BAGEL AND HASH BROWN SANDWICH

Bagel and Hash Brown Sandwich - VeganChowDown.com VeganMofo day 4’s prompt:

Tell us about a weird food combo that you love.

So I originally was going to have this be part of my Vegan Mofo day 1 breakfast post, until my boyfriend told me this sounded so weird and gross that I decided this was perfect for today’s prompt!  Bagel and hash brown with cream cheese and ketchup is sooooo good!  Trust.

A little background on this delicious (I swear, you have to try it!) but “weird” food combo: it all started at North High School in Torrance, CA.  It was a thing for us to put cream cheese on a bagel, add a hash brown on top of that, smother it with ketchup, and devour.  We would make this “sandwich” before school started or in between our morning classes and it made the perfect snack (minus the healthy part)!  I know, it might sound gross to you and imagining putting ketchup on your bagel might sound extra gross and messy– but this is what I thought as well and yet my mind was changed with that first bite.  I say this is a North High thing because since high school, throughout college, and into my adult life, I have been asking people if they have ever eaten this before and nobody (thus far) has ever heard of such a thing! (If you weren’t a NHS Saxon and have eaten this before, you must leave a comment and tell me about it!)

Use the left over bagel and hash browns from my vegan breakfast bagel sandwich to try this weird combo (that is mostly delicious and only a little weird) out ;) and let me know how you like it!

Bagel and Hash Brown Sandwich - VeganChowDown.com Bagel and Hash Brown Sandwich - VeganChowDown.com

 

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QUICK & EASY // VEGAN TACO SALAD BOWLS

Vegan Taco Salad Bowl by VeganChowDown.com VeganMofo day 3’s prompt:

Quick, easy, and delicious.

Tacos are one of my favorite things to make because it’s easy, fast, and yummy!  To make it even easier and quicker, I have turned it in a vegan taco salad bowl!  I usually have most of the ingredients on hand in the pantry or fridge and it doesn’t involve a lot of cooking so it’s a great meal for a hot day or evening too.

I separated some of the items out in the photos so you can see them better (bowls can be a little tricky to photograph sometimes and show all the ingredients) but usually I combine all these items in a bowl or a big plate.  I also usually have black beans in this bowl but unfortunately I forgot to pick some up at Trader Joe’s today so I had to go without.  But I did list them in the ingredients so you don’t do what I did and forget to get a can before leaving the store!

Tools you will need: a 10-12″ frying pan and a small pot

VEGAN TACO SALAD BOWLS

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 4 moderate servings

VEGAN TACO SALAD BOWLS

Ingredients

  • 4 cups or big handfuls of your choice of lettuce
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 package of meatless grounds (12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen corn (or more if you'd like!)
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil for cooking
  • 2-3 tsp of taco seasoning (or more if you'd like)
  • tortilla chips
  • salsa
  • guacamole or 2 ripe avocados
  • vegan cheddar cheese shreds (optional)
  • vegan sour cream (optional)
  • garlic, chopped (optional- to cook with meatless grounds)

Instructions

  1. Place both the frying pan and small pot over medium heat.
  2. In the small pot, add the beans and corn, stir to mix the two and allow to cook until beans and corn are heated through. Make sure to check and stir this occasionally as you cook the meatless grounds simultaneously.
  3. In the frying pan, add the oil and let it warm up. If using garlic, add it now to the warm oil. Stir and cook until garlic edges begin to turn golden brown.
  4. Add the meatless grounds and stir. Add 2-3 tsp of water and continue to stir and cook for a minute. Add the taco seasoning, stir and mix well with the meatless grounds. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until meatless grounds are heated through. Remove from heat. To this pan add the bean and corn mixture, stir to mix.
  5. Assemble the bowls--all ingredients will be evenly divided between the 4 bowls. Layer in the following order from bottom to top: lettuce, tomatoes, taco meatless grounds/bean/corn mixture.
  6. Top with a few spoonfuls of salsa, guacamole (or serve each bowl with half of a fresh avocado), sour cream (if using), and cheese shreds (if using).
  7. Crumple up some chips and sprinkle on top of bowl.
  8. Serve the bowl with extra chips on the side.
http://veganchowdown.com/easy-vegan-taco-salad-bowl/

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CHINESE HOLLOW STEM WATER SPINACH – KONG XIN TSAI

Kong Xin Cai with Baked Tofu and Steamed Rice - VeganChowDown.com VeganMofo day 2’s prompt:

Recreate a meal from your childhood.

All the elements in today’s dish are all items that make me nostalgic and remind me of being a little kid again.  I don’t really remember eating all of these items together, but I did have each of these foods throughout my childhood and they go together nicely!

My parents are originally from Taiwan so I grew up eating both a mix of tacos, pizza, burgers, and salads, as well as the foods they grew up with– seaweed, Chinese fruits and vegetables, preserved plums and pickled cucumbers, all kinds of buns and pastries filled with red bean paste, rice porridge, thin and thick noodles–all kinds of good stuff!  Here is a run down of all the items that are used in this meal and what they mean to me…

Nostalgic Rice Domes - VeganChowDown.com Rice: This is one of the first foods that came to mind when I thought of my childhood.  I  remember watching my mom make the rice, measure the amount of water with her hand, and how I really liked pushing the tab down to get the rice cooker started (I think there’s even a picture of me when I was a kid sitting next to the rice cooker lol).  But my most favorite thing about the rice wasn’t the taste or texture or anything like that, but it was that my mom would pack it into a bowl, flip it over, and out came a smooth dome of rice!  That was my favorite and was just so much more fun to eat than rice scooped into a bowl the regular ol’ way :).

Kong Xin Tsai - VeganChowDown.com The Greens, Kong Xin Tsai: This veggie is called “kong xin tsai” in Mandarin and it translates into “hollow heart vegetable” because the stems are hollow.  Of course I loved this as a kid because I’d try to use it as a straw, blow air through it at my brother, and spend a lot of time playing with it before I ate it.  These greens have pleasantly crunchy stems, tender leaves, and a mild flavor.  The plant is also pretty large and in charge!  I had to cut each piece in half to wash and cut them because my cutting board wasn’t big enough.  I actually really liked how it looked raw, I think it’d make a really nice bouquet or house plant!

Kong Xin Cai - VeganChowDown.com Baked Tofu: I remember seeing this at Trader Joe’s and it really made me think about how popular tofu had become!  Previously, I had only seen it at Asian markets and Taiwan eateries.  This is the baked tofu I remember, dark solid blocks that “look like brownies” according to my boyfriend.  My mom would cut the blocks into super thin slices and drizzle with a bit of sesame oil.  Then we would dip it into soy sauce and / or sweet and spicy chile sauce.  It was and still is one of my favorite things to eat!

Baked tofu block or brownie? VeganChowDown.com Baked tofu block or brownie?

This meal is very humble and simple, but I really like it as a quick lunch or a light dinner.  (If you are REALLY in a rush, I suggest picking up already cooked rice–I found some at 99 Ranch, this location had a hot food area–and you are so good to go.)  You can add vegan orange chicken or a couple more side dishes to this if you are looking for a bigger spread.

Here’s the recipe for the Kong Xin Tsai, I hope you enjoy it!

Tools you will need: a 10-12″ frying pan or wok

Note about the recipe: the total time for this recipe is listed as 25 minutes–that’s because I like to wash my veggies REAL good and it usually takes me longer than most people.  The cook time is less than 10 minutes so if you are faster at prepping, this recipe should take a lot less time for you :).

Sauteed Chinese Greens - "Kong Xin Tsai"

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 2-3

Sauteed Chinese Greens -

Ingredients

  • 3 handfuls / bunches of kong xin cai
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic, minced (use more if you like!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp of low sodium soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Prep the kong xin tsai. Make sure to wash and rinse thoroughly. Cut the greens roughly in half so the are easier to handle. Separate the leaves from the stem and set aside in a separate bowl. Cut the stems into pieces about 2" long on the diagonal. Take the leaves and roughly cut them in half. Keep the stems and leaves separated.
  2. In a heated wok or frying pan, add the oil.
  3. Once the oil is heated, add the minced garlic. Cook until they begin to turn golden brown on the edges. Make sure to stir the garlic around so they don't burn.
  4. Add the stems only to the pan and stir to mix with the garlic. Add 2 tsp of water and stir again. Cover for about 1-2 minutes. Uncover, stir, and cook for another minute until stems are tender.
  5. Add the leaves to the pan. Cook until the leaves are wilted. Remove the pan from heat.
  6. Lightly drizzle soy sauce over the greens, stir to mix, and serve.
http://veganchowdown.com/kong-xin-tsai/

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VEGAN BAGEL BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Vegan Bagel Breakfast Sandwich - VeganChowDown.com I am so excited to get VeganMofo started off with day 1’s prompt:

Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.

I am a HUGE breakfast fan–scrambles, hash browns, pancakes, tater tots, english muffins, muffins, fruit, bagels–what’s not to love?  I think it’s one of the simple pleasures in life when I have the time to make a real breakfast and not just the usual almond milk and cereal.  Most of the time I feel rushed from the second I wake up and I think taking the time to cook is such a lovely and calm way to start the day.  Extra bonus: it fills the house with delicious smells!

Vegan Bagel Breakfast Sandwich - VeganChowDown.com This vegan bagel breakfast sandwich is all of my favorite things layered on top of each other: salty and sweet sausages, soft tofu, gooey cheese, crispy hash brown (the crispness is key!), fresh crunchy onions, tangy ketchup, all in between a chewy bagel!  It’s a bit of a splurge aka it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but I think we can all agree we totally deserve to treat ourselves from time to time ;).

I hope you are having a great morning and I can’t wait to look through the #vgnmf15 feed on Instagram to see what everyone’s cookin’ up for day 1 of VeganMofo and get some breakfast inspiration!

A note about the ingredients:

Vegan Bagel Breakfast Sandwich - VeganChowDown.com Tofu “egg”: I used tumeric mixed with some water to color it yellow.  This is completely optional and just something I like to do since I like colorful food!  (I personally cannot taste the tumeric, especially when mixed with the other elements.)

Vegan Sausage: There are a variety of vegan sausages in both the frozen and refrigerated aisles of Whole Food’s (I originally forgot to check the refrigerated area and wondered why the selection was so slim).  I tried Field Roast Breakfast Sausages in Apple Maple and they were delicious–I was a little hesitant at first because they were on sale but they totally did not disappoint and I didn’t have to spend a million bucks!  I liked both the flavor and texture as well as the fact that they are cute and miniature sized.  I only needed 3 cut length wise to make a layer on my sandwich, you may need less if your sausages are regular sized.

Vegan Breakfast Bagel Sandwich- Assembly- VeganChowDown.com Vegan cheese: My favorite to cook with at home is Daiya cheese.  They come in blocks or shredded and melt when heated.  I am using the cheddar cheese in shredded kind but slices from the block might be a little less messy.

Hash browns: I always have some Trader Joe’s Hash Browns in the freezer– they are so easy to make and satisfy my hash brown cravings.

Vegan Breakfast Bagel Sandwich- Assembly Part 2- VeganChowDown.com Tools you will need: a 10-12″ frying pan, a baking sheet, parchment paper

VEGAN BAGEL BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 1

VEGAN BAGEL BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Ingredients

  • 1 bagel, sliced in half
  • 3 mini vegan sausage links
  • 2 slices of red onion, thinly cut
  • 1 slice of firm or extra firm tofu, cut 1/2" thick and to size of the bagel
  • 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (or enough slices to make a layer on the bagel)
  • 1 hash brown patty
  • 1 1/2 tsp oil for cooking
  • salt to taste
  • ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp of tumeric mixed with 1/4 tsp water (optional, to color the tofu)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the frozen hash brown onto a baking sheet lined with parchment then into the oven. It will cook while you get the other ingredients ready and should be nice and toasty when it is time to assemble the sandwich. *My hash browns take about 20-25 minutes to be done so I like to put them in first thing, even before I start preparing any of the ingredients. Once I get it in, I start my mise en place.
  3. Heat up your frying pan and thinly coat the pan with the oil. Add the sausage on one side and the tofu patty on the other. Pour half the tumeric mixture onto the tofu patty and spread evenly with your spatula. Flip the tofu over and pour the remaining half onto that side. Spread evenly (don't forget to run the spatula along the edges as well).
  4. While the sausage and tofu are cooking, place your bagel into the toaster.
  5. Cook the sausage and tofu until they are heated through and begin to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Cut the sausages in half length wise.
  6. All the elements should be ready to assemble the sandwich. I recommend doing this part on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. This way you can put the sandwich in the oven to melt the cheese without having to transfer the sandwich. Place the items in this order, starting from the bottom up: the bottom slice of the bagel, sausage slices (flat side down), tofu patty, and the cheese. Then place the sandwich into the oven with the broiler on until the cheese is melted to your liking.
  7. Remove from the oven and continue assembling the sandwich with the hash brown, onion slices, ketchup, and complete with the top half of the bagel.
http://veganchowdown.com/vegan-bagel-breakfast-sandwich/

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VEGAN MOFO 2015

tomato vegan mofo 2015
 

I am super excited to be participating in this year’s Vegan Mofo challenge, starting September 1st!  Vegan Mofo stands for Vegan Month of Food and the challenge is to write and post about vegan food as much as you can in one month.  You can do so on your blog, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or any other platform.  The goal is to shoot for every weekday or about 20 times within the month– OR if you are an overachiever: every single day.  It’s an awesome month of sharing and finding new recipes as well as discovering new food blogs– I love it!

This year, Vegan Mofo came up with a list of prompts for every day of the month so there are lots of ideas and no “I don’t know what to write about” excuses.  I’ve already been brainstorming for what to write to try and get ahead of the game :).  You’ll  be able to check out my posts here of course and on Instagram and  Twitter— both of those are @veganchowdown.

If you are a blogger and want to join in on the vegan fun, head on over to VeganMofo for more info and to sign up!  Here’s a peek at the prompts if you are curious and don’t forget to follow VeganMofo on social media for daily prompt reminders as well:

1 Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.

2 Recreate a meal from your childhood.

3 Quick, easy and delicious.

4 Tell us about a weird food combo that you love.

5 Best sandwich ever.

6 Re-create a restaurant meal.

7 Make / eat some thing inspired by a book or film.

8 Reach out! Make a new vegan friend & tell us about it.

9 Most retro recipe.

10 Something blue.

11 Focus on a nutrient

12 Tell us about your favourite cookbook!

13 It’s kitchen tour time!

14 Share something vegan (and delicious, duh!) with a non-vegan.

15 OMG, Barack Obama is coming over because he knows you make awesome vegan food! What are you going to make?

16 What’s your favorite late summer food?

17 Make (or eat!) a traditional local dish.

18 Honor a human or non human animal who inspires your veganism.

19 Lunch on the go.

20 Veganize an old family recipe.

21 What three endless food supplies would you take if you were going to be stranded on an island? (Imagine your nutritional needs have been met, these are a bonus!)

22 Make a dish using all seasonal produce.

23 Fusion Challenge!

24 What (inset well known person) would eat if they were vegan.

25 Share your favorite cuisine.

26 It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?

27 Favorite herb or spice?

28 Tacos VS Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

29 What would you bring on a vegan road trip?

30 Autumn equinox eats.

See you back here on September 1st for the first Vegan Mofo entry!

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COLD TOFU SALAD

Cold Tofu Salad by Vegan Chow Down This cold tofu salad is one of my favorite dishes to eat and one of the easiest to make!  This recipe comes from my friend Kristen’s mom.  I remember going to Kristen’s house after school when we were in 6th or 7th grade and Mrs. Ueda left us this snack for us in the fridge.  Even though I grew up eating tofu my whole life, I had never eaten it cold until that day!  It was perfect for that warm afternoon and I always think of that day whenever I eat this dish now.

There are so many reasons I love making this salad– it’s colorful, features simple fresh ingredients, and there is no cooking over a hot stove involved which is perfect because it has been ridiculously hot lately!  The dressing is the perfect final touch and brings everything together to color this blank canvas– the tofu– with lots of flavor.

Cold Tofu Salad by Vegan Chow Down
If you’ve never worked with tofu, this is a great place to start– all you have to do is cut it!  Maybe I am a weirdo but there’s something so nice about how smoothly and effortlessly a knife glides through that preparing tofu is actually one of my favorite things to do.

Here’s the recipe– I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I have throughout the years and a special thank you to Kristen and Mrs. Ueda for sharing this family recipe with us!

Cold Tofu Salad by Atiliay Tools you will need: not much!  A knife, cutting board, dishes, and a shallow dish (that you can pour the dressing into and not worry about it spilling out!)

COLD TOFU SALAD

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

COLD TOFU SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 package of firm or extra firm tofu, packages are usually 14 - 15.5 oz, rinsed and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cup of tomatoes, diced (I used 6 pearl tomatoes)
  • 1/4 of a medium brown or yellow onion, sliced paper-thin (slice as shown in photo above)
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup peanut or canola oil
  • 1/8 cup of agave nectar
  • 1/4 TBS sesame oil

Instructions

  1. In a shallow dish layer the following ingredients in this order from bottom to top: tofu, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Place in the refrigerator.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the soy sauce, peanut or canola oil, agave nectar, and sesame oil. Place in the refrigerator.
  3. Refrigerate until both are cold.
  4. Pour dressing onto salad before serving.
http://veganchowdown.com/cold-tofu-salad/

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TIS THE SEASON TO GIVE-FOOD!

Happy Holidays!  I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and getting excited for 2015!  I am a big fan of this time of year– the gatherings, the food, the houses decked out in lights, the gift giving– the only thing I might be missing is snow since I am in California! My favorites are definitely the food and giving. And it’s actually the perfect opportunity to combine those two things!

I love the idea of gifts that give back and I think everyone can find something they are passionate about– whether it be food, fashion, the environment, animals, or whatever it may be– and incorporate and support that cause while getting holiday- or any type of present- shopping done.

If you enjoy food and eating as much as I do, consider giving back to causes that help provide meals to those in need locally and globally before the year ends! Here is a list of some great organizations that you can support or make a donation to in honor of a loved one and help spread the love this holiday season!

Feeding America
FEEDING AMERICA
FeedingAmerica.org
Mission: To feed America’s hungry though a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. A $1 donation = 10 meals.

A little can go a long way and not break your bank!  I have supported Feeding America through my paper goods line and they are a great organization.  I love that when you make your donation, you get a confirmation that includes exactly how many meals you have helped to raise!  They are rated 4/4 stars on Charity Navigator and 98.5% of their expenses goes towards the programs.  There are many ways to help including making a one time donation online, giving a donation in honor of someone (an e-card will be sent to them), giving monthly, or heading up a virtual food drive!

Food4Africa
FOOD4AFRICA
Food4Africa.org
Mission: To supply children with at least one vitamin and mineral enriched meal each day with partnering organizations without large administration structures so donations can go directly towards the programs.  Every $0.05 donated = 1 meal– yes, just 15 cents can feed a child breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  A few dollars can go a very long way!

Food4Africa is very close to my heart– I have seen first hand what they do and have been supporting their life saving work since 2007 when I met them in South Africa on a TOMS Shoe Drop!  Food4Africa has created an easy to prepare porridge mixture that contains 19 vitamins and minerals that they distribute to children needing nutritious food throughout South Africa with the help of volunteers.  They also provide food for schools and nurseries as well.  Each Valentine’s Day I do a fundraiser to raise meals for one of their schools, The Ebongalethu Educare Center– join us this February!

I also wanted to mention that all donations from individuals such as you and I go directly to the programs!

Westside Food Bank

WESTSIDE FOOD BANK
WestsideFoodBankCA.org
Mission: To distribute as much food as possible to local agencies with food assistance programs and to reduce food waste on the Westside of Los Angeles County.  As the food bank warehouse for the Westside since 1981, WFB annually distribute 4.5 million pounds of food to over 70 local social service agencies. 

For those of you who live near Santa Monica, you can donate various items to help out Westside Food Bank including non-perishable canned / packaged food items, extra fruit from the trees in your backyard (which I think is very cool, I haven’t come across a place that accepted this and helps to make sure all that fruit on your trees doesn’t go to waste!), as well as socks, blankets, diapers, and travel sized toiletries (shampoos, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, face wash, etc.) You can also make a tax deductible donation on their website.

World Food Programme

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME- SYRIA CRISIS
WFP.org/crisis/syria
Mission: To pursue a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. They work towards that vision with sister UN agencies in Rome — the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development — as well as other government, UN and NGO partners.  They are rated 3/4 stars on Charity Navigator and 90.8% of their expenses goes towards the programs.

I was listening to NPR a few weeks ago when they started talking about how The United Nations World Food Programme has run out of money it needs to provide food vouchers for the almost 2 million people who have fled Syria due to the civil war.  The program cannot continue running without sufficient funding.

“The living conditions are already very harsh and difficult for the refugees. And on top of this now – to stop the food assistance – this is really a tragedy for the World Food Programme and for the Syrian refugees alike,” says Muhannad Hadi, the World Food Programme’s emergency coordinator for Syria.

The need for donations is dire- if you are able to, help these refugees with one of the basic necessities they need to have to survive- they have already been through and lost so much.

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CANDIED ORANGE PEELS

Candied Orange Peels By Vegan Chow Down Candied Orange Peels
I ended up making candied orange peels because a recipe I was trying to make called for it and I couldn’t find them at any store!  I thought because of the holidays they would be available but I checked Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Ralphs and none of them carried it.  It was kind of a bummer at first because I had thought up this recipe about a week ago, finally found time to bake, only to find out I would have to hold off one more day since I had to make this first! But once my kitchen started filling up with the bright fresh scent of oranges, I decided it was a good thing I ended up making these because… 1.) I learned a new recipe and 2.) I can make sure peels of any type of citrus don’t have to go to waste now and 3.) You can’t get annoyed after looking at pretty oranges and smelling delicious smells!

You can use candied orange peels for all kinds of goodies including adding them into baked goods, as a garnish for cocktails, or even as is, dipped in dark chocolate (yum)!  Try these candied peels in my Panettone Biscotti recipe (coming soon!), which is the whole reason why I was looking for them in the first place!

orange 1 and 2- 4
Candied Orange Peels By Vegan Chow Down
Candied Orange Peels By Vegan Chow Down
It is actually very easy to make but does take some time so don’t forget to allow for at least a day or two to have these guys all ready to go.  If you do a lot of baking and cooking that calls for candied orange peels, I would recommend making a larger batch and freezing it so you have it on hand and ready to go whenever you need them!  Otherwise a smaller batch, like the recipe below, should be enough for a few baking projects.

Tools you will need: a 1 quart saucepan (or one similar in size), 2 baking sheets (or 1 will work too, just more transferring to do), and parchment paper

CANDIED ORANGE PEELS

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: I was able to get about 1 cup of chopped candied orange peels from this recipe.

CANDIED ORANGE PEELS

Ingredients

  • 2 medium oranges
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups or water
  • 1 cup of sugar for coating

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off of the oranges.  Score each orange 5 times vertically.  Using your fingers take off the peel, segment by segment, including the white pith.
  2. Cut each segment into 1/4 inch strips. 
  3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan (1 quart).  Add the orange peels and cook in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.  Put the peels in a bowl and set aside.
  4. In the same saucepan, bring the 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the peels.  Return to a boil.  Once the pot is boiling reduce the heat to low and allow the peel to simmer for 45 minutes, until the peels are soft.  Drain carefully.
  5. The next step is to coat the peels in sugar with the remaining cup of sugar.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread a thin coat of sugar on it.  Place the peels in one layer on top of the sugar.  With a spoon or your fingers, cover the tops of the peels with the remaining sugar.
  6. Remove each peel from the sugar and transfer onto another parchment lined baking sheet. Let it stand until the coating is dry, 24-48 hours.  
  7. I placed another piece of parchment paper to loosely cover it while I let it dry.  After a few hours out I placed it in the fridge until I was ready to use them a few days later.  I let it get to room temperature before using.
  8. Store in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use or wrap in layers of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1-2 months.

Notes

Make candied orange peels a day, week, or even a month ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator or freezer so you have them on hand for all your baking needs, especially during the holidays!

http://veganchowdown.com/candied-orange-peels/

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HAPPY THANKSLIVING!

Happy Thanksliving! | VeganChowDown.com
My amazing animal advocate friend used the hashtag #Thanksliving on Facebook the other day and I thought it was such a perfect way to describe a compassionate Thanksgiving that I had to borrow it!

I feel like every year I see more and more recipes and holiday spreads that are vegan and it makes me so happy!  There really are so many options and ideas for main dishes, sides, and of course dessert.  You can get really fancy or stay simple– either way it’ll be delicious.

My family and I went traditional and simple this year.  We had Tofurkey with roasted carrots, potatoes, and onions, steamed sweet potatoes, crispy green beans that we shared with the dogs, fluffy mashed potatoes, cornbread, and of course gravy on top!  We also had sparkling cider (I don’t think any holiday festivity is complete without sparkling cider), vegan / gluten-free pumpkin pie (I was a little skeptical on this one but it was a winner- I actually just polished off the last piece), with big ol’ dollops of coconut whipped cream. SO good. I really need to have this meal more than once a year!

I hope you had a wonderful day surrounded by loved ones and were able to take some time from these crazy busy lives we lead to reflect on all the things we get to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksliving Friends!

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MAKE IT AT HOME: SOUL BOWL

DIY Soul Bowl by Vegan Chow Down

Native Foods is one of my favorite vegan restaurants!  My boyfriend Justin and I dine there quite often and it’s one of my go-to places when I don’t feel like cooking. Justin’s favorite dish at Native Foods is the Soul Bowl.  One night I examined what all was in this bowl and realized this was something I could totally try to make at home! Which is exactly what I have done and it got a 2 thumbs up from Justin.  I make it pretty often now since it’s a great way to get all those veggies into our diets!  It’s an extra plus that I am able to re-create the Soul Bowl at home because they remove it from the menu at certain locations throughout the year.

DIY Soul Bowl by Vegan Chow Down

The major pro of getting this dish from Native Foods is that it is fast and you have to do zero prep work!  This dish involve a lot of veggies which means a decent amount of time needed to wash, cut, and cook it all.  Sometimes it can also be hard to get the right amount of each ingredient depending on what you can find at the grocery store or farmer’s market; I am sure when Native Foods makes it they don’t end up with a bunch of leftover cabbage or something :).

The major pro of making this dish at home is you can customize it how you want and make it with your favorite veggies and beans / legumes as well as use different seasonal produce.  The other pro to me is that I always feel like I accomplished a lot when I make this– maybe I feel this way because  I am able to replicate a restaurant dish or that I cooked up ALL these veggies!  Even though I mentioned the amount of prep work, the technique (steaming) can easily be done at home.

DIY Soul Bowl by Vegan Chow Down

Whether you want to try it at the restaurant or try it at home, either way this is a great dish packed with all kinds of good stuff — leafy greens and a variety of fresh veggies, beans for protein, and “chicken” fingers for some crunch.

A note about steamers:
It is super easy to steam vegetables at home!  I personally love and use this Happycall Double Sided Pressure Pan or you can use a regular pot with one of these collapsible steamers or invest in a pot that is designed for steaming.  It’s a healthy and quick way to cook your vegetables so it’s definitely worth investing of these items if you have not already.  Another really simple way to create a steamer is to use a pan with a lid- just fill the pot about 1/4 way with water, put your veggies in, and cover to cook.

A note about ingredients: 
Feel free to use your favorite vegetables, grains, and beans and change it up!  Try this dish with different vegetables that are in season, use couscous or quinoa instead of rice, and try black beans, butter beans, or navy beans.

You can also make everything from scratch- the grains and the beans.  I like using the ready made rice and canned beans just to help save time.  (I used to think there is no way this packaged cooked brown rice can be good, but after you heat it up and add water to refresh it, it is totally good and so easy to use!)

A note about the directions for cooking:
Depending on how you like to cook and what type of steamer you are using / how much it will fit, you can approach this recipe two ways: prep all ingredients first and have everything be ready to cook or prep and cook along the way.  Because my steamer is smaller and I like to steam certain items together and others separate from keeping them from getting too soggy or too raw, I usually start some things and while prepping other items at the same time.  I also do this to make sure everything gets finished at about the right time and is warm and ready to serve.

To make these directions more concise and easier to read, it will be based off the first method of prepping all ingredients then cooking.  Take a look then adjust the process to what fits best for you and your kitchen! :)

MAKE IT AT HOME: SOUL BOWL

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 2 generous portions or 4 small portions

MAKE IT AT HOME: SOUL BOWL

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Trader Joe's cooked brown rice (or about 3 cups of cooked brown rice)
  • 1 can of kidney beans (I only use about 2/3 of a can, save the rest for a salad the next day)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (I only use about 2/3 of a can, you can save this for a salad too!)
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 a package of cut and washed kale
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 of a small head of green cabbage, washed and roughly cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 of a medium head of cauliflower, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini or yellow squash, washed and cut into half round pieces
  • 1 package of Trader Joe's Vegan Chicken Tenders (I use about 1 package for every 2 people so if you are making this for four I'd pick up an extra bag)
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • Your choice of BBQ sauce or vegan ranch dressing (I prefer the BBQ sauce)

Instructions

  1. I like to prepare the rice and chicken tenders first and let those cook/bake while I steam the veggies and cook the kale. Below you will find the instructions for each element. Feel free to cook in the order that works best for you!
  2. Rice & Beans: Place the rice in a pot. Use a wooden spoon to break up the large clumps of rice. Add the kidney beans and chickpeas along with 1/3 - 1/2 cup of water. Give it a quick stir and cover. Cook over low heat making sure to stir once in awhile to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. It is done after the rice has absorbed the water and is soft and the beans are heated through. If the rice finishes before the other items are done, turn off the heat but keep the pot covered to keep the rice warm.
  3. Chicken Tenders: prepare as directed on the bag. Once your chicken fingers have finished cooking, I usually leave them in the oven to keep warm UNLESS they are already super crisp / browned. Then I would remove them from the oven to keep them from overcooking.
  4. Steamed Vegetables: Place veggies in your steamer and cook until desired consistency. I like to group the veggies together that I want to cook to the same done-ness- ie: I like the zucchini and carrots more on the softer side so I put those together and steam the cauliflower separately since I like that crunchier.
  5. Sauteed Kale: Warm a medium pan over low/medium heat. Add a bit of oil, just enough to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and garlic. Let it cook until the onions begin to turn translucent and the garlic is starting to get a little color. Add the kale and stir. Turn the heat up to medium, add a few TBS of water to make it sizzle, cover with a lid and let it cook for a few minutes. Stir, then let it cook for another minute covered. The kale should be a beautiful bright green.
  6. Plating: Place all your veggies in a large bowl and stir to mix. Plate the rice and beans, followed by a layer of vegetables, and top with the chicken fingers. Serve with the sauce of your choice on the side for dipping.
http://veganchowdown.com/diy-soul-bowl/

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