Monday, May 27, 2013

Trader Joe's Dinner

I like the taste of food made from scratch, but sometimes I don't feel like dragging out all the pots and pans, and chopping everything.  So for these lazy days I buy par-cooked food from a store like Trader Joe's.  I got a bag of penne with sauce, a baguette, vegan cheese shreds, fresh tomato, fresh basil, good olive oil, mushrooms, and I appropriated my stash of LightLife Gimme Lean Sausage.

For the pasta, sweat then fry the mushrooms, crumble the sausage into the pan and brown.  Then add the bag of penne with sauce and cook through.  If you add vegan cheese, warm on low until melted.  For the bruschetta, pan fry thick slices of roma tomatoes in a good amount of olive oil.  After you flip the slices, seeason them with salt and pepper and add leaves of fresh basil and cover in vegan cheese shreds.  Leave the pan on a low flame until you finish toasting the bread slices and the cheese is very melted.  Let it cool before you eat them because vegan cheese burns as bad as regular.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Southern Vegan Menu Part 5: "Buttermilk" Biscuits

Biscuits are rad.  I will be making more soon.

I got my recipe from the LA Times Saturday section last month. I substituted +Bob's Red Mill   Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for the Lily White that was recommended by the article because I wanted more nutrition while keeping a light texture.  I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks because they're awesome.  For buttermilk, I used a recipe in THE JOY OF VEGAN BAKING by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (Thanks for the awesome XMas gift Richard):  add 1 TB of vinegar to each C of milk, in this case plain unsweetened almond.

The recipe yielded 4 cookie sheets of large biscuits.  Next time I will halve the recipe because it was too much; biscuits don't keep well.  Also, my oven burned the two sheets on the bottom rack completely black on the underside so they went to waste.

Although they tasted great, I mad a few mistakes I'd like not to repeat with the next batch.  I overworked the dough, my kitchen was hot so my ingredients were warm, and I rolled the dough too thin.  The biscuits were flatter than the Colonel's, but were still flaky and steamy inside.  

I ate the leftovers for the next few days, and a biscuit stored without air in a sandwich bag microwaves well up to four days afterward. My sausage gravy was perfect, but I recommend serving the biscuits either plain or with Earth Balance spread and preserves.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Southern Vegan Menu Part 4: Fish Fried Tofu and Fried Pickles

Batter is difficult to make vegan so I used a non-vegan fish recipe that uses no eggs or milk. Here's the original recipe from the +Cooking Channel website.  

I cut two boxes of extra firm tofu into planks about 1/3 of an inch thick and let them sit in the refrigerator all day to drain, then dried them on paper towels before battering them.  First I lightly coated the tofu in cornstarch, then dredged each piece in the batter being careful to let the excess drip off before coating each plank in cornmeal.  I let them fry until golden brown on both sides, a few minutes for each batch, and drained them on a cookie sheet covered with newspaper and paper towels.  I used Bubbies Bread & Butter pickle chips battered the same way, but without cornmeal and they only took about a minute to cook.

Some observations:

Next time I'll just add a small amount of cornmeal to the batter rather than using it as a coating because it was very thick, a little rough, and it flaked off some parts, but still good with hot sauce.  Also, the tofu coated with just cornstarch and beer batter held on very well, and since I used Samuel Smith's Organic Lager, it tasted amazing.  Make sure you season the tofu before you coat it unless you like the taste of plain tofu.  Since I had so much leftover, I used packed individual meals for work and used the tofu to make soft tacos at home.  It microwaved well so fry extra if you like it.

Another idea for next time, I plan to fry the whole jar of pickles; they were very tasty.  And I'd like to try Claussen Bread & Butter Sandwich slices too.  

**You can see a few pickles on the bottom left of the photo in the first post in this series.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Southern Vegan Menu Part 3: Sausage Gravy, Greens

These two don't really go together, but I wanted to highlight the Lightlife  brand of sausage and bacon.


Cook crumbled Gimme Lean sausage and set aside.
Melt 1/4 stick Earth Balance shortening.
Add 1/4 C your favorite flour to make a roux.  Stir to keep it from burning.
Add 1 1/2 to 2 C broth mixture and bring to a boil(I used 3 +knorr Unilever vegetarian bouillon cubes, white and black pepper, and dried sage)
Add plain unsweetened almond milk to make it thick like gravy.
Put the cooked sausage crumbles back in and season with salt to taste.


Cook chopped Smart Bacon in oil or Earth Balance shortening until crisp.
Add a bag of cut and washed greens (mustard, turnip, kale, etc.)and stir to warm  They taste great with just a little heat.
Add salt, pepper, and Bragg's to taste.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Southern Menu Part 2: Mac & Cheese

This cooks on the stovetop but you can put it in a baking dish, top with bread crumbs and broil for a bit of crunch.

1 pot of cooked pasta (elbows, shells, small penne, etc.)
Plain unsweetened almond milk
Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks
Salt & pepper

Drain the cooked pasta leaving a little of the cooking water in the pot.
Add 1/4-1/2 of a buttery stick cubed and melt.
Add about a cup of almond milk and bring to a simmer.
Add cheese shreds.
Add more milk if needed to melt cheese smoothly
Add salt and pepper.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Southern Menu (vegan)

I don't know much about Southern food except that it looks delicious and is not veg friendly.  I also know it's partially based on farm fresh vegetables so I gave it a shot. Planning the menu was just a shot in the dark, so I'd appreciate any comments on which dish goes with which and suggestions for other sides.  Recipes and more pics to come later this week.


Fish Fried Tofu
Mac and Cheese
Greens with Bacon
Sausage Gravy
Fried Pickles

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jelly Filled Cupcakes (Vegan)

Vanilla cake from mix, Bonne Maman Four Berry preserves, lemon buttercream flavored with lemon oil.

I love this mini bundt pan from +Wilton , It's my current favorite.