30 July 2012

Vegan Chinese Garlic Sauce

Today is Shana's 30th birthday! Although we didn't intend to do so, I made one of Shana's favorite meals for dinner tonight - the garlic sauce you can get at most Chinese restaurants.

Here's the back story. Shana used to always order broccoli in garlic sauce any time we went to a Chinese restaurant. Then, one day she found out that the garlic sauce often has oyster sauce in it, making it not veg*n. Needless to say, Shana was devastated. So I decided to see if I could replicate a good version of it at home.  There are a ton of recipes for it online and they are quite varied! Some of them I discarded almost immediately after looking at the recipes (e.g., some call for minced onion, but the stuff Shana ordered never had onion chunks in it and I was going for authentic "Americanized Chinese restaurant"). Finally I found one that looked about right and have since tweaked it into something we both really like.

Now, don't panic, but this recipe involves tofu. Maybe you've had bad experiences with tofu.
  1. Maybe you think tofu is tasteless. You're mostly right! Tofu takes on the flavors of whatever else you've got going on in the pan. If that's your issue, the sauce is flavorful enough that you don't need to worry about no flavor. 
  2. Maybe you think tofu has an awful texture. Some people can't deal with the "scrambled egg-ness" of tofu. However, the key to this recipe is that you freeze the tofu. Freezing the tofu changes its texture dramatically. You'll honestly be surprised.

29 July 2012

Maggie's Enchiladas

Even though in my introduction I told you most of the recipes I'll post aren't mine, I'm starting off with one that is actually a recipe I created. Tonight, Shana and I are having two friends over for dinner and games since one of the friends took a tenure-track job at a school in Florida and moves in just a few short days. In planning for tonight's dinner, we wanted to do something easy (and delicious, of course!) and something that would go with a salad one of our guests is bringing. Thus, we decided to have enchiladas. 

This recipe has some pros and cons. First, the pros. 
  1. Enchiladas are a great food to introduce you to veg*n cooking. You can change up the ingredients to anything you like and you won't miss the meat - I promise. 
  2. This recipe only uses common grocery store "convenience" ingredients (but see Helpful Hints below).
  3. Leftover enchiladas can be frozen and re-heated, but they won't be for everyone. Shana likes these frozen and re-heated, but I do not.
Now the cons.
  1. You are going to use a lot of pots and pans and bowls. I use one skillet, one large bowl, one medium bowl, one pie plate, one 9x13 baking dish, one 5x8 baking dish, and one small-ish pot, plus a cutting board, a knife, and a big spoon.
  2. You have to fill and roll the enchiladas, which is best done as a two-person activity. You can do it alone, it's just easier with a kitchen helper (this would be great for small hands!).