Getting loaded

Oh Pinterest, you temptress. You may make me dump all of my cookbooks for good. As I scroll through looking casually at recipes for loaded french fries, this one pops out at me and I can’t resist. It jumps out screaming these are two of your favorite food things, amirite? and I take the bait.

13244818_10207509583230849_9059118154667485866_nI sent hubby to the store for fast food fries (as the recipe recommended) and whipped up a garlic mayo with some Veganaise. I didn’t have sriracha, but I had hot Thai chili sauce, which worked just as well.  I was happy that I actually had hoisin sauce in the pantry. I added in some green onion and a squeeze of lime, and I was in heaven. Loaded. Fries. Vegan. Vietnamese. (or Thai, depending on your POV).

I think now my new summer cooking obsession will be variations of loaded fries. Stay tuned.

Avo got a great recipe for you!

Anyone who asks my opinion on avocados, will hear me reply that they are the world’s most perfect food. I do believe this. And I was quick to confirm my belief when I made this truly amazing avocado pasta sauce.

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I think quite possibly this is the creamiest, dreamiest pasta sauce I’ve had in a long time. Avocados make everything better without any overpowering flavor, and here, I added a drizzle of olive oil, a clove of garlic, and sea salt/ black pepper. Blend it all together until smooth, and you have not only a sauce, but, a dip? A spread? Avos are awesome that way; they’ll meld their green little selves to what you desire to make, really.

After making the sauce, I boiled some angel hair, and in a saucepan, sauteed these gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes from Trader Joe’s ( a pricey indulgence, but worth it) in some olive oil until just soft. I drained the pasta, returned it to the pot, added the sauce and mixed in. The sauce actually thickened a bit (thanks to the starch in the pasta water) and turned into this succulent beautiful green dish that I couldn’t wait to dig in to.

Not really a recipe here – just more like inspiration – but if you poke around Pinterest and look for “avocado pasta.,” you’ll find variations aplenty.

 

For the love of leftovers

You either love leftovers or you don’t. I happen to. Things just seem to taste better two or three days after you’ve cooked them. I am a huge advocate for clearing out the fridge and getting those almost-forgotten foodstuffs outta there and into my stomach.
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This one was simple: homemade mashed potatoes, paired with garlic-sauteed mushrooms and fresh baby asparagus that I’d made a few days before. It looks a little wan here, but it was simply divine, in my eyes.

Fakin’ Bacon

I’ve had enough hearing about bacon. I mean real, ‘pig bacon.’ I know that it’s salty, crispy, fatty, and satisfying. But – it’s still pig bacon, and I’m having none of that. So – into the kitchen I sauntered, with a recipe for TOFU bacon that will hopefully make me feel all smug when my carnivore buddies start exulting their bacon experiences.

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Compile:
Extra firm tofu (this Trader Joe’s is low-moisture and absolutely perfect)
Vegan Worcestershire or soy sauce
Maple syrup
Smoky paprika
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Liquid Smoke if you please, but I didn’t have any on hand

With a steady hand, slice your tofu thin. I mean, really thin. As thin as you can without crumbling it. These will eventually be your bacon slices.

Mix the marinade ingredients very well and pour into a shallow pan, such as a 9×13″ baking dish. Then place your really super thin slices of tofu in the marinade and make sure they get covered on both sides. Allow to marinate for a few hours in the fridge.

Heat a baking tray at 350, spray the tray with a little olive oil, and place  your slices on. Bake  until the tofu is firm (keep an eye on it to prevent burning), about 25 minutes. Voila, bacon without the oink! (You do want the bacon to be a little stiff, not soggy, when you take it out – this is why extra firm tofu is essential.)

Would be perfect on sourdough with a schmear of Vegenaise, a juicy heirloom tomato, and some baby butter lettuce. Heaven!

 

 

 

Reinventing the breakfast drink wheel?

You guys! I think I just totally invented a healthful, vegan version of Strawberry Quik.

I did this quite by accident, of course, and so many great ideas through the course of time have been made by accident, no?  Even better was the fact that I already had all 3 ingredients on hand without forethought.

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Old Quik.

Take your blender, and do this – you’ll be hooked.

Handful of fresh (not frozen, but if frozen is all you have, then go you)

Rice milk, unsweetened

1tb of raw maca powder

Two or three ice cubes

Blend.

Drink.

Now, doesn’t this taste so much better (but at the same time similar) to Quik? Minus the weird chemicals and colors? Yes. Yes, it does.

 

 

 

 

 

Miss Maple

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Uh-oh, folks. This looks like a maple syrup game-changer.

Maple Sugar Cube

In the burger lab.

More and more, I find myself veering away from commercially-made veggie burgers to explore the healthier option of homemade. I’ve been having a hard time, though, of finding the perfect recipe. Either my homemade efforts have been too dry, too prone to crumbling, or bland. I also don’t want to use eggs to bind, so there’s that to deal with too.
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I did stumble upon a great recipe whilst trawling Pinterest, and the ingredients seemed to have that stickability factor – these babies should not/could not fall apart when cooking. The recipe is for sweet potato and black beans to be formed into patties, with various other ingredients. There are dozens of recipes that riff on the same bean & potato theme, so take a look around and see which one you dig best.
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Verdict: Burgers pre-cooked were very sticky to deal with, so lots of hand-washing is involved. I needed to add flour to “dry” them out just a tad without making them too dry, and to be confident of the binding. The burger patties cooked well in just a smidge of olive oil, providing a decent outer crust and a soft middle. I added a bit of cayenne and Old Bay seasoning to mine, but the gentle nature of black beans and of sweet potato lends itself to accepting a wealth of flavoring options.

I topped mine with mixed greens, avocado and a vegan garlic crema that I whipped up (and keep on hand to use as salad dressing or as a mayo sub). Feel free to experiment – and happy burgering!