Category Archives: Vegan Friday

Vegan Friday: Stuffed mushrooms

Ignore the weird lighting. These tasted awesome.
Ignore the weird lighting. These tasted awesome.

I hadn’t had stuffed mushrooms in years — which is odd, considering they were my favorite food when I was little — but I was hungry one night and had some great-looking mushrooms leftover from a lasagna project, so I rummaged around and came up with the ingredients for a terrific batch of vegan stuffed mushrooms that took about five minutes to assemble and maybe 20 minutes to bake. These are a nice appetizer, or — if you’re me — a perfect dinner on a drizzly fall evening.

Nine fresh mushrooms
About 1/3 c. frozen Boca crumbles
About 1/3 c. breadcrumbs
Basil, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder to taste
2 T. olive oil, divided
About 1 T. water

I could eat my own weight in mushrooms. I really could.
I could eat my own weight in mushrooms. I really could.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle half of the olive oil over the bottom of a baking dish. Remove stems from mushrooms and arrange caps in the dish.

Veggie crumbles, breadcrumbs and a little seasoning make a quick filling.
Veggie crumbles, breadcrumbs and a little seasoning make a quick filling.

Thaw Boca crumbles in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients to make a thick paste.

Stuffed and ready to bake.
Stuffed and ready to bake.

Fill mushroom caps with Boca mixture and bake until tops start to brown. Depending on your oven, this should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: You could double or triple this recipe easily; I just used nine mushrooms because that was all I had in the fridge. The leftover mushroom stems are good in meatloaf, stuffing or vegetable stock. (If you have a worm bin, they also make a nice treat for your little gardeners. Redworms like mushrooms.)



Vegan Friday: Trail mix cookies

These all-natural vegan cookies are full of fruit, nuts and whole grain.
These all-natural vegan cookies are full of fruit, nuts and whole grain.

I hesitate to call these “low carb,” because there’s a ton of fruit in them, so I’m sure the sugar content is ridiculous, but they definitely have a higher good-stuff-to-crap ratio than a standard cookie, and I’m finding they satisfy junk-food cravings fairly nicely. They’ll also stand in for breakfast in a pinch; I’ve been eating them all week, and four or five of them will carry me through the day quite nicely. Apologies for the terrible photo quality; my iPhone camera decided to act the fool for some reason.


The must-haves
(Note that amounts are approximate)

3 overripe bananas
About 1 c. chopped dates
About 1/2 c. natural peanut butter
About 2 c. rolled oats
About 1 c. shredded coconut (optional, but increase the oats if you don’t use it)

Other niceties
Raisins, chopped nuts, finely chopped dried fruit, vegan chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, whatever


Mashed bananas and chopped dates provide the sweetness.
Mashed bananas and chopped dates provide the sweetness.

Mash up the bananas. Stir in dates and peanut butter. If using raisins, nuts, etc., you can stir those in now. (I used a handful each of some golden raisins and black walnuts I had on hand.)

Peanut butter adds fat and protein.
Peanut butter adds fat and protein.

Add oats until your thick batter turns into a thick dough. You want it sticky but thick enough that the cookies hold together when you drop them onto the cookie sheet. If using coconut, add it with the oats.

Grease a cookie sheet (I have become a giant fan of Baker’s Joy, but plain old margarine would work just fine) and drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto it. You don’t need to leave much space between the cookies, because they won’t spread or rise as they bake.

Add rolled oats until the batter becomes a thick, sticky dough.
Add rolled oats until the batter becomes a thicky, sticky dough.

Bake at 350 degrees until tops are browned and cookies are fairly firm when you touch them. If they seem gooey or squishy, they need to bake longer. If they’re soft but springy, they’re ready.

Makes about 40 cookies.

My promise to you

So I’ve been spending more time on Pinterest since I dumped Facebook a couple of months ago, and I’m noticing an unfortunate trend that mirrors my experience with far too many cookbooks and magazines:

Vegetarian recipes — especially those of the vegan persuasion — are outrageously inconvenient and/or expensive.

Example du jour: I found a vegan tiramisu recipe tonight that looked promising — until I discovered it took nearly an hour to make and required me to make my own sponge cake and hunt down two containers of vegan whipped cream and some kind of prefabbed “coffee beverage” made of coconut milk.

Crap like this is why going vegetarian is so difficult. If people aren’t asking you to spend hours on fools’ errands, they’re sending you on scavenger hunts for things like vegan Cool Whip.

I won’t do this to you. I promise. Over the past nine and a half months, I’ve posted 39 recipes, I think, and IIRC, only three of them (hummus, tahini salad and nooch nachos) absolutely require the use of somewhat exotic ingredients — all things you’ll want to keep on hand if you do much vegan cooking anyway. The rest can be made on the fly, using ingredients you can find at any regular grocery store.

That was the whole point of Vegan Friday. I’m not a vegan at the moment, but I eat a lot more vegetarian meals now than I did before I started this project, because I have a nice assortment of cheap, fast, convenient recipes in my repertoire — and that was really my goal. When I know I can put a batch of fajitas or a plate of chili mac on the table in less time than it takes to drive through McDonald’s, I’m more likely to eat at home, and I’m betting you are, too.

I was thinking about ending Vegan Friday with the Dec. 26 edition, because my goal was to do it for a year, and I was afraid I’d run out of ideas. But I’m thinking instead of quitting, I might expand it a bit — maybe call it Vegetarian Friday and open it up to lacto-ovo recipes — and keep going. We’ve come a long way since 1992, when I literally had to draw a picture for the waitress while ordering pizza with a vegan scholar bowl teammate. But as Pinterest has demonstrated quite clearly, we still have a long way to go … and I kind of enjoy having a few readers along for the ride to keep me motivated.


P.S.: If you’re on Pinterest, you can follow Vegan Friday here and Eco-Saturday here.

Vegan Friday: Fried pickles

You simply cannot go wrong with gratuitous salt and grease.
You simply cannot go wrong with gratuitous salt and grease.

The first time I ate fried pickles was at Smitty’s, a little diner just off the square in Oxford, Mississippi, while I was attending a conference with my high-school lit teacher. The biggest highlight of the day was meeting Stephen King, but those fried pickles were a close second. I mean, how can you go wrong with gratuitous salt and grease?

Fried Pickles
Feel free to double or triple the recipe, but be prepared to change your oil at least once or twice so it doesn’t get totally polluted with scorched flour. This recipe makes two servings.
1 c. flour
1/4 packet Italian dressing mix (optional; you can also use dill, parsley, taco seasoning, or whatever floats your boat)
1 c. cheap dill pickle slices
Canola or peanut oil

Heat oil in a heavy cast-iron skillet. I forgot to measure mine, but you want about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil in the bottom of the skillet.

While the oil heats, stir flour and seasoning together in a cereal bowl and dredge the pickle slices in it to coat. (If you want to speed this process up, you can also throw everything in a ziplock bag and shake it up. If you use a freezer bag, you can fill it up and freeze whatever you don’t use so the next round is faster.)

Fry the slices in oil, turning as needed, until they’re browned and crispy. Adjust the heat and add or change oil as necessary to keep it from smoking.

Drain the whole batch on a big plate lined with paper towels before you transfer it to your serving plate.
Drain the whole batch on a big plate lined with paper towels before you transfer it to your serving plate.

Drain on paper towels. I drain mine twice — when they come off the stove, I put them on a platter lined with paper towels, and when they’re cool enough to handle, I transfer them to smaller plates lined with paper towels to absorb a bit more of the oil and keep them from getting soggy.

Serve with mustard or ranch dressing. Goes well with Southern food.

If you like sweet pickles, you can fry them the same way and serve them with barbecue sauce.


Vegan Friday: Blackeyed peas

I had a picture of the finished product, but my phone ate it. The picture, I mean. Not the food.
I had a picture of the finished product, but my phone ate it. The picture, I mean. Not the food.

This is slightly belated because I actually made my Vegan Friday recipe for dinner on Friday instead of doing it in advance. It’s a good one, though — quick, easy, cheap and very good for you.

Blackeyed Peas
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 hot pepper, sliced (I used cayenne because I had some on hand)
Grapeseed or olive oil
1 can blackeyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes

Fresh cayenne. My peppers are producing like crazy in the garden.
Fresh cayenne. My peppers are producing like crazy in the garden.

Saute the first two ingredients in grapeseed or olive oil until pepper softens. Add hot pepper (if using) and saute gently for a few minutes. Stir vegetable mixture, blackeyed peas and diced tomatoes together in a saucepan and cook until heated through. Makes two dinner-sized servings.

This is particularly nice on a cool fall evening. It’s also good over green chile cornbread.


Vegan Friday: Salsa verde

Put all this stuff in a food processor. Hit the "on" button. Ta-da!
Put all this stuff in a food processor. Hit the “on” button. Ta-da!

Last week, I showed you how to make a giant batch of regular salsa for canning. This week, we’ll make a small batch of salsa verde — in English, that’s “green sauce” — to eat fresh.

Salsa verde is pretty much a staple in New Mexico, where green chile is king. Here’s a quick version you can throw together in minutes to serve over burritos, tacos, tamales or whatever else makes you happy. I suppose you could make a big batch and can it, but it’s so quick and easy and tastes so fresh and light that you might as well make it to order. It will keep for several days in the fridge. Here is what you’ll need:

5-6 tomatillos, halved
Small white onion, quartered
2-3 roasted green chiles (I buy a bushel at a time in New Mexico, roast them under the broiler and freeze them)
Handful of cilantro
Juice from one lime

Throw everything in the food processor and whirl it around until it turns into a bright green sauce.

You could buy canned salsa verde, but why settle for prefabbed when you can make it fresh in under five minutes?

I forgot to take a picture of the finished product before I ate all of it, so if you want to see what it looks like, you’ll have to make your own.


Eco-Saturday: Canning salsa

Homemade salsa makes a great Christmas gift, and it’s nice to have on hand for unexpected potlucks and such.

OK, so canning salsa isn’t really much different than canning pickles, which I showed you how to do a few weeks ago, but tomato season is winding down, and if your garden has been very successful at all, it’s really worth taking an afternoon to learn how to put up salsa so you can have a little taste of summer when the sleet starts coming down. (Alternately, you can buy tomatoes at your local farmer’s market or make friends with a gardener.)

This post is kind of long and detailed, so I’m putting the rest behind the jump to keep from scaring off the tl;dr crowd.

Continue reading Eco-Saturday: Canning salsa

Vegan Friday: Too lazy to experiment


Y’all, I’m tired. Long week. Lotta crap to keep up with. Long day scheduled for tomorrow. I didn’t try any new vegan recipes this week. I just made a batch of black bean chili tonight for dinner, added some leftover Boca crumbles I had in the freezer to give it extra protein, and diced up some avocado on top when it was done cooking. If you haven’t tried my chili recipe yet, you really should. It’s quick and nutritious and nice to warm you up on a cool evening.

I saw a picture of an ice-cream sandwich somewhere the other day and have been craving them ever since, so instead of a recipe tonight, you’re getting a product endorsement: Tofutti Cuties.

At a little over $4 a box, Tofutti Cuties are rather pricey, but you seriously cannot distinguish them from regular ice-cream sandwiches, and if you’re going full-time vegan, they’re about the best thing you’ll find to take the edge off a craving. At 130 calories a pop, they’re not horribly fattening, either. Just, y’know, don’t eat the entire box at once.

And lest you feel cheated: Assuming I get a hand free tomorrow, I’m planning to post instructions for canning salsa — which is completely vegan — as this week’s Eco-Saturday offering.

I really want to post my adventures in soapmaking, but I’m waiting until it finishes saponifying so I can vouch for the finished product before I go bragging on it. It certainly looked and smelled nice when I unmolded it and cut it into bars, and it was a much easier project than I anticipated.

I’m confident enough in the recipe that I’ll probably start another batch this weekend to hand out at Christmas. Might even do a Christmasy scent if I can rustle up some pine essential oil. We’ll see.


Vegan Friday: Green chile burritos

Little packets of awesomeness.
Little packets of awesomeness.

One of my favorite recent additions to Route 66 is a truck stop just off I-40 in Endee, N.M., called Russell’s. The classic car museum, diner and terrific assortment of souvenirs are all nice, but the real attraction for me is the green chile burrito.

Wrapped in foil and tucked in a case under a heat lamp, Russell’s green chile burrito looks like any other gas-station snack you’ve ever seen, but trust me on this: It’s different. Way different. Stuffed with meat, potatoes, cheese and green chile, this burrito is basically your first taste of New Mexico after you cross the state line from the Texas Panhandle. 

Knowing it could be a long time before I had another opportunity to enjoy the real thing, I paid special attention to what I was eating on this trip, savoring the taste with an eye toward replicating it at home. Here’s the vegan version of what I came up with:

2 small potatoes, diced
Small onion, diced
Two green chiles, roasted, or 1 small can chopped green chile
Olive oil
1 bag Boca crumbles
Cumin to taste
Chili powder to taste
4 to 6 flour tortillas

Nuke onions and potatoes with a little olive oil.
Nuke onions and potatoes with a little olive oil.

Nuke potatoes, onion and a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a covered dish until potatoes are soft. Add Boca crumbles, green chile, cumin and chili powder, stir, and microwave again until heated through. 

Warm each tortilla for 10 seconds in microwave. Using a big serving spoon, put a scoop of potato-Boca mixture in center of tortilla, wrap and serve. (If desired, add a small handful of your favorite vegan cheddar substitute before wrapping.)


Vegan Friday: Veggie skewers


Here’s an easy recipe you can start tonight in the fridge and finish tomorrow on the grill. If you have a garden, it’s a great way to use up excess cherry tomatoes.

1/2 lb. whole mushrooms
1 green pepper
1 red onion
1 carton cherry tomatoes
1 c. Italian dressing
Bamboo skewers
Cooking spray
1/3 c. whole-wheat couscous
2/3 c. water
Margarine or olive oil

Wash mushrooms and remove stems. Cut pepper and onion into big chunks. Marinate all vegetables overnight in Italian dressing.


Thread marinated vegetables onto skewers in whatever order makes you happy. Either grill them outdoors over charcoal or bake on a cast-iron grill pan at 400 degrees until onions and peppers start to soften, turning once.

While vegetables cook, microwave couscous and water in a covered casserole dish until water is absorbed (about 3 minutes, depending on your microwave).


Divide couscous between two plates, top with a pat of margarine or a drizzle of olive oil, and arrange skewers on top of couscous. Serves two.