Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Peanut Butter Tofu

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a good week.  I have really been enjoying cooking more now that I live in my own place. I can finally spread my cooking wings and make my way through the many recipes that I have been wanting to try.

I absolutely love tofu. As a vegetarian, I feel it is crucial for my diet.  I hate just eating veggies, because they don't fill me up, and while pasta and cheese are filling, they aren't good for you to eat all the time.  Tofu is filling, healthy, and full of protein. It is honestly the perfect food.

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If anyone were to ask what I would want my last meal to be, I would say tofu in peanut sauce. I love peanuts, and mixed with tofu is just a winning meal. I have eating peanut tofu many times in restaurants, but I finally took the plunge and tried to make it myself.

Recipe adapted from Grace (full) Plate.

What you need:
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1 Package of tofu
About 1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup of brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tsp of lime juice
1/2 tsp chili sauce
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of water

What to do:

First you need to press your tofu.  Drain out all of the liquid from the package and remove the block of tofu. Wrap it up in a few layers of paper towels, and place it on a plate. Put another plate on top, with something heavy, like a book, on top of that plate, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. This will drain the moisture from the tofu, so it's more firm and it wont fall apart as easily.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then combine the ingredients for the sauce: Peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic, lime juice, chili sauce, soy sauce, and water. Mix everything together in a medium bowl.

Cut up your tofu into pieces. I decided to make mine into cubes, but you can pick any shape, as long as they are pretty small. Put the tofu in your baking dish, and pour the peanut butter sauce on top.

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Bake for 30 minutes, and you're done!

I love how simple this was to make, just mix everything together and throw it in the oven!  I served mine with broccoli and fried rice.
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Overall, I really liked the flavor of this peanut butter sauce. The mix of the soy sauce with the peanut butter gave it a nice Thai flavor.  However, there was a bit too much peanut butter. It felt more like I was spreading peanut butter on my tofu, instead of a peanut butter sauce.

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Since tofu is so bland and it soaks up the flavor of what you cook it with, the peanut butter was a little overpowering, but it was perfect with the broccoli. I ended up mixing the tofu and the broccoli and it was amazing. Next time I will add more broccoli, and maybe a bit more chili sauce too, I like my food on the spicier side!

Will you be trying out this peanut butter tofu dish?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Morning Star Maple Flavored Sausage Patties


Remember this post when I talked of the magic of Morning Star Maple Flavored Sausage Patties?  They were the first vegetarian sausages that I have ever tired.  I kept hearing meat-eaters talk about maple flavored sausage and ham and how good it was. When I saw a veggie version I did a little happy dance. But then horror struck! I couldn't find them in stores any more. But guess what I found!!

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I just love these little patties. They have a nice meaty flavor with a hint of maple sweetness. The perfect combination of salty and sweet, and the perfect addition to any breakfast!

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I am so happy I get to enjoy my favorite little sausages again!

Have you tried these maple sausages? Are there any foods that you love but can't find in your supermarket anymore?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Veggie Burger Chronicles: Red Robin (Yum!)

Hey everyone! I hope you are all having a good week. I have really been enjoying my new job so far. Hopefully It stays that way. I notoriously love jobs when I first get them, and eventually grow to hate them. I'm crossing my fingers I keep liking this one!

Today I have another installment of the veggie burger chronicles. This time, I'm focusing on a pretty popular burger chain, Red Robin.  The first time I tried Red Robin was about 6 years ago. My dad and I were driving home after visiting the college I ended up attending.  We were looking for something to eat and we saw a Red Robin. Neither of us had eaten there, let alone heard of it, but we decided to try it out. Keep in mind that I, of course, am a vegetarian, and my dad doesn't eat red meat. Neither of us knew Red Robin was a burger place, but we both ended up finding something we loved. My dad got a chicken salad, I got a veggie burger, we shared the towering onion rings, and I have been in love with red Robin ever since.

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Now I find myself craving visits to Red Robin, and luckily Ben loves it too, so we get to go pretty frequently. In the 6 years I have been eating there, I have only ever ordered one thing: the veggie burger.  Red Robin's veggie burger is a Garden Burger brand rice based patty. The burger is pretty good, but what I love is the sauce.  The veggie burgers come with a tangy and spicy Dijon mayo spread which is so delicious and perfectly goes with the burger.

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The veggie burgers come with pickles, perfectly cold tomatoes and crunchy lettuce, on a soft, whole grain bun which really completes the burger.  And every burger on the menu comes with bottomless steak fries. You really can't beat endless fries!

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Luckily, there are lots of Red Robin locations, so its pretty easy to get one of these veggie burgers whenever you want. This is a great place to go with your meat eating friends and family. Everyone I know from my carnivore boyfriend, to my non-red meat eating dad love this place. Its great to have a place that has something for everyone and its all delicious*.

Have you tried the Red Robin veggie burger?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

*I am only relaying the information that other things on the menu are delicious, as I have only ever tried 2 items.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Creamy Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Hey everyone, I hope you all had a nice week and are enjoying your weekend. I just finished my first week of work. I can't say its fun, but its going really well and I'm enjoying it so far.  Being back at work also means packing lunches. I have been scoping my Pinterest pins for perfect lunches for work. I came across Amuse Your Bouche's creamy chickpea salad sandwiches.

What you need:

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2 Cans of chickpeas (I only had one in the photo, sowwy!)
1 Cucumber
6 tsp Mayonnaise
Garlic powder
Fresh spinach leaves
Slices of bread

What do to:
Drain the liquid out of the cans of chickpeas and dump them in a big bowl. Chop up the cucumber in small pieces and add them to the chickpeas. Mix in the mayo, pepper, garlic, and basil until everything is evenly coated.

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That's it! Just scoop a big spoonful on some bread and add a few spinach leaves.

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I was a little skeptical of  trying this at first because I really am not a fan of mayo, but adding in the spices made it a creamy and delicious dressing! I thought that little bit of mayo wouldn't be enough, but it was actually the perfect amount. Every chickpea and cucumber was perfectly coated, and the mayo flavor wasn't super strong.  The only downside is this sandwich was incredibly messy. After about 2 bites, almost all of the chickpeas had fallen out the other side. I ended up taking a handful of the spinach leaves and a few scoops of the salad and mixing them together in a bowl and eating with a fork and some bread on the side.  I am so happy I tried this. I can't wait to make it again!

Do you want to try making this chickpea salad sandwich?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Adapted from Amuse Your Bouche.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Greek Pasta Salad

Hey everyone, I hope you are all having a great week. After talking over a month off of work to move and get settled in Virginia, I'm finally back.  While it was nice taking so much time off, I was definitely getting bored. Plus, now that I'm living away from home, and buying my own food (oh ya, and paying that pesky rent) I need to make that green (and I don't mean lettuce)!

The weather is getting so hot, and all I have been craving is cold food. Eating a hot bowl of pasta just isn't appealing in this summer heat, but a nice  cool pasta salad, and you have a winner! Plus, pasta salad is a great addition to those many BBQ's I'm sure you are either throwing or attending.  I decided to give my pasta salad a Greek flare.

Adapted from Mele Cotte.

What you need:

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1 box of whole wheat pasta
Feta cheese
Pitted Kalmata olives
Greek dressing

As you can see in the photo, my Greek dressing is in that tupperware under the tomatoes.  I bought a bottle of Greek dressing from the store, and once I got it home, I saw that it had anchovies in it. *Sigh* That's what I get for not checking the ingredients. The dressing I bought is waiting to get returned to the store, and I was left without dressing. Luckily the pasta salad recipe also had a Greek dressing recipe. I threw together what I had in the house and whipped up some dressing.

Adapted from Mele Cotte.

What you need:

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1 tsp spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil

All you have to do is mix it all together and you have dressing! I couldn't get over how much I loved this dressing. Its a great universal vinaigrette. I have tried to make vinaigrettes before, but they never turned out right. I think it was the mustard that really gave it the perfect flavor. I will definitely be using the dressing for everything!

What do to:

Start by cooking the pasta according to the instructions on the box.
Once the pasta is all done, put it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours to chill.
While the pasta is chilling, chop up the veggies and feta cheese.

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Then just mix the veggies, cheese, and dressing into the pasta and you're all done!

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This pasta salad was great and easy to make. The olives and feta gave it that authentic Greek flavor, while the cucumber and tomatoes made this a fresh summer salad.  The homemade Greek dressing on the pasta was perfection.

I made a huge bowl of this and I'm still enjoying it. I hope I get invited to a BBQ just so I can make this again!

Are you going to try this Greek pasta salad?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Veggie Burger Chronicles: Richboro Pub

Hello and welcome to another installment of The Veggie Burger Chronicles, where I review veggie burgers from different brands and restaurants. Today I am going to talk about a local bar in the town that Ben grew up: The Richboro Pub. Even though its has "pub" in the name, it really is a cross between a bar and a family restaurant. They mostly serve meaty sandwiches and burgers, but since I'm mentioning it here, you know they must have a veggie burger.

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This is a veggie based burger with an emphases on mushrooms. The mushroom base gives this burger a pretty meaty bite, and mixed in with the other veggies, it tastes pretty good.

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This veggies burger comes with the classic toppings of lettuce, tomato, and pickles. What I love most about this burger is that it comes on a kaiser roll!

I don't come to the Richboro Pub for the veggie burgers though, I come for the incredible homemade cheese sauce!

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I can't tell you how good this stuff is! Its so creamy, cheesy and flavorful. I love dipping fries in it, or pouring it on my veggie burger.

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This is definitely one of my favorite places to eat at when I'm visiting Ben.  I'm sad that we both live in Virginia now and I wont get my regular fix of cheese sauce. Hopefully we will be back soon!

Where is your favorite bar to get a veggie burger?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Honey Lime Tofu

There's just something about living in your own place with your own kitchen that really inspires you to finally try out those recipes you've pinned to your Pinterest board. I have numerous folders of food and recipes on my computer just waiting to get posted, but all I want to do is share all the food I've just made. Until I make it through all those folders (which might be a while) you are going to see a mix of kitchens and dishes, from my home in New York, and my new place in Virginia.

Its tough finding food that my boyfriend and I can cook together. He is a big meat eater, and of course I am a vegetarian.  On top of that, he doesn't like most veggies, and the ones he does like, I don't like. We have come to the realization that most meals we wont be cooking together, but we still try to find compromises.

Luckily, Ben and I both love tofu.  I found this recipe for Honey Lime Shrimp on Pinterest a while back, and thought it would work well using tofu instead.  Ben agreed, so we got right to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients. Since we were using tofu, we decided to give our meal an Asian flair, and pair it with fried rice.  Separately made of  course. I can't stand onions in mine, and the thought of broccoli in his made him wretch.

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What you need:
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2 Packages of tofu (28 oz total)
3/4 cup olive oil
6 T honey
Juice and zest of 2 limes
10 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes

What to do:
Cut up the tofu and place in a large dish. Add all the ingredients and mix in with the tofu. Let it marinade in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, stirring half way through.

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While the tofu was marinading I made both of the sides of fried rice. I decided to be a kitchen boss and cook them both at the same time.

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Like a baus.

Once the tofu is done marinating, place it, and the marinade, in a pan and fry until it is golden brown with crisp edges.  Ben had to bleed out most of the oil while we were frying the tofu. There was A LOT of oil, which is good for marinating, but not for cooking.

Ben was a bit bored while I was cooking the tofu, so he deiced to play photographer again.

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It was literally the perfect amount of flavor of each ingredient. It had just a hint of sweetness from the honey and the right amount of tang from the limes. Everything came together really well.

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The fried rice was a great match for this tofu (and don't worry, I'll show you guys how I make my rice too in an upcoming post). Ben and I both loved this dish. Its always great finding a meal that we can cook and share together.

Do you plan on trying this tofu recipe?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Adapted from The Dough Will Rise Again.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Southwestern Panini - My First Panini Press!

Hello everyone! This marks a special post for a few reasons. First, this is my first post that I am writing from my new apartment in Virginia! Moving away from home was one of the hardest things that I have ever done, but each day that I get settled in my new place, the easier it gets.

This is also the first post that I am going to show you food I made in my brand new kitchen, on my brand new plates, with my brand new panini press. My dad's girlfriend gave Ben and I a panini press for a housewarming gift, but since Ben was going to use it to cook his meaty foods, the panini press was basically just a gift for me. Ahh, the perks of living with your boyfriend!

I had never used a panini press before, but I was too excited to open it up and start using it that I decided to forgo the instructions and just wing it.  We had just had vegetarian tacos for dinner, so I decide to put the leftovers together and make my first Southwestern panini.

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What you need:

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2 Slices of bread
Mexican blend cheese

What to do:
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Start by cutting your avocado in half and opening it to remove the pit. Scoop out half or the meat and press it to one slice of bread.

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Layer on a few spoonfuls of salsa and top with lots of cheese. Add the other slice of bread on top and its time to press!

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I was really proud of my first panini!  The bread was perfectly cooked with the perfect amount of crunch that matched with the creaminess of the avocado.  The salsa and the Mexican cheese gave it that Southwestern flavor.

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I loved how beautifully melted the cheese was. This tasted just like it was made in a little sandwich shop!

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I decided to take the other half of the avocado and add it to a little salad on the side.

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I really loved making my first panini. It was so much fun finding ingredients to add and it looked so cute. I am so excited to try even more combinations!

Do you like making your own paninis? What kind should I try next?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pop Tarts

Hello hello!  Today is a special day in the world of Simple. Easy. Vegetarian! Not only is this my very first blog post from my new home in Virginia, but its also my first Awareness Wednesday post in Virginia too! It is unreal to think about how I am living on my own and with my boyfriend of 4 years. I feel like I am living in a dream, the reality hasn't quite hit me yet.

Today's post is about those tasty breakfast pastries that come hot out of the toaster. I am talking about Pop Tarts.

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Pop Tarts are another one for the list of foods that I didn't know were vegetarian when I gave up meat. I think I ate then until I was 16 or 17. Once day I was curious about the ingredients. As I was munching away I saw gelatin.  Pop Tarts meet the trash, trash meet Pop Tarts.

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Oh gelatin, the usual culprit!

If you are looking for a toaster pastry alternative without gelatin, but still want junk food, Pillsbury Toaster Strudels are the perfect option.

If you are looking for a version that is not only vegetarian, but vegan, all natural, and organic, you can always choose Amy's Toaster Pops. They are pretty much the same as Pop Tarts, fruit filling in a breakfast crust.

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While Pop Tarts were a really convenient breakfast, I don't really miss them. Let's admit it, Toaster Strudel and Amy's Toaster Pops both taste way better than Pop Tarts ever did!

Are you done with Pop Tarts too? While alternative will you be choosing instead?

Bye from the Veggie Side!


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