Weekly Wednesday Round-Up – Raw Pasta, Pita Pizza, and Whole Foods

I want to start doing a weekly Wednesday roundup of yummy meals I’ve made. Basically anything I’d put in the PPK’s Food Porn section, but doesn’t deserve an entire blog post.

One of my first raw food meals ever (not counting salad)! Spiralized zucchini and rich marinara sauce.
raw pasta

The mini restaurant inside our local Whole Foods has a vegan sandwich! It’s toasted sour dough bread with balsamic tomatoes, arugula, onions, and basil hummus. Served with a side of roasted red skin potatoes.

Whole Foods sandwich

Fried tofu (from Whole Food’s hot bar) and mashed cheezy bacon potatoes.
fried tofu and potatoes

Pita pizza with mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and nutritional yeast.

pita pizza

Veggie stir fry with kale, tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms all piled on top of brown rice. rice stir fry

Vinegar Variety (part I)

The other day, as I was observing my pantry shelf, I realized I had a semi-dusty almost full bottle of red wine vinegar. I hate buying something for one recipe then never using it again, so I searched online for “recipes with red wine vinegar” and almost every recipe was for salad dressing. Now I don’t mind a good red wine vinaigrette, but I was surprised with the lack of variety.

From that incident, I decided that vinegar seems to be a bit of an under appreciated pantry staple. Due to that, I’ve decided to dedicate two posts to writing about different types of vinegar and how to use them in your dishes (with no salad dressing recipes in sight).

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is a very common vinegar. It’s made by crushing and releasing the liquid from apples, then putting the juice through the vinegar fermenting process. It’s a pretty mild type and has a light fruit undertone with a sharp tartness. The latest health craze seems to be drinking ACV plain (yuck) or washing your hair with it (I’ll just stick with my Jason’s shampoo, thanks), but this vinegar is still great for eating too, as is shown with the coleslaw below. The recipe was creamy with a hint of sour from the vinegar and relish in it. I served it with a barbecue Boca burger.

coleslaw

Balsamic Vinegar

Equally sweet and sour, this vinegar has the richest flavor of them all. It is commonly drizzled over salads with sweet accents, like fruit. Although the traditionally made BV from Italy is amazing (I’ve only bought a bottle once, but it was worth the money), the commercial made will make due for those who don’t want to splurge on it. But if you’re doing a dish with the vinegar as a main focal point, it might be worthwhile to get the traditional. I didn’t want to do a shameless plug and encourage you to cook my balsamic pasta and beans (recipe here), so I chose some salty and crunchy goodness with kale chips. These chips were super simple and delicious. You only need kale, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. I ended up eating these while watching Supernatural in lieu of an unhealthy snack.

balsamic kale chips

Malt Vinegar

MV is made by malting barley, then brewing it into ale, which is finally converted into vinegar. It is commonly used in the UK for fish and chips, but it’s also known for being a good pickling vinegar. I’ve never actually pickled anything before, so I thought I’d give it a go! I chose to make pickled mushrooms since shrooms are one of my favorite foods. In the finished product the Malt vinegar has a distinct taste and the slice of onion and garlic in the jar add an extra depth of flavor. I’m going to serve these sprinkled on a salad with a sweet raspberry dressing to balance the vinegar taste.

pickled shrooms

Brownies Love Brown Mushrooms (Vegan MoFo #20)

dragon-riderDragon Rider by Cornelia Funke is a classic tale full of magic, adventuring friends, and ruthless bad guys. The story starts with Firedrake, a young silver dragon, and his brownie companion, Sorrel.  They live in a valley which is soon to be flooded because of humans. To save their friends and family, Firedrake and Sorrel set out on a mission to find the Rim of Heaven, a land in which silver dragons can live in safety from the outside world.

Ironically, while traveling the save themselves from the humans, they become friends with and are joined by a homeless boy named Ben. The trio faces many trials including a golden dragon (who loves to kill silver dragons), spies, being lost in a foreign country, and more. They must try and follow their destiny to save themselves and their loved ones, all while learning what it really means to be home.

“Oh, yes, the question.” Sorrel rubbed her eyes. “Right, but only if we have something to eat first. This heat makes a person hungry.” She made her way over to her backpack, the sand hot on the furry soles of her paws.

Ben followed, grinning. “It’s the heat now, is it?” he teased her. “We’ve had rain and thunderstorms and all kinds of weather since we started out, and you’re hungry all the time.”

“So what?” Sorrel took the bag of mushrooms out of her backpack, sniffed it appreciatively, and licked her lips. Then she placed two large leaves on the sand and tipped the mushrooms out on them. “Hmm… Which shall I eat first?” – Dragon Rider (hardback) pages 174 and 175

Sorrel the brownie is constantly eating and on the look out for food to forage. Her particular favorite is mushrooms. I made golden mushroom soup and used a “gourmet” mix of baby bella, oyster, and shiitake. There was a bit too much dill in this for me, but I think I would like it better as a mushroom sauce over pasta and Gardein beefless tips. I will be using the leftovers for that.

mushroom soup

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.

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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Post of the S – Spaghetti, Sandwich, and Soup

Okay, so I have a hard time coming up with cute titles for these posts. So there are others meals in here that don’t start with S, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as yummy as the food included in the titles. 😛

I am way behind on posting regular food pictures, so don’t be too surprised when I mention Halloween in this post.

Tomato herb couscous (recipe coming soon!) and barbecue  Morningstar chick’n strips

Mushroom spaghetti and salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

The glorious thing you are about to see below is an artichoke-bacon chicken salad sandwich. This is probably the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It’s not very healthy, so it will have to be only made on occasion, but anyone who likes chick’n salad should try this.

Peter’s family made a wonderful dinner the other day. I had a Boca burger patty with A1, roasted sweet potato, steamed broccoli, and fried green tomatoes.

The Family and Consumer Sciences Student Group at UM had a Halloween bake sale and so of course I had to make lots of vegan treats!

Carrot cake cupcakes with cheez cream frosting
Peanut butter cereal “bars”, which fell apart so I just mooshed them into balls

Cookie dough bites (from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar) dipped in chocolate

Soy-Tan Dream Cutlets (which are amazing!) with buttery pasta
Potato soup with bacon bits

Thanksgiving 2012

Even though it was a few weeks ago, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! I know we did. Below is our oh so formally set table:

Thanksgiving Table

We had sliced Tofurky roast.

Plated tofurkeyFirehouse cornbread, veganized by using soymilk, margarine, and an Ener-G egg.

Bisquick cornbread

Roasted balsamic zucchini and onionsroasted zucchini

Mashed potatoes
Mashed tatersGreen bean casserole

Green bean casseroleCampbell’s accidentally vegan mushroom gravy, for the mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce for the Tofurky.

Gravy and cranberryAnd lastly, a cinnamon pumpkin pie brought by our friend Kyle.

Cinnamon pumpkin pie

Spring Break Noms

I have been on a blogging break for spring break, but it’s time to start back now that school begins tomorrow morning. I ate a lot of good food over the break and now it’s time to share pictures of all my noms.

Right before leaving for the break, the cafeteria actually made a nice vegan lunch. They had grilled eggplant “steak”, steamed broccoli, and spicy hummus paired with some tomatoes, olives, and cucumber slices from the salad bar.

My boyfriend, Peter, and I went to Arkansas last weekend to visit my mom, so we got the pleasure of not having to cook and let her be the one to feed us. She made some great blueberry muffins with streusel topping for breakfast.

Not everything was homemade though, we did get us some pizza from the US Pizza Co.

We got the veggie-lovers pizza. Though I had to eat mine cheese-less because I had no Daiya on hand, it was still really good. The thin crust gets super crispy and they use canned mushrooms which gives it a meatier texture. Yum.

Once back home in Alabama, I thoroughly enjoyed having my own kitchen to cook in. I am still not used to the icky public kitchens in the dorms. For lunch I cooked up some frozen hash-browns with spicy seasoning, a bit of salsa, and a ton of Daiya cheddar. I topped the hash-browns with Tofutti sour cream and added a Garden Burger black bean patty on the side.

The four ingredients in the following picture are magical… No, not really, but it seems like they are. (scroll down to see why)

Those ingredients turned into one of the best dishes I have ever made, chick’n and dumplings. I brought about half of the container of Imagine No-Chicken Broth to a boil, stirred in a vigorous dose of Mrs. Dash, added the chopped up Gardein chick’n, and lastly threw in the pre-made dumplings to cook. All in all, this meal took at most 15 minutes to make, and it was delicious.

Another experimental dish that turned into a keeper was this creamy pasta with sausage. I threw some spiral pasta in to cook and then began making a sauce. I added a can of diced Italian tomatoes, two big handfuls of chopped kale, a dollop of Tofutti sour cream, a healthy dose of Parma vegan parmesan, and some chopped of Yves Italian sausages. The sauce simmered for about ten minutes while the pasta cooked, then I threw it all together in a pot. I served it with a whole-wheat Alexandria’s roll on the side. This was delicious and my sister and her boyfriend (who are sometimes known to be picky around vegetable filled foods) sucked down all the leftovers with their compliments to the chef.

I know Easter is still two weeks from now, but I couldn’t resist making these cute cookies. They were pink lemonade flavored, and they were *gasp* from a box mix. The cookies tasted great though, but the bunnies were an issue. I found the adorable Easter decorations at  Walmart and since the box said “edible” on it, I assumed it was true. These sugar bunnies could literally chip your tooth if you tried to chew on one, they were like rocks. Everyone enjoyed the cookies though and just pulled off the decoration.

Slow Cooker Love

My Valentine this year is my slow cooker!… Okay, not really, it’s my boyfriend. But if I didn’t have Peter, I’d be writing a card for my slow cooker. For Christmas my mom got me the The Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook and she also gave me her slow cooker, which she didn’t use any more. I brought those two things to my dorm after the winter break ended, but didn’t actually use them until just last week. And wow, I never knew a delicious meal could be so easy. I just throw in a lot of ingredients, turn on the slow cooker, and return after class to a hot yummy meal waiting on me.

The first recipe I tried from Vegan Slow Cooker was the Philadelphia-Style Cheesy Portobello Sandwich. The mushrooms, along with some thinly sliced onions and bell pepper, cooked down in some seasonings into a chewy steak-like sandwich filler with its own gravy. Soooo good. I was out of cheez, so I just put it on a bun along with some Vegenaise, lettuce, and tomatoes.

The next recipe I tried was the Smoky Mac and Cheese. But I am picky about how I like my mac and cheez, so I left out the chili powder and liquid smoke, so it was basically just plain mac and cheez. That didn’t mean it was just regular though, that was possibly the best mac and cheez I’ve ever eaten. Whole wheat macaroni cooked down with plain soymilk, cheddar and mozzarella Daiya, and some special seasonings. You can tell it’s amazing because Peter and I ate this whole recipe (all 6 servings) in just two days.

The only recipe I’ve used in the slow cooker that wasn’t from the cookbook was when I made a doubled up recipe of Mom’s Chili. I also mixed it up a bit and replaced the recipe’s kidney beans with black beans, and added corn. It wasn’t too pretty after it finished cooking, but it sure tasted good.

Double the slow cooker power with chili mac! Using leftover mac and cheez and Mom’s Chili. Peter and I enjoyed this as our Valentine’s Day dinner together. Not very romantic, but very tasty.

And now on to some older food pictures:

Here is a lovely cinnamon bun I had for breakfast a few weekends ago. One of my sister’s friends is vegan also, and he brought over vegan doughnuts that evening. I managed to snag one and enjoy it for breakfast the next day.

I promise I’m not obsessed with chili, but Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honors Society that’s on campus) was having a chili fundraiser last week! Of course, they had the gross omnivore chili, but they also had some wonderful vegan chili. It had two types of beans, and some tasty tvp in there too.I love this stuff and I wish they did the fundraiser more often than once per semester.

And lastly, some semi-healthy convenience food. I was starving after getting out of sewing class, and quickly cooked up some Gardein Orange Chick’n, but left off the orange sauce and covered it with barbecue sauce instead. I piled some on top of pre-cooked Spanish rice, and voila! A not-too-bad-for-you and fast dinner.

And in honor of this being my Valentine’s Day post, I’ve decided to share my nerdy gift I gave to Peter. Here is a picture of the Pokemon themed card and a love Pokeball magnet made out of perler beads. In return, he gave me an adorable poem he’d written himself. I hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day!

Finals Week Food

Once this week ends, it’s onward to home and freedom! This semester has not been hard at all though, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed the rest of my college experience is such a breeze (yeah, right). The cafeteria’s food is still pretty bad, but the other day they had two wonderful vegan things: peppery hummus and minestrone veggie soup. Below is the soup and the hummus piled on top of some lettuce, green olives, and tomatoes.

Even though the cafeteria is trying (slowly, but surely) to step up their game, I still feed myself two of my daily three meals. Which means I sometimes reach for the traditional college student staple, ramen noodles. Though I’m not willing to eat the super bad for you kind that is sold for 15 cents a package. I’m willing to pay the extra 35 cents and save my health. I eat Koyo garlic pepper ramen which is baked, made with organic ingredients, and has 190 calories and 1 gram of fat. That is fantastic in comparison to the 380 calories and 14 grams of fat found in Maruchan Top Ramen packages.

So I made the garlic pepper ramen below and topped with some Wild Wood baked teriakyi tofu for extra protein. This only took 5 minutes. So a meal that’s not too bad for you, filling, fast, and cheap. Sounds like me and Koyo ramen are going to be friends for the next four years to come.

I’m excited to be going back home for three weeks though. No more wearing flip-flops in the shower, waking up early, or having to carry all my cooking stuff down two floors to make a meal. Now I can make yummy junk, like this pizza pictured below that I made last weekend. It has roasted garlic marinara sauce, Daiya cheez,  Yves “beef” crumbles, mushrooms, and kalamata olives. Not very pretty, but very yummy.

Along with the pizza, I also baked some mini blueberry and cream cheez pies last weekend. I thought these up on a whim, and they only took about 30 minutes total to make and bake them. The reason they were so simple is because I used a few *gasp* pre-made ingredients. I know, I know, the whole speech about how making things by hand makes it healthier and better overall, but sometimes I just don’t feel like going through the trouble.

So the crust is from pre-made crescent rolls dough, folded neatly into a muffin tin. The filling is vegan cream cheez that has been blended with lemon juice, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar, then all that was topped of with blueberry pie filling. I folded the tops over the filling, baked them for 10 minutes, and voila! Delicious and adorable mini pies.

Speaking of adorable desserts, I made these sweet and simple reindeer cookies. I was inspired by a photo on Pinterest (my new addiction), and decided to make a batch to bring to the FCS Student Group Christmas party. They are just Nutter Butter cookies that has been coated in dark chocolate, then topped with pretzel antlers and frosting facial features.

And sadly, this last Wednesday was my final Food Prep class. The theme for the cooking lab was appetizers, so I brought a recipe for vegan crab cakes. At first, all the omnivores were skeptical because the recipe called for lots of “weird” ingredients like tempeh and Vegenaise, but once they tried a bite everyone was head over heels for this recipe. It was a bit time-consuming to make, though so very worth it. I’m saving the recipe and definitely going to make it again soon. This was a great dish to end this class with.