Quick & Easy Spicy Drumsticks

It’s been a while since I brought up the pre-made vegan food products the Hubs and I occasionally buy online to pique or curiosity or just because we’re having a greasy, junk food craving that can’t be satisfied by firm tofu alone. But I’ve saved the best of the most recent batch for last. Vegan drumsticks, y’all!

Okay so there is a teeny tiny chance that maybe I’m over-selling these, but I’m not. Yes, they are a little bit greasy (15g of fat per 100 grams) but honestly that is a MAJOR part of the charm since we all know I keep my oil intake to a minimum when I can. I’m glad there were just a few in the package because they were THAT GOOD.

As you can see, I really tried my best to keep this meal what I like to call “sane” in calories. The entire package of vegan drumsticks was 250 grams, with each drumstick weighing in at 50 grams a piece. We had 2.5 each and when combined with the corn on the cob and the herb baked potatoes, the meal was delicious, satisfying and calorie friendly.

The packaging wasn’t much to look at but I appreciate that about Vantastic since vegan products can be a bit higher priced than their animal-based counterparts.

Now on to the business. Since all I did was add salt & pepper and vegan butter to the corn on the cob, and a fresh rosemary, salt, pepper & lemon zest for the potatoes, there’s no point wasting your time with that! But here’s a tip to keep this meal quick and easy: prepare the potatoes first and get them started in the oven while you shuck & clean the corn, and make the sauce for the drumsticks.

Did I mention I like spicy things? Well I do.

A lot.

I mixed up a nice blend that contained:

Chili powder

Smoky paprika

Garlic granules

Onion granules

Worcestershire sauce (yes, there are vegan brands out there!)

Gochujang

Lemon juice (half a lemon)

Cumin

Cornstarch

Water

Mix it all into a bowl and then toss drumsticks in the bowl, OR toss it in small baking dish so you can pop it in the oven when you put the corn in there.

If you want to make buffalo style sauce with this, be VERY careful with the butter portion of the sauce because if you look very closely you can see how much grease cooked off the drumsticks.

The cute little sticks are bamboo and edible too!

This photo didn’t come out as impressive as I’d hoped but that’s okay, I just wanted to give you an idea of the size of this meal, which ended up being 478 calories per plate, which isn’t a lot but this was plenty satisfying.

Okay, fine, full disclosure: I made a cocktail with this meal so I had to make sure there was room leftover for Cucumber-Elderflower gin & tonic with lime. It might seem weird but it was delicious and the hubs thought it was a nice help to take some of the spice off the fiery drumsticks.

The oven did most of the work, for which I am eternally grateful, and it took about 30 minutes which was mostly the time it takes for potatoes to get and crispy.

Even though I am not a huge fan of these products, these vegan hanchensticks were a big win for me and yes, I did order more here. (Not a paid endorsement just a shout out for a yummy product…but I am open!)

Food Court Flashback ~ Bourbon Chicken Tofu

Way back in 2004, I was living in Boston working on the 2004 Presidential Election as an eager holder of a Masters in political science and delusions of…something. I had just met my husband, who was one of half a dozen roommates I shared a giant colonial with in Everett. Anyway the office where I worked was right in the Downtown Crossing T stop, which meant there was this great little food court right around the corner. The food was…okay.

But there was this little cart on the way there that had incredible falafels, but that’s for another time. Inside this food court was this tiny hole int he wall that served bourbon chicken. This was back in my meat eating days and I couldn’t get enough of this simple dish that I could eat at my desk without making a mess. The ingredients were pretty simple from what my taste buds could gather and remember, after all this time.

I recently caught up with a friend from Boston and it made me nostalgic for this dish so, of course, I made it.

I’d say this was one of the most straight forward recipes I’ve come up with/recreated in a while.

What you need:

Tofu

Onion

Rice

Broccoli

Brown or coconut sugar

Bourbon (or whiskey)

Ginger

Garlic

Soy sauce

Cornstarch

Water

For this recipe I experimented with the dehydrated soy pieces because I love how you can manipulate the texture by simmering it longer or leaving it sitting in the water longer than recommended. Since this recipe would involve simmering, I chose to get the pieces good and thick so I could get a nice crisp on the outside before adding the sauce.

Stay prepared by making your bourbon sauce first. In a bowl, whisk together bourbon, sugar, grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, cornstarch and water. Set aside so it’s ready when  you need it.

If you want a bit more flavor, add tomato paste by the teaspoon until you get that yummy umami flavor.

The tofu is the most time-consuming part because you have to simmer it before putting it in the skillet, but it’s well worth it.

For the broccoli I took the lazy cook’s route and chopped it with vegan butter, salt, pepper and garlic before wrapping it in foil and popping it into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Serve the bourbon tofu over rice and add more spice if needed and voila, you’ve got my favorite fast food meal of 2004 on your table in 30 minutes.

And I enjoyed it with a tall glass of water since there was already 2 ounces of bourbon on the plates!

You can have healthy, delicious vegan meals in no time at all. Believe it!

Vegans On Holiday: Hunedoara, Alba Iulia, Deva & Sighisoara (Romania)

One of my favorite things, aside from food, is traveling. In every place I have ever lived, I have done some serious exploring of the local and near-local sights. Of course I never get to see everything but I get to see a lot so I won’t complain. Much.

Recently the Hubs and I took a 3 day getaway to see more of Romania. There was a castle because of course there was a castle I happened upon thanks to a Facebook recommendation, Castle Corvinilor and that was our second stop on the first day.

From a distance it looks imposing but up close it looks like…a castle. Very cool and still incredibly imposing, only less so.

But as these things tend to go, the view from inside the castle…much better.

The view from one of the inside “windows”.

The day was off to a great start even though the temperature was around 30° C by the time noon rolled around. I made sandwiches for the road because there are very few roadside shops that have ANY vegan food offerings other than fries, which let’s be clear, I will never pass up an opportunity to eat fries but sometimes it’s nice to have more than one option for food.

The first night we ate at a place called Remeny’s and the food was…okay. We had garlic bruschetta toasts to start which was delicious. The soup was bland and overly hot, but to be fair it was vegetable soup. Then we got…you guessed it fried potatoes and a grilled vegetable plate from the a la carte section. The gin & grapefruit cocktail I had was pretty delicious, if a little light on the ice.

The next day we were in Alba Iulia which I have to tell you was my ABSOLUTE favorite part of this trip. Who knew this place had such a rich history?

A few things I learned:

The Thracians (as in Spartacus) are Romanian

The Romans made it this far and conquered parts of this land

There are a lot of torture chambers

The museum on Roman history in Romania is AMAZING

After spending the morning soaking up the beautiful sights and the incredibly hot rays of sun, we spent a few hours on the road towards Sighisoara, but…food.

Twenty minutes at a rest stop and we found a Chinese restaurant in a small town called Deva, with vegan options.

My day was made. I burned a zillion calories walking all around the citadel in Alba Iulia, plus the museum, a fortress and a fantastic obelisk and I got to eat spring rolls, a delicious mushroom potato dish covered in a thick, spicy sweet soy sauce. And we can’t forget vegan noodles!

I am truly sorry to say that this was one of those times where I was too hot, too hungry and yeah, maybe a little bit too cranky to think about taking photos so you’ll just have to take my word that it was a great find. Good Chinese food has, so far, been lacking in this part of the continent.

…parts of another amazing fortress!

Finally we made it to Sighisoara, which for those of you who don’t know, still has tons of leftover influence from its days as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which means lots of German (a good thing for me since my Romanian language stills are floundering). It turned out that the German influence came in very handy when it came to eating in Sighisoara.

Thanks to Alte Post, a German Gasthaus, we were both able to find (only 2) vegan dishes while our travel companions found plenty of animal-based dishes too.

We got started with beer and muraturi, which is just Romanian for pickled vegetables. They taste a little different than American style pickling but they are very, very delicious. The sauerkraut was part of the German thing, but it was still damn tasty.

Tofu steaks and grilled vegetables with a balsamic reduction. It was good but ordinary, exactly what I’d make if I was feeling super lazy during the week. But again, better than fries. Mostly.

I appreciated their restaurant having a nod to Romania with the vegan sarmale and mamaliga, but it was nothing to write home about. Everything was under-seasoned but after another long day with a lot of walking, it was nice to have a full meal instead of a table filled with side dishes.

But the highlight for me in Sighisoara, was Teo’s Cellar.

Of course.

But this is what you see when you first enter because it’s also a B&B right inside the citadel…as in part of the citadel!

This guy, Teo, was great. His cellar was very cool with all these different ways to drink his different creations while he told us all about the awards he’s won all over Europe and the world. We did a tasting of Palinka, Tuica and Cognac and they were all so delicious I didn’t know what to buy/taste first.

In the end we bought 3 small bottles for friends & family and 1 big bottle of Palinka for ourselves.

We made an impromptu stop at Rupea Fortress on the way home because…it was there!

Overall it was a great trip, very relaxing and I learned a lot. Having vegan options, no matter how slim, is always better than not. The key is to do your research ahead of time to avoid frustrations. We had three options listed but it turns out having salad and fries for some places counts as “vegan options”.

How Vegans Do Breakfast For Dinner!

Breakfast for dinner is a time honored tradition in many American families. Most mornings everyone is too busy to sit down and eat a real breakfast and even now, I work from home but breakfast is rarely a priority for me beyond coffee and vitamins. But then there comes a craving for breakfast foods. Pancakes. Waffles. Omelets. Hash browns.

It makes me think of high school and Friday nights at Denny’s after football games, or trips to IHOP when I’d come home to visit in college. Now it’s just something I occasionally feel like having and my sweet, sweet husband did me a HUGE solid by making it for me. I totally appreciated it and now I’m sharing it with you!

To top it all off, the night he made this ended up being a very late night for us. We were visiting friends until much later than anticipated, luckily he’d precooked everything but the tofu scramble. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than something delicious and nostalgic when you’re super hungry.

So the menu was tofu scramble, hash brown potatoes and barbecue ribs. I know what you’re thinking about the ribs, but this is the last piece of leftover seitan steak, re-purposed into “ribs” because, you know, breakfast ribs are a thing. Right?

That tofu scramble is firm tofu, hand crumbled and seasoned with a lot of herbs & spices to make it taste yummy. Almond milk and nutritional flakes are a key ingredient in any tofu scramble, in my opinion so start there and work your way forward.

The potatoes were done with the help of a mandolin and made extra fantastic by smoky paprika and garlic granules, plus sea salt.

And the ribs, well that was a combination of barbecue sauce (recipe here) and Jameson. First cook it on a stove top griddle or a grill, but he brushed more sauce on and popped them into the oven for about 20 minutes. It was delicious and contained a more than acceptable amount of calories.

And since it was late night, it felt more than a little proper to enjoy a nice cold Kentish Ale with it.

What’s your favorite breakfast for dinner meal?

My New-ish Favorite Thing

Ginger.

Ingwer.

Ghimbir.

Gingembre.

However you call it in  your neck of the woods, I love the stuff.

From the moment I started on my culinary tour of Asia–in anticipation of a real tour of the continent–ginger was the flavor that most knocked me back on my fanny. It was kind of sweet and tart, with just a hint of spice to appeal to my love of all most things spicy. Whether curry or Thai Curry or just plain ol’ curry, ginger can be the star or just a backup singer.

I put it in cookies, curry, soups, stir-fry and yes, even a few cocktails.

But my new favorite thing is fresh mint & ginger tea. I had it for the first time in Wurzburg, Germany and this vegan restaurant and I drank it like the it wasn’t 27c outside that day!

vegan tea mint ginger

I don’t have this adorable little plastic tea set, which i am kind of bummed about but I have an old school tea set on loan from my mother in law and it does the job just fine. More than fine. Okay, so maybe I sometimes burn my knuckles when I tilt the tea into my cup but I do like my tea piping hot.

 

https://giphy.com/embed/tRasj2khAXiuI

via GIPHY

 

Back to ginger. I’d wanted to make this tea from the moment I had it but then we got caught up in the move and getting settled and then…settling in. Then we hit up this super-sized supermarket, Carrefour, and there it was mint, lots of it and at a very good price. A very good price which meant I couldn’t resist grabbing four packages of it to go along with the ginger because I wanted to cook up a stir-fry for my in-laws to blow their tastebuds’ minds!

The mint-ginger tea was very easy to make. I cut about six slices of ginger and about 1.5 cups of mint. Put half the ginger in a pot with water along with one cup of mint. Put the remaining mint and ginger in your tea pot and set aside. Bring the liquid up to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Then cool enough to put in your teapot, ginger, mint and liquid. Steep and enjoy!

 

I put sugar in it mostly out of habit but after the first cup, I left it abandoned and just drank and drank until it was ice cold.

I was even able to get my coffee loving in-laws and my husband to drink it and love it.

And now that I have mastered the difficult task of making my own tea just in time for the weather to turn…if it ever does turn to autumn, well other than the beautiful leaves…

 

Anyway if the weather ever turns to autumn, I’ll be excited to try out some more types of tea.

Like basil…