The (Reduced Fat) Smoky Tempeh Reuben

This is one of the best vegan sandwiches I have ever had and it comes together very quickly. I have some shortcuts in here, but there is a tiny bit of prep work that is well worth it. I’ll show you how to marinate the tempeh, make your own dressing and then how to assemble the sandwich. If you already have some vegan thousand island dressing then you can skip that step, although my recipe is kind of insanely quick. I used the sprouted 7 grain bread that I had in the freezer so I veered off from the typical rye bread that you see on reubens but it was one more thing that I didn’t have to go to the store for. I skipped the cheese altogether because although this would be really good with some Daiya Mozzarella, I’m trying to cut back on anything that is essentially added fat. I did, however, bend my rule by using Vegenaise in the dressing so I felt like I would have gone totally off the deep end if I added the cheese also!

Lots of people refer to this as “tempeh bacon” but I like to call it “smoky tempeh” because even the word bacon makes me a little sad. I don’t want anyone thinking that I wish there had been bacon in here. And after all, bacon doesn’t go in a reuben sandwich!  This is smoky, marinated tempeh that you can use for all kinds of different recipes. I really like it as a salad topper instead of my usual chickpeas or black beans to mix things up. If you’re cooking for one, you can make one sandwich and have enough tempeh left over to put in your salad the next couple days.

Marinated Smoked Tempeh aka Tempeh Bacon

Marinated Smoked Tempeh aka Tempeh Bacon

Makes 3 sandwiches

Step 1 – Marinated Smoky Tempeh, aka Tempeh Bacon

Keep in mind that you’ll have to let this marinade for at least an hour. You can also marinade it overnight.

Ingredients

  • One 8 oz. package of soy tempeh
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (I use bouillon cubes)
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke – this is the most important ingredient. I included the link to Amazon here so you can see what it is, but I’ve been able to find it at the regular grocery store or Whole Foods.
  • 2 tsp maple syrup – I personally like the darkest amber I can find.
  • 2 equivalent of 2 cloves of garlic from a jar. I don’t smash and dice fresh cloves of garlic because who has time for that? Also, the jarred garlic is so soft that it mixes into the marinade better than fresh would.

How to:

  1. Some people like to steam their tempeh first to get rid of a bitter flavor. I was in a rush the last time I made this and I skipped that step and I couldn’t tell the difference. It might be because this is steamed somewhat in a later step, or it might be because I really just couldn’t tell.
  2. Dissolve the bouillon cube in the cup of water and then take it off the heat to cool down a little bit.
  3. Cut the tempeh into thirds and then cut those in half so you have broad pieces. Then cut those into triangles. Take a look at the picture so you can see what I mean. You don’t want the triangles to be too thick. When they’re thinner, there’s more surface area  to soak up the marinade.
  4. Combine all other ingredients in a bowl with a lid and shake it all up. By now the broth should be cool enough so add that in and give it another shake. Make sure the tempeh is covered by the marinade.
  5. Put this in the fridge for at least an hour or at most a day. (Hint, hint, this is a great time to make your thousand island dressing)
  6. Use medium-high heat and arrange your pieces of tempeh on a large non-stick pan. There is no need to oil it.
  7. Add some of the marinade to the pan. You are going to be halfway between steaming the tempeh and frying it. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side and keep adding more marinade as it dries up. It should be dripping wet when you take it out of the pan.

Step 2 – Short Cut Thousand Island Dressing

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp ketchup – I’ve made this both with regular and with fancy pants heirloom tomato ketchup. The fancy pants ketchup was really a special treat, but yes, I spent $7 on a teeny tiny jar of ketchup. Ouch.
  • 3 tbsp Veganaise
  • 1 tbsp dill pickle relish – Yes, you read that right. Dill pickle relish can be found but not every store has it. I have never liked sweet pickle relish and in fact I think it’s kind of gross, so I don’t use it.
  • A few turns of freshly ground pepper or a few shakes of plain old pepper.

How to:

  1. Put everything into a small bowl and stir.
  2. That’s all.
  3. Really.
The best vegan sandwich out there! Marinated tempeh reuben.

Tempeh Reuben

Now you’re ready to assemble your sandwich.

  1. Toast your favorite kind of bread. I prefer the really nutty, sprouted kind because it has a lot more nutritional value. You don’t need to butter the bread because who needs the added oil?
  2. Put the dressing on both sides of the bread, arrange 4 little pieces of tempeh on it and a heaping pile of sauerkraut.
  3. Enjoy the most delicious sandwich you’ve ever had!
The best vegan sandwich out there! Marinated tempeh reuben, smoky tempeh is also known as tempeh bacon.

Tempeh Reuben

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The Best Guacamole Ever!

I have been making this guacamole for years and I usually make a double or triple batch for summer parties. I love the look on a person’s face when they taste it for the first time. I know some people think that guacamole is avocados mixed with a spice packet from the grocery store but I’m a purist so I don’t believe in any powdered mixes in my guacamole. I saw a cooking show about 10 years ago with a guy from Mexico mixing this up and I scribbled the instructions onto a piece of paper that I still have. It’s crumpled and stained by now, which is how you know it’s well loved.

The Best Guacamole Ever! With jalapenos, onion, cilantro and tomato.

The Best Guacamole Ever

Serves 4-6 (or 2 if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, ha ha!)

Ingredients

  • Handful of fresh, diced cilantro
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh diced jalapeno
  • 2-4 tbsp diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt (the larger the grain, the better)
  • 2 gloriously ripe avocados (Here is the avocado buying guide that I originally linked to in my Black Bean Corn Avocado Salad. If the store doesn’t have perfectly ripe avocados, you’re not making guacamole today. Trust me on this one.)
  • 1/4 c fresh tomato, but scoop out the seeds and gooey parts first. You want only the outside flesh. Otherwise, everything will be too watery.

How to:

  1. Dice the cilantro and put it in a medium bowl.
  2. Dice the jalapeno and onion into teeny tiny diced pieces, no larger than about 1/8 inch cube and add to the bowl. You don’t want to scare anyone with a big chunk of jalapeno!
  3. Add the salt to the bowl and mash all of these ingredients together. The salt is abrasive enough that it will really bring the oils and aromatics out of the ingredients. If you have a mortar and pestle, that’s awesome. If you have a cocktail muddler, that’s great. If you have a spoon, that’s what I use because I don’t have room in my kitchen for every gadget under the sun. One day…
  4. Add your avocados to the bowl and mash everything together with a potato masher. I love my blender and my food processor, but I don’t think they belong in a guacamole recipe. Some people may like ultra smooth guacamole, but I prefer it a bit chunky.
  5. Your diced tomato can be slightly larger than the other veggies but please remember to scoop out the seeds! Stir this in at the end. No need to smash because you don’t want to bruise the tomato.

Enjoy being the hit of the party! That is, if you make it out of your house without eating this first.

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Invigorating Carrot Ginger Smoothie

This is my new favorite smoothie, especially as I try to move away from so much sugar in the mornings. Not that I add any refined sugar to my smoothies, but pineapple and the other fruits in my favorite kale smoothie have a lot of naturally occurring sugar.

This gets is Kapow! flavor from a burst of fresh ginger instead of sugar so it also wakes me up in the morning and helps keep me away from caffeine. I see ginger in juicing recipes because of its anti-inflammatory properties and that fact that it has essentially no calories. I’m all for shortcuts, but this is one where I used fresh ginger. I bought a large piece because I’ve been making this so often so I don’t worry about it going bad before I use it all. I just peel a little bit of it like a carrot and cut off a piece about 3/4 of an inch long.

I also have been mixing up the type of greens that I use. I know they’re all so jam-packed with goodness that they’re each like taking a multi-vitamin, but it’s a simple way to get some variety. The greens that I rotate are curly kale, lacinato kale, swiss chard and spinach.

I realize the photo doesn’t look like much and this is for two reasons:

  1. One, it really isn’t a very sexy looking smoothie because it’s kind of a drab color, but it will make you sexy when you drink it, so that’s what matters, right? I’ve been eating a ton of carrots lately and using carrot juice as my liquid in my smoothies and my skin has been glowing even more than usual. So drink the unsexy smoothies to make yourself sexy!
  2. Two, I moved into a new place (hence the hiatus from blogging) and I’m getting used to a new camera. I’ll find the perfect lighting in here soon!
Like carrot ginger soup? Wait until you try the smoothie!

Super Healthy Carrot Ginger Smoothie

I have a Vitamix (my beloved Vitamix!) so this all comes together with a smooth consistency. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you might want to use applesauce instead of an apple with the skin.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of an apple, cored but not skinned (or applesauce)
  • 3/4 inch of a piece of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 leaves of swiss chard or other green, stalk removed
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • Carrot juice – enough to get the right consistency
  • Optional Additions (I used all of these): 1 tsp ground flax seeds, a drop of liquid Vitamin D, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 tsp Green Superfood (which I hate to admit normally makes my smoothies not-too-tasty but I think with all the ginger, I didn’t even know it was there)

How to:

  1. Place the ingredients into your blender
  2. Blend for about 15 seconds on high in the Vitamix or about a minute in a regular blender.
  3. Sit and enjoy or take it in a to go mug on your drive in to work!
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Chocolove Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis

Decadent flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulis. Not very difficult to make and so amazing!

This is the richest, most decadent and wonderful cake I have ever had. I made it in my vegetarian days with this Scharffen Berger recipe and I always got requests to make it again. Now, of course, I wanted to make it with alternatives to the heavy cream and the eggs and I think it turned out just beautifully.

Luckily there were only two things that needed to be substituted. I used silken tofu instead of eggs and I used coconut milk in place of the heavy cream. I know coconut milk is not the healthiest option, but good god, this is sinful chocolate cake, right? I’ve tried soy creamer in some recipes as a substitute for dairy cream, but I wanted something really really rich so the choice just had to be coconut milk. I’m sure my arteries will get over it since I eat this kind of thing as a treat and I eat meals low in saturated fat the other 99% of the time.

I made two different versions as I was experimenting because I had some things I wanted to tweak after the first one. The first time I used half coconut milk and half coconut oil as a substitute for the heavy cream because I was nervous that the coconut flavor would be too strong if I only used coconut milk. The coconut oil melted into the chocolate but then after cooking it solidified in drops and it just looked odd to have little white speckles in a deep, dark chocolate cake. Since I couldn’t taste even a hint of coconut in that version, I just went for full coconut milk the second time.

I used to make this with Scharffen Berger chocolate but lately I’ve been in love with Chocolove 70% so I wanted to use that. And it’s Valentines Day so of course I had to use chocolate called Chocolove, right? I’m sure this would be good with Scharffen Berger’s 70% which I’m pretty sure is vegan as well but I’ve been too busy eating Chocolove to look at any other brands. You can find it at Whole Foods or Earth Fare or you can get it online if you think you can handle a whole case in the house.

I did a half batch since I wasn’t making this for an event. I got a cute little 7″ cake pan from Jo-Ann’s that’s intended for the top layer of a tiered cake. You can certainly double it if you want to make it for more than 4-6 people. Keep in mind that when I say it’s a tiny cake pan and it’s for 4-6 people, that’s because with such a rich cake, you only need a tiny slice.

Flourless vegan chocolate cake with raspberries

Covered with raspberries ready for serving

Cake Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 3 bars of 70% Chocolove chocolate, 9.6 oz total
  • 1/2 c canned unsweetened coconut milk (do not use light and do not look at the label of the non-light version)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 c strong coffee, warm but not hot
  • 4 tbsp silken tofu – soft
  • 1/4 c sugar

Raspberry Coulis Ingredients:

  • 1 small container of organic raspberries or half raspberries and half blackberries
  • 1 tbsp of agave nectar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 c water

How to:

  1. Make the coffee and set it aside so it can cool down to warm from hot.
  2. Get out you tiny little cake pan and grease it with a little bit of canola oil. Use the bottom of the pan as a stencil to draw out a circle in parchment paper and cut it out. Place this parchment paper circle in the bottom of the greased pan.
  3. Have a slightly larger pan available that the cake pan can fit into as a water bath. This will help to cook the cake more evenly.
  4. Break the chocolate into the handy little squares that it comes in and put them into a double boiler. If you’ve never done this before, this is a good introduction. I use a glass bowl on top of a saucepan.
  5. While the chocolate is slowly, slowly melting and you’re stirring it every once in a while, get started on the other ingredients.
  6. In a food processor or blender, blend the coconut milk with 1 tbps of sugar. Let it just go for at least a minute or two to let it fluff a little. We want some air bubbles in there.
  7. Add the tofu and the remaining sugar and let blend again for a minute or two. It should be very smooth and the sugar should be dissolved.
  8. Preheat your oven to 325.
  9. Leave the heat on low on the stove top through these next steps. When the chocolate is melted, start adding the warm (not hot) coffee with one hand as you stir with the other. Start with literally a few drips. Chocolate is VERY sensitive and it can seize up which changes the flavor of everything. Be patient. It should take at least a minute or two to add the 1/4 c of coffee.
  10. Still stirring, grab your blender container or food processor and slowly, slowly add the coconut milk/tofu/sugar mixture. Start with large drops of no more than a tablespoon at a time and KEEP stirring.
  11. As soon as it’s all combined, pour it into the cake pan. Make sure to dry the bottom of the bowl before you hold it over the cake pan so you don’t get drips of water in the pan. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and smooth the batter in the pan so it’s level.
  12. Place this small cake pan into the larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough water to reach halfway up the outside of the smaller pan.
  13. Place this contraption into the oven and set your timer for just 20 minutes. The nice thing about this is that since there’s no egg, this version doesn’t need to cook for as long as the non-vegan version.
  14. When it’s done, let it cool in the pan for a while. This cake is actually better after it can sit for a little while and it is best served cool.
  15. At some point create the raspberry coulis. Blend all coulis ingredients at the highest blender setting until it’s smooth. If you still have seeds, you may need to strain out the seeds. Pour into a saucepan on the stove top at medium low heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool.
  16. When the cake is cool, cut the outside rim with a knife and flip it carefully upside down onto a lovely serving platter and serve with the raspberry coulis and some fresh raspberries. The cake is so rich that it absolutely needs the tartness to balance it out.

Let me know how it turns out!

Flourless vegan chocolate cake with raspberries. Mmmm!

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Sun-dried Tomato Basil Dip

This dip is really easy and quick and delicious, but I have to warn you that the ingredients you choose are very, very important. I used a different kind of almonds and a different kind of tomatoes last time and I ruined the batch. OK, maybe not ruined, but I was hosting a dinner party and hoping for the wow factor and I was disappointed. No one else seemed to notice, but I knew that it could have been better. Here is the recipe for the perfect version. I think this makes a great appetizer because everyone has salsa or hummus or french onion dip and this is a little bit different from the norm but still has familiar and delicious flavors.

Sun-dried tomato basil white bean dip. Mmmm!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c roasted, salted almonds (I use 365 Whole Foods store brand because they are my favorite and they have a lot of flavor. The second time I used Trader Joe’s dry roasted almonds and they are completely different and have no place in this recipe.)
  • 2 c great northern beans (homemade or from a can)
  • 1/2 c sundried tomatoes packed in a jar with oil (I used Trader Joe’s brand and a jar I got a Whole Foods and they were both good. The BAD time, I used dry, sundried tomatoes and soaked them in water and it produced a very bland, flat taste. DON’T DO IT!)
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic (you can use fresh but to save time, I use the kind in a jar
  • some salt to taste

How to:

  1. Add the almonds to your food processor and mix for about 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add all other ingredients except for the salt and mix for about 2 minutes. Add a little bit of water or extra oil from the tomato jar if you need a smoother consistency.
  3. I know that it drives me nuts to see people with ingredients without an amount and they just say “to taste”. I’m so sorry to do it here, but I have no choice. Your almonds may have a varying amount of salt so it’s tough to judge. You’ll just have to taste it when it’s done and see if you need to add a little at the end. After you add some, use the food processor to mix.
  4. Serve with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots as a wonderful way to get more veggies or serve with crackers. I think this is particularly tasty with broccoli.

Let me know of other kinds of dips that you make for dinner party appetizers! I’m always looking for new ideas!

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Washington Place Bistro in University Circle

This week was my birthday, and of all the wonderful restaurants in Cleveland, my choice was Washington Place Bistro in the University Circle/Little Italy area.

http://www.washingtonplacelittleitaly.com/

This was my third visit and I was also surprised by a Wednesday night special that they have of 1 appetizer, 2 entrees and a bottle of wine for $40. For the appetizer, I got the carrot ginger soup which had little crispy carrot strings on top (sorry I forgot to take a picture!) and was all around fabulous. Note to self: try some carrot ginger soup recipes.

Then I got the vegetable tamales for dinner. I’ve had traditional tamales before and I have to say I’m not incredibly enthusiastic about corn cakes. These are nothing like those. These were tamales because they came wrapped in a corn husk, but inside the corn husk was a beautiful mixture of diced squashes. It was served with a side of basmati rice that tasted smoky somehow and was mixed with spinach and mushrooms. Perfectly cooked asparagus was artfully placed on top of the rice and there was a generous dollop of roasted tomato sauces underneath it all that just blended all of the smoky, roasted flavors together.  It was really out of this world.

One of my favorite things about this dish is that it really showcases vegetables and brings out their lovely flavor. It doesn’t have some overly processed meat substitute and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. The head chef came around to the table to say hello and to wish me a happy birthday.

If you haven’t already been to this restaurant, you should go right away! My prediction is that the Executive Chef, Melissa Khoury is going to be Cleveland’s next Michael Symon. Although I wish that every restaurant were fully vegan, I will admit that it’s nice that this one has lots of food for anyone, vegan or vegetarian or omnivore, so it’s a nice place to take friends and family.

I can’t miss mentioning the atmosphere. It is in an old, grand house with beautiful woodwork and spacious rooms with fireplaces everywhere. It’s the perfect atmosphere for a celebration, even if it’s just to celebrate that it’s Wednesday :)

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Veggie Burger 2 Ways – on a Salad or on a Bun with Avocado Chipotle Mayo

This is my all time favorite veggie burger, now that I’ve perfected it. I think that veggie burgers are one of those things that you’ll never buy again from a box because they’re quick and taste so much better when you make your own. This is, of course, if you have a food processor. I apologize now if you don’t, because this burger is really good.

Veggie Burger Pattie on Salad

As I mentioned in the Black Bean Avocado Cilantro Lime salad post, I cook my own black beans because it is dramatically cheaper to do it that way. It’s not difficult, it’s just that it takes some planning. What I do is soak about 3 cups of dried beans overnight, and boil for an hour and then I put them in individual packages in the freezer and the fridge for later use. 3 cups dried makes 2-3 times as much cooked and it costs about $2 a pound (when dry). You can also very easily use canned beans.

I like to put this over fresh greens because I’m trying to limit my refined carbohydrates (because I get to eat more that way!) but you can also put this on a burger bun. I’ve done this before on a bun with vegan mayo mixed with some chipotle powder and liquid smoke smothered on diced super ripe avocados. This is for when I feel like being bad :)

Veggie burger with avocado and chipotle vegan mayo

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 c or a can of black beans
  • 1/2 c mushrooms (Baby bella or plain button mushrooms pre-washed. Don’t waste your time washing mushrooms.)
  • 1/3 c diced onion
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 c vital wheat gluten (This is what gives it the great consistency and holds everything together. This is not the place to skimp.)
  •  1/4 tsp salt or you might be able to skip it if your sunflower seeds are salty enough.
  • Small splash of macadamia oil (or canola or olive if that’s what you have)

How to:

  1. Put the sunflower seeds in the food processor and try to chop them down for about 60 seconds. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Put mushrooms in the food processor and chop them for a few pulses.
  3. Put the sunflower seeds back in the bowl and add everything else to the food processor and pulse a few more times. It should be chunky.
  4. Heat a small splash macadamia oil on a frying pan at medium heat.
  5. Form into patties and let cook for about 4 minutes on each side so you can get to the middle.
  6. Put on your favorite greens with your favorite salad dressing or assemble into a monster sandwich.
  7. Bon Appetit!
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