Stella’s Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Stella's Stuffed Baked Potatoes

I have been craving potatoes all week. In addition, I knew I had a whole package of LightLife Fakin’ Bacon in the fridge, taunting me. All day I struggled to decide between potato soup and baked potatoes on this cold, cold Central Texas night.

I decided on baked potatoes. Now, I always thought I hated skin on potatoes. Sometimes I leave them in when making mashed potatoes, because I know there are a lot of nutrients near the skin and because, frankly, I am lazy (you didn’t know?). Tonight I decided to try a new method I’d heard about, and I now love potato skins! The key is to bathe them in olive oil and bake them right on the oven rack. The result is puffy, crispy, tasty potato skins and light, fluffy, warm potatoes. Delicious. Yes, it took a while, but it was totally worth it.

Stella’s Stuffed Baked Potatoes

olive oil
vegan margarine
Sour Supreme
tempeh bacon
cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced or diced
white or yellow onion
minced garlic

The amount of ingredients you use will just depend on the number of potatoes and how much of the topping you want on them.

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cut sprouts and dark spots from potatoes. Scour them thoroughly under cold running water, either with a scouring brush or the abrasive side of a clean, unused sponge.

3. Poke about 6-8 holes in each potato with a fork.

4. In a small dish, roll each potato in a thin layer of olive oil.

5. Place each potato directly onto the oven rack, placing a cookie sheet on the shelf below to catch any drippings. Bake for at least an hour, perhaps longer for large potatoes or a large batch.

6. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, sauté onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat until fragrant, about three minutes. Add bacon and cook until it begins to get crispy. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until they are well done. Remove from heat and set aside.

7. When potatoes are done (check my sticking a fork in one), carefully remove them from the oven using a large spoon, spatula, or tongs. Using your fork, perforate one side straight down the side horizontally, forming a line to break open. Push on the ends of the potato with your fingers, using the fork in the center if necessary, to pry open the potatoes. If they are done, this will be easy.

8. Spoon a dollop of margarine into each potato. Top with mushroom and bacon mixture and sour cream to taste. Serve immediately.

*Russet potatoes are best, but any will do in a pinch!

Cross posted from stellatex.

Austin: Save-a-Turkey-Trot

Saturday, November 21
Festival Beach
(North Lady Bird Lake Trail and I-35)

Every Thanksgiving across the United States, the local Turkey Trot race is an annual running tradition. Like these venerable races, we want to get people out and exercising and giving thanks for life. Giving thanks for life, we believe, is also having compassion for all living beings. So we say, “Save a Turkey!” Get out and run and walk with us as we spread the message of hope and compassion the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Preregistered entrants are guaranteed a 100% organic race t-shirt.

Overall male and female winners will have a turkey at Farm Sanctuary sponsored in their name.

Local, organic fruits from farmers at Austin Farmers Market will be available to refuel/refresh with. Entrants are encouraged to head over the market after the race to support our local producers!

Register or sign up to volunteer here.

RSVP with the VRA here here.

I’ve got my Thanksgiving turkey! Have you?

I adopted a turkey at Farm Sanctuary. You can do the same here.


Turkey Myths

Is it true that turkeys are dumb?
There is a tendency for people who eat turkeys, or other animals, to perceive “food animals” as unworthy or undeserving of respect and compassion. One way for people to rationalize their choice to eat animals is to dismiss these beings as dumb. There is even a rumor that turkeys are so dumb that they will look up in the rain and drown. This claim is ridiculous and false. Farm Sanctuary has cared for turkeys for more than 20 years, and when it rains, the turkeys go inside their barn. No one who works at Farm Sanctuary has ever seen a turkey drown in the rain.

Do turkeys really suffer?

Every year, between 250 and 300 million turkeys are bred for slaughter in the U.S. Sadly, these turkeys are not protected under most state anti-cruelty laws, and they are specifically exempt from the federal Humane Slaughter Act. To meet consumer demand for white meat, commercial turkeys have been anatomically manipulated to have abnormally large breasts. As a result, the birds cannot mount and reproduce naturally, and the industry now relies on artificial insemination as the sole means of reproduction. In addition, most factory farmed turkeys, comprising the vast majority of turkeys raised for holiday dinners, endure painful beak and toe mutilations, because they are given only about three-square-feet of space on which to live. Through all of this physical manipulation, the industry has yet to grow an animal who does not feel pain and is not curious, social or friendly.

Thanksgiving Tradition

But Thanksgiving is a tradition – why do we need to change it?

Using a turkey as the centerpiece and symbol of Thanksgiving is a relatively new tradition invented and actively promoted by the poultry industry during the 20th century. Thankfully, humans are not bound by cruel traditions. Just because we’ve done something routinely in the past does not mean that it is automatically right. Traditions must evolve over time in order for our civilization to thrive. We must strive for better, more compassionate ways to interact with one another, and with other animals. Find more information on the history of Thanksgiving here.

What do vegetarians eat for Thanksgiving?
In addition to staple Thanksgiving foods like baked squash, savory stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and cornbread, there is also a growing variety of products that have been developed specifically to take the place of turkey at the Thanksgiving table. One popular product is called “Tofurky,” a meat-free, faux turkey roast made by Turtle Island Foods in Hood River, Oregon. If people want to make something themselves, they can just stuff a squash or pumpkin, instead of a turkey. After all, celebrating a compassionate Thanksgiving entails celebrating ALL life by giving up the broiled bird. Find vegetarian holiday recipes and more here.


Stella’s Tex-Mex Hominy Bake

Tex-Mex Hominy Bake

Though it involves a rather long list of ingredients, this recipe is so quick and easy! It’s also hot with fire and warm with comforting Tex-Mex goodness. It’s really good, if I may say so myself.

Stella’s Tex-Mex Hominy Bake

16 oz pre-cooked white hominy
16 oz pre-cooked beans (pinto or kidney work well)
2 cups pre-cooked white or brown rice
1/3 cup white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup Sour Supreme
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely diced (use less if you prefer a milder flavor!)
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice of one lime
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
2 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegan cheese, shredded (optional)
hot sauce to taste (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small pan, saute the onion, garlic, and olive oil for a few minutes until fragrant. Stir in cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and lime juice. Reduce heat and simmer.

2. Combine all other ingredients, except tortilla strips and cheese, in a large casserole dish. Pour in onion and garlic, including all liquids, and stir thoroughly until well mixed.

3. Sprinkle shredded cheese over top of dish, if using. Then top with latticework of tortilla strips. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until nicely browned. Broil briefly at the end for extra crispy tortilla topping, but be careful not to burn them. Serve with hot sauce (I love Cholula brand!) or salsa and additional sour cream, if desired. A cilantro garnish would also be lovely, but alas, I do not have any.

Tex-Mex Hominy Bake

Cross posted from stellatex.

Tostadas Perfectos

Tuesday night tostada dinner

Tostadas Perfectos

2 fresh corn tortillas (small)
4 Tbsp refried beans
1/3 cup finely grated Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack Vegan Gourmet cheese
chopped raw onions, to taste
Stella’s Famous Guacamole
2 tsp Sour Supreme
1 Tbsp of your favorite salsa
handful of mixed leaves
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Earth Balance
vegetable oil

1. Over medium-high heat, fry tortillas in vegetable oil until crispy and nicely browned. Drain on paper towels.

2. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix Earth Balance and beans, then heat for approximately one minute (of course, you can use a saucepan, if you prefer). Then stir in chili powder and cumin and microwave until heated through (probably about another minute, depending on your microwave).

3. On a big plate, assemble tostadas: on each crisp tortilla, spread half the beans, then sprinkle with cheese. Using a toaster oven (or microwave), heat for a few seconds until cheese begins to melt (this usually doesn’t take long at all with FYH cheeses). Then top with guacamole, onions, sour cream, lettuce, and salsa, to your taste. Enjoy!


Crossposted from stellatex.

Austin review: Terra Burger

Terra Burger

I’ve been craving a good veggie burger for a few weeks, and I made a pretty tasty one the other day, but, in the confusion of getting Fluffster out the door and to the vet at 7:00am this morning, I forgot to pack a lunch. I needed to go to Eclectic Eyewear, anyway, to get my glasses adjusted (again), so I decided to hit up Terra Burger, having heard mostly great things about it.

I skipped the vegan milkshake (and, oh, how difficult that was), because not only is it $3.95 to begin with, but there is a $1.50 surcharge for vegan milk. What?! Haven’t you had it up to here with vegan surcharges? I know I have. I mean, for heaven’s sake, soy or rice milk are not even much more costly than cow’s milk, and it won’t go bad after a week in the fridge, either! Sheesh.

As others have complained, at $5.99, their fairly middle-of-the-road burger is a tad overpriced. It was serviceable, don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed it; the “meaty” middle was better than average. But it didn’t knock me out. Props to Terra Burger for offering Vegenaise, though – it’s so nice not to have to pack my own! That alone makes it worth a visit. I also tried the sweet potato fries, and found them pretty durn delicious. All in all, a satisfying lunch.

Sweet potato fries

I might go back if I find myself in the northwest campus area around lunch time, as there aren’t many other options around there, with the exception of Kerbey Lane (which is about a full mile from my office). I find their concept a fairly positive one, though I can’t really get past all signs shouting “Sustainable!” hanging in a place that serves beef.

Terra Burger
2522 Guadalupe
Austin, TX 78705

Cross posted from stellatex.