Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Balsamic Baked Tofu Caprese Sandwich & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Caprese sandwiches are not so vegan. Therefore, I made an original recipe gone vegan!

Balsamic Baked Tofu Caprese Sandwich

* Prep Time:
1 day
* Cook Time: 30 minute

* Ingredients (for balsamic baked tofu):
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu - sliced into 1/2 in. slabs
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1/2 of medium sweet onion - cut in half and sliced thin lengthwise*
  • Several sprigs of fresh rosemary plus 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Sea salt - to taste
  • Black pepper - to taste
* Ingredients (for caprese sandwich):
  • 1 large tomato - sliced*
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Sea salt - to taste
  • Black pepper - to taste
  • 6 fresh basil leaves - medium size*
  • Soy mozzarella - thinly sliced*
  • Fresh sourdough bread - sliced*
  • Spray cooking oil

* Recipe:
  1. Start with balsamic baked tofu. This will need to marinate for at least 2 hour up to 24 hours (which is the best option if you have the time). Take the tofu block and cut into slabs. Take several paper towels, place tofu slabs on them, place several more paper towels on top of tofu slabs. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove most moisture.
  2. Sprinkle each side of tofu slabs with herbs (rosemary, sea salt, black pepper).
  3. Place rosemary sprigs, onion, and garlic on a medium sized baking tray. Lay tofu slabs on top of vegetables.
  4. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, and vegetable broth. Spoon over vegetables in baking tray. Cover with tin foil and let it marinate for 2-24 hours in the refrigerator.
  5. When done marinating, pre-heat oven to 375°. Take tin foil off of baking tray, flip over tofu slabs, and spoon marinade over tofu. Bake for 10-13 minutes.
  6. Remove baking tray from oven, spoon marinade over tofu slabs again, bake for another 15 minutes.
  7. For additional baking, broil for 2-3 minutes.
  8. To make sandwich, begin by mixing vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and black and pepper in a small bowl. Take sliced tomato and let marinate one side for a bit, then flip to the other side.
  9. Take pieces of sliced bread, spray with cooking oil on one side, and toast in large frying pan over medium heat. Flip, spray with cooking oil, and let the other side brown. While this side is toasting, place soy mozzarella on bread and let it melt.
  10. Take one piece of sliced bread with cheese, place basil leaves on the bread, then several pieces of tofu slab. Add onion/rosemary/garlic mixture from baking pan to top of tofu slab on the bread. Add tomato slice on top of that. Top with another piece of toasted bread.
* Notes: You can also use red onion. Depending on how many sandwich you make, you will need more or less basil leaves. Same goes with the bread slices and tomato. Make sure to double check that the sourdough bread is vegan and contains no animal by-product. The soy mozzarella I used was Follow Your Heart brand.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

* Prep Time: 15 minutes
* Cook Time: 40 minutes

* Ingredients:
  • 5-7 cloves of garlic
  • 10 baby red potatoes - peeled, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup soy milk - add more to taste
  • Sea salt - to taste
  • Black pepper - to taste
  • Garlic salt - to taste
  • Onion powder - to taste
  • Several dashes of nutmeg
  • 3-4 tablespoons of soy butter (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives - chopped (add more to taste)

* Recipe:
  1. Place garlic (unpeeled) in baking sheet and bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until soft.
  2. While garlic is in the oven, cook potatoes over medium to high heat in pot for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Drain potatoes into a strainer, set aside to dry for a bit.
  4. Take garlic cloves and squeeze them out of peel. In a small bowl, mash garlic with a fork until paste-like.
  5. Place potatoes in large bowl, add garlic paste, spices, and soy milk. Mash. Add soy butter. Mix well. Add chives, whisk everything several more times.
  6. Adjust seasoning and soy butter to taste.

Starting to think about my annual Thanksgiving day feast. This website has a lot of great ideas. Pre-plan consists of these mini pot pies with my mom's original mashed potato recipe along with French onion soup. Possibly homemade cranberry sauce and homemade rolls.

Christmas plans are also in the making. An extensive list of homemade crafts to give has been made, as well as my annual baking extravaganza for the cookie tins. This year will mark my first with vegan dog cupcake tins too. Look for my upcoming holiday blogs! They will be filled with good food, vino, and crafty fun.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vegan Fried Rice

A while back, I repaid a friend for helping me build most of my apartment's furniture by cooking him some yum veg Asian food. I made Nasu Dengaku (nasu is "eggplant" in Japanese). Using this excellent recipe from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog, it turned out most tasty!

Nasu Dengaku

Along with this eggplant dish, I made a vegan fried rice with random veggies I had at hand.

Vegan Fried Rice

* Prep Time:
15 minutes

* Cook Time: 30 minutes


* Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons soy butter (add more to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1/2 of medium red onion - chopped
  • 1 cup of green beans - chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots - chopped
  • 1/2 cup of white mushroom - sliced*
  • 1/3rd cup of bell pepper - red/yellow/green/orange (optional)
  • 1/3rd cup of peas (optional)
  • 1/3rd block of firm tofu - cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (add more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • several dashes of sea salt
  • several dashes of black pepper
  • dash of basil (ground)
  • 2 cups of pre-cooked rice - white or brown*

* Recipe:

  1. Add soy butter to wok and allow to melt.
  2. Next, add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Place all vegetables into wok, mix well with onion, garlic, and soy butter. Cook for 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add pre-cooked rice (use whatever method you normally do to cook rice) to wok and mix well with vegetables.
  5. Put soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and spices in pot and mix well with rice and vegetables.
  6. Allow to cook for a several minutes, mixing every so often.
* Notes: Feel free to use shiitake mushrooms instead of white button mushrooms. For this recipe, I used white rice.

Tonight, after some oishii (tasty) sushi, a buddy and I went over to Wicker Park and had some crazy lab science-like vegan ice cream with vanilla tea. iCream Cafe makes the ice cream and sorbet from scratch right in front of you! Not only is it neat to watch, it is very vegan-friendly. They have soy ice cream for a base (or you could choose sorbet), add a flavor (we did mint), then add a topping (ours was oreo & sprinkles).

Check it out for a tasty treat!

Nasu Dengaku: 5/5

For Halloween, I was a 1940s sailor pin-up girl. In the next couple posts, I will post a tutorial on how to do the vintage 'do I was sporting.

'Ta for now!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vegetable Couscous Pilaf with Sauteed Baby Vegetables

After a very long hiatus, I am back and ready to cook up a storm! Below is one of my new favorite, tasty, original recipes.

Vegetable Couscous Pilaf with Sauteed Baby Vegetables

* Prep Time: 20 minutes
* Cook Time: 40 minutes

 * Ingredients (for couscous):
  • 1 tablespoon soy butter*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic - minced
  • 1/3rd of red onion - chopped
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms - chopped
  • 1/3rd cup of peas*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chives - chopped
  • 1 baby zucchini - chopped
  • 2 baby carrots - chopped
  • 2 baby squash - chopped (yellow or green)
  • dash of onion powder
  • dash of thyme
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of garlic salt
  • several dashes of black pepper
  • several dashes of sea salt
  • dash of cumin
  • dash of parsley
  • dash of caraway
  • dash of paparika
  • dash of oregano (ground)
  • dash of oregano (leaves)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (add more if needed when cooking)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of white wine
  • 1 package of couscous
  • top with soy parmesan (optional)*
* Ingredients (for sauteed baby vegetables):
  • 1/2-1 cup of water
  • several baby carrots
  • several baby zucchini
  • several baby squash (green and yellow)
  • several baby red potatoes
  • several small mushrooms (keep steams on)
  • several pieces of asparagus
  • 1/3 of red onion - sliced into thin, long pieces
  • several green beans (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives - chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • dash of garlic salt
  • dash of onion powder
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of oregano (leaves)
  • dash of thyme
  • dash of rosemary
  • dash of parsley
  • several dashes of black pepper
  • several dashes of sea salt

* Recipe:
  1. Begin with couscous. Place soy butter and olive oil in medium size pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, wait until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add all vegetables and spices to pot with onions and garlic, cook until tender (5-8 minutes).
  3. Insert couscous, vegetable stock, and white wine. Keep adding more stock if couscous does not become soft over time. Let cook over medium heat with lid on until couscous is soft (10-15 minutes). Make sure the vegetables and couscous are well mixed together.
  4. While couscous is cooking, start on the baby vegetables. Using a large pan, add all baby vegetables, asparagus, green beans (optional), red onion, mushrooms, and water (in small increments). Cover and let steam. Keep checking and adding more water as the vegetables soak it in. Once tender, you are done with this step (5-7 minutes).
  5. Keep stirring that couscous while you are working on the baby vegetables so it does not stick to the pot.
  6. Add the olive oil, chives, and spices to the pan with baby vegetables. Let them saute for about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Once couscous is done, place on plate. Top with the sauteed baby vegetables.
  8. Finish with several dashes of soy parmesan (optional).
* Notes: For soy butter, I use the vegan Earth Balance. The peas I used were frozen, feel free to use fresh ones. The best soy parmesan brand I have come across is Galaxy Nutritional Foods Vegan Topping.

I have a many more recipes to add, just do not have time now. More soon, promise!

Quick review: Vegan foodies like myself often are in despair over a good vegan cheese. A long time ago, I decided it simply does not exist. In the last couple months, this local Chicago nut cheese company has proved my vegan cheese woes wrong. Check out Ste Martaen Vegan Cheese. Currently, one can only buy it at Delicious Cafe, located in North Center on 3827 N. Lincoln Ave. Though, rumor has it, they will be selling Ste Martaen at the new, giant Whole Foods in Chicago soon.
This colby nut cheese has become a favorite of mine to use for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Also, check out their smoked gouda cheese and try out this marinated tofu sandwich recipe. Delish!
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