Meat Free Monday #2: Buffalo Chickpea sandwich

One of the interesting things about starting this Meat Free Monday adventure is that I’ve had to remind myself that just because I’m not eating meat on Monday specifically, it doesn’t mean it needs to be a part of all my meals every other day. Like, it’s completely OK for me to eat vegetarian meals on other days of the week. I know it seems silly, but when you get so hyper focused on a specific dietary plans, well, sometimes common sense just kind of gets pushed aside.

Anyway. Still enjoying this challenge, and really having fun exploring new recipes! (Like the homemade instant noodle cups! If I don’t included on a MFM post, I’ll be sure to share the recipe on its own.) In fact, I’m finding so many different recipes I want to try or adapt, that I’m having a hard time deciding what and when I want to make things! In fact, even for this week’s dinner I had 3 ideas going through my head and essentially waited until about an hour before dinner to make my decision. (I procrastinated by making some granola.)

Breakfast
As it was the first day of the spring semester, I wanted something easy. Because I need to get in the habit of easy breakfasts that keep me actually eating breakfast on a regular basis. Thankfully I only have 1 class before 11am, and that’s only one day a week. For this one, I just went with a mini bagel. A mini Maple French Toast bagel. With brown sugar cinnamon cream cheese. For something small, it was very tasty.

Lunch
Even though I didn’t need to stay on campus for lunch — I don’t officially have classes on Mondays. Or Fridays — I did stay on campus so I could try to get some work done -slash- maybe get ahead on my readings for the rest of the week. Packable lunches can be a challenge, but I feel as though I’ve been getting better at it. For me the key is having specific containers just for packed lunches. It also helps with portioning and whatnot. Anyway. For the main part of my lunch I had a buffalo chickpea sandwich.

I’d made chickpea sandwich spreads before. People like to call it a replacement for tuna salad. It’s not. Chickpeas maybe have a similar color, but texture wise or even flavor wise, it’s not tuna. However, it does lend itself well for sandwich spread. The last one I made was a dill and mustard based one. Very good. But I’d been wanting something buffalo, and thought this was a good idea. These sandwiches are pretty easy, but very tasty. Mash chickpeas, add in wet stuff, and flavoring, and then make a sandwich. (Real recipe below!)

Dinner
As I mentioned, I had a hard time deciding on what to do.  I thought about doing one of my go-to pasta dishes. Then I had another idea — which I already forgot about, so it probably wasn’t that exciting. But even as I was starting to make my dinner, I saw another pasta dish recipe that sounded good… but, well, I was already cooking.

I’d seen a fair bit of recipes for veggie burgers, veggie nuggets, and veggie fritters. All of them sounded good. One of the reasons I wasn’t so sure I’d go with this recipe is because I kept forgetting to get buns. So, I decided to improvise. Make a pseudo brinner.

I combined a whole lot of recipes, so I can’t link a definite one for my inspiration. Not to mention, one of the ones I really liked, I couldn’t find before I even started cooking. Just as my chickpea spread isn’t a mock tuna salad, veggie burgers really shouldn’t be treated like mock hamburgers. You can blend a lot of different things and get some really neat and complex flavors. I decided for my first foray into this, to just keep it somewhat simple. Chickpeas and corn. And quinoa. Essentially you kind of have to get into the mindset that you’re going to make meatballs — you need binders. For me that was quinoa, breadcrumbs, and a couple eggs. I also chose to bake mine rather than fry. And served it up with sweet potato tots. Because if you can add tots, you should add tots. Just saying.

Originally I was going to share the recipe for this burger… However, I want to play with my ratios and perfect it a little more before I do that. Don’t get me wrong, this was a really good dinner and a great play on a burger. However, the patty on its own was just OK. Combined with the egg on top though? Yeah, I’m immensely pleased with my genius. I don’t know when I’ll get back to this recipe, but even if it’s not during MFM I’ll post it!

In fact, I’m thinking after this January run of moving these updates to Instagram and just publishing a select recipes every so often. As much as I love cooking, and I am actually doing my thesis on food, I do not plan on turning this into a food blog. But I’m kind of proud of some of the food I’ve been making.

Buffalo Chickpea Sandwich Spread

Meat-free sandwich with a little kick

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas drained & rinsed
  • 1/3 cup mayo (or greek yogurt if that's your thing)
  • celery chopped into small pieces
  • buffalo sauce (as much as you'd like!)

Instructions

  1. Empty chickpeas into a bowl, and use a strong utensil to mash them. A potato masher would likely be idea, though a wooden spoon or large fork work well too. 

  2. Add mayo, celery pieces, and buffalo sauce and mix well.

  3. Drizzle ranch or add in some blue cheese crumbles, if you like.

  4. Serve as a sandwich, or a wrap, or eat as is!


Meat Free Mondays #1: Honey-Garlic Cauliflower

As I mentioned in my 2017 goals, I wanted to attempt going meat-free for one full day once a week, at least through the month of January. As fun as I think this is going to be — simply for the excitement of exploring new recipes and protein sources — I found that I had to remind myself of this multiple times throughout the day. Especially in the morning. I found that sort of humorous because not often do I actually eat meat for breakfast.

Anyway. Since one of my other goals is to get better at taking pictures of food, I thought a good way would be to share my meals and some of the recipes I try out.

Pseudo-Brunch
I maybe got preoccupied that morning getting ready for the new semester, as well as making an attempt at narrowing down my thesis focus. Which sort of backfired because I came up with more ideas. By 10:30am I realized I hadn’t eaten yet, and so rather than have a traditional breakfast or attempt lunch early, I just went with a larger snack like meal: chips with homemade salsa. I like to tell myself this is healthy. I mean, salsa is just vegetables. (Also, since it’s homemade there’s no added sugar.) And yes, I am washing that down with a giant cup of orange flavored water.

I made a huge batch of salsa months ago, and am still eating my way through it. That salsa was a lot hotter than I typically eat it, so I’ve been using it as a mother batch and adding it to containers of crushed tomatoes. After that I give it another blend with my immersion blender because I am not a chunky salsa fan. Salsa’s actually really easy to make, so much so it doesn’t really require its own recipe card. It’s essentially tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers. For mine, I use crushed tomatoes, fresh sweet onion, garlic powder and salt, a little cumin, a little lime, and this last time I added three jalapeños and an entire little can of chipotle and adobo. That last part is why it was a bit much for me to eat as-is.

Real Lunch
Chips and salsa weren’t enough to hold me over all day. Which I knew. The hardest part of the challenge so far has been reigning back my desire to cook awesome meatless dishes for each meal. Unchecked, I’d end up with a fridge full of leftovers again — and I’m currently attempting to work my way through my last cooking frenzy’s leftovers. So I made myself keep it simple for lunch.

It feels like forever since I’ve had — or at least made — a baked potato. It’s was a common, quick and simple dinner at my mom’s house. I’m a fan of loaded baked potatoes, though. However, I tend to forget that extra toppings doesn’t necessarily mean extra work. I just topped mine with feta and almonds. Definitely didn’t require much effort at all. Definitely was pretty tasty and also filling.

Dinner
Finally allowing myself to explore recipes and cook something new, I really went at it. In my last cooking frenzy, I made a lot of casseroles and soups and stews. So I wanted something different this time. And I was craving cauliflower. Cauliflower can be a main dish, but often it’s designated as a side. I had to find a recipe that would be able to hold its own. So I chose to adapt this recipe: honey-garlic cauliflower. I adjusted the sauce a little bit. And unfortunately over-breaded the cauliflower. (I’ve never been good at getting panko to turn out like it does in recipe pictures. Mine look like some sort of mutant nuggets, actually…) Anyway. I plan on using the sauce on more thing — it’s a good sweet and a little spicy Asian-style sauce. Oh, and as you can see, I added green beans.

 

Honey Garlic Cauliflower

Sweet & spicy Asian-inspired vegetarian dish

Cook Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 2/3 cup flour (all-purpose, or whatever you prefer)
  • 3 eggs beaten with a little water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tps garlic powder (to taste; or 2 cloves minced)
  • 1 tps lime juice (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (or chili sauce of preference)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tbsp corn starch

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F

  2. Toss the cauliflower in flour, then dredge in eggs, and then finally coat with the bread crumbs. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minute or until desired crispiness.

  3. In sauce pan, whisk together honey, soy & teriyaki sauces, garlic, and sriracha over medium heat. As that comes to a boil, in a small bowl, mix together water and corn starch until dissolved. After the sauce boils, reduce heat to simmer and stir in corn starch solution. Stir occasionally until it thickens. (2-3 minutes, ish)

  4. Toss cooked cauliflower in sauce, and either return to oven for a few minutes (original recipe suggest broiling for 2 minutes); or sauté in a wok with additional vegetables.

  5. Garnish with scallions or sesame seeds, serve with rice (or grain of preference)