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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Menu 4: Mac and "Cheese", Tortilla Soup, General Tso's Tofu, Thai Coconut Soup...

I miss cheese the most.

When I became vegan, it was the hardest thing to give up - really good substitutes are hard to come by. While there is nothing that can replace baked brie with walnuts and figs in my heart and tastebuds (sigh), I have been able to enjoy vegan versions of the ever-comforting Mac and Cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Especially satisfying is that, with the vegan versions, you won’t feel overly stuffed or greasy afterwards.

So, this week, I’m making:
  • Tortilla Soup with Grilled Cheese sandwich
  • General Tso’s Tofu with Broccoli and Brown Rice
  • Macaroni and Cheeze
  • Thai Coconut Soup with Quick and Easy Noodles and Tofu

This week’s menu:
Here’s a quick view of what to eat and cook each night – it takes the stress out of figuring out what to do every night after work:

Dinner: Tortilla Soup with Grilled Cheese sandwich
Cook: Tortilla Soup, Grilled Cheese

Lunch: Tortilla Soup
Dinner: General Tso’s Tofu with rice
Cook: General Tso’s Tofu with rice

Lunch: General Tsos Tofu with rice
Dinner: Mac and Cheeze
Cook: Mac and Cheeze

Lunch: Mac and Cheeze
Dinner: Tortilla Soup with Grilled Cheese sandwich
Cook: Grilled Cheese sandwich

Lunch: Mac and Cheeze
Dinner: Thai Coconut Soup with Quick and Easy Noodles
Cook: Thai Coconut Soup, Quick and Easy Noodles

Lunch: Thai Coconut Soup with Quick and Easy Noodles

This week’s recipes:

Tortilla Soup with Grilled Cheese sandwiches:
One-pot dishes are great because you have almost no dishes to wash besides the cutting board, knives, and pot. This soup is also really quick, rich with Mexican flavors, and filling because of the tortilla strips and black beans. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I like to bake the tortilla strips to make them crispy, and then put them into the soup. To keep them crispy, store them separately from the soup, and sprinkle them onto each serving of soup, as you eat throughout the week.

The soup can be eaten by itself. If you’d like to have something more filling, I’d add a simple grilled cheese sandwich on the side, because the soup has a lot of flavor on its own. As for vegan cheese substitutes, I really like almond-based “cheeses”. I find that they melt well, and have better flavor than any soy cheese that I’ve used to date. For this sandwich, I’ll buy a cheddar almond cheese, which will compliment the Mexican flavor of the soup.

Click here for the Tortilla Soup Recipe.

General Tso’s Tofu with Broccoli and Rice:
This recipe comes from my friend and college roommate, Lauren, who was visiting me with her husband this weekend. Before she shared this recipe with me, I struggled with getting tofu to that nice consistency where the crispy shell absorbs all of the sauce, and the inside is just the right shade of chewy. The key is freezing the tofu when you bring it home from the store, and then setting it out to thaw before you’re going to use it.

To make a complete dish, Lauren serves the tofu with broccoli and rice.

For the broccoli, I’ll cut up half a cup of florets and steam them in my microwave steamer. If you don’t have a steamer, you can put the broccoli into boiling water for 2-3 minutes. It will turn bright green, and retain some crunch while softening up a little bit on the inside. Add some salt to taste, and serve with the tofu and rice.

I prefer to use brown rice, which can take longer to cook. To speed along the process, I soak the rice in water overnight. When it’s in the rice cooker the next day, it’s pretty much guaranteed to cook all the way through, so you don’t get any of those grains that taste half uncooked.

I make the vegetable stock using water and bullion cubes. If you’re doing the same, before you begin any other steps, mix 1 cup of water and ½ of a buillion cube in a small pot, and bring it to a boil. You can then begin the rest of the steps, stirring the broth occasionally, stirring until the cube dissolves in the water, and reducing the heat to low once the broth has formed.

Lauren’s recipe for General Tso’s Tofu:

1 package of extra firm tofu, frozen and thawed
¾ cup and 1 tbsp. cornstarch, divided
¼ cup, olive oil
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon, crushed red pepper, (or more to taste)
1 tbs. vinegar
1 tbs. ginger, minced
1 tbs. garlic, minced
2/3 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. sugar

Cooked brown rice
Steamed broccoli (optional)

1. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes.
2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Put the ¾ cup of cornstarch into a plate or shallow bowl. Roll/dip the tofu to coat each piece in cornstarch. Pan-fry the tofu until browned.
3. Add the scallions, ginger and garlic. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
4. In a bowl, mix the vegetable stock, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, sugar, vinegar, and tablespoon of corn starch. Whisk until mixed well.
5. Pour the sauce onto the tofu mixture, stir gently to coat the tofu in the sauce. Turn the heat to medium low, cover, and let cook 2 – 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
6. Serve hot over brown rice, with steamed broccoli on the side (optional).

Macaroni and Cheeze
I like to have a vegetable side with my macaroni and cheese – just for variety. So, this week, I’ll sauté some asaparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper for 2-3 minutes, and have it as a side with my mac and cheeze. You could also do this with broccoli, or have the mac and cheese with a spinach salad. Or, if you’re not like me, and don’t need greens on the side, just enjoy as it is!

Click here for the Macaroni and Cheeze recipe.

Thai Coconut Soup
Here’s another soup for the week, because with the cold biting at me, I need something that will warm my whole self. Thai flavors are perfect for that.

Click here for the Thai Coconut Soup recipe.

Quick and Easy Noodles with Tofu
And, in case the soup isn’t enough by itself, here’s a really quick noodle dish to have on the side.

Click here for the Noodles with Tofu recipe.

This week’s grocery list:
This list includes every ingredient needed to make all of the dishes on this week’s menu. Just print it out, cross off what you already have in the pantry or fridge, and go shopping.

1 bunch, cilantro
1 bunch, scallions
4 medium-size tomatoes
1 medium-size zucchini
1 medium red bell pepper
1 head, broccoli
½ pound, asparagus
1 small jalapeno pepper
2 limes
1 lemon
1 onion
1 bulb, garlic
1, 3-inch piece of ginger

Oils, Spices, Condiments
Olive oil spray
Olive oil
Chilli powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Dry Mustard
Smoked paprika
Cayenne pepper
Dried lemongrass
Black pepper
Brown sugar
Nutritional yeast
Vegetable bullion cubes (for broth)
Teriyaki sauce
Chilli garlic sauce
Thai red curry paste
Soy sauce

Canned and Bottled Goods
1 can, tomato paste
1, 15 oz. can, black beans
1, 15 oz. can, coconut milk
1, 15 oz. can, straw mushrooms

Dry Goods
1 pkg. rice noodles
1 pkg. brown rice
1 pkg. whole wheat bread


1 pkg. of 6 -8 corn tortillas
3 pkg. extra-firm tofu
1 quart, soymilk
1 pkg. almond-based cheddar “cheese “

1 comment:

  1. Wow - this is an old post, which just goes to show you what can show up in google search! I just went dairy-free due to a food sensitivity and am considering giving up meat, too, since I rarely eat it anyway. Thanks for the awesome recipes.