Tuesday, October 18, 2011

a very long post with bonus recipes

Onward we march with our vegan adventure.  While Dan announced this morning, "the novelty has worn off" (if you ask me, he's just longing for a coffee with traditional milk instead of one of the myriad of non-dairy milks that haven't been cutting the mustard), I think that we are doing rather well with veganism.  We are eating healthy foods, we haven't gone off the deep end and binged on Cheddar cheese, and we are finding interesting, new dishes to enjoy.  Take, for example, this week's Herbed Tofu with Avocado Cream (But, first, I must clarify because the word "cream" is misleading here. There is no hint of actual cream or dairy of any sort.  So, fear not, vegan friends.  It's the magical avocado that provides all the creaminess here.)  So, yes, Herbed Tofu with Avocado Cream.  I know that tofu is a strange substance for some.  It wiggles.  It's white.  It basically tastes like nothing.  And, it's long been given a bad rap, relegated to the realm of bean sprouts and bran. 

Tofu, however, is remarkable.  It is, in fact, the chameleon of the food world.  It takes on the flavors of its environment.  And, this is a good thing.  But, perhaps comparing tofu to a chameleon isn't exactly helping my argument here.  Eating chameleons?  That's just gross, Heather.  Gross.  So forget that visual.  But go with the idea that you have a blank canvas waiting to be transformed into something amazing.  Marinade it in soy sauce and olive oil, and you have tofu that is ready to be fried up and thrown into an Asian-themed wrap or stir fry.  Cover it with bread crumbs or Panko and you have mock "fish sticks."  Or, as we did with this week's recipe, elevate it to a level of beauty and sophistication.  Prior to making this recipe, I had never cooked with herbes de provence.  Can I just say that this mixture is delightful?  It has a wonderful flavor and turns unassuming, plain-Jane tofu into Janelle, the bon vivant of tofus, who has seen the world and deemed France to be très magnifique!  And, as if the herbes de provence weren't enough, we also have an avocado cream with which to decorate our fine tofu.  Avocado, let me add, that comes together with garlic, lime juice, olive oil, and parsley to make something quite divine.

So, if you've shunned tofu up until now, give it a chance.  Forget that it's a little weird and focus on its good points.  Or, if you must, just focus on the herbes de provence that give this particular tofu its pièce de résistance.  You'll feel transported to southern France, and how is that a bad thing?

Here ends the tofu petition.  Cue the "bonus recipes" portion of this post. 

You may be thinking, "Okay. That's all fine and dandy that they whipped up one charming little tofu dish, but what did they eat the rest of the week?"  Well, it's true that while we are posting just one vegan recipe per week here on Visual Feast, we obviously are eating more than a single recipe's worth of food each week.  In fact, we've been dining on some rather delightful meals as of late.  Some are recipes that we loved from pre-vegan days, while others are new favorites that we've discovered as a result of this experiment.  In case you too should have a craving for a meatless, dairy-free, egg-free delight, feast on this:

- Nut Burgers (click the link to one of our previous, most favorite Visual Feast recipes)
- Sweet Potato Burritos (minus the cheese...also a previous blog recipe)
- Sweet Potato Falafel (in my opinion, the least successful recipe this month, but it started to grow on me after awhile)
- Sheryl Crow's "Mom's Reconstructed Chili" (Dan's mom was wonderful and made this delicious, hearty chili for us, so that we'd have a vegan option on Family Dinner Night.)
- Tempeh Tacos (from Feeding the Whole Family)*
- Couscous Salad (from The Clueless Vegetarian)*
- Burnin' Butt Burritos and Larry's Re-Fried Beans (from How it all Vegan)*
- Baked Oatmeal (a veganized version of one of my favorite recipes, which turned out fabulously)*
- Pumpkin Pecan Cookies (I am the only one that has liked these so far, but they are very good for a "healthy-feeling" cookie)
- Pomegranate Chip Soy Ice Cream (This one requires no more than a trip to your local grocery store.  Try it.  It's amazing!)

Of course, sometimes you need simple meals too.  And for those nights, we've had:
- Whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce
- Rice-bean-and-salsa wraps
- Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo (amazing and spicy and very worth-trying), sauteed with chopped red peppers, kidney beans, and Trader Joe's roasted corn (also amazing), served over pasta

*Recipes from above, that weren't available online:

from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) tempeh (Trader Joe’s brand is GREAT!)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup lime juice
1 Tablespoon chili powder or Mexican seasoning
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup chopped cilantro
12 taco shells

Optional taco fixings:
Shredded lettuce

Crumble or chop tempeh into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.  Combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt, lime juice, and chili powder in a small bowl and pour this marinade over the tempeh.  Let stand 10 to 30 minutes; the longer time allows more absorption of the flavor.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet.  Add onion and sauté until soft.  Add marinated tempeh and keep moving in the pan until tempeh turns golden brown.  Add cilantro just prior to serving.  Warm taco shells according to directions on package.  Fill shells with tempeh mixture and your favorite fixings.

Makes 4-6 servings

from “The Clueless Vegetarian” by Evelyn Raab

This recipe is very flexible.  If you don’t like one or more of the ingredients, leave it out or substitute a different ingredient.  I already doubled the dressing from the original recipe, but you may still feel that you need more. 

1 cup water
1 cup dry couscous
4 green onions, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, chopped
2 medium peppers (green or red or roasted red)
1 can beans, drained (any kind – chickpeas, black, pinto, kidney)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt & pepper to taste (I think at least 1 tsp. of salt is necessary.)
Anything else you’d like to add: sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, olives, etc…

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Stir in the couscous, then immediately remove from the heat and cover the pot.  Let the couscous stand, covered, for 5 -10 minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients.  The couscous will absorb all the liquid.  Fluff gently with a fork to loosen.

In a very large bowl, combine all the vegetables and the parsley with the cooked couscous.  Mix gently, making sure you don’t mash up the ingredients.

In an empty jar (or Good Seasons container), combine the lemon juice, oil, and cumin.  Add salt and pepper, if desired.  Attach the lid of the container and shake well.  Salt and pepper the couscous mixture, if desired.  Serve dressing alongside the salad.


from How it All Vegan by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer

½ small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup broccoli, chopped
4 mushrooms, chopped
½ medium red pepper, chopped
1-3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 large tortilla shells
2 cups refried beans (see Refried Bean recipe below)
Soy cheese, optional
2 cups cooked rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium saucepan, sauté the onions, garlic, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, and jalapenos in the oil over medium-high heat until onions become translucent.  Set aside.  Lay tortilla shells down and spread a thin layer of re-fried beans, cheese, salsa, rice, and the veggie mixture in each.  Roll up and lay on cookie sheet.  Bake burritos for 15-20 minutes.  Serve topped with salsa or guacamole. 

Makes 4 burritos.

from How it All Vegan by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer

2 cups cooked or canned beans (pinto, black, kidney)
½ cup vegetable stock or water
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Roma tomato, sliced

In a medium pot, cook all ingredients on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Mash with a fork and serve as is over rice, or in items such as burritos.

Makes 2-4 servings.


Mix together:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, whisked together with 3 tablespoons water (allow to sit for a few minutes)
½  - ¾ cup sugar (or a combination of sugar & maple syrup to make up ½ - ¾ cup)
½ cup canola oil

Then add:

3 cups oatmeal
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups soy milk or almond milk or oat milk (I used oat milk)
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Bake in an 8x8-inch or 9x9-inch greased pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


  1. Alright there, Missy. I'm not giving up on this vegan challenge just yet. There are plenty of alternative creamers to try for coffee. By and large I haven't had a hard time staying away from meat. Dairy on the other hand has been the hardest. It has been especially easy for me because you keep cooking up all this great food! Good work, Chicken! err...I mean Tofu!

  2. I think Dan is quite a trooper!! I doubt he will throw in the towel anytime soon. What a sweetie he is to acknowledge your yummy cooking:-) I actually think you guys are going to eat a lot of these vegan recipes for the rest of your life. Many of them are really very healthy and amazingly tasty. My bet is that you will turn into PVPs!! ...Partial Vegan People:-) Keep on truckin'!! Thirteen days and counting:-)

  3. One more thing:-) It's so fun to read your posts, especially when your French comes shining through. I love Mademoiselle Janelle Tofu!!

  4. Okay, you've actually got me wanting to try a tofu recipe. Consider me amazed! It must have been all that french...


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