Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Thai Curry – Again!

Yep.  I’m addicted.  Just wish my husband was.  🙂  This is a super easy, super simple recipe.

Thai Curry

In a non-stick fry pan, dry fry
1 lb cubed, drained and pressed (or vacuum packed) tofu.

In a  mixing bowl make a cornstarch slurry using a little bit of water (about 1/4 cup)  and some chicken flavored bullion (I use Better than Bullion No Chicken Base).

To the slurry, add
1 can light coconut milk
3 Tbsp Red Curry Paste (I used Taste of Thai)
1 squirt Sriracha sauce
3-5 Tbsp Soy Sauce
a pinch or two of kosher salt

When the tofu cubes have more sides dry and crispy than not, add
about 2-3 cups fresh broccoli florets
a healthy handful of sugar snap peas
1-2 green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
any other veggies you’d like 

Simmer everything together until veggies are desired tenderness.  If they aren’t cooking quickly enough for you, cover the pan with aluminum foil or a lid if your fry pan has one.

Serve over rice and top with
fresh lime wedges and cilantro

OR

Lime and Thai Basil

Oh, and do not freaking skip the basil or cilantro or basil.

I mean it!

Original recipe found at My Everest.   Baby liked this, hubby liked it but wasn’t thrilled by it.  I did not find this to pack well for lunches.  Eat it fresh!

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Spicy Asian Sugar Snap Peas

I made a promise to myself to try one new vegetable recipe per week, or at least average that.

This week was these babies:

Sugar Snap Peas

And yes, those ARE Star Wars chop sticks.  Actually called chop sabers. <<— linkage

Anyway, I also attempted to make roasted Brussels sprouts, but you’ll see more about that ATTEMPT later.  Today is about these.  When it came down to it, this ended up basically just being a stir fry, so for the purpose of a “vegetable,” I didn’t feel like this fit the bill.   I dunno, I suppose if I were still eating meat, this could go along with a meat entree, but as it was – it still felt like it called for brown rice and soy marinaded tofu.  Soo…. kinda feeling like this didn’t do the trick for me, but still I tried a new vegetable recipe.

Prepare ye 1 lb of sugar snap peas

Heat wok or nonstick frying pan (I don’t own a wok) and add
about a teaspoon or two of olive or peanut oil 

Heat until oil is shimmering, about 30 seconds or so. Then add
1 tsp ginger, sliced, minced or paste
2 large garlic cloves, minced or sliced 

Cook just until fragrant, then add the sugar snap peas. 

Meanwhile, mix together
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tsp Sriracha Sauce

Depending on how you like your peas cooked, will depend on how long you continue to cook them.  Kalyn suggested 2 minutes, or until they turn bright green – to keep them tender crisp.  Ideally, this would probably would produce the highest nutrient content, however I’m also cooking for my 13 month old foster son so I cooked them considerably longer and put a lid on the pan to steam them for a bit.

Regardless of how you like them, when you’re about a minute or two away from being done, add the sauce mix and cook for another minute or so, then enjoy.

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Tofu Red Thai Curry

Ever have one of those days where so many silly little-thing seems to go wrong?   This seems to be the norm for me lately.  I’ve learned to  – mostly – roll with the punches, but sometimes it’s a little more difficult.

1. Bickering with the mother of my foster son.  Talk about major stress.
2. My leftovers were raped by the dogs, which I made the mistake of leaving out (but far enough away that they couldn’t get them … or so I thought).
3. In nomming on said leftovers, our newly varnished table was scratched up with lovely dog claw marks.
4.  Said foster son threw up.  Again.  Twice.
5. I turned my rice into rice pudding, but without the yum.  How the hell do you overcook brown rice?  Who knows, but I can do it.

Is it funny that the last on my list is one that frustrates me the most?  There is so much chaos in my life that I want there to be order in my cooking.    It’s silly, but it’s my little OCD space, where everything has to be perfect…. my husband would be thrilled if that overflowed to ingredients and dishes, but alas – I’m a really freaking messy cook.  Thankfully the recipe wasn’t a failure – just the rice to go with it (hence no rice in the picture).

Since I wouldn’t change a thing on the recipe other than top with cilantro and lime (not pictured), I’m going to send you right to the source of the recipe.  It was perfect.  Uncomplicated, delightful and satisfying.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!   My husband and I decided any stir fry veggies would work with this, but I think next time we will use broccoli to soak up the lovely sauce, and we’re going to give light coconut milk a try – the regular stuff is rich!!  I forgot the basil, my scallions were bad and obviously I didn’t use the other stuff – and it was still great!

Tofu Thai Curry

Head on over to view the Thai Curry Recipe at  This is my Everest.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

baby and omnivore husband approved

1 Comment »

Basic Stir Fry

Even though I’ve made Asian inspired foods a few times now, they’re still intimidating to me.  Until I made this, I didn’t feel comfortable just “throwing some stuff together.”    But making this stir fry made me realize that I have everything I need to make a good stir fry.   And it doesn’t mean having a Wok – although that would help – OR a lot of oil, if you don’t want to use it.

Stir Fry

Since stir fry should be an easy to make meal, I’m going to post this as ingredient suggestions rather than an actual recipe, with very simple instructions because frankly that’s what I wish I had when I first started.

First let me tell you what I think are essential ingredients for flavor:

Onions
Garlic
Soy Sauce
Ginger

That’s it!  That’s all that’s actually essential.  That is the basic, but you’re not going to get a very complex flavor from it and will probably feel like something is missing.  So from there you can add:

Honey or Brown Sugar – if you tend to like sweeter stir-fry’s
Broth – if you like it saucy (yeah, baby!)
Sesame oil – Yum!  Highly recommended – to me this is essential
Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar – Essential in our house
Crushed Red Pepper
Sriracha Chili Sauce –
Also essential in our house
Corn Starch slurry – if you want a thicker sauce
Sweet Chili Sauce – Also essential in our house

Ok now, for the veggies –
If you’ve eaten Chinese food, you probably know which vegetables you like, but the idea is to simply chop them up about the same size.     But here are some suggestions:

Sweet bell peppers
Snow Peas
Sugar Snap Peas
Carrots
Cabbage
Bok Choy
Mushrooms
Green Beans
Celery
Bamboo Shoots
Baby Corn
Mung Bean Sprouts

Do you notice that I did not include water chestnuts?  Those things are a freaking abomination!

So, what to do?   I’m going to make this easy.

Heat your wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat, add some oil – peanut is suggested, but I always use olive (I use about a Tbsp for 4 servings, then steam the rest).  Add the onion for about 30 – 60 seconds, then add the rest of the vegetables and cook until desired tenderness.    I sautee briefly then add a few tablespoons of water and cover for a few minutes.   

While it’s cooking, make your sauce mix.  For example what we made was APPROX:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
Some bullion (I don’t freaking know how much!)
2-3 Tbsp water
lots of garlic! About 5-7 cloves
2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil

When the veggies are almost desired tenderness – which is usually in the tender crisp range, pour the mixture over it and cook for a few more minutes, being sure to toss to coat. 

Top with tofu if you want and serve over steaming brown rice. 🙂  Nom.

4 Comments »

Pepper Seitan

Pepper Seitan

My earliest memory of Chinese buffet was adoring Pepper Steak.  I don’t know why it fascinated me so much, but tender cuts of beef were sauteed with onions and green bell peppers to create something that I would spend years making myself sick on.  As I got older my tastes evolved and I started scarfing down the buffet table beef and broccoli, then sweet and sour chicken, then lo mein and now I can’t even LOOK at a Chinese buffet without getting sick (not that there is much of anything I can eat on them anymore anyway).

While my taste for Chinese buffet has left me, my love of soy sauce has not left me, and even though this isn’t quite pepper steak, it IS reminiscent of my childhood buffet days with a balsamic twist which caters to my 29 year old taste buds.

I write this recipe as it’s cooking, because I just made it up.  I don’t know why I did other than the fact that I had a bunch of peppers, onions and some mushrooms to use up.  Since I did some eyeballing, the measurements are complete estimates.

I haven’t quite mastered the art of fat free cooking, so I do a combination cooking method.  When sauteing, I start with a small amount of oil, sprinkle with salt, then cover and let the vegetables steam until tender. I then finish them off to dry by cooking them uncovered.

Marinade:
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp  red wine, or red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp onion powder

Other:
2-3 Portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 package seitan (I used beef style cubes), sliced
3-5 bell peppers, sliced
1 large onion, sliced

Place marinade, mushrooms in bowl or bag to marinade while preparing vegetables and seitan.

Saute the bell peppers and onions until tender.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking until mushrooms are desired tenderness.

You can brown the seitan in a separate small frying pan, which I started to do but got impatient.  Either way, top the vegetable mixture with the seitan and leftover marinade.

Serve on top of your favorite grain, or by itself.  I cooked quinoa with some no-chicken bullion (yes, this was my introduction to quinoa – sue me! It kind of reminded me of grits).

This was my first time cooking with seitan and quinoa.

1 Comment »

Eggrolls

I used the same recipe I used for my Lo Mein with Tofu, I just chopped things up a little smaller, skipped the pasta (duh!) and wrapped them in fillo dough.

“Why fillo dough,” you ask?  Ok, maybe you didn’t, but I’ll tell you anyway… I really wanted eggrolls.  I didn’t want the raw rice wrappers.  I wanted them cooked.  I suppose I could have hunted down vegan egg roll wrappers, but the fact of the matter is – I hate having to drive 45 minute for a specialty item that I don’t even know I’ll like.  And, what if I did like it?  Would I drive 45 minutes to collect said item?  No, probably not.  I’m pretty gosh darned lazy.

So instead, I try to find ingredients that I can find anywhere.  Or almost anywhere.  Or at least at Rolling Oats.

All I did was follow the package directions – defrosted the sheets, folded them in half (cause it took two layers to hold the filling), and sealed them with a little olive oil.

Baked at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes (watch them!), and they turn out like this.  With sweet chili sauce (which I could easily lick right out of the bowl) they were pretty good, but they had a powdery taste from the fillo that I couldn’t quite shake.  My (omnivore) husband didn’t seem to mind and scarfed them right the heck down, but it bugged me, so I’m still on my prowl for wrappers.

I’ve seen people use wheat spring roll wrappers, but I cannot find them for the life of me.  Maybe I’ll have to try baking the rice ones…

2 Comments »

Vegan Lo Mein with Tofu

I think I must have been Asian in a past life.  I’m addicted to anything that even remotely has any Asian flare to it.  Some days I feel like I could drink soy sauce straight out of the bottle.  Prior to going Vegetarian/Vegan, when ordering American-Chinese there were usually three things I ordered.

Tofu Lo Mein

One of my top choices was Lo Mein.  When I became a Vegetarian/Vegan I was thrilled to know think that Vegetable Lo Mein could at least still be an option.

Much to my chagrin,  Lo Mein noodles are generally NOT vegan.   Hey, it’s only been 3 months, I’m still learning!

Thankfully, Susan at the Fat Free Vegan posted a recipe for Baked Spring Rolls and Low Fat Lo Mein which inspired me to make some Lo Mein of my own.  With a few changes, and a little bit of oil (but not much), I whipped up some super easy Lo Mein with ingredients I could find in any grocery store.

Did I mention I don’t own a Wok?  For shame.

I wanted to make the recipe as easy as possible, and in some ways complicated it for myself.    So for the sake of ease, if you don’t have a Wok, use a covered fry pan (or a shallow soup pot, I won’t tell – just have a lid).

First, get your Tofu ready.   Do whatever you like to do to press it.  I have yet to join the tofu express crowd, so I still use the paper towel and heavy stuff method.

1 Block extra firm tofu, sliced and pressed

For the Marinade (double this now to use as your sauce for the Lo Mein and save some time later):
1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp brown sugar (or regular, if you don’t have any)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (I used seasoned)
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp minced ginger (I used paste)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
Chili Sauce to taste (I used Sriracha)

optional – sliced onions

Place all ingredients in a bowl, plate, or bag – mix and marinade the tofu for AT LEAST one hour.  I mean it!   If you marinade it longer, be sure to chop it up into the lo mein because it will be especially salty. 🙂

After it’s marinaded, bake at 400 degrees for 20-45 minutes, turning halfway through) depending on how chewy you like your tofu.  You could fry it as well to give it a nice crust.  I typically opt for baking.

While your tofu is marinading or baking, start some water boiling and move on to the next stage.

1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti noodles.  I used fettuccine and slightly regret it, but not overly so.
1/2 – 1 bag of coleslaw mix, depending on how much you like veggies (hey, I’m lazy – sue me!)
1-2 carrots, cut into matchsticks – I cheated and used pre-matchsticked (is that a word?) carrots
1 container sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
2 cups (or 1 container) bean sprouts
1 cup chopped scallions
2 cloves garlic, minced
optional – sliced onions, but this would make it take a little longer
oil

Cook the pasta, al dente – rinse and set aside.

Coat pan in a thin layer of oil.  You don’t need much, unless you opted for onion.  Heat over medium heat.  If you opted for the onion, cook it now by itself until translucent.  Either way,  then cook the garlic, just for about 30 seconds until fragrant.

Next, throw all but the bean sprouts in, and stir it around a bit.  Once the pan has seemed to dry out (about 3 minutes or so), throw in the bean sprouts about 2-3 Tbsp of water in, and put the lid on.  The goal is to steam everything the rest of the way.

Stir occasionally, but you’re done when everything is crisp tender.  Won’t take but a few more minutes.

Dump spaghetti in the pan (See where having a soup pot might be handy here?  And to think you doubted me), and pour the extra Marinade you made over it, stir around and then serve.

To be honest, I used the leftover marinade from my tofu…. oops!  Almost forgot the tofu.  Ahem, yes.  Top with said tofu, and nom away.

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