Fried Tofu Strips

Fried chicken is a southern staple in the US. It’s also an extremely popular food in the Black community. So, I’ve had my fair share of fried chicken over the years, pre-vegan. When I went vegan, it was crazy to experience fried « chicken ». I couldn’t believe (and still can’t believe) that I was having something that I couldn’t ever imagine being able to enjoy as a vegan. I know I haven’t had even a modicum of the fried « chicken » that so many brilliant vegan chefs and minds have created, but I wanted to contribute in some small way by making my own version of something that could easily be made at home. It absolutely mimics the flavor of fried meat… is it as good as the fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? That’s debatable. Is it healthier that any fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? Also debatable. Did I make several test batches and eat most of them in one sitting, by myself? Abso-frickin-lutely.

ATTENTION: This recipe requires 24 hours of prep time! Please plan accordingly!

What You’ll Need:

For the Dry Batter:

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour (gluten-free flour can also be used)
  • 3 tbsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp parsley

Wet Ingredients:

  • 4 flax eggs: about 3 tbsp water + 1 tbsp flax seeds = 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Other Ingredients:

1 package of extra firm, organic tofu

What to Do:

Step six, slice the tofu once down the middle horizontally while it is laying flat.
  1. Freeze the entire pack of extra firm tofu overnight, or for at least 24 hours until fully frozen.
  2. Take the tofu out of the freezer and let it thaw fully– you can speed up the thawing process by placing the package of tofu in a bowl of hot water. Most of the time, I took it out before leaving in the morning, letting it thaw until I returned home for the day.
  3. Once tofu has fully thawed, open package and drain of water completely.
  4. Wrap the block of tofu in a thin cloth or with a few paper towels and press the tofu of any additional water for about 3-5 minutes. While the tofu is wrapped up, use a tofu press or something with weight to help drain the excess water.
  5. After pressing, let the tofu sit for an additional 15-20 minutes to air dry (I know, this recipe requires a lot of prep time, but it’s worth it! :-)). The tofu should be as dry as possible– this is very important, otherwise the water will seep out and change the flavor of the fried strips.
  6. Slice the tofu once down the middle horizontally while it is laying flat. Keep the two pieces together and slice the tofu vertically 4-5 times. You should have 8-10 evenly sliced tofu strips.
  7. Set tofu strips aside and prepare the flax eggs. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ratio of water with flax seeds (3 tbsp:1 tbsp) x4 to create 4 flax eggs. Whisk together with a fork. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to thicken. You may need to add an additional 1/2 to one tbsp of water if the mixture becomes too thick (you want it to be slightly slimy).
  8. While the flax egg is thickening, prepare the dry ingredients to create the fry batter. In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, dried parsley and seasoning salt. Whisk together thoroughly until well mixed.
  9. Placed the entire amount of the vegetable oil in a medium-sized frying pan (a large pan can be used, but may cause the oil to be too shallow– add about 1/8 cup more oil if using a large pan).
  10. Heat the oil over medium heat (about 3-5 minutes; test by dropping a very tiny water droplet in the oil to see if it sizzles– DO NOT stand over the oil when testing if it’s hot); while oil is heating, check the flax eggs. Remember, they should be only slightly gelatinous and a little slimy– not too thick.
  11. Create an assembly line of flax egg then the dry batter mixture, then the frying pan.
  12. Gently place one tofu strip into the flax eggs and turn to lightly fully coat. I used one hand for the flax eggs and one for the dry batter so that the dry batter didn’t become too clumpy in the bowl and on my hand as I continued to dip strips.
  13. Gently bring the coated strip over to the dry batter and fully coat.
  14. Gently bring the strip over to the frying pan and place it on one side of the pan.
  15. Place about 3-5 strips of coated tofu into the frying pan, about 1/2 inch apart.
  16. Fry each piece for approximately 4-5 minutes on one side, turn the strip over and fry that side for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  17. Use tongs to gently remove each strip, and place it on a dish or in a container that has been lined with thin clothes or paper towels to drain the strips of excess oil.
  18. Let cool for several minutes, then, transfer to a serving dish.
  19. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, serve and enjoy! These strips taste amazing with my tangy aioli– you can find that recipe here.

Date Posted on Instagram: 8/1/2019

Lazy Scalloped Potatoes

My recipes are meant to be simple and quick, so when I thought to myself: how can I make scalloped potatoes easier and vegan? this lil’ recipe came to mind. No baking, quick prep and process, and best of all, it tasted extremely decadent. I’ve raved about potatoes many times. They’re a really versatile food and they can be transformed into practically anything. I mean, you start out with a big, round and hard potato, and end up with golden, crisp and soft fries. What kind of magical sorcery is that? And fries are just one of the foods these babies can transform into… tater tots, pancakes, hash browns, I could go on and on, but I won’t because I’m getting hungry. Also, this recipes incorporates my super easy thick and cheezy sauce recipe, which I also use to make mac ‘n’ cheeze.

What You’ll Need:

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (x3) plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)

For the Potato Dish:

  • 1 large potato
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp essential seasoning blend*
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Seasoned potato slices all lined up and ready to go.

What to Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the potato into thin slices ( I was able to yield about 20 slices from my potato –not potato chip thin, but thin).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, olive oil and essential seasoning blend and toss until well mixed.
  4. Place potato slices evenly about 1/2 an inch apart on a large sheet tray lined with aluminum foil.
  5. Place tray of potatoes in oven for approximately 10-13 minutes, making sure not to burn them.
  6. While potatoes are cooking in the oven, start the cheeze sauce.
  7. Heat a medium to large sized skillet over low heat.
  8. Add butter and melt over low heat.
  9. Very slowly, begin to add the flour, about 1/3 of the whole 1/4 cup at a time; Use a flat utensil (preferably wooden or silicone) to stir flour into the butter as you add it to the skillet. Stir continuously until all flour has been thoroughly mixed into butter and the entire 1/4 cup has been added.
  10. Reduce heat to a very low simmer– almost as low as you can get the flame without turning it off.
  11. Add the first 1/4 of almond milk and stir slowly into the roux until completely mixed-in to the mixture.
  12. Add the second 1/4 cup of almond milk and repeat the above step, stirring slowly until the milk is completely mixed-in to the mixture.
  13. Add the third 1/4 cup of almond milk and repeat the above step.
  14. The sauce will start to form now and should be nice and thick.
  15. Return the heat to low.
  16. Add the nutritional yeast and salt and stir into the cheeze sauce until fully blended. Continue stirring sauce for approximately 1 minute, then, remove from heat but keep the sauce in the skillet and on the stove burner.
  17. Remove potato slices from oven and let cool on the side while you finish prepping the sauce. Remove the aluminum foil with the potato slices from the sheet tray to cool faster or place the potato slices on a wire rack.
  18. You have two options here: 1) you can remove half the sauce from the skillet now and store it for later use**, or 2) you can follow the next step with all the cheeze sauce still inside the skillet, although this basic recipe yields more sauce than you will need for the amount of potatoes used***
  19. Add the spinach to the skillet and stir into the cheeze sauce until thoroughly mixed.
  20. Place the potato slices into the cheeze sauce and fold the potatoes into the sauce carefully so you don’t break the slices.
  21. Transfer cheezy potatoes to a serving dish and enjoy. Have fun with the toppings! I added jalapeño and a side of ketchup to mine 🙂

Date Posted on Instagram: 5/1/2019

* essential seasoning blend can be found here.

** transfer the excess sauce to an airtight container (preferably glass) and store it in the refrigerator; it will keep for several days but I don’t recommend saving it for more than 5 to 6 days. To reheat: place sauce in a skillet on low heat. Once heat start to melt the sauce, add about 1 to 3 tbsp. of plain, unsweetened almond milk (add the milk one tbsp at a time) to the skillet and stir the sauce with a flat utensil (preferably wooden or silicone) continuously and slowly until sauce becomes “saucy” again. This should return the sauce to it’s thick consistency, but you can add more milk if you want to thin it out even more.
*** so really, you have 3 options. You can also bake more potato slices using another large potato if you want to use all the cheeze sauce in one sitting.

Super Thick & Cheezy Mac ‘n’ Cheeze

I love mac ‘n’ cheeze. I’ve decided that I would try my hardest in life to avoid any stereotypes about anyone, even the seemingly harmless ones (but, I’m not perfect, so don’t “@” me!). And so, I wasn’t gonna say that I’m pretty much obligated to like this side dish staple because I’m Black– but heck, it’s kinda true. I don’t know a single Black person that doesn’t like mac ‘n’ cheese. But there is one thing that most Black people frown upon in the sacred world of this classic food, and I’ve ventured into that territory with this recipe. Out of a box, stove top mac is a no-no. In fact, it’s almost sacrilege. But, when I can up with this cheeze sauce recipe, I knew I was on to something. Sure, it doesn’t have that baked in the oven taste exactly. And sure, it’s not made with real cheese, or even a vegan cheese substitute. And sure, I threw a bunch of seasonings in the recipe that are not at all reminiscent of traditional African-American mac ‘n’ cheese recipes– okay, I see I’m not really making a strong, positive case for my mac. But regardless, when I tried it, I felt like it tasted like something my family would prefer if they had to have the mac ‘n’ cheese made on the stove in like 15 minutes, instead of baked in the oven. Not only that, I made this with all my fellow humans of all ethnicities and cultures in mind, because who doesn’t love a thick and cheezy sauce? There are a lot of vegan cheeze sauce recipes out there, but mine differs in that the goal is for it to be a thick sauce from the start. It’s best when used right away, in it’s thick form. You’re more than welcome to thin it out by adding more almond milk to the mixture, but that defeats the purpose of this being a “super thick and cheezy” mac ‘n’ cheeze — and I know the point of my recipes is to “make them your own”, but I really like this recipe title, so pretty please keep this sauce thick af.

What You’ll Need:

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (x3) plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)

For the Noods and Mac ‘n’ Cheeze Dish:

  • 4-7 cups cooked small pasta shells*
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • dried parsley (to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)

What to Do:

  1. Prepare noodles (boil water, add noodles, return to a rolling boil uncovered. Use approximately 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry pasta shells. Drain shells from boiling water and run cold water over pasta shells for approximately 10 seconds. Drain again).
  2. Place noodles in a large mixing bowl and set aside someplace near the stove to keep them warm.
  3. Heat a medium to large sized skillet over low heat.
  4. Add butter and melt over low heat.
  5. Very slowly, begin to add the flour, about 1/3 of the whole 1/4 cup at a time; Use a flat utensil (preferably wooden or silicone) to stir flour into the butter as you add it to the skillet. Stir continuously until all flour has been thoroughly mixed into butter and the entire 1/4 cup has been added.**
  6. Reduce heat to a very low simmer– as low as you can get the flame without turning it off.
  7. Add the first 1/4 of almond milk and stir slowly into the roux until completely mixed-in to the mixture.
  8. Add the second 1/4 cup of almond milk and repeat the above step, stirring slowly until the milk is completely mixed-in to the mixture.
  9. Add the third 1/4 cup of almond milk and repeat the above step.
  10. The sauce will start to form now and should be nice and thick.
  11. Return the heat to low.
  12. Add the nutritional yeast and salt and stir into the cheeze sauce until fully blended. Continue stirring sauce for approximately 1 minute, then, remove from heat.***
  13. Add sauce to the bowl of noodles and stir until cheeze sauce is well blended into noodles.
  14. Transfer some of the mac ‘n’ cheeze to a serving dish and garnish with seasonings to taste.

Date Posted on Instagram: 4/28/2019

* 4 cups will yield a ridiculously cheezy mac, and 7 cups will still be very cheezy but maybe more manageable. You can also use any pasta shape or type you’d like, but I don’t know if the “cheeziness” ratio will change. Most likely, it won’t, but try it out on any pasta you want and play around with the amount of pasta that works for the sauce based on your preference.

** This flour and butter mixture is known as a roux, and it’s the basis for many sauces — particularly in French cuisine (which has a lot of sauce-based dishes), but nowadays, in any cuisine.

*** If you don’t use all the sauce, transfer the remaining sauce to an airtight container (preferably glass) and store it in the refrigerator; it will keep for several days but I don’t recommend saving it for more than 5 to 6 days. To reheat: place sauce in a skillet on low heat. Once heat start to melt the sauce, add about 1 to 3 tbsp. of plain, unsweetened almond milk (add the milk one tbsp at a time) to the skillet and stir the sauce with a flat utensil (preferably wooden or silicone) continuously and slowly until sauce becomes “saucy” again. This should return the sauce to it’s thick consistency, but you can add more milk if you want to thin it out even more.

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Jackfruit and Potato Curry

I’m a big fan of potatoes. And for some reason, they seem to taste waaay better when they have sort of saucy goodness on them. This recipe includes just that– potatoes with saucy goodness of the curry variety. There’s also jackfruit in here, and of course, some veg to balance it all out. I’ve been making recipes in a more sporadic nature lately– mostly because I haven’t had the time or energy to devote to coming up with them. Although this isn’t the most unique recipe around, it combines my love of Indian and Caribbean cuisine, creating recipes, and yes, eating food. Unfortunately, this description doesn’t really include my love or skill of writing. Ha, see what I did there? In my defense, I’m writing this late in the evening, and I’m really tired, and this is a personal blog, not the New York Times. So bear with me, read my less than stellar but still witty intro, then, go make this recipe because it’s really frickin good. Oh wow– the word “good” just reminded me of good night. Good night– I’m going to sleep.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1/2 can of chickpeas, drained (15.5 oz)
  • 1 cup jackfruit, diced (fresh or frozen can be used)
  • 1 1/2 cups baby potatoes, chopped in halves (I used Klondike potatoes; you can use any variety)
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1/8 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup “not beef” bouillon broth*
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • about 1/4 – 1/2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

What to Do:

  1. Prepare rice (boil water, add rice, stir and bring to a boil again, turn heat to a low simmer, cover and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes or so– use approximately 1 3/4 cup of water for every one cup of rice). Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.
  3. Once hot, add chopped onion, diced potatoes, and carrots; stir ingredients well to mix with oil.
  4. Cook for approximately 2 minutes over medium heat.
  5. Reduce heat to low (not a low simmer, but low) and add chickpeas and “not beef” bouillon broth (or vegetable broth). Gently stir and cover with a lid; let ingredients simmer on low heat for approximately 4-6 minutes, until potatoes just start to tenderize, but not fully.
  6. Remove lid and add jackfruit, cumin, curry powder and salt to skillet. Gently stir into potato mixture until well mixed.
  7. Reduce heat to (a low) simmer and return lid. Let curry simmer for approximately 6-8 minutes, until potatoes are more fork tender but liquid should not dissolve.
  8. Remove from heat; add additional salt if desired.
  9. Transfer rice to a serving dish and top with curry. Serve and enjoy 🙂

Date Posted on Instagram: 4/23/2019

* recipe for the broth can be found in another recipe I wrote. If you do not want to use this broth or don’t have the bouillon cubes, you can use vegetable broth instead.

Green “Holiday” Nog

I named this drink a “holiday” nog because I wasn’t sure that people would get the nog reference without the holiday present. Sure, we know about egg nog — and for us vegans, we know about almond nog. But when you just hear the word “nog”, does your mind automatically go to the famous holiday drink? Actually, I don’t think that word is used anywhere else except for that drink! But maybe I was worrying a bit too much. Maybe I should have more faith in people and their ability to identify extremely specific holiday drinks out of season. I mean, I’m sure anyone could recognize a pumpkin spice latte in, say, the middle of July? Sure they could. I think the thing that may throw them off about this drink is the color. Most “nogs” are a creamy, tan color — not a creamy green color. And maybe the green hue and holiday reference could even make this drink seem a little grinch-y… but with three simple ingredients, and a dose of iron and vitamin C, this drink is anything but mean.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups sweetened, vanilla flavored almond milk*
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach (I prefer fresh spinach for this recipe over frozen)
  • 2-3 tsp
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • More nutmeg to garnish

What to Do:

  1. Place almond milk, spinach, sugar and nutmeg in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a serving glass, then, sprinkle with a layet of nutmeg to garnish and enjoy.

* Almond milk is thicker and creamier so I suggest using this milk over a thinner milk like rice or coconut milk (coconut milk might also affect the flavor). Maybe oat or hemp milk might work, but make sure you get the sweetened vanilla varieties to achieve the flavor of the nog. If you can not get the sweetened vanilla variety, you can add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to this recipe and then add agave or another vegan liquid sweetener to taste.

Date posted on Instagram: 1/15/19

Creamy Butternut Squash and Chickpea Soup

Soup is my jam. But not just any soup. I don’t really like those plain, mostly thinned-out brothy-y soups. I need a hearty, chunky soup. And if there’s a thin broth, there better be a whole bunch of goodies in there and not just a few straggly pieces of noodles. Enter this amazing creation. This could almost be classified as a dump skillet meal because I had this squash in the fridge for so long I forgot about it. When I rediscovered it, it didn’t look as brightly orange as it had been, but I wasn’t in the mood to make squash so I threw it in the freezer. Then, the next day it just didn’t sit well with me and I felt like I needed to create an amazing meal with it. And outta nowhere I came up with this amazing soup. But here’s the crazy part: After I made it and let it sit for awhile, the broth ended up tasting exactly like tikka masala sauce! If you know my food vibes, I’ve mentioned a bunch of times that Indian food is hands down one of my favorites. And I’d unintentionally made the sauce to one of favorite Indian dishes! I couldn’t believe it. So a random science experiment of a creation ended up yielding not one, but two recipes. And although the sauce is very tikka “masala-y”, with the squash and chickpeas, it definitely has it’s own vibe and holds it’s own as a soup. But, feel free to only create the sauce and add some tofu or vegan chick’n cutlets for a bomb chick’n tikka masala. I mean seriously, look how far I’ve come. I went from making a tikka masala dish that included using a jarred version of the sauce, to accidentally and unintentionally making that very sauce from scratch while trying to make a completely different recipe. Started from the bottom, now I’m here!

butternut squash and chickpea soup

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained (15.5 oz)
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach (frozen spinach can also be used)
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp. +  1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 heaping tbsp. salt

What to Do:

  1. Place a large pot (at least a 3 qt. pot) on low heat.
  2. Add chickpeas, squash, coconut milk, and tomato paste to pot and stir together gently until well mixed.
  3. Keep uncovered and reduce heat to a low simmer. Let soup begin to heat up and once it starts to bubble, begin adding in seasonings.
  4. Add salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, and curry powder to soup. Stir and mix until well blended. Let soup simmer for approximately 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add spinach to soup and mix until well blended.
  6. Continue to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until squash and chickpeas are tender, approximately 20 minutes.

*To Make Tikka Masala Sauce Alone*:

  1. Combine coconut milk, tomato paste and all seasonings in a pot over a simmer heat.
  2. Mix all ingredients together until well blended, and let simmer until sauce begins to bubble.
  3. Remove from heat and let sauce cool. Store sauce to use for homemade tikka masala, or for any other dishes.
  4. You can also use this sauce for my tikka masala recipe instead of the jarred sauce!

Date posted on Instagram: 12/26/18

Easy Chickpea Scramble

It’s funny how we idolize some foods but never think outside of the box with what can be done with those foods in a different context, or how we can use other foods to recreate the idolized foods. That was a lot to take in just now, but hear me out. Eggs. I used to love eggs. So many people love eggs. But eggs are actually one of the easiest foods to veganize. My favorite is definitely tofu scram, but there are also a few vegan egg substitutes on the market and if tofu isn’t your thing, there’s chickpeas. Yes, I said chickpeas. I get it, I was surprised when I first found out about chickpea scrambles too. I mean, they’re chickpeas. But, in keeping with one of my vegan mantra’s which states that most of eating is a psychological experience, visually, a decent chickpea scram can remind someone of eggs. Now the texture is a different story. That may not feel as “egg-like” but maybe an exact replica isn’t what you’re looking for.  And anyway, the secret to a really bomb chickpea scram (or any vegan egg sub) is one key ingredient: black salt. Also known as kala namak. This amazing Indian salt has a flavor that’s extremely reminiscent of eggs because of its sulfur content. But let’s not make this a science lesson (although the nerd in me does love a good science lesson!). Let’s just say that with this salt in hand, you hold the key to making anything taste like eggs. So vegans rejoice because yet again, animal harm: 0, plants providing a way: 1. And non-vegans who think they’re precious eggs can’t be replaced? Come at me.

chickpea scramble

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, completely drained of liquid
  • 1 tsp. oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. black salt*
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp. avocado oil (or other high-heat oil like peanut or high-oleic sunflower oil)

What to Do:

  1. Add chickpeas to a medium bowl and smash them with a fork until most of the beans have been crushed (see picture below). A few solid parts are okay and actually recommended.

    smashed chickpeas for chickpea scramble
    chickpea prep for a scramble.

  2. Add oat flour to the bowl and mix into the chickpeas until well blended.
  3. Add turmeric to the mixture and mix until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Heat a saucepan over low-medium heat with the avocado oil. (I used a spray can of avocado oil and sprayed a light layer on the pan).
  5. Once hot, add the chickpea mixture to the pan and use a (non-metal) spatula or cooking tool to spread the chickpeas in an even layer, similar to a tortilla.
  6. Let the chickpea cook for about 2 minutes, then, flip and the opposite side for another 2 minutes.
  7. Start to break apart the chickpea “tortilla” into chunks, similar to scrambled eggs, and let the scramble continue to cook.
  8. Cook the chickpeas for about 3-4 more minutes in the chunky pieces or longer to achieve some browning on the chickpeas.
  9. Transfer chickpea scramble to a bowl and mix in the black salt. Then, transfer salted scramble to serving dish and add pepper to taste OR transfer chickpea scramble straight to serving dish and sprinkle with black salt and pepper.

* You can purchase black salt from several sources online. The salt is also sold in Indian and Asian markets. At the ethnic markets, you are likely to find a bulk amount for a decent price. I found a good amount on Amazon for an amazing price. Do a little research so you aren’t overcharged because it’s definitely possible to get a good deal on this amazing seasoning.

Date posted on Instagram: 12/31/18