Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tonight's dinner: Roasted Veggies and Pasta in Red Pepper Sauce

Okay, I'm guilty as charged. I make the red pepper sauce too much. Or rather, I seem to feature dishes with it too often. I make other things, I swear!
Tonight, I was trying to figure out what to do with some veggies - a bag full of perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes from a friend's garden and an eggplant from my own. After thinking of making a pizza and deciding that I was to lazy to either drive to the grocery store or make one from scratch, I decided to check my favorite food blogs first for inspiration. Fat free vegan had the perfect inspiration.
Using the basic guide there, I roasted the vegetables I had in my apartment. On a whim, I made the red pepper sauce using raw cashews instead of pine nuts (I was out).
I used half an exceptionally large yellow onion, a tiny ichiban eggplant from my garden, 2/3 of a farmer's market ichiban eggplant which was as long as my forearm, a zucchini, and the bag of tomatoes.
I didn't use any oil at all.
This not using oil thing is turning out great! I am always afraid to not use it, but I did not miss the oil one bit in this dish. In fact, I would say that eggplant's even better without oil!
If I make this again (which I almost certainly will), I'll probably leave off the zucchini. While it was okay, I felt it took away from the other veggies, which really shined.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Raspberry Peach Smoothie

Another bad eating habit I have is skipping breakfast. I've been skipping breakfast since late high school, and at 24 years old, it's pretty ingrained in my habits. I'm not a big cereal person, so I decided I need to start coming up with other way to eat breakfast. Of course, there's always fruit, or banana with a tablespoon of PB spread on it, but I wanted something that could easily fill me up for an extended time. Smoothies are my solution.

This is stupidly simple to make.
1/2 cup unsweetened frozen raspberries
1 peach (typically ~8 slices if you're using frozen)
1 cup vanilla soy milk (or other vanilla flavored non-dairy milk of your choice)
And just blend it all together and serve.

This is a thicker smoothie - it requires a spoon. When plugged into Recipe Builder, this comes back as 5 points, but when I asked my leader about it, she said to count it as just the soy milk (2 points) unless I'm making several a day or find I'm not losing weight while still keeping to my points.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sauteed Spinach, and a Welcome Addition to the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Sorry for the lack of posts lately! Between being caught up in school, work, fostering dogs, hosting family and friends, and life in general, the blog fell to the wayside. I've mostly been cooking things from other blogs lately, and while I'm thinking about turning this into more of a food diary, I haven't quite yet.
M and I joined Weight Watchers 3 weeks ago from tomorrow. I suspect tomorrow's weigh in won't be the best (I tried not to appear to diet around the teenagers I was hosting), but as of last Saturday, I'd lost 7 pounds. As such, what we've been eating has changed. Tonight is only the second pasta night we've had since we started. Most of what I used to cook is pasta. Additionally, I'm trying to cut out oil entirely - I used far too much.
So tonight I decided to treat us to the roasted red pepper sauce on pasta, which comes to 12 points a serving without using oil (I have 2 servings pictured - I was hungry and had only had a few points worth of food). I replaced the oil with a touch of the juices drained from the canned red peppers. I also forgot to toast the pine nuts, but found it to be just as tasty. Additionally, I blended 1/2 cup capers with one bulb of roasted garlic, which I sprinkled over the top of the pasta when done. It was delicious, and didn't cost any points.

For the spinach, I just put the rest of the drained juices from those red peppers to work, adding more as needed.
I started by sauteeing one clove of garlic for about a minute.
Then I added the spinach and a touch more juice, and covered it.
Then I occasionally stirred, until the spinach was done (2-3 minutes).
That was 0 points.

A pretty yummy dinner. I am quite satisfied and full.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mushroom Arugula Sandwiches

I spotted this on Pinterest sometime ago. Last week, I pulled it out and threw in on my grocery list. However, whenever I got to today, I took a look at the recipe, I stopped and said, "I'm too darn lazy and too darn hungry to wait for garlic to roast."
Laziness is abounding in my kitchen the past week. Hence, the large lack of posts. The other day I made my roasted red pepper pesto-like sauce, and had some leftover.
So I adapted it a little. Here's the response from M to my adaptation, in the time it took me to assemble the second sandwich:
"Can you make another?"

Here's what it looks like before being devoured by hungry fiances:

Ingredients (per sandwich):
2 Tbsp Red Pepper Pesto-like Sauce
Handful of Arugula
1/4 package Crimini or Portabello mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp Capers
2 slices of your favorite bread or a roll sliced open
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Saute mushrooms in oil until golden.
Pile all ingredients into sandwich.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pesto Pizza

So, my garden is (sort of) flourishing right now. I have more basil and rainbow chard than I know what to do with, my squash is currently dropping male flowers left and right, and I harvested 2 small Ichiban eggplant today. I figured I needed to make something to use my goodies tonight. Therefore, the pesto pizza was born.

3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
3 packed cups basil
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 eggplant
1 large leaf of rainbow chard
~10 squash blossoms (optional)
Premade pizza dough or crust
1/2 cup Soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos (I used liquid aminos)

Preheat your oven to 400° F
Slice your eggplant thinly.
Dunk your eggplant slices into the soy sauce/tamari/liquid aminos so that it is covered and soaking into the eggplant. This does not take long.
On a pan lined with parchment paper, bake your eggplant for 9 minutes.
While it is baking, stretch your dough out and put it onto your pan or pizza stone.
Prebake your dough according to package directions.
Blend garlic, pine nuts, oil, basil, and nutritional yeast together to make your pesto.
Cut rainbow chard into slices. 
Briefly dunk them into the soy sauce/tamari/liquid aminos
When your pizza is done prebaking, cover it in pesto, and top with the eggplant, squash blossoms, and chard.
Bake for another 6-10 minutes.

M and I have started Weight Watchers, so I will now be posting points. This entire recipe, using Pillsbury pizza dough, is worth 49 Points+. Assuming that the pizza is split into 8 servings, this comes in a 6 Points+ a serving.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dandelion Soup

And of course, my second recipe sounds very strange. But I promise you, it is tasty.

M and I were watching Food Network today. I was surprised to see that Chopped had not only a vegan chef on, but that he won! Additionally, his appetizer course made both our mouths water. He had to use morels, chia seeds, dandelion leaves, and rice wrappers. He made some sort of roll with dandelion leaves in a morel broth that just looked amazing.
I've never actually eaten dandelions, though. Growing up, every spring, my dad would mention that my great grandmother used to cook dandelions for him, but he never made them. I've plucked them myself many times - only to feed them to my rabbits. So, spurred by this delicious looking dish and knowing that the grocery store down the street carried dandelion leaves, I looked for other suggestions to use dandelions.
I stumbled upon a soup recipe that was clearly not vegan, and ran with it. Below are the results:

1 lb bunch dandelions (I found mine at Harris Teeter, but I believe Whole Foods carries them as well. Or, if you prefer and have enough, you can always harvest your own from your yard)
2 bulbs worth of roasted garlic, removed from shell.
1 package Gardein Beefless Tips
1 package of pasta of your choice (I used the Barilla veggie rotini)
1 1/2 gallons of mushroom broth (typically 3 packages, or you can make your own)

Place mushroom broth on stove, bring to a boil
While waiting, prepare the Beefless Tips according to package directions. Do not drain the oil when done. This will add extra flavor to the soup.
When the broth is boiling, give the roasted garlic a little mash or chop.
Throw the garlic and pasta into the pot. Set your timer for 3 minutes before the pasta should be done.
Cut your dandelions into ~2 inch long pieces while waiting.
When your timer goes off, add the dandelions and the Beefless Tips, including the oil they were cooked in.
Cook for 2 more minutes, and pull the pot completely off the heat. The pasta will still continue to cook after this.
Serve hot and enjoy.

M and I have started Weight Watchers, so I will now be posting points. This entire recipe, assuming the use of 2 tbsp oil in prep of the Gardein and using my recommended pasta, is worth 54 Points+. Assuming serving sizes of ~ 1 1/2 cups, this comes in a 3 Points+ a serving.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pasta with a Roasted Red Pepper Pesto-like sauce

This past weekend, I visited my parents.
The family I come from is very meat oriented. My parents eat probably 60% animal products in their diets if they're not gardening and I'm not around. The percentage may even be higher. So as you can imagine, I either have to buy food or scrounge around in the back to their pantry and fridge when I visit.
For part of this visit, I bought a few boxes of veggie pasta and some avocados, garlic, and basil, and made a tried and true dish the first night. However, by the second night, I was scrounging about. I opened up the pantry and found a huge bag of pine nuts. "I can make pesto!" I thought. "Perfect!" So I moved to the fridge, and started looking for any greens I could use. I'd used all my basil the previous night, and I discovered that the only thing green in their entire fridge was the packaging on the string cheese. What a bummer. However, the jar of roasted red peppers sitting in the middle of the fridge caught my attention.
The result was the sauce I'm about to share with you below. It was quite delicious. I made it again once I came home, and it gained omnivore approval with M.
1 16 oz jar roasted red peppers in water
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Optional)
Pasta of your choice (I used the Barilla veggie farfalle)
Red pepper flakes to taste

Put water on to boil.
Put pine nuts into a pan, and turn heat to medium low. Stir them frequently, until they're toasted and golden brown in places.
Peel 2 cloves of garlic and quarter them.
Drain your roasted red peppers.
When water is boiling, throw your pasta in.
Put pine nuts, red peppers, garlic, salt, and olive oil all together in a blender. Blend until you have a sauce - it may be slightly gritty in appearance due to the pine nuts.
When your pasta is done, drain and return to pot. Mix in your sauce.
Serve, adding red pepper flakes to taste as a garnish.

After further tweaks, I halved the amount of oil and pine nuts.
M and I have started Weight Watchers, so I will now be posting points. This entire recipe, assuming the use of my recommended pasta, is worth 51 Points+. Assuming 4 servings, this comes in a 13 Points+ a serving. If the oil is omitted completely, it is reduced to 47 total and 12 per serving.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Bit of an Introduction.

Hi, I'm E. I live with my fiance, M.
We've been together for well over five years. We were introduced to each other during college by a mutual friend. We've been engaged for two years, but aren't getting married for another 18 months. We finally moved in together roughly six months ago.
We're a fairly boring couple, really. Our shared hobbies are gaming, hiking, and generally being very nerdy. M is a tax accountant, pursuing his CPA. I'm a full time student, studying psychology and special education, and I work part time with a boy with special needs. We live in your average apartment complex in one of Hampton Roads "cities" (I tend to use that term loosely, as I lived in Washington, DC before moving here - I don't think of this as a city). We're in our mid-twenties, and have no children, but two rescued rabbits.
Here's the thing that seems to surprise anyone who meets us - I'm a vegan. M is not. He's your average omnivore.
As I get a lot of questions about that, I figured I would start a blog.  Here, I plan to answer some of those questions. Maybe, others in similar situations will find us and find workarounds for problems and ask us questions. Maybe this thing will never be seen by another vegan. Who knows.
Here's a picture of M and I, hiking at Assateague National Seashore.