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Monday, December 30, 2013

Lentil and Wild Rice Stuffed Portobellos

Because I'm on vacation!

Yeah yeah yeah, so it's been a couple of weeks since my last post.  There's just been so much going on!  I sadly said good-bye to the bread store job *sniff* while simultaneously welcoming [albeit begrudgingly] my new job.  The two positions overlapped for the week before Christmas, resulting in a 50+ hour work week for me.  But, now I'm back to a somewhat normal schedule, Christmas is over, and I'm getting pretty excited to ring in the new year tomorrow!

So I have some catching up to do.  This post is about what I served for Christmas dinner for my sister and myself.  I will also write a follow-up post soon-ish with the spread I made for my now-former bread store co-workers at our belated Christmas party this past Saturday.  On top of that, I'm planning to serve a pretty slam-bang New Year's Day brunch for two, and I want to blog about that as well!  Hey- I have the next two days off!  It could happen.

I wanted to keep my Christmas dinner entree simple.  I had to work late on Christmas Eve, then drove straight from there an hour and a half  to stay with my sister.  When I had asked her earlier in the week what she wanted for our holiday dinner, her response was- and I quote- "I have no clue.  I would like gravy though."  So that got me thinking, what kind of an entree could I come up with to smother with gravy?  Portobellos seemed like the obvious choice.  They have such a "meaty" texture and so much room for filling with delicious stuffing!  This recipe was a little time consuming, but that's sort of to be expected with holiday dishes.  We served this with potatoes (also smothered in gravy), peas, rolls from the bread store, and a kale dish my sister made.  All in all, this was a fantastic holiday meal, shared with my favorite people: My beautiful family.   :)

                                       Merry Christmas from the McDonald Clan!!!

Now, on to the food!

3/4 cup wild rice
2 cups water
3/4 cup lentils
2 cups vegetable broth
Small onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp oregano
6 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned, stems and inner gills removed
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a couple of baking dishes with cooking spray.  (Size of dish required will vary according to the size of your 'shrooms.)
In a medium sized sauce pan, bring wild rice and water to a boil.  Turn heat down to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.  When the 20 min are up, add the lentils and veg broth.  Increase heat to bring to a boil again, then decrease heat once again, cover, and simmer for another 20 min.
Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, and cook for 2 min.  Add carrots and celery and cook for another   10 minutes, or until veggies are soft.  Stir in poultry seasoning, thyme, sage, and oregano.  Remove from heat and add to the pan with the rice and lentils.  Stir to combine well, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange mushrooms in baking dishes and divide filling among them.  (I had stuffing left over, but my sis and I enjoyed snacking on it while waiting for all of the food to cook!)  Bake for 20 min, or until mushrooms and filling are heated through.
Serve hot- with gravy*.  Lots and lots of gravy.

*I used the gravy from this tasty little number.  And it was just fabulous.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Italian Arborio Rice and White Bean Soup

Because it's cold.  And I'm broke.  And I love soup.

I'm at that point again that I'm trying to scrape by on the food I have in the house and not buy groceries until absolutely, positively necessary.  Actually, this is one of the best ways to get creative with cooking!

I knew it was time for soup again.  Let's face it, it's always time for soup.  I wanted something creamy, but didn't want to have to buy any additional ingredients.  That's where the arborio rice comes in.  Luckily, I had some left over from the risotto that I made for Thanksgiving.  The rice cooks down into a dreamy, creamy consistency that is just lovely.  The veggies, beans, and spices were things I had on-hand already.  Feel free to change up the veggies as you wish.

This soup is a simple, delicious, one-pot meal that comes together in less than 30 minutes.  Aw, yeah.  That's what I'm talkin' about!

1   Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
6 cups vegetable broth (To reduce sodium, you can replace 2 cups of broth with 2 cups of water)
3/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz bag frozen veggies (I used broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots)
2 cups packed baby spinach

 In a large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for about a minute.  Add the rice and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to cover the rice with the oil.  Add in the vegetable broth and the basil, thyme, and oregano, and stir to combine.  Increase the heat to bring to a boil.  Decrease heat to medium and cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, until rice is soft.
When rice is cooked through, add the beans and veggies, and cook for 7-10 minutes or until heated through.  Stir in spinach and cook until wilted.  Serve hot.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Diner-Style Hot Tempeh Sandwiches

Because it's a great challenge to veganize the seemingly un-veganizable!!

I've had this idea for a while now.  The inspiration comes from an entree I used to love when I worked at a family restaurant in my early 20's.  I'm sure other restaurants have similar menu items, but there was just something about the combination of shredded turkey in gravy, on bread, with a scoop of mashed potatoes, and then everything smothered with more gravy.  Now that's epic diner food right there.

Well clearly I had to do away with the turkey, because no.  But tempeh made an excellent substitute.  (I've written about tempeh before here.)  I could have marinated the tempeh longer, but I was in a hurry.  If you are one of those people who has the ability to plan ahead, you could soak it for about an hour.  I don't, so twenty minutes was good enough for me.  I'm not going to post a recipe for the mashed potatoes, bucause I'm going to go ahead and assume that y'all can figure that out on your own.  And a quick note about the gravy: I vividly remember the gravy on the hot turkey sandwiches way back when being this crazy shade of electric yellow, so I added a few dashes of turmeric for my own amusement.  This is totally optional, though.

Also, this is a seriously carb-heavy dish.  I would recommend adding some veggies to serve along with this.  And perhaps running a marathon the next day to work off those carbs.  Or, you know, you could skip the top piece of bread and serve these sammies open-faced.  Your choice.

For the tempeh:
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
Pepper, to taste
2 8 oz packages tempeh, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced
2 tsp (4 cloves) chopped garlic
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp oregano

For the gravy:
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Turmeric (optional)

You're also gonna want: good quality white bread (or bread of choice) and some mashed potatoes.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together veg broth, garlic powder, liquid smoke, poultry seasoning, and pepper.  Add the chopped tempeh to the bowl and stir to make sure all the pieces are covered with broth.  Let sit for 20 minutes to an hour.
In a large saute pan, heat onion and garlic on medium high until soft, about 5 min.  Using a slotted spoon, remove tempeh from broth (but don't dump the broth!) and add to the pan.  Cook for about 10 min, stirring frequently.  If tempeh starts to stick, add broth 1 Tbsp at a time.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and milk.  After the 10 min is up, add the broth mixture to the pan, and stir in the cornstarch mixture and oregano.  Turn heat up to high until gravy starts to bubble.  Decrease heat to medium low and simmer while you make the other gravy.  Don't forget to stir it once in a while.
In a small saucepan, heat the 1 1/2 cups of the broth, poultry seasoning, and pepper on medium heat.  In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup broth and flour.  Slowly stir this mixture into the saucepan. Add a few dashes of turmeric, if desired. Stir frequently while gravy thickens.  It should be done in 5-8 minutes.
To assemble: Place one slice of bread on a plate.  Top with a heaping scoop of tempeh mixture.  Top that with another slice of bread (optional).  Throw a scoop of potatoes on the plate, and top everything with the gravy from the saucepan.  Devour and enjoy!