0519 Tempeh Sloppy Joes

I’m not going to lie to you.  Tonight’s dinner was better in concept than in execution.  Tempeh, when prepared well, is savory, nutty, and delicious.  When prepared poorly, it’s nutty and BORING and kind of a chore to eat.  This recipe fell somewhere in between.  It was the sort of dinner that I would’ve been proud of had I made it up from scratch, but as it was a published recipe, I’m not sure what to think.

We had a smaller package of tempeh on hand than was required for the recipe, so I scaled everything back, resulting in not enough sauce for too much tempeh.  Oh, and the sauce?  Totally bland.  So I added more vinegar.  And tomato paste.  And ketchup.  And a whole lot of hot sauce.  And then it started to approach palatable.

Maybe the problem was that I didn’t make the coleslaw?  Entirely possible – but then the focus of the dish really shifts off the tempeh, and then what’s the point?  We piled our sloppy joes with more of the weekend’s pickled onions, which provided a nice tangy crunch, and had some steamed vegetables on the side.  Shane’s going to have the leftovers tomorrow, and then I think we’ll disavow all knowledge of this dish.

Recipe:
Tempeh Sloppy Joes from Cooking Light

0506 Beer Battered Tempeh at ABC

Sooooooooo unmotivated to cook tonight, you guys.  We were both home by 5 and were both hungry, but neither of us had any interest in making dinner, which was supposed to be a revisit of last month’s shrimp and grits.  Except that the bacon? Still in the freezer.  And the spinach? Gone after last night’s dinner.  We still had the bottle of clam juice, though, not that that would help with anything.

We opted for a quick dinner at Arbor Brewing Company – $3 pints during happy hour!  We’re not huge fans of ABC, but I had a damned fine beer-battered tempeh sandwich – crispy and delicious, served on a chewy onion roll with chipotle mayo.  Shane had fish tacos, which were WORLDS BETTER than the tacos I tried to make at home the other weekend (I threw them away, and let’s not talk about it).  Good stuff, and good ideas for future meals – that is, when we’re more motivated to cook.

The Last 10 Days of Food

Gees, where to begin?  I’ve been pretty diligent about posting to date, but a weekend of friendos visiting from DC followed immediately by a mid-week trip with some of my favorite girls resulted in 10 days of nothing – and very little desire to catch up.  So here’s what I got:

Mike and Bill rolled in on the 27th, kicking off four days of beer, movies, more beer, vegetarian food, still more beer, a trip to Detroit for the guys, additional beer, dinner at Jolly Pumpkin, and oh, more beer.  I’m still not sure if I accurately captured the amount of beer that was consumed over this weekend.   This wasn’t like a woooo spring break!! kind of blow out – rather, it was a series of tastings, sharing rare or regional treats from each of their stashes.  I wish I’d taken pictures of the very serious boys taking their serious beer very seriously.  I know Shane took a picture of all of the bottles, so that’ll have to suffice.

While the boys were busy with the beer, I made a couple of tasty dinners – Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta (hearty and filling, though not quite what I expected from the recipe) and tempeh tacos (always a crowd-pleaser) – and the killer spinach strata that we’d had at Shana’s on my birthday.  When the boys were late coming back from Detroit, I ate without them, then regretted it as Shane stepped up to make a really delicious Moroccan Carrot Soup (which we’re going to re-run for dinner this week).

Stradaaa

And THEN I hopped on a plane to St Louis, where my friend Erin and I collected some of the best donuts in the country and also some legendary pretzels before hitting the road to Carbondale, where we met up with Angie, Kim, and Laurie for a couple of days of hiking, snacking, napping, drinking, and relaxing with farm animals.

Fritters and Globs

In addition to delicious baked goods and a whole lot of other bad-for-us snacks, we grilled out, toasted s’mores over a campfire, and made breakfast together using two pounds of bacon and the most beautiful farm eggs I’ve seen.  We also checked out a bar and a cute breakfast place in Erin’s neighborhood and had an awesome dinner at Schlafly Bottleworks (including curry crackers that I’m committed to duplicating) on our last night in town.

Farm-fresh free range eggs

Suffice to say that the next few weeks (leading up to um, a special occasion) will should be a bit leaner on the indulgent meals – segueing nicely into the beginning of the growing season and the return of fresh things to the market.  It’s been a delicious and ridiculous ten days – and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and back into more normal eating.

Recipes:
Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta from Self
Tempeh Tacos
Spinach and Cheese Strata from Smitten Kitchen
Moroccan Carrot Soup from Bon Appetit

0324 Tempeh Tacos

I regret not having photos to show you so that you too can drool when you hear these words: tempeh. tacos.  Tempeh. Tacos.

Tempeh, made from fermented soybeans, is packed with protein and fiber, and when stir-fried with garlic, tamari, and a bunch of spices, it makes a fantastic centerpiece for a delicious and filling vegetarian meal.  When wrapped up in a tortilla with a few veggies and some Greek yogurt, you’ve got yourself a fantastic fast dinner.  Tonight’s meal might be the best version of tempeh tacos that we’ve made – we had a couple of jalapenos in the fridge, so I threw them in with the tempeh and onions, producing a bit more heat than usual.  I was so hungry by the time I finished cooking that I didn’t wait for Shane to get home from riding his moped – I just rolled up an epic tempeh wrap and enjoyed every savory, spicy bite.

As with most recipes of this type – and most of my recipes in general, I suspect – I can’t really tell you precise measurements.  Just season as the spirit moves you, and add whatever you think might be amazing.  I’d like to add mushrooms in the future – I also think you could shred some carrots and add them to the fry-up for extra fiber and beta carotene.  This should serve 2-4.

Olive or vegetable oil
A couple of cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cake of tempeh – we like Westsoy Original – sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
One red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Heat oil in a medium non-stick skillet.  Add the garlic, onion, tempeh, and jalapeno and saute over medium-high heat until onions are translucent and tempeh is starting to get golden.  Add cumin, coriander, and tamari and toss to coat.  Give it another minute or two, then add the pepper and saute until soft.

To serve, spoon tempeh and veg into a warmed tortilla and top with a handful of spinach and a spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt.  You might also add some shredded cheese and minced cilantro if you’re saucy.