Puttanesca > Roast Beef (Vegan MoFo #6)

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a series of unfortunate events lemony snicket children young adults fantasy novel books

The Series of Unfortunate Events – The Bad Beginning  by Lemony Snicket is about the beginning of the very unfortunate story of the Baudelaire siblings. I will let you know, as the author does on the first few pages, that this story does not end happily. The three children are Violet, the inventor, Klaus, the knowledgeable book-lover, and Sunny, the infant who loves to bite things. Due to a terrible and mysterious fire, the trio become orphans and are sent away to live with a distant relative, Count Olaf. Although optimistic about their new lives with Olaf, they soon learns that he is a villain that will stop at nothing to gain the fortune their late parents left them.

This book is full of mysteries within mysteries. Who started the fire that killed their parents? What does VFD stand for and who are its members? And why are all these terrible things happening to the Baudelaire children? Some of these things are answered throughout the thirteen book series, while other mysteries are left up to the reader to decide. Either way with its macabre content and Snicket’s unique writing style, it is a good and easy read.

For most of the afternoon, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny cooked the puttanesca sauce according to the recipe. Violet roasted the garlic and washed and chopped the anchovies. Klaus peeled the tomatoes and pitted the olives. Sunny banged on a pot with a wooden spoon, singing a rather repetitive song she had written herself. And all three of the children felt less miserable than they had since their arrival at Count Olaf’s.” – The Bad Beginning (paperback) page 44

A famous part of the first book (and the movie based on it) is when the children finally serves the aforementioned puttanesca to Count Olaf and his theater troupe, and the adults demand roast beef instead. Of course, because of this the poor orphans are punished for yet another thing out of their control. But I would prefer a pasta dish any day over a slab of carcass, hence the chosen title for this post.

puttanescaThe puttanesca was delicious! I followed a recipe based on the book ingredients, except without the anchovy paste. It was very simple and fast, but amazing. The olives added saltiness while the capers added a nice bite. I’ll definitely be making this again.

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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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

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.

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.