Tag Archives: food

Learning Vegan

23 Aug

Time to dust off the old blog, I have new food adventures 🙂

I’m transitioning into eating more healthy, vegan based foods. Basically trying to be vegan as much as possible, but seeing where it takes me and trying to be healthier with my food choices in general. Apparently Oreos are vegan(?!?); it doesn’t make them healthy.

Today I ate fruit, salad, rice, tortilla chips, and a baked potato. And then more rice.
On the potato, instead of butter I used some almond milk and spices. It wasn’t bad.
We ran out of salad stuff today. I’m interested to see what I end up eating since I have a limited budget.

I have been a bit hungry today. I need to find some vegan bread asap!

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Pittsburgh Foodie Field Trip

15 May
A few months ago a friend of mine took me around Pittsburgh’s Strip District, and a bit of Oakland. The result: I have new staples to my diet and I’ve got new places to shop.
In the Strip District, we visited Lotus Food Co., a Chinese grocery store. It was awesome, and cheap. And they had loads of gluten-free stuff that my sister would adore. The sauces there were much cheaper than in regular grocery stores. I got a basket full of what I thought would come to about fifty dollars. It came to twenty-two big ones :D. While there I bought udon noodles, a special soy-based sauce to cook the udon in, ube powder(a purple sweet potato powder), seaweed, and dorayaki (basically a small pancake filled with red bean paste= really, really good.)
My family totally loved the udon noodles and tempura (just dip fresh veggies in a flour/water batter and fry). New staple. Tryyy it.
Also visited the PA Macaroni Co. for pasta and bread, and Wholey’s for fish.
After we had bubble tea at LuLu’s Noodles in Oakland (bubble tea was also new to me, and is awesome), and then had a feast 🙂
Pictures!

Spaghetti squash, sweet potato fries.

15 May
Apparently, I can blog from my iPhone -.-. I’m going to try blogging shorter posts to try and start writing again. so here goes.
some stuff ive made recently 🙂
I tried spaghetti squash. I would consider it kind of a failure but it was still ok.
I boiled it until soft, about 30 minutes. Scooped out the seeds, shredded out the rest with a fork. I tossed it with a marinara sauce.
What I learned: Drain the shredded “spaghetti” before you use it. It tasted good otherwise. I might try again in a week.
I made a Santa fe turkey sandwich:
Turkey bacon, sliced turkey, cheese, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato slice, and chipotle mayo [I think Kraft sells a pre-made one] on a hoagie roll. Pretty good if you’re in the mood for something different.
Served with sweet potato fries, which are awesome! [and orange].  The ones I used were by Ortega and they’re really good. I made them once from sweet potatoes myself but they didn’t turn out nearly as well.
Aaand a BLT with egg.  always excellent.

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Vegetarian Chili

20 Mar
Another chili post! This time its gluten free, vegetarian chili. and its excellent. I’m not eating any meat for lent, so I need something easy to reheat when the rest of the household is having meat. Chili is my answer 🙂
Ingredients:
Cans: (make sure that these are plain and do not have seasoning or salt added)
-large can of light red kidney beans (drained), 2 small cans of cannellini beans (drained), 1 small can black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 large can whole tomatoes (do not drain), 1 large can crushed tomatoes (do not drain), 1 teeny can of tomato paste, 1 small can corn (drained).
Fresh:
-3 large green bell peppers, 1 large red  bell pepper, 4 hot banana peppers (you need these to balance out the sweetness!),  1 sweet onion, 1 package mushrooms (sliced)
Other:
-1/2 stick of unsalted butter, garlic powder (or crushed garlic if you prefer), several tablespoons white sugar
In my last chili post, I explained my process, but here it is simplified.
I add all the canned goods into a giant pot (with a fitted lid). I chop up the veggies (coarsely), and add them. I turn the heat on medium and stir. I add a cup of water, a half stick of butter, garlic powder, and a decent bit of sugar (a few big spoonfuls.) Stir it up, put on the lid, turn the heat down to low (shouldn’t be boiling.)  Stir every ten-fifteen minutes for about 3 hours. If the chili is too watery for your tastes after an hour or two, you can leave the lid off for awhile so that some liquid evaporates. And enjoy :).
I imagine that if you used a (rather large) crock pot you wouldn’t have to stir so frequently. But my dad used a pot so that’s what I do (and I don’t have a crock pot large enough). Also, I am very against chili seasoning/ powder, etc. It tastes fake fake fake.  Please do not use it, you don’t have to, and its better without.
Generally, I don’t like corn in chili, but I think it worked well in this vegetarian version.

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Tomato Habit

19 Mar
I haven’t blogged since I came back from Florence, which has been awhile. Sorry about that.
But todays is about tomatoes :). I had the most excellent tomatoes while in Florence.  When I came back, I started craving and eating a ton of tomato products (tomato soup, mass amounts of ketchup, tomato slices on everything, etc…). It’s kind of becoming an obsession.
But heres pictures of the dishes in Italy that had some tomatoes in them:

Dinner in Rome. Bruschetta, cheese, and prosciutto.

Last meal in Firenze; lasagna and esta the (popular peach tea)

tomato basil ribollita and pasta

pasta with meat and tomato sauce

personal pizza

Yup. spaghetti with basil and tomato sauce. it was great 🙂

There was bruschetta at basically every nice dinner I had there. I bought nice olive oil in Italy and I grow basil in the summer so I’m going to try to make some. And the tomato basil ribollita, which was just excellent.
I have yet to make homemade tomato soup, so thats a goal of mine as well.
On a side note, only because it deals with food, I gave up meat (other than seafood) for lent. So far so good. I made salmon burgers yesterday for the first time, they were awesome (with a large slice of tomato on them, of course 😉 ).

First Bento!

23 Feb
This will be a short short short entry. Its midterms, and I’ve got a paper due :(. BUT good news! My bento box that I ordered off of iloveobento.com came in the mail today!
So this means that I just prepared my first bento. Its not too cute. And I have to learn how to best utilize space.
The bottom tier has about 5 potato perogies that I sauteed with a frozen veggie mix. The top tier (with the spill-proof lid) has vanilla yogurt and frozen red raspberries.  I figure I’ve got protein, veggies, fruits, and carbs. Seems good to me, we’ll see how it goes 🙂

This Year’s Valentine’s Day Dinner

16 Feb
So, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. The past few years, we decided to cut down on the gifts, and focus on dinners. Eat in, of course. We go out enough. So. He bought the out-of-season expensive ingredients, and I cooked. Fair trade 😀
I usually use a recipe but this year I decided to wing it, based off of a meal we had at Olive Garden, actually. What ended up on the plate: a pile of delishiousness. Harmony of flavors. Music to my TASTEBUDS. 😉 It doesn’t look all that great, but you get the idea- it was freaking fantastic.
It consisted of: cheese filled tortellini. I bought the fresh, refrigerated (not frozen) kind. Worth it. Alfredo sauce, from a jar. Next time I’ll try to make my own, but it was still great. Chopped, cooked pears. I’ve never cooked pears before this. So I chopped them up, without the skins, and threw them in a pan with a cup and a half of water and a tablespoon of sugar. I covered the pan and let them boil/simmer on medium heat until they were soft. Sauted shrimp. You know the drill; butter, pepper, frying pan. I did get the kind without tails and whatnot. And finally, a balsamic vinegar reduction drizzled on top. I’ve never made this before either. I basically put a cup of water and some balsamic vinegar with a few tablespoons of sugar. I let this simmer down until it was a bit thicker, and all the water had “steamed out.” It was great. Perfect touch, particularly with the pears.

Layers: tortellini, alfredo, pears, shrimp, balsamic vinegar reduction. Garnish: pears dipped in dark chocolate 🙂

Meatloaf for Picky Eaters

16 Feb
Meatloaf looks gross, there’s no getting around that. But this meatloaf is not only gluten-free, its healthier (it uses ground turkey meat), and GOOD. My picky eater loves it. Which is weird. There are very few meals that I can repeat once a week.
Ingredients:
– 1.2 lbs ground turkey meat (I suppose you can substitute ground beef if you really need to. ;))
– about 1.5 cups cooked rice
– 1 egg
– 2 tbsp ketchup
– 1/2 cup chopped onion
– 2 tbsp sugar OR 3 tbsp molasses. (I normally prefer molasses. Turkey when cooked is whiter than ground meat, molasses darkens it. And it makes a pretty awesome glaze on top. But in the batch featured I used sugar)
– dash of pepper

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350*F. Mix all of the ingredients together in a largish bowl. It looks gross. I refuse to show my picky eater this step, in fear of refusal to eat the result.

Mixed Together....yummmmm hahaa

Put the mixture into a loaf pan. Shape/smooth it the best you can with the spoon/spatula. Place in oven, uncovered*** for about 45 minutes.
***Covered in foil if you used molasses. Take off the foil for the last 15 minutes, and drizzle a spoonful of molasses on top for a glaze.

In the Oven

Take out, let sit for about 3 minutes. Cut and serve :). We like ketchup on ours, but honestly this recipe is sweet enough so that you don’t need it.
I use the same basic mixture for my meatballs, as well. Substitute the ketchup for whatever marinara sauce you want, and throw in some Italian seasoning. Roll into balls. Smother in marinara sauce.  Bake covered for the same time and temperature.

Slice & Serve

P.S. I apologize for my blurry pictures! I had to use a phone camera for these.

Experiment on Cream Puffs

12 Feb
I’ve been trying to make cream puffs, which a friend introduced me to. She saw them in this Japanese drama that was based on a manga, “Absolute Boyfriend.” She got me hooked on the show and wanting to try to make cream puffs (which were featured in the show).  I’ve never made pastries before this. Turns out, they’re actually a bit complicated to make and pretty sensitive (DO NOT open the oven while these are baking!). My first batch was on Wednesday night. They didn’t rise, I suspect because there was too much butter/egg in the recipe. So they ended up looking like small, flat cookie disks. Fail. I also made custard filling on Wednesday, which I wasn’t a fan of.
On Thursday, I resiliently bought more butter and looked up another, more complex recipe. It worked! They rose! I was seriously pumped. They were darling little puffballs. I did have a few technical mistakes and preferences that I hope to correct in my next batch. I think that the dough could’ve used more sugar, and more time in the oven drying out. (After they finish baking, you cut a small hole in the bottom of each one and put them back in the oven for about 20 minutes to dry out the inside of the pastry.) I would really really like a pastry bag to make filling these little pastries simpler. I had to cut my darling little puffballs in half to get the custard inside. And lastly, I really don’t think I am a fan of custard, and neither is my picky eater. I looked up another recipe Thursday night, and I tried it. And I’m not a fan of custard that other people make… I don’t know why I thought I’d be a fan of custard that I made. For a pastry, it seems like it’s just too heavy. I’d like to try folding in some homemade whipped cream into the second recipe that I tried, or even just making a vanilla cream filling.
Click Me! <- This is the blog that I took the second recipe from, both for the dough and the custard.
Overall, I am pretty proud of myself, knowing that I am capable of making awesome pastries (even if it’s only one kind as of now). And I am proud that I didn’t get frustrated with myself and quit after my first night of trying.

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Game Day Food!

7 Feb
Today is the Superbowl!! Being from the ‘Burgh, obviously I am rooting for the Steelers. Regardless of who you are rooting for, or even what sport you watch, there is usually game day food.
Chips, dips, pop, jalapeño poppers, chili, burgers, hot dogs, veggie trays, and tacos. To name a few. Today, my plan is reubens for the first two quarters, and sautéed shrimp for the second two.
Reubens are something relatively new to me, and I only recently started making them at home. But I’ve grown used to my process, and these sandwiches have become such a go-to meal at home that I thought I’d share it with you.
The essentials: rye bread (I use Pepperidge Farm’s seedless rye), sauerkraut (I prefer Bavarian sweet), thousand island dressing, swiss cheese and corned beef.
Ask your deli for the corned beef, and ask them to slice it very thin.
I use the griddle for mine, but you can use two skillets if you’d like.

Makes 2 reubens.

1) Spray one of the skillets with some non-stick spray. Drain the can of sauerkraut. Spread a bit more than half of the can as thinly as possible into the pan, and cook on medium/low heat. Use a spatula to flip/stir until it is throughly heated.
2) Butter one side of two slices of bread. Put them in the other skillet (at medium heat), butter side down. Put a slice of swiss cheese on top of each slice.
3) When the cheese starts to melt,  squirt some thousand island dressing on top of the cheese. Then put the sauerkraut on top of the dressing (spread over the whole piece of bread).
4) Next put a few slices of corned beef on top of the sauerkraut. Depends on how much meat you want, but I tend to only put two slices on.
5) Place one more slice of swiss cheese on top of the meat.
6) Butter one side of two more slices of bread. Place them on top of the sandwiches, butter side up.
7) Using a fork and a spatula, flip the whole sandwich to toast the other side. This is messy and hilarious. Be careful.
8 ) Toast for about 5-7 more minutes, and then cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
For reference, here’s how the layers “should” go on the sandwich: Bread, cheese, thousand island dressing, sauerkraut, corned beef, cheese, bread.

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After making these a few times, I discovered that I prefer yellow american cheese on my reuben. But my picky eater still prefers the swiss. And I prefer to “brown” my sauerkraut just a bit. So once you get the process down, experiment some. Reubens are really surprisingly good when made at home.