Oct 6, 2011

big move thursday

With the weather getting colder, and the fall colors beginning to pop up, I thought it was time for a change on my end as well. I'm saying good-bye to Vegtastic- seriously, there are like 50 blogs with the same name- and I'm saying hello to Erin Cooks!

There will still be PLENTY of delicious meat free meals- it was just time for a little revamp :)

So if you'd like to keep reading along, please head over to my new blog at: http://erincookingandcrafting.blogspot.com


Oct 3, 2011

almost vegan pizza

What could be better than starting off Vegetarian Awareness month with a meat-free pizza party?! Pizza is one of those wonderful, easy, versatile meals that I can never get sick of. Seriously, you could put anything on a pizza and it would be delicious.

Last week, me and the roommate opened opened some wine, watched Project Runway, and made ourselves some fantastic homemade pizzas!

Stuff you need: 1. Pre-made pizza crusts- we like the ones from Whole Foods- you get 2 per pack 2. Any toppings your heart desires!

Once again, anything on a pizza will taste amazing. Here were our concoctions:
Molly's Pizza!
Side 1: Brie, chopped garlic, carmelized onions, & arugula
Side 2: Tomato sauce, broccoli, zucchini, green bell pepper, & mozzarella cheese

My pizza!
Side 1: Tomato Sauce, zucchini, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, & onion
Side 2: Tomato sauce, tomato slices, fresh basil, & almond cheese

While Molly's pizza was very cheesy, I decided to go with an almost vegan version. My favorite non-cheese cheese is the almond or rice cheese made by Lisanatti Foods. I completely fell in love with it a few years ago, while looking for vegan options to my favorite foods. The texture is impeccable- melts alright, and can be shredded- it's not slimy like a lot of soy cheeses, and best of all the flavor is great. UNFORTUNATELY, it's made with casein, so after all my searching, my favorite vegan cheese isn't vegan at all *sad trombone* If you're looking for a healthy alternative to cheese, I highly recommend this stuff. However, if you're morally opposed to any and all dairy products, this one isn't for you :(

Anyway, it was a delicious pizza party. Both versions were super tasty, and made plenty of food for our lunches the next few days. For next time, Molly recommends getting good quality brie (instead of the cheap-o stuff) so it melts better, and I recommend sautéing the veggies before applying them to the crust, for more flavor, and delicious pizza cohesion. Great night. Great food.

ALSO! Don't forget to check out VeganMoFo when you get the chance! I was too nervous to join in this year, but they're only 3 days in, and there's already TONS of amazing looking dishes! Maybe next year I'll grow a pair and join in the fun :)

Oct 1, 2011

world vegetarian day

Happy World Vegetarian Day everyone! October is the best month of the year, and it's not just because of Halloween, and pumpkin flavored everything. October is also Vegetarian Awareness month, Vegan Mofo, and to top it off, it all begins today with World Vegetarian Day! Did you celebrate today? Enjoy any meat-free adventures?

There's lots of animal-free fun coming up this month & I can't wait! :)

Sep 20, 2011

veg eats at the ballpark

With the baseball season coming to a close in Colorado, Pop and I finally made the time to enjoy a Rockies game together this past weekend. The seats were great, and the company was even better- too bad the Rockies couldn't pull it together for a win against the Giants. *Sad trombone*
When going out to eat somewhere as meat-centric as a baseball stadium, it's always a challenge to find something vegetarian or vegan. When you think about a sports area, don't you always think of hot dogs, burgers, and nachos? I certainly do. Surprisingly enough, Coors Field has some meat-free options- yayy! In fact, Coors Field was named one of PETA's Top 10 Most Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks in the country!

I personally think the selection of meat-free foods has decreased since last year, but hey, as long as I can find something tasty to accompany my beer, I'm happy. This weekend, Dad and I found Garden burgers and veggie dogs over at section 134. Not the best I've had, but definitely not the worst. In these situations, the key is loading it up with anything you can get your hands on- ketchup, mustard, onions, relish, sauerkraut, veggies, you name it! Drink 2 more big beers, and I promise it will taste pretty damn good :)
According to the Rockies website, you can also find veggie paninis, pizzas, burritos, and wraps around the ballpark. Whether these options will be well-crafted vegetarian fare is another thing, but hey, I'm not too picky. I just like the fact that in such a testosterone-pumping-beer-guzzling-sports-watching-area, that there are meat free options at all. Big kudos to you Coors Field. Go Rocks! :)

Sep 12, 2011

breaded eggplant

You know what I love? Food gifts. There's almost nothing better than free, delicious things, and recently, I've been quite lucky in receiving tons of edible presents! I got a beautiful eggplant from my boss, Connie, and a truck load of fresh produce and a dozen happy chicken eggs from my parents.

After reading so much about the factory farming atrocities in Eating Animals, I'm having a very hard time eating eggs, unless I know where they come from. My parents happen to know a man in their area raising chickens in proper, humane conditions, and I couldn't be happier about supporting this local farmer, who really cares :)
Anyway, I digress. With all the wonderful, fresh organic food in my house, the first vegetable I had to devour was the eggplant. What can I say? It's my fave. I based my recipe off this one for Vegan Crispy Baked Eggplant from Chez Bettay. Mine definitely didn't come out as beautiful as hers, but for my first try at breading anything, I think it turned out pretty good.

I mostly stuck to the recipe, except I didn't peel my eggplant, used Panko for the bread crumbs, and used a regular oven sans pizza stone, since I don't own one. I baked my eggplant for about 15 minutes on one side, flipped it, and then popped it back in the oven for another 10. When the bread-crumb coating was starting to look golden, I slathered it with warmed pasta sauce, and devoured it with a side of sauteed beet greens.
The soft eggplant was a nice compliment to the crunchy crust, although I definitely should have baked it longer to give the bread-crumbs some serious bite. Also, 1 eggplant made plenty of food for my dinner, and I used the rest to make phenomenal sandwiches the next few days. Baked eggplant + pasta sauce + lettuce & fresh basil on whole wheat toast = to die for.

It was a good first attempt, and I hope the next batch is even better!

Sep 8, 2011

veggie pot pie

I think I've eaten one singular pot pie in my entire 24 years of life. My parents never made them, I never order them while out, and I've never had the thought to make one myself, until tonight! For some reason I got a mad pot pie craving while sitting in the office today, and instead of being productive and going to the gym, I promptly came home and fulfilled my pot pie desires. I loosely based the recipe off this one from Betty Crocker, but used what I had in the cupboards, and completely vegatized it!

Stuff you need: 1. Any veggies for the inside 2. 1/2 cup Bisquick Heart Smart mix 3. 1 egg white or egg replacer 4. 1/4 cup milk or milk substitute

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees while you get everything else ready. For the vegetable filling, I found in my kitchen 2 carrots, 1 zucchini, 2 tomatoes, 1 cup mushrooms, and a handful of frozen corn. Sauté the veggies in a little olive oil just until they begin to soften. Sprinkle the mixture with a little salt, Italian seasoning, and anything else you think might be nice.

Meanwhile, combine the Biquick, egg white, and milk in a bowl, and whisk all the ingredients together. When the oven is preheated and the vegetables are slightly tender, place the veggies into a small casserole dish that you've lightly greased. Now pour the Bisquick mixture on top of the vegetables, and make sure everything is nicely distributed and coated in batter. Look good? Great! Pop it in the oven for 20 ish minutes, and then dig into that tasty little pot pie.
For the second pot pie of my entire life, I'm pretty pumped! The hot, juicy filling is so nice with the warm, fluffy pastry top. I skipped the soup from the original recipe, so it definitely wasn't creamy, but the tomatoes gave off juice, so the filling was still plenty moist. My only thought for next time is more spices and longer cooking time! I was so excited for my dinner and a new episode of Project Runway, that I pulled the dish out of the oven before the top was super golden. Otherwise, it was a damn tasty meal, and one that came together surprisingly quick and easy. It may have been my second pot pie, but it most certainly won't be my last :)

Sep 5, 2011

roasted root veggie salad

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day holiday weekend. Mine included Fright Night with the boyfriend, brunch with the parents, a couple of birthday BBQs, fighting crowds at the Taste of Colorado, building lots of Target furniture for the new place, and watching True Blood with the usual suspects, Jenna and Michael.

After a full day of grazing on various snacks at the the Taste of Colorado, a light, healthy meal sounded absolutely wonderful. Nothing makes you feel better than a giant, fresh salad, loaded with all kinds of good stuff, so that's precisely what we made last night- big ol' roasted root vegetable salads.

Stuff you need: 1. Lettuce 2. A protein of some type 3. Veggies for roasting- we found parsnips, golden beets, sweet potatoes, red onions, and asparagus 4. Your favorite salad dressing

Start by cutting up all your vegetables into big chunks, while your oven preheats to 400 degrees. Feel free to peel everything if you'd like, but we left the skins on since we didn't have a peeler. You may also want to enlist a few friends for all the chopping, since this is the most tedious part.

When everything is nicely cubed, place the veggies in a large bowl, and toss them with some olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper. You may need to use 2 bowls, or do them in batches if you have a lot like we did. When everything is completely coated, place the mixture into a baking dish (or a few of them) and pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Take the baking dishes out of the oven, give the veggies a good stir and another dose of salt, and put them back in the oven for another 30 minutes, or until everything is perfectly tender, just the way you like it.

While you're waiting on the roasting, watch some True Blood, drink some wine, and prepare anything else you need to- dressing, lettuce, protein etc. For the leafy base, we tore up romaine lettuce, and the greens that came attached to the beets. The beet greens were a little bitter, but a nice compliment to the rest of the salad. Jenna and Michael made fish for their protein portion, and I tried out some chick'n from Gardein, which, I must say, was pretty tasty.

Finally, after waiting so long and patiently, pull those hot, steamy vegetables out of the oven, throw everything together with a little salad dressing, and thoroughly enjoy one giant, healthy, totally loaded salad.
It was just what we were all craving. The leafy greens, and the warm tender vegetables were the perfect combination for a light, healthy salad, that still had some real filling power. Ever eat a salad and still feel hungry? Yeah, not with this baby. Also, all the veggies we used- 1 bundle asparagus, 1 parsnip, 1 red onion, 1 sweet potato & 2 golden beets- made SO much food, there were plenty of leftovers for my dinner tonight. As fall approaches and the months get colder, I will definitely be roasting some more vegetables for my devouring pleasure :)