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


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♥