Tag Archives: potato

Vegan-tastic Zuppa Toscano

I haven’t been to Olive Garden in quite awhile…all that cheese and cream sauce and sausage, oh my.  I still remember the Zuppa Toscano, though.  Creamy and spicy with potatoes, greens and sausage; an ultimate comfort soup.  A soup you can make a meal out of.  But so not vegan.  Waaaaah.  Until now, that is!  Hurray for cashew cream and vegan sausage!  Hurray for a warm bowl of soup on a cold and rainy night!

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The original recipe’s been making the rounds on Facebook. Aside from veganizing, I also changed up some of the cooking to squeeze out even more flavor.  This link matches the image and the general idea of the recipe shared around Facebook.  Here’s what you’ll need for the vegan version I made:

ingredients

  • 1 lb. vegan Italian-style sausages ( I only had 3 sausages from the 4 pack, which worked out OK and reduced the fat in the recipe)
  • 4-6 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3-4 cloves
  • 32 oz. No Chicken broth
  • 2 c. kale or Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 c. raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them by an inch
  • 4 tsp corn starch
  • 2 cups No Chicken Broth
  • salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Lightly spray a non-stick pan with oil and brown the sausages.

brown sausage

Remove sausages from pan, cut each in half lengthwise and then slice into half-moons.

chop sausage

Chop the onion and peel the garlic.

chop onions peel garlic

Saute the onion in the same pan used for the sausage, adding a bit of No Chicken broth to deglaze the pan, releasing the yummy browned sausage bits into the onion.  Yum.  Saute until onions are translucent; about 5-7 minutes.

saute onions

Mince or press the garlic and add to the pan and continue to cook until garlic becomes fragrant; an additional 30 seconds or so.

add garlic

Scrub and chop potatoes into 1/2″ dice.

chop potatoes

Transfer potatoes, sausage, onions, garlic and 32 oz No Chicken broth to a slow cooker; veggies and sausage should be covered.  Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.  Potatoes should be tender.

sausage onions garlic potatoes and broth in crockpot

After the cooking time, wash kale and remove the stems.  I only needed 2 leaves.  Chop into 1/2 to 1″ -ish pieces.  Small enough to stay on the spoon, but not so fine so it gets lost in the broth.

chop kale

Drain the cashews and place them along with 4 tsp corn starch and 2 cups No Chicken broth into a blender and blend until smooth.  This may take from one to five minutes–check it by rubbing it between your fingers–you want it as smooth as possible.  You may need to scrape down the sides during the blending time.  (Remember how to do this for future creamy soups and sauces–it’s creamy vegan MAGIC!)

cashews corn starch and broth

blend until smooth (1)

Add the kale and cashew cream to the crock pot, and cook an additional 30 minutes on high to thicken.

add kale and cashew cream

Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.

season

Ladle into bowls, add a nice warm wedge of bread or bread sticks and prepare to be amazed!  So, so yummy!  Michael pronounced it good enough to include in a weekly rotation; high praise.

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This is definitely NOT low-fat, but not too bad.  Fat comes from that light spray of oil, 10 grams per serving (1 link) of sausage and 13 grams per serving (1/4 cup) of cashews.

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While the soup was warming my house with its spicy aroma, it was cold and drippy outside.  I stood at the window, watching birds busy at the feeders and noticed someone else was watching the birds as well–the neighbor’s cat, Keshet!

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Keshet tends to do more watching than stalking and rarely kills a bird, but I have seen her with a mouse in her mouth, so I’m OK with her bird watching if she also keeps a few mice from trying to get into my house as the weather chills.

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Eventually my cat, Pookie wandered over to watch birds, and Keshet as well.

keshet3

You can see how dreary the day was in that last picture.  A great day for a vegan-tastic soup!

 

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Terrific Tofu Scramble

I missed eggs more than meat when I became vegan.  Our switch from omnivore to vegan began Jan 1, 2013, while Mr18 was still home on his winter break.  Mr18 LOVES omelets, and was more than happy to eat up the eggs left over from our former eating habits.  Let me tell you; making those omelets knowing I couldn’t have one was just killer then.  Now that we’re almost 3 months into veganland, making omelets for Mr18 while he’s home for spring break is no biggie.  Especially now that The Happy Herbivore‘s Basic Tofu Scramble is on my breakfast menu!  She states this is her favorite way to eat tofu and I must agree, especially for breakfast.  (I do love the tofu chocolate pie I made a week ago….)  I find this scramble very egg-like.  So egg-like that I honestly no longer crave eggs.  We love the scramble with sauteed onions and peppers and boiled potato cubes mixed in; both as is and as a filling for breakfast burritos.  A seriously yummy, hearty protein-rich breakfast.

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You’ll have this scramble on the table as quickly as you would using eggs.  Makes enough for 4, or 2 with enough leftover for burritos the following day.

ingredients

  • 1 lb firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed a bit to release most of the water
  • 3-4 TBSP nutritional yeast (provides the cheese flavor, I use 4 TBSP)
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • non-dairy milk as needed to prevent sticking
  • salt and pepper to taste  (I’m loving truffle salt in this recipe, if you can find it)
  • Mix-ins of your choice.  I have about 1/4 each of three different colors of bell pepper, 2 small potatoes and 1/4 of a red onion.

Prepare your mix-ins by boiling or sauteing.  I saute in veggie broth to keep the fat content low.  Set aside.

cooked veggies

cooked potatoes

Collect and measure all the spices, etc.  The recipe moves along more smoothly if you can add all of them at once.

Drain and press the moisture from the tofu and crumble into a large pan over medium heat.  Stir and break up larger pieces until it resembles the consistency of scrambled eggs.  Cook 3-4 minutes.

cook crumbled tofu

Add the nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic and onion powders, turmeric and cumin.  Stir to coat and continue to cook until all water evaporates.  Add non-dairy milk if you need to loosen the scramble up a bit and to prevent sticking.

add and stir in spices

Mix in prepared veggies and continue to cook until everything is warmed through.

add veggies and potatoes

Taste, season with salt and pepper and serve! Looks like eggs.  Tastes a LOT like eggs.  Exactly what I was craving for breakfast today!  Can’t wait for the breakfast burritos tomorrow morning.

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, Garden produce, recipe, Vegetarian

The Best Ham and Potato Soup Ever!

I don’t know what got me thinking about potato soup.  It’s not something I make all the time, and not usually something I make especially well.  In fact, Mr17’s Dad is the potato soup master.  He doesn’t measure or anything, just throws things in and it turns into the perfect cold-weather comfort meal.  Well! (Stands proudly, hands on hips, much like Yul Brynner in the King and I.)  I think I have him beat.   (Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.)

Oooohhhh yeaaaahhh.  I have a new favorite ingredient and a combination of stove-top and crock pot that brings it over the top!

  • 1 package smoked ham shanks
  • 6-7 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 1 celery heart, chopped, leaves too
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • pepper to taste
  • 5 TBSP butter
  • 5 TBSP flour
  • 2 cups milk

Ham shanks are my new favorite ingredient for soups that usually have ham in them.  Cook them in with the soup, bones and fat and all.  You will be rewarded with bigger pieces of super-tender ham along with a richer broth.

Place the ham shanks and chicken broth in a 6 quart pot over medium heat. 

Meanwhile, mince the garlic, chop the celery, onion and carrots and add them to the pot.

Then chop the potatoes and add them to the pot.

Season with black pepper to taste and add water to cover the ingredients if needed. 

Cover and cook for half an hour, then transfer everything to a crock pot.  Cook on high for an additional four hours, while you go see a movie.  I recommend The Decendants.  With George Clooney.  In Hawai’i.  (Really, really good movie, plus it takes place in places I’ve been so it seemed like a vacation!)

Come out of the theater into the greyness of a typical January afternoon, drive home, open the door and rejoice in the amazing aroma of the best ham and potato soup that is almost ready!

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.

Stir in the flour to create a roux.  Cook until it bubbles.

Then add the milk, 1 cup at a time.  Use a whisk if lumps start to happen.  Remove from heat when thick and smooth.

Remove the ham shanks from the crock pot and separate the meat from the fat and bones.  Shred the meat with a fork.

Add the milk mixture to the crock pot, and then the ham meat.  Stir to combine.

Ladle up a nice big bowl-full and garnish with a bit of shredded cheese and fresh chopped chives.  Maybe toast and butter a couple pieces of a nice crusty bread.  Now there ya go.

Maybe if you get close enough to your monitor you can smell the wonderful creamy, smoky, comfort-food yumminess of this soup. 

Maybe you’ll just have to take my word for it, until you make some for yourself.  And then—shhhhh don’t let your family hear—hide any leftovers in the fridge for YOUR lunch.  Mmmmmm, yummy!

This soup got an “Oh. My. Gosh!” from Mr17 on his way to get his second bowl.  I couldn’t get him to commit on whether my soup is better than his Dad’s.  Well played on his part, even though mine IS yummier!

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Leftovers (Fajita, Potato, Mushroom) Quiche

Earlier this week I made fajitas and mushroom burgers and steak fries.  I ended up with enough fajita filling for a couple fajitas–one serving, a serving of steak fries, and 7 mushrooms.  I needed to make dinner for three, hmmmmm, what to do?  Lucky for me, I had a box of two premade pie crusts, half and half, and eggs.  Pie crust+half and half+eggs+leftovers=quiche!  Woo-hoo!  Dinner for 3 plus breakfast the next day!

Have a look at what you have for leftovers.  If it sounds like a yummy combo to you, you’ve got quiche!  Here’s the basic quiche recipe.  I made two quiches, so doubled the recipe.

I used about 1 cup fajita filling, chopped a bit, 7 or 8 steak fries and 7 mushrooms, sliced.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Start by sauteing the mushrooms in 2 TBSP butter.  As a rule, I only use pre-cooked add-ins in a quiche.

Cut up the fajita stuff and the potatoes and added to the mushrooms to heat through.

Line two pie pans with the premade crusts and sprinkled a half cup of cheese in the bottom of each and divided the fajita-mushroom mixture between the two pans, topping with another half cup of cheese each.

Mix the custard according to the quiche recipe, divide between the two pans.

Bake 45 minutes or until golden and a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.  Wait 5-10 minutes, cut into wedges and serve!  Since my leftover quiche was sort of Mexican-flavored, I topped it with a small dollop of sour cream and an avocado slice.

Everyone loved this quiche, and it didn’t seem like leftovers! 

As pretty as it is yummy, and a great way to stretch a food dollar. 

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