Bacon-less Brunch

One of the most frequent exclamations we hear in the South about being vegetarian is “oh, I could NEVER give up bacon!” or “don’t you miss bacon?”  While there is a tendency to add bacon to just about….everything…in southern cuisine, I think we’ve figured out enough techniques to get the same smoky, meaty, and complex flavors that most dishes with ham or bacon contain– without the meat. But how do you replace bacon, the actual ‘entree’, without turning to over-processed soy products?

You don’t! Who says brunch has to contain meat in any form?  Since many of our friends work in education, we did a fun Monday morning brunch this week to celebrate winter break, bringing together good friends, good food, and plenty of holiday-inspired drinks! We made a brunch so filling, so varied, and full of so many flavors that no one missed the meat!

Baked Oatmeal Casserole
Blueberries and banana come together with a touch of honey and cinnamon to make a delicious and EASY oatmeal! No stirring, no mess- just pure goodness that’s healthy but also sweet enough to satisfy the taste buds of your biggest sweet tooth!

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Whole Wheat Waffles and Mini Quiches

This is my absolute favorite waffle recipe- with coconut oil, whole wheat flour, and a touch of honey, they’re healthy but don’t taste like ‘health food’. You could easily add wheat germ or flax seed to the batter for some additional health benefits, but I like them the way they are- and no one even knows they are whole wheat! The quiches we made with onions, baby portobellos and broccoli, which we roasted then added to a mini-muffin pan with Monterrey jack cheese and  a sprinkle of cheddar. Yum!

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Banana Bread with chocolate chips and Andes mint chips

Two of our friends experimented with the normal banana bread recipe, and our favorite by far was the one with Andes chips. The combination of banana and mint (plus chocolate!) was a fun twist, especially around the holidays, and this decadent bread was a great brunch dessert!

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White Chocolate and Raspberry Scones
A rare item in our house is a box or pre-packaged mix, but D found this at World Market and we figured we’d give it a try. These were tart, sweet, and surprisingly moist– they were also really easy to make, which makes them perfect for any morning!

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We capped off our brunch with a bar stocked with cold brewed coffee (we love our Toddy!), hot apple cider, lemongrass tea, and cinnamon spice Kahlua and Irish cream. There’s nothing better than brunch with good friends on a beautiful, sunny, winter day, celebrating not being at work! Happy holidays to all!

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Coco-grass Curry Soup with Tofu

There are times where you just can’t shake the craving for a certain flavor profile. In our house, it was the warm, spicy, and sinus-clearing taste of red curry– but we wanted to mellow it out a bit. Our lemongrass plant goes into winter-mode in the next week or so and we weren’t ready to part with the beautiful stalks, so we went for a Thai-inspired coconut curry soup with lemongrass, lime, and tofu.

delicious on a cool day- transports you to SE Asia!

delicious on a cool day- transports you to SE Asia!

Coco-grass Curry Soup with Tofu 

2 tablespoons coconut oil, or vegetable oil
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
5-6 stalks of lemongrass (4-5 inches each) plus (optional) lemongrass leaves — all washed
2 tsp red curry paste
1/2 pound washed and diced baby portobella mushrooms
3-4 cups of vegetable broth
1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce (if you’re not being vegetarian)
1 15-oz can of light coconut milk
1 pound pressed and diced firm tofu
lime juice, to taste
salt to taste

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan (like a dutch oven) and saute ginger, lemongrass stalks (but not leaves), and curry paste just until flavors combine- make sure the curry doesn’t burn. Stir in mushrooms and stir to coat in the ginger/curry mixture, then add in the vegetable broth and soy sauce/fish sauce. Let the temperature of the broth come up to a simmer, add in the leaves of the lemongrass, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add in the coconut milk and stir, then gently add tofu. Cook another 10 minutes on low to let flavors combine. Remove lemongrass and add in lime juice. Serve over rice or rice noodles.

Smooth and spicy, this soup is everything you could want. It gets better with time, so save enough for leftovers- you’ll want it later! With the mushrooms and tofu, it’s hearty and filling, but the lemongrass keeps it light. The coconut adds sweetness and creaminess, but the lime gives a punch. We can’t wait to make this again, especially before we lose our lemongrass for the winter. With such a diverse group of flavors, I promise you won’t miss the meat! If you do eat seafood, replace the tofu with shrimp for an authentic version.

The newest fun addition to the Vegetarian For Two kitchen is a wedding gift from our friend Michelle. This beautiful wooden cutting board was personalized for us and since it’s too pretty to cut on, will be the new backdrop for many recipes to come. Thanks Michelle!

cutting board

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