Vegan “Buttermilk” Fried “Chicken”

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In case you weren’t aware, writing recipes is quite the process indeed. Throughout said process, I’ll oftentimes end up with a sheet of paper that frankly looks as though someone who was possessed (and had a pen) got their hands on it. Now, I can only really focus on so many recipes at a time so most of the these chicken scratch papers end up getting tossed into a big ol’ pile waiting for their day to be perfected and shared with all y’all. Well, the other day, one recipe that’s been sitting in that pile since I started my blog finally got it’s day to shine.

When I hit the 10 pounds lost mark last weekend, I decided that I was going to give myself a cheat day and there was only one thing on my mind: fried “chicken.” This recipe, like I said a minute ago, had been in the pile o’ recipes since I started this blog in January. It just kept getting left behind in favor of other recipes which were a little less daunting. I mean, homemade vegan “meats” of any kind are serious business -fake meats have got to deliver. Despite my consternation though, I so desperately wanted to get it done for my cheat day so I got busy tweaking the recipe to perfection. A few batches later I had done it and was able to eat what I was craving for my cheat day. #DeliciousDeliciousSuccess

My fried “chicken” recipe is very traditional. You have your “chicken” pieces (made mostly of textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten for comparable protein values to actual chicken), a buttermilk-esque bath, and then a dredge (flour with salt, pepper, and just 2 other seasonings). Once coated, each piece is fried then finished off in the oven. The end result is something that has a nice meaty mouth feel and is perfectly seasoned. I could definitely see (if I wasn’t dieting) pairing up these fried little lovelies with my white gravy, biscuits, and mac-n-cheese for a picnic, or with waffles. #Drooling

It all gets started with some prep. The textured vegetable protein (aka TVP) is going to get plumped up with a little vegetable stock so that it’s ready for us in a moment when we make our “chicken.”

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We also need to prep the buttermilk-esque bath as well as the dredge. The buttermilk-esque bath is simply a combination of unsweetened almond milk and vinegar -use either normal vinegar for this or white wine vinegar. The dredge is all-purpose flour with some salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder mixed in. Whip up the bath and the dredge each in their own bowl then set them aside for a moment so that we can make our “chicken” mixture.

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For the “chicken” mixture, stir the TVP, vital wheat gluten, and seasonings together just until combined. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not overworking this mixture otherwise your “chicken” will be a little tough and chewy and ain’t nobody got time for tough and chewy “chicken.” Let this mixture to rest for a moment to allow the gluten to properly set.

Now would be a great time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. You will also want to get a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) ready by adding enough oil to shallow fry -about a half of an inch. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces.

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Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour dredge to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 (of 8 total) pieces -I’ll explain this in just a second.

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Before you gently place your pieces into the frying pan using a fork, test that the oil is at the correct temperature by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then the oil is ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little.

Once the oil is ready you may begin frying. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepped earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.

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Once all of the pieces have been fried and are on the prepped sheet pan, bake them for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) then serve immediately for the best eating experience.

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Vegan 'Buttermilk' Fried 'Chicken'

  • Servings: 8 pieces (enough for 3-4 people)
  • Time: 65 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) + 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 2 teaspoons vinegar (normal or white wine)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • oil for frying (canola oil works great)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine TVP with vegetable broth, stir then set aside. In another small bowl, combine almond milk with vinegar, stir then set aside. In 1 more small bowl, combine flour with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, stir then set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the re-hydrated TVP with the vital wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to create the “chicken” mixture. Stir mixture with a fork just until combined. Allow mixture to rest for about 3 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. Prepare a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) by filling it with enough oil to shallow fry -about half an inch of oil. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour mixture we made earlier to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 pieces -we will only be frying 4 pieces at a time so no need to make all 8 pieces at the moment.
  4. By now the oil in your frying pan should be at the correct temperature but test the oil to be sure by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then it’s ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little before placing your “chicken” pieces in. Once the oil is ready you may begin frying by gently placing your “chicken” pieces down into the oil using a fork or spider skimmer. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepared earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.
  5. When all of your “chicken” pieces have been fried and are on the sheet pan, place the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let the pieces cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) and then serve immediately for the best eating experience. Any uneaten pieces can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 3-5 minutes -just until warmed throughout.

Vegan Easy Black Bean Burgers

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While it isn’t officially summer just yet, it’s summer in my book. Summer starts for me the moment we here in Phoenix hit the 100-degree mark. From that day forward, until we start to dip back below that temperature, it’s full swing summer, baby! I’m talking about the flip-flop wearin’, pool dippin’, family and friend gatherin’ kind of summer that causes time to slow way down. #AhhYeahh

Food is a big part of summer for most of us and there’s one meal in particular that is the poster child for all summer food -the humble hamburger. Of course, being vegan, you know that my burger recipe is going to be a little less… shall we say, barbaric? Made of mostly black beans and quinoa, it’s a nutritious and delicious cruelty-free alternative to the traditional non-vegan burger found on grills across America.

Just how delicious are my burgers? They’re so delicious that my non-vegan, meat loving brother actually prefers them over burgers made from animal protein. He asked me for the recipe shortly after he took his first bite and then proceeded to discuss the recipe with me for 2 days afterwards until he made them in his own home for his roommates (none of whom are vegan) and himself. #BestEndorsementEver

Now while most black bean burger recipes out there get a little crazy with the add-in’s and flavor combinations, I wanted to keep mine super simple. I did this so that you could go all out with your favorite burger toppings and not have too many competing flavors in your mouth. #YoureWelcome

This insanely easy recipe begins with you whipping out your food processor -I used a mini one and I found it to be the perfect size for this recipe. In said food processor, you’re going to dump in the black beans, quinoa, onion, flax meal, water, and hamburger seasoning (store bought), then pulse to combine. You’re looking for the mixture to have a little texture still but for the most part be nicely blended together.

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Once you have the burger mixture all made up then it’s time to actually make up the burgers. Carefully remove the blades from your food processor then, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out a slightly mounded amount of mixture and plop it down onto a parchment lined sheet pan. You should have enough mixture to scoop out 4 burgers. Divide any remaining mixture evenly among the 4 burgers. Make sure to leave some space between each burger because in a moment we’ll be flattening them out.

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To get the burgers flat, I like to grab another sheet of parchment paper, lay it over the mounds of mixture, then gently press each out until they reach the desired level of thickness -about 1/3-1/2 of an inch thick.

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Pop your burgers into a preheated oven to bake for 35 minutes, flipping each over at the halfway point. When they’re done, serve ’em on hamburger buns with all of your favorite burger toppings and enjoy! (I told you this recipe was insanely easy!)

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Vegan Easy Black Bean Burgers

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) can of black beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup cooked plain quinoa (I like to use the quinoa from the freezer section that gets cooked in it’s bag in the microwave then, once it’s cooked, I just scoop out the 1/2 cup I need for this recipe.)
  • 1/3 of an onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons flax meal
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 tablespoon hamburger seasoning (I like Emeril’s because it has salt and pepper already in it but if yours doesn’t have those included then you’ll need to add salt and pepper to taste.)
  • Hamburger buns
  • Hamburger toppings

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a food processor toss in the first 6 ingredients and pulse to combine. You’re looking for mixture to be smoothed out a little but still have some texture to it.
  2. Remove the blades from the food processor then, using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop out a slightly rounded mound of mixture and plop onto the prepared sheet pan. Repeat to create 4 mounds being sure to leave some space between each for when they get pressed out. Divide any remaining mixture up evenly among the 4 mounds. Lay another sheet of parchment over the mounds then gently press each flat to reach desired level of thickness -about 1/3-1/2 of an inch thick.
  3. Place burgers into preheated oven and bake for 35 minutes, flipping each over at the halfway point. When done, serve on hamburger buns with your favorite burger toppings. Cooked burgers will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days but are best when eaten right away.

 

Vegan Italian “Chicken” Panini

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While there are some vegans out there who don’t care to eat even fake meats and cheeses, I am not one of them. I appreciate the flavors and textures fake meats and cheeses bring to the table. I also appreciate how these things can make transforming a non-vegan recipe to a vegan one an even easier task. Now, every vegan I know who enjoys these cruelty-free substitutes has their own opinion on which ones are the best -and there are so many options to choose from now! I too have some favorites and for these sandwiches I will be using one of my favorite chicken substitutes and one of my favorite cheese substitutes. (I’ll also be using another favorite vegan cheese o’ mine in the pesto needed for these sandwiches!)

Say hello to one of my favorite chicken substitutes, Tofurky’s Slow Roasted Chick’n, and one of my favorite cheese substitutes, Field Roast’s Chao slices in creamy original flavor -which to me tastes similar to like provolone cheese blended perhaps with white American cheese. (But of course this cheese is 100% vegan which means it’s automatically 100% better than either one of those other cheeses I just mentioned!)

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Those are only 2 of the 5 components that make up these delicious, and insanely easy to make, sandwiches though. The other components are a pesto that is made from scratch, tomatoes, and, of course, the bread -I used ciabatta rolls.

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I find that the ciabatta rolls squish down nicely in your panini pan or panini maker without falling apart, and they get good and crisp on the outside (without the need for oil) which is how the perfect panino (sing. form of panini) should be. #IfItAintCrispyItAintRight

So I mentioned that this recipe is insanely easy but one might prefer to call it shamefully easy. Seriously, I feel silly even calling it a recipe because the only real recipe part is making the pesto -which sounds a whole lot more difficult than it is.

To make the pesto all you have to do is put all of the pesto ingredients (except the olive oil) into a small (mine is called a “mini”) food processor and start processing them. As they are being broken down and combined you are simply going to drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil to help the pesto come together and get to the right consistency.

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The right consistency being kind of liquidy but not runny, and not smoothed out into nothing but rather it should have a little texture still -sort of like grainy mustard.

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Next, you’re going to get the fixin’s ready (laid out) so that you can easily assemble the sandwiches. Here all you’re really doing is taking the “chicken” and the cheese out of their respective packages and then slicing up 2 tomatoes.

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To assemble, first load up one side of the bread (the bottom half preferably) with the “chicken,” a couple slices of cheese, and a couple slices of tomatoes. Smear the opposite side of the bread with a generous bit of pesto and then put the two sides together. Huzzah! We have a sandwich! Repeat this process with the remaining rolls (3 more to go for a total of 4 sandwiches) and then it’s time to cook ’em up.

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To cook my sandwiches I used a cast iron panini pan but if you have a panini maker you can use that if you wish.

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I was able to fit 2 sandwiches in my pan at once. You’ll want to preheat your pan or panini maker before you put the sandwiches in and when cooking them you’ll want to do it low (as in low or low-med. heat) and slow -don’t rush these beauties or the cheese wont have time to get soft. And I know you want soft cheese.

While they’re cooking I do keep the lid on them and I also press firmly straight down on the lid every now and then to help them squish down.

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After 3-5 minutes they should be ready to flip. In the photo below, I have flipped one over and am about to flip the next one over. When flipping them I use flat tongs so that I can get a good grip on the sandwiches and hold them together tightly as I flip them. After they’ve been flipped I then put the lid back on them, press it down firmly, and cook for 3-5 more minutes. When done, remove the sandwiches from the pan (or panini maker) and let them rest for 5-7 minutes before you cut them in half and serve them.

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Vegan Italian 'Chicken' Panini

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

    For the pesto:
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup vegan shredded Parmesan cheese (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • For the panini:
  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • 1 (8-ounce) box of Tofurky Slow Roasted Chick’n
  • 1 package of Field Roast Chao slices in creamy original flavor
  • 2 tomatoes, washed and cut into slices
  • Pesto

Directions

    For the pesto:
  1. Combine everything but the olive oil in a small (aka mini) food processor and slowly start to combine them. (You may need to scrape the sides down a couple times throughout this process.) As they combine, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you have reached the desired consistency which is wet but not runny. Set aside when done.
  2. For the panini:
  3. Get your panini pan (or panini maker) preheated to low or low-med. heat and lay out the panini ingredients so that assembly is quick and easy.
  4. Cut a ciabatta roll in half and on the bottom half load on a layer of “chicken,” a couple slices of cheese, and a couple slices of tomato. On the top half, smear on a generous amount of pesto. Flip the top half over onto the bottom half then set aside. Repeat this step until you have all 4 sandwiches made and ready to be grilled.
  5. Place as many sandwiches as you can fit, without crowding them in, into your preheated panini pan (or panini maker). Cover and press down firmly on the cover to squish sandwiches down. Cook for 3-5 minutes then flip each sandwich over and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Continue to press down every so often on the lid to flatten the sandwiches as much as possible. If sandwiches are browning too fast, as in before the cheese has had time to get soft, be sure to turn the heat down a little lower. When sandwiches are done let them rest 5-7 minutes before cutting in half and serving. Best enjoyed right away but can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.