My First Vegan Family Dinner
As you guys know if you’ve been here awhile, my Huntsville Family gathers for Sunday dinner every week, rotating between houses. Both of Donnie’s siblings live here as do his parents so we usually host once every 3-4 weeks depending on schedules. Last night it was our turn to host because I wanted to be in charge of cooking the meal where we celebrated my birthday! And I wanted to do the entire thing vegan.
Now. I’ve been doing this for over 45 days now, but only for me. And while I’ve found several staples I love, none of it was really easy to do to accommodate 12 people unless we did Mexican food. And I didn’t want to do that because my brother-in-law cooks the best Mexican food in all the land and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Last week I decided to do a trial run of two main things: Vegan Sloppy Joes and Vegan Cake. Then, last night I did my final versions of those recipes and then cooked roasted corn and sweet potato fries as well. I bought them buns and ate my food on English Muffins, if I was cooking for vegans I obviously would have fed everyone English muffins. I also gave them vanilla ice cream as an option instead of just sorbet. But for the most part? It was an entirely vegan meal.
I started with this recipe for the vegan sloppy joes but modified it quite a bit on that first trial run because I’m really trying to keep things simple so that I’ll actually keep them in my arsenal of recipes. It was a little tomato-y for my taste, I felt like all I tasted was the tomato paste. So, for the 12-people version I did even more modifications and it went GREAT. Now, this is NOT A RECIPE BLOG. I do not measure everything with precisions nor do I make note of every addition throughout the process nor do I photograph or anything. Most measurements are in teaspoons because I kept adding until I was satisfied, you could convert it easily to TB measurements too. This is basically just me documenting a successful attempt.
Zoot’s Vegan Sloppy Joes
SERVES 12 VERY HUNGY PEOPLE. AND THEN YOU’LL STILL HAVE LEFTOVERS.
- 5 cans of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- 3 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 3 teaspoons onion powder
- 4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha Sauce>
- 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- 5 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
- Salt/Pepper to taste
Basically I dumped it all in a large skillet and cooked on Med-High for awhile, constantly smashing it to crunch up the chickpeas. I probably did that for 30 minutes. Then I lowered it to medium and came back every 5 minutes or so to smoosh. Once it got broken up enough to almost start to look like sloppy joes, I left it on low/simmer and just stirred/smooshed once in awhile, letting it soften and cook and soak up the flavor for about 3 hours. That wasn’t intentional, that’s just how my day worked. You probably could simmer it for an hour an be fine. I did have to add a little bit of water eventually because it was getting too thick, but depending on how long you cook that may not be necessary.
Vegan Strawberry Cake
I had learned a long time ago that some cake mixes and icings are “accidentally vegan” (Good info here and here. Now, if I was cooking for vegans I would double-check ingredients still passed the test because things can change.) so I did my trial runs using this as guidance but nothing really looked/tasted like birthday cake. I was going for something fruity and it all turned out more like cobbler. Delicious cobble, but cobble none-the-less. Then I found this recipe and I used a strawberry cake mix and strawberry icing from the “vegan” lists and it was PERFECT. We did not tell anyone the “secret” ingredient was chickpea until after they were eating it and they didn’t believe us. It was ALMOST solid enough to have cooked in the circle pans and stacked like a “real” cake but not quite. But it tasted like birthday cake and looked like birthday cake and it went fantabulous with the raspberry and peach sorbet’s I bought.
This was the pan before we went to bed last night. There wasn’t much left when the family left, so Donnie, Wes and I sat around and finished it off. Donnie even swore he thought it was better than “real” birthday cake.
All in all? It was a hit.
Like I said – I don’t know if that would work for a dinner of Vegans because I didn’t triple check the ingredients on everything, I just trusted older articles. And I’ve learned there are “hidden” animal products in things that are processed. In my day-to-day life I mainly avoid processed stuff that hasn’t been “certified vegan” for that reason, but cooking for 11 omnivores I just did the best I could. If anything I’ve referenced is actually not vegan, don’t stress. Let me know but don’t panic thinking I’m cooking this same meal for militant vegans. I’ve actually decided to avoid militant vegans in my life because, so far, they’ve been the worst part of this experience. But, if you know something I did, used isn’t vegan, let me know (politely, please) for my own personal reference.
In the end it worked for me and it gave my family a good feel for how I’ve been eating for 45 days. Win/Win!