Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 25: Vegan and Not Vegan

As a proclaimed 'foodie', I do not discriminate against different cultures' cuisine, including vegans. I've tried my share of vegan sausages, vegan crumbles, veggie burgers etc. and depending on the brand, I've found some pretty good meat substitutes. Most recently when I visited my best friend in New Haven, we went to a vegan cafe and I had the best veggie burger I've ever eaten in my entire life and no, it did not taste like dog food (I don't even know why people use that expression because it's not like they've actually tried dog food themselves). Other times,  I'm not even trying to disguise meat because not all vegan dishes are meant to resemble their animal bi-product counterparts. Anyway, I was thinking of making crabcakes for lunch but then after looking in the refrigerator, I thought, why not make tofu cakes instead? That spawned my hopefully tasty recipe that you'll see below followed by dinner's recipe, which is not vegan, but is still delicious (if you're not vegan and actually want to attempt to make this recipe):

Nutty Vegan Cakes 
Makes 6 mini-cakes

1/3 c. unsweetened almond milk
3 tsp Tofutti cream cheese
2 tsp whole grain mustard (or French)
several shakes of dill
1/2 tsp. seafood seasoning (*Note: It's not made from real seafood)
1/2 c. crumbled Rice Chex cereal
1/4 c. almond meal or flour
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2 tsp Parmesan cheese (optional as this will make make it vegetarian rather than vegan)
1/2 block of extra firm tofu OR 1 block of sprouted tofu (I got mine at Trader Joe's and they divided the tofu into halves in the package)
1/2 c. thinly sliced Vidalia onions
1 tbsp EVOO (olive oil)

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2) Line muffin pan with aluminum cupcake liners and spray them with Pam olive oil.
3) Remove tofu from package, draining it in a colander.
4) This may seem weird, but you're going to do one of the following: Either place the tofu on a few paper towels, cover it with another paper towel and place a heavy book onto it to squeeze out the excess water from the tofu OR you can literally press the tofu in your hands to squeeze out the water.
5) Mash the tofu in a medium bowl with a fork or put it in a food processor and pulse several times until it's a fine crumble.
6) In a small bowl, mix the almond milk with the cream cheese and spices and heat it in the microwave on high for about a minute and a half until the cream cheese melts, stirring it with a spoon.
7) Pour milky mixture into bowl with the tofu and with a spoon, mix it together.
8) Place cereal in a small plastic baggie and with your hands, crush the Chex into a fine crumble.
9) Mix in almond meal or almond flour as well as the chopped walnuts.
10) Add nutty mixture to the tofu and mix with a fork, mashing it together.
11) Sautee the onion slices for several minutes in a small skillet on medium heat with the olive oil.
12) Stir into the tofu mixture and spoon mixture into the muffin cups, pressing it down with the spoon.
13) Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tops look crispy.
14) Turn off the oven and keep the muffin tin in the oven for a few minutes while it cools down.
15) Remove muffin tin from the oven and let the cakes cool down.
16) Remove the liner from the tofu cake and serve immediately or place tofu cakes in the fridge for later.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Thai Ahi Steaks with Sauteed Rapini and Garlic
Makes one ahi steak, which can be cut into 2 servings.
1- 6 oz. frozen Ahi steak
2 c. rapini
3 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp EVOO (olive oil)

1/2 c. light coconut milk
2 tbsp gluten-free Szechuan spicy marinade (San J brand)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 packet Truvia (brand of stevia)
1 pinch of dried mint leaves
1/4 tsp basil
1/8 tsp Mrs. Dash Fiesta lime spice
2 tsp natural peanut-butter

1) Mix together the marinade in a medium Tupperware container (another brand is fine too--I actually used a Glad container).
2) Place frozen fish filet into the container and really saturate it with the marinade.
3) Let the fish thaw in the container in the refrigerator overnight or for at least several hours.
4) Heat up sesame oil and EVOO in a large skillet at a medium-high heat.
5) Rinse off kale and rapini really well so they don't end up tasty gritty.
6) Take fish out of the fridge and sautee in the skillet, only for about 1-2 minutes on each side (I like my steaks medium-well or even medium-rare).
7) Remove the fish from the skillet and set aside.
8) Dump the marinade in the skillet and add in the garlic and rapini.
9) Sautee in the skillet for several minutes and cover the skillet with a lid, letting it simmer on a lower heat for another few minutes until the kale and rapini are wilted in appearance.
10) Remove from skillet and arrange on a plate, topping it with the ahi steak. Serve immediately.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

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