Monday, May 12, 2014

Meatless May Day 11: Hummus Sandwiches and a Hummus Recipe

While not the most original supper idea in the world, I knew I would want something fairly light because I went to a huge mother's day brunch buffet.  I didn't feel like I missed out on anything at the buffet by not eating meat, and Jason said he just missed the bacon.

I decided I would make hummus because I was soaking chickpeas for the chickpea cutlets anyway.  I still have leftover chickpeas that I'll freeze and make into something delicious later on when I don't feel like cooking beans.  You see, just like I won't buy ricotta, I also won't buy canned beans or pre-made hummus.  Both are ridiculously easy to make and much cheaper when you do it yourself.  Beans don't require work, just planning, and you must be in the house for a few hours unless you have a crock-pot, and in that case, most of the work is done for you.  Really, I think if you make a lot of beans, the crock-pot would eventually pay for itself.  Also, don't buy your hummus, make it.  Yes, I do have a food processor which makes smooth hummus, but I used to make it with a potato masher and a fork, not as smooth, but still amazing.

My hummus sandwiches included lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and black olives.  As I type this I'm realizing a missed opportunity of an avocado sitting sadly in the refrigerator.  Roasted red peppers would have been great too.

Hummus (an approximate recipe)

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained (probably about 1 1/2 cans if you must use canned beans)
Juice from 1 1/2 to 2 lemons
3 cloves garlic, pressed
about 5 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, add more to taste, less if you use canned beans

I don't measure too much when I do this, so you may need a little more or a little less of something depending on your desired tastes.  Also, I've made this before and forgotten the tahini, it's okay, well edible, but it's flat.  I have heard you can substitute natural peanut butter, but I've not tried this.  Let me know if you do and how it turned out.

If you have a food processor, pulse chickpeas a few times until the beans are broken up.  If you're not using a food processor, mash the chickpeas with a fork until no whole beans remain.  Add lemon juice, garlic, and tahini.  Pulse, or mash until well combined and smooth.  Add in olive oil and pulse again until creamy.  You may need to add more oil or water at this point if it's too thick.  Finally, add seasonings, stir, and try not to eat it all with a spoon before you can get it onto a sandwich.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Meatless May Day 10: Chickpea Cutlets and Mashed Potatoes = One Happy Mastiff

I haven't posted over the last few days because we've had a frozen stir-fry kit one night, leftovers twice, and we went out for Mexican last night where we had veggie nachos and Chiles Poblanos.  Today I planned the meals for the rest of the week (there will be homemade vegan chorizo), bought a ton of herbs and vegetables for my container garden, and made chickpea cutlets from The Veganomicon.

Because these are from a cookbook, I can't give out the recipe, but they were delicious.  My dog, who has been disappointed with the meal offerings lately, was so excited to see these, and I know he thought they were meat.  He ran around like crazy when he saw the mashed potatoes because that is one of his favorite foods, and he really enjoyed the mushroom gravy.

While the cutlets don't taste like meat, they do have the texture of a crispy salmon patty, and they are wonderful.  I think they taste a lot like meat from a t.v. dinner (I mean that in a good way).  I will be making them again when meatless May is finished.  Tomorrow, we're off to a mother's day brunch buffet, so I imagine a lot of side dishes will be consumed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Meatless May Day 5: Veggie Quesadillas

Last night I made pepper, onion, mushroom, and cheese quesadillas with avocado salsa.  The salsa is just something I throw together with avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.  It's much better when the tomatoes are in season, but that is going to be awhile.  For the quesadilla filling I just sauteed the veggies with salt and pepper and deglazed the pan with some silver tequila.

Today my students found out that I'm not eating meat for the month, and they are confounded by this.  They aren't really sure what I'm going to be eating, and this led to a conversation about how long a person could survive without meat.  I don't think they believed my answer of "forever."  There was also a long discussion about tofu, which I still don't think they understood.

There won't be too much excitement in the way of food posting for the next couple of days.  Jason made supper tonight which consisted of a frozen stir-fry kit and some pre-marinated teriyaki tofu because I worked late.  Wednesday and Thursday nights are usually leftovers, but I may get creative and whip something up.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Meatless May Day 4: Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Po Boy (Triangle food is more fun)

Why does eating triangles make me so happy?  Think about it.  Sandwiches cut diagonally are better than sandwiches cut horizontally.  Pizza is usually cut into a triangle, and then there's pie.  Tofu is another food made better by cutting it into a triangle, especially when it's fried.  The narrow pieces at the end get crispy while the wider parts at the top stay a little softer.  It's two wonderful textures for the price of one.  These cornmeal crusted tofu triangles were no exception to the tasty triangle rule.

If you don't know about po boys, they are basically sub sandwiches.  The ones I've had include some kind of fried fish or seafood, lettuce, pickles, and tartar or cocktail sauce.  They are popular down south, and I believe they originated in Louisiana.  Jason had his first one a few years ago in Alabama and was instantly hooked.  I'm not surprised he choose this recipe.

 I took this recipe out of The Veganomicon, so I can't post it, but I can tell you it was delicious.  You basically dredge tofu triangles in a spiced cornmeal mixture and then fry it until it's crispy.  I've had fish sticks with a lot less flavor and crunch.  I added some Old Bay seasoning to my sandwich, which made my brain think I was eating fish.  We had this with coleslaw and green beans.  Jason claimed the coleslaw was just "okay," but I came home tonight and found out he had eaten almost all the leftovers (about 3 cups worth), so I'll try to get a recipe together for that and post it soon.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Meatless May Day 3: Tortellini with 5-Cheese Sauce. Oh, and I'm ridiculous.

Penne with 5 cheeses can be found here, and it's a recipe that I used to make often.  I've made it with Penne as directed, but I've also baked it with cheese raviolis and used it as a sauce for scallop stuffed cannelloni.  I love this sauce, but I haven't made it for almost three years.  I just kind of forgot about it.  The other day, I thought about it again, and I knew it would work well for the meatless month we are having.  I planned out the weekly meals, and then promptly forgot that this recipe called for ricotta.

Here's where we get into the problem, and me being a little crazy.  I haven't made this recipe since I've started making my own ricotta cheese.  I refuse to buy ricotta because mine is so much better than the pre-packaged stuff.  I had this planned for Friday night, but didn't make any ricotta.  The recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of the cheese, and I still rearranged dinner plans because I didn't have it.  I think this is an issue, but now I do have some lovely homemade cheese waiting for me to broil on some toast later, so that's not all that bad, right?

This meal comes together quickly, especially is you don't have to make your own cheese.  I used two 19 oz packages of frozen tortellini (cook the tortellini first), and baked it at 500 F for 15 minutes.  There is a lot leftover, but it reheats well, and I think it would freeze well too.  We never get to that point, and I guarantee that in two days only a small fraction of this will be left.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Meatless May Day 2: Tofu Puttanesca

I thought I had everything planned to make cheese tortellini with a five cheese sauce, but then I remembered I didn't make any ricotta, and I refuse to buy the store-bought stuff (more on this tomorrow).  This was around 5:00, so I needed to think of something fast for supper.  Flipping through my cookbooks, I found a recipe for a tofu puttanesca scramble.  Brilliant I thought, I have a jar of capers hanging around that I've been wanting to use anyway, so a quick trip to the grocery store for tofu and tomatoes, and I was set.

I expected this to be good, but it was better than that.  If you've not had puttanesca, it's a briny, spicy, garlicky, tomatoey sauce, usually tossed with pasta.  I know it has some connection to brothels because it was something the ladies could whip up quickly with what they had on hand.  The tofu was a great vehicle because it soaked up all the briny flavors of the olives and capers, but you could use pasta or chicken here too.  I do wish I had some crusty bread to eat this with.

I served the tofu with parsley-buttered potatoes and roasted green beans.  This is my favorite way to have green beans, just toss with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and roast on a cookie sheet.  I roasted these at 375 F for about 25 minutes, but sometimes I'll roast them longer to get them softer.  

For the potatoes, use a waxy potato like yellow or red for best results.  Steam or boil cubed potatoes until tender, but not falling apart.  Toss with butter, salt, and lots of chopped parsley.

I didn't use the recipe I found, but it did give me inspiration to whip something up on my own.  So, here's my version of Tofu Puttanesca (recipe below picture)

Tomorrow: Cheese Tortellini with 5 Cheeses

Tofu Puttanesca

  • 12 or 16 oz package extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (you may need a little more depending on how much the tofu sucks up)
  • 1 cup whole grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 12 large black olives, sliced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 tablespoon caper brine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • optional 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley to top
  1. preheat heavy bottomed straight-sided or pan or large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add olive oil and garlic, cook garlic until brown, but watch it, it will burn quickly.  This should take a little less than a minute.
  3. Add cubed tofu and red pepper flakes.  Cook in skillet for 10 minutes until tofu cubes begin to brown.  You'll need to flip the cubes a few times during this process, but be gentle, and try not to break then up too much.  Add more oil if the cubes start to stick.
  4. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and brine.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tomatoes start to get soft.
  5. Remove from heat and top with parsley if using.  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Meatless May Day 1: Learned Helplessness

About a week ago, Jason declared that he would like to eat only vegetarian in May.  Two minutes later he said "We can still have fish, right?"  We decided on no fish, but we will be eating dairy and eggs, so May is now deemed Meatless May.  Jason believes this will lead us down a path of healthier eating, but I think we'll just eat more cheese.  I have set a rule of pasta no more than once a week because I know it will be a fall back food if there's no limit.

In my planning for Meatless May, also among trying to get caught up on my end of the semester grading, I neglected to remember that we always eat leftovers for lunch.  So, when Wednesday night hit, and we'd eaten all the meat products in fridge, Jason realized that he didn't know what to have for lunch the next day, and I'd be at work.  I reminded him that there  was leftover broccoli cheese sauce, but he'd have to microwave a potato.  "You do know how to microwave a potato, right?"  The disheartening reply "I don't think so."  Keep in mind, we do have a special bag for microwaving said potatoes.  He ended up with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

This month should be a little more interesting in the culinary department than just peanut butter and jelly, and I plan on posting our dinners daily.  Last night we had sauteed pepper, onion, and mushroom melts.  No recipe, just saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms until soft.  Spread marinara on hoagie rolls, top with sauteed veggies and sliced mozzarella, and then put into the oven until the cheese is melted.  I put these in at 400 F for about 7 minutes.  Just watch that the bread doesn't burn.

Tomorrow: Tofu Puttanesca