Friday Favorite: Cheater Pad Thai

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White MoFo fist logo on an orange background with the text "Vegan Staples: Noodles!"

Like it was on the first Friday of MoFo, this week’s Friday Favorite is also a vegan staple. I guess that means that the recipes I repeat most often are simple ones that feature pantry staples. Makes sense, right?

This week’s favorite is a dish I make on a nearly monthly basis. It usually starts with S requesting “peanut noodles” for dinner, after which I clarify that he is indeed talking about this dish. From there, it’s a quick twenty minutes till dinner is on the table. And what’s dinner? It’s the Cheater Pad Thai from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook.

Top-down view of a white dish with wide rice noodles, broccoli, peanut sauce, and a drizzle of sriracha.

Peanutty!

Lindsay calls this “cheater” pad thai because it uses peanut butter (which goes against her no-added-fat approach), but I call it a cheater recipe because it’s so damn easy yet tastes so good. The recipe is incredibly versatile – you can add any veggies you have on hand. I usually go with broccoli, like I did this week. Snow peas are also a fine choice. The recipe does call for bean sprouts, but I occasionally omit them if I don’t feel like making a trip to the store before cooking dinner. I always add a sprinkle of fresh lime juice, though, and I always use way more than a single tablespoon of peanut butter in the sauce. ;)

What’s your go-to noodle recipe? Which Happy Herbivore recipes do you love?

New Cookbook: Everyday Happy Herbivore

I recently found myself in possession of a $50 Amazon gift card. By “found myself in possession of,” I mean that Amazon gave it to me because I signed up for an Amazon Rewards Visa card. I did not really sign up for this card by choice – I was perfectly happy with my one credit card – but I needed two more forms of credit to raise my credit rating so that my mom can get removed as a co-signer on my student loans. Really logical, right? I need to potentially put myself in more debt to prove to the loan agency that I can pay off my large amount of existing debt. Yeahhh. I try not to think about it too much because it makes me more than a little angry.

Anyway, the upshot is that I signed up for the credit card (which I will use sparingly, pay off in full every month, and most likely close when Mom’s off my loans) and got a gift card. I spent it on a couple non-necessity items as a treat to myself, including two new cookbooks! One of them is Lindsay Nixon’s Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes. I’m a big fan of her original cookbook, and so far this one is equally impressive. Lindsay promises that the recipes in EHH are quick and easy, so quick that you can get them on the table in 30 minutes or less. While I do enjoy labor-intensive and time-consuming recipes, I also appreciate easier ones for days when I’m hungry and don’t feel up to spending hours toiling in the kitchen.

Last night, for example, I got back from the gym and was not in the mood to spend much time cooking. So I whipped up a Grilled Cheeze sandwich (featuring an oozy, tasty, cheezy sauce) and had Natala’s Chocolate-Cherry Shake for dessert.

Rich & creamy.

Sorry that the photo isn’t great; it was cold outside and the light was fading fast. But the shake was delicious! I kind of failed to measure my ingredients and just eyeballed them, and I think I skimped on the cherries just a bit. Next time I won’t do that.

So far, I’ve also tried the Veggie Biscuit Potpie (so easy and really yummy!) and the Chickpea Tenders (meh – the texture wasn’t great). What else should I try? (Psst – you can check out the table of contents here, if you don’t own the book.)

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

Friday Favorite: Happy Herbivore’s Eggless Salad

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."
I don’t know about you, but egg salad was something I always simultaneously enjoyed and dreaded in my youth. Half of me wanted to find an egg salad sandwich in my lunch box, but the other half of me was wary of egg salad’s most noticeable side effect: that vaguely sulfuric and extremely pungent egg odor. You can’t discreetly eat an egg salad sandwich; everybody in a ten-foot radius knows what’s goin’ down at the lunch table when you’re munching one. But them’s the breaks of eating eggs!

As vegans, we generally don’t encounter egg odors. So you’d think that this week’s Friday Favorite, Happy Herbivore’s Eggless Salad, would be free of olfactory offenses. Not so! This recipe includes black salt, also known as kala namak, and if you’re not familiar with it, here’s a breakdown: it’s not black and it’s highly sulfuric. So it’s perfect for adding a distinctly eggy flavor and aroma to otherwise egg-less goods! Isa Chandra Moskowitz pioneered the use of black salt in Vegan Brunch, and Lindsay uses it to great effect in this tofu-based salad. I’ve enjoyed her Eggless Salad in the past, and this time was no different. Yesterday, I ate it in a pita pocket with a few leftover collard leaves:

Two pitas stacked on top of each other, filled with a light yellow crumbled tofu and a couple collard leaves.

Pocket salad.

Yum yum in my tum. I know I’m not the only one who enjoys this super simple salad; LJ has posted about it more than once at her MoFo blog this month!

I should say, though, that if you haven’t eaten eggs in a while, it’s definitely a little jarring to eat black salt-laden foods because the similarity to eggs is uncanny. But if you’re looking for an eggy flavor to add variety to your eats, give black salt a try! I found mine in an Indian grocery store back in Rhode Island, and it was only a few dollars for a bag that will last me years. Win!

Have you tried black salt? If so, how do you like to use it? How do you feel about pungent foods?

Friday Favorite: Happy Herbivore’s Cheddar Cheesy Sauce

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."

Whew. One week of MoFo down, three more to go! I put my game face on for the first week, and I think I did pretty well – not only are all my posts fairly solid, but my brownie showdown post was mentioned on the official MoFo Twitter (!) on Wednesday. I’m famous! But I’m also a little worn out. Keeping up with 700+ blogs during a regular work week is no easy task, and a girl’s gotta do other things than eat and sort through her Google Reader, y’know? So today I’m taking it easy and keeping it short with my first Friday Favorite post.

A bowl of linguine and peas with a light coating of a "cheesy" sauce.

Cheesy! And over-sharpened. Oops.

One of my go-to recipes from Happy Herbivore‘s cookbook is her Cheddar Cheesy Sauce (recipe available here with a different name). It’s quick and easy to whip up, and it always hits the spot when I’m craving a warm, creamy sauce for my pasta. I usually make half a recipe, which is a great serving size for one person. Most recently, I enjoyed it with Ezekiel sprouted-grain linguine (another favorite!) and peas. I pulled together this whole dinner in barely 20 minutes. You can’t beat that!

If you don’t like nutritional yeast, this sauce probably won’t do it for you. But if you do, and if you’re craving a low-fat – yet flavorful! – cheesy sauce, give this one a try.

What’s your favorite go-to recipe? What’s your favorite vegan mac & cheese recipe?

Spoiler alert: A future recipe showdown will compare three (3) mac & cheese recipes. Get excited! Give me your recommendations! Etc!

Lunch Box Love (+ horribly embarrassing photos)

In my elementary school days, I was super fly. Check out the following photo, circa 1998 or so, if you don’t believe me:

Child of the 90s fo' sho'.

Aww yeahhh. Purple velour shirt? Check. Bell-bottom overalls with sweet flocked designs? Check. Awesome giant denim pouch key chain that probably held a Tomagotchi or a Giga Pet? Total check. The 90s were an era of classic, timeless styles, and I totally rocked them, as you can see. What you can’t see, however, is my lunch box. Lunch boxes were a key element of my grade school experience; I loved choosing a new one every year. I remember a pale green one I particularly liked; it might’ve featured the Little Mermaid or maybe the Lion King. Either way, it was awesome, in all its rigid, plastic, boxy glory.

In high school, I became too cool for childish lunch boxes. Instead, I re-used paper bags or brought one of those boring adult-like lunch bags. If you don’t believe how cool I was, check out this photo:

Geekery.

Oh yes. My high school days pretty much centered around Lord of the Rings – reading the books, watching the movies, going to midnight shows, obsessing over various cast members, hosting Academy Award parties, sewing costumes… those were the days. Believe me, if I’d found a LotR lunch box, resplendent with an image of Aragorn or Legolas, I would’ve cast aside my lunch box snubbing in a hot minute. But I didn’t, and instead I used boring, plain-colored lunch totes. Snore.

Now I’m all grown up and working at a big-girl job, and I usually bring my own lunch to work. For many months, I’ve been putting my food into a small tote bag or cramming it into a purse, all the while complaining that I needed a lunch box and risking horrible purse-spillage disasters.

Apparently complaining pays off, because my dear boyfriend found the most adorable lunch box for me recently. With it, I have come full circle and returned (or, perhaps, regressed) to my childhood love of lunch boxes. Check it out:

Love!

Isn’t it just precious?! Luc is so cute! Those stripes are so whimsical! And it almost always fits all the food I want to bring to work! On this particular day, I brought an Eggless Salad sandwich, cherries, and watermelon. Nom nom summer fruit!

Do you pack a lunch? What’s your strategy for lunch-making? I’m a big fan of planned leftovers, whether they’re the kind I eat the next day or the kind I freeze and eat a month later. It’s economical and healthy, not to mention environmentally friendly when I pack it my sweet new lunch box – no brown paper bags for me!

Kidney Bean Lovin’ from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook

I have a friend who hates kidney beans. I shouldn’t say that – he definitely considers them the least appealing member of the bean family, but I don’t know if he actually hates them. Something about their skin (thicker than the average bean) and their shape (internal-organy) renders them displeasing to his palate. Personally, I have no quarrel with k-beans; they’re not my favorite bean, but I usually keep a can or two in my pantry, and they’re the quintessential chili bean for me.

However, I’ll freely admit that my usage of kidney beans is fairly limited. Without consciously choosing to, I tend to only use them in Mexican-based dishes. Last night, I learned what I’ve been missing by limiting my k-bean usage, thanks to the wonderful Lindsay of Happy Herbivore fame.

This is the Rajma Masala from Lindsay’s brand spankin’ new cookbook, and it is ridiculously delicious. Lindsay describes it as “the Indian cousin to vegetarian chili,” but really I just describe it as “my new favorite dish and why the heck didn’t I double triple quadruple the recipe?!?”

That's my Fancy Platemat.

I’ve been a Happy Herbivore fan for years now, and I love that Lindsay’s recipes are always super wholesome without sacrificing any flavor. With the Rajma Masala, for example, there’s no way that anybody trying this dish would complain about the lack of added fat. The dish has a fantastic blend of flavors, and I really appreciated that it wasn’t spicy for the sake of being spicy – sure, I sniffled a few times while eating my dinner, but I could actually taste all the individual spices. Too many recipes just call for gobs of chili powder or curry powder, and then you can’t taste anything except SPICY HEAT YO! and it’s just stupid. Thankfully, that offensive heat is missing here.

So, all this is to say that the new Happy Herbivore cookbook totally lives up to the high standards of quality you’ll find in all of Lindsay’s recipes. The book itself is gorgeous – I had no idea until I received it (as a surprise late Christmas pressie from my momma!) that it’s chock-full of color photos. I’ve become accustomed to cookbooks that merely include a sad couple of pages of photos in the center, so I appreciated the plethora of pictures in this book. And, perhaps needless to say, I cannot wait to try even more delectable dishes from this newest addition to my cookbook shelf!

Anyone else have the Happy Herbivore cookbook? Any favorite HH recipes?

Whoa, I wrote up this post last week and totally forgot to post it! Fail! Since then I’ve tried even more HH recipes, and I can’t wait to blog about them!

Spreadin’ the Bloggy Luuurve: Two Happy Herbivore Pasta Dishes

Today’s theme: Spreadin’ the Bloggy Luuurve

During my initial MoFo scheming period, I thought I’d do something like LJ is doing and come up with a theme for each day of the week. I even had some fun alliterative titles, just like LJ. Thankfully I realized that this approach wouldn’t be practical for me and that it’d probably result in frustration and burnout, or possibly awful cop-out posts in which I’d say, “Wanderlust Wednesday, eh? Screw that; I’m tired!” and heat up a can of refried beans and call it Mexican.

So instead of forging ahead with my regimented posts, I’m taking the flexibility approach. And, goodness gracious me, I’m already glad I made that decision! Last night I was EXHAUSTED. A weekend of madness at House on the Rock slayed me, and neither caffeine nor sugar (from fruit!) provided much energy while I was at work. When I got home, I couldn’t even fathom making a big, elaborate dinner. I was in the mood for something carbolicious and warm, though, so I hit up ye olde Google and settled on Happy Herbivore’s Instant Vegan Alfredo.

Although the ingredient list is minimal, I ended up leaving out one key item. All the pumpkin-y baking I’ve been doing lately has depleted my stock of nutmeg, which is, according to Lindsay, “a necessity to get the right flavor.” I made it anyway, and served it over Ezekiel sprouted grain linguine and peas.

This is ugly; I'm sorry.

Although it was tasty, warm, and filling, I found it a little too nutritional yeast-y, and a bit bland (or perhaps just lacking in nutmeg!). I don’t hate NY, but I’m not a huge fan, either. I’d make this sauce again, but I’d also cut down on the NY, make sure I have nutmeg, and maybe serve it with regular whole wheat pasta (I <3 Ezekiel, but it tends to be a little sticky and dense when I make it).

That said, I made Lindsay’s Soy Free Vegan Mac n’ Cheese last week, and it knocked my crazily-patterned socks off! I’m constantly on a semi-Quixotic quest for a cheesy sauce that 1.) isn’t super high in fat, 2.) doesn’t rely too heavily on nutritional yeast, and 3.) is delicious! Happily, this recipe satisfies all those criteria.

Served over veggietastic Wacky Mac... 'cuz I'm five years old!

Hooray for noodle dishes! Do you enjoy noodles? What’s your favorite topping or sauce? I’m a big fan of all noodles, from sprouted grain spirals to gluten-free spaghetti!

Christmas in October?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or, well, sort of. I saw the most wonderful, heartwarming thing at the grocery store this weekend – SEASONAL TEAS. My favorite [no-frills, employee-owned] grocery store, Woodman’s, had a brand new display of seasonal teas by Celestial Seasonings and Stash. I nearly had a teagasm right there in the store! I’m familiar with Celestial Seasonings’ offerings, but I’d never seen Stash’s holiday-inspired teas. My Christmas-season-loving heart thrilled inside of me when I saw tantalizing flavors like Christmas Eve (herbal mint blend) Christmas Morning (black tea blend), White Christmas (white tea, peppermint, and a hint of ginger), Holiday Chai (black tea with hints of gingerbread and rum), and organic (!) Merry Mint (green tea, spearmint, and peppermint). Stash also has gorgeous packaging – what can I say; I’m shallow! I managed to restrain myself, though:

Teas on the floor. Class-ay.

Unfortunately I didn’t realize that White Christmas was a mint tea, so I accidentally purchased two minty varieties. Guess I’ll have to go back for more! Clearly tea is one of my major weaknesses, but for $2.00 a box, I’m not too concerned about breaking the bank.

All of these Christmas flavors got me thinkin’ about other foods I associate with my favorite holiday. My family has a tradition of enjoying cinnamon buns and grapefruit on Christmas morning, and as I thought about holidays of yore, I got a strong craving for sweet, cinnamon-y goodness. Last year Mom made VeganYumYum’s incredibly decadent cinnamon buns, and they were gorgeous and tummyache-inducingly rich. Throwback photo time!

Oof.

I feel full just looking at them! I didn’t want to make anything that rich during this go-round, so I turned to Happy Herbivore for a healthier alternative. I ended up making Lindsay’s whole-wheat, fat-free cinnamon buns, and despite an emergency grocery run necessitated by moldy applesauce, they came together quickly and with very little fuss.

Tea&bun.

And they taste fantastic, too! Soft and chewy on the inside, only the outer rings of my buns (heh heh) were at all crusty. The cinnamon filling is absolutely perfect, and it only contains brown sugar, applesauce, and cinnamon. Genius! I’ve been savoring these babies for the past few days, and they’ve totally sated my cinnamon craving. Once they’re gone, I’ll lay off the buns so that I’ll properly appreciate our traditional breakfast come December 25th.

Do you have any holiday traditions? Do you get excited about winter holidays? Any favorite seasonal teas?

Sweet Potato Muffin Love

In an act of crazy VeganMoFo intertextuality, tonight I made the Maple-Kissed Sweet Potato Muffins posted on Happy Herbivore earlier today. Because this day has been quite chilly and autumnal, I figured that firing up the oven to bake a batch of hearty muffins would be the perfect way to warm up the house and fill up my tummy.

Nom.
(Sorry for the cruddy photo quality!)

I’m glad to report that my hunch was correct – these are wonderful autumn muffins. They’re sweet and slightly spicy and wonderfully rich. My only complaint was that they came out just the teensiest bit gummy; perhaps I should have baked them longer. Overall, though, they’re a fabulous stand-in for the traditional pumpkin muffin, and I enjoyed using a few more of the locally-grown sweet potatoes we picked up a week or so ago.

Now I’m off to grab another muffin and plop myself in front of the telly – it’s Office night!