Category Archives: Cooking at Home

Spaghetti alla Lentils

For a few years, I’ve been making a lentil dish that is designed to mirror Sloppy Joe’s, and is called Sloppy Joe Lentils. I cannot take credit for the original recipe, but I cannot remember and can find no clue as to where I first saw this recipe. If you look the name up, you will find numerous recipes for such a dish, but none are the actual recipe that I’ve been using and that I have modified a bit over the years.

Be that as it may, I prepared Sloppy Joe Lentils a few days ago, and served it as usual, as with traditional Sloppy Joe’s, over buns. But then a couple of days later, I felt like some of the leftovers, but there was nary a bun, or even a fresh piece of bread, in the house. But I did have Spaghetti alla Lentilssome left over spaghetti noodles, and I figured, why not? So I heated them both up, and mixed the lentil dish into the noodles, and just as it was it was great! So I figured, why not make a similar lentil dish, but intended to be a spaghetti sauce? So, I took the recipe I’d been using, added a little, subtracted a little, and made Spaghetti alla Lentils, and it was one of the best dishes I’ve made since becoming a vegan.

I cannot say that no one else has ever thought of this, but I think my “new” recipe is pretty good, so here it is: Continue reading

The Oozy, Greasy Grilled American Cheese Sandwich, Vegan Style

Disclosure: We at FindVeganChoices.com have received no free products from Follow Your Heart and and have not been solicited to review their products, and we would receive no benefit whatsoever should anyone reading this post thereafter purchase Follow Your Heart American Cheese Style Cheese Alternative. However, should any visitor to FindVeganChoices.com click on the Griddler link, or any other Chocolate or Books or other links shown on this page, FindVeganChoices.com would then receive a small commission based on a percentage of the sales price of the purchase.

Before becoming Vegan, I was never a really big cheese fan. I loved nice melty mozzarella, like on a pizza or in parmesan dishes, and parmesan topped onto dishes like stuffed bell peppers. I liked cottage cheese, and lasagna with these other cheeses and ricotta, but not too much else. Follow Your Heart American Cheese Style Cheese AlternativeAny stronger cheese, like jack, cheddar, feta, goat, blue etc., literally made me sick. But, what I liked most of all, was plain, bland to most, basically processed, American cheese, and I loved nothing more than a greasy, oozy, crisp on top and soft in the middle, Grilled American Cheese sandwich.

Vegan cheeses have been problematic for me. For my first few years, most I found possessing all of the bad elements of “real” cheese, and none of the good. But lately, Vegan cheeses have gotten much better, and there is a place near home that has really good Vegan “mozzarella” on their pizza, and Gardein has an excellent pepperoni pizza pocket with their version of mozzarella as well.

But, the very best I’ve found so far, is Follow Your Heart American Cheese Style Cheese Alternative, which looks and tastes EXACTLY like American cheese slices. Continue reading

Create Your Own Vegan Taste Trunk

Disclosure: We at FindVeganChoices.com have received no free products from Taste Trunk and and have not been solicited to review their products. In fact, we have not personally tried any of their products and are herein below making no specific representations that we have or that any specific item has any special qualities other than generalizations made from product names and descriptions. However, should any visitor to FindVeganChoices.com click on one of the Taste Trunk links below and make an online purchase, FindVeganChoices.com would then receive a small commission based on a percentage of the sales price of the purchase.

From a company called Taste Trunk, comes a great vegan option for a variety of vegan snacks, condiments, soups, teas, and more .

Taste Trunk is an on-line company that gift-packages hard-to-find gourmet brands into beautiful vintage trunks and delivers them direct to the recipient. They have a nice array of pre-made

“Vegan

“Trunks” in a variety of categories, such as BBQ, Chocolate, Gifts for Her, Gifts For Him, Gourmet, Healthy, and more, but they also let customers, including gift-givers, design their own “Trunks”, choosing form various categories including “Vegan”. Continue reading

Morningstar Farms and Their Limited Vegan Options

Back in September of 2012, I wrote about Gardein’s great vegan ribs, and how they made an excellent meatless version of McDonald’s popular McRib sandwich. Well, unfortunately, Gardein chose to discontinue production of their meatless ribs, but after a very long ribless dry spell, a new meatless rib product is now available, and from a very unlikely source.

Morningstar Farms, purveyor of a wide array of vegetarian food items, but little in the subject of Morningstar Farms Hickory BBQ Ribletsvegan, now produces their excellent Hickory BBQ Riblets, a very satisfactory, and maybe even improved, substitute for Gardeins’ product.

For several years, grocery frozen sections have given extremely limited space to meatless products, and the major of that space has generally been given over to companies such as Morningstar and Quorn, who make vegetarian products that include the likes of milk and cheese. In recent weeks, at least in our home area of West Covina, California, local groceries that in the last year or two have expanded their stock of meatless vegan items, primarily Gardein, Boca and Beyond Meat, have now seemed to reverse themselves, and have eliminated much of the selection offered by these companies, while turning over that space to expanded product lines primarily from Morning Star. Continue reading

The Wait is Over – The VeganEgg is HERE!

FTC Disclaimer – we have no business relationship with Follow Your Hear or with Elements Natural Foods Market. I receive nothing free from either of them, and I paid full retail price for my VeganEgg. We receive nothing if a site viewer decides to purchase VeganEggs. We do receive a commission for any sales made through the affiliate product links appearing on this page. The following is an honest review based on facts and nothing more – and specifically free of any monetary interest related to the VeganEgg or Follow Your Heart.

Follow Your Heart VeganEggIt seemed like the promise would never come true – a fully plant-based, animal-product-less product that looks like an egg, that tastes like an egg, and that can be used to cook and bake just like an egg. Well, it is here: From Follow Your Heart, the VeganEgg!

They were available in other areas before here in the Los Angeles area, and the good folks at Elements Natural Foods Market had been trying to get them in for weeks, and yesterday morning, I got the call, “They eggs are in!”. I wasted little time getting there yesterday for my first package, and in the past hour, I cooked my first meal with VeganEggs – a lovely breakfast of hash brown potatoes, a toasted everything bagel, and scrambled VeganEggs.Scrambled VeganEgg with Hash Browns and a Bagel

Wow.

The cooking experience was amazing. They come in a power and you whisk the power into cold water. As soon as you start, they take on the texture and appearance of real eggs. Into a hot skillet they go, to be scrambled up. The only difference between scrambling VeganEggs and real eggs is Continue reading

The Jackfruit Experience

JackfruitAfter much apprehension, I finally tried jackfruit, and the experience was amazing. More about all that later on, but first a bit about this amazing piece of vegetation.

Native to eastern Asia, it is immensely popular in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Malaysia and elsewhere in the region, but not in India, where it is believed to have originated but also where it is considered a food of the poor and lower class, and thus disdained by the upper class mucky-mucks. Learning this, I immediately thought of the potato, as I recently wrote an article about its storied history (“Potatoes: History, Descriptions and Uses“) including about how its popularity was stifled for years, in large part due to the similar belief that the inexpensive spud was beneath the dignity of Europe’s aristocracy. Continue reading

Gardein Chick’N Dijon

Gardein knows how to make a chicken-like substance that you would swear was chicken. You can get it in the basic “Scallopini” form and do with it whatever you want, like I did with my “Meatless Barbequed Chicken with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Potatoes”. They also take this same chicken-like stuff and make their own sauces to go with them, such as Mandarin Orange and a Buffalo Wing style. And, they make this one that got mixed reviews in the Hound household, Gardein Chick’N Dijon.

Gardein Chick'N Dijon with Rice

Gardein Chick'N Dijon with Rice

The large chicken-like pieces are apparently the same as in the scallopini, but a little bigger (though only two in a package) and unlike the scallopini, the Dijon does not come frozen, so the cooking time is about five minutes.

So, I fired up the rice cooker, got my pan nice and hot with my safflower oil, and put in the chick’n pieces, and cooked them the recommended two minutes on a side. I would have cooked them longer to get that real sauteed, almost crunchy effect, but my pan was pretty hot and they got fully cooked to my taste in the two minutes. I aded the enclosed dijon sauce, sauteed about 40 seconds, turning the chick’n a couple of times, and served with white rice.

Gardein Chick'N Dijon Package

Gardein Chick'N Dijon Package

The chicken itself came out its usual good, chickeny consistency, and tasted, also as usual, similar to chicken. Now, the sauce. I thought it was a pretty good dijon sauce. I used to love the Chicken Dijon at one of Los Angeles’s venerable old classic restaurants, the Pacific Dinning Car, which was not too far from my old office in downtown LA. I’m not saying one would confuse the two dishes, but Gardein’s version did bring back fond memories of the delicious and expensive PDC entree. Gardein does not put in plump, juicy mushroom slices, as does PDC, and there is no comparing a prepared, in-a-box version with the real thing, but the mustardy flavor and hints of garlic and paprika did make Gardein’s concoction an enjoyable remembrance of real chicken past.

MrsHound, on the other hand, had a different opinion, I am sure partially colored by the fact that I do not think I ever saw her order, or even consume, chicken dijon in the 38 or so years we’ve known each other. She found the sauce too thick and tart. So, be aware of this, should you venture forth and try it yourself.

On the Hound scale, I give it a 6.5 out of 10.

Tofurky Beer Brats – The BEST Vegan Hot Dog

In the past, I’ve sampled a few different attempts to create a meatless hot dog-like substance. Most failed miserably.

Tofurky, however, makes vegan sausages that come pretty close to the real thing. I’ve tried a couple of their varieties, and by far the best are their Beer Brats, but be careful how you cook them.

When I used to eat real hot dogs, my favorite way to cook them was to boil them. So, when I first tried a Tofurky Beer Brat, I looked at the cooking instructions, and low and behold, one of the described methods was to boil them. Big Mistake.

Tofurky Beer Brat and Beans

Tofurky Beer Brat and Beans

One thing that I have quickly discovered in cooking various meatless vegan commercial products is that they need to be cooked and cooked and cooked. And then cooked some more. Rare does not do it. Boiled Tofurky Beer Brats are terrible.

I did not give up, though, and needing a hot dog fix, I tried again, and this time I looked further on the instructions, and saw the part about heating in an oiled pan. Ah Ha!! So, I got out my pan, heated it with my vegan-foods-oil-of-choice, safflower oil, and placed in a couple of Beer Brats. I cooked them as evenly as possible on all sides, and being aware of the packages’ stern warnings about NOT OVERCOOKING, I took them out when they reached a golden brown.

The improvement was startling: So much better, but not yet perfect.

As I’ve mentioned, what I have found is that such vegan meat-like products need to be cooked within an inch of their vegetable-life. So, the next time I had the hot dog urge, I did it the same way, but cooked them on all sides not to golden brown, but to practically charcoal black. Success – cooked that much, they were great, and MrsHound and I have had them several times since, and we have several packages in the wings for future endeavors.

The photo shows my Beer Brat on a bun with lots of mustard and relish, and my favorite prepared canned beans, which thankfully are vegan – Bush’s Grillin’ Beans, Steakhouse Recipe. Careful, though, some of their other flavors besides the Steakhouse Recipe are NOT vegan!

This meal rates an 8 of 10 on the Hound scale.

Meatless Barbequed Chicken with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Potatoes

The most versatile meatless product that I have found is Gardein’s chick’n scallopini. It looks like chicken, it has the consistency of chicken, and yes, it pretty much tastes like chicken on its own, and when you add a sauce, it is the perfect vegan meat substitute.

Gardein scallopini comes frozen, and no defrosting is required. Heat a pan with oil (while in my meat-eating days, I generally used extra virgin olive oil, I have now found that the best taste with such meatless products comes with using safflower oil) and saute on each side for around four to four-and-one-half minutes. The instructions say do not overcook, but I quickly found that you want a well-done, “Saute’d”, almost crusty top and bottom. Then, keeping the pan hot, add your sauce of choice, and saute on both sides for another 20-30 seconds.

On one of my more ambitious nights when I had some time, this is the vegan meal I prepared:

Barbequed Chick'N Scallopini with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Red Potatoes

Barbequed Chick'N Scallopini with Sauteed Green Beans and Garlic Red Potatoes

I prepared the scallopini as described, and added barbeque sauce at the end, for a great-tasting meatless barbequed-chicken breast entree.

I also made a side dish of sauteed green beans, using one of my old recipes. I heated olive oil and added crushed garlic. Then I added sliced mushrooms and seasoned with cayenne pepper. After sauteing for a couple of minutes, I added cut, fresh green beans. I prefer French cut, but MrsHound does not like the French cut, so I cut whole beans into three inch pieces. The dish then sauteed on high heat for about five minutes.

Finally, I made one of my favorite potato dishes, garlic red potatoes. I steamed red potatoes, let them cool, then peeled and diced them. and put them in a bowl adding crushed garlic, ground black pepper, a dash of salt, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh chopped parsley.

All these items came out perfect, and this was one of our best home-cooked vegan meals since our conversion. Considering the time and effort needed for this one, and the result, I’d have to give this a 9 of 10 on the Hound scale.

Vegan “McRib” Sandwich

In the old days – Pre June 10, 2012 – I would have a McRib or two per year, and usually enjoyed them, thought I was never a big fan of McDonald’s. Any more than a couple per year, and the novelty quickly wore off. The idea of a vegan “McRib” was intriguing, and finding Gardein’s slow-cooked, meatless barbeque riblets was all I needed.

Vegan McRib

Vegan McRib

This product is super easy to prepare, just take it out of its baggie and put it in a covered microwave dish and heat for two minutes. I had also purchased some nice, fresh, soft oblong rolls, that were the perfect size. Add a couple of McRib condiments, and voila’, a vegan McRib is born.

This product is truly amazing. Honestly, most meatless products trying to masquerade as beef do not taste like or have the consistency of real beef. Gardein does a great job on both counts, creating a meat-like consistency, and, in most instances, a real meat-like taste. The riblet may be their absolute best job on the taste side. I dare someone, if they did not know, to say this is not meat.

In my newly-veganated mind, this is one of the best vegan dishes I’ve put together, requires no actual cooking, can be made in less than three minutes, and has a great taste. Clearly, an 8.5 of 10 on the Hound scale.