea “tuna” recipes showing up around the web, I decided to make my own based on the ingredients I used as a child. Easy. Robin Robertson has a similar chickpea “tuna” recipe posted online on Vegan Planet that I used for inspiration, it was the closest to what I remember from my youth. This recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare and keeps well in the fridge for days though I doubt it will last that long, it’s so tasty I take a bite every time I walk by the fridge.

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

  • 2 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 dill pickle spear, coarsely chopped (or 2 tbsp dill relish)
  • 1/2 cup Vegenaise
  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight*
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, washed
  • Fresh pepper, to taste

Celery, Red Onion, Dill Pickle

1) In a food processor** add celery, red onion, and pickle and pulse gently until chopped small but not pureed. Set aside in a bowl.

Pulsed Vegetables

2) Add vegenaise, mustard, sea kelp delight powder and celery salt to bowl and mix well.

Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning

3) Put chickpeas in food processor and pulse gently until chickpeas are well broken up but not mushy.

Pulsed Chickpeas

4) Add chickpeas to vegetable bowl, and mix well. Add fresh pepper to taste and mix.

5) Let chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge though the longer the better. Serve in sandwiches, on crackers, or in lettuce wraps.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
 
 Notes: 
 *I use Bragg’s Sea Kelp Delight Seasoning in this recipe. If unavailable, you can substitute 1tsp kelp powder, 1tsp dill and 1tsp dried parsley.
**If a food processor is unavailable, mince vegetables with a sharp knife and mash chickpeas with either a fork or potato masher.

Chickpea “Tuna” on Crackers

Chickpea “Tuna” on Romaine

I’ve never liked coffee. I’ve actually never had a cup of coffee my entire life. I’ve tasted it many, many times and never cared for it enough to enjoy a whole cup. I’ve never understood the obsession and I’m annoyed when it sneaks into my food, like in my ice cream. Last year my friend, Millie, made a big batch of homemade Kahlua to give to friends and I was one of the lucky recipients. I protested it would be wasted on me since I don’t like coffee but she insisted I keep it. I added it to hot chocolate first and surprisingly loved the flavor. I then made a White Russian with vodka and So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer. It was absolutely amazing. I was hooked. It became my favorite default night cap and the bottle Millie shared with me quickly disappeared. I was actually sad as I consumed the last drop of my beloved stash. Lucky for me, Millie, bless her soul, was willing to part with the recipe. I now make Kahlua on the regular to keep me happily inebriated while I hibernate in the winter. Is regular Kahlua vegan? According to Barnivore, it is. Why make your own? It’s more fun, tastier, more natural and way less expensive. This recipe produces five times the amount of Kahlua as a single bottle for the same price. Now that’s worth toasting to. Cheers!

Coffee beans, cacao nibs, raw cocoa powder

Homemade Kahlua

12oz of chocolate flavored coffee, ground (*OR* 12oz ground coffee, 3/4 cup cacao nibs, 3/4 cup cocoa powder)

1 1/2 lbs of brown sugar

1 750ml bottle of Everclear

2 tbsp vanilla extract

2t tbsp hazelnut extract

Yield: A whole lotta Kahlua. I got 16 cups (128 oz). You?

Fair Trade Coffee, Holy Kakow Cocoa Powder, Cacao Nibs

Brew one cup of water per ounce of coffee using your preferred brewing method. Place coffee in a large pot and add the sugar. Bring coffee and brown sugar to a light boil until all sugar is fully dissolved. Turn off heat and allow to cool completely.

Add Everclear and extracts. I recommend letting it sit for a couple of days before drinking to let the flavors meld and the strong alcohol taste to mellow out though I dare you to not want to drink it all immediately.

Serve over ice by itself, with vodka, add coconut creamer, or splash it in hot chocolate. Enjoy responsibly.

Homemade Kahlua, So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer

So Delicious coconut creamer seducing Kahlua

White Russian

Notes:

  • I’ve made this with chocolate coffee beans, chocolate macadamia coffee beans and regular coffee beans with cacao nibs and cocoa powder, all versions turned out great.
  • The original recipe called for 2lbs of brown sugar, if you prefer it sweeter, add another 1/2lb of brown sugar to this recipe.
  • The hazelnut extract is a personal preference, it can easily be made with just vanilla extract, simply substitute the hazelnut extract amount with vanilla.
  • Any non-dairy milk can be used instead of coconut creamer in a White Russian though I find the body and creaminess of the creamer makes for a perfect cocktail.
  • Hot chocolate with hazelnut vodka and homemade kahlua is my favorite drink to sip on in the winter, especially while sitting by a fire.

A special thank you to the lovely Janessa, The Epicurious Vegan, for allowing me to use her photographs and for graciously being my test subject on multiple occasions. Once again, enjoy responsibly.

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I used to live in cold, blistery Wisconsin back in 2000 (in Madison, one of the greatest cities in America). I was only vegetarian at the time and the stereotype is true: Wisconsinites love dairy. I had never in my life consumed so much dairy and it never occurred to me that it was hurting me or the animals. My friend Kim used to make this mouth-watering Mexican Corn Chowder that I would salivate over simply by thinking of it. I went vegan in 2004 and lost the ability to recreate her magical soup. I tried with soy milk, I tried with using thickeners, I tried a ton of different ways but nothing was able to capture the creaminess of the original. Enter So Delicious Coconut Creamer.

Not only is coconut a lovely complement to the sweet corn but the thickness and creaminess of the coconut creamer makes it the perfect choice for this soup. With my new weapon in hand, I set out to recreate the soup I had over a decade ago. Kim’s secret is boiling the soup with the corn cobs to create a corn stock. It’s genius. For my first attempt, I made a corn stock separately and the soup a different day. I also did half coconut creamer and half coconut milk plus corn starch to thicken it. The second time I did it the way she used to, I boiled the corn cobs with the rest of the soup and used all cream. Both produced excellent results. Besides boiling the cobs and using the coconut creamer, the soup is very forgiving, there’s a lot of room for interpretation. Let me know in the comments if you tried something different and how it worked for you.

Note: Like many soups, this one is best on the second day after all the flavors have developed.

Corn Cobs

Mexican Corn Chowder

2 tbsp Earth Balance or olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

2 anaheim peppers, seeds removed and diced

2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and diced

2 chipotle peppers, chopped

1 tbsp adobo from chipotle peppers

2 tsp of ground cumin

1 tbsp salt

4 cups vegetable stock or water

5 ears of corn, shucked and corn kernels shaved off (reserve cobs)

5 Yukon potatoes, diced

1 1/2 cups So Delicious Coconut Creamer plus 1/2 cup

2 cups frozen corn

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

fresh ground pepper and salt, to taste

Directions

In a heavy soup pot, melt butter or heat olive oil.

Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes.

Add all peppers, cumin and salt, stir well and cook for a few minutes.

Add vegetable stock, fresh corn kernels and corn cobs and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer. Add potatoes.

Cook until potatoes are fork tender. Remove cobs.

Add 1 1/2 cups of creamer. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree half of the soup.

Add back to pot and add frozen corn, thyme, oregano and remaining creamer (if necessary). Let cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Remove from heat and enjoy with corn tortilla chips. For a spicier kick, add a dash of Aardvark hot sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Mexican Corn Chowder

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