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.

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E2 Week: Mushroom Ginger Soba

Engine 2 food is undeniably some of the prettiest food I’ve ever made. I don’t get it–is it the technique? Because I’ve made dinners with all these ingredients before: soba noodles, baby bok choy, carrots, kale, mushrooms–but they weren’t as startlingly lovely as this.

The flavorings: a smidge of mirin, tamari, and rice vinegar weren’t quite enough to make this not bland, however. The garlic and ginger added something (and I tossed in red pepper flakes for fun), but I still needed to spice this up with Sriracha at the end. I’d love to make this again, but it needs a little flavor bump: maybe sautéing the garlic and ginger with the mushrooms would provide a flavor boost. Maybe even a dash of miso. Or just less broth, since the sauce calls for a full cup and a half.

At least now I have a lot of black sesame seeds. That should be fun! Now to remember to roast them first…

 

Moroccan Stew

I’ve been terrified to make this.

I get a little scared to cook with mint. Yes, I know I love mint in other dishes. But hot mint? In a stew? With cinnamon? I’m just not used to thinking outside the box like this. My tastes have always run a little, well, predictable. Not strictly “American” food, but certainly with very tame spice combinations. I’d hoped this wouldn’t be like all my curry experiments gone awry.

But guess what? It was really, really good. Really.

We all liked it–even my picky 2-year-old. Which is amazing, if you know 2-year-olds. My husband likes anything with ginger in it, so I knew he’d be happy. But this whole dinner was really comforting, filling, and easy to make. Couscous is amazing, too. I don’t know why I didn’t start cooking with it earlier. The whole deal gets a definite thumbs up!

Recipe from Appetite for Reduction.

 

Noodles & Veg

Ah, Vegetarian Times. Some months, there is nothing to cook in there at all. And the other months–a beautiful extravaganza of vegan delights. This month they are totally on their game. This is the first of a few meals I’ve made from the October 2011 issue, and they have all been terrific.

This picture is horrible, though, right? This is the best one! I took about a million pictures, and this one was the only one that wasn’t blurry. ARGH! I think my problem is that the Vegetarian Times dinners are SO much more work, I’ve barely had time to do all the dishes afterwards before crawling into bed.

Anyhow, I believe this one is called “Vegetables and Noodles with Sesame Dressing.” That isn’t the sexiest name for a recipe that I’ve ever seen, but it gets the job done. I would say my only real complaint here is the steamed tofu–why on earth would anyone want to eat just plain steamed tofu. Is there anything less flavorful in the whole world? Even when you put the sauce (which is amazing) on it, it doesn’t help much. I’d recommend marinating it in a little bit of sauce and then dry frying it for some added awesome.

 

Super Bowl Week!…the soba bowl

Today’s photo ain’t pretty, but it tasted really great!
So there she is, in all her green glory. Steamed broccoli & zucchini, tossed with soba noodles, black beans, and miso dressing. Also, I applied the first bite directly to my eye, so I spent the entirety of this meal crying. Nice!

Want to know something strange? The amount of green onion in the dressing actually makes it taste spicy. Want to know something else? I still put hot sauce on it. So good. Also, this would have been totally awesome with some peanuts or cashews thrown into it as well. I’m going to do that next time for sure. Also, I probably used about half the miso that the recipe calls for, since I was worried about the sodium. It made the dressing a little watery, so watch out if you do the same!

Recipe from Appetite for Reduction.

Super Bowl Week!…the un-nori bowl

So, my deal is that I refuse to even try nori. I don’t trust anything from the sea, and the flavors here seemed fine as is. I discovered in the back of my Appetite for Reduction, a little section on making various bowls. Instead of spreading the bowl love all over the place, I decided to cram it into one week. And thus begins my week of Super Bowls!

This bowl has azuki beans, brown rice, broccoli and carrot-ginger dressing. That’s the big orange blobby in the background. The flavors here were so, so good. The beans and grains really needed the freshness of the dressing, and somehow that orange madness tasted like magic. Personally, I also love any meal that doesn’t really require me to cut anything. Just toss the dressing ingredients in the blender, and blam! Dinner. And I’m getting good use out of my little $4 steamer, too. How did I live for so long without one?

Plus, now that I’m a vegan, the gods apparently decided to bestow upon me the ability to cook rice from scratch. There were always two really simple things I couldn’t make: rice and hard-boiled eggs. And now that eggs are totally out of the picture, maybe that meant I could devote more brain cells to rice? Whatever, I freaking love brown rice. Is that weird?

Ethiopian Night

In an effort to get outside my comfort zone, I made the all Ethiopian night from Appetite for Reduction. Millet, collard greens, mushroom tibs. DEAR GOD THE CURRY. I thought my taste buds were going to leap out of my mouth and run for cover. I once heard that a criticism of the cookbook was that the meals were bland. Bland? BLAND? No way. This was all a little too much for me all together, since all the flavors tasted so so similar.

Though I did learn that I love collards, even though they smell like armpits and sweat socks and bad breath when you cook them. But they come out pretty tasty!