Sweet and Tangy Baked Beans

These baked beans are incredible. No joke. And they happened to already be vegan! My mom always made baked beans this way when I was growing up. When I had just plain beans out the can at my friends’ houses, I would think why? why would you eat something so boring? Michael loves them too. I could make these everyday and he wouldn’t complain. I could go on and on, but please make them for yourself and see. 

This recipe makes 6 serving.

Baked Beans
55 oz can vegetarian baked beans 
8 oz can crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp mustard powder 
Salt and Pepper, to taste as needed 
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Make sure you work in the mustard powder, painful to bite into a pocket of that stuff. 
Baked for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. 
It it cool slightly before serving and then enjoy! It’s a great summertime treat, I took a big tray (made 3 times the amount) to a family picnic. I love it with a juicy Tofurky Brat

Black Bean Burgers

My best friend brought over a ton of black beans—like two Costco cases. So I decided to make some black bean burgers! This is a pretty easy recipe that can be adapted to your own tastes. Unfortunately, I am 31 weeks pregnant and suffering from severe heartburn so these are a very basic recipe. You can add in more spices, grated veggies, and even some peppers. But these still came out delicious and very satisfying.  I also baked these, rather than pan fry them like most other recipes do. If you aren’t suffering from horrible heartburn or counting calories, you can absolutely fry them in a bit of olive or coconut oil.

Did I mentioned these freeze well too? Just wrap them individually in wax paper and store in a freezer bag for up to 2 months.

This recipes makes 4 large or 8 small patties.

Black Bean Burgers
2 cans (30 oz) organic black beans
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 tbs flaxseed
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/4 tps salt
1 tps cumin
1 tps smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder
Water, as needed
Hamburger buns (I used potato buns)
Condiments and veggies

In a large bowl, mix everything together except the buns and condiments/veggies. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes. This allows the oatmeal to puff up and absorb some of the liquid from the beans. If it is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time. It should be a little gooey, but still hold a bit of shape.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Shape the black bean mixture into patties. I suggest doing this on the baking sheet with a spoon because the mixture can be very sticky.  I made 4 large patties, but you can always make smaller ones.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn up the oven to broil. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let them cool for minute or two.

Toast your buns, pop on your burger, and top with your favorite condiments.

I had to keep my condiments simple. Just romaine lettuce, stone ground mustard, and a bit of ketchup. However, I could have loved some vegan pepper jack cheese, Veganaise with some chipotle mixed in, tomatoes, and pickles. And try making my Homemade French Fries or my Sunchoke Fries as a tasty side dish.

Chipotle Sofritas

Last week Michael and I stopped by the mall after work to browse for some stuff. I suddenly got that horrible pregnancy hunger—the one like “IF I DON’T EAT NOW I WILL TURN INTO GODZILLA AND DESTROY THIS WHOLE BUILDING!!!” So Michael suggested we eat before continued. I saw Chipotle and thought of how those warm burritos saved my life after hours of studying in college. As we entered, I saw the sign for sofritas! I totally forgot they added a vegan protein option to the menu! I thought I died and went to heaven!

The sofritas are braised organic tofu  marinated in a blend of spices and peppers. It’s was very tender and very flavorful. It had a bit of a kick, but was not overly hot. I wouldn’t say it tasted exactly like meat (a meat eater would probably be able to tell the difference), but the texture was pretty close.
While I love Chipotle, they can be very high in calories. Even if you make it all vegan. Let’s compare the burrito I used to order in college:

Do you see that? 1505 calories in a burrito and side of chips & salsa. With no meat or dairy! It’s all the carbs and fat. Proof you can still be vegan and eat unhealthy. Let’s make some reasonable variations, like adding the new sofritas and cutting out the chips & salsa:

Just buy cutting out the chips& salsa, you save 590 calories alone. The carbs drop from 215 to 147, and the total fat from 60 to 43. Getting better, but let’s look at what I ordered last week:
A total of 660 calories, way more reasonable. I switched to tacos instead, which saves about 50 calories from the tortilla. I also cut out the rice. Yes, you can get brown rice for added nutrition, but that is still a lot of carbs for one meal, so skip it. I also cut out the guacamole. It is a healthy fat, but it’s high in calories and still is a fat. I add it as treat every one and awhile, but not every time. I also always pick black beans over pinto beans because they have less sodium and more fiber. But load it up with all the salsas you want! They are lower in calories and you get more veggies in for the day.
If you are really cutting calories try this:
A salad with sofritas, only 440 calories. More nutrition from the added lettuce. The black beans still provide some carbs to make it a balanced meal. No dressing (215 calories), but all the salsas will provide enough liquid/flavor to take it’s place at a less than half the calories.
I really suggest trying the sofritas next time, they are really delicious. Just make wise decisions on what you add to your meal. Even healthy and organic food in the wrong amounts can become unhealthy. And if you are pregnant like me, make sure you get enough protein (likes sofritas) with every meal to keep you full so you don’t end up wanting calorie-packed extras like chips. No one want to be losing a ton of baby weight because you didn’t balance meals properly.
ol
I couldn’t get a good shot of just the sofritas without
it falling apart, but it pretty much looks like tofu pieces.
By the way, all the images I used are screen captures from Chipotle’s Nutrition Calculator on its website. I really suggest checking to see if you favorite chain restaurants have this feature before you go. You can see what vegan options they have or how you can make things vegans. You can also figure out how to get what you really want, without going overboard.

Thanksgiving 2013: Thanksgiving Casserole

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a wonderful day with your loved ones. We had a wonderful time in Tracy, thank you so much Lori and James for having us!

I have a lot to be thankful for this year:
  • I am thankful to have married the man of dreams two months ago. Thank you for taking care of me this past few months, I know I have not been the easiest pregnant lady.
  • I am so thankful for my unborn son (I keep forgetting to make a gender reveal post….). This pregnancy has not been very fun so far, but I know he will be worth it. I can’t wait kiss his sweet little face in April.
  • I am thankful for my amazing parents. Thank you for always supporting me and loving me. We all might be crazy, but at least we can be crazy together!
  • I am thankful for all my amazing in-laws.  Thank you to my wonderful parents-in-law for being so kind and supportive through these crazy few months. And thank you to my wonderful sisters-in-laws for being so open and accepting from moment Michael brought me home.
  • I am thankful for my cats. Penny makes me smile everyday with her antics (Did you know a cat can be condescending?). And, I am grateful for Zoey’s snuggles. I am so happy my kama’aina kitties came to California.
So, as I said in my menu post, I made a layered casserole thing. I wanted baked tofu, stuffing, and mashed potatoes—but I did not want to bring 3 separate dishes. So I just combined them into one. It’s not that complicated to make, but a little time consuming.
Thanksgiving Casserole

Tofu Turkey Layer:
28 oz (2 blocks) of firm tofu, frozen then thawed
7 oz (1/2 block) silken tofu
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs herb de Provence
1/2 tps pepper
Stuffing Layer:
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 tbs celery leaf
1 tbs herb de Provence
1 tbs sugar
4 cups vegan stuffing mix (just check the label, it’s not that hard to find)
1 medium carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3 stalks of celery, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup onion, chopped finely
Mashed Potato Layer:
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tbs vegan butter
2 tbs vegan cream cheese
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Coat a dutch oven pot or a deep casserole pan lightly with olive oil.
Tofu Turkey Layer:
In a colander, drain the firm tofu very well. I mean get it as dry as you possibly can. Squeeze it out with your hands. Don’t worry about crumbling it.
Drain off the liquid the packaging liquid from the silken tofu, but leave this tofu still moist.
In a food processor, all the tofu, soy sauce, garlic, herb de Provence, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Pour into the dutch oven and smooth so the top is even. It will only cover an inch or so on the bottom.
Cover with foil and bake for one hour.
In the mean time…
Stuffing layer:
In a small sauce pan, bring the vegetable broth, cranberries, celery leaves, herb de Provence, and sugar to a boil over.
Reduce to a simmer. Cook until the cranberries burst open and soften.
Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, add the chopped stuffing mix, carrots, celery, and onion. Pour the broth/cranberry liquid in slowly, stirring gently.
Once the tofu has cooked for an hour, remove from the oven and spread the stuffing over top (without burning yourself on the hot pan).
Cover with the foil again and bake for 45 minutes.
And while that cooks….
 
Mashed Potato Layer:
Once your potatoes are peeled and quartered, add them to a large pot of cold water.
Cover and bring to boil.
Remove the lid and let them boil until tender (when a fork can be easily inserted).
Drain and return back to the pot.
Add the butter and cream cheese. Mash very well.
Slowly add a little bit of vegetable broth at a time until the potatoes come to a creamy but firm consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once the stuffing layer has cooked for 45 minutes, remove the oven and spread the mashed potatoes on evenly (again, be careful).
Turn up the heat to 425 degrees.
Cover with foil and bake for another 30 minutes.
I served this with some simple gravy. I also had some cranberry sauce and corn. It was so delicious, all the flavors of Thanksgiving all rolled into one. Everyone else tried it too and said it was good! I would totally make this again next year.

In and Out Veggie Burger

source

A few months ago a deal came up on Groupon for the Pitbull and Ke$sha concert in Mountain View. I do not really know why, but I LOVE Ke$ha’s music. I find her as a person a bit annoying though. I guess I like her “be yourself, even if you are a freak” musical message. Must be the Oregonian in me. And, how can anyone not love Pitbull? My mom even things he is sexy. I asked Michael to go with me—more as a courtesy though, he knew he was going no matter what. We had a really fun night. We drank some beers, laughed at the 14-year-old’s dressed like hookers, sang, and danced together.

After dancing to Mr. Worldwide for 2 hours, we were starving. And as a Californian now, that usually means In and Out. I normally get a tray of fries and just watch everyone happily eat their burgers. Now, I do not really crave meat ever, but I do love burgers (veggies ones now that is). I had read an article awhile about that In and Out toyed with the idea of doing a veggie patty burger, but, they do not want to deviate too much from the original menu. So, I assumed I would always munch fries in jealousy.

But I was wrong. I knew In and Out had a secret menu. Michael introduced it to me when I was visiting here and he ordered Animal Fries. However, last week we watched an episode of California’s Gold about In and Out, and someone ordered a Veggie Burger. I instantly searched the internet to find if it was true. And it is true….but not quite.

An In and Out Veggie Burger is simply the hamburger with no meat. Just the bun, lettuce, tomato, sauce, and onion or cheese if you want it. Simply order it with no sauce, ketchup/ mustard instead, and no cheese to make it vegan.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “A bun with veggies on it? Seriously? I can make that at home, what’s the point!” I thought the same thing. But Michael really wanted In and Out after the concert, so I thought I would give it a try. IT WAS AMAZING. The spongy bun, the crisp lettuce, the juicy tomato, the slightly tangy onion, and just the right amount of condiments…I want another one right now, it is that good.

Besides wanting to share the delicious discovery, the reason I posted this to show that you can be vegan and eat at normal restaurants. You can live a normal life and not be alienated by your lifestyle choice.

Seriously, try one next time you at In and Out. SO GOOD! It’s like heaven on a bun.

Vanilla Apple Pie

What does a nerd do when it is her day off and Pi Day? Make a Pie to celebrate!

Speaking of work, you may have noticed that I have not been posting as much lately. I got a new job, and it is great but very busy. I will get better about posting as I settle in more. Michael started a new job too, so I decided to make us both something special tonight for all our hard work.

I thought a pie for Pi Day would be nice, but a giant pie for the two of us is just impractical. So I made two mini pies. Michael requested chocolate or apple pie, and I went with apple because it is easier to make.  My parents went on a trip to Mexico a few weeks ago, and my mom send me some Mexican vanilla extract, and I have been wanting to use it all week.  I thought it would be a nice addition to classic apple pie.

Vanilla Apple Pie
1 pie crust, frozen or homemade (I used frozen)
4 Fuji apples, pealed and cubed
1.5  tbs vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbs cornstarch
Pinch of salt

If using frozen pie crust, let it thaw first.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray two small ramekins with cooking spray.

Roll out the pie crust on a well floured surface. Cut circles out of the pie crust that are a half inch larger than the radius of the ramekin. It’s okay if they are not perfectly round and there should be left over crust pieces.

Press the crust circles into the ramekins, reshaping them to fix it if need be. Make sure you press them in firmly and seal the edges as best you can.

In a small bowl, mix together the cubed apples, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt. Taste and adjust as necessary to your tastes.

Fill each ramekin with half of the mixture. They should be filled to the very full.

Take the remaining crust pieces and shape them into two circles large enough to cover the top of the ramekins with some overlap.

Now cover the ramekins with the pie crusts and seal the edges firmly. I crimped the edges with a fork to  make sure it seals properly and to make it look pretty.

Cut a small X on the top.

Sprinkle the crust with a little extra sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling starts to bubble up.

Let cool and enjoy a piece of 3.14159265….that’s as far as I know off the top of my head!

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili

In celebration of the Giants making it to the World Series, I told Michael I would make him whatever he wanted to eat during the game. He eagerly requested I make a version of Wienerschnitzel‘s chili cheese dog and chili cheese fries. So I did some research on the web and found a copy cat recipe. I made a few small changes, and used soy protein crumbles instead of ground beef for mine. This recipe is proof that vegans don’t just eat boring salads!

This make 4 servings of chili, enough for chili cheese fries and a chili dog for two people.

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili
1/2 of tube of Lightlife Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
3 cups of water
1/8 cup corn starch
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs tomato paste
4 tbs chili powder
5 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbs white vinegar2

In a skillet over medium heat, crumble up and brown the ground beef.

In a small bowl, whisk together the water, corn starch, flour, and tomato paste.

Add to the browned ground beef crumbles.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the sauce is at desired thickness.

Put the chili on some fries and a hot dog—or anything else you want! And don’t forget to add a little vegan cheese too.

This was soooo good. And WAY healthier than the real stuff.

Bac’n Mac and Cheese

Guess what other American classic is actually vegan? McCorkmick’s Bac’n Pieces! It is made from soy. Once again, it is a processed food and needs to be eaten in moderation. But it can provide that “meaty” flavor to your favorite dish on occasion. I decided to add them to my mac and cheese, along with some veggies.

I have posted a recipe for mac and cheese awhile ago that uses Daiya Cheese and nutritional yeast. This recipe only uses nutritional yeast because I was trying to cut down on calories and processed ingredients.

Bacon Bits Mac and Cheese
8 ounces macaroni
1 small onion, minced
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup nutritional yeast
2 cups soy milk
1 tsp mustard
1 tbs soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery in the 1/4 cup of butter.
Once the veggies are soft, add the nutritional yeast. Mix together until it makes a lumpy paste.
Now add the soy milk, mustard, and garlic. Whisk to get the lumps out.
Add the cooked macaroni and the Bacon Bits.  Mix it all together and season to taste.
Now you have bacon mac and cheese without all that cholesterol!

Sloppy Joes

This morning that commercial for an “unsloppy joe” recipe came on. Michael and I both turned to each other said we wanted sloppy joes for dinner.

Don’t bother with pre made sauces in a can. Sloppy joes are just as easy to make on your own. It is really just tomato paste and seasoning. I used Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style in place of beef. And I added bell peppers for more nutrition.
This makes about 4 sandwiches.
Sloppy Joes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tbs agave
1 and 1/4 cup  water
Salt and pepper to taste
Buns or Rolls
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Saute the chopped onion and bell peppers until tender.
Add the jalapeños and “ground beef”.  Cook until heated through.
Add the tomato paste, agave and seasonings. Mix together well.
Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens slightly.
Serve on the rolls or buns.
I made coleslaw with a light vinaigrette as a side dish. This was exactly what we wanted, so good!

Veggie Pot Pie

Like I have said before, Michael is usually no help when it comes to figuring out something for dinner. But tonight he actually said pot pie! I had all the ingredients already so I was more than happy to oblige his request.

I made the crust using Bisquick because it was what I had on hand, and I used fresh veggies too.

This recipe makes two small personal-sized pies.

Veggie Pot Pie
Crust:
2 cups Bisquick
1/4 cup soy milk
Filling:
2 large carrots, chopped finely
1/2 medium onions, chopped finely
4 stalks of celery, chopped finely
1 large potato, cut into small pieces
5 tbs flour
1 can of veggie broth
Flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
2 veggies patties (I used black bean burgers)

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the Bisquick and soy milk. Once it comes together, transfer to a well-floured surface and knead until smooth.

Spray two ramekins or pie pans with cooking spray.

Roll out the dough into 4 circles. Make sure two of the circles can will fully cover the bottom and sides of the ramekins, with a little over hang. The other two need to cover the tops with a little overhang.

Cover the bottoms of the ramekins with the circles for the bottoms. Press the dough down firmly and seal the edges tight.

Heat some olive oil in a large pot over the stove.

Add the minced carrots, minced onion, mince celery, and the potato pieces. Saute until the veggies are soft.

Sprinkle the flour onto the veggies. Stir to coat thoroughly.

Add the can of veggie broth. Stir and break up any flour chunks.

Season to taste with the parsley salt and pepper.

Simmer for a few minutes until the gravy comes together. Remove from the heat.

Crumble up the veggie patties, add to the pot and mix together well.

Put half the filling into each ramekin. Cover each with the other dough circle. Seal the edges well.

Cut 4 slits into the top for ventilation.

Spray the tops with some cooking spray and place in the oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Creamy veggies and a crunchy golden crust! Yum!