Tuesday, February 22, 2011

spinach pesto

Oh ho, what's that you say? Pesto is made with basil not spinach? Well let me rock your world. I still have an excessive amount of spinach from the soup party a few weekends ago, and tonight I wanted to make sure it got used before it went bad. Enter Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson (omg my vegan idol). I've had this cookbook for a while, but life got busy, and tonight I decided to try my first recipe from it! The dish is traditional pesto, but she suggests replacing the basil and pine nuts with spinach and walnuts. Holy shit, I may never eat regular pesto again.
This was the first time that me or my roommate had ever had alternative pesto, and let me tell you, we're obsessed. It was so creamy and fresh, with the perfect amount of lemon and garlic flavors. It was also way cheaper and healthier than the normal pine nuts and basil. I just wish that I would've made more for lunch tomorrow! Seriously, if every recipe in the cookbook is this good, I may have to try making EVERYTHING!

Oh, and on another creative thought. Have you ever tried putting fruit preserves or jam in your oatmeal? Try it. It may change your life :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

quick & simple spring rolls

Ever since I went to Uoki last week with my friend Jenna, all I want to do is eat Asian food. I had the stone bi-bim-bob, and I'm totally hooked. All I can think about is reproducing that recipe and eating it every night! Instead of acting on my new obsession, purely because I'm too lazy to walk one block to the store, I dug in the pantry and made something that would satisfy my cravings for now.

Stuff you need: 1. Spring Roll Skins 2. Veggies for the inside 3. Your favorite Asian-themed sauce

Start by cutting all your vegetables into matchsticks- aka julienning. I used carrots and spinach since that's what I found in the fridge, but you can use anything you'd like. When all your vegetable filling is cut, fill a pie pan, or any large flat receptacle with warm water.

Take one of your spring roll skins- it'll be hard and brittle- and soak it in the warm water. When it's nice and soft, pull it out of the water bath, place your vegetables in the middle of the wrapper, and roll it up like a burrito. Don't forget to tuck in the ends!

Keep rolling until you're out of vegetables and your plate is full. I put my sauce directly into the rolls, but if you prefer, you can have it on the side for dipping- dealers choice. Soy sauce is great, hoisin is my favorite, but tonight I discovered this peanut sauce hiding behind the mustard.
They look all fancy and stuff at the restaurants, but seriously, these are so simple to make. Cutting included, this took me maybe 10 minutes. It's a great snack or appetizer, and it's ridiculously healthy to boot!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Happy Valentine's Day! Today I'd just like to share a few things that I'm loving right now:

First and foremost, big kudos to Qdoba today. If you haven't done it yet, find a participating store, grab a friend, and get to kissing for some free food! It's no candlelight Chick-fil-a dinner, but hey, it's still pretty spectacular. I'm pleased to say I took advantage of this delightful offer with my boyfriend tonight. Best V-Day meal ever.

Also, I'm absolutely obsessed with these free downloadable Valentines from Samantha Hahn. I spent far too much time this morning, downloading them, and e-mailing them to my friends! I thought my 3D hologram dinosaur valentines were pretty cool, but I adore these.
I also adore the phenomenal candies from fahrenheit goods. My boyfriend got me orange and olive oil caramels from this store and they are ridiculously delicious! Everything there is handmade with natural ingredients, and I love that it's locally made too- yay Denver! He couldn't have picked out a better gift for me. I just hope that he liked the nutella bacon that I made for him. Who knew a veggie-enthusiast and a carnivore could get along so well :)

Finally, my parents sent me this article a few days ago from the Denver Post. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recently acknowledged how beneficial a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet can be for you!

"The new guidelines devote two full pages to vegetarian and vegan diets and the health benefits of following these eating patterns. They point out that these diets provide nutritional advantages and reduce obesity, heart disease and overall mortality."

I love it! Articles like this provide more information and better awareness, which will hopefully some day lead to healthier, happier people all over! A healthy, happy Valentine's Day to you & your loved ones! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

sweet potato and peanut soup with spinach

Tonight I am pleased to say that I attended a soup party. One of my best friends' older sister always hosts amazing, food-themed parties, and tonight was no exception. The challenge was to bring a soup that was delicious, creative, and if possible, New Kids on the Block themed. Check out her blog. She is great.
My roommate and I selected sweet potato and peanut soup with spinach from Robin Robertson's book 1,000 Vegan Recipes (omg Robin Robertson is totally my vegan idol. If you like vegan food, check out her cookbooks because they're tasty, affordable, and do-able. Love it). We called our concoction "good all knight sweet potato and peanut soup with spinach."
I won't give away all her published secrets, but I'll tell you our modifications. After the onions were all cooked up, and the sweet potatoes were tender, we used our magic bullet to puree most of the soup in small portions to give it a thicker texture that we were looking for. We also added more veggie stock, peanut butter, and spices, to make it go farther at the soup party.
It didn't win best soup overall, but we did get quite a few votes for most creative! Definitely not a classic soup that I would make all the time, but it still tasted great, and was an interesting blend of flavors that I would have never put together before. I hate peanut butter, but I didn't hate this. Surprising? Yes. Delightful? Also yes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

chocolate mustaches

Last Friday was my friend Sam's birthday. I work with Sam and he is an awesome guy with awesome facial hair. Of course, this meant that his birthday treat had to be equally as awesome- which was no simple task.

This was my first attempt at chocolate art, and it's not much of a recipe, but I'm sharing them, because I'm super proud of the outcome, and Sam liked them too! :)

Stuff you need: 1. Cupcakes (homemade or lazy-style & store bought like me) 2. Plastic bag or melting bottle 3. Candy melts (but I think melted chocolate would work too) 4. Wax paper lined cookie sheet

Take your candy melts and put them into your melting bottle. I lost the cap to my bottle, so I had to use a ziplock bag instead- a little sloppy, but it did the job. Run the bottle under hot water until the candy melts have turned to liquid- make sure all the candies are properly melted, otherwise you have to deal with big clumps and it sucks.

Snip the end off your plastic bag (or just take your bottle) and squeeze out some chocolate mustaches onto your wax paper lined cookie sheet. Work fast so you can use all the chocolate before it begins to solidify again!

When all your handlebar mustaches are created, pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for a hot second while you clean up. They only need about 5 minutes before they'll easily pop off the paper.
And here is a picture from Sam's superior camera phone:
Since this was the first time I'd ever tried this, and I used a messy plastic bag, it took me quite a few batches to get the mustaches right. Luckily, after a few attempts, I managed to find 6 good looking 'staches in chocolate and peanut butter. Finally, I sunk the mustaches into the tops of the cupcakes and presented them to the birthday boy.
For my first adventure in chocolatiering, I'm very pleased, and am totally excited to try it again! Most importantly, Sam loved them and had an awesome birthday. Yayy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

fried pickles & dip

Even though I know little to nothing about football, the Super Bowl is always a good time. Fun commercials, hanging out with great friends, the Puppy Bowl is on Animal planet, and most importantly,there's always binge eating tasty finger foods all day. Usually beer is on this list as well, but due to this morning's hangover, alcohol was substituted for Mountain Dew:)

Today's menu items included fried pickles and six layer dip. We got both the recipes from Food Network, and let me tell you, everything was delicious. Granted, I ate way too much, and now my stomach hurts, but it was so worth it.
It's also nice to know that there are great sporting event foods out there that are vegetarian. Wings and hotdogs are great and all, but have a couple fried pickles with ranch, and you won't even miss the meat.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

apocalypse enchiladas

For those of you enjoying weather in the positive digits today, I am jealous. Denver had a high of -1 this afternoon, and the rest of the day has been impossibly frigid. This is why when my roommate and I got home tonight, neither of us wanted to leave the house to get dinner. So we looked around the kitchen, gathered what ingredients we could find, and put together a Mexican feast- we refused to leave the house to buy real items, so the strange recipe we created felt like we were scraping the bottom of our supplies during some kind of global disaster. Thus, our apocalypse enchiladas :)

Stuff you need: 1. Some kind of enchilada sauce 2. some kind of tortilla 3. some kind of filler

Tonight, our kitchen yielded 5 corn tortillas, chili beans, half a red onion, a bag of Frontera green chili enchilada sauce, and some leftover Daiya vegan cheese (from my breakfast burritos, which I must say, have grown on me).

While the oven is preheating to 350, combine the chopped onion, chili beans, and cheese in a bowl with some garlic salt and cumin for the enchilada filler. When the oven is ready, put a enough sauce in a baking dish to cover the bottom, and nuke the tortillas in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Take the tortillas out one at a time, fill them with the bean mixture, toll them up nice and tight, and place them in the baking dish til it's full. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce, and then sprinkle on some cheese to top it off.

Cook up the concoction for about 15 minutes, until it's bubbly and warmed through.
Look at that! A delicious meal created from what we found in the pantry. As long as you have some kind of sauce and tortilla on hand- green, red, flour, corn- you can really be creative with this dish. Any kind of cheese will do, and your filler could be any assortment of vegetables and/or beans and/or whatever your cupboard's hiding! Let me tell you, when the apocalypse rolls around, you're gonna want to be dining with us :)