Category Archives: Cooking

Vegan Pasta Bake

This was an uncharacteristically un-lazy dish for me to make. It turned out pretty good considering that I was winging it from start to finish.

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You may not be able to easily make out the veggies in the bake from the photo above, but I assure you that they’re there. The veggies used can vary, depending on what you have in your fridge or what you’re simply in the mood to eat. I went with zucchini and carrots. Everything from the pasta to the sauce to the ‘cheese’ that you use can be varied. Below are the ingredients that I used.

Vegan Pasta Bake

8oz penne pasta
2 cans tomato sauce (you can use 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce)
1 block firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
1 pack Teese mozzarella vegan cheese
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1 medium onion, minced
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian herbs
salt and pepper

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While the water for the pasta was boiling and the oven was preheating to 350 degrees, I mixed my tofu crumbles with the spices and olive oil, and cut up the veggies, onion, and garlic.

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After the pasta was cooked and drained, I started placing the ingredients in a casserole dish. I tried to do it in layers: pasta, onions and garlic, tofu, veggies, teese. After all the veggies and pasta were in the dish, I poured the sauce over everything. I should have layered in the sauce as well. Duh. But it still turned out okay, so, yay!

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I was only about 95% happy with how this turned out, but I learned a lot of lessons making it. I hope to try it again with other veggies like spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, squash… and I’ll plan to have more veggies than pasta in it next time. –Melissa

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Stock!

This post is about making stock for soup, mashed potatoes, French Onion soup, gravy, risotto or whatever you would normally use soup stock for and it’s crazy simple. Even if you like to compost (or have bunnies to ‘process’ your leftover veggies) this is a great way to get more out of your veggies before you throw them in your bin. Get yourself a big old freezer safe storage container. Every time you peel the skins off onions or garlic, cut the ends of carrots or celery, stems from parsley and other herbs, stumps from mushrooms or broccoli… really anything. I add lemon peel from time to time for certain recipes like pho and orange peel for zesty soy curls. Dump it into the container (I like to use a freezer bag) and store in your freezer.

When your container is full of veggie scraps, dump the contents into a pan, cover with water and simmer for at least 2 hours. Strain the liquid into a container and freeze for whenever. Now the veggies are extra mushy for composting or your sink disposal.

The stock will have no added fat or sodium and full of flavor. I like to store the stock in zippered freezer baggies too. If the bag is full enough for about 1/2 inch thickness when lying on its side, then you’ll be able to thaw it quickly.

This is Christie, signing off.

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Revisiting an Old Favorite: Soy Curl-dereta

For me, one of the joys of turning veganese is that I’ve become better in the kitchen. Cooking isn’t a chore or a crazy thing to do every once in awhile. It’s something that I wish I had time to do everyday. One of the most important lessons that has been learned out of cooking a lot more often is this: it’s okay to change things up, to experiment, to try new ingredients, and to get creative in the kitchen. Make cooking and eating work for you! Sure, it sounds simple, but I used to be one of those people who followed recipes faithfully and wondered if I was eating something the “right” way. For example, is it “right” to stick a whole piece of sushi in my mouth or is it OK to bite it? Sushi purists will tell you that there is definitely a right way to eat sushi, but I don’t quite feel good (or attractive) when trying to eat a whole piece of sushi. Drool and choking become potential side effects. But, I digress.

I recently made some soy curl-dereta (click for my original recipe):

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It’s only the 2nd time I’m making this, which is kind of crazy. I used to worry a lot about missing Filipino food! I can’t be missing it that much if it’s only the 2nd time I’ve made this. The main reason I wanted to talk about this is because I did things a little differently this time around.

  1. I didn’t follow a recipe.
  2. I didn’t have potatoes or bell pepper, so I was missing ingredients (and I forgot some ingredients). Therefore, one can make the argument that this dish is NOT caldereta, but they’re wrong.
  3. I didn’t use the store-bought Caldereta spice packet.
  4. The first time I made this, it was a HUGE production. It was also the first time I ever had soy curls. This time, it was second nature and I wasn’t terrified of the soy curls.

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You guys, I just have to say it: I’m so proud of myself! Look at me, being all casual chef let-me-get-this-stuff-cooked-so-I-can-eat-already! The one major difference is that I browned the soy curls with the garlic and onions and some Butler Chick Style Seasoning before adding the tomato sauce and veggies this time. Since I didn’t have a caldereta spice packet, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and cumin. I debated whether or not to add nutritional yeast, but opted out. Thinking back, I totally should have done that: some people do add cheese to traditional caldereta.

You might notice that I was working with smaller soy curl bits from the bottom of the bag. It worked out really nicely. The carrots and peas ended up being the star with the soy curls being a nice accompaniment.

Cooking this got me really excited because I couldn’t help but wonder how my 3rd iteration of soy curl-dereta will turn out. I’ll be sure to let you guys know. –Melissa

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Baked BBQ Tofu with Red Cabbage Slaw plus another Giveaway Winner!

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If you’re in the United States, you may be aware that McRib is back at McDonald’s. Wait, don’t go anywhere! There is a vegan point to this post! I used to be one of the many who love the McRib. It’s tasty stuff! Tasty, nasty, unhealthy stuff! Now that it’s back and I see the ads and the signs or read tweets about it, I MUST FEED MY MCRIB CRAVING! VEGAN STYLE!

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The Baked BBQ Tofu requires only two ingredients: 1 block of firm or extra firm tofu, cubed, and about 1/3 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. Just mix it all together and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

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I baked the tofu in my toaster oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, turned the pieces over and coated with some more BBQ sauce, and then baked for another 7 minutes.

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I made some red cabbage slaw to accompany the tofu. I mixed shredded red cabbage with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lime juice, about a tsp of balsamic vinegar, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I mixed it all up and let it sit in the fridge while the tofu was baking.

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I ended up making BBQ tofu tacos since I had tortillas. I adorned the tofu with only some onion since McD’s only puts onions and pickles on the McRib. I would have added a pickle, too, but I think that would have been a little much with the slaw. The tacos and slaw were a great combination! I was worried that they wouldn’t mesh well but the flavors were great. I did add some more BBQ sauce to the tacos for extra flavor.

Now, onto this week’s giveaway winner… our randomly selected prizewinner is theveganpennypincher! Whoohoo! Readers, be sure to visit theveganpennypincher blog. It’s excellent!

If you haven’t already, go here to enter our December giveaway. There are still two more chances to win a Bubble & Bee lotion stick as well as enter to win a TofuXpress. Yay! –Melissa

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Piccata revisited

Melissa is the author of the best piccata vegan or not. We decided we wanted some so we changed up a couple of the elements and were pleasantly surprised. We started by preparing some tempeh according to Melissa’s recipe and setting it on low to simmer.

We sauteed some spinach with garlic and flake red pepper.

Next we sauteed some polenta.

I served it all up hot with extra lemon caper awesomeness poured over the top and a sprinkle of paprika.

It was delicious and did not last long. I ended up having to make another batch immediately after this one disappeared. What this really translates to is a recipe that’s robust and reproducible. A huge “THANKS!” goes out to co-author Melissa. She’s pretty rad.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Penne Puttanesca

Puttanesca is terribly underrated and we were cleaning out the fridge this particular day. I started simply and got some of my favorite pasta sauce and a bag of rice pasta. Brent is in charge of making pasta so I was saucy!

I diced an onion and sauteed it with some flake red pepper and basil olive oil. It smelled SO amazing I wish I could make a scratch-n-sniff post.

I added 2 cups of sauce and threw in

1 tin of olives that I drained

1 cup of TVP (omit if you’re sensitive to soy)

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp coriander

1 tin of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

I stirred it up until it was hot and fragrant and when Brent was done making the pasta we mixed it all together and devoured it.

I guess we do this kind of pasta a lot and don’t always post about it. Capers, mushrooms, garlic, basil leaves and just about everything else gets throw into this dish. I recommend it for families with kids who will find the hunt for all the different veggies and beans entertaining.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Speaking of Shrimp…

After posting about lobster mushrooms I did get a hankering for shrimp. So these exist…

I know, right? They look vaguely like the real thing and I’m here to tell you about it.I was excited that they’re gluten-free and soy-free. The ingredients are pretty good, mostly starch and flavorings. They’re low calorie and non-GMO. I thought they were a little expensive at $8 per package, particularly considering the ingredients, but I also don’t know how to make pseudo-shrimp at home.

I decided to cook them like any self respecting lover of shrimp would; I heated up a pan with copious amounts of Earth Balance butter and garlic.

They smelled divine, not fishy. Shrimp shouldn’t smell particularly fishy anyways as long as they’re fresh.

Sauteeing them I got a better idea of their texture. They’re slightly rubbery, like shrimp that you’re likely to find at most restaurants. I personally like the texture a lot.

After adding some pasta, sun dried tomato and Teese mozzarella to the mix, things were starting to look delicious.

We topped it with some fresh basil. It was a welcome change so far as dinner goes. I think they’d be great in stir fry or in gumbo but I’m not sure about as a shrimp cocktail. I’d buy these again. Let me know what you think if you get to try them!

 

This is Christie, signing off!

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Easy Miso Tofu

Maybe it’s the change of season, but I have found myself yearning for comfort food. I’ve been thinking about one dish in particular for the past few days: my Mom’s baked catfish. How could I recreate this dish, vegan-style? Pretty easily!

First, I grabbed a block of tofu and pressed it overnight using my TofuXpress. Then, I scored the tofu and let it sit in some miso paste and chopped green onion for several hours.

I cooked the tofu by baking the entire block in a toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. While it was baking, I took some brown rice and quinoa that I had in the fridge and heated them together in a pan, seasoning it with soy sauce and some garlic powder.

It really was as simple as that! I definitely want to tweak the recipe a bit, be more fancy with the seasoning and really crust some of that miso on there. But this hit the spot and satisfied my catfish craving. –Melissa

 

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Crazy Easy Three Bean Chili and a Giveaway!

Three bean vegan chili is nothing to sneeze at when we make it. Before I talk about chili though, I’m going to tell you about Muir Glen – I’ve been using their organic canned tomatoes for years.

I grew up farming and tomatoes have a special place in my heart. In fact I’m a tomato snob. I usually turn my nose up at tomatoes in the supermarket and in restaurants because they’ve lost their flavor through refrigeration, artificial ripening techniques, and through selective breeding for other traits like improved shelf life. Subsequently I turn to canned varieties unless I can get good ones from my garden or from my farmer’s market. Muir Glen has a range of organic tomato products including their roasted diced tomatoes, tomato paste and regular diced tomatoes. Whatever they’re doing over there definitely makes a difference and this is a giveaway so you can see for yourself without spending your hard earned cash.

Back to chili. Tomatoes are important for chili recipes. I can’t imagine chili without them: they provide a crisp base and a source of important nutrients like lycopene and vitamin C. To begin we assembled the following:

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeño, minced

1 cube vegetable bouillon

1 tsp cumin

1 tbsp coriander

1 15oz. tin of pinto beans

1 15oz. tin of kidney beans

1 15oz. tin of black beans

1 15oz. tin of diced tomatoes

1 15oz. tin roasted diced tomatoes

1 cup TVP (use a 15oz. tin of pumpkin puree if you’re sensitive to soy or both if you want a mellower chili)

1 tsp flake red pepper (more if you like spicy food)

salt to taste

1 tsp olive oil

We sauteed the onion, jalapeño and spices and sauteed it in olive oil until the mixture was fragrant and steamy.

Then we added the tomatoes and heated them until it started to bubble.

Then I added the rest of the ingredients (don’t drain the liquid from the beans or tomatoes). I added both TVP and pumpkin. That’s just how I roll. After it was nice and hot, I adjusted the spices and served up topped with Daiya and some home made bread.

This is a flavorful chili that will fool a lot of meat eaters with how hearty it is. The roasted tomatoes add an additional depth of flavor that you can’t get just by adding liquid smoke. The textured vegetable protein will confuse a lot of vegans because it’s so meaty. It’s cholesterol-free, high in fiber and low in fat.
So now on to the giveaway. This is a promo by Muir Glen: they’re going to send you a 14.5 oz can Reserve Harvest Sunset Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, a 14.5 oz can Reserve Harvest Sunset Organic Diced Tomatoes, a 14.5 oz can Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies, a 14.5 oz can Muir Glen Organic No-Salt Added Diced Tomatoes and recipe booklet featuring a variety of recipes created by award-winning chefs from around the country. Of course you’ll only need the recipe book for using the other cans of tomatoes because you’ll want 2 of them for my recipe.

In order for me to select winners, all you have to do is the following:

1. like and follow our blog

2. like us on FaceBook

3. comment below on what you use tinned tomatoes for most often in your kitchen

Then I’ll ask each of the randomly selected winners (5 in total) to email us their mailing address before midnight Sunday, October 14. I’m excited to pass on some free products that I’ve been enjoying for years so that I can be sure I’m not crazy for liking Muir Glen.

This is Christie, signing off.

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Easy Pigeon Peas

Since going vegan, I’ve easily had guacamole and chips for dinner at least once a week. It sounds weird when I say it out loud, but it’s the reality of my vegan lifestyle. That said, I was in no mood for guacamole tonight. So I threw together a pigeon pea dish.

 

Ingredient list:

1/2 dried pigeon peas or gandules
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tbsp tomato paste
dash of annatto powder
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

I boiled the pigeon peas in 2 cups of boiling water for a few minutes and then set it aside for an hour. Then, I heated a pot, browned the garlic and onions in olive oil until the onions were translucent, and then added the diced tomato. Once the tomato was softened to my liking, I added the peas, the spices, tomato paste, and a cup of water. I covered the pot until it boiled and the water had dried out a bit. I served the pigeon peas over some garlicky fried rice.

I was definitely in need of something more hearty than guacamole for dinner and this fit the bill! –Melissa

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