REVIEW: Vegan Slow Cooking for Two (or Blended-Eater Families!)

Don’t worry, we didn’t kick the girls, Bug (4) and Goose (3) out of the house. We still have four members to our family. But when I got Kathy Hester’s yummy new cookbook in the mail, Vegan Slow Cooking for Two, I made a realization that I probably should’ve made a long time ago. Cooking for two is kind of awesome when you’re cooking for a blended-eater family. I’m mostly vegetarian (experimenting with pescatarianism due to health issues), my husband Mr. Meaty is an omnivore and our girls are undecided.

Bug I’d say is leaning toward pescatarianism with a hot dogs exception. Goose sides with Daddy in our culinary family split and is a pretty big meat-eater except for, you guessed it, hot dogs. So Kathy, who is a great blogging friend, and a master of vegan slow cooking, inspired a new cooking trend in our house. Cooking for two allows the adults to have a big enough portion to eat if they like it and a small enough portion for the kids to eat, or at least try. It usually ends up as the perfect amount for all of us. And, if one of the kids (or even sometimes one of the adults) isn’t a fan of something, we don’t have to worry about a ton of leftovers or wasted food. It’s awesome. So, thank you Kathy.

About Vegan Slow Cooking for Two


Kathy Hester is the author of the incredible vegan slow cooking blog, HealthySlowCooking.com. Her latest cookbook Vegan Slow Cooking for Two is designed to be a guide for cooking for two people, or two portions for one person, all within a 1 1/2 quart/liter slow cooker. Which, as I said, at first blush doesn’t seem perfect for my family. But it’s been really great for our blended-eater family to be able to experiment with new dishes without having to worry about having too many leftovers for family members that don’t care for the dish.

How do the recipes fare?

Overall, I highly recommend the cookbook. It has some delicious and original recipes and a little bit of something for everyone. It’s nice not to have to convert any meat ingredients, too. That’s always a refreshing part of vegan/vegetarian cookbooks.

We’ve made four recipes from Kathy’s cookbook thus far. The biggest hit was the Corn and Basil Risotto. It was amazing. Mr. Meaty and I gobbled it up and the girls ate small tasting portions. Bug, who inexplicably hates corn, unsurprisingly didn’t care for it. Goose thought it was fine. But as I said Mr. Meaty and I loved it so we happily scarfed down what the girls didn’t eat.

Corn and Basil Risotto

We also made Chocolate Pumpkin Brownie Breakfast Quinoa, which the kids strangely didn’t care for even though it tasted like brownie batter. I loved it and it got even better the next day when it thickened up a bit. Mr. Meaty said it was too chocolatey, but we didn’t expect him to like it at all because he doesn’t like pumpkin. We added frozen banana slices to the kids’ servings and they gobbled up those and about half of their quinoa along with them. I got to enjoy all of the leftovers and was really bummed when I ran out. It was a great breakfast and I’ll definitely make it again. I might also try to concoct a Vanilla-Pumpkin version. Yum.

The Potato Cauliflower Curry (Aloo Gobi) was good, but I screwed up a bit on the preparation. I was lazy and whirled the cauliflower through the food processor to chop it instead of chopping it by hand. The result was that the cauliflower was too small and turned a bit mushy. The flavor was great though. I normally love Aloo Gobi made on the stovetop, so I might try the recipe again stovetop style and with properly chopped cauliflower.

We didn’t care for a fourth recipe, Indian Mashed Veggie Sandwiches (Pav Bhaji). But I should’ve known better than to try this recipe as written. I never like cinnamon in savory dishes and this is one of those dishes. So, that was more my issue than the cookbook’s. If you like savory cinnamon dishes, I’m sure it’d be a winner. Mr. Meaty didn’t like it either and we didn’t end up offering any to the kids because we assumed they’d think it was “too spicy” as they believe of most recipes with any herbs/spices at all.

More information about Kathy Hester

I’ve been lucky enough to get a copy of each of Kathy Hester’s yummy cookbooks, including The Vegan Slow Cooker. From that cookbook I made Slow Cooker Smoked Tofu and  Smoked Tofu and Stars Soup and was inspired to make Home Smoked Chipotle Peppers. All amazing recipes that I’ve made again since the first time.

Kathy also released The Great Vegan Bean Book earlier this year. I’ve not had a chance to cook anything from that one yet, but have flipped through and marked several to try. The recipes look fantastic, as always.

Healthy Slow Cooking Kathy Hester’s contact info:

Note: While Kathy Hester’s publisher, Fair Winds Press, provided me with a promotional copy of the cookbook for the review, my opinions are 100% my own. See my full disclosure policy here. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to veggieconverter@gmail.com

CrockPot Vegan Sticky Black Rice, Pulut Hitam

Pulut Hitam

One of our absolute favorite restaurants is a Malaysian and Thai restaurant in nearby Kennesaw, Ga, called Panang. We usually have dessert (which is a rare restaurant treat for us) because one of their desserts is beloved by all four of us (another rare treat with a vegetarian mom, a meat-eating dad and two undecided kids). While we’ve tried a few others, the dessert that captures our hearts is called Pulut Hitam, a Malaysian sticky black rice pudding with coconut milk. Black rice has so many nutritional benefits. It’s even better for you than brown rice. On top of the benefits of brown rice, black rice has the same anthocyanin antioxidants that are found in blueberries and blackberries.

Since we can’t go out to eat every day, I bought a big bag of black rice at a wholesale club a few months ago. But, I’ll admit it, I was a little scared to try to make this dish on my own. I’ve never cooked black rice before and my family loves this dessert so much I didn’t want to besmirch its name by ruining it. But when Mr. Meaty said something like, “What’s the worst that can happen? We’ll compost it and try again.” I decided to take the risk. And since this Pulut Hitam recipe from Joyce of Kitchen Flavours seemed so simple, I gave it a shot. Joyce blogs from Selangor, Malaysia, so I know the recipe is likely relatively authentic. But my favorite part is that it’s cooked in a CrockPot, which always makes it easy to do with kids around the kitchen.

Since I made the rice on a bit of a whim, I didn’t get the pandan leaves (also known as screwpine leaves), and I didn’t miss whatever flavor it is that they impart. But I may try them next time. I imagine I’ll be able to find them at an Asian market. Also, since I don’t have access to fresh coconut milk like Joyce, (she’s so lucky!!) I used canned.  This makes an incredible amount of sticky rice (about 6 cups).

The results were fantastic. The rice wasn’t quite as sweet as Panang’s version, but the kids and Mr. Meaty and I all loved it. Even a visiting neighbor loved this fancy dessert. And in the end it was so incredibly simple to make that I found myself wishing I’d tried it much earlier.

CrockPot Vegan Sticky Black Rice

Ingredients

1 cup pulut hitam (black glutinous rice)
8 cups boiling water (or hot water)
2/3 cup honey (more or less, to taste)
15 ounces coconut milk

Method

Place all ingredients, except coconut milk, in CrockPot. Cook on LOW for 3 hours. Serve with a few tablespoons of coconut milk on top of each serving.

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Black Sticky Rice "Pulut Hitam" | @VeggieConverter vegan kidfriendly paleo

Pulut Hitam Black Sticky Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pulut hitam (black glutinous rice)
  • 8 cups boiling water (or hot water)
  • 2/3 cup honey (more or less, to taste)
  • 15 ounces coconut milk

Method

Place all ingredients, except coconut milk, in CrockPot. Cook on LOW for 3 hours. Serve with a few tablespoons of coconut milk on top of each serving.

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Kid-Friendly Kid-Cooked CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce

KidsMarinara_stir

My girls love helping in the kitchen. Unfortunately, not every recipe is conducive to their particular brand of “help.” Sometimes the help is more of a hindrance, sure, but it’s always an adventure. But my thrift store find, the Fix-It and Forget-It Kids’ Cookbook, makes the adventures simple and slightly less messy.  I adapted the Super Spaghetti Sauce recipe (the original had meat, which we could’ve replaced with Lentil and Rice Ground Beef Substitute, but we prefer our “meat” optional in our sauce so we left it out) to a simple CrockPot marinara sauce.

While we have a favorite Slow Cooker marinara sauce, our kids aren’t as fond of it as we are. It’s a little too adventurous for them. This version is less spicy and they gobble it up even without pasta underneath it. Yes, that’s weird. But hey, I’ve never claimed they’re normal. :)

And of course, the most awesome aspect of this recipe is that I open up the cans for them, chop the onion and then I just hand them the ingredients. They put them all in the CrockPot and stir it up. Wander back into the kitchen hours later and wallah! Spaghetti Sauce!

Kid-Friendly Kid-Cooked CrockPot Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup diced onion
2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
6 ounce can tomato paste
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 bay leaf

Instructions

Mom or Dad: Dice the onion.
Kids: Pour all of the ingredients into the CrockPot.
Drop the bay leaf on top.

Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

 

PS: Those are temporary tattoos on the girls’ arms. They’re not that wild and crazy…yet.

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup with Pasta Stars

Tomato Soup with Stars

With another of my thrift store cookbook finds, The Fix-It and Forget-It Kids’ Cookbook, I found a pretty simple Alphabet Soup recipe. I had some pasta stars leftover from another dish, so I decided to go with that instead for this simple slow cooker tomato soup. I also swapped in minced onion for onion soup mix and TVP for stew meat. This simple tomato vegetable soup is great fun for the kids to help make and enjoy the stars (or letters). We’ve had a lot of colds lately, so this comforting and fun soup has been great for the kids. And they so love to help make it!

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup with Pasta Stars

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup TVP (or ground beef substitute)

14.5 ounces diced tomatoes

8 ounces tomato sauce

1 cup water

2 cups frozen vegetable blend

1/2 cup uncooked star or alphabet pasta

Instructions

In a 4 quart slow cooker, add all ingredients except pasta. Cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Add pasta and cook on HIGH for 15 minutes. Serve.

Vegan Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes, Purple Edition

I’m still on my personal pantry challenge and I have potatoes aplenty. So today I’m sharing Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes with half purple potatoes and half white. You can do your slow cooker mashed potatoes in any color or variety you like. The purple potatoes have extra nutritional benefits, which can boost your mood and reduce inflammation.

I found this simple Slow Cooker Mashed Potato recipe on Pinterest, and I love it. I’ve made slow cooker mashed potatoes before, but always the kind that you have to do all the work first, and then keep them warm for parties/celebrations in the CrockPot. This recipe cooks the potatoes right in the crock. And, by the way, they’re really delicious and crispy before you mash them up. Pre-mash would make a great easy home fries recipe if you added a bit of seasoning.

I veganized the recipe as well, opting for coconut oil and coconut milk in lieu of butter and milk.

Mashed Potatoes

Purple Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

5 pounds potatoes (I used purple and white), diced with peel
1 cup water
1 cup coconut oil
1 Tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/3 cups coconut milk, warmed

Instructions

Place the potatoes, water and coconut oil in crockpot.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Mash with coconut milk and serve.

 

Also, check out my articles at Organic Authority this week:

 

This post is shared at·Mouthwatering Mondays, My Meatless Mondays, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Cravings, Just Another Meatless MondayHomemaker MondayMingle Monday, Mangia Monday, Made By You Mondays and Monday Mania.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Cheesecake

PumpkinCheesecake

I’ve been making slow cooker cheesecake (usually plain, sometimes key lime flavor) since coming across Stephanie O’Dea’s fabulously easy recipe for CrockPot Cheesecake a few years ago. But, she didn’t have such great luck with her pumpkin version. So, it struck me recently that I could drizzle in some of my pumpkin spice syrup and make Pumpkin-flavored CrockPot Cheesecake without throwing of the perfect cheesecake formula. Awesome. I <3 pumpkin and cheesecake so I’m super excited to try this simple recipe that lets me have both at once!

In addition to pumpkinizing, I removed the usual graham cracker crust from this one because I oh so rarely have graham crackers anymore. I thought about making my own, but opted for a layer of crushed walnuts instead. And, yum! Delicious and simple.


The Results

Yummy! Perfect taste and texture in the first one. One of them (yes, I made two, shush) turned out a little gloopy because I didn’t hear the timer and it switched over to warm before it was all the way cooked, but was still delicious.

This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy, Hearth and Soul Hop.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Chowder: Secret Recipe Club #vegan #veganMoFo #wholefood

**Please stop by my Lekue giveaway this week for a chance to win some fancy kitchen stuff like citrus spritzers and push pop molds**

For this month’s The Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was given the delightful assignment of one of my absolute favorite blogs, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage. I’m a longtime follower of Miz Helen’s and I’ve already made several of her delicious creations, so it was exciting to be able to explore her site more and veganize one of her delicious recipes.

She has an incredible blog full of absolutely delicious sounding and looking recipes crafted from the heart. If you have visited and explored Miz Helen’s site, I highly recommend you do so. My VeganMoFo theme this year is Vegan Lunch Box recipes, so I was really drawn to her delicious-sounding Creamy Corn Empanadas, which, thanks to her vegan granddaughters, are already vegan and would be perfect for a lunch box. I was all set up to make these tasty treats when I realized that two of the four Vegan MoFo Chopped challenge ingredients were in another of her tasty recipes on Miz Helen’s meal plan this week. Her Butternut Chowder already has butternut squash AND fresh rosemary. So, I’d already made the tasty Tangy Butternut Squash Nuggets. But then I realized I could enter Chopped more than once, so I decided to go for it. I adapted Miz Helen’s original recipe to veganize it by swapping out cream for coconut milk and swapping out sausage for quinoa. I also mixed up a “Parmesan” topping with popcorn breadcrumbs and vegan cheese powder. And, of course, I mixed in apricot preserves. (Popcorn and apricot preserves are the other two basket ingredients.) Yum! I hope Miz Helen can enjoy this veganized version of her recipe with her granddaughters.

The ResultsDeeelicious. A definite repeat. The kids loved it, too.

Butternut Squash Chowder in Bug’s thermos for school lunch

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This post is shared at·Mouthwatering Mondays, My Meatless Mondays, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Cravings, Just Another Meatless MondayHomemaker MondayMeatless MondaysMingle Monday, Mangia Monday, Made By You Mondays and Monday Mania.

 

Easy Roasted Garlic {Vegan, Whole Food, Slow Cooker}

I adore roasted garlic. But for whatever reason one of my last hold-outs on fresh produce was garlic. Those big buckets of pre-minced garlic from wholesale clubs were just so convenient for me! But, after reading about how much of garlic’s flavor is lost after it’s cut (and continues to be lost after sitting in its own oils after being cut), I decided to kick the habit. I was a little scared of having to smoosh or mince all my garlic before dropping it into my recipes, but I decided it would be worth it.

So, when the giant bucket breathed its last breath (on a batch of Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce if you’re curious), I kicked pre-minced garlic to the curb. And I did it with style, first adding a 1/2 pound of garlic to my CSA box order and then picking up a big multi-pound sleeve of garlic at the market. What can I say? When I commit, I really commit. And I have to admit it’s been a ton easier than I expected. I’d forgotten how simple it is to smash a clove of garlic under a cleaver and then either just toss it in or roughly chop it. So I was pretty happy with my decision already.

And then came this cool cookbook I picked up at a used book store near my mom’s house…

And my life will never be the same. I may just live on roasted garlic and Honey Whole Wheat Bread toast this week. I’m pretty sure I can survive. And if not, I’ll probably be pretty happy regardless. So incredible and incredibly easy.

Roasted garlic was one of the first appetizers I made for my now husband, the meat-eater, when we were dating. I also made him my mom’s lasagna for dinner, with real meat and everything! Oh, the wooing days. He was impressed with the garlic then and he likes it just as well now that I can actually conveniently make it again.

Easy Roasted Garlic
Adapted from The Everything Slow Cooker Cookbook.
Ingredients

  • 2-3 whole bulbs garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions
Cut the tops off of your bulbs of garlic to expose the cloves (I could only fit 2 bulbs in my Little Dipper, but they were those gigantic organic white garlic bulbs from my CSA box…I’m pretty sure 3 standard-sized bulbs would fit fine). Squirt a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a Little Dipper CrockPot (or a 1 quart slow cooker). Place bulbs of garlic, top up, in the Little Dipper.

Squirt the remaining olive oil over the bulbs. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours (on LOW if your crock has settings, the Little Dipper does not).

When complete, garlic with be golden brown and delicious. Just like roasting in the oven, but simpler and more energy efficient. Bonus! Just pop out the cloves and smoosh them directly onto your bread. No need for butter!

I also poured remaining oil remaining in the crock onto some pasta noodles for a delicious garlic oil noodle treat.

The Results
I absolutely LOVE this recipe. I used to roast garlic in the oven regularly and have gotten out of the habit because it’s a bit more difficult to run the oven with crazy toddlers. Roasting garlic in the little dipper (or any small slow cooker really) is incredibly convenient. This is a definite, frequent repeat.

This post is shared with Real Food Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, What’s Cooking Wednesday, Works for me Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked and Bake with Bizzy.

CrockPot Salsa Chickpeas {Vegan, Slow Cooker}: This Week’s Cravings {5-INGREDIENT MEALS}

Today’s This Week’s Cravings theme is 5-INGREDIENT MEALS. This chickpea dish makes a great change-of-pace from fish for Lent Fridays. I’m sharing one of our family’s new favorite burrito, quesadilla and taco fillings, which can also be eaten as a side dish. The kids and I love these chickpeas. (The husband isn’t a big fan of chickpeas, but he actually thinks these are “OK.”)

CrockPot Salsa Chickpeas
Ingredients
Directions

Place all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, until chickpeas reach desired tenderness. Serve as a side dish or on a Homemade Tortilla with desired toppings as tacos, burritos or

The Results
Fantastic! And so simple. I set this up when I went to bed and had chickpea filling ready in the morning to dole out for quesadillas at lunchtime. The kids and I LOVED it.

My This Week’s Cravings co-hostesses are: Tina at Moms Crazy Cooking, Angie at Big Bear’s Wife and Nicole at The Daily Dish. As hostesses, we will try our hardest to visit as many of the links we can. We all enjoy your links and look forward to gathering recipes each week.The party has a few SIMPLE RULES and all of the themes for the entire year are list here on the THIS WEEK’S CRAVINGS tab at Moms Crazy Cooking. Plan ahead, check out the weeks you want to make sure to link up or just browse them to see what’s going on.

This Week’s Cravings Upcoming Linky “THEMES”

Here is a complete list of the past and what’s coming up next on THIS WEEK’S CRAVINGS!

  • March 12: St. Patrick’s Day – GO GREEN
  • March 19: CHOCOLATE – CHOCOLATE & MORE CHOCOLATE
  • March 26: Freezer Meals (fix them and freeze for later)
  • April 2: Easter Cookies & Treats

If you are a regular link-up we’re excited to see what you made this week. If you are new please read and follow the simple rules, so that everyone can enjoy the linky party! If you forget to follow the theme, your post will be deleted. Please don’t feel hurt, just come back and link up a recipe that follows the theme. Thanks a million, we look forward to blogging with you!

The LINKY PARTY is open ALL Week!
 
PLEASE do not link more then 3 recipes per week.
 
This week’s theme is: 5-INGREDIENT MEALS
 
Please only link recipes with our theme!
 
This week’s theme is: 5-INGREDIENT MEALS
 
Please only link recipes with our theme!

Home Smoked Chipotle Peppers {Vegan, Slow Cooker}

I love chipotle flavor and chipotle peppers, but I recently discovered that my chipotle seasoning cubes are not in line with our family’s Get Real challenge. And yes, I suppose I could buy already-smoked whole chipotle peppers at the store, but I happened to have jalapenos in the house so I decided to try to find a way to smoke them myself. That’s when I remembered Kathy Hester’s Slow Cooker Smoked Tofu. I set out to smoke my peppers in a similar way, in my slow cooker. I changed the spice line-up in the smoking materials to reflect the flavor I wanted for the chipotles.

After actually trying it out, I wouldn’t do this inside the house again (the smell is actually pleasant, but stings your eyes a bit). In the future, I’ll wait for a nice day and set the slow cooker out on my porch or at least open the windows before I start the smoking process. But my peppers were totally smoked! It was awesome. You’ll need a 4 quart or larger CrockPot, a vegetable strainer or colander that will fit in your crock without sitting down on the bottom and at least two sheets of foil.

Home Smoked Chipotle Peppers
Ingredients

  • 2-4 jalapenos, sliced
  • Smoking Ingredients
    • 4 tablespoons raw white rice
    • 4 tablespoons sucanat (or brown sugar)
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 tablespoon chili pepper
    • 2 tablespoons black pepper

Directions
Protect your crock insert (from the burning sugar) with at least two sheets of foil and create a vessel for your smoking ingredients. Insert and stir all of your smoking ingredients. Place sliced jalapenos in a single layer inside vegetable strainer or colander.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours, then cook on LOW for 6-10 hours, flipping jalapenos halfway through.


The Results
These chipotle peppers turned out fantastically. Like I said, the smell in the house was really strong, so I’ll be a little more wary of that next time I do this. But the method is awesome. The little smoked chipotle rings are perfect. I can’t wait to use them in a recipe.

PS: In case you’re curious, here are the ingredients from my Chipotle Seasoning Cubes–Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Chile Powder, Silicon Dioxide (Prevents Caking), Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Spice, Yellow 6 Lake, Disodium Guanylate, Sulfur Dioxide (Used to Protect Quality).

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