Monday, January 31, 2011

broccoli almond sweet & sour tofu

I am a total sucker for cookbooks. I love buying new books with recipes I've never dreamed about, and going over the pages a hundred times before I settle on the first tasty treat I'd like to try. Recently, I've received a plethora of wonderful vegetarian and vegan cookbooks from Christmas and my birthday, and I'm just starting to dive into some fun new recipes. This time, my parents chose the first one from Vegan Yum Yum, by Lauren Ulm (via Christmas from my cousin Mal).

The recipe is broccoli almond sweet and sour tofu, and let me tell you, it was delicious. While the deep fried tofu and sweet, sticky sauce were both slightly sinful, it's super filling (so you won't eat a ton of it), and the sauce tastes great on the almonds, broccoli, and red bell pepper (that was our own addition).
I won't give away all the trade secrets, but here is a link to the sweet and sour sauce, which was quite delicious. My dad thinks that it would be far less hassle to just buy pre-fried tofu, and then add the homemade sauce, but really, there's nothing like hot, crispy, deep fried tofu right out of the wok :)

So far, 1 recipe in from Vegan Yum Yum, and I'm excited for more. I definitely won't make this all the time (just cause of the fried food thing), but I'll definitely hold on to this one for the future.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

pita bread pizza

After a long weekend in Utah (and let's be honest, a long, rowdy holiday season), I'm ready to get back to eating right and being healthy. This super easy recipe was inspired by something I saw in the newest Vegetarian Times. Of course, their recipe was way classier with roasted red peppers, and fresh herbs, but this week I'm just looking for quick, healthy and easy, so this is my pauper version.

Stuff you need: 1. Whole wheat pita rounds 2. Olive oil 3. Pizza sauce 4. Cheese (or vegan cheese) 5. Spices & toppings (I used onions and red bell pepper)

Start by preheating your oven to 400. While the oven is warming up, place the pita round on a baking sheet and assemble your pizza to your liking. On top of the crust, brush olive oil, and then put sauce, cheese, and your veggies, meat substitute and/or spices (I really like herbs de provence, salt, and pepper).

When the oven is hot and the pizza is ready, pop the pita in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the pita is golden.
That's it. A seriously delicious meal assembled and cooked in less than 20 minutes! What's also nice, is that the combination possibilities are endless- any veggie, fruit, or fake meat toppings, vegan or regular cheeses, white, red, or pesto sauces, any spice you got in your cabinet- man I love pizza! This is DEFINITELY a meal that I'll add to the dinner staples.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

breakfast burritos & daiya cheese

Let me begin by saying that I am NOT a morning person. I usually make my lunch, lay out my clothes, and make extensive lists the night before, otherwise I always end up forgetting something important first thing in the morning. This is why last night I decided to make a big batch of vegan breakfast burritos to last me the next few weeks. A healthy homemade breakfast burrito always beats eating plain toast while running out the door, and trying to put on eyeliner in the car.

Stuff you need: 1. 1 firm block of tofu it will be about 6 burritos) 2. some tortillas (the regular size is fine) 3. tasty salsa 4. vegan cheese (or regular cheese or no cheese- your choice) 5. spices 6. foil

Start by squeezing the liquid out of the tofu like normal. When your skillet is warmed to about medium, crumble the block of tofu into the hot pan. Season the tofu with your favorite spices (I used tobasco, red pepper flakes, garlic salt, and CUMIN♥ to stick with the Mexican breakfast theme). When the tofu is warmed through and spiced to your liking, take a tortilla and throw it in the microwave for 25 seconds.

Pull the tortilla out of the microwave and put it on top of a piece of foil. Add some tofu, salsa, and cheese to the tortilla and roll it up nice and tight (don't forget to tuck in the ends). Wrap the burrito up in foil and throw it in the freezer. DONE AND DONE!
A breakfast burrito was perfect this morning! I grabbed one on my way out the door, and when I got to my office, I took the burrito out of the foil, and microwaved it for about a minute or so in a paper towel. A hot, healthy, and incredibly easy-to-make breakfast like that! I love it.

Here is my only complaint: the cheese. I know this is heresy, but I don't think I liked the Daiya vegan cheese I purchased. I've read about this stuff everywhere, and everyone and their mom says that this it's the best cheese substitute out there. Of course I had to try it! The texture is phenomenal- it does, indeed, melt and stretch just like real cheese, but there's no way I can get past the taste. Maybe I needed more salsa, or spices, or maybe there was too much cheese for the little burrito, but I definitely did NOT like the taste at all. I can't put my finger on it -like, old soy cheese with better texture? Maybe the flavor is too strong for cheese? I don't know, but it wasn't good.

I haven't given up on Daiya just yet. Since everyone loves it to death, I'm going to keep around the rest of the bag so I can try a dip or pizza or something, but until it impresses me, strike 1, Daiya, strike 1.

I think I'm in love with the homemade breakfast burrito idea.
On my next batch, I'll just skip the cheese altogether :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

mac & ribs- product reviews

I always get inappropriately excited when I find cool new veggie products that I've never tried before. I just wanted to mention two fantastic items that I've recently stumbled on.
1. Hickory BBQ Riblets from Morningstar Farms. They come with 2 little riblets (shown above) and are frozen in their own sauce. Heat up the oven to 350, and 30 minutes later, they're good to go. I think my carvinorous friends were super jealous when my ribs took half the time to make, and tasted just as good as theirs. No really. The riblets have a good texture, and the flavor was great. DEFINITELY needs some more BBQ sauce on top, but otherwise a totally tasty dinner. Oh! And too boot, it's vegan! Yayy!

2. Vegan Rice Macaroni & Cheeze from Amy's. Now I know the thought of gluten AND dairy free macaroni and cheese sounds repulsive, but let me tell you differently. First and foremost, I love that this exists in the first place. People with specialty diets rejoice! I also love that it's a quick, frozen meal that you can pop in the microwave anytime. 5 minutes later, you have a hot, sinless meal, that's surprisingly delicious. Now this definitely isn't your mom's gooey, cheesey, mac 'n' cheese, so when you dig in, don't expect that. The cheese flavor is a little off, but it's actually pretty good for being vegan! If you're not used to the taste of vegan dairy substitutes, you have been warned. Otherwise, stir it up, and enjoy!

Before I end, I'd like to pass on one more bit of vegan fun. I found this article by Mark Bittman, and I love the message. It's mostly press for his new book, but he also mentions how we revamped his lifestyle with a pesudo-vegan diet- "vegan until six"- and is now happier and healthier than ever. I like his thoughts about finding a diet that fits your lifestyle, especially one that's good for your body, and kind to the earth. Just something cool to think about :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

hearty vegetable crockpot soup

You know what I love about slow cooker meals? They're easy to make, the food simmers all day for a soupy deliciousness, and when you come home from your first Monday back at the office, there's a hot, AMAZING meal waiting for you. I've made this recipe a few times before, but I think that this is the best one so far.

The recipe inspiration is from Robin Robertson's book Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker (one of my favorite cookbooks from my vegan idol). I used a couple of recipes for the basis, but added my own twists too.

Stuff you need: 1. 6 cups vegetable stock (I only had 4, so I used water for the other 2, and it was still great) 2. 2 cloves garlic 3. Lots of veggies all chopped- I had on hand onion, celery, carrot, potato, yellow squash, and zucchini 4. 1 can chickpeas 5. 1 can diced tomatoes 6. About a cup or so ditalini or other small soup noodle

After you're out of the shower, just before work, turn on your crockpot and throw in the garlic, onion, carrot, and celery to let them soften up while you dry your hair. Just before you run out the door, throw in the rest of your chopped vegetables, the can of chickpeas, the can of diced tomatoes, the 6 cups of vegetable stock/water, and a little salt and pepper for good measure.

Now go to work, go shopping, or do something fun for the next 8-ish hours and leave your crockpot on the low setting. When you get home, throw in some raw ditalini noodles and let cook an extra 45-ish minutes, or until it's to your desired tenderness. Season with more salt, pepper, garlic salt, or whatever else you think it needs- I used poultry seasoning, and I really liked the outcome.

Finally, serve it up! After 3 heaping bowls of soup between me, my boyfriend, and my roommate, there was still PLENTY for lunch leftovers today, and the rest of the week (see it still looks tasty day 2 in my tupperware!)

Next time: Maybe 2 cans of diced tomatoes instead of 1, and for a less intensely-hearty soup, I would pick potatoes OR ditalini, but not both. So far, this is definitely my best slow cooker meal yet! I'm proud :)