Saturday, November 30, 2013

My lazy, accidentally vegan, unbutton-your-pants Thanksgiving dinner!

Welcome to another one of my post-holiday bragging sessions! ;)

I didn't get to have my usual homemade Thanksgiving dinner, so I woke up this morning, a day off ahead, and wanting it for breakfast.  I threw together what I had on hand, and then realized, heck, this is vegan--a little bonus!

I had store bought mashed potatoes and pie.

I made some homemade cranberry sauce--so easy and perfect.

I drained a can of yams, added a blend of brown sugar, spices and melted margarine I made in the microwave.  Done.

I had cornbread stuffing mix--done, obviously.

I made some gravy from margarine, flour, bouillon, milk (use whatever type of milk or cream you like) and fresh herbs.  Done.

Sheesh, this meal is looking awfully starchy.  Hmm.  What can I add that has more protein?  I had some frozen beans.

Before I go on--frozen pinto beans!  I've recently discovered these and they are so convenient.  Nothing added, just cooked beans that you can sprinkle in your dishes in whatever sized portions you like.  You can even throw them on a salad you're packing for lunch and they'll be defrosted by the time you eat.

Ok, back to the meal.  This was actually a really lazy way to make beans.  To a baking pan, I added margarine, salt, pepper, cumin, diced onions, a carrot, beans, a dash of siracha sauce, and nonalcoholic beer.  Threw that in the oven to let the liquids cook down.  When it was done, I just mixed it with my hand blender until it had the consistency of loose refried beans. 

The beans tasted awesome with gravy on them.  Sounds weird to me, but sometimes when you have cravings, the belly wants what it wants--and you might think of an awesome idea if you listen to it!  I was pretty shocked to see how easy it was to flavor them to complement the rest of the traditional meal.

After they baked for a while, I added the rest of the stuff to the oven to warm it up.

I cannot believe how awesome everything tasted, and it was all so easy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Roasted tofu sandwich

Had a delicious lunch of roasted tofu and plantain in a wrap!  I sliced the tofu and coated it lightly in olive oil and chipotle sauce, then sliced a very ripe plantain lengthwise and coated it in the same manner.  Then I salted and peppered it all, and baked in for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  So good!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Restaurant Review: Loving Hut

Believe it or not, I had never been to a vegetarian restaurant before today!

I had the Spicy Cha-Cha which was like breaded shrimp over lettuce and red/green bell peppers.  It had a spicy-sweet dipping sauce.  It was very tasty--very much like shrimp except milder.  (I appreciated that it had less of that strong seafood flavor like shrimp has--some of the "imitation meats" are too similar to meat for my taste.) 

I had a refreshing glass of hibiscus iced tea.  This is destined to become my new favorite drink.  It has a tangy flavor like cranberry, which contrasts nicely with its sweetness.

My non-vegetarian dining partner had a sweet and sour stir fry with cubed, battered soy protein.  He said it was good, even though he was really resistant to eating at a vegan place.  He mentioned he does not like tofu but ordered this instead of going for one of the "beefy" dishes.  Afterwards, he told me he did not realize he was ordering something that might be similar to tofu.  Again, he said he liked it but he wasn't gaga over it either, only because of the protein.  We plan to head back so he can try one of the beef-alikes.

It is extremely clean and a peaceful place to eat a casual meal.  The staff is quite friendly.

Here is their website.  Give it a try!

Verdict:  Excellent!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Healthy summer drinks

I'm trying to cut down on sugar intake and increase liquids*, and I'm getting really sick of water.  Sooo...I've been experimenting and here's a few successes:

  • 1 slice of lemon, 1 slice of lime, ice and club soda (refreshing but not sicky sweet)
  • 1 slice of orange, a few slices of cucumber, ice and water
  • a few shots of espresso (decaf works too), creamer, and crushed ice blended (frozen coffee drink!)
  • dash of vanilla extract, club soda and ice (less sweet version of cream soda)
  • Zevia ginger root beer
I'm planning to try making a stevia version of horchata too!
*Why, you ask?  Well besides the fact that it's summer....I moved to the low desert and I'm not feeling as thirsty as I should be.  Apparently humidity makes you feel thirstier.  I'm trying to push myself to drink more until I adjust. This also explains why I'm into horchata all of a sudden. :D

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Restaurant Review: Cantina Laredo

Here's my quick take on this restaurant, as it pertains to vegetarians.

Homemade chips and salsa were complimentary and were very good.  We were given both a mild and a medium salsa to try.  I liked the latter.  Both did contain cilantro.

For around $8 we got an order of guacamole made at the table.  The menu said it served 2-4, but with 2 avocados that would mean very large serving sizes of the calorie-rich dip.  We were asked if we wanted tomatoes and onions.  I don't remember being asked if we wanted cilantro--which would have been preferable, since I don't care for it.  It was very noisy so I may have just missed the question.  The guac was delicious and we had to bring the rest home with us.  We were given an extra bag full of warm, homemade tortilla chips to bring home with it.

On the dinner menu, I found 2 choices clearly marked vegetarian on the menu.  One was a spinach enchilada with Jack cheese (vegetarian); the other was an avocado and artichoke enchilada over a bed of spinach (which sounded vegan).

I was wondering how the avocado/artichoke enchilada could be served over spinach--doesn't "enchilada" mean "in chile"--in other words, dipped in chile sauce?  That entree did sound better to me, but I didn't want to have more avocado, so I chose the spinach enchilada.

hmmm.  It was ok.  The filling was rather bland.  There seemed to be no chile in sight; it was covered in a sauce that I'd liken to a thinned out version of sour cream--way too much for my liking.  The menu said there were mushrooms in the filling but I couldn't find any.

It was served with some flavorful rice and black beans on the side, kind of standard-tasting.  I do appreciate the menu marking what was vegetarian, and for making the effort to include 2 meat-free options on the menu.  I would suggest, perhaps, the restaurant offer a more standard Mexican item on the menu that's meat-free, to widen the choices for those of us who love spicy stuff.

The staff was friendly, the atmosphere was fun, and the restaurant was spotless.

Quorn Chik'n Cutlets

As you may remember, I've had mixed experiences with "fake meat" products.

Today I tried a Quorn brand product for the first time:  "Chik'n Cutlets".

I'm pleased to report they met all my criteria:
  • Reasonably priced
  • Doesn't taste too much like meat
  • Doesn't have a weird taste or texture
  • Not too difficult to make
I made a gravy with vegetarian broth and warmed the cutlets in the gravy in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes.   I had them with vegetables, potatoes and stuffing.

VERDICT: Good comfort food for a subzero day!