Sesame-Crusted Tofu with Lemongrass-Orange Reduction

This dish didn’t exactly turn out as the recipe intended, but it was wonderful nonetheless. First off, I didn’t have any lemongrass. I knew I could find some in town, but I didn’t have the time to venture out to get it. So, I just made it without and without any substitution. Second, according to the recipe, the sauce is supposed to thicken after simmering for 5 minutes. That didn’t happen. At all. I simmered for 15 minutes and it remained the same consistency. So, I just added a bit of arrowroot powder and, in no time, it turned into a wonderful, thick glaze.

For the side, I made brown rice and, to make it easy, I just threw frozen, shelled edamame on the top to steam through while I made the tofu and sauce. I also had a few vegetable gyoza from Trader Joe’s and a little bit of sriracha to drizzle on the rice.

All in all, despite a few bumps, it was a wonderful and easy dish that I’ll definitely make again. Also, if you Google it, you can find the whole recipe online; I just didn’t want to post it here since it wasn’t my own.

Meal Plan Experiment

For those of you who have been patient enough to follow this blog since its inception, you know my goal has been to create budget-friendly meal plans. As you all know, working full time has a way of interfering with the fun stuff, so it kind of got put on the back burner. I also have been kind of paralyzed with too many details of how, exactly, I wanted to present a meal plan to serve you all.

Well, I woke up this morning and decided to create one based on my recent grocery trip and to just put it out there, warts and all. It’s not perfect, but it’ll give me something to work with for future posts. And I really hope that you all will offer me feedback in terms of what works and what doesn’t. I fully anticipate that the format will change several times in the weeks and months ahead, but I want to get it right. Eventually, I’d love to have a printable and downloadable version so that you can easily bring it with you to the store. (Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have my own app!)

Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist; I am just a regular person who is trying to do her best to adhere to a vegan diet in a fairly healthy and budget-friendly way. And if I can help a few readers do the same, then I’ll be a very happy camper.

A few notes: You’ll notice that my meal plan is expected to cover 6 to 7 days. I make my meals with the expectation that we will have leftovers to eat off of for a few days. Also, my meal plans will always be for two people, so you’ll have to adjust according to your household. And, obviously, your total will be different from mine based on where you live, where you buy your food and what you have on hand, but I’m including it to give you a rough estimate. Finally, you’ll notice a list of items that I already have on hand. I cannot stress the importance of keeping your pantry stocked. This will save you money in the long run because I like to create lists based on items that I already have in the pantry/fridge.

So, without further ado, here is my very first meal plan:

Budget: $70
Money spent:
$79.29
Time:
6-7 days

Menu

Breakfast
bagels and cream cheese
cereal
Blackberry East Coast Coffee Cake (from “Vegan Brunch”)

Lunch
Classic Broccoli Quiche ( from “Vegan Brunch”) with kale salad
soup and crackers

Dinner
Tofu, mushroom, carrot and edamame stir-fry and gyoza
Italian sausages with sautéed onions and peppers over polenta
Split Pea and Lentil Soup (from “The Vegan Slow Cooker”) and cornbread

Snacks
popcorn
almonds
apples and peanut butter
yogurt and granola
carrots, cucumber and hummus

List
Silk vanilla soy yogurt (large container)
almond milk
Tofutti cream cheese
(2 packages) extra-firm tofu
(1 package) Field Roast Italian Sausage
(1 bunch) kale
sprouted cinnamon-raisin bagels
(2) broccoli crowns
(3) Fuji apples
2lb bag of carrots
baby spinach
almonds
(4) prepackaged soups
wheat crackers
(1 lb) popcorn
(1/2 lb) granola
(1 lb) split peas
(1) yellow onion
(1) bulb garlic
Dijon mustard
(2) red bell peppers
(1 package) frozen vegetable gyoza
raisin bran cereal
shelled edamame
(1 package) sliced white mushrooms
(1) cucumber

Items already on-hand:
frozen blackberries
all-purpose flour
sugar
apple-cider vinegar
vanilla extract
cinnamon
nutmeg
canola oil
baking powder
sea salt
pepper
olive oil
green lentils
chicken-flavored bouillon
bay leaves
tarragon
thyme
turmeric
marjoram
rosemary
(2) yellow onions
tahini
(2) lemons
(1 can) chickpeas
raw cashews
Earth Balance
cornmeal
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Sriracha

Books used:
“Vegan Brunch”
“The Vegan Slow Cooker”

Weeknight Basics: Stir-fry and Spring Rolls

We eat stir-fry all the time and never seem to tire of it. I cook about 2 cups of brown rice, fry a whole block of tofu that’s been cubed and then throw in whatever veggies I have on hand. And I don’t even make a sauce; a little Bragg’s, a little Sriracha and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and there you go. For this particular meal, I used fresh broccoli, carrots and a green pepper. I also found vegan spring rolls at Whole Foods to round out the meal. The whole thing was under $12 and was enough for two dinners.

New Pantry Staples

Hello! I’m still here. I’ve been in a cooking rut. Part of it is my husband’s new third-shift schedule — he sleeps during the day, so I can’t really make a lot of noise. And the other part is that I just haven’t been that motivated to cook, which happens every now and then. We’ve been sticking to our basics: stir-fry and pasta, for the most part. So, in an effort to keep this blog up and running, I’m trying to think of new features that I can write about that involve vegan products and news that will be helpful to you. For that reason, I thought I’d write a post about a few new products that have helped us in the kitchen lately.

Trader Joe’s Vegetable Gyoza

We make stir-fry A LOT. It’s easy, it’s healthy and it’s very versatile, so we never tire of it. I like to cook a little brown rice, fry up some tofu and throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand. A little Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, a little Sriracha and a few sesame seeds, and you’re good to go. Lately, though, to round out our stir-fry meal and make it last longer, we’ve been adding these Trader Joe’s Vegetable Gyoza. They’re only $3.29 at our store and you get enough for a few meals.

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

I’m fairly late to the Bragg‘s party. This product is a staple for many vegans, and it’s quickly become a staple for us. I use it for anything that calls for soy sauce, or to add a little salty flavor to veggies, soups and so on.

Sriracha

I know, who hasn’t heard of Sriracha sauce? I thought I’d add it here because we’ve been using it quite a bit lately. Aside from using it with our stir-fry, I like to add it to tofu scrambles for an added kick.

Amy’s No Chicken Noodle Soup

As much as I like to make things from scratch, it’s been nice using a little help in the kitchen, especially when it comes to lunch items. This Amy’s No Chicken Noodle Soup is so comforting. The vegetable broth base is delicious on its own, but the noodles and carrots remind me of the classic kind I had as a kid. The line of soups can be a bit pricey at a little less than $3 a can, but it’s still cheaper than grabbing lunch out while at work.

Amy’s Indian Spinach Tofu Wrap

Another lunch staple for me has been this Amy’s Indian Spinach Tofu Wrap. It’s a simple flour tortilla stuffed with chopped spinach and cubed tofu, but it’s packed full of flavor. Again, at around $3 a wrap, it sounds a bit pricey, but still cheaper than takeout and surprisingly filling.

That’s all I have for now. I’d love to hear what vegan staples you turn to whenever you need help in the kitchen. I hope everyone is well!

Miso Udon Stir-fry with Greens & Beans

I know I’ve professed my love of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest book, “Appetite for Reduction,” here before, but I just have to do it again. If you buy one cookbook this year, I highly recommend that you buy that book. The recipes are simple, clean and healthy, which I love. This Miso Udon Stir-fry with Greens & Beans is so good that I actually made it twice in the same week. And you’re in luck because the recipe is featured on her website, which you can find here.

Once you chop the broccoli, swiss chard and garlic, the dish comes together really fast. You can use any kind of miso you like; I used red miso for the dish you see in the pictures. And be sure to add some Sriracha for added color and heat.

Enjoy!