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.
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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!

Roasted 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)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves (alternatively, you can rub it on evenly with your fingers). Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

3. When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.

4. Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.

5. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds, if using.

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Skillet Squash Saute

I have never been a huge fan of yellow squash, I’ve always been more in love with zucchini.  But I had some yellow squash sitting on my counter taunting me, so I started thinking about how I could use it.  I had some Roma tomatoes that were going to go soft if I didn’t use them up, and a few jalapenos that would also go soft if not used, so I grabbed everything along with a yellow onion and got to work.

Let me tell you, this dish has made me a believer!  I am now totally in love with yellow squash!  The flavor in this dish is slightly spicy, a little sweet, and totally delicious.  It is low in calories and full of vitamins A and C, so it is a nice side to add to any of your favorite summer meals.  If you’re already a fan of yellow squash, you’re going to love this dish.  If you’re not, give it a try anyway.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  I sure was.

Skillet Squash Saute 2

Skillet Squash Saute
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil (or less, depending on taste and diet restrictions)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 – 3 fresh jalapenos, diced (see note 1)
3 large or 6 medium yellow squash, cut into 1 inch pieces (see note 2)
4 roma tomatoes, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium heat.
2. Add onion and jalapenos to oil and saute until tender.
3. Add squash and spices, stir to combine. Continue to heat, stirring occassionally, until squash is slightly softened, but still with a bit of crunch (not mushy).
4. Add tomatoes, stir to combine, and continue to cook until everything is heated through; about 3 minutes. Serve.

Notes:
1. For minimal heat, remove seeds and veins from jalapenos. If you want to maintain maximum spice, leave seeds and veins in when dicing.
2. If using large yellow squash, sometimes the skin can be quite thick and bumpy. You can use a peeler to remove a thin outer layer of the skin to keep it from staying too tough while the inside gets too soft. If using smaller squash, only peel off marks and bumps and cook with the skin on.

Nutrition (according to www.caloriecount.com):
Calories per serving: 66 Calories from fat: 44 Total fat: 4.9g Saturated Fat: 0.7g
Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 316mg* Total carbohydrates: 5.4g Dietary Fiber: 1.5g
Sugars: 3.1g Protein: 1g

*The sodium content is most likely incorrect.  I believe the calorie counter was calculating for jarred or canned jalapenos which would contain sodium.  I used fresh jalapenos, which would not.

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.

Tuscan White Bean & Sausage Stew

Tuscan White Bean & Sausage Stew

This is a dish I have been thinking about making for a little while now.  I am obsessed in love with these Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Vegan Sausages and I’ve been thinking about ways to use them.  Pairing them with white beans and spinach sounded perfect.  And it was.

This dish is quick to come together, easy to make, and most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry.  Perfect for a week night meal for your family, but also pretty enough to serve to company.  Pair it with a salad, crusty bread and a nice wine for a complete meal.

Tuscan White Bean & Sausage Stew
Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 pkg. (4 sausages) Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Vegan Sausages, sliced 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick
1 med. yellow onion, diced
2 cans white beans, drained (and rinsed if you prefer)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried basil (or to taste)
1 tsp. dried oregano (or to taste)
1 tsp. garlic powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add sausage and cook until browned and onion is tender.
2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat and let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until heated through.