Yes, he can cook! My husband made me a delicious veggie biryani tonight. He calls it Cheapass Fakeass Veggie Biryani. Cheapass because it is a very inexpensive and fakeass because it might not pass the test of authenticity in an Indian kitchen. However, I loved it and wanted to share it with you because it’s a no fuss dish that is delicious and can be made in minutes. Here’s his recipe!
Cheap-Ass Fake-Ass Biryani -by G. Scott Hayes
Add a couple extra shakes of fenugreek if you have it. That’s the one spice that I think makes curry taste like curry. Add the raw rice and sauté with the onion, garlic, and spices,
Last evening I was in the mood for a dish with tofu and I had time to drain it, marinate it, and chop the veggies for a stir “fry” which is one of my husband’s favorite things. I also had a bowl of fresh broccoli and broccoli greens that I had just cut from my garden. The greenhouse where I bought the broccoli plants told me that if I’m lucky, I may still be harvesting broccoli into January!
The next step was to drain the tofu. I always use extra firm tofu for this dish and after I drain off the water, I slice it in 1/2 lengthwise, lay it in a colander, cover it with paper towels, put my family flat iron on top and ignore it for the afternoon. When I’m in a hurry I only drain it for 30-60 min, but it absorbs the marinade so much better when it’s well drained and has so much more flavor.
While the tofu is draining, I make the marinade:
1/2 c. low sodium veggie broth
1 TBS lower sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 huge clove of garlic or 2-3 average sized cloves, minced
A 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced in a mini chopper or grated with a ceramic grater
1 tsp of sambal oelek or Sriracha sauce if you like some heat
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl, cut the tofu into bite sized cubes and place into a shallow dish. Sprinkle Chinese Five Spice over the tofu and then pour the marinade over the tofu. Let the tofu marinate for at least 30 minutes.
While the tofu is marinating, get your other ingredients lined up:
3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced thinly or several green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
1 red pepper, chopped
½-1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
1-2 TBS of fresh Thai basil or cilantro, chopped
Approximately 2-3 cups or more of broccoli, chopped along with the leaves if available.
If no broccoli leaves/greens available, add some chopped cabbage or bok choy
12-16 oz whole grain rice vermicelli or your favorite whole grain pasta (or cooked brown rice, approximately 3 cups)
1 TBS cornstarch mixed with 2-3 TBS water
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 450 degrees. If you don’t have the veggies in the ingredient list, use the ones you have in your fridge or garden! The possibilities are endless.
Place the tofu cubes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 30-40 min until they are nice and brown. You can turn them if you like, but I prefer to leave them alone. Save the marinade!
Using a slotted spoon, remove the remaining ginger and garlic from the marinade and set aside. Add ½ c. veggie broth to reserved marinade.
While the tofu is baking, prepare your rice or pasta and keep warm.
When the tofu is almost done, heat up your wok or a very large skillet.
Add a couple of TBS of veggie broth or water to your pan and when it is hot, and the onions, peppers, garlic, ginger, and cook for a couple of min at high heat until the veggies begin to soften.
Add the carrots, broccoli, and greens and cook for a couple of minutes until they are done to your liking. Add more veggie broth as needed to keep the veggies from sticking and help them to steam.
When the veggies are done, move them to the sides of your wok or pan, and pour the reserved marinade into the center of the wok. Heat the marinade through and add the cornstarch that you mixed with water and let the broth thicken. Mix the sauce and veggies together. Add the Thai basil or cilantro.
Place the rice or pasta in a large serving bowl, add the veggies, and top with the tofu.
- Serve with extra chopped Thai basil or cilantro and the lime wedges. The fresh lime adds a wonderful brightness at the table.
- Add extra Sriracha sauce or sambal oelek at the table as desired for extra kick!
- If you don’t have heart disease, you can add a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter to the reserved marinade.
- Remember this is your dish. Feel free to make changes and substitutions to accommodate your preferences AND what you have in your fridge and your cupboard!
- To save time, use frozen veggies or chopped veggies from the produce section of the grocery store.
I hope you will love the Thai basil as much as we do. It’s aromatic, beautiful, and adds wonderful flavor to stir fry dishes. It also grows with little tending or care in the garden.
Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!
One of my husband’s favorite dishes is Pasta Puttanesca. He loves everything about it–the pasta, the salty flavor from the olives and capers, and the sauce. To him, it’s the total package. He even tells the servers at our favorite local Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, that he dreams about this dish.
I decided since this dish seemed fairly straightforward, I would try to recreate it at home one evening when I was at a loss for what to fix for dinner. I had everything except capers, and I knew it wouldn’t be the same without the homemade pasta at La Trattoria, but even if I messed it up, how bad could it really be? So here is my “recipe” for Puttanesca in a pinch. I used miso to replace the anchovies used in some recipes and also the extra saltiness of the capers. If you need to restrict sodium due to heart disease or hypertension, just leave it out. If you prefer a smoother sauce, use crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes. In the summer, this would rock with fresh tomatoes!
Puttanesca in a Pinch
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons of oregano
- 1 – 28 oz can of whole plum or San Marzano tomatoes (low sodium)
- 1/2 of a 10 oz bottle of pitted Kalamata olives, slice olives in 1/2
- 1/2-1 tsp of miso
- 1 lb of whole grain pasta of your choosing
- A few shakes of crushed red pepper
- Start a nice big pot of water boiling for your pasta and add it when it comes to a rolling boil. When the pasta is done to Al dente, drain it and set it aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, place a small amount of water or veggie broth in a big skillet, heat it up and add the onions and garlic and sauté a few min until soft. You can also start them with no liquid and just add a small amount if they stick.
- Add the oregano, crushed red pepper, and olives and heat quickly.
- Here’s the fun part. Warning, this is messy. I love the feel of the tomatoes in my hands so I just pluck them out of the can and use a paring knife and roughly chop them as I add them to the pan. Then add the extra juice from the can.
- Heat the sauce through or cook it down a little if you prefer, then add the pasta, coat the pasta with the sauce, sprinkle with nutritional yeast if you like, and serve!
If you add capers, just add them near the end and leave out the miso. You can add some of the brine from the bottle also if sodium is not an issue for you.
Serve with a big salad or you can even add some greens in your sauce if you love greens as much as I do. They will make your arteries sing!
Don’t fuss over this dish! It will be delicious in its simplicity and is difficult to ruin.
It is even better the next day leftover!
Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!
A couple of weeks ago I found the most amazing white balsamic grapefruit vinegar at our local store, Thirteen Olives, and I have been anxious to make a fabulous salad with it. I had some beautiful grapefruit in the fridge and finally today I reserved my afternoon to play in the kitchen.
I learned how to peel a grapefruit with a knife and how to segment it to get rid of the bitter pith and my husband even sharpened the chef’s knife for me.
I took my time and reveled in the texture of the fruit, how the sun shone through the kitchen window and through the thinly sliced pale pink flesh of the grapefruit. It looked so delicate and beautiful like the wing of a newly hatched butterfly.
It was a gift to have this time to study this sour, yet sweet and juicy fruit which I have far too long neglected.
I hope to be more intentional not only with my appreciation of the beauty of nature and the nutrition and pleasure it provides for us but also my appreciation of the people in my life who help and care for me along my path.
I was recently overcome with gratitude for all of the friends, old and new, who offered words of encouragement, suggestions for job leads and just pure kindness when we received word that our home health agency was closing. In the course of 2 weeks, I lost my job and gained a new one in which I will retain my benefits, seniority, and will have a position with no after hours call and no taking work home. I hope that the reduction in hours will free me for spending more time living my passion for nutrition and health and loving my family and friends as they deserve.
If you enjoy fruit and farro, you can find my recipe for Grainy Grapefruit Salad on the Plant Based Nutrition Support Group’s website at http://www.pbnsg.org/ soon.
This week on Engine2extra.com someone was in the chat room and asked how to make a dairy free 7 layer dip that would appeal to omnivores and what could be substituted for sour cream and cheese. I remembered I had a great recipe from a former member of the site for a 10 layer dip that was outstanding. It didn’t have any substitutes for sour cream and cheese, but those could easily be added! I dug it out of my archives along with the pics Rick Slavens sent me with the super easy recipe and here it is, layers 1-10:
#1-Fat free refried beans
#2-Diced green chiles
#3- 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
#4- Cover with salsa (he recommended La Victoria salsa supreme)
#5- White corn
#6- sliced black olives
#7- Chopped green onions
#8- Shredded romaine lettuce
#9- Fresh chunky salsa with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro
#10- chopped fresh cilantro
I am so glad Genie asked this question today as I had forgotten about this recipe and these lovely pictures and just how good this tasted!
The sour cream substitute is an easy one to solve if you want to add it as a layer or as a side for people to add on their plate. From the Forks over knives web site and chef Del Stroufe: Just put one 12 oz pkg of silken tofu in a blender or food processor and add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and blend until smooth. I have also substituted apple cider vinegar and it works just fine. I don’t even measure, I just estimate, so no need to fuss.
There really is nothing plant based that tastes just like cheese, however, we have not had cheese in so long that recently when we tried the “Real deal nacho cheez” from Kid Tested Firefighter approved’s blog, we thought it was very close! It is made with cashews, but if you’d like a lower fat version, my friend Bobby Anderson, the Plant Fueled Trucker, found cannellini beans were a great substitute for cashews and roasted red peppers work instead of pimentos. When I made the cheez, I tried to use my food processor instead of dragging out my blender. Let’s just say, HUGE mess. I noticed Bobby uses a nutribullet which works very well for him. We served the cheez with rice and beans and guacamole. Bobby also serves it over pasta and we can’t wait to try that next!
Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!
P.S. I wrote this blog last night but didn’t get around to posting it. In the meantime, while I worked today, my husband bought a Nutribullet to smooth out the leftover nacho cheez sauce, added it to macaroni with a can of Rotel tomatoes (disclaimer–these are high in sodium, just buy sodium free diced tomates and add green chiles) and baked it in the oven and added a big side of steamed frozen broccoli and cauliflower. Wow! What a comforting meal after a long day, now I just have to dig my heels in and finish all of my paperwork!
It has been a wild week with the house remodel continuing. We have been able to go between the kitchen and the bedroom, making sure we walk on the wood floor only in socks. The dogs are mostly in the kitchen with their beds and food and the cat splits his time between the basement and outdoors. They are all very confused and bewildered and we are tired and will be SO happy to have the house back in order.
We did have fun yesterday looking for an enamel top kitchen table and some unmatched chairs. We found a really unique table that is perfect for my bright yellow kitchen at an antique shop only about 30 min from our home. I was so excited to be able to sit at my “new” table tonight and have a dinner I cooked! This table is so cheerful and makes me feel like it’s Spring.
The dinner was easy and delicious. I found a sodium free soup mix at Wegmans from a family business in Rochester NY that was fabulous. It was just green and red lentils and a curry spice mix. I just sautéed onions, a bay leaf, and garlic in veggie broth, added a can of no salt diced tomatoes, removed the bay leaf, used my immersion blender to make the ingredients smooth, added the spices, and a little water, simmered for 30 min and then added 3 cups of veggie broth and the lentils and simmered for another 30 min. The spices were a little bitter, so I added some steamed carrots and a dash of real maple syrup and some Penzey’s maharajah curry powder and it was perfect over baby spinach and jasmine brown rice. I had two helpings and have leftovers for lunches. I’m so glad I’m enjoying lentils now since they’re so easy to prepare, tasty, and loaded with fiber and healthy plant protein!
My husband liked how Gwendolyn signed the package of lentils, too! Hope everyone had a happy healthy weekend. It’s sad to see this challenge end, but I’m excited to see what adventures will come our way this spring!
Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!