Veg in Cow Country

cooking (and eating) vegan and vegetarian in the midwest

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. 


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.


Tofu Jambalaya February 26, 2012

Filed under: Casseroles,Entertaining — vegincowcountry @ 12:57 pm
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I love other people’s blogs, especially Susan Voisin’s Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I have several of her recipes in my permanent cookbook binder that I make over and over again — especially Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie and Red Beans and Rice. Today I tried her Tofu Jambalaya, which was, not surprisingly, wonderful. Out of respect for Susan and her copyright, I will share the link to her page instead of the full recipe: 

The only change I made was in the tofu. The recipe calls for the tofu to be frozen and then thawed and pressed, but I don’t particularly care for the texture that this process imparts. So I pressed my tofu well and went with that. Extra firm tofu, pressed well, held up fine.

I used 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, which made it just hot enough for me — my lips were definitely tingling after that first bite!

This is a half recipe, and it fills up my skillet — it makes a lot. This is a very versatile dish, and I can see myself splitting it between two skillets and cooking half with shrimp for a tofu-fearing guest, and the other half with tofu for me. Definitely a keeper!


Shepherd’s Pie January 10, 2012

Not the most visually-appealing dish, Shepherd’s Pie is all about comfort food. This version uses pearl barley and lentils — my favorite legume, full of protein and iron! This is my favorite meal to make for meat eaters because they are familiar with both vegetable stew and mashed potatoes — no scary or strange “vegetarian ingredients” (just don’t mention the Marmite!) Also, it’s easy to split this up just before baking and toss a non-vegetarian ingredient in half, if necessary to keep the peace.

Although this meal is heavy on the pot-and-pan usage, it’s not technically difficult, requiring only a little chopping, measuring, and stirring. If you can make soup, you can make shepherd’s pie! The basic premise is a stew (usually made with a non-vegetarian ingredient) topped with mashed potatoes, and baked in the oven until the potatoes brown slightly on top. Easy, if messy — but who doesn’t like mashed potatoes?? 

Ready for the mashed potato layer (steaming up the camera lens!)

2 cups broth (made with Better Than Bouillon “Not Beef” if you can get it)

1 tsp Marmite

1/2 cup dry lentils

1/4 cup barley

1 large carrot, diced

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 tsp white pepper

2 large baking potatoes, chopped

2 Tb Earth Balance

1/4 c soy or almond milk

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 cup broth, Marmite, lentils, and barley. Simmer, covered for 30 minutes or until tender.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup broth, carrot, onion, and walnuts. Boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Add white pepper.

Boil potatoes until tender; drain and mash with Earth Balance and soy milk.

Combine carrot mixture and lentil mixture and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish; top with mashed potatoes and baked until lightly browned on top, about 20-30 minutes.


German Casserole September 6, 2011

Filed under: Casseroles,Comfort Food — vegincowcountry @ 1:28 pm

This is a slight variation on a recipe created by my friend Judy, who is one of the moderators on Yahoo’s Veg_Group. Judy is a great cook, as are many of the members, and they are all extremely helpful to the development of a new vegetarian cook!

There are other brands of sauerkraut out there — but Frank’s (aside from coming in a very pretty green can) is my dad’s favorite. The only items in his recycle bin, once upon a time, were beer cans and Frank’s Kraut cans! (To be fair, you couldn’t really recycle anything but cans and newspapers then). I’m not sure if my dad still buys Frank’s Kraut, but I’m going to have to make this casserole for him, he’ll love it. I’ll have to make sure and get him some beer to go with it — Heineken, I think, would suit this dish best. 🙂

The German farmers who were my ancestors (on both sides of the family) wouldn’t approve of the idea of vegetarian sausage, but I bet they wouldn’t notice a difference in taste! Judy uses Morningstar Farms sausage, which is good stuff, but I saw (vegan) Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausage at Whole Foods and couldn’t resist it. Good choice! 7 ounces is two sausage links, half of the package.

Not real pretty, but it sure tastes good! The biggest change I made to Judy’s recipe was to add Thousand Island dressing – it goes well on a Reuben sandwich, so why not? I make my own: 1 cup Vegenaise, 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 Tablespoons mustard, and 2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish.



The Recipe:

1 large raw potato, halved and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
14 ounces (1 can) sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
7 oz of your favorite veggie sausage, sliced on a slant or crumbled
1 ¼ cup Thousand Island dressing

Preparation of German Casserole:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large casserole dish with a lid, layer the ingredients in this order – potatoes, sauerkraut, Veggie sausage, Thousand Island dressing.
You can halve everything and make two “stacks” of layers as well, if you prefer. Make sure you end with veggie sausage and Thousand Island dressing on top.
Cover with foil. Bake until the potatoes are tender – about an hour and fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.


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