Recipe Testing: Tempeh Time!

Now that the holidays and all their hustle+bustle are over, we’re settling back into our comfortable routine of weekly meal planning. Does that sound boring and all domestic-like? Perhaps it is, but I don’t mind – it keeps me from turning into an angry hunger-monster after work and ensures that our dinners are varied and, dare I say it, exciting.

I made one of our dinners this week extra exciting by trying a brand-new recipe from the ever-inspiring Joni Marie Newman. I tested for her delightfully crafty Vegan Food Gifts book a year or so ago, and now that that book is released, she’s back in the culinary saddle again with plans for yet another cookbook. And once again, I’m helping test recipes for it. So exciting! I won’t spoil the theme of this book (trust me, it’s a good one), but I’m very excited about it. All the dishes I’ve tried so far have been jam-packed with flavor, helped in part by a multitude of brilliant from-scratch sauces and marinades. This week, I tried an orange-y marinade with some tempeh, which I then cooked on S’s lovely little cast-iron grill pan.

Cast-iron grill pan sitting on an electric stove. In it are four wooden skewers with squares of tempeh on them.

Skewered tempeh.

These babies were also bathed in a citrus-y, garlic-y sauce that added even more flavor. I served some of the extra sauce over brown rice, and I even drizzled some onto my arugula side salad. Yum yum!

White plate with two tempeh kebobs, an arugula side salad, and a small mound of brown rice drizzled with sauce.

Ze full meal.

I was a little disappointed that my tempeh didn’t achieve those gorgeous grill marks you might get from a real, outdoors grill, but no matter – I was okay with the few little black lines I saw. The sauce and the marinade were excellent, but my meal was sadly marred by my first (!) experience with bitter tempeh. Until this particular encounter, I’d never understood why some folks complain about tempeh’s unpleasant bitterness – I’d never experienced it. This time, though, I used a new-to-me locally produced tempeh, and I didn’t steam it beforehand. S didn’t seem to mind, but it was a little off-putting to me, and I fear I’ve gone off tempeh for a while. Ah well. I can still use the leftover sauce and marinade on tofu! :)

Don’t forget to enter my cookbook giveaway by tomorrow (Sunday) night! I’m enjoying reading everyone’s exciting plans and hopes for 2013 – keep ’em coming! 

Home Cookin’ and Recipe Testin’, Fusion-Style

Hello, friends! I’ve now been blog-silent for a week. I might say I’ve been recovering from VeganMoFo, but… nah. I’ve just been lazy. Not too lazy to cook, though! I’ve just started testing recipes for another fabulous cookbook from Joni Marie Newman, and I’m very excited about this one. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will tell you that this book focuses on cooking everything from scratch to create flavorful, whole-foods-based fusion dishes. Intrigued? You should be! These are the types of recipes that require you to make your own sauces, marinades, and toppings ahead of time, but you don’t even care because they’re so damn yummy and versatile, and you use them in delicious, flavorful dishes like this one:

White plate with short-grain brown rice topped with a mystery dish!

What could it be?!

Not the greatest picture, I know, but the recent time change leaves me with no post-work natural light. Thankfully, you don’t need beautiful lighting to enjoy tasty food! I can’t tell you exactly what’s in this dish, but it’s got a fusion BBQ sauce that marries some wonderfully complementary flavors.

If this next dish looks familiar, you’re right – both dishes do share a couple of ingredients, but this is a chili:

Small white bowl of a chunky, bean-less chili.

Sekrit!chili.

What, a bean-less chili?! Yes! And it totally works, because there’s a stand-in meaty element that makes it perfectly filling and toothsome.

So – are you intrigued yet? Any guesses about the less-than-common shared ingredient? 

More importantly… happy Friday!

Tester Teaser: Parmesan-esque Sprinkles (and an Italian adventure)

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

Today’s post is a big ol’ teaser, and possibly an envy-inducer (wait ’til the end for the envy). I’m testing for Joni Marie Newman‘s new book, which is not just another cookbook. Instead, she’s including recipes and crafts for homemade gifts, edible treats, and all sorts of DIY awesomeness. It’s totally my thing, so I’m really excited to be helping out! This weekend I tried my first tester recipe: Italian-spiced parmesan-esque sprinkles. Don’t they look grand?

A small Ball canning jar lying on its side. It's filled with yellow breadcrumb-y sprinkles, which are spilling out over the lid of the jar.

Sprinkly!

These are the first homemade cheese-y sprinkles I’ve ever made, so I don’t technically have a point of comparison, but these are just great! They’re nicely spiced with just the right amount of nutritional yeast-y flavor. So far, I’ve just eaten them plain (c’mon, I had to try a tiny spoonful!) and sprinkled atop macaroni & cheese (post to come!), but I’ll find something more creative to do with them later. Something Italian-inspired, perhaps?

…speaking of Italy, guess what? I’m going to Florence in five short days! I’m spending a week there with my best friend, who’s currently in Florence finishing up her MA. This won’t be my first time in the city (I visited with my family two summers ago), so I’m looking forward to just spending time hanging out and seeing less tourist-y places, since I’ve already done all those. However, I’ve never been in Florence as a vegan, so I’m excited to see what I can find to eat! Let me know if you’ve been there as a vegan and have any suggestions!

What should I make with my parm-y sprinkles? Have you been to Italy? Where should I eat in Florence?!

In Which Mama Nature Makes a Liar of Me and Then I Show You a Photo of Soup

Whoa! I’m so happy that y’all are excited about my giveaway! If you haven’t entered yet, what are you waiting for?! There’s a fantastic cookbook and some yummy treats up for grabs – so git!

Of course, right after I post about how it’s sooo autumnal and seasonably chilly and the epitome of fall and whatnot, the weather has to go and make a liar liar pants on fire out of me. Thanks a lot, Mama Nature. I mean, it was 70 degrees in Madison today! Shenanigans! It’s okay, though. I’ll take blue skies and warming rays of sun any day, even if they make me eat my words.

However, I’d rather eat something delicious and tasty – like soup! I’ve been testing for Lindsay‘s upcoming soup, stew, and chili-riffic e-book, and I’ve had some seriously yummy eats lately! From hearty, filling chilis to elegant, bisque-like squash soups, she’s got some tasty recipes. I enjoyed this pureed, bean-based soup this weekend (when it was ACTUALLY autumn-like!).

Neutral tones ftw!

I won’t divulge any of Lindsay’s secrets, but suffice it to say that this was a really warming and comforting dish. So if you’re in the mood for soups, stews, and chili galore, keep a bonny eye out for her e-book! And go enter my giveaway for a chance to win Nava Atlas’ Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons.

Or if you prefer muffins to soup, check out Emily‘s sweet giveaway! She’s kindly giving away a hand-baked batch of yummy muffins, and you can choose the variety!

ORRR – and I promise that this is the last giveaway I’m going to mention today! – you could go enter to win one of three cookbooks published by Vegan Heritage Press. You can choose between American Vegan Kitchen, Vegan Unplugged, and Vegan Fire & Spice. Awesome!