Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(Tofu) "Huevos" Rancheros

Yes!  I did it!  I made vegan Huevos Rancheros for breakfast and used my own recipe!  I'm sure there are other vegan recipes out there for this, but for once I didn't look up any of them.  This is totally created and executed by me!  I'm very excited.

It all came to me when I was making scrambled tofu one morning and thought "If I'm using tofu as a replacement for scrambled eggs, why couldn't I use tofu to replace the eggs in Huevos Rancheros?"  The scrambled tofu is always really good and sometimes we can even forget we're not even eating real eggs!  So let's try out the "egg" theory with tofu in another dish...

...Huevos Rancheros:

You will need:

Corn tortillas
Vegetarian refried beans
Daiya Mozzarella

1/2 onion chopped
1/2 can stewed tomatoes, fire roasted kind
2 tablespoons salsa
2 tablespoons Tapa Tio
First, soften the onions in a little oil in a skillet.  Next, add the tomatoes, salsa and Tapa Tio and let the sauce simmer on medium-low heat while you prepare the "fried eggs."  

Tofu "fried eggs:"
Cut two 1/4-inch thick slices, lengthwise.
Use a juice glass to measure circles in the strips.
Cover the bottom of a pan with oil to fry the tofu circles.
Fry on medium-high heat, flipping occasionally until both sides look semi-crispy and golden.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper while frying.

For the yellow "yolk" center, make a mixture of 1 tsp nutritional yeast, 1 tsp McKay's chicken season, 1 tsp olive oil.  Mix well and put in the center of each tofu circle.  (This is mainly for looks;  you can just mix the "yolk" mixture in the pan while they are frying for added taste to the tofu circles.)

Meanwhile, remember to heat the refried beans and corn tortillas.

On a plate, lay out two tortillas and spread the beans on them.  Next, put the tofu circles on top of the beans and cover the whole thing with the sauce.  Sprinkle the Daiya on top of that, add some Mexican rice and fried potatoes* on the side and there you have it!  Vegan Huevos Rancheros! 

*Credit is owed to my husband for making the amazing potatoes using red potatoes, salt, pepper, and paprika.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Soba Noodles

This idea for a meal has been with me for almost two weeks and I kept getting too lazy to actually make it.  Finally, last night I threw it together.  It's based off a recipe from the Skinny B* In the Kitch cookbook, but I changed a few things so I will just tell you how I did it. 

First of all, a little back story.  Back in July I made a sesame udon noodle dish that W loved!  (Read about it here.)  While he was noshing down the noodles he made a little comment about how he liked it so much better than the usual, and apparently blase, stir-fry I make.  Okay mister, well noted.  I have not made stir-fry ever again.  However, to keep with the theme, I have discovered that anything stir-fryish with noodles goes over extremely well. 

Therefore I bring you today's meal, Japanese soba noodles with steamed (not stir-fried) veggies and tofu.


4 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons sesame oil

Steamed Veggies and Tofu
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 eggplant, cubed
2 stalks celery, chunked
1/4 onion, cut into chunks
2 stalks chives, chopped
1/2 block tofu, cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 package buckwheat soba noodles


In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce; set aside.

For steaming the veggies and tofu, I used the steamer attachment for one of my pots.  Add the rice vinegar to about one inch of water in the pot.  First, steam the eggplant alone for about five minutes.  Add the onions and celery next for about three minutes.  Finally add the tofu and chives.  The salt is for sprinkling over the veggies while they're steaming.

Cook the noodles according to the package, rinse, drain and put in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle half of the sauce mixture over the noodles and mix well. 

When the veggies and tofu are down, put them in a separate mixing bowl and drizzle the other half of the sauce over them; mix well. 

To serve, place the veggies and tofu on top of the noodles on a plate.  I made some bok choy for a side dish, but edamame would go well with this too. 

As with the previous noodle dish in July, this one was a huge hit!  He couldn't stop raving about it and asking for seconds.  Alright, alright, I get the point!  Not that I've tried, but now I definitely won't try to bring stir-fry back.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Citrus Soy Quinoa Salad

This is a salad I invented for my book club potluck!  It is quite delicious and nutritious!

Citrus Soy Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 lime zest

1 tsp lemon juice
Juice from 1 freshly squeezed lime
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 garlic clove crushed

1 carrot slivers
half cucumber cubed
five shitake mushrooms, cut and steamed
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup edamame

Mix everything together.

Share and enjoy!  

Chickpea Spread

I normally just call them garbanzo beans, and I love them.  I love them in (or on) salad, soup, pasta, rice, by themselves, and of course, hummus!  However, for this recipe we shall call them "chickpeas." 

This is another dish I brought to my book club last night and it seemed to go over well.  Recipe is from Vegan Yum Yum.

2 cups garbanzo beans (I used dry beans, but if you want to use canned, it's one 15 oz can)
3-4 tablespoons vegenaise
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

VYY says to "mash all the ingredients to form a chunky spread."

I used my Tupperware Chop N Prep (the most amazing appliance in my kitchen) and mashed up everything that way. 

Add a mint for garnish and dig in.  Mmm, yum. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gnocchi Two Ways

This looks good right?  Yeah, not so much.
First I tried to make the gnocchi with a homemade pesto sauce.  The recipe is from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  I've made this pesto before and it's turned out wonderfully.  Something happened this time and it was a disaster.  I followed the recipe exactly, but I should have known it wouldn't turn out right when I started pinching the basil leaves from my patio basil plant and they just looked really yellow and puny.  Do you know what I mean?  Basil leaves are supposed to be nice and healthy, large and green.

Sure enough, the pesto sauce was terrible.  I won't go into any more detail about what went wrong, but I was the lucky one to take the bite and instantly realize that it was just plain bad.  I warned W and he tentatively took a bite to find out what I was talking about.  Yup, bad.

To at least save the gnocchi, I just rinsed the pesto off each of the gnocchi balls and saved it for later.  W got out the popcorn popper and guess what we ended up having for dinner?  Good thing we love popcorn and practically eat it every day anyway.


The next day my husband started rustling around in the kitchen while I read a book in the living room.  This always makes me suspicious.
Me: "What are you doing?"
W:  Don't worry about it.  I'm fixing something."
Me: "Hmmm."

Ten minutes later...

Me:  "Wow!  This looks amazing!"
W:  "Of course it’s amazing.  I’m Italian and I can cook!”
(I grab a fork as fast as possible.)
W:  "You can put this in your blog.  I call it Rescue Gnocchi."
(We both take big bites and chew in satisfaction.)
W:  "Here's the instructions -- Skillet.  Olive Oil.  Garlic.  Tomatoes.  Whatever those chivey things are.  Medium Heat.  Gnocchi...add gnocchi half-way through the cooking process.  Serve."

I mean, the man can cook.  Simple as that. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chili Lime Tofu and Quinoa

Not only was this another great recipe from Vegan Yum Yum, it was fun to make.  There are a lot of steps to the dish but after being away from my kitchen for so long, I was happy to take on the task of cooking this delicious meal (click here for the originial recipe from Vegan Yum Yum.)
As with all recipes, I tend to make minor modifications.  Here is what I did:
1 Block Tofu, Extra firm 14 oz
Chili Lime Sauce
3 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp salt
4 mint leaves, chiffonaded (long, thin strips)
3/4 cup dry quinoa
1/2 zest of lime
1/4 salt
1 1/3 cup water
The original recipe calls for steamed collards, but I used what was in my patio garden instead -- steamed chard.  This is just a side dish, so feel free to steam what ever vegetable you like.
I started with the quinoa.  "Combine all the ingredients for the quinoa in a pot that has a tight fitting lid.  Bring to boil, then cover and reduce heat to loaw.  Cook for 20 minutes, then turn off heat.  Do not open lid.  Let steam for 10 minutes before serving. (VYY)"
At this point I also started a pot of rice in the rice cooker and used the steamer attachement to steam the chard.  The rice was just in case quinoa was too "hippie" for The Husband; more on that later.
While the quinoa, rice and chard was all cooking/steaming away I quickly prepared the chili lime sauce before starting on the tofu.  For the sauce, just whisk everything together in a bowl and set aside.  The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar, but I left that out.  (It turns out the lime juice made it just sweet enough to not be overpowering.)
For the tofu, I drained it and sliced it horizontally into strips.  I had about 10 rectangle tofu strips.  I then cut those strips into little triangles, but you can cut it however you wish.  I used my electric skillet because you need something the tofu won't stick to without oil.  My stainless steel pans would not have worked for this at all. 
"Spread the tofu out in one layer in the pan.  Using a spatula, press the tofu.  The liquid will squeeze out and boil away, and the tofu will behin to turn golden.  After several minutes, flip the tofu over and press the other side (VYY)."
Once the tofu was nice and golden on both sides I turned down the heat to medium-low and added the chili lime sauce.  It evaporates quickly so make sure all your tofu triangles are nice and covered with the sauce. 
The quinoa and rice and chard was done by this time so it was time to eat!  
I just have to say that W was super impressed by this gourmet meal and couldn't stop raving about how much time and effort I had put into it. I guess when I was preparing everything it looked more complicated than it really was, but I didn't argue with him.  He also claimed that the tofu was perfectly prepared and the sauce was amazing.  (Why, thank you very much!)  I assured him there was rice in case he didn't want the quinoa, "but you really should try it, it's really good."  And it was!  The lime made it very zesty and delicious.  W did indeed try the quinoa in addition to his rice and he happily ate the whole thing.  I practically scarfed everything down in one sitting, but managed to save just enough for lunch tomorrow! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Baked Sundried Tomato Risotto

It feels like forever since I've actually been in my kitchen to make a vegan meal for myself and the husband.  On July 28, we left for a thirteen-day trip to the East Coast and once we returned home, we left again two days later for a family reunion in Colorado.  Therefore, it has been a very long time since I cooked.  I guess there was that one time when we were at my parent's house that I made the dinner for everyone, but it was just my usual pasta and red sauce with artichoke hearts. At the family reunion, I was able to eat plenty of vegan food, since most of my family is vegetarian and always made a non-dairy option for me if something had cheese or eggs in it. 


We finally returned home yesterday morning, which gave me a whole day to plan menus and meal plans, and go grocery shopping!  Hoorah!

On the menu for this week:
Baked Sundried Tomato Risotto With Grilled Veggies and Balsamic Reduction
Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Steamed Chard and Quinoa
Japanese Buckwheat Udon Noodle and Vegetable Stir-fry
Something with red potatoes and brown rice
Sprouted 7-grain bread for breakfast
Lots of fruit for breakfast
Lots of veggies for salads
Chips and salsa for snacks


Last night I made the Baked Sundried Tomato Risotto.  The recipe comes from my Vegan Yum Yum app and goes something like this:  (I just wrote how I made it, but click here for the original recipe from vegan yum yum.)

1 Garlic Clove, minced
3-4 shallots, finely chopped
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Cup Arborio Rice
1/3 Cup Oil Packed Sundried Tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp Dried Italian Herbs, your choice
1/2 Cup Cooking Sherry (I used a replacement of half water, half apple juice)
2 Cups hot vegetable stock
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Small Eggplant
1/2 Can water packed artichoke hearts, quartered
1 Red Bell Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar for reduction (at least 1/2 cup)


Preheat your oven to 450.
Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil in an oven safe pan that has high sides and a tight fitting lid. 

Meanwhile, chop bell pepper and half the eggplant into bite-sized chunks.  Mix with artichoke hearts in a large bowl.  Sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper over veggies and mix together so that veggies are evenly coated.  Cut the rest of the eggplant into thick slices.  Coat with oil and salt and pepper.  Put aside to grill.

Once the onion has softened, add the rice and stir to coat with the oil.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the sundried tomatoes and herbs, and mix everything well.  Add the cooking sherry and stir until absorbed by the rice, about 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock, stir, cover and bake for 25-30 minutes. 

While the risotto is baking, it is time to grill the veggies.  My husband is Grill Master in our house, so he took over this task.  He placed a flat, cast-iron grill on top of the actual grill outside so that the veggies wouldn't fall through the grates.  However, you can grill the veggies in any manner you wish. 

To make the balsamic reduction, simply heat the vinegar in a pan until it becomes syrupy.  Add half the amount first, and gradually add to it while stirring and heating gently.  Be careful not to burn or carmelize the vinegar.  It should take only a few minutes for it to become the perfect consistency.
Once the risotto is done, put everything on a plate (side by side like I did, or all together in a big pile W did) and drizzle the balsamic vinegar reduction over it.  

This is some of the best risotto I've ever had, and I think I'm going to bake it like this every time.  It was so delicious!  The balsamic vinegar was a delicious addition to this dish, which I wasn't expecting.  We both ate so much, I had to make sure to specifically save a separate dish for my lunch the next day! 

It's nice to be back home and cooking again. 

UPDATE:  Whoops!  I had originally added something here at the end about lime.  Well, that was for a different recipe so disregard anything about lime or sugar in this risotte recipe!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Whirlwind East Coast Trip

We are celebrating W’s birthday on this trip, so most of places we went for food were especially for him.  This means places that don't exactly specialize in vegan food.  That’s okay.  I’m a good wife that supports my husband and his wishes, and it’s fun to see him try all the authentic food from each city.  Meanwhile, I’m grabbing salads here and there, veggie sandwiches, Chinese noodles, French fries or whatever else I can find.   On our last night in Philly, at the Oyster House (where I had some very delicious soup and salad) he promised that for my birthday in a month, we will go all out vegan!   Woo hoo! 

Since it was a kind of grab-and-go food adventure, I'm not going to write about what I ate for every single meal on every single day of this trip like I did for my 27-day trip in March, but here are few notable meals:

Katz's Deli
New York City
 This famous New York eatery is probably best known for its role in the movie When Harry Met Sally.  In one classic movie scene, Meg Ryan demonstrates just how much men don’t know about women…I’ll just put it that way.

We decided to go here since we had just watched the movie, and because my meat-eating husband, whom I love very much despite our dietary differences, really wanted to eat a Reuben with pastrami at a true Jewish deli. 

Vegans, do not fear this place!  As soon as we were seated, the waitress brought a huge plate of pickles and pickled tomatoes to our table. 

This was like my dream come true; I love pickles!  I don’t know if I’ve ever had a pickled green tomato, but it was amazing, and I even asked for a second round.  The two different kinds of pickles were pretty amazing too, and I could have just gobbled the entire plate and have been satisfied.  However, I did order a side salad to eat while W noshed on his meat sandwich. 

 Despite the salad consisting mostly of iceberg lettuce, the fresh celery, tomatoes, and carrots actually made it a pretty good little salad for a deli!  I was pleased with the entire situation.  Pickles, tomatoes, salad… you pretty much can’t go wrong with something like that.

The Coffee Shop
New York City
For breakfast one morning in New York, T and D took us to a place they like to go in Union Square.  It looked like it was supposed to be an old diner, but was remodeled to be a trendy New York eatery.  Fun!  They actually had some vegan breakfast items on the menu, but once I saw that they had a side order of black beans and rice, and another side order of tomatoes, that’s all I could think about.  I feel like if there’s something on the menu that actually says Vegan next to it, I should get it, but I really wasn’t feeling the summer veggie/tofu wrap or whatever it was.  All I wanted was the beans and rice!  Is that so wrong?  W commented that I was in breakfast heaven when my side orders arrived, but I think the others couldn’t believe I was eating beans and rice for breakfast.  I mean, at 11:00am it was more like brunch anyway, practically lunch time for me on a normal work day! 

With a little salt and pepper and tobasco sauce sprinkled on top, it was true -- I was in breakfast heaven.  Simple pleasures.  What can I say?

Sabrina's Cafe
Philadelphia, PA
Seitan/Chickpea scramble with fresh fruit.  Good, but nothing to write home about.  I think I was just more excited about the fact that there was a vegan option on the menu here.  However, the rice and beans at The Coffee Shop in NYC were just as good, if not more satisfying. 

Reading Terminal Market
Philadelphia, PA

In a place with a million amazing, fresh and delicious options, I chose the veggie-lean "steak" sandwich.  BORING. 

Made by a very mean and angry looking man on the same skillet on which he just made a real steak sandwich, I know I shouldn’t have eaten it.  But I was starving and had just paid and ridiculous ten dollars for the stupid thing!  Call me a bad vegan, oh well.  To make matters worse, it wasn’t even that great.  I mean, it was just an okay sandwich, but I think the bad-attitude chef and meat-covered skillet kind of ruined the whole thing for me.  Sad, because it looked like there were so many other way better places I could have grabbed something to eat in Reading Terminal Market.  Ah man… next time, next time.  

Philly Pretzel Factory
Philadelphia, PA

Finally!  A food that the city is known for and I can eat it!  Hooray!  These pretzels were fresh and delicious, and the best part?  They were only sixty-five cents! 

Home Sweet Home
Wilmington, MA

After two big cities, we made it home to Mom and Dad's house, north of Boston.  Mom had a nice home-cooked meal for us, which was a much needed change from the restaurants and hole-in-the-wall's we had been frequenting. 

Veggie-cheese quesadillas, Mexican rice, and nectarine salsa.  Yum!  Thank you Mom!

I keep forgetting to take pictures, but now we are relaxing at the end of our trip with W's parents.  There have been lots of fresh cucumber sandwiches, colorful salads, and delicious pasta salads.  Last night I had a grilled Dr. Praeger's patty which is always good -- I love those things and for some reason never buy them at home!  That is now going on the shopping list... 

I will update soon with more pictures of Vermont meals.