May 22, 2011

b.l.t. & vegenaise

It's always such a nice treat to go home to my parents' house for a few nights. I get to see the folks, play with the pets, sleep in my old bed, and eat tons of delicious meals from a phenomenally stocked pantry. Mom is a huge Vitamin Cottage shopper, so she always has something new and tasty for me to try out when I come home. For lunch today, Mom whipped out a package of tempeh bacon, and we made some vegan BLTs. Normally, I don't like meatless bacon, but apparently I just haven't tried the right brand, cause this stuff is seriously delicious!

Stuff you need: 1. Bread 2. Vegenaise 3. Tempeh Bacon 4. Lettuce 5. Tomato

Start by heating up a little olive oil in a skillet. When the pan is warm, throw in your tempeh bacon- we found that 2 strips was perfect for each sandwich. While the fakin' bacon is browning, pop your bread into the toaster, and slice up your tomato and lettuce.

When the tempeh strips are slightly browned and warmed through, pull them off the heat and assemble your sandwiches! Take a piece of toast, slather it with Vegenaise, and top it with your bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Boom. Lunch is served.
Okay, it's not rocket science, but honestly, this sandwich blew me away. The bacon's texture is thick with just the right amount of bite, and the taste is like smoked hickory maple goodness. Add a dollop of Vegenaise and some fresh vegetables? That is a damn good sandwich. If you haven't tried tempeh bacon yet, I highly recommend it.

And speaking of amazing products, I can't believe I haven't mentioned Vegenaise before, cause I absolutely love it! It's perfect on sandwiches, in cole slaw, for egg salad, and just about any recipe that calls for mayo. I was never a huge mayo fan in the first place, but Vegenaise is lower in saturated fat than the regular stuff, I love the flavor, and no animals were harmed in the making of it. Sounds like a pretty good combo to me :)
So with my adoration for Vegenaise, and my newfound obsession with tempeh bacon, a BLT was the perfect lunch today. Thanks Mom and Pop! ♥

May 19, 2011

greek lentil salad

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is magazine buying- Vogue, Elle, Nylon, you name it, and occasionally I'll break down and buy it. I have a hard time justifying purchasing fashion magazines since it feels frivolous, but I have absolutely no problem picking up the newest addition of Vegetarian Times. Fun articles, new ideas, and always great looking recipes. This month they began a 28 day boot camp with daily de-bunked myths and healthy meals, and let me tell you, I jumped on board immediately!

The recipe for day 1 was Greek lentil salad, and it looked so fresh and tasty, I couldn't help but making it right away. They suggest making it for a take away lunch or light dinner, so I made a full batch in preparation for this week's lunches as work. Look how productive I am eating lunch at my desk.

This was my first time ever cooking lentils, and I'm pretty pleased. I love that they're low in sodium and high in protein, which is just what I need more of in my diet. However, I don't think I properly cooked them all the way through, so the salad came out slightly tough. On that note, I wish there was more sauce- more olive oil or lemon juice or something to sop up that dry crunchiness- but then again, maybe that might be solved by properly cooking the lentils? Oops.

It's a pretty good recipe with a great flavor profile. I like it, but I don't love it. When all this rain passes and I'm ready for a fresh, light meal, I'll definitely try this one out again- and next time, I'll properly cook those lentils too! :)

May 16, 2011

basic miso soup

I think miso must be one of my favorite soups of all times. I love the unique, fresh, flavors, and it makes a perfect appetizer or light meal. I bought a tub of miso a while back, but kept forgetting it at my friend's house, so when I finally reacquired my miso paste, I was excited to make a big batch tonight. I mostly followed the recipe from The 30 Minute Vegan's Taste of the East, but tweaked it to my own liking a little bit too.

I won't give away all their published secrets, but I will tell you what I did differently. The book and most other recipes I found online call for dashi stock, but I'm poor and lazy, so I used vegetable broth, and I think it turned out just fine. I also used more tofu than it called for, and added strips of nori as well- hint: use scissors instead of a knife on nori sheets. It's way easier!

Maybe a little sodium-heavy, but honesty, I was craving it, and it was so worth it! In the book, the nori sheets were an optional addition, but it wouldn't have been as good without it. It was also nice that the recipe made a ton of soup, so I froze a little, and packed a portion or two for lunch this week. If I can figure out how to cut back on the salt a little, I will happily made this soup on a weekly basis. Not quite as good as the restaurants, but still tasty and satisfying! :)

May 14, 2011

tostada pizzas

This is the first time in my life that I've ever lived on my own, and grocery shopping for one is definitely interesting. I'm finding out that food sticks around a lot longer when it's just me, which means when I make a big pot of soup, I eat soup for 12 straight meals. Hm. I need to 1. learn to utilize the freezer and 2. get more creative with my leftovers and large quantity ingredients.

This is the situation I have found myself in with pasta sauce. I have some Newman's Own hanging out in my fridge, and a person can eat only so much pasta. Thus! Tostada pizzas.

Stuff you need: 1. Corn tortillas 2. Pasta sauce 3. Cheese 4. Toppings 5. Italian Seasoning 6. Olive oil

Turn your oven to broil, and while it's warming up, fry up your corn tortillas in a skillet with a splash of olive oil so they're a little crispy. Slice up your toppings, and shred your cheese, and when everything is ready, assemble your wee pizzas. Top the tortillas with sauce, then shredded cheese (I had monterey jack), then your veggie toppings (I used tomatoes), then more cheese (I used parmesan), and finally some Italian seasoning sprinkled over the whole deal.

Pop it under the broiler for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melty and devour!

I think the corn tortilla was a really nice flavor for the pizza, and it was perfectly crispy and easy to just pop in your mouth! It also came together super fast and totally hit the spot for my gin hangover. Double score.

I will definitely be thinking more creatively towards my ingredients. In fact, Food Network has 50 fun ideas for your pasta sauce. I personally like it over polenta, over steamed broccoli and white beans, and now on creative pizzas too! Lotsa pasta sauce? No problem :)

May 10, 2011

boca beef tacos

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: you can put just about anything into a taco, and it will be delicious. Last time, I think I used Boca chik'n patties with a hodge podge of random things I found in the kitchen. Tonight, however, I went over to Michael's house, where we vegatized the classic beef taco!

If you haven't discovered Boca ground crumbles yet, go to the store and purchase them right now! They're a meatless version of ground beef, but way better. I usually use them in marinara sauce over pasta, but tonight, we mixed it up and used it in tacos.

Stuff you need: 1. Boca ground crumbles 2. a taco seasoning packet or your spices of choice 3. corn tortillas 4. taco extras- salsa, avocado, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, beans, cheese, etc.

Start by browning/warming your Boca crumbles in a skillet with a little olive oil. When they're totally defrosted and warmed through, plop in your taco seasoning packet according to the directions on the side- there are tons of different brands, but ours was mixed with 2/3 cups water, added to the "beef" and then simmered for a few minutes.

When the meatless meat mixture is all gooey and ready to go, chop up your taco extras. Tonight we had 505 salsa, a little bit of shredded cheese, black beans, avocado chunks, and red onion. Nuke the tortillas in the microwave for a hot second, and then fill to the brim with everything!
It looks like a legit beef taco, right? The seasoning packet was a great idea. The mixture may have been a little salty since we only used half of the crumbles- the entire bag would have distributed the flavors better- but otherwise, a tasty meal! This is definitely one of those dishes that hardcore carnivores would happily devour with no complaints. Another delicious use for Boca crumbles is a success! :)

May 8, 2011

street food eats & mother's day treats

Happy Mother's Day out there to everyone! Normally I can find the cutest, most perfect thing to get my mom, but this year the holiday snuck up on me, and a jam-packed weekend kept me extra busy.

Yesterday I checked out the Horseshoe flea and craft market with some friends, hoping to find the perfect thing for mom. While there were tons of fantastic vintage and handmade goods, I didn't quite find the right thing. I did, however, find the Seabirds food truck from Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race. They're filming season 2, and I'm really excited I got to dine at the vegan truck!
The avocado tacos were good, the fries were really good, and the jerk jackfruit sliders were phenomenal. I don't know what jackfruit is, but if it tastes that good all the time, I want more of it, and I want it now! Unfortunately, we waited in line for around an hour and a half, which was seriously lame, but I'm still glad I could support them in their food truck race! Yay vegan street food!

And now, on a very NON-vegan note, I just wanted to share the Mother's Day gift I made for my mom. The inspiration came from the Real Mom Kitchen, and I must say, the outcome was far better than I anticipated.

I made my mom half a dozen mini cheesecakes (it's one of her favorite treats) with strawberry, chocolate, or caramel and pecan toppings. I pretty much followed the recipe, except for the Nilla Wafer crust. For my version, I finely crushed up about 10 Nilla Wafers and mixed them up with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. I then pressed the mixture into the bottom of the muffin tins, and baked them at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.

From there, I poured in the batter, and baked them for 20 minutes. When they looked ready, I popped them in the fridge overnight, and decked them out with various toppings this morning before giving them to my mom. I opted for drizzled chocolate, caramel sauce with pecans, and fresh strawberries soaked in a simple sugar solution (thanks to Chef Troy).
The recipe was surprisingly easy, and the outcome was perfect! The flavor was right on- just like a store bought cheesecake- and they're so cute and elegant looking, no one would believe I made them myself. Add a bottle of merlot and a little card, and that's an indulgent gift, indeed :) Happy Mother's Day, Mama! I ♥ you!

May 4, 2011

almost instant faux pho

The first time I had pho, it totally knocked my socks off. The flavors are so rich and fresh, it's seriously healthy, and I love adding sauces to make the dish taste just how you like. Unfortunately after becoming vegetarian, I quickly found out that the flavorful pho broth is made with a crap ton of animal parts. Boo. I hear that there are a few places that do veggie pho, but I have yet to hunt those locations down. So craving pho, and being short on time, I threw together my first attempt at homemade faux pho.

Stuff you need: 1. Veggie broth 2. Rice noodles of some kind- I used stick noodles 3. Various sauces- hoisin, soy, and chili garlic were perfect for this dish 4. Veggies- I used bean sprouts, bell pepper, cucumber & green onion 5. 1/2 lime

Start by bringing your vegetable broth to boil in a pot- just enough to cook the noodles in- kind of like pasta. When the broth is boiling, remove the pot from the heat, and throw your noodles in for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente.

While you're waiting for your noodles to get tender, chop up all the rest of your ingredients. I cut the bell pepper into julienne strips, the cucumber into sliced quarters, and the green onion into little chunks- just bite sized pieces that you can easily slurp up.

When the noodles are ready and the veggies are prepped, take a bowl and fill it with noodles and a big ladle full of the broth. On top of this, toss all your chopped vegetables and bean sprouts, and then season with the sauces of your choice- hoisin is especially great, and the chili garlic gives it a nice kick. Finally, squeeze the lime half on top of everything, and devour. Really, that's it!

For being such an impromptu meal, I was really surprised that the flavors were so great. If you don't like how it's tasting, it's so easy to add a little more of this and that until it's just right. The only thing I think my faux pho lacked was basil- which it's traditionally served with. Next time, I will make sure to use basil as well, but honestly, I think it was pretty damn delicious as is. Quick, filling, healthy, and spectacular. I will definitely be making this one more often :)