September 21, 2012

Tofurky Chorizo Style Grounds

This week, it's another chorizo! Everyone likes chorizo, right? Let's give this one a whirl: Tofurky Chorizo Style Grounds.

The Tofurky people recommended a wide variety of ideas for this product, but I went my own direction with it. And honestly, it was probably the best meal I had all week. Unfortunately I un-did both the vegan and gluten-free qualities of this fake meat in the process, but you could modify it to your own diet. Check below the review for my recipe!

I cooked this up with some bell pepper, onion, and zucchini, all from our local farmer's market. Then, and here's where we get crazy, served it up in some tortillas with Mexican rice, cheddar cheese, egg (scrambled for me, over easy for my wife), salsa, and sour cream. I'll be honest, when I was throwing this together, the zucchini was totally an afterthought - I had some, cut up, in the fridge, and I thought, hey - I'll just chuck this in too. But seriously, it added a great dimension to the entire meal that I think really made it great instead of simply good.

I imagine it would be just as good without the dairy and eggs, but we're not vegans here, so I'll leave the experimenting up to you fine folks. If you're going the gluten-free route, you could use corn tortillas instead of the flour tortillas we had on hand, and I'm confident that would work very well. When I ate this as leftovers the next morning, I had the rice, the veggie/chorizo mixture, a little bit of sour cream, some salsa, and a couple eggs cooked on top (no cheese, no tortilla), but my former exchange student from Japan who is now back in the state as a college student had just the veggies and rice for her lunch, and she liked it as well. So really, you could have this in a multitude of ways. Just don't skip the zucchini!

Quick note on the chorizo on its own - I heated it up and tasted it plain before adding it to the veggie mixture, just to make sure it was going to be okay, and I was pleasantly surprised to note that it was actually pretty good on its own. Nicely chewy, like a ground meat should be, and a good flavor without being overly spicy. People who like a lot of spice may want to add something like, I don't know, Tabasco, or a hot salsa or something. Whatever spice-lovers eat. You'd know better than I would.

The experience:
Texture - chewy in the good way
Flavor - flavorful without being overwhelmingly spicy

Final grade for this attempt: A

Veggie-Chorizo mixture for breakfast burritos or huevos rancheros or whatever

1 red bell pepper (or whatever color floats your boat), diced
1 red onion (again - yellow or white would also be fine), diced
1 medium-size zucchini, cut into bite-size chunks
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package Tofurky Chorizo Style Grounds

Add any or all of the following to customize:
    tortillas
    cheese
    eggs
    sour cream
    salsa
    rice
    whatever else you like on this sort of thing - I can't do everything for you!

For the veggies - just heat the oil and veggies in a large skillet over medium-high heat until they reach the desired texture. I think I cooked mine for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the chorizo grounds, and stir until the mixture is completely combined, and heated through. Serve with whatever other stuff your heart desires. Enjoy!

September 14, 2012

Lean Cuisine Veggie Cuisine Enchilada Rojo

It's been a while since I've reviewed a frozen entrée, and I had a coupon for this product (one dollar off two… stay tuned for the second variety), so I decided to try out Lean Cuisine Veggie Cuisine Enchilada Rojo with Mexican Rice.

Naturally the actual meal in the plastic container looks nowhere near as attractive as the picture on the box, but I won't bother downgrading it for that. I'm used to that sort of thing with frozen meals. Someone gets paid the big bucks to make the picture look good - nobody cares if the inside doesn't match. I'm sure if you tried hard enough, you could take the cooked food and make it look sort of like the picture, but nobody cares enough. Including me. Moving on.

So I heated it up in the microwave, as directed, and got ready to eat. I tried a bite of the rice first, and immediately noticed a strong cilantro and jalapeño kick. Like, really strong. I got a little worried about my ability to actually eat this, but after adding a dollop of sour cream, it was totally edible. Just be forewarned that if you're one of those cilantro-tastes-like-soap people, this is very cilantro-y. The enchilada itself was, let's go with underwhelming. The tortilla part was fine, and I assume the fake chicken strips were wrapped up in there, as the picture shows, but I didn't see or taste them. It didn't really matter too much, as the flavor of the sauce on top (also pretty spicy, but again, handled with the sour cream) kind of drowned everything out. It was good, just strong. I could have been eating a cheese enchilada for all I knew. Unfortunately it didn't occur to me until just now to dissect it to see how much fake meat was tucked in there, so I can't speak to that, but I'll just go ahead and assume that there was not enough of it.

Overall, however, the meal was pretty good, once I dulled the heat a little, to match my tolerance. More heat-loving people might enjoy it as packaged.

The experience:
Texture - tortilla a little dry, but eaten all together, it worked
Flavor - spicy with a strong cilantro presence - overall pretty good

Final grade for this attempt: B+

September 7, 2012

Sophie's Kitchen Breaded Vegan Fish Fillets

This week, it's time to explore some more fake seafood. Not so sure about this, but here we go. Let's take a look at Sophie's Kitchen Breaded Vegan Fish Fillets.

First of all, the box claims that these are "perfect for…everyone who just loves scrumptious food" - well, as I'm a fan of scrumptious food, I was led to believe this was going to be good. So I popped these into the oven, cooked them for the suggested amount of time, and then about 10 minutes more, hoping they'd crisp up, even a little. They look like they were going to get nice and crunchy, but they never got much crunch to them. Just a tiny bit on the edges, and I waited until they had some good color to them. Maybe I'm supposed to burn them to get them crunchy?

Alright, looking past the exterior, how was it? Well, the inside was mushy and stringy-looking. There were some weird white speckles all over the fillets, and after checking the ingredient list, I decided it was related to the "multigrain blend" listed - the white bits were probably oats or something. But how was the flavor? Well, not even the slightest bit fishy-tasting. It's hard to describe exactly what it DID taste like, but it wasn't awesome.

I decided to cast aside the vegan label and put some tartar sauce on these, to see if I could trick my brain into thinking it was more fishy-tasting. It did improve the eating experience slightly, but only because I could taste the fillet less. I tried a bite with lots of sauce and the very crispiest edge bit, and thought REALLY hard about fish sticks, but I was not able to trick my tongue.

These could easily be marketed as chicken patties rather than fish fillets, and it would be more accurate. I didn't hate them, but there was really nothing to recommend them either.

The experience:
Texture - not as crunchy as I was expecting on the outside; mushy and weird on the inside
Flavor - not the slightest bit fishy-tasting, just a little weird

Final grade for this attempt: C