Posts Tagged chinese

VeganMoFo: Vegan on the Cheap

I learned about some of the recipes in Robin Robertson’s Vegan On The Cheap by seeing them on the blog Two Vegan Boys.  All of the dishes looked really tasty, so I bought the book and gave a few recipes a try.  I’m not on as strict a budget as I have been at some points of my life, but I still try to keep my grocery bill to a reasonable amount, so I liked the idea of choosing recipes specifically for the low cost.

One thing that this book has going for it is that the recipes are generally hearty, comforting and filling.  This is a great quality, but for someone who’s watching their portions and calorie intake, it can make recipe selection a little more complicated.  Many of them are higher in carbs than I usually prefer, and I like to bulk up my plate with veggies.  So, I picked recipes that worked best for me, lowered the amount of oils called for, and supplemented with veggie side dishes.

These are Mu Shu Burritos, and for a recipe with so few ingredients it was really delicious.  The main seasoning is hoisin sauce, which helped with the depth of flavor.  (Whole Foods has an organic house brand of vegetarian hoisin which I like.)  The recipe calls for seitan but I used soy curls because I already had some in the pantry.  What could be more cheap than food that’s already in the pantry?  The texture of the cooked cabbage was a nice contrast to the soy curls.  I served my burritos with a little chopped broccoli salad seasoned with rice vinegar and sweet chili sauce.

I served up the Three Bean Loaf with beets and roasted brussels sprouts.  The loaf was held together by bread crumbs, oats and vital wheat gluten, and it actually loafed!  The beans and binders were combined with carrot, celery, ketchup, soy sauce, mustard, brown sugar and cider vinegar, and the combination of sweet, savory and tangy flavors was mouth watering.

The Peanutty Pumpkin Stew was a meal unto itself.  The broth was thickened with canned pumpkin and peanut butter, and other ingredients included carrot, potato, tomato, curry powder, kidney beans and green chiles.  I added a pinch of cayenne powder for a little bit of heat.  The thick/chunky texture may not be pleasing to some, but it really worked for me.  Most of the ingredients could be already found in your pantry and vegetable crisper.  To get some green in my meal, I steamed some kale and mixed it into the soup.

This Blushing Alfredo Fettuccine was the perfect way to use up a partial jar of marinara that was lingering in the fridge.  The sauce includes your typical vegan alfredo ingredients such as cashews, silken tofu and nutritional yeast, but you pump up the flavor even more by starting with sauteed onions and garlic.  I served the sauce over shirataki noodles, which are tofu based, very low-cal noodles.  They’re not amazing, but I do like to use them instead of pasta sometimes so that I can have a big dish of food without lots of calories.  I topped the noodles and sauce with roasted cauliflower, baked tempeh and fresh parsley.

I really enjoyed every recipe I’ve tried from Vegan On The Cheap so far.  The recipes and techniques are solid, the flavor combinations are familiar yet tempting, and the recipes live up to the book title’s promise by costing less at the grocery store, and using up some pantry items if you plan well.

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August CSA’s, and Getting Dave to Eat Tofu

8/12/10 CSA:  cauliflower, cucumber, bell peppers, plums, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, pears, patty pan squash, basil and a cantaloupe

Most of these veggies went into a salad that wasn’t worth mentioning, but some of them went into this.

I turned a standard tagine recipe into a stew by adding more broth and some millet.  Also included were cauliflower, carrot, chickpeas, tomatoes, peas and dried apricot.  This turned out pretty well, but the flavor was a little watered down, so I guess I didn’t compensate for the extra ingredients by adding enough spices.

8/26/10 CSA:  lemon cucumber, jalapenos, fennel, lettuce

lots of tomatoes, pears, apples, peaches and a cantaloupe

Some of these veggies went into a delicious Mexican-inspired meal which I will post about, just as soon as I get those recipes written up!

One Friday afternoon we came home from work, both ravenous.  I didn’t have anything planned for dinner and wanted to throw something together quickly, and asked Dave if he wanted to have what I was having for dinner.  When Dave is hungry and has no food in the house, it’s easy to get him to eat almost anything.

Ugly picture, tasty sandwich.  I thawed a block of tofu that had been living in the freezer for lord knows how long, and baked it with a smoky maple sauce.  Topped with a really nice tomato and crisp lettuce, and served on wheat toast with Vegenaise.  Who could say no?

I had some rice left over from Chinese takeout which was begging to be made into fried rice, so I threw it in the wok with all the veggies I had – onion, garlic, carrot, celery, tons of cabbage, edamame and broccoli.  This was light on rice and heavy on cabbage, and if I remember correctly Dave had some of it too.

Lastly, some braised mustard greens that I made to accompany some beanie weenies.  I bought the greens in a pre-washed and -chopped package from Trader Joe’s, which made ‘em that much quicker to prepare.  I started by cooking onion and garlic slowly to develop the flavor, then added the greens, a chopped tomato and a thin layer of veggie broth.  And, if I know myself at all, there was probably a bit of liquid smoke.  The greens turned out really well, and I could’ve easily eaten the entire pan at once!

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Two Amazing Potlucks: Dumplings and Rainbows

My friend Amey has the BEST potlucks.  Whenever Amey hosts, I’m happy to make the drive down to Santa Cruz because I wouldn’t want to miss it!

Back in July, the Santa Cruz PPKers had the brilliant idea for a Dumpling Potluck.  Anything was fair game, as long as it was in dumpling form.  The turnout was smaller than usual, but the food was great.

My contribution was “chicken” and dumplings, a reinvention of a dish I used to enjoy every year at Thanksgiving with my very southern family.

I based the soup on this recipe, and used a baked chicken seitan recipe for the chicken part.  I wasn’t thrilled with how the seitan came out, but the dumplings and broth were dead on.  Fantastic.

Mini Empanadas

Chinese Barbecue Seitan Buns with a Spicy Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Some sort of tasty, doughy dumpling with a German name and delicious tomato herb gravy.

Mini Farmer’s Market Tamales with Pico de Gallo

Savory plate.  I liked that everything was mini-sized.

With some chicken and dumplings and blood orange soda.

Mini Cherry Pies with Marzipan

Mochi Daifuku with Red Bean Paste

Lavender Berry Cream Pie.  The crust on this pie was so good!

Dessert plate, with vanilla ice cream.

For a more timely and detailed account, check out Amey’s post here.  While all of the food was supremely delicious, we quickly realized that it was all very beige and didn’t exactly leave us feeling light in our loafers.  Someone came up with the idea of a rainbow theme for our next potluck, with the goal of more colorful and less carby food in mind.

So, a few weeks ago we got together at Amey’s house again to taste the rainbow.  We tried to go for a double rainbow of both savory and sweet, in tribute to the double rainbow video.  I came to the color-claiming party late, and accepted a challenge by choosing a blue savory dish.  I wasn’t really sure what blue foods I could use other than blue cornmeal, and then I learned that you can dye foods blue with red cabbage water.  Red cabbage basically acts as a pH indicator, and turns colors depending on its pH.  Fun with science!

I decided to make blue pupusas, with hopefully blue curtido.  First, I cooked some small white beans in the red cabbage water.

Then I refried the beans with onion, garlic, cumin and coriander.

Then I used cabbage water for the liquid in making the pupusa dough.  I tried to make the curtido blue as well by cooking red cabbage in baking soda water, and it turned the cabbage a beautiful teal color.  Unfortunately, when I added the vinegar-based dressing the acidity turned the cabbage back to purple.  It was actually kind of fortunate, as the violet portion of our rainbow would have been lacking otherwise.

Amey decorated the table with construction paper and color-matched beverages.  From left to right:

Red – Borscht and berries
Orange – Annato-coconut soup

Yellow – Mini Corn Muffins with Maple Frosting, Mac n’ Cheese, Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes

Green – Green Tomato Bruschetta (on a snail plate!) and Basil-Coconut-Lime Ice Cream

Blue – my Pupusas, which actually turned out kind of blue, and Blueberry Cocoa Cupcakes

Violet – Red Cabbage Curtido and Lavender Simple Syrup hiding in the back.

Gorgeous Rainbow Salad to finish things off.

All together now, with rainbow steamer.

I made less pupusas than there were people, so I cut them in half to reveal the pretty blue insides.

Savory plate, with both soups.  Everything was so fresh and tasty!  We definitely had more veggies than usual due to the color requirements.  The mac n cheese was based on the VegNews recipe, and it was one of the best I’ve ever had.

Dessert plate, upon which everything was awesome!  The standout was the basil-coconut-lime ice cream, which was outrageously good.  The lemon bundt was also intensely lemony and wonderful.

Sadly, I don’t have any people pictures from either party, because once I sat down with all the delicious food I just wanted to eat and enjoy the company.  Amey has more details and some people pictures on her blog post here.  Can’t wait for another Santa Cruz potluck!

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And For My Next Post…Here’s a Bunch of Food.

There’s always a bad reason for not blogging, but here’s a good one:  My internet didn’t work for two weeks!  But I’m back now, and what better thing to do than post a whole bunch of random food and get caught up?  Some of this stuff dates from last October.  Eep!  I’ll jump right in.

Ginger Cashew Tofu from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, with fried quinoa

Salad with chickpeas, sauerkraut, crackers and “special sauce” dressing

Whole wheat pasta with cooked beets and beet greens.  Turned the whole thing red!

Pizza burrito!  Leftover pizza toppings wrapped up and served with pizza sauce.

These potatoes were sold as “teeny tiny potatoes” at Trader Joe’s.  How cute!  Roasted whole, with broccoli & tofu scramble.

Roasted Fennel Salad from Veganomicon – test run before Thanksgiving.

Amaranth porridge with apples and pecans

Tempeh Tetrazzini, adapted from a magazine recipe.  Was tasty but dry.

Teriyaki tofu and veggies with red quinoa

This was a total clean-out-the-fridge dinner before I left to visit family for Christmas:  sauteed cabbage and carrots with shredded bleu Sheese and brown rice.  It sounds weird, but it worked well enough.

Shells n’ cheese n’ Tofurkey.  Mom was making mac n’ cheese with leftover ham for the rest of the family, and she made the white sauce with Earth Balance and soy milk so that I could partake too.  I added shredded Follow Your Heart cheese, cooked shells, diced Tofurkey slices that needed to be used up, and some spinach so I could pretend that it was slightly healthy.

“Special Tofu” with peanut sauce and jasmine rice, from Royal Orchid restaurant in Ocala, Florida.  Beautiful and delicious.

Fried rice with red cabbage and baked tofu

Braised red cabbage and carrots

Roasted root veggies with greens and tahini sauce

Tofu scramble and an English muffin to scoop it up

Butternut squash stuffed with rice, kale and vegan sausage, served with mushrooms.  This was super tasty.

When the weather started warming up, we decided to grill twice in one weekend.  For this plate, I bought every vegetable worthy of grilling – baby squashes, radicchio, mushrooms, asparagus and garlic scapes.  We also had some grilled toast and drizzled everything with balsamic reduction.

The next day it was a little more simple – store bought baked tofu, a marinated portobello, brown rice with carrots and hijiki, and steamed veggies with gomasio.

Hot and sour cabbage stir fry with noodles and cilantro

For this tofu scramble, I crisped some diced potatoes first then added the tofu and other ingredients, and finished it with fresh dill.

Savory amaranth with broccoli and pecans

Pasta with parsley pesto, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic-roasted veggies

Crunchy salad with black eyed peas, hemp seeds and spicy apple cider vinegar dressing

Teriyaki tofu bowl with short grain brown rice, raw red cabbage, steamed broccoli, green onion and extra teriyaki sauce

Gardein Crispy Tenders!  I bought these to try when I had a coupon, and I LOVE them.  They’d be good with any sauce, but they were especially good straight out of the oven with warm marinara.  The only problem with these guys is that I could easily eat the whole package at once.

Seasoned mashed fava beans with red bell pepper on Ezekiel toast for breakfast.

Springtime brown rice risotto with fresh peas, aspragus and dill

For a light side to go with the risotto, I dry-roasted some cauliflower that was liberally seasoned with a dry rub mix.

Ahhhhhhh, I feel better having purged my unposted photos a little!  Hope you enjoyed it too.

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Orange Tofu with Broccoli

Okay, so THAT is orange tofu with bok choy.  I realized after making this again that I never followed up with the recipe last time I made it.  I definitely wanted to share this one, cause I like it a lot.  As in, I made it twice in two months which is not normal for me.  I like that I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

The version with bok choy was just okay.  Make it with broccoli.  Trust me.  Oh, and here are directions for dry-frying tofu.

Orange Tofu with Broccoli

1 lb. extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes or triangles
bunch of broccoli, cut into florets
4 cloves garlic
4 green onions
3/4 c water
1/4 c orange juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar
4 Tbs soy sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp red pepper
1 Tbs cornstarch

Dry-fry tofu until browned, or saute in oil if preferred. Steam broccoli until crisp-tender.

Whisk remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Heat a large skillet to medium, and add tofu, broccoli and sauce mixture. Bring to a simmer, then continue to simmer until the sauce is reduced to your liking, stirring occasionally.

Serve over brown rice.

Serves 4.

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Playing With Produce

A couple weeks ago I was gifted some produce – some monster produce.  I’m not sure there’s anything better than free produce from someone’s garden.  It’s home grown, local, and most importantly, free.  This bag o’ veggies included what might be the world’s largest zucchini, seen here with a “normal” zucchini for comparison.

I had been abstaining from baking since the kitchen here isn’t really set up for it, but what’s a girl to do with a huge zucchini, especially with a fantasy football draft and a PPK meetup that weekend?  Make chocolate zucchini muffins, that’s what.  I found some great looking recipes online, but I wanted to keep the ingredient list to a minimum since I’d have to buy everything new, right down to flour.  So I settled on this recipe, which is actually a brownie recipe.  I figured if they tasted good in a pan surely they would also taste good in muffin form.  Problem was, the batter didn’t come together at all.  There wasn’t nearly enough liquid, it was kind of like a big lump of chocolate sugar and flour, which really isn’t that bad…but it wasn’t bakeable.  So I added just over a cup of soy milk (I had doubled the recipe), and lo and behold they baked up pretty well.  They weren’t exactly brownie-ish and they weren’t exactly muffin-ish, but they were mighty tasty.

I had more batter than the pans would hold, and I was just going to keep it in the fridge to eat raw later (ah, they joys of eggless batter), but I decided to see if it would bake up after sitting around for a half hour.  Sure did!  The second batch even had nicely rounded tops.

At the aforementioned PPK meetup I got to try golden watermelon!  I have a slight aversion to regular watermelon for reasons we won’t discuss here, but this golden watermelon was great.  I’m glad I got to try it.  (Look at that beautiful grass!  There were geese all over the park too.)

Back to the veggie present.  Here’s the rest of what I got, along with the remainder of the zucchini.

With these goodies I made ratatouille, which I had never tried before.  It was good but a little bland, so I added a splash of balsamic at the end and that did the trick.  Served with chickpeas over whole wheat couscous.

BF had an interview in San Francisco on Tuesday, and I remembered that there was a farmers market at the Ferry Building on Tuesdays.  Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.  I spent about an hour walking around and looking at everything, and ended up with all this for $23!  Whole wheat pain au levaine, bell peppers, long beans, baby bok choy, fresh tofu, hot banana pepper, white nectarine, dapper dandy pluot, salad mix, purslane and radishes in the bag, and fingerling potatoes.

I didn’t set out with anything in mind because I wanted to try some new things, but a few meals came together as I went along.  Dinner that night was a salad that I wasn’t entirely certain would work.  Fortunately it came together fantastically.

Salad mix, purslane, lentils, roasted radishes, red and purple peppers and grapes with goddess dressing.  The sweet and savory with the contrast of textures was right on.  Plus, anything tastes good with goddess dressing.  A word on roasting radishes:  They’re really good, try it!  Just don’t cut the pieces too small as they shrink a lot while cooking.

Here’s what purslane looks like, if you’ve never seen it.  It’s supposedly really good for you, high in vitamins and omega-3′s.  I liked it raw but have also heard of people sauteing it.  It’s hard to describe the flavor.  There’s definitely a strong flavor, but it’s not bitter like arugula.

The next meal from my farmers market greatness was tofu scramble with the hot banana pepper, red bell pepper and zucchini, steamed long beans (cut into shorter beans), and roasted fingerling potatoes.  I knew I’d love the fingerlings.  BF said they were kind of like homemade french fries.  The outsides toughens up while the insides stay nice and soft.

And lastly, a “what do I have left in the fridge?” meal, braised sesame eggplant and baby bok choy.  This was just okay.  My Chinese-style food always seems to be lacking just a bit in the flavor department.  I like to think it’s because I don’t use msg.

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Meal-in-a-Bowl

I’ve been thinking about a full meal in a bowl being a good way to eat a satisfying, healthy and balanced meal.  You’ve got your protein, starch and veggies all playing nicely together.  And, since I’m a guest here and we don’t really use the dishwasher, it’s a good way to cut down on the dishes I have to wash.

I was craving beans in a major way, and had celery and carrot in the fridge, so I made Cajun-style red beans and brown rice which turned out to be more veggie than bean, which is fine with me.  On the side is steamed spinach, and some baby romaine that was on its way out.

I still had most of the gargantuan mango from my last post, and was still in the mood for beans, so I wanted to make some sort of quinoa/black bean/mango dish.  Alas, the grocery stores here are very basic, and there is no quinoa to be found.  I went with potatoes as the starch instead, and relegated the mango to a condiment of sorts.  I consulted my friend Jackie in whether I should call it a relish, pico de gallo or chutney, and we decided it was most like a relish or pico, so Jackie suggested pico de relish.  In the end I decided on relish de gallo, because “relish of the rooster” sounds more fun than “beak of the relish”.  So this is Black Bean and Corn Hash with Mango Avocado Relish de Gallo, topped with hot sauce.

Here we have leftover broccoli in hunan sauce with brown rice with store bought teriyaki tofu.  I may have put it all in a bowl just to go with the bowl theme.  Shhhhh….

Lastly, Hannah’s Sesame Noodles.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – I couldn’t find soba noodles and used whole wheat spaghetti instead, didn’t have any ginger (thought I did and was very disappointed), used white sugar instead of brown and doubled the quantity, peeled my carrot and zucchini with a normal peeler since my julienne peeler is packed away, added sauteed cremini mushrooms and shelled edamame for some extra oomph, and garnished with cilantro just cause I had some.  This recipe is good!  Next time I will definitely make sure I have ginger, and cut back a tad on the soy sauce since it was just a bit too salty for me.

And now, since not everything can fit in a bowl, here are some randoms.

I made my first real shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.  I stopped by one a few years ago, and after actually shopping there I have the same opinion I did back then.  They have some really cool products and I’ll definitely go from time to time, but some of the items are a bit expensive, and they don’t have enough “normal” grocery items.  Like, the spices were extremely limited and I couldn’t find sesame seeds.  It seems impractical to not carry stuff like that, people don’t want to have to go to two stores.  TJ’s seems like a great place for people who don’t want to or don’t have time to cook, lots of good ready-made food.  My total purchase came to almost $50, although $8 of it was for soy yogurt, which I can’t find in town.

Some home fries made with potatoes I didn’t use in the hash above.  Part of a big breakfast for bf before his first job interview today.  So good with ketchup.

One of my (and probably your) favorite lunches, plain ol’ hummus with pita and veggies.

Up next:  Hopefully a couple uses for the world’s largest zucchini.

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