Cardiff

My time in Cardiff Wales was very short, only one full day, but it was a lovely city with less hustle and bustle after coming straight from Liverpool.

The first place I visited was Cardiff Market, which was great because I got there early enough to avoid a big crowd. There was a great variety of interesting stalls including things like Indian spices, vintage records, palm reading, fresh produce, and my personal favorite, the yarn shop. It was called the Wool Pack, but she had a massive collection of acrylic yarn (all of the shelves on the left side), which I got a beautiful teal skein from.

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After getting lost (thanks, Google Maps) and having to ask for directions at a craft beer shop, my first food stop was at Crumbs Kitchen. It was worth the hassle though, because I had a very good lunch there. The first floor of the restaurant is a bit chaotic, due to that being where the orders take place, but there is a second story with extra seating away from the main crowd. I got the chili over brown rice, with rose lemonade and chocolate cake. The whole grain goodness of the brown rice was a nice welcome, due to my Workaway host at that time only feeding us less filling white rice. The serving was huge though, and I ended up taking half away for my dinner later.

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I gotta admit, part of the appeal of Cardiff was being a Torchwood fan. I never managed to get into Doctor Who (though I still find Weeping Angels terrifying), but I was addicted to Torchwood when I found it in Netflix. Because of this, I decided to brave the rain and wind and march two miles from my hotel to the area where they shot the show. It was odd to look at all these buildings in real life when before I’ve only seen them in panoramic filmed shots. Definitely worth a trip if you’re a fan.

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A place you must visit in Cardiff is Cinnamon Sticks, an almost painfully adorable tea room shop. Everything ranging from the wallpaper to the servers’ outfits is either floral, pink, or dainty. Though I’m not a huge tea fan (unless it’s cold, sweet, and Southern), but I did partake in their cake, which is beyond amazing. I got a piece of their chocolate peanut butter masterpiece and can say that it was probably the best piece of cake I’ve ever had. The peanut butter frosting was the perfect amount of rich and fluffy, and the chocolate cake was the perfect spongey texture. I was sad I didn’t have time or the stomach space to try their savory vegan options, but I’ll just have to get them next time I go to Cardiff, since I will definitely be visiting Cinnamon Sticks again.

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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

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.

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!

Summer Snacks

I have only been back home for a week and half, and I am already incredibly bored. School starts back at the end of August though, so I can survive for that long. But all this free time gives me a chance to cook good meals and try new recipes. Here are some of the things I’ve been munching (or slurping) on the past week:

Cape Breton corncakes (recipe) for breakfast! Little cakes made with creamed corn, flour, saltines, salt, and pepper. Super yummy.

The ultimate Southern dinner. Gardenburger BBQ riblets, mashed potatoes, and fresh corn on the cob.

Vanilla bean frappuccino (made vegan with soymilk and no whipped cream) from Starbucks. It’s so flippin’ hot here, I couldn’t resist getting a giant cold drink like this.

 Peter’s family made an awesome dinner Friday, with grilled Boca burgers, broccoli, and other yummy stuff. Check out the adorable ’60s plate, part of his mother’s collection.

And lastly, I made seitan for the first time in a loooong time. It’s based on the basic seitan recipe from Table for Two, but I added some original Mrs. Dash and chicken bouillon.

I tried to make semi-uniform nuggets with a biscuit cutter. The nuggets were then dipped in a cornstarch/water mixture and breadcrumbs. I then fried them and served the finished (and delicious) nuggets with dipping sauces and stuffed potato skins.

Week of Noms

This week has been filled with some great food, which I shall share with you through a photo montage:

The Tennessee Valley Vegan Wrap from Coffee & Play House. This grilled wrap has tomatoes, artichoke hearts, spinach, purple onions, red pepper hummus, and balsamic glaze. With a side of pickle slices and veggie straws. Very yummy.

This adorable tiny squash was grown by my boyfriend’s parents in their organic garden. Too cute to not share.

I made these two-ingredients red velvet cupcakes, made by mixing just a can of pure pumpkin and a box cake mix, then slathered with cream cheez frosting. These were pretty good, but I think a carrot cake or spice cake mix would mesh better with the pumpkin.

And lastly, rice and bean soft tacos topped with red onions and a mix of Vegenaise, lime juice, and chili powder. This sauce was fantastic and really made the tacos great.

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.

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.