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Archive for the tag “vegan”

The best veggie burger you’ve had yet.

I am picky about my veggie burgers.  Growing up as an omnivore, burgers were a family favorite of ours, and we outdid ourselves on burger nights.  They were big, beefy, cheesey and quite often dripping with toppings.  If you wanted a real burger, you came to my house.  That being said, I’m picky about my veggie burgers.  I’m warming up to mushrooms, but I still don’t love them and my least favorite are the big meaty ones used in place of a burger patty.  I do like boca burgers, but they don’t have a ton of flavor and they don’t compare to the traditional hamburger we usually think of.  And most other burgers are too mushy.  They just don’t hold up to my standards.  That is, until now.

This spinach-tofu burger was still a little on the mushy side, but the taste MORE than made up for that.  I can’t even describe it.  I didn’t have high hopes when I heard it was composed of spinach and tofu.  I love spinach as much as the next greens-loving girl, but in a burger instead of on top?  Color me skeptical.  However, Elizabeth and I were excited to try something new because I had been craving a burger for a while but I didn’t like any of the options available in Beijing.  So together, we set out to have a yummy burger night, complete with homemade rosemary-dill fries, a big green salad and all the accoutrements that come with this tasty American classic.

Satisfied is an understatement.  Pleased, pleasantly surprised; all understatements.  These were incredible.  Browning them gave them a nice grilled taste and they packed enough flavor that we didn’t need anything on it aside from the heap of veggies we stuffed between our of sesame buns.  I really can’t say enough about these.  Please, stop reading and go try them.  Now.  I’m about to go for seconds.  Nom nom nom.

Also, we have to give credit where is due, and this recipe is not our own.  It is a Marcus Samuelsson recipe that we found via Joanne at Eats well with others.  Check out both of those sites for the recipe and more photos.  We mostly went by the recipe, but we left out the panko and the sesame oil; we just used plain ole breadcrumbs that were available to us.  We also are currently without the luxury of a food processor, so ours were crafted by hand and fork, which could be why they were a bit on the mushy side.  In any case, go eat these.  You’re welcome in advance.  🙂

Lemon-ginger deliciousness.

So much yummy greenery!

Ok, not our best name to date, I’ll admit, but this dish was delicious.  While it may look a little plain, trust me, these noodles are anything but boring or bland.  And what’s best is that while they have a distinctly Asian flavor, they aren’t our traditional Asian dish.  We used a minimal amount of soy sauce and really played up the other ingredients to give this dish a new and exciting kick that we needed to get away from our usual Chinese noodle dishes.

We cooked up this dish mainly to use up some bean sprouts we had bought the day before.  We love using bean sprouts but we often buy them and don’t use them before they go bad!  They seem to have a shelf life of only a day or so, so we knew we had to act fast.  To begin, we boiled some thick, flat noodles and set them aside as we prepared the rest of the food.  Then, we sauteed broccoli florets, chopped celery and baby bok choy together with a drop of oil and a splash of soy sauce.  While this cooked, Elizabeth mixed up the sauce for the noodles.

Just added the bean sprouts.

Depending on the amount of food you’re preparing, you may need to double or triple (or quadruple) this recipe, but here are the general ratios: 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.  After your veggies are nearly done, throw the noodles in with them and pour the sauce over top.

Continue to cook these for a few more minutes.  Now for the special ingredients: sprinkle on an ample amount of ground ginger and squeeze one whole fresh lemon over the whole wok.  These two things changed the entire flavor of this dish and made it taste so fresh and yummy!  Once that’s all mixed together, throw in the bean sprouts for a minute or two, then feel free to serve!  We had ours with our favorite garlic green bean stir-fry.  Hope you enjoy!

It tastes way more exciting than it looks, I promise.

 

Creamy potato soup.

First of all, I apologize for being absent for so long!  It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here, but that just means I have plenty of delicious recipes to catch up on posting, including the delicious Thanksgiving dinner we were able to put together.  🙂  But for now, we’ll start with a creamy potato soup because nothing says cozy and warm in a winter wonderland like yummy, decadent potato soup and…it’s SNOWING in Beijing!  We had our first snow of the winter today with several more days ahead in the forecast, so if you’re like us, go ahead and make this pot of soup, grab a glass of wine and some good movies, and hunker down.

Mmm mmm, good!

Start by chopping fresh garlic cloves into very thin little slices and throw those in your big soup pot with the teeniest dash of oil.  As those cook, you can throw in chopped potatoes, carrots and celery with a little onion.  While those are sauteing, add in soy milk (or plain non-dairy milk of your choosing) and bring it to a boil.  We used about 1000 mL of soy milk along with 2-3 cups of water to fill up our soup pot.  The Chinese ‘soya milk’ that we use to cook with here is pretty thick, so the water didn’t dilute it much.  However, if your milk is a bit thinner, you might want to add more milk and less water depending on how creamy you want your soup to be.

As that simmers, add in salt, black pepper, a sprinkling of paprika and a few pinches of thyme.  We also threw in a little ground garlic powder as well as a can of cooked yellow corn, which I really enjoyed.  Let all of that simmer for a while on the stove as the flavors mix, and when the potatoes get a little soft, dig in!

This soup was really indulgent-feeling and hit the spot for something creamy when there are few creamy vegan substitutes available here in Beijing.  Feel free to garnish with a little dash of basil if you want.  We hope this one treats you well this winter!  Enjoy!  🙂

Another winter soup.

That yellow pepper is starting to look a little scary...but don't worry, we used a different one.

Because when the temperatures drop and your body goes into hibernation mode, there’s no such thing as too much soup…at least not in our house.  This soup was inspired by the cold snap as well as the plethora of fresh vegetables in our refrigerator teetering on overripe.  It was also exciting because it was the first adventure with our giant new soup pot from Ikea!  (Ah, simple pleasures…)  As I’ve said before, we hate to waste food, so we decided to make something where we could use everything in our refrigerator.  And I do mean everything.  If it was a vegetable or semi-liquid, it went in.

 

So this dish began like so many others…come on, you know the drill.  Slice up some fresh garlic and throw it in your soup pot.  Let that saute as you chop up whatever other veggies you have in your refrigerator.  We used zucchini, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and a yellow bell pepper.  As those are being cut into perfect bite-sized pieces, you can throw some water and instant veggie stock mix into your pot while adding your veggies as they’re ready.

 

We then added half a jar of marinara sauce (which is totally optional) that we hadn’t yet used up as well as the rest of our tomato paste.  We didn’t have very much left at the time, and if there is one thing I would change about this soup, it would be adding more tomato paste.  It was tasty just as we made it, but I think extra tomato paste would have given it a little more thickness and a little more flavor.

Look at all those veggies!!

As those boil, add in a can of beans of your choice.  Today, we added white beans in addition to chopped basil, tabasco sauce, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  You can add more or less tabasco sauce depending on how spicy you want your soup, which I think is directly related to the outside temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmm. And yes, that is indeed a Christmas napkin. Never too early, I say!

Let that all boil together and give it a taste test or two to make sure you have the flavor you’re going for.  Then serve as a first course or a meal and enjoy!  The best part was we were able to eat soup for a week when we didn’t have time or energy to prepare a whole lunch or dinner.  Next time we might even freeze some, but it didn’t last long enough to freeze this time.  I’m pretty sure that’s a good sign.  🙂

Spicy-as-you-want-’em black bean fried noodles.

Recently we have received a few inquiries (ahem, complaints) from friends and readers (cough cough, tonight’s dinner guest) as to why our blog title implies Asian food when we’ve been predominately preparing dishes that are not Chinese.  So, to please our readers and quiet the critics, Elizabeth concocted tonight’s special recipe.  No it’s not part of the Iron Chef competition, but it still has a secret ingredient: black bean sauce!  And while recipes for black bean sauce abound on the the Interwebs, we happened to get ours already prepared from the grocery store, so don’t feel bad if you cut out a few steps and do the same.

Start by boiling some noodles; ours were not quite as wide as fettucini, though pretty much any noodles will work.  Once those are cooked, drain and put aside, but make sure they don’t stick together because they’ll be used again in a minute.  While those are boiling though, begin chopping up some veggies.  Tonight, our noodles are a bit of a green monster because we only used green vegetables.  First, we minced some garlic and threw that in the pan, because goodness knows we can’t make a meal without it.  Then, we thinly sliced zucchini, celery and green pepper and added them into the wok with a splash of oil to saute.

Nom nom nom.

As those cook, add in a dusting of ground ginger, a sprinkle of paprika and a few shakes of soy sauce to taste, along with the pasta noodles after the veggies are more done.  Then, we added in the secret ingredient.  We began with just one or two spoonfuls of the black bean sauce, but by the time it was all said and done, I’d say at least four spoonfuls or more went in.

WARNING: black bean sauce has the potential to be very spicy; I know from accidental experience.  So make sure you do plenty of taste testing as you go along to get your preferred level of spice.  We also added in some pre-cooked “beef” tofu to ours, which gave us some extra protein and texture in the dish.  Continue adding other spices and soy sauce, along with some salt, pepper and garlic powder until you just can’t wait to eat it anymore.

Langston showing off his juggling techniques...right before the apple fell.

Then, serve up next to your favorite side dish or alone.  We paired ours this night with the garlic stir-fried green beans, which were delicious.  And I think we satisfied our dinner guest and his request for Chinese food on the blog.  He even decided to show off the skills he learned in circus camp as a kid.  Yes, our friends are that cool.

Garlic stir-fried green beans.

Look Mom! I'm a big girl now!

Despite that fact that for much of my youth I refused to come near anything green, I now call most green vegetables some of my favorite foods.  Somewhere around the end of my high school career, I had a transformation and it has only continued since becoming vegan.  Luckily, vegetables are affordable and accessible here in China, so Elizabeth and I decided to re-create one of our favorite Chinese dishes that we usually devour when dining out.  And I have to say, we came pretty darn close.

These aren’t like southern green beans all mushed to pieces and they’re more flavorful than just regular steamed ones, too.  Just don’t make these for a first date…they are full of flavor and they’ll make sure your breath knows it, too.  🙂

This was the only photo I managed to snap before they were gone!

Start by chopping a yellow onion into tiny pieces and throwing it into the wok with a smidgen of oil and a few minced garlic cloves (see what I’m saying about the breath thing?).  While those begin to saute, cut fresh, whole green beans into 1-1.5 inch long pieces and add them into the wok with a few splashes of soy sauce.  You can also sprinkle some ground garlic powder and black pepper on for good measure.  We then took our soup pot lid and covered the pan with it to make the green beans cook faster and to brown them a bit for extra flavor — we try to be resourceful with what we have!

After a couple of minutes, remove the lid, stir and add in more soy sauce and pepper to taste.  Don’t be afraid to add liberally.  These green beans should be bursting with lots of delicious flavor.  Continue this pattern until onions and green beans are cooked and a little brown around the edges.  This dish would be delicious on its own or next to some hearty rice or whatever other dish you choose.  Just make sure you make plenty because it will go fast!

Carrot & lentil tacos.

Stirring things up!

I know we’ve said it before, but we really do love Mexican food.  However, we were getting bored making the same veggie fajitas over and over again, so Elizabeth concocted this tasty new recipe to spice up our repertoire of Mexican dishes.  It’s just as easy to make, but it packs in a little extra protein and a lot more flavor than our usual dish.

We started by mincing a few whole garlic cloves and letting them saute in the wok with finely chopped onion and carrots that had also been chopped into small pieces.  We sprinkled these with some cumin and a splash of oil to let cook.  After a few minutes when those were close to being finished, we added in a can of cooked lentils and pre-cooked tofu.  Sprinkle on a little more cumin and any other spice you want (salt and pepper to taste or tabasco sauce if you want it a little spicy) and let cook for a couple minutes until warm all the way through while letting the flavors mix.

Yum yum yum!

Then, spoon out onto a warm flour tortilla.  We also put vegetarian refried black beans and our favorite salsa into our tortilla and served it with our Asian citrus cole slaw for a festive and flavorful meal.  And don’t forget the chips!  🙂

Let’s salsa!

The main ingredient.

Unfortunately, our cooking is infinitely better than our dancing, but that doesn’t stop us!  However, this post is about food, particularly Mexican food, and man do I love Mexican food!  It’s something that Elizabeth and I have dearly missed since leaving the good ol’ US of A.  In America, it’s hard to beat; it’s affordable, generally with vegetarian and vegan options, and the most important part: free, unlimited chips and salsa!  While we have found decent Mexican options in Beijing, our favorite is not conveniently located and has no viable vegetarian options on the menu (the chef made something special for us when we went).  There are two other Mexican restaurants down the street from our apartment, one considerably better than the other for food and atmosphere, but neither has mastered the fine art of salsa and both charge ridiculous prices for it.  MADNESS.

Wanna see me cry? Chop onions near me.

So instead of being filled with rage at the thought of paying too much for mediocre food, we decided to make our own.  Success!  This salsa is SO, so good.  It’s not what you typically find in your average Mexican restaurant at home, but it is totally satisfying and feels so incredibly fresh!  And though it looks quite similar to our bruschetta, it has an entirely different taste and is perfectly paired with the lentil and carrot tacos (coming to a blog near you, very soon!) we made last night.

To begin, I chopped four tomatoes, two large and two medium-ish sized.  These tomato chunks were slightly larger than the ones I used in the bruschetta.  Then Elizabeth very finely chopped a yellow onion and ground in a light sprinkling of garlic powder.  After that, we added in chopped cilantro and several spoonfuls of green salsa from a can.

Finished and ready to devour.

Mix all of that up and give it a taste test.  This time, we couldn’t find our normal green salsa and found the one we used here a little lacking, so we added in some extra salt and more cilantro.  PERFECTION.  This salsa is awesome on its own with tortilla chips or added on top of tacos or fajitas.  It also works nicely added into tofu scrambles…that is, IF you have any leftovers.  🙂

No-bake pumpkin pie.

I wish this is what Beijing looked like now.

It’s November, so it’s officially time to be in the holiday spirit.  Not to say that I haven’t been incessantly playing Christmas music since September, but it’s now socially acceptable to do so, as well as other wonderfully festive holiday-related activities.  Thus, the birth of our easy, homemade, no-bake pumpkin pie.  It’s no-bake for a reason.  We live in China and have no oven.  Sigh.  But that certainly doesn’t stop us!  So read on to find out how you, too, can create this delicious holiday treat.

Elizabeth bringing down the hammer...sort of.

We’ll start with the crust.  We loosely (and I do mean EXTREMELY loosely) used this recipe for inspiration.  Because we have very limited access to most of the ingredients we would usually prefer to use, we have to get creative.  You can choose which you would like to do.

We started with one roll of ginger snap cookies for the crust, which Elizabeth placed into a ziploc bag and then smashed into oblivion with my giant bottle of all-natural Chinese cough syrup (a.k.a., tar).  We then used regular ol’ pancake syrup to mix the cookie crumbles together and stick to the pan.  We went with the syrup because I really wanted to enjoy this pie, and as a general rule, I don’t eat butter or eggs.  So use your judgment to mix together the right about of pancake syrup and cookie crumbs.  You want it to be moist and stick together without it getting soupy.  Once this is finished, put an even layer on the bottom and sides of your pie pan(s).  Our recipe made two small-sized pans.

Now we begin the filling.  We used one 29 oz. can of Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin that we splurged on at the foreign grocery store.  Then we used all the ingredients we had available to us.  A cinnamon and sugar mill, ground nutmeg and low-fat, organic vanilla oat milk.  We began with about one teaspoon each of both the cinnamon/sugar and nutmeg, and about 1/3 cup of oat milk.  Then we taste tested.  NOT ENOUGH PUMPKIN SPICE.  It’s not the holidays without pumpkin spice flavor and China is sorely lacking this.  So then we added cinnamon and sugar until our arms were sore from turning the mill, and about 1/3 cup of pure granulated sugar.  While it’s not Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice, it’s pretty darn close, and it’s delicious.

The last bit of crust before it was devoured sans filling, mmm.

Our pre-freezer pies!

Once this was ready, we spooned half into each pie pan and put it in the freezer.  This morning we took it out of the freezer to thaw, and tonight, we will enjoy it after our delicious chili dinner.  🙂

Mmm, mmm, chilly. I mean, chili.

Our awesome new winter hats!

You know what I mean!  Ok, it’s cold here.  Not nearly as bad as it’s going to be in a month or so, but it’s cold.  And what’s worse is it’s colder inside than out sometimes.  Our apartment is like a freezer and we still have 12 more days to go before the government turns the heat back on.  Gotta love China.  Our solution to keeping warm?  Buying wine in bulk.  (Seriously, the wine store folks know us now.  I think we’d be embarrassed if we weren’t so proud.)  Oh yeah, and making delicious, hearty, slightly spicy, vegan chili.  Hey, I’d say it’s worth a try even if you’re not searching for warmth.

To start, we used some of our favorite “ground beef” tofu (you can use protein crumbles if you’re in America — I like Smart Ground veggie protein crumbles) with chopped onions, fresh garlic, chopped red pepper (ours were a little hot) and ground black pepper.  Throw these things in the bottom of your soup pot with a tiny splash of oil to begin to saute.  Once these are cooking, add some water to the mix; we filled our pot about 1/3 full with water.  Be careful not to use too much water though, or you’ll be having soup instead of chili.

Then, add in the rest of your veggies.  We used one can of whole kernel corn, one can of red kidney beans, one can of stewed tomatoes, one whole carrot (chopped), three whole, medium-sized potatoes (chopped), about half a large zucchini, and one whole chopped tomato.  After that, pour in your hot sauce.  We used about 1/4 of our bottle, which gave a mild spice to our chili.  However, if you are sensitive to spice you can leave it out or add less, and of course if you are a hot sauce champion, feel free to add until smoke comes out of your ears.

Mmm, mmm, chili.

Let all of this come to a nice boil on the stove and cover with your soup pot lid.  If you feel like you have too much water in yours still, you can let your chili boil uncovered to cook down some of the water.

After this has simmered a while, feel free to dig in!  We had ours with a couple of slices of our favorite baguette and it was exactly what we needed to satisfy our hunger and keep us warm.  🙂

Sidenote: I apologize for the lack of photos on this one; all of the ‘during’ photos refused to upload. I’ll try again later, but at least you have the finished product!

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