Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ginger Bok Choy & Soba

Ginger Bok Choy & Soba (page 176)
with the addition of shelled edamame

I've made a similar dish several times, except I usually use whole-wheat noodles and call it "lo mein." I enjoy bok choy very much, and it always makes a great addition to Asian-type noodle dishes. This time, I went to the trouble to especially seek out soba noodles, which are generally more expensive than the whole-wheat noodles I usually have hanging out in the cupboard.

I tossed in a few handfuls of shelled edamame for a bit of extra oomph.

This was tasty, and enjoying, and comforting. But not necessarily great or exciting. Maybe it's just because this was really nothing new for me. As I mentioned, I've fed the family something similar many times, and I'll probably make it again many more times. It's a great lazy way to use up veggies and make a one-pot meal with pantry staples.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Orange-Scented Broccoli

Orange-Scented Broccoli (page 100)
with Apple-Miso Tofu (page 151) and sticky brown rice

This broccoli made a lovely accompaniment to the Apple-Miso Tofu. One of the things I really appreciate about Appetite for Reduction is how darn easy almost every single recipe is. This one is no exception. Once I had the rice cooking on the stove and the Apple-Miso Tofu tucked away in the oven, all that was left to complete an easy, healthy rounded meal was to make the broccoli. It was a simple recipe.

As a bonus, SweetPea liked it, too! It's been challenge getting her to appreciate broccoli, and today she declared the Orange-Scented Broccoli is one of her top three favorite ways to eat the little green trees (the other two being either raw dipped in hummus, or in lard na). So, it's a win!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Apple-Miso Tofu

Apple-Miso Tofu (page 151) on a bed of baby spinach
served with Orange-Scented Broccoli (page 100) and sticky brown rice

I wasn't sure about this recipe - it sounded a little strange, but maybe good. It WAS good! Delicious, in fact!

I usually prefer a firm, chewy texture in my tofu, and this turns out more soft instead (even though I started with the extra-firm variety), since it is baked with juicy apples in a covered pan. I really didn't mind the softer texture. The flavor was so satisfying. I left the skins on my apples, 'cause they're prettier that way, and served the tofu over a generous bed of baby spinach.

One note about the recipe: the ingredient list calls for one teaspoon of sesame oil. Normally, I try to leave out any added oils in my cooking, but, well, I'm a sucker for sesame oil. It's tasty. So every once in a while, I splurge. You get five grams of fat per serving with this recipe, which isn't so bad, so I figure if I'm extra good for the rest of the day, it shouldn't be a big deal, right? The problem here is that while the sesame oil is listed in the ingredient list, it is not mentioned any where else in the recipe instructions. It's not included in the marinade ingredient list, but the "everything else" category, instead. I decided to drizzle the one teaspoon of sesame oil over the tofu after marinating and before adding the sliced apples.

This is something I would definitely make again. (I might consider cutting the amount of sesame oil in half, to cut out some of those fat grams.) I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. How about you - has anyone else tried this?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tofu Chimichurri

Tofu Chimichurri (page 150)
served with sauteed zucchini and yellow squash and brown rice

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while. I remember the first time I ever heard of chimichurri: in our pre-child and pre-vegan days, El Hombre and I attended a potluck barbecue at the home of some Argentinian friends, and I saw this guy slathering his cooked steak with a thick green sludge like it was salsa. Curious, we gave it a try, too, and it was amazing! Bright, tangy, and flavorful. Perfect on grilled foods.

Isa says that chimichurri is a marinade, but in my experience, it is also a thick condiment, like salsa. This recipe calls for marinating the tofu in a thin chimichurri sauce. I prepared the tofu and marinade early in the day, and left in the refrigerator for El Hombre to cook up later in the evening.

The girls and I arrived home after ballet folklorico class to find El Hombre standing over the stove, flipping the tofu around in a pan. It was a little messy, and some of the tofu broke apart, but the end result was quite delicious. I liked it, and I think it's safe to say El Hombre loved it, as he devoured quite a lot.

This recipe was good, but I would do it differently next time. Cooking the chimichurri sauce results in a loss of the bright green color and taste, which is what makes chimichurri so beautiful and fresh tasting. I think grilled tofu served with a more traditional chimichurri sauce as the condiment would be great. I'm inspired and will probably do it soon!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tempeh Helper, take 2

Tempeh Helper (page 171) with Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce (page 173)
substituting zucchini for green peas

My first attempt at the Tempeh Helper was a real disappointment. We all found the natural bitterness of the tempeh too overwhelming for the dish, and it just really wasn't even palatable. Blech. I concluded that pre-steaming the tempeh would probably be a good idea, which is exactly what I did last night. It adds an extra step, but the recipe is simple enough that it's still pretty fast to get on the table. I simply used the microwave to steam it in a dish with a little water while I began the "Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce."

I also got a great tip from Lazy Smurf in the comments from the last Tempeh Helper post: apparently, Wheatsville carries a locally made tempeh that isn't as bitter tasting. I had the opportunity to swing by Wheatsville the other day (not my usual part of town), so I picked some up. This stuff is great! Made by The Hearty Vegan, it is flavorful, yet mild. (I also picked up a package of their tempeh sausage patties, and those are awesome, too!)

I switched up the pasta this time, using whole-wheat elbow macaroni instead of tiny quinoa shells. And, I diced up a zucchini and tossed that in the pot instead of using frozen green peas.

So, in conclusion - the change in tempeh protocol and brand made a huge difference in this recipe for this family. The kids liked it a lot, and so did El Hombre. Me? I thought it was okay. I've never been a huge fan of dinner-from-a-box style foods, and of course, this recipe is modeled after Hamburger Helper. I'm not sure if I'll ever make it again, but if this kind of food is your thing, it certainly is a fast, easy weeknight meal.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup (page 208)
garnished with crumbled blue corn tortilla chips, and chopped cilantro and jalapeno

Alright, so I made a few modifications to this recipe. I know my way around tortilla soup; I've made plenty a pot-ful in my lifetime. Admittedly, I have never before made Isa's recipe exactly as it is written, but I believe my modified version is probably, dare I say it... better than the original.

First of all, instead of using two jalapenos and one poblano or bell pepper, I used two poblanos in the soup, and saved the jalapenos for garnishing at the table. I wanted to keep the soup relatively mild for the kids, and let the adults add spice as desired to individual bowls.

Probably the most important modification I made, in terms of flavor, was to roast the peppers. I just set them on the burner grate over my gas flame, giving them a turn every now and then with tongs, until they got nice and blackened all over. Then, I scraped off the blackened skin (mostly - I left little bits here and there for flavor), chopped them up, and proceeded as usual. I added the peppers to the pot after the onion had cooked, since they were already somewhat cooked by the roasting process.

Finally, I used a few crumbled up stale corn tortillas to thicken up the soup, instead of crumbled tortilla chips.

I left the rest of the recipe pretty much intact with no other changes. The result: delicious and satisfying!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cool Slaw

Cool Slaw (page 38)

I ate several meals out downtown this weekend with others whom I was attending a conference with. This means I ended up eating several salads. You know-- it just doesn't seem to occur to most restaurants that it is quite possible to prepare a satisfying meal without meat, dairy, or eggs... unless it's a salad. Of course, even then, everything still has cheese in it somewhere, you know-- to make it "satisfying." Now, I had some great salads this weekend. Really, delicious salads. And at home, I eat many, many salads as the main part of my meal... but the salads I make are HUGE. I think I first heard Wendy use the term "Hugh Jass Salad." Hugh Jass, indeed. But these restaurant salads, while quite delicious and bursting with flavor, were no Hugh Jass salads.

I'm getting a bit ramble-y here, but the point I'm trying to make is that it was nice to come home and have some "real" food.

El Hombre planned a little cook-out for our Sunday afternoon, with some veggie burgers, grilled corn-on-the-cob, and fresh guacamole and chips. There was still an unused half-head of cabbage in the refrigerator leftover from the Curried Cabbage & Peas, so it seemed appropriate to also make the Cool Slaw to go with our dinner.

I've made this recipe before, but as a component of the Buffalo Tempeh Wraps, which were so, so good. Have I mentioned how *~*magical*~* cashews can be, when blended into sauces and dressings? Cashews, a little onion, a bit of apple cider vinegar, mustard, agave, some water... that's it, blended into oblivion - the perfect creamy, dreamy dressing for this coleslaw. So. Freakin'. Tasty.

Anyway, this is good stuff. The perfect people-pleasing coleslaw for summer cookouts and potlucks. If you haven't already, give it a try!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Curried Cabbage & Peas

Curried Cabbage & Peas (page 111)
(substituting baby yellow squash for carrot)

Tonight was kind of a disorganized dinner-making experience. Still, dinner made it to the table, and that's what's important, right?

First of all, I didn't get home until nearly 6:00 pm, and I really wasn't in the mood to cook dinner as soon as I walked in the door. I was really quite tempted to just pick up some Chinese take-out on the way home, but I told myself, no, we have food at home, and Chinese take-out is way too greasy, anyway.

I had originally planned to make the Braised Cabbage with Seitan (page 97), but my week didn't go exactly as planned, and I didn't have any prepared seitan for the recipe. But, I still had the cabbage. Amy commented here on yesterday's post that she recently enjoyed the Curried Cabbage & Peas; I thought, hey, I've got peas! I'll make that! Along with the 40-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli, since I've also got a big pot of chickpeas and some broccoli hanging out in the refrigerator. OK, a plan was in place.

I quickly got the chickpeas, broccoli, and garlic (and quartered small red potatoes) in the oven to roast, then I started slicing up an onion and the cabbage. Then I discovered, oops, no fresh ginger root. I figured this qualified for one of those "in a pinch" situations, so I subbed dried ginger. Then I realized, darn, no carrots! Well, might as well use up those baby yellow squash that have been languishing in the crisper drawer.

The resulting Curried Cabbage & Peas turned out okay, but not great. I'm sure the missing fresh ginger root would have made a big difference. And the carrots certainly would have made it more colorful. But all-in-all, it wasn't bad, especially considering the last-minute ingredient substitutions that were made.

I'm always trying to think of ways to make these veggie "side dishes" into a more satisfying complete meal. I bet this would be great served over brown rice with the addition of some cubed tofu or chickpeas.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mango BBQ Beans

Mango BBQ Beans (page 133)

We had a busy Fourth. The girls had a ballet folklorico performance early in the afternoon, then we went over to our friends' house for swimming and potluck-ing before heading to the local park for an ArcAttack show (the Plan B for Independence Day, since fireworks have been banned due to drought conditions around here). All the kids were super excited about the show, though they were bummed about not quite making it to the Faraday cage. They were this close.

One of the dishes we brought to the potluck was the Mango BBQ Beans. The flavor was fantastic here, but I thought the sauce-to-bean ratio was a bit too high. I would probably either add more beans, or lessen the amount of liquid called for, or even let it cook down for an even longer time to allow the sauce to reduce further. I don't think there would be any harm at all in letting these beans hang out on the stove over low heat for a long a time - I would think they would only get better. Also, SweePea made the observation that she thinks small red beans would be better, instead of kidney beans here, and I think have to agree with her on that point.

Overall, these were excellent beans. El Hombre especially loved them, letting me know on more than one occasion that I can make them again any time, any time at all.