Saturday, December 31, 2011

happy holidays!

Before I hop in the shower, and throw on my NYE attire, I just wanted to wish everyone out there a Happy Holidays and a Happy New Years! I hope these past few weeks have been just as great for you as they've been for me. A holiday week at home with the parents meant great home-cooked meals, family time out the wazoo, and all kinds of Christmas fun.

While I love each and every gift I recieved, I think the best part of this holiday season was spending time with 30+ members of my extended family, and enjoying all of our Christmas celebrations and traditions. Stockings, Charlie Brown trees, group sing-alongs, cookie baking, silly sweaters, and even watching my favorite VHS copy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

A special thanks to everyone who made my holiday season so bright. Here's to a fabulous 2011, and an even better 2012! Happy New Years everyone! ♥

Thursday, December 22, 2011

amy's no chicken noodle soup

Dear Amy's No Chicken Noodle Soup,

Thank you for warming my belly on this cold winter night. After battling the epic snow storm, and a full day of work, nothing sounded better than a big bowl of chicken noodle soup. Oh, did I mention that my car got stuck in the snow this morning, and I had to be rescued by a coworker? Yeah, that was pretty sweet.

Anyway, I wanted some piping hot, comfort food this evening, and that's precisely what I got. While you're awfully high in sodium, I'm still pretty excited that you taste just as good as the original, but are actually meat-free. In fact, you're vegan! Big bonus points there.
Thank you again for the great flavors of a classic soup, made cruelty-free with your meatless magic. It was the perfect dinner to end a crazy winter day.

Happy Holidays.
Love- erin ♥

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

holiday brunch

Oh how I love this time of year- picturesque snowfalls, cozy nights inside, all kinds of holiday cheer, and spending time with loved ones. This past weekend, my roommate, Molly, and I decided to host a small holiday brunch for some of our friends, and it turned out to be so much fun.

When we asked everyone to bring something to share, we thought we'd end up with 10 butter braids or 6 boxes of King Soopers cookies, but everyone brought something special, and our potluck brunch, turned into a feast for kings.
We had bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit, and homemade cookies and pumpkin bread.
Molly made breakfast potatoes, and I made mini frittatas with spinach, onion, bell pepper, and cheese. They were super easy and super cute- chop up your veggies, whisk your eggs with a little salt, pepper, and milk, pour everything into muffin pans, and cook at 350 for 25 minutes. Honestly, that's it. The only note for next time: MUST use cupcake liners! Omg I've been scraping crusted egg gunk out of those pans for days- yuck!
However tasty all the dishes were, the shining star was definitely Christine's homemade-from-scratch cinnamon rolls with made-on-the-the-spot icing. Omg hese were seriously to die for- I think I ate 3 of them :)

Between gobbling cinnamon rolls and other treats, I set up a "make your own ornament" station, where guests could get creative after a bloody mary or two... or three.
I cut basic ornament shapes out of card stock, hole punched the top, and attached an ornament hanger to finish it off. I placed the blank ornaments next to a big box of old crayons, and let the guests get artsy. While the food was delicious, I must say, I think this was my favorite part! I love arts and crafts, and I love seeing people having fun, and getting creative too.
Cocktails were served, food was devoured, gifts were exchanged, and our Charlie Brown tree got decked out in beautiful handmade ornaments. A wonderful brunch, indeed ♥

Monday, December 12, 2011

christmas tree chili

Well the holiday season is definitely here, and it's getting increasingly busy by the minute. This weekend I helped celebrate my boyfriend's 29th birthday, and finally got the chance to cut down Christmas trees with my family. We had to postpone the original date due to weather, but this past Saturday turned out to be absolutely beautiful.

As tradition dictates, we enjoyed coffee and donuts at my parents house, hopped in our cars, drove up to the mountains, chopped trees, and enjoyed the famous family chili. I honestly can't remember a time where we didn't chop trees and eat chili :)

However, since becoming a vegetarian, I've begun bringing my own meat-free chili to the celebration, and I think it just gets better every year.
This year I based my recipe off of Robin Robertson's Chipotle-Kissed Red Bean and Sweet Potato Chili and this one from my BFF Michael. I combined both ideas, threw everything into a crock pot the night before, and early the next morning, I was rewarded with a big ol' pot of vegetarian chili.Here are just my random thoughts on my homemade chili:
1. A variety of beans gives it it great color and flavor- black, white, kidney, & chili are all great
2. I started my chili with some sautéed onion, garlic, carrots, and celery- all good ideas, except the celery, which gave it a funny taste.
3. Boca ground crumbles were perfect for texture and consistency. I've used TVP before, and it's just not the same- crumbles or fake beef are definitely the way to go.
4. It's all about adjusting the seasoning. A little more chili powder, a little more garlic salt- after simmering all night, the flavors weren't perfect, but a little trial and error in the spice cabinet really made the difference.

The tree hunt was successful, and the veggie chili turned out great! If you've got any chili secrets, I'd love to hear them, so hopefully next years' batch will be even better! Now all that's left to do is eat them leftovers, and decorate those trees ♥

Sunday, December 4, 2011

southern beans and rice soup with kale

With the temperature dropping and snow falling, it's becoming the perfect weather for warm, comforting dishes, especially soup! Tonight a few of us got together for a bottle of wine, a hot meal, and new episodes of Dexter and Homeland. We grabbed some cheap bread bowls from Whole Foods, and tried out a recipe from Robin Robertson's cookbook 1,000 Vegan Recipes- Southern Style Beans and Rice Soup with Collards.
We replaced the collards with kale, since that's what we had on hand, and added 2 additional cups of liquid to thin out the soup, since it was just a bit thick for our liking. Otherwise, it was a fantastic, hearty soup with great flavors, and healthy ingredients. We served our soup with a big 'ol helping of hot sauce, and I think it really brought out the Southern flare with just the right amount of heat. If you want a healthy, wholesome, yet substantial soup for a cold night, definitely look this one up.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

winter is officially here

Happy Winter, fellow Coloradoans! It looks like the warm, mild Autumn is finally over, leaving us with a crap ton of winter chill. This was my parents' deck this morning- we were supposed to go Christmas tree cutting today, but the weather was too nasty to head to the mountains. Boo.
I don't know about you, but on a chilly day like today, all I want to do is stay inside, and keep warm. It's the perfect day to eat soup, read books, and catch up on unfinished projects around the house. What do you plan to do on your snow day?

I've got some fun stuff to blog about, but until I finish a big cup of tea to warm my chilled bones, it will have to wait. I hope you're keeping warm out there! ♥

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

chalkboard calender

One of the projects I've been able to finish this week is my chalkboard calendar. I've seen chalkboard paint all over the place- in weddings, on walls, for kids, for adults- it's absolutely everywhere, and I decided that I had to get in on the fun.

Senior year of college, my roommates and I took a cute picture together, blew it up real big, mounted it in a gold frame, and proudly displayed our giant family photo above the mantel for all to see. Since that was almost 3 years ago, and I'm now living with different people, I decided to turn the whole thing into a calendar organizer!

I took the photo out of the frame- it happened to be printed on styrafoam- flipped it over, and spray-painted the reverse side with Krylon Chalkboard Paint. It took about a dozen light coats to get it to the opacity I wanted, and then I let it sit for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, I lightly rubbed a piece of chalk over the entire surface, wiped it clean, and then set up my brand new chalkboard calendar! I removed the glass, but used the old frame, and I'm sohappy with how it turned out! I made a space for 3 calendar months, and a fourth area for notes, to-dos, and doodles :)
Chalkboard paint is seriously awesome. It works on just about any surface, and the results are outstanding. I was too lazy to prep the my styrafoam with sandpaper or primer, and it still turned out great! One project down, and many more to go :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

black bean tostadas

I love corn tortillas because they're usually low-calorie, gluten-free, and a really versatile food, but I hate how fragile they are. Every time I make myself a big plate of veggie tacos, I pick the first one up, the bottom breaks, and I've got food explosion all over the place. Ugh.

However, today I decided to solve this problem, and make myself a light, tasty lunch of black bean tostadas. It's like all the delicious-ness of the taco, without the mess.

Stuff you need: 1. Corn tortillas 2. Olive oil 3. Black beans 4. Any toppings of your choice- tomatoes, salsa, cheese, lettuce, etc.

While your oven is preheating to 350, take this time to prepare all your other ingredients- chop lettuce, slice tomatoes, shred cheese, and fix up anything else you've got around the kitchen- I used lettuce, salsa, and veggie green chili on mine. I also measured out 1/2 cup black beans and mushed them up with a fork, refried-beans style.

When the oven is hot, place 2 corn tortillas on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes, and then flip them over and bake again for another 4. After those 4 minutes, spread the beans on the now-crispy tortillas and pop it back into the oven for another couple minutes, til the black beans are warm.

Pull the sheet out, top with all your sauces and veggies, and plate it up! It's warm, it's crunchy, and it was seriously easy to make.
It was the perfect light lunch, for a day around the house filled with cleaning and projects. Did I mention I'm FUN-employed this week? With all the time in the world, I think I'll be gymming, projecting, and hopefully devouring lots of other great, easy meals like this one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

chilean corn chowder

Tonight was evening number 2 at the parents' house, which meant yet another chance to adventure cook with my favorite food thrill-seekers. Since Mom spent the morning at the dentist, it only made sense that we should put together some kind of warm, comforting soup to help sooth her aching mouth.

Although I hate seeing my mama in pain, I was pretty excited to try out the Chilean Corn Chowder recipe that I spotted in my Vegetarian Times Healing Foods Cookbook magazine. If you like meat-free foods, and haven't checked out Veg Times, stop everything you're doing and pick up a copy- it's definitely one of my favorite publications.

Anyway, the soup turned out great- tonight's recipe test was far more successful than last night's. We pretty much stuck to the original recipe, except we added garlic salt, white pepper, and 2 additional cups of water to help thin it out just a little. The results were outstanding- a tasty chowder, indeed.
Looks pretty good right? My version may not be as pretty as theirs, but I bet it was just as delicious! The cilantro and lime juice give this dish a refreshing, southwestern flavoring, while the cayenne lends just the perfect amount of heat. Nothing crazy- just enough to clear your nose out a little :)

There are so many different flavors and textures in this chowder, but somehow they all blend together perfectly. It's a hearty soup with great flavors, that still feels light and fresh. My parents approve and so do I- this recipe test was a total success! DEFINITELY recommend this one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

vegetable bibimbap

Whenever I go home to my parents' house for a couple nights, one of my favorite things to do with them is cook something new and fun! Since Dad and I are both avid Asian-food fanatics, I thought that a vegetable Bibimbap was the perfect meal for a Tuesday evening. We first had this dish a few years back at a sushi restaurant by the house, and since then, I occasionally get huge cravings for this hot, tasty, Korean dish.

Tonight's recipe came from the home goddess herself, Martha Stewart, and I must say... it wasgood, but not great. We helped it out with some sesame oil, sesame seeds, and chili garlic tofu, but it still wasn't exactly that I was hoping for.
I mean, anytime you combine fresh cooked rice, stir fried vegetables, and a fried egg, it's going to taste good, but when putting together this recipe, I was hoping for something more authentic. Even though Martha Stewart knows all, I think I will entrust my Asian food needs to a more reliable source. Close, but no cigar ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

cilantro almond pesto

Here's my pesto equation that I'm currently testing: green leafy vegetable + nut + olive oil = vegan pesto Right? It works with basil/ pine nuts, and spinach/walnuts, so why can't it work for all other kinds of fantastic combinations? This is precisely what went though my head tonight when I dove into a batch of cilantro pesto.

Stuff you need: 1. Cilantro 2. Almonds 3. Garlic 4. Olive oil 5. Lemon juice

Simply combine about 1 cup of cilantro, 1/2 cup almonds and 3 cloves of garlic in a food processor until it's turned into a thick paste. Add a squirt of lemon juice, salt, and then stream in the olive oil while processing until it's to the perfect consistency that you'd like. Adjust the flavors and texture by adding more or less of any of the ingredients- add oil or water for a thinner pesto, more almonds for a thicker one, a little more lemon juice maybe? etc. etc.

Really that's it. Serve it on bread or potatoes, spoon it over pasta, or stuff cherry tomatoes with it- pesto is great for everything. Tonight I made some bite-sized cheese raviolis from the wonton skins that were leftover from my previous ravioli attempt. I must say, it was quite a spectacular dish for a Thursday night.
The cilantro pesto was so good. It's much lighter and fresher than it's traditional basil counterpart, and the color is outstanding- it would be simply beautiful in a large variety of dishes.

As for the raviolis, I placed 1 teaspoon of ricotta in the center of each wonton wrapper, folded it over to form a triangle, and then smushed the edged together to finish it off. They then got plopped in boiling water for 2 minutes, and then inhaled on a bed of cilantro pesto. Omg de-lish- yes I just used the term de-lish. It couldn't be helped.

Raviolis round 2 was far more successful than the first time around, and so far the pesto eqation holds sound. Cilantro + Almonds = TASTY! :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

fakesgiving

Tonight was the third annual Fakesgiving- a vegetarian Thanksgiving celebration that's quickly becoming one of my favorite holiday traditions. Every year, the same group of friends gathers together to make, and gobble, one epic meat-free meal. While the food is always spectacular, it's really the company that makes it so great.

This year, our feast included a hazelnut cranberry roast from Field Roast, mushroom gravy- which I seriously need the recipe for 'cause it's amazing- stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, and a little cranberry sauce too. Omg everything was ridiculously delicious- my stomach is still full to bursting.
All the dishes were home-cooked, meat-free, and absolutely scrumptious. We finished off everything with a pumpkin roll, spice cake, pecan pie, and some hot spiked cider- so good. Speaking of spiked drinks, our pre-meal cocktails this year included Moscow Mules- my new favorite beverage- and Honey Badgers. While a little too sweet for some, I thought it was perfect- thank you bartender and boyfriend extraordinaire, Troy.

For the Honey Badger
Stuff you need: 1. Jack Daniels Tennessee honey 2. Lemonade 3. Apple Cider

Simply combine equal parts Jack, lemonade, and apple cider in a glass with ice. Shake with a cocktail shaker, or swirl with a spoon, and then enjoy your drink... or 5 of them ;)

The drinks were strong, the food was fantastic, and the group in attendance was simply superb. I hope that you celebrate this holiday season with people you love- people who make you smile and laugh- people who let you forget about everything else for an evening. Tonight was spectacular, and left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm already counting down the days until next year's fakesgiving♥

Thursday, October 27, 2011

roasted pumpkin seeds

With only 4 days 'til Halloween, I've been running around like crazy sewing costumes, buying face paint, and of course, carving pumpkins! I don't think it matters how old I am- I will always love carving pumpkins. This year, pumpkin carving was extra fun, thanks to a handful of my favorite ladies, and a couple bottles of wine.
Top left down: the grim reaper by Julie, a wine bottle & glass by Molly, and a vampire by me :)
Top right down: ghosts by Jenna, a witch by Megan, and an experimental gangster by Lisa

After the pumpkins were carved, and the wine was consumed, there was only one necessity left- roast the pumpkin seeds! If you've never roasted your own pumpkin seeds before, you have to try it. It's a healthy, delicious snack, and it's another way to put that beautiful pumpkin to good use.

Stuff you need: 1. Pumpkin seeds from that jack-o-lantern you just carved 2. Olive oil 3. Salt & pepper 4. Other spices of your choosing

Remove all the seeds from your pumpkin, and wash them thoroughly- it may take a couple of times to get all the gunk off. While you're rinsing the seeds, preheat your oven to about 350 degrees.

When the seeds are cleaned, pat them dry, and spread them onto a baking sheet. Douse the seeds in olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other spice you'd like. For a regular batch, we used plain old salt and pepper. For our spicy batch, we also threw in cumin, chili powder, and hot sauce.

Finally, pop the baking sheet into the oven and cook until the seeds are golden brown. We didn't really keep track of how long they were in the oven- just check on them every 5-10 minutes to shake them around, and add a little extra seasoning. When they are baked to perfection, take them out, and devour!
The left bowl is the regular batch, and the right bowl is the spicy batch- special thanks to Julie, for the great photo! ♥ Lovely ladies, beautiful pumpkins, and delicious seeds! I couldn't possibly think of a better way to get in the Halloween spirit on a chilly fall evening. 4 days 'til Halloween! I can't wait! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

stingmata: super bumble bee

Can you believe Halloween is less than 2 weeks away? Yikes! I don't think this concept fully hit me until today when I realized that I need to make my costume ASAP! Luckily, Molly, Jenna, and I worked on them tonight, which reminded me of another homemade costume from a couple weeks ago.

Remember the chocolate raspberry cupcakes I made for my friend Jamie's birthday? Not only did the sweets turn out amazing, but so did my costume! Even though it was murder mystery attire, I think it could easily be used for Halloween too!

My character was Stingmata! My super power was poison, and the invitation suggested I wear an insect costume with matching cape. After a little bit of rummaging in my closet, and a quick trip to Michael's, I'm proud to say I made this badass bug suit for around $10!
Here's how I became Stingmata:
1. Used an old pair of black boots & shorts- but any footwear and bottom would do- Flats? Heels? A skirt, pants, or maybe a jumper?
2. I took a plain yellow t-shirt and used fabric spray paint & tape to create stripes- if you haven't used fabric spray paint yet, you have to try it! Tape off the areas your don't want painted, spray it down & let it dry. That's it! So easy.
3. For the antennae, I took plain black pipe cleaners, wrapped them around an old headband & curled the ends.
4. I purchased the black & yellow thigh highs from a Halloween store, cause thigh highs make every costume better :)
5. And finally, I re-discovered the cape I handmade last year for my Hamburglar costume to top it all off

Not only do I love how fun and easy this costume was to make, I also like the fact that it's completely customizable. Don't like the cape? Add some wings. Don't like bumble bees? Maybe be a ladybug. With the items in your closet and a little imagination, it doesn't take much to make a kickass costume. Hopefully my Halloween ensemble will turn out equally as awesome!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

homemade spinach ravioli wontons

I keep seeing recipes for homemade ravioli made easy with wonton skins, and last Thursday I finally decided to try my hand at making them myself! Little did I know that 5 of my friends would also like to try my food experiment, and I ended up making homemade spinach raviolis for 6 people, after a full day at the office, and a hardcore work out. *phew* I may have been exhausted at the end of it all, but it may have been worth it :)

Stuff you need: 1. Wonton skins 2. 1 Tub ricotta cheese 3. 2 bags spinach 3. Your favorite pasta sauce

Start by sautéing your freshly washed spinach in a little bit of olive oil, until it's completely cooked down. Now drain it, chop it, and mix it together with the tub of ricotta cheese, and any spice that you might fancy- I like garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper.

Next, bring a big pot of salted water to boil while you start assembling your raviolis. For the pasta construction, simply take 1 square wonton skin, and place a little ricotta/spinach mixture in the middle- no more than 1 tablespoon. Now wet your finger with a little water, run it along the outside of the wonton skin, and then stack another skin on top, just like you're making a little sandwich. Smush the edges together with your finger or a fork, and there you have yourself your first ravioli!

Now do this like, 100 more times- or until you're out of filling- and when the water is at a rolling boil, start popping them in the water 2 or 3 at a time. They only need to cook for a couple minutes, and when they float to the top, pull them out with a spoon, slather them with your sauce, and plate it up!
Sounds simple, right? Minus the tedious factor, this is actually quite an easy meal. The wonton skins make the raviolis much lighter than their normal doughy counterparts, and they come together much faster than the traditional ones too. Unfortunately, individually stuffing 35 or so raviolis is just time consuming as hell, and near the end, I was so over it. Luckily, they turned out pretty delicious, and I'd be excited to try making them again- just not on a week night :)

Also, big thanks to all my fabulous photographers and taste-testers. I'm so glad you guys could join in on my culinary adventures- hopefully next time we'll eat before 9 pm. Ha!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

crockpot curry

Between the office, the gym, and the social life I try to balance, sometimes it's hard to find time to make an exceptional dinner. This, of course, is why I love my crockpot. Whenever life is feeling hectic, I pull out my slow cooker, throw everything in, and come home to fantastic meal after a long day. How great is that?

Last week I decided to make No Hurry Vegetable Curry from Robin Robertson's cookbook Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. I made this same dish sometime last year, but added waaaay too much liquid, and it turned out really soupy. This time around, I stuck to the recipe, and it was simply amazing!
It definitely needed a bit more coconut milk, and a good helping of salt, but otherwise the recipe was perfect as it is. We also substituted broccoli for green beans, but any veggie would be great in this dish. It was a hot, delicious meal, that was ready the minute I walked in the door. It also fed me, my roommate, and Jenna- who took this beautiful photo- and we still had plenty of leftovers for the next day's lunch. If this recipe wasn't a total success, I don't know what is! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

chocolate raspberry-filled cupcakes

Hello, and welcome to my new blog space! I thought it was about time to do some sprucing up, so here it is! I thought I'd start out fresh with a decadent recipe that's perfect for celebrating.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for one of my favorite people, Jamie! For her super-hero themed murder mystery, we were all instructed to come in costume, with something delicious to share. Luckily, I got dessert, and I knew I had to make something perfect for Jamie's big day. Enter, the most ridiculously delicious cupcakes I have ever made. They are to die for.

For the Chocolate Cupcakes
Stuff you need: 1. Devil's food cake mix- I went with good ol' Betty Crocker 2. Canola Oil 3. Happy chicken eggs 3. Water 4. Raspberry preserves- at least 2 jars

So this part might be a no brainer, but combine the cake mix, canola oil, eggs, and water according to the directions on the back of the box. Give it a good mixing, and when it's properly combined, pour it into your cupcake pan- either greased, or with cupcake papers- and cook for the appropriate time, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Here's where it gets tricky! When the cupcakes are all cooked and cooled, take a paring knife, insert it into the top of the cupcake, and carve out a little cone/hole shape in the center. Pull out the cupcake core you just made, fill the hole with a little raspberry preserve, and then pop the top back on the hole. Voila! A raspberry jam filled cupcake! I know it sounds confusing, but after the first one, it's super easy.

After all the cupcake have been stabbed and jammed, they might look gross, but no one will ever know after you frost them :)

For the Raspberry Buttercream Frosting (from Sammy W)
Stuff you need: 1. 1 cup butter 2. 1/2 cup raspberry preserves 3. 4 cups powdered sugar

For this ridiculously tasty frosting, use a mixer to combine all the ingredients, and when everything is incorporated together , swirl it on top of your cupcakes, top with a fresh raspberry, and devour. That's right. Don't even wait to get to the party. You should probably try one right now.
Aren't they beautiful? Trust me. Their appearance can only be topped by their by their mind-blowing taste. The rich dark chocolate is perfectly partnered with the fresh, berry flavor from the frosting and the jam hidden in the middle. The frosting is also outstanding- not overly sweet, but just right. I don't think it's possible for me to gush about these cupcakes enough. If you need an impressive, and ridiculously amazing dessert for your next celebration, you've got to try these. I promise you won't be disappointed :)

Also. Special thanks to Mom for the beautiful photography♥

Monday, October 3, 2011

almost vegan pizza

What could be better than starting off Vegetarian Awareness month with a meat-free pizza party?! Pizza is one of those wonderful, easy, versatile meals that I can never get sick of. Seriously, you could put anything on a pizza and it would be delicious.

Last week, me and the roommate opened opened some wine, watched Project Runway, and made ourselves some fantastic homemade pizzas!

Stuff you need: 1. Pre-made pizza crusts- we like the ones from Whole Foods- you get 2 per pack 2. Any toppings your heart desires!

Once again, anything on a pizza will taste amazing. Here were our concoctions:
Molly's Pizza!
Side 1: Brie, chopped garlic, carmelized onions, & arugula
Side 2: Tomato sauce, broccoli, zucchini, green bell pepper, & mozzarella cheese

My pizza!
Side 1: Tomato Sauce, zucchini, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, & onion
Side 2: Tomato sauce, tomato slices, fresh basil, & almond cheese

While Molly's pizza was very cheesy, I decided to go with an almost vegan version. My favorite non-cheese cheese is the almond or rice cheese made by Lisanatti Foods. I completely fell in love with it a few years ago, while looking for vegan options to my favorite foods. The texture is impeccable- melts alright, and can be shredded- it's not slimy like a lot of soy cheeses, and best of all the flavor is great. UNFORTUNATELY, it's made with casein, so after all my searching, my favorite vegan cheese isn't vegan at all *sad trombone* If you're looking for a healthy alternative to cheese, I highly recommend this stuff. However, if you're morally opposed to any and all dairy products, this one isn't for you :(

Anyway, it was a delicious pizza party. Both versions were super tasty, and made plenty of food for our lunches the next few days. For next time, Molly recommends getting good quality brie (instead of the cheap-o stuff) so it melts better, and I recommend sautéing the veggies before applying them to the crust, for more flavor, and delicious pizza cohesion. Great night. Great food.

ALSO! Don't forget to check out VeganMoFo when you get the chance! I was too nervous to join in this year, but they're only 3 days in, and there's already TONS of amazing looking dishes! Maybe next year I'll grow a pair and join in the fun :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

world vegetarian day

Happy World Vegetarian Day everyone! October is the best month of the year, and it's not just because of Halloween, and pumpkin flavored everything. October is also Vegetarian Awareness month, Vegan Mofo, and to top it off, it all begins today with World Vegetarian Day! Did you celebrate today? Enjoy any meat-free adventures?

There's lots of animal-free fun coming up this month & I can't wait! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

veg eats at the ballpark

With the baseball season coming to a close in Colorado, Pop and I finally made the time to enjoy a Rockies game together this past weekend. The seats were great, and the company was even better- too bad the Rockies couldn't pull it together for a win against the Giants. *Sad trombone*
When going out to eat somewhere as meat-centric as a baseball stadium, it's always a challenge to find something vegetarian or vegan. When you think about a sports area, don't you always think of hot dogs, burgers, and nachos? I certainly do. Surprisingly enough, Coors Field has some meat-free options- yayy! In fact, Coors Field was named one of PETA's Top 10 Most Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks in the country!

I personally think the selection of meat-free foods has decreased since last year, but hey, as long as I can find something tasty to accompany my beer, I'm happy. This weekend, Dad and I found Garden burgers and veggie dogs over at section 134. Not the best I've had, but definitely not the worst. In these situations, the key is loading it up with anything you can get your hands on- ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, sauerkraut, veggies, you name it! Drink 2 more big beers, and I promise it will taste pretty damn good :)
According to the Rockies website, you can also find veggie paninis, pizzas, burritos, and wraps around the ballpark. Whether these options will be well-crafted vegetarian fare is another thing, but hey, I'm not too picky. I just like the fact that in such a testosterone-pumping-beer-guzzling-sports-watching-area, that there are meat free options at all. Big kudos to you Coors Field. Go Rocks! :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

breaded eggplant

You know what I love? Food gifts. There's almost nothing better than free, delicious things, and recently, I've been quite lucky in receiving tons of edible presents! I got a beautiful eggplant from my boss, Connie, and a truck load of fresh produce and a dozen happy chicken eggs from my parents.

After reading so much about the factory farming atrocities in Eating Animals, I'm having a very hard time eating eggs, unless I know where they come from. My parents happen to know a man in their area raising chickens in proper, humane conditions, and I couldn't be happier about supporting this local farmer, who really cares :)
Anyway, I digress. With all the wonderful, fresh organic food in my house, the first vegetable I had to devour was the eggplant. What can I say? It's my fave. I based my recipe off this one for Vegan Crispy Baked Eggplant from Chez Bettay. Mine definitely didn't come out as beautiful as hers, but for my first try at breading anything, I think it turned out pretty good.

I mostly stuck to the recipe, except I didn't peel my eggplant, used Panko for the bread crumbs, and used a regular oven sans pizza stone, since I don't own one. I baked my eggplant for about 15 minutes on one side, flipped it, and then popped it back in the oven for another 10. When the bread-crumb coating was starting to look golden, I slathered it with warmed pasta sauce, and devoured it with a side of sauteed beet greens.
The soft eggplant was a nice compliment to the crunchy crust, although I definitely should have baked it longer to give the bread-crumbs some serious bite. Also, 1 eggplant made plenty of food for my dinner, and I used the rest to make phenomenal sandwiches the next few days. Baked eggplant + pasta sauce + lettuce & fresh basil on whole wheat toast = to die for.

It was a good first attempt, and I hope the next batch is even better!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

veggie pot pie

I think I've eaten one singular pot pie in my entire 24 years of life. My parents never made them, I never order them while out, and I've never had the thought to make one myself, until tonight! For some reason I got a mad pot pie craving while sitting in the office today, and instead of being productive and going to the gym, I promptly came home and fulfilled my pot pie desires. I loosely based the recipe off this one from Betty Crocker, but used what I had in the cupboards, and completely vegatized it!

Stuff you need: 1. Any veggies for the inside 2. 1/2 cup Bisquick Heart Smart mix 3. 1 egg white or egg replacer 4. 1/4 cup milk or milk substitute

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees while you get everything else ready. For the vegetable filling, I found in my kitchen 2 carrots, 1 zucchini, 2 tomatoes, 1 cup mushrooms, and a handful of frozen corn. Sauté the veggies in a little olive oil just until they begin to soften. Sprinkle the mixture with a little salt, Italian seasoning, and anything else you think might be nice.

Meanwhile, combine the Biquick, egg white, and milk in a bowl, and whisk all the ingredients together. When the oven is preheated and the vegetables are slightly tender, place the veggies into a small casserole dish that you've lightly greased. Now pour the Bisquick mixture on top of the vegetables, and make sure everything is nicely distributed and coated in batter. Look good? Great! Pop it in the oven for 20 ish minutes, and then dig into that tasty little pot pie.
For the second pot pie of my entire life, I'm pretty pumped! The hot, juicy filling is so nice with the warm, fluffy pastry top. I skipped the soup from the original recipe, so it definitely wasn't creamy, but the tomatoes gave off juice, so the filling was still plenty moist. My only thought for next time is more spices and longer cooking time! I was so excited for my dinner and a new episode of Project Runway, that I pulled the dish out of the oven before the top was super golden. Otherwise, it was a damn tasty meal, and one that came together surprisingly quick and easy. It may have been my second pot pie, but it most certainly won't be my last :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

roasted root veggie salad

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day holiday weekend. Mine included Fright Night with the boyfriend, brunch with the parents, a couple of birthday BBQs, fighting crowds at the Taste of Colorado, building lots of Target furniture for the new place, and watching True Blood with the usual suspects, Jenna and Michael.

After a full day of grazing on various snacks at the the Taste of Colorado, a light, healthy meal sounded absolutely wonderful. Nothing makes you feel better than a giant, fresh salad, loaded with all kinds of good stuff, so that's precisely what we made last night- big ol' roasted root vegetable salads.

Stuff you need: 1. Lettuce 2. A protein of some type 3. Veggies for roasting- we found parsnips, golden beets, sweet potatoes, red onions, and asparagus 4. Your favorite salad dressing

Start by cutting up all your vegetables into big chunks, while your oven preheats to 400 degrees. Feel free to peel everything if you'd like, but we left the skins on since we didn't have a peeler. You may also want to enlist a few friends for all the chopping, since this is the most tedious part.

When everything is nicely cubed, place the veggies in a large bowl, and toss them with some olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. You may need to use 2 bowls, or do them in batches if you have a lot like we did. When everything is completely coated, place the mixture into a baking dish (or a few of them) and pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Take the baking dishes out of the oven, give the veggies a good stir and another dose of salt, and put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes, or until everything is perfectly tender, just the way you like it.

While you're waiting on the roasting, watch some True Blood, drink some wine, and prepare anything else you need to- dressing, lettuce, protein etc. For the leafy base, we tore up romaine lettuce, and the greens that came attached to the beets. The beet greens were a little bitter, but a nice compliment to the rest of the salad. Jenna and Michael made fish for their protein portion, and I tried out some chick'n from Gardein, which, I must say, was pretty tasty.

Finally, after waiting so long and patiently, pull those hot, steamy vegetables out of the oven, throw everything together with a little salad dressing, and thoroughly enjoy one giant, healthy, totally loaded salad.
It was just what we were all craving. The leafy greens, and the warm tender vegetables were the perfect combination for a light, healthy salad, that still had some real filling power. Ever eat a salad and still feel hungry? Yeah, not with this baby. Also, all the veggies we used- 1 bundle asparagus, 1 parsnip, 1 red onion, 1 sweet potato & 2 golden beets- made SO much food, there were plenty of leftovers for my dinner tonight. As fall approaches and the months get colder, I will definitely be roasting some more vegetables for my devouring pleasure :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a better breakfast burrito

If I have not properly expressed this previously, let me tell you that I am not a morning person. I'm the girl rolling into work at the crack of 9 am, still putting on makeup, and eating oatmeal out of a coffee mug. For these reasons and many more, I rely heavily on late night planning, and frozen, homemade breakfast burritos. A while ago, I made my first batch of breakfast burritos, and since then, I think they've just gotten better. In fact, this last round has been the best yet!

Stuff you need: 1. Whole wheat tortillas 2. 1 block firm tofu 3. Morningstar sausage patties 4. Roasted green chiles 5. Your favorite salsa

Begin by squeezing your tofu like you would for any other recipe- I like to wrap mine in a paper towel, and set something heavy on top of it while I prepare everything else. Meanwhile, you can chop your chiles and defrost your faux-sausage.

When the tofu is ready, crumble it into a skillet with a little olive oil, the Morngingstar sausage, green chiles, and some spices until everything is warmed through. In my tofu/faux-meat mixture, I like to add hot sauce, garlic salt, and cumin. Yumm.

When your burrito stuffing is tasting the way you'd like it to, grab a tortilla, spoon a healthy helping of the tofu mixture into the middle, add a bit of salsa, and then wrap the whole thing up in a square of foil.

Keep wrapping burritos until you're out of filling and tortillas, and then pop them into the freezer for future use. For me, 1 block of firm tofu made about 6 burritos.
When you're ready to devour your breakfast burrito, wrap it in a paper towel, and microwave it on high for 1 minute on each side. The tofu is difficult to heat all the way through, so it may need a little extra time as well. This not-so-fabulous picture is taken inside the microwave at my office. While not super aesthetically appealing, it was absolutely scrumptious, and the perfect way to start off a long day at work.

The combination of the fake sausage, chiles, and salsa, are the perfect mix of texture, heat, and flavor. They're fast and easy to make, they're absolutely delicious, and they're a total life saver first thing in the morning. You better believe I'll be making more of these very soon :)