Sweet, Sour & Spicy Meatballs

Isn’t it funny when you make something as an afterthought, and it ends up being the best part of the meal? I’d planned on making Orange Scented Broccoli and Scallion Potato Pancakes from Appetite for Reduction, but I couldn’t think of a third item for the plate. Our meal needed a little more protein, but I was stumped. I didn’t feel like tofu, seitan, or beans. What was I to do?

On our weekly trip to Trader Joe’s, I purchased both chickenless chicken nuggets and meatless meatballs. When I got home, I realized the nuggets had egg in them (bummer!) but the meatless meatballs were indeed vegan. I’d been thinking of making orange “chicken” as the missing piece of this meal. But–no dice. So, sweet, sour, spicy and altogether wonderful meatballs to the rescue! I literally threw this sauce together in 5 minutes, shoved the meatballs in the toaster oven, and that’s about it. And they were awesome. Amazing. Almost indescribably perfect. Really! I suppose that sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, but for all the effort I put into these, I think this recipe came from Divine Providence instead of my own brain.

Does God give out awesome meatball recipes? I guess so!

Sweet, Sour & Spicy Meatballs (makes enough sauce for 12-15 meatballs):

  • 12-15 vegan meatballs (you can cook the Trader Joe’s ones from frozen, check your recipe or other brand for different info)
  • 3 T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy sauce or tamari)
  • 2 T dark brown sugar (maple syrup would also work)
  • 1 T sweet chili sauce
  • 1 T ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp habanero hot sauce (or any sweet hot sauce will work)
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Mix all the ingredients except the meatballs in a small mixing bowl. Add the meatballs and stir to coat. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pick up individual meatballs on a fork and place on a sheet of foil on top of a cooking sheet. You want them to be coated, but not dripping, with sauce. Save the rest of the sauce in the bowl and set aside.

Bake meatballs for 10 to 12 minutes, then return to the bowl. This time, you can pour out the sauce and meatballs together back on the same piece of foil, and return to the oven for another 2-3 minutes. This gives the sugar a chance to get really gooey, and make a nice thick coating on the outside of the meatballs. Garnish with some pretty little sesame seeds.

If you want to make a ton more, I’m pretty sure this recipe will expand out make as many meatballs as you want. However, I’d caution about adding a lot more liquid aminos/soy sauce. That can get pretty sodium-filled pretty fast. You can always use water or veggie broth if you need the sauce to stretch a bit further. Just use common sense, because too much water could make it bland.

If you were wondering about the other parts of dinner–they were great! I made the broccoli completely incorrectly (I added basically everything at the wrong time) and it seemed pretty fool-proof. The scallion cakes should have probably been thinner, but I’m hoping that they toast up nicely for lunch tomorrow.

E2: Chalupas

The name chalupa scares me, because all I think of are creepy tacos from Taco Bell, and a small dog insisting that I try them. Anyone else remember that? I’m terrified of Taco Bell because of both their mystery ingredients, and the way their food makes me feel after I eat it. UGGGGH.

But the Chalupa recipe from the Engine 2 Diet was undeniably amazing. Really. Of course I made a few changes to it (easy, easy changes). But I can’t express the joy this dinner brought to me. One bite of it was like being a kid again, at some favorite mexican restaurant with my family, eating something simple that a child would love: tortillas, refried beans and lettuce. See? Completely simple and easy.

So, to review the changes (or “upgrades” as I like to think of them) to this recipe:

  • Use two corn tortillas (I got a 12 pack from Trader Joe’s that were great) and sprinkle a tablespoon of cheddar daiya cheese in between. Then, broil following the steps in the book.
  • Salsa isn’t necessary. At all. I just topped ours with some additional green onion, lime juice and Tapatio. That’s all you need.

See? I’m pretty sure I actually made this easier than the original recipe, since you don’t have to go to all the trouble of making fresh salsa, or destroying this with jar salsa (ugh!). Also, I know this was a total success because my husband did not suggest that I put green chilies on it, and he wants green chilies on EVERYTHING.

Braised Potato Leek Soup

I’ve always wanted to have my own recipe for potato soup, since it’s one of my favorite things to eat. And it’s one of those foods you absolutely can’t get from a can–the texture is too slimy, the flavor tinny. I’ve attempted this soup before, but always with tons of cream and butter–so it left me feeling heavy.

Hello, veganism.

What gives this soup a rich flavor is braising the leeks, celery, carrots, onion and garlic before putting in the other ingredients. It has a creamy texture and sweet flavor, but no cream. Or butter. Just veggies and happiness.

Braised Potato Leek Soup (makes about 10 servings):

  • 4 small leeks (or 4 cups of leeks), chopped (the smaller the leek you get, the better the texture and flavor)
  • 1 small red onion (peeled and cut in half)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup baby carrots (or a cup of diced carrot)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, or 3 average-sized ones (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 3 cups unmilk (I used rice milk)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt, depending on your preference
  • chives or scallions to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Get out a large soup pot. The largest one you have! Heat 1 tsp of oil (or spray with cooking spray) over medium heat. Add the leek, onion halves, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat until the leeks begin to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the cauliflower, potatoes and 1 cup of broth. Cover and cook until all the veggies are very tender.

Now, this is the tricky part, because the soup is HOT! But you’ll want to put portions of soup in your blender and puree until smooth. If it needs a little help getting smooth, add the rest of the broth as you puree. The finished mixture should be the texture of very loose mashed potatoes. Lower the heat to a simmer and put the soup back in the pot. Add all the unmilk and the salt. Return to a uniform warmness, but not to boiling.

Garnish with chives or scallions, add salt and pepper to taste. If you happened to have some fake bacon bits on hand, this would be a great time to use them!

Chocolate Chocolate Pancakes

Don’t we all need double the chocolate in our pancakes?

I adapted this recipe from the basic pancakes in the Happy Herbivore. That is the best starting point for pancakes I’ve ever seen–you can basically add anything to it, and they come out great. Blueberries? Sure! Flax? Yes! Pumpkin? Probably. But this time I added both cocoa powder and chocolate chips to make it extra, extra chocolaty.

Chocolate Chocolate Pancakes (makes approximately 8 to 10):

  • 1 cup of flour (I use ultragrain flour)
  • 2 T cocoa powder
  • 1 T baking powder
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup vanilla soymilk
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips (reserve)

Follow the directions in the Happy Herbivore cookbook, which are basically: mix all the dry ingredients, then add the the wet. Mix gently and let sit for 10 minutes. You can heat up your skillet while you wait.

Now, grab your chocolate chips! When you pour the batter into the pan to make the pancake, add 4 to 5 chocolate chips on the top. When you flip the pancake, the chips will be incorporated in. You don’t need very many, and this way you can easily control how much chocolate goes into each pancake, instead of having some with none, and some with TONS.

I topped ours with raspberry jam and powdered sugar. But for Christmas, I think it would be adorable to make a peppermint glaze (out of unmilk, powdered sugar, and peppermint extract) and top with some crushed candy canes. I think you could even do an adorable chocolate orange pancake (you could even use orange-flavored chocolate!), or one with blueberry syrup.

Even More E2: 3 Bean Chili, Two Ways

I realize as I type this that I still need to make the E2 meatloaf. I just get side tracked! And this week I was put off my meal planning by the GIANT ENORMOUS POT OF CHILI that I made from this recipe. It says that it feeds 6 to 8. 6 to 8 what? Obviously not humans. Maybe professional wrestlers. Or Hulks. But this made easily 8+ servings for us, plus 2 quart-size freezer bags of leftover chili. I’m pretty sure that my grandchildren will be eating that chili someday.

As you can plainly see, this chili is not sexy (which begs the question: can chili be sexy?). But it is packed with basically every form of protein they could think of, with three different beans and a whole pound of tofu. As for taste? It has a lot of ground coriander, but no cumin, so it doesn’t exactly taste like traditional chili. It’s sweet from the addition of carrots, apple (see? What isn’t in this chili!), and molasses. It’s not something I would necessarily make again–probably because if you’ve made it once, you have enough leftovers to never need to make  a second batch!

To use up even more of this chili, I decided to make chili dogs for dinner this week as well. Because the texture of the original version is so…chunky…I ran it through the blender a bit to get it the right texture for hot dog chili. Behold!

The daiya really made the difference, giving it an authentic chili dog flavor. And I made the buns myself, using the same recipe for rolls from Thanksgiving. I’ve made that bread twice since we had it on November 24th, so you know I love it. Or I just love carbs. Whatever.

Recipe from the Engine 2 Diet.