Archive for the 'vegetarian' Category
Gardein Crispy Tenders
Welcome back to another #MeatlessMonday. For this week’s post, I thought I would again review a product from Gardein, who was nice enough to send me several coupons to try their product free of charge.
Now, the WellDone family is quite the connoisseur of vegan faux meat replacements, stemming back from the time that we were vegan or vegetarian. Even though we have started to eat meat again, we still love faux meats because they taste good, but have far less fat and many fewer calories than the real thing. That’s a good thing.
So, how did Gardein crispy tenders stack up?
When grading vegan faux meat products, I tend to grade them on two factors (also known as the BlogWellDone Vegan Meat Product Dual Index Rating System™…okay that’s not true.) The first factor takes into account how tasty the vegan meat product is overall. In other words, it measures the product on its own merits. The second factor is how pleasing a non-vegetarian/vegan would find the product.
All in all, Gardein crispy tenders are probably my favorite vegan chicken nuggets on the market. Gardein’s chick’n has a nice, sweet flavor like good white meat chicken and it has pretty good texture for not being the real thing. Plus, the breading that has been deep fried on (yes, I said deep fried) and is slightly salty with a nice hint of pepper. We cooked them in the oven according to package direction and they were decently crispy, especially for frozen chicken nuggets. So in the overall factor, they do very, very well.
How do they do as a meal for non-vegan/vegetarians? Of all the Gardein and Morning Star Farms and other frozen faux meats, the Gardein crispy tenders rate as my fave for non-vegetarians. In fact, if you serve them with a dipping sauce, most of your carnivorous eaters will have no idea that there’s no meat in them there tenders.
Actually, there wasn’t that much bad about Gardein crispy tenders. If anything, it might be the shape. They’re too long to be nuggets and not long enough to be chick’n fingers. Visually, my son was more than able to tell that the crispy tenders weren’t his usual nuggets and this caused a whole slew of issues. But that’s more my son’s issue than anything else.
Buy them, they are good. What, you were expecting something poetic?
In all seriousness, the Gardein chick’n tenders were really good and could be eaten by themselves, in quesadillas, in sandwich wraps, on salads, coated in buffalo sauce, however you like. They are BlogWellDone approved!
So, yeah, in the end, give them a try. They are perfect for this Meatless Monday or next week’s or the week after or the week after…
Photo from Gardein.com.
Today’s guest post is from Jen Schall from My Kitchen Addiction. She was nice enough to let me guest on her blog and then offered to do a guest post for Blog Well Done. How could I pass up such an offer? The recipe looks amazing and you’ll never see prettier food photos on my blog! Enjoy!
I could eat blueberry pancakes every day. Sometimes I do. It doesn’t help that I always see commercials for a boxed pancake mix. In the commercial, they sing “blueberry pa-an-cakes” and I find myself singing along… And craving pancakes.
I think the advertisers are onto something… Most of us are busy in the mornings and don’t want to take the time to measure out all of the ingredients for pancakes from scratch. Wouldn’t it be helpful if we had a convenient mix that would make the process much easier?
I thought so, too! Don’t worry (or send me hate email)… I’m not proposing that you go out and pick up a package of the boxed pancake mix. You won’t find that stuff in my kitchen. Instead, I have put together a homemade pancake mix that you can mix up when you have some free time and store in your pantry. Then, you’re ready whenever the pancake cravings strike! In fact, these blueberry pancakes can be mixed up using only one mixing bowl. Oh, and did I mention they are healthy, too? The pancake mix is made with white whole wheat flour, but that can be our little secret.
Chavrie Blue Berry Salad with Walnuts
At 9:30 PM a few weeks ago, I had a startling realization: I had to bring a dish to church the next day!! Well, it wasn’t so much a realization as it was an acceptance that I could no longer procrastinate, nor did I have a viable excuse to get out of doing what I promised.
“To the refrigerator!” I cried and I went to the refrigerator.
See, there’s something everyone needs to know about me. I live in a constant state of preparedness…for the show Door Knock Dinners. Ever since the first New York Battle on Iron Chef, I’ve become obsessed with the idea that any time, Gordon Elliott or an Iron Chef (or you know, me) could walk into my house and prepare a huge gourmet meal with only what I have in my fridge, freezer and big freezer downstairs.
So, it was with the highest level of confidence that I attacked my pantry on a quest to make something to take the next day. Let me tell you, I came up with the best idea. I was going to layer sheets of puff pastry with layers of sweetened goat cheese and fresh, homemade blue berry syrup and then top the whole thing with a nice splash of blueberry balsamic. Sounds pretty good huh?
Then I realized I was in no mood to cook and made this salad instead.
But you know what? It rocked!! It was also my first experience using Chavrie as anything more than a cracker spread. (Here it comes, FTC disclosure: I was given coupons for free samples, which is why we had some in the house.)
Because it was my first experience using Chavrie, I wish I could have done a little better with it. I simply did not realize just how soft it was. Normally when I make this salad, I use feta crumbles. The Chavrie was far softer than that so when I cut into it, it wanted to spread on me.
Next time, I hope to not be making the salad on the hood of my car so I’ll have time for a little more finesse, but whatever. (Did I mention I had to buy and breakdown Romaine lettuce in the Target parking lot? By the way, yes, I still could have made it on Door Knock Dinners, but then it would have been a spinach salad and I wanted Romaine, darn it!) Still, it was a good salad.
Wonder ingredient powers activate! Form of:
Crepini Cafe Crepes with Alouette Cheese
So, a couple times now you may have noticed me talking about Crepini Cafe‘s crepini, which aren’t quite a crepe and not quite a blini, but they’re filled and they taste good. (You can check out my reviews for Crepini Cafe Greenwich Spinach and Four Cheese and Basil elsewhere on this fine blog.) Well, I also asked to try just some of their crepes by themselves since I figure I’ll probably never own my own crepe cooking device.
(This is due in no small part to the fact that I am cheap and my wife hates crepes.)
Also, the good folks at Alouette sent me some coupons to try their cheese spread. Since I was in an experimentin’ mood this weekend, I thought I would blend them and make a Mexican style crepe using Crepini Cafe crepes instead of tortillas.
How Was It?
REALLY good. Despite the fact the Crepini Cafe crepes have been in my freezer for a while now, when I baked them for a few minutes in a 350 degree oven, they were still pliable and chewy. They also tasted great and they went very well with the Alouette, which had great flavor and complemented the vegetarian topping very well.
Gardein Chick’n Good Stuff
So for this #MeatlessMonday post, I thought I’d review Gardein‘s Chick’n Good Stuff. The nice folks at Gardein were nice enough to send me some review coupons for their products.
I was really appreciative of them doing so, so much so that I didn’t even think about the fact that you can’t get Gardein in Kansas City (that I know of.) So, on a trip to St. Louis, Mrs. WellDone was able to land the mother load of frozen Gardein products. For this post, I will talk about the Chick’n Good Stuff and in future posts, we’ll talk about the “beef” tips and their “chicken” fingers (both of which were really good.
What is Chick ‘n Good Stuff?
Chick ‘n Good Stuff is basically everything you want in a vegan meal. They take their garden/plant-based chicken and stuff it with marinara and vegan cheese. The outside is breaded with a flavorful coating. You bake, you eat, you enjoy. End of story.
Of all the Gardein products I’ve tasted from Mrs. WellDone’s mother load, these are probably my favorite for one reason: the marinara. Sure, everyone at Gardein just winced a little because I didn’t say the chicken, but that’s not a knock against the plant-based chicken at all. I really did like how moist and tender it was. But the marinara was like… amazing. I would have eaten it all by itself.
Don’t get me wrong, Gardein makes a mean vegan chicken. It has all of the texture and most of the taste of real chicken. (Gardein chicken has a slight aftertaste that was less than chickeny, but that’s common to all plant-based chicken products. It’s also a little harsh because I was paying careful attention to any difference between Gardein and real meat for this review since I think it’s important faux meat products get close to what they are emulating.) So really Chick’n Good Stuff gets high marks in the flavor and the “I’d drive to St. Louis and buy it again even if it means buying less Match Meat category.” Two thumbs up.
The Less Than Good
I’m not labeling this “the bad” by any means, but there was one part of the Gardein that was less good than the others: the vegan cheese. Not that Gardein doesn’t get an A for effort, but as a non-vegan, I could tell it wasn’t real cheese. It just didn’t feel right.
Is that fair of me to judge Gardein on? Maybe not, but I rate vegan food on two scales:
1) Would I eat this as a vegan? The answer is everyday.
2)Would I serve this to my non-vegan friends in order to get them to consider veganism? This is where the Chick’n Good Stuff stumbles. I probably would not because of the vegan cheese. If I had non-vegan friends coming over, I’d make the Crispy Tenders instead because those were almost perfect copies of real chicken.
Buy and try them. Even if you are not vegan, the marinara is good by itself and the whole experience is worth a try.
Picture from gardein.com
There’s a new sensation in my house
I know, we came to this one a little late since grilled pizzas are showing up everywhere, but that’s okay. While I will never be confused as being cutting edge, I do tend to make a mean dish once I finally hop on the culinary bandwagon.
And I have jumped on this bandwagon with both feet.
Grilled Pizza – The Beginning
To begin my initiation, I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some of their regular pizza crust (regular as in note whole grain.) My wife makes a mean pizza crust, but frankly both of us had had long weeks. Thus we made the not-terribly-difficult decision to pay the $3 and let the fine folks at Whole Foods take care of all our crust needs. Plus, Whole Foods pizza crust is pretty darn good.
When I got my crust home, I figured we’d want to have pizza with caramelized onions, so I got them started. Then, I divided the pizza dough into four smaller balls, rolled them out flat, and let them rest.
But what to do about toppings?
Grilled Pizza and Laughing Cow Cheese
A long, long time ago the good folks at Laughing Cow cheese sent me a coupon for a free sample, which, of course, I accepted. Because I am kind of a big dummy, I never actually used the darn thing, but that’s okay since my wife keeps a pretty steady supply in the house. (Sorry for the anecdote, but for FTC purposes, I wanted to say something. I mean I did receive free product, I just never really used it. Silly FTC.) Anway, she loves the stuff and puts it on toast, crackers, tomatoes, etc. Edit: that never happened. It was Alouette and Chavrie that sent me coupons. They’re obviously much better for it.
I wasn’t even thinking about it at first. As I was trying to figure out how to top my resting crusts, I settled on doing a balsamic/caramelized onion jam and goat cheese pizza. The problem: no goat cheese! But, as stated above, we did have Laughing Cow Swiss cheese.
You know, sometimes it’s okay not to have all the ingredients you wanted…
Looking for something spicy, how about
Cajun Chickpea Mash
What is Cajun Chickpea Mash? Well, quite frankly it’s one of those dishes that got created one night because I had leftovers and a hungry family. (A hungry family that, as it just so happens, loves chickpeas.)
To make the cajun mash, I basically started off doing exactly what I would have done if this were a jambalya. That meant starting with a trinity (carrots, onions, celery). However, I didn’t want just another rice dish, so I added potatoes, a few dried peppers , a little tomato sauce, and finally, some chickpeas.
All in all, it turned our pretty darn good.
Fruit Tarts at Skies on Mother’s Day
On Mother’s Day, I took the special mother in my life and our son to Skies’ Restaurant in Kansas City. For those not hip to the Kansas City culinary scene, Skies is the tallest restaurant in the area. It sits proudly atop the Hyatt Regency hotel (one of Kansas City’s snootier fancier hotels) and spins contentedly all day, every day.
Yes, not only is it a very tall restaurant, it’s a revolving restaurant.
Which is pretty cool when you hear about. If you’ve never eaten in a restaurant that spins (and frankly, I don’t think there are many left), I recommend doing it at least once. Just try to keep your bearings so you can remember where the bathroom is.
Anyway, I digress. Upon making my reservations to Skies, I had a certain level of trepidation. I have had some of the most expensive meals in my life at Skies. I just didn’t enjoy them very much. Except for the spinning thing, which really does lose it’s appeal when you decide that you kind of like being about to look out the window and know what you’re going to see.
(The other exception is the Mile High Sky Pie, an eighteen inch high dessert that my wife and I have gone to Skies to order on more than one occasion. I enjoyed those times very much.) So, you may be wondering why I picked Skies as our Mother’s Day restaurant. Honestly, because Caenen Castle and the American were full.
Lucky for me they were full. Let me say in no uncertain terms, the meal I had at Skies was the best Mother’s Day meal I can remember.
Skies was divided into two sections: lunch and breakfast. The breakfast section had omelets to order, French toast, smoothies, breakfast meats, fruit, and other delicacies. The lunch section (where I met chefs John and Nathan and forced them to cook a truly heroic quantity of tenderloin for me) was also excellent. My favorite tenderloin had a nice dijon demi that perfectly accented the meat and went nicely with the pasta made to order. There was also baked chicken in a nice orzo, roasted pork in cranberry sauce, and desserts. Lots of desserts.
However, the highlight of the meal were these little fruit tarts they served. They were just strips of puff pastry with fresh fruit (mango, strawberries, black berries, and blueberries) with a little glaze to hold it all together and to add sweetness. Had I known Tina would like them so much, I would have made something very similar years ago. Because I love them, too.
Here is the recipe if you want to make them.
Recipe: #MeatlessMonday Grilled LeeksAuthor: Chris PerrinMay 3, 2010
So, it must be grilling season because now we’re doing
This is a follow up to grilled green onions, a post in which I talked about the Well Done family’s desire to find new foods and grill them. The inspiration for this little gem struck in the grocery store when we were picking up some green onions.
Suddenly, Mrs. WellDone spots some nice, fresh leeks and asks “Would those be good grilled?”
Which then launched us into the following culinary adventure.
Recipe: Grilled Green OnionsAuthor: Chris PerrinApril 29, 2010
Grilled Green Onions
It’s not May and I’m already bored with the usual cast of grilling characters. In the WellDone household, we do the usual suspects on the grill: chicken breasts, steaks, flank steaks, carrots, onions, and peppers. Sometimes we even do tomatoes to make a nice fire roasted salsa.
But me, I want something more. So we’ve been playing around a lot on the grill and we’ve really become fans of grilled green onions.