While this post is about my awesome, simple vegan potato skins perfect for the big game, can we just talk for a minute about the big game that happened here this weekend in Minnesota?
If you didn’t catch it, the New Orleans Saints had the game all but locked up when they lost in the last play. The Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum threw a pass and Stefon Diggs caught it while avoiding the defender, running for a 61-yard touchdown. The play instantly became known as the Minnesota Miracle. The celebrations in my house, on TV and social media and in person the day’s to follow have been unreal.
Could Minnesota be the first team to make it to the Super Bowl as the host? We won’t know until Sunday night following the NFC Championship game. Either way, I’ll be there for the food, and my vegan potato skins will be making an appearance.
This recipe came together in a lucky accident: Aaron and I were looking to use food we already had on hand to make snacks for the game. He suggested potato skins with cheese. I found green onions that we can’t remember what we bought them for, and suggested taking a little tempeh to make bacon crumbles.
With a little planning and not much hands-on time, the potato skins turned out great. It doesn’t take much in time or ingredients to make enough wedges to serve two, so we will be making these again with the leftover ingredients.
I used vegan cheese to make them vegan, but you can use whatever cheese you like, Vegan bacon made out of the tempeh add a little savoriness and texture.
Crumble the tempeh into a bowl. Add the liquid smoke and enough soy sauce or liquid aminos to cover. Let it stand at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours before using.
Turn on the oven to 350 degrees. Put the potatoes in the oven and bake until soft, around 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut in half and scoop out filling, leaving about 1/4 an inch of potato in from the skin. Drizzle olive oil on the skin side, place skin side up back in the oven and broil for five minutes. Flip it over, put oil on the flesh side and broil for five minutes.
Put a small handful of cheese into each potato skin. Sprinkle the green onions in the skins. Put the potatoes back in the oven and broil for five minutes or until cheese is melted.
As the potatoes are baking, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet (I used cast iron to create a nice crunch) over medium heat. When warm, add the tempeh and any liquid, and sautee until crispy. Sprinkle on the skins. Cool and serve.
Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, native to South Asia and is a popular food in tropical regions around the world. Often sold in the U.S. in cans at Asian markeets, it is becoming a popular substitution for meats. My pulled pork (with gluten-free chipotle sauce) came from the first vegan butcher in the U.S., Minneapolis’ own Herbivorous Butcher. If you haven’t been and you are in the area, GO! If you aren’t in the area, COME VISIT! If neither of those is possible, you could substitute with real pork (if you eat pork), this jackfruit recipe, this seitan reipce, this stewed carrots recipe or this eggplant recipe.
OK, so now we know what jackfruit is and have a pulled whatever planned. This recipe works because there aren’t many ingredients, it’s quick to assemble (perfect for a weeknight), has fresh flavor and feels more difficult/fancy than it is.
Seriously, the flavor is popping, thanks to unexpected surprises like giving avocado a saute in coconut oil to enhance the buttery flavor and a crisp texture, and a tangy vinaigrette to balance the smoothness of the pork and avocado. This recipe really involves heating things through and blending the vinaigrette, and then stacking for a flavor explosion.
Pulled Pork Stuffed Avocados
This meal is quick to pull together on a busy night and features bursts of flavor.
I love to snack. A lot. Like, too often. I enjoy savory snacks, crunchy, spicy and creamy snacks. Hummus with crackers or carrots is my go-to, but all kinds work. A tapas-style dinner is always my favorite kind. Speaking of, dinner-inspired dips always win. Speaking of, my favorites right now are pizza dip and buffalo-cauliflower dip.
Inspired by these, I came up with this eggplant Parmesan dip. I love eggplant, but it’s often difficult to make at home, often coming out with mixed responses. But this dip is consistent with depth of texture and flavor, creamy and comforting, giving people with strong willpower no reason to stop!
I really love cranberries, especially fresh, but I don’t seem to eat them except around the end of the year. Since I see them in the store at a great price, I grab them without knowing how I will use them or what I’ll make. Enter a food I’m trying to eat more of: Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts can be bitter and cranberries are tart, so there is a balsamic and maple syrup glaze to bring a nice balance to all the flavors without one overpowering any of the others. The beauty is this only takes about 30 minutes start to finish, or even less if you are like me and bought a bag of shaved Brussels sprouts.
This is a healthy, flavorful side dish that brings together the flavors and colors of the season.
Spread the Brussels sprouts evenly on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly crispy, stirring halfway through.
Place cranberries in a baking dish. In a small bowl mix maple syrup and vinegar together and pour over cranberries. Put it in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stirring and cook for 5-10 more minutes, until sauce thickens and cranberries open.
Mix together Brussels sprouts and cranberries and top with nuts or seeds, if using.
As the weather gets colder, I gravitate toward warmer, heartier dishes. However, my love for salads doesn’t subside just because the temperatures drop, so a heartier and warmer dish is in order. Like many who live in cold and snowy (although not yet, I’ll take it!) climates, I am looking for more substantial food in the winter. Combining kale with the Minnesota favorite wild rice creates a filling and chewy salad that holds up as either a side or a lighter main dish. And the deep red pomegranate seeds provide a pop of flavor that is worth the minimal effort of getting the seeds from the fruit. (Learn how to deseed a pomegranate.)
I love making this salad because the vinaigrette only gets better over time, so make it on a Sunday and have it as an easy side dish or quick lunch early in the week. The recipe only calls for half the vinaigrette for the kale, but it’s a warming topping full of flavor that if you are like me, you’ll be adding more to the salad so the rice can soak it up.
It’s important to massage the kale with the vinaigrette so the kale wilts a little.
By leaving out the optional parmesan or feta cheese, this gluten-free recipe is also vegan, or is vegetarian with the addition of a salty cheese. And because the salad tastes good cold or room temperature, it makes a festive holiday dish that everyone can enjoy. Because you are cooking the rice while getting the rest of the salad ready, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.
Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad
A hearty and filling wither salad that is great as a side dish or main meal.