Tuesday, April 12, 2016

4 Meat-Free Party Recipes to Try Immediately!

As promised yesterday, I spent some time this morning deciding on my favorite Veggie recipes, but truthfully, Pinterest (see my boards) has made that nearly impossible with so m any amazing options out there. I definitely have a few go-to recipes for having friends over, so I thought I would make it a themed post and share my top 7 recipes for a friendly gathering.

My home is meat-free, which can present a challenge when having carnivorous friends stop by for a visit. I hope by now that they all know the options for dinner will be delicious, but I definitely remember a few flops in the past where I knew my friends would be enjoying a McDonalds stop on the way home. A true Veggie-Dinner Fail.

A few helpful tips:
  • Don't try to learn to cook amazing veggie meals quickly. It takes time to transition from cooking chicken to incorporating those same textures into a Veggie kitchen. Until 6 years ago, I lived on meat, so when it came to cooking, that's all I knew. 
  • Not everyone loves Tofu. It took me years to develop a taste for Tofu - why should I expect my friends to love it immediately? I try hard to cook the basics for friends and stick to the dishes they know and love already.
  • Vegan items are everywhere in the grocery store! From pasta sauces to some  Kraft dressings. It may take a little longer on your first trip, but once you find those staples, it's easy to keep a mental note and go back for more!  
  • Don't try to trick your friends and family into eating Meat-Free. It never works and they will just avoid coming by in the future. I don't want to be tricked into eating meat, so I don't think it's fair to trick friends into being Meat-Free. What I do offer is a quick rundown of what the meal will be and when in doubt, make a veggie pizza! 
My favorite go-to friend dish is a homemade salsa. It's easy to make, tastes incredibly fresh and you can pair it with some Heidi-Ho Vegan Cheese dip as a tasty duo. You can serve salsa with chips or veggies - I like to dip carrots in salsa, so I always keep carrots around the house. 
  1. 4 medium sized tomatoes
  2. 1/4 cup diced sweet onion
  3. 1/8 cup chopped cilantro leaves
    Use less if you are not a cilantro fan
  4. 1/2 chopped jalepeno
  5. 1/4 red bell pepper chopped
  6. Juice from 1/2 lime
    Add the other 1/2 later if desired
  7. 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  8. 1 small garlic clove
Add everything except the tomatoes to your food processor, chop for a few moments, then add your tomatoes. Chop tomatoes until you have your desired constancy. I like a creamier salsa, so I leave mine in the food processor for a bit longer than most. Refrigerate for a few hours, then enjoy!

You absolutely cannot go wrong by serving pizza at a dinner party. It may not be the most elegant choice, but who doesn't love pizza? I will take a moment to brag on my pizza dough - it is incredibly easy and OMG so delicious. I sometimes turn my dough into breadsticks because it's so tasty on it's own. 

Dough Recipe
  1. 2 cups organic vegan all purpose flour 
    The vegan pizza I baked this weekend. 
  2. 1 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt (I love the flavor of the pink salt)
  3. 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  4. 1 tablespoon dried basil - chopped
  5. Mix dry ingredients, then add water 1/2 cup at a time until you have a nice firm dough - I usually end up using close to 1 cup water in the end, but it can vary based on your flour type. 
  6. Roll your dough out to your desired size - keep in mind it will shrink around and rise in the middle a small amount.
  7. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, turning around the 12 minute mark. Dough should be slightly crispy and thoroughly cooked when removed from oven.
Add your favorite toppings! I use Daiya vegan Mozzarella shreds and store bought vegan marinara sauce. While my crust is baking, I caramelize some sweet onion with vegan butter. Once my onions are caramelized, I add some bell peppers, pepperuccini and mushrooms to the mix and let them simmer with the onions until the crust is done, then arrange my toppings on top. Bake for another 12 - 15 minutes, with a 1 minute low broil at the end to crisp everything up. Serve and enjoy!

I live in Austin, which may be known as the live music capital of the world, but we are also known for our amazing tacos! Every vegetarian can tell you that tacos quickly become a staple to our diets because of the versatility and how easy tacos are to make. I like to make my own tortillas at home, of course, you can browse for vegan tortilla options - it's a bit hard to find them in the average grocery store though. Plus, when making tortillas is this easy, who needs to buy them?

Tortilla recipe:
3 cups organic vegan all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (again, I use the Himalayan pink salt)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water

Mix ingredients until a nice firm dough appears, pull off golfball sized chucks. On a floured surface use a rolling pin to flatten the dough. You need to get them REALLY flat. 

Heat your pan to high - once pan is hot, toss on a tortilla. These cook fast - time can vary based on thickness, so turn them frequently. It usually takes around 1 minute per tortilla. Once the little brown warm spots appear, your tortillas are done! 

Use some homemade salsa (see above), Avocado - lots of avocado, Caramelized onions and bell peppers, Beans - so many beans, Heidi-Ho creamy chia cheese is perfect for tacos
These buffalo bites were among one of the first veggie recipes that made me feel like I really could give up meat for good. You can also make this recipe with chickpeas. Since I put my buffalo bites on top of a salad, the chickpeas work really well as a substitute. If you want to just enjoy the bites, I would stick with the cauliflower or sub for broccoli simply for the size and crunch. 

Photo credit goodinnermom.com
  1. 1 large head of cauliflower cut into tiny trees
  2. 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  4. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 3/4 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce
  7. 1 large ziploc bag
Mix cauliflower, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil together in the bag until all are thoroughly coated. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and bake at 450 for 15 minutes. 

In a large mixing bowl, add hot sauce and butter, heat for a few seconds in microwave to melt butter. After the cauliflower has baked for 15 minutes, add to the bowl of hot sauce and toss cauliflower until all florets are covered. Arrange in a single later again and bake for an additional 5 - 7 minutes. Serve with your favorite dressing!

An easy ranch dressing: 
1 cup Veganaise or Just Mayo (both Vegan)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 packet dry ranch
1/4 cup unflavored soy milk
Mix all ingredients together, adding more soy milk for a more liquid ranch. Enjoy!

Being meat-free does not just mean salad, salad, salad - although I do really enjoy salads and eat them often. Being meat-free has opened me up to eating things I would have never given a chance before. I love eggplant - I didn't even know what an eggplant was before going meat-free. I love cauliflower, also an alien vegetable throughout my young life. 

Try something new this week and if you give any of my go-to recipes a try, let me know what you think!

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist

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