Whatever, Whatever

Category: Recipes

Simple, Easy Vegetarian Ramen

One of our go-to can’t-be-bothered-to-actually-cook meals is my version of vegetarian ramen. It’s cheap and quick and only a couple of ingredients.

It starts with a vegetable broth base and the noodles from the super cheap classic ramen packages. You know the ones – they’re five for a dollar and come in a bunch of flavors. Of course I don’t use the flavor packets and only use the noodles. All that sodium – yuck!

I immediately toss the little silver pouch in the garbage when I open the package. This is me:


(further proof that there is *always* a relevant Gilmore Girls quote)

Instead, I flavor the vegetable broth on my own, adding a little Better Than Bouillon (which is a semi-difficult to find little jar of bouillon-like goo that adds the bold flavor non-vegetarian ramen soups are known for) and some of my own spices and flavorings. Then you can add whatever veggies and a poached egg or whatever you want! I usually use 2 packages of noodles for two people since one never seems like enough for both of us.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 packages of ramen noodles (throw away the flavor packet!)

3 1/2ish cups Vegetable broth

1/2 tsp Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base (here it is – my Jewel has it, but it can be tricky to find sometimes. You could probably use a bit of any vegetable bouillon)

Onion powder (to taste, but I think I usually use about 1/3-1/2 tsp)

Garlic powder  (same as above, it varies)

Lemon pepper (a few turns of the grinder)

a dash of soy sauce

1/3ish tsp lime juice (if I have it, just to brighten the flavor a bit)

Salt and regular pepper to taste

Optional additional veggies, poached egg, whatever!

 

DIRECTIONS

In a medium pot on medium heat, add the vegetable broth and the Better Than Bouillon — mix a bit so it disperses, but it doesn’t have to be completely dissolved. Add the noodles and turn the heat up a little because we want to bring the pot to a boil. While the pot with the broth and noodles is coming to a boil, I like to add the garlic and onion powders, lemon pepper, dash of soy sauce and regular salt and pepper. When it just comes to a boil, turn off the heat and let it continue cooking on its own for 2 minutes (or until the noodles are soft). As the noodles soften, I stir to break them apart from their condensed square blob. Just before serving, add the dash of lime juice and taste to see if it needs more of anything.

Add veggies or whatever else you want (or leave it plain).

It’s so simple and comforting and fast!

Vegetarian and dairy-free Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve been wanting to make a vegetarian/vegan Shepherd’s Pie basically this entire winter and never got around to it. It’s been slightly colder and rainy this week, so I finally bit the bullet in what is probably one of the last few weeks of cold-ish weather. Comfort food weather!

Shepherd’s Pie is usually ground beef or lamb with vegetables in a savory sauce thats is topped with mashed potatoes and baked. I set out to make this vegetarian and dairy-free based on our dietary restrictions and attempt number 1 went very well! I used a vegan ground beef substitute, what I lovingly refer to as “fake ground beef”, but if you’re not into the meat-substitute thing, lentils would be perfect in this. I also used vegetable stock, a non-dairy butter (plain olive oil will work fine), and almond milk to replace the meat and dairy that are in the classic recipes I found online.

I should also mention that most of my recipes, including this one, are for two people with leftovers. So adjust accordingly.

INGREDIENTS

Five medium red potatoes

1/2 pack fake ground beef (or lentils)

Four or five large carrots

A medium shallot

A half bag (small bag) of frozen peas

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp thyme

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, possibly a little more (or you can mix a little vegetarian BBQ sauce with a tiny bit of vinegar)

1/3 c vegetable stock

1 Tbsp tomato paste (use a little less and add more if needed)

2 Tbsp non-dairy butter/spread, plus at least another Tbsp for the potatoes

A splash of plain unsweetened almond milk

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Scrub or peel your potatoes. In a medium or large pot, cover the potatoes with water, so there’s about a inch or so above them. Add some salt. Bring the pot to a boil and once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer for like 15 minutes or as long as it takes for them to get soft when poked with a fork. I check them periodically.

While the potatoes are doing their thing, heat the non-dairy butter substitute (I like the kind made from olive oil) in a shallow pan and let it get all melty while you dice up your carrots. Toss the carrots in, and in the meantime, mince your shallot. After the carrots have had 5-7 minutes of alone time in the pan (with a little salt and pepper), throw in the shallot. At this point I put the frozen peas in, but I should have waited about 2-3 minutes longer.

About this time, pre-heat your oven to 425.

Make sure your carrots have started to get soft before you throw the peas in. (Note: some recipes include corn, but I don’t really like corn in things where it’s not the central ingredient, but if you like it, add it now) Next add the garlic, thyme, and tomato paste. When it’s combined, add the fake ground beef (or if you’re using lentils, maybe wait til the end if they’re pre-cooked), Worcestershire sauce (or BBQ and vinegar mixture), and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper, and add more Worcestershire sauce or tomato paste as you see fit. Let this simmer for 8-10 minutes. If it gets dry during simmering, add a splash more of the vegetable stock.

Your potatoes are probably done now and your oven should be almost if not fully preheated. Drain the potatoes, then return to the pot and smash with some more of the non-dairy butter and a splash of almond milk. Salt and pepper to taste. I also added a small splash of vegetable stock at the end because they tasted a little boring. Garlic would have been good too.

Now that your veggies and fake beef have gotten all cozy, and your mashed potatoes are ready, it’s oven time. Get out a glass or ceramic (oven safe!) dish. Pour the fake meat and veggie mixture into the bottom of the dish and spread it out evenly. Cover with the mashed potatoes, spreading evenly.

Pop in the over for 15-20 minutes, or until the top of the potatoes reaches your desired goldenness.

Yum!

Note: I adapted this recipe from the following two classic recipes that came up when I googled shepherd’s pie: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_shepherds_pie/ and http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shepherds-pie-recipe2

Black Bean and Tomato Soup

This recipe is easy and delicious. Most of what you do is dump a few cans of beans and tomatoes into some sautéed veggies. Soup is seriously the perfect cool-weather meal. This one is hearty, and as a base it is vegetarian and diary-free, but can be altered easily for anyone. It’s great with ground beef (or so I’ve been told), cheese, and/or sour cream. It’s also amazing with barley in it! We did that once and it was fantastic. The yield is… a lot. Be prepared for leftovers.

This is my favorite soup recipe.

As Lorelai says in season 1 episode 17 of Gilmore Girls: soup is good food.

MAX: Whoa, whoa, whoa wait a second. So this is it? You leave and we forget that this ever happened?

LORELAI: No.

MAX: Then what?

LORELAI: I leave and we go on with our lives and then at some point we buy some soup.

MAX: Lorelai…

LORELAI: What? Soup is good food.

 

INGREDIENTS

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 shallot

2-3 celery stalks, diced

2-3 large carrots, diced

1 very large garlic clove or 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp red pepper flakes

3 (14 or 15 oz) cans of black beans (with their liquid)

1 (14 or 15 oz) can white beans or chickpeas (optional – can sub another can of black beans)

1 (14ish oz) can of fire roasted tomatoes (have also added a second can of regular diced tomatoes for extra tomato-y goodness)

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

a dash or two of hot sauce

salt and pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

In your largest soup pot (one that has a lid to it), heat the oil on medium heat and add the diced carrot and celery. As it sautes, stir, and add the shallot before the veggies get soft- but not at the very beginning. This usually takes about 7-9 minutes but I think that’s because my soup pot is super thick. Yours might soften faster. Just keep an eye on it.

Add the garlic, cumin, pepper flakes and some salt and pepper and saute for 1-2 minutes.

Once everything is all fragrant and happy, add the beans (remember not to drain them! We want the juice in there!), tomatoes (again, with their liquid! and if you think it’s too bean-heavy add another can of plain crushed or diced tomatoes), and the veggie broth. Bring it to a nice simmer (almost boiling) over medium heat, stirring so the beans don’t stick, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Stir it frequently, but let it hang out, simmering for 30 minutes.

At the end I like to taste it and add salt and pepper (if it needs it) and a dash or two of hot sauce.

Then it’s time for toppings! It’s incredible with cheddar or parm. If it’s too spicy I’ve added sour cream and cubes of avocado (!!!) and sometimes if I bring some to my family they’ll add ground beef.

This winter Joe and I have been eating a lot of soup because it’s easy to make dairy-free and vegetarian. This has been one of our stand-by meals for months and the leftovers are awesome.

 

This recipe is a modified version of the Black Bean Soup recipe in The American Craft Beer Cook Book by John Holl.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

The other night Joe expressed a craving for Sloppy Joes, but knowing they’d be vegetarian for me, he coined the term “Sloppy Zoes”

Humor!

They were AMAZING and even though there are quite a few spices going on, the ingredient list is actually very simple and it’s overall super fast and easy.  And it’s both vegetarian and dairy-free so it meets both of our dietary needs! So here’s my recipe for Vegetarian Sloppy Joes aka Sloppy Zoes:

INGREDIENTS:

One package fake ground beef (we used “Beefless Ground Beef” from Trader Joe’s, but MorningStar Farms also makes really good Crumbles)

One can Tomato Sauce (also from Trader Joe’s)

1/4 c ketchup

1 1/2 TbspWorcestershire sauce (I’ve heard of vegetarian versions, but I use the regular since I still eat fish – up to you! You can also sub a little vegetarian BBQ sauce mixed with a tiny bit of vinegar)

1/4 c minced onion OR 1 small minced shallot OR 1 Tbsp onion powder (I only had onion powder but it turned out very good)

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp thyme (or more to taste)

1 tsp paprika (optional, but we used it)

2 tsp chili powder (optional, but we used it… probably more than 2 tsp actually)

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large sauté pan or large pot (whatever you have that has decent surface area and a lid), over medium heat combine fake ground beef, onion (or onion powder or shallot), and at the last minute garlic. Get it all nice and hot and fragrant. The fake ground beef is already cooked so you’re just heating it and mixing it with the onion and garlic to add super great flavor.

Add tomato sauce (I only used most of the can, like 4/5 of it, but do to your liking), ketchup, Worcestershire sauce (or BBQ + vinegar mixture), and the brown sugar and then all those spices, stirring frequently. Taste and add more of whatever you see fit to get the flavor of your dreams.

Once it’s all nice and mixed, cover and turn the heat down to let simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir frequently.

After it is done hanging out and getting delicious you can do some last minute seasoning (I added a tiny pinch of salt and some black pepper). Now you have Sloppy Zoes! We lightly toasted wheat hamburger buns and kept it simple. Enjoy!

Vegetarian, non-dairy “creamy” roasted tomato pasta

My first recipe post!

Fun fact: I used to want to be a chef. More specifically, I wanted to be a pastry chef, but I took the full course of cooking courses offered by my high school and even did a one-year program with the local trade school during my senior year to get various certifications and whatnot. It was fun. Decided it wasn’t for me once I got to college and realized I’d like to do something with writing — ended up doing journalism.

Anyway, I’ve always loved to cook and now that Joe and I are dealing with my vegetarianism and his lactose-intolerance we’ve gotten creative with our cooking. Here’s one of our favorite dishes that I make pretty frequently that I used to make with cream.

 

Vegetarian, non-dairy “creamy” roasted tomato pasta (serves two, with a little left over)

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil (extra virgin, you know the kind)

Small or medium Shallot (the BEST thing. You could also use onion)

2 tsp(ish) Garlic

Gemelli pasta (penne works well for this recipe too, use your favorite)

Cherry tomatoes (I buy the 10.5 oz little round Cherub packs, but between 11-16 oz works)

4 Tbsp flour (or 1 to 2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with a little almond milk if you’re gf)

1 cup almond milk (unsweetened, unflavored)

1/3 cup vegetable broth (eyeball it, and you might add more as needed)

Salt, pepper, thyme

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F

Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Arrange tomatoes cut-side up on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast tomatoes until shriveled a little, but not burnt on the bottoms. Usually about 25-35 minutes, sometimes longer — just keep an eye on them while you make the rest of the sauce.

Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta and cook according to package directions (I usually undercook by a minute). Remember to reserve a half cup of the pasta water before draining.

In the mean time, in a large pot (or deep skillet), throw in 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil and place over medium-low heat. Add 2 tsp minced garlic and a small/medium minced shallot. Stir it up as it cooks and gets all nice and fragrant (take a moment to enjoy that blissful scent!). Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and continue stirring frequently for about 4 minutes (make sure it doesn’t burn, keep that heat low).

Stir in 3-4 Tbsp flour (or 1-1 1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch mixed separately with a little almond milk) and slowly whisk it in with the oily shallots and garlic. Once it’s all coated and happy, slowly whisk in 1 cup almond milk. Keep it moving to avoid clumps. Whisk in 1/3 cup of vegetable broth. Add 1/4 tsp of thyme, a pinch or two of salt and some more black pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring regularly, and cook for 4-5 minutes to thicken.

Note: At this point, if you notice that it’s still looking a little thin, you can add a little more thickener. In a small bowl or measuring cup, add a tsp or two of corn starch to a little less than 1/4 cup almond milk and combine, then add to the pot and cook in for another minute or two. However, it will continue to thicken after adding the tomatoes.

Scrape in the roasted tomatoes and their juices, stir it all up and then turn down the heat to simmer for a few more minutes. Stir frequently and let the tomatoes break down as they cook into the sauce until it reaches your desired thickness (use reserved pasta water to thin sauce if needed). Taste and season additionally if needed.

Top your pasta with your sauce. Can also top with vegan parm and/or basil if desired.

 

 

This recipe is a modified combination of this recipe: http://www.instyle.com/news/creamy-gemelli-pasta-cherry-tomatoes-recipe and this recipe: http://minimalistbaker.com/creamy-vegan-garlic-pasta-with-roasted-tomatoes/#_a5y_p=1568083