Posts Tagged ‘quick meals’
Oh No She Didn’t
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Oh yes, yes I did. I know that I should be at least a little embarrassed about whipping up a tater tot casserole, but I have decided that trailer park chic is back in vogue in the family kitchen. Sometimes, when I’m doing my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, I like to peruse their frozen section to see if I’m missing out on any vegan goodness. The other day I discovered that their frozen tater tots are completely vegan friendly, and I decided to get some for breakfast. Then, a brilliant idea dawned on me, the idea of tater tot casserole.

I cannot say for sure when I was exposed to the idea of tater tot casserole. It’s certainly not something that we ever had growing up, so I must have seen it on an episode of Roseanne or something. Anyway, I was so unfamiliar with the concept that I had to do a bit of internet research on this one. A classic tater tot casserole consists of cream of mushroom soup, ground beef, tater tots, and sometimes cheese. What’s so weird is that I didn’t have ANY of those things on hand (except the tater tots). I did a LOT of improvising, but the end result was absolutely delicious, and very low in fat when compared to the traditional preparation.

Hot n’ Sour Soup
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Last weekend I picked up a whole bunch of fresh baby bok choy. I wanted a little bit for a stir fry I was planning on making, but the vendor at the Farmer’s Market was only selling them by the bundle. Since a bundle was only $2, I went with the bok choy and decided that I would have to identify a second use for it.

More and more I am becoming a fan of spicy foods. Don’t get me wrong, I still sweat at the sight of a jalapeno and a spicy curry dish will send me reaching for the water pitcher. But I am slowly coming to embrace a little kick in my meal. Lately I’ve been putting crushed red pepper flakes on all of my pizza, and it is delicious. Given my spicy food kick and all the bok choy burning a hole in my fridge: it really only made sense to put together hot n’ sour soup. I found a couple of recipes for hot n sour soup, and all of the vegan versions just ignored the egg that is whisked in to the omnivorous versions, so I took that route as well. Recipe is after the jump.

Smoked Tofu
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On today’s agenda, we have another adventure with every-one’s favorite vegan: Alicia Silverstone. OK, so she may not be your favorite vegan, she probably isn’t even my favorite vegan (my boyfriend is), but I really enjoy her book. It has a lot of interesting recipes that I wouldn’t usually make, and I find her focus on macrobiotic cooking to be informative. Case in point: I’m sure that you have seen smoked tofu at the grocery store. Well, if you live in West LA,  go to Whole Foods, and spend a lot of time hanging around the vegan case,  I am sure you have seen smoked tofu in the grocery store. It’s exactly what it sounds like, in the sense that it’s extra firm tofu which has been cooked in a smoker and infused with some additional flavors. Let me tell you, it’s delicious.
Alicia has a recipe for smoked tofu with an orange-agave dipping sauce. It’s as simple as slicing the tofu and sauteing it lightly in sesame oil. I suppose that it’s more of a hint than a recipe, and that the real recipe is for the orange dipping sauce. I made a couple of substitutions with my sauce, but we still really enjoyed it, and it was a nice compliment to the complex flavors of the smoked tofu. As you can see from the picture, I may have cooked my tofu a touch too long, but I contend that it just helped compliment the smokey flavors. I used this recipe for a quick weeknight dinner after yoga class. Before I started the tofu, I put some string beans and Trader Joe’s vegetable gyoza into the steamer of my rice cooker. When they were almost done, I tossed the tofu slices with cornstarch and threw them into a medium-hot pan that had been lightly coated with sesame oil. After the jump, check out my recipe for Alicia-inspired dipping sauce.
Vegan Cinco de Mayo
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I was never a huge fan of Mexican food, and would eat it every once in a while, despite living at the epicenter of Americanized-Mexican food. Most Mexican restaurants put chicken stock and/or cheese in just about everything, and I had no problem giving them up when I went vegan. However, sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder. As a result, when Cinco de Mayo started looming closer, I started thinking about a taco night. I was planning on being at work pretty late tonight, so I celebrated Cinco de Mayo eve last night. Please note that in some regions, it is referred to as Quatro de Mayo, and some may just know it by it’s more commonly occurring instance: Taco Tuesday. I enlisted the help of a talented and capable sous chef to help bring my vision into being.
Trader Joe’s has great fat-free vegan refried beans, and we jazzed them up by heating them and then mixing in about a quarter cup of cheddar daiya. They may look a little weird coming out of the can, and fresh beans would always be preferable, but as a quick side dish, they cannot be topped. Unless of course, you are also making Spanish rice. Usually I will cook brown rice in vegetable stock, but last night I also cheated and used pre-cooked brown rice, which I mixed with some sauteed onions, garlic, vegetable broth, and half a can of crushed tomatoes. We just set that on medium heat and let the liquid cook off. We took quite a few shortcuts last night, but I feel like we illustrated a very important point: it is possible to cook a quick and healthy dinner on a week night. Plus, it was delicious.
I rounded out the menu with mushroom tacos, home-made pico de gallo, and guacamole. My guacamole recipe is very simple. Take an avocado and mash it with a tablespoon of lime juice and a touch of garlic salt. That’s all you need. Avocado is delicious on it’s own, and if you think you need to muck it up with a bunch of other things, you are sadly mistaken. If you need to be fancy, you can garnish it with a sprig of cilantro. Otherwise, you can find an outlet for your fancy cooking by referring to the recipe that follows.

Mushroom Tacos

  • 1 container of white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 TBSP red chili powder
  • 2 cloves minced or crushed garlic
  • 1/4 c. vegetable broth

In a sautee pan or wok, stir together the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and vegetable broth. Bring the pot to medium-high heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Home-made Pico de Gallo
here’s a chance to show off your fancy knife skills, or to just make a mess of things

  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a green pepper, diced
  • 2 TBSP. minced onions
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 sprigs of cilantro
  • pinch of sea salt

Prep your vegetables and toss in a bowl with the lime.
Remove the leaves from the cilantro and chop into small pieces. Toss in with the vegetables and season with sea salt to taste.