Hot & Spicy Tofu and Oyster Mushrooms w/Pickled Bok Choy

Some days you just feel like getting weird with it and on those days, well, you get weird with it.

I recently bought some new hot sauce, Crazy Bastard brand hot sauce, and so you know I had to indulge my love of all things spicy and delicious. I couldn’t go completely crazy because my partner does not handle the super hot foods all that well and I love him, so I guess I have to take it easy on the fella.

Mostly…

We still had some really good looking oyster mushrooms in the fridge and I knew exactly what I wanted, something simple so the hot sauce could be the star of the meal, and something to take the heat off if necessary. (It was totally necessary, btw)

So, if you’re ready to get hot & spicy, grab your favorite vegan meat alternative, mushrooms, bulgur and bok choy leaves and let’s do this! Oh, and let’s not forget the hot sauce.

Let’s start with the mushrooms because I like to put mine in the oven and let them get crispy on the edges while keeping the moisture in the big part of the cap. Dust off the dirt and grime with a wet napkin or towel, and trim them before you weigh them (if that’s your jam, but it’s totally mine).

No-Meatball Creamy Curry Risotto

Perhaps my favorite part of getting to choose what my husband cooks on his nights, is coming up with new combinations to see what he’ll do with the dish. On this night, I wanted three things: curry, vegan meatballs and risotto.

It sounded strange even to my own ears, so I hit up the Google machine just in case I was sending him on a fool’s errand. Turns out, I was…kind of.

There were curry meatball dishes for all diets and lifestyles, but I guess most people are purists when it comes to risotto, where I am not. So this is what happens when you ask for curry, vegan meatballs and risotto for dinner.

Meatless Creamy Curry Risotto.

The key to any good curry is a well-stocked spice rack, or finding the right premade vegan curry sauce or seasoning packet. Those aren’t all that easy to come by here in Romania, which works out fine because my spice rack is more like a spice shelving unit and it borders on ridiculous.

Quick & Easy Crispy Vegan Biryani

In my household, my partner and I are both self-employed which means that there are nights that roll around when we’re both so absorbed with work that it’s ten or eleven o’clock before one of us realizes that dinnertime has come and gone. We’re not proud of it, but it’s a fact of life and there you have it.

When those nights happen and you live someplace where there are no vegan food options, or very few, you have to be efficient and creative. My go-to quick and easy vegan meal when it’s my night to cook, usually involves some type of vegan noodle dish, because noodles are my jam.

For my partner, it’s usually rice. Or pasta. Or potatoes.

On this night, it was a crispy tofu biryani.

If you’re not familiar with it, biryani is an Indian rice dish made with spices and protein, traditionally animal protein but we don’t do that here, so we’ve used TVP chunks, because they have plenty of protein and are the perfect meat substitute in this Indian rice dish.

This easy vegan tofu biryani has a simple list of ingredients:

Jasmine rice
Peanut oil
Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Onion
Ginger
Bell pepper
Coconut milk (for cooking)
Veggiegurt
Indian spices

Cook the rice according to instructions, a pinch of turmeric gives it that gorgeous yellow color and smoky flavor.

Rehydrate the TVP and drain, the coat in veggigurt and Indian spices (curry, garam masala, chilies, ginger, garlic, cinnamon & cloves, or whatever spice blend you have handy), then set aside. I have this tandoori masala that I really love, it’s smoky and spicy, but not too spicy if you have someone who can’t handle anything over a 5 on the spice scale.

Use half the oil to sauté the onion, bell pepper and additional spices, and use the other half to pop the TVP in the air fryer to get it nice and crispy. This can also be achieved on the stove but you’ll need to use a lot more oil. If you have the time, consider baking it on high in the oven.

When everything is done, toss it all together and add more seasoning as needed. Serve and enjoy!

Quick & easy vegan tofu biryani

What’s your go-to vegan dish when you need something quick and easy?

Weird But Good Vegan Recipes: Spicy Tofu & Sauerkraut

Let’s keep it real, when it comes to cooking not every meal can be a gourmet masterpiece or the very definition of healthy and nutritious. We hope for one of those of two, but sometimes you just want what you want. Right?

That’s pretty much how this easy vegan meal came about. I felt like having something spicy but I didn’t want to go crazy with calories and I didn’t want to make something that would cost too much time in the kitchen because I was furiously trying to get my book properly formatted so the paperback could be completed.

Update/Shameless promotion: How Could I Forget is finally ready to order in paperback and digital!

Luckily for me, I found some leftover sauerkraut and decided…why the heck not? I love sauerkraut actually. I spent a part of my childhood in Wisconsin where I experienced many Oktoberfest celebrations and learned a lot about German and Polish culture. Then, I went on to spend about 8 years living in Germany, so yeah, sauerkraut is my jam! But, I’ve never used it out side of my seitan & kraut style recipes. So I did what any internet savvy home cook does, I consulted Google to find out other ways to use sauerkraut and what to pair it with.

Turns out, it makes an excellent side dish, with only a little prep time.

Since we’ve talked so much about the kraut, let’s start with that. I like to rinse it a little just so the taste isn’t quite so vinegar-y, then drain and set aside. Chop up one onion and a few cloves of garlic to saute (in oil or water) and when they start to crisp and turn brown, add the kraut. Cook until warm OR you can just turn off the stove and stir together if you want the full health benefits of fermented foods.

While the onions & garlic are cooking, you should re-hydrate your soya (TVP) if that’s what you’re using because that’s why I used in this easy vegan recipe, but you can always use whatever vegan protein floats your boat. I used the big pieces because there’s a lot of surface to cover in yummy spicy sauce and because I wanted a reason to break out my new air fryer!

While the soy chunks are in the air fryer, I added a bunch of spices to a bowl along with soy sauce and just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste/sauce that would work for a tossed coating. My spices: smoky & spicy paprika, garlic granules, ground ginger, harissa powder, piri piri, turmeric and cumin. When the timer beeps, remove the crispy vegan tofu wings and toss in the spice mixture.

If you’re my kind of vegan home cook and you tend to make foods a little on the spicier side, consider adding a cooling sauce for those in your home who don’t love spicy vegan foods the way you do.

I opted for a veggiegurt sauce with lemon juice, cumin, parsley and oregano. The hubs said it helped with the heat…a lot.

If you’re in the market for quick and easy vegan recipes, you will be happy to know that this recipe took about 30 minutes and that includes entering the ingredients into Cronometer.

What do you like to pair with your vegan hot wings?

Spicy Braised Tofu & Gnocchi

Things are a little crazy around here because first of all, my book is done! Yay! But that means promo and all the rest and things have been busy and crazy and crazy-busy! You might have noticed by the sporadic posts and the emphasis on quick and easy vegan meals, which has been our specialty lately.

But I chose braised tofu as my meal this night and it was my only request, which meant the Hubs could do whatever he wanted. Just gimme my spicy tofu was my mindset and when this weird-ball dish landed in front of me, I was more than pleasantly surprised.

I was expecting regular plain natural tofu when I made the request because that’s usually how I make it, but using smoked tofu added a nice depth of flavor that I found surprising. It paired really nicely with thee spicy Korean chili flakes. Very nicely.

And this is a pretty easy recipe that we originally got from Maangchi and tweaked to veganize it and adjust it to a spice level we both agreed upon. Crisp up the tofu in a deep skillet with a little bit of oil until it’s nice and crispy. Whip up the sauce on the side and pour it over the tofu, using the old boil then simmer method to thicken.

Then, move on to the gnocchi while your tofu is ‘braising’.

I loved this dish because it was so simple but it didn’t taste that way. There’s so much flavor with the garlic and ginger and scallions mixed with all the spicy stuff.

The gnocchi was a nice twist I didn’t expect and it only serves as a reminder that we shouldn’t ever get too comfortable with how things are supposed to be. It was delicious and satisfying and most of all, I didn’t have to wait too long to eat it!

Spicy Braised Tofu & Rice

One of my favorite things about Asian cuisine and vegan cuisine is just how easy it is to make a dish that is both quick and easy, plus packed with flavor. As much as I love to cook, I have a fairly busy life as a ghostwriter, author, blogger and foodie, not to mention wife, friend and daughter. Cooking a long meal reminiscent of American Thanksgiving isn’t exactly what I’m into when it’s my turn in the kitchen.

That’s why I am obsessed with cooking shows, both on television and YouTube. And trust me, I’m not one of those purists who refuses to watch cooking videos made with animal products, I watch them for ideas on flavors and seasoning, ALWAYS with a mind towards veganizing. So when I came across this braised chicken dish all I could think of was braised tofu.

Braised tofu, y’all.

The first thing I did was season the tofu. You can choose any flavor combo you desire, but since I planned to use my Korean chili flakes, I used an allspice rub with curry, cumin, smoky and spicy paprika, and a pinch of coriander. Add some dark soy sauce or vegan Worcestershire to penetrate the tofu, trust me this will make sure the flavor goes all the way down to the center. Nothing is worse than spending time cooking a piece of tofu only for it to come out bland and tasteless.

Set aside the tofu and chop your onions, garlic, ginger and bok choy, separating the stems from the leaves since they have different cook times.

Once everything is chopped, put on water to boil for your rice. Again, I’m not a rice purist, I buy what I feel like eating because, as a carb-a-holic, I prefer different types of rice for different dishes. For this braised tofu dish I used jasmine rice because it smells good and because I love the way the long thin grains seem to soak up sauces.

Take moment to make the sauce for braising. It’s super simple, all you need is soy sauce, coconut sugar (optional), Korean chili flakes, scallions and lime juice. Whisk it all together in a bowl with 1/2 cup of water, adding more if needed. Set aside for later.

Add a bit of olive or coconut oil to a deep skillet along with tofu, cooking on each side about 4 to 5 minutes, until it gets brown and crispy. Then remove the tofu from the skillet and set aside. Note: You may have to do this in batches unless you have a giant skillet.

Add a bit more oil if needed and then add ginger, onion and bok choy stems (white part) and sliced garlic to saute for a few minutes, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the greens and let them start to steam or wilt.

Add the sauce to the pan and stir, letting it simmer until it begins to reduce.

Then add the tofu and make sure everything is coated before turning off the fire.

That’s it…when the rice is done you are ready to eat.

Serve on a bed of rice or noodles and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).

And if you’re feeling a little parched…feel free to add something cold to drink!

What’s your favorite way to have tofu? If you like this dish and make it, please share photos & comments below!