Apr 30, 2011

yard house

You know what I love? Being pleasantly surpsied by vegetarian options in a seemingly un-veg-friendly place. Last night the boyfriend and I grabbed a late dinner at Yard House. The first time we went there, I was pretty hesitant, because at a first glance, it looks like the kind of place that only has meat meat meat! The menu boasts tons of beers, ribs, and about a dozen giant loaded burgers. Oye.

However, our friendly waiter (who was actually vegetarian too) convinced me to try their meat substitute, and guess what. It's phenomenal! The first time we went, I got the orange "chicken" and last night, and I got the "chicken" strips. Look at it! You'd never guess that's veg-friendly! Even my carnivorous boyfriend had a few bites and said it was pretty good :)
The texture is dead on and it's crispy fried to perfection just like a real chicken strip. The chicken flavor isn't quite there (so says Troy) but being a vegetarian, I don't want to be eating chicken, so I think the flavor is great to boot.

Second time at Yard House, and my second time being seriously happy with my dinner selections. Not just this, but they have an entire section of their menu devoted to this awesome gardein meat substitute, so there's lots of vegetarian options hidden amongst their ribs, burgers, and real meat items. Yard House? Highly recommend.

Apr 24, 2011

easter festivities

A Happy Easter to everyone binge-eating jelly beans and dying Easter eggs today. I may be 24, but nothing makes me happier than pretending I'm 5, and painting silly things on eggs once a year.
I come from a large Catholic family, so Easter is always a big deal. This large family, mind you, is not vegetarian, and we always have the traditional Honey Baked Ham. Minus the meat, there's always tons of great food and way too much candy. In fact, here's a great list of vegan candy from PETA. I had no idea that a lot of my favorites were vegan! Total score.

Also, for my family celebration today, I brought a citrus quinoa salad that I found at Tall Green Grass. It's a pretty tasty dish, but definitely needed some tweaking. I doubled it, cooked the quinoa in vegetable broth, added another 1/2 lemon of juice, a little more siracha, and a pinch of salt for serving. Otherwise, I was pleased to introduce a large number of my family members to quinoa, since they had no idea what it was. I think they liked it too :)
On a crafty note, I wanted to pass along a super cute sewing pattern I found last week. My Grandma is in the hospital right now, and since she couldn't make it to the Easter celebration, I thought I'd bring a little Easter to her. The pattern and tutorial are here at Craft Gossip. I'm a total novice when it comes to sewing, but it was a moderately easy project that only took me a few hours to do during one of my late night spurts of energy.
I always find projects to start, but rarely finish them, so I'm really excited that I actually finished this little guy and he turned out great to boot. Most importantly though, my Grandma loved him, and it totally brightened her day.

It was a delicious day, but a long and busy one as well. It's time to eat some left over quinoa and a few more jelly beans before bed. Happy Easter! ♥

Apr 23, 2011

a good vegetarian hot dog

My friends occasionally ask me if I miss burgers and other meat products considering that I've been meat free for over a year now. I must say, a beef burger is happily replaced with a veggie patty or portobello, and I've really liked all the fake chicken that I've tried. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for hot dogs. I love hot dogs, and sadly, have not found a suitable vegetarian version.

Today, Dad and I went to the store during one of our hot dog cravings, and picked up some Tofurky kielbasa for lunch. Add some BBQ chips, carrots, and all the necessary toppings, and it looks pretty tasty, right?
Lies. Another failed hot dog attempt. I'm probably biased, since I hate the taste of most Tofurky products, but seriously, the kielbasa was not what I wanted at all. It was dense, tasted terrible, and not all the ketchup and mustard in the world could help make that edible. I actually ate half and gave the rest to my dog.

I'm sure with a little seasoning, this could be chopped up and put in a scramble or soup or something, but as a hot dog? Absolutely not. I will check that one off the list, and continue on in my vegetarian hot dog quest.

Apr 18, 2011

tempeh & sweet potato tacos

I hate tempeh. One time in college, I bought some, trying to be all healthy and creative, and it was hands down one of the grossest things I've ever made. I tried to heat it in a skillet with some olive oil and then eat it like a piece of toast and omg. Top 5 most epic kitchen fails of all time right there.

To my surprise, however, I have had a change of heart thanks to my friend Stephanie. Stephanie is my guru for all things healthy, fit, and amazing. She cooks, she runs, she thrifts, she's awesome. Last week we got together with some friends and she talked me into a second try with tempeh. Guess what. I'm sold.

Stuff you need: 1. Tempeh 2. A few sweet potatoes 3. Corn tortillas 4. 1 can black beans 5. 1 can corn 6. Other taco accoutrement- salsa, lettuce, cheese, avocado- whatever suits your fancy

Start by shredding your sweet potatoes in a food processor or by other means of your choice. Meanwhile, open up your box of tempeh and crumble it into a skillet with some butter. Maybe you could omit the butter, but maybe that's what it was so tasty? :) When the potatoes are shredded and the tempeh is heated through, set them aside in a dish while you prep everything else.

Combine the beans and corn in a saucepan, and warm them up while you chop up your lettuce, avocado, cheese, tomato, and anything else you've decided to throw into your tacos.

When all your filling ingredients are ready, throw the tempeh and sweet potatoes back into the skillet with some salt, pepper, maybe cumin, and warm the mixture through. Now zap your corn tortillas in the microwave for a hot minute, and assemble your dish!
The most time consuming part is all the prep work, but once you're done, the taco assembly takes only seconds. Take a gander at chef Stephanie convincing me that tempeh actually tastes good. Impressive.
This tempeh attempt was far better than my first. In fact, I bought a package of my own! The flavors are really great, and the addition of tempeh to the tacos is that extra boost of protein that I think my diet has been recently lacking. It would also be great in a tofu scramble or on a salad! Moral of the story, is that I'm pretty excited about my newfound like for tempeh, and I'm ready to try some new recipes on my own. Thanks Stephanie! ♥

Apr 13, 2011

sesame asparagus & mushrooms

When I say sesame tonight, I don't mean the usual sesame sauce you find in restaurants- I mean sesame oil. This is one of my parents' favorite recipes, and a wonderful, simple dish that I've grown up eating, and loving. If asparagus is in season, definitely use it, cause it makes the flavor so much better!

Stuff you need: 1. a bunch of asparagus 2. a bunch of mushrooms 3. sesame oil 4. soy sauce 5. rice and/or sesame seeds (both optional)

Start by chopping up your mushrooms and asparagus- making sure to snap off the nasty ends of the asparagus before you start. Stir fry tip: prep all your ingredients before you start cooking- veggies chopped, spices measured, etc. Stir frying is such a quick method, so having everything ready to go will help make the meal faster and easier.

When your prep work is done, heat a little sesame oil in the wok over medium heat. When the wok is warmed, throw in the asparagus and cook for a few minutes. Next, add in your mushrooms and cook for a few minutes longer. When your vegetables are to your preferred tenderness, add more sesame oil and a little soy sauce, and call it a night. Feel free to add more spices to your liking, but the simple flavors of this dish are what make it so great.

When your veggies are ready, toss some sesame seeds on top, and serve the concoction over rice, or noodles, or just by itself since it tastes so good!
It's a quick meal with fantastic flavors. When it's asparagus season, nothing beats this recipe. It's been a staple at my parents' home, and now it's becoming a staple at mine :)

Apr 11, 2011

zucchini pizza boats

Let me start by saying that I'm a total blog stalker. I lurk on tons of blogs, ogle the photos, get all excited about the new posts, but never comment. I know. I'm a creep. One of my favorite haunts is a blog called Budget Bytes. All of the recipes are cost effective, look great, and many of them are vegetarian friendly too!

Last week, I spied this gem of a recipe and had to try it out myself- zucchini pizza boats? Yes please! Her pictures are much prettier, but I still think my zucchini boat looks gooey and amazing!
My one complaint, is that I wish it was more flavorful- however, I 'spose that was my bad :) Instead of following the recipe's measurements, I threw a little of this and that into the zucchini/sauce mixture. Next time, I'll make sure to pay closer attention to the specifications, and add more than just a dash of Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and parmesan cheese. Still! A great, easy recipe, that was apparently only $1.32 per serving. I love it! I will definitely continue to try Budget Bytes recipes in the future!

While I'm on the topic, here is a surprising article about vegan foods- peanuts? Yikes! Also, I'm inappropriately excited about these butterbeer cupcakes (omg Harry Potter July 15), and every single one of these sandwiches. Next time I'm hungover, I'll probably attempt that cheesy mac and rib *drooool* Of course, there are many more delightful things that I'm stalking, but that will have to wait for another time. I have another pizza boat to devour!

Apr 6, 2011

enchilada lasagna

I've been meaning to try this recipe out for a while now, but life keeps taking me out to dinner or requesting a movie night with friends, so finally, after much ado, I had a chance to try out my ingenious enchilada lasagna. I've seen tons recipes for enchilada casserole, and I love the concept. So, tonight I winged this one, and made up my very own version.

Stuff you need: Corn tortillas- although, I 'spose wheat would work too 2. 1 can enchilada sauce 3. 1 onion 4. 1 can black beans 5. cheese of some sort (optional) 6. Your fave spices

Start by preheating your oven to around 350. My ghetto oven doesn't have an "I'm preheated alarm", so I turn on the oven while I prep, and then throw everything in and hope for the best. While the oven is preheating, open and drain your can of beans. Chop up your onion, and add that and the beans to a good sized bowl for mixing. Add your favorite spices (I like garlic salt and cumin) and mix everything together.

Pull out a small baking dish, and pour a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan- just enough to cover the entire base. Then cut 2 tortillas in half so they fit flush against all 4 sides of the dish. You will put each half on one side of the pan, and then one whole tortilla goes in the middle. Thus, each layer of the casserole will use 3 tortillas total.

On top of the tortilla layer, put more enchilada sauce. Then top that with the bean/onion mixture, and cheese if you're using it- I only had a little cheese, but more cheese and tomatoes would have both been a fine addition :)

Keep layering your casserole in this fashion until the pan is full or you're out of ingredients. Sauce. Tortillas. Sauce. Filler. Sauce. Tortillas. Sauce... etc. etc. etc.

Finally, throw everything in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until warmed through. Cut your portions, and serve it up with some chopped lettuce and your favorite salsa on the side.
For my first attempt, this was a total success. The flavors were great, and it was just what I had been hoping for. Next time, I think I'll definitely add more cheese, sauté my onions before assembly, add fresh tomatoes to the filler, and cook it with foil on top, instead of just bare. Try your own alterations to make this dish your own too! After a few more tweaks, this will definitely be a winning recipe :)

Apr 4, 2011


After a surprisingly cold and snowy Sunday, nothing hit the spot more than a big bowl of vegetarian chili with some of my best friends. Not just this, but my omnivorous companions, made sure to make it meat-free for me. Aww I love those guys! So straight from Chef Michael's kitchen, here is his version of veggie chili.

Stuff you need: 1. 2 cans diced tomatoes 2. 1 can kidney beans 3. 1 can black beans 4. 1 can chili beans 5. 1 can corn 6. 1 onion 6. a few bell peppers 7. your choice of faux meat 8. chili powder or a chili spices seasoning packet

First and foremost, chop up your onion and bell pepper, and sauté them in a little olive oil, until they're starting to get tender. You can do this in your giant soup pot or in a separate skillet- your choice. When your veggies are starting to get soft, throw everything else into the pot. That's right. The beans, the corn, the spices, and the fake meat. Plop it all in there!

Last night, Michael used Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style, which was delicious, but we both agree that we prefer Boca ground crumbles in our veg chili- highly recommend you try that version too.

After everything is combined in the soup pot, throw the lid on, turn the heat to low, and let it simmer as long as you can fight off the urge to devour it on the spot- the longer the better :)
When we could take it no longer, the three of us dug in and devoured! I've found a lot of meat-free chili recipes, but I must say that Michael's is one of my favorite. It's simple, hearty, and always ends up tasty. Great company. Great food. Thanks Michael!