Sunday, December 09, 2007

simple foods for harried times

I am a little guilty, because as the holiday season gets into full swing, I feel like I should be posting fancy, gift-worthy recipes on this blog. Alas, that is not possible right now! Daiku and I are dealing with giving and grading finals (him), finishing a chapter of a dissertation with a tight deadline (me), and trying to plan and pack for our upcoming 4 weeks of traveling! As many of you probably know from first-hand experience, this is a recipe for stress. So, as the awesome and fancy recipes I see on everyones' blogs and in all the new cookbooks stack up on our "to-make" pile, Daiku and I have been eating very simply with an eye to a) quickness and ease of preparation and b) finishing up what we have in the house.

So, this blog post will be about some quick and simple recipes that use a lot of normal ingredients, but somehow manage to be marginally healthy as well.

First up, tempeh reubens! This has always been one of my favorite foods, but we only got around to making it at home recently, and it was awesome. We used this recipe from The Vegan Cooking School website, but changed around some ingredients and the sauce a little bit. You would not believe the smells that were wafting through the kitchen as the tempeh baked!

Tempeh Reuben Sandwich

One 8 oz. Package Tempeh, sliced into sandwich sized pieces
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon caraway
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Cup Sauerkraut
1/4 Cup cooked cannelini beans
1 Tablespoons veganaise (vegan mayo)
2 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons minced pickles
2 tsp teaspoon lemon juice
thin slices of red onion
Sandwich bread, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl combine water, soy sauce, cumin, caraway, mustard, garlic and oil and whisk together. (I used the Magic Bullet to blend everything together) Place tempeh in a baking dish and pour marinade over it. Bake in oven uncovered for 40 minutes. (It will look like you have a lot of marinade, but the tempeh will absorb most of it during the baking process) When finished cooking tempeh will be dark and should be removed from any excess liquid. Place on a separate dish and set aside.

Place sauerkraut in a small frying pan over a low heat to warm through. You want the sauerkraut to be warm for the sandwich but not burned so keep the flame low!

Make the Russian dressing by combining the cannelini beans, veganaise, ketchup, pickles and lemon juice and mixing thoroughly. (Using the beans gave the dressing plenty of body, but allowed us to cut down the fat quite a bit) Now to assemble this tasty sandwich: Place bread on a plate. Spread a tablespoon of the Russian dressing on and add the tempeh. Add the warmed sauerkraut, sprouts, onion and place the other piece of bread on top.

These sandwiches were wonderful, savory, and filling, and the leftovers made quick lunches to take to school the next day.

The next recipe I have is so easy, that it's a bit ridiculous to post it, really. But I figured when you're hurried (and maybe your kitchen isn't as neat and orderly as you'd like, and you don't want to mess up any more dishes, and you don't have time to bake, and you're running out of ingredients... you get the picture!) you might still want a quick sweet morsel to pop into your mouth and so I bring you...

Bazu's Chocolate Butterscotch Oat Bundlies (beginning to mouth in under 15 minutes!)

Ready for the ridiculous recipe? Here goes:

Take a handful of chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate
Take a handful of butterscotch chips (or peanut butter, white chocolate, or more regular chocolate chips)
Put these in a small deep bowl or mug with a splash of your milk of choice

Microwave for about 20 - 40 seconds until mostly melted, then whisk with a spoon until thoroughly melted, uniform, and mixed.

Now take a couple of fistfuls of quick (important - these won't work as well with old-fashioned) oats and stir into the melted chocolate until well-incorporated.

Now, using a spoon, take little round bundles of this mixture and drop on a plate or small cookie sheet, and stick in the freezer for about 5 - 8 minutes. (Just enough time to brew some tea or coffee, actually)

Take out of freezer, allow to thaw for just a moment or two, and pop into your mouth! This recipe really is greater than the sum of its parts. The chocolate re-solidifies wonderfully and you feel like you're eating something between a cookie and a candy, and the oats let you believe you're being kinda sorta healthy- it's a win-win!

Sometimes, Daiku and I just give up and order pizza. We do this really infrequently, and you know things are overwhelming when we do. I just had to show you this his-n-hers veg-n-notvegan pizza with cheese on one side and no cheese on the other, since it looks pretty funny. We had a coupon, so this large pizza came to $6, not too bad. Oh, and while it's horribly unhealthy, Papa John's garlic sauce is, indeed, vegan, so file that under "desperate times call for desperate food"... moving on!

Finally, we have tea. Specifically, what you see above is "Casablanca Twist" from Adagio Teas, a mixture of green tea and mint leaves. Woah- this stuff is so strong and has such pure flavor! It's a wonderful mixture of energizing and soothing for when you're studying, writing, grading, packing, you know, all the good stuff! Mint tea is also great for digestion, say, for when you eat take-out pizza... The ever-wonderful Celine was kind enough to hook me up with Adagio teas by sending me a gift certificate. Now that I've ordered from the site (after a few weeks of browsing, drooling, and trying to decide what to get!) the site will let me send gift certificates to whoever I want. So, if you want a $5 off coupon for Adagio, just leave me your name and email address in the comments and I will send one to you immediately. I think I want to try the Valentine's Day blend next (it's tea with bits of chocolate-dipped strawberries- how crazy wonderful does that sound??) Thanks, Celine!

I hope you are all getting through this season with your sanity and sense of humor intact!



the little one said...

Impressively lengthy post given how busy you are. The sandwich looks delicious. Best of luck with the dissertation chapter!

ajnabieh said...

mmm, tea. if you get a chance, i'd love a coupon. the email is brooklyn mili (no space) at g mail dot com.

i somehow decided that since i don't have any term papers this semester (comps prep), i should launch a home-based gluten-free/semi-vegan baking company. you know. for kicks. had my second order picked up today! and have 250 decorated vegan cookies in the freezer! now just 48 mini pies and one giant sponge cake to make by thursday...

how far into the dissertation are you? i'm working on my prospectus right now and it's more than a little terrifying.

Celine said...

your oat bundles? they need to be you know where, right now. omg.

Teresa said...

I totally feel you with the whole "no time for anything thanks to all the work I have to do." Actually I'm working on a paper right now, and maybe procrastinating a little bit (just a little, haha) by doing one of the things I love- reading your blog!

So I'm definitely loving the quick oat bundlies. Although that Tempeh Reuben is really making me salivate. I've never had a reuben before but have heard so much about them that I think it's about time I make one.

Do you ever encounter confusion when ordering no-cheese pizzas from Papa Johns? I once ordered one from my cafeteria while living on campus and they were SO confused. It took them forever just to decide if it was even possible and they acted as though this was really a special order! I've decided ever since that occasion that it's too much of a hassle to try and order a *gasp* cheeseless pizza.

Oooh and I'd love some adagio coupons as I'm a tea fiend!

Best of luck with the dissertation!

anna/village vegan said...

Yum, that sandwich!! I was drooling over the recipe for tempeh rubens in VWaV last night. Sadly, no tempeh here, though, so I guess I'll have to wait. (Actually, I've never tried tempeh before!)

I'm the worlds biggest tea drinker, and I'm so sad I'm not in the us right now (!!!)...well, just because of the tea gift certificat ;-) But there's lots and lots of really good tea in Germany...I've been meaning to write a post about that.

Anyway, fingers crossed you'll get through the season! When does your semester finish?

Anonymous said...

All that food looks delicious! Me and my brother have actually gotten on a bit of a tea kick lately, so a $5 coupon would be great! My email is Good luck with your dissertation!

runswithdog said...

Definitely going to try that Russian dressing - it was one of my pre-vagan favs.

Thanks for the g.c. I lurve my tea :-) Especially the rooibos - a new variety for me. Oh, btw, B and I found Adagio teas at Wegmans! They have about 5 varieties in really neat cannisters. $7.99 for 4 oz.

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

Bazu, considering how busy you are, I am quite (pleasantly) surprised that you had the time to make ANY of these scrumptious-looking foods!! wow!! the Tempeh Reuben (classic!), and the Chocolate-Butterscotch Oat Bundles (I must try that recipe with carob), look/sound delicious; and I love the picture of your "his-and-hers" Papa John's pizza - of course I like your half of the pizza better, since it's animal-product-free ;0)

Stay sane, Bazu!! I hope you will be able to ENJOY the holiday season quite soon!!

Mihl said...

Bazu, it's so wonderful how much time you dedicate to your blog (and even find the time to read other peoples blogs)although you are so buzy. I have never heard of Reuben before I ordered VwaV. I already bought some tempeh and will try out your sandwich as well!
Good luck with and lots of motivation for the dissertation chapter.
P.S. I sent you an email to report back on the sourdough bread, which was totally amazing!

JENNA said...

i love your ridiculous recipe! I personally never use a microwave, but just might to make these super easy oat bundlies!

SaraJane said...

Nothing wrong with quick and easy recipes! Besides - I think most of us are busy with other holiday things, not to mention that most work places like to get projects finished before the start of the new year. Quick is where it's at for sure.

Anonymous said...

hilidays is a crazy time for me so i hope to survive.

great post. wishing you that finish all fast!

Anonymous said...

i want to say that i wish you can finish fast all the work :)

aTxVegn said...

That's a great looking sandwich. I haven't had a reuben in sooo long. What kind of soup besides tomato would go with a reuben?

I love the choco-pb dessert. I've been known to melt choc chips and peanut butter for a snack. You were clever to throw in the healthy oats!

Rural Vegan said...

I did not know that Papa John's garlic sauce was vegan! I'm sure it's terrible for you, but I remember it being pretty tasty. Hmmmm...

Good luck getting through your busy season!

MeloMeals said...

that reuben looks soo good! I love the beans in the dressing.

I haven't been posting much either.

Theresa said...

Great can't be frigged food, bazu! It seems veganmofo ended at the perfect time, what with exams and theses and holidays and travel coming up.

I think it's so mean to have the semester wrap up so close to the holidays. As if everyone isn't busy enough worrying about travel and family.

A Dog's Best Friend said...

Papa john's garlic sauce is a vegan party trick man. How can wrong taste so good?!

Helena said...

mmm... the sandwhich looks good, I'm a sucker for sauerkraut (it's a family thing) and will definitely be giving the recipe a try

Lori- the Pleasantly Plump Vegan said...

good luck with yr busy schedule!
I like yr idea of putting beans in the Russian dressing. I'll have to try that.

bazu said...

Thanks, everyone for your well wishes! I'm still plowing away at the work, and see a light at the end of the tunnel. For those of you who requested them, I forwarded you Adagio Tea gift certificates- let me know if you don't receive them!

Emily, I'm beyond impressed! I did nothing close to launching a baking company (!!) and it still sadly took me almost two years between taking my comps and handing in a prospectus...ack!

Maybepigscanfly, I think we're spoiled, because all the pizza places in our neighborhood seem like they're totally used to people ordering cheeseless pizza, so I haven't often had trouble with it! Sometimes, they even let me replace cheese with another topping for free!

Anonymous said...

Good Luck on your dissertation! Your quick food looks wonderful and four weeks of travel sounds like it's definitely worth the stress you're experiencing now! I'm definitely going to remember your chocolate oat bundles for those midnight snacking moments when it's too late to bake!

Bridget said...

Trac and I love, LOVE our tea kit. The Roobios is wonderful and will bring some for you to try.

Everything looks so good. You have my two favorite things on and Rueben's. Damn I love those things.

Mary said...

Love your blog. I wanted to suggest gong-fu tea for ordering tea. We use it and they are super friendly, have delicious tea, and ship very quickly. It is a small shop in des moines, iowa owned by two very informed gentlemen. stop by their website-

Cakespy said...

That sandwich is killing me! It is not just a meal, but a work of art--so very sculptural!

urban vegan said...

Simple foods are the best. I coudl not live without them. Vive le tempeh reuben.

That his-n-hers pie is a scream. I like hers better, obviously (Sorry, Daiku)

TB said...

Yay, you posted your oat bundles! And man, I have been obsessed with Adagio teas for a few years now, ever since a good friend got me a gift certificate for my birthday... they have the most amazing stuff.

TB said...

oops, posted that without saying, good luck on your diss chapter! what a nice holiday present to yourself it will be to have that done before you head off for your break!

Mikaela said...

Love, love, love the his-n-her pizza :)

Emilie said...

i effing love your "rise above it" santa. right on. right on.

good luck with all the craziness--hope you roll out that chapter with perfection fueled by tea and treats.

Rachael said...

Oh, I need a sandwich right now..that looks awesome, as do the oat bundles (we call those "no-bakes" here).

Good luck on the dissertation; I don't envy you that task.

And I'd love a gift certificate...rw1647 at

Take care of yourself!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

You are so right,Bazu. What we all need right now is simple, healthy, and good. Yours fits the bill deliciously.

Ashasarala said...

Day-um! You say these meals are quick, on-the-go dishes, but it's a feast in comparison to what I normally eat when I haven't any time for cooking! You'll find my cupboards packed with cereal and bread for toast. That's often on the menu for dinner, unfortunately. ;)

Catherine Weber said...

Hey Bazu, good luck with all of your schoolwork! 'Tis the season, unfortunately!

Also, just a quick thanks for your pasta alla puttanesca post awhile back -- I made some tonight, and I just have to say, it ROCKS! Olives in pasta sauce . . . holy moly . . . !

Anonymous said...

oooo I want that sammich! Also, I made your chocolate oat balls last night and they were so yummy. My bf said they were "awesome!" I agree.

It's good to know that I am not the only one that orders food when life is hectic. For me, it's bean burritos from a Mexican joint by our house.

I saw on Vicki's blog that you said you were gonna be in San Diego soon? I am gonna be there next weekend-if you are still there we should meet up!

Anonymous said...

Also, I would love a gift certificate! julie.farson at gmail dot com

Allens Hill Farm said...

the chocolate oat delicious...omg. I want it right now? Did you invent this recipe or find it somewhere? either way it's genius.

bazu said...

The chocolate-oat bundlies were an invention of necessity... but I'm sure many other people have discovered this exact same no-bake recipe on their own! ;-)

Anonymous said...

your photo of the pizza looks very familiar!

dreamy said...

The Oat Bundlies look good, definitely not ridiculous! And pizza... I havent had that for ages...

Vegan_Noodle said...

Yes, the busy season is definitely upon us!! Good luck on finishing up that chapter for your dissertation!
Looks like yall have been eating well though. That reuben sandwich sounds perfect... must remember that since I have some tempeh in the fridge now! And those bundlies sound like the perfect chocolate fix...
So where will yall be traveling for four weeks? Fun adventures in store? I'm sure we'll hear about it! (can't wait)

vko said...

that pizza is too funny and thank you again for the tea certificate- so sweet of you, especially in this cold..