Veg in Cow Country

cooking (and eating) vegan and vegetarian in the midwest

Indian-Style Vegetable Korma December 21, 2012

Filed under: one-dish meals — vegincowcountry @ 6:48 pm
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I don’t know why I’m not more familiar with Indian food. It’s not as if there aren’t any people of east Indian or Pakistani descent in Cow Country, because there are. In fact, the largest minority population in my high school graduating class were kids whose parents had immigrated from India or Pakistan!

I had tried Indian food once or twice before, and it was ok, but when the boss wanted to go to a buffet recently for lunch, I was game. I looked forward to being able to try lots of different vegetarian options at once to find something I liked — and I was not disappointed! My favorite dish was vegetables in an orangey-yellowy sauce that included coconut milk. Of course, I read the label with the name of the dish carefully… and then promptly forgot it as soon as I walked out of the restaurant. 


But that sweet, salty, and slightly spicy dish stuck with me. I began researching what it could have been, and came up with Vegetable Korma. Only the recipe I found that made the most sense included heavy cream — a vegan no-no. An easy substitute, though, is the coconut milk that gives it a little touch of sweetness. I made multiple additions and subtractions to the recipe I found online, and came up with something I really like. Authentic? Most certainly not. Good? Yes!

Indian-Style Vegetable Korma

1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups cubed potatoes

1/2 cup cubed carrots

1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced

3 Tbsp unsalted cashews, chopped

1/2 can tomato sauce (4 ounces)

2 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder

1 cup frozen green peas

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1-2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp vegan margarine (optional)

1 bunch fresh cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium hear. Stir in the onion, and cook until tender. Mix in garlic and continue cooking 1 minute.

Add potatoes, carrots, jalapeno, cashews, tomato sauce, salt and curry powder. Cook and stir 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. 

Stir in peas, coconut milk, brown sugar, and margarine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro. 

4 servings


Lazy Sunday Supper Quinoa Casserole October 14, 2012


Do you call it a casserole if you make it on top of the stove and never put it in the oven? I don’t care. I’m doing it anyway. This is the simplest thing ever. If you can boil water and sauté onions, you’re good.

I haven’t used quinoa much, and I don’t know why; it’s really easy to cook and it even tells you when it’s done: a little white tail pops out of each grain! It’s like the turkey thermometer that pops out for… not meat. If you haven’t cooked quinoa, trust me, it’s very exciting to see the little white tail pop out and know that it’s done! (Or it may just be me and I may be crazy, and that’s a distinct possibility considering the week I’ve had).Image

Quinoa comes in several different colors (red shown here), and is high in protein, iron, and fiber, and super-low in fat. It also provides good amounts of things you didn’t even know you needed — like zinc, copper, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese. (Whatever the heck those things are…)


(And, yes, we call it “supper.” Because “dinner” is Sunday at noon, and evening meals are supper — apparently that’s what they call it on the farm, and although I am two generations removed from the farm, old family habits die hard!)

Lazy Sunday Supper Quinoa Casserole

1/2 cup quinoa (any color), rinsed

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 – 1 1/2 cup water

1/2 small red onion, chopped

6-8 white or portobello mushrooms, washed and chopped

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 box frozen spinach (or 4 big handfuls fresh)

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella shreds (optional)

Bring broth and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add rinsed quinoa and cook, adding water occasionally, until little white tails pop up out of each grain.

Meanwhile, sauté onion, mushrooms, and garlic; if using fresh spinach, add to pan until wilted. If using frozen spinach, thaw just enough to break off half of box, then press between papertowels to drain water.

Add onions, mushrooms, garlic, and spinach to quinoa. If using frozen spinach, replace on warm burner to warm spinach. Add cumin and Daiya, if using, and stir briefly. 


Vegan Spinach Artichoke Souffle September 29, 2012

Filed under: Baked Goods,breakfast/brunch — vegincowcountry @ 8:11 pm
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I would never have ordered a soufflé at Panera. Although I do eat eggs and dairy when I’m eating someplace that’s not home, I avoid dishes that contain large quantities of either. I’m not even a fan of hot breakfast food — if I don’t eat breakfast at home, I’m more into donuts and pancakes and sugary stuff. But one morning, the office brought in Baked Egg Soufflés from Panera. I was hungry and had forgotten my usual snack. And when I get hungry, I get cranky. So I dug through the box and found one labeled spinach and artichoke – worth a try, right? It was amazing.

I didn’t even know what the heck a soufflé was – I’m not sure I still do, and I don’t care. I HAD to make a vegan version of whatever this was – a cheesy, savory, spinach and artichoke filling baked in flaky croissant dough! Idly, I googled “vegan soufflé” and found that I’m not the only wannabe vegan who fell in love with this decidedly-not vegan dish. Jessica at Clean Green Simple ( is very ambitious – she re-made Panera’s recipe into something that was not only vegan, but gluten free! I set out to make a simpler, gluten-y but still vegan version.

This is my high-tech tofu press. Good Housekeeping (circa 1985) informs me that a soufflé contains butter, flour, salt, pepper, milk, cheese, and eggs. No croissant crust. I knew I liked my version better…

I’m not above occasionally using prepared convenience foods (except for cake mix – cake mix is always evil). So I used Pillsbury crescent rolls – which, despite the prominent label “Butter Flake,” contains no actual dairy products. So apparently “flaky” describes this product in more than one way… (I’m aware that ingredients vary for lots of foods based on country and even region of the United States, so don’t take this as the case for what you’ll find at your grocery store). 

I used 8 ounce ramekins, they’re about 4” in diameter. One roll of crescent rolls was enough for 3 ramekins, and I had filling left over that would have filled another 2-3 ramekins.

2 rolls Pillsbury crescent rolls (or other vegan crescent rolls)

¼ cup white or yellow onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

½ can artichoke hearts in water, drained

2 large handfuls fresh spinach

Olive oil

½ block extra-firm tofu, pressed and crumbled

¼ tsp turmeric

1 to 1 ½ tsp salt

½ cup nutritional yeast

½ cup Daiya mozzarella shreds or other vegan cheese substitute

2 Tbsp Earth Balance (spread or sticks – optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in skillet; sauté onion, garlic, and artichoke hearts until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach until wilted. 

Mix artichoke/onion/spinach mixture and crumbled tofu in mixing bowl; add turmeric, salt, nutritional yeast, and vegan cheese.

Spray 5-6 4”, 8-ounce ramekins with cooking spray; use 2 to 2 ½ crescent roll triangles to line the bottoms and inside of each ramekin, leaving enough to fold over top. The top does not have to be completely covered. Fill ramekins ¾ full with filling; add 2-3 tsp Earth Balance, and fold excess dough over top.

Bake ramekins on a cookie sheet for 20-30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Homemade Soft Pretzels September 20, 2012

Filed under: Baked Goods,Comfort Food — vegincowcountry @ 5:28 pm

I always look forward to receiving my Penzey’s catalog. They have beautiful photos of food, and although I rarely find a recipe that is vegetarian or vegan, I do get some good ideas (and rack up a list of things I MUST buy next time I go by Penzey’s during business hours, which is rare). A couple of months ago, I found the recipe for Homemade Soft Pretzels – already vegan! I ripped the page out and stuck it on the fridge. See, my experience with yeast up until now had always involved the bread machine — that bread machine is pretty infallible. I considered that torn-out page on my fridge for some weeks… What if it falls flat? Worse, what if it blows up? 

I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what a “warm place” was for the dough to rise… A warm oven? At room temperature in the kitchen? Then two friends translated — one uses a cold oven, the other a cold oven with a pan of warm (tap) water alongside. Makes much more sense than “a warm place.” 

Surprisingly, these turned out pretty darn good on my first try! That hardly ever happens — but I’m certainly not complaining. Now that I know that the dough won’t fall apart, I’ll work with it a little more next time to make more perfect-looking pretzels. I followed the recipe exactly — ok, well, not exactly, as I substituted margarita salt for Kosher Style Flake Salt (don’t tell Penzey’s). Enjoy!

The recipe can be found at:


Champagne Mangoes: new favorite fruit! May 5, 2012

Filed under: favorite products,Summertime — vegincowcountry @ 5:27 pm

I didn’t know I liked mangoes until I bought one for the parrots – they’re high in vitamins A and C and in folate. The parrots approved — and no wonder! I found that I like them, too. 

Then I noticed smaller, yellow mangoes… and those were fantastic! Apparently, they’re called Champagne Mangoes or Ataulfo Mangoes. Their major advantage over the big reddish-green ones I usually find in the stores here that they are not nearly as stringy. They’re small, about 4-5 inches long, but they also have a small seed. 

(Comparative size to a banana)

There are all kinds of recipes  on this site dedicated to Champagne Mangoes:

We’re purists here, though, we eat them as they are. It also seems to be mango season, because they’re on sale everywhere…

Mango addict: Oliver the Green Cheeked Conure. The second time I put a little square of mango in his cage, he recognized it, and made a beeline for it muttering “pretty pretty” under his breath.


Trader Joe’s Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette May 3, 2012

Filed under: favorite products,Salads — vegincowcountry @ 7:23 pm
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It’s a good bet that anyone who has been vegetarian for any length of time has been presented by a waiter with more than one limp-looking bowl of iceberg lettuce. This nutritionally-sparse offering usually comes with a thin slice of tomato, a little shredded carrot, maybe a slice of raw red onion, and, if we’re really lucky, a cucumber slice or two. For ovo-lacto vegetarians, sometimes shredded cheese and maybe a half a hard-boiled egg are also included. Because that’s what vegetarians like, right?? Not any of the vegetarians I know!

As a result, I for one am not a huge fan of salads. There are just so many more interesting things to cook and eat! There are two ingredients that will always interest me in a salad, though: 1) avocado, and 2) a really good dressing. Avocados fill in nicely for dairy and egg, I think, in both creamy texture and the satisfaction you get from a little fat (although of course avocado fat is a “good fat,” a fact of which I have to remind myself).

I found a really good dressing at Trader Joe’s the other day — Asian Style Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette. Don’t let the jalapeños listed on the label scare you, it’s not terribly spicy, just enough to give a salad some flavor. 

The other ingredients in my supper salad: 

Trader Joe’s Baby Arugula Blend

cherry tomatoes, halved

green onions

1/2 avocado, sliced

handful of marinated baked tofu cubes

Baking and marinating tofu gives it the flavor of whatever you’ve marinated it in, plus a pleasant, chewy texture (but not too chewy, ala the rubbery texture of frozen and thawed tofu). Press drained, sliced tofu for 20-30 minutes, then mix with marinade (in this case, my new favorite Trader Joe’s salad dressing), and spread in a single layer in a metal or glass pan. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes, turning about halfway through baking.


Asparagus Mushroom Casserole April 9, 2012

Filed under: Casseroles,Comfort Food,Entertaining,Holidays — vegincowcountry @ 1:14 pm

I’ll admit to a certain amount of bias when I state that I come from a family of great cooks! And I wasn’t at all surprised when my sister Laura made a great dish for Easter brunch. It’s a Taste of Home recipe, called “Asparagus Mushroom Quiche” — but it didn’t stick together like a quiche and it called for only two eggs. We agreed that it was more of a casserole with a crust in a pie pan. The basic recipe is definitely a keeper, though, and I immediately began thinking about how to veganize it… Mom and Laura made a few alterations and I made a few more. This is the result!

Although I’m all for off-brands when they taste the same and cost less, I bought the Pillsbury brand crescent rolls this time because the off-brand (HyVee) contained trans fat! You learn so much reading labels…

This is for a half recipe, but it’s easily doubled in a deep dish pie pan. We decided we would prefer crust on both top and bottom, so I used a whole tube of crescent rolls for half of the filling. It ain’t health food, but it’s a nice treat.

1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls

1 tsp spicy brown mustard

3/4 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

1/4 c sliced fresh mushrooms

2 Tbsp Earth Balance

¼ c pureed soft tofu

1 c (4 ounces) mozzarella-style vegan cheese (I used Daiya)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and rubbed sage


Separate crescent dough into triangles; place in an ungreased 2-quart and press onto the bottom to form a crust; seal perforations. Spread with mustard; set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté the asparagus, onion and mushrooms in butter until asparagus is crisp-tender. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in asparagus mixture. Pour into crust.

Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 4 servings.


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