Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Sandwich

scrambledtofu

The other day, I taught a vegan fancy breakfast at Whole Foods. On the menu were my famous lemon-blueberry scones, avocado spread on whole-wheat bread, and Thai scrambled tofu breakfast tacos. They were all a big hit! No one was vegan in that class, and some even told me they were nervous about tofu and didn’t know how to cook it, but all the dishes were a great success. Woohoo! Definitely one of the most fun (and easiest) classes I taught. Food has to be all at once delicious, easy on my purse-strings, and quick on prep – well, to me, at least!

The thing I like about scrambled tofu is that you can make it one night, put it in the fridge (covered), and keep it there for at least 3 days. This makes the rushed morning time, well, less rushed. What I did was heat up my tofu for 20 seconds, then put it on bread to make my breakfast sandwich. I had some slices of tomato and basil leaves so I made it pretty, but you can just make a breakfast sandwich with only bread and scrambled tofu, if time is of the essence!

Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Sandwich
makes enough for about 4-6 sandwiches

1 14-oz block extra-firm tofu, pressed and crumbled with paper towels (take a bunch of paper towels to crumble tofu and squeeze out as much liquid as possible)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation:
In a large bowl, mix together the crumbled tofu, salt, turmeric, garlic and onion powders, and black pepper, until combined.

In a 10-inch frying pan over med-high heat, add the olive oil. When it is shimmering and hot, add the tofu mixture. Stir to fry until hot, or lightly browned to your liking (tofu is already cooked, so you can cook it as much or as little as you like). Serve with bread and other desired accompaniments.

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Vegan Lemon-Blueberry Scones

scones
The other day, I bought a vegan date & oatmeal scone from Whole Foods, and it was amazing. I used to think that you HAD to bake with butter to achieve that desired texture, and I never was into those baked goods that used applesauce in lieu of the fat. But seriously, this was so good, and since it is a snow day this morning, I set out to make my own vegan scone, with some frozen wild blueberries studded in the dough.

While my husband and kid were playing (sort of shoveling) in the snow, I was inside my warm kitchen, happy as can be. I made the scone dough (kind of like a biscuit dough) with Earth Balance vegan butter, and cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. After I made the dough, I gently pressed the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, and put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, to firm up the dough and prevent it from spreading too much in the oven. Instead of freezing it in the cake pan, you can also scoop out 1/4 cup amounts of dough and immediately bake them (I just wanted pie-shaped pieces that day, but I have done them both ways, and they are equally good). After the scones were done baking, I drizzled a lemon drizzle on top.

Let me tell you – the scone was buttery and flaky, tender, and just SO SO GOOD. Perfect with coffee, and watching my loved ones laugh and fall in the snow outside!

Vegan Lemon-Blueberry Scones
makes 8 scones

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup cold Earth Balance vegan butter, cut in tablespoon – sized pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup almond milk, original flavor
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries (pea-sized; you don’t want huge blueberries here)

canola oil spray
1 teaspoon flour

for the glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
juice from 1 lemon

Preparation:

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, ground flaxseed, kosher salt, and baking powder. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the vegan butter, until the butter resembles pea-sized pieces with the flour mixture. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, almond milk, vanilla extract, and zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and fold with a spatula, until dough just comes together. Add frozen wild blueberries, and continue folding until incorporated. It’s okay for the dough to be lumpy; you WANT those pockets of butter to make a tender, flaky dough when it bakes.

In an 8-inch cake pan sprayed with canola oil spray and sprinkled with flour, gently pat down the dough (not too hard!) so that it conforms to the cake pan. Stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up a bit; in the meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take the scone dough out of the freezer, and cut 8 pieces (like pie slices).

Note: Instead of freezing in the cake pan, you can also scoop out 1/4-cup amounts and drop them immediately on to a parchment-lined baking sheet. I like them both ways, but this is more time-efficient.

Place the individual scones onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You might have to re-form some of the scone dough when you place it on the baking sheet; that’s okay, because it means that since your scone dough isn’t too hard, it’ll turn out flaky and yummy!

Bake for about 26 minutes, until golden brown on top. Take them out when done, and let cool for 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle the lemon drizzle on top of the scones. Enjoy!

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Coconut tapioca pudding cups

pudding
I’ve always loved tapioca, because I grew up eating it in Vietnamese che and slurping down boba teas in college. I like the bubbly, chewy texture, and this pudding is great, because it has a great amount of tapioca pearls in it!

I made these yesterday as an experimentation – we’re eating a lot of vegan foods these days, for multiple reasons, and it’s basically our way of life now. I love being creative with plant foods, and never liked butchering meat (but I love to do some tofu butchery!). We’ve been eating really well, and yesterday, my 4-year-old helped me with these. A few midshipmen came over later in the day, to use our kitchen and study, and they were my coconut tapioca pudding testers. These were a hit! I’ll definitely be making these soon – probably next week!

Coconut-tapioca pudding cups
serves 6

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut milk (full-fat)
1 cup almond milk, original
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup small tapioca pearls
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

to garnish: black sesame seeds

Preparation:
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, whisk the milks, sugar, agave nectar, extracts, salt, and tapioca pearls. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to low, about 10-12 minutes, until tapioca pearls become clear, soft, and chewy. In a small bowl, whisk the water with cornstarch. Mix into the coconut-tapioca mixture, turn the heat to med-low, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Divide pudding into 6 4-oz ramekins. Allow to cool for a few minutes at room temperature, then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with black sesame seeds.

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A Veggie-packed Buddha Bowl

buddhabowl
What is a “Buddha bowl?” To be honest, in my research, I haven’t found one concrete definition on what it is, but basically it’s a bowl of leftover vegetables and grains packed into a bowl. The appearance is full and meant to resemble a Buddha belly (you’d probably have one too, if you ate a huge bowl of meats, but this is vegetarian/vegan, and the food here is meant to sustain you, energy-wise – not weigh you down). A lot of the recipes out there have some sort of sauce that accompanies the Buddha bowl, but I just found that a few dashes of soy sauce in the rice were enough, because I made sure to flavor each vegetable before putting it into my bowl.

Surprise, surprise – I don’t have a recipe for this, because you just season each component as you go, and throw it together in the end. I would have one grain, one protein, and a couple vegetables in my Buddha bowl to promote satiety and fullness. Vary up the components whenever you make this – you can have broccoli, butternut squash, bok choy, roasted bell peppers, and whatever else you have on hand! I would say the rule of thumb would be not to add too many ingredients – you don’t want the meal to become muddled with too many flavors. With vegetarian food, in my opinion, the last thing you want to do is throw a bowl together with all steamed veggies. At least, that’s a “dislike” for me. I like to heighten the nautral sweetness of some vegetables by braising or roasting, so if you have a little time, do that! This was such a hit – my little one asked for seconds of green beans and sweet potato!

My Buddha bowl: white rice, roasted sweet potato cubes (olive oil, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of brown sugar), sauteed haricot verts (olive oil, veggie broth, salt, pepper, garlic), and fried tofu cubes (tossed with a bottled peanut satay sauce that I doctored up with sesame oil, soy sauce, and brown sugar). I topped off the bowl with fried shallots and seasoned the rice with a few dashes of soy sauce.

Variations of Buddha bowls:

Grains:
Quinoa
Barley
Brown rice
Sushi rice
Farro
Wild rice

Veggies:
Bok choy
Sauteed spinach
Broccoli (sauteed or roasted)
Haricot verts or green beans
Braised endive or cabbage
Roasted bell peppers
Sauteed carrot slices
Roasted asparagus spears
Roasted eggplant

Starchy vegetables:
Roasted sweet potato or butternut squash
Braised parsnips (excellent when braised in a bit of olive oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar)
Sauteed plantains
Roasted acorn squash or pumpkin

Vegetarian/vegan protein:
Tofu cubes (in whatever sauce you like)
Sauteed seitan in soy sauce and sesame oil
Broiled tempeh (I don’t like tempeh, but this is an option if you do)
Edamame
Lentils or braised beans

Happy Buddha bowl-making!

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam-Buttercream Frosting

cupcake
Happy New Year! The holiday season has been a flurry of travel, family, friends, and activities for us, and now it’s time to slow down and breathe. Inhale, EXHALE! We chose to ring in the New Year with our friends, Grace and Justin, this year, along with their daughter and our family this year.

It was the best way to spend our day – good conversation, laughs, and to the parents out there, if you can carry on a conversation with another adult, while your kids run off and play nicely, that’s definitely a good visit!

Our girls made us proud by finishing their chicken, green beans and rice, so I gave them a New Year’s treat – homemade vanilla cupcakes with a buttercream frosting made with strawberry jam. Knowing how these girls love the color pink, I thought that adding strawberry jam would be more natural then adding food coloring. It was really good and didn’t taste as sticky-sweet as those packaged, pre-made frostings that you’ll find in a can out there. Sure, it takes a tiny bit more work (but that’s what a stand-up mixer is for), but I woke up at 7am because I fell asleep before midnight. HA!

Vanilla cupcake recipe found here, from The Little Kitchen blog (I halved the recipe to make 12 cupcakes)

Strawberry Jam-Buttercream Frosting
makes about 2 cups (can frost about 8-10 cupcakes)

Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup organic strawberry jam
3-5 cups sifted, confectioners sugar (more or less, depending on desired texture)
2-3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:
In a stand-up mixer, mix the butter and jam together, on medium speed, until incorporated. Add about a cup of confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla extract, then additional confectioners sugar, beating until incorporated. Continue adding more confectioners sugar until you have the desired thickness of the frosting.

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