It’s hard to believe we are already a month into this New Year.  And while I’ve been quiet on the blogging front, I’ve been anything but mundane in the kitchen over the past 2 months.  I’ve been experimenting away, and have some truly delicious ideas to share with you today.

In early December, we had high school friends of Spencer’s come to stay at the villa.  While I tried to encourage them to share in a couple of plant based meals, they were more interested in the grill.  I made these delicious grilled acorn squash rings one evening, with a side of broccoli slaw fried rice, and did not get any takers.

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One of Spencer’s friends even had the gumption to ask: “What if I told Victoria I was insulted that she doesn’t eat meat?”  I think he was told he might find himself on the curbside 😉  But this exchange really put a dent in my “sharing” enthusiasm.  To quote one friend recently:  “Eating vegan isn’t hard at all !  It’s putting up with all the ridicule and lack of compassion & understanding that’s the hard part !!”

It took me until Christmas until I found my stride again.  How can I help the animals if I keep all this veggie goodness to myself !?!?!  And any wanna-be vegans out there reading this post, I think you will see that my diet is pretty much like yours … Not all bean sprouts, salads & tofu !!!

Starting with Christmas Eve … Cheese Fondue is a holiday tradition at our house, and I’ve experimented with a number of vegan fondues over the years.  This year’s recipe will become the new tradition.  Using yukon gold potatoes & arborio rice, it is the best one I’ve prepared yet … !! 🙂

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For Christmas, I decided to go Italian this year.  And Spencer had a special request:  He asked me to figure out how to make Homemade Toasted Ravioli, a St. Louis tradition.  Well, we did.  And they were AMAZING !!   I hope to publish the recipe here at some point, but it needs one more test first !!

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The ravioli were so good, in fact, that the rest of my Christmas menu – White Lasagna Rolls,  Porcupine Meatballs & Caesar Salad – got pushed off until the following day !!

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Porcupine Meatballs originated during the Great Depression when rice was cheap and meat was hard to come by.  The women would mix the rice in with the beef to make the meal go a bit further and puff up the meat to hide the fact that there wasn’t much beef.   I used a recipe from 365daysofcrockpot.com as a starting point, and substituted 16 ounces of boiled and ground tempeh for the beef ….

I ended up with alot of left overs, and the Porcupine Meatballs were repurposed twice … once for an Ohio New Years Eve tradition of Sauerkraut Balls, and then again in a veganized Thai Red Curry Meatball & Rice dish (not shown)….

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The leftover Fondue also was repurposed:  Combined with blended Cannellini beans, it made a wonderful stuffing for Jalapeno Poppers.

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And the Fondue also made this absolutely sinful Cheeseburger & Fries Casserole.  I veganized a Better Homes & Gardens Rceipe using Litelife Gimme Lean Sausage for the beef.   If one has access to Teese, you could use that too for the “Cheese” part if you don’t feel like making the Fondue.

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As New Years Day came around, I created a new casserole recipe from a clipping I’ve had for eons from BonAppetit for Baked Rice w/ Sour Cream, Chilies & Corn. Oh, man is it good !! The recipe is at the end of this post … It’s now a household favorite !! It’s show here first with my Black Eye Pea Chili & Tortilla Chips for New Years, and again last night with a basic Veggie Chili & Frito topping.

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I would have one more go at the Deep Fryer, before it needed to be put away for the time being … Chicken Fried Portobellos over Diced Potato Gravy … Yum !!

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If you are wondering what I’ve been using for the breading … I simply have been dipping my item in seasoned flour, then an Ener-G egg, then italian bread crumbs !!

Over the rest of this month now, I’ve been working with quite a bit of pasta. Spencer was heading off on an RV ski trip, and I wanted to try to send him with the vegan equivalent of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese …. I think I’ve finally made it. No more struggling with complicated white sauces. It is as easy as a packet of powder, earth balance & non-dairy milk !!!! One more go-round with the formula, and I promise to share my secret Kraft-Killer Mac & Cheeze recipe soon !!

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With the deep fryer now put away, it’s time to return to a bit more “light” eating. I anticipate in the weeks to come, I’ll be sharing with you some more delicious plant-based ideas to get you ready to put on that bikini for spring break … Until next time, happy eating !!

Baked Creamed Rice & Chili Casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This casserole is adapted from a famous entree at "Zarela Restaurant" in NYC. It is said to have single handedly changed New York's Mexican Food Scene. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Top with any chili & crispy topping of your liking.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • CREAMED RICE W/ SOUR CREAM, CHILES & CORN:
  • 1 cup saffron or long grain white rice, (or 2½ cups cooked)
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilis
  • ½ cup cream style corn
  • ½ cup whole kernel corn, drained
  • ½ cup vegan sour cream (Tofutti brand)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ----------------------
  • 2 cups of your favorite vegetarian chili
  • Vegan Cheese (optional)
  • Corn Chips (tostitos, fritos, etc.)
Instructions
  1. Make Sour Cream & Corn Rice: Simmer rice in 6 cups of boiling water for 16 minutes until just tender. You do not want sticky rice here! Drain. Mix rice with remaining ingredients. Spread in the bottom of a greased 8x8 casserole dish.
  2. Spoon 2 cups of your favorite vegetarian chili over top of the rice.
  3. Sprinkle with a layer of vegan cheese (optional) & crushed corn tortilla chips or fritos.
  4. Cover & refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake covered at 325° for 20-25 minutes until sides start to lightly brown and mixture is heated through. Uncover for the last 5 minutes of baking to crisp the chips.
 

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