A Vegetarian Feast!

After months of reading about baked tofu here, and here, and of course here, I finally decided to try my hand at making it. I asked Beadie about her “perfect baked tofu” method, and read up on the famous Gliding Calm tofu. Over the weekend, I tried it for myself without an intent of sharing it with Adam just in case I royally screwed it up. I did the freeze-and-press method that Beadie likes, then the soy-ginger-sesame-sweet-hot rub that Miss Gliding Calm likes, then baked the heck out of it at 400* for about 45 minutes. IT WAS FANTASTIC!! I made it a point to make Adam taste some, and he loved it too…so much so that he requested it for dinner at least once this week.

When we went to Trader Joes on Monday, we bought 2 bricks of extra firm tofu. One went straight into the freezer, and the other stayed in the fridge. I wanted to try the different, less time-intensive, “drain-and-bake” method that  so many in Blogland love. So tonight, I simply drained the fridged brick of tofu, sliced it into slices, and rubbed it on both sides with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, sriracha, and one Splenda packet. I baked it at 425* for about 45 minutes, and once it was browned, took it out. It was also amazing!! The texture wasn’t as “meaty” as the freeze-press-bake method, but still a great dinner. We had the slices of baked tofu with sweet potato fries, brown rice, and [an unphotographed] simple green salad.

Who am I channeling? Beadie? GC? Finessista?

Who am I channeling? Beadie? GC? Erin?

Adam even went back for seconds, and agreed that I should show him how to make this stuff! Next on my to-try list: baked tofu in a stir fry!

Now, a non-dinner note. Yesterday, Adam picked up a new video game, Street Fighter IV. Normally, I can’t stand the way that women are portrayed in video games. Usually they’re tall, ridiculously thin, ridiculously tall, and have inhumanly enormous boobs chests. I was beyond excited when Adam started playing this game last night because girl after girl had a much different silhouette than your typical video game chick. Sure, they’re still scantily clad. But instead of being unrealistic portrayals of what women “should” be, they are exaggerated portrayals of what women strive to be: muscular, strong, fit, and ready to kick some  ass butt! This is Chun-Li, one of the strongest women in the game:

Those are some ASS KICKING THIGHS!

Those are some ASS KICKING THIGHS!

And in Blogger news:

And, make sure you all have a WONDERFUL evening! I’m off to have some coffee (and maybe a treat) with some WW buddies. SO EXCITED!

Oh, and for Miss Erin who mentioned she’s missing the Northwest… a picture of the Oregon coast. I seriously fell in love with the landscape there!

Outside of Florence, OR

Outside of Florence, OR

xoxo,

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Chipotle Pinto Bean Burgers

Well, this vegetarian week is going way better than I thought. Come to think of it, I haven’t had any meat-based meals all week, except for one chicken-topped Lean Cuisine pizza! I do, however, really want a steak, or some sushi, or chicken… I’m such a carnivore! It has definitely been a nice, rather inexpensive change of pace though!

Tonight, we decided at the beginning of the week, was bean burger night. I was so torn: do I make the black bean burgers from last week that were so very good, or do I try to create a new one? I voted for creating a new one, and my creation was so delicious! Next time, I think I’ll use slightly less bread crumbs, but other than that, this recipe is a keeper.

Blurry for some reason, but you can see how good these look!

Blurry for some reason, but you can see how good these look!

Chipotle Pinto Bean Burgers

2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 small green pepper, cut into chunks

2 chipotle peppers, cut into pieces

2 Tbsp. reserved adobo sauce from chipotle chiles

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 egg

2 garlic cloves

3/4 c. dry bread crumbs

Directions

In a mixing bowl, place the beans, chipotles, adobo, egg, garlic, and green peppers and blend with a stick blender (you can also do this in the food processor). Stir in bread crumbs. Heat a large frying pan with olive oil or spray, and spoon some of the mixture into the pan, creating patties of the size you want. Flip once after one side is browned. Enjoy!

We found that the smaller burgers cooked more evenly and got nice and crispy. My batch made 7 small, English muffin-sized burgers.  For you WW folks, the NI comes to: 128 calories, 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of fiber when the recipe is made into 7 burgers.

I ate mine with a small side of a sliced tomato with olive oil, pepper, and shredded parmesan:

I wish I'd had fresh basil!

I wish I'd had fresh basil!

Also, a new favorite thing: pan roasted broccoli! I swear, anything would be better roasted (have I said that recently?)

roastiness...droool....

roastiness...droool....

I’m so beyond excited that tomorrow is Friday, and I do have to say… we may be doing sushi tomorrow, so Vegetarian Week may be over, but I’m so glad I’ve figured out these delicious meat-free dishes. They’re all things I think I’ll put into regular rotation!


Vegan Chili with Bulgur

Vegetarian week continues successfully with a brand new, created from scratch recipe!! I figured that INAUGURATION DAY was a great time to try a new thing!I’ve wanted chili for the longest time, and with vegetarian week came a challenge: create a delicious chili with no meat but still lots of flavor and texture.

I did it! After some research of other meatless chilis on various recipe sites, I came to a few conclusions:

  1. I am not (and probably never will be) brave enough to try TVP. It just kinda scares me.
  2. I don’t like using Boca crumbles in things that have to cook a long time since they get weird and tough.
  3. Wheatberries take altogether too much time to cook.
  4. Many meatless chilis use nothing to keep the “meat” texture in there, but since I thought it was important to keep it as close to my normal chili as possible!
  5. Adam said that if we were going to have vegetarian chili, it had better have a TON of beans in it.

I almost always go to the Mexican food aisle to get my beans, and when I was picking up the 8 (yes, 8, you read that right) cans of beans for this chili, something caught my eye. It was small. It had a blue label. Real chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I had to have them. They had to go into my chili.

Then I went on to the natural food aisle to pick up the organic small-cut bulgur wheat that I like, and ended up picking up some Odwalla bars, which I’m now obsessed with!!

Ok, I’ll stop rambling and get to the eats! Just a quick note too, I’m physically incapable of making a small pot of chili. This recipe makes approximately 6 quarts of chili, so feel free to halve the recipe!

Check out that grainy goodness!

Check out that grainy goodness!

Vegan Chili with Bulgur

Ingredients

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cups bulgur wheat

4 cups water

2 large (32 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes

2 cans pinto beans, drained

2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained

2 cans light red kidney beans, drained

2 cans great northern beans, drained

3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

2 Tbsp. reserved adobo sauce from pepper can

2 Tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

Directions

In a LARGE pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the garlic and onion, and cook until transluscent, and the garlic is browned. Add the tomatoes, drained beans, bulgur and water. Stir well. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat to medium-low, and simmer until bulgur is done, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I did muck with the vegan integrity of this meal by putting sour cream on top…but what’s chili without sour cream?? I have to say, this was, quite possibly, the best pot of chili I’ve ever made! Ok, that wasn’t exactly modest. Whatever! It was awesome! The chipotle peppers gave it a nice smoky flavor, and the hot sauce gave it a nice kick. Since the bulgur gave it the texture and bulk that ground beef does without the calories, one of the BEST parts of this recipe is the nutrition facts. Are you ready for this? Seriously…are you sitting down? Each 2-cup serving (the recipe makes 12) has only 240 calories, 1 gram of fat and… 15 grams of fiber!!! One serving was enough for dinner!

I’ll stop rambling now… but just a reminder! My guest post on Love of Oats is tomorrow! Make sure you read and let me know what you think!

Vegetarian Dinner Week Begins!

On Saturday, Adam and I were talking about what I should make for dinner this week, and he flat out said “How about those black bean burgers again? Those were awesome!” So I agreed; we’ll have bean burgers. Then I said “We have a ton of lentils to use, I could make a lentil casserole.” He agreed, and then said “How about we just do vegetarian dinners this week, just for the heck of it.” And I agreed. (This was a very agreeable conversation!) We actually started the week last night with leftover spinach lasagna, but I’m not counting that, since it was technically cooked last week.

Vegetarian Dinner Week is starting with a recipe loosely based around Caitlin’s Red Lentil Casserole over at See Bride Run. So many of the flavors sounded fantastic, but alas… 2 stores and no red lentils, so I decided to just go with our plethora of regular brown lentils. I did adapt the recipe a little bit, but its mostly hers!

I was having camera issues. Sorry for the bizarre pic!

I was having camera issues. Sorry for the bizarre pic!

Lentil and Bean Casserole

Ingredients

1 1/2 c. dry brown lentils

3 cups water

1 can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed

1 small sweet onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. black pepper

1 c. shredded parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions

In a pot, cook the lentils in the 3 cups of water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain off extra water. While lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, green pepper, and onion and sauteé until “relaxed” and the onion is translucent. In a large bowl, mix the lentils, beans, vegetables, spices, egg and cheese together. Pour into a greased (or sprayed) casserole dish and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and golden.

It smelled absolutely fantastic in our house while this cooked. I know the curry/garam masala/parmesan combo sounds strange, but trust me, it’s not! The flavors melded very well, and the ONLY complaint I have is that it was a little bit dry. Next time, I may add some liquid before baking. There was a little heat from the curry powder, sweetness from the veggies… all in all a fab dinner!! I highly recommend this one!

I also, in case you didn’t notice, had a glass of my favorite Polka Dot Riesling with dinner. Just what I needed on a Monday!

Happy almost-Inauguration!

Layers and Layers: Spinach Lasagna

It’s cold here. REALLY cold. Like, -20 wind chill cold. Darn Chicago! SO my title is two-fold: Layers as in the amount of clothing necessary to be comfortable, and layers in my lovely lasagna. (And parfaits. Everyone likes parfaits! Name that movie?)

I’ve wanted lasagna for about 2 weeks now. Sometimes, people will talk about making something at home, usually my coworkers, and it will be ALL I can think about until I can get around to making it myself. Sure, I could’ve ordered lasagna at the Olive Garden last night, but I would’ve been sorry because it wasn’t MY lasagna. So, tonight, darn it, I was making lasagna!

This recipe is the result of a LOT of trial and error, and a lot of watery lasagnas. This one though, was perfect.

LOOK at that layering action!

LOOK at that layering action!

Fantastic Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients

1 package whole wheat lasagna noodles

1 jar pasta sauce

2 boxes frozen chopped spinach

1 15 oz. container fat free ricotta cheese

1 c. fat free cottage cheese

2 cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese, divided

1 tbsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. oregano

1 egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 375* and spray an 11″x14″ pan with non-stick spray. Pour about 1/4 c. pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan. Thaw the spinach in the microwave and drain VERY thoroughly. Mix all the ingredients besides the noodles in a large bowl. Layer noodles, 1/3 of the spinach mixture, more noodles, sauce, spinach and so on, finishing with sauce. Top with cheese, cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.  Let sit about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

This was such comfort food for me, and I’m beyond thrilled that there’s so much leftover! Adam went right back for seconds, and I’m going to dig into a second piece in a minute.

A few announcements!

Happy thoughts are working!!! Thanks for sending them our way!

Make sure you check out the Honest Foods giveaway over at one of my favorite blogs, Oh She Glows!

Be watching for a special guest post tomorrow night… someone else is cooking ME dinner!!


Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Happy Monday all! Today was so much better of a day than all of last week, so I’m in a fantastic mood (finally!). I’m sure Adam appreciates that too 🙂

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a recipe on Beadie’s blog, What I Ate Yesterday. I originally intended on just using her recipe, but upon further research, I kind of combined hers with another. Since I’d never made black bean burgers before, I felt like I had to at least sort of follow a recipe! First, the recipe and photo:

Accompanied by sauteed mushrooms and roasted cauliflower

Accompanied by sauteed mushrooms and roasted cauliflower

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients

2 cans black beans, drained and well rinsed; divided

1 small onion, cut into chunks

1/2 green pepper, cut into chunks

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 egg

1 1/2 Tbsp. Chili powder

1 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce

3/4 c. breadcrumbs (I used panko)

Directions

In a bowl, place 1/2 of the beans (1 can), garlic, and the vegetable chunks. Using an immersion blender, blend well until no chunks remain. Add the rest of the beans and blend briefly, so that some whole beans remain. Add the egg, chili powder, and hot sauce. Stir well. Add the bread crumbs and combine until the mixture is sticky. Form into 4 patties and either bake, 10 minutes per side in a 400* oven, grill, or pan-fry until hot all the way through and the outside is crunchy.

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Snobby Joes

I got this recipe from Beadie some time ago, and then re-got it last week when I realized I had a plethora of lentils.

Adapted from Veganomican Cookbook

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked lentils
4 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard (wet mustard)

4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns

Directions
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more.

Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.

Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait.

The Vegan Dad

The prep on these was quite easy, even though I only have one good cooking pot. I cooked the lentils almost all the way through in my pot, then transferred to a high-sided pan to finish cooking. Then I did the onion/pepper thing in the pot and finished up the recipe. They smelled absolutely fantastic cooking, but even though I didn’t want to, I waited the 10 minutes to have the flavors meld.

Let me just say, this was probably the best surprise I’ve had in a LONG time! Not only did this look like ground beef sloppy Joes, but it tasted like the best spicy sloppy Joe I’ve had in a very long time. I served this on a closed-face (or closed-head, as I used to say) sandwich to Adam, and open-faced (open-head) to myself. One open-faced sandwich was quite enough for dinner, and I have a great lunch for tomorrow! I highly recommend this recipe!! Thanks Beadie!

Image credit: The Vegan Dad