Sautéed Swiss Chard

This was my first time using swiss chard. The leaves were a little bitter to taste (which I later found out is a common occurrence, ha), and I thought adding vinegar would counter that — I also served them with something sweeter to balance it out. I got a few differing opinions on these greens, one saying that the bitterness came from the stems and that I should de-stem them. However, I also asked a chef who works in a kitchen that is currently serving a dish that uses swiss chard, stems and all. They told me that younger leaves may be better. Still not entirely sure, but I liked the way these turned out, so I’m happy either way.

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What You’ll Need:

  • Approximately 5-6 full leaves of swiss chard, chopped, with stems cut off and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on low to medium heat with olive oil.
  2. Once hot, place swiss chard in skillet and stir to mix with olive oil.
  3. Add salt and pepper and stir.
  4. Saute swiss chard for approximately 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to a low simmer.
  5. dd vinegar to skillet and mix well with chard.
  6. Simmer chard in vinegar for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  7. Return heat to low to medium and stir chard occasionally until most of vinegar has absorbed into chard.
  8. Add more salt and pepper to taste is necessary. Bon appetit!

 

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 6/28/18

Balsamic Ginger Glazed Carrots

These carrots were insane. Although glazed carrots scream autumn, I needed something to counter the taste of the swiss chard I was making for a dish. I thought sweet would counter bitter. That’s the only reason I decided to make glazed carrots — but this was the embodiment of necessity being the mother of invention! Okay, so I know I didn’t invent glazed carrots, but these were seriously good. And I would have never thought to make them if it weren’t for the swiss chard. Well, maybe I would have thought to make them for like, Thanksgiving or something — but that’s a really long time away. Okay, just make these carrots because they taste amazing.

Balsamic Glaze carrots close up

What You’ll Need:

  • Approximately 1/2 pound of organic baby carrots, stems removed (I got mine from the farmer’s market)
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • glass container with lid (big enough to fit carrots)
organic baby carrots
Organic baby carrots.

What to Do:

  1. Wash carrots thoroughly.
  2. Place baby carrots in container and add vinegar and ginger; mix carrots into vinegar mixture well until all carrots are covered.
  3. Cover container with lid and place in fridge. Let carrots marinate for an hour, minimum 30 minutes.
  4. Remove carrots from fridge and set aside to become room temperature.
  5. Heat a skillet on low to medium heat with olive oil in it.
  6. Once hot, remove carrots from container and add to skillet. Add salt to carrots and stir into olive oil; let saute for approximately 3 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and add remaining balsamic marinade to skillet. Stir marinade into carrots.
  8. Let carrots simmer for approximately 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  9. Add agave to skillet, and stir into carrots well.
  10. Turn up heat to low and let carrots saute, stirring frequently to avoid agave from burning and sticking on the pan.
  11. Saute carrots for approximately 4 more minutes or until carrots are tender and have started to gain a caramelized glaze. Remove from heat. Bon appetit!

Date posted on Instagram: 6/28/18

Garden Blossom Buddha Bowl

I have become obsessed with buddha bowls for many reasons:

  1. They are usually super filling meals if you put the right stuff in ’em.
  2. They look so cute with everything arranged all pretty and tidy next to each other.
  3. They’re called buddha bowls. Buddha. Bowls. I mean, come on.

I’ve made several of them recently, and this one was inspired by the change of seasons. It’s finally summer and what’s better than relishing in all of the beauty of nature that spring has been working so hard to bring us? We now have 3 months to sniff flowers, run through forests, and lay in lush gardens full of greenery to our hearts content. Thanks Mother Nature; you da bomb.

garden blossom buddha bowl

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 block of medium-firm organic tofu
  • 2 strips vegan bacon (I used Lightlife smart bacon)
  • 1/4 cup vegan shredded cheese (I used So Delicious shredded cheddar jack)
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • Approximately 5-6 baby bella mushroom caps, stems removed and sliced
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 large orange, cut into segments (I left the skin on)
  • Approximately 5-6 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon Trader Joe’s chili-lime seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Cast iron skillet (to cook bacon and peppers in)

What to Do:

  1.  Heat cast iron skillet on low to medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.*
  2. Once hot, add bacon slices and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on what brand of bacon you’re using (this is how I prepare the Lightlife bacon!).
  3. Once bacon is done, remove from skillet and set aside on a dry cloth to drain.
  4. Return the cast iron skillet to heat and add in the sliced green peppers.
  5. Saute the peppers for approximately 2 minutes.
  6. Add chili-lime seasoning and stir into peppers. Continue to saute for approximately 5-6 minutes until peppers are tender and the seasoning is browning a little bit. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Heat a skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  8. Once hot, add the block of tofu to the skillet and crumble it into pieces with a spatula.**
  9. After tofu has been cooking for about 3-4 minutes, add turmeric and stir into tofu until all tofu is yellow in color.
  10. Cook tofu for another 3-4 minutes, or until you achieve the desired level of light to crispy tofu you would like.***
  11. Transfer scram to the center of a serving dish and sprinkle with cheese.
  12. In a separate skillet (or rinse out the turmeric and use the same skillet as the tofu scram), heat over low to medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
  13. Once hot, add baby bella caps and sliced stems. Saute mushrooms for approximately 5 minutes, until they have browned. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  14. Transfer chili-lime peppers to serving dish around the outside of the tofu scramble.
  15. Place sautéed mushrooms next to peppers. (I placed the stems on the bottom and the caps on top so it looked more garden-y.
  16. Place sun-dried tomatoes next to mushrooms.
  17. Place a few orange segments next to the tomatoes.
  18. Crumble bacon into pieces and garnish the top of the tofu scram.
  19. Remove cilantro herb from a few stems and garnish tofu scram with cilantro; place remaining cilantro attached to stem around the dish to create the “garden”. Bon appetit!

PRO TIP: After you’re done plating, take one or two pics for the gram and then drizzle sriracha and ketchup over everythinggg!

* A cast iron skillet isn’t necessary but cast iron skillets create better flavor so I prefer to use them for some things. The flavor of the chili-lime seasoning is so amazing and I think the cast iron brings it out more in the peppers and also enhances the flavor of the bacon. However, if you don’t have a cast iron or you want to use a regular skillet you can do that as well.

** This is one method you can use to crumble the tofu. Personally, I like to crumble it with my hands: I crumble the block of tofu into pieces with my hand as I add it to the skillet. If there are any large chunks that I want to make smaller after crumbling, that is when I will use a spatula to crumble any additional pieces.

*** If you like a more fluffy tofu scram, you can add vegetable broth to the scram as the tofu is cooking. Add about 1 tablespoon of veggie broth halfway through cooking (about 4-5 minutes) and let the the broth fully absorb into the scram!

Date posted on Instagram: 6/17/18

Seared Steak. Green Beans with Fried Onions and Thyme. Medley of Potatoes. Mushroom Thyme Gravy.

This is my third creation in the #veganclocktowerchallenge. I went vegan after I started working there, and practically everyone in the kitchen knows I’m vegan– so after starting this blog, I thought it would be fun to recreate some of the dishes they serve in a fine-dining restaurant. The steaks there are served with triple-cooked chips and a side salad. I made my own sides but I tried to plate the steak the way we plate it at the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised at the final result — not to mention my folks loved it also (I made extra for them to try). Follow me on Instagram to see everything I make from the menu!

Clocktower Steak dish

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 vegan steak — I used a pre-marinated seitan steak (see pictured below!)*
  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 2/3 cup crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 bag of baby potatoes (I used the organic mini medley of potatoes from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 1/4 cup fried onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning (I used Grill Mates Montreal steak seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon essential seasoning mix**
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons steak sauce (make sure it’s vegan! I used a generic store brand of steak sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon browning sauce (I used Gravy Master seasoning and browning sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons prepared cornstarch***
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or 4 tablespoons avocado oil and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • cast iron skillet for steak (optional)

** I wrote this recipe so that all items can be prepared and served together as opposed to writing out the directions for each component. If you follow the recipe as is, the entire dish should be finished around the same time so you don’t have to wait!**

What to Do:

  1. Sprinkle steak seasoning on either side of steak and set aside until ready to sear.*
  2. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add baby potatoes and continue to boil.
  3. While potatoes boil, heat one tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet on low heat.
  4. Once hot, add green beans and stir to mix with olive oil. Saute green beans for approximately 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add fried onions, about 3-4 sprigs of thyme (remove the herbs from the stems) and approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir.
  6. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally– fried onions should become slightly browned but be careful not to brown or burn the green beans. Remove green beans from heat and set aside, but leave in skillet.
  7. Check potatoes — boil for approximately 3-4 more minutes, or until fork-tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  8. Place prepared green beans on serving dish or in a separate container and set aside. Leave any remnants  of oil in the skillet.
  9. Return the skillet to low-medium heat and add mushrooms.
  10. Saute mushrooms for approximately 4 minutes, until slightly browned.
  11. Turn to high heat and add 1 cup of vegetable broth. Bring broth to a boil.
  12. Once broth is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.
  13. Add steak sauce, browning sauce and essential seasoning blend. Stir vigorously until steak sauce has completely dissolved into broth.
  14. Let sauce continue to simmer for 6-7 minutes. Add 4-5 sprigs of thyme to sauce (remove herbs from stems) and stir.
  15. Continue to simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  16. Add prepared cornstarch to sauce one tablespoon at a time, stirring vigorously after tablespoon and waiting approximately 1-2 minutes between tablespoons.**
  17. Let sauce fully thicken, about 4-5 minutes.
  18. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat.****
  19. Once hot, add steak to skillet (be careful of oil splatter!)
  20. Sear steak for about 3 minutes on one side. Steak should move freely in skillet after 3 minutes.
  21. Turn steak and sear on the other side for 3 minutes. If necessary, add about 1 tablespoon of additional oil before searing on the other side if most of the oil has been absorbed by the steak from the first sear.
  22. Turn steak again and sear for another 3 minutes.
  23. Turn steak once more and sear for another 3 minutes. Steak should be browned on each side– be careful not to burn steak unless you prefer it to be darker or “crisper” (remember this is seitan, not beef!)
  24. Remove steak from heat.
  25. Repeat steps 18-23 if you have another steak to sear.
  26. Transfer steak to a serving dish.
  27. Transfer green beans to serving dish.
  28. Transfer potatoes to serving dish.
  29. Drizzle potatoes with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  30. Serve mushroom and thyme gravy on the side or drizzle on top of steak. Bon appetit!

 

 

* Here is the steak I used, in the packaging. You can make your own steaks of course — I wanted to try these that were being sold at a vegan cheese shop I went to. As you can see, they were pre-marinated in the packaging. If your steaks are pre-marinated, you can ditch the dry steak seasoning all-together. I added it to the recipe for extra flavor. If your steak aren’t pre-marinated, up the amount to 1 teaspoon of seasoning for each side instead of 1 teaspoon for both sides.

vegan steak package

** Essential seasoning blend can be found on the recipes page.

*** To make the prepared cornstarch, add approximately 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water (so equal parts of each ingredient). You can not add cornstarch directly to hot sauces to thicken them– the cornstarch will become clumpy. When this recipe calls for adding prepared cornstarch, it’s this mixture of cornstarch mixed with water. Remember, the ratios are equal!

**** Avocado oil has a higher heat tolerance than olive oil. For searing in a cast iron skillet it is recommended to use an oil with a higher heat tolerance– however, those are the rules when searing a beef steak. I used olive oil, but it might still be helpful to sear a seitan steak using an oil with a higher heat tolerance. The next time, I’m going to use avocado oil — I’m an amateur cook, so you guys can learn from my mistakes with me! But these steaks turned out pretty well using the olive oil, however, they might be even better using avocado oil.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 6/7/18

Vegan Chili Bread Bowl

I decided to make chili in the Spring for two reasons: 1. A pal suggested it and I didn’t want to wait all the way until it was cold outside to follow through with such a great idea. 2. After some thought, I figured it made perfect sense, because people often think about foods from the opposite season they’re in — it’s the whole, “the grass is always greener” effect. So I made chili! It was a fun recipe to make because I’ve never made anything in a bread bowl before. In fact, I haven’t made many dishes in bowls, period. I need to start using bowls more.

Vegan chili bread bowl

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 circular loaf of bread — I used an IPA beer bread loaf, but there are many types of bread you can find that have been baked in a circle. Check your local (or not so local) markets and of  course, bakeries.
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 can of pinto beans, drained
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes, with their juice (I used TJ’s diced and fire-roasted organic tomatoes with green chiles)
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium salad tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs of cilantro (for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon of scallion (for garnish)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of vegan sour cream (I used tofutti better than sour cream– so good!)
  • 3-4 tablespoons prepared cornstarch*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Carefully trace a circle around the top of the circular loaf with a knife. You want at least about 1/2-1 inch of space around the circumference of the bread so that it can literally act as a bowl!
  2. Cut around the circle with a bread knife, and remove the top.
  3. Scoop the center of the bread out, leaving a thicker layer at the bottom so the chili doesn’t soak right through the bottom of the bread. Set bread bowl aside.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large saute pan on low-medium heat (you will need at least a 5 quart pan for this recipe!)
  5. Once the oil is hot, add the carrots, bell pepper, celery and onions. Saute until onions are translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add chopped garlic, and all spices (chili powder, paprika, salt and cumin and oregano); stir spices into sauteed vegetables continuously for about 30 seconds until well mixed.
  7. Add chopped tomato, both cans of diced tomatoes with their juice, pinto beans, black beans and vegetable broth.
  8. Stir and lower heat to a simmer.
  9. Simmer chili for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add red wine vinegar.
  10. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally (so chili will simmer for approximately 30-35 minutes total).
  11. Remove chili from heat.
  12. Add prepared cornstarch* 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring and waiting for approximately 1-2 minutes after each tablespoon. Sauce will thicken as you add the cornstarch.
  13. Let chili sit for about 5 minutes so sauce can fully thicken.
  14. Transfer some of chili to bread bowl.
  15. Garnish with sour cream, scallion and cilantro. Bon appetit!

 

* To make the prepared cornstarch, add approximately 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water (so equal parts of each ingredient). You can not add cornstarch directly to hot sauces to thicken them– the cornstarch will become clumpy and that’s no bueno. When this recipe calls for adding prepared cornstarch, it’s this mixture of cornstarch mixed with water. You might need more cornstarch for this recipe, so up the ratios of cornstarch to water, remember, the ratios are equal!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 5/29/18