Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Pricey Vegan

One of my favorite things to do is call my mother and brag about something delicious that I created. It's not really bragging, I guess, it's more like, "aren't you proud I can cook just like you???". We were talking about my dinner the other night and she told me all about the stuffed cabbage my sister made. They used meatless hamburger crumbles and soy butter. I was thrilled! At the same time, my mom said, "All this stuff is just too expensive.". She's not wrong! The soy butter runs close to $5 a tub...the meatless products can run up to $4.98...and soy milk can be a little expensive, too. This post is for my mom.

After learning the importance of reading labels, I decided to try it out on a few things at the store. I love it when I find 'accidentally vegan' products. Blue Bonnet spread? The light kind? Vegan. It even says it on the back. :) Bisquick? Also vegan. Mocha Mix? Not a drop of cow tears in it. It's great that we have other options, but when it comes to fake meat, there isn't all that much to choose from.

Have no fear, stingy vegan wannabes. There ARE options. Thanks to La Dolcé Vegan (my idol and personal hero), mock meats will no longer cost $5 per ounce! Viva La Dolcé Vegan!!!

"This recipe might seem a bit complicated. But if you can't find or don't have instant vital wheat gluten flour, what are you going to do? You work with what you have, so let's get our hands gooey! Let's go!"

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/4 cups water.

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flours. Add the water and mix, then knead together until well combined. Cover bowl with cloth and let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Wet hands and knead dough for 1 minute, then return to bowl. Place bowl in sink and add cold water until bowl is filled. Squeeze dough with your hands until water turns cloudy (don't worry if it falls apart...just keep kneading!). Carefully pour off water (holding back dough with your hands) and fill bowl again with cold water. Repeat process of squeezing dough in fresh cold water 4-6 times until dough starts to solidify and water is no longer cloudy.

3. Repeat process 2 more times, alternating between warm and cold water. Start stretching and pulling the dough as you rinse it. Once it becomes a cohesive elastic mass (similar to bubble gum), rinse one final time in cold water. Squeeze any remaining water form the dough and set aside. Choose a faux meat flavoring (keep reading!) to use with your prepared dough.

Faux Chicken

Basic Gluten from Scratch (above)

2 cups water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed

In a large saucepan, bring all of the broth ingredients to a boil. Slice gluten into steaks, chunks or strips and drop carefully into broth. Reduce heat and cover with lid. Let simmer for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until broth has reduced completely. Use "chicken" immediately in your dish of choice o store in the fridge (for up to 6 days) or the freezer (for up to 6 months). For a chewier texture, one you've boiled the "chicken", bake it at 350° F in a lightly oiled baking dish for 30 minutes.

Faux Beef

Basic Gluten from Scratch (above)

2 cups water
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried sage

In a large saucepan, bring all of the broth ingredients to a boil. Slice gluten into steaks, chunks or strips and drop carefully into broth. Reduce heat and cover with lid. Let simmer for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until broth has reduced completely. Use "beef" immediately in your dish of choice o store in the fridge (for up to 6 days) or the freezer (for up to 6 months). For a chewier texture, one you've boiled the "beef", bake it at 350° F in a lightly oiled baking dish for 30 minutes.

Fried "Chicken"

1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup soy milk
Faux Chicken (above)
3-4 tbsp olive oil

In a shallow dish, stir together the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a small bowl, pour soy milk and set aside. Dip "chicken" into flour, then dip in soy milk, and then into the flour again. In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, fry "chicken" in oil until well browned on both sides.

Faux Feta Cheese

1/2 lb firm tofu, cubed or crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Marinade tofu for at least an hour before using. Makes approx. 3/4 cup.

Faux Sour Cream

1 12-oz pkg soft or silken tofu
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Makes approx. 1 cup.

Faux Mayonnaise

1 12-oz pkg soft or silken tofu
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp cashews

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Makes approx. 1 1/4 cups.

I can't say that I've tried any of these personally, however, I've been living off of Sarah Kramer's recipes. I trust her 100%. So the next time it gets too expensive or you think you'll miss meat or cheese too much, try one of these. The kitchen is the best place to be!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms

I couldn't really think of a name for this dish and I have to preface by saying it is way more than just Portabella mushrooms. This dish is a culmination of delicious, raw vegetables that each bring their own unique flavor to the table. However, since the mushroom is the "meat" in this dish, that's what I went with.

Last week my father-in-law (Monty) and his brother (Uncle Andy) drove down to visit. It was great to get to do all the touristy things Albuquerque has to offer, especially since there were a few we had never seen, either! One of my favorite trips was going to the top of Sandia Mountain via the Tram. We started off with a bite to eat (and a few drinks) at High Finance, the restaurant at the base of the tram. I got the most amazing dish! I swore I would try to recreate it, so this is my take on dinner that night.

Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

2 Portabella mushrooms, stems removed, cut in half (like 2 pieces of bread!)
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise, then sliced
1 summer squash, cut lengthwise, then sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 cup string beans, cut in half
4 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
1 14-oz can black beans
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
Dash of liquid smoke

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the zucchini, squash, red pepper, and string beans. Sauté the vegetables for just a few minutes, then add the vegetable broth, salt & pepper to taste, cover, and simmer.

2. While the vegetables are braising, put the entire can of black beans in a food processor. Add the chili, cumin, and liquid smoke. Once combined, put in a microwave safe bowl.

3. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the garlic, let it cook for a minute or two, then add the mushroom caps. Flip once, and cook until moderately soft. 3-5 minutes.

4. When you flip your mushroom caps over, put the bean purée in the microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. When the mushrooms are done, place them on a clean plate and pour the balsamic vinegar on them and let them sit. While the mushrooms are marinading, drain your vegetables.

5. On a clean plate, place about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of bean purée. Place the bottom half of the mushroom cap, followed by as many vegetables as you'd like, and repeat with another layer of purée, the top of the cap, and a few more vegetables. I added a sprinkle of Veggie Cheese on there and topped it off with some green chile sauce....obviously. :)

This dinner was one of my favorites so far. If you get your vegetables at a farmer's market or they're in season at your regular grocery store, it's pretty inexpensive, too. Plus, it only took 15 minutes to make. It's bright and colorful, as is the taste. Cody liked it so much, he ate what little I couldn't! I said while we were eating that if Deidra tried it, she'd like it (she is the hater of all things mushroom, so that's saying something!). However, Cody quickly corrected me since mushrooms do have a distinct texture and she'd know I was trying to trick her. Oh, Deidra. One day, I promise. It'll happen.

So anyway, I highly recommend this tasty treat. Don't be discouraged by the blackish goo that's underneath it all; it's like refried beans but better. Cook it up "mom style"...a little bit of this & a little bit of that. You can add or subtract vegetables...maybe use 1/2 black bean, 1/2 garbanzo bean...whatever your taste buds desire!

This meal made me feel like I was eating at a fancy restaurant. For a brief minute or two I was able to escape from our "some-assembly-required-but-the-top-is-probably-broken-anyway" Wal-Mart table and travel to a far off distant land (hopefully not India*); where and the words healthy and delicious can make sweet love and have babies without fear of persecution and bigotry. Ah yes, if only such a place existed... I believe the president of that beautiful nation would be Frank's Red Hot. Only there he would be known only by his divine moniker: Frank. Just Frank. Oh President Frank, what an amazing commonwealth you have molded to fit your beliefs. You have even made it legal for healthy and delicious to get married and therefore receive yearly tax breaks! Praise thee! Who would have known that a Red spicy president could do so much?

...Oh...well that was quite a dream. Now I am back staring at my Wal-Mart table, BUT enjoying this awesome meal! BEWARE: MUSHROOM HATERS WILL NOT LIKE THIS!! I tried to see if I could make the mushroom taste like anything else in my head, but it has that texture that mushroom cynics despise. If you don't like mushroom texture, there is a 93.6% chance that you will puke into your shirt pocket. Make sure you save that for later, especially if you have a dog or something that likes that sort of thing. But, if you are a fan of the ol' fungi like me, this meal will kick you in the balls (in a good way) and then hand you $10 (see, I told you it was the good way).

*Note: We just watched Slumdog Millionaire the other night. Good movie. Also, 120 minutes of reason to never visit India.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Eggplant Panini

This post may or may not go in a few different directions. After all, there is a lot to cover. Let's start off with the panini press.

A few weeks ago, my sister & brother-in-law passed on their wonderful panini press to us. Whether it's an upgrade in the latest technology or just stuff they don't use anymore, we frequently reap the benefits. Take the Mac that I'm using at this very moment for example. Love it! Apparently they only used the panini press once, if that, so it made its way to the southeast side. I have now used it four times.

Across the street from my bestest friends house in West Roxbury, MA, there is a little italian place called DeNo's. Last summer, I tasted the most delicious sandwich ever invented: THE GODFATHER. Perfect eggplant covered with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella cheese, served over homemade pesto on top of the best focaccia bread...it was vegetarian heaven. Ever since that glorious day, I have been trying to recreate The Godfather.

My brother-in-law, Chuck, decided that he was going to grow an herb garden. This is not only smart, it's perfect when you're like me and just want to throw things together and see what happens. I have never made fresh pesto before. Chuck had a massive bush of basil (that's what she said), so fresh pesto was happening. I have to say, it might have been some of the best pesto ever. It could be that it was because WE put it together and I'm biased, or it could be that it was just so ridiculously fresh there is no topping it. Either way, it was tasty.

So. Eggplant. The way that I make Eggplant Parm is by coating the eggplant slices in flour, then dredging them in an egg mixture, then coating them in a bread crumb & cheese mixture. All things non-vegan. Last night was my first night trying to make eggplant WITHOUT all the chicken and cow tears. It wasn't perfection, but it was still tasty, and it just means I'll have to keep trying till I get it right.

Eggplant Panini
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

(I made this for 6 people, so you can always cut in half)

2 large eggplants
4 red bell peppers
1 cup kalamata olives
3 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 garlic cloves
salt & pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, plus another 1/4 cup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbps veggie parmesan cheese
1/2 cup vegan breadcrumbs (I used panko)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 loaf vegan sourdough bread (most regular bread is vegan!)
Vegannaise for spreading
Soy butter for the bread

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut the red bell peppers into 2" strips. Place on a cookie sheet (I cover mine in tinfoil). Pour the balsamic vinegar over the red peppers, along with a little bit of olive oil. Begin roasting.

2. Cut the eggplant into 1/2" pieces. Sprinkle salt on both sides of the pieces and let sit for a few minutes. This takes the bitter edge off the eggplant. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and dry spices in a bowl. In another bowl, add water. Dip each eggplant piece in water, then the breadcrumb mixture, then place in the skillet. After 3-5 minutes, flip. Do this with each piece. Place the eggplant on another cookie sheet (wrapped in tinfoil!) and place in the oven.

3. In a food processor, add the 3 cups of basil, pine nuts, salt & pepper, and garlic. Pulse until it's combined. Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing. Do this to taste. I think ours yesterday had a bit too much olive oil.

4. If your roasted red peppers aren't blackening by this point, stick them in the broiler for just a minute or two. Keep your eye on them; you don't want them to be TOO burnt! Turn on your panini press. This is where the assembling begins!

- Very lightly butter one side of your bread.
- Add a small amount of Vegannaise.
- Add a spoonful of pest and spread.
- Add some chopped kalamata olives.
- Place 2 pieces of eggplant.
- Add a few strips of red pepper on top of the eggplant.
- Sprinkle a little extra parmesan cheese, if you'd like.
- Place second piece of bread on top of this, buttered.

5. Place these in your panini press, 2 at a time. Cook until golden brown on top. They SHOULD be cut in half since they're massive and rather difficult to eat whole!

I'm not going to put a nutritional value chart up for this one. The eggplant is fried, the bread is buttered, and it's PROBABLY not all that healthy. It's a treat. Just enjoy it. As I said before, the eggplant wasn't its usual, crispy goodness. I'm going to have to work on that. However, it was still a TASTY sandwich that pleased everyone. Think it would be some type of copyright infringement if I called it The Godmother? :)

Cody rates this dish...


Ok, so first off, this blog is turning into slave labor! I feel like I should go on strike because she "can't put the posts up until I write my thing." Well guess what, I don't always feel like slandering hippies! Sometimes it seems like they just aren't worth it. I mean, that's where they draw their super"natural" (pun intended) power from! The more attention we give them and the more vegan food we eat, the stronger they get! Here is a list of secret hippie agents trying to convert us to the dark side: Popeye! Awesome cartoon? YES. But guess what, all that dirty sailor eats is spinach! And it makes him strong! Stop trying to brainwash me! You know what? I bet if you check the credits, PETA is hiding in there somewhere. Here's another: Mario! Possibly the mascot of all things vegan. He eats a mushroom, gets super strong. Eats a flower - can shoot fire out of his hand. If you grab a star (like PETA grabbing Brad Pitt and making him their own) you are invincible! Make sure to not kill the turtles! Just jump on them so they hide in their shells and you can spin them to safety! Oh no, a shark just ate that turtle I tried to save! Let's ki....ohhh, you almost got me. Let's be kind and nurture that beautiful shark. Just close your eyes and try to ignore the horror that is nature. Rocking back and forth and crying a bit helps. Mmmm, hippies crying. Your tears make me strong!

Anyways! The vegetarian eggplant sandwich is awesome. However, with no eggs to make the delicious breadcrumb and cheese batter, the vegan counterpart falls short. The roasty red peppers rocked as always. If she can figure out some way to get the batter right without using eggs, then we shall rejoice. Amen.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

Yesterday, the family & I took a trip to Old Town. We went through all the little shops, stopped to listen to some pan flutes, and got a few good pictures. Deidra bought some heavy-duty, authentic margarita glasses. OBVIOUSLY we had to break them in and make margaritas!

Cody & I never get to pay for the bill when we go out with the family. The least I can do is cook up a good meal, so that's exactly what I did. With the help of Chef Chuck and Jose Cuervo, dinner was super tasty. We had stuffed peppers and roasted rosemary asparagus. Yum!!!

Stuffed Peppers
Prep time: 20 minutes

4 green bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
salt & pepper
1 package Burger Crumbles
1 cup cooked brown rice (I use instant rice. It's easier!)
1 small can tomato sauce (I think it's 8 oz!)
Dash of soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
Dash of hot sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut of just the top of the green peppers. Remove the seeds and discard. In a large pot, bring to boil just enough water to cover the peppers. Keep them in the boiling water until they turn bright green, about 7 minutes.

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, cook until tender. Add the spices and stir. Pour in the entire bag of crumbles and heat through. Add the rice, tomato sauce and soy sauce. Stir until evenly distributed.

3. When the peppers are bright green, carefully remove them with tongs. Place in a large baking dish filled with 2-inches of water. Fill each pepper with the meat mixture.

4. Combine the ketchup, hot sauce and another dash of soy sauce to taste. Spoon a little bit of this mixture on top of the stuffed peppers. Bake for 20 minutes.

Roasted Rosemary Asparagus
Prep Time: 5 minutes

2 bunches of fresh asparagus
2 sprigs of rosemary (Chuck has an herb garden, so this rosemary was sooooo fresh and delicious!
2 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh black pepper
Olive Oil

1. Remove the bottoms of the asparagus. A trick I like to use is to hold one end of the asparagus in each hand, bend, and where it breaks is a guideline for where you should cut the bottoms.

2. In a large Ziplock bag, place the asparagus, garlic, rosemary (OFF the sprigs!), pepper, and enough olive oil to coat completely. Let this marinade for AT LEAST 20 minutes.

3. Remove from plastic bag and place on tinfoil. Either roast in the oven at 400° F or on the grill. Roast for 10 minutes, making sure to flip once.

Chuck cooked these on the grill and it was, by far, the best asparagus I've ever had. The fresh rosemary accented the asparagus, and the garlic was super tasty. The pieces that were slightly charred were even better. And....we all now how Cody feels about asparagus, so everyone was quite pleased!

We have done stuffed peppers quite a few times now and they always go over well. The asparagus was really good with the rosemary too. Do not fear this dish, it tastes like normal food!

(DISCLAIMER: My husband is boring today. I apologize to all his devoted fans.)

...Ok, how about this for a disclaimer: I take back what I said. There. Now nobody will know if your food is really good or not. HA!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Banana Pancakes

One of my favorite things is realizing my bananas are starting to get really ripe. That means they're not really good anymore for just peeling and eating, however, they're perfect for baking. :) We have some visitors in town! My father-in-law, Monty, and his brother, Uncle Andy, are down for the week. Dad drove from Oregon to Idaho where he hooked up with Uncle Andy and they drove down to good ol' Albuquerque. This morning, we're headed to the Very Large Array, which I'm really excited about. Everyone is meeting at our house and we'll leave from there.


Banana Pancakes
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 1/2 cups unbleached flower
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup soy milk
3 tbsp oil
1 banana
3 tbsp sugar

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk, oil, banana, and sugar and blend until smooth. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until just mixed.

2. Portion the batter onto a hot non-stick pan or a lightly oiled frying pan and cover. Let sit on medium heat until the center starts to bubble and become sturdy. Flip the pancakes over and cook other side until golden brown

3. Serve with soy butter and maple syrup and enjoy!

Something you should know: Bisquick mix is actually vegan. If you just use soy milk instead of regular milk and an egg replacer for the eggs, you've got delicious, vegan pancakes. Mmmmmm!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lemon Gem Cupcakes

Source: Vegan With A Vengeance!

First off, I just want to let everyone know that I had THE tastiest lunch ever. I heated up a small amount of the leftover Scrambled Eggz, the hashbrowns that went with them, some red beans & rice from last nights killer dinner, added a little green, and wrapped it up in a tortilla. Too bad Cody is at orientation. This had Frank's allllll over it.

Second, I think everyone in the world needs to try this amazing cupcake recipe that I found in Vegan With A Vengeance. I forgot how much I loved lemon-flavored things. They. Are. Amazing. The cupcakes are perfectly sweet with enough lemon to make you salivate. The frosting is more like a glaze that seeps down into the center of the cupcake, creating a perfect gooey-ness that is TO DIE for. In the words of D.E.I., "Go*damn, these are good."

Lemon Gem Cupcakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes a dozen
1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 cup rice milk (I used plain soy)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a twelve-muffin tin with paper liners.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, sugar, milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until smooth.

3. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full; bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from muffin tin and place on a cooling rack. Frost when cooled fully.

Lemon Frosting
1/4 cup soy butter, softened
1/4 cup soy milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted (I used almost 3 cups)

1. Whisk the butter with a fork until fluffy. Stir in the woy milk and lemon juice; add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth (use a hand mixer!)

2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

They might be my new favorite dessert.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas

I received a text from my sister-in-law today after she read the Scrambled Eggz blog. Deidra was curious if we were having dinner since we had already eaten. I kinda freaked out because I thought maybe we had forgotten about having dinner with them and all we had was leftovers. As it turns out, she was just really hoping we were making dinner because Chuck, her husband and personal chef, is out of town. :) I instantly started brainstorming about what I could make for dinner.

After skimming through a few cookbooks and considering Deidra's likes and dislikes, I decided on Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas (Source: Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson). I served them with a side of red beans and rice and, naturally, added a few of my own ingredients. Topped with some veggie cheese and vegan sour cream, it came out better than I had expected. Cody & I topped ours with green chili, but Deidra kept hers as heat free as possible.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: Total - 40 minutes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large garlice clove, minced
1 small chili in adobo, minced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp chili powder
Salt and pepper
2 cups salsa
8 large flour tortillas
1 cup vegan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast until tender, turning once, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sweet potatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

3. Spread a thin layer of salsa over the bottom of a lightly oiled 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

4. Spoon a portion of the sweet potato mixture down the center of a tortilla and roll it up. Place the filled tortilla in the baking dish seam side down and repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Top the enchiladas with the remaining salsa and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

I thought this dinner was absolutely delicious. I'll probably use an enchilada sauce the next time I make it instead of just salsa, and I'll definitely make it hotter when Deidra isn't around. :)

Tonight we have a guest writer in the Meat Cleaver Corner. In my first blog, I mentioned that Deidra would be sitting in from time to time, giving us her Clean Plate Club rating. We'll start off with Cody's rating, and then move right along to Deidra.

Cody rates this dinner...


Alright! Enchiladas! Definitely my favorite part of living in NM: the food! Bring on the green! These enchiladas were drenched in hot green chili sauce, but it definitely wasn't pushing my spice boundaries. I thought about maybe adding some Frank's...speaking of Frank's, they make a Frank's Xtra Hot!! I've only seen it in one place and that was in Missouri or somewhere when we stopped for breakfast, and I haven't been able to find it ANYWHERE ELSE! Anyways, I digress! I'm a big fan of sweet potatoes, and these enchiladas were "bringing it strong" as my brother-in-law would say. However, let me tell you what was "not-bringing-it-strong": Tofutti Sour Cream. Well, I don't want to be too hard on ol' Tofutti, once it's mixed in with the food, just like most vegan toppings, it takes on the flavor of everything else. But a small taste of this concoction straight out of the tub brings my taste buds to places they rarely travel; and by that I mean the inside of an old box. Also, I don't know why it's called Tofutti. Yes, it is made primarily of tofu...got it; but what's with the -utti? That has nothing to do with sour cream! Maybe they should have called it Tofour, or Creamfu, or inside-of-an-old-box-white-hippie-goo! ...heh heh heh. Gross.

...SEE YA!!

Deidra's plate ended up...

96% CLEAN!!!

Hello world! (Thats a programming joke, FTW) Welcome to Deidra's clean plate corner. Let me preface this by declaring that I am one of the pickiest eaters in the metropolis of Albuquerque, possibly the entire desert that is the state of New Mexico. I HATE trying new things. In fact, for my entire life, every time we go out to eat, I order a cheeseburger. That, however, was pre-Elizabeth. Well, just the trying new things part, specifically new food. I still love my cheeseburgers. Since I have had the privilege of many Elizabeth dinners I have discovered the delights of green peppers, eggplant and chunks of fake chicken. I am still holding strong on any type of fungus and spicy anything.

So imagine my surprise after inviting myself over for dinner tonight to find that Elizabeth had so lovingly put together enchiladas for the lover of all things spicy. After puzzling over the waxy, cheese-like substance on the top of the enchiladas, I happily tried out the Tofutti sour cream, quickly passed and dug in. Did I mention that my second favorite food is tortilla? I LOVE tortillas. By far one of the best parts of living in the New Mexico. Now, I don't handle my fire well but powered through red faced and sweaty. Unfortunately I was unable to perform a 100% clean plate due to my lips being so numb that it was impossible to chew food. The tortillas were amazing, rice and beans top notch. Now, Cody and Elizabeth are going to tell you that they weren't that spicy. Be sure to factor in their mutant japanese taste buds before you add in the second chili.

Scrambled Eggz

Since I recently posted about all the glorious ways to omit eggs from your diet, I decided to make breakfast for lunch. Scrambled eggs have always been a favorite of mine. They're easy...you can add just about anything to them...you can wrap them in a burrito...you can mix them with potatoes...turn them into a sandwich...I guess they are 'incredible' & 'edible'.

I made the choice to no longer consume eggs, so eating them straight-up scrambled might prove to be difficult. I'm really excited to write this recipe down and see what the Meat Cleaver Corner has to say about it, but first, I'd like to share with you the nutritional value of REAL scrambled eggs:

This is the nutritional value using all the same ingredients that I'm going to use in MY scrambled eggz, only using 6 real eggs. It's also based on it serving 4. In reality, it might only serve 2, so double all the numbers...including the cholesterol!

(I'm able to get nutritional value from Calorie Count. I just plug in the ingredient, measurement, and serving size and it creates the nutritional value. Along with that nifty lil' feature, you can look up just about any food item, restaurant item, and activity. Seriously. Want to know how many calories you burn at church? It'll tell you!)

Now here's the nutritional value for scrambled eggz. I know this post is going a bit backwards, but I really wanted you to see the comparison!

The difference is quite clear, however, the taste is not! Here's the recipe:

Scrambled Eggz
Prep time: 15 minutes

1 package medium tofu, crumbled
2 tbsp soy butter (Try Earth Balance) or olive oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but adds a great cheezy flavor! Found in most whole food stores)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional, it's mostly for color)
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp soy sauce

Variations: Add any vegetable you want! Mushrooms, peppers, spinach...you name it! You could also sprinkle some vegan cheese on top. Maybe wrap it up? Put it on toast? Get creative!

1. In a large frying pan, heat the soy butter or olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute about 3 minutes. Add the crumbled tofu and continue to cook 3-5 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste; I added a little extra garlic salt because I loooove garlic.

I whipped up a batch of homefries, MorngingStar Farms Sausage Patties, and wheat toast with soy butter. Sooooo tasty!

Cody rates todays brunch...


Mmmm, any meal that I can put lots of Frank's on immediately is awesome is my book! That's why I like scrambled eggs and omelets so much. Hmm, chicken abortions or tofu...chicken abortions or tofu...what to choose? Survey says: They taste about the same! Much like regular eggs, the tofu takes on whatever flavors and spices it is cooked with. So basically you are left with the texture. I guess maybe it's in the way you cook it, but however she did it the texture is almost identical to regular eggs. Apparently there is way less cholesterol, which I don't really give a sh#t about right now. However, I'm guessing my heart (which is approximately as strong and healthy as a stage 3 wombat*) will thank her 40 years down the road. Also, the flavored "sausage" patties are good too. The one thing I like about the fake meat is that it doesn't leave my mouth feeling like I just fellated a "grease-monster + lard-prostitute" love child. You know what? I don't think I can top that last sentence, so I'm just gonna stop here... Well...SEE YA!

* For those of you who do not know what a Stage 3 wombat is...consider yourself lucky! No one has every experienced stage 3 and lived to tell the tale.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Which Came First...

...the chicken or the egg?

Most vegetarians still eat eggs and drink milk and enjoy the deliciousness that is cheese. The animal doesn't have to die in order to produce these things, so it's no harm, no foul. From the Vegan standpoint (which I'm fighting with), the animals do suffer. All you need to do is check out one PETA video to know that it's true.

I love to bake. Cody loves cookies, I love to make him cookies. Warm baked goods are the greatest thing on the face of the earth. I find it pretty easy to take my old cooking recipes and just replace the ingredients with meatless soy products. But baking? How do you replace the egg???

I found the greatest book ever at the library: Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. With over 400 recipes from breakfast to pizza, I am absolutely in love with it. In one of her sections, she goes on to talk about egg alternatives.

"Use any of the following to replace 1 egg in baking:
- Ener-G Egg Replacer: Combine 1 1/4 teaspoons of the powder with 2 tablespoons water and blend well to disolve.
- Flaxseeds: Grind 1 tablespoon flaxseeds to a powder in a blender. Add 3 tablespoons water and blend until the mixture becomes viscous.
- Soft tofu: Mix together 1/4 cup drained soft tofu and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Pureed fruit: Blend 1/4 cup pureed fruit and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder."

What's crazy is baked goods that call for one egg can just be made without the egg. I made brownies a few weeks ago and they were warm and delicious and gooey in the middle...and there was no egg. I made my first batch of Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies with flaxseeds a few nights ago and they were gone in 2 days. I'm not going to say you can't taste the difference; there's a little bit of a nutty flavor, but they were still super tasty and please even the pickiest of cookie monsters.

So there's a few tips for you. I plan on making a tofu scramble (possibly turning it into a breakfast burrito) for dinner either tomorrow or Friday, so keep checking back for that one. We'll probably do leftovers for dinner tonight, but I plan on baking something tasty also. Recipes to come!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Buff Chik Salad

I already went on & on about my love for Sunflower Market. While I was shopping yesterday, I picked up (for just a few $, I might add) all the accoutrements for a tasty salad. Cody & I should look into buying stock in Boca products because we have 3 boxes of their Meatless Chik'n Patties alone. So I decided for dinner I was going to make Buff Chik Salad. Some of you may know this as Buffalo Chicken, but Cody has shortened it to Buff Chik.

I put the chik'n in the oven to bake and realized I didn't really have any dressing that would go with my salad. We have regular Ranch in the fridge, but no Vegan Ranch. Sure, I love Italian dressing, but you really need the creamy to go with the heat. I decided to whip up some of my own.

Vegan Ranch Dressing
Prep time: 5 minutes

2 tbsp Vegan mayonnaise (I use Vegannaise)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dill
Black pepper
1 tsp plain soy milk

1. I just kind of put all the ingredients together, adding just enough soy milk to get the right thickness. It came out really good.

Buff Chik Salad
Prep time: 15 minutes
1/2 head of lettuce
1/2 cucumber
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 red onion
2 Boca Spicy Chik'n Patties
A few dashes of Frank's Red Hot

1. Cook chik'n patties in the oven according to package. Meanwhile, cut lettuce, cucumber, carrots and red onion. Combine to create your salad base.

2. When the chik'n patties are done, coat in as much Frank's as you can handle. Cut into strips and place over salad. Add your dressing of choice and voilà!

I made the mistake of putting the Frank's on before I cooked the patties, thinking it would just seep into the crust. Instead, they were kind of mushy. Next time I'll cook the patties first. The salad was still tasty and I'm really pleased with the dressing. Cody used the Ranch we had in the fridge. I put some Feta cheese on there for him, too, along with some croutons. Croutons contain whey, which I can't eat. :/ Oh well! Luckily I'm finding loads of ways to get around it! :)

Cody rated tonights dinner...


Let me start off by saying a few words about my favorite topping: Frank's Red Hot. Oh, Frank's, how you make my mouth water in anticipation. So salty and hot and delicious. (This is starting to sound gay, huh? Let me try and turn it in a different direction.) You turn any food into a wonderland of flavor. Even 3 week old leftovers. Which, yes, I will eat as long as they don't smell funny. ...well...I'll at least try a bite...but if it tastes bad, no way! ANYWAYS, this dinner was pretty awesome, but got demoted to just "good" because of the faux-chicken. Normally I really like it because it's crispy and really soaks up the suculent, heartwarming Frank's Red Hot, but tonight it got really soggy. It still tasted good, but the texture was a bit off. Also, I didn't get the full-on experience like Elizabeth did, as I was forced to eat regular, cow blood-laden ranch, and whey-filled croutons. Which were awesome, by the way. But I did taste the ranch she made, and it was quite tasty. Also, before I depart I must say that buffalo sauce is my favorite sauce of all time. If there was ever a way to improve Frank's it's to mix it with ranch and thus creating the buffaloinest (I just made that up, you can use it...you're welcome) awesome sauce of all time. What does it have to do with a buffalo? I don't know, and I don't care! It makes me feel good to put BUFFALO sauce on vegan stuff. I'm like: Take that hippies! HAHA, yeah!! ...well....SEE YA!!

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 282 g

Calories 205
Calories from Fat 57
Total Fat 6.3g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 590mg
Total Carbohydrates 25.3g
Dietary Fiber 4.6g
Sugars 6.3g
Protein 12.8g
Vitamin A 10% • Vitamin C 13%
Calcium 8% • Iron 14%

Blackberry (Love) Muffins

My new favorite store doesn't sell shoes...it doesn't sell name brand stuff for cheap...and it certainly doesn't sell faux designer bags. No, my new favorite store sells food. I am absolutely, 100% in love with Sunflower Market. Every time I walk in there, I find something new I want to try or some Vegan must-have that I couldn't find anywhere else. The produce selection is vast AND fresh, which is amazing to me after living in Japan for 3 years. They're always having some kind of deal, whether it's fresh focaccia bread for $1.50 or strawberries for 88 cents a pint. Yesterday I went in and they had the plumpest, juiciest blackberries for $1. Yes, $1. Obviously I had to buy some.

That brings me to today's recipe. I could easily have eaten the entire box of blackberries. It probably would have taken no time at all. What fun would that have been?? I thought about making preserves...or maybe pancakes...I decided on muffins, though. It always makes me giddy to whip up baked goods, sans eggs and butter, and have them coming out fluffy and delicious. So that's what I did.

Blackberry (Love) Muffins
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour (as you my have read in my previous post, bleached flour is filtered through animal bones. Yum.)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup soy milk (you could use rice, almond, or hemp, too)
1/3 cup oil (for a healthier muffin, use 1/3 cup mashed banana or 1/3 cup applesauce!)
1 cup blackberries

crumb topping
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
6-8 tsp unbleached flour
2 tbsp soy butter (try Earth Balance!)
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line muffin cups with muffin liners.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing well. Fold in the blackberries, being extra careful so they don't break up too much!

3. Mix all the topping ingredients with a fork till it gets crumbly. Fill muffin cups to the top with batter and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

I let them rest on a rack before taking them out of the tin, but after 5 minutes or so, I just can't help myself! They're especially good fresh out of the oven. Cody likes them sliced in half with a little bit of soy butter on both sides and grilled in a pan. These muffins are great for people with allergies to eggs (Katie!) and people who are lactose intolerant (Cody!). Plus, the only thing that's not-so-great for you is the oil, which can easily be replaced by a banana or applesauce. Enjoy!

Cody rates these muffins...


As you can see by my awesome picture, I licked the plate clean on this one. These are very sweet and taste like any other normal muffin, except this one is supposed to be better for me. However, I had to eat two of them and thus probably ingested about the same amount of so-called "bad stuff" (i.e. excessive calories, fat, animal tears, etc.). The blackberries were tasty and juicy, but I like these muffins better with blueberries. Less giant seeds to get stuck in my boyish smile. Also, the blackberries didn't scream when I bit into the muffin, which was disappointing. While the brown stuff on top and in the middle looks suspect, it is the best part...as is usually the case with mysterious brown substances. For instance: When I find a bit of brown-something on my shirt. Now, I know that I just finished eating a chocolate bar and more than likely got some on my shirt, but I have to smell it first to make sure. Hmmm...doesn't really smell like anything. Well, I guess I'll just have to go for it and take a taste. Long story short, I haven't been disappointed yet! SEE YA!!

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 68 g

Calories 203
Calories from Fat 74
Total Fat 8.2g
Saturated Fat 1.8g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 126
Total Carbohydrates 30.8g
Dietary Fiber 1.5g
Sugars 16.4
Protein 2.3
Vitamin A 1% • Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 7% • Iron 6%