Thursday, August 12, 2010

Deviating from my menu...but making lots of yummy things in the process!

I had several tomatoes that were asking to be used and a couple of fresh jalepenos from my garden looking perfectly green and ripe so I decided it was definitely time to make some salsa! I also whipped up a few tortilla chips to pair the salsa with as a somewhat healthy snack. When we lived in Africa, this was a popular appetizer that my mom was known for within our missionary community. And I never doubted why!!

Fresh Salsa
5 medium tomatoes,cored and chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 t sea salt
juice of 2 limes
1/2 T dried minced onions
3/4 t garlic powder
1 large or 2 small jalepenos (seed them if you want a milder salsa; leave the seeds in for a spicier version)
Serve with tortilla chips - I brushed flour tortillas with canola oil and cut into wedges. Then baked them at 400 degrees for about 4 min per side.

I have always heard that tempeh is an acquired taste and that seitan is not so much - I have found this to perhaps not be the case for us. I think tempeh has a very mild taste and seitan is harder to get used to! Nonetheless, these Baja Style Tacos were really yummy - full of flavor and topped with a very tasty slaw and lime crema.

With only a little time and after a very busy day, I tried to think of something that would require little prep, work or cleanup and decided to make yet another batch of veggie rolls. I actually used spring roll wrappers this time and really liked them. I made them up and didn't cook them right away so some of the juices seaped out, making them a bit fall-apart prone when I cooked them. So, in the future, I would cook them immediately and not let them sit. The filling was quite yummy and the wrappers worked nicely. Since I have not been able to find egg roll wrappers without eggs in them (only won ton wrappers which are small and require you to make a ton for a meal!), these were a good stand-in and were speedier to use since they are much bigger than won ton wrappers.

Easy Spring Rolls
5 cups shredded veggies (these are very versatile in that you can use any veggies you like - I used a mixture of cabbage, carrots, cauliflower,and green onions)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 T sesame oil
1 T olive oil
2 T cider vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t sugar
3 T sriracha sauce
Spring roll wrappers

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add veggies and garlic and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Place spring roll wrapper in front of you in a diamond shape. Fill spring roll wrappers with 2-3 T filling. Fold bottom point up and over filling. Fold side points over bottom point and continue rolling until closed. Place a coating of canola oil in frying pan and heat. Fry spring rolls until crisped and golden on all sides - about 5-7 min total. Serve with sweet and sour sauce.

My sweet and sour sauce is a sauce recipe my family uses for chicken. It's called Canton Chicken and for years has been a favorite for us. Now that we are eating a vegan diet, I don't make it anymore. However, a while back I decided the sauce would make a fabulous sweet and sour sauce in addition to the fact that I think bottled sweet and sour sauce is sadly lacking and pricey to boot! Enjoy this tangy sauce on egg rolls, spring rolls, rice etc. My 4 yr old loves to dip his broccoli in it! I always make a double batch to have extra on hand.

Jackson Family Sweet and Sour Sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 t soy sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 t salt
3 T ketchup
2 T cornstarch mixed with 3 T water to form a smooth liquidy paste.
Wisk ingredients together (except cornstarch/water mixture) in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Add cornstarch mixture and wisk until smooth and thick.


  1. I love both seitan and tempeh, so I can't judge :P
    Wow, you lived in Africa? Story time!

    Amber Shea

  2. Yes - moved to Zambia when I was 11. We were missionaries. Went to boarding school in Kenya. My husband (though a white American) was born and raised in Tanzania. We graduated high school together and then moved back to the States. We have been back a few last trip back was 2007 when our oldest son was 18mo old :-)Funny things you learn while blogging, huh?!


Crispy Herbed Potato Stack

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack
I was going to try a recipe for herbed scalloped potatoes and at last minute decided to do something fast and easy. I made up the recipe and it was yummola! I layered sliced russet potatoes in a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, basil, rosemary, paprika, and garlic powder. Then I baked them at 425 fr about 45 minutes. They were crisp and very flavorful!

My thrown-together salad today - after discovering I had no leftovers for lunch!

Tamale Fixings

Tamale Fixings
Plain pintos (for Keith), pintos, corn and onions; corn, jalepenos and Daiya; mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and chard

Making these was a bit time-consuming but kinda fun! They didn't turn out as good as I had hoped - the outer tamale part (not the filling) just wasn't as flavorful as tamales I have had in restaurants. I have another recipe I will try for the dough next time. Tamales are one of my favorite foods so I won't give up on this one!

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes
I modified one of my favorite pancake recipes to make it vegan and then I added blueberries. Turned out quite yummy. Soymilk sours and thickens well - very similar to buttermilk. I have been really impressed with it's ability to substitute for real buttermilk.

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

Egg replacement for 1 egg
1 1/4 cups soured soy milk (put 2 T vinegar into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to equal 1 1/4 cups)
2 T canola oil
1 cup flour (I wouldn't recommend whole wheat or whole wheat pastry - it really takes away from the fluffiness of these pancakes)
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Blueberries, optional

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Heat griddle pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Sprinkle blueberries on pancakes after ladling onto griddle. Cook just until golden on both sides.

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein
Overall, this was fabulous! However, I don't think the seitan added much so I would just leave it out next time. The lo mein also needed about double the sauce so I would simply do that next time for added flavor. This was especially spicy and yummy with some Sriracha drizzled on top. I made our favorite veg egg rolls to go with this and it was truly a Chinese treat!!

Veggie Seitan Lo Mein

I really did my own thing for this recipe so I am just going to outline the instructions and include the sauce recipe. I heated oil in a large skillet and added 3 minced cloves of garlic and about 1 cup of half-moon cut onions (I was out of green onions but next time I would use green onions as I like them a lot in Chinese food) and about 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots. After about 5-6 minutes, I added about 1/4 lb of whole green beans. I cooked these veggies until tender. Meanwhile, I cooked a 16oz package of chow mein noodles. Once the veggie mixture was cooked, I poured the sauce on the veggies, heated through and tossed with the noodles. Next time I would double the amount of sauce and have adjusted amounts below to reflect double recipe.

Sauce (Source:Adaptable Feast)
3 T soy sauce
3 T rice wine (I used 3 T rice vinegar and 1 t sugar as I didn't have any rice wine)
3 t sugar
4 T black bean garlic sauce
Mix all ingredients and toss with above mixture.

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth
Pretty yummy. I found that steaming the wontons worked much better than the recipe suggestion to boil them. The broth was very mild and a bit too mellow for us. Still pretty yummy though. I added extra veggies to the wontons and scallion to the broth. The seasoning in the wonton filling was quite tasty!

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth (Source: Vegan Yum Yum)

(As usual, I modified several things so it's not exactly the recipe in Vegan Yum Yum!)

1 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 T oil
1 t fresh ginger, minced
1 clove fresh minced garlic
1/2 t hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 t hot Chinese mustard
2 T plus 1 t soy sauce
4 cups water ( I think this might have been more flavorful had I used vegetable broth or faux chicken broth???)
6 slices fresh ginger
1 T mirin (I used a splash of cooking wine as I didn't have mirin)
1 1/2 t sugar
2 t rice vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup chopped scallions
16 wonton skins

For filling: Heat oil in skillet and add broccoli, ginger, garlic, carrot, onion and cook until veggies are crisp tender. Add chili sauce, mustard, 1 t soy sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make wontons, take one skin and place in diamond shape. Fill with 1-2 t filling. Fold in half to make a triangle and moisten edges with water and pinch sides to seal. Set triangle in front of you with point up and take the 2 side points and bring them together in front to cross. Set aside and prepare remaining wontons. When finished, place wontons in a steamer basket and steam over pot of boiling water until translucent.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine remaining ingredients (except wontons) and simmer 10-15 min.

Place 3-4 wontons in bowl and ladle broth over wontons. Serve.