Lately, I haven’t been interested in eating “real” meals. I just want to eat snack food. Not necessarily junk food, but snacks . . . Or what they’d serve you in a restaurant and call appetizers. The awesome thing about snack foods is that they are really easy to make. Also, when you make a meal out of small snacks, you can satisfy a lot of cravings at the same time.
Yesterday, I felt like eating edamame. And also felt like having tortilla chips and hot sauce. And also wanted a strawberry milkshake . . . at the same time. Which led to the array of snack food you see in the photo above.
- 1/2 of a 12 ounce bag of frozen edamame, in the shell
- sea salt
- tamari (or soy/shoyu)
- sriracha hot sauce
- sesame seeds
Steam the edamame for 3 minutes. (You can boil them or microwave them according to the package directions, but steaming keeps the nutrition in the beans.) I use a big bamboo steamer, because it looks impressive . . . and it’s the only steamer I have. Transfer the edamame to a medium size mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt, shake on a teaspoon or two of tamari, squirt on about a teaspoon of sriracha and shake on a teaspoon or two of sesame seeds. Toss to coat all the bean pods. Transfer to a serving dish (I use the mixing bowl to throw my shells in later) and allow to cool a bit. Serves 1-2
Edamame can be served hot, room temperature, or chilled. Whatever you like. For that particular mix of seasonings, I like it to be warm to room temp.
Edamame can be a little tricky to figure out, so if you’ve never eaten it before, here’s what you do. First, suck all the seasoning off the outside of the pod (I don’t know if you’re supposed to do this, but it certainly tastes better this way). Then, pop the beans out of the shell and eat them. Lastly, throw the shells away. If you have edamame at a restaurant, they’ll usually give you a separate bowl to throw them into. Like I said, when I’m eating it at home, alone, I just use the bowl I used to season them in. If you serve this at a party, or for someone you’re trying to impress . . . use a clean bowl, okay?
I like to make my own tortilla chips. They’re better for you and they come out all warm and toasty. Also, you can control the amount of salt/other seasonings on them. Here’s how to make one serving of tortilla chips for snack time . . .
- One 8 inch tortilla, cut into 8 wedges
- Canola oil in a spray can (I use Spectrum)
Heat a toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (I’d guess that you can use a regular oven for this, but I never do). Line the toaster oven’s baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and then spray it very well with the canola oil spray. Arrange your tortilla wedges on the pan so they are in one layer. Spray both sides of the tortilla wedges with oil and then sprinkle salt on them. They don’t need much, so don’t go overboard. Bake until they are golden brown and crispy. Usually, this takes about 10 minutes.
You can use any sort of tortillas you like for this. I’ve been successful with flour, whole wheat, and corn tortillas. The ones in the photo there are some tortillas I got from Target that I’m trying to use up because they’re not all that good . . . they didn’t make very good chips either. But as long as you start with a tortilla that tastes pretty good, you’ll end up with good home-baked tortilla chips. You can dip these in salsa or hummus . . . or do what I do and just put hot sauce all over them.
I swear I’m addicted to hot sauce.
A Strawberry Milk Shake
- 3/4 cup soy milk (less if you like it thicker and have a REALLY good blender)
- 1/2 cup vanilla soy yogurt
- 6-8 Frozen strawberries
- 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar (or maple syrup . . . or sugar, whatever sweetener you like, really)
- A handful or so of ice
Put everything into a blender and blend. Really guys, it’s a milkshake. It’s not that complicated.
So then, once I had all these snacks made, I decided it was movie time! What goes better with snacks than a good movie. So I put Shawshank Redemption in the DVD player and settled in. About two minutes into watching Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman battle corruption at a New England prison . . . I wanted popcorn. Not just any kind of popcorn . . . cheezy popcorn . . .
- 1/4 cup popcorn kernels, popped
- 2 tablespoons margarine, melted
- nutritional yeast
Pop your popcorn however you see fit. I like to do it on the stove, but you can use an air popper if you so desire. Put your popped corn into a big mixing bowl and then drizzle it with the margarine while mixing. Once you’ve got it mixed really well, start sprinkling on nutritional yeast and salt. I used about 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast and half a teaspoon of salt in total. Use your judgment. Taste it and adjust your seasonings until it’s delicious! This definitely makes enough for two people, possibly three or four. I couldn’t get through half the bowl. Of course . . . I did have other snacks occupying my tummy space.
Let’s fast forward to today when I started getting hungry for lunch. Again, I didn’t want a meal sort of thing. But you know what did sound good . . . barbecued fake chicken wings, like the ones they have at Chicago Diner. The unfortunate thing is that I am nowhere near Chicago Diner. Despite the fact that those barbecue wings are totally worth driving 8 hours for, I have neither a car nor the funds to do such a thing. Sigh . . . So, I made my own.
This is one of the more complicated snack foods, because it involves making two sauces and then the actual faux chicken pieces. So I made it a bit easier on myself by using the frozen fake chicken strips that Morningstar Farms makes. As much as I hate to admit it, I usually have a bag of them in my freezer for quick meals and when I get a serious protein jones.
Vegan Ranch Dressing
I don’t know a former omni vegan out there who doesn’t seriously miss ranch dressing. So I’ve been working on perfecting my vegan ranch for years now. I think I’m getting closer with this one. This version requires a food processor. My food processor came with a mini work bowl, so I used that, because this recipe doesn’t make very much. If you have one of those mini food processors, that will probably work, too. You’d probably be able to get away with using a blender. I haven’t tried it, though, so attempt at your own risk.
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peels removed
- 1/2 cup vegenaise
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
- 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
Place garlic in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times to chop it up a bit. The garlic doesn’t have to be minced to perfection just yet, so don’t worry about it too much. Add the vegenaise, onion powder, salt, pepper, and ground mustard. Process for about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides, and process for about 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides again and start the food processor, with the machine running, slowly add about a tablespoon of soy milk (you can add more later if you’d like your dressing thinner). Scrape down the sides yet again and yet again, start up the food processor. SLOWLY stream in the olive oil (if your machine doesn’t have a feed tube, just add a little bit at a time and scrape down the sides each time you stop the processor). The oil needs to be emulsified into the dressing. Granted, this shouldn’t be too difficult because there’s already mustard and vegenaise in the dressing, but I just like to be sure, so I add it very slowly. Add in the sugar (raw garlic has a pretty sharp bite, this cuts it down just a little). If you’d like your dressing thinner, now’s the time to add more soy milk, just don’t go too crazy. No one likes watery ranch dressing. Once all this looks like dressing, scrape down the sides one more time and taste. Adjust the seasoning if you see fit and add the dried parsley. Pulse a couple times to get it mixed in (it’s mostly for color) don’t leave the processor running too long, though. You don’t want green dressing.
Scrape all this into a bowl and let it hang out in the refrigerator so the flavors can blend while you make the rest of the dish.
Kate’s Famous BBQ Sauce
I like my barbecue sauce sticky, sweet, and smoky. This is a good sauce to use when you’re coating some sort of meat replacement that’s going to be cooked a bit longer. What I’m saying is that this sauce should be cooked further once it’s cooked. I’ve been making versions of this sauce for years, and it’s really really good when it gets to caramelize a bit.
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- big ol’ pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 tablespoon molasses
In a small, microwave safe bowl, mix the ketchup and brown sugar first. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Microwave on high for one minute, stirring about half way through. Set aside.
Barbecued Faux Chicken sticks with Ranch Dressing
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 of an 8 ounce package of Morning Star Farms’ Chik’n Strips Meal starters
- One recipe Kate’s Famous BBQ Sauce (No, you can’t substitute bottled barbecue sauce, it doesn’t work.)
- Vegan Ranch Dressing for dipping
Heat an 8 inch skillet over medium heat, add the oil and sprinkle it with a little salt (this keeps the chik’n strips from sticking to a stainless steel pan. I don’t know why it works, I just know that it does). Once heated, add the chik’n strips. Cook these, turning occasionally, until they start to turn a deep brown color (I even let some of them get a little blackened, they’re good that way). Once cooked, turn the heat down a bit and add the BBQ sauce. This will sputter and spit at you, so be careful. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened considerably. You should be able to pile everything in the middle of the pan and the sauce won’t run out to the edges. Pile this on a serving plate and let it cool a bit before you eat it. Serve with some of the Vegan Ranch Dressing for dipping. Serves 1-2.
Granted these aren’t the same as the ones at Chicago Diner, but they definitely satisfy that craving and they’re friggin’ tasty. You can eat them with your hands if you’re brave or with fork if you’re blogging while eating them (oh god, they were good). Also, feel free to drench them with a good Louisiana style hot sauce (like me) if you like a spicy barbecue flavor, or if you’re just addicted to hot sauce (like me).