BBQ Tofu Sliders with Slaw (Vegan or Veg)

What better time for my second post of 2014? You think that’s impressive? My first post of 2014 was also about BBQ tofu. I’ll see what I can do about keeping the themes a little bit more well rounded in 2015. Maybe the words “tofu candy” can make it up to you? Because that’s exactly what my youngest called this recipe. More specifically, “Mom, please make this tofu candy for dinner more often!”. Now on with the show…

Stuff You’ll Need:
Baking sheet & non-stick spray
Block of extra firm (organic) tofu
Your favorite BBQ sauce
1 decent size piece of broccoli (for the stem, not the florets)
5 radishes, give or take
1 lemon
1 Shake ‘N Bake’s BBQ glaze seasoning packet (2 come in a box, vegan according to the PETA site, #tinywoot)
salt and pepper
slider buns

Optional stuff:
Mayo (if you’re keeping it vegan disregard)
Lettuce, sliced white onion (perfect adds to the slider)
Pickle (because we’re having BBQ!)

Makes:
1/2 cup of slaw
and 10 to 12 sliders

The Cooking Part:
Preheat your over to 400 degrees (F).
Press the moisture out of your block of tofu and then cut your block in half length-wise. Then, cut those two blocks into slider size bites. I measured mine against the buns I had and kept them about 1/4″ thick.
Spray your baking sheet with the non-stick stuff and empty one packet of the Shake ‘N Bake into a a bowl. One by one or two by two put your tofu pieces into the Shake, coating them well and then transfer them to the baking sheet. So you’ll have this:
shake tofu

Bake those for 20 minutes. Time to make the slaw! Chop the radishes up finely (or grate) and do the same to the broccoli stem. So much variables in broccoli stems so the best way I know how to tell you how much I used is…
brocc for slaw
That’s my 1TB spoon for scale. Sorry, if you’re from Reddit. No banana for scale today.

Combine the shredded brocc and radish with 2t lemon juice and, if you’re using it, 2t mayo. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside on the counter or fridge. You’ve probably got a few more minutes on the tofu, so if you have another baking sheet handy you might want to toast up your slider buns for just a minute or two.

When the tofu is finished dip each piece into your favorite BBQ sauce and put it back on to the baking sheet you just pulled out of the oven. Put the oven on broil. I used high, but watch it carefully. It only needs a few minutes to turn that BBQ sauce into a wonderful glaze. That’s your final step before you hit the assembly line to your perfect slider. For me it was crispy bun, line one side with lettuce to keep the bun from sogging. Add tofu bit (or two!), white onion, slaw, a smidge more BBQ sauce….and YUM.
bbq tofu slider

BBQ Tofu Steaks

I finally like tofu! Ok, I liked tofu before, but as an ingredient. My tofu bacon for BLTs. Or hidden in my stir fry or any number of other recipes for extra protein. But now I straight up like it as a main entree item! And that makes this recipe exciting for me because I think one of the things new vegetarians struggle with is the concept of meal planning (generally) no longer being meat, starch, veggie. Now we’re putting steaks back on our meatless menu! I’ll warn you, it does take baking, frying and broiling to get your tofu there, but it’s worth the steps.

The supply list:

  • A brick of extra firm tofu
  • salt, pepper, cayenne
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup + BBQ sauce
  • non stick pan spray oil stuff (Pam)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse off your tofu and pat it dry. Cut the brick in to 7 or 8 thick slices, keeping your steak sizes as uniform as you can. Give a baking sheet a light spray of your non stick spray and bake your tofu steaks for 30 minutes. This step is going to make the texture of the end product much heartier. You can also do this step a day or few hours ahead. For me, it makes the 3 step process feel much shorter when I break it up. Especially because the next 2 steps happen so quickly.

Next, lightly whisk the egg white with 2T of BBQ sauce. Give the yolk to the dog. If you have more than one dog you’re probably going to have to sacrifice another egg to keep the score even. (What do people without dogs do with an unwanted yolk?) In a separate bowl, mix the flour, 1t salt, 2t pepper and a hint cayenne (that can be as big or as little of a hint as you like). Dip your steak in the egg wash and then into the flour mixture. Heat the oil in a skillet and place a few of the steaks in. Do not crowd the pan. That’s super important. Fry on each side for a minute or so. At this point they’ll be the color of fried chicken. As they come out of the oil, place them on a plate with a paper towel. Once all of your steaks are fried, put a little bit of BBQ sauce on them, put them back on the baking sheet and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes. As with anything on broil, watch them closely so they don’t burn. 

Image

This is the end result. That is some tofu goodness right there! Enjoy.

Jambalaya – You won’t notice it’s vegan!

Vegan Jambalaya

Vegan Jambalaya

I’ve been hearing brass and accordion Cajun music in my head all afternoon! I’ve traveled a bit and out of all of my adventures, the place that holds the fondest place in my belly is New Orleans. Now, I’m not from NOLA and I make nola claims about being an expert in their delightful cuisine. I simply spent a week there almost 20 years ago (so, about 17 years before I learned to even boil water). It’s cold outside and I want jambalaya because it’s fun to say, it makes me hear Cajun music in my head and I know my tummy will be oh, so happy! So, here’s what I did to try to recreate a food memory, but vegan style this time around.

What you’ll need:
1 white onion, minced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomato
2-4T Cajun, creole or jambalaya seasoning
1 can black bean, rinsed
1 package of Upton’s chorizo seitan
6 cups veg broth
1 6oz can tomato paste
3 cups non instant rice (I’m sure you could use instant.)
Pinch of red pepper or cayenne
Olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, minced

Optional things: Any additional veggies you want (okra, zucs, etc), hot sauce, corn bread, wine.

The cooking part:
Whisk the tomato paste and the veggie broth in a large bowl. Set aside. Throw your celery, onion and garlic in a large pot with a smidge of red pepper flake. Stir those around on high heat with a little olive oil for 7 minutes or so. About now your eyes may start stinging. Mine did and, in my experience, that’s usually the start of something really good. Turn on the over the stove vent and wipe away your tears. Turn down the heat a bit and stir in the rice and toast for about a minute. Add the broth/tomato paste mixture, stir and pour yourself a glass of wine. Do not put any of the wine in the pot! Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, chorizo and Cajun spice. Start with 2T of spice an up from there to taste. Turn heat on low and cover the pot. Let simmer for 25 minutes. Occasionally stir and sip wine.

To serve: In bowl with corn bread. Add to belly.

Weird choices in bolding?
When I’m cooking with a new recipe I often have my laptop or phone in the kitchen. I usually read a new recipe several times like I’m a third grader cramming for a spelling test before I even attempt the 1st step of the recipe. I try to set out my measured ingredients ahead of starting and memorize as much of the recipe as I can. But, memorizing and cooking a new recipe AND multitasking don’t always work out. I often end up skimming said recipe over and over during the process. My attempt in using bold is to draw your eye to what I’m looking for when I’m skimming. I hope it helps. Suggestions welcome.

Spicy Red Buffalo Salad – vegetarian

IMG_8742.redbuffalo

Little Dude has been craving a lot of spice lately, so when I told him we were having baked falafel for dinner he asked me to spice it up. We’ve got Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing sauce in the fridge already so why not? I’m totally on a buffalo kick anyway and I’m always on a spice kick. But our ideas of spicy are pretty different. This recipe was his suggestion and it gave him the little kick he was craving and gave the grown ups room to add the spice on the plate. Win/win!

What you’ll need
1 cup red quinoa, pre-rinsed
1 egg
1/4 cup (+) Sweet Baby Ray’s Buffalo Wing Sauce (or your favorite wing sauce)
fresh dill, a few smidges of the fronds (the feathery things on the stems)
small red onion, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, chopped salad style
1/4 cup feta (+ more for dressing the salad)
10-12oz bag of your favorite salad greens or fresh spinach
1t garlic powder
1t pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
cooking spray
9×13 pan (I used 2 9x13s)

The cooking part
Cook 1 cup of red quinoa per package instructions. (About 20 min.)

Note: Red quinoa is $2 cheaper at my store than the regular stuff. While it’s a little shorter on riboflavin, the biggest difference is that it’s a bit crunchier. That makes it a perfect replacement for turning a fried quinoa patty into a baked quinoa patty.

While the cooking part is happening
Preheat the oven to 400. Then, prep plates of lettuce. Chop tomatoes and add to plates. Same with the red onion. Add a little fresh dill and feta. Just build a really good looking salad that you think will match the flavors in “buffalo”. (The fresh dill sealed this deal for me.) You’ve got free reign here. I’m just making suggestions.

After the cooking part
In a medium/large bowl, add the cooked quinoa, add the garlic powder, pepper, 1/4 feta (or fresh parm), 1 cup unflavored bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of wing sauce and mix well. Taste for seasoning level. When you’ve adjusted to your personal taste, add one beaten egg and mix well again. (Note: When tasting, the spice will mellow some with baking.)
^Credit- I usually use the buffalo sauce at the end. Little Dude gets mad props for suggesting I put it in the mixture. Good suggestion, man! It mellows the flavors for Littles and still gives a nice flavor.

Take the mixture and make into thin, slider sized (or smaller) patties. Thinner than you would if you were making a patty with beef. Keep the size and shape as uniform as you can. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.

To serve
Place 2-4 patties on top of your salad. Personally, I dressed these with additional buffalo sauce and a little bleu cheese dressing. My Sweety ate them as-is and dressed with ranch. Little Dude has not learned to like salad yet so he enjoyed his patties wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and a side of pomegranate seeds. Simple enough adjustments for everyone to chow down on what they like! Unless you count de-seeding that pomegranate.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

When I was growing up in the 80’s it was pretty common to find a broccoli rice casserole at family gatherings or the dinner table. This classic comfort food eventually stopped showing up in my family. Perhaps around the time my Mom started getting more interested in nutrition? But sometimes you can’t help but miss those old childhood comfort foods. This is how I’ve brought it back for my family and it’s such a favorite I no loner need a recipe to make it. That’s how often it gets requested in this household this time of year. Cheesy quinoa comfort!

What You’ll Need:
6 heads of fresh broccoli (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
1.5 cups quinoa, cooked per package instructions
1 onion, diced
2T garlic, minced
2T paprika, or Hungarian paprika
2.5 cups shredded cheddar
Red pepper flake, salt & pepper
1T olive oil
Optional: 2 eggs, 1 cup finely chopped spinach

The Cooking Part: (Warning, this one dirties a lot of dishes, but it’s worth it.)
Cook 1.5 cups of quinoa per the package instructions. I always suggest buying pre-rinsed quinoa to avoid a step in the kitchen. In a small skillet, lightly brown your chopped onion and minced garlic with a smidge of red pepper flake. While the quinoa is cooking (about 20 minutes), chop and steam your broccoli for 3 to 5 minutes. As you finish cooking each of these ingredients, add them to a large bowl. Add 1/2 a cup of cheese to the onion, quinoa, broccoli mix. Add 2T of paprika and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I do not add salt to ours, but I do add pepper.) Once you have the seasoning where you like it, add 2 beaten eggs to the mixture and stir well. The eggs are optional, but I like them for the casserole texture it gives this dish. If you have a cup of spinach on hand, feel free to chopped that up finely and add it to the mixture as well. This is a great way to hide it if your kids aren’t spinach eaters!

IMG_0608.broccquinmix

Note: When I have a little less time in the kitchen, I have skipped the browned onion and garlic and cheated by adding a bit of onion powder & garlic powder.

Add this mixture to a casserole dish and spread evenly in the dish. The dish I use is probably 9×6 and about 2″ deep. Add the remaining cheese to the top. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

IMG_0610.broc cass

YUM!

Sloppy Bellas with Creamy Cabbage Slaw

I start today’s blog with a Disclaimer: If you know me in real life, you know that I am a photographer. But, I have to tell you, I find writing down food notes, cooking, photographing and serving a hot plate in a timely manner pretty difficult. Even though I consider my camera a natural extension of my hand, sometimes I get so wrapped up, I’m just cell snapping. So, maybe the images will get better and start to reflect what you’d normally see in my photographs. But, maybe they won’t. Now on with the show…

There are some foods that just belong in everyone’s childhood. To me, sloppy joes are one of those foods. Eating vegetarian is no reason to miss out. These aren’t you’re Momma’s sloppy joes. (Unless I’m you’re Momma.) Today, I give you Sloppy Bellas!

What you’ll need for the slop:
3lbs baby portabella mushrooms, washed, de-stemmed and chopped chunky
1 sweet pepper, diced
1 white onion, diced
6oz tomato paste
¼ cup ketchup
2T chili powder

IMG_9258.sloppy bellas

What you’ll need for the slaw:
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
2T vinegar
1 single serving cup of plain greek yogurt
Celery salt to taste

IMG_9263.slaw

The cooking part:

In your largest skillet, sautee your chopped onion until starting to brown (about 7-10 minutes). Add the chopped peppers and continue to sautee until they start to soften (about 3 minutes). Add your mushrooms and cook down until they soften (another 7-10 minutes or so). The first time I made this recipe, when I looked in the pan at this point, I was confused about how this was going to end up tasting like sloppy joes. So this is where the magic happens. Add your chili powder, ketchup and tomato paste. Mmmm, it smells so good! Stir that around until it starts to thicken a bit and that’s when someone is going to pop in and ask you what’s for dinner. Cover and set aside to keep warm. It’ll only take you a couple of minutes to make the slaw.

The non-cooking, slaw making part:
Obviously, if you have a favorite creamy slaw recipe, use it. If you don’t, here’s an idea: Combine the shredded red cabbage and shredded carrot. (So pretty!) Add the greek yogurt, vinegar and celery salt to taste. That’s it!

Serving ideas: Use your favorite breads, buns or slider buns. Serve this one open faced because they’re called sloppy for a reason! To keep it light, serve over your favorite salad greens. Top the Sloppy Bellas with creamy slaw. Eat ‘em up.

IMG_9267.bellas served

Buffalo Chicken Wing Salad. Minus the animals.

IMG_9271.buffalo chicken

I told a few of you I’d blog Sloppy Bellas next, but when I got a text message with a picture of wing seasoning from a veggie girlfriend with a question mark I decided to go for this one. When we were meat eaters, my Little Dude looooved chicken wings. And apparently he’s communicating with my girlfriend, because he’s been asking me for “chicken wings” for weeks. Enter: Seitan. (AKA “Wheat Meat”.) I’d never cooked with seitan (and I could only find it in the specialty grocery store) so I made two batches of these to play with and see what worked best. I’m sure my recipe will evolve a bit as I experiment more, but these are the best results I have so far. And I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with the outcome!

What you’ll need:
1 pound of seitan
1.5 cups flour
1t -2t garlic powder
1t – 2t onion powder
2 – 3T neutral flavored oil for frying
1 to 1.5 cups of your favorite wing sauce

The Cooking Part:
Tear your seitan into chunks. Try to keep them quarter size or larger. When you’re frying the smaller bits can get rock hard.

Season the seitan with your garlic and onion powder. Then roll them around in the flour and dust off the excess. If you’d rather, you can also just season the flour as if you were making fried chicken. Same concept, but if you’re seasoning the flour you’ll probably have to up the amount of seasoning you use a bit.

Heat the oil in your skillet on high heat and add the seitan. Once the oil is really cracking, turn down the heat to med. Keep them moving around the skillet and cook for about 10-15 minutes. (Those smaller bits that I mentioned before… you may want to pull a few of those out as they brown before the others and reserve to add back in the pan in a few minutes.) The color you’re going for is similar to a fried chicken color. When you get to that color, add your favorite wing sauce to the pan and cook an additional 3 minutes or so. (We used a traditional buffalo flavor.)

So, since vegetarians can indulge in fried food just as well as the rest of them, I made the attempt to lighten this one up a bit by serving it on a bed of fresh spinach and just-picked-‘em-5-minutes-ago tomatoes. I loved the way this tasted with the tomatoes so much I honestly considered going out mid-dinner and picking a few more to add to my plate. Next time, I will. Football season has just started and I already know what we’re having on Superbowl Sunday!