Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chickpea Flour Scramble - With Breakfast Taco Option...

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while now, but I’ve found myself preoccupied of late. Sorry for the long absence, but I hope this recipe will make up for it. So, on the 23rd of April I really wanted a hearty breakfast. I woke up ravenous and desiring a scramble of some sort. Unfortunately I didn’t have any tofu on hand, neither did I have any canned chickpeas to make Isa’s Chickpea Scramble. However, it occurred to me in a brief moment of culinary genius that if I could make a scramble with whole beans, why couldn’t I make a scramble with chickpea flour? I had heard of it done before, and didn’t think it could be all that hard. I imagined it was somewhat like making a socca - which I love - and so I set to the task of making a chickpea flour scramble.

I was very skeptical that it would work out, especially in the beginning when I realized that the chickpea flour mix just didn’t want to break apart. The whole thing clumped together and wasn’t cooking. I thought I was going to have to scrap the whole endeavor - and no doubt if you try this recipe you might just think the same thing at first, but trust me, it works! - lucky for me I have patience - which is what this recipe needs - I kept at it and was rewarded by one of the most brilliant breakfasts ever. In fact I loved it so much I ended up making it the next day for my husband and I, as he hadn’t been home when I made it the first time. Skeptical as he was, he loved it too, and we devoured this scramble in taco form, though in my opinion it’s also just as good without the tortillas and extras.

What I love about this recipe is you can make the chickpea flour taste like whatever you like, I kept it simple and kept a traditional scramble flavor but you can literally add anything. You can add any spices you can add any vegetables and it creates the perfect gluten-free, and soy free scramble alternative for those who have allergies or sensitivities. More and more people are avoiding soy and gluten but that doesn’t mean they have to cut scrambles out of their lives too.

Personally I think this scramble has a better texture and mouth feel then a tofu scramble. Don’t get me wrong I do love tofu scrambles but I prefer a slightly dryer scramble and tofu scrambles usually have a bit of wetness to them. Also I think that the chickpea scramble mimics eggs better then tofu as it gets firm, but also retains that spongy, springy, softness of an egg. So if you’re looking for a new scramble to try give this one a go. I know it probably sounds weird but trust me the reward is worth it, I know you’ll love it.

Chickpea Flour Scramble 

1 ½ C Chickpea Flour
2 ½ C Water
1 tsp Black Slat
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

3 Green Onions diced
1 Ripe Tomato Diced

For Tacos 

Corn Tortillas
Shredded lettuce or Salad Mix
Vegan Cheese
Hot Sauce

- Lightly oil a medium sized pan, and heat over medium heat.

- In a bowl combine the chickpea flour through the black pepper and mix until thoroughly combined.

- Once the pan is hot add the chickpea flour mixture to the heated pan. Cover the pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the top looks glossy and the edges look cooked.

This is how it'll look when you first pour it into the pan

- Using a metal spatula begin scrambling the half-cooked mixture as you would scrambled eggs. Begin by folding and flipping the mixture over. Let it cook another 2 minutes or so and begin flipping again. Bare in mind that the mixture will be sticky and it will only be partially cooked making it difficult to fold, and separate but keep at it. It does take some time but use your spatula to continue to break the mass into smaller and smaller chunks, flipping them and cutting them. It should take at least 10 minutes.

After about 10 minutes

- After 10 minutes the mixture should be a bit dryer and it should be easier to break into pieces. The pan may well be very dry at this time and you can add a touch more olive oil to the pan to help prevent sticking as well as to help crisp up the chickpea mix. About a tablespoon of oil should be more then enough. Continue to flip and break up the chickpea mixture into smaller pieces with your spatula. Another 10 minutes and you should have some small and medium sized chunks, it should by now resemble a more traditional tofu or egg scramble.

Another 10 Minutes 

- When you have the chickpea mix broken into the size chunks you prefer, and they’re nicely dried and cooked through add in your green onions and cook another minute.

We're almost there, it's time for green onions!

- Add in your tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes.

Just about done, add your tomatoes!

- Your scramble should be more then ready now, and you can eat it as is - as you would any traditional tofu scramble. You can eat it on toast, as a side with ketchup, or as I did in tacos.

The finished product, so worth the effort!

- For Chickpea Flour Scramble Tacos spoon some of the chickpea scramble into a corn tortilla, top with your favorite shredded vegan cheese, a handful of shredded lettuce or salad mix, and then drizzle with ketchup or hot sauce as you desire. It would probably even be good with salsa.

Tacos anyone?


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Product Review - Field Roast: Chao Slices...

Field Roast is by far one of my favorite vegan companies, and they have been for some time now. All of their products are delicious, and not a one of them has let me down yet. They make some of the best vegan sausages on the market - and certainly THE BEST veggie dogs. - They also make killer deli slices, and burgers and now they’re tossing their hat into the ring and have begun making Vegan Cheese. Oh yeah, you heard that right, another vegan cheese!

Vegan cheese has come a long way in recent years, I know long-time vegans who say the vegan cheese now is light-years more advanced then what they had back in the day, but to tell the truth vegan cheese has even improved significantly from when I first went vegan five years ago. As far as I’m concerned the best on the market is Daiya, but Field Roast is definitely giving them a run for their money with their new Chao slices.

The new slices are made from Chao tofu which is a fermented soybean curd popular in Asia, and according to their website they make their Chao slices in a way similar to the way dairy cheese is traditionally made. Each flavor also contains coconut oil, as well as a variety of spices. They are Non-GMO, and roughly 60 calories per slice. They come in three awesome flavors such as Creamy Original, Coconut Herb, and Tomato Cayenne.  If you want my opinion each flavor has it’s virtues but I think I liked the coconut herb the best, it reminded me a bit of dairy goat cheese. Tomato Cayenne was probably my second favorite and reminded me a bit of cheddar though I really appreciate that Field Roast has attempted something different with their flavors rather then just try to mimic the same basic flavors of cheddar, mozzarella, and jack. Vegan’s need variety too and if you ask me there enough vegan cheddar and mozzarella substitutes on the market as it is. I love creativity.

All three flavors melt, and they’re particularly good for putting on burgers, sandwiches, grilled cheese, or any other thing you can think of. They’re even good eaten straight out of the package or is that just me? I have to say even my husband was impressed by Chao and normally he doesn’t particularly care for vegan cheese, so that’s saying something.

Field Roast made their Chao slices available sometime at the end of last year and so by now they should be easily available in most Whole Foods or health food stores, so next time you want a veggie burger grab up a pack of these slices to top it off with, you won’t be sorry.

If you want to learn more about Field Roast or their Chao Slices you can do so here

Friday, April 24, 2015

Product Review - Sophie's Kitchen: Vegan Toona...

Another vegan product I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while is Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Toona. Yeah, you read that right, Vegan Canned Tuna, how cool is that? For a while now Sophie’s Kitchen has been the leader in producing vegan seafood products, in fact I think they may be one of the only companies focusing solely on vegan fish-friendly alternatives. Other companies make things like vegan fish sticks and vegan crab cakes but Sophie’s Kitchen has Vegan Calamari, Vegan Shrimp, Vegan Fish Filets, Vegan Scallops and now Vegan Tuna.

So far the Toona comes in two flavors, Seat Salt, and Black Pepper. Both are really good flavor wise though I don’t think they taste anywhere near as fishy as actual tuna - probably a good thing anyway! They have amazing mouth-feel and texture though. The ‘meat’ flakes like fish tuna does and it shreds super easy so you can use it in a vegan tuna sandwich or tuna salad. Though I really liked both flavors I think I preferred the Black Pepper, I’m not sure why but to me it tasted slightly more tuna like, and it was really so good I could have eaten it straight out of the can. So far the only application I’ve used the Toona in is to make a Tuna Noodle Casserole for my husband - who used to love that sort of thing in his pre-vegan days. It worked really well, and the casserole tasted amazing. I myself have never eaten tuna noodle casserole so I can’t say whether it tasted like the fish-unfriendly kind or not, but my husband seemed to think it was a pretty spot-on replication.

I imagine Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Toona would be good in any dish calling for Tuna, and I’m actually really interested to try using it to make a spicy tuna sushi, as well as a traditional tuna salad. When I get around to doing either I’ll let you know how it turns out.

For now, the practicalities. Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Toona in Seat Salt Flavor is both Gluten and Soy free, made with Pea Protein - like Beyond Meat - which is probably why it has such excellent texture. There are no preservatives, artificial colors or MSG. A single serving contains about 100 calories, 12% Fiber, 18% Protein, 4% Calcium and Iron and only 1g of sugar. The Black Pepper Flavor is Gluten Free but contains both soy protein and pea protein so it’s not soy free. It is also free of preservatives, artificial colors and MSG though. It’s about 90 Calories per serving and contains 12% Fiber and Protein, 4% Iron and Calcium.

So if you’re looking for a good tuna substitute keep a look out at your local heath food store for Sophie’s Kitchen and if you want to learn more about them you can do that here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Product Review - Beyond Meat: Beefy Crumbles...

Jeeze, I can’t believe how behind I’ve gotten on both my product reviews and restaurant reviews. I love to try all the new vegan products that come out - you know for the novelty and curiosity too - and I like to tell you about all the best ones because for some people veganism can be a challenge - though a good one! - and sometimes these innovative products can be helpful.

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about Beyond Meat. They are the newest vegan meat company on the market, and probably the best. Certainly they come the closest as far as mimicking texture is concerned. I talked about their Vegan Chicken Strips before, but they also make vegan beef now. Well, their beef crumbles have been out for about a year or so now - did I mention how behind I was?  - My husband and I were so excited to find their Fiesty Crumbles and their Beefy Crumbles in our local health food store and we eagerly picked up a bag of each. Since our initial discovery of the beefy crumbles I’ve purchased them a couple of times and used them in a few different applications. I’ve used the Fiesty Crumbles in Lasagna , the Beefy Crumbles in Tacos, and I even made this killer Italian Wedding Soup from Annie and Dan Shannon’s book “Betty Goes Vegan.”

Now, as much as I like these crumbles I can’t say they taste exactly what I remember beef to taste like, but they also don’t have that weird aftertaste that a lot of vegan meats have. They have a smooth ‘meaty’ flavor, but what I noticed the most is that the mouth-feel and texture of these crumbles quite resembles ground beef. They also ‘sweat’ or ‘grease’ a little when you cook them in a pan, like real beef would. That’s both slightly disturbing and completely fascinating to me! The progression of technology in all fields continues to astound.

As for practicalities, Beyond Meat - to my knowledge - is the only Gluten and Soy Free vegan meat product currently on the market. They make their products with pea protein, and they’re non-GMO. As for the Crumbles a ½ cup is about 100 Calories, with 0% Saturated Fat and 0% Cholesterol - can’t say that about animal meat now can you? That same ½ Cup also has about 4% Fiber, 20% Protein, 10% Calcium, 2% Iron and Vitamin C and only 1g of sugar.

So if you’re in the market for a good vegan beef, check out Beyond Meat. Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to find it they’ve also started making some bomb-ass Meatballs. Which I’ll have to review at another time, since I forgot to take pictures last time I bought them. Bad blogger!

To learn more about Beyond Meat check them out Here

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Peaceful Easter 2015...

I trust everyone had a lovely Easter weekend. Mine was relaxed and uneventful. The week of Easter I came down suddenly with a horrible flu that had me in bed for three days. It took me quite by surprise since I’m rarely sick and haven’t had the flu since I was about 12 years old. In the past ten years I’ve only vomited twice, once due to excess of alcohol, and once due to nervousness, and so it took me some time to recover. Though I was mostly better by the time Easter came around I chose to stay home rather then celebrate with my husband’s family. I felt I needed a little more recovery time and so I enjoyed the afternoon reading in the sun, and made a nice, but small dinner for the two of us to enjoy when he returned from his family’s party.

You know how much I love to go ‘all-out’ for holidays but since I’d been sick - and my appetite hadn’t returned at all yet - I wasn’t in the mood for preparing a grand dinner. Instead I pulled out my copy of “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” by Nava Atlas and chose a few simple dishes to make for dinner.

Moroccan Vegetable Soup

The first thing that caught my eye in the book was the Moroccan Vegetable Soup with Matzo Balls  Technically it’s from the Passover Chapter not the Easter Chapter but close enough I reasoned, and besides what better food to eat after being sick then a warm comforting bowl of soup? This particular soup contained leeks, potatoes, carrot, celery, turnip, tomatoes, cumin, turmeric, dill, parsley, and of course matzo balls which I made separately. The soup was also suppose to have mushrooms but for some reason the thought of mushrooms turned my stomach, and so I left them out.

Matzo Balls 

Moroccan Vegetable Soup with Matzo Balls 

I really enjoyed this soup and it was so easy to prepare. I loved the combination of flavors and it was a really hearty meal, but If I’m being honest I like Nava’s traditional Matzo Ball Soup better. I made that last year for Passover and it went over like gangbusters.

Moroccan Flavored Tofu with Apricots and Olives 


For our main meal I made the Moroccan-Flavored Tofu with Apricots and Olives from the Rosh Hashanah Chapter. Since I made Moroccan soup I thought I’d keep the North African theme, and besides this sounded so good. Tofu with olives and apricots, I loved the idea of a sweet, salty, tart dish. The dish uses pre-baked marinated tofu, and so I picked up some Italian-style Baked Tofu from the store. Under normal circumstances I probably would have just baked my own tofu but since I was still recovering I was happy for the short-cut in prep time. In addition to green olives and apricots the dish also had onion, green onion, garlic, broth, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, lemon juice, agave, slivered almonds and parsley. Nava suggests in the book to serve this over Quinoa which I did. Just a simple pot of boiled quinoa seasoned with salt, pepper, and parsley. Man was this dish fantastic, I can easily see making this regularly.

Moroccan Flavored Tofu over Quinoa
with Moroccan Carrots 

For a side dish I went with the simple Moroccan Carrots also from the Passover Chapter. These were super simple saute carrots cooked in oil, garlic, lemon, parsley, chives, salt and pepper. I left off the sliced almonds, but loved the touch of lemon zest added to this dish. These carrots were beyond perfect, I only wish I’d had a bigger appetite so I could have eaten more.

Moroccan Carrots 

For dessert I actually picked a recipe from the Easter Chapter and went with the very simple - but super delicious - Strawberry Snack Cake. This is basically a vanilla cake with a strawberry topping. You make the topping by cooking strawberries with sugar and water and cornstarch until it’s thick then pour it over the cake. Unfortunately my topping didn’t want to stay put and it kind of dripped and spread out all over the plate but the cake was nonetheless delicious. I especially loved the idea of it because it was light and fluffy, the perfect dessert for an early Spring day.

Strawberry Snack Cake 

So that was our Easter. Perfectly peaceful and though I didn’t eat much, what I did eat I enjoyed. It was my first real meal for the entire week, as I’d previously only been able to keep down some watermelon and toast.

I hope everyone else had a great holiday and if you haven’t tried out any recipes from “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” you should give it a look, so far everything I’ve made out of this book has been fantastic!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cream of Leek Soup with Pink Peppercorns...

Believe it or not I came up with this recipe on the plane from Brussels to Chicago. It was partially inspired by a side dish of curried leeks I ate while in Luxembourg City. I was thinking about that dish on the plane ride home, and thinking how happy I was that spring was finally upon us. Leeks seemed to be a pretty popular meal item most places we went in Europe, which was fine by me since I love them so. You might think that after weeks of eating them I might be bored of them, but that wasn’t the case at all, in fact I only wanted more, and for whatever reason I kept thinking curry, coconut leek soup. This idea just wouldn’t leave my brain the entire plane ride home, and somewhere over the Atlantic I came up with the idea of adding fancy pink peppercorns and tarragon into the mix. Sounds crazy I know, but damn if it wasn’t delicious! This made a nice sized pot of soup, but my husband devoured most of it in one sitting. I wouldn’t be surprised if you did as well.

Cream of Leek Soup with Pink Peppercorns 

3 Medium-Large sized Leeks
6 Cloves Garlic Minced
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Tarragon
1 15oz Can Coconut Milk
2 C Vegan Chicken Broth
½-1 tsp Pink Peppercorns crushed
Green Onions or Chives to Garnish
Sea Salt to taste

- Thoroughly wash the leeks and slice thinly.

- Melt the coconut oil in a pot over medium heat. Add sliced leeks, garlic, and curry powder and saute for 6-10 minutes until leeks are bright green, soft and fragrant.

- Add the Vegan Chicken broth and simmer for about 10 minutes.

- Carefully remove leek and broth mixture form the pot, place in a high-speed blender and blend on high until completely smooth.

- Return the soup to the pot, and add in the coconut milk, tarragon and ½-1 tsp of Sea Salt - or to taste. Stir until the coconut milk is completely blended into the soup, then let simmer for about 5 minutes.

- Turn off the heat and stir in the pink pepper corns and green onions or chives. Saving a little of each to garnish each bowl. Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Braised Endive...

And I’m home again. I believe I mentioned some time last month that during March I’d be away on holiday in Europe, but in those busy, havoc filled days leading up to our departure I completely forgot to leave a note saying that I was going, and wouldn’t be back until the end of the month. Whoops!  Anyway, I’m home now, and I’ll try to be a good blogger. I feel very inspired after our getaway and have come back with all sorts of interesting ideas for recipes and dishes that I can’t wait to start making. The one thing about vacation, and it doesn’t matter where we go, or how well we eat when we’re there but upon returning home I am always, so, so grateful to be cooking for myself once more. Vacation is all about decadence, local vegan eats, local vegan delicacies, good wine, great coffee, and a lot of food that’ll fill you up! We eat a lot of bread on vacation especially for breakfast - something I don’t do at home - and it seems we never eat as many vegetables or drink as much water as we would at home. So, even though I never want to come home, the one thing I’m always grateful for is to be in possession of a kitchen again.

One of the first recipes I made after returning was this deliciously French preparation of Endive. You know, it’s funny, I never gave much thought to endive before but we ended up eating quite a lot of it in France, Luxembourg and Belgium. Not that I didn’t like endive before, I just never did anything with it. Kind of like how I used to dislike and ignore Arugula until we went to Germany in 2012 and I came home with a new appreciation for it. Funny how stuff like that works huh? Anyway, this recipe is simple to prepare and would make a great side dish to any hearty French inspired meal. I’m thinking Portobello Frites!

Braised Endive 

6-8 Endive
1 Tbsp Non-Dairy Butter
1-2 tsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp dried Tarragon
½ C Vegan Chicken Stock
*** 2 Tbsp Unsweetened Soy milk

- Trim the ends of the endive, and melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan on the stove.

- Fry the Endive on all sides until it browns slightly. Add the sugar, vinegar, tarragon and stock and then bring to a boil.

- Reduce to a simmer, cover the pan and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until endives are tender and nicely browned. Turning over once halfway through cooking.

- When the Endives are nice and tender remove the lid from the pan and let simmer 3-4 more minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. (Keep in mind you want some liquid for serving, but you don’t want an entire pan full of it) Add in the soy milk and simmer another 2 minutes.

- Remove Endive from the pan and plate. Drizzle with some of the remaining sauce and garnish with minced chives or parsley. Serve and enjoy!

***Note - For a soy-free version make sure to use soy-free non-dairy butter, and sub coconut milk for the soy milk.***

Friday, February 27, 2015

Creamy Carob Banana Dream Smoothie...

This has seriously been my favorite breakfast smoothie of late. I came up with it a few weeks ago when I was craving a creamy, chocolate flavor but wasn’t really in the mood for my usual chocolate smoothie. For whatever reason I found myself really craving carob - which I do like, but don’t normally get that crazy about. - Since I had some carob powder on hand I decided to give it a try. The carob, coconut, date, banana, cashew combo works so well! You’ll be amazed, and become totally addicted to it like I did. Plus it’s so simple you can’t not try it, and it’s naturally sweetened, no sugar or artificial sweetener here.

Creamy Carob Banana Dream Smoothie

1 ½ Frozen Bananas
1 C Unsweetened Vanilla Coconut Milk
3 Medjool Dates Pitted
1 ½ Tbsp Carob Powder
1 Tbsp Cacao Nibs
*** 1 heaping Tbsp Cashew Butter

- Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend for 60-90 seconds until completely smooth and creamy.

*** Note - For a different but equally amazing flavor swap out the Cashew Butter with Hazelnut Butter. SO GOOD!*** 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Celebrating The Lunar New Year 2015...

Thursday was Lunar New Year, if you celebrate it I hope you had a good time. I typically don’t celebrate Lunar New Year, not because I don’t enjoy it, but because since moving to Illinois I often forget when the holiday is upon us. Living in Vancouver it’s hard not to know when the Lunar New Year is beginning. The signs are all over, the minute you enter Chinatown, and I used to spend a lot of time in Chinatown. I’m sure the Lunar New Year is a popular event in Chicago’s Chinatown but outside of that, not too many people around these parts seem to care. Then of course in many years previous I have actually been on vacation during the Lunar New Year, so it’s hard to celebrate when you’re in the jungle, or hiking a mountain. This year however our vacation is coming a month later then usual, and so I was free to celebrate.

Honestly, I was really tired from a long night at work, but I didn’t want to let that stop me from making and then eating something delicious. The meal I ended up whipping together is in no way ‘traditional’ but it’s Asian - or at least Asian fusion - and I think it did a pretty decent job of putting together a rather impromptu feast using mostly what I had on hand already.

One of the first things I decided to make was the Mongolia Beef from Lane Gold’s book “Vegan Junk Food” man this book never lets me down! I chose this because the recipe was simple, fast, I had everything on hand - including a bag of beefless tips in the freezer - and it’s been an oh-so-long time since I had Mongolia beef. I have to say this dish really exceeded my expectations. It was so full of flavor considering it had a short ingredient list. The sauce was rich, sweet and salty and thick. Absolutely perfect, like the kind of dish you’d order in a Chinese restaurant. Without doubt I will make this again and again.

Also from “Vegan Junk Food” I made the Takeout Orange Tofu. Again I chose this because it was simple, relatively quick, and had a relatively short ingredient list. Also I love orange tofu, - used to love Orange Chicken - haven’t had it in ages, and I remember years ago Bianca from “Vegan Crunk” made this and said it was delicious and I’ve always meant to give it a try. Well, I’m pleased to report that she wasn’t wrong, and this dish did not in any way disappoint.  Again it had a thick, rich, sweet sauce, that was reminiscent of every Asian restaurant I’ve ever been too. Perfect, I’ll be making this again and again for sure. The only thing I did differently is I added some diced green bell pepper to the mix only because the sauce made more then I needed for the tofu, and I didn’t want it all to go to waste.

Lastly also from “Vegan Junk Food” I made the Takeout Fried Rice. This was a no brainer. You HAVE to have rice, and I love fried rice, and my husband loves rice in any incarnation, period. So even though I’ve made a million fried rice recipes in my time I chose Lane’s because 1) I already had the book out and 2) It was quick and easy and called for very few ingredients. I thought this version was really good, though I’ll admit I added some green onion to it. I probably would have used a bit more liquid, because the rice came out a bit drier then I like but otherwise this was great.

Now, once I got started on this Lunar New Year’s Feast I Couldn’t stop there, because what’s an Asian celebration without some noodles? I dug out my copy of Donna Klein’s book “The Chinese Vegan Kitchen” flipped to the Noodle chapter and promptly made the Sichuan Style Lo Mein with Sesame and Garlic. Now I love a good Lo Mein, and any noodle dish that includes a peanut or sesame style sauce is okay in my book, but DAMN these were some amazing noodles! No lie, I could have eaten the entire pan myself. This ingredients list is a bit longer then others I’ve seen - mostly stuff needed to make the sauce - but it comes together almost as quickly as it takes you to boil the noodles so no worries.  I did add ½ a red onion, ½ a green bell pepper, and a ½ cup of sliced mushrooms to the dish just because I had these things laying around and I am trying to clean out the fridge as best I can before we leave for Europe. I would probably add that amount of veg again in the future because I think it worked really well, and also next time I think I’ll use the full amount of chili paste. I aired on the side of caution this time around and didn’t go with a full 2 tsp but felt for a dish called Sichuan it could have been spicier. That was my bad.

Now, no feast can be just protein and carbs, you need a little veg in your life, the greener the better. So using “The Chinese Vegan Kitchen” still I made Klein’s Chinese Broccoli with Vegetarian Oyster Sauce. This is a super simple side, you basically just saute Chinese Broccoli - or Gai Lan - then simmer it in a quick sauce of Vegetarian Oyster Sauce, rice wine, ginger, cornstarch, soy sauce and peanut oil. So good! I love Gai Lan!

Lastly I also made Klein’s Spicy Hoisin Glazed Green Beans. I chose this because I love green beans, I love hoisin sauce and this reminded me of a green bean dish I used to order all the time at restaurants around Vancouver. This type of green bean, or Sichuan style green beans have always been one of my favorite side dishes in any Chinese restaurant so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make them. Again it’s basically simply sauteed green beans that are simmered in a sauce of hoisin, garlic, peanut oil, soy sauce, chili paste, and sesame oil. So good!

I really wanted to make an appetizer and dessert as well, but I’ll say it, I was lazy. I wanted to make tapioca pudding, and Spring Rolls but I didn’t have the proper ingredients for either. I did however remember that the last time I was at Super H Market - the Korean Market in Niles, IL - I bought a pack of Vegetarian Spring Rolls. So I dug those out of the freezer and baked half the package. Really you’re suppose to fry them but my burners were all being used up at the time. Baking Spring Rolls is definitely healthier but doesn’t get the crispy. Oh well, still delicious for a store-bought roll.

So that was our Lunar New Year. I hope you had a good time celebrating, and I wish you Peace, Love and Prosperity for the New Year!