1 Mar

Today is my father-in-law's 60th birthday. On Saturday night, we threw a surprise birthday party for him that included lots of family, friends and his favorite foods. The food (for a gathering of primarily omnivores) included chicken wings, sweet and sour meatballs, shrimp cocktail, antipasto (my mom's recipe), Ramen noodle salad (my mother-in-law's recipe), stuffed mushrooms (my new vegan recipe below), cheese and crackers, vegetables and dip, an arrangement of olives and pickles, and hummus with pita. 

I also baked his must-have birthday cake — German Chocolate — but I veganized it so I could enjoy some too. I read online that most of the Duncan Hines cake mixes and frostings are vegan. To make it a vegan cake when baked, you leave out the eggs and substitute 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce for each egg it calls for. I was skeptical so I baked one mix this way as a trial run. It came out fine, maybe a little moister and softer. So I baked two more layers. I froze all three layers overnight to make frosting them easier. Then, I stacked them with a layer of Duncan Hines coconut pecan frosting between layers and on the top. I frosted the sides with Duncan Hines chocolate frosting and shaved a little white chocolate (not vegan) on top to surround the candles. I think next time I would keep it refrigerated up until the party so it would cut a little cleaner. Everyone agreed that the taste was delicious. (By the way, this is in no way a "healthy" vegan cake, but I think birthday parties should include sweet indulgences!)
I'm so excited about these mushrooms. The only thing I would change is adding some cheese if I could find a vegan one that I liked! If you aren't vegan, feel free to stir in a little crumbled gorgonzola cheese or shredded parmesan before stuffing the mushrooms.
makes 20
20 mushrooms for stuffing, about 2" in diameter
4 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
2 red peppers, cut in 1" pieces
1 onion, quartered
1 red onion, quartered
1 garlic clove, halved
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
3 oz vegan Italian "sausage", crumbled and browned in olive oil (optional)
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
salt substitute and pepper to taste
handful of minced parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel and remove stems (do not discard). Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside to reconstitute.
In a large bowl, toss together mushrooms stems, red peppers, onions, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano and toss well to coat. Spread vegetables on a baking sheet and roast until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Drain sun-dried tomatoes. Place vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes in food processor and pulse until pieces are small but not pureed. Put mixture back into the large bowl and stir in chopped walnuts, "sausage" and bread crumbs. Taste the mixture and season with salt substitute and pepper, as needed.
Place mushroom caps in a baking dish with sides. Heap each one with filling. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Garnish with minced parsley and enjoy!

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