Caprese salad...pasta? YES PLEASE!!

| Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | 0 comments |
So I don't really need to tell you how to make a Caprese salad. It's pretty simple, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic glaze. I like those things...I now know that I also like all those things mixed into pasta (who doesn't like pasta??)!! I started by putting the balsamic vinegar in a small pan over medium heat, once it began to boil I reduced to the heat to medium low and let it simmer until it started getting thick and could coat the back of a spoon. I set that aside and boiled my pasta. I used the Garden Delight Penne. While that was boiling I cut yellow and red cherry tomatoes in half, cut fresh mozzarella balls in half (I used the small mozzarella balls), and cut my basil. Once the pasta was done I strained it and rinsed it in cold water - not only to stop the cooking process, but to also make sure the pasta wasn't warm (you don't wanna melt the cheese). I then poured a little bit of olive oil onto the pasta so it wouldn't stick together, then I mixed everything together and drizzled with the balsamic glaze...mmmmmm. It was SO good. Not only was it tasty, but it's healthy AND cheap to make! You should really try it...it was like a "party in my tummy. So yummy, so yummy."


Quick, healthy, and delicious

| Monday, September 27, 2010 | 0 comments |
So tonight I needed to throw dinner together fast...and was highly unmotivated to do so. Alas, my children have to eat, so I had no choice right? I ended up making this quinoa dish and it turned out really good so I decided to post it. I served it with a salmon burger patty (yeah, I generally "don't cook fish at home"...I know. I'm seriously a walking contradiction. But I got them at Costco and they looked delicious and easy to make on days like these.) Anyway...here it is:


Lemony Lime Black Bean Quinoa
Serves 4

1 c quinoa
2 c broth of your choice (I used vegetable broth)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 small avocado, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced & sauteed in 1/2 T olive oil
1 t buttery spread (I used Earth Balance)
Juice of 1 lemon & 1 lime
Zest of half a lemon (about 1/2 t)


1) Bring broth to a boil, add quinoa, return to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and cook until broth is absorbed (about 12-15 minutes)


2) Add the rest of the ingredients to the quinoa and combine, taking special care not to smash the avocado.


3) Enjoy.



Pretty simple dish, but very tasty and super quick.

Nutritional Info per Serving: Calories: 374, Fat: 14g (remember, good fats from the avocado), Carbs: 55g, Fiber: 13g, Protein: 13g



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Do you know what today is??

| Saturday, September 18, 2010 | 0 comments |
It's exactly 1 month and 13 days from HALLOWEEN!! Yes, I'm counting down. Halloween is by far my most favorite holiday EVER! Chris and I have already planned on a trip to Knott's Scary Farm. Yes, the scary part is right - they have a huge Halloween celebration starting Sept 24th through 31 October. Mazes, scare zones...evil clowns (I HATE clowns - especially the creepy clown doll from Dead Silence - did I mention I hate dolls too?)...it will be glorious.

Horrible movie, but this was CREEPY, CREEPY, CREEPY

Check out THESE other scary ass, evil clowns of horror

But yeah, so, I've dressed up pretty much every year since I was born (and have the pictures to prove it)...the only time I was unable to dress up was this past year because I was in Iraq (hella LAME.) I love decorating the house...even more so than at Christmas. I already started putting up decorations (is it kinda early??) and have started buying stuff to create a cemetery in my front yard (oh, I will definitely post pics). I even bought costumes for my boys already. They're gonna be Mario and Luigi - hilarious!! Of course I had to try the costumes on them - it was the funniest thing ever in life. A great place to go is Spirit Halloween. They pretty much have everything from costumes to decorations. They even have creepy zombie kids and scary ass, evil clowns (did I mention I hate clowns?) this year. Happy Early Halloween...

Yeah, this was 2 years ago - at 25...sad isn't it? haha

Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

| Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | 0 comments |
So I had made this last week and it was BOMB!! But of course I tweaked it and mixed tofu into the cheese mixture. It came out tasty!! The remaining cheese mix that was left over I mixed into pasta with marinara and fed it to my boys (I have twin 2.5 year old boys). They loved it!! (Original recipe here)

Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Portobellos

6 baby portobello mushroom caps (or 4 large caps)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 c ricotta cheese
1/2 block tofu (I used the Silken kind)
1 10 oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed & water drained
1/3 c Parmesan (plus extra for sprinkling on top of stuffed mushrooms)
1/2 t each of rosemary, oregano, & basil
1 T Nutritional Yeast
3/4 c marinara sauce, warmed


1) Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place mushroom caps, gill-side up, on the prepared pan. Roast until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

2) While waiting for mushrooms to be done, mash ricotta, tofu, spinach, Parmesan, herbs, nutritional yeast, salt, & pepper in a medium bowl.

3) When the mushrooms are tender, pour out any liquid accumulated in the caps. Return the caps to the pan gill-side up & season w/ salt & pepper. Spread 1 tablespoon marinara into each cap (2 T if using large caps); cover the remaining sauce to keep warm. Mound a generous 1/4 cup ricotta filling into each cap (1/3 c if using large caps) and sprinkle with Parmesan (or sprinkle mozzarella or use a slice of provolone). Bake until hot, about 10 minutes. Serve with the remaining marinara sauce.


The original recipe is bomb too...although I omitted the olives cause I hate them. I just tweaked the original recipe to add some more protein to the dish so it could be a sufficient main course.

MEAT + DRESS = FAIL!

| Monday, September 13, 2010 | 0 comments |
So I watched the VMAs last night...please tell me why the hell Lady Gaga was wearing a dress made of meat?? I mean...really? Ya know, I thought it was maybe just fabric or something...but no, it was real flesh. I understand she wants to make a "statement" that she (along with others) should not be viewed as a piece of meat...but did you really need to do it like that? And then asking Cher to hold her "meat purse." Foul.

Yep...real meat - no imitations here


This is the site she got the hat from (maybe the dress as well?)

http://www.hatsofmeat.com/
Okay, so this is an actual retailer...wtf? Seriously? So other people "enjoy" wearing hats made of meat too? I just don't get it. What is the allure in wearing greasy, dead animal flesh on you? Even if I was a carnivore, I still wouldn't wear this. It's disgusting. I really don't understand people. You think maybe someone could "enlighten" me??

The Ooiest of the Gooiest

| Sunday, September 12, 2010 | 0 comments |
So tonight I made the fattiest, tastiest, ooey, gooey goodness ever!! A broccoli & cheddar filling and/or topping that was melty deliciousness. I stuffed crepes with it (yeah, I'm on this crepe thing today. Tonight's crepes turned out to be WAY easier to make!!) I got the crepe recipe from Good Housekeeping and then devised the filling after seeing a recipe for savory crepes.

Crepe

3 lg eggs
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
2 T Earth Balance
1/2 t salt

1) Blend all ingredients until smooth (I used a hand mixer), scraping down sides of bowl. Cover bowl of batter and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow the flour to absorb the liquid. You can also let it refrigerate overnight.

2) Grease a medium size pan. When heated place about 1/4 of batter in the middle of the pan, pick up the pan and tilt/rotate to coat bottom of the pan with the batter. Cook crepe until the top is dry and the bottom is lightly browned. With spatula, flip the crepe and lightly brown the other side (about 30 seconds or so). Grease pan and repeat until all the batter is cooked.

Broccoli & Cheddar Deliciousness

1/2 T oil
1 Red Onion, diced
2 (10 oz) pkgs frozen broccoli, thawed (I actually used the Steamables kind and heated them in the microwave)
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup w/ Roasted Garlic
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 c water
2 T cornstarch
2 c cheddar

1) Mix cornstarch into water and set aside.

2) Heat oil in a nonstick skillet, add onion and cook onion until soft. Add water/cornstarch mix, broccoli, soup, salt, & pepper. Heat to boiling & boil for 1 minute. Turn off heat and add 1.5 c cheese. Mix until gooey.

3) Use in crepes or as a topping for a baked potato


If you're gonna stuff this into crepes, preheat an oven to 400º. Spread about 1/4 of the mix onto one half of the crepe and roll it up, placing it seam side down into a greased baking dish. Spoon any remaining broccoli mix on top on the crepes, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for about 15 minutes.

I Love Really Thin Pancakes

| | 0 comments |
"You know, just to put this in there, I had a whole mess of crepes this morning. They're just like pancakes, maybe even better."

So I made crepes for the first time this morning...holy shit what an endeavor that was. I had found two different recipes for them, one sweet and one savory. I went with the sweet one for breakfast this morning. A strawberry filled crepes recipe I got from cooks.com. The crepe itself actually turned out pretty good, but the filling - blech. It was kinda foul, not gonna lie. I'm thinking next time I make these I can fill them with chocolate or Nutella and banana. Healthy, I know...but delicious none the less. If you feel like taking on the task of making crepes, I posted my tweaked version of the original recipe below. Once I try the savory one out (which is a lot less complicated than this one - I mean, I've NEVER beat egg whites to stiff peaks before, perhaps that's the amateur baker in me - check 'em out though...)

I can treat my egg whites just like a "Blizzard"


I will admit that this was an accomplishment for me though...c'mon, french pancakes - awesomeness.

SWEET CREPES

1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 c sugar
2 c unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk or regular milk)
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites, beaten
1 T Earth Balance (or your choice of buttery spread), melted
1 t lemon juice

1) Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.

2) Beat rest of ingredients until smooth. Fold in egg whites (this is a pain in the ass too by the way, but maybe that's just me) It's now ready to cook.

3) Grease a medium size pan. When heated place about 1/4 of batter in the middle of the pan, pick up the pan and tilt/rotate to coat bottom of the pan with the batter. Cook crepe until the top is dry and the bottom is lightly browned. With spatula, flip the crepe and lightly brown the other side (about 30 seconds or so). Grease pan and repeat until all the batter is cooked.

When filling the crepes, add filling to one side of the crepe and roll from the filled side (does that make sense?) and place seam side down on a warm platter until all crepes have been filled.

This is what mine looked like after I filled them and poured strawberry sauce over them...pretty, yet not so yummy.

Who DOESN'T like bananas and chocolate??

| Saturday, September 11, 2010 | 0 comments |
I have lots of recipes I want to start posting...so I'll start with one I made today.
Total time is about 30-35 minutes.

BANANA & CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c agave nectar
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 egg
3/4 c vanilla yogurt
3 ripe bananas
Chocolate chips (I'm not designating an amount because these are sprinkled on top, so it's up to you as to how many you want)


1) Preheat oven to 375º & prepare muffin tin (okay, fancy way of saying spray it with an oil - like coconut or canola)

2) Combine flour, baking soda, & salt in a bowl and set aside

3) In another bowl beat the egg, then add the bananas and mash (I used a potato masher and the process went rather quickly). Then stir on yogurt & agave.

4) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.

5) Fill muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full (you will probably have some batter left over, I used to to fill some mini muffin tins) and then sprinkle some chocolate chips on top. I used semi-sweet chocolate and you can see from the picture that I didn't add an obscene amount on the top of each muffin. I think putting too many will make these REALLY sweet.

6) Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Test for doneness by pushing your finger on the top of the muffin. If the dent you created puffs back up, they're done! (You can also use the toothpick trick to test for doneness as well)




On a side note, these muffins are a little dense compared to commercially bought muffins or muffin mixes (more like a banana bread than a muffin)...but they taste amazing and no pesky fillers or additives. ENJOY!

UPDATE (19 SEP 10): I poured this into a bread pan today. Same ingredients, but I added about a 1/4 c of chocolate chips into the batter, turned down the temp to 350º, and baked for about 60-70 minutes. It turned out great!!!

Numero Uno

| | 0 comments |
Hello Blog O' Sphere -

 This is the oh so official first post of this blog...super exciting stuff here. I really just created this blog for not only my random musings (which there may be a lot of), but also for recipes and reviews. I love to cook and make mostly vegan/vegetarian fare, but I do warn you - I am a pescatarian. Originally a vegan for quite some time, I took a trip that led me to another part of the world (and by this I mean I was "voluntold" that I was deploying to Iraq), which changed the way I eat. I lived off of kidney beans, rice, and salsa for three months. And I do mean LIVED off of it...because really, that's all there was for me to eat. Yes, there were the occasional canned green beans or corn to choose from...wait, no - not that either, as our DFAC (or dining facility for all you non-military people out there) decidedly put some pork product in pretty much everything (cause bacon makes everything taste better right?) I do mean everything...Christmas and Thanksgiving was a NIGHTMARE for me!! There was pork in things that you wouldn't even think to put pork in. (I even think there was bacon in the pork) "How about a nice salad" you may say...but if you tasted that "fresh" produce we had...you wouldn't eat it either - yuck. Eventually that kind of wore on me (naturally)...so I started slowly by maybe adding sour cream to my bean mix occasionally. It was delicious...oh how I had missed sour cream. There are very few things dairy I missed as a vegan, but sour cream...mmmm, sour cream. I'm sorry, but the Tofutti "Better Than Sour Cream" was not so much better...or really even slightly close. The "Better Than Cream Cheese" IS pretty tasty though. Not quite the same as the regular, but good none-the-less. AH, but I digress...so the sour cream was tasty...yes, a nice change to an otherwise boring meal. Then it happened...I changed bases...and went down to Baghdad. Now I maybe can't tell you where I was located, but I can definitely tell you about the food. OH, the food. SO, SO much better than my previous location. The first night I was there they made a spicy stir fried eggplant dish that was HEAVENLY (I mean, maybe...it's been so long without real food anything would have tasted that delicious.) They served hummus regularly (a major plus in my book) and also had REALLY good fresh fruit. BUT, if they have all this tasty vegan food, why the change in diet you wonder...well, this was only the first night. I came to find out that every Friday was seafood night. ONLY seafood...just like every Saturday was steak night (oh, and fried shrimp). Well...after a month I admit, I broke down. I had those tasty little seafood morsels staring at me, wishing for me to eat them. So...it happened. I gave in to temptation and indulged. I admit, I love seafood. Always have. Even as a vegetarian and then vegan and then back to vegetarian...I always craved seafood. There is just something about sushi that calls to me.
I was back and forth about the whole seafood thing for awhile...I finally gave in to my pescatarian calling when I was convinced that seafood lacks the same nervous system as land dwellers and it would be okay to eat it (Thanks Chris!!). Honestly, while I do consider myself a pescatarian, I still abstain from eating a lot of seafood. Don't get me wrong, I do eat it...but not all the time. You'll notice most of the recipes I'll post are vegetarian, some even vegan. I still don't cook seafood of any type. I'll indulge when I eat out, mainly sushi, but I don't make it at home.
All in all...that's my (psuedo) journey of how I got to where I am. Until next time...peace out bitches!