Monday, April 30, 2007

General Tao's Tofu

This recipe appears to be famous on It sits at the top of the list of the site's most-viewed recipes--and--it also has the most reviews with a whopping 157... all raving about how awesome and delicious this dish was. Therefore, I couldn't wait to try it!

Before I go any further, this recipe did not disappoint. It is indeed awesome!

I must say, it took me way longer than the stated 30 min. prep time. It could be cuz this was my first time manuvering through the recipe, but it still takes more time than I usually put into a weeknight meal. LOL But I made it special cuz Monday nights are dinner with my BF, so I always try to impress him with my veggie cooking skills! ;)

When I make this again, I plan to pre-mix the sauce ingredients (sans water and cornstarch) prior to beginning the tofu. Thankfully, my BF didn't mind watching the tofu cook while I chopped and readied the sauce ingredients. Next time, the sauce ingredients are being made first, which will make it easier to just add the water/cornstarch in and heat it all up as the tofu is looking ready. This sauce WILL thicken, so be sure to cook it long enough so that it does thicken. And, definitely double-up on the sauce as recommended by the reviews on vegweb. You'll want plenty of this yummy sauce for this dish! So double the sauce recipe!

I also followed the recipe's advice and froze my chopped tofu the night before and let it defrost in the fridge while I was at work today. Coating the tofu in the egg-replacer/cornstarch took some time, but I was trying to make it look all pretty. Next time I'll probably speed this up by rolling several pieces of tofu in the cornstarch at the same time. I also plan to cook the tofu longer... we fried it till golden, but just golden. I think we could've fried it more till it browned a bit. We also made the mistake of adding the tofu into the sauce too soon--before the sauce thickened. While it all still tasted yummy, the tofu 'crust' did seem to soften up in the sauce, so next time the tofu won't be added to the sauce until just before serving.

I served it over jasmine rice with broccoli and red peppers.

Other than that, this recipe is AWESOME. I don't know if I've ever had Chinese food that has tasted this good. Seriously. I really haven't eaten much Chinese food since going veg. Prior to becoming veg*n, I mainly ate almond chicken when we ordered Chinese. Once I went veg, I think we dined out at a Chinese restaurant one time and I ordered some kind of noodle thing which I didn't care for. Oh, and my veg*n friend and I tried this one Chinese place that served meatless chinese dishes (think meatless sweet and sour "chicken") but I believe that restaurant may have closed. This recipe is definitely a keeper, tho. Well worth the effort!

Oh.... and did I mention this recipe was vegan? Absolutely no animal ingredients whatsoever! :-D

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

My folks came over to visit Saturday, and my mom brought me some fresh sweet potatoes. Yum! On Sunday for lunch, I washed, chopped and then boiled them for about 20 minutes. I added a bit of olive oil in lieu of butter and then mashed away and voila! Fresh mashed sweet potatoes! Mmmm, mmmmm. I sprinkled a bit of nutritional yeast on top and it was deelish! :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A place where veg*n food is always 'Inn Season'

One of my favorite, exclusively veg*n restaurants in southeast Michigan is Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak, Mich. There’s nothing particularly “wowing” about it, but I think that’s why I like it. The restaurant is small and quaint. The decor is modest yet comfy-feeling. And the food is a veg*n’s delight! All items on the menu are considered vegetarian, which does include dairy. But, vegans never fear! Inn Season Cafe clearly marks which items are completely sans animal products with an asterick, making the dishes easily recognizable while perusing the menu.

This past weekend, I opted to try the vegan-marked Cashew Ginger Stir-Fry. This dish was chock FULL of a variety of tasty veggies, served over brown rice. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, onions, snap peas, cauliflower, cashews… I know I’m forgetting some of the veggies! The bowl was HUGE. The picture above does not do the bowl justice! The meal completely filled me up, and I took home a carry-out with enough leftovers for a light lunch the following day. Not bad for $10.50.

Inn Season Cafe offers daily specials, and my dining companion opted for one of those–Bourkeri at $15.95. She enjoyed it very much. I made my first faux pas of restaurant-review blogging–ALWAYS take a pen with you to jot down details! I thought memorizing the name of the dish would be enough to find it on Google later on, for a basic description. Wrong. So, I apologize for that. I will do better in the future!

In addition to stir-fries and daily specials, the Cafe offers items like appetizers, pizzas, burgers, burritoes and wraps.

Overall, Inn Season Cafe is a must-stop for veg*n dining when in the Royal Oak, Mich. area. It’s located at 500 E. 4th St., about three blocks east of Main St. There are plenty of shops within walking distance of the Cafe, including a Salvation Army shop, if you’re into browsing for items to recycle!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Adventures with TVP - Part 1

Textured Vegetable Protein. Otherwise known as TVP. This meat substitute is made from defatted soy flour, a by-product of making soybean oil.

For the longest time, I've been scared of this. Don't really know why. Guess I wasn't sure how to cook it, or how it would taste. But recently, I broke down and bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill TVP. I was intrigued yet I still let it sit in my cupboard for a while. This week I decided to take the plunge and just try it.

I chose a very basic way to use it; I just added it to my pasta sauce the way many omnis might add meat to theirs. I must say, I don't know why I was so afraid of this stuff. LOL It tasted good and was easy to use. Plus, it's high in protein and low in fat, so I think I'll be working this into my diet more often! :)

Quick Mexi Veggie Dish

Didn't follow a special recipe for this one, just used things I already had in my cupboards. I cooked up some brown rice. While that was cooking, I heated up a frozen mix of red/green peppers and onions as well as a Spicy Black Bean Burger. Love, love LOVE the spicy black bean burgers. They are my favorite of the Morningstar brand. Tossed it all in a dish with some organic salsa on top for a little kick and voila! A quick and easy one-person veggie meal. :)

I really don't like cooking for myself. I much prefer to make meals that others will enjoy with me. But I'm trying to be better about it and get more creative for my solo meals so I'll have more entries to post here, LOL.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wild Rice Casserole

I made this yummy dish last night for me and my boyfriend. I swiped it from It was originally posted by
Vggiegirl, so many kudos to her for sharing this recipe!

I used brown rice instead of wild rice, because it's what I had on hand. And, I used scrumptious baby portabellas and canned cream of mushroom soup--though I will most definitely try the vegan recipe for the soup the next time around.

The sauce thickened a lot upon setting for a few, but this was a great stick-to-your-ribs type of recipe. Really wish I would've found this earlier this winter... might be a bit heavy during the summer months, especially with the 90 minutes that it has to cook in the oven. But definitely two thumbs up! This one's a keeper! :)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Making Easter a little more veggie

In my family, Easter has always been a holiday focused on meat, namely ham and kielbasa. But over the years, the number of vegetarians in the family has grown--first my aunt, then myself, and now my 15-year-old cousin who is following in our veg*n footsteps. Because of this, the meatless food options at family gatherings has improved, but it's still not guaranteed, depending on who's serving dinner.
This year, Easter was hosted by my aunt and an uncle who is a
big meater andhunter to boot. This is the same uncle who
often tried to trickme into eating venison when I was younger.
I learned not to trust him when it came to food. So it was
a no-brainer that I needed to bring a veggie dish to this
holiday dinner.

I knew my veggie aunt was making potato pierogis and
sauerkraut would be available, too. But there was no
talk of vegetables by anyone else. :( So I picked up
my new copy of Vegan with a Vengence, thoughfully given
to me by my sister for my birthday, and thumbed the
pages for a simple yet hearty veggie dish to pass.

My eyes rested on "Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Toasted
Garlic." Mmm. Sounded good to me! I also liked that there
were only four ingredients involved: the sprouts, olive oil,
garlic and sea salt. And, the book said it served 6, which
meant if I doubled the recipe, I'd easily have enough food
for everyone.

My experience with brussel sprouts in the past has been
pretty uneventful. While I don't dislike them, they're not
one of my favorite veggies either. Maybe that's because I've
only eaten frozen sprouts which were steamed? I was
definitely up to the challenge of finding a more interesting
way of cooking sprouts, and this vegan recipe seemed perfect.

I made a few modifications to the recipe though: I used the
minced garlic in a jar instead of fresh garlic and opted for
fine sea salt rather than coarse, simply because it's what I
had on hand.

The recipe was uber easy to make. Definitely a plus for
those who may not like to spend all their time in the kitchen.
The most time-consuming aspect was washing/cutting the

Best of all, it got rave reviews from everyone at the dinner
table...even my boyfriend, who doesn't like brussel sprouts.
He took a little nibble and said it was better than other sprouts
he's tasted. I liked the fresh taste of the sprouts. Definitely
a step up from frozen bags. However, I personally would like to
experiment with the recipe using different spices. Definitely a
"keeper" tho and one to play with!