Crispy Honey Seitan

In my pre-veg life, when we went out to Chinese restaurants, I loved to order crispy honey chicken.  Something about that sticky sweet sauce was just so good I wanted to lick the plate clean.  I haven’t had anything like that in almost 8 years, but thanks to Isa Moscowitz’s most recent cookbook, Isa Does It, I’ve slightly altered her “Sticky Orange Chicky Stir-Fry” recipe   (which is AMAZING as-is) into what has become a repeat recipe in our home.

I typically add stir fried veggies in with this for a more well-rounded meal.  You can sautee them in the same pan with the seitan and add them in with the sauce a the end.

Serves 4

Two 8 oz packages of sliced seitan (I make my own – it’s much cheaper!)
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons mirin
1 slightly rounded tablespoon cornstarch
3 gloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
cooked brown rice or quinoa, for serving

 Heat the sesame oil over slightly-higher-than-medium heat.  Add the seitan slices and brown for about 4 minutes on each side.  Put the seitan aside on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

(At this point, you can add another tablespoon of sesame oil and do your veggies if you like.)

In the same pan (only empty this time), add a wee bit more sesame oil and turn the heat down to medium.  Sautee the garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds and then add the honey, orange juice, and mirin.  Whisk in the cornstarch until it is dissolved. Continue to whisk over the heat until the sauce thickens.  This should take about 5 minutes.

Add in the crispy seitan and veggies (if using) and sprinkle on the green onions.  Heat everything through, making sure it’s coated with the sauce, for about 3 minutes and then serve over brown rice or quinoa.  I also like to sprinkle mine with sesame seeds.  🙂




Vegan Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy

I’ve wanted to veganize Salisbury steak for some time now, but I wasn’t sure how to get the right texture. I’m always looking for ways to make homemade versions of what I would normally be forced to buy in processed form (usually loaded with soy protein isolate). Amy’s Kitchen makes a frozen Salisbury steak entrée that’s soy free and tastes amazing, but it’s getting harder to find and pre-packaged “convenience” meals are expensive. It may not seem like it; $5 for a meal isn’t terrible, but when you can make 4x as much food for around $2, homemade is clearly the better choice. I’m sure it’s healthier too!

I found a few recipes online for vegan Salisbury steak, but most of them called for veggie crumbles, textured vegetable protein, or crumbled up veggie burgers. These weren’t going to work for me since I wanted to avoid processed soy (read: vegan junk food), as well as expensive pre-packaged products. I also found a recipe that called for lentils and brown rice as the base, and although the flavor was okay, the texture just wasn’t where I wanted it to be.

I had some bulgur and black beans on hand today and wondered if I could use those as a base for the steaks, similar to the base I use for sausage patties. I use bulgur in my favorite chili recipe too and everyone always asks, “What is this stuff that has a meat-like texture?”

I was really excited with what I came up with, and on my first try too! The bulgur adds a more meaty texture and the beans act as a good binder. Now, I’m not saying that you’ll fool all your friends into thinking this is meat, but it’s an awesome recipe with great flavor and texture, in my opinion. Slather it in onion gravy and it’s even better. 🙂

For the steaks:
1 1/2 cups water + 1 1/2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion’s No Beef Base
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup black beans
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix the water and bullion in a saucepan over medium heat until the bullion is dissolved. Add the bulgur, put a lid on the pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer (around medium-low) and leave the lid slightly tilted. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

While the bulgur is cooking, mash the black beans in a big bowl with a fork. You want to make sure the beans until no whole beans are left. Alternatively, you can pulse them in a food processor a few times.

When the bulgur is done, let it cool slightly and then add it to the bowl with the black beans and the rest of the ingredients. Use your hands to mix everything together, sort of kneading the mixture for a couple of minutes.

Divide into 4-5 parts, depending on the size steaks you want, and form them into patties.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a little oil and cook the steaks for 3 minutes on each side.

For the gravy:
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
2 cups water + 2 teaspoons Better Than Bullion’s No Beef Base
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

While the steaks are cooking, start the gravy.

Heat the Earth Balance in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat and saute the onions for 6-7 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. Lower the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for a couple of minutes until the gravy thickens. Season with salt and pepper as needed. The gravy will also thicken more as it cools.

salisbury steak

Moroccan Chickpeas and Couscous

I’m eating this as we speak, and it’s good. So no chit-chat today folks! I’ll get right down to it. This dish is easy, quick, simple, flavorful, colorful, and yum! It’s from Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap and the cost is less than $1.50 per serving.

moroccan chickpea couscous

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups water
1 10 oz box couscous (I used a 7.6 oz box and it made PLENTY)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons jalapeño, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups (or 15 oz can) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup golden raisis
1 teaspoon sugar (I used agave nectar)
3/4 teaspoon each cumin and coriander
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds, toasted

To toast the almonds, put them in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant (about 3-5 mins).

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once boiling, stir in the couscous, remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork. I just set a timer and start the next steps while I’m waiting.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Then, add the garlic, green onions, ginger, and jalapeños. Sautee for another 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, raisins, sugar, and spices and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through (about 5 minutes). Add the chopped parsley and almonds and serve over the couscous.

I actually love lemon with chickpeas and parsley, so I squeezed the juice of 1/2 lemon over everything. Delish! The leftovers will make a great chilled salad tomorrow for lunch!

Lentil Chard Ragout – Healthy Comfort Food!

Everyone has a different idea of what comfort food is, but there’s a special breed of comfort food in the South. Comfort food = as much cheese, butter, cream, fat, and cholesterol as you can muster into one recipe, then, top it with bacon!

Too bad most people think a plant-based diet is boring and unappetizing. They really don’t know what they’re missing! I think we can all agree the comfort food should be full of flavor, stick-to-your-ribs food that’s cooked with love.

That’s exactly what this recipe is for me. It’s another great one taken from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen. I doubled the amount of swiss chard since I love chard and I knew it would cook down. The lemon zest really brightens everything up and when it’s done, it’s more of a hearty stew. The lentils sort of melt into everything and create a rich, creamy texture. The flavor from the nutritional yeast, wine, and fresh herbs is really remarkable. I could eat this every week!

Kris suggests serving it over brown rice or another grain, but this is so filling, I didn’t need anything extra on the plate.

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup shallots, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups dried green lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup sherry or marsala cooking wine
4 cups chard, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeas
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup bunch fresh Parsley, shopped
1 cup frozen green peas
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter (I actually forgot to add this and didn’t miss it)

Sauté the garlic and shallots in the olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the wine and add the lentils. Bring just to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and cook another 3 minutes or so, until the peas are heated through and the chard is wilted.

This is even better the next day!

Vegan “Tuna” Helper

When I was a tween, my dad was determined to teach me to be a responsible person.  (Thank goodness he did!)  He taught me to do laundry, clean the house, and  make dinner.  I was responsible for making dinner a few nights a week; however, a single, recently divorced man and his young daughter’s idea of cooking was making hamburger (or tuna) helper.  That stuff was so good.  It always had this creamy, irresistible sauce loaded with sodium and fat and there was always pasta too.  Who doesn’t like pasta?!  (Crazy people, that’s who.)

I came across a recipe in Kathy Hester’s The Vegan Slow Cooker that looked a lot like tuna helper to me.  Kathy’s recipe is called “Chick’n and Mushroom Casserole” I tweaked the recipe a bit, replacing the seitan with chickpeas (because I’m kinda over seitan right now) and adding green peas (you GOTTA have green peas in tuna helper – makes it healthy).  I also topped it with homemade vegan parmesan instead of breadcrumbs. If you don’t like chickpeas, I think the Gardein brand chick’n breasts would be good in this.

This stuff is SO good.  I couldn’t wait to have it for leftovers today!

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
8oz package of sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
4 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon Better Than Bullion’s No Chicken Base
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup of green peas (or so… I just sort of dumped some in)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 oz whole wheat rotini
vegan parmesan for topping (blend equal parts nutritional yeast and almonds together in a food processor)

Saute the onions in a little olive oil for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and let the ‘shrooms cook down for about 8 minutes. 

Add the thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, green peas, chickpeas, bullion paste, and pasta.  Mix well and add to a lightly oiled crockpot.  Stir in the almond milk and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours.  Sprinkle the vegan parm (or some breadcrumbs) over the top of each serving.

(Sorry no pic – I gobbled it all up before I thought to take one!)

Mongolian Seitan Recipe

A recent issue of Vegetarian Times contained a recipe from Chloe Coscarelli’s new cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen called L.A. Style Chimichurri Tacos.  They were so good and full of flavor that when I saw the cookbook on the shelf at Barns and Noble’s last weekend, I had to flip through it.  I came across a recipe for Mongolian Seitan and considering I just made a huge batch last week, decided to scribble it down on the back of a receipt I found in my purse.  (I know, I should support the author and buy the book, but I’ll buy from Amazon.)

It turned out really well, so I wanted to share the recipe with you.  To me, the sauce need a little something, but I’m not sure what.  It was tasty enough that I didn’t bother trying to improve it on my own.  Not yet anyway.  I made some slight modifications, which are listed below.  If you want to just buy prepared seitan at the store, that’s perfectly fine, (it will probably brown quicker than mine did as it’s packaged in less broth) but it’s so much more economical to make your own!  This serves 2 people.

¼ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I used 4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I used lime)
1 Tablespoon agave
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

8 oz seiten, cut into strips
8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
4 oz snow peas, strings removed
2 green onions, thinly sliced (I used a lot more, just add however much you like)

Whisk the first 6 ingredients together for the sauce and set aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet and cook the seitan and mushrooms until the seitan is browned and the mushrooms have given up their juices (that sounds so brutal).  This took me about 8-10 minutes, but my seitan was homemade, so it had a lot of liquid in it from sitting in the broth.  If you’re using homemade seitain, it helps to squeeze it out before cooking it.

Add the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves and cook 2 more minutes. 

Add the sauce mixture, snow peas, and green onions and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.  Serve over brown rice, rice noodles, or whatever you like!

Notes:  Chloe’s original recipe also says to sprinkle fresh cilantro over the entrée before serving.  I thought this sounded weird, so I omitted it. Also, I added a pinch of salt to the sauce, but that’s because I was low on soy sauce.  I bet this would be equally as tasty with general TSO’s sauce or an orange glaze.

Vegan Southwest Pizza

I’ve been on a Mexican food kick lately.  We ate at a place called Pinches (tacos) a couple of weeks ago and last night we used a Groupon for Lime Fresh Grill.  Both serve fresh, authentic Mexican food.  Last week I made an enchilada casserole, this past Tuesday I made a Southwest pizza, and tonight I’m making black bean and mushroom tacos with zesty herb sauce.  Now you know what I mean by “kick.”  I can’t seem to get enough! 

I think it’s because bright, colorful produce like limes, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, and yellow corn just seem to go well with summertime and Mexican food!  Also, now that I’ve discovered how wonderful Daiya vegan cheeses are, I want to put it on everything!

Here is a the recipe for the Southwest pizza.  It was really good and a nice variation from the typical Italian pizza.  I think next time I’ll add sliced black olives and small dollops of vegan sour cream after baking!

1 recipe for pizza dough (I buy the dough from Publix bakery)
1 cup vegetarian refried beans
1/3 cup black beans
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 ear yellow or white corn (cut the kernels from the cob)
1 cup salsa
1/3 cup Daiya pepperjack style shreds
1/3 cup Daiya cheddar style shreds
few sprigs cilantro

Roll out the pizza dough to fit the size of your pizza pan and prick it with a fork all over so that it won’t balloon up while baking.  Pre-bake for 10 minutes on 400 degrees (or follow the directions for the dough you bought or for the recipe you used).

Remove the pizza from the oven and spread the refried beans over the crust, leaving about an inch or so around the outside.  Spread about 1/2 cup of the salsa over the top of the beans and then add both cheeses.  Add the corn and black beans (don’t add the avocado or cilantro yet).  At this point, I added a few more spoonfuls of salsa and spread it around a bit.  Brush the edges of the crust with a little olive oil.  Bake for another 15 minutes, or follow the directions on your dough recipe/package (my times and temperature’s are for Publix’s dough).

Remove the pizza from the oven and add the cilantro leaves and avocado.  Slice and enjoy!