Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program

Tofu and Dumplings

I can’t properly express how thrilled I am about this recipe, for a couple of reasons.

1. I’ve never made dumplings before.  And somehow they turned out perfect.  This was a virgin voyage and it turned out great the first time around.  Veganized and slightly adjusted the taste of my inspiration from The Apron Archives.  My pictures look wintery, hers are much much warmer.  I’ll fix the color on my camera soon, I swear……..

Dumplings

2. After making this, my omnivore husband confessed to me that he never has liked dumplings, but he wasn’t going to tell me until after he tried mine (I love him so much for putting up with my experiments).

Dumplings

3. Found a new favorite.

Tofu and Dumplings

4. Ultimate comfort food.

In a jar

5.  Re-heats well in my jar of holding.

Dumplings of Awesomeness

6.  Fluffy fluffy fluffy dumplings of awesomeness.

This replaces my Potless Pot Pie on the favorites list.

Ok, so make no mistake this isn’t the most healthy of recipes.  I used standard Bisquick for simplicity, and a good amount of butter.  But, it’s worth it.  I’ve never made dumplings before, so I did a considerable amount of research before attempting this – and the trick is to do it thusly:

1. Mix the dough VERY little.  You may still see bits of unmixed flour.
2. Let it rest a few minutes before plopping it.
3.  After dropping the dumplings into simmering liquid, COVER AND COOK FOR 15 MINUTES WITHOUT REMOVING THE COVER.

And number 3 is the most important part.  I wish I’d taken a picture of the dumplings prior to cooking – these babies tripled in size!

In a stock pot, soup pot or dutch oven (what I used), melt
4-5 Tbsp Earth Balance or Vegan butter

and Sautee until browned
1 large onion, chopped 

When the onion is browned, whisk in
6 Tbsp flour
until a paste is formed. If it’s too dry to make a paste, add a bit more Earth Balance or a drizzle of water.

Typically you’d need to add liquid in slowly, but this sauce thickens as it cooks and more as it cooks a bit.  So just keep going.

Whisk in
6 cups chicken flavored vegetable broth (such as Better than Bullion No Chicken Base)

Add
1 cup non-dairy milk
6 stalks celery – sliced
1 cup chopped/sliced carrots
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper 

While waiting for the celery to soften a bit, DRY FRY
1 package pressed and drained tofu (or vacuum packed – which is what I use), cubed

*Note you do not HAVE to dry fry the tofu here, but it really helps with the texture.  On the cubes I didn’t dry fry enough, they just tasted mushy rather than having any bite.

When the celery or carrots have softened a bit, add
2 cups cubed potato

While the potatoes are cooking, mix together (until JUST barely mixed)
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1 Tbsp melted butter
dried herbs of your choice – I used chives and parsley

(this is where they rest a bit)

When the potatoes are tender (but not soft), drop spoonfuls of the dough into the simmering liquid, then cover and cook for 15 minutes. During this 15 minutes DO NOT REMOVE THE LID.  As I have learned, the STEAM is what cooks the dumplings properly.

After 15 minutes, remove the lid, remove from heat and let rest for about 15 minutes, then serve!

Omnivore husband and baby approved!

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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

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Blackened Tofu

Blackened Tofu

One thing that amuses me about the comment that someone doesn’t like the taste of tofu, is that the fact of the matter is most people don’t like the flavor of pork or chicken either – so we marinade them, season them, rub them down, etc… to cover up that bland yet distinct flavor we don’t care for.

The same principle goes for tofu.  It’s essential to understand that if you don’t care for the taste of tofu, it’s probably not the tofu itself it’s how it’s been seasoned and prepared.  For almost every recipe I use vacuum packed tofu.  It’s worth hunting down, and no you won’t find it in the supermarket.

My all purpose tofu marinade –

Marinade for 3+ hours (or overnight)
1 lb drained, sliced and pressed (or vacuum packed) tofu

in
a generous splash of liquid smoke
a few tablespoons of soy sauce (more if you’re going to be using this in an Asian recipe)
a few cloves garlic, minced or dried

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium to medium high heat.

For blackened tofu, once the tofu has marinaded, be sure to pat off the excess liquid with a paper towel while leaving a slight bit of moisture for the blackening seasoning to stick to.

Sprinkle generously (or, if you’re a wimp, sparingly) with your favorite blackening seasoning – I use Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic blend.

When the oil shimmers, add the tofu slices and fry to your heart’s content.  Depending on your pan, this will take anywhere from 2-5 minutes or so.  Just lift it up to check, it should be nice and crispy.

Nom.

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Our Favorite Veggie Burger

Like many foods, veggie burgers vary wildly based on tastes.  This happens to be our favorite recipe, adapted from one that was shared with me by Katie at Shamrock Vegan.

Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients.  Odds are the only two things that you don’t have in your kitchen are TVP and Vital Wheat Gluten for binding (optional).

We combine the dry team in Ziploc baggies (except the gluten) then just add the wet ingredients later on when we’re ready to make them.  My (omnivore) husband and our foster baby (12 months) both love the hell out of these burgers.  Oh, and if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, they just make a really cheap substitute, they’re worth trying!

veggie burger

In a bowl (or Ziploc bag if you’re wanting to save this for later), round up the dry team:
1 cup TVP
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 flour (any kind)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional)

If you’re going to make these now, go ahead and add the wet team:
2 Tbsp Ketchup
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp peanut butter, rounded (the spoon, not the peanut butter)
3/4 cup boiling water

Mix all the ingredients together and let set for 15-20 minutes while the TVP soaks up the water and seasoning.

Then kneed in
2 Tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten

Yes, kneed.  Just like you would have with meatloaf.  Only you’ll wanna do this a few minutes.  And you want it about the consistency of ground beef, so if it’s dry add a few Tablespoons of water.  Keep mixing this until the gluten is activated and starts pulling apart in strands.  There isn’t a ton of gluten, so don’t expect a lot, you just want to see it sticking together rather than crumbling apart.

Anyway, make patties and cook these bitches up!  You don’t want them too thick because you want them to cook all the way through and for the gluten to ‘set.’  But brown them up nicely, I cooked them on medium in the tiniest bit of oil for about 10-15 minutes per side.

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Scrambled. Freaking. Tofu. Awesomeness!

Seriously, I’m so excited.  I finally got the Tofu Scramble correct!

A few days back I attempted my first Tofu Scramble which you can find here.  There was something significant missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  Also, unlike the last attempt – this doesn’t have that strong tofu taste.

I discovered there were two things missing.  Well, one was not technically missing, I had the wrong type of ingredient.

So first, the success.  Go ahead and marvel.

tofu scramble

 

Ok, so the missing stuff?  Well, the first ingredient was the tofu.  I had it ALL wrong.  I was using vacuum packed tofu which just does NOT work with this.  The second ingredient was soy sauce.  Yep. I don’t freaking know why, you don’t really taste it but it rounded the scramble and was exactly what was missing.

In a nonstick frying pan, saute on medium heat in some oil for about 5 minutes or so
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced

Then add
1 lb tofu, drained (and pressed if you like it firmer, otherwise the excess liquid cooks out)

Break up the tofu with your spatula and make sure all the ingredients are mixed well.  As it cooks, periodically stir and press the tofu with the spatula, making sure to get out all excess water.

The goal here is to remove the excess liquid.  At this point, you may want to add a little bit of oil, now that the tofu is dried out.

Next add:
1 package mushrooms, sliced or quartered

Stir in the mushrooms and prepare the spice mix while that cooks.    You’ll need (these are approximates!)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
salt to taste 

Mix the spices together with
2-3 Tbsp soy sauce 

Dump mixture over tofu and vegetables, mixing in well.  Stir this around and taste it, adding additional garlic, cumin and soy sauce as needed.

Add a smidge of water to the tofu mixture (unless for some reason it’s very wet still), and stir in
1/4 cup nutritional yeast 

 

Eat ye tofu scramble plain or on toast or in a pita pocket.  I’m convinced my omnivore husband will like this when served in a pita pocket, but it’s his birthday this week so he’s not being forced to eat tofu for a few days. 🙂

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Tofu Rice Casserole

First, let me tell you that as an omnivore, I was never really a fan of the standard chicken and rice casseroles.  They just always seemed to lack any kind of depth and just tasted like… well, cream of mushroom soup. 

However, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll notice a common theme – I love one pot meals.  I just do, and I always will.   As this recipe stands, it’s not a one pot meal, exactly – still need some veggies to go with it, but next time I make it I will probably add broccoli and cauliflower and make it a one pot meal.  We shall see!

This won my omnivore husband over, even though we were both extremely skeptical.  He had seconds and was eager to take leftovers to work – which, as it turns out, reheat well.

Um, about the picture… have you ever known a casserole that looked good? 

Oh, and by the way.  Don’t skip the curry powder.  And don’t give me any of that “I just don’t like curry” bull.  This isn’t a curry, the curry is just in there for a bit of flavor.    The original recipe had 1 cup of Nutritional Yeast in it, so you could add more if you wanted to.

Tofu Rice Casserole

One of the important things about this is to use extra firm or super firm tofu.  In retrospect, I might have marinaded the tofu maybe in some not-chicken broth or something along those lines, but it was still really great the way it was.

This is now a “favorite.”

Prepare 1 cup of rice however you do it.  White or brown will do the trick, I’m not giving a rice cooking lesson here, people – figure it out.  You should end up with about 3 cups cooked.

Meanwhile in a large pot or pan, saute – cook until onions are translucent or browned
1 large onion, chopped
8 to 16 ounces of mushrooms, sliced – depending on how much you love mushrooms
5 cloves garlic, minced

When cooked, add
1 Tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan margarine or oil
3-4 Tbsp flour

Whisk flour into melted butter until mixture becomes a paste.  If it’s too dry, add more butter or oil then whisk in
1 cup not-chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups non-dairy milk, (I used soy)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 package tofu, cubed – extra firm or super firm – pressed or vacuum packed
salt and pepper to taste 

Continue cooking on low heat until sauce thickens then add whatever vegetables you would like such as a bag of frozen cauliflower and broccoli (thawed, of course) or spinach.   I used fresh spinach in the picture above, but next time will be using broccoli and cauliflower combined.

Pour mixture into a greased (I “buttered” it) 9×13 baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes covered, and 10 minutes uncovered.

Without the tofu this would also make a great side dish.

1/15 update: Made this again using made-ahead brown rice, and 2 bags thawed broccoli with an additional 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup broth and just barely had enough to fit into the pan, but it fit and it was absolutely perfect. 

I will only be using broccoli from now on.

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This was not the tofu scramble I was looking for…

There’s a vegetarian restaurant near here called Consciousness Blossoms, and there I had my very first tofu scramble.

Every since then, I’ve been absolutely in love.  In love with THAT tofu scramble.  It’s perfect.  In every way.  I could eat it every day.   And I haven’t a darned clue what the freak is in it.

Anyway, I’ve been searching high and low for that perfect recipe and finally decided to try it out, and this is what I came up with:

Tofu Scramble

Yep.  Looks good.  And in it’s own way, I suppose it was… or rather would be if it didn’t taste like tofu.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy good flavored tofu, but I can’t freaking stand the taste of that very unique tofu flavor by itself.    Anyway, needless to say, it was not the tofu scramble I was looking for.

The recipe is from Isa, so I’m sure it’s good and it’s just my taste buds.  But since I didn’t approve and neither did the hubby figure, I’m not going to bother putting the recipe on here.   If you’re interested you can find it at The Post Punk Kitchen.

Do you have a favorite Tofu Scramble recipe?

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Tofu Potless Pie

I must admit.  This was a super lazy recipe, it was very easy and I used shortcuts whenever possible.  For veggies I just used frozen mixed vegetables, because – well – did I mention it’s a lazy recipe?

Um, as for the biscuits. Take my advice and find your own way, or stuff them in a vegan pie shell if you’re lucky enough to have them about (or have the patience to make one, I didn’t).

Crackers ended up being perfect after I wasted my time ruining biscuits in my stupid, stupid oven.

tofu pot pie

 

Prior to cooking, marinade 1 lb super firm tofu (pressed, of course – I use a non water-packed brand )  in 3 Tbsp soy sauce

In a large covered saute pan or in a pot, cook
1 large onion, chopped – until translucent

Add in and cook
Marinaded tofu
1-3 potatoes, cubed
1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables

2 cups water
1-2 Tbsp chicken flavored vegetable bullion (I use Better than Bullion brand)
1/2 tsp both thyme and sage OR poultry seasoning powder

Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Add,
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast or until thickened

Enjoy!

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Gardeners Pie

If I were a Shepherd, I wouldn’t eat my sheep.  So I guess in a way, this could still be called Shepherds pie.  Maybe it should be called Shepherds-that-love-their-flock pie.   My husband keeps calling it Gardeners Pie though, so I think that’s what we shall call it from now on.  Side note, as a child I never really thought about it – but Jesus is always referred to as a Shepherd.

Does that mean that Jesus sheared, skinned and ate his disciples after making sure they loved and trusted him?  Hmm, I think my husbands story makes a little bit more sense now.

Gardeners PieI’ve been afraid to try this because I wasn’t so sure how the Boca crumbles would taste in it, but we were both pleasantly surprised.   He couldn’t even tell it was vegan (he’s an omnivore) and was solidly sure that we could trick people with it.   I’m actually really looking forward to making it again, and next time I will definitely make a double batch.

This recipe is based on a combination of the America’s Test Kitchen and the Joy of Cooking recipe for standard Shepherds pie.  With the addition of peas and corn. 🙂

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you how to mash potatoes.    If I do, odds are you shouldn’t be cooking.    And if you shouldn’t be cooking, why are you looking at my blog?  Go away.

No, really.

Mash some potatoes.  We used about 4 medium potatoes mixed with Earth Balance and Tofutti Sour Cream.  You could also use Soy Milk.  Add your salt, pepper – the whole shibang. Or would that be shabang? Hmm.

Preheat ye old oven.  400 degrees-ish.  (We’re not baking anything but sarcasm today)  Skip this step if you’re going to be putting it away to cook the next day.  Duh.

In a standard frying pan, in oil saute until carrots are slightly tender
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced

When the carrots are slightly tender, stir in
1 package of frozen Boca Crumbles (or your favorite meatless crumbles)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cook until ze crumbles are no longer frozen, then make a small section in the middle of the frying pan and melt about a tablespoon of Earth Balance (or other margarine) or some oil and mix in a tablespoon of all purpose flour to make a paste.

Slowly whisk in
3/4 cup  vegetable or un-chicken broth
add
2 Tbsp tomato paste or Ketchup (shhh)
2-3 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
(Ahem, you can also use A1, it covers both-ish)
pinch dried thyme (do not confuse this with time – it would be most difficult to collect)

Simmer the mixture until sauce has reduced slightly and the entire mixture is nice and thick.  Then add in
1/2 cup of peas
     1/2 can corn

Cook until peas are cooked, taste and add salt and pepper as needed

Place in a square 8×8 baking dish.  Or something else that will contain the mixture topped with potatoes.  Come on people, you know what to do with this!!

Oh, and bake it.  400 for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are browned – or not.  Clearly we did not wait that long.

If you want, cover it with aluminum foil and refrigerate.  Cook it tomorrow, but put it in a cold oven and heat it up to 325 for about 20 minutes, THEN raise the temperature.

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White Vegan Pizza

Have I mentioned that I sincerely believe that Pizza is a food group?

Don’t let the broccoli scare you away.   Don’t believe me?   Just listen to my husband, he’ll tell you it was good!  Just gotta find him first… hmm, where’d he go?

No seriously, this was NOT another Ranch Dressing Failure.

white pizza

As I posted before, we were brain washed at a very young age by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And no, I’m not going to link to them.  If you don’t know who the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, you are dead to me.

Seriously though, who was the genius that brainwashed kids, that were already scarfing down sugary cereal while sitting in front of a TV, to be forever completely in romantic love with a dense layer of carbs topped with tons of bubbly shredded milkfat and chopped unidentifiable animal parts.

Le sigh… yep, I still miss it.  No way around it.

Anyway, after making the Tofu Ricotta O’ Doom recipe,  I came up with the idea for this pizza which is LOADED which vegetables and contains no faux cheese other than the Ricotta recipe.  I contemplated adding tempeh but realized it’s already loaded with tofu, so it seemed kind of redundant.

Since pizza is almost always simply made to taste, this is an approximation of the ingredients we used to give you an idea of how to get this super filling, scrum-dilly-umptious pizza in your own home.

Oh, before I start – we use Mama Mary’s  Ultra Thin Crust.  It crisps up, and isn’t 93234234526623 carbs per serving.  But, a downside is that we do need to pre-cook many of the ingredients prior to topping, because it cooks in about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven according to preferred crust instructions.  *If using a thicker crust but still like a bit of a crisp, try putting the pizza pan or upside down cookie sheet in the oven to preheat while preparing the rest, then simply slide the pizza onto it.

Heat a frying pan to medium and add
     2 Tsp Earth Balance
     1 medium onion, chopped (we always use red)
     pinch of salt , being careful to put on the oven and not in the pan itself

Cook until onion until slightly translucent and add
     5-7 mushrooms, sliced (we used baby bellas)

and Continue cooking until slightly browned

Meanwhile in a separate bowl, combine
     1/2 Riccotta O’ Doom recipe
     1/2 bag cooked frozen broccoli, chopped into desired size (or fresh of course)
     4-5 cloves garlic, minced
     2-3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
     Salt or Herbamare (preferred) to taste (about 1-2 tsp)
     Fresh Ground pepper to taste
     pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
     drizzle of olive oil

When mushroom and onion mixture is finished cooking, add to Ricotta and Broccoli Mixture and top pizza.   Cook following crust package instructions, but keep in mind that due to the large number of toppings it may take a bit longer to cook.  The Ricotta mixture will start to brown just a little, but won’t turn golden brown.

Just use your crust as a guide.

white pizza

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