Green Tacos

I needed to use up kale from my garden before it went to seed. And I was in the mood for tacos. So I decided to try this recipe for sweet potato and kale taco filling. The recipe calls for grated sweet potatoes. I was a little skeptical of this, but I was pleasantly surprised. The texture was great in the tacos. The recipe is super fast and easy and very tasty. I made it with this tempeh chorizo recipe and kidney beans. The combo was great. I’ll definitely make this again. In fact I already bought another sweet potato!

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-tacos

Tempeh Chorizo

I’ve really been enjoying tempeh recently. So I decided to try a tempeh chorizo recipe. The recipe uses chopped walnuts along with tempeh for a somewhat crunchy texture. I’m not sure that real chorizo is crunchy, but I enjoyed the texture in my tacos. I made this along with kidney beans and this veggie filling recipe. The combination was quite yummy. My only issue with this recipe was that it ended up somewhat sweet, which I didn’t like. I suspect cinnamon was the culprit. So I’ll leave it out next time. Also, I used tomato paste and a tsp of agave instead of ketchup since I don’t eat ketchup. I guess the agave was a mistake. Next time I’ll just use the tomato paste.

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

I have a robust sweet tooth. For years I’ve been purchasing my sweets. My go-tos were frozen yogurt bars and bittersweet chocolate, with the occasional pint of lactose free ice cream thrown in. But recently, I listened to a Science Vs. podcast episode on processed foods. The episode featured a scientist describing ultra-processed foods as Clorox for your gut, taking all the good bacteria with them as they went through. That image really stuck with me. I have a lot of issues with my gut. So I decided to start making my own desserts.

This recipe for “vegan chocolate pudding” was my first attempt. The recipe calls for Mexican spices, but since I had fruit in the chococate I was using, I left those spices out. I used 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the 3/4 cup called for and found that to be enough. But I like super dark bittersweet chocolate. The recipe is ridiculously simple, essentially just chocolate, sugar, and silken tofu. But oh my goodness the result. It wasn’t really a pudding, but rather an ultra thick, rich, chocolate mousse. The kind that you only need a bit of to feel satisfied. I think in order to make it more like a pudding, you’d need to add an extra 4 oz of silken tofu.

I honestly cannot believe how good this was. I particularly enjoyed dipping strawberries in it. And amazingly, it was so rich that I found I had fewer sweets cravings throughout the day when I ate a bit of this at night. So far my homemade desserts experiment is looking like a success.

Next time I’m going to use baking chocolate so that I can better control the sweetness level. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Smoky Beet and Quinoa Burgers

I have been craving a good veggie burger lately. My favorite veggie burger place closed down during Covid and I haven’t been able to find anything good enough to replace it. So I decided to try myself. I had recently made way too much quinoa for another recipe, so I looked for recipes that included quinoa. I found this recipe and was intrigued by its inclusion of beets and smoky flavors. The recipe was straight-forward enough to make, but it required quite a bit of advance planning since you need to pre-cook a number of items and then refrigerate the mixture. It calls for barbecue sauce, which I don’t keep in the house, and didn’t feel like making a whole recipe or buying a whole bottle to use the two tbsp this recipe calls for. So instead, I looked at a few recipes and approximated using these proportions:

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp vinegar

3/4 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp mustard powder

I also added several tsp of salt to taste (maybe 3?), which were missing from the recipe.

The recipe made about 11 burgers. It said to bake them for 15 minutes, but I ended up baking closer to 40. Hard to say how much of that was my broken oven and how much was the recipe though. I basically just checked ever 15 minutes until they were somewhat dried out and seemed like they would hold together.

I really enjoyed the flavor of these burgers and would definitely try making these again. However, the texture was more mushy than I would have liked. I think I’d try replacing the 1 cup almond flour with 3/4 cup gluten flour 1/4 cup almond flour and adding a kneading step. All in all, not a bad first try at a yummy veggie burger full of healthy

1 recipe made 11 burgers.

Note: I realized that I missed the tsp of soy sauce in the recipe. So that’s likely why I needed to add the salt.

Rice Noodles with Eggs, Broccoli, and Dark Soy Sauce

Recently, one of my neighbors was giving away a bunch of vegetarian cookbooks. In the pile was Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott, a cookbook I know my mother owns and likes.

The first recipe I tried was this rice noodle dish from page 164. Nancie describes the dish as easy to prepare and indeed it was. I could see myself making this on a weeknight when I want something comforting and indulgent as an alternative to ordering take out.

The recipe calls for a dark sweet soy sauce called si-yu but offers an alternative combo of regular soy sauce and brown sugar. I used this option since I didn’t have si-yu. But next time I go to the asian market I’ll be looking for si-yu so I can try making this again. The other change I made was reducing the oil. Nancie calls for 3 tbsp. I only used 4 tsp. Next time I think I’d try cutting it to 1 tbsp since the dish was still pretty high calorie.

I followed the timing of the dish carefully and the veggies came out crisp, just like I like them. The flavor of the dish was peppery and savory. And the eggs add a creamy aspect. Very yummy. Nancie calls for offering chili vinegar as a condiment, but I didn’t have any. So instead I used about a teaspoon of rice vinegar on each bowl, which added to the flavor. I’d like to pick up chili vinegar for the next time I make this.

Update: So far I’ve made this twice, once for myself and once for my sister’s family while in Germany. It was a hit both times. Easy, tasty, filling, and indulgent. A very good weeknight dish indeed. The only issue we had with the dish was the ratio of pasta to broccoli. Everyone, including my seven-year-old niece, agreed it needed more broccoli. Although I think I messed up the proportions when I made it for my sister’s family, so it probably was more that than the recipe. Still, I’d do 4 cups of broccoli instead of 3 and probably 7 ounces of pasta instead of 8 and see how that went. The other issue I had both times was volume. Flipping this recipe without a big wok is really hard. Next time I’m going to try making it in my cast iron dutch oven and see how that goes instead.

Hot and Sour Soup

I’d never tried Hot and Sour Soup because usually at restaurants it’s not vegetarian. I’ve always wanted to try it though, so I was excited when I found this recipe from The Woks of Life.

The hardest part of making this recipe was finding the ingredients. I’d never cooked with a number of them, including dried spiced tofu, lily flowers, and wood ear mushrooms. I spent a really long time wandering around my local asian market looking for the ingredients. It took me a particularly long time to realize that dried spiced tofu would be in the refrigerated section with the regular tofu.

Once I had all the ingredients, this was really easy and quick to make. And quite tasty. My only issue was that it was a bit too spicy for me. Next time I made it I’d half the white pepper called for.

Vegan Quinoa Caesar

This recipe was next up on my list of salads to try from my new cookbook Isa Does It. I was really intrigued by the idea of a vegan caesar salad made heartier by some extra ingredients. In addition to lettuce and dressing, Isa adds tempeh croutons, avocado, and quinoa to make this salad not just a full meal, but truly indulgent. She also adds some arugula to make the salad a bit healthier.

I really really liked this salad. Once I made it, it was all I wanted to eat all week. I actually had it for lunch and dinner on the same day! The dressing was delicious and the smoky flavor of the tempeh was complex and satisfying.

I will definitely make this again. The only change I will make is to increase the romaine a bit. I thought the quinoa, romaine, arugula recipe was just a bit too heavy on the arugula and quinoa. I think I’d use 10 ounces of romaine instead of the 8 called for by the recipe and 5 cups of quinoa instead of 6.

This link is the same as far as the salad ingredients and dressing from the cookbook. But it exchanges the marinated tempeh for breaded tofu.

Creamy White Beans with Herb Oil

I accidentally bought way too much cilantro for another recipe and needed to find ways to use it up. I found this intriguing recipe for white beans in an herb oil sauce on New York Times Cooking. Instead of using half cup cilantro and half cup basil, I just used 1 cup cilantro. I really try not to use canned beans, but I couldn’t find dried butter beans or cannellini so I ended up using canned cannellini. This made the recipe really fast to make.

I’d definitely make this again. It was fresh, tasty, and unusual. A solid way to dress up plain beans to make them feel indulgent.

Smoky Lentil Stew with Leeks and Potatoes

The way I cook- making two recipes each weekend that I eat all week- I have to find recipes that are interesting enough that I will want to eat them five days in a row. So I rarely make lentil soup. Usually, I find that I get bored with lentil soup after a couple days and it ends up in the trash. But this recipe from the New York times includes potatoes, leeks, and a lot of spices and seemed interesting enough to possibly eat for a full week.

I was right. The spices created much needed complexity and the potatoes added enough carb-induced instant gratification to make the recipe more satisfying than the average lentil soup. The fresh parsley really helped add extra flavor and texture to an already good recipe. This easy, cheap, and healthy stew is a winner in my book.

A couple notes for next time: It seemed silly to leave half a cup of tomatoes in the can. And after eating the stew, I was confident the extra tomatoes would only have added extra flavor. Next time I’ll just add the full can. Also, I think you could reduce the number of pots by cooking the potatoes in the same pot with the lentils. I’d just add them halfway through the lentil cooking time.

Seitan Porcini Beef Stew

I came across this recipe for a vegan “beef” stew using porcini mushrooms and vegan sausage and had to try it. I love a hearty stew, and I’d never made a vegan beef stew before. The recipe calls for homemade vegan sausage, but I was tired so I jut bought vegan sausage instead. I want to try making this again with homemade sausage, but even with the store-bought sausage, it was very very good. It took a day for the flavors to blend and come out fully, but by day two the stew was rich, flavorful, interesting, and satisfying.