Great Northern Bean Casserole with Sliced Potato Topping

Last night I really felt like a flavoursome, creamy beany casserole with potatoes. I knew exactly what I wanted but couldn’t find a similar recipe to get some ideas. I also needed to use the opened unsweetened soy milk that was on its last legs and some great northern beans I had cooked up that afternoon. So this is what I came up with. I probably shouldn’t of started cooking at 7pm but it was worth the wait. Marco loved this dish so much. He was even happy to eat it again for his next two home-made work lunches.

What’s your favourite vegan bean casserole?

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Great Northern Bean Casserole with Sliced Potato Topping (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients for Casserole:

1 cup great northern beans, soak for 8 hours or overnight or 2.5-3 cups cooked beans

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

sea salt

2 cups vegan chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

3 tablespoons arrowroot flour

Ingredients for Potato Topping:

4 medium potatoes, peeled

sea salt

olive oil

black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

Method:

1. First place the soaked beans in 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer and cook for 40-60 minutes or until tender. While the beans are cooking skim the foam of the top of the water. Once the beans are cooked drain the water and leave to the side to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

3. Place the potatoes in a medium pot with water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring the water to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards drain the potatoes and leave to cool down.

4. Take a large oven safe skillet and heat the olive oil on medium heat. Then add onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

5. Add the carrots and celery. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

6. Add the white wine, tomatoes, hungarian paprika, mixed herbs and half teaspoon of sea salt. Stir through and allow the wine to absorb into the vegetables. This should take about 5 minutes.

7. Add vegan chicken stock, soy milk and great northern beans. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 20 minutes. While its cooking add the arrowroot flour and stir frequently while it thickens up.

8. In the meantime slice the potatoes into rounds and leave to the side.

9. Take the skillet off the heat and top with the sliced potatoes. Start from the outside and then work your way in.

10. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper and thyme leaves.

11. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then if place the oven on grill and brown the tops of the potatoes for 5 minutes before serving.

*Serves 6 as a main

*I recommend serving this casserole with steamed vegetables or a fresh salad

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Delicious leftovers for a hungry pregnant woman…

DSC03155Like this recipe? Then you might also like my…

Cottage pie with  Borlotti beans and Porcini mushrooms

Cottage pie with Borlotti beans and Porcini mushrooms

Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

 

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Happy Blogiversary!

Today is Live Blissful’s 1 year Anniversary! I can’t believe my vegan journey has made it this far. A year ago I really didn’t know if I this was something that I could actually do. Although I’m not completely perfect, I have managed for the most part to completely change my diet as well as my reluctant fiance’s.  Now that I have made it a year I know that this is something that I can live by long term. I really want to thank all my fellow bloggers and readers for your encouragement that has kept me going.

Over the past year making the change to vegan has not been completely smooth. Although I have achieved more then I thought I would. I have discover new ingredients and different ways to cook without needing animal products. I have made a conscious effort to buy animal free products. I have also found and sampled many vegan/vegan friendly cafes and restaurants around Brisbane and other Australian cities.

The biggest challenges I  have faced over the past year seem a lot less insignificant now, then when I first began this journey. Unkind comments and awkwardness from family and friends were probably the hardest thing to swallow. But I learned to stop apologizing, because choosing to live a healthy life is not something to be ashamed of. The second biggest challenge was the feeling of despair every time I could not find something to eat in a restaurant. Now I try to make more informed choices when choosing a restaurant. When I have been invited out I try to organize something special with the chef and usually leave feeling happy and satisfied. As for cravings, these have been probably the easiest thing to over come. My tastes have really changed and I don’t really crave the same textures and flavors that I use to.

Another anniversary that I almost forgot about was Marco and my 6 year Anniversary. It actually fell on the 19th, but we both forgot. Now  we are engaged I’m not sure which anniversary we are meant to celebrate. Maybe we will just celebrate all of them. We had a pretty quite weekend. Poor Marco has had work at 4 am. So I wanted to make him some home cooked meals that I know he would like. I was going to also make a cake, but after he found a mysteries  jumbo muffin in my fridge (not sure where that came from), I thought we could both do without.

This breakfast was inspired  by the loads of apples in my fridge crisper. I only usually use green apples for juicing. But my mum keeps buying all these red apples that no one eats. This was surprisingly filling and very creamy. In fact I’m about to have it again for morning tea now.

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Raw Apple Breakfast Pudding (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon agave (or other natural sweetener)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 apples

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons flax seeds

2 teaspoons chia seeds

fresh fruit to garnish

Method:

1. In a high speed blender add the cashews. Once they are starting to break down, then add the water, agave and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if its not really smooth.

2. Roughly grate the apples with the skin on.

3. Add some lemon juice to the grated apples so they don’t go brown and taste fragrant.

4. Combine the apple with the cashew cream. Stir through some flax seeds and chia seeds

5. Serve raw apple pudding with fresh fruit to garnish

*Serves 2

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This stew was inspired by all the leftovers veggies that needed to be used. I cooked up so many organic split kidney beans a few days back and then nobody was there to eat them with me.

I have never done a dumpling topping before. I was just flicking through a Jamie Oliver cook book and saw different stew toppings. I added Cheezly White Cheddar Style, which gave it a really nice savoury flavor. This is something else that I needed to use up. One bad thing about vegan cheeses is that they don’t last many days after opening.

I really loved the dumpling topping. This is definitely something I will make again for my next stew. It tastes so lovely and savory and just as nice as having fresh bread with an oven hot stew.

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Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Dumplings Topping (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 large brown onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 bunch shallots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 baby or 1 red capsicum, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 can good quality tomato pulp

2 zucchini (diced)

2 cups cooked kidney beans

2 cups vegan chicken liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Dumplings:

200 g self raising flour

100 g grated Cheezly White Cheddar Style/vegan cheddar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

6-7 tablespoons ice cold water

5 tablespoons Nutellex Lite/vegan butter)

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Method:

1. Heat a large oven proof pot with olive oil. Then add onion and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes and as it starts to brown, add celery and shallots and cook for a further 5 minutes.???????????????????????????????

2. Add carrots, capsicum and white wine. Continue to cook until the wine is absorbed.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the paprika, liquid smoke, lemon thyme, bay leaves and parsley.

4. Saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato pulp. Continue to cook until the carrots start to soften

5. Add the zucchini, kidney beans, liquid stock, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 30 minutes. ???????????????????????????????

6. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180 degrees. ???????????????????????????????

7. Before placing the stew in the oven, prepare the dumplings. In a large mixing bowl add flour, cheddar and parsley. Then add the nutlex and mix it through with your hands. Then add cold water one tablespoon at a time, until it forms a dough.

8. Roll the dough into about 12 balls.

9. Top the stew with the dumplings on the outer edge.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, then serve.

*Serves 6

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Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage Casserole

After pretty average meals all week I wanted to do something a bit more creative last night. I had so many beautiful tomatoes that I bought from the asian market the other night. I had orange grape tomatoes, kumato tomatoes and roma tomatoes. While I was busy at work (like I am now) I came across this Jamie Oliver recipe ???????????????????????????????for Sweet Cherry Tomato & Sausage Bake. I am not a big fan of store brought vegan tomatoes and at short notice its hard to get hold of them. So I thought I would try make them out of tempeh. I found this recipe by Vegan Chef, Italian Tempeh Sausages. So this recipe is adapted from both of these recipes to make something hearthy and delicious for a cold winters night. I paired it with some sauteed baby spinach, pureed potatoes and fresh Ciabatta bread.

I got good reviews from Marco and both of us thought the tempeh was a pretty close to the meat flavor of regular sausages. The tomatoes were also really sweet and delicious baked. My pureed potatoes were meant to be mashed, but I thought I would try out the vitamix. It came out pretty pastey, but it was still ok with the rich taste of the oil and tomatoes. I enjoyed the cooking juices to with the fresh bread as well. Marco thought I looked like an old Italian woman eating over the baking tray, but that’s the best part!

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Sweet Mixed Tomato and Tempeh Sausage Casserole (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients Italian Tempeh Sausages- 

300g  tempeh

3-4 tablespoons Italian seasoning

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup tamari or light soy sauce (use gluten free soy sauce if you prefer)

1/4 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil

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Ingredients for Italian seasoning (makes double):

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or onion powder

1 tablespoon ground fennel, or grind fennel seeds by hand

1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Remaining Ingredients: 

1 kg (or more) mixed cherry tomatoes and larger tomatoes, halved

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

extra virgin olive oil

1.5 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)

sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. To make the Tempeh Sausages, cut the tempeh into cubes and steam for 15 mins. Then allow it to cool or if your impatient rinse with cold water. Then break up into crumbs and place into a mixing bowl.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

3. Add the Italian Seasoning to taste, then add 1/2 cup flour, tamari, olive oil and then 1/4 flour again. You shouldn’t need any salt, the soy sauce is quite salty.

4. Place all the tomatoes in a baking dish. Add fresh thyme and rosemary, bay leaves, oregano and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss together.

5. Take about 1/4 of a cup worth of the sausage mixture and form into a sausage shape or patties with your hands, then lightly place onto of the tomatoes. You should be able to make about 10 sausages/patties. Don’t worry if they are difference sizes and shapes.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 mins. Then turn the sausages and bake for a further 15-20 mins. The sausages should be golden brown color. Serve with some sauteed spinach, mash potatoes and/crusty bread.

*Serves 6

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Eggplant Parmigiana

It’s been so long since I have had Eggplant Parmigiana. I’ve been dairy free for nearly 4 years, so it was before that that I last had it at my Nona’s house. It has always been one of my favorite dishes. So I’m not sure why it has taken me this long to make it. I did make Eggplant Rolls stuffed with Quinoa and ‘Mince’ a while ago, which believe me doesn’t look as good as it tasted.

Eggplant Parmigiana or Melanzana alla parmigiana or Parmigiana di melanzane,  is a stew made of eggplant, that can be eaten freshly baked out of the oven or cold. It is a southern slide-450Italian dish, that is similarly prepared throughout the south.

The name and the origin of this dish is often debated. Some believed that its name is from the city of Parma or Parmigano cheese. However, this dish is not found in Parma cuisine. Rather the word parmigiana actually refers to the method in which the vegetable is sliced and arranged in alternating layers. Some believe it is from the Sicilian word parmiciana, which means overlapping wood strips on the shutters. Others believe it refers to the way that Parmigiani (people from Parma) cook their vegetables in layers. alimenti_e_ricette_da_duchi_1

It is also often argued that this dish is from Naples, which was the capital city of a large kingdom that included Sicily and Southern Italy, some centuries ago. This recipe is for Parmigiana was first documented in the treatise Il Cuoco Galante by Vincenzo Corrado. It was a dish served to the most prestigious families in Naples during the 18th and 19th century. However, it was not eggplant that was used but rather zucchini, pumpkins, parsnips and tomatoes. It wasn’t until 1837 that Eggplant Parmigiana was first documented by Ippolito Cavalcanti, the Duke of Buonvicino, in his most important work, Kitchen theoretical practice.

This dish is made by first shallow frying sliced eggplant, then layering with cheese (mozzarella/Parmesan/both) and tomato sauce and then baking it. Some recipes use flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs before frying the eggplant.258454-chicken-parmigiana

There are many variations of this dish using breaded meats (veal/chicken), which have also become popular outside of Italy by Italians migrates. The Chicken Parma or Parmy  is a very popular pub dish in Australia and is served with a side of chips and salad. It is often topped with sliced ham or fried eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese. In Argentina, it is called Milanesa (beef/veal) or de Pollo (chicken) or de Berenjena (eggplant) or de Cerdo (pork) and is topped with a slice of ham, melted cheese, tomato sauce and a slice of tomato and served with chips or salad. In America and Canada, both the Veal Parmigiana and Chicken Parmigiana are often used as fillings in Sub Sandwiches or served with with pasta. In England they even have their Parmo, which is made of either pork or chicken.

The recipe I made is how I remember my mother and Nona cooking it. The eggplant is dusted in flour, dipped into soy milk instead of eggs and then dipped in corn crumbs instead of bread crumbs. I then layered it with vegan mozzarella and fresh oregano from my garden. It did take me a long time to prepare it all, since there was a lot of eggplant. But it paid off. It was absolutely delicious. Even though its dairy free and gluten free version, it tastes just like I remember it. This is definitely a dish for those who want to indulge and is also great to share with friends. Me and Marco are the only ones that got to share this dish tonight. He really, really liked it. I fear we might be a few kilos heavier in a few days, once we have finished devouring it.

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Eggplant Parmigiana (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant, thinly sliced into circles or half-moons

1/2 cup arrowroot flour or gluten plain free flour

3/4 cup whole soy milk

1 cup corn crumbs or other gluten free bread crumbs

olive oil or canola oil to fry

1.5 jars x 500g tomato pasta sauce

2 cups vegan mozzarella (I used Notzarella)

1/3 cup oregano leaves

salt & pepper to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices and wait 10 mins to get the bitterness out. Then wipe off the salt and moister that comes out. ???????????????????????????????

3. Coat the slices of eggplant in flour and shake of any extra flour. Then dip into soy milk, shake of the excess. Then dip into corn crumbs. Continue until all the eggplant is coated.???????????????????????????????

4. Heat a large pan (I prefer to use a wok) and heat oil. Then shallow fry eggplants pieces, until golden brown. Leave them on paper towel to draw out any excess oil.

5. Take an oven prove dish, then place some pasta sauce on the bottom. Then add a layer of eggplant, sprinkle sea salt & black pepper, then a layer of Notzarella and some oregano leaves. Continue to do another 3-4 layers, until all the ingredients have been use.

6. Cook in the oven covered with aluminum foil for 20 mins.

7. Uncover and cook for a further 10mins or until the vegan mozzarella has browned a little. I had to cook mine for a further 10 mins as the Notzarella took time to melt.

*Serves 8-10

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Parmigiana di melanzane <http://ricette.giallozafferano.it/Parmigiana-di-melanzane.html>

Libro di cucina/Ricette/Parmigiana di melanzane <http://it.wikibooks.org/wiki/Libro_di_cucina/Ricette/Parmigiana_di_melanzane>

Parmigiana di melanzane <http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmigiana_di_melanzane>

Peanut Butter & Raspberry Jam Overnight Oats, Cannellini Cutlets and Creamy Baked Zucchini

Today I started the day off well with some overnights oats. I was thinking of flavor combinations the night before. I often see recipes with PB & J, so I thought I’d see how they worked with oats. It was sooo delicious and very decadent. I found it was extremely thick this morning, so I added a bit more milk to break it up a bit and topped it with fresh blueberries. After that I was so full I couldn’t imagine ever eating again.  Marco hates it when I do this because then I get hungry all of a sudden and then I have to eat straight away. Sure enough by 3ish I got a bit peckish and bought some sushi and Soy Caramel Cappuccino (which I probably didn’t need).

So again I was so full I was convinced I would never eat again. But after much persuading by Marco I ended up preparing some dinner. By the time it was done it smelt quite good that I had to have some too.  I made Roasted Chat Potatoes, Sweet Potato, Carrots & Garlic; Creamy Baked Zucchini, Peas and at the last minute I prepared Cannellini Cutlets.

I got the recipe for the cutlets from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutes. It is meant to be like fish fillets. I used cannellini beans and corn crumbs, rather then white beans and panko crumbs. I didn’t find that it was flaky like fish, which was probably because I didn’t use the panko crumbs. The texture was similar to an mochi, but less sticky. It was still quite good, but it need a bit of sauce. Luckily I had plenty of sauce from the Creamy Baked Zucchini to go with it. It was really easy to prepare and a great gluten free and soy free meat substitute.

For the Creamy Baked Zucchini, I made a vegan cheesy sauce to go between the layers and on top. I also put some rice crumbs on top, so that it would go crunchy. Only thing is that I put far too much and it didn’t really need it. Nevertheless, everyone commented how delicious it was, even Marco who usually hates zucchini. The rest was my standard crispy roasted vegetables and peas heated in vegetable stock and vegan butter. Now I have that feeling in my tummy that I can’t eat ever again, but I am sure it will pass by tomorrow.

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Peanut Butter & Raspberry Jam Overnight Oats (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

???????????????????????????????Ingredients:

1/2 cup instant or rolled organic oats

1/2 cup plant milk, plus extra (coconut, rice or oat;  almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

2 tablespoons raspberry jam

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir it all through.

2. Place in the fridge overnight to enjoy the next day. Stir and add some extra milk if it is too thick. Top with some fresh berries.

*Serves 1

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Cannellini Cutlets (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tin of cannellini beans

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/4 teaspon ground black pepper

1/4 cup grapeseed oil  (plus more for frying)

1 cup corn crumbs (or other gluten free crumbs)???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients except the corn crumbs in a bowl. Mash the beans with your fingers so they are not whole.

2. Add the corn crumbs and mix well. Leave for 20 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Divide into 4 portions then shape the portions into cutlets.

4. Heat oil in a pan and cook on both sides for for 3-5 minutes.

*Serves 4

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Creamy Baked Zucchini (gf, nf)

Ingredients:

3 zucchini, cut in half then sliced in thin strips

1 tablespoon vegan butter (more to grease)

1.25 cup soy milk

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

6 tablepsoons nutritional yeast

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees and grease a small baking dish or loaf pan.

2. Take a small mix bowling and combine soy milk and arrowroot flour. Whisk the flour in the milk.

3. Melt the vegan butter in a small pot. Then add the soy milk and whisk.

4. Add dijon mustard and garlic powder and whisk on medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until it has thickened.

5. Add the nutritional yeast and whisk till it is combined then take off the heat.

6. Take baking tray and layer strips of zucchini then add a bit of the sauce and continue till all the zucchini has been used and the sauce has been layered on the top. Bake for 20 mins or until zucchini is soft.

*Serves 4-5

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Adzuki Chili Casserole with Cornbread Topping

Last nights dinner was my attempt at an American classic, chili and corn bread. In Australia, we don’t usually cook American dishes like this. We have a lot of influence from Asia, Europe and even the Middle East, but not a lot of American cuisine. I often cook  ‘mexican’ chili con carne. In recent years I have been making my own spice mix. I am not sure if I make it the right way, but it my best attempt at emulating the Mexican spice mix that you can buy in the packet. This is also my first attempt of making cornbread. I have tried corn bread a couple of times in the past in ribs restaurants They usually serve this as a entree, with lots of butter. I have always really liked the sweet and savory taste of it.

To put this dish together I used the left over rice and Eggplant & Capsicum Pasta Sauce from the day before. I also soaked some adzuki beans over night and cooked them up, so they were ready to add to any dishes. I used the rice to make a crispy base for the casserole. I was considering making a pie, but I didn’t really feel like making dough. I was also worried that if I used puff pastry, then it the sauce would go through it. I saw some recipes using rice with eggs to make pie or quiche bases, so I tried to do that. It turned out to be a really solid base and held the chili well. 

???????????????????????????????For the chili I made my usually spice mix and added the cook adzuki beans and the pasta sauce. The spices really helped give the sauce a more southern taste. It was really easy to prepare and quick.

Lastly, for the top of the casserole I decided to do cornbread, because I had seen it somewhere, but then I couldn’t remember where. So after doing a lot of research and trying to find a vegan version, I came across this recipe for Black Bean Chili Pot Pie with Cornbread Topping from Chipped Bowl. I decided to also add cinnamon to the batter, as I saw this in another recipe by Nigella Lawson. I had to make a double the portion for the size of my casserole, which I adapted below. This was my favorite part of the casserole. It was so sweet and fluffy. I could of just eaten this on its own.

My family were really blown away by this dish, as it was like nothing else they had tried before. I definitely want to make this a regular meal. I’m sure it would be great to serve for guests or family dinners. Let me know what your think of my attempt and how you make this American classic?

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Adzuki Chilli Casserole with Cornbread Topping  (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients for Rice Base:

2 cups of cooked rice

1/2 cup polenta or corn meal

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Chili:

2 cups of cooked adzuki beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes or onion powder

1 tablespoon ground sweet paprika

1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

3 cups tomato pasta sauce (I used leftover Eggplant & Capsicum Pasta Sauce)

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

Ingredients for Cornbread Topping:

1 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

1 cup polenta or corn meal

3 tablespoons raw sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.5 cup water

4 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. First make the spice mix for the chili. Combine the cumin, garlic powder, onion flakes, sweet paprika, cayenne and oregano in a small bowl.???????????????????????????????

3. Heat 2 tablepsoons of olive oil in a large pot. Then add the all the spices. Cook for 3 mins on medium heat.

4. Add the cooked adzuki beans to the pot and coat in the spices.  Cook for another 3 mins.

5. Add the sauce, water and worcestershire sauce. Adjust seasoning and cook for 15-20 mins.???????????????????????????????

6. In the meantime, prepare the rice base. Place cooked rice and polenta in a large bowl. Combine the water with the nutritional yeast, then add to the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir it through.

7. Take large casserole dish and grease with some oil, then place the rice mixture and press down so it is equally distributed as a base. Bake for 10 mins, then remove from the oven.???????????????????????????????

8. In the meantime, prepare the cornbread topping. Take another large mixing bowl combine the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir well.???????????????????????????????

9. Then make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the water and vegetable oil and stir till combined.

10. Take the Casserole dish and place the adzuki chili on top of the rice base.

11. Then add the cornbread topping on top of the chili. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins or until you can place a toothpick inside the topping and it comes out clean.

*Serves 8

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Baked ‘Cheesy’ Fusilli Bolognese

Tonight I reused leftover and made the best vegan pasta bake yet. Marco couldn’t believe how much it tasted like the real thing, even though it was the vegan version. This is as adventurous as I have been the last few days. I have been really busy in my last week of uni trying to get everything done. Still have an exam and thesis due this week, so not sure if I will be cooking anything exciting this week. If any of you are interested I just did a research project on Circus animal accidents in Australia on wordpress. Noone else has done a study on this previously so I’m very proud of it.

In between doing my work I have been pretty good with my diet. I eat at home most days, so not a lot of temptations out there. Except for my boyfriend eating his coconut chocolate and nutella in front of me every night. I was out with friends the other night and found out that EasyWay Bubble Tea do Soy Milk Tea’s. I love the green tea versions but I missed milk tea, so it was a nice vegan surprise.  I had a soy strawberry milk tea with rainbow jelly, which was really satisfying after watching my friends eat a mango and shaved milk ice with ice cream at a Taiwanese dessert bar.

Anyway tonight I just reused left over Bolognese that I made with TVP and eggplant  and it actually tasted a lot better the second night. I think for pasta bake its always works better when its already been cooked the day before, plus it makes sense not to cook it twice in one night. For the cheese I just made a basic vegan cheese sauce, which made it really creamy and cheesy. I just find a lot of the time that store bought vegan cheeses don’t melt, so I wanted something sticky and more cheese tasting. We also made some Tuscan cabbage chips, like you would kale chips. I figured its part of the kale family so why not. It was really good, pretty much tasted the same, but more crunch as it was more leafy. I will have to see if this can be done with silverbeat spinach as well.

Baked ‘Cheesy’ Fusilli Bolognese (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g whole wheat fusilli (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 small capscium, sliced

1 small eggplant, sliced

6 mushrooms diced

380g passata sauce

1 tablespoon fresh basil

salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for Cheese Sauce:

1 tablespoon vegan butter

3/4 cup plant milk (I used rice milk, use oat, almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried onion flakes

6 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Methods:

1. Boil water and cook pasta according to instructions. Once finished strain with cold water and leave to the side.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan/pot and saute onion, garlic for 2 mins.

3. Add to pan capsicum and eggplant and saute for 4-5min or till all vegetables are browned (if eggplant is too dry add more oil).

4. Add passata sauce and basil and bring to the boil, then put on a simmer. Adjust seasoning and let it cook for 30-40mins. The longer the better, but make sure you add water if it gets dry.

5. Before serving heat the pasta through the sauce. This should serve 5-6.

If making Pasta bake…

Before cooking baking

6. Preheat the open to 180 degrees celcius and put pasta in a casserole dish.

7. Take a small pot and melt vegan butter on a low heat.

8. Take a bowl, add plant milk and tapioca and whisk so there are no clumps.

9. Add the milk to the small pot and keep on a low heat.

10. Add dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion flakes, nutritional yeast, salt and stir on a low heat for 5mins.

After baking

11. Once the sauce has thickened take it off the heat and pour over the pasta.

12. Cook the pasta bake for 30-40mins or until it is crispy on top. This should serve 5-6 or less if its left overs.

Barley Casserole and Quick & Easy Hummus

Tonight I decided to make a Barley Casserole from Alicia Silverstone’s ‘The Kind Diet. This is the first vegan recipe book I bought and it is really inspirational. At first I was confused with some of the ingredients that she mentioned in the book. However, since I’ve been trying out different recipes I have grown more accustom to them. Things like miso paste , brown rice syrup, garlic powder and sea vegetables, usually didn’t enter my kitchen. Since I’ve been trying new stuff I realise how versatile these ingredients are. Many vegan recipes use these kinds of ingredients, so I don’t find that they stay at the back of my cupboard for long. I really recommend this book, not just for vegetarians, but for anyone looking to broaden their horizons to cook healthier meals.

Anyway, this is only the second time I’ve cooked with barley. I think the last time was over a year ago and it wasn’t very successful. I think I must of undercooked it, because I remember it being a bit hard. However, I saw it again at the supermarket, on sale in the organic section and I thought I would give it another try. I’m so happy I did, its a really great grain, with lots of flavour and I found it very easy to digest. According to WHFoods barley is “very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese…In addition to providing bulk and decreasing the transit time of fecal matter, thus decreasing the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids, barley’s dietary fiber also provides food for the “friendly” bacteria in the large intestine.” So I think barley will become a regular grain in my kitchen.

This recipe was very easy to make and my family loved it. Only thing is that I miss read how to make the tahini dressing. I didn’t blend it or add water. I kind of mixed it and just put blobs of it on. I was wondering why it was so thick and could not be poured on. Nevertheless it still turned out fine. Also I used pearl barley instead of hulled. I could not find hulled, so I guess the pearl took less time to cook. Hulled is more nutritious  so I will be on a mission to find it. Although I only cooked 2 cups of barley, this is enough for a family for at least 2 nights. I accompanied it with some steamed sweet corn cobs, sautéed english spinach and some home-made hummus. The hummus actually went really good with the casserole.  After that meal I feel really great. Don’t feel that heavy sluggish feeling I usually do after dinner. Looking forward tomorrow for hummus on toast for breakfast and barley as a easy side dish for dinner.

Barley Casserole, Sautéed English Spinach, Steamed Corn Cob and Hummus

Barley Casserole (from The Kind Diet) (nf)

Ingredients: 2 cups pearl barley, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 large sliced onion, 3 cloves  of sliced garlic , 2 grated carrots , 2 stalks of diced celery, 5 tbsp shoyu/soy sauce, 1/4 tsp sea salt/herbamare, 1/4 tsp dried basil, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Tahini Dressing: 1/2 cup tahini, 1/4 small sliced onion, 1 tbsp shoyu/soy sauce, pinch of garlic powder, pinch of paprika, 1/8 tsp dried basil, pinch of oregano

1. Take a large saucepan and boil 3 cups of water, then add 2 cups of barley. Cook for about 30mins or till barley is soft. (You may need to add more water during cooking it). Strain excess water once cooked.

2. Pre heat over to 180 degrees. Heat olive oil and large fry pan, then add onion and garlic. Cook for 5 mins. Add bit of water if onion browns to much

3. Stir through carrot, celery, shoyu, salt, basil, oregano, and garlic powder and cook for 5 mins.

4. Add barley and stir through for further 3 mins on medium heat.

5. Prepare tahini dressing. Take small fry pan and cook onion with 2 tbsp of water. Cook for 4 mins till soft.

6. Take blender, add onion, 1/2 cup of water and rest of the ingredients. Blend till creamy.

7. Take large casserole dish and add 1/2 of the barley and then layer with 1/2 of tahini dressing. Add rest of barley then top with the rest of tahini dressing.

8. Cook for 35 mins in the oven, then serve.

Barley Casserole before I cooked it in the oven

Barley Casserole, cooked and ready to serve

Quick & Easy Hummus (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients: Can of Organic Chickpeas,  1 large clove garlic (finely sliced), 1 tbsp tahini, 3 tbsp cold press extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1 small lemon, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1tsp herbamare sea salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Either use a blender or just a hand held mixer. Blend chickpeas, garlic, olive oil and tahini

2. Then add lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin, sea salt and cayenne pepper. (Either blend or stir through)

*I usually go by taste, so add more of the spices, lemon or salt depending on your taste.