Category Archives: snacks

Sesame Sweet Marinated Tofu

(First  A Quick Note from Your Vegan Neighbor:  Hi everyone! Please forgive me for being away so long – unfortunately during the move I misplaced my camera! I know its around here somewhere & I am one box away from coming across it & I will fill this post with pictures asap! I’m glad t0 be back! As always, feel free to send me suggestions for future posts or Dinner & a Movie ideas!)

I wish I could’ve shared this gem earlier in the summer! I was gonna call this recipe “sweet sesame marinated tofu”, but my kids love this recipe so much, we decided that flipping the words to sesame-sweet made a better name – because now they tend to call it “sesame stweet tofu” 🙂

My daughter just started kindergarden… I really can’t believe it. The time I part-dreaded/part looked-forward-to has finally arrived! Sending off my girl into the big world… It’s a big step for her and a dose of reality for me. My baby is growing up and a new chapter in her life – and mine – is beginning. I’m getting the hang of waking up at 6 am and making her lunch, getting her dressed, fed, ready… Some mornings I feel like I am in school too!!

I struggled with the idea of homeschooling, which I find wonderful for many reasons, though I think my daughter is one who will thrive in the social environment of which modern day public school is… Plus she’ll have access to some things that aren’t as accessible to me daily (computer lab, science equiptment, my undivided attention for 8 hours).  Now that I’m working outside the home anyway, I’m not home as regularly to teach her as public school can!

(By the way, making a packed lunch that is healthy & exciting to eat is an art that I am trying to master! I’m intrigued by these bento boxed lunches, but haven’t ventured there yet. When I do, you’ll be the first to know! Right now, I’m just packing her favorites and keeping it healthy!)

I wanted to make this recipe because my daughter LOVES snacking on these straight from the fridge. They are an excellent quick go-to healthy snack for anytime, such as right after school or while dinner is cooking! They are also an excellent topping for salads… a great way to incorporate a little extra protein (and hey, maybe get your kid to try a salad)!  I strongly recommend using the firmest tofu you can find. I like to use bulk tofu, which is usually super firm!

Sesame Sweet Marinated Tofu

makes 16 squares

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 Tbsp tamari
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (add last * see directions)

Turn the tofu on its side and slice the tofu in three slices lengthwise. (I cut down the middle first then cut each side in half carefully). Then lay the tofu flat and cut vertically and horizontally, turning it into 16 squares.

1) Using a large nonstick pan, lay out all 16 squares of tofu.

2) Add all of the other ingredients (except the sesame oil) right on top, drizzling the brown rice syrup and sprinking the ginger over the squares, then cook on med-high heat, jiggling your pan occasionally. Once you see the liquids cooking down some, flip your squares over carefully, then continue cooking until most liquid is gone.

3) Lower heat to low-medium and drizzle the 1 Tbsp sesame oil over the top. Cook until only slightly wet. Let cool on pan for several minutes after cooking, then refrigerate until ready to use. Store with any extra “sauce” and refrigerate.  Eat right from the fridge or on top of a salad! Before serving on salad, cut each square diagonally (making two triangles).

This tofu accompanies this Nori Sesame Dressing like a dream come true! Keep refrigerated & eat frequently!

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Vegan Caramel Apples

Just in time for Halloween, I have found a recipe for THE MOST AMAZING vegan caramel apples I have ever tasted. This vegan caramel is even better than the classic non-vegan caramel that I remember from my childhood… which is truly hard to beat! Vegan, soy-free, gluten free… this “caramel” is mostly made of brown rice syrup & coconut milk, so you could almost call it healthy, right?!  I will be making this vegan caramel again very soon to make  old-fashioned square candies, rolo-type candies & more! I can hardly wait to experiment! This stuff is GOOOOOOD!!!!

Vegan Caramel Apples

(makes 4 caramel apples)

  • organic apples
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup brown rice syrup
  • dash salt (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp earth balance vegan margarine (the soy free variety if you desire it to be soy free)

1) Wash and dry apples. Remove the stems. Insert a popsicle stick at the stem point. Cover a plate with wax paper or parchment paper and set aside.

2) Combine coconut milk, brown rice syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat  and heat until boiling. Whisk constantly to prevent it from sticking for about 10 minutes. It should thicken quite a bit.

3) Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and margarine.

4) Start drizzling the caramel quickly over each apple with a spoon, and spreading it a bit around the apples as you go. (Feel free to sprinkle and press them into chopped salted peanuts or chocolate if you so desire!)

5) Let the apples sit in the fridge for a bit to harden. DEVOUR!

Thank you, Vegan Action, for this amazing recipe! It is magnificent!

Whaaa?! Its already September?!

We have been pretty busy around here lately. I cant believe summer is almost over! Well, I don’t really mind too much because I LOVE fall!!  My kids and I even decided to start our own school this year (which is basically modeled after the big kid school)… with lessons, experiments, field trips, art classes and other activities… Naturally, I am the teacher (even though there are times when the role seems reversed! There is nothing like kids to humble you…  Sometimes they teach me a lesson about a thing or two… most often it is a lesson on patience! Hahaha) The kids have really been loving it! We checked out several “Little Hands” learning & activity books from the library… great books, by the way, if you have a kid around 2-6.  They have some great ideas on ways to teach science, math, you name it.

I just cant wait to be carving pumpkins, visiting the pumpkin patch, dressing up & decorating for Halloween, making seasonal arts and crafts, preparing for the holidays, baking fall goodies that smell up the house, and  just opening up  the windows and enjoying the nice cool crisp air!  (And it doesn’t hurt that my birthday is this week either, which means we are going to eat at my favorite restaurant in town, The Grit!) Hey! That also means my blog is about to be 1 year old!  Wow!  I can’t believe it! I hope you have been enjoying watching my little blog baby grow this year! 😉

Those of you who truly know me know that I am a list maker… And well, I have already been compiling quite a long list of all the awesome “fall foods” I’m hoping to get around to making this year! I’m gonna be trying my hand at making vegan caramel (and caramel apples!) and candy apples, all of which I have never tried… And of coarse I love making the usual fall classics… pumpkin bread & pumpkin pie (or any kind of pie for that matter!) and Thanksgiving (sigh)… Mmmmmm… Thanksgiving!! … And it will be here before we know it. (My mouth literally started watering just thinking about Thanksgiving!!)

Oh yeah… I wanted to say I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last Dinner and Movie post. We will be watching Charlotte’s Web (the cartoon version) this week and making… you know what?…  I’ll just let it be a surprise! Tee hee hee! We have been reading the book and we are almost finished!  My kids love it! It was one of my childhood favorites as well.

ANYWAY!  Enough babbling! Here’s what we’ve been up to in the kitchen lately!

PRESERVING OUR SUMMER BASIL

Not very long ago, I made this easy basil walnut pesto,which I hope you enjoyed! I read about this easy method of preserving pesto, so I thought I’d give it a try…

First, I froze the pesto in one of those little rubbery ice tray things (mine happened to be heart shaped) and covered it in saran wrap and put it in the freezer. Then I popped them out several hours later after they were good & frozen and put them in a ziplock freezer bag, separating the hearts with some wax paper. They can be used to throw into sauce, straight onto noodles, you name it.  I’m so happy I learned this cute and easy way to save my summer basil! (Hopefully they will end up tasting as good as they look!)

MAKING A HEALTHY “FUNNY FACE PANCAKE”

Last weekend, I treated my kids to a healthier version of the “IHOP funny face pancake”.  I just used my regular pancake recipe and added 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips and changed the water amount to 1/3 cup.  All you need for decorating is your fruit of choice!! No whipped cream needed! I thought they turned out adorable, don’t you?! The kids just loved them!

SOMETIMES A SURPRISE TREAT IS THE BEST KIND!!

We accidentally ended up with some chocolate covered strawberries when I left my box of vegan truffles on the stove as it was warming up! Oops! But hey, this was so beautifully meant to be, I’m NOT complaining! They were magnificent! I think I may do that again on purpose! We dipped them, chilled them… then devoured them!

HERE”S SOMETHING I’D LIKE TO MAKE!

This Sesame Street inspired snack wasn’t made by me… yet!  This is on my list of things to make asap!  Isn’t it just adorable? How gloriously fun (& healthy) to eat!

Vegan Jalapeno Poppers

I remember (years ago… before I was vegan) eating delicious jalapeno poppers at some local restaurant like Chili’s or somewhere.  I absolutely loved them.  When I went vegan, I sadly thought I was giving up these deliciously sinful cheese filled treats.  WRONG!!  I don’t know if it was being sick this last week (ironically from a COLD) or what it was exactly that gave me the desire to attempt to make these hot & spicy body cleansing (or clogging, depending on how you look at it) appetizers, but, boy am I glad I did!

I honestly usually look for the healthy way to eat something… you know, the “bake it instead of fry it” kinda thing, but I think these are one of those little treats that you just gotta fry up.  It’s part of what makes them so bad and so good at the same time! And let me tell ‘ya… these suckers were HOT… but hey… some like it hot. (By the way, I love that movie. If you haven’t seen it, rent it!).   I should also mention that I  did NOT allow my kids to have any of these! This was something my husband and I HAD to be greedy with, for the sake of the children! Heeheehee 😉

You know, now that I think of it, I probably didn’t need to plant 3 jalapeno plants in my garden at the same time.  I mean, WHO eats that many jalapenos!  The way I see it, you plant and you learn from your mistakes.  (Note to self: next year 1 jalapeno plant will be entirely sufficient for my family… and 2 if I feel like giving a bunch away!)

** You may seriously want to consider using gloves when handling the jalapenos.  I didn’t use any… I didn’t have any… I will say, I was pretty careful when cleaning out the jalapenos.  I washed my hands  immediately after and also rubbed them with a slice of lemon very thoroughly… I don’t know why but I feel like someone once told me that that helped…  Vinegar is also supposed to remove really strong smelling things, like onion or garlic… maybe rubbing some vinegar on your hands would be helpful.  (update:  I accidentally wiped the edge of my eye the day after making these, and… well, let me just say I strongly urge you to use gloves! There must’ve been a trace amount of jalapeno oil on my hands cause it got in my eye and burned like hell!)

I didn’t have panko bread crumbs on hand, so I actually tore up some extra bread we had lying around into little teeny tiny bits/crumbs.  A food processor would probably have done the job too.  I crushed a couple Ritz-style crackers in there as well. Voila.  Homemade bread crumbs.

Vegan Jalapeno Poppers

Please be advised that the filling could EASILY be halved.  I have an entire half batch of cream cheese yummy mix sitting in the refrigerator…  which would’ve been great if I was making 24 jalapeno poppers!  But hey.. now I have a flavored cream cheese spread for bagels!

YOU WILL NEED:

  • 12 jalapenos, prepared as desired (see directions below)
  • 1-2 cups bread crumbs

Filling:

  • 8 oz vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded vegan gourmet cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp Frontier brand “bacon bits” (optional, but recommended!)

Flour mixture:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

The “egg”:

  • 1 cup milk whisked with 3 Tbsp ground flax seeds

*** READ THIS BEFORE FILLING THE JALAPENOS ***

I tried these 4 methods of filling the jalapenos to see what would be easiest:

Method 1 – slicing the peppers in half lengthwise.  This made for easy scraping and removal of seeds & veins.  Definitely the fastest way… seems to make more since every 1 jalapeno becomes 2.  Just a matter of preference. Do you want half peppers or whole?  May be easier for some people to eat them this way, since they don’t have to take such giant bites… ideal for parties. I was worried they wouldn’t cook well since the cheese was exposed but I was pleased with the surrounding breaded outcome.

Method 2 – Cutting off the tops, carving out the insides and after filling the pepper, cementing the top back on with the filling mixture. It was kinda hard to fill the pepper with the cheese unless you squirt it in with a baggie or frosting bag thingy. I didn’t use one and it felt I wasn’t filling it enough and taking forever. Plus, it was hard to roll these in the mixtures without the tops coming off 😦

Method 3 – Cutting a “T” shape into the jalapeno and then carving out the insides.  A little tricky to not crack it, but easy enough to make it one of my favorite methods. Easy to tell when they are nice and full!

Method 4 – Cutting a skinny triangle out of the jalapeno side, filling the pepper and sticking the triangle back in.  Fast. Efficient. Easy.

I suggest you experiment with each method and decide what YOU think is easiest.

Okay… here we go… Time to make the poppers!!

1) Dip the filled jalapeno into flour/cornstarch mixture.  Then dip in milk. Set aside to “dry” for a moment.

2) Dip again in flour, then milk, then cover entirely in breadcrumbs. Set aside and prepare remaining peppers. (This method makes a nice thick breaded covering surrounding your jalapeno. You could also simply dip the pepper in flour-to-milk-to-breading and then fry it, but the above mentioned extra dip made a more thorough coating.)

3) Fry 2-3 minutes in vegetable oil heated to 350 F, until nicely browned.  Let cool on paper towel for 3-4 minutes to avoid burning your tongue (you know, cause you don’t want to burn your tongue THAT way!) 🙂

Ready to eat!

If you cut me in half, I can be a pretty butterfly or a heart!

Some say “beat the heat”… I say “EAT the heat”… With a BIG glass of something cold on the side!

Golden Tofu

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat tofu EVER.  This happens to be how they cook the tofu at my favorite vegetarian restaurant, The Grit. (You can order their awesome cookbook here if you want to.  I highly recommend it! Please note it is not 100% vegan, though many recipes can be veganized.  You have GOT to try the yeast gravy!! Sometimes I just want to order a side of that with a spoon!)   We eat this tofu by itself, as a side, stir fried with veggies & rice, or sometimes we even toss it into a pot roast. It is really easy and oh so yummy!!  This fried tofu is one of those foods that you just gotta spoil yourself with and indulge in from time to time… It definitely makes it into my list of comfort foods.

All you need to make this is a non-stick skillet, a block of tofu, olive oil, soy sauce and nutritional yeast.  Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but we often find ourselves fighting like vultures over the last pieces! Hahahaha… seriously.

Golden Tofu

Gather ye ingredients: olive oil, a block of tofu, soy sauce, nutritional yeast. Vegetable oil also works just as well.

1) Cut tofu into cubes, about the size of dice. Lightly oil a non-stick skillet over high heat.  Add a small amount of oil and allow it to heat slightly then add tofu. Saute, tossing until evenly lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with soy sauce, saute briefly again to further brown the tofu. Remove from skillet.

step 1 – before cooking

step 1- cooked tofu before adding soy sauce

2) Rinse and wipe skillet dry. Lightly oil skillet again and place over high heat. Allow the oil to become very hot then add the tofu. Saute, tossing constantly until very well browned. Sprinkle with soy sauce to taste, then sprinkle with nutritional yeast to coat the cubes. Saute several more seconds then remove from heat and serve!

step 2 – tofu being sauteed in soy sauce

The finished product. Fried tofu, served alongside veggies of choice (in this case, homemade cornbread, sauteed sesame-collards and mashed sweet potatoes).

Vegan Macaroni Salad

We started out our day this morning in the garden.  Our garden is currently producing cucumbers at warp speed , so I’ve been trying to think of recipes that use cucumbers.  Ironically, this recipe doesn’t contain any cucumbers, but bear with me! There will be some coming! I am not a HUGE cucumber person… I’m not sure why I planted 6 (yes, six!) cucumber plants in our garden this year.  But, on the bright side, it’s been forcing me to eat cucumbers with a vengeance.  So far, with our first ones, we’ve been making salads… eating cucumber & cream cheese sandwiches… we have had hummus with slices of cucumber on the side… falafel patties topped with cucumber and tomato.  I think I may try to make my own pickles this year with some of them.  What is your favorite thing to do with cucumbers?

This morning we made a big “Green Juice” in the juicer, containing (surprise!) cucumber, apple, kale, spinach and celery.  It was really refreshing! My kids didn’t care for it though -not sweet enough I guess!  Maybe I will add more apples for them next time.

It’s finally starting to really feel like summer here in good old Georgia, with pleasant morning temperatures climbing high late in the afternoon… but it’s not late enough in the year to be deathly hot yet!  Ahhh… it’s totally one of those days that makes me want to make sweet tea (if you’re from the south you will know what I mean) and grill out vegan hot dogs with macaroni salad and potato chips on the side… which brings me to today’s recipe – Macaroni Salad!

This macaroni salad is delicious, easy AND healthy… it is tofu based instead of mayo based… You could use vegan mayo if you wanted to, but trust me and try this first – everything I have ever made from scratch always turns out better!  Make this ahead of time and keep cold until ready to serve.  Even though it’s not made with mayonnaise, I personally don’t like to leave anything that should be cold sitting out in the hot sun for long!  This is a great salad to have around on the Fourth of July or at any picnic or cookout!

I changed very little from the original recipe, which is from Vegan Planet, one of my first and very favorite cookbooks! Robin Robertson never lets me down.  She makes vegan cooking seem so easy!

Vegan Macaroni Salad

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1/2 cup minced celery (I only used 1/4 cup)
  • > 1/2 block silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

1 – Cook the noodles in some boiling salted water until al dente, 8-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse well under cold water.  You want to rinse off the starch and stop them from cooking any furthur and turning into mush! Put them in a large bowl and continue on.  (You could even shock the noodles in a little ice bath to stop them from cooking and chill them really quick if you wanted to.)

2- In a blender or food processor, combine the tofu, soy milk and process until smooth.  Scrape down the sides and process again. Stir in by hand the onion, celery, relish, lemon juice, mustard, salt and cayenne to taste (or save the cayenne for last and sprinkle on top as serving).  Add the cold (drained) pasta noodles and mix well.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving cold. Devour… alongside your other favorite summer dishes!

This easy macaroni salad is a great addition to any BBQ, cookout or picnic!

Edamame Hummus

Wow.  I usually don’t get so excited about dip, but I just whipped this up this morning with last night’s leftover steamed edamame, and I can’t believe how good it is!  My kids are practically the licking the bowl clean right now! Edamame is one of those super foods, jam-packed with protein and other nutrients.  It’s especially good for vegetarians/vegans.  I have a feeling I’m going to be making this hummus a lot!   Read more below about edamame below, or if you already know how amazing edamame is, scroll to the bottom for the recipe.

Here’s A Short Novel About Edamame…

(which I copied from this livestrong.com article)

Edamame has high nutritional value and health benefits.  These green soybeans are a natural source of antioxidants and isoflavones, which  has increased edamame’s popularity in the United States. Antioxidants are  beneficial because they can help prevent negative effects of free radicals in  the body. Eating antioxidant-rich foods has been associated strengthening your  immune system and with reducing your risk of cancer, hardening of the arteries  and neurodegenerative diseases. Isoflavones are phytohormones that may help  reduce prostate and breast cancer, diminish the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels and ease menopausal symptoms.  Women who are menopausal  and have low estrogen levels may benefit from snacking on a handful of edamame  daily because of the natural soybean’s phytochemical quality.
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The fresh vegetable soybeans called edamame contain  about 36 percent protein, which is 86 percent higher than mature soybeans.  Edamame’s low oil content, combined with its high protein content, makes this  vegetable very popular with health-conscious people who want a low-fat,  protein-rich snack. Vegetarians and vegans who want a high protein food will  find that edamame’s protein is complete, which means it contains all nine  essential amino acids the human body needs.
Protein helps your body’s tissues to  develop properly and helps your body resist diseases; it produces hormones,  enzymes and other substances your body uses; gives people energy and helps  prevent fatigue. Edamame has no cholesterol, very little saturated fat, and a  half-cup serving provides 11 g of protein toward an average adult’s daily  requirement of 46 to 63 g.
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Edamame is rich in vitamin C and B vitamins, and it is  one of the few natural sources of vitamin E. These soybeans also provide you  with minerals, such as calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and  copper. Nutrients in green soybeans that benefit heart health include vitamin K  and folate, which increases the production of red blood cells. Folic acid is  also essential for pregnant women because it helps with fetal  development.
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Adding edamame to your diet will help you increase your  fiber intake. Fiber is important for healthy digestion, and a half cup of  edamame contains 4 gr of fiber. Fiber also helps lower cholesterol, which may  reduce your risk of heart disease. Another reason edamame is a good snack food  is that the fiber keeps you feeling full for a longer period and this helps you  avoid unhealthy between-meal snacks.
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Edamame has anti-inflammatory qualities and can be a good  food to eat if you have arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, such as  rheumatoid arthritis. Fresh green soybeans, eaten as a snack or a side dish, may  help people with asthma, because this vegetable decreases inflammation in your  breathing passages, and this can reduce wheezing and coughing.
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Your Vegan Neighbor’s Edamame Hummus

  • 1  1/2 cups shelled edamame (I used leftover steamed edamame, but you can use thawed out frozen edamame or I’m sure drained and rinsed canned soybeans would work as well, though you may want to cook them first)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 medium-large clove garlic minced
  • up to 1/2 cup water
  • sea salt to taste (I used about >1/2 tsp)
First blend the edamame in your food processor.  Then add the rest of the ingredients! Make sure to scrape the sides down occasionally. Refrigerate until cold! (If your edamame was already cold in your refrigerator, you can eat your hummus immediately!… And as with most hummus, this will probably thicken up a little bit in the fridge).  Mmmmm! Excuse me… but it’s my turn to DEVOUR some hummus!
Yum! I love this edamame hummus!