Mini “Chick’n” Pot Pies

I am the only vegetarian in my family (for now) so I often have to make a separate meal for myself, and I often try to make a comparable meal to what the rest of my family is having.  So when they were having homemade chicken pot pie, I decided to attempt to make my own.

I didn’t Google any recipes for this one, I just decided to see what I could come up with on my own.  So while at the store getting the pre-made pie crusts for their meal, I looked for what I could use as the crust for mine.  I knew I wanted to make mine in a muffin tin, so biscuits seemed to be the best option.  I found some little biscuits in a miniature version of those exploding tubes (you know the ones) and thought they would be perfect.  There were some made by the leading brand, but being the frugal shopper I am, I opted to go with the store brand which was about half the price. There were five mini biscuits in each tube, so I grabbed two.  I already had the rest of the needed ingredients on hand, so I headed home to get started.

This recipe couldn’t be any easier, and it comes together so quickly you can make it any night of the week.  Also, the results are so pretty you could certainly serve these to any guests at your dinner table.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  I’m pretty sure you’re going to love this one.

mini-pot-pies-1

Mini “Chick’n” Pot Pies

Yields 5 individual pies

Ingredients

2 cans refrigerated mini flaky biscuits

1 cup vegetarian chick’n pieces or strips (any brand)

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

1/2 can cream of mushroom soup

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add chick’n pieces and heat until no longer frozen.
  3. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add frozen vegetables and heat until no longer frozen.
  5. Add cream of mushroom soup and heat until warm.
  6. Open biscuits.  Stretch one mini biscuit slightly, place it in the bottom of an ungreased muffin tin and press up the sides.  Repeat with half of the biscuits.
  7. Fill each biscuit cup to the top with the chick’n and vegetable filling.
  8. Top each biscuit cup with another biscuit, stretching slightly and pressing along the edge to seal.
  9. Poke the top of each biscuit with the point of a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.
  10. Bake in oven for time and temperature specified on biscuit can, or until golden brown.

Baked Nacho Mac & Cheese

Baked Nacho Mac & Cheese 2

During the colder Winter months, I tend to crave warm comfort foods, which for me is a list which includes things like vegetable stew, cinnamon oatmeal, warm nachos, and mac & cheese.  I decided to combine a couple of these favorites into one dish, and it’s a new favorite!  My entire family loved it, and I’m sure yours will, too.

I wanted to make a casserole dish which combined nachos and mac & cheese, so I got some simple ingredients together and gave it a try.  I have to say, I will definitely be making this one again in the near future.  I wish I had more shredded to cheese to use in the topping, but it was delicious even with the little I had.  I have increased the amount here in the recipe, but you can add it to your liking.  I didn’t want to completely cover the tortilla strips, so that they would remain crunchy and that worked perfectly.  If you add more cheese it may affect how crunchy they stay.

This recipe is very simple and comes together quickly, so you can throw it together on a week night after work.  From start to finish this dish took me about an hour until it was on the table.  I hope you’ll give it a try with your family, and feel free to add your favorite nacho toppings to the dish.  I served it simply with sour cream, but it would be delicious with some shredded lettuce, diced tomato, and raw onion as well.  You can also add a layer of beans if you like.  Just experiment with it and make it your own.  You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Baked Nacho Mac & Cheese 1

Baked Nacho Mac & Cheese

Serves: 8 – 10

Ingredients:
1 pkg meatless crumbles (I used Simple Truth brand)
2 pkgs taco seasoning or sauce (I used this brand)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 box elbow macaroni
1 can or jar of your favorite nacho cheese sauce
1/4 to 1/2 cup dairy milk or non-dairy milk
1 pkg tortilla strips or about 1 cup crumbled tortilla chips
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can sliced black olives
1 small can sliced jalapenos (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Cook box of macaroni according to package directions .

3. While your water is coming to a boil for your pasta, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until tender and translucent.

4. To the skillet, add meatless crumbles, diced tomatoes and taco sauce (if using powdered taco seasoning, also add about 1/4 cup water). Cook until heated through; remove from heat.

5. When pasta is done boiling, drain and place in a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Add the can or jar of nacho cheese sauce and milk (as needed to thin); stir until evenly coated. Spread an even layer of macaroni across the bottom of the dish.

6. Top macaroni with your meatless taco mixture and spread evenly. Do not mix with the macaroni, just spread it across the top.

7. Add an even layer of tortilla strips/chips to the top of the casserole. Spread shredded cheese evenly over the strips/chips. Top with olives and jalapenos (if using).

8. Bake in oven, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown (be careful not to burn the chip layer).

9. Serve with sour cream and any of your other favorite nacho toppings. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients
4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick)
1 medium Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
1/2 medium yellow onion
8 fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (can use gluten free)
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
Dallop of Sour cream (optional)

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Avocado Pasta Salad

Avocado Pasta Salad 1

I came across a post the other day for this Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing from Simply Scratch and knew I had to make this as soon as possible!  Not only would this be delicious on a salad with some ice-cold, crisp romaine lettuce, but I thought it would taste great in a pasta salad, too.  So I started thinking about the half box of Ditalini pasta I had left from making the Peas and Pasta recipe and just started putting the pasta salad together in my head.  I wrote down my list of ingredients and headed out to the grocery store to pick up the few items I didn’t have on hand.

This Avocado dressing comes together very quickly (I used my NutriBullet to blend it) and can be adjusted for your personal taste and consistency.  I simply boiled the rest of the pasta and drained it, then tossed it in a large bowl with my other ingredients, topped it with the dressing and stirred until everything was nicely coated.  I topped it off with a few turns of the pepper mill and it was ready to serve.  (I ate it right away and it was delicious, but of course you can place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours if you prefer it to be nicely chilled).

You can alter this salad to include any ingredients you like, it’s very versatile.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  I hope you’ll give a try at your next Summer gathering.  And then stop back by and let me know how you liked it.

Avocado Pasta Salad 2

Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves: 8 – 10
Prep Time: 20 -30 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours (optional)

For The Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing
Ingredients
1 avocado
1 clove garlic
1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
water

Directions
1.  In a mini food processor add the peeled clove of garlic, avocado, lime or lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

2.  Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Thin the salad dressing out with a little bit of water until it reaches a desired consistency.

For The Pasta Salad
Ingredients
1/2 box small pasta such as Ditalini, Elbow, or Bowtie (can use Gluten free pasta) cooked to package directions
1 – 2 avocados, diced
2 ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob or 1 cup of frozen corn, thawed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 container grape tomatoes, sliced
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 batch of Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing (see above)

Directions
1.  Place everything in a large bowl and stir to combine. Top with a few turns of the black pepper mill.

2.  Let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve and enjoy.

Can be served alone or on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce.

Peas and Pasta

One of the things I enjoy about eating a Vegan diet is taking ordinary non-Vegan recipes and adapting them so they are Vegan.  I receive emails and subscribe to newsletters from some online recipe sites that are not Vegan-specific sites because I can still find truly delicious looking meals that just need a few tweaks.  And I’m always up for the challenge.  So when I saw this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, I knew it was one I had to make!

I love peas!  And I also love pasta.  So this one was right up my alley.  It’s easy to make, comes together quickly, can be served either hot or cold, and tastes divine.  You probably have most of the ingredients on-hand already, and the few that you don’t aren’t going to break the bank or have you running all over town to find them.  Simple, easy, perfect.

The sauce is made with peas, combined with shallot, milk and a few spices, and it transforms into this luscious, creamy sauce bursting with pea flavor that clings to each little noodle.  Each bite is a mouthful of pea heaven!  So I hope you will give this one a try, and that you love it as much as I do.

Pasta and Peas 2

Peas and Pasta

Makes: 4 servings
Serving Size: 2/3 to 1 cup macaroni
Yields: 4 cups
Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup dried ditalini pasta (can use gluten free pasta)
2 cups shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 2 tsp dried basil)
1 shallot, peeled and quarted
1/4 cup finely shredded Vegan parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil (I used Magic Vegan Bacon Grease – found here)
1/4 cup Vegan milk/cream (I used regular, unsweetened, unflavored soy creamer)

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 cup peas the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture; return to pan.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor (I used my Magic Bullet), combine the remaining peas*, the basil, shallot, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the salt, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add milk/cream to skillet; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add pasta mixture, blended pea mixture, and the remaining 1/2 cup pasta water to skillet. Toss gently until heated through. Serve topped with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Notes
* If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes before processing.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tarts

Ingredients:

Base

  • 2 cups (8 oz.) pecan halves
  • 1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp butter at room temperature

Peanut butter filling

  • ½ stick butter, softened
  • ¾ cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

Mousse topping

  • 1 cup whipping or heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp packed soft brown sugar
  • 1 cup (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Chop nuts, sugar and cinnamon in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter and blend until well combined.

3. Press nut mix into bottom and up sides of 9” pie plate or springform pan. Bake for 15-20  minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool.

4. In a bowl with an electric mixer or in a food processor, mix peanut butter, butter and vanilla essence.

5. Mix in powdered sugar until well blended. Add milk, if necessary, to make it more spreadable.

6. Spread into cooled nut crust.

7. Heat cream, sugar and vanilla in sauce pan or microwave until nearly boiling.

8. Add chocolate, leave for a few minutes and then stir until totally smooth. Let cool.

9. Pour 2/3 of chocolate mix over peanut butter layer and leave in fridge to chill and set.  The mix will not harden like a bar of chocolate, but will be firm enough to cut.

10. Once the remaining sauce has cooled (at least 1 hour in fridge, quicker in freezer; don’t attempt to whisk if it is not cold), whisk with an electric mixer until thickened like whipped cream. This will happen very quickly.

11. Pipe the stiffened chocolate mix around the edge of the pie and serve.

For presentation, reserve 2 Tbsp of the peanut butter mix. Add some milk to make it thinner and pour into a snack size Ziploc bag. Snip a corner off the bag and pipe a continuous circle of peanut butter mix radiating out from the center of the dish. Take a toothpick, knife or skewer and gently drag the tip through circle from outside to the center to form a pattern. Refrigerate to set.

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake

I have been wanting to try a pasta dish with a red pepper sauce for a while and I recently came up with the idea for this one.  It’s a little different than the usual tomato or cheese based sauces you see, and lends itself nicely to a baked pasta dish.  The sweetness of the red peppers pairs so nicely with the tangy notes of the ricotta, creating a wonderful mix of flavors in each bite.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients and too many steps to make this dish, but the two sauces come together quickly in your blender or food processor, and it’s just a simple rinse in between blending them.  Boil the pasta, saute some onion, thaw and squeeze-dry some spinach and it can all quickly be tossed together and poured into a casserole dish.  Top with some mozzarella cheese and you’re good to go!  The sauces can even be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a couple days.  So this can be a fairly quick mid-week meal that is satisfying and filling, and will most likely yield leftovers.

This recipe is vegan and hearty, and delicious as is, but can also be adjusted to fit within your family’s own tastes and dietary needs.  Even if you don’t follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, I think you should give this recipe a go as it is written here.  You may just be pleasantly surprised at how much you love it.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake 3

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Bake

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 6 – 8

Ingredients:
1 box spiral pasta, cooked to package directions
1 – 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 yellow onion, chopped and sauteed
Almond ricotta cheese (recipe below)
Roasted red pepper sauce (recipe below)
2 cups shredded non-dairy mozzarella cheese
Parsley flakes for garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta, spinach, onion, ricotta cheese, and red pepper sauce.

Place this mixture into your casserole dish (deep round or oval casserole dish, or 9 x 13 rectangular casserole dish).

Cover the top with the shredded cheese and sprinkle with the parsley.

Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and allow to cook an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese is melty and browning beautifully.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread and enjoy!

For the Almond Ricotta Cheese:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:
Simply place everything in a blender and blitz until super creamy and smooth.  Stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula if needed.

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
(credit for this sauce goes to a member of the facebook group What Fat Vegans Eat)

Ingredients:
1.5 cup raw cashew nuts, soaked in water for at least 4 hours and drained
1 roasted red pepper jarred in oil (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 red onion
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional) – see note below
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Place all in a high-speed blender or food processor, and process until silky smooth.

*Note:  Nutritional yeast is NOT regular active yeast.  It is deactivated yeast that adds a nutty/cheesy flavor to vegan dishes.  It can usually be found at health food/organic food stores or online.  It is not essential in this dish and can be omitted.