Wed

09

Apr

2014

Vegan Wings Night!

Monday, April 7

Vegan Wings Night!

Rating: 4.5

 

So our friend Holly, aka Veganadian, and The Barrelhouse restaurant in Midtown got together and had a special vegan meet-up dinner. Barrelhouse always has vegan wings on the menu, which I have to say is pretty cool. But for this meet-up, they created a special menu just for us. In addition to the wings, which come with Buffalo sauce and vegan ranch, they created extra vegan sauces as well, including agave-mustard and teriyaki. But they didn’t stop there – they also had tempeh pizza, vegan bulgogi, and strawberry sorbet. We had one of everything except the sorbet. We went with the standard buffalo and ranch sauces for our wings. I really like their buffalo sauce because it’s spicy but not too vinegary, and they make a really good ranch as well. The bulgogi was nice and light: lettuce wraps filled with kimchi, vegan beef and rice. I really liked this one – I love kimchi and this one wasn’t overly hot, and was perfect with the vegan beef. The pizza was on a hearty, whole-wheat crust and the tempeh was sausage-style. It was a cheese-less pizza with fresh, sliced tomatoes and basil. Very good. There was a huge turnout. We met some new folks and caught up with old friends, too. Holly also had gift bags for everyone with samples of Vbar, Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant (score!), Bfree Organics lotion, and Rations Tofu Scramble Seasoning blend, as well as stickers and rubber bracelets with “Vegan Power- Vegan Revolution” on them. Very cool. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if there are vegan meet-ups in your town, you should go. We’ve made so many friends and always have a great time. Plus, it’s nice to have restaurants go out of their way to cater to vegans. If you’re in Atlanta, Holly is planning to have these meet-ups pretty regularly, so make plans to go!For more photos of the Barrelhouse meet-up, visit our Facebook page. 

 

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Wed

09

Apr

2014

Black Beans with Chipotle Adobo Sauce, Potato Salad and Kale Salad

Sunday, April 6

Black Beans with Chipotle Adobo Sauce, Potato Salad & Kale Salad

Rating: 4.5

 

I think Seth liked this one more than I did, but it was still pretty good. We’d been out of town during the day, so I wanted something that wouldn’t take forever to cook when we got home. This took longer than I’d thought it would, but still came together pretty quickly. I had boiled the potatoes for the potato salad in the morning before we left and stuck them in the fridge so they’d be nice and cold and ready to go when we got home. The first thing I did was to start the beans, since they needed about 40 minutes to cook. While they were happily simmering, I started on the potatoes. Stuff like this, I just eyeball instead of going from a recipe. I chopped up some green onion, and mixed it in with the potatoes along with some Vegenaise, a squirt of Dijon mustard, and some salt & pepper. I taste it as I go and adjust accordingly, more mayo, more pepper, whatever. For the kale, I found this recipe for a Creamy Avocado Dressing. I’m learning to like avocados, so it was perfect. I made a half batch of it and then massaged it into the kale for a few minutes. I also sautéed a little bit of frozen corn and some minced Poblano pepper and added that to the kale along with some julienned carrot. I thought the dressing was a little too sweet and will cut back on the agave next time. Still, it was good on the kale since that can be a little bitter. Seth thought it was perfect. Next up, I made the sauce for the beans. I was using the Black Beans with Chipotle Adobo sauce from Veganomicon, which I’d somehow never made before. It’s pretty easy to make, and we love chipotle, so it was a win. I don’t know quite what I did wrong, but it didn’t come out the consistency I’d expected from the recipe. The flavor was really good, but there was no drizzling of sauce happening as described in the book. It was more of a plop. I added a little bit of Tofutti sour cream to mine. Seth really liked it a lot more than I did, but it was good and it hit the spot alongside the kale and potato salad. 

 

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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Risotto Primavera

Friday, April 4

Risotto Primavera

Rating: 4.5

 

I love risotto and I love making it fresh at home, but every time I do, I forget how much I don’t love the stirring. Still, it’s worth it. I decided to try the Risotto Primavera recipe in One Dish Vegan this time, and I’m glad I did. It uses zucchini, carrot and bell pepper, so it was the perfect way to use up the bits I had left from the stir-fry. This is why I plan meals in advance – to be sure to use up all the veggies we buy or get in our weekly basket from Vegetable Husband. The recipe also called for shelled edamame, but neither of us is a huge fan of that, so I left it out. I was going to add some frozen peas, but discovered I didn’t have any when I looked in the freezer. At this point, I thought to myself, “Well. I guess we’ll go without,” and a re-written line from U2’s “One” popped into my head and stuck there the rest of the night. “You act like you never had peas, and you want me to go without.” Anyway, songs from the ‘90s reworked with vegetable lyrics aside, I soldiered bravely forward, sans peas. It was fine without , but the next time I make this, there will be peas. I just think they’d add a little something to it. Most of the flavor of this risotto comes from the veggies and it really is quite good. It makes four large servings, so there is plenty left for lunches. We also had a big salad with dinner. Our weekly basket had more fresh lettuce and some arugula in it this week, so there was plenty of green to go around. We’re not huge fans of arugula, but mixed in with the sweeter lettuce blend, with was rather good. I was pressed for time, so the dressing was just olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We also had some bread from Highland Bakery, which I picked up at Sevananda. I love that they carry products from local suppliers.

 

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Mon

07

Apr

2014

Simple Stir-Fry with Marinated Tofu

Tuesday, April 1

Simple Stir-Fry with Marinated Tofu

Rating: 4.25

 

Sometimes, a simple dinner is best. We love to have a big pile of veggies with marinated tofu, so stir-frys are pretty common around here. I rarely use anything resembling a recipe for these, but they always involve broccoli and bell peppers. I started off by pressing, dry-frying, and then marinating the tofu. There’s a wonderful Asian tofu marinade recipe in Veganomicon, which is more or less the basis for what I do, but with a couple of changes. I don’t measure, but just pour some tamari, mirin, rice vinegar, and sriracha into a bowl, then add some grated ginger and a couple of cloves of pressed garlic. A little sesame oil is good too. I always cut the tofu into cubes or triangles before marinating, and sometimes like today, dry-fry it. A few hours is best for getting the most flavor into the tofu. I like to prep it first thing in the morning and then it’s all ready to go that night for dinner. I cooked the tofu in the wok first and set it aside. I reserved the marinade and added a little bit of cornstarch to it to thicken it up and use it for a stir-fry sauce. The veggies went into the wok next, and were our usual suspects of broccoli, bell pepper, carrot, green onion, shallots, and garlic. I added splashes of the marinade-turned-sauce as I they cooked so they would be coated with the sauce, but not get soggy. When the veggies were just about done, I put the tofu back into the wok to warm up again and mixed it will with the vegetables. I normally like to use brown rice, but I always cook it in broth to give it more flavor and I was out of broth, so I used basmati rice instead. I generally make a little extra rice since the stir-fry really makes enough for three servings. That way, there’s a complete lunch leftover. We like to have spring rolls (I buy the frozen Ling Ling brand) and lately, we’ve been enjoying the gyoza from Trader Joe’s as well. Who needs take-out when you can have a yummy stir-fry dinner with all the trimmings at home?

 

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Tue

01

Apr

2014

Italianish Tofu Scramble with Hash Browns, Tempeh Bacon, and Apple Maple Links

Sunday, March 30

Italianish Tofu Scramble with Hash Browns, Tempeh Bacon, and Apple Maple Links

Rating: 4.25

 

I found some of the new Field Roast Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage at Whole Foods. They’re technically not being released until May, but Field Roast has been selling a limited quantity at certain Whole Foods stores, and lucky for us, the one near us is one of them. I bought a pack a couple of weeks ago, and had been meaning to try them sooner, but we had to change our plans for weekend breakfasts a few times and were in and out of town. So finally! I get to make a big breakfast! Like most vegans, one of my favorite things for breakfast (other than green smoothies, right?) is tofu scramble. We like to load ours up with lots of fresh veggies, and this time I used bell pepper, fresh spinach, broccoli, onion, garlic, tomato, and kalamata olives. The olives and tomato made me want a more Italian flavor to the meal, so I used oregano, basil, and marjoram to season it. I didn’t have a recipe or anything, but more or less what I did is listed below. Seth made the hash-browns because he’s really good at that. We baked one small and one medium-ish potato the night before and let them sit in the fridge overnight. He grated them with a box grater, and then cooked them in a skillet with salt, pepper, chopped onion, and minced garlic until they were nice and brown and crispy. They were so good. We both really liked the sausage links – they have a great flavor and are a nice addition to a special breakfast. We’ll buy them again, but they’re kind of pricey and we don’t like to eat a lot of processed foods, although we do make exceptions for Field Roast, Gardein, and Daiya. The tempeh bacon was the Fakin’ Bacon from Lightlife, also a favorite of ours. It was a wonderful Sunday morning breakfast, and here’s more or less what I did for the scramble:

 

 

Italianish Tofu Scramble

(makes about 3-4 servings)

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Splash of tamari

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced (or to taste – we like a lot of garlic in everything)

Most of a small onion, diced (I used red, but whatever kind you like is fine)

1 small tomato, chopped

½ Orange, red or yellow bell pepper (whatever you have or like best)

1 small head of broccoli, cut into itty-bitty florets

2 cups raw spinach

Handful of kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Crumble the tofu into a large bowl, and add the oregano, basil and marjoram. Mix well and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. (If you’re anti-oil, use a thin layer of water or broth to sauté instead.)

Add the bell pepper & broccoli to the onion and garlic and cook the veggies until they’re tender, but still firm-about 7 minutes. Spray the pan with more olive oil if needed.

Add the spinach and sauté until it’s wilted, but not completely cooked. Remove the veggies from the pan and set aside.

Heat the last teaspoon of oil in the pan and then add the crumbled tofu and a splash of tamari. Cook, stirring frequently until it releases the remaining water and gets slightly browned. If needed, spray the pan with more oil to prevent sticking.

Sprinkle in the nutritional yeast and stir until well combined.

Add the tomato and cook until it gets soft and starts to break down a little.

Return the cooked veggies to the pan, and add the olives. Mix well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

If you have leftovers, they actually keep pretty well and make an excellent breakfast wrap or pita for a quick, workday morning breakfast.

 

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Tue

01

Apr

2014

Warm Kale and Lentil Salad

Wednesday, March 26

 

Warm Kale and Lentil Salad

Rating: 4.25

 

I’d gone to visit my family over the weekend, which of course meant I raided my mom’s garden. Right now, it’s full of lettuce, spinach, and kale. All of those are about to be done for the season, so she really wanted me to take a lot. No problem. I knew we’d be getting more greens in our weekly basket, so I went ahead and planned to use the kale I got from mom first. I didn’t really use a recipe for this, since I couldn’t find one that was really what I was looking for in any of my books, or on-line. So I winged it for the most part. I used the Dijon-vinaigrette recipe from the lentil salad in Veganomicon, and it really was perfect. It’s basically olive oil, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar. I put about a cup of lentils on to simmer in two cups of broth. I ended up with way more than I needed, so next time I’ll make a smaller amount of them. I had a russet potato and several sweet potatoes on hand. Seth doesn’t like the sweet ones (they came in our basket), so I roasted the russet for him, and about half of one of the sweets for me, along with three of the prettiest, freshest carrots around. When the lentils, potatoes, and carrots were almost done, I sautéed some chopped red onion (about the equivalent of one small one) and four chopped cloves of garlic in a teaspoon of olive oil. I needed to spray the pan with a little more as they cooked, but no big deal. I had harvested about the equivalent of one extra large bunch of kale from mom’s garden and tore it into large chunks. I added it to the pot along with about ½ cup of water, then covered it and let it simmer until the kale cooked down a bit and was soft. Then, I mixed in the lentils and dressing until well combined and then added and then the potatoes. We both really liked it and will definitely make this again. I thought the sweet potatoes were better than the russet, but if you don’t like or don’t have any sweet potatoes, russet will be fine.

 

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Tue

25

Mar

2014

Szechuan Tempeh and Green Beans

Monday, March 24

Szechuan Tempeh and Green Beans

Rating: 4.5

I first made this recipe from One Dish Vegan right after we got the book, and loved it. I’m just now figuring out how to cook with tempeh. It’s always kind of befuddled me, and has never really turned out the way I wanted. Still, I wasn’t ready to give up on it, and Seth had been on a bit of a tempeh kick, so I decided to give it another go. I’m really glad I did. This recipe is so crazy easy to make – it’s less than 30 minutes start to finish – and is ridiculously good. It also uses very little oil, so it’s a really healthy alternative to Chinese take-out. The beans are lightly steamed, so they’re still nice and crisp. The tempeh crumbled more than I’d wanted the last time I made this, so I made the cubes bigger this time, but they were  a little too big and I ended up breaking them up in the pan a bit. We served it over basmati rice this time, but brown rice would be really good, too. It’s impossible for us to make any Asian meal without spring rolls, which I buy frozen. This time, I also decided to try some of the gyoza I’d gotten from Trader Joe’s. They were really good, and I made a dipping sauce from tamari, sriracha, sesame oil and a splash of rice vinegar, which we both really enjoyed. If you need a quick, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner, look no further.

 

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Tue

25

Mar

2014

Linguini with Veggies and Black-Pepper Chardonnay Sauce

Friday, March 21

Linguini with Veggies and Black-Pepper Chardonnay Sauce

Rating: 4.25

 

When I was a kid, I was a really picky eater. I did what most kids do and declared that I didn’t like things I’d never tried and refused to touch things I knew I didn’t like – like tomato sauce. The only way I would eat pasta, was plain with butter on it. No sauce. Nothing else on it. Just butter. If my mom forgot to set some aside and out sauce on all of it, I’d make her wash it off. I was a horrible kid to feed. Thankfully, the days of plain pasta are but a distant memory (although, kind of a funny one), and these days, I want my pasta loaded with veggies. The more the better. I thought one of the hardest things to “give up” when we became vegan would be the creamy, gooey sauces I’d come to love in the years since my plain-pasta-only phase. Then I found out about cashews and what can be done with them. Oh happy day! We love this recipe for Black-Pepper Fettuccini with Chardonnay Sauce from Vegetarian Times. I really just used the sauce portion of the recipe this time. It’s an alfredo-style sauce, with lots of black pepper and a little something extra from the wine. I use those little mini-bottles of wine when I cook. That way there’s not a whole bottle opened for just a cup or so for cooking. I don’t drink wine, so it would be a real waste. Anyway, I decided to make a double batch of the sauce. The recipe says it makes two servings, but I wanted to have leftovers because we had a lot of veggies to go in with the pasta. I really could’ve gotten away with making just a single batch, because we had a lot leftover. It was also thicker than I’d meant it to be, because the recipe calls for straining out the solids from the cashews after blending, so you’re left with just the cream, but uh, with a Vitamix, there really aren’t any solids left. Note to self – do not reduce the wine all the way next time so there is more liquid in the sauce. For the veggies, we used broccoli and red pepper I’d picked up at the store, along with spinach and carrots from our Vegetable Husband basket. I also used linguini instead of fettuccini. We made a big salad with lettuce also from the basket we’d gotten on Wednesday, and a batch of Seth’s Eighth Deadly Sin Garlic Bread.

 

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Fri

21

Mar

2014

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Tacos

Happy Mushrooms

Friday March 21

Lion’s Mane Mushroom Tacos

Rating: 4.5
So. There were some lion’s mane mushrooms in our basket from Vegetable Husband this week. I may have mentioned before that Seth does not do mushrooms. At all. Ever. For any reason. I, however, LOVE them, so I’m always ecstatic when there are some in the basket because I get to eat all the mushrooms. Last time it was shiitake mushrooms, which I’d never cooked with before. I made them into a Bahn Mi sandwich. It was crazy good. This week’s lion’s mane mushrooms were another new-to-me variety. Now, I can’t take credit for the idea to make these into tacos. It actually came from one of the Vegan Drinks meet-ups we went to that was at Across the Street Mexican restaurant. They made a vegan version of their oyster tacos using, as one might guess, oyster mushrooms. OK, I know. Lion’s mane & oyster mushrooms really aren’t alike, but since everyone described the texture of them being kind of like lobster (which I’ve never eaten) and people also say oyster mushrooms are really similar to oysters (which I’ve never eaten) I figured, “Eh. Close enough.” Only trouble was I had no idea really where to start.

 

 

Gettin' crispy

To the Batcave! Er, internet! Did you know that there are no lion’s mane mushroom taco recipes on the entire internet? So. OK. Fine, Google. Have it your way. I looked for oyster mushroom recipes instead, and found this one, which I used as my starting point. I didn’t want to batter & deep fry – the tacos at ATS were coated in cornmeal and I really wanted to stick closer to that idea. I didn’t measure anything that I put into the cornmeal mixture, but I kind of wish I’d put more of everything, because the coating could have been more flavorful. As I found out, lion’s mane mushrooms have a really delicate flavor, so you’ll want to be sure to give them a boost with the spices. To get the coating to stick to the mushrooms, I used a mixture of almond milk, cornstarch & flour, which worked really, really well. I don’t like to use too much oil, so I started with about half a tablespoon and then added more by spraying the pan with olive oil, and adding about another teaspoon or so about halfway through cooking. Everyone told me that I needed to cook these babies more slowly than other kinds of ‘shrooms, so I started them at a medium heat and reduced it to medium-low when the coating started to brown nicely. I expected the mushrooms to shrink a bit more, so I ended up with enough for 3 tacos instead of the 2 I was aiming for. When it came to garnishes, I went with corn - which I tossed into the skillet when the mushrooms were almost done and cooked until it was lightly charred – and the tiny little bit of I had left. I also made a quick chipotle mayo, and dribbled a little sriracha on top because really, sriracha just goes on pretty much everything around here. So here’s the sort-of-recipe I used. I seriously need to start measuring things when I cook. It will make this whole thing so much easier.

 

Lion's Mane Mushroom Tacos


1 large and 1 small lion’s mane mushroom, cut into chunky pieces/slices

 

 

For the breading:

Cornmeal – about ½ cup

Garlic Powder – about ¼ teaspoon (it really needed more)

Dried Oregano – a pinch

Smoked Paprika – about ¼ teaspoon (it really needed more)

Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)

Cumin  - I sprinkled this on while the mushrooms were cooking – I wish I’d added it to the cornmeal mixture up front

 

For the milk mixture

Almond milk - about ½ cup

Cornstarch – about 2 teaspoons

Flour – about 2 tablespoons

 

Olive oil for frying (start with ½ tablespoon and add more as needed while cooking)

 

 

Flour tortillas (fajita size)

 

 

Garnishes:

Corn – about 3 tablespoons, charred in the skillet (I used frozen and didn’t thaw it)

Cabbage - as much as you like, shredded or finely sliced

Chipotle Mayo

Sriracha

 

 

1. Cut the mushrooms into sort-of bite sized pieces. I made     mine just sort of chunky bits that looked like they’d be easy to manage. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

3. Mix the almond milk, cornstarch and flour in a small bowl & whisk well to combine.

4. Mix the cornmeal, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper & cumin in a separate bowl.

5. Dunk the mushroom pieces into the milk mixture so that they get nicely coated, then dredge them in the cornmeal mixture and flip over to coat evenly on all sides.

6. Place the breaded mushrooms into the heated skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until they are tender and lightly browned on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium-low about halfway through cooking time – mine were starting to brown faster than they felt like they were becoming tender, so I reduced the heat. I didn’t keep track of the time, but it took them maybe 10 or 15 minutes to cook.

7. When the mushrooms are almost done, add the corn to the skillet and toss gently in the pan until the kernels are starting to become lightly charred.

8. Put about 1/3 of the mixture into a flour tortillas that you’ve heated to soften (or use corn if you like those better)

9. Top with cabbage, corn, and chipotle mayo. Drizzle with sriracha. (For the chipotle mayo, there are tons of recipes out there, or you can buy premade Veganaise brand now.)

10. Post photos on the internet and declare that you have won lunch.  Or dinner. Whichever.

 

 

Oh, a couple of other things. I don’t think I would put salsa on these. It seems like it would be weird to me, but maybe not. Definitely don’t skip the mayo – the dry nature of the coating on the mushrooms really wants a creamy companion in there with it.

 

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Fri

21

Mar

2014

Red Beans & Rice

Thursday, March 20

Red Beans & Rice

Rating: 4.25

 

You know how people always say things like, “Well, I’d be vegan, but it’s too expensive.” My answer to that is always, “Beans and rice. Bulk bins.”  We’re lucky that we have access to what I think are the best bulk bins in the city just a mile from home. They’re stocked full with almost all organic beans, rice, flours, vital wheat gluten and nuts. Even if you don’t have a store with bins like these near you, you can still eat vegan on the cheap. Dry beans are so much cheaper than canned, especially organic beans, and rice is pretty cheap regardless. This is so much less expensive than say, flesh from an organically raised cow. And nicer too. Seriously. Don’t eat cows. Or pigs. Or any animals. Even organic ones. It’s mean and they don’t like it. Anyway, my point is: it’s cheaper to eat vegan, unless you buy tons of processed foods, like burgers and stuff. We weren’t having beans and rice because it’s an inexpensive dinner that goes a long way, that’s just a bonus. We were having beans and rice because we genuinely love them - especially red beans and rice. Like most vegans, we have about 80 recipes for this dish, but we have a favorite and it’s from Color Me Vegan. It’s so simple and has really just a handful of ingredients, most of which are probably already in your kitchen. You can use a can of beans (if you must), but I like to cook mine a day or two ahead of time and stick them in the fridge (meal-planning, people – do it), so it’s just as easy as opening a can.We had a couple of green peppers in the fridge from the Vegetable Husband basket we’d received last week. Since Seth was travelling for work for a few days, we didn’t get to use them until now. But that’s ok, because they keep well in the fridge and this was the perfect dish for them. The recipe calls for four vegan Italian sausages. We like Field Roast brand, so that’s what we used. I know right? After I just said how it’s not cheaper if you buy processed foods? The thing is, we don’t buy them that often, and if you want to, you can make your own. Also, we use two instead of four, mostly because I think four is too many. That’s just our personal preference, though. Anyway, beans? Check. Peppers & onions? Check. Sausages? Check. Rice? Check. I make one other minor tweak to the recipe, and this is once again just our preference, I add bouillon instead of using plain water. I just like the way brown rice tastes with broth better than without. Once it’s all in the pot, just cover it and leave it alone until the rice is done. Then mix in the parsley (thank you veggie basket for the bunch this week!) and go. I also made a batch of collards for Seth.  He was so excited when I told him this week’s basket had a bundle of them in it. I used our super, duper top-secret method for cooking them, but this time I added a tomato kind of near the end of the cook time, and I didn’t have a turnip so it was just a couple of small potatoes and some of the really pretty carrots we’ve been getting in our weekly baskets. We got several servings of both the collards and the beans & rice, so there are plenty of leftovers for lunches. One more way to save money and eat yummy vegan grub – make a lot and pack it for lunch.

 

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Thu

20

Mar

2014

Blackened Tofu with Grilled Corn, and Slaw

Tuesday, March 18

Blackened Tofu with Grilled Corn and Slaw

Rating: 4

 

Seth was out of town for a few days, so  I was a little out of the habit of cooking real meals. Seriously, I make stuff like frozen burgers topped with tempeh bacon, Daiya and BBQ sauce when I’m left on my own. Yummy, yes, but not really cooking. I also just eat leftovers a lot. I will put almost anything I find in the fridge in a tortilla and call it dinner. Anyway. One of my go-to meals when I want something simple (as in I was still in my not-cooking mode) is blackened tofu. There are two different recipes I use, the one in Appetite for Reduction, which is broiled, and this one from Daily Garnish, which is skillet-fried. I didn’t want to get the apartment all hot by using the broiler, so I went with the skillet version. We cut our tofu into eight smaller pieces instead of four larger ones, so I always make a little bit extra of the spice blend to be sure to coat everything evenly. We like to dip our tofu into some ranch dressing, and we usually have some from the Cookin’ Crunk recipe in the fridge. The cool and creamy dressing is perfect with the crispy, spicy tofu. I grabbed a couple of ears of corn from the store the other day. I’m in a bit of a hurry for summer veggies this year, and yes, I know corn is a grain but whatever. I just grilled it in the grill pan until it was tender and had nice little charred spots on it. It’s also really good roasted in the oven, still in the husks. (Roast for about 30 minutes at 350.) In keeping with my “I want a summer dinner” theme, I made some slaw to go with it. We received a beautiful head of cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s day and some really pretty young carrots in our Vegetable Husband basket, so the slaw was extra good with such veggies. I don’t really use a recipe, but when I first started making slaw, I used the one from 1,000 Vegan Recipes. Really, you could just take your grandma’s slaw recipe and swap out some Vegenaise for whatever mayo granny swore by. Easy peasy summer-ish dinner.

 

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Sun

16

Mar

2014

Ammazza Pizza

Saturday, March 15

Ammazza Pizza

Rating: 4.75

 

Being vegan in Atlanta just keeps getting easier and easier. There have been some really exciting new choices for us coming on the scene lately. First, there was Drink Art opening a few weeks back. In case you missed it, we went there earlier in the week and holy yum it was amazing. But, back to the pizza. We’re always glad when pizza places have vegan cheese available, and we really do appreciate it, but Ammazza just raised the standards a bit. They apparently ran a special recently, which included house-made cashew cheese. It went so well, they decided to make it a regular menu item. Yes. You read that right. A non-vegan restaurant has added cashew cheese, that they make themselves, to the regular menu. There are two different specialty pies you can order with it. We got the Piccatta, which consisted of their house tomato sauce, spicy peppers, caramelized onions, marinated artichokes and red bell peppers, plus that wonderful, cashew cheese. The other is the Giardino, which has the sauce and the cheese, plus spinach, basil, raw onions, mushrooms, and artichokes. Both are clearly marked vegan on the menu, which I love. It’s great to see restaurants embrace “the v-word” instead of shying away from it. And it’s not just the cheese either, the staff there actually understands what we mean when we ask if something is vegan or not. We ordered a spinach salad, and Seth asked them to be sure to not put any cheese or anything on it. I asked if the dressing was vegan, and the girl taking our order told us it had honey in it, but she could give us oil & vinegar instead. Bonus points for knowing honey isn’t vegan. So how was the food? It was so freaking good. I’m picky about pizza being from the ‘burbs of NYC and all, but I have to say, this was really good pizza. The crust was perfect - thin and soft and foldable. The sauce was delicious, the veggies on the pie were cooked just right and also were an awesome combination. And the cashew cheese could not have been better. We loved it. We made sure to tell the server how good it was, and to thank them for adding the vegan options to the menu. He told us that they thought they would sell a few vegan pizzas a day, but it’s been a few every hour. Goes to show, if you build it, we will come. And eat. Often. If you live in Atlanta and want to try Ammazza, it’s on Edgewood between Boulevard and Krog, and has it’s own parking lot. They have an outdoor seating area for when the weather is nice, and a really good selection of craft beers to go with your yummy vegan pie. So go. And thank them for raising the bar of vegan pizza in Atlanta.

 

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Sun

16

Mar

2014

Chipotle, Potato & Seitan Tacos with Salvadoran Slaw

Friday, March 14

Chipotle, Potato & Seitan Tacos with Salvadoran Slaw

Rating: 4.5

 

No, we really can’t get enough tacos around here. I built this meal around some veggies we had and went from there. Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming, the Vegetable Husband baskets included cabbage, and we still had a few of the carrots from the previous basket on hand, so I decided figured I should make some kind of slaw. We haven’t had the Salvadoran Slaw from Viva Vegan in a little while, and it had been a whole week since we’d had tacos. So. There you go. Maybe not exactly an Irish dinner, but I did use both cabbage and potatoes so it counts right? Whatever. I still have enough left for Monday. Anyway, we also had some seitan in the freezer, so I flipped through Viva Vegan to look for a taco recipe. I know, I know, this should really be a no-brainer that doesn’t require a recipe, but I buy cookbooks because the people who write them are cleverer in the kitchen than I am, so even for things like tacos, I sometimes use an actual recipe instead of just stuffing things into tortillas. Besides, Viva Vegan is an amazing book filled with stuff you probably never thought of. These two recipes are both really simple to do. The slaw is just a handful of ingredients and is vinegar based as opposed to the mayo-based slaw we’re used to here in the South. I make it first so that it has time to marinate while I cook everything else. It goes in a bag in the fridge, and then you put something heavy on it so the marinade gets pressed into the cabbage and it gets tender and yummy. The seitan for the tacos gets marinated for a short while; it really just needs about 15 minutes, but I let ours sit for about an hour while I prepped and roasted the potatoes. The marinade is so simple, but so good - it’s mainly beer and chipotle in adobo.  Once the seitan is ready to go, it gets pan fried, and then the potatoes get cooked in the same skillet with the leftover marinade. Seth likes corn tortillas, so I put his tacos in those and used flour for mine. I used plain old store-bought vegan sour cream, but there’s also a cashew crema recipe in the book I plan to make for our next meal like this. These tacos, or others like them, will definitely be making regular appearances in our dinner rotation.

 

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Fri

14

Mar

2014

Curried Chickpeas & Greens with Naan

Thursday, March 13

Curried Chickpeas & Greens with Naan

Rating: 4

 

Hooray! Vegetable Husband sent a big, beautiful bunch of kale in this week's basket! We both had a craving for Indian food, so I decided to make a recipe I haven’t done in a while and made the Curried Chickpeas & Greens from Appetite for Reduction. As with all the recipes in that book, it was simple to make, healthy, and delicious. My only gripe is that it calls for a 12 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and I can only find 28 oz cans. I always freeze the extra to use later and then forget about it until like, a year later and then it’s not good and I waste it. I’m starting to think I need a spreadsheet inventory of what’s in my freezer & how long it’s been in there so I can plan better. Anyway, frozen crushed tomatoes aside, this dish really does come together in the 30 minutes the recipe promises, and it makes a lot, which is good because Seth loves to have leftovers for lunches. Since this has the beans and greens all in one dish, I didn’t make any other veggies to go with it. We had some naan from Vegan Eats World in the freezer, so I thawed that out and heated it for a few minutes so it would be all soft and warm. I love that naan recipe. It’s amazingly good, easy to make, and makes a lot. It freezes really, really well so you can have homemade naan pretty much any time you want it. If you don’t have Vegan Eats World, get it. I swear it’s worth it just for this one recipe alone, but every, single thing we’ve made from it has been amazing, so you won’t be disappointed. We also had some Sukhi’s brand samosas on the side because we pretty much can’t have Indian food without them anymore.

 

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Thu

13

Mar

2014

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Cakes and Sautéed Zucchini

Wednesday, March 12

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Cakes and Sautéed Zucchini

Rating: 4.25

 

The other day, I saw a post on Facebook of a cooking demo Bianca Phillps aka Vegan Crunk did at the Southern Women’s Show in Memphis, where she made her Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Cakes from her book, Cookin’ Crunk. We really enjoy that book and loved this recipe the last time we made it, so I decided to do it again. These are super-duper easy. I mean, crazy easy to make – a quick batter, black-eyed peas and corn. They get pan-fried just like pancakes or fritters, so basically, you only need about 15 minutes to make dinner. The last time we made them, we did the red pepper cream sauce recipe that goes with them, but this time I went with remoulade instead. I did it for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t have any red peppers and second, I did have remoulade (from 1000 Vegan Recipes) leftover in the fridge from the zucchini cakes we made on Monday.  The red pepper sauce is really good, so if you have what you need, by all means make it. If you don’t though, the remoulade was also really good on these. And so was the ranch dressing (also from Cookin’ Crunk) I made to go with the side-salad we had with dinner. Basically, the cakes are so good, you can put probably pretty much whatever creamy-type sauce you like on them. Our Vegetable Husband basket that came today had zucchini and more lettuce in it (score!) so I sliced up the zucchini and sautéed it with some onion, salt and pepper for a side. It was enough zucchini to serve two, so it was perfect. And it was delicious. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best thing to do with really fresh produce. Our salad was made from the super fresh and delicious lettuce from the basket. We had a small piece of ciabatta left in the freezer, so I warmed that up to round out the meal. Easy Southern supper.

 

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Wed

12

Mar

2014

Drink Art Thai Restaurant

Tuesday, March 11

Drink Art Thai Restaurant

Rating: 5

 

Guys! There’s a new vegan restaurant in Atlanta and they are not playing around. We first heard about Drink Art on Twitter when someone we know inquired if anyone had heard anything about it. We hadn’t, so Seth did a little poking around on the interwebs, and we saw right away that this was a place we needed to go, and soon. Several of our friends posted photos of their meals there and we were becoming increasingly jealous, so we made it our business to get there forthwith. If you haven’t heard about it, Drink Art is an all-vegan Thai restaurant in Castleberry Hills. When we arrived, we were greeted by a very friendly and helpful staff who let us look around and take some photos of the restaurant. It features an open kitchen with a small bar and several booths downstairs. Upstairs is a second seating area with benches and low tables, all facing the beautiful patio, which has an amazing view of the city. There are no tables on the patio, which I kind of like – it gives it more of a lounge feel. This is going to be a really popular spot this spring and summer. Once we were settled in at our table, we started off with a couple of cocktails, because you sort of have to at a place called Drink Art. I had a Yumberry Martini (vodka, berry liqueur, lemon) and Seth had a cucumber cocktail. Both lived up to up to cocktail artistry expectations we had. In addition to cocktails, they also have a selection of beers and organic wines, as well as organic juices. For an appetizer, we got the sampler platter, which consists of three of their appetizers – there was no way we could pick just one, or even two items to start with. We got the spring rolls, the golden bags, and the corn fritters. The golden bags are little pastry purses filled with veggies and they are delicious. Seth was so excited since it had been ages since he’d had golden bags and he said they were much better than others he’d had in the past. The spring rolls were pretty self-explanatory and also delicious. Our favorite was the corn fritters. I can only guess that they used magic to make them because they were amazing. Our server told us those are pretty much everyone’s favorite and I can see why. It took us a while to decide on our entrees because it all looked so good and there were so many choices. That’s the best part of vegan restaurants – you can order anything on the menu, and since Drink Art is a Thai restaurant, there’s the added bonus of not having to have the “no fish sauce, please” conversation with the servers. We finally settled on the Phad Khi Mao with veggie chicken for me, which was described on the menu as “Stir Fried Drunken Noodles With Chili, Garlic, Onion, And Thai Herbs.” Sounds good, right? It was. It was really, really, really good. Seth had the Phad Phrik Pao, which was “Stir Fried With Cashew Nuts, Onions And Herbs In A Sweet Chili Paste”. He had the veggie pepper steak, but you can order it with tofu or veggie chicken as well. His was also amazing – I made sure to taste it so that I could provide you with an accurate review. I’m a giver. I may or may not have tasted it a few times, just to be sure. Aside from the incredibly delicious flavors, there were a few other things I truly loved about our meals. First, they both had lots of veggies in them. Often when you get a noodle dish, you get mostly noodles, but this one had plenty of veg. The next thing was that the veggies were very fresh and were cooked perfectly – tender, but still very crisp. Perfect. The spiciness was also just right. Dishes marked as hot on the menu, like mine was, are actually hot. Not crazy hot. Not surface of the sun hot. Just perfectly, yummily, wonderfully hot. We’re lucky that we live so close, because as Seth told the staff, we plan to be regulars there. We certainly won’t be waiting until my birthday next month to go back. It’s a pretty popular spot, so I made sure to call ahead and make a reservation. Since we were there on a Tuesday, it wasn’t that crowded, but if you plan to go on a weekend, definitely call ahead.

 

 

 

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Tue

11

Mar

2014

Baked Beans, Corn with Green Chili Cream, and Zucchini Cakes with Remoulade

Monday, March 10

Baked Beans, Corn with Green Chili Cream, and Zucchini Cakes with Remoulade

Rating: 4.25

 

Leave it to me to take the idea of a simple veggie plate, which is what this was supposed to be, and turn it into something complicated. None of the dishes were difficult to make, it was just several things to do, as opposed to one main thing and a quick side of steamed broccoli or something. The baked beans were simple enough – we love the Happy Herbivore recipe for these. Canned baked beans are too sweet and just aren’t as good. The recipe calls for a can of navy bean that you don’t rinse, but since we use dried beans instead of canned, I add a little bit of extra water to them. We normally make these whenever we want baked beans. They’re really very easy and I made the rest of dinner while they were baking. I put together the zucchini cake mixture as soon as I put the beans into the oven and set it aside. We love these. The recipe is in one of my favorite books, The Vegan Table, and was one of the very first vegan recipes I ever made. They’re sort of like vegan crab cakes. Now, I’ve never in my life eaten a non-vegan crab cake (despite having grown up on an island) so I have no idea of these are in any way close or not, but they are really delicious. It’s the Old Bay seasoning I think I like so much and I always put a little extra in the mixture. These aren’t hard to make, but they do take a little bit of time just to shred the zucchini, mix it all up and then form and fry the patties. Still, they’re well worth the little bit of time it takes to make them. The corn is from the Vedge Cookbook and we love it. It doesn’t need long to cook, so I went ahead and did the prep for that next and set it aside for a few minutes while I made the remoulade. There are about a million different recipes for this out there, but I really like the one in 1000 Vegan Recipes. It takes a tiny bit longer to do, but it is so much better than any of the others I’ve tried, most of which are too ketchupy. Once that was done, the corn went in the oven and I fried the zucchini cakes while Seth made a nice salad to go with everything else, just to get some green on. All in all, this entire meal took me about an hour, which isn’t a crazy amount of time, but longer than it would’ve taken to use canned beans, grill some corn on the cob and steam some broccoli. 

 

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Tue

11

Mar

2014

Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Chinese Mustard Sauce, Asian Marinated Smoked Tofu and Soba Noodles

Sunday, March 9

Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Chinese Mustard Sauce, Asian Marinated Smoked Tofu and Soba Noodles

Rating: 4.75

So we had some baby bok choy from our weekly Vegetable Husband delivery and I wanted to do something other than a stir-fry with it. I was flipping through the Vedge Cookbook and found a recipe for Grilled Baby Bok Choy with Chinese Mustard Sauce. Oh hell yes. It looked simple enough and sounded amazing. The sauce was made from items we already had on hand – mainly hot Chinese mustard, vegan mayo and rice vinegar – and it took about 5 seconds to make. The bok choy was also crazy easy. Just toss it with sesame oil and plop it on the grill, or in our case, the grill pan, let it get slightly seared and you’re good to go. The tofu was also really simple. I have an indoor smoker, which I kind of forgot about. I love it, and when I first got it, I was using it a lot, so I set it aside just to keep from overdoing it. The smoke flavor is really prominent in the tofu so it would be easy to grow weary of it. My apartment smells like hickory smoke for a few days afterward too, even though the smoker really doesn’t make the house fill with smoke as you’d expect. While the tofu was smoking, I made a really simple marinade from tamari, rice vinegar, grated ginger, sriracha, garlic, a little sesame oil, and a splash of mirin. Once the tofu was smoked, I sliced it into 8 slabs and let it marinate for about 2 hours. When it was time to cook dinner, I grilled the tofu first, then put it in the oven on 200 just to keep warm while the noodles cooked and I grilled the bok choy. The noodles were really simple. I had some leftover Almond-Chili spread from the Shiitake Bahn Mi I’d made for lunch on Friday, so I mixed some of that into the noodles along with a few drops of sesame oil and chili oil and some chopped green onions. The noodles were ok, and tofu was really good, but the real star of dinner was the bok choy. I can’t wait to make it again.

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Sat

08

Mar

2014

Curry Tofu Tacos with Pinto Beans and Kale Slaw

Friday, March 7

Curry Tofu Tacos with Pinto Beans and Kale Slaw

Rating: 4.5

Tofu Taco Time! Want a taco that will knock your socks off and wow your friends and neighbors? Look no further than this recipe from The PPK. We first made it last year and were blown away. One bite and I was in love. The recipe first caught my eye for a few reasons – it contained two of my favorite things – kale and curry tofu – and it was a really clever and interesting take on tacos. It’s no secret that Seth & I love tacos and will make them out of damn near anything. Part of the beauty of this recipe is that even though it looks complicated at first glance, it’s really not. The tofu is really simple and can be grilled or broiled (I broil) and the dressing for the kale can be made quickly in a blender while the beans cook, or make it first and set it aside while prepping everything else.  The beans are actually really good on their own in more traditional style tacos, but I like to add a little cumin to them when I do that. The recipe makes 8 tacos, so if there are just two of you like there are here, you’ll have some leftovers. I don’t complain about leftovers because I get to enjoy them again later. The only issue we had this time around was that the tortillas came apart a bit. It’s never been a problem before, so I think it was just the brand (Trader Joe’s). I haven’t tried these tacos in small flour tortillas yet, but I think that would be really good as well.

 

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Fri

07

Mar

2014

Shiitake Bahn Mi

Friday, March 7

Shiitake Bahn Mi

Rating: 4.5

I don’t normally blog about lunch, but holy yum this one was really good. I was home and was feeling industrious. I also had some shiitake mushrooms in the fridge we’d gotten in the Vegetable Husband basket. Seth doesn’t like mushrooms at all, and I love them. I’d never cooked with shiiatkes before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. When flipping through Isa Does It, I came across this recipe and decided to give a shot. I’m so glad I did. I love tofu bahn mi and this version using shiitakes is amazing and crazy easy. It really does only take 20 minutes. I knew it was going to be good just from tasting the almond butter spread. I don’t like red radishes and the store I went to earlier didn’t have any daikon, so my pickles weren’t quite as flavorful as they could’ve been. I added a little bit of carrot so it wouldn’t be just cucumber slices. Next time, I will make sure I have daikon radishes on hand. The mushrooms were really easy and only took a few minutes to cook. I really hope to get more of them in our veggie baskets so I can make this again soon. It’s my favorite version of a bahn mi yet.

 

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Fri

07

Mar

2014

Puttanesca Pomodoro

Thursday, March 6

Puttanesca Pomodoro

Rating: 4.5

Our Vegetable Husband basket arrived on Wednesday, and it had a big bag of mixed lettuce! Yes please! This meant making some of my very favorite things – big, giant salads. I decided we should have a pasta dinner to go with this salad, and settled on the Puttanesca Pomodoro from Isa Does It. I love this recipe because it’s light, and fresh and loaded with olives. Plus, it’s one of the fastest recipes in the world to make since there’s minimal prep time – mostly just chopping tomatoes. The recipe calls for a fair amount of garlic (4 cloves), but of course, I added more. If you do oil-free, you could probably sauté the garlic in broth instead of olive oil. I let the sauce cook for little longer than the recipe says because it was a little bit juicier than I wanted it to be. Normally, we serve pasta by putting it on the plate first and then putting the sauce on top, but this time, we mixed it all in together as directed in the recipe. I don’t think it matters, other than I think the linguini got a better coating of the sauce this way. I’m really looking forward to summer when fresh, juicy tomatoes and basil are in abundance –this will be even tastier then.  I know I’ve said it before, but if you don’t have a copy of Isa Does It, get one. The salad I made was also delicious. Seth is usually in charge of salad because he’s better at it, but I made this one. The lettuce mix we got was so fresh and tasty. We also had some micro-greens on hand from the previous basket and I added those in along with the usual salad suspects of tomato, onion, olives and a few croutons. I wish I’d had cucumber as well. We had some homemade French bread in the freezer, so I wrapped it in foil and gently warmed it in the oven at 350 until it was soft and warm. We were in a bit of a hurry, so we didn’t make Seth’s Eighth Deadly Sin Garlic Bread. Instead, we dipped it into some garlic-infused olive oil with a little bit of sea salt and black pepper in it. Not the healthiest thing in the world, but… garlic.

 

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Tue

04

Mar

2014

Salt & Pepper Tofu Tacos with Asian Slaw

Friday, February 26

Salt & Pepper Tofu Tacos with Asian Slaw

Rating: 4.75

I’m in love with the Salt & Pepper Tofu recipe in Color Me Vegan. I was really nervous about it the first time I made it because the seasoning mix seemed a little too simple, but we loved it. There are a few sauce recipes to serve along with it, and we always use the Ginger-Scallion sauce. The recipe as written is fried and uses what I think is a lot of oil. Our friend Becky suggested baking it instead and that works out really well, using a lot less oil and getting the chewy texture we love. I just coat the tofu in a little bit of oil, then toss it with the spice blend and bake it. Once it’s done baking, I cook it in a pan with the sauce so it gets nicely coated and gooey. We used flour tortillas for the tacos and filled them out with Asian Slaw, which I changed up a little from the last time I made it by using stuff we got in our Vegetable Husband basket – I used Napa cabbage instead of green and purple and used pea shoots instead of snow peas. It’s endlessly interchangeable depending on what you have on hand. We made a side of Yellow Rice with Garlic from Viva Vegan to go with the tacos. It’s my favorite rice recipe and it went really well with these, even though they were Asian-inspired tacos.

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Mon

03

Mar

2014

All the Birthday Foods!

Tuesday, February 25

All the Birthday Foods!

Rating: 5

 

Sooo… Seth and his mom have the same birthday, and we decided to go visit her in Chattanooga. And to eat some of our favorite foods. We started out the day at Dulce Vegan where we both got English muffin sandwiches with tofu “egg”, tempeh bacon, and Daiya cheddar (Seth’s also had tomato). I love the English muffins at Dulce, so when Seth said he wanted to go there for breakfast, I did not need to be asked twice. Seth also got a “cowboy” cookie to go after breakfast. What the hell, it was his birthday. We grabbed some cupcakes to take to his mom as well, after all, it was her birthday too. Once we got to Chattanooga, we headed to Sluggo’s for lunch before going to see Seth’s mom. I meant to order the Berliner, a Reuben-style sandwich, but for some reason, when I ordered I asked for the Philly Seitan instead. No worries- I love that sandwich too, it was just a surprise when they brought our food. My brain is apparently non-functional at this point. I got the plate as opposed to just the sandwich, so mine came with a salad and a side. I got double salad, which is what I normally do. It’s a really good salad and the sandwiches are Seth got the nachos, which he loves. They’re listed in the appetizer section, but it’s a huge portion. They’re loaded with chili (Seth subs black beans), avocado, olives, lettuce, tomato and 2 cheese sauces. And they are so good. After a visit with his mom, we headed back to Atlanta to have a late dinner at Top Spice, which is more or less Seth’s favorite place to eat. Yes. I know. We ate out all three meals. Whatever. We got what we almost always get when we go to Top Spice – Tofu Garlic Pepper, which is tofu and red bell peppers in a yummy brown sauce topped with crispy garlic and served over chopped lettuce. I know, the lettuce sounds weird, but it’s not, it’s really good. We also get the Kari Sayur Campur, which is a hot pot full of a brothy, coconut milk curry with tofu and vegetables. We share both dishes and leave stuffed. I confess, we’ve had these two dishes so many times, I didn’t even take photos, I just recycled ones we’ve taken before.

 

2 Comments

Mon

03

Mar

2014

Vegetable eTouffee over Wild Rice

Monday, February 24

Vegetable eTouffee over Wild Rice

Rating: 4.25

 

So, we had all those yummy veggies in the fridge and I decided what better way to use them other than a big pot of veg and beans. I found this recipe in One Dish Vegan (one of my new favorite books) and wanted to try it out. From the basket, we used the parsley, bell pepper, and green onions (it was a really large bunch, so there was plenty left from the stir-fry). I picked up a couple of zucchinis and some more onions and we were all set. Instead of the traditional (and gross) shrimp or crawfish (aka crawdads here in the South), this recipe uses red beans. I think a baked tofu, using super-firm so it didn’t come apart, would also be good here. In addition to being a one-pot dish, this recipe also has the advantage of coming together very quickly. Once you’ve chopped the veggies, it’s done in less than 30 minutes. It was a little bit juicier than I’d expected, but then again, I’ve never had eTouffee of any kind before, so I didn’t have any basis of comparison. But, being a big fans of piles of veggies with beans or tofu, we both really enjoyed this. We served it over wild rice just to mix things up a little bit (I’m getting tired of brown rice) and it was a good call. I cooked the rice in broth for a little extra oomph and it was really good. The recipe says it makes 4 servings, but those are pretty big servings – there was a lot left over for lunches.

 

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Mon

03

Mar

2014

Vesuvius Pizza

Big Ass Salad
Big Ass Salad

Sunday, February 23

Vesuvius Pizza

Rating: 4.5

 

We decided to go to a pizza place we’d never tried before. One we’d actually have to drive to get to. Our neighborhood is full of tons of restaurants with excellent vegan options, so we rarely actually get in the car to go out to eat. This was different thoug, because we also wanted to check out the jazz at the little bar adjacent to the pizza place. So, in the car and off to Vesuvius it was. We started off with a Greek salad (hold the feta, please) and an excellent salad it was. It was also huge, so the waitress advised us to split it. They don’t carry vegan cheese, so we did something I am generally morally opposed to and ordered a cheese-less pizza. I’m a native of the NYC suburbs. Pizza without cheese is a punishable crime. We’ve done this before and it hasn’t been the end of the world, but this time I was actually blown away. We got the veggie pizza, hold the mushroom since Seth hates them (grumble, grumble) and hold the cheese. Holy vegan pepperoni Batman it was good! Seriously, the crust and sauce were so yummy I think the cheese would have taken away from the pizza rather than adding to it. It was also positively loaded with veggies – red & green peppers, spinach, olives, grape tomatoes and onions. Once we were happily filled with pizza, we went through the bookcase in the back into the bar, called Speakeasy, next door to hear some jazz., which they have on Sunday nights. The band was amazing – really, you should go. There was a guest sax player who completely blew me away. This was a fun Sunday night, low-key date night. Definitely will be doing this again. Oh, and you can get into the bar from the street, but really, why? It’s more fun to use the bookcase.

 

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Mon

03

Mar

2014

Lentil-A-Roni, Mushroom-Tofu Stroganoff, Kale Salad and Ciabatta Bread

Saturday, February 22

Lentil-A-Roni, Mushroom-Tofu Stroganoff, Kale Salad and Ciabatta Bread

Rating: 4.75

 

We got together with our friends David & Luce and Alison & Kevin for dinner at David & Luce’s home. They made the two pasta dishes, both from Isa Does It and both were so delicious. David and Luce are both excellent cooks. Alison made a cooked kale salad that contained bell peppers, corn, and some other yummy stuff. I think she invented this recipe on the fly, which makes me insanely jealous because it was so good and she just made it up. I made a batch of ciabatta bread, because I love to bake bread. I use this recipe from Holy Cow Vegan. It turns out perfect, but be warned, the dough does not do what she says it will at the various stages of mixing. It also tends to ooze a bit, rather than becoming proper “loaves”. And your parchment paper is going to burn since it really shouldn’t be in the oven at that temperature. Also, I’ve made this twice and both times it was done in about 12-15 minutes instead of 25. I think anything in a 500-degree oven for 25 minutes would end up as charcoal, but that’s just me.  Luce finished out this delicious dinner with an apple crisp from Dr. McDougall. It was so good and decadent; you’d never know how healthy it actually was. It was so wonderful to spend time with good friends, enjoying wonderful food and excellent conversation.

 

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Mon

03

Mar

2014

Roasted Veggies and Pita

Wednesday, February 19

Roasted Veggies and Pita

Rating: 4.25

 

We got our first delivery from Vegetable Husband! If you’re not familiar with VH, it’s a home-delivery service that brings you a basket of local, organic vegetables and fruits every week. Yes. Delivered. To your house. We did a CSA last year and we loved it, but they didn’t have an autumn or winter option and we’ve really missed having the fresh local veg, so we signed up. This week’s basket contained 2 very large grapefruits, a bunch of chard, a huge bunch of green onions, a bag of carrots, a huge green pepper, a bag of pea shoots (yay!), a small bunch of parsley and 2 large eggplants. I love eggplant. Seth does not. Since he was out of town for dinner, I knew what I’d be having. I actually had not planned any dinners beyond Tuesday since I didn’t know what would be in the basket. I had a bag of mini yellow, orange and red bell peppers along with a little bit of zucchini in the fridge. I picked up a portobello cap to add to the mix and roasted veggies it is! I didn’t use a recipe for this, I just cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and cut one of the eggplants, the zucchini, mushroom and a large onion into big chunks, mixed it all up with about 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil and some oregano, basil, marjoram, salt and pepper. I meant to put a bunch of garlic in there but totally forgot. (HOW DID I FORGET GARLIC?!) It turned out really good, mostly because I really love roasted eggplant. I had some pita in the freezer and tore pieces off of it, loaded veggies on and at it that way. This concoction would be really good as a sandwich with some hummus or white bean spread. There was a lot left over, so I’ll have some lunches out of this too. Yay!

 

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Sun

23

Feb

2014

Ancho Lentil Quesadillas in Black Rice Tortillas

Tuesday, February 18

Ancho Lentil Quesadillas in Black Rice Tortillas

Rating: 4.25

I was planning to make tacos, but we received a package from Food For Life (the company that makes Ezekiel brand bread) containing samples of their new black rice gluten-free tortillas, so we made a last minute change. I went ahead with the planned Ancho Lentil Taco filling recipe from the PPK site and Isa Does It. We love this recipe – it’s easy, delicious, and versatile; we use it in tacos, on nachos, and now, in quesadillas. I was low on ancho chili powder, so I had to use a little bit of regular chili powder to fill it out, but it wasn’t noticeable. I also only made a half batch of lentils since the full recipe makes a ton. We like our quesadillas pretty loaded, so in addition to the lentils, we also filled them with sautéed broccoli & spinach, sliced avocado, black olives, salsa and Daiya Jack-style cheese. Quesadilla night is always build-your-own style here, so we both get to have them just the way we want them. Mine always have more cheese than Seth’s and his have more avocado and salsa than mine. A nice salad would be good with this too, but we had plenty of veggies in the quesadillas, so we skipped it this time. We were also really excited to try out the new tortillas. There will be a full review of the product coming soon, once I try them out in a few more recipes, but I will say this: we really like them, and once we run out, we’ll be buying more.

 

 

 

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Sat

22

Feb

2014

Sausage and Peppers over Brown Rice with Collards

Monday, February 17

Sausage and Peppers over Brown Rice with Collards

Rating: 4.25

File this under “so easy it doesn’t count as cooking”. Seriously. We had a couple of Field Roast Italian sausages in the fridge, so I grabbed a couple of bell peppers, one green and one red, and a yellow onion and called it dinner. (If you want a homemade, low fat alternative to store-bought sausages, try this Happy Herbivore recipe.) All I did was cut the peppers and onion into slices and sautéed them in a little olive oil until they started to soften, then added the sliced sausage links and cooked them until they were crispy and the pepper-onion mixture was slightly browned. I sprinkled in a little crushed red pepper and a pinch of thyme. I meant to mince some garlic and toss that in too, but somehow forgot. How could I forget garlic?! This would be really good mixed with some pasta and chopped tomato and fresh basil, but we served it over brown rice. I always cook my brown rice in vegetable broth, which it gives it a really nice extra bit of something flavor-wise. We had a side of collards, which I already had on hand since Seth had asked me to make a batch for him over the weekend, so all I had to do was warm those up a little. I don’t really use a recipe for them, but the basic outline is below and was based on the method Seth’s mom uses. You don’t have to cook them for as long as I do. It’s a Southern thing to cook vegetables to death.

 

 

VEGANesp World Famous Top Secret Collards

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 TBL olive oil

1 bunch collards, tough stems removed, cut into slivers

2 cups of vegetable broth (or water, or water and bouillon)

1 smallish potato, cut into several large chunks (any kind you have on hand)

1 medium turnip, cut into several large chunks

2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 large tomato, chopped, optional

Salt & pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar, for serving

 

Heat the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the collards and sauté for a few minutes until they cook down a little bit. You may need to add them in batches. Add the broth, potato, turnip and carrot. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low (I usually cook at between 2-3 on my gas stove). Let the collards simmer for about an hour, then add the chopped tomato and let it cook down for about another 30 minutes. You may need to add more broth (or water), but probably not. Taste for salt & pepper. A splash of tamari or soy sauce is also good. Serve in bowls, with plenty of broth and have the balsamic vinegar handy so everyone can splash in as much as they like.

Note: If you don’t like your greens cooked to death, you could probably serve them after about 30 minutes.

 

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Sat

22

Feb

2014

Malai Kofta and Curried Chard

Seth brought me roses
Seth brought me roses

Friday, February 14

Malai Kofta and Curried Chard

Rating: 4.75

We don’t usually go out to dinner for on Valentine’s Day. Most restaurants have such a limited menu that it’s hard to get a good vegan option, and even harder to get one worth the inflated Valentines Day price. Still, I wanted to have a special dinner. I needed to pick up some more Sukhi’s brand samosas and lo and behold I found some more treats that we started out with for appetizers. I picked up a box each of the Spinach Pakoras (think fried veggie fritters) and the Aloo Tikki (potato patties filled with spiced peas). They were both delicious, but the pakoras were a tiny bit spicier than I expected. All of these are kind of on the expensive side, so they won’t be a regular part of Indian dinners. Well, maybe the samosas. We really can’t skip those. For our main dish, I went to one of our new favorite recipes is the Chandra Malai Kofta from Isa Does It. It’s kind of involved, so you want to be sure you have plenty of time, but it’s worth it. If you’re not familiar with this dish, it’s basically vegan meatballs (koftas) smothered in a rich creamy sauce. I made just a half batch of the sauce this time because the full recipe makes a lot, and as good as it is, I wasn’t able to use it all the last time. The base is cashews and coconut milk and it tastes exactly like the sauce I remember from Indian restaurants in my pre-vegan days. The koftas are made from mostly chickpeas, zucchini and breadcrumbs with toasted slivered almonds. The mixture for these needs to set up in the fridge for at least half an hour before you form the koftas and cook them, so keep that in mind when timing your meal.

Appetizers!
Appetizers!

You can add extra veggies to the dish, but we decided to have a separate side. I love chard, and one of my favorite recipes for it is the Quick Curried Chard from Color Me Vegan and it’s one of the easiest I’ve ever tried. Curry paste and non-dairy milk give it an amazing flavor in no time flat. We had some naan that I made using the recipe in Vegan Eats World already and in the freezer, so all we had to do was reheat it and it was perfect. If you've not heard me wax poetic about this nann before, here goes: buy a copy of Vegan Eats World, make the naan. That one recipe alone is worth the purchase price of the book. Not kidding. This was a heavy dinner, so if you decide to try it out, bring your appetites!

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