With VeganMoFo VII mere weeks ahead, I’ve been busy brainstorming and beginning to prepare, so it’s time to put aside the recipe posts and mason jars with the realization that August is truly moving forward, and share some good old-fashioned vegan food porn* glory, starting with one of the many handcrafted highlights… Continue reading
First things first, Happy Vegan Pizza Day! If three little things weren’t standing in the way of my own pizza-making ambitions today, well, I’d have some dough rising right now. Instead, I’m melting into a puddle of freckles as it’s … Continue reading
THE GRAND ENTRANCE… BLOG TOUR! This post is a whole trio of firsts: my first time breading with cornflakes, my first blog tour, and shockingly, my first cookbook giveaway. Who saw that happening?! Well, it’s all in honor of an enthusiastic, satisfying and beautifully photographed … Continue reading
While I was on hiatus, I did a lot of cooking at my sister’s apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. My sister works a ton, but was able to take some time off while I was visiting (and hey, thanks for something, … Continue reading
It’s been a tremendously long time since I’ve done a product review. I simply don’t have the time or interest for them very much, and very few offers legitimately pique my interest. This is my space, and it’s not a grocery aisle. I mean, as a vegan blogger, there are only so many times you can open up another raw bar, let alone an email about one.
But hey, here I am, live-blogging from IFBC and back in the game with a duo of frozen entrees from Vege USA: who piqued that interest being just that, a duo of fake meaty entrees with an Asian influence. These items don’t exactly fit into my 100 Days Homemade mode, so they were paired with a from-scratch fried rice – something easy to toss together with my hodge podge of fresh farmers market haul with leftover rice while the entrees warmed in the oven.
Typically, there are three food items I’ll willingly consume on any sort of even semi-regular basis from my freezer: brand-new containers of vegan ice cream (which are then forgotten for epic periods), Gardein/Trader Joe’s breaded chickenless tenders – one of my saving graces during busy times, and most importantly, and influentially, tator tots. And it’s usually the same arrangement – frozen product + steamed kale with nooch (and who doesn’t usually have a few leaves of kale in their fridge?)
I decided to accept Vege USA’s offer to try their product because it was both something I would likely never buy in stores, yet something I would order at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. That being said, the truth is that the coupons sat in my purse for months — but the intrigue was floating.
Drumroll, please – PRODUCT REVIEW TIME IS HERE.
What is it? Vegetarian Plus Vegan Black Pepper Beef and Vegan Ginger Chicken
Company/Brand: Vege USA
Available from? Whole Foods, Food Fight! (in Portland), Loving Hut, Supreme Master and other vegetarian Asian restaurants, and other natural foods stores
How do you make it? See those freezer packs above? Cut ‘em open, dump the filling onto a lightly greased baking pan or bundle it in foil and bake. I did the latter because I wanted to keep as much sauce as possible, opening up the packets towards the last 10 minutes of cooking. Definitely make a side of rice if you can. With most frozen foods, I do tend to bake longer than instructed and I’m really glad I did that here to really warm the pieces completely.
How about describing the finished product in one word?
For this part, I asked Julia Legume to join in, since she shared in on the experience.
Julia found the Black Pepper Beef, and I quote, “Scary”, while she found the Ginger Chicken flat-out “Gingerlicious”. Caps used for importance.
Me? I thought the Beef, texture-wise, was definitely “tender” in that way only seitan can be, while one word for the Ginger Chicken really is just that – “GINGAH”.
How about actual thoughts?
From Julia…”Comparing them, I thought that the chicken was much more accessible for people who aren’t in love with the idea of ‘fake meat’. I thought the steak was perfect for the harcore ‘fake meat’ lovers. When I question if something is ‘real’ or not, it worries me, but these people love that”.
I’ve got a soft spot for greasy, vegetarian Chinese food, and these meals were right up that alley – without those greasy feelings. We served them with a side of Thai basil fried rice, but had this been a few years ago, I would have broke out the frozen broccoli and instant white rice (okay, brown rice, and I wouldn’t have cooked it completely, either) and been just as content. I decided to cook both on the same evening for that family-style dining variety.
Let me break it down some more. Both dishes were ….
- surprisingly saucy for frozen meals
- quite…flavorful, with noticeable touches of authentic flavors of ginger, star anise, lemongrass and soy in both the sauce and protein
- easy to prepare
- straight outta Loving Hut!
- and really made me pencil in a kale bowl for the next day…
Memories….The Black Pepper Beef somewhat took me back to gluten I’ve had tucked into tasty nests of fried noodles at vegetarian restaurants, while the Ginger Chicken was more reminiscent of grilled skewers I’ve had over many-a-bún, especially at Loving Huts and vegetarian restaurants in Thailand. The sauces were unlike anything I’d typically make, no mater how much ginger I have at my disposal.
Would I buy some more?
Overall, the Ginger Chicken was a much bigger hit on my dining room table than the Beef, so it would be the pick of the two. Sure, both entrees are healthier and less oily that restaurant equivalents, but….I’m just much more likely to order them out for a treat – and I totally will.
But…should you buy it?!
Do you like fake meaty things? Do you miss Chinese food? Go for it.
This has been a Get Sconed! product review. The entrees were furnished by Vege USA for sample.
The first-ever Totsgiving™ (I’m hereby claiming it because page 1 of a recent google search has nothing but toys for tots, which seems to have nothing to do with potatoes, and my own related results) was simply epic.
I had the crazy realization afterwards that it was my first vegan Thanksgiving (or, as they’re saying these days, Thanksliving) potluck where the omnivores, including my brother from New York, equaled the vegans in numbers. And I’ll admit, the dinner was no where as disgusting as I feared!
We started with tots, incorporated tots into over half of the dishes, and ended with tot-crumbled dessert.
Without further adieu, I present the photo documentation from our very special Totsgiving™:
Let’s start out by rolling out some seitan.
The recipe is Chef Brian P. McCarthy’s and available on Everyday Dish. I incorporated pureed shallots, garlic and apple cider into the dough, and baked it, basting with beer, on both sides for 15 minutes at 400F.
Prepping the filling: sauteed shallots, chanterelles & cremini mushrooms in olive oil, white wine & tamari with lightly baked tots and steamed kale.
I bravely modeled my first roulade experiemnt after the inspiration of all inspirations on What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway?
After rolling (in retrospect, I would have rolled it the other way, but we were so focused on these pretty rows), it was tied, seated with fingerlings potatoes and carrots, baked at 425F for 30 minutes, flipping once, and frequently basted with Name Tag Lager from Trader Joe’s.
My brother assembled our mom’s Sweet Potato Pie Casserole (without any fuss!)
First course: a combination of baked Trader Joe’s tator tots and Whole Foods tator puffs with cranberry-habañero BBQ sauce, Gabrielle-approved chanterelle & shallot gravy, white sage gravy and Earth Balance Mindful Mayo & Srichacha for dipping. The giant martini glass my sister sent me for christmas last year never fails to serve a purpose at my shindigs.
My brother and I based the cranberry habañero BBQ sauce on this recipe from Whole Foods, adding more fresh cranberries, subbing diced tomatoes for paste and adding a minced habañero for heat.
The contributions cometh. Chips & salsa left over from the pre-appetizer-we-should-have-some-type-of-food-while-not-eating-and-cooking course.
Ashly’s Crumbled-Tator Tot Apple Pie
Melissa’s Chorizo, Tot & Brocoli Strudel
Lucas’ Tot-topped Shepherd’s Pie
Pumpkin Pie from Sweetpea Baking Co.
Sweet Potato Pie Casserole (with extra pecans)
The pie aisle
This & that
Gravy row. The chanterelle & shallot gravy is based on the Sherried Leek and Wild Chanterelle gravy from PCC Natural Markets, with the substitution of minced shallots for leeks. As we all know, shallots are are undeniably fancier in gravy, not to mention seasonally appropriate here. The incredibly easy white sage gravy comes from Vegan Diner; I added a nice pinch of roasted garlic powder.
Bonus: crescent rolls, for sibling nostalgia’s sake.
Why I bought cheesecloth (which I didn’t use) and skipped on culinary string for the seitan is beyond me. Let’s blame last minute holiday-shopping anxiety brush-off.
Our feast also included Sweetpea dinner rolls, a Portland tradition, Earth Balance, and Ricemellow Fluff, for those who like to desecrate sweet potatoes.
Family traditions, upheld: Sweet Potato Pie Casserole & Jeff’s Three-Corn Casserole
OMNIS EATING VEGAN FOODZ.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving (or a tator-tot studded variation) without over-indulgent, grateful food moans.
And legitimate Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce, to boot.
Pie for breakfast for all!
I may have spent the entire month of October barely doing more than copy/pasting and clicking upload over here, and shaking a few cocktails over this way, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t cooking. Discussing my culinary tales was simply pushed to the side by a bunch of furry animals. We’ve all been there.
My apologies if you’ve seen these on the facebook already, but now they’re all in one place! I promise, I won’t ask you to click back and forth on the same link for minutes of your day. This isn’t that type of place, nor do I really know what that means.
In no particular order, here’s the month in creations, including a bunch of brunch, Vegan Diner fun and a prominent obsession with chanterelles. I realized I had a problem when I was buying them from farmers markets not once, but twice a week, and now there’s a suspicious van parked outside my apartment. Just waiting.
Chanterelle omelet with steamed kale, Cajun roasted fingerlings, fresh thyme, roasted garlic boursin-style spread and seitan sausage. Recipes sourced from Vegan Brunch, Vegan Diner and World Vegan Feast.
Smoked tofu & cherry tomato benedict with hollandaise, balsamic creminis, steamed kale & baguette. My applewood chips are up next, and on my gosh.
Olive oil & sliced garlic base with baby spinach, roasted red peppers, sliced heirloom tomato, shredded Cheezly & chanterelles sautéed in red wine. Cheezly, I miss you so.
Spicy Ethiopian-style Chickpea Stew, white rice, roasted peanuts. Based on this Whole Foods Kitchen recipe.
With quite a few of these…
Spaghetti with fire roasted marinara, nutritional yeast, grilled pilsner tofu, roasted eggplant, zucchini, garlic & basil.
This marks the last photo this plate will ever star in. Ker-plunk.
One week, I had a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread in my house, so I re-learned the art and convenience of sandwiching making.
Additional Pilsner grilled tofu, sliced tomato, green leaf lettuce, Vegenaise, hot sauce and a side of roasted fingerlings with coarse salt.
Baked “fried” green tomatoes and roasted red pepper aioli from the Sunny Days for Texas cookzine.
Pumpkin chocolate chip pancake, seitan & greens, apple ginger juice.
Sun-dried Tomato Chickpea Spread, ExtraVeganZa. My BFF sent me this book for my birthday and I am just as ecstatic about the number of fancy mushroom recipes as I’m sure she was.
Muhammara. Recipe from Epicurious. I may have bought an incredible number of end-of-season red bell peppers and carried the bag home over my shoulder.
An almost classy, bastardization, dedicated to my girl, Vegan Moxie: Salted Caramel Mocha. I used this DIY method for french press-style espresso (I know), my wee IKEA frother, and this recipe for vegan caramel using Sucanat, with the generous addition of sea salt.
Next up, the backlog of out-and-about dining, including some of Portland’s latest vegan brunch delights, and a countdown to my upcoming month abroad in Thailand – and beyond.
I may not really celebrate the holidays, but I do celebrate proudly made from scratch dishes, friends, wine, and the warm wonder that is a multi-course, cruelty-free thanksgiving dinner with said friends in a city we’ve made our home. Aww.
Commence warm and fuzzies and vegan food with part of the spread:
My contributions to the dinner were pies of both sweet and savoury varieties. This marked the production of my first-ever pot pie, so it’s time for a photo pictorial to capture my stirring hand’s excitement.
Sautéing the diced green beans, carrots, mushrooms, potato, baked tofu, and spices.
The savoury was a Smokey Kabocha Squash & Baked Tofu Pot Pie inspired by Karen from the Vegan Conversion Challenge’s recent Kabocha Pot Pie. She’s doing a month of chili-dominated dishes for VeganMoFo, and as soon as I saw her adorable baked-in-the-squash, smokey pot pies, I wanted to try them. Fatefully tying this plan together, I had roasted freaking kabocha squash the night before, so the question became – do I buy more squash (on the day before thanksgiving) or do I reach for a little more adventure? I chose the latter, following Karen’s recipe as closely as possible. There was no time for finding Soy Curls or big tvp chunks, so I decided to bake tofu cubes in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, garlic, and herbs. As for squash, it seems to get saucey in Karen’s, so I figured simply adding chunks of roasted squash into the mix with the broth would work for my take. A squashy gravy, if you will. I went light on the chili peppers, and ended up adding quite a bit more of smoked paprika and hot cayenne before baking.
Things take a turn for the saucey and squashy:
Dished into a pie plate and ready for some puff pastry action.
The finished dish, with its learning-as-we-go puff pastry weave, from my camera phone:
Enough of my silly tales of pot pie production – Chelsea’s famous Gluten Roast, stuffing & itty bitty, adorable potatoes follows:
Knowing this would be there just may have pushed me out of the house.
Damn good pumpkin pie and damn fine pecan pie:
My friend veganized John Edwards’ secret family recipe for us and I’m still thinking about it:
Sweet, sweet pumpkin cheesecake!!
My second contribution – half of a vision come to life – Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie.
Take Bryanna’s classic Vegan Pumpkin Pie, sub coconut milk for the soy, and add a ton of powdered cardamom and star anise along with the usual suspects. If there was Thai tea in my cabinets, it would have been involved. And one excuse short of my vision, I had just missed the stores closing on my way to dinner, or there would have been coconut flakes (or, in retrospect, dollops of coconut whipped cream) with the straws.
Note: I did not make people drink out of them.
Being a vegan in Portland, Tofurkey day is approaching and I’m naturally weighing the options of at least 12 vegan potlucks or take out from Bay Leaf or Sweetpea (omg, the dinner rolls!!). I went to 2 potlucks over the weekend as it is, and that’s normal! Now, being a creepy cat lady hermit without family in the state, I’m also highly considering taking the day off from sage and pumpkin, making Ethiopian style greens, and watching Charlie Brown on repeat. Maybe. I may make an exception for pumpkin hot toddies. Perhaps.
All this potential busy-ness or personal time over the holiday weekend doesn’t mean that I’m not totally entranced by all the seasonal menu planning around me, via blog posts and holiday specials at the grocery store and farmers markets, etc.
With that, here are some things that have caught my eye recently.
Thanksgiving Day Ideas I’d like you to make for me:
- Our Veggie Kitchen’s Turkey Gravy (inspired by the next link)
- Vegan Dad’s Smoked Turkey Lunch Meat
- Melomeal’s Barley Cherry Pecan Stuffing Mel has a ton of Frugal Thanksgiving recipes up!
- Joni’s Seitan en Croûte from 500 Vegan Recipes. Just look at it!
- Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Spiced Vegan Pumpkin Pie – consider using coconut milk! It could change your view of this holiday.
- Bryanna’s Buttermilk Biscuits – beautiful things.
- The Thanksgiving Cake Incident from Vegan Good Things. Whoa.
- Joanna’s Mushroom Dressing from Potluck Mania. Classic.
- Bryan P. McCarthy’s Vegan Turkey Roast on Everyday Dish. I’ve made this a couple times and like to roast cubed vegetables in the pan, as well.
- Chelsea’s Whole Grain Quinoa Stuffing and Thanksgiving Gluten Roast up on the Bob’s Red Mill Blog. I just may be eating some of that stuffing tomorrow, wink wink.
- The Double-Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake from Fat Free Vegan. Why have I not been to a potluck where this is present?!?
- and of course, the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk. Pretty please?
Ye Olde Get Sconed! Thanksgiving-related porn follows, featuring quite a sweet potato pie casseroles, more pies, mac & cheeze, rolls, and an apple cider, garlic & herb marinated tofurkey, among other classics:
And if you’re dishes rule, don’t forget to take a picture and send your photos to Vegansaurus!
And please, share!
The apple of my eye.
I continued my yearly tradition of stopping by the always bigger & better apple fest & tasting at the Portland Nursery over the weekend. Shortage of time and frankly, overwhelming lines, made my visit the quickest yet, but I definitely got what I came for: a variety of tart apples and firm pears, largely including my beloved McIntosh and 3 types of Asian pears. After a couple of grocery errands later in the day, project #1 and project #2 took off.
Project #1: Homemade Apple Liquor
Reason: Because DIY, class, and booze roll together in my life, apple puckers suck, and I’ve wanted to recreate the amber, apple liquor I liked so when I studied abroad in the Netherlands, too many years ago.
Project #2: VWAM’S Apple Sage Sausages, turned Roast.
Reason: I’ve made the original recipe for Jayne’s seitan sausages a couple of times. The flavor is incredible, and totally right for fall. I tend to make seitan sausages every couple of months, and haven’t made simmered, or baked seitan, in quite some time, so this project merged all the wheaty goodness. I made some changes to the original recipe, like using roasted apples instead of dried, doubled it, and baked it in broth with sliced garlic. The verdict? We’ll see, and so will the friend I gave a loaf to.
Project #3: Apple, Asian Pear & Brandy Crumb Pie (adapted from the Apple Butterscotch Pie in American Vegan Kitchen).
Reason: I had fruit and a housewarming to go to! The dual fruits spent a few hours mingling in brandy & maple syrup before baking. Not only was I happy with the outcome of this, it again proved itself bus-ride-worthy. I love that in a pie.