Category Archives: Vegan

Basic Veggie Freezer Bouillon Cubes

The most intensely delicious French dishes start with a mirepoix, which is essentially 2 parts onion, 1 part celery, and one part carrot. This is where this freezer bouillon method begins.

In my studies of classic cuisine, before the beginning of each class whoever arrived first would start the broth cooking. Savory rich broth was made usually with saved veal or chicken bones and tons of onion, carrot, and celery. The broth was allowed time to develop and then it was strained and shared to add depth, body, and flavor to any number of dishes.

In Vegan cuisine studies, class started essentially the same way… with a large pot filled with water and aromatic and flavorful veggies. A ladle or two hooked onto the pot stood at the ready for cooks to scoop out and strain rich flavorful broth. One big advantage to the vegan broth was that is had no fat to get in way. Just flavor.

The thing which aches my resourceful heart is that at the end of cooking all those once vibrant beautiful vegetables are discarded. Just thrown away, the pot cleaned and back on the rack to do it all again the next day. While I accept that some food waste is inevitable and one pretty much needs to just get over it, if there is a place in the home kitchen where waste can be reduced and every molecule of nutrition used, then why not use everything? Those little veggies worked very hard to grow into whole foods. Let’s use them!

Still, making your own broth base takes time. Why bother?

Here’s why:

  • You are in control of the quality on ingredients you use.
  • You can make it salt free. So many commercial veggie bases and salt bombs! Or, you can use a better salt like pink himalayan sea salt, or something like umeboshi plums.
  • No added preservatives or unwanted ingredients. Just pure clean delicious vegetables.
  • You save money. Box broth = 3.00 – 4.00 per 32 ounces. For the cost of my veggies, adding 1 cup to every cube, I get an amount equivalent to about 6 boxes. I can easily afford to go organic at these rates.
  • You save shelf space, although you do need some freezer space. The water is added in when you are ready to cook your dish. You store only concentrated flavor. With commercial brands, you are storing essentially flavored water. You can opt to buy shelf stable veggie bouillon cubes, a great space saver! But then you usually get all the salt and unwanted ingredients.
  • Convenience! Any time you want a flavor boost or a really quick soup, you can just grab a frozen cube or two from the freezer and melt it into the dish. Great for sauces, gravies, soups, stews, even cheese or faux cheese dips. Dinner is on the table fast!
  • It tastes better.
  • Bonus! It makes for an easy tool for adding more nutrition into your dishes.

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On the day I made this broth, my meat-loving son came downstairs to ask what smells so delicious. 🙂 Vegetables! Those moments are precious. 🙂 Generally I am more in favor of transforming and celebrating vegetables rather than hiding them.  It is good that kids learn that vegetables are just delicious foods that happen to be good for the body. That said, I do slip in veggies all over the place where they are somewhat disguised. My kids have grown up eating so much more carrots and celery than they realize, and much of it is through broth used in their favorite dishes.

Enough talk… Here’s how!

The Base

Start by preparing your veggies. Wash them, no need to peel carrots and celery. You can keep all that nutrition. Peel and discard the tough outer layer of onions. Or use leeks for a milder flavor. You can also substitute celery root for the celery. Peel and smash your garlic.

Because root vegetables grow underground and are more heavily inundated with pesticide, organic is preferable if you can get it.

You do not have to be precious about chopping your veggies. We are not really concerned about even cooking as it will all get blended. I am using these little containers from my local Chinese grocer because they measure 2 cups. But honestly, most of the time I just throw in what I have on hand without measuring. Often additional seasonal veggies go in the pot too. Zucchini, turnips, even leafy greens. I just avoid anything that might be bitter.

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Put your veggies into a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook them until they are tender. If you need to add a little water during the cook time because the amount reduces, that is fine. Because we will be reducing this puree, too much water will slow down the process. Use as little as possible. We will cook out the water and reserve the nutrients.

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Even more nutrition!

Adding in a strip of kombu or a couple of bay leaves will break down the veggies in a way that makes them more bioavailable, pulling out all that nutrition and allowing your body to digest it better.

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Once veggies are tender, blend them! If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use any blender, but it would be best to let the water cook out a bit and cool it enough to allow for safe handling as you transfer the veggies to and from the blender.

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Blend until smooth.

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Flavor enhancers

If you used a regular blender, return puree to the pot and stir in flavor enhancers, tomato paste and liquid aminos. Feel free to use any enhancer you like! Vegan worcheshire sauce, herbs that go well with many dishes, like thyme, umeboshi plum paste as a salt replacer… whatever you like in a broth. As noted below, I would definitely add a little miso if I had some on hand.

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Cook on a low-medium heat until it has reduced and thickened enough to be scoopable. Alternatively, you can skip this step and just pour the mixture into ice cube trays to freeze. They will be a little less concentrated, but that is not a problem, just use them with a little less water when you are ready to cook with them.

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Convenience

At this point, you can allow the mix to cool. Then scoop mounds onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment. Get them into the freezer quickly. Or you can always use your ice trays. They make cubes that are a little neater. I just like my scoops. 🙂

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Once frozen, transfer the cubes into a freezer bag or sealed container. Keep them in the freezer and use as needed.

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Basic Veggie Freezer Bouillon Cubes

You can start with this basic mix and then customize it as desired. Add in additional veggies and flavorings. Reduce any that are too prevalent for your taste. Make it your own! Having these on hand is great time and money saver.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups carrots, rough chopped (or a little less, if prefered)
  • 2 cups celery, rough chopped – may be substituted with celery root
  • 2 cups onion or any combination of leeks and onion, rough chopped – leeks are more mild
  • 2 green onions, rough chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2-3 bay leaves or 1-2 inch chunk of kombu
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired
  • 2 t tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid aminos, tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos and/or a little miso!

Method

Prepare all your veggies by washing them and rough chopping them so they will be easier to puree. Do not worry about precise measurements. No need to peel carrots and celery.

Add your veggies (onion, carrot, celery and garlic) to a pot and just cover with water. Add in bay leaves or kombu. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer til tender, about 30 minute.  If you need to add a little water during the cook time because the amount reduces, that is fine. Because we will be reducing this puree, too much water will slow down the process. Use as little as possible.

Fish out bay leaves or kombu.

Once veggies are tender, blend them! If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use any blender, but it would be best to let the water cook out a bit and cool it enough to allow for safe handling as you transfer the veggies to and from the blender.

Stir in tomato paste, and liquid aminos (or whichever product you are using) and salt. 1/2 teaspoon salt is a small amount but you will be concentrating the flavor and salting you dishes later. For other salt options see this post. If I were not out of miso, I would definitely throw a little in for a deeper umami flavor.

OPTIONAL (for reducing to concentrate flavor and save space) Cook on a low-medium heat until it has reduced and thickened enough to be scoopable. You can skip this step and just pour the mixture into ice cube trays to freeze. They will be a little less concentrated, but that is not a problem, just use them with a little less water when you are ready to cook with them.

Place mix into ice trays or scoops on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Immediately place into freezer.

Once frozen, transfer cubes or scoops into a freezer bag or sealed container. Keep in the freezer and use as needed. Depending on how concentrated your cubes are, you can melt one cube into a cup or two of hot water for a delicious low-salt, highly nutritious, additive-free quick and easy vegetable broth. Or just throw them into a variety of dishes for added flavor and nutrition.

Enjoy!

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Easy Curry Burrito with Raita Dip – Vegan

When it comes to easy lunches, leftovers are like a free ingredient. And almost anything can be wrapped up in a tortilla and fried, baked, or just wrapped cold for a quick lunch. You probably have your own version of the “quick wrap”… if you eat tortillas. By the way, tortillas do also come in Paleo. To follow is a leftovers use-up via the quick wrap method using what I had on hand today.

To me, the beautiful thing about a pan “fried” tortilla is that added element of crunch. Whatever soft. smooth, creamy foods are used for filling, that crispy crunchy golden texture on the outside just makes the whole thing sing.

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Leftover vegetable curry = a great ready-made filling.

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Almond Raita Dip whisked together and refrigerated until ready to eat or pack for lunch. Happens to be vegan. Crazy delicious.

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Wrapping it up!

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Skillet fry in very light oil until golden brown. Seam side down first.

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Slice on the diagonal for dipping and Enjoy!

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Vegetable Curry Dish or Soup

This can easily be a two-meals-for-the-price-of-one dish. Enjoy the first meal as a curry over rice. Save the leftovers for a delicious burrito lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans (optional: soaked for about an hour or overnight for better digestion)
  • 1 cup diced butternut squash (I don’t even peel it)
  • 2 small-medium carrots, diced small
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh chopped spinach (organic)
  • 1/2  t turmeric
  • curry powder, to taste – start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if desired
  • cumin, to taste – start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more if desired
  • optional: cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, for heat, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Prep all your ingredients, slicing, dicing, measuring. Drain chickpeas and run a knife over them to chop them up smaller. This will create a pleasing texture. Tip: to keep them from rolling all over the place, I do this on a cutting board placed inside a cookie sheet.

In a medium-sized pot, add about 2 cups water. Then the first five ingredients (chickpeas, red beans, butternut squash, carrots, garlic) in the order above so that beans are fully immersed on the bottom. Add more water as needed. If you are not making a soup, then just add enough water to cover everything plus a little more so the beans can plump. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer until beans are cooked. As a general rule of thumb, if you randomly choose three beans and they are all cooked, then you are probably good to go.

When beans are just cooked, add all other ingredients. Spinach at the end prevents it from becoming completely mushy. Waiting to salt the beans until after they are cooked prevents them from doing strange things (like crinkly skins falling off and uneven texture).

Liquid note:

  • If you are making this as a soup, you will want to add enough water to make it soupy. You may even want to puree part of the soup for creaminess. Butternut squash should make it a bit creamy already.
  • If you are making this as more of a vegetable curry to go over rice, or in a tortilla, keep an eye on the water level, adding only what you need to cook the vegetables through. Then allow most of the water to cook out.

Almond Cheese Raita

This is just enough for just one quick serving of dip to go with one Samosa Burrito lunch. At some point I will make a batch of this and blog that too. But having these ingredients on hands makes for a delicious quick flavor boost for lots of dishes. And, of course! You can make more any time you like.

Ingredients:

  • 3 T vegan cream cheese – I use kite hill mmmmmm
  • 1 heaping T finely minced fresh cucumber
  • pinch of coriander
  • sprinkle of cumin
  • a few drops of lemon juice
  • salt an pepper, to taste

Method

Combine all ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. If you like a loose dip, add water to thin it out. Refrigerate and let the flavors meld until you are ready to use it.

Curry Burritos

If you have a filling and dip prepared, this is the fast and super easy part! 

Ingredients:

  • tortillas
  • filling, like this leftover Vegetable Curry
  • cooking spray
  • dip, like this easy almond raita

Method

  1. Soften tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds – this works well for me. For more tips, click here
  2. Place filling in the center of tortilla and wrap it so that filling does not leak. Use an amount that fits your tortilla.
  3. In a heated and lightly oiled skillet, place your burrito seam side down. Cook until it is golden brown and crispy.
  4. Flip the burrito over and brown the other side.
  5. Cut burrito in half on the diagonal – so you have created delightful corners for dipping.

Add your dip and lunch is served! You can pack this up for a to-go lunch too. You my lose a bit of the crunchiness, but dipped into the sauce, this will still be delicious.

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Black Bean Bites

Protein packs that use up stale tortilla chips. I’m in!

In fact, this uses up several leftovers in my fridge, transforming them into something new and very munchable.

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Blue corn tortilla chips… getting a wee bit stale.

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Sweet potato corn chips. Also used up to top mac and cheese.

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Crushed chips = a new ingredient!

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Leftover rice, refried beans, and some seasonings make yumminess. 🙂

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Mush it together and roll up little balls.

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Roll the little balls into more tortilla crumbs for a crunchy exterior.

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Bake and Enjoy!

black bean balls

black bean balls

Black Bean Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup seasoned refried beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup tortilla chip crumbs
  • 1/2 T nutritional yeast (more, if desired)
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • tortilla chip crumbs for coating
  • a little cooking oil, you can use a spray to help crust develop while baking

Method

Combine all ingredients into a bowl, except for the crumbs you will use as coating and cooking oil. If you eat eggs, you can add an egg for better binding. I’m keeping mine vegan; they hold up just fine as long as you are careful and do not try to throw them into a pot of oil.

Roll them up into little balls. Roll the balls in more crumbs. You can eat them like this; everything is cooked already. I prefer them after they develop just a bit in the oven.

Tip: Refrigerating the little bites before baking can help them firm up a bit. Sometimes I even throw them into the freezer for just a few minutes. This is optional, of course.

Lightly spray a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place the bites on the cookie sheet. Very lightly spray oil over the tops to help them crisp up. Bake at 375° until they crisp up to your liking, this will take just a few minutes.

Enjoy!

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Creamy Cashew Mac topped with Crunchy Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

I am blessed with a very cool little group of frugal friends. No bargain goes unnoticed, no opportunity to simplify life is missed, and nothing is wasted. Even food scraps are transformed and repurposed into valuable time-saving and money-saving morsels.

In that spirit, I am turning to my own cupboards to see what little treasures they will yield. Honestly, this is great fun! Suspending grocery shopping in lieu of creating nourishment from nothing makes one feel imbued with superpowers. (Okay, I am easily amused.) It can be empowering to to keep your money in the bank while, at the same time, feeding your family very well.

Full bellies. More shelf space. Saving money. Nothin’ wrong with that.

So what needs to be saved from rotting today?

Tortilla Chips and Raw Cashews that had been ground into flour.

Perfect! The easiest stale tortilla repurpose may be the crunchy topping. And cashews can be so creamy. Spice them up and we may have something. By the way, these chips are really good. I don’t know why we did not eat them all. You can use any corn chips or tortilla chips you have on hand.

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Vegan Creamy Cashew Mac topped with Crunchy Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

First, pasta shells. We always have these. Nothing special, Just leave these slightly undercooked because they will be baked again later. These happen to be gluten free.

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Next, the creamy delicious savory sauce. And it happens to  be gluten free and vegan! The cashew “flour” is soaked overnight, then combined with almond milk and spices. You can see more images here.

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Now pour the yummy sauce over the al dente pasta.

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Mix it together… slowly for your enjoyment.

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Fill ramekins or a small baking dish. (A little extra paprika for fun. Not needed.)

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cashew mac creamy cheesy

Now crumble up your tortilla chips, any tortilla chips you have on hand. Pile them up on top. Bake until stale chips are revived and crunchy and delicious. Sauce should be hot and melty.

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cashew mac creamy cheesy

 

cashew mac creamy cheesy

Creamy Cashew Mac topped with Crunchy Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

Pureed cashew makes a delicious and creamy sauce. In this recipe are some flavors that I like. Feel free to change up the flavors to any that you like!

To make Cashew Mac

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, leaving it slightly undercooked
  2. Make sauce and combine with pasta, put in a baking dish
  3. Crumble tortilla chips and top pasta and sauce with them
  4. Bake at 350° for a few minutes, just until the cheese is heated and chips are toasty

Ingredients for Easy Creamy Cashew Sauce:

Yields about 1 cup sauce. Perfect for about 2 cups pasta.

  • 1 cup raw cashews, processed into a coarse flour*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced or roasted
  • 1/2 – 1 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1/4 t turmeric (if you have an aversion to turmeric, you can leave it out)
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast – more if you like
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional flavorings: a little miso, mustard, or cayenne will change up the flavors

Method

Add water to cashew flour. Cover and put in the fridge to soak overnight.

Add all other ingredients to the soaked cashew flour. Place into a food processor or blender and puree until the texture is smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings, as desired.

If you like the viscosity, you are done! If sauce it too think, stir in a little more almond milk. If it is too thin, heat sauce in a small cooking pot on a low-medium heat to reduce it to the thickness you like.

Add to pasta, vegetables, anything you like!

*You can grind raw cashews into a coarse flour using a food processor, pulsing until you get the texture you like. Because you will be blending this again later, you can dispense with the processor and just mince cashews with a knife before soaking.

Enjoy!

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Easy Creamy Cashew Sauce

This delicious sauce came from some raw cashew flour that needed to be used up. It worked out really well! In fact, I like this method better than soaking whole cashews for puree. Ground cashew soaked up the water beautifully and then easily blended into a silky smooth texture. Even using a cheap blender, there are no lumps!

The consistency of the sauce is reminiscent of that processed cheese stuff that we grew up on but try to limit or avoid now. However, this is a vegan cashew sauce. It tastes a little cheesy and a little nutty, but it does not taste like processed cheese. It tastes like real food! Creamy, savory, smooth, luscious, slightly tangy, and very satisfying.

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Here’s how…

Start with ground raw cashews. Or whole raw cashews, and chop them up… a lot.

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Soak them in water overnight.

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Soaked.

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Add seasoning.

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Stir in almond milk for creaminess. Then blend until smooth.

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And voila! Sauce.

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Over pasta…

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Oh, yeah…

Easy Creamy Cashew Sauce

Pureed cashew makes a delicious and creamy sauce. In this recipe are some flavors that I like. Feel free to change up the flavors to any that you like!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, processed into a coarse flour*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced or roasted
  • 1/2 – 1 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1/4 t turmeric (if you have an aversion to turmeric, you can leave it out)
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast – more if you like
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional flavorings: a little miso, mustard, or cayenne will change up the flavors

Method

Add water to cashew flour. Cover and put in the fridge to soak overnight.

Add all other ingredients to the soaked cashew flour. Place into a food processor or blender and puree until the texture is smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings, as desired.

If you like the viscosity, you are done! If sauce it too think, stir in a little more almond milk. If it is too thin, heat sauce in a small cooking pot on a low-medium heat to reduce it to the thickness you like.

Add to pasta, vegetables, anything you like!

*You can grind raw cashews into a coarse flour using a food processor, pulsing until you get the texture you like. Because you will be blending this again later, you can dispense with the processor and just mince cashews with a knife before soaking.

Enjoy!

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Bantha Milk

Any good Star Wars themed soiree would be remiss if it did not include Bantha Milk. Just sayin’

This rich blue milk is included in the Star Wars cannon and perhaps could be used to make all sorts of dairy foods, such as ice creams, custards, and butter. Or, it could be simply served in a glass alongside a plate of jogan fruit or a shada club sandwich.

Bantha milk may be served with spirits or virgin. It can be produced in a variety of ways, even vegan. You need only very few ingredients; you can make it with only two! It just doesn’t get much easier than this.

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Served here with cactus pears and Galactic Wraps. You can find these recipes in How to Serve Aliens.

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Blue Bantha Milk

Easy Blue Milk Ingredients:

  • milk – virtually ANY milk. Cow’s milk, almond milk, rice milk, whatever you milk
  • food coloring, any color; or blueberry juice for a gorgeous blue
  • optional: sweetener, such as maple syrup, simple syrup, honey, whatever you like that will blend well
  • optional: vanilla, to taste
  • optional: coconut rum

Method One:

Use:

  • 8 oz any milk
  • blue food coloring

So simple! Just add a few drops of food coloring to your cold milk and stir. Too much food coloring may alter the flavor, so go easy.

Method Two – Vegan and Paleo:

Almond milk is delicious and versatile, as long as your guests do not have a nut allergy. It offers a flavor that is a bit less “milky”, which to me, makes it perfect for an alien creature milk. It still has a nice viscosity, and you can sweeten it up or add other flavors if you like. A little vanilla is good.

Use:

  • 8 oz almond milk
  • 2 oz blueberry juice – I use pure blueberry juice with intense color
  • optional: a few drops of vanilla
  • optional: a drop of vanilla

Pour all ingredients into a glass. Stir. Done! You can add more blueberry juice, if needed for color. It will be delicious.

Method Three:

To make it a cocktail, spike method one or method two with a little coconut rum instead of the vanilla and sweetener.

That’s it!

Enjoy!

For more Star Wars drink ideas, click here!

My drinks are super simple cuz my thing is FOOD. For great food ideas for your Star Wars theme event, please check out my new ebook on Amazon.

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Vegan Lunch – Nori Rolls and Japanese White Sauce

To be perfectly honest, this lunch happened because I had white sticky rice to use up. Nori rolls take A LOT of rice. At least 1 cup of cooked rice per roll. The good thing about that is that rice acts as a little vehicle for all the nutrients in your veggies, carrying them into your cells and making you grow strong like a Samurai!

But now that I am thinking of nori rolls, I kinda want them in a more regular lunch rotation. Yep! They are going in.

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nori roll
nori roll

To make the Nori Rolls

If you have never rolled sushi before, no worries! It is easy. Here is how. My apologies for the poor image quality; when I did this one I was a blogger newbie.

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  1. Place a sheet or nori on a bamboo sushi mat. (Rough side up) Evenly spread 1 – 1 1/2 cups rice over nori sheet, leaving about an inch or two uncovered at the top, and 1/4 at the bottom edge. Press rice down firmly. If you have a damp bamboo rice paddle, use it! If not, damp hands will work too.
  2. Add your vegetables in a line across the width of the nori sheet, about an inch or so from the bottom.
  3. Roll sushi mat into a cylindrical shape, pressing mat firmly against nori and rice. When nori sheet is completely rolled up, wet the top edge slightly with water and press to seal edges tightly.
  4. Before unrolling sushi mat, squeeze VERY gently. Slice nori roll in half with a sharp wet knife. Wet knife between each slice and slice each half into four equal sections (rounds), approximately 1 in thick. If you prefer 6 pieces, then cut each half into thirds instead. (I prefer smaller pieces, so I cut 8))

To make the Rice on the Outside rolls, place plastic wrap over the bamboo sushi mat and then simply reverse the order, placing the rice first, covering the entire mat, then layer the nori sheet on top of the rice. Steps 2-4 remain the same.

If it is a little messy at first, don’t worry! You will get the hang of it and it will still taste fabulous.

Veggies for our rolls today are:

Blanched carrot, blanched asparagus, and crispy cucumber. Our avocado was too green, otherwise there would have been delicious buttery slices of avocado in there too.

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And roll #2 has blanched, peeled and seeded tomato slices, blanched asparagus, and crispy romaine lettuce. Cool and refreshing.

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To blanch tomatoes, make two little cuts on the end first, This will help in easily peeling off the skin.

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Drop them into the boiling water very briefly, just a few seconds.

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When you pull them out, the skin should come right off. It is best to throw them in ice water to stop the cooking process. (I did not bother this time) Then slice them and remove the seeds.

The other veggies may be quickly blanched in the same boiling water. One at a time. Have your veggies cleaned and prepped. Blanching goes fast! Place them in ice water, or on a paper towel. You will want them cool and dry.

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Making Lunch Easy

Having everything prepped in advance and waiting for you in the fridge makes life so much easier! Things to prep:

  • cooked rice (sushi rice is best; but you can use any sticky rice you have)
  • blanched veggies
  • sauces

To have nori rolls anytime you want, keep on hand:

  • sushi mat
  • nori sheets

Then when you are ready, you only need to roll them up!

Pack your nori rolls in a sealable container to keep them fresh. Here we have added white sauce, julienned carrots for some crunch, julienned beets for no other reason than that we had them, and tempura tofu – so good with rice! Other dipping sauces would be great, like liquid aminos, coconut aminos (if you are soy-free), or a vegan spicy mayo. A nice vegetable broth or miso soup would also be delicious.

vegan nori rolls with white sauce
vegan nori rolls with white sauce

Each roll makes 8 slices. For us two rolls get split up into 2 to 4 lunches. Everybody gets a break from the ole stand-by sammies.

‘Got a wee bit sloppy with my rice.

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A little bit of fried something is so texturally nice with rice rolls. A better way to pack fried items, like the tempura tofu, is to put it in something less airtight with a paper towel underneath.

Japanese food in a chinese take-out box? Why not!

tempura tofu
tempura tofu

Vegan Nori Rolls

For a quick lunch, prep all of your ingredients in advance and roll them together in the morning. You can probably even assemble the rolls the day before, but the fresher the better. 

Ingredients:

  • vegetables of your choice, cut into matchsticks
  • nori sheets (purchase toasted, or toast gently over flame or on a sheet tray in the oven)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked sushi rice per roll (here I have used up leftover sticky rice, but actual sushi rice is better! – click here)
  • optional: 1-2 T sesame seeds per roll, toasted (about 5 minutes in a saute pan, they will begin to pop)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Blanche matchstick vegetables in boiling water for just a few seconds. Their color will brighten and they will become just a little bit tender. Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon. Cool. Dry. (You can throw them immediately into ice water if you like, to set the color and quickly cool them.)

If your rice was made in advance and is cold, it will be much easier to manage if you reheat it.

Place a sheet or nori on a bamboo sushi mat. Evenly spread rice over nori, leaving about an inch or two uncovered at the top, and 1/4 at the bottom edge. Press rice down firmly. If you have a damp bamboo rice paddle, use it! If not, damp hands will work too.

Place vegetable strips across the width of the nori sheet, about an inch or so from the bottom. If desired, sprinkle vegetables with about 1 T sesame seeds. Also sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, if desired.

Roll sushi mat into a cylindrical shape, pressing mat firmly against nori and rice. When nori sheet is completely rolled up, wet the top edge slightly with water and press to seal edges tightly. Before unrolling sushi mat, squeeze gently to remove excess liquid. Slice nori roll in half with a sharp wet knife. Wet knife between each slice and slice each half into four equal sections (rounds), approximately 1 in thick.

If you are making a rice-on-the-outside rolls, it is pretty to garnish with black sesame seeds on the outside of the roll.

Serve with dipping sauces, such as liquid aminos, or coconut aminos, spicy mayo of Stephanie’s Japanese White Sauce. (recipe below)

japanese white sauce

Stephanie’s Vegan Japanese White Sauce

For best results, make this dish the night before you plan to use it. It is one of those wonderful better-the-next-day foods. All the flavors will meld into one delicious sauce!

  • 1 cup Vegenaise or Just Mayo
  • 6 T water
  • 1/2 to 1 t paprika, to taste
  • 1/4 t ginger powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 2 t chili garlic sauce (prepared, or make your own)
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1/4 t salt

Method

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy!

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Sushi Rice, Morimoto Inspired

This rice is Masaharu Morimoto-inspired because if you are going to make sushi rice, why not look to the master? A properly cooked rice is an important hallmark of a good sushi restaurant. It is sushi 101. Every Japanese chef must master this technique. Taking a page from the master chefs, you can make a mean sushi rice in your own kitchen too.

According to his gorgeously illustrated book, Morimoto, The New Art of Japanese Cooking, the master chef gently folds sake-mash vinegar, sugar, and salt into the warmed freshly cooked rice, with a wooden sushi paddle, to create the perfect flavor and texture. As the rice is seasoned in this manner, steam evaporates and it begins to cool.

By the way, it is worth its price to buy this book just for the pictures. Even if you never duplicate a recipe, it is inspirational. If you just need to get your creative juices flowing, you can sit down with a cup of hot tea and leisurely leaf through the pages. In the master’s hands, even the simplest of foods are magically transformed into works of art. After perusing the images, no doubt, even your next pb & j will turn out prettier and made with more love.

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sushi rice
sushi rice

Sushi Rice

Morimoto ratios, in his book, are 10 cups cooked rice : 1/2 cup akazu (sake-mash) vinegar : 1/2 cup rice vinegar : 1/2 cup sugar : 1/4 cup salt. You can, as he suggests, adjust these ingredients to your liking. To follow is seasoned rice to my liking, and plenty for 2 or 3 sushi rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked short-grained Japanese style sushi rice (about 1 cup uncooked rice will make 3 cups cooked rice)
  • 2 T vinegar (Morimoto uses equal parts sake-mash vinegar and rice vinegar or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 T salt (Morimoto uses more. You can adjust this to your taste.)

Method

  1. Cook your rice, in a rice cooker or according to package directions.
  2. While rice cooks, combine vinegar, sugar, and salt
  3. Place hot rice into a large bowl. (Morimoto uses a large wooden tub)
  4. Add vinegar and sugar mixture by holding a wooden spoon or paddle over the rice and pouring the mixture so that it hits the back of the spoon first and gentle disperses over the rice.
  5. With the wooden spoon or paddle, gently cut and fold the rice (instead of stirring) so that the flavors are well incorporated and moisture evaporates as the rice begins to cool. Break up any clumps of rice as you go. Keep your paddles free of grains of rice so you do not get little hardened pieces.
  6. When finished, allow rice to sit 5 or 10 minutes before adding it to your dish.

Enjoy!

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Tempura Tofu – Vegan

Tempura should be very light and delicate. It may be so light that it does not even fully cover the thing which is tempura’d, letting bits of color show through. So on a serving tray, you can identify a snow pea or red bell pepper. The orange one is probably carrot, the white may be parsnip or daikon, the green – oh how I hope it is asparagus.

So this is easy to achieve with the right ratio of ice cold water to egg. But if we are going to omit the egg, we need to replace it with something else that will lighten up the batter. No problem! Club soda provides a bubbly fizz in the batter that makes the finished product almost lacey. Baking soda leavens the batter. And rice flour keeps it delicate.

This batter is not quite as see-through as the traditional egg and cold water batter, but is is still light and absolutely delicious!

Today, we are making tofu, but of course, you can tempura whatever you like. Just avoid very very wet veggies, like kale, unless you are fine with a lot of splatter. This from experience… I have tempura’d just about everything.

tempura tofu
tempura tofu

Freezing Tofu Method

You do not absolutely have to do this, but in my opinion, it makes tempura tofu about 93% better. 🙂 I want my tofu spongy if I am making something like a scramble or maybe a soup, but when I want it to have a bit more of a bite, which is most of the time, I freeze it.

Here’s how:

Cut block of tofu into slices. Spread tofu slices onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and place it in the freezer. Freeze overnight. Defrost tofu and using paper towels gently press out as much water as you can.

tofufreeze1

tofufreeze2

tofufreeze3

Cut tofu into strips and set aside. In a pot, on about a medium-high heat, add enough oil to submerge tofu strips.

tofufreeze4

Tempura Batter

Make batter (right before frying to keep it cold) by first combining dry ingredients, flours, baking soda and salt, then stir in cold club soda. Do not overmix; it is okay if it is lumpy. You can use a whisk to combine the ingredients quickly.

Yes, I often stir with my measuring spoons so as to prevent dirtying another spoon.

tempurabatter1

tempurabatter2

Now the whisk.

tempurabatter3

Dip a piece of tofu into the batter. Place it in the hot oil. If it just sinks and nothing happens, your oil is not hot enough. It should cook to a beautiful light brown very quickly. Remove tofu strip and place it on a rack to dry. Cook tofu strips in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. This will go fast.

batterdip1

fry1

fry2

Sprinkle on a little extra salt if you feel it needs it.

tempura tofu
tempura tofu
tempura tofu
tempura tofu
tempura tofu
tempura tofu

Tempura Tofu To-Go

I know what you are thinking! Japanese food in a Chinese container? Asian fusion… mmmm My son loves these with sweet and sour sauce. It works. 🙂

tempuratofubox2

tempura tofu
tempura tofu

Tempura Tofu

This batter replaces egg with club soda. It is light and delicious! Of course, you can also use this batter to tempura veggies. Serve with a dipping sauce like soy, liquid aminos, coconut aminos (for soy-free), spicy mayo, Japanese white sauce, peanut sauce, whatever you like!

Ingredients

  • tofu (preferably organic)
  • frying oil, enough to submerge tofu strips – I like a combination of coconut oil (for digestibility and low omega 6) and a little peanut oil for flavor
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt (or more)
  • 1 cup very cold club soda

Method

If desired, freeze-thaw-dry your tofu to change the texture. This method makes tofu less spongy. Cut block of tofu int slices. Spread tofu slices onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and place it in the freezer. Freeze overnight. Defrost tofu and using paper towels gently press out as much water as you can.

Cut tofu into strps and set aside. In a pot, on about a medium-high heat, add enough oil to submerge tofu strips.

Make batter (right before frying to keep it cold) by first combining dry ingredients, flours, baking soda and salt, then stir in cold club soda. Do not overmix; it is okay if it is lumpy. You can use a whisk to combine the ingredients quickly. Keep the batter as cold as possible!

Dip a piece of tofu into the batter. Place it in the oil. If it just sinks and nothing happens, your oil is not hot enough. If it burns, your oil is too hot. It should cook to a beautiful light brown very quickly. Remove tofu strip and place it on a rack to dry. Cook tofu strips in small batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. This will go fast.

Sprinkle on a little extra salt if you feel it needs it.

Enjoy!

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Stephanie’s Vegan Japanese White Sauce

Great with rice…
Great with veggies…
Great with seafood…
Great with steak…
Just plain great.

White sauce is crazy simple to make, and the refrigerator does the work of developing all that flavor for you. This is my daughter’s version of the traditional sauce often served in Japanese Steakhouses. She makes it sans butter and eggs, but with plenty of flavor. Even meat eaters love it. It is creamy with a blend of well choreographed spices. Paprika happens to be a favorite flavor of my dd, but if you don’t love paprika quite as much as she does, you can use the lesser amount suggested.

japanese white sauce

japanese white sauce
japanese white sauce

Also great with nori rolls and tempura tofu.

vegan nori rolls with white sauce
vegan nori rolls with white sauce

Stephanie’s Vegan Japanese White Sauce

For best results, make this dish the night before you plan to use it. It is one of those wonderful better-the-next-day foods. All the flavors will meld into one delicious sauce!

  • 1 cup Vegenaise or Just Mayo
  • 6 T water
  • 1/2 to 1 t paprika, to taste
  • 1/4 t ginger powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 2 t chili garlic sauce (prepared, or make your own)
  • 2 t sugar (be sure the sugar is bone char free, like a beet sugar)
  • 1/4 t salt

Method

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy!

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