Thursday, August 31, 2017

Happy Jackson Snack Boxes #36

Pickles, corn on the cob, barbecued tempeh, blackberries, potato salad, a slice of bread cut to fit the box, and some margarine.

In my disappointment over Benecol beginning to put dairy in it, I went on a quest for a replacement. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light fits the bill for now. I also saw that they've made a margarine actually labeled vegan, too.

I'm taking a long Labor Day weekend, so I'll see you again on the other side.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Insulated Jar & Sides #32

Mini croutons (soup mandeln, if you're looking for these), creamy asparagus-pea soup, blackberries, and some Polish raspberry chocolates.

I made this soup because I bought some asparagus that was slightly sad but very cheap at a local store. (I've been thinking I should blog this store sometime, if I didn't feel so self-conscious about taking photos there. It's not quite a dedicated produce market and not quite a grocery store, and all the produce is extremely cheap, if mildly sad.) Yesterday you saw it as a garnish; today it is the main event. I didn't have almond milk so I used a peculiar new plant milk I had seen, Veggemo. (Veganism, as I've read many times, is all about variety through restriction.) Anyway, this milk is not really any good for drinking or putting in cereal, but it works out fine for cooking, and it's a lot thicker than soy or almond milk, so it worked well in this soup. I liked this soup a lot, actually, although I like asparagus too much as it is to make it unless the asparagus was sad already and needed some help.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Skater Lunchbox #29

vegan sausage stuffed pepper cut it half to fit the container, a garnish of asparagus (primarily for color), and mashed red potatoes.

I didn't make the peppers exactly as the recipe directed, using some pizza sauce about to go bad instead of marinara and cutting the recipe in half. Next time I think I'll add some vegan cheese. But that TVP vegan sausage was great, and so easy! So much cheaper than buying the ready made stuff, too. I've read in many places that meat isn't that good by itself, but the seasonings are what make it appetizing. I didn't really give it all that much thought. But I doubt many meat-eaters would turn down these peppers--they taste pretty well exactly like I remember Italian sausage tasting.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Temari Rabbit Bento Bowl #24

Some of that tofu saag paneer I made a while ago and froze with some chana masala chickpeas (Wegmans) over basmati rice, blackberries, and these Polish chocolate-covered orange slice things.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lunchopolis #39

Maple syrup, grapes, some apple veggie sausage, homemade waffles, and chopped strawberries.

This is the first post in a while I've felt I needed to tag as a "transition to veganism" post. But when you turn around and realize you have that container of powdered buttermilk way in the back of the fridge on the bottom shelf, what to do?

So I attempted waffles. I have never made waffles from scratch like that and here I was, making buttermilk waffles even though I'm vegan (which in my philosophy is fine, as I've said, because just throwing out these things doesn't actually help anyone and it's wasteful), with an egg substitute. And I I had a hard time figuring out how much batter should go in the waffle iron and how long it should cook, but I managed.

And I had waffles. Which can be vegan, although these aren't. I'm not going to tag this post as vegan until after I learn to make vegan waffles, though. And because I still have an awful lot of powdered buttermilk. Sigh.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Happy Jackson Snack Boxes #35

Peach crisp; vegetable-flavored Ritz crackers; some Tofurkey slices; a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, yellow bell pepper, and Bac'n Pieces; and the last of the vegan honey mustard sauce/dressing from earlier this week.

I'm not sure what motivated me to make the peach crisp, but I liked it a lot. I will be sad when peach season ends.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Skater Lunchbox #28

Half a Beyond Burger, steamed broccoli stems, onion gravy, and vegan macaroni in a creamy (not quite cheesy) sauce.

Have you ever had a Beyond Burger? I give this to you in caps because the brand actually matters. This burger is unlike really any veggie burger out there. I don't even know what to say. I only know that it looks like a raw beef burger, and then you cook it, and the beet juice and coconut oil bubbles up and flows away, and it looks like it is bleeding, and then it browns and it looks like a cooked burger, and then you bite into it and it feels and tastes like meat in a way that almost never happens in your vegan world.

And so it seemed a good candidate for that most homey of cuisine, a hamburger steak. It is distinct from Salisbury steak in my head, though when I describe it to people without familiarity with Southern food, they say it sounds like Salisbury steak. But it just isn't that to me. In any case: for hamburger steak, cover a hamburger in onion gravy, maybe with mushrooms, and voila! Steak!

Also in the land of attempting to be more frugal, I decided to try cooking up the broccoli stems left over from a time I was using the florets. They should be cooked separately, rather than together as was so often the case in my childhood, because the stems need more time. But the stems are lovely, oddly shaped things that go well with this kind of meal.

Finally, I had frozen half of the sauce last time I made this creamy-but-not-cheesy sauce, and I was afraid it might not work well that way, but it did amazingly well. So thanks for cooking, past me!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Insulated Jar & Sides #31

Peach slices, vegan red beans and rice (the rice is under there! I promise!), sliced cucumbers, and some everything bagel seasoning in the little chick cup.

I veganized a recipe for red beans and rice I found on the Whole Foods website. It's pretty easy to make, although I don't know how authentic the taste is for purists. If I made this again, I'd be less virtuous and use white rice instead of brown. I think that might elevate it in taste if not in nutrition. And I might add more beans, because there seemed to be a lot of sausage in this. But it was good anyway!

Red Beans and Rice
Serves about 2

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 a small green pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can kidney beans
1/2 package of soy chorizo (I used Trader Joe's)
1 cup rice
Heat oil to a shimmer in a medium saucepan. Add onion, celery, and green pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes, salting a bit halfway through. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans and chorizo, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

While it simmers, cook the rice as per your usual method (I use a rice cooker). Serve beans over rice.

Monday, August 21, 2017

ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One #58

This does not look like much, but the recipe I used for this is practically life changing: Chick-fil-A Tofu Nuggets with Vegan Honey Mustard Sauce and a salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, and a little cup of Bac'n Pieces. (I used the sauce as the salad dressing, too.)

The tofu nuggets are marinated in pickle juice. It seemed like something wise and frugal, because I would otherwise just throw out pickle juice. But it made me instantly sad, because I will never have enough pickle juice to make this as much as I want. The leftovers are better heated in a toaster oven than a microwave, and really should be reheated because cold they are nothing to write home about, but you can't have everything all the time.

Incidentally, this is also gluten free.

The honey (really agave) mustard sauce, however, I can make anytime, and will make as a salad dressing more often. It's a nice, creamy change of pace, albeit an alarmingly yellow one.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Skater Lunchbox #27

An attempt at a hash (Trader Joe's soy chorizo and frozen hash browns O'Brien), a VeganEgg scramble (I'll explain that below), more of that garlic spinach/tomato/mushroom saute you saw earlier in the week (it's a super versatile veggie side), and toast squares.

The VeganEgg (made by Follow Your Heart) promises to re-create scrambled eggs in ways a tofu scramble never can. This is partly true. But it has little flavor and unlike tofu is hard to get to become flavored, and it also has a weird rubbery texture, almost like extremely overcooked scrambled eggs (I was warned not to undercook the VeganEgg, so maybe cooking it longer would have improved it, but I did cook it for about 10-15 minutes). I think this product works better in recipes where it doesn't have to stand alone. But if you are crazy about scrambled eggs, this may be something you'd want. I may stick to tofu.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One #57

An improvisational pasta salad (I started with my roasted grape tomatoes and angel hair pasta, then added the rest of a jar of marinated artichokes hanging out in the fridge, some garlic, some scallions, Vegenaise, and Italian dressing), Italian-seasoned zucchini, and red grapes.

I have forgotten how much I love a simply prepared squash. Good for me it's still in season!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

3-Tier Bottle Bento #38

Vegetable-flavored Ritz crackers, baked beans, and a new vegan recipe for broccoli salad I was trying. I didn't like it much, so I won't give you the link, but I think I can use the inspiration to develop one of my own. I did like the added Bac'n Bits and how they added a nice smoky flavor, but dried cranberries just didn't belong in my opinion.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #95

Baby carrots, mixed nut butter, apples, homemade zucchini bread, and a bit of margarine to spread on it.

After all I said about Benecol, guess what happened. They started putting milk in it. So I have a bit of mine left over but I'm now on a new quest to find a soft, fattening spread. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #60

Garlic spinach/tomato/mushroom saute, some kabocha I had in the freezer, Asian garlic tofu, blanched broccoli, and steamed rice topped with black and white sesame seeds.

It's been too long since I last used this box! It's such a pretty one.

The kabocha was made a long while ago, and I realized, pulling it out of the freezer, that it was prepared in dashi stock (which is tuna). I then realized that I still have most of a jar of dashi granules. Well, we're getting there. But if you make this meal without the dashi stock for the kabocha, it's vegan.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #94

Peach slices, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, "Inner Peas" crisps, vegetarian kibbeh, and vegan tzatziki.

This was one of those days that having a stocked freezer was good, because I didn't get to go to the store as planned. But here I am with lunch and various dregs of my kitchen. (That hasn't changed with my diet.) The tzatziki, by the way, goes really well with the kibbeh.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One #56

Greek orzo salad (recipe below), some chocolate-covered tea biscuits with freeze dried strawberries, and peach slices.

I was inspired to make this salad when I saw this recipe, but I didn't want to make 8 servings and I also clean forgot to put in the artichokes and beans. (With the pine nuts, it seemed like sufficient protein to me, so once I remembered I just shrugged it off and decided that I'll have to make something with kidney beans and artichokes later.)

Greek Orzo Salad
Serves 4

2 cups vegetable broth (I made mine with Better than Bouillon)
3/4 cup dry orzo
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Persian cucumber (the small ones), chopped (if you don't have this, use about 1/3 of an English cucumber or 1/2 a regular cucumber, seeded)
1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted and halved kalamata olives
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup baby spinach, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (I used frozen parsley cubes)
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
Salt and pepper

Bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add orzo and cook until done to your liking. Drain and rinse with cold water. Allow to cool if it still feels warm (I took the cooling time to chop my veggies).

Mix pasta with remaining salad ingredients. Set aside.

Mix dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and stir well to combine.

In my opinion, this is best at room temperature, but you can serve it chilled if you wish.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Happy Jackson Snack Boxes #34

I've been trying some new recipes, and also making my own old incidentally vegan recipes from my omnivore days, so there are recipes for everything here if you want to try them out: carrot zucchini chickpea fritters on a bed of baby spinach, corn and tomato salad, and vegan tzatziki.

This was good. The tzatziki was thicker than I'd like, but otherwise really nice. I used dill rather than mint in it, because I'm more a dill person than a mint person. If I had a better blender, you wouldn't get the occasional little grit of cashew, but I'm okay with that at the moment. It goes well on the fritters. Altogether, this lunch took advantage of the bounty of summer, with about 10 different kinds of vegetables.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Pack-a-Snack #84

Dark chocolate-coated tea biscuits and freeze-dried strawberries.

I know freeze dried strawberries in the height of summer is a little silly, but I had them and wanted to try them. They're wonderful. I highly recommend the freeze-dried strawberries.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Insulated Jar & Sides #30

Baked beans, a salad I made up based on some internet inspiration and what happened to be left around the kitchen at the end of the week, and potato salad. We will call the salad I made up "Avocado, Basil, and Veggie Salad." It's colorful and unusual and makes a pretty good lunch, too!

The inspiration came from the Idiot's Kitchen. I just made it smaller, used stuff from the freezer I didn't have fresh, and added some red pepper. Here you go:

Avocado, Basil, and Veggie Salad
Serves: 2

1 teaspoon-sized cube of frozen basil (or use dried, or chop up a few tablespoons fresh if you're lucky enough to have it around)
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon vegan mayo
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted (microwave about 30 seconds, stir well, and repeat only if needed)
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 Persian cucumber (sometimes called mini cucumbers), chopped
1 scallion, sliced
1 tiny avocado, cubed (or use half a normal sized one)
Salt and pepper

Mix basil, lime juice, and mayo in a bowl. Add corn, bell pepper, cucumber, and scallion. If you're making this ahead of time, season now with salt and pepper and save cutting the avocado for the same day you'll be eating the salad. If you're doing it all at once, just mix well now. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Laptop Lunches #278

Nectarine slices, cucumber slices covered in everything bagel seasoning, baked beans, and potato salad.

I love cucumbers with everything bagel seasoning, but next time I'll pack it in a cup--the salt made my cucumbers wilt by lunchtime.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Skater Lunch Box #26

Braised green beans (see Monday's post for the saga that has me scratching my head about whether they're vegan or not--the ingredient list suggests they should be, but...anyway) and some of a leftover casserole I made (a veganized chicken and stuffing casserole with mixed veggies).

The chicken substitute is Gardein Chick'n Scallopini, if that matters.

This doesn't look like much but it was so homey and comforting! Stuffing is one of my favorite things. If I had this to do over I'd put in some more colorful veggies, but this wasn't light on veggies by any means--celery, onion, peas, corn, green beans, and mushrooms are all in there, though not too obviously for the most part. As I was cooking this, I kept saying to myself, "Wow, I eat a lot of vegetables now" (not that it should be surprising for a vegan to eat lots of veggies, but still).

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lunchopolis #37

A simple salad of spinach, cucumber, and avocado with a cup of homemade citrus vinaigrette; some tea biscuits; tofu scramble tater tot casserole, toast soldiers, and Rainier cherries.

That recipe for that tofu scramble tater tot casserole was miraculous. It made the tofu scramble creamy like I used to like my scrambled eggs thanks to the non-dairy cheese (I think) and obviously almost everything benefits from the addition of tater tots. The leftovers, she noted, were a great packed lunch--and she is right. I will probably play around some with the veggies if I make it again (who am I kidding? WHEN I make it again), but it was great as it was. I doubt an unsuspecting person would know it was tofu, either.