Comfort food done 'vegan-style'

Annie and Dan Shannon, authors of 'Betty Goes Vegan,' say their recipes are inspired by "The Betty Crocker Cookbook." Their pesto "chicken" sandwich, sweet potato risotto and salted caramel apple whoopie pies bring a vegan flair to traditional American cuisine.

Pesto Chicken and Vegetable Sandwich
Servings:

Makes four servings

Ingredients

    • 2 cups vegan chicken, defrosted
    • 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
    • 2 zucchinis, sliced to about the same thickness as your vegan chicken
    • 1/3 cup sliced white mushrooms
    • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted
    • 2 tablespoons raw pine nuts
    • 2/3 cup basil pesto
    • 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • Crushed pink Himalayan salt and crushed black peppercorns (to taste)
    • 4 hoagie rolls

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.Toss all the ingredients except the hoagie rolls in a large mixing bowl until the vegetables and vegan chicken are completely covered with the pesto mixture.Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and put each portion on a separate 18 x 12-inch sheet of foil.Fold the foil over the mixture and seal the edges tightly; then place the foil packets in the oven so that the seals are facing up.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, checking for doneness 10 minutes in. Not all the vegan chicken products cook at the same rate, due to thickness and consistency. You’ll know it’s done when the vegan chicken has golden brown edges and the zucchini is tender. Once your packets are ready, fill the hoagie rolls to make your sandwich. Each packet will make one sandwich.You should really invest in some peperoncini, pickles, or olives to go with your sandwiches. Or, if you’re an overachiever, all three.

Sweet potato risotto
Servings:

Makes six to eight servings

Ingredients

    • 1 large sweet potato
    • Olive oil cooking spray
    • 2 tablespoons white wine
    • 1/2 cup diced red onion
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 cup arborio or risotto rice
    • 3 cups vegan chicken broth
    • 1/2 teaspoon liquid aminos
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
    • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
    • Dash of liquid smoke
    • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
    • Crushed pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black peppercorns
    • 2 tablespoons shredded vegan mozzarella cheese or your favorite vegan cheese

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake your sweet potato for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Spray your Dutch oven with olive oil cooking spray and add the white wine. Heat the wine to a boil over medium heat. Toss in your onion and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in the rice. Mash 1 cup of the sweet potato into a paste and add it to the Dutch oven. Mix with a wooden spoon until blended. Stir in ½ cup of the broth. Continue to stir your rice and broth until it begins to bubble then stir in another ½ cup of the broth. Repeat this process until you have added all the broth. Continue to stir until your rice is tender. It should take 20 to 30 minutes. Mix in the Bragg’s, rosemary, nutmeg, onion powder, and parsley. Add liquid smoke, hot sauce, salt and pepper until you like the flavor, and then serve hot with a pinch of vegan cheese over the top.

Salted caramel apple whoopie pies
Servings:

Makes one dozen pies

Ingredients

  • Spiced Apple Cookies

    • Baking spray
    • 1/4 cup margarine, softened
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 1/4 cups applesauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Salted Caramel Frosting

    • 1/2 cup margarine, softened
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed pink Himalayan salt
    • 1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
    • 1 cup powdered sugar (you may want to add more if you want a thicker frosting)
    • 1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray your whoopie pie pan with a light coating of baking spray. In a large bowl, blend the margarine, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and shortening with a handheld electric mixer until smooth. In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger until blended. Add the margarine mixture to the flour mixture and blend with an electric mixer until smooth. Watch out for any clumps of margarine. Add the baking soda and blend on medium speed for a little more than 1 minute. Fill your frosting gun or pastry bag with your apple dough and fill the cups in your whoopie pie pan three quarters of the way. Make sure your cups are evenly filled. If you are using a cookie sheet, still use the frosting gun or pastry bag because it will give you nice smooth edges. Make even “coins” or cookies evenly spaced on your sheet. Don’t go too big, like monster-cookie size, because the cookies get bigger when you bake them. It’s really important to try to keep all your cookies the same size and to have an even number. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Make sure you pull them out while they are still soft. Let them cool on a wire rack with the bottom side down so you don’t mess up the pretty side. While your cookies are baking, make your Salted Caramel Frosting. In a 2-quart saucepan, melt your margarine over medium heat. Stir in your brown sugar and salt. Heat the mixture to a very light boil, stirring constantly. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, stir in your soy milk. Let it boil for about 1 minute while stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let your caramel sauce cool until it’s lukewarm, which should take about ½ hour. After your caramel sauce has cooled to room temperature, gradually whisk in your powdered sugar. It’s important to mix in a little at a time and repeat, until it’s all in there in a smooth mixture. If the frosting is too stiff, you can add in a little extra soy milk a few drops at a time. Add more powdered sugar if you want it thicker. Crush your peanuts with a potato masher and spread them out on your cutting board. Once your cookies reach room temperature, put your frosting in your frosting gun or pastry bag. Cover one cookie’s underside with frosting and then put another cookie on top. Gently press the cookies to make the frosting peek out. Then roll the cookies in the crushed peanuts to cover the frosting. You can brush off the salt and peanut dust if you like your treats more polished … but I liked the ones with it on the most.

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