Tea Time (Vegan MoFo #11)

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Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones focuses on an orphaned boy, Cat. Although his older sister, Gwendolyn, is also orphaned, it’s quite hard to feel bad for when she’s nothing more than selfish and mean throughout the book. She’s a powerful witch, something she holds over her magic-less brother. But despite all this, Cat stays by her side because Gwendolyn is all he has. Or at least, that’s what he thought.

Then one day they receive a letter inviting them to live with Chrestomanci, the world’s most powerful enchanter who is blessed with nine-lives and is tasked with making sure magic is used properly. He has heard of Gwendolyn’s powers and wishes to be her mentor. As they are swept away to his castle, the siblings meet Chrestomanci’s refined children, Julia and Roger. While the two like Cat, Gwendolyn’s sour attitude makes the children immediately dislike her. Because of this, Cat is torn between remaining loyal to his sister (and last remaining family member) or embracing his new home and its lovely residents. Soon Gwendolyn becomes frustrated with the little acknowledgment of her giftedness and begins plotting. Her scheme could possibly un-glue the very fabric of time and space inbetween the known dimensions, and it’s up the determined, yet very ordinary, Cat to stop her.

Cat enjoyed the tea. It was the first time he had enjoyed anything since he came to the castle. There were paper thin cucumber sandwiches and big squashy eclairs. Cat ate even more than Roger did. He was surrounded by cheerful, ordinary chat from the Family, with a hum of stocks and shares in the background, and the sun lay warm and peaceful on the green stretches of the lawn.” – Charmed Life (paperback) page 62

I attempted to make a cucumber sandwich for lunch. And I did make it, it just wasn’t very tasty. I combined several herbed cucumber sandwich recipes and made mine with fresh basil and cucumbers on whole wheat bread. The basil was a bit overwhelming and the cucumber had a bitter aftertaste (maybe because it was a large cucumber?). Anyway, it was cute thanks to my star cookie cutter, which made me feel a bit better about it tasting gross.

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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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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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Easter Treats and Eats

I hope everyone had a good Easter! My Easter was full of friends and good food, so I would count it a success.

The University of Montevallo’s Family and Consumer Sciences Student Group had an Easter-themed bake sale on Wednesday. For that I made pumpkin spice cake bunnies with cream cheez frosting.

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I also made cookie dough bites from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. These were a great hit and multiple people kept asking “There aren’t any eggs in these?!” Um, no. I’d prefer vegan cookies over a case of salmonella any day.
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For actual Easter day I had a lovely lunch with Peter and our friends Charlie and Sierra. Then afterwards we spent time playing board games and making Easter things.

For a festive look, I knitted this adorable bunny hat. I used Slip Slip Knit’s knitting chart for the bunnies.
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Instead of the traditional egg-dyeing, I went an animal friendly route and got some blank plastic toys from Hobby Lobby and decorated them with markers.

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For lunch we had a mish-mash of snacks.

I made some tea sandwiches with whole wheat bread, sliced cucumber, spicy sriracha bean dip, and Vegenaise.
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Avocado hummus with pita chips
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I used my go-to potato skins recipe, but got lazy and boiled the potatoes with the skins on and mashed them with the other ingredients (minus the onions and Tofutti cheese). They had all the taste of potato skins, but without the added effort of scooping out the filling.
???????????????????????????????And for dessert Sierra made this delicious spicy peach pie. Can you believe this is the first pie she’s ever made? I never would’ve guessed.

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Fall is the Season of Blogging

Well  summer has come and gone, thank goodness! As much as I like having nothing to do, I have desperately missed school and Montevallo. And for some reason when I have nothing to do, I don’t blog either. It may seem strange, but when I’m back at school (even with homework and projects to do) I have much more drive to blog just for the fun of it.

But just because I didn’t write this summer doesn’t mean I didn’t photograph all of my good meals. Here’s what I enjoyed:

Super veggie salad with mixed lettuce, avocado, tomato, cucumber, kalamata olives, a chopped Boca chick’n patty, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Baked tofu that had been dipped in a simple coating of flour/soymilk with tons of seasonings and topped with caramelized onions.

I realize this salad (can it really be called a salad if there’s no lettuce?) isn’t the prettiest dish around, but it sure was tasty. A tortilla bowl with beans, spiced veggie crumbles, nacho cheez (made with Daiya) and guacamole.

I also found out that the cardboard braces in the tortilla shell box make fantastic crowns! That is me modeling it below with my serious face on.
Summer is the perfect time for an ice-box pie. So I made this cherry cheez-cake pie. It’s just a simple homemade graham cracker crust layered with a mix of cream cheez, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar, then canned cherry pie filling. Super simple and fast, but really good.

Here’s yet another salad. This one has mixed lettuce, red onions, tomato, smoked tofu, and kalamata olive Greek dressing. I (sadly) can’t remember the name of the dressing brand, but I bought it at Earth Fare. It is by far the best salad dressing I’ve ever had, so if I can find the name I’ll be sure to share it here.

And this summer I also experienced something wondrous: I ate my first peanut butter cup since going vegan four and a half years ago. My traveled to Cullman, AL to visit my friend Seth and while we were there we found Justin’s organic peanut butter cups. They are less sweet than the traditional Reese’s Cups that I remember, but the dark chocolate and natural peanut butter were phenomenal together. Definitely worth the long wait to find something this good.

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.