Butternut Squash Curry

It’s been a truly dreary, rainy week here in Pittsburgh, and I’ve found myself craving hearty, filling food. I made this recipe combining two of the most craveable fall favorites; curry, and squash. Although this curry is far from a one pot meal, it is relatively easy to make. All you need is some curry paste, coconut milk, fresh produce, and an empty stomach. It is unbelievably filling. I don’t know how I ate as much as I did, or whether I should feel impressed with myself or ashamed. That being said, this curry makes a lot of servings that you can set aside and freeze for the next time you’re craving it on a rainy day.

While you can make your own curry paste we used a store bought one for this recipe. Just be sure to check the label. Some curry pastes contain fish sauce, so it’s worth a quick once over. You can top your curry with anything you want, but I happened across these adorable little beech mushrooms at the food co-op and knew that I had to use them. They honestly ended up being one of my favorite parts of the curry. Trust me, that’s saying a lot, because I loved every part of the curry. The beech mushrooms just ended up being little salty flavor bombs, almost akin to bacon. It cut through the sweet, spicy, and fatty flavors of the curry giving it an additional dimension that was just perfect. I highly recommend using the beech mushrooms, or any kind of small mushrooms that you can find to marinate as directed in the recipe.

We served our curry bowls with noodles as a base, but it’s also good with rice. Though I’m sure it’s far from traditional you could try it with other grains like farro, or quinoa if you wanted. Even serving it alone without any grains should be fine. It’s super dense and starchy with both the squash and the Japanese sweet potato.


Butternut Squash Curry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegan red curry paste
  • 1 cup butternut squash puree
  • 17 oz coconut milk (two standard sized cans)
  • 1 Japanese sweet potato
  • 8 oz KaMe Ramen Noodles (you can sub any vegan noodles, or rice)
  • 2 jalapeños, cut into rings
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon grass, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp green onion/scallion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 3 limes
  • 4oz beech mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 6 tbsp sesame oil

Directions

  1. Clean and prepare all produce items. Peel and cube sweet potatoes, cut jalapeños into rings, grate ginger, mince garlic, finely chop lemon grass and scallions, and cut tofu into pieces. We cut them into large triangles for aesthetic, but you can cut them however you’d like. If you have a whole butternut squash you’ll need to peel it, cut it down, de-seed it, and boil it for about 30 minutes before adding it to a food processor to puree it. It sounds like a lot of work, but you get a lot of additional squash to freeze and use for other recipes. If you don’t want to do all of that you can purchase squash puree.
  2. In a large stock pot add a few tablespoons of sesame oil. Once the oil is hot add garlic, lemongrass, ginger, scallions, and some of the jalapeño rings. Set aside a few rings for garnish.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of the curry paste to the pot to toast it, and then add in the butternut squash puree. Stir the two until they are well integrated.
  4. Add the juice of one lime, followed by the coconut milk.
  5. Put the sweet potato cubes in the pot, so they have plenty of time to cook until they are fork tender. Bring curry to a simmer for at least an hour. Stir often.
  6. In a small mixing bowl add beech mushrooms, the juice of one lime, maple syrup, tamari, liquid smoke, and a pinch of white pepper. Stir to combine. Cook down in a separate pan with some sesame oil. Make sure they are cooked thoroughly, and then set aside. Beech mushrooms can be very bitter if they are not cooked completely.
  7. In a separate pan fry up tofu in sesame oil until it is a nice golden brown on both sides. Set aside.
  8. Bring water to a boil in a separate pot, and cook noodles, or rice, according to package instructions. If you are cooking noodles be sure to run them under cold water after they become al dente, so that they don’t over cook. In this recipe we use the noodles or rice as a bed for the curry. The curry should be hot enough after more than an hour of simmering to heat them back up.
  9. While you’re waiting for your curry to finish simmering cut down the limes into wedges for garnish, and to squeeze directly on top of the curry bowl.
  10. After about 90 minutes of simmering check your potatoes to see if they are fork tender. They should be very soft at this point. If they are done remove the curry from heat, and serve.
  11. To serve add noodles or rice to a bowl, top with curry followed by tofu, beech mushrooms, jalapeños, and some green onion. Add a squirt of lime juice to the bowl for added flavor.

Pumpkin Pupcakes

It’s easy to find vegan baked good recipes for you and your human friends for any special occasion. When it comes to our four legged friends finding a vegan baked good recipe that’s safe for your pup can be a task. I had never made dessert for a dog before, and after consulting the internet I didn’t find many recipes I felt comfortable using. I created one with the simplest ingredients that I knew my pet would love.

Nick and I adopted our rat-terrier chihuahua mix, Ozzy, a year ago. He’s an older dog, somewhere between 8-11 years old, and it seems like he’s had a pretty tough life. We wanted to make sure his first birthday with us was super special, so of course I had to figure out how to make him some pupcakes. Ozzy is missing most of his teeth, so anything we give him to snack on needs to be soft. He loves pumpkin. I figured pumpkin would be the perfect ingredient for his October birthday, and would be great for keeping the pupcakes moist and easy to chew. We bought him so many Howloween themed toys for his birthday, so pumpkin seemed to fit the theme.

This recipe only makes about 3-6 cupcakes depending on how full you fill the cups, so if you have more than one pup and want a lot of them for your party be sure to double the recipe. I kept it to a small batch, because while these are relatively healthy they are still an indulgent treat and my dog doesn’t need to eat more than two of them in a week. Any that you don’t use can be placed in an air tight container and frozen. These are totally safe for human consumption, and they taste pretty alright. If you really want to eat some too go for it. They’re just a little light on the seasoning, and far from tasting like the pumpkin cupcakes we’re used to having as people. Yes, I did eat one. No, I didn’t love it. What matters is that Ozzy absolutely loved the pupcakes, and I will definitely be using this recipe again for future special occasions.

To top the cupcakes we used Reddi-Whip Coconut whipped cream. Ozzy gets a little bit of whipped cream as a treat on its own sometimes and he loves it. Another nice thing is it’s easy to pipe with the nozzle, and make cute designs without needing to put the whipped cream in a separate piping bag. Feel free to use any other non-dairy whipped cream to top the pupcakes. Just check the label, and make sure there’s nothing in it that’s not dog safe. You can also use peanut butter. Be sure to check the label to make sure there’s no sugar added, and that it doesn’t contain xylitol which is extremely toxic to dogs. If you’d prefer you can leave them plain.


Pumpkin Pupcakes

  • Servings: 3-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


The pupcakes do not rise a lot, so fill the cells of your cupcake tray to just under the height that you want the pupcakes to be.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (make sure it is pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp ground flax meal
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl sift all of the dry ingredients.
  2. In a small bowl combine flax meal and three tablespoons water. Let sit for five minutes.
  3. In another large mixing bowl combine maple syrup, pumpkin, and flax egg. Mix until well integrated.
  4. Add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients slowly while stirring. Stir until mixture is smooth and free of clumps.
  5. Line 3-6 cells in a cupcake pan with liners. Pour mixture into liners.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pupcakes for 30 minutes, or until fully cooked. Check the inside with a toothpick every fifteen minutes. If it doesn’t come out clean after 30 minutes keep checking them at increments of two minutes until they are done.
  7. Allow pupcakes to cool.
  8. Refrigerate or freeze them until you’re ready to use them. Top them with dog safe non-dairy whipped cream right before serving.

Mongolian BBQ Inspired Seitan Kabobs

The weather has been rapidly cooling down the past month in Pennsylvania. As we get ready for fall temperatures we’ve been trying to seize as many grilling opportunities as we can. I love Mongolian BBQ, but unfortunately I haven’t found any restaurants around Pittsburgh that do a vegan version of it. I was particularly craving the flavors, so I crafted a great marinade for these Mongolian BBQ inspired seitan kabobs. If you don’t have a grill you can use this recipe to marinate your seitan and veggies, and cook them up in a skillet or a wok. They’re delicious either way, but grilling allows you to impart a nice charred flavor.

Mongolian BBQ Inspired Seitan Kabobs

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Feel free to use additional veggies on your kabobs. These are the ones we found at the local farmers market, but bell peppers, hot peppers, and other squash are all good options for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz Uptons Seitan
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp chili garlic paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Directions

  1. Cube seitan into large chunks. Keep in mind they’ll need to be sturdy enough to be skewered. Place into a large bag or reusable container.
  2. Cut mushrooms in half. Place into the same bag or container you placed the seitan.
  3. Cut down zucchini into disks that are about an inch wide. Cut each disk in half. Place halved disks into the same container as the other ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine all of the other ingredients. Whisk together well, and then cover seitan, mushrooms, and zucchini with the marinade.
  5. Marinade in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.
  6. Remove seitan, zucchini, and mushrooms from the marinade, and place them on skewers. Save the remaining marinade in a heat resistant bowl to brush onto the kabobs later.
  7. Grill on a hot grill until the ingredients are completely heated through and have nice char lines on each side. This should take between 5-15 minutes depending on the heat of your grill. Brush the kabobs with the marinade periodically as they cook, so that they do not dry out.
  8. Serve with a side of brown rice, or other grain of your choice.

Vegan Brownies

I know we recently made a brownie post for our refined sugar free Black Bean Brownies, but I like to have options when it comes to dessert. You really can’t taste the black beans in black bean brownies, but I can see why it might be an intimidating hurdle for a picky eater. This recipe is bean free, but just as tasty. These brownies get a nice crispy exterior that makes them perfect for decorating, or serving plain. I decorated mine using my recipe for The Best Vegan Buttercream. You can flavor your buttercream by adding in things like caramel, or chocolate. If it starts to get to thin compensate by adding a bit more powdered sugar.

It took me two tries to get this recipe perfect. The first time I tried to cut corners by using a mixer. I incorporated too much air, and that caused the butter to separate when baking. Mixing them with a spoon is an absolute must. I ended up throwing the first batch I made in the trash, because they were completely inedible. They were a thin, crunchy sheet coated in oil that ended up tasting like burnt popcorn. It really stresses me out to throw food away. If I think there’s any chance I can save something and make it palatable, even if it’s not quite what I wanted, I absolutely will. That should tell you how bad this first brownie experiment went. I learned from my mistakes, and did some in depth brownie research. I adjusted my ingredient ratios, mixing technique, and cooking temperature. The second batch turned out wonderful.

This recipe was based on a recipe my mom would make for our family. It wasn’t an old family recipe, just a recipe she found on a product label, but in my mind they were the be all end all of brownies. I used the recipe as a guide for the vegan version I created, and I think I got the recipe pretty close if not maybe a little bit better. A lot of my time spent engineering the perfect recipe is spent researching, and shopping for the highest quality ingredients I can find at a reasonable price. I try to use only fair trade ingredients which can often increase the cost, but I’ve found that usually means increased quality and flavor as well.

A good flavored non-dairy butter is a must for this recipe. I used Earth Balance. Oil is not a good butter substitution, because it lacks in the flavor and texture required. The most important ingredient in a good brownie is the cocoa, of course. Starting with a rich flavorful cocoa that’s fair trade is a good way to go. Brownies taste sweeter when you know that you’re not paying to keep others enslaved to make them. I used SACO Conscious Kitchen Certified Organic Cocoa in this recipe. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s worth it for the rich taste and fair trade label. As always, Wholesome brand Organic Cane Sugar is my go to certified vegan white sugar, and tastes great in this recipe.


Vegan Brownies

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

If you can’t find Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer you can substitute it with the same quantity of flax egg.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups vegan white sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup fair trade baking cocoa
  • 4 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup melted vegan butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground sea salt

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl, or measuring cup. Keep a close eye on it as it melts to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  2. Add melted butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Add in vanilla extract and salt. Stir to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl combine Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer, and water. Set aside for one minute to firm up.
  5. Slowly mix in the egg replacer. Mix until everything is blended, and there are no clumps.
  6. Sift in the cocoa powder a little at a time while continually mixing.
  7. Sift in the flour and baking powder a little at a time. Stir until the batter flows well and there are no clumps, but be careful not to over mix. Over mixing will make for tough brownies.
  8. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan that’s at least 2″ deep. I lined my baking sheet with parchment, so I could easily remove the brownies in a full sheet to cut them evenly and decorate. If you’d like to decorate your brownies I recommend doing this. Make sure the parchment has enough overhang on the sides to easily lift the brownies out of the pan, and always remember to lightly grease your parchment for a recipe like this, so you can conveniently peal it off the brownies without tearing them.
  9. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Cook the brownies for 30-35 minutes. Check to see if they’re done with a toothpick. If it comes out clean your brownies are ready.
  10. Let your brownies cool, and cut them to serve. If you’d like to decorate the brownies let them cool, and then remove them from the pan. Measure, and cut them to desired size. Whip up some butter cream, and decorate them as you desire.

Baked Cauliflower Wings

When I was a kid cauliflower was on my list of vegetables that I absolutely hated. I always thought of it as a bad, less flavorful version of broccoli. It wasn’t until I had my first fried “cauliflower wing” that I was introduced to the transformative qualities of cauliflower. Sure, it might not be super flavorful on its own, but it soaks up other flavors like a sponge. Much like tofu, this quality makes it easy to make it taste like whatever you want. While I might not be a big advocate for things like cauliflower rice, or cauliflower pizza crust, I’ve grown to love cauliflower on its own. My favorite ways to prepare cauliflower are roasting it with a variety of spices, or breading it and serving it up with some of my favorite sauces for cauliflower wings.

Today I’ll share with you my quick and easy recipe for breading cauliflower wings. It’s super simple, and allows you the versatility to bake them, or fry them if you’d prefer. You only need a few ingredients and your favorite wing sauce/s. In this recipe we used vegan buffalo sauce, and BBQ sauce to coat ours. Feel free to experiment with some other great flavors like Thai Chili sauce, or a garlic non-dairy butter. Just make sure you check the ingredient label. Some buffalo sauces contain dairy, and some BBQ sauces contain anchovies.


Baked Cauliflower Wings

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • one head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, we used panko
  • 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup of Buffalo Sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • canola oil spray (optional)
  • parchment paper

Directions


1. Wash and dry the head of cauliflower. Break it down into bite sized florets.
2. Set up three bowls. In the first bowl add all of the milk. In the second bowl add all of the flour, salt, and pepper and mix. In the third bowl add the panko.
3. Dredge each cauliflower floret, and then set aside on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. To dredge them first place a floret in the non-dairy milk. Remove it allowing excess milk to drip back into the bowl, and then place it in the flour mixture. Make sure it is coated well with flour, tap of excess, and place it back in the milk. Remove it from the milk, and finally coat it thoroughly in the panko. Repeat for every floret.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
5. Spray the florets with just a little bit of canola oil. This will help them brown in the oven.
6. Bake the wings for 30-35 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
7. While the wings bake place whatever wing sauce you’ll be using in a large mixing bowl, so it can warm to room temperature and won’t make your wings cold.
8. Melt butter in a separate bowl in the microwave, and add to the wing sauce/s. Mix thoroughly. This will help the sauce coat the wings nicely, and adds an extra fatty richness. If you’d like to you can skip this step.
9. Once the wings have baked toss them in the desired wing sauce/s until they’re thoroughly coated. If you choose to only use one sauce double it from a 1/4 cup to a 1/2 cup.
10. I recommend serving with a dipping sauce, and a side salad.

Vegan Pad Thai

I love Thai food. There’s a wonderful Thai restaurant called Thai Gourmet a few minutes from our house. If you live in Pittsburgh I’d highly recommend trying them. It’s probably where we get 95% or more of our takeout meals from when we order in. They’re really great about making most of the menu items vegan if you ask. I’ve liked everything I’ve ordered from their menu, but one of my favorites will always be Pad Thai. With its perfect balance of flavors it’s popular for a reason. My version of Pad Thai might not be super authentic, or do a great homage to Thai Gourmet’s, but it’s still pretty tasty.

The biggest reason I developed a Pad Thai recipe is because Nick has a peanut allergy, and I wanted him to be able to experience the flavors of one of my favorite dishes. I use almonds for this recipe, but feel free to keep it more traditional and use peanuts. I’ve also subbed rice wine vinegar in place of tamarind paste, because I know it can be difficult to find if you don’t live near an Asian market. I like to make my recipes easy and attainable for everyone. If you are lucky enough to live close to a store that sells tamarind paste feel free to use it instead. You might need to tweak some of the other ingredients to get the right flavor, but it should be a pretty easy substitution.

We used Just Egg in this recipe to add a great textural element commonly found in the dish. It was nice to have a Pad Thai with fried egg in it, since I haven’t had egg from an actual chicken in going on three years now. Pad Thai is still great without the egg, but it’s nice to have the additional texture. Thai Gourmet does a great job of cooking longer strips of tofu which really satisfy my craving for the eggy texture without ordering the dish with fried egg. If you can’t find Just Egg, or don’t like it the recipe is fine without the egg. I find the egg to be a great addition that helps appease your friends and family members that still choose to be carnivores.

When it comes to the bean sprouts I’d advise skipping them, or thoroughly cooking them if you’re immunocompromised, or serving this dish to someone in an at risk group like an elderly family member, or kid. Sprouts are delicious and nutritious, but are identified as a food with a heightened risk of carrying food borne illness. If you’re not an at risk member of society sprouts are great, and a pretty necessary element of this dish. Just make sure you wash them thoroughly before consuming. If you’re unable to find fresh sprouts at your local grocery store there are usually canned sprouts in the international section.

Vegan Pad Thai

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 block of tofu, we used the Nasoya extra firm pre-pressed
  • 10.5 oz Ka Me Express Pad Thai Noodles
  • 1 cup of almonds or peanuts, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/3 cup Just Egg
  • 1/4 cup julienned carrots
  • 1/4 cup water with one cube of No Chick’n Bullion, or other vegetable stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 4 tbsp tamari
  • 4 tbsp coconut brown sugar, or other vegan brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tsp chili garlic paste
  • a pinch of ground white pepper
  • a pinch of red chili flake to taste

Directions

  1. Start by prepping all of your ingredients. Chop the almonds or peanuts finely, and set aside in a bowl. Slice and juice one of the limes into a separate bowl. Quarter the other lime/s into wedges. You can prep as many limes as you want, but you’ll need at least two of them for the four servings this recipe makes. Mince the garlic, and chop your green onions. We chopped the white part of the onions finer, and left the green stems of the onions bigger chunks to add texture.
  2. Prepare the sauce in a large mixing bowl. Microwave 1/4 cup water with the bullion. I use a glass measuring cup to microwave it in. You can add the miso to the water as well to help it melt. Whisk together thoroughly, and add miso and bullion water to the large mixing bowl.
  3. While the water is still hot, whisk in the coconut brown sugar to help it melt. Add lime juice, chili garlic paste, almond butter, hoisin, and tamari. Whisk together to fully integrate the ingredients.
  4. Cut tofu into small squares. In a large skillet or a wok heat sesame oil, and fry the cubed tofu. Set aside in a bowl or on a plate. I like to line a plate with a paper towel to catch the extra grease.
  5. Fry up the Just Egg according to the instructions on the bottle. Scramble it into small, bite sized pieces. Set aside with the tofu.
  6. Heat more sesame oil up in the large wok or skillet. Toast up red pepper flakes (optional) to reach whatever level of heat you desire, minced garlic, and some of the green onion. Once the ingredients become very aromatic add the sauce to the pan.
  7. Whisk the sauce periodically as you heat it. It should start simmering at the sides, and becoming thicker in consistency. Add in julienned carrots and green onion to taste. Once it has thickened up a bit add the Pad Thai noodles. You can buy Pad Thai noodles that aren’t already cooked, and cook them before starting to prepare the dish, and set them aside. Rice noodles can be tricky, and if you’re a beginner at cooking I’d recommend buying the precooked Ka Me noodles. The noodles come in two packs. Use both packs.
  8. Using tongs ensure the noodles are saturated with sauce, and then add in half of your bean sprouts. Add in some of the crushed/chopped nuts, more green onion, tofu, and Just Egg. Taste the dish to see if the spice level is what you’d like. If you want it hotter add more chili flakes.
  9. Cook for two minutes periodically turning ingredients with tongs to ensure saturation. Sauce should be nicely adhered to all of the ingredients, and not sitting in a puddle in the bottom of the wok/skillet. Remove from heat when complete.
  10. Plate with additional bean sprouts, chopped nuts, and lime wedge. Enjoy.