Lucky Me

October 24, 2010

**There is a naughty food picture in this post! Just warning you now. ;)**

 

 

What is it with me and finding oddly shaped potatoes? I really have some odd lucky when it comes to produce shopping. Whether it’s a face in a pepper or a Siamese-twin pair of carrots, it will always find its way to me.

Remember this little guy?

I swear it came like this.

My parents recently came up to my school to visit, and because they are good and generous souls they brought their starving child some food from Earth Fare (extra bonus points for organic!). Well, in the potato bin there was a little guy just waiting for me…

I heart carbs. Literally.

I wonder what shaped potato I’ll find next…

Ever gotten a weirdly shaped veggie?

Cool Beans

July 11, 2010

You know who is a cool bean (and currently my desktop AND cell phone wallpaper)? Michael Bublé. You guys know I was heading to his concert last night, and I’ve gotta say, it did NOT disappoint.. even though some 15 hardcore fans and yours truly waited outside the gate for him for 2 hours after his show and he simply drove past without stopping to sign things. But I did meet some of his band members… and they may or may not have invited me to go to the bar with them. Michael is forgiven for not saying hello on account of his FACE.

Case in point:

He also did his own take on Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. I’d post the video on here but my girly screams are a bit distracting. 😉

Speaking of beans, I’ve also become obsessed with a fairly awesome one recently: the Adzuki (or aduki) bean. Never heard of it? It’s pronounced a-dookie bean. Say it in front of a kid and they’ll think you’re epic. It comes all the way from China, but it’s popular in Japan and is becoming popular here in the US.  So it’s kind of like the Utada Hikaru… but in bean form. You can find it (the bean, not Utada) at a specialty grocer’s like Earth Fare or at any Asian market.

Aww, isn’t he cute? But don’t be fooled. This tiny little guy packs a flavor and nutritional punch. It’ll hit you with:

  • B vitamins
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Folate
  • Yummy taste!

Gillian McKeith, a nutritionist back home in the UK says that the aduki bean is “the weight loss bean” because it is very low in calories but it is supa high in fiber and protein, which help you stay fuller for longer. She’s also obsessed with looking at people’s poos (no, seriously… she does and it’s disturbing) and says that the bean “acts as a natural diuretic to relieve the body of excess fluids. It also removes unwanted mucus, congestion and stools, and balances metabolism for weight management.” The fiber in adzuki beans is soluble fiber, which helps remove LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

These suckers are a great and complete protein when paired with a whole grain, like brown jasmine rice. Eat it with chopsticks, listen to Utada Hikaru, and you can pretend like you’re really in Japan. I may or may not have done that a few times.

You can get these lovelies both dried and in cans.

If you go the dried route, soak them in water overnight or even use a pressure cooker or crock pot to cook them through.

If you buy ’em in a can, make sure they have no salt or sugar added, and do your best to find organic.

Oh.. and a word of advice. When you introduce these little joys into your diet, make sure you take it slowly. Otherwise you might have, in the words of Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, a “mudslide in your pants.”

So there you have it. Two cool beans. And Gillian McKeith. But she’s a nut.

PS, wanna win a cookbook from Mama Pea? Click here!

PPS, do you want to win 5 freeee bags of Food Should Taste Good chips? Clickity click here!

PPPS, do you like pressing tofu? You could win a tofuXpress, so click here!

If I were to host a giveaway, what would you guys want?

Viva Pasta!

June 27, 2010

What event takes place when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie?

Freakin’ AMORE, that’s what.

Summer flavors are fabulous. Plain and simple. Tomatoes and basil are best pals, and they just so happen to be in season at the same time. That’s no coincidence, my friends. That’s a sign that these two are meant to ride off into the sunset, hand in hand, and be together forever… in the form of spaghetti.

Droolworthy? I think so.

I’ve decided to do a few posts over the next month or so of dishes from around the world. I’ve got Mexican, Indian, Greek, Japanese, Thai, and British meals planned so far. So what better way to kick start the grand world tour than with a big bowl of fabulous, good-for-you carbs?

This spaghetti is so good, your Italian grandmother would approve of it. Well, she would if she was a vegan and didn’t like to take a lot of time to do things. This sauce is super quick (it took me no longer than it took to cook the pasta) and it’s one of those things that can just sit and sit for hours and only get better. The leftovers are gonna be bangin’.

Not Your Grandma’s (unless she’s a vegan) Spaghetti

Serves 3-4, depending on hunger levels. Yes, I just compared dinner guests to Sims.

You’re gonna need:

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

~1 lb grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

Meatless meatballs (however many you like)

4 servings of whole wheat spaghetti

3 cups fresh basil, packed

S&P to taste

First, get your onion and garlic working in a pan to soften up. I just realized that all of my recipes seem to start with onion and garlic. I say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Set your pasta water on to boil. Go ahead and drop your pasta when the water is at a rolling boil. I don’t get it when Rachael Ray says “drop your pasta.” Because if you dropped it on the floor, that’d suck. But if you literally dropped it into the boiling water, that’d suck too, and probably burn you.

Post pasta-dropping, turn up the burner and add your grape tomatoes and tomato paste. You’ll probably need some water to help thin out your tomato paste (add some starchy pasta water at the end, just make sure you reserve it and don’t throw the water away!).

A quick note about the tomato paste: don’t worry about what to do with the rest of the can. Seriously – who uses the entire can of tomato paste in one single recipe (besides me) anyway? On the rare occasion that I don’t use a whole can, I take what I need and chuck the rest of the paste in a ziplock baggie in the freezer and take it out when I need it. I can just cut a hunk of tomato paste off and throw it into a hot pan. Easy as pie. Pizza pie.

The grape tomatoes should start to soften and burst pretty soon due to the heat of the pan. That’s good. You want that. Once they start to burst, they will help the sauce become tomato-y and delicious and sauce-like. Once they do their thing, add in about three quarters of your basil and some meatless meatballs. Or whatever you have. I could have easily made tofu meatballs but I’m a lazy bum, so TJ’s meatless meatballs came to my rescue.

Now just play the waiting game while you wait for your pasta to cook. Once it has, don’t you dare drain it, or you’ll lose all of your Little Italian Grandmother Brownie Points. Use your tongs to take the pasta out of the pot and put those suckers straight into the sauce. Do it like they do it on Discovery Channel in Italy.

Saucy.

Serve it with the rest of your basil for garnish.

Then you are free to move about the aircraft NOM.

Just remember to save some for your grandma.

Sushi vs Sushi

June 24, 2010

If I had to pick a last meal other than breakfast (which is, hands down, banana and peanut butter pancakes), I’d pick sushi. End of story. There’s just something about it that makes it a perfect meal. Maybe it’s the cool, crisp veggies, the smooth, creamy avocado, the B vitamins and texture of the nori holding it together, or even the carbohydrates from the rice. Whatever is in that combination, it makes sushi a stellar meal for me.

So while we were at the beach, my dad and I sampled two different sushi joints. Both claimed to be Japanese and Thai. Both claimed to have the best sushi in town. Both had legit, almost novel-like menus. Of course, you can’t really have two favorite sushi places, according to one of my friends. So I present to you…. *drumroll please*

The Great Sushi-off Competition 2010


In the first corner, we have Siam Orchid. An old favorite, a seasoned contender, and a fabulous meal every time. Siam Orchid boasts a full Thai and Japanese menu as well as a sushi bar. It also has ballin’ decor.

In our second corner is Sake, a definite underdog. Unknown until a few weeks ago (though they’ve been open since 2000), Sake claims to serve the best sushi in all of town.

Round one: Menus

At Siam Orchid, the menu, as mentioned above, is extensive. But it’s Barbie pink.  That’s a possible weakness. Plus, the pictures can give the diner the impression that the food is more or less the same quality as those takeaway Chinese places with similar pictures. As if I didn’t know what sweet and sour chicken looked like..

At Sake, the menu is NOT hot pink. Plus. But the menu is a novel to get through and has a ton of good options.

See that strength? It’s in a binder, enough said. The food is also clearly divided into sections by geographical location, and is well organized. Plus it has less typos. Round one goes to Sake.

Round 2: Appetizers

At Siam Orchid, there’s only one appetizer that will satisfy a hungry vegan until sushi arrives. And that is… tofu rolls!

Served on a gorgeous plate with scrumptious peanut sauce. The outside tapioca roll is the perfect compliment to its innards. Inside the rolls are the usual suspects – vermacelli noodles, carrots, cucumber, and tofu. BUT WAIT, what’s this?! Arugula? Some kind of spicy green leafy! Unexpected and definitely a good twist. Sake’s going to have to try hard to recover from that blow.

Sake’s appetizer is a pretty legit bowl of vegetable soup. It might appear to be a plain looking broth with mushy vegetables, but looks can be deceiving! First off, the spoon that’s hiding behind is adorable. Secondly, the broth was tasty without being overly salty like a lot of soups are. And the veggies? Crisp and delicious. But what’s this? Mushrooms?!*puke*

Round 2 definitely goes to Siam Orchid!

The Final Round…

MAKIZUSHI.

The long awaited moment has arrived. We’re all tied up in the last round, whoever wins this is going to take it all.

And just LOOK at that presentation from Siam Orchid! The sauteed vegetables were served in a martini glass, which was “glued” to the plate with hot wasabi paste. Genius. All of the basics are covered – makizushi, wasabi and other assorted hot pastes, tofu, and Nigiri-zushi. Looking good.

What this plate of deliciousness lacks in martini-glass-ness, it certainly makes up for it with flavor. It packs a giant tastebud punch (what a pun, ha ha). The tofu (inzrizushi) is moist yet crunchy without being chewy; the makizushi itself is absolutely divine. Having the rice on the outside and the nori on the inside is just plain awesome, because I don’t like the look of nori that much. This plate of sushi was colossal. Amazing. Delicious. I was actually unable to finish it. Om nom nom.

The winner of round 3 goes to Siam Orchid because I just can’t get over that darn martini glass.

So the winner of the first ever Sushi-Off… is actually both Siam Orchid and Sake!

Because wrestling is silly. And sushi is always a winner.

What’s your favorite restaurant and why?

Technically speaking

June 21, 2010

Technically speaking, I should be doing my summer coursework. It starts on Thursday but I’ve already been assigned an essay, two chapters of reading, and two quizzes. Hey, I did the essay…. it was an “about me” paper. 😛

Instead of working hard, I hardly worked. I elliptical-ed my heart out and then did this in the gym’s bathroom:

And left this at the gas station:

Technically speaking, it’s probably vandalism. Encouraging, fabulous, wonderful vandalism.

(If you’re wondering what these post-its are, they’re a part of Operation Beautiful and I highly encourage you to visit the site and help spread the love. You know you want to.)

And then, because it’s Father’s Day and all, I did something nice for mi padre and made him epic banana bread. It’s one thing I can make that both he and I will eat. Because technically, he doesn’t know it’s vegan.

The Best Banana Bread You’ll Ever Have

You’ve probably heard that claim before on other recipe sites, but I’ve got the goods to back it up. Trust. This recipe is not only delicious, it’s fat free (the only fats that occur are natural), whole wheat, dairy free, and contains no refined sugars.

Whatcha gonna need!

The wet ingredients:

5 ripe bananas

1/2 cup maple syrup/agave nectar blend

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

The dry ingredients:

2 cups of whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

a sprinkle of cinnamon

Sift all of the dry ingredients together until they’re combined. Or if you don’t wanna dirty up a sifter, because it’s a pain to wash, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk or fork.

In another bowl, take out your anger. Mash up all the wet ingredients. I like it to be a kind of chunky consistency so that you can tell it’s banana bread and not unidentifiable loaf.

Next, combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix until they are just combined. At this point, you could add in anything else you might want. Chocolate chips, walnuts, blueberries, or even peanut butter would be particularly delicious.

If it’s too thick, add a bit more water to the batter – but not too much. You want it thick like pancake batter. You may also want to add more agave or maple syrup if you like it sweet. I felt a little fruity today so I toped my loaf with another banana that was almost on its way out.

Grease a loaf pan and put yo bread into your oven, which you most definitely didn’t forget to preheat to 375 degrees. Let it bake for an hour, checking occasionally. Use the oven light instead of opening the door.

Once it’s done, you’re gonna wanna bust that bad boy outta the pan immediately, but don’t. Let it cool before you transfer it to a plate. It’s hard to resist chowing down on this sucker straight from the oven…. go for a walk while you wait! Come back and your casa will smell like pure deliciousness.

Worth the wait.

Technically speaking, it’s so good it should be illegal.

Becuase 10 out of 10 non-vegans approve of this message dish, It wins this:

Technically speaking, that was the worst pun ever.

PS – bloggers in CLT, wanna have a meetup sometime soon? 🙂

I’m Blue

June 17, 2010

Check out those bangin’ 90’s graphics!

Yep. That’s stuck in my head now because I made blue food for lunch yesterday.

Blueberry Quinoa with Chickpeas

1/2 cup quinoa, dry

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup blueberry juice (I used Naked brand)

1/4  cup slivered almonds

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

1/3 cup raisins

a dash of vanilla extract

a quirt of agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey to sweeten (to taste)

1/2 t cinnamon (or more , depending on your taste)

a pinch of salt (to taste)

First, toast your quinoa in a pan. It’s like toasting nuts. Don’t add any oil, and just let the quinoa heat up and become golden brown. Just move them around every so often to make sure they’re not burning. When you can smell it getting all toasty, add in your almonds and let them toast for just a moment, too. They may begin to pop like popcorn – if that happens, turn your heat down. After about three more minutes of toasting, add in your water, vanilla, and blueberry juice.

Once your liquid is in, you want to actually cook the quinoa. Cover the pan, bring it up to a boil and then put it down to a steady simmer. You want the quinoa to absorb all of the liquids and become fluffy. Add more liquid if you need to.

When the quinoa is cooked, add in your cinnamon, chickpeas, raisins, and blueberries.

Cover and let it heat through.

Serve, garnished with almond joy.

It sounds like it’s an odd dish, but the flavors really work well together. The chickpeas absorb the blueberry flavor and combined with the quinoa you’ve got a wonderful source of healthy, complete protein. This could be enjoyed warm or cold, as brekkie or not.

Da ba de da ba daaaai.

I remember this song all too well. I used to play it in the car on my supa-awesome handheld CD player over and over again. I was so cool. But now I’ll never look at blueberries the same way again.

What’s your favorite 90’s song?

“I get up in the morning, I make myself a bowl of instant oatmeal, and then I don’t do anything for an hour, which makes me wonder why I need the instant oatmeal. I could get the regular oatmeal and feel productive.” -Mitch Hedberg

Strawberry Banana Overnight Oatmeal

1/3 cup oats

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup water

1 banana

1 cup strawberries

a splash of vanilla extract

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t xanthan gum (optional)

In a blender, add everything but the oats. Blend it until smooth, like a smoothie. In a bowl, combine it with your oats, stir, and let it sit out overnight. If you want to make it extra creamy, use strawberry or some other flavor or soy/coconut milk yogurt instead of water or almond milk.

It’s like a smoothie + oatmeal! This is a very cool, refreshing breakfast for a hot summer day. Oats are regular dorm eats for me during the academic year, when I don’t dare go to the caf for breakfast. In fact, in my entire undergraduate career, I haven’t been to the caf for breakfast once. I usually just nab as many apples and bananas as I can and stuff them into my bag. Hey, it’s not technically stealing – it’s paid for in that hefty dining bill.. 😉

What’s your favorite corny joke?

….and put it on the tofu!

It sure feels like summer here in the south. I went to the airport to pick up She Who Must Be Obeyed (AKA Mum) and my sissy and the temperature was 100 degrees. No bueno. I could totally be a snowbird when I get old, and spend my summers in the mountains and winters at the beach. But since I can’t do that yet, I’ll just have to get used to the heat and survive with a tropical dish.

Lemon Coconut Tofu

Ingredients for 1

You’ll need:

1/5 block of tofu, or however much ‘fu you want

1/4 can of coconut milk

1 lemon

1 lime

S & P

sesame seeds for garnish

First, take a small bowl and mix together your coconut milk, lemon and lime juice, and the zest of the lemons and limes. Add salt and pep to taste, and then marinate your tofu in that for a few hours before you cook it.

In a heated non-stick pan, cook your tofu. Make sure the pan is hot so that you’ll get a really awesome sear and a crunchy crust on the tofu. After you’ve got that going, add in your marinade.

If it does what mine did, it will bubble up like crazy. So watch yo self.

Let that cook for a few more minutes for the flavors to marry, and then serve it over coconut jasmine rice.

To make coconut jasmine rice, simply cook it the remainder of your can of coconut milk and a little bit of water. The more water you add to it, the stickier it will be.

Now I just need some Colbie Calliat and another beach to lay on.

What’s your favorite summer flavor? Do you have any “summer songs?”

I’m not usually one for fake meat products. Boca? No way. Morningstar? Nuh  uh. Smart dogs? Never in a million years. You name it, I probably don’t like it – from fake chicken nuggets to sausage links – and I probably won’t eat it. Some of them are processed far too much and have a zillion unrecognizable ingredients. *cough cough Boca burgers cough* So why do I rarely eat imitation meat? There’s just something about the taste and the texture. I guess because it resembles meat just a little too closely. Or sometimes it ends up looking like poo. (See here)

Anyway, I had some friends over for a BBQ last night. First of the season! Among all the grilled potatoes, peppers, and mushrooms was this…

I know, I know.. fake meat.  It must’ve been the words “New BOLD BBQ sauce.” No, really, it was a spur of the moment thing. I recognized and could read and pronounce all of the ingredients. The nutrition stats were pretty good too.  The only thing that I didn’t particularly love was the amount of sodium in a serving. I try to keep it under 800mg a day and, judging by the size of the skewers vs the size of my stomach, there was no way I was going to be able to only eat one serving… unless it tasted like poo.

What? I’m a hangry girl.

Once I took them out of the package, I was unnerved. They were all kind of clumped together and they really did resemble poo. A lot.

Upon further inspection and a good sniff, I discovered that they actually smelled really good. Kind of like baked beans..which SCREAM deliciousness, especially after they’ve been in the slow cooker for 6 hours and you just want to stick your face in them.

See? Not too appealing. Poo on a stick.

That’s what they looked like post-grilling. There was nothing I could do to make them look more appetizing.

With an open mind and a tall glass of water next to me for just in case, I took a hunk of “garden protein” and prepared for the worst. Surprisingly, however, it wasn’t terrible. I seriously wondered if I’d picked up a meat kebab instead of a vegan one, to be honest with you. Texture wise, it was a little chewy and quite dense. The BOLD BBQ sauce had stuck to the skewer even during it’s session in the grill sauna. It really was bold.

Overall, the skewers were different than I’d been expecting. In a good way. I’m definitely going to try Gardein’s other stuff. But I’m not good at sharing, so if anyone asks for a bite, I’ll tell them I’m eating poo.

You can guess what song I’ve had stuck in my head all morning.

I had planned to make my dad super yummy pancakes, seeing as it’s Day 1 of his better half being thousands of miles away in England (she’s such a lucky beg).

So we came downstairs to find THIS joy..

She hasn’t peed on the carpet since she was a young’n.

Ultimate guiltface.

We figure it was because she’s mad about her beloved mum leaving for vacation. She’s staging a protest now, refusing to eat and camping out on the couch, eyes fixed straight outside the window for her mum. Poor thing. Hopefully she won’t keep that up for 2 and a half weeks.

Anyway, today was a perfect pancake morning. It was sort of dreary and cloudy outside, but not quite cool enough for oatmeal. Enter banana pancakes (and look, I actually remembered the measurements!)!

Banana Pancakes

Serves 2-3 people, depending on how hungry they are. This fed my father and I, but I made them fairly small sized.

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup vanilla non-dairy milk (I used almond)

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract

2 T maple syrup or agave nectar

1 t baking powder

cinnamon to taste

1 banana, sliced

Heat up a non-stick pan and spray with cooking spray, or you can use oil. While it warms, slice your banana.

Mix all ingredients sans bananas in a big bowl. You may need to add more liquid to the batter if it’s too thick.

Once your skillet is feeling hot hot hot, start putting pancake batter in, then press in your banoonoos. You want to make sure they get all the way through the batter and touch the surface of the skillet so that they will get nice and grilled and warm when the pancakes cook.

You know the rest of the drill…. flip when you can see lots of lovely bubbles throughout, plate, top with real maple syrup (none of that icky maple flavored liquidy stuff) or the fruit of your choice and then proceed to NOM.

Me: “Dad, can you pour a little bit on my pancakes, please?”

The maple syrup then proceeds to LEAP out of the jug and drown my pancake in syrupy deliciousness.

Dad: “Oh, that came out faster than I wanted it to….”

Me: “That’s what SHE said!”

I would go there.

Have a safe Memorial Day! If you’ve got the day off, what are your plans? Dad and I were going to head to the park with the pup but it’s storming now, so we’ll probably stay in and watch junk TV 🙂