VeganMoFo Day 6: Mom’s Skillet S’getti and Quinoa Meatballs

Soooo… if you receive my blog as an email, you may have noticed I made a ginormous grammar gaffe in the first paragraph. I could pretend it didn’t happen since it was fixed online seconds after the post was published, but (grrr) I hate it when I do that. I made a correction that required changing other words, then I corrected that, and then I missed something else in my rush to post before the clock struck midnight and POOF! my computer turned into a pumpkin. In my haste, well… Fooey!

First thing this morning, I resolved to manage my time better. Mere moments later, it was 5 p.m. Bizarre! What in the world caused this inconvenient and poorly scheduled time warp? I’m an information sponge with a powerful research drive. Sure, I needed to be cooking, but… Oh, Google…

I expected to find something amusing, perhaps something very Rod Sterling-esque, to reassure and entertain me. What I found intrigued me enough to want to share it with all of you. So I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled post for a moment to give you a dose of SCIENCE.


In 2012, scientists Melanie Rudd and Jennifer Aaker of Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management performed a set of experiments to test the result of observing or recalling an awe-inspiring experience versus a happy experience. They asked participants a series of questions to determine the impact of these images and recollections. They discovered that participants who experienced awe experienced an increased sense of well being. They also concluded that the experience of awe changes a person’s view of time by slowing it down and making it seem more abundant. The awe group indicated they were more willing to donate their time and felt they had more time available to them.

These studies suggest that if a person chooses to participate in and witness events that fill them with a sense of awe, that person’s perception of time will be altered, making time feel more plentiful and usable, and thus create a greater sense of fulfillment, happiness, and potential in life.

This conclusion definitely has me thinking. Too frequently, we pass by awe-inspiring experiences in our haste to get everything done in a shrinking amount of time. If taking the time to drink in the awe-inspiring opportunities around us allows us to feel as though we have more time, imagine how much richer, calmer, and happier our lives can be.

So, I’m challenging all of you out there to seek awe-inspiring visions and experiences this coming week along with me. They’re out there. We just have to choose to recognize them.

Aaaaaannnndddd now, back to our regularly schedule VeganMoFo post!

I’ve been thinking about my childhood a lot as I’ve been doing MoFo this year. My mom made family cookbooks for my brother and I several years ago before either of us were vegan. I pull mine out sometimes and experiment with ingredients to veganize our old favorites. One I hadn’t played with was my mom’s skillet spaghetti recipe. I was charmed once again by her note on the recipe, which reads:

 “My first recipe. Got it off the back of a bottle of Whirl Cooking Oil back in 1963 in Ohio. And, yes, after walking a mile to the store and back in the snow! Grandpa was already in California and Grandma was working and very appreciative of my first fumbling attempts to cook.”

I’ve been craving pasta and decided tonight was the night to give it a whirl and recreate a vegan version of a favorite staple from my childhood dinner table.

Mom's S'getti

Mom’s Skillet Spaghetti Sauce

  •  1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup TVP
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • ½ cup to 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Sauté your onions in a skillet with olive oil. Add your remaining ingredients and stir well. Simmer spaghetti sauce at low to medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Add water if needed for the sauce to achieve the consistency you desire.

Mom always put meatballs in her spaghetti, so it was imperative that I recreate those, too. I’ve developed an aversion to certain “meaty” textures since becoming a vegan. Meatballs top the list of things that can creep me out if they mimic the non-vegan texture too closely. I’ve been trying to develop something protein-dense and unexpected, and I keep getting closer. Today, being a bit bored with veggie crumbles as of late, I decided to experiment a little and use quinoa.

By the way, quinoa is a grain that is deserving of our awe. I cup cooked quinoa packs in 24 grams of protein. Quinoa’s vitamin E, foliate, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and bit of calcium make it even more awe-some!


Feel the awe. Guess what? All of you probably just got an extra ten minutes in your day. Woo hoo!

Quinoa and Shitake Mushroom Meatballs

  •  2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3.2 oz. package of shitake mushrooms, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • ¼ – ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup vegan mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons hot water (more may be needed to improve binding)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cook enough quinoa for two cups cooked quinoa and allow to cool.

In a skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until the onion softens.

Meatball Mixture

In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, onion, and garlic. Add the almond milk, panko, and oats, and stir well. Finally, add the remaining ingredients and stir until completely mixed.

Form the mixture into balls about 1-½ inches in diameter and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake them for 20 minutes. Turn carefully and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until browned.


Heat olive oil in a skillet and, when hot, add the meatballs. Gently sauté the meatballs. I did this step to give the exterior of the meatballs a bit more of a “shell” so they could hold up better in the sauce.

Many of the meatballs did fine in this step, but I definitely saw some quitters in the mix. I think that doubling the flax/water mixture will correct this issue.

Meatballs and Quitters

Quinoa meatballs fraternizing with some quitters in the skillet.

After the meatballs are nicely browned, gently place them into the sauce, stirring carefully.

Serve them over hot cooked pasta and there you have my snow-free attempt at Mom’s spaghetti. I served ours with a quickly tossed salad and garlic bread. (Almost) just like Mom’s spaghetti meal!


The meatballs, however, were very different from the ones I remember and a denser vegan meatball may be better suited for more enthusiastic sauce dunking and spaghetti twirling. Still, these are flavor-packed protein balls that evaporated almost as soon as they were put on the table. They’re the most popular vegan meatballs I’ve made so far, so I’ll definitely be making them again.

Mom's Spaghetti

Tomorrow, I’ll be on a drive with my husband because we have too many ideas and an overabundance of enthusiasm and self confidence and we just NEED another project. You can bet I’ll be on the lookout for the awe! (Not the awww, mind you. The AWE!) It’s gonna be a busy, busy day. But I’m not worried; I’m sure I’ll have time to give you a MoFo-tacular post.

With a head and heart filled with awe, I’ll have all the time in the world!


One response to “VeganMoFo Day 6: Mom’s Skillet S’getti and Quinoa Meatballs

  1. I love the idea of using quinoa for meatballs! I usually use tempeh or tvp but you can never have too many vegan meatball recipes.

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