Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Lazy Vegan: Orange Tofu with Lemon CousCous

I have been out of the blogging loop lately. I lost my appetite with a horrible cold, and soon after my laptop broke and there was no way of updating.

But I am here now--with the flu and a lack of appetite--but I do have some old recipes I can update with. Here is a REALLY simple baked tofu recipe I tried from VeganYumYum. I used regular couscous and made ginger and soy green beans instead of kale.


Love, Taco

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Not-So-On-Top-of-Things-Vegan

Hmm, so it's been a while. Yeah? All I can say is Spring Break got the best of me, my liver, and my heart. But, I am back and ready to attack? Actually it's more like I am back in school, swim, and dealing with (maybe dealing isn't the right word) balancing lots of time in my social life as some new additions to the friend spectrum have popped up recently.

Also, I have had absolutely no appetite for the past that has hindered the WANT to cook and be creative with yummy vegan foods!

Here is something I made last week off VeganYumYum (what's new?) that is super simple, cheap, and a nice summer spread/sandwich topper. It can also be used as an appetizer as Lolo uses it--and this is something all guest vegan, vegetarian, or meat eating crazy faces will enjoy.

Chickpea Salad

1 15oz can Chickpeas, rinsed well
3-4 Tbs Vegenaise (vegan mayo)
2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1 tsp Mustard
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Paprika (sweet, hot, or smoked)
1/2 tsp Salt
Fresh Craked Black Pepper

Mash all the ingredients to form a chunky spread. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

I used Miso Mayo instead of Vegenaise for some added Garlic flavor--and it was so superb! (Yeah, I said superb.) I also topped mine with melted vegan cheese, paprika, and love. Anyhow, it's simple so there's not much else to it. Enjoy!

The only good lighting I could get was on the kicthen floor. Here is Bosko being an amazing dog and calmly waiting for me to take the picture. He can be so good..sometimes!!

Take care.



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Early Morning Vegan

This is my own creation. I love smoothies and this one is my Everything But the Kitchen Sink Smoothie. Enjoy!

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup Carrot &Orange Juice (Fresh Squeezed if available)
1/2 cup Frozen Peaches
1/2 Banana
6 strawberries PLUS 2 for garnish
1/2 block of SOFT Silken Tofu
2 T Flax Seed
1 T Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Rice/Soy/Almond Milk

Combine all the above ingredients (minus 2 strawberries) in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve. Feel free to substitute ingredients. Maybe add some Agave Nectar? Wheat Germ? Dates for a yummy treat at the end of your smoothie? Almonds? Soy Yogurt? Be creative.

Bosko "licked the plate clean" for me :)



Monday, March 24, 2008

Terrestrail Vegan Takes on Pad Thai Challenge

Apparently all I do over spring break is cook. But what better time to experiment with recipes than when your only real responsibility for the week is keeping plans with friends? In a week it'll be back to PB&J for lunch and Boca Burgers for dinner.

So here goes.

Yesterday Jess and I took our monthly trip to Winco to celebrate Easter. (Not really, it just happened to be open on Easter and there was nothing better to do than fill an empty pantry.) So there I am perusing the Asian Food aisle, and what do I stumble upon? Glass noodles. My all time favorite bean noodle to be used in Pad Thai...and so it begins:

I made up the recipe..which is pretty amazing, because while I am a great cook...I am only great at following recipes.

Kerry's Wonderfully Amazing Pad Thai Woon Sen
(Woon Sen simply means with bean noodles...
you can order Pad Thai Woon Sen at any Thai restaurant if you are interested.)

Serves: 2 REALLY hungry people

1 Package Woon Sen/Bean Noodles/Glass Noodles

1/4 cup Bragg's Amino Acids (Soy Sauce is a less healthy alternative)
1/4 cup Freash Lime Juice
1 T Rice Vinegar
2 T Orange Juice
4-6 T Peanut Butter
1/8 cup Brown Sugar
3 T Agave Nectar (If not available just add more Brown Sugar)
1/8 cup Crushed Peanuts (unsalted)

Use any vegetables you enjoy. I used:
3 Kale Leaves chopped
1/2 Mushrooms
1 cup red cabbage
1 carrot peeled

Protein Choice:
Use any protein you enjoy. I used:
1/2 pound Extra Firm Tofu (Frozen/Thawed/Cubed)

First you will need to prepare the glass noodles. Do this by submerging two of the noodle blocks (they look like big pieces of shredded wheat) into cold water. Let them soak for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil.

While the glass noodles soak and the water boils prepare the sauce. To do this combine all the sauce ingredients into a sauce pan. Turn the sauce pan on low--allowing the peanut butter to melt. Stir occasionally or whisk--and turn the heat off once the peanut butter has melted.

Back to the noodles: Drain the noodles from the cold water and place them into the boiling water. Let them cook for about 3-5 minutes or until they look "glass-y." Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside in a bowl of ice cold water.

Use a wok or large pan to fry up all your veggies and tofu. You can fry them in peanut oil if you have some available, but I simply used an Oil Spray like PAM and some water. Once your veggies are tender and the tofu is browned, drain and add the glass noodles and Peanut Sauce to the wok. Cook until warm. Serve.

I garnished mine with red pepper flakes, carrot flowers (that I made!!), lime, and cabbage.

The verdict:
It is nice to know I can enjoy Pad Thai again finally since Sweet Basil started adding overbearing amounts of FISH SAUCE to all their dishes last year.

Personally it was the best Pad Thai I have had. Granted I've never had authentic Thai, but this beats Gumari Thai in Chicago...which is saying a lot. (But--nothing will ever beat their Yellow Curry.)

Next time I will pan fry the glass noodles before adding them to the wok. They weren't MUSHY per say, but they didn't have the crunch I like.

All in all, a great meal. Even if it was technically my breakfast!



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Kale Tales: A New Obsession

I realize my last post was all about kale, but it was all about trying to hide it's taste because it scared me. Today was monumental for many reasons including, but not limited to:
  1. Sleeping until 2pm (Thank you spring break!! I needed more than 3 hours of sleep a night!)
  2. Getting a call for a job interview at the Shedd (!!! Amazinnnng)
  3. Kale becoming my all time favorite veggie in the whole. wide. world.
  4. Coming around to frozen tofu.
That's right I said it..Kale. Is. The. Best. Veggie. EVER.

Today I grew up (vegan style) and finally cooked a meal with kale as the main ingredient. And! It was so good I finished the first bowl AND made another kale dish right after--both with frozen tofu.

Here's the deal. Frozen/thawed tofu? I almost barfed the first time I had it. I think it's because I made a tofu breakfast scramble with it and it's such a staple dish in my diet that it tasted weird when it wasn't familiar.

In case you are curious frozen tofu is known to have a chewier texture and be a lot holier/fluffier. It makes for extremely easy pressing and amazing cubed tofu.

So today I took two scary ingredients and made the tastiest vegan dishes I have had yet!

Kale and Tofu #1:

This recipe was from VwaV (Vegan with a Vengeance) so I am not going to publish it, but here is the basic gist: Kale stir-fried in garlic and Olive Oil and dressed with a Tahini based dressing.

Oh lordy...the dressing was amazing--tahini, parsley, lemon, balsamic, mmm.

But the whole recipe called for a lot of Olive Oil..and I like to avoid using more than a tbsp of oil for one meal. I added in the tofu for some protein (the tiny cubes are tofu not crutons.)

Kale and Tofu #2:

This time the ratio of kale to tofu changed because it was the second time around and I realized I loved kale more than tofu. I got this recipe from VeganYumYum. I liked this recipe a lot a lot, as it was lighter and had an amazing spicy side to it because of the ginger and chili flakes.

Tofu Kale Stir-fry
Serves two one

1-2 Tbs Oil Olive Oil Pan Spray
1/4 Block Extra Firm Tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed, cubed
1/2 Bunch Kale, deveined and ripped into small pieces
1 tsp Chili Flakes
1/4+ tsp Ginger Powder (or a bit of fresh ginger, minced)
1Tbs Low Sodium Tamari Bragg's
1 tsp Sugar (for a sweeter version, optional)

Heat the oil on high in a well seasoned wok or large non-stick pan. Add tofu carefully, avoiding hot angry oil splatters. Use a wooden spoon to move the tofu around, until it begins to color.

Add kale, chili flakes, and ginger. Cook well, stirring and scraping bits off the bottom, until tofu is golden and kale is getting brown caramelized spots on it. Add tamari and optional sugar, stir well for a few moments, serve immediately with fresh ground pepper over the top.

Yumm. I am excited..tomorrow I am gonna go fresh fruit and veggie shopping--I didn't have ANY fresh fruit in the house last week because finals left me eating 3 meals of oatmeal a day and stressing till the cows came home (and escaped being slaughtered.)



Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vegan Gone Wild: Spring Break '08

So. Technically it is Thursday morning, but this still qualifies as Wednesday for me (so take that Monday Wednesday postings!)

It is 2:37AM and I just came down with a guilty conscious for my eating actions today. I mean really, I know the last day of finals is really stressful. even though I had three meals today they weren't all that healthy.*

Case and Point:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Bread w/ Peanut Butter and Vegan Sausage (Ok, not too bad)
Lunch: 3 beers (Drop Top Ale bought with book return money!)
Dinner: 3 beers some fries from the bowling alley
Midnight Snack: Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Loads of Kale

Even Bosko ate better than me:
Breakfast: Vegetarian Dog Kibble
Lunch: One full carrot and Cauliflower scraps
Dinner: Brown Rice, Broccoli, Kale, Veggie Broth, Cauliflower, Nutritional Yeast and Braggs.
Bosko sitting on my desk, looking out the window.
Yes, I am watching Law and Order: SVU in the background!

Hmm, life of a college kid on spring break after the most stressful finals week of her life? I do believe so.

I kinda feel like I made up for it a couple hours ago.

I made mashed sweet potatoes with steamed, shocked, and chopped Kale and Cauliflower. I am trying to force myself to eat a bunch (in the literal way) of Kale per week...and I am finding I like it more and more each time. If you are vegan or vegetarian and worrying about your lack of leafy green eating--this is a GREAT way to find kale in your food.

Try regular mashed potatoes with kale, chopped seitan (or tempeh), nutritional yeast flakes, tons of garlic, and Braggs or soy sauce.

Mashed potatoes with kale, Chinese broccoli, tempeh, and vegan sour cream with wasabi?

Ohh the possibilites are endless...I find mashed potatoes are a good dish for adding tons of vegetables/adding in a new vegetable or soy product you are scared to try/don't quite know how to work with.



P.S. I didn't take any pictures today, so maybe I'll add an extra update this week.

*= I do not support or condone this eating habit.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Hungry Tide: The Hungry Vegan

Lemme tell ya..I am Exhausted with a capital E. Today I finished my second of four finals. Half way done, but unfortunately the last two are the biggest ones and they fall on the same day. Kill me? No just feed me some good food, allow me some vices, and pour mass amounts of good beer down my throat when this is all over. Just kidding, Mom...?

Being in school after a year of being off is tough work. All the sudden food service jobs seem appealing and the full time jobs that I hated guarantee less stress than this. But, since there is no turning back and I am determined to graduate college eventually, I'll just suck it up for now and make some tasty food when I want to procrastinate.

The final I finished today was my Hindi Literature final. My teacher was pretty much hilarious, so I thought she deserved a little reminder how awesome the class was, because even though I was half-asleep for most of the semester I really did enjoy the class and the books we read.

And so I made her Aloo Parathas from a recipe I found on The link points you to her, Lolo (the woman who runs the site), pictures and recipe as I am way too tired to think of typing more than I need to...and because I want everyone to become obsessed with her blog and see her beautiful photography!

Don't be intimidated by this recipe. I was surprised how incredibly simple it really was. Also, don't be discouraged if you cannot find all the ingredients. For instance, I serached everywhere for Garam Masala last year when I wanted to make curry one night (but it's in any store that sells bulk spices or Indian food (or you can always make your own as it i just a combination of many common Indian spices.)) In addition, don't be let down if you cannot find Duram Atta flour (I sifted together 1/2 cup of All Purpose and 1/2 of Kamut Flour and it worked just fine (or 1/2 of Whole Wheat will also work.)

Here is a picture of how mine turned out (but please check out her pictures...the are more enticing). I used the recipe to a T and had 4 for myself and 4 for my Hindi Professor. I am sure she appreciated the gesture, but I am guessing I don't have the Indian food art down just yet!

Shown with some Aloo Gobi and Matar I made from a recipe in my head..more Aloo because the potatoes I used in the Spicy Potato Bread mixture were pretty big and I had a lot more stuffing than dough.

This post has been really word due to essay writing...but I will end with my breakfast Sunday morning. I had a lot of silken tofu left over from the cookies I made my dad so i made some French Toast. I had never thought to use tofu for French Toast...but it's what I was craving and what I had--and it turned out amazing. (I even simply ate the batter I did not use!)

2 Slices of Wheat Bread (left out over night OR toasted)
1/3 cup silken tofu
1/4 cup Apple Juice (freshly juiced YUM!)
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Orange Juice
1/2 Tbsp Flax Seed
1 Tbsp Wheat Germ
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

Blend together everything except the bread (you can probably use water in exchange for apple juice, but I love sweet things to be really sweet.) Also not everyhas Flax Seed or Wheat Germ lying around..but I was worried the tofu wasn't enough to replace the eggs (and I know flax works in baking.) But, I am pretty sure you could leave those out! In the end it should be the consistency of yogurt. Dip, Cook, Flip, Eat! I ate mine with Adam's Natural Peanut Butter, an orange, Gimmie Lean Vegan Sausage, and an episode of Law and Order: SVU.



Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vegan on a budget!

I recently stopped carrying around my debit card because I am a compulsive debit card user. I find myself spending at least $5 a day on campus when I have my card. I usually buy a Naked Juice and maybe a bagel at lunch. Then there's those days I think to myself, "Ohh, I'll just stop in American Apparel and look around," which always leads to some insane purchase, but it's all stuff I don't really *need* it's just convenient.

Point being I now grocery shop on a strict cash budget--fresh fruit and veggies from Kiva on Mondays ($10) and anytime I need something for a recipe I bring only $10 along. Not counting those once a month runs to WINCO to massively stock up on bulk goods, canned goods, and fake cheese/meat.

All this being said: Here is a meal (4 servings) for under $10!! And it takes no time to make.

Smoky Refried Bean Soup
(courtesy of FatFree Vegan Kitchen)

1 large onion, chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)

15 ounces fatfree refried beans

15 ounces black beans, cooked
1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 teaspoon cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 - 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)

1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)

1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)

salt and pepper, to taste

Spray a large, non-stick pot with cooking spray, and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for one more minute. Add all the remaining ingredients and cook until the flavors blend, 20-30 minutes.
Makes 4 large servings.

Per serving: 257 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 15g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 895mg Sodium; 14g Fiber. Weight Watchers Core (4 Flex Points).

In addition I made corn tortilla chips. FatFree Vegan kicthen offers a recipe, but it's all pretty simple to figure out. (Corn tortillas, salt, lime juice, chili powder, bake.) Here's the final product:

This soup is so friggen delicious! The only alterations I made were adding fresh juice of one lime...but that's simply because I am on a lime kick like no other, using canned corn, and adding jalapeños.

Well, my dad's birthday is on St. Patrick's Day and since I am a broke-ass-ho I made him some chocolate chip cookies and sent them out to Chicago earlier today. I got the recipe from La Dolce Vegan--and I have to say it is no where near as good a the one I found in Vegan with a Vengeance (probably because this recipe uses half the vegan butter and sugar ;)) One plus is that you can't feel butter lining your throat and stomach after eating a couple--something the VwV ones promise to do. Here goes:

Rachel's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cups vegan margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup silken tofu
3/4 vegan choco chips

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a food processor, blend together sugar, margarine, vanilla extract and tofu until smooth. Add tofu mixture and choco chips to dry ingredients and stir together well. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool. (Yields 24)

I cut the recipe in half, added chopped walnuts, and used half bakers sugar and half brown sugar. I had never baked with tofu as an egg replacer, and it worked out well. Personally though, I love using banana because I like the added flavor.

Now I have a ton of silken tofu left over...YUMMY DIP time!



Monday, March 10, 2008

The Mamas and The Papas

Every Sunday night I am reminded of that Mamas and Papas | Monday Monday song...

"Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time."
-Mamas and Papas | Monday Monday

Monday is the toughest day of my week. The weekend is over, 8:30AM class, non-stop day until 4:30PM, and I have left all my homework till 1AM on Monday morning. Same thing every week.

That being said, Mondays equal sack lunch days for Taco.

This week I am lazy and so I have the 100% typical vegan lunch to share with you today.

My lunch is held captive in a Laptop/Bento Box from Laptop Lunches (featured on the Vegan LunchBox blog.)

1/2 PB&J sandwich on Oatmeal Wheat bread
Carrots 'n Broccoli
Orange (breakfast)
Sesame Sticks
w/ Miso 'Mayo' dipping sauce

Miso Mayo tastes nothing like mayo, looks nothing like mayo, and I have never once used it for a mayo substitute...BUT it is delicious (and sold at The Kiva--for any interested Eugenians.) I like Garlic 'n Dill the best. Another added is 3 months past the expiration date and doing as good as the first day I got painful side effects or funky smells! (TMI?)

Anyhow, Looking for Livingstone and I have a 100 page date tonight that I need to attend to.



Blogging 101: No. 1 Introduce Yourself

Hey everyone!

Welcome to my vegan blog. This is my second blog, but the first blog I have made on and my first blog strictly dedicated to one aspect of my life—Food. Vegan food in particular. I have made this blog for three reasons:

  1. I have attempted to become a vegan various times in my life, but always fail upon return home to Chicago Pizza and my parents well stocked fridge full of delicious cheeses. (Or drunken decision making when taking care of late-night munchies.) So, accepting that it is a hard goal to achieve I am instead becoming more conscious as time goes on, and this blog will help inspire me to cook yummy vegan food.

  2. I love to cook and being unemployed I have more time in my own kitchen to fool around.

  3. I am in a paid psychology experiment about food and the brain, and I believe some documenting will be beneficial on my part.

For the purpose of this blog I will only document vegan meals I make/purchase (and seeing as I never have dairy in my own house that should not be too hard.) I received two vegan cookbooks from my friends and family for my birthday and the holidays including La Dolce Vegan! from my wonderful friends and artists Sara Larson and Hank Weintraub. And Vegan with a Vengeance from my Grandma. And will share recipes from various cookbooks, other blogs, and my imagination.

Let's get started!