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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sweet and Sour BBQ Sauce

Because I was craving BBQ sauce tonight.  Don't judge.

Last month, I submitted a new recipe for Ocean Spray's "Surprisingly Versaitle Grapefruit Juice" contest.  I entered this contest last year, too, but didn't win.  But, ever the optimist, I decided to give it another shot.  This year's submission was Sweet and Sour BBQ Tofu with Asian Slaw.  I never got around to posting the recipe here because I'm lazy, and honestly, I wasn't really feeling it.  I mean, the tofu was good, real good, but the slaw- even after several trials- left much to be desired.  I submitted the recipe anyway because, why not?

But let's talk about that BBQ sauce.  It turned out way better than I ever expected!  It begs to be slathered on everything- tofu, tempeh, portobellas, anything your little heart desires.  Today I decided to put it on garbanzo beans, because that's what I had in the pantry.  And I paired it with my coconut creamed kale (except substituting spinach for the kale, because, again, that's what I had on hand), and this combo was just perfect!

So about the recipe: the contest required that grapefruit juice be used in the recipe, which I did originally.  But I didn't have any grapefruit juice today.  However, I did have diet Squirt (don't ask), so that's what I used.  You could skip the grapefruit flavored ingredient all together and use apple cider vinegar instead, and it should still turn out just lovely.  Making your own BBQ sauce is super easy and, especially in this case, totally worth it!

1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup grapefruit juice/apple cider vinegar/diet Squirt
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp molasses
1/8 tsp Chinese 5 spice
Mix all ingredients in a small sauce pan.  Bring the sauce to a boil then turn heat down to allow sauce to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. 
For the garbonzo beans: Drain and rinse a 15 oz can garbonzo beans and add to the sauce.  Allow to simmer 5-10 minutes, until beans are heated through, stirring frequently.
For the tofu:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Press water out of a 14 oz package extra firm tofu.  Slice tofu into 8 slices.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray foil lightly with cooking spray.  Brush each slice of tofu with BBQ sauce on both sides.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until corners of tofu are just brown.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Savory Mushroom, Fennel, and Spinach Pie

Because it's never too late to start again!

Yeah, so it's been almost a year since my last blog post.  I've been busy, OK?  So sue me.  (No, don't really, I don't have any money.)

It's crazy how quickly life changes.  One moment, I'm living in my sister's basement, thriving on boxed soup and frozen dinners, and the next I'm in a fabulous apartment with a kick-ass roommate, and suddenly my culinary creative juices are flowing once again.  Weird, right???

With independence comes responsibility, though.  So many bills, from rent to car payment to student loans to insurance...  Who can keep up???  So I've decided it's time to throw recipes into contests again in an attempt to make some extra cash.  First up: the Farmer's Almanac annual recipe contest.  Theme: savory pies.  I knew I wanted to make a pot pie, and I knew immediately that I wanted to use mushrooms, fennel, and spinach.  But I wasn't so sure what to do about the crust.  Should I use just a top crust, or top and bottom?  Puff pastry?  Store-bought crusts?  Home-made crust?  (Yeah, no.  I don't have time for that nonsense.)

After much deliberation (and a very informal facebook poll), I decided top and bottom crust was the way to go (store-bought, because I'm all about convenience).  However, I was warned that I should take any and all precautions to prevent a soggy bottom crust (although not provided with any real advice how to do so...).  So, naturally, I googled "how to prevent soggy bottom crust" [true story], and came across a link for blind baking.  Basically, bake the bottom crust first.  Duh.  The rest of the assembly came together pretty smoothly, with the exception of the top crust, which I let thaw for too long and therefore became pretty fall-aparty.  And I had too much filling for the pie, but whatever.  The bottom crust was absolutely not soggy, and the filling was hearty and earthy and delicious.

This savory pie is good.  Damn good, if I do say so myself.  [Well, I had two taste-testers who agree, so you don't just have to rely on my biased opinion.]    Now, let's see if it fetches me $250!

2 9-inch frozen pie crusts (Marie Callender's frozen pie crusts are vegan)
3 Tbsp non-dairy stick butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (I saved a few sprigs from the top to garnish the pie)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
5 cups fresh baby spinach
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
1 Tbsp agave

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line one pie crust with parchment paper and weigh down with dried beans or pie weights (click the link above for more specific instructions on blind baking).  Bake for 12-15 min, until crust is just golden.
Keep the other pie crust frozen until halfway through the filling preparation.  You only want to let it thaw about 10 min. 
Meanwhile, get started on the filling.  In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook about 3 min.  Stir in fennel and cook about 3 min more.  Stir in the flour, poultry seasoning, paprika, and thyme until well combined.  Slowly whisk in the milk and vegetable broth until well combined.  Add mushrooms and cook for about 5 min, allowing gravy to thicken.  Toss in the spinach and stir to wilt the leaves.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
When the crust in the oven is done, take it out and remove the weights.  Fill with veggie mixture (I stuffed it as full as I could, but still had about a cup of filling left over.  It's whatever.).  Cover with the thawed pie crust, pinching the edges over the bottom pie crust.  (Careful!  It's hot!)  Cut a few slits in the top.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp milk and agave, and brush over top crust.  Sprinkle a few fennel sprigs to make it look fancy, if desired.
Get that bad boy in the oven, which should still be at 400 degrees.  I baked mine on a cookie sheet, just in case it over-flowed while cooking.  Bake for 15 min, or until crust is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 min.  Slice, serve, and enjoy!