Eat: Noodle Bowl

A few years ago I made a bowl of miso broth with noodles as a fast, easy dinner when my brother-in-law visited us. He raved about it. I think he was really hungry, but there is always something comforting and filling about noodles in a yummy broth. I have no idea how I made that bowl a few years ago, but Joe, this recipe I’m sharing is for you…

Make the tofu first:

  • 1 TBSP sesame oilIMG_3493
  • 1 TBSP soy
  • 2 TBSP avocado or canola oil
  • a few dashes of rice vinegar or juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp turmeric or curry powder
  • sesame seeds

Slice 1 block of pressed tofu into bite size pieces. Marinate in the above for as long as possible (1 day is ideal, but 30 minutes works) and then bake at 450 for about 15 minutes. Using parchment paper makes clean up much easier. Move the tofu pieces around often – they are ready when they are a little crispy. This tofu is based on a recipe from an Indian cooking class I took a few years ago and it is YUMMY. I also use the tofu in curries and stir fries, make a big batch of it to use it in a few recipes.

When the tofu is ready, make the broth:

Saute the below in a soup pot for a few minutes.

  • 1 TBSP sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 knob of fresh ginger, grated (I think of a knob as something the size of my thumbnail)
  • jalapeño or other spicy pepper, diced (optional – depending on the pepper it can make it really spicy)
  • Shitake Mushrooms, diced (optional, but highly recommended)
Then add:
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 TBSP honey (local, good honey not the cheap stuff)
  • 1 TBSP Srichacha (or more, or less)
  • 1 box veggie broth (my new favorite is Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger – delicious!!)
  • 1 TBSP miso

Mix together and simmer (don’t boil because of the miso) for about 5-7 minutes until it is hot and the flavors have melded. You may want to add some water to make more broth – taste and see what it needs. You can add water to dilute some of the flavor.

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • Udon or Soba Noodles
  • Cilantro, diced (optional)
Cook noodles separate according to package directions. Don’t try to cook the noodles in the broth (I’ve tried it as a timesaver and it does not work). I usually cook the noodles before making the broth, and then put them aside. I make it in the same pot as I cook the broth so there are less pots to clean.
Then add lots of noodles & cooked tofu to bowl, and cover with the broth. Drizzle with lime and cilantro (if you have it).
 IMG_3498
Other things that I add to this have included: carrots (cut small), kale or other greens, lightly steamed broccoli, shelled edamame, and bean sprouts. The dinner is easily adaptable based on what you have in the house. This recipe is easy (my husband makes versions of it all the time), cheap, and flexible.
It requires lots and lots of slurping. The spicier the better!
Note: There are a few things that I always buy at Costco because it saves a lot of money  – almond milk, coffee, razors, quinoa, and sparkling water –  also, the Annie Chun Udon Noodles and House Foods Organic Tofu in 4 packs. They are about $10 for both and they make a great base for lots of meals: yakisoba, peanut sauce noodles, curries, and infinite variations of this noodle bowl…

EAT: Chilaquiles

The best breakfast food on the planet is chilaquiles. It is followed closely by avocado toast. Those two things, with a green juice and a pot of coffee are my ideal morning foods.

My friend and I have discussed many times that we should open a restaurant that has a chilaquiles buffet at weekend brunch. Picture it — An option of green or red chilaquiles with a huge assortment of toppings so it could suit all preferences. Options for the buffet could include: lettuces, tomato, olives, avocados, jalapenos, chopped onions, scallions, pickled red onions, cilantro, queso fresco, tofu scramble, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, beans, a variety of hot sauces, cashew queso…sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Chilaquiles

After making enchiladas the other night I had leftover sauce, so I made a batch of chilaquiles for breakfast the next day. They are super simple to make. This is how you do it:

Chilaquiles Ingredient

Ingredients

1/2 bag of chips (about 3 cups more or less)- we’re lucky in San Diego to have Mexican grocery stores all over the place that sell yummy, greasy chips

About 2 cups of enchilada sauce – green or red. If you are super motivated make your own sauce.

Any of the toppings that I have listed above.

Make

Heat the sauce with about 1/2 cup water in a big soup pot until it is hot and bubbly. Add the chips. Stir, gently, until they are all coated with the sauce, and getting a little soft. Serve immediately with lots of toppings. You will be happy.

I’ll let you know when we get the restaurant open and the chilaquiles buffet is available.

Also, the Morning News Tournament of Books is underway. It is really fun for book-lovers. Check it out here

EAT: Cauliflower Puree Pizza

Meatless Monday recipe…cauliflower is the new kale. We eat at least one bunch of it a week – usually as cauliflower buffalo wings (check out recipes here and here), or roasted and put into a bowl with quinoa and baked tofu. I have been trying to master a curried cauliflower soup (inspired by a bowl we had at True Food a few months ago) for the last few months, but so far, I would rate my attempts a solid B.

Right now, my favorite pizza is at the The Rose Wine Pub,  a few blocks from our house. We love the cozy atmosphere of the Rose, and we love the pizza with a salad on top, so delicious. We make a lot of vegan pizza – our favorites include variations on BBQ Pizza, Tofu “Ricotta” Pizza, and Soyrizo Pizza. Inspired by our favorite pizza at The Rose, and the three heads of cauliflower I had in the fridge, I made the following for dinner tonight…

Cauliflower Puree

  • Pizza Dough – Trader Joe’s or your favorite recipe
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut up
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (or parmesan cheese, if that is your preference)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt +Pepper
  • 2 big handfuls of kale, julienned
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 TB of olive oil (I like to use the garlic infused olive oil from Trader Joe’s)
  • Couple of shakes of red pepper and Salt +Pepper

Preheat oven to 450.

Steam the cut-up cauliflower for ~7 minutes until it is fork-tender. Puree the cauliflower, almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, s+p in a food processor, vitamix, blender, or with an immersion blender.

While the cauliflower cooks, make the kale salad. Mix the lemon, olive oil, and S+P, then add the kale and massage it for a minute or two.

Spread the dough on a baking sheet (I usually spray the sheet with oil first), spread the puree on top, and bake for about 12-14 minutes. Take it out of the oven when the crust is done and the puree is getting brown and a little bubbly. After it comes out of the oven, top it with the kale salad.

I am thinking of ways that I could improve this – cashews in the cauliflower puree, adding pine nuts or sundried tomatoes to the kale…it is a yummy, healthy meal and I’ll keep playing with this basic, satisfying recipe.

EAT: Quinoa Loaf and Baked French Fries

It’s meatless Monday. Here’s a simple suggestion for dinner:

Quinoa Loaf and Fries

QUINOA LOAF

This recipe is based on the Whole Foods Recipe for a Quinoa Loaf. I never have all of the ingredients for the original recipe so I add different things each time. This is how I made it yesterday:

Saute the following ingredients for about 5-7 minutes in a little bit of grapeseed oil:

  • 1 lb of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Let the above cool just a bit, then add it to a bowl with the following:

  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite!)
  • 1/2 cup cashew pieces
  • 2.5 cups cooked quinoa (cook it in vegetable broth to give this dish more flavor). Cook this first, so it is a little cool when you add it to the bowl.

Add the following to a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. It should have a hummus-like texture.

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (or cannellini beans)
  • 3/4 cup of oats (I was out of them and I used garbanzo bean flour, it still worked well)
  • 1/4 cup of tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (can be omitted, but why wouldn’t you include it?)

Add the bean mixture to the quinoa mixture, and combine. Transfer the mixture to a sprayed loaf pan, and cook at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Top with lots of ketchup or gravy.

This can be made the day before and stored in the fridge. Leftovers are good in a wrap (I like to add leftover french fries to the wrap too).

BAKED FRENCH FRIES

This is a super simple recipe, but I am sharing it anyways. We make these at least once a week.

Ingredients: 4 medium russet potatoes, grapeseed oil, seasonings

  • Cut the potato into fry-type pieces – leave the skin on if it is an organic potato.
  • Take 1 TB of grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast and rub it into the cut-up potatoes.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
  • The MOST important part about baking french fries is moving them around every 5 minutes for the first 20 minutes of cooking. That allows you to use a small amount of oil and they won’t stick to the baking pan.

Top the fries with lots of ketchup or chili, if you want to eat them like a Michigander.

EAT: Favorite Vegetarian Cookbooks

When Sean and I moved across the country we got rid of A LOT of stuff. It felt liberating to downsize. The only hard part was shrinking my book collection. I had almost 500 books, and they all meant something to me. After a lot of deliberation, I only kept things that I would re-read over and over again like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dickens, “Little Women,” poetry collections, and cookbooks. We’ve moved six times in the last seven years and I am glad that we can fit the books that I have in 3 boxes, instead of 30.

In honor of Meatless Monday, I’m sharing my favorite vegetarian cookbooks. These are the books that I will hold onto as we continue moving around. They are the ones that I continually turn to for dinner inspiration when I feel stuck. Reading cookbooks is relaxing and a great way to escape for me.

Vegetarian Cookbooks

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I can not recommend this cookbook enough. Everything that Isa and Terry do is amazing. All of their cookbooks are full of healthy, yummy recipes that are inspiring and adaptable. Isa blogs at www.theppk.com and everything I have ever made by her is delicious.

“How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. My favorite parts of this book are the bean cooking methods and the pizza dough recipe. This is a huge book full of helpful tips and cooking methods.

“The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon. We make the Chorizo Quinoa at least twice a month. These recipes are easy, low-fat, super healthy and not intimidating.

“Passionate Vegetarian” by Crescent Dragonwagon. My mom gave me this vegetarian cookbook about eight years ago. It is a personal cookbook with great stories. This was my first veg cookbook so it will always mean a lot to me and I’ll keep it forever.

Chloe’s Kitchen” by Chloe Coscarelli. I learned so many tricks reading this book, like adding brown sugar and rice milk to pasta sauces (it makes them so much better!). Avocado Pesto Pasta, Oh-la-la Lasagna, Mongolian BBQ Seitan, Cinnamon Rolls…so many yummy recipes in this cookbook!

Isa Does It

I just got “Isa Does It” by Isa Moskowitz from the library. It is so good. Her recipes are fail-proof and I am excited to cook my way through it. She also shares a lot of the recipes in here on her blog. Her passion for vegan cooking is inspiring and always gives me new ideas. In most cookbooks I mark recipes that I want to make…I want to make every, single thing in this book. This is the cookbook that I will be buying for my family this holiday season!

Dinners this week:

  • Butternut Squash Alfredo from “Isa Does it” with kale salad. Recipe is here.
  • Greek Diner Salad and Broccoli Soup from “Isa Does it”
  • Curry with Sukhi’s Spice Mix, tofu, and peas with rice (Tip: Cook the tofu before adding it to a curry. Mix a little sesame oil, grapeseed oil, tamari and turmeric and coat the diced up tofu. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425 until it is firm and crisp)
  • Soup with Udon Noodles and Tofu (Easiest dinner ever! Warm about 6 cups of water, add 2 TB of miso, 1 TB soy sauce, a little srichacha, diced up carrots, tofu and kale, and udon noodles)
  • Miso roasted delicata squash and sweet potatoes with kale salad
  • Field roast sausage, Bubbi’s Saukerkraut, and vegetarian baked beans

Last night my friend and I went to a great cooking class by Katie’s Healing Kitchen. This girl has a fantastic, confident personality and is going to be a superstar! The theme of the class was a Plant Powered Thanksgiving. We had delicious food like Roasted Carrot Soup, Butternut Squash Mac-n-Cheese, Lentil and Wild Rice Stuffed Squash, Maple and Dijon Brussel Sprouts, Kale, and Apple Crisp. The meal was healthy, animal-free, gluten-free and delicious. I can’t wait to take more of her classes.

EAT: Curried Butternut Squash Risotto

I am going to try to post a recipe or meal ideas on Mondays in honor of Meatless Mondays. It may happen on Tuesdays some weeks…

Curried Butternut Squash Risotto

One of my favorite things to eat is risotto. A few years ago Sean and I lived with my sister, Julie, when her husband was on his first deployment. The best part of living with her was stealing her clothes. The second best part was sharing dinner duties. We both love to cook and we rotated who was making dinner. Julie and I made risotto at least once a week. I only make it once in awhile now, but each time I make it I think about her and all the wonderful dinners we made together.

I don’t like following recipes or measuring ingredients. Risotto works for people who don’t like to follow cooking rules. For this risotto, first peel and dice one butternut squash. Keep the seeds!

Butternut Squash

Then roast the diced squash (splashed with olive oil, salt and pepper) in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Move the squash around a couple of times so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Roast the seeds at the same time. They only take about 7 minutes to roast – so make sure you take them out pretty fast!

Butternut Squash

While the squash is roasting, you can start the risotto. Saute one diced shallot and two cloves of diced garlic in olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. You could use 1/2 an onion if you don’t have a shallot. After about 3-4 minutes, add two cups of Arborio rice. Saute that around the pan for a few minutes until it is a little toasty.

Now, you start adding the broth one cup at a time. I use 1/2 no-chicken broth and 1/2 water. If you use all no-chicken broth it will be too salty. You could also use vegetable broth. You’ll need ~eight cups of liquid. With risotto just keep adding liquid and stirring it in. You can walk away for a minute or two, but stay pretty close to the pan. Add more liquid when it starts sticking to the pan.

Vegan Risotto

After you’ve added about 4 cups of the liquid, add 1 Tablespoon of curry. Lately, I am liking the hot curry blend from Penzey’s Spices (if you go there, I recommend getting the mulling spices for wine too!). Stir that in, and then continue adding liquid. The risotto is done when it starts to get creamy, and the rice is not hard. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell. Most of the time, it takes about 30 minutes. Mix in the roasted butternut squash and you are done! I added nutritional yeast to it, but it is not necessary – also I served it with the roasted seeds to add a bit of crunch to the dish.

Curried Butternut Squash Risotto

I think half the battle with dinner is figuring out what to make. Here is what we’ll be eating for dinner this week:

  • Vegetable Stir Fry with broccoli, carrots, edamame, brussel sprouts, peanuts and water chestnuts
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta from Oh She Glows with a Kale Salad
  • Quinoa Biryani from Vegan Richa
  • Lasagna with tofu ricotta, field roast sausages, peas and marinara
  • The best frozen veggie burgers (another thing Julie introduced me too!)
  • Some kind of red lentil soup and salad – I’ll make them both up when we get to the end of the week and need to use up what is left in the fridge

Everyday is meatless for Sean and I, not just Mondays. Last weekend we participated in the Farm Sanctuary walk. When we were walking a passerby said “Why don’t you walk for something that actually means something.” We didn’t say anything to him, but I am hoping we made him think about what he was eating. Compassion for all.

Farm Sanctuary

EAT: Veggie Grill

One of the most common questions non-animal eaters get asked is what food they miss the most. (Of course, the other common question is “Where do you get your protein?”). I don’t miss anything…except for turkey skin. Weird and gross.

I am 100% positive that I miss it because my Grandpa Jack used to feed me bits and pieces of the skin as he carved the turkey.  Here he is, with pants that only he could pull off, giving me a nibble when I was less than a year old:

Turkey Skin
Grandpa feeding me turkey skin

Memories of my grandpa are all that I have of him since he left us on Thanksgiving Day over ten years ago, but they are such strong, beautiful memories that he is with me every single day. I won’t ever eat turkey skin again, and I won’t ever see my grandpa again, but thinking about both of them makes me incredibly happy. Turkey skin is the epitome of comfort food for me. I don’t think it will ever be made animal-free, but luckily my other favorite foods can be.

Veggie Grill is a West Coast vegan chain that specializes in comfort food and it finally opened in San Diego a few months ago.   About a week after it opened my co-workers and I went there for lunch. The service was not great (it had just opened and was packed, so we understood), but the food was so, so yummy. I had the crispy chickin’ plate, which is basically veganized KFC. Fried chickin'(they use Gardein), cauli-mashed potatoes, gravy and steamed kale. Of course, I also got a side of the mac and cheese. The food satisfies any cravings you could possibly have for KFC.

I went again the other day and ordered all of this…

Veggie Grill Pudding, Nachos and Wings
Veggie Grill Pudding, Nachos and Wings

I ate almost all of it by myself. The nachos have chili, cheez, salsa, guac, soy cream, and jalapenos on them – all of the essential ingredients. (As a sidenote: I feel like a dork taking pictures of my food at a restaurant, but I always appreciate people’s food pictures.  So I need to get over it.) This is the kind of meal I would never make at home, and I would never eat on a regular basis – I loved every bite of it. Vegan junk food at it’s finest.

Veggie Grill actually has a lot of healthy options. They are famous for the All Hail Kale Salad, however I can’t bring myself to order a kale salad when I go out to eat.  They are inexpensive and easy to make (juice of 1 lemon, 1TB olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp Braggs Amino Acid, salt, pepper, 1 head of shredded kale – massage together for 2 minutes – add nutritional yeast – done!) and I eat them ALL the time at home. In fact, the leftover buffalo wings were added to a kale salad for dinner that night. The two downsides to the Veggie Grill location in San Diego: It is in a mall (UTC in La Jolla) and it is not close to my house.  The good news is that is close to work, which means that the next time I am having a stressful day, I’ll be heading over there for some serious comfort food.