Thursday, March 31, 2011

Island Inspired Eating

I don't know why, but I've really been into fruit laden, spicy foods recently. From this craving, came the following two recipes. I made them for my parents while I was visiting them, and they got good reviews (*hopefully* not just because they are my parents). I think I might sub pineapple juice out for the water in the burger next time, and definately add hot sauce (I didn't when I made it). The burgers are super easy to throw together. The fries are more work, but if you have a good quality veggie peeler, like the OXO brand, and a very sharp knife (yes you, go sharpen your knife), you won't be slaving away for very long.

Caribbean Black Bean Burgers (makes 6 patties)

Burger n Fries

Oven at 375F
Beano* at the ready

1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion flakes
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup finely diced red pepper
3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup finely diced mango
1 TBS Cornstarch mixed in a small bowl, separately, with 1 TBS water
4 scallions, rinsed, sliced thinly (white part and first 2 inches of the green part)
1/2 tsp hot sauce (if you like things spicy)

Since mango is a chore to peel and chop, you may want to save time by purchasing frozen mango and thawing it. I buy the larger green and red mangos because you get more mango for your peeling and chopping effort than the smaller, yellow variety.

Chop your red pepper, mango and scallions, and drain your crushed pineapple. Mix the water in a small bowl with 1 TBS of cornstarch and set aside. Put your black beans, bread crumbs, salt, onion and garlic seasonings in a medium bowl. Use a pastry cutter or a potato masher to mash the beans until there are no whole beans left, but its not a complete mushy paste, there will still be half beans in there. Add the cornstarch/water mixture, and hot sauce if using, and mix well. Then add your mango, pineapple, and scallions, and red pepper and mix again.

Use your hands to form patties, on the small side for a normal 'burger' size. They won't stick together terribly well until they are cooked, so be gentle with them. Spray a bit of oil on a cookie sheet, and arrange on the sheet.

Cook for 15 minutes in your oven which was preheated to 375, then carefully and gently flip them (they should looked dry and somewhat hardened on what was previously the bottom side, you need them to form a crust). Then give them 10 more, and check them. You can always flip them again for a few more minutes if they weren't quite done on the first side.

Usually english muffins aren't vegan, but these were a store-brand that happend to be vegan - yay! I sure do miss a crispy, crunchy, margarine soaked english muffin every now and again. The mister just doesn't dig 'em, so its not usually worth the trouble of hunting down a vegan english muffin.

*word to the wise: healthy eating means eating more veggies and beans, and that can result in some uncomfortable bloating. Beano is an enzyme that assists in your digestion and prevents gas. I contacted the company and their new product, beano meltaways, is VEGAN! Halelujah!

Baked Chipotle Sweet Potato "Fries"
Well spaced fries
(fries prior to baking)

Oven at 400F

Chipotle Spice Mix (a bit of kick to it):
2 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Alternative Spicing (not 'hot' spicy):
1 TBS Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 TBS Chili Powder

Few Sprays of Oil
3 Sweet Potatoes

Make sure you have a really good vegetable peeler, and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into uniform matchsticks 3/4 inch wide and a little less than 1/2 inch thick. If there are any very thin parts where it tapers off and gets too thin, cut that off because its going to burn (you can put the misfits into a bowl and microwave with a bit of water till cooked through, and eat as a snack the next day). Put the good matchsticks into a bowl, spray a few sprays of oil, toss, then a little more oil, and then add your spice mix and toss until they are evenly coated. Place on a few cookie sheets - don't crowd them otherwise they will steam each other and wont' get at all crispy. Put into the 400 degree oven and check them at 20 minutes - if some of the edges look a little burned they're done, but otherwise you can poke them with a fork and it should slide in with no resistance - if not, give them 5 more minutes. Mine took 30 minutes till they were done. Some might get a little black on the bottom (that's because we didn't flip them at the 15 minute mark), but I just didn't want to fuss with flipping, they are already enough work! They were still super tasty.

Do you care about how many calories are in this meal? Yeah, me neither, but just in a service to you, here ya go:

Calories in one Patty: 130
Calories in English Muffin: 120
Calories in 2 TBS Salsa: 20
Calories in 1 med. sweet potato: 103

Total Calories: 373

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Baked Tofu Sandwiches

While at a friends birthday party at a bar, I ran into a guy from HS. I was completely stumped. I remembered nothing. Apparently, not only did we have chorus together, but also worked together at a local pizza joint. I felt really bad, but I have a horrible long term memory, and I can't remember very much from HS. I wish I could say it was 'all those drugs' or some other good excuse, but no, my brain is just that way.

However, silver lining to this cloud, I remembered how we used to microwave chopped onions in a little margarine to put in sandwiches, and they were surprisingly good. So when I baked some marinated tofu later in the week, I decided to use the same trick for my sandwich onions. You may notice from the photo, that this sandwich has no bread. We can blame that squarely on Jon. (Jon loves getting blamed for things, and he reads this blog).

Baked Tofu Side View

How so? He's a mayo-hater. So you just can't keep a jar of vegan mayo around for only one person. It gets moldy. As such, I find most sandwiches way too dry. Thus, the lettuce sandwich. You might think that's sad, but wait till you try and it and it rocks and you are like 'forget bread, that's for cinnamon toast obviously, not for sandwiches!'

So, to make the baked tofu:
(oven needs to be at 425, btw)

First press your tofu unless its CRAZY firm (like soyboy low fat or white wave hard tofu) for 15 mins under something heavy. Then slice SUUUUPER thin, slightly thinner than a cd jewel case.


2 Tbs Miso (Red or Yellow)
2 Tbs Rice Vinegar or Lemon Juice
2 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Tamari
1 Tbs Nutritional Yeast
1/4 tsp Liquid Smoke

If you aren't pressed for time, marinate your tofu for 20 mins in the marinade (this means you should delay preheating the oven a bit - wait till you start marinating. If you are pressed for time, just dip the tofus in the marinade to coat both sides and throw in the oven. Wait 15 mins. Remove and paint on more marinade on both sides with a special non-disgusting paintbrush you reserve only for kitchen food jobs. Throw back into the oven (make sure the other side is the top side now so they get evenly cooked). Check in 10 mins for doneness. They should look dry-ish and a little darker around the edges. Give them 5 more minutes if they don't look done.

They will actually improve in flavor overnight in the fridge, but I had to dig in right away.

I took some chopped red onions and put them in a tiny bowl with a bit of margarine (I subsequently tried this with a bit of spray oil, and then, a few drops of water and they all worked fine), and microwaved for 25 seconds & stirred, and repeated until I was happy with their level of cooked-ness. I chopped up some grape tomatoes as well.

To assemble:

Place a large clean romaine lettuce leaf on your plate. Put a piece of baked, cooled tofu on top, and throw on a handful of the chopped grape tomatoes and the cooked onions. Then fold the lettuce leaf over the tofu both ways, so you can keep it mostly from falling out, and chow down.