Tasty Texas

This past week has been full of “firsts”. I went to my first national conference, rode my first airplane and taxi, and went to my first professional baseball game.

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The conference I had the pleasure of attending was the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences’ 103rd annual conference in Houston, TX. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot about the FCS field while meeting many lovely professionals full of advice and networking opportunities.

Sadly, I had very little time inbetween events to explore downtown Houston, but when I did get the time I always managed to go someplace delicious for dinner.

Our first night in we ate at Guadalajara Del Centro. The server was very friendly and knew exactly which items on the menu were vegan or could be veganized. I got the veggie fajitas, which was grilled mushrooms, zucchini, sweet potatoes, asparagus, onions, and bell peppers all slathered in cilantro pesto. Served with sides of pico, guacamole, rice, and refried beans.

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The one “tourist” thing I got to do while in Houston was attending a baseball game of the Houston Astros vs. the Los Angeles Angels.  I honestly enjoyed watching the crowd more than the game, but it was very fun, despite it being hot and having incredibly high up seats.

???????????????????????????????There were even vegan options at the ballpark, with the Green Fork salad bar. They had tons of vegetable and bean options to load your salad up with.

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I ended up getting a romaine lettuce salad with tomatoes, cucumber, kidney beans, kalamata olives, corn, snap peas, and balsamic dressing.

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Texas really was great, and I can’t wait to visit again soon.

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Veggies Galore

The best thing about summer is the abundant fresh vegetables that are in season. During this time, most of my meals are vegetable based. I wish I could find things like tasty tomatoes and flavorful corn all year, but alas, I will just enjoy them while they’re available.

Veggie soft tacos with mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, corn, and salsa.
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Tasty lentil tacos with lettuce, tomato, and sriracha vegenaise. I’ve never had lentil tacos before, and was pleasantly surprise how meat-like the texture is. Lentils are also healthier and more economical than vegan beef crumbles, so lentils will be my regular taco-filler from now on.
Lentil tacos

Sauteed mushrooms seasoned with Slap Ya Mama, ketchup for mushroom dipping, steamed corn, and fried squash.
???????????????????????????????Quinoa-polenta sticks, and a salad with cucumbers, olives, and Italian dressing. I enjoyed the quinoa-polenta because it is one of the few recipes I’ve liked that involves quinoa, which sadly is a food I am not super fond of. Plus, once baked, it was easily sliced into sticks which are perfect for dipping into ketchup or BBQ sauce.

???????????????????????????????Fajita salad which is sauteed mushrooms, red bell pepper, and onions, fresh salsa, and mashed avocado all on top of a bed of lettuce.

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Linguine with basil and white bean sauce from Vegan Planet. It’s supposed to be sage and white bean sauce, but all we had on hand was basil. It turned out delicious and my roommate Ryan was surprised how such a creamy sauce could be made without dairy and with beans instead.

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Sandwiches, Scones, and Game of Thrones

The weather was extremely nice last week, so Peter and I had a picnic at the park. There we munched on these grilled pizza sandwiches (which had pizza hummus and Daiya inside) and cucumber slices dipped in Italian salad dressing.
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I made a batch of Mom’s Chili, which I ate with crackers. I skipped using canned beans though, and cooked up some dried black beans and red beans the day before in the slow cooker. Then I mixed them with the rest of the ingredients to make the chili.

???????????????????????????????The next day the leftover chili was turned into a “Frito pie”. With layered crushed Frito corn chips and chili then smothered in healthy cheese sauce.

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Tomato-rosemary scones from Vegan Brunch. I’ve actually never baked scones before, but these were extremely easy to make and very delicious. My favorite way to have these is warmed up with a pat of margarine in the middle.
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Soft tacos with Upton’s Naturals chorizo seitan, Daiya pepper jack, lettuce, and tomatoes. It was my first time trying the Upton’s seitan. I really liked the taste and texture of it, but the small amount of seitan per package for a fairly high price (at least at my local Earth Fare) was not worth it.
???????????????????????????????“Chicken” parmesan, made with soy-tan dream cutlets from 1,000 Vegan Recipes (which I breaded and pan-fried), with melted Daiya mozzarella, all on top of spaghetti in a creamy marinara sauce, and sprinkled with nutritional yeast.
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Lentil and veggie soup, which I mostly made because I needed to clean out my refrigerator’s produce drawer. It has lentils, onions, corn, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, peas, potatoes, and lima beans which were all cooked in a garlic tomato broth.

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For our three-year anniversary, Peter got me (along with a few other things) The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. I’m a big fan of the television show and hope to begin reading the books soon, so I was super excited to have these recipes based on the series.

Our local gaming group is actually starting a GoT roleplaying campaign, so for our session I made Arya’s Apricot Tart to share. Except there are no fresh apricots available around here, so we settled for peaches. To veganize the recipe I subbed Earth Balance for butter, coconut milk for heavy cream, and I used this recipe for the crust. It turned out delicious with a flaky crust, juicy peaches, and buttery crumble topping. I can’t wait to try more recipes from the cookbook.

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Summer Food Lovin’

Summer is upon us! So now is the time to be free and spend my days cooking, baking, crafting, blogging, and playing with my new kitten (who shall get his own post later).

I moved out from the dorms and into a lovely apartment with my friend, Ryan. We have a nice kitchen with plenty of space, and I plan on trying at least one new recipe a week over the summer break. This should give me plenty to blog about and, hopefully, add a few good recipes to my repertoire.

Below are the meals I’ve made from the last two weeks of school up until I moved into the apartment (except the last one).

Chilled rice salad made with brown rice, corn, carrots, tomatoes, and water chestnuts, all tossed in an olive oil and vinegar dressing and placed on top of mixed greens.
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Spaghetti with “meaty” marinara sauce, and a side salad.
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Slow cooker refried beans. Not particularly pretty, but delicious and much cheaper and healthier than the store-bought canned kind.
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Homemade salsa verde made by blending tomatillos, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic in the food processor. ???????????????????????????????Soft tacos with black beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, spinach, and salsa.

???????????????????????????????Homemade chick’n seitan patty with ketchup, a side salad, and Spanish rice.

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And now I bestow upon you, my faithful readers, the most delicious vegan mac and cheese in existence. I tried the recipe on a whim, but this butternut squash mac and cheese is totally amazing. A lot of vegan cheese sauces are close, yet not exactly what I remember mac and cheese to taste like. But this recipe is so creamy and cheesy tasting, I bet you could even trick an omnivore. It reminds me of the Cracker Barrel mac and cheese I loved during my pre-vegan youth.
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Veggie salad with saffron couscous.???????????????????????????????One of the first meals I made in my new kitchen was seitan tetrazzini, mashed potatoes and squash, and fresh corn on the cob (take note of the awesome pig corn holders). I changed the tetrazzini recipe by adding an onion, Mrs. Dash garlic and herb, and using Morningstar chick’n meal starter strips instead of seitan. It was good, but a bit dry after baking it. Next time I’ll probably skip baking it and just broil the Daiya on top.

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Local Lime: Review

Over Spring Break, my sister and I went to Arkansas to visit our mom. While there, we ate at a fantastic Mexican restaurant in Little Rock called Local Lime. We had heard it was vegan-friendly, so we decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be great!

To start off, our waitress was very knowledgeable about what items were and weren’t vegan. That was a great relief, because nothing is more frustrating than having a waiter who has no idea about the ingredients. Things on the menu were also clearly marked “vegan”, “vegetarian”, and “gluten-free”.

To drink, I got their Fresh Fruit Punch. It’s house-made with fresh pineapple, papaya, mango, strawberries and organic agave syrup. (It was also photo-bombed by my mom)

As an appetizer we got the Salsa Trio, and our three salsa choices were house tomato, tres chilies, and mango papaya, served with corn chips. When our waitress brought it out, the tres chilies salsa had cheese on top of it. After seeing the cook’s mistake, she immediately went into the back and brought me my own vegan salsa bowl! All the salsas were good, but the house tomato was definitely my favorite.
For the main course I ordered the Black Bean and Green Tacos, which come with black beans, guacamole, raw green cabbage, house-pickled onions,  and hot sauce, all served in a corn tortilla. For the two sides, I got jicama jalapeno slaw (with no sauce, since it contained dairy), and spicy house-pickled vegetables.

The tacos were fantastic. The beans were spiced just right, and the cool guacamole and cabbage counteracted the spicy onions and hot sauce. The jicama slaw was also really good. It was crunchy and fresh tasting with a hint of lime. The only disappointing thing was the house-pickled vegetables. The combo of spicy and pickled taste just didn’t sit right with my taste buds.
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So all in all, I would give Local Lime a 5 star rating. Their vegan-friendly service, and delicious menu is truly stellar.
locallimehayley

Noms Catch Up

Okay, so I know my blogging has been inconsistent, but I am determined to change that. I’ve had a super busy semester at school, plus lots of other responsibilities to worry about. But I have decided that I need to make time for blogging because it’s something I really enjoy doing.

This post is to catch up and share all the pictures of food I’ve taken up to this point. It’s not a ton because I haven’t been eating a lot that’s “blog worthy”, but I’ll hopefully have more to post soon.

The falafel plate from the Purple Onion. It’s vegan as long as you ask for no cheese on the salad. It comes with a side salad, falafel, wild rice, pita bread, hummus, and fruit. Really good food, for a fairly reasonable price ($9).

Falafel Plate (2)

Here is some tomato veggie couscous I made for a potluck. It’s couscous cooked in canned tomatoes and seasonings, with garbanzo beans and broccoli mixed in to make it more filling. It’s a good thing this makes a whole meal (protein, carbs, and veggies) because, like I expected, there was nothing else vegan available at the potluck.

Coucous bulked upI’ve been trying to slowly, but surely, work through my Pinterest food/recipes board. On there, was a lovely recipe for avocado hummus. I was excited to try it, and when I went grocery shopping I got all the ingredients, except garbanzo beans. Apparently the local grocery store doesn’t carry garbanzo beans, canned or dry. So I had to make do with cannellini beans. The dip was really great tasting, but with a much creamier texture than traditional hummus. It was almost sour cream-like because of the smoothness. I can’t wait to try it out again with the garbanzo beans.

White Bean Dip

Only recently have I discovered the joys of spaghetti squash. I’d heard about it before, but never gave it a try. Peter and I went out to lunch with some friends to Ruby Tuesday and the only vegan menu item was the spaghetti squash with zucchini (without the parmesan cheese). I tried it and loved it! Since then I’ve tried it several different ways and they’ve all been tasty. Below is some spaghetti squash with sauteed kale, tomatoes, and marinara sauce.

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Spanish brown rice and black beans mixed with canned tomatoes and chipotle chili. Super simple, but super yummy.

Brown Rice and Black BeansWhile visiting home for the weekend, my sister took me out to eat at a great Asian restaurant in Hunstville called Panda. The server knew which tofu was vegan or not (a definite plus) and so we got the veggie and avocado sushi for appetizers, and then the house bean curd which is served with rice, snap peas, broccoli, and water chestnuts. The food was great and the portions were huge, so both of us got an extra meal from the leftovers.

Panda Sushi

Panda Tofu

Dorm Noms

I finally got a camera cord, yay! Well actually I got a camera cord a few weeks ago, but I’ve been too busy to blog until now. School work is taking up more time this semester, so my posts will be more sporadic but will probably have a lot more stuff covered in them.

Here’s what I’ve eaten so far this semester:

Carrot cake muffins from a recipe on The Flaming Vegan.

Seasoned black beans mixed with Daiya on top of chipotle tomato rice.

The local eatery, Eclipse Coffee and Books, has added several new vegan items to their menu and I decided to try them out.

First was the couscous and quinoa salad. Gotta be honest, I don’t really like the texture of pearl couscous or quinoa, so this wasn’t a huge hit for me. It had a great taste, kinda spicy with a citrus-y undertone, but the texture was a deal breaker for me. The coconut macaroon cookie from Alternative Baking kind of made up for it though.
Although the first vegan dish was a bit disappointing, the second definitely wasn’t! They added a veggie burger to their menu and it is fantastic. It’s made with quinoa and beans and is served on rye bread with your choice of toppings. I got mine with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and ketchup.

I guess Eclipse’s burger got me in the mood for sandwiches, because a few days after that I tried my hand at making my own veggie burgers. I very loosely based it around this recipe, but made lots of changes.

I mashed up a drained can of black beans, added about 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup diced onions, 2 tbsp taco sauce, and some Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy. Then I formed them into four patties and cooked them in an oiled  skillet for a few minutes on each side. They were sooo good. After making these, I may just stop buying pre-made veggie burgers altogether. I need to make another batch and test whether they can withstand freezing very well. I ate my sandwich on a onion bun with pickles, tomato, and some Vegenaise mixed with Sriracha.

I broke out the slow cooker this weekend too and made some Mom’s Chili, seen here topped with some Tofutti sour cream.

On Saturday I spent time with my friend Skye and her lovely mother Sally. We went to Whole Foods and ate lunch at their cafe. I got fried tofu (with ketchup), a seasoned mixture of black eyed peas and butter beans, and a grain salad with millet, barley, and brown rice. It was all really yummy and I will definitely be going back their to eat soon.

And also for dessert at Whole Foods I got a double chocolate vegan cookie, woot!