Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tempeh Salad Sandwiches

I have a bit of a love affair with tempeh. I don't feel like I cook with it nearly enough. My grainy mistress is always there, ready and waiting to make something yummy with me. We whisper sweet nothings about steaming and sauteeing and baking endlessly. Oh, tempeh, how I love you.

I decided that I needed to find a way to sneak tempeh into lunches, so I created this super simple, but fabulous tempeh salad sandwich. It's sorta like a faux chicken salad, but I don't want to hurt tempeh's feelings by calling her faux anything as she's already super terrific all on her own.


The best thing about this was taking the pictures. I took the ones of the making of the tempeh salad the night before, but didn't want to assemble the sandwich yet since I was making this for something to take to work for lunch. After all, soggy pita makes baby Elvis cry. I brought the camera to work with me yesterday to take pictures of my sandwich at lunch. My plan was to sneak outside onto the patio, put my plate down, snap a few pictures and sneak back inside before anyone noticed what I was doing. Instead, when I walked outside with my plate of yum, camera in hand, there was already someone outside. Dang it.

Coworker: "You think your lunch will be so good that you want to take a picture to remember it by?"

ha ha ha

Too funny. I took my picture and plopped right down next to him and enjoyed my tempeh salad pitas in the sun, totally not caring that I have now transitioned from "that weird vegan chick" to "that weird vegan chick that takes pictures of her lunch". :D

Tempeh Salad Sandwiches

1 package of tempeh
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup halved red grapes*** (though if they're super huge like the ones I bought, I'll quarter them)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Veganaise

Open your package of tempeh lovingly and cut it into smallish cubes. Put a metal colander or steamer basket inside a large pot and boil some water under it. Make sure that the water level isn't high enough that it's going into the colander or steamer basket. You don't want to get the tempeh wet. If you have a steamer, you can use that. Steam the tempeh for 20 minutes.


Remove the tempeh from heat and set aside to cool. If you're impatient, you can always stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to make it cool down faster. I have a tendency to do that when I make this.


In a medium bowl, combine the celery and grapes with the tempeh and stir it gently until everything's pretty evenly combined. Add the veganaise and stir it up again. You can add as little or as much as you like. Some people like these things to be more mayo-ey than others. You can always just add a spoonful at a time until you find the right amount for you.


Put that awesomeness into a pita or on some bread and enjoy! This will make 4 sandwiches.

Sometimes I like to make this and eat it with crackers. If you do that, it makes a nifty appetizer if you're having people over. Just cut everything a little smaller than you normally would and put a few spoonsful on top of crackers and serve them on a little plate like you're all fancy and stuff.

*** A word about the grapes... I know that some people will be less willing to want to make this just because they don't want to cut up the grapes. You really need to use red grapes for this, the white ones make it taste weird. You can get seedless grapes, but I don't like to buy anything that's "seedless" because it just reeks of genetic engineering. The seeds inside of the red grapes are super huge and always right smack dab in the center. It really doesn't take that much effort to get them out. Besides if you have a significant other, you can always pull the "If you really loved me, you'd cut these grapes for me" and get them to do it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mexican Breakfast

So you know how sometimes you have those evenings when you just don't want to eat dinner? Well, not that you don't want to eat, but what you really want is breakfast. Maybe it's because you're wishing that your weekend hadn't gone by so quickly and you're hoping to open a rip in the space/time continuum and make it Saturday morning again. Though, I must say this hasn't worked for me so far and I've really, really tried. I even squninted my eyes a whole punch and clicked my Chucks together three times, but alas, it was still Sunday evening.

You can tell how tiring my weekend was because it took me until Tuesday to post Sunday night's dinner. What a slacker. *beats self with wet noodle*

I absolutely love Mexican breakfasts. Until recently, I had never really had that until I went to this freaking fantastic veg*n place the last time I visited San Diego called Ranchos. Holy crap on a stick, Batman! That place rocked my socks clean off. After gorging on their awesomeness 3 out of the 4 days I was there, I was inspired to try making some Mexicanish breakfasts of my own. Also, I had been dying to make some of the other breakfast recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Seriously, if you haven't bought that cookbook yet, you're totally missing out. Even if you're not vegan, it's the absolute best cookbook that I have ever owned. Get your fanny over to the bookstore and pick it up. No, really - go now. Yes, now.


Dinner yummies were Tofu Scramble and Vegan Chorizo from Vegan with a Vengeance, refried beans (with chiles!), rice, corn tortillas, salsa and avocado. Soooo awesome.

I had been super excited about making the vegan chorizo and it was good, but not what I had really expected. I think I'll change the recipe up a bit the next time I make it. It ended up being a little bit too juicy for me. So next time, I think less water, eliminate the 1 tablespoon of sugar and the cinnamon stick and add some cayenne and a little more salt. I was hoping for something a bit more savory, I think. With some tweaking I think I can get this to be about what my tastebuds were wishing for.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Muffins and Cupcakes, Oh My!

I don't have any recipes today, but I do have some cupcake porn. After recovering from a killer migraine, I made some Lemon Gem Cupcakes from Vegan with a Vengeance today. These are for someone's birthday on Saturday so I'm trying my darndest not to eat any until then. I also put two to the side to bring for my tattoo artist on Saturday like I do every time I have an appointment.



I realize now that I should have take some pictures as I was candying the lemon peels. It's super easy to do and the peel is quite yummy. Okay, so I lied - here's a recipe:

Candied Lemon Peel (or Orange or Grapefruit)

A bunch of peel from lemons, oranges or grapefruits
2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Put your hands in the air and peel that lemon like you just don't care. Oh wait... you can't very well peel with your hands in the air. Errr... put your hands on your lemon and peel it like a .... crap... nothing rhymes with lemon. Ah well... I used the little notched part of my zester to get the peel all nice and thick and even, but you can also peel the lemon and slice the peel with a knife if you don't have a zester. But really, it's worth it to get one. I think I only paid $3 for mine at Target and I use it all the time.

Stir together the sugar and water in a medium pot. Heat the sugar water over medium-high heat just until it starts to boil. Add the peels and reduce the heat to a simmer. Make sure that it's not boiling really fast and hard, it should be steady and softly simmering. Stir every now and then until the peels turn translucent. I think I cooked these for 45 minutes.

Once the peels are done, take them out of the sugar water with a fork and place them on a plate to cool. They're going to get really sticky, but they taste like candy now. Yummy! This is so easy and people are always very impressed by it.

Okay, now for more pictures. I made some Cherry Almond Muffins (also from Vegan with a Vengeance) this morning.


The cherries were rather juicy, that's why the muffins are dark in places. I kinda like when that happens. I feel like I've gotten more flavor into the muffins somehow.

Also - I almost freaked out. I saw Vegan Whipped Cream at the market. No, not the Hip Whip stuff... Whipped Cream in one of those spray can thingies. Oh... my... goodness... I am soooo going to make something next week just to give myself an excuse to buy some of it. Holy crap on a stick am I excited about that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Potato, Tomato and Oregano Bake

One day I was watching Food Network. Well, not just one day, I watch Food Network a lot. I especially like Food Jammers, Ricardo and Jamie at Home. The cool thing about those shows is that they typically use locally grown, organic produce and use lots of fruits and veggies. Good stuff for vegans on a channel full of meat. I'm not trying to pimp out Food Network (except Food Jammers, that show rocks so hard it's not even funny), but I have been inspired to make some cool stuff of my own from watching cooking shows. Cool stuff like this awesome recipe that I made after watching Jamie Oliver one day. I didn't grow the potatoes in a pot on my patio like he did, but I guess if I said that I did, everyone on the internets might believe me. Except then you get to know me and realize that I have a very hard time even keeping cacti alive for some reason... So unless there's been a rip in the space/time continuum, I don't think anyone would believe that I was growing veggies on my tiny little balcony in the city.

I love this dish so much, I make it quite frequently. I've not even been tempted to change it up, the flavors are so simple, but divine. This is really, really easy and fast to make. It reheats awesomely which is always a bonus for work lunches. Yay! I need a real name for this, but until I can think of something better, I'll call it


Potato, Tomato and Oregano Bake

2-3 lb baby light-skinned potatoes
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 package faux chicken (I use Yves brand), seitan, tofu or tempeh
1 bunch oregano
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/4 Cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

If your potatoes are on the big side, cut them in half or thirds to make them uniform. Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes or until they're soft when you stick a fork in them. After they're just soft, drain the water.

With a small knife, poke a little hole or make a small slice in the skin of each of the tomatoes. Boil the tomatoes for 1 minute. Immediately drain them and rinse with very cold water. Because you poked a little hole in the tomatoes, you can now easily peel the skins off. What are you waiting for? Start peeling those suckers!

Set aside 3 sprigs of oregano and chop the rest. Make sure to chop it super fine. In a small bowl, add the oregano, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Wisk all of this together until the oil and vinegar have cominbed. If you have a blender, food processor or immersion blender, you can skip chopping the oregano and just blend all of this stuff together. I like to use my immersion blender for this.


Add the potatoes, peeled tomatoes and chick pieces (or seitan, tofu, etc.) and pour the oregano mixture on top. Gently stir the stuff in the pan until everything is coated. Put the last 3 oregano sprigs on top and push them into the potatoes a little bit. They're not just for decoration, you want the sprigs to add some extra oregano flavor.



Put the pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Let everything cool for 5-10 minutes and then dig in! I can usually get 3-4 servings from this depending on how hungry I am. Yummy!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tarragon Tempeh

If my life was a sit-com, there would have been a moral to the story at the end of today's episode. That moral is: Buy the cool veggies the day you see them at the market and don't wait for silly things like time to cook them. I was so bummed when I went to the market today. I saw both English Peas and Fava Beans all cute and fresh in their perky little pods last week. Today I go all excited to buy a bunch of both of these, but alas, no English Peas or Fava Beans to be had. :( I was really looking forward to those. I'm going to start stalking the market for the next couple of weeks in case they get more. If so, there's a yummy awesome salad in the future starring Fava Beans. And really, that is exciting because if you know me, you know how I feel about salad... (quite frequently being the only thing to eat at restaurants when going out with a big group, I don't tend to make salads at home very often)

If you can find English Peas, I'm jealous of you. Also, you can and should use those instead of the regular peas in this recipe because it will be more awesome. And who doesn't like it when things are more awesome? Well, I'm sure someone doesn't, but that person would be an idiot and not to be listened to. Ahem... the recipe:


Tarragon Tempeh with Red Chard on a Bed of Peas

1 bag frozen peas
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package tempeh, cut into small cubes
1 large Portabella mushroom, chopped
1 bunch red chard
1 Tablespoon dried tarragon or 3 Tablespoons fresh

Cook the peas until their cold little hearts are thawed out and warm. In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. After the oil is hot, add the shallots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 3 minutes or so. You'll know you're done when the shallots are translucent and starting to caramelize a little bit.

Add the tempeh cubes and stir everything around to make sure that the tempeh gets to be friends with all of the shallots and garlic. Add the chopped up portabella mushroom and stir again.
Add the tarragon and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Tear the red chard into pieces and add them to your pan. Just let it sit on top of everything else and put a lid on that sucker so you get a nice sauna going for the chard. Once it starts to look like it's wilting, stir again, but be careful that you don't accidentally stir the greens out of the pan like I have a tendency to do. Escapee alert! Keep cooking until the greens are done.

Put some peas on a plate like you're making a little bed for the tempeh stuff. Spoon the tempeh stuff on top of the peas and marvel at how cute your food looks. Don't stand there gawking for too long, though. Make sure to dig in and eat! I added some fresh ground pepper to mine, but some of you peeps will likely want to add some salt also.

This will make enough for 2-3 servings depending on how hungry you are. I ended up with 2. One for tonight and one for work lunch tomorrow. I love when I get leftovers for lunch like this!

To console myself at the market because of the lack of Fava Beans and English Peas, I bought some Coconut Water.


I read something about this the other day. Apparently it's all the rage with some of those vapid celebrity types right now. Not that I want to be anything like those crack whores, but I did get interested to try the Coconut Water. It's the water from the inside of the coconut with a little bit of sugar added. But don't be fooled - even though there's some sugar in it, it's not very sweet at all, which I love. I might even buy some of this again. It comes in these cute little boxes that look like juice boxes. I'm totally bringing one to work tomorrow to eat with my tempeh. :D

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Eat Your Veggies Before They Eat You

Okay, I have nothing really to post, I just really thought this was cool. I absolutely love horror movies so seeing an alien made out of veggies is like the most awesome thing ever.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Southern Comfort Food - Fried Faux "Chicken"

I grew up in Virginia and sometimes the country girl in me comes out. I have days when I'm filled with a longing for certain foods, smells and such. I usually either make some Maxwell House (I'm not a coffee drinker, but this is what I grew up drinking so it reminds me of Virginia when I smell it) or I make this. Hey - it's way better than wishing for something really hick like Budweiser or Nascar. A girl has to have some standards after all.


This is super yummy and doesn't take that long to make. Don't be intimidated, it really is easy, I'm not just saying that. (Though there are those times when I do say things just to amuse myself... this is not one of those). Flippertygibbet! (Okay, that was one of those.)

I went to the market the other day and they had some fresh corn. I couldn't resist. I don't have anything against corn on the cob, but sometimes I just don't feel like dealing with the mess of eating it that way. If you've never cut corn off the cob, now's your big chance! There really is nothing like fresh corn, it's so crisp and juicy and sweet. mmmmmmmm....

To cut the kernels off of the cob, hold the corn vertically on a cutting board and cut downwards. Like this:


Steam or boil the corn for 10-15 minutes. To add some extra yummies, you can add some olive oil or margarine to the water that you're boiling it in. Make some mashed potatoes and gravy to go with this and you're well on your way to a most excellent meal. I usually like to also steam some kale or collard greens, but I forgot to pick some up at the market. What can I say? It's been a long week of late nights at work this week. I was bound to forget something. (Well, really I forgot like 6 things, but I'm sure that no one cares if I have cotton balls in the bathroom when reading a food blog).

Vegan Fried Faux Chicken

1 Cup Soymilk
1 package vegan faux chicken or a bunch of seitan
1 Cup Flour
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash fresh ground pepper
canola or peanut oil for frying

In a small to medium bowl, add the soymilk, then let the faux chicken pieces take a bath in it. They've had a hard day, let them relax in the cool beaniness of it for a bit while you're doing other stuff. (This is usually where I start cutting the corn off of the cob.) You want to let this soak for at least 10 minutes, but longer is totally okay. The point of soaking the faux chicken (or seitan if that's what you're using) is to keep it juicy after frying. Trust me, you don't want to skip this step. I've tried it with and without soaking and you're going to get a much tastier meal this way. (Besides, we all know that my way is the best way, sheesh). Faux meats have a tendency to dry out when they're cooked sometimes.

In another bowl mix the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper until it's all combined. Take the faux chick pieces out of the soy milk and put them on one side of a plate. Don't dry them out, immediately toss them one at a time into the flour mixture to coat them. Put the coated pieces back on the plate. Then dip in the soymilk again and toss in the flour one more time. Make sure you're coating everything with the flour really well. You don't want any bare places. This is not a peep show!


This is what my fingers look like after the breading. Monster fingers! Hehe

Heat the oil in a frying pan on medium heat until hot. You don't need to use a lot of oil, just a half inch or so. Like this:


You can tell it's hot when a few drops of water flicked into the pan sizzle immediately and quickly. Using tongs, lower the floured faux chick pieces into the oil one at a time so they can luxuriate in the nice oil spa. After about 2 minutes, flip the pieces over with the tongs and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown on both sides. Remove from the pan with the tongs (I really shouldn't have to keep saying to use tongs, but with people in the world that need a warning label on their coffee to know that it's hot, you just never know) and place them on a plate that has a couple of paper towels on it to absorb the oil. You'll probably need to cook the faux chick in a couple of batches or so. You don't want to crowd it too much in the pan as it's cooking. We all need some personal space, after all.

Now put everything on a plate, eat it and think wonderful thoughts about how awesome I am for opening up your world to fried vegan faux chicken. Yeah, you know you're salivating right now. This is so not the most healthy thing in the world (but there's corn.... that's got to count for something) but it's uber yummy.

Aww... look, Piper's helping me make dinner!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Vegan Palak Paneer (The I Came Home Late From Work and Want Food Fast Version)

Even though I try my hardest to make food using fresh veggies and make something interesting, there are those nights when I get home from work either too tired or too late to be bothered with trying to wrap my brain around anything too complicated. Last night was one of those nights.

Since I still had a half block of tofu left over from making pasta the night before, I decided to make a bit of a vegan version of palak paneer. It's sort of the ghetto vegan version, let's be honest. I love Indian food with a passion, so my convenience foods are typically cans or packages of Indian food of the just-heat-it-up variety. Yummy and fast. I especially love the Jyoti Madras Sambar and Delhi Saag.

I just so happened to have a can of the Delhi Saag (mustard greens, spinach, ginger, lemon juice and spices) in my pantry yesterday. Armed with a can of that, some leftover tofu and some Indian basmati rice, a meal was born.


Ghetto Vegan Palak Paneer

Make Rice. Open Can of Delhi Saag. Add Delhi Saag to medium saucepan. Squish up tofu and add it to the pan. Heat for 15 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add food to plate. Eat. Enjoy. Marvel at the fast and easy dinner you've just made. Now relax, you've had a hard day.

Granted, I was being extra lazy and just squished up the tofu instead of cutting into cute little cubes like I probably should have. That would have meant that I had to wash the cutting board and knife and last night was not a night when I wanted to be bothered. Besides - I kinda like squishing tofu. I didn't disintegrate it like for the pasta, I just sorta broke it off into little pieces with my hands instead of cutting it.

I'll make a proper version of this recipe in the near future, but this will do in a pinch. If you aren't lucky enough to have such cool stuff at your market, you can always cook up some spinach and add some Indian spices to it and then add the tofu.

Coming in the very near future: Vegan Southern Comfort Yummies

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Super Easy Pasta

So probably everyone already has a version of this, but I'm going to post this recipe anyway. Why? Because I'm crazy like that.

One day I had nothing exciting in my pantry and the market was already closed for the evening. I pretty much just had a few random things in my fridge, so I threw them all together and out came this very delicious pasta. It was so freaking easy, too. Seriously, even your friend who swears s/he can't make ramen can do this. And even better - you can impress your friends and neighbors with your mad cooking skills.

I had my director of media capturing (as Roman likes to call himself these days) take these pictures. Because really, aren't food blogs better with pictures? No? What?! You there - you're outta here, buddy! Of course we all like pictures... sheesh.

Super Easy Impress Your Friends/Date/Family Pasta

Half a block of tofu
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 or 2 cups of diced tomatoes (canned or fresh is fine. How much you add is dependant upon how far you're trying to stretch this and how tomatoey you want it. When I use canned, I like the Eden Organic Diced Tomatoes with Basil and I add the juice along with the tomatoes.)
1 teaspoon dried Oregano or 1 Tablespoon fresh
2 Tablespoons capers
1/2 Cup chopped Kalamata Olives
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
angel hair pasta
1 Tablespoon or so nutritional yeast per serving

This recipe can be made on the fly, which makes it tofu's friend. And tofu likes to have friends. I always forget to drain my tofu, so I love not having to think about that for this. Instead of draining it, you're going to break it up into pieces and squeeze the crap out of it. What should it look like when you're done? Ah, you're in luck - I have visual aids.

It should look like this when you're done squeezing it. This is actually really great for getting aggressions out. Pretend like this is that asshole that always likes to taunt you with his meat when you go out to eat. Take that, you insensitive bastard! Oh, how he'd hate being compared to tofu. You can get another layer of satisfaction out of that. See! Cheaper than therapy!

Now add the olive oil to a frying pan on medium heat. After it's just starting to warm up, add the tofu and stir, stir, stir to distribute the oil. Keep stirring over medium heat until the tofu starts to turn a nice golden color. Uh oh - action shot!

Now add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the oregano, stir for another minute or so and then add the tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts and capers. Guess what it's time for now? More stirring! Stir that sucker up until everything is incorporated. You might want to put a lid on your pan if you're getting tomato splatters, but keep stirring every so often. You'll want to let this cook for about 10 minutes. Lower the heat if things in the pan are boiling violently. It should look sorta like this at this point:

I used two cans of tomatoes for this one, so it's pretty juicy. That actually seems to make the best leftovers, though because it helps to rehydrate the pasta if you're also reheating that. I like to take this to work for lunch the next day. As long as you keep the pasta and sauce in separate containers until you're ready to heat it up, it reheats marvelously.

You're almost ready to eat. It's all so very exciting. I use a big metal spoon thingie (not the kind you eat with, the kind you use to spoon things out of pots and onto your plate, silly) to divvy this out. Usually two full spoons per bowl works out nicely for me. But hey - this is your pasta, add as much or as little sauce as your little heart desires. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast on top and ka-bang! You've got a quick and easy dinner that's endlessly yummy. Well, except that I guess it does have an end when you've eaten it all... but I'm sure you'll want to make more so that makes it not endless anymore until you eat that...

Sometimes when I'm feeling like kicking it up a bit, I'll add some chopped up sundried tomatoes or maybe some sauteed seitan or tempeh or some other types of olives in addition to the kalamata.

Speaking of kalamata olives - these are usually sold with the pits still in them so you have to slice them in half, take the pit out and then chop them up. However - there are a few brands that sell them already pitted (like Mezzetta). Lucky for me, the area of town I live in used to be Little Italy so there are a ton of little Italian markets around. If you're not lucky enough to be able to find pitted kalamatas and you're intimidated by pitting them (it's really not that hard, though) you can substitute regular black olives. But keep in mind that this will change the flavor a little bit.


You've gotta love street food. No, really. You do. Being vegan, there's something mystical about people ordering food from the little carts randomly around the city. There are times when I wish that I could participate in that little slice of city culture. Being vegan, that opportunity doesn't come around as often as I'd like. Until now, that is. :D

Vancouver is an amazing city for veg*ns. Almost every single restaurant has at least one vegan menu item and generally will even state that it's vegan on the menu. When you're used to living in places like Texas and Virginia where you're lucky to get a salad that hasn't been tainted this is like a little cloud floated down from heaven and let you hitch a ride.

This brings me to the amazing experience that is Japadog. No, I am not making that up, it's really called that. My tattoo artist gave me the recommendation yesterday. I'd never even heard of this before and lucky for me, it's only a few blocks from the studio. This rocks because I generally need some food after being inked for 3 hours straight. (I'm in the middle of getting a sleeve)

Right at the corner of Burrard and Smithe, you can find this crazy little cart of Japanese/American junk food fusion.

Awesomely, Japadog has the Yves vegan hotdogs, so you can get any of their hotdogs veggified. Rock on, Japadog. I decided to go all the way and try the Oroshi. It had daikon, green onions and soy sauce on top of a veggie dog in a sesame seed bun. They even cook the veggie dogs on their part of the grill. I wasn't sure if I'd like this or not, but I'm all about adventures in food. While I thoroughly enjoyed my veggie Oroshi (served with a big smile from the two gals working at the stand), I noticed that everyone else was getting the Teramayo. I love me some Japanese food, especially anything with seaweed so I'm definitely going to go back and try the Teramayo (seaweed, onions, teriyaki sauce and wasabi mayo) next time, but without the wasabi mayo. They do have wasabi powder that you can sprinkle on, so I figure that will be a great substitute.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Little Packages of Yum

Briggitte over at Good Eatz and Faux Meats always posts the neatest recipes. I'm so in love with the McVegan it's not even funny. I've gotten my best friend, Roman, who is an unapologetic omnivore to not only eat those, but get jealous when I make them and don't invite him over for some.

Roman is also my official food tester. He can be picky at times so I like to sneak some exotic veggies into food and see if he'll eat it without turning his nose up. Having lived most of his life in Texas, he's been on a pretty limited meat and potatoes type of diet for a good portion of his life. Lucky for me, he's adventurous and willing to try the weird crap that I force him to eat, uh... I mean... that I ask him to try. Except for the time when I made something with cauliflower and he asked me "What is the white broccoli?" most things end up passing the taste test without incident. Or maybe he's just trying not to hurt my feelings... hrmmmm....

Goodness, I am such the queen of tangents.

So anyway, last night I made Briggitte's Costco Style Chick'n Bake. I ended up substituting a few things based on what I could find at the market, but all in all, this was hella yummy. I will definitely be making this again and experimenting with the flavors. I'm not sure yet how this will reheat, but I brought one to work to eat at lunch today so I guess we'll see how these microwave. If that works out, it's a perfect thing to bring for work lunches. A nice little meal all packaged up in a cute little crust. Almost like sneaking onto a plane by packing yourself in your own luggage except without the felony charge. I did find this to be a little bit on the salty side (probably from the fake bacon bits) so you might want to adjust the sauce you're using or the amount of "bacon" bits accordingly. I'm not sure if anyone makes low-sodium fake bacon bits, but if you can find those, I'd use them. Maybe I should try and create that with some tvp...

Behold - the recipe and a picture that I borrowed from the Good Eatz blog since I forgot to take some of my own.

Dough Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup lukewarm water (NOT hot water - room temperature)
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Mix up the dry ingredients and then add the oil to the water and yeast mixture. Shockingly, now you'll add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix it up until you get a bit of a dough. Knead it a few times to make it all cute and smooth, form it into a ball and let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes.

If you do this first, then start cutting the onions and other stuff, it should be ready to work with right about when you're ready to start beating the hell out of it and stretching it around your filling yummies.

Filling Ingredients:

Vegan Mozzarella Cheese (Lots of people recommend Follow Your Heart brand, but I can't find that around here, so I just used Vegan Rella. Really, just use whatever kind you like)
1/4 cup fake bacon bits
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Whole Package Chick'n Strips (I use Yves brand, they stay super tender even when you bake them)
2 Tablespoons per bake Amy's Goddess Dressing or Vegan Ranch or really whatever kind of sauce thing you think would rock this into submission

Preheat Oven to 400F

Grate the cheese and set aside a little of it. You're going to sprinkle this on the tops before you bake them, so however much or little you want.

Take the fake bacon bits and add about a tablespoon or so of water to them. Stir it up so that all of the bacon bits get wet and then microwave this for about 15 seconds just to soften everything up. Stir again after you take it out of the microwave. Dump those suckers into a large bowl.

Chop up the green onions (not the white parts or the parts that are at the farthest green end.) and add them to the bowl along with your "bacon" bits so they're not lonely anymore.

Open your pack of chicken strips and make sure you separate them. Chop them up a bit if you think any of them look too large. Then add them to the onion party going on in that bowl over there. Stir it all up so that everyone at the party gets to mingle and meet each other.

By now your dough should be about ready to get rockin. Separate the dough so that you have two pieces and knead the hell out of it until it's smooth and elastic. Now roll it out into a cute little square (or circle or whatever deformed shape you end up with) so that it's big enough to put half of the filling on top of it. You want to make sure that you've made the dough big enough to wrap around the filling.

And now for the moment you've all been waiting for - Put half of the filling on each piece of dough that you've rolled out. Pour the dressing on top of each piece and then pull up the sides of the dough like it's giving the filling a big ole hug. Don't worry about being pristine, be all punk rock and just fold the dough every which way until you end up with a little package of yummy.

Sprinkle a little bit of the cheese onto the top of each one and put them on a cookie sheet or baking dish to head on to the after party in the oven. Bake them until they're golden brown all over. I meant to write down how long that took and then I forgot and now I can't remember exactly how long. I think it was somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, but you should probably start checking after about 15 just to be sure. Be sure you don't take them out too early, though!

Now you've got little packages of yum. Let them sit for about 5 minutes after you take them out of the oven. After this much fun, they need a short break before moving onto your tummy. This should go without saying, but be careful - the insides are super hot and steamy. You might want to cut a few slits in the top to let the steam escape before you start trying to eat them.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

It's About Time

I love to cook. It's something that I do when I'm bored, when I'm sad, when I'm happy or just because I need something for dinner! I typically try to create meals that keep in mind that I'll probably be bringing the leftovers to work the next day for lunch. I've been known to show up at work in the morning with a plate full of warm scones and to add some vegan cupcakes to the tip when I have a tattoo appointment. It makes me quite excited to be sharing my food porn.

There will be some of my own recipes and some from other blogs or cookbooks that I feel like making and talking about. You'll take the blog I give you and you'll like it! Yeah, you there in the red shirt - I'm talking to you.

Sit back, get your shopping lists ready and get excited. You're about to enter the SaraJane experience...