Vegan Dirty Rice

I was first introduced to Cajun Cuisine by none other than Emeril Lagasse. As a child I would stay up late and watch him vigorously spicing up dishes in front of a live audience. He was enthusiastic as well as informative as he danced across his kitchen. I was later introduced to Dirty Rice by my cousin Lisa. I didn’t fully understand as a child what it was. All I cared about was that it was absolutely delicious.

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Recently, I’ve been working on “veganizing” my childhood favorites and even though this wasn’t anything that my family cooked from scratch, I do have a fond memory of my cousin sharing this with me. I also have an alpha galactose allergy (mammalian meat) so I couldn’t have typical dirty rice with beef. Instead, I decided to try TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) for a beef substitute and it turned out better than I could have imagined.

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What is TVP? It’s a defatted soy flour that is dehydrated. It is quite inexpensive and can take on the flavor of any seasoning or marinade. In this recipe in particular I used a vegan beef bouillon to re-hydrate the TVP to give it a beefy flavor. I was quite impressed with the way this cooked up in my favorite cast iron skillet.

I hope you enjoy my take on this Cajun favorite. You can enjoy it just like this or I absolutely love using the Hot for Food Sour Cream on top. I also made my kids happy with this recipe which makes me feel like this old favorite of mine just might become a favorite of theirs as well. Emeril Lagasse continues to inspire the new generations.

Do you have a favorite Emeril memory too? Share it with me in the comment section below this post. I’d love to hear about it.

Dirty Rice

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:20180904_205100

To Prepare the TVP:

  • 2 Cups of Texture Vegetable Protein
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 2 Beef Bouillon Cubes
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun Seasoning

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 Cups of Rice
  • 4 Cups of Water
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegan Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of Onion Powder
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Fresh Parsley for Garnishing

Directions:

  1. First, cook your rice the way you know best. If you use a rice cooker, go ahead and use that. I always use a steel pot and a 2 to 1 ratio. Check the rice package for the time on the particular kind of rice that you are using. It can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 so be sure to check. When done, set aside off the heat.
  2. Dissolve your vegan beef bouillon in hot water and add to the TVP. Set aside and let it soak for 10 minutes. When it is softened use paper towel to press the TVP and remove any excess moisture.
  3. Add olive oil and about a tablespoon of vegan butter to a hot skillet. When the butter is melted add in the diced onion and saute until soft.
  4. Toss in your seasoned TVP into the pan and stir well. Remember, this has no dairy, or animal products so you’re really just trying to reduce the moisture, crisp the TVP, and cook it through.
  5. Add minced garlic here and cook until fragrant.
  6. Throw in the cooked rice to the pan and make sure to season your rice! Sprinkle with garlic and onion powder then stir to combine the mixture.
  7. When warmed through and the rice starts to crisp up it’s done. This only take 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Garnish with parsley and enjoy.

Grandma Ellen’s Fried Green Tomatoes (Vegan)

Grandma Ellen's Fried Green Tomatoe

We were wandering through the produce section of our local grocery store and my kids happened to find some green tomatoes. At first the kiddos asked if they were apples, but I explained they were just tomatoes that hadn’t turned red yet. Madison thought they couldn’t be eaten yet, but I had her grab three so I could show her exactly what to do with these unripe tomatoes.

Home we went with our groceries in tow. I was also planning on making a wonderful recipe by the amazing Mississippi Vegan for Garden Rolls. I’ll leave the link to that recipe here. I basically was going the route of a good ole fashioned Southern supper.

Mississippi Vegan Garden Herb Rolls with Grandma Ellen's Fried Green Tomatoes

I remember when I was young, I was quite picky. My Grandma Ellen wouldn’t have any of that though. She handed me a round, browned, piece of food and I asked her, “What is this?” To which she replied, “Try it first and then I’ll tell you what’s in it.” Of course, I loved it and I still remember that tangy, crispy disk of deliciousness. I’ve always carried that soft little push to try new things and it’s in her honor that I do my best to try everything (as long as it won’t kill me). It’s also why I named this recipe after her. As soon as these came out of the pan I was instantly transported back to my childhood.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Herb Rolls Cauliflower Mash and Meatless Balls

In the coming months I am hoping to share more family inspired recipes. Dishes that truly mean something to me from my life and I hope you enjoy them. While some of these family members are no longer with us on this Earth, I do feel like their spirits live on with the recipes they left us.

Grandma Ellen's Fried Green Tomatoes

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Instructions:                                                         Grandma Ellen's Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 3 Green Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Cup Just Caesar Dressing
  • 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour (Sub for Rice Flour if you are gluten free.)
  • 1/2 Cup of Panko (You can use Rice Panko or Gluten Free Panko.)

Directions:

  1. Core your tomato and slice in rounds about a quarter of an inch to a half inch thick depending on your taste. If they’re too think they’ll fall apart.
  2. Dip each slice into the Just Caesar Dressing to substitute for egg wash. This gives a lot of great flavor.
  3. Dust in the all purpose flour then back into the Just Caesar Dressing.
  4. Cover with Panko Bread Crumbs.
  5. Fry in a skillet with about an inch of oil. Wait until it is hot before putting the tomatoes in. If it doesn’t sizzle when you add it, it isn’t hot enough.
  6. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  7. Remove and place on a paper towel lined plate or platter to absorb excess oil.
  8. Enjoy.

Finding my Green Thumb

When I was a little girl, I remember going to a store in our small town in the River Valley of Arkansas and picking up a little sprig of a rose bush. It was in a little water cup and I remember it’s pink flowers vividly. It’s funny the things that we remember and forget. If I remember correctly, it was planted at the house I remember growing up in Clarksville on the side of the house.

My Back Porch Garden

My mom had planted a couple rose bushes and I remember loving to look at them when they were in bloom. My mom often complains that she doesn’t have a green thumb but I don’t believe that’s true. I’ve seen her do well. Actually, many of the woman on both sides of my family have green thumbs. My Aunt Linda on my mom’s side (her oldest sister) used to plant flowers in many creative manners. My Nana (on my dad’s side) has had a huge garden ever since I can remember with all manners of homegrown food.

It’s no surprise that I have tried for a few years to find my green thumb. I had it as a little girl and I’ve tried a few times to do some small herbs in my kitchen. If you’ve watched my YouTube videos you’ll realize this wasn’t the best because I have one tiny window in the kitchen and a large glass back door. So either the plants get no light or practically catch on fire.

Last Year's Potato Plants
Last Year’s Potato Plants

Last year I started an experiment to see if I could grow some potatoes from some old and gone potatoes. The idea sprouted (pun intended) from a Facebook video suggesting I could grow a whole host of potatoes in a pot on my back porch. It was a great experiment and I loved watching the green sprouts jump out towards the sun. Unfortunately, my father-in-law came to examine them because the leaves began to turn yellow. The soil we used was cheap and from the dollar store to keep this initial project cheap. The soil made the potatoes sick so they weren’t viable. However, the amazing thing was, when I dug up the plants there were in fact, more baby potatoes! From scraps to potatoes!

This year I learned my lesson. I used some savings and took a trip to my local Home Depot and decided to go with organic soil and try simpler plants like herbs, romaine lettuce, and cucumbers. My basil ended up dying because we had a couple late freezes this Spring. It was a really weird Spring as far as typical Arkansas weather. I was quite sad because I love basil. It’s probably one of my favorite herbs next to Dill. I currently have very healthy chocolate mint, sweet mint, lavender, and lemon balm. As far as larger crop plants I have a baby lima bean plant that Madison brought from school that is going amazing as well as romaine lettuce and another planter full of cucumber vines.

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about container gardening and I really love Gary Pilarchik, The Rusted Gardener. He has a lot of great tutorials and did a great job teaching me about my cucumbers. I also hope to use his awesome compost pipe idea if I can get my garden going in the yard rather than on the back porch. I’ve been worried with my lack of experience that I might not be able to combat the land because it’s been riddled with tornado debris twice in 2011 and 2014. There’s no telling what might be harming the composition of the dirt in our yard. However, starting by learning how our plants should look, how they grow, and the importance of good quality soil will be valuable for the future garden that is already growing in the garden of my mind.

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There’s still a long way to go before we’re able to see how this green thumb experiment will end up. Summer in Arkansas is extremely hot and they can often get really dry. Watering will be very important and managing the extreme heat. I’ve had a friend and local homesteader recommend that I bring my lettuce in about mid-summer because it doesn’t work very well with the extreme heat. Many lessons will be learned regardless and I’m so thankful to be able to go out to my back porch to grab some great herbs or more and more food.

Tell me about your favorite plants to grow where you live below! I’d love to hear from you and your plant babies.

Strawberry Tarts

Strawberries! What a wonderful berry indeed. Strawberries have certainly been a family favorite for years and years. We look forward to when local farmer’s markets start up and we’re able to buy some from our local growers. I took a quick trip to a local friend’s homestead to see how she’s getting her strawberries growing this year. She says that strawberries grow really great in containers but that they do just fine if you plant them in the ground.

 

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Seeing her amazingly beautiful strawberry plants encouraged me to consider adding strawberries to my planter garden next season! Off I went inspired to procure some strawberries that were ripe and ready to eat. I was lucky to find some great local Arkansas Strawberries from ‘Sue’s Garden.’ It was a tough job fighting the kids off of these to make them into anything other than a snack.

I was going through the cupboards as well and decided I wanted to use some ingredients I had on hand to try to make something sweet. I pulled out some tart tins that I had bought but hadn’t used yet and away I went into the kitchen to experiment like a mad scientist. Strawberry tarts aren’t unusual but I do have the added complications of being dairy and egg free. I was also using a flour called “Tigernut Flour” which is a gluten free alternative made from a starchy tuber. What had I gotten myself into?

Strawberry Tart Pinterest Image

In the end, my experiment was a success with a wonderful crumbly crust, sweet strawberries, and a tangy chocolate sauce. I also used some chocolate mint that I’ve been growing in a container on my back porch to garnish to send this dish into outer space!

StrawberryTartwithChocolate

If you try to recreate this yummy treat please be sure to tag me throughout social media @workhardeatkind so I can see!

Strawberry Tarts

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Ingredients:                                                                       StrawberryTartwithChocolate

Crust:

  • 2 Cups of Tigernut Flour
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Cold Vegan Butter
  • A Few Sprinkles of Water if Needed

Toppings:

  • Strawberry Jelly (Preferably something organic without high fructose corn syrup.)
  • Sliced Strawberries
  • Chocolate Chips
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Almond Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil
  • Chocolate Mint

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Mix two cups of tigernut flour and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add in pieces of very cold butter into the mix and stir until the mixture becomes crumbly.
  4. If needed add a few sprinkles of water to get it to combine into a thick batter.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
  6. In the meantime, slice your strawberries and melt your chocolate chips with the almond milk and coconut oil. You can do this by using a microwave for 30 seconds, stirring, and then repeating until you have a thin, runny chocolate sauce.
  7. Put your chocolate sauce into a reusable condiment bottle for easier drizzling.
  8. When your crust batter has chilled and is more firm, simply spread it out into tart tins, preferably with the removable bottoms for easier removal. Push it up along the sides. The thinner the better.
  9. Place all of the tart tins on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 18-20 minutes. You should check them at 10 minutes and poke the middle with the tines of a fork if they are starting to lift.
  10. Keep a close eye on them. The thinner the crust the less time. When it’s golden brown it’s done.
  11. Let them cool completely.
  12. Top each tart with a tablespoon or two of strawberry jelly or preserves.
  13. Layer the strawberry slices on top of the jelly.
  14. Drizzle with chocolate and garnish with chocolate mint.
  15. Enjoy!

You can now find the video for this recipe on YouTube by clicking here.

The Easiest Tofu Scramble (Basics)

Tofu Scramble Pinterest Image

** This post may contain affiliate/referral links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.**

Tofu scrambles are a hot ticket recipe for new vegans. You can see veggie laden scrambles and some people have even figured out how to do omelets. (I’m not there just yet y’all.) But, how does it taste? What do you put in a tofu scramble so it’s not bland? I’m going to tell you it’s really not as hard as it seems and my kids (one of which is allergic to eggs) enjoy this just as much as their regular chicken eggs but without the side effects.

Big Southern Vegan Breakfast Plate
Black salt is an inexpensive way to add an egg like flavor to your egg dishes. You can find the one that I bought at this link Black Salt 3.5 oz.. Trust me when I say, a tiny bit goes a very long way. You can also customize your tofu scramble by the types of tofu that you use.

For instance, if you like a softer, runnier type of scrambled egg then all you have to do is use a medium to firm tofu. You can also use a sauce to flavor rather than just adding seasoning. Me? I prefer a nice dry, fluffy egg. How do you obtain this firmer texture? Use an extra firm tofu! The options really are just as endless as using your conventional chicken egg. If you can dream it you can make it plant based.

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Our family favorite is to add some vegan cheese and some ketchup. One of my kiddos even loves a little touch of mustard on top. Do what you want! It’s your scramble. I’m just here to teach you the basics. But, be sure to come back and share with the whole class when you’re done. Tag me on social media @workhardeatkind and/or leave me a comment letting us know your favorite scramble.

The Easiest Tofu Scramble

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
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Ingredients:                                       20180130_100027

  • 1 Block of Tofu (Firmness depending on your preference.)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • Pink Himalayan Salt, To Taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • A Pinch of Black Salt
  • A small amount of Oil for the Pan

Directions:

  1. Remove your tofu from the package and pat dry with a towel. You can lightly squeeze it to make sure that it doesn’t have excess water within the tofu.
  2. Add oil to a pan and bring it to medium to medium high heat. When the pan is hot you can add your tofu. Be careful! Any extra water can make it pop and sizzle.
  3. Start breaking the tofu apart with a spatula.
  4. Add your seasonings and mix well until well combined. You should see the tofu change color from the turmeric to a light yellow, egg like color.
  5. When the scramble is hot throughout it is ready to eat. This should only take 5 to 8 minutes.
  6. Enjoy in your favorite breakfast manner whether it’s topped with ketchup with vegan bacon on the side, or stuffed between two yummy pieces of bread.

Chocolate & Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

A few months ago I was on a health kick and I was watching a lot of Jon Venus (a vegan YouTuber/body builder). I tried out one of his baked oatmeal recipes and tweaked it a bit to make it my own. You can see the video where me and the kiddos tried this here.

It’s such an appealing idea because it makes a TON of oatmeal that can feed me and all three kids for more than one meal. Thank goodness that body builders eat a lot! Their recipes fit my family size just perfect! One night I was wanting to make some for the week ahead and decided to play around with ingredients that I had on hand. What we created was a bit of delicious, making stuff up magic.

Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oatmeal Pinterest Image

A small disclaimer… Jon’s measurements were in metric so I tried my best to do these measurements with what I had. However, I’m from Arkansas, raised in the South… We are chronic “eye-ballers” just throwing stuff together. Please don’t forget the value of tasting as you go. What can I say y’all? If you wanted a perfect recipe with perfect measurements you stumbled across the wrong gal. Give it a try! Tag me on social media if you do so I can see! Plus, I want you to share your favorite oatmeal and fruit combo in the comments below. Do you like peaches and almonds? Cranberry raisins and sunflower seeds? Sharing is caring my friend!

I have included a link to a few of my favorite ingredients that I love to use in these recipes below that I have tried and tested. Please feel free to check them out but please keep in mind:

*This post may contain affiliate/referral links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services.*

Chocolate and Strawberry Baked Oatmeal

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 300 Grams of Rolled Oats
  • 600 Milliliters of Warm Water
  • 1 Small Bag of Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/2 Cup of Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk
  • 2 Scoops of Vega Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup of Chocolate Chips (I typically use Enjoy Life.)
  • 1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup (Optional for added sweetness.)

 

Directions:

  1. Soak your oats for an hour ahead of time with the warm water and preheat your oven to 355F degrees.
  2. Add your soaked oats, almond milk, and protein in a bowl until well combined. The protein powder can be slightly clumpy so stir until smooth.
  3. Then, stir in any extras like chocolate chips. You really don’t need the maple syrup, but if you’re not used to less sweet plant based meals you may need to add a little sweetness.
  4. Pour into a deep casserole dish or baking pan.
  5. Insert the strawberries down into the oatmeal, slightly spaced apart. I used whole strawberries but feel free to slice them smaller if you like.
  6. Place the casserole dish in the middle of the oven rack for 45 minutes.
  7. Enjoy! You can eat this hot and warm straight out of the oven, but it also tastes great cold then next morning.