Category Archives: The Vegan Slow Cooker

2 Puddings for Fall: Pumpkin Pie and Pick-Your-Pleasure Breakfast Rice

I love fall. It has my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, and some of my favorite fruits and vegetables are in season: persimmons, pumpkin, parsnips, and butternut squash.

As some of you know, I’ve been crazy for puddings lately, so when I saw that this month’s VegCookbook, The Vegan Slow Cooker, had a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Pudding, I had to try it.

If you’re a pumpkin pie AND pudding lover, you’re going to like this.  It tastes just like pumpkin pie.

That said, it does have tofu as a thickener, which makes the consistency different than a regular pumpkin pie, so it might not pass the texture test of a non-vegan pumpkin pie connoisseur. Personally, I liked that it had tofu in it.  It helped me justify eating large quantities — it’s got protein, people!

I was so happy with the Pumpkin Pie Pudding, and the Tapioca Pudding for Two that I made last week, I decided to keep going on my pudding kick, and made the Pick-Your-Pleasure Breakfast Rice Pudding.

It was also very delicious.  The vanilla soy milk, vanilla extract, and little bit of maple syrup made it lightly sweet, and super comfort food-y.

I’m sure it’s fine, but I didn’t feel comfortable having my slow cooker run all night, so I made it on Sunday during the day, and ate it for dinner topped with green apple. Yum!

What did you VegCook this week?

Delicious Tapioca Pudding for Two

On Sunday night, I returned from a two week vacation in Spain (amazing), so I’m just getting back into the swing of things.

When I woke up Monday morning, our house was bare of groceries, and I was too jet lagged and tired (I got a little cold on the plane) to go grocery shopping, so I had to find a recipe in this month’s VegCookbook, The Vegan Slow Cooker, that used what we had around the house.

As some of you know, I’ve been on a creamy dessert kick. Last month, I made the tapioca pudding recipe from our August VegCookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan, so I was psyched to see that The Vegan Slow Cooker also has a “Tapioca Pudding for Two” recipe (p. 207).  It only has five ingredients: non-dairy milk, tapioca pearls, sugar, vanilla extract and salt.  I had all of them. Yay!

The recipe calls for a 1.5-2 quart slow cooker, but the smallest one I have is 3.5 quarts, so I doubled the recipe.  For non-dairy milk, I used unsweetened Coconut Dream, For sugar, I used the Aunt Patty’s Organic Coconut Sugar I bought to make the Gingery Cookies from Let Them Eat Vegan (which is why the tapioca is brown).

The result: deliciousness.  I just ate it for breakfast (it’s around 4 PM in Spain, so it’s really like a late afternoon snack, right?).

What did you VegCook this week?

Cheater Chili and My Hot Slow Cooker

I made my first recipe from our September VegCookbook, The Vegan Slow Cookerthe Cheater Chili _ and learned that my slow cooker runs hot.

I’ve only used my slow cookers (I have two – wedding gifts) a handful of times.  Aside from when I’ve made soup (which works great) everything else has been rather dry and burned, like this chili recipe.

I’ve always wondered if I was just choosing bad recipes, or doing something wrong, but Kathy’s slow cooker tips guest post made made me realize — I have a hot slow cooker!  So, moving forward, I’m going to experiment with cooking recipes for less time, adding more liquid as they cook, and making sure I’m using the correct size slow cooker.

Yay for culinary learning! I’m very excited to master my slow cookers,

What did you VegCook this week?

Vegan Slow Cooker Tips from Kathy Hester

Kathy Hester, author of this month’s VegCookbook, The Vegan Slow Cooker, was nice enough to write a guest post for us with lots of slow cooker tips. Enjoy!

First let me thank you so much for cooking from The Vegan Slow Cooker this month! Many of you may not be used to cooking with a slow cooker, so I wanted to give you some info that should make the learning curve a little easier.

I know some of you may be looking for a new slow cooker and I have a post about picking one out here. Also, feel free to email me with any questions. There is a new Calphalon 4 quart slow cooker that I haven’t written a review of yet, but I really like. (With that said, a cheapy one works perfectly fine too.)

Slow Cooker Size
In the book I use a 3 ½ to 4 quart slow cooker unless it calls for a different size. If you only have a small slow cooker you should be able to halve the recipes with just a few modifications.

If your slow cooker is larger than a 5 quart, you should probably double the recipes, or they will burn. Another possibility is to put the recipe in a pyrex dish that you cook in your large slow cooker in a water bath. Just make sure the water is a couple of inches below the top of the pyrex dish.

Read Manufacturer’s Recommendations
You may usually skip the little leaflets that come with everything these days, but read this one. The most important thing to find out is the recommended fill amount. It’s usually ½ or ¾ full. There are some recipes that break this rule, but they are using the slow cooker more like an oven for breads and some casseroles.

Why does it matter? If yours says ¾ and you fill it ½ way, it will behave like a hot slow cooker (see below) and could burn your food.

Slow Cookers that Run Hot
You’ll see in the book that in many recipes I list to add more liquid if you have a slow cooker that runs hot. Most new ones do run hot and if you think yours cooks fast, boils on low, etc. that will probably be something you need to do.

Why does it matter if your slow cooker cooks hot? Well, you are much more likely to burn your food, or have it cook very fast. It’s not a problem once you know how to work with your slow cooker, and most modern slow cookers run hot. I have 17 slow cookers and no two cook exactly alike. So it’s not you – it’s your slow cooker!

Older Slow Cookers
These are some of my favorites because they cook at a lower temperature. But the recipes are adjusted for the newer ones. That means if you have an older slow cooker you may need to reduce the liquid and/or cook it longer.

If you ever see a lasagna recipe that cooks for 6 to 8 hours, chances are it was made in an older slow cooker.

Slow Cooking Times
There is almost always a range on the cooking times in my recipes. There are a few factors at work. One is how your slow cooker cooks, another is the ingredients we’re using.

There are dishes like risotto or pasta that cook in about 1 ½ hours and then there are soups that can go as long as 10 hours. So if you want to come home to a ready made meal, soups and stews will be your go-to. These are also the best choice for days that you might have to work late.

If you like to take the dog for a walk or watch a show before dinner, the quick cooking meals work great since you don’t have to babysit them like you would if they were on the stove top.

Make It Taste Better
One of the biggest complaints about the slow cooker is that things taste the same. Sautéing onions and garlic make a huge flavor difference, but you can skip this if you don’t have the time.

I feel it’s easy to sauté some onions while you’re chopping the veggies for the next day. That’s why I divide most of the recipes into what to do the night before and then in the morning.

Taste, re-season and taste again. Almost all the dishes will require a boost to some of the seasonings. Some are fresher than others, and while one day you cooked a dish for 8 hours, another day you cooked the same dish for 10 hours. So, there are many variables that can’t be calculated in a single recipe.

Why Do You Bake in Your Slow Cooker?
Some of it has to do with my daredevil attitude about slow cooking. But I also live where the summer heat is miserable. I use my slow cookers to bake and make warm food all summer long while not upping my air conditioner bill. I promise that I’m not suggesting you should never use your oven again, but it is fun to do when you go camping.

Special Needs Cooking
I try to have substitutions for people who are gluten, or soy-free. I usually switch the seitan for tofu, but my favorite substitute, if you eat neither gluten or soy, is to use chickpeas as the star in your dish.

There will be a few dishes that just won’t work well with a substitute, but you will be able to have the majority of them. I’m happy to try and help you if you have other dietary concerns.

Have Other Questions?
Just ask. You can email me through my blog at http://healthyslowcooking.com/contact-me

September VegCookbook: The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester

A big thanks to everyone who voted in the poll to choose our next VegCookbook.

In September, we’ll be cooking together from The Vegan Slow Cooker: Simply Set It and Go with 150 Recipes for Intensely Flavorful, Fuss-Free Fare Everyone (Vegan or Not!) Will Devour by Kathy Hester. I’ve always struggled to find good vegan and vegetarian recipes for the slow cooker, so I’m very excited to dive into this book. Look how delicious the dishes are on Kathy’s Vegan Slow Cooker Pinterest Board!

If you don’t have a slow cooker, but are thinking of buying one to try out this cookbook, Kathy has a section on her website called, Tips on Picking Out a Slow Cooker That’s Right for You. You can follow her on Twitter at @geekypoet.

Full disclosure: The link to The Vegan Slow Cooker is linked to my Amazon Associates Account. If you buy something after clicking on the link, I get a small percentage of the sale, which I will most likely use to buy more books.