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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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.

Pasta, Totoro, and Some Fangirl Shoes

Slowly but surely, my counter tops are getting more crowded with ingredients and pots and pans for cooking, instead of more important things like textbooks and homework. But to make up for that, I have made some seriously yummy food over the past week. Midterms are over and now I actually have time to cook and not just grab something that I can microwave and grub on.

The first real meal I made was fresh veggie spaghetti (including farmer’s market tomatoes, onions, and spinach) and a salad with spinach, tomatoes, avocado, fried onion topping, and yummy thousand island dressing.

 

Another notable dish made this week was Another notable dish made this week was mac’ and weenies! The trashiest dinner ever, macaroni and cheese with sliced hot dogs mixed in, veganized! I made the cheezy macaroni with Daiya, but did it different than my usual method. Most days I’ll just mix together cheddar Daiya, plain soymilk, seasonings, and margarine and heat it until it melts. This time I went through the trouble of making a roux then slowing adding the other ingredients. It was well worth the effort because it ended up being the creamiest and richest vegan mac and cheez I’ve ever eaten. Delicious.

Also I now have more time to craft (at least until finals creep up). In the knitting area I made this adorable Totoro hat for Peter (with this pattern). And I have also started to get into upcycling clothes and accessories. So as my first project I bought these $1, slightly ugly, golden shoes from a thrift store and painted on the band AFI’s name and the cover art from their latest album, Crash Love. I now proudly strut about campus wearing my fangirl shoes.

 

Pesto Tofu Recipe

I’d been craving tofu for a few days, so I bought a pack while at the store. Once I got home I couldn’t decide what to make with it: Should I go with tofu feta, tofu fish-sticks, or something new? Then I looked in the fridge and found some fresh basil I needed to use up, so I decided to experiment with a new recipe.

And from this combo of tofu and basil comes, pesto tofu with spinach and sundried tomaotes! It was super yummy, especially for a thrown together dish like this. Thankfully I wrote down the ingredients and such. Here’s the recipe:

Pesto Tofu with Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 TBSP chopped basil

2 TSPs minced garlic

1 1/2 TBSPs nutritional yeast

1 TBSP pine nuts

2 TBSPs plain soymilk

1/4 TSP salt

Black pepper, to taste

2 cups of frozen then thawed cubed firm tofu

3 cups chopped spinach

1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes

1/3 cup diced onions

2 TBSPs olive oil

Directions:

Throw the first 7 ingredients in the list into a food processor. Pulse until almost smooth, but don’t worry if there are still a few small bits of pine nuts in it.

Mix the pesto in a medium bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Once mixed put into a large sauce pan and put over medium-high heat. Cook for about 10 minutes until the spinach wilts and the tofu begins to get golden brown. Then plate and serve! This goes great with pasta and garlic toast.

 

Lunch Out and Shopping at Garden Cove

Me and my mom went to Huntsville, AL a few days ago for lunch and a much needed trip to the health food store.

Rosie’s Mexican Cantina is one of the few restaurants around here with vegan options. Rosie’s has a huge vegetarian menu featuring tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, burritos and enchiladas. Most of which can be made vegan by asking for no cheese and sour cream. Be sure to tell the waiter you want vegetarian rice and beans. They have seperate rice made with vegetable stock (instead of chicken) and beans without lard (since they usually serve “traditional” lard filled beans) for their vegetarian customers.

With a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff, Rosie’s Mexican Cantina is a great place to enjoy lunch. You may have to wait a while to get a seat since they’re quite popular, but it’s worth it for the yummy food.

I got the spinach enchiladas (with no cheese) in corn tortillas topped with ranchero sauce, and served with spanish rice and refried beans.

It was all sooo good. The spinach in the enchiladas was perfectly seasoned and mixed with sauted onions and peppers. The ranchero sauce topping it was flavorful, with a spicy bite. Their rice was incredibly fluffy, the beans were yummy and perfect for dipping your tortilla chips in. I’m definitely ordering this meal again.

After stuffing ourselves at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina we drove to Garden Cove, a health food store. Although it’s small, it sure does pack a bunch of vegan food in there. It carries a ton of different things, from fresh fruits and veggies, to several different brands of soy cheese, to bulk spice bins, and more.

My huge load of groceries.

The back row (from left to right):

Textured vegetable protein breasts, Soyatoo whipped “cream”, organic pink lady apples, Road’s End Organics Penne and Chreese boxed pasta meal, Worthington canned Linkettes, Skallops and Vegetable Steaks, Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and Better Than Sour Cream, Enjoy Life snickerdoodles, nutritional yeast, orange and cranberry granola, and last but not least ZenSoy vanilla soy milk.

Front row (from left to right):

Organic avocados, Nate’s Meatless Meatballs, two Alternative Baking Co. cookies (lemon poppyseed and oatmeal raisin), two packages of Yves deli slices (“ham” and “roast beef”), Follow Your Heart monterey jack soy cheese and two packages of Follow Your Heart mozzarella soy cheese.

Since Huntsville is almost an hour away and we don’t get to go there often, I always make sure to stock up on ingredients I use all the time (i.e. nutritional yeast and soy cheese) from Garden Cove. If you’re in town, I’d definitely recommend you eat at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina and go over to Garden Cove and look at all the great products available there.