Recent Eats Friday #8

Hi everyone!

As you probably noticed, I’ve been a bit MIA on this blog lately. I could blame it on the fact that work has been relatively busy, or that the parties, gift shopping, and vacation planning of the holiday season have gotten the better of me. But the truth is that I’ve been feeling like I don’t have much to share here.

When I was training for a marathon, I loved recapping my training and being able to look back on previous weeks to see how far I’ve come. I’m hoping that blogging that process might help others considering running  a race, or looking for tips during training. For the past two months since, I’ve been transitioning into more strength training, while still running 3-4 days a week since it’s been so unseasonably warm. What I’m trying to say is that my fitness routine is not very interesting to know about anymore (unless of course, you are me.)

On the cooking front, I am definitely still cooking, and I’ve been trying out a bunch of new recipes. Still, I’ve had quite a few “misses” and fewer “This is so good I must blog it” moments. And I haven’t been creating any of my own new recipes. That may change in a month or so, but for now I’ve been enjoying trying out others’ recipes.

Perhaps I’ll come back in the new year and have loads of ideas and motivation for this blog, but for now, I’m only choosing to post when I really feel I have something to share.

OK, on to today! I haven’t done a Recent Eats Friday post in a few weeks, so I thought I’d show you some of the more interesting eats from the last few weeks.

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Red curry! This was a clean-out-the-fridge curry made with onions, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash, and spinach. I like squash but it tasted a bit odd in this dish. Still a good way to use up all my veggies though!

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I tried out a Pumpkin “Mac & Cheez” sauce that was just ok. It was definitely flavorful, but somehow tasted a bit off. I’ve made several other pumpkin pasta sauces that I like more than this one, so sadly, this was not a keeper.

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It may be winter, but I’m still eating banana ice cream. This was just 1.5 frozen bananas + 2 Tbsp PB2.

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This was Peas, Carrots, & Tempeh with Miso-Almond Sauce. This time, I just mixed all the elements together. This recipe is good, but I find the taste of the snap peas a bit overwhelming. I’m thinking snow peas might be better next time.

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And finally a winner! I tried out this Chipotle Spaghetti and it was SOOO GOOD! In fact, I made it for lunch for Tom & me on a Sunday, and we both ended up eating it again at dinnertime. This is possibly my favorite dish from the past few weeks. I added 3 carrots, a bell pepper, and 2 cups of spinach in to cook with the sauce, which really amped up the nutrition of this dish as well.

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Last week, I tried out a few recipes from a cookbook I’ve had for years but never really used, called Meatless. This Lentil & Sweet Potato stew was decent, but still wasn’t quite flavorful enough even after tripling the amount of curry powder called for in the recipe. I also made a Broccoli White Bean soup which was TERRIBLE. I managed to save it by adding a ton of spices, but I still didn’t love it.

It seems to me that book was created by people who think that vegetarian eating is boring and bland. I think it’s time to give that book away..

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Then there was this Spicy Kale & Quinoa Black Bean Salad. While I like kale in certain dishes, its tough texture still kind of intimidates me. Luckily, I loved the texture in this dish, and the spicy sauce (we used sriracha in this) gets rid of any bitterness. Just make sure to massage the kale for a few minutes before adding in the rest of the ingredients.

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This easy potato curry was also AMAZING. This post is particularly terrible & doesn’t do it justice, but it was super hearty and very spicy. I left out the raisins & cashews (and cooked the veggies without oil, of course), but I’m sure this dish would be good with them as well.

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This was One-Pan Mexican Quinoa. I doubled the amount of chili powder & cumin, but if you want this spicier, you might want to triple the amounts. I also added an onion into the mix & once again, used no oil. I really enjoyed the Mexican-style flavors of this dish & loved that everything gets made in one pan, which makes clean-up a breeze.

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Making this Cauli-Power Alfredo again! I tend to make this dish quite frequently, since it’s super healthy. (I used an entire head each of cauliflower & broccoli in this dish.) It definitely tastes good, but I don’t think it’s perfect. I’m trying to figure out how to make it taste a bit “cheesier” & more intense.

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I’m so sad that this picture looks so gross, because this Butternut & Bean Chili was absolutely delicious. It’s very easy to make, as are most vegan chilis, & the spicy-sweet-hearty balance of this dish was perfect. I’ll definitely be making this one again.

That’s it for now. Have a great weekend!

Curried Brown Rice + Chickpea Salad

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Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’re all having great weekends.

On Friday night, Tom & I (well, really just me) broke out of our anti-social habits and headed to a birthday party. We had a lot of fun chatting, eating, drinking, and playing Cards Against Humanity with a great group of people. And in exciting food news, I brought along a vegan dish so the host wouldn’t have to worry about feeding me, and it was quite the hit.

I’ve had several requests to share the recipe, so that’s what I’m here to do. You may possibly remember me posting this Curried Chickpea Salad recipe a while back, which is originally from the blog, The Hummusapien.

When searching through my recipes to decide what might be a good dish to bring to a party, I stumbled upon it and thought I could beef it up (vegan-style of course) with some rice. This recipe is very close to Hummusapien’s version, but the brown rice really helps to balance out the amount of dressing (which I found to be too much in the original recipe.) I also nixed the oil, since I’ve been eating closer to an oil-free diet, and left out the raisins, since I wasn’t a huge fan of the sweet element in this dish.

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This is a great dish to bring to a party, as it tastes great cold, but can also be eaten warmed up to. It’s got a great variety of textures, a subtle curry taste, and of course, a ton of nutrition.

Curried Brown Rice & Chickpea Salad
Serves 6

SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup brown rice, dry
  • 2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cashews, chopped

DRESSING INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tbsp. tahini
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  1. Combine brown rice with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add chickpeas, scallions, cilantro, bell pepper, and cashews to a large salad bowl.
  3. Combine tahini, maple syrup, water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, curry powder, turmeric, salt, and pepper in a blender. (I use my small bullet blender.) Blend until very smooth.
  4. When rice is done cooking, add to salad bowl. Pour dressing in the bowl as well, and mix well to combine and coat all ingredients.
  5. Place in the fridge for an hour or so, if you prefer to serve this chilled. However, you can also feel free to serve it at room temperature, or even warmed up.

Thanksgiving Highlights 2015

Hi everyone! I meant to write about Thanksgiving on Monday but hey, better late than never, right?

I had a great Thanksgiving and was able to make a lot of vegan food, so I was pretty happy about that.

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In addition to lots of delicious food and beer, during the 5 days that Tom & I were back in my NY home, we had some great relaxing time. I hung out with Tom, my parents, my brother & his girlfriend, aunt, uncle, and cousins who were all staying at the house.

I went to NYC to the MoMA and to get dinner/drinks with a good friend. I saw the final Hunger Games movie which I still enjoyed, even though the plot was a bit of a mess. I spent a whole morning drinking coffee & doing a crossword with Tom. I slept in late. I ran along the beautiful bike path near my house. Tom & I started watching Jessica Jones on Netflix (which we just finished tonight and HIGHLY recommend. Sooo good.) All in all, it was a really nice break.

But I know you’re really here for the food recap, right? Right.

My aunt, uncle, cousins, Tom, & I arrived at my parents’ house late Tuesday night. Then on Wednesday afternoon, I baked up all of the desserts. First up, were these Double Chocolate Chunk cookies. These were DELICIOUS. I ate way too many of them.

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Then I made this Crustless Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Struesel. I fought with the crappy blender quite a bit with this one while making the filling, but luckily it came still came out great.

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This was definitely one of the best pumpkin pies I’ve had. Lightly sweet, nice crunchy topping, creamy filling. The funny thing is, I’ve never been a pumpkin pie fan, yet I’ve made a vegan pumpkin pie 2 years in a row! I definitely like the vegan versions better than any non-vegan versions I ever ate. Still, next year I definitely have to make a fruit pie.

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Then on Thursday morning, I got to cooking up all the vegan food before the turkey had to go and hog the oven for 3 1/2 hours. Number one reason to go vegan? You don’t have to wait 3 1/2 hours for food. Kidding, but seriously…that’s a long time.

I started with this Fall Vegetable Baked Spaghetti with Pumpkin Tofu Ricotta that I had tested out the week before.

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It came out even better this time, thanks to a generous amount of delicious trader joe’s marinara sauce. This recipe calls for a 32 ounce jar of sauce, which is odd, because most jars are 25 oz. The first time around I used just one 25 oz. jar, but this time, I used about 1 1/3 jars & it definitely made a difference in making the spaghetti flavorful.

On the other hand, the topping wasn’t as crunchy this time, likely due to the use of brewer’s yeast instead of nutritional yeast. We had to run out on Thanksgiving Day to buy nutritional yeast since it turned out we didn’t have any. Brewer’s years (basically nutritional yeast ground into powder) was the best my brother could find. Still tasted nice & cheesy though!

Then I made these Lentil Mushroom Walnut Balls, (kind of like stuffing balls) that I had also tried out the previous week.

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I added more fresh rosemary this time & that did amp up the flavor a bit. The only complaint I had was that these come out quite dry from baking in the oven.

Then about 45 minutes before the feast was ready, I whipped up some mashed potatoes.

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These were supposed to be “buttermilk” mashed potatoes, made by adding apple cider vinegar to the coconut milk to curdle it. We didn’t have any vinegar, so I omitted that, but it was still really good. I added quite a bit extra sea salt & pepper & I loved the peppery flavor. Next time, I’d add a bit more coconut milk to make it creamier, but still, it was delicious & WAY healthier than your typical mashed potatoes.

We finally sat down to dinner after a long day of cooking.

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And here’s a terrible picture of my plate. (Mood lighting is fun for Thanksgiving and not fun for taking photos.)

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On my plate was baked spaghetti, lentil mushroom walnut balls, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies (onion, cauliflower, sweet potato in minimal oil + rosemary), cranberry orange relish, and vegan stuffing. Yum! I went back for seconds of mashed potatoes + stuffing :)

I also had some awesome beers over the course of the evening: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (probably my favorite pumpkin beer), Anchorage Love Buzz Saison, and Hill Famstead Dorothy.

A few hours later, it was time for dessert. Of course, I tested out both of my desserts.

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There may have been a few more cookies after this too…

Needless to say, I went to bed feeling stuffed, but super happy with how all my dishes came out. Out of 11 of us, there was 1 strict vegan (me), 2 plant-based mostly vegans (who ate almost exclusively what I cooked), and 1 vegetarian, so it was fun to cook for some other people who appreciated my food!

And here are some scenes from the rest of the weekend.

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Pictures from my 5-mile run on Wednesday & 6-mile run on Thursday, both on the awesome bike path near my house.

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And a delicious sandwich of garlic hummus, avocado, baby kale, and cherry tomatoes on multigrain bread. I ate this twice while at home, and it was super filling. I almost never eat sandwiches for lunch, but this was one of the best healthy choices I could make with what was in our fridge. It was nice to get in some veggies :)

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Flights of beer at Rattle n Hum in NYC with Tom & my friend Shannon!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!