Half-Baked

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As is my MO, I am once again ashamed at the length of time since my last post. Hopefully, this one is so fun, you forgive me. Yeah? Today, I’m giving out three recipes for the price of one…woohoo! I call these “Half-Baked” recipes because they aren’t from scratch. I call them awesome because they’re fast and comfort food. I’d also like to take this moment to apologize for my very obvious fascination with Instagram and Hipstagram. I promise the non-iPhone camera will come out of hiding soon.

Today we’re going with Caprésé Pizza, Vegan Poutine and Vegan Animal Style Fries, Just Like In N Out! My favorite part about all of these recipes is that they contain ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. If you don’t, the components you probably need are fairly inexpensive or have a recipe for a great, affordable version of the ingredient!

First up, Caprésé Pizza

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Call your local pizza joint and place the following order: Large pizza, regular/pan crust (thin doesn’t cut it here), no sauce, Roma tomatoes, onion optional. That’s it. Nothing else- no other toppings, no sauces, maybe…maybe extra cheese, if you love heart disease.

You’ll need four ingredients: fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and olive oil

Chop the basil: I like to cut it into tiny strips if the leaves aren’t too big. If they are, just cut down the vein, then slice into thin strips and set aside

Reduce the balsamic: 1/4 c. Balsamic, 1/8 c. Brown sugar. Throw them into a small saucepan together and heat up till it starts to simmer. Let it simmer about 5-7 minutes until it’s a bit syrupy and leaves tracks when you run a spoon through it. Remove from the heat and let cool just a bit.

Assemble: thank your delivery man and tip him well. Open the box, sprinkle on the basil. Drizzle the balsamic reduction all over the pizza and top with a light drizzle of olive oil.

Next up, Vegan Poutine

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Now, this one, I can’t really vouch for because I’ve never had the real thing. However, this was pretty darn fantastic, if I do say so myself. Now, if you want an animal version, just substitute the broth in the recipe for beef or chicken broth. As for the “cheese curds,” I’m not quite sure where you can get the real thing. Perhaps a gourmet or specialty food store? If your local grocery can make orders for you, check with them as well. Or…OR just make the version here! It’s not quite the same, but it’s high in protein and a bit healthier than cholesterol-laden cheese.

Make the “cheese”: I followed this recipe for Vegan Feta Cheese I used Firm tofu instead of Extra Firm, and I didn’t press it as long as I probably should have, but it turned out okay. I’d venture to say if you use the Extra Firm, it’ll turn out even better. This takes about 15 minutes, tops. Go ahead and make it, and put it in the fridge.

Get some frozen French fries- I prefer the crinkle cut kind. They get crispy and have a good potato to crisp ratio that will hold it’s own against the gravy. Prepare as many as you want according to the package (I recommend baking them).

While they’re baking, follow this recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and the Post Punk Kitchen for Savory Mushroom Gravy SPOILER ALERT: it’s to die for. Seriously, soooo good.

Assemble: plate up your hot fries, throw a bit of “cheese” on there (as much as you want), and smother those babies in all the gravy you can stand!

Finally, Vegan Animal-Style Fries, Just Like In N Out!

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Now, these I can promise you taste quite authentic! They are also the most unhealthy thing on this list, I am sure. To all my friends who live nowhere near an In N Out, you can also use this recipe- just use beef broth instead of soy, and use real cheese and mayo instead of veggie slices and Vegenaise!

You’ll need thin cut fries for this one. Crinkles and steak fries are great, but not authentic. I can’t fry up the fresh fries like In N Out, so even the thin cut are a bit of a short cut, but it still works. Again, throw the fries in the oven according to the package directions.

While they’re baking, dice a small sweet onion into tiny pieces and add to a hot, oiled sauté pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions turn translucent. Add a broth made from water and soy sauce- about 1/4 c. Sauce to 1 c. Water. You’ll only add about 1/3-1/2 cup of this broth to the onions, though. Again- add ONLY 1/3-1/2 c. of broth to the onions. Throw in a dash or two of liquid smoke and let it all simmer until the broth is absorbed and evaporates. Keep the onions warm while you make the animal sauce

Animal Sauce: Combine 1/4 c. Vegenaise with 3 Tbsp. of ketchup and 2 Tbsp. of dill relish. (here’s an awesome, easy and spot-on recipe for homemade Vegenaise, if you can’t find it or find it far too expensive like I do)

Assemble: dump the fries on a plate or in a basket, add as many sautéed onions as you’d like, top with a slice of Veggie Slices American or Cheddar Cheese (you want the processed, Kraft Singles kind here). Heat in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, or just until the cheese melts. Put as much Animal Sauce on it as you want. I overdid the sauce in the photo, but they still turned out amazing!

Thanks guys! Have fun!

~Jess

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