Vegan Mushroom Gravy

Thanksgiving is right around the corner!  Let’s all get ready to loosen our belts a buckle, eat one or three too many pieces of pie, and fall asleep watching football.  Oh, that’s not what you do every year..? Weird.  This year though, I’m determined to really step up the Thanksgiving game.  And I don’t mean with an extra stick of butter here, extra pound of sugar there.  I want gravy. Being a vegetarian for almost 12 years means I have been missing out on smothering delicious mashed potatoes with hot, creamy gravy for waaaaay too long.  I know it’s a little last minutes and you all already have your Thanksgiving menus set in stone (HA.) but I tested this Vegan Mushroom Gravy recipe 3 times because I wanted it to be perfect.  And ya know what? It is.

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The first time I made this, I wasn’t in love with the texture or consistency.  But I can tell you what I was in love with… The taste!  And so was my sweetheart.  It’s a rare day when the bf wolfs food down my meatless concoctions and asks for more- it was one of those days.  We have both been happily smothering every meal with this stuff since.  (Sneaky man even topped a steak he made with the stuff!)

The proper way to eat gravy. Smothering a crispy smashed potato.

The proper way to eat gravy. Smothering a crispy smashed potato.

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This recipe makes about 2 cups of gravy so if you’re cooking for a crowd I’d recommend doubling or even tripling the recipe so everyone can get a share.  Trust me, they’ll be fighting over it!

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Vegans and vegetarians rejoice! Gravy doesn't have to just be the stuff of turkey fat drippings anymore! This vegan mushroom gravy is every bit (if not more!) satisfying than the original and makes a great addition to any holiday table.

Ingredients

  • 1 8oz. package mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 Tbs corn starch/ arrowroot starch (or sub 1/3 cup all-purpose or GF flour)
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Whisk cornstarch (or flour) and 2 cups of vegetable stock in a large bowl until fully incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-low heat and add onions. Sauté gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and slightly browned. Add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes.
  3. Raise heat to medium and add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add wine and bring mixture to a boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes until liquid reduces.
  5. Add stock/flour and nutritional yeast and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully transfer contents of pot to a blender and blend until completely smooth- may have to be done in batches. (You can use an immersion blender but it won't be as smooth.)
  7. Add gravy back to pot and simmer until thickened to desired consistency. If you prefer a thinner gravy, add extra stock 1/4 cup at a time and stir until thin enough for your liking.
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/vegan-mushroom-gravy/

Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Someone explain to me how it’s only November and we’ve already dropped into subzero windchill temperatures…. Ohhh Ohio how you love to keep us on our toes.  Or our toes freezing off.  Whatever. Regardless of these winter-like temperatures I’m determined that it’s still fall.  In fact, we still have our little clay Jack-o-Lantern sitting outside in the flower bed.  Although you’d never know it since the poor little guy is covered in snow… Poor guy.  With these frigid temperatures, I’ve been keeping warm by making some comforting fall foods and this Crockpot Pumpkin Butter is no exception.

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Before and after…. WOW! That is some caramelized goodness.

The term pumpkin “butter” or apple “butter” has always confused me.  Is it butter?  Is it fruit?  Do I care?  Really, it’s just a delicious spread that tastes good on everything.  The scary part about buying pumpkin butter from the store is that a lot of times sugar is the first ingredient, yikes!  Or heaven forbid you pick up one containing the evil Mr. High Fructose Corn Syrup. Dun dun dun.  Scary, right?  SO.  I did some research and found a recipe that I can make in the crock pot.  Holllaaaa easy homemade pumpkin butter!  You can find the original recipe over at Tasty Yummies and Beth even has some adorable printable labels if you want to gift your pumpkin butter.  Too cute!

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Just a note on gifting this pumpkin butter… This is not a recipe that can be canned or preserved in the traditional sense where it can sit on the shelf for months.  Commercial factories can generate enough heat and pressure to pull this off but your average home cook simply cannot.  This means that when you gift it, make sure there’s an expiration date on the jar or you let them know to eat it quickly.  The fridge life of the pumpkin butter is about 3 weeks from date of creation, but don’t worry- there’s no way it’ll last that long!

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I put this spread on so many things… Really I was just looking for an excuse to eat it without the embarrassment of spooning it directly into my face hole. Toast, homemade pumpkin waffles (recipe later? hmm), crackers, sammies, in a smoothie, and even in/ on oatmeal! Try this.  You will NOT be disappointed.

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Crockpot Pumpkin Butter

Cook Time: 7 hours

Total Time: 7 hours

This pumpkin butter is the perfect fall treat or gift! And the best part is no refined sugar means you can spread it on all your favorite snacks without all the guilt!

Ingredients

  • 2 15oz. cans organic pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup local honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup no-sugar-added apple cider
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a 6-quart crock pot and set to low.
  2. Cook for 5 hours, scraping sides and stirring every 30 minutes.
  3. Continue to cook for 2-3 more hours, scraping sides every 15-20 minutes or more until very thick. Watch very carefully for the last few hours as the sides burn easily. The spread will continue to thicken as it cools. Enjoy!
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/crockpot-pumpkin-butter/

 

P.S.  Thought you guys might want to see what goes down after a food photo shoot… Snack time! :)

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Eggplant Lasagna

Oh well hello there! I have once again gone far too long without posting… *sigh* school is really a time-suck!  And with being out of town one weekend, having guests another, and still wanting to have weekend farmers-market excursions with my love, life’s been busy! Excuses aside, I’ve been wanting to share a certain recipe for quite a while but have been hesitant because the pictures are just so. dang. ugly.  Eggplant is such a gorgeous ingredient when it is fresh.  All round and shiny and the deepest of purples…. But then you cook it.  And it turns into a downright heinous, slimy brown color and completely loses its ability to hold its shape.  Man, that sounded harsh.  I guess I just wanted to warn you that although these pictures aren’t the prettiest and the eggplant looks rather foul, this recipe is deeeeelicious.  Vegetarian AND low carb Italian meal?  Eggplant Lasagna totally pulls it off.

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I had to throw in this picture for dramatic effect. Yuck. But YUM!

This recipe requires a bit of leg work before you get to the final result, but doing some weekend prep makes this a completely reasonable weeknight meal.  I like to slice and roast the eggplant and stack it into a large tupperware to be assembled later.  I also make the sauce ahead just buy pre-made, organic sauce to save time.  To really make the weeknight easy I even add the spinach and seasonings to the ricotta and stuff it right back into the container!

Ok, that's a little prettier right?

Ok, that’s a little prettier right?

Recently, I have been working on eliminating dairy from my diet as I suspect it is part of the reason for my acne and have been contemplating trying a vegan diet for a while.  Unfortunately, I have not made a vegan version of this recipe yet.  If you are a vegan and still want to try this recipe, I’d recommend subbing the ricotta for Angela’s tofu ricotta from this recipe and omitting the cheese on top or using vegan “mozzarella” shreds.

For all of you cheese-loving non-vegans and vegans alike, get ready for a serious delicious, healthy, practically-straight-from-Italy-tasting eggplant lasagna!

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Eggplant Lasagna

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

This lasagna recipe is so delicious you won't miss the carb-loaded pasta sheets! Eggplant is an amazing stand-in in this classes Italian dish!

Ingredients

    For the filling:
  • 2 cups (one container) low-fat ricotta, or this vegan substitute
  • 3-4 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced and peeled
  • 2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the assembly:
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara- homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella, or vegan substitute

Instructions

  1. Prepare the eggplant by slicing it lengthwise into 1/4-1/8 inch strips.
  2. While slicing, lay slices into a colander sprinkling with kosher salt between each layer. Once all of the slices are in the colander, top with an appropriate sized bowl and fill with water to weigh it down. After 30 minutes, rinse and dry the eggplant well. (This step helps remove the bitterness of eggplant, it can be skipped but I don't recommend it!)
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  4. Lay the eggplant sliced onto a sprayed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and spray with a bit more cooking spray.
  5. Bake the eggplant for 8 minutes, flip, and bake 8 minutes more. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by dunking the spinach in boiling water for 30 seconds until just wilted, drain in colander and squeeze out liquid.
  7. Add spinach and all of the filling ingredients in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  8. To assemble, place 1/2 cup of marinara into the bottom of a 9x9 pan and tilt to distribute evenly. Lay slices of eggplant to cover and add 1/2 cup of ricotta filling. Continue this process until all of the ingredients are used, ending with a layer of eggplant covered with sauce. Sprinkle cheese over top.
  9. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 20 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, slice carefully, and enjoy!
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/eggplant-lasagna/