Breakfasting Alone

This semester is going by so quickly – I can’t believe it. Only five weeks left in the semester, including this one, and then it’s finals and then my internship. I’m starting to feel like I haven’t done nearly as much cooking as I wanted to. Well, let me rephrase that. I cook everyday, but usually it’s lazy cooking. Pasta, sandwiches, whatever. I haven’t done as much fun and exciting cooking as I wanted.

I’ve been experimenting with tempeh quite a bit, actually. I like the taste and texture better than tofu, and it’s more versatile too. I have a hard time putting tofu in anything that isn’t Asian. I know how to put it with noodles or rice, but anything else and I just feel like it doesn’t belong! The other day I made fake Spam musubi with tempeh, which was pretty good (and super Asian), but you can definitely do more with it than that. For example, my bbq tempeh, or the really great sandwich I made the other day. I cut the tempeh really small and grilled it with some baby bella mushrooms, then stirred it up with some pesto I picked up at Trader Joe’s. Put that with some spinach and wheat bread, and you’ve got yourself a really great meal.

I have this bizarre obsession with vegan baked goods. I’m not a vegan, of course, but I love baking things and then saying GUESS WHAT THAT’S VEGAN! What I hate, though, is “vegan” recipes that call for “vegan butter” or “vegan cream cheese” or whatever. Taking a regular recipe and subbing in vegan versions of the ingredients doesn’t make a real vegan recipe.

This past weekend my Weekend Breakfast partner in crime was busy, so I decided to go vegan just for fun.

Blueberry Walnut Muffins 
Vegan. Original recipe here. Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients
1 C quick or rolled oats
1 C soy milk
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp almond extract (or vanilla)
1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal mixed with 2 tbsp water)
1 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C chopped walnuts
1 1/3 C fresh or frozen blueberries

Instructions
1.
Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together oats, milk, agave, and almond extract.
3. While the oats are soaking, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, chia, flax, salt, and sugar.
4. Stir in the flax egg, walnuts, and oats. Last, add blueberries.
5. Spoon into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes.

I used frozen blueberries, which was fine I think. As soon as I stirred in the berries, the batter turned a crazy greenish color. They looked like zombie muffins but they tasted great! Not too sweet – perfect for breakfast. Although I will say you have to eat them fast. Since there’s no oil in the batter, by the second day they’re already pretty dried out. I wrapped them in a damp paper towel and zapped them in the microwave for 15 seconds, which helped, but these are definitely meant to be eaten the day of.

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Iron Woman

I have a bunch of disjoint thoughts in this post, but it’s been a week since my last one so I felt like I had to blog. Also I’m putting off writing an essay for my Chinese film class, so this seemed like a good way to pass the time.

This weekend, instead of Weekend Breakfast, my friend and I went to the Strip District. I’ve heard about it but I’ve never been before. It actually made Pittsburgh seem kind of… I don’t know… Cool? Lots of little shops selling specialty foods. We went to a coffee and tea store where I bought about a half pound of Kahlua and Cream coffee beans, a store selling all sorts of overpriced spices (honestly, how many types of cinnamon are there?), a biscotti shop, even a pasta shop that made their own olive oil. It gets pretty crowded on Saturday mornings, and some bakeries even set up tables on the sidewalk to sell all sorts of pastries.

Do you like brussel sprouts? I’ve only ever tried them once. I was a kid, maybe 9 or 10, and I didn’t like them. But how can you really know whether or not you like something if you’ve only ever tried it once, ten years ago? So I had some. And they were delicious. I didn’t make them – my friend did, and she saved some for me to try. They were two days old and microwaved and I still liked them. Who knew?

On to the main event: the recipe. I love things that are fast and delicious. If you are like me, you will love this recipe. It’s so simple, it’s not even really a recipe. Do you know what tempeh is? It’s a “meat alternative,” made from soy, but it’s nothing like tofu. It comes in a block and it’s pretty dense; the soy beans are actually kept whole. I started eating it this summer at Google – they serve it all the time in the cafes – but this was my first time cooking with it.

Ten Minute BBQ Tempeh

Ingredients
tempeh (4 oz. per person)
olive oil
barbeque sauce

Instructions
1. Heat olive oil in a pan over high heat.
2. Add tempeh and cook each side for one minute.
3. Pour barbeque sauce into the pan (the more the better, I say), making sure to coat the tempeh evenly.
4. Reduce to medium heat and cook another 2-3 minutes.

I cut my tempeh into little squares and ate it in pita with spinach, red onions, mushrooms, and smoked mozzarella. I bet it would be good as a burger, too.

I made this a few days ago, and then again tonight. So quick and so delicious! And it fills you up, which was definitely what I needed. I donated blood today for the first time in four years, which is a major achievement for me. I’ve tried and been turned away a couple of times because my iron levels are always too low, but today the nurse told me that for a vegetarian my iron was actually HIGH! How awesome is that? Guess I’m eating right!