Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baked Falafel

Falafel is one of our favorite foods. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean restaurant near us closed so we don't get falafels anymore without going kinda far.. I'm not sure why, but I never make falafel. The last time was at a friends house years ago... but it's SO easy! I'm definitely going to start making it more often! Plus, when you make it yourself, you can bake it and then you don't get a belly ache from greasy falafels :)

1 can chickpeas
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 T whole wheat flour
1 tsp cumin
juice from 1/2 a small lemon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt

Yield: about 12 falafels

Ok, all you do, is put all of your ingredients in the food processor, until everything is well combined (don't pulse for too long otherwise you'll end up with falafel hummus..hmm...).

Then, form into balls and put onto a greased cookie sheet and bake on 375 for about 12-15 minutes each, or until they are brown!

We served these in wheat pitas with hummus, tomato, cucumber, and tahini! So good!

Then, we had Pistachio Halva. If you haven't had this stuff, it is "sesame fudge". If you like tahini, you'll love this! It's really rich and sweet. I actually didn't like it the first time I had it, but it's one of those tastes that the more you eat it, the more you love it! I took a bite of it before I took the photos, whoops :) But this way, you can see the texture in the last photo!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Italian Seitan Pizza

Recently I asked Michael what he wanted for dinner, pizza or Italian "beef" sandwiches. And then I thought Italian. Beef. Pizza. I figured it would be great because I recently saw some friends make a  Philly Cheesesteak (seitan) pizza and it looked goood. They used veganaise as the base and then seitan, daiya, and peppers and onions.

So, I decided to make the fattiest, greasiest, best tasting pizza ever (that actually gave Michael heart burn..whoops!) What I did was get some Upton's Italian Sausage Seitan (has anyone had this, it is really good) and I let it marinade in some giardiniera. I used mixed Veganaise and some giardiniera as the sauce, added the crumbled seitan, Pepperjack Daiya, and then some red bell pepper. This pizza was spicy due to the giardiniera and pepperjack and greasy from the oil in the giardiniera, hence the heartburn.. The veganaise added a nice creaminess and, well, veganaise just makes everything taste better! BUT it was amazing!! It was really, really good! Michael actually gave a piece to a nonvegan kid at his work and the kid didn't believe it wasn't vegan..

So, even though this pizza was super greasy, it's nice to have a break from quinoa and steamed broccoli every once and awhile. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lemon Pepper Alfredo

This is a real quick dish I put together the other night, and it was really good!
I wanted to make a lemony pasta, but of course decided to throw in Nutritional Yeast. The yeast along with the soy milk turned the sauce into an alfredo like consistency! So not only is it a vegan alfredo, it is low fat! Most alfredos call for a ton of butter (and of course they're really good too!), but this is a way to have a creamy pasta dish on nights you don't want the extra butter!

2 cups cooked pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
1/4-1/2 cup non dairy milk *
1/4-1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast *
4 cloves of garlic
juice from 1/2 a lemon + zest *
1 T dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Any sauteed or roasted veggies.
I used brussels sprouts, but broccoli or spinach would also be great!

What I did was mince the garlic and added it to the pot along with the lemon juice until the garlic cooked a bit. I then added in the soymilk and nutritional yeast and whisked until it boiled. Then add in the seasonings.

*You can adjust the soymilk and nutritional yeast needed depending on the thickness of the sauce you want. The amount of lemon juice also really depends on the size of your lemon and how much juice you can get out of it, so add that to taste!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pizza Day!

We eat pizza usually once a week. We would eat it more if I would let us..
Has anyone tried this crust?

It has only two ingredients, brown rice and potato, how awesome is that?!
We often use this crust, it's really good and has a pretty unique texture.. It's really crispy but also kind of chewy...
 As you can see the pizza is pretty small, it doesn't even fill up a large plate, which is good because then we don't eat so much :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vegan on a Cruise Review

So, for our trip, we went on a seven night cruise! The days before and after our cruise (five altogether) we stayed in Miami (with Michael's dad)!

This is a really detailed account of the food we got on our cruise, I wanted to make it detailed in case somebody is trying to decide if they want to take their chance with going on a non-vegan cruise. If you just wanna see the food, scroll down! :)

We decided to go on a cruise because we wanted something all inclusive. We wanted to go somewhere nice, so we knew we would have to pay for a flight, hotel, eating out at least twice a day (which can get really expensive,especially at vegan restaurants), and renting a car. I started looking into all inclusive vacations so that I knew up front what I was going to pay. Also, this way we didn't have to rent a car! A lot of the vegan vacations I came across were really more than we wanted to spend. So, I started doing my research on regular cruises that would accommodate a vegan diet. Through my research, I saw a lot of positive and negative reviews of eating vegan on a cruise, so I decided to give my experience!

We decided to go with Carnival and the specific boat name was the Valor. It was a 7 night Western Caribbean cruise and we stopped at the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. It was so nice to be on vacation especially since when we left Chicago it was in the 50s and raining and it was about 85 when we got to Miami! I was finally in my element! I absolutely cannot stand the cold, so I was so happy to finally be warm since summer has decided to pass us up this year.. Someone once told me that vegans are like plants, we thrive in the sun; so that's why  I can't stand the winter! I thought that saying was cute because I really cannot stand the cold weather..

Anyways, going back to eating vegan on the cruise.. I called about three different people before I booked my cruise and asked them if they could accommodate a vegan diet, and every person I spoke with told me yes, they have an on board nutritionist and they can accommodate any diet. I was told to speak with the Maitre d to let them know our restrictions. The moment we got on the cruise, we went to the dining room and let them know we were vegan, and the lady there (not even the Maitre d) asked if I was Amy. I was so happy they already knew that they had vegan guests! I confirmed that she knew what vegan was (does anyone else come across a lot of people that think it's the same as vegetarian, or not even know what vegan is at all?!). She confirmed that she had placed orders for us for the entire week for a vegan entree and dessert.

So, in detail, this is what we ate on the cruise:

We either ate cereal with soymilk.
Or we did kind of an "oatmeal bar". Their oatmeal was made with water, and they had all types of different add ins on the breakfast bar, so we usually did oatmeal with whatever we felt like, such as peanut butter, slivered almonds, walnuts, raisins, different fruit compotes, and banana.

For lunch, we usually just went to the buffet and asked a lot of questions about what we could eat, we always found something. (They said they could make us vegan entrees in the dining room, but only on days the ship was at sea, which was only two days, so we told them not to worry about it.)
They had buffet lunches, but also different little restaurant type things. The first day we ate at the Mongolian grill, where you pick out all your veggies and then they cook each person's food in it's own bowl (so no contamination) and I talked with them about how we were vegan, so instead of using the sauce they normally do (which had oyster sauce) they used soy sauce for us. This was really good but because each person's meal was made individually, it it took a long time to get your food.
We also ate at the burrito place, the guy there was really helpful in asking us what we couldn't have. Such as letting us know they put butter in their rice.. So, we were able to get burritos, but they weren't very good (I think Michael liked them, but I guess being Mexican I can be pretty picky about the Mexican food I eat..).
There was also a sandwich place which was a total disaster. The guy did not listen to us at all about what we wanted, so we didn't go back there..
And then there was a pizza place. Their crust was made with dairy, but their gluten free crust was vegan. Unfortunately, the gluten free crust was terrible. It was basically inedible, it tasted like a really unflavored, dry piece of born bread.

So, usually for lunch we did salads! They had a really great salad bar and sometime they had different vegetable dishes we were able to eat. We also ate a lot of french fries and chips and salsa..
They did have a sushi bar with really limited hours, but we went once and were able to get spinach rolls!

Dinner is where we got our best food, since it was specifically made for us! The only thing is that you have no idea what you're going to get, so it was a surprise every night! This was sort of a weird experience, just sitting there waiting for your food and not knowing what you were going to get... it was exciting and also a little nerve wracking, but the food was all good, there was only one dish I didn't really like..
Our waiter was amazing and knew what we could/couldn't eat, so every night we would ask about the appetizers and he would help us pick what we could have. There was usually at least one thing that was vegan, or could be altered to be made vegan. If not, we either went without an appetizer, or we were able to order a standard side dish like a salad/steamed vegetables/french fry/fruit plate type of thing.
One thing we ate every night was the fresh bread. And after the second night they knew to not give us butter, but to bring olive oil. For someone that doesn't usually eat a lot of oil, I took advantage of it on this trip! Their olive oil had so much flavor, we ate so much bread and oil every night (I gained 5 lbs!)

Here is a list of exactly what we got every night:

First night:
We were able to eat the gazpacho soup appetizer, it was so good. I didn't think I was going to like it, because I haven't liked gazpacho in the past, but this had so much flavor!
The entree they prepared for us was a stir fry, which was really good. We were beyond thrilled to get tofu, we didn't think we would be eating tofu for the week, so this was a nice surprise. 
Second night:
This was a stuffed pepper (the pepper itself was way too spicy to eat). It was stuffed with a veggie mixture, such as broccoli and served with the rice and steamed veggies.

Third night:
This night we had my least favorite meal. I'm not really a mushroom fan, so to get a bowl of mushrooms was a bit disappointing.. Although, I did eat about half of them and there was a good variety of mushrooms and they were so flavorful. And then there was the polenta and green beans, everything the chef made was bursting with flavor.

Fourth night:
This was our absolute favorite dinner for the week. It was like a black bean flauta. This was pretty amazing and the sauces the chef made went with it perfectly.

Fifth night:
This night we had more polenta along with an amazing sweet potato mixture. I'm not sure what type of bread was put on top of the sweet potatoes, but it had a really thin, interesting texture. We were so happy to have sweet potatoes, they're one of our favorites!

Sixth night:
This night was a vegetable lasagna. Kind of plain, but the sauce was really good.

Seventh night:
The last night, we got tofu again, which was exciting! Other than that, this was pretty similar to the night before.
So, for dessert, we were expecting to just get fruit every single night.. So, when they brought us chocolate, we were really excited. Basically what the chef did was melt down dark chocolate, put it into these bowls and then freeze it, and served it with fruit. The only problem was that we had the same thing for dessert. every. single. night. Soo much chocolate. We were actually sick of chocolate by the end of it! We were really happy we didn't get just fruit, so I guess getting a ton of chocolate isn't that much to complain about..

Eating in the ports:
The only times we ran into not having food was when we were at the ports. Luckily, for two of the ports, we docked and so we were able to just go back to the boat for lunch (this wouldn't have been possible if you booked one of those 7 hour excursions, which include lunch, but it's unlikely they have food for you..) But, for two of the ports, you had to take a small boat, which took some time. One way to get around this is to bring food with you (which you technically aren't allowed to do). We did bring crackers and granola bars on the ship with us, so we brought those if we were going to be gone for a long time.
We did find some vegan food:
This mango sorbet from Honduras was really good:
And these chips and salsa from Cozumel were the best I've ever had.
Wow, I had a lot to say! Hope this helps somebody! And if you have any other questions about the cruise or eating on it, let me know!

Have you or anyone you know that is vegan gone on a cruise and had a positive or negative experience with the food?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chocolate... Bread!!

So, this was originally supposed to be chocolate muffins, but then instead of using a muffin tin, I decided to put it into a loaf pan, hence the chocolate bread!

This recipe was really simple and quick. I wanted to make something simple because I had these really great strawberries to put on top of the bread. With any recipe, if you want to change it up, do so! I realized just how much I don't follow recipes the other day, and this applies to my own as well. I went to make my Sweet Potato Burgers and I just glanced at my recipe to see what the ingredients were.. Well, I realized afterwards I added like three times the garlic and left out the bread crumbs, but they still came out great!
So, what I'm saying is, with any recipe, make it your own! This bread too plain for you? Add in some walnuts! Or chocolate chips! 

This bread isn't too sweet,which I did on purpose. I knew I was going to add strawberries with agave on top, so I decreased the sugar I would normally use. So, that led this bread to be eaten as dessert and breakfast :)

2 c flour
2 T vital wheat gluten (to add body/sponginess to the bread)
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all of your dry ingredients and wet ingredients, then add wet into dry and mix. Put into a loaf pan and bake at 350° for about 30 minutes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Favorites!

Yay! Time for my favorite things!

This cake pan is absolutely adorable! I want one so bad! I don't have anything to hold a cake or cupcakes.. this must change! I hope I come across something like this while thrifting soon..

This dress is too cute! I love the colors and all the details like the cute pockets!

These mittens. I'm a sucker for anything with hearts on it! Maybe I'll get these next winter.. although I'm hoping winter never comes again!

One of my favorite things about summer is the fact that I get to grill out! We got a grill for Christmas, I'm just waiting for Michael to set it up. Then I'm gonna grill up some tofu like this:

And my favorite thing of all is my nephew Ethan! He is turning two this weekend, I can't believe how old he's getting! This is his"cold" face:
And this is him with a sweat band on :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dinner and (guilty pleasure) Dessert

Once I get all my photos in order I'm going to do reviews on our vacation!

But, for now, here is what I made for today!
The main course was tofu, carrots, onions, garlic, parsley, and olive oil baked (in a cute pyrex dish) in the oven until the veggies were tender. This was really good, I need to cook whole carrots more often! I got these a bunch of these organic carrots today for $1!! I also got a carton of strawberries, a bunch of spinach, and bell peppers for $1 each as well! So, we have a ton of produce, which makes me happy :)

As a side dish, I made coucous with broccoli and nutritional yeast!

This was a good, quick dinner.

For dessert, Michael sent me an e-mail requesting these cookies. Normally I would say no way, Jose. I usually wouldn't even make the chocolate chip cookies, let alone putting oreos in them! BUT it was Michael's first day back to work and we went the entire week watching people eating delicious looking (non-vegan) desserts while we ate melted chocolate (I'll explain later..). So, because I felt bad he had to go to work while I just sat at home (still searching for a job..) and because I missed dessert, I made them! I only made half a batch and put half an oreo into each one, I also used Earth Balance lite instead of the oil it called for. Of course these were good, but I told Michael to never expect them again. :)

Today I got to go thrifting! I went to two different places and tomorrow I'm going to a huge, community garage sale with my friend Dawn! Hope I find some great stuff! I added some more items to my etsy shop and I'll be adding some more asap!

I'm back!!

I'm finally home after spending almost two weeks away! We had a lot of fun but we missed the cats soo much! The first thing we did when we came home was have a kitty cuddle session :)
Vacations are amazing, but it's always great to be home! I'm actually most excited to get to the thrift store and get back to my oatmeal breakfast smoothies!
So, I still need to unpack and get caught up on some things, but I should be back posting food soon!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Food Network Friday!

So, right now, I'm on vaca! I wrote this post before I left because I'm going on a cruise, and I'm not sure what the internet situation is there.. So, my friend Kelly from Stuff from Scratch is publishing my pre-written post for me, thanks Kelly!

For this week's FNF, I got to pick the recipe! I originally wanted to pick something from Bobby Flay because for some reason he's my favorite! I'm actually quite picky apparently because I went through his recipes as well as some of my other favorite Food Network chefs (The Neelys and Sunny Anderson) before I chose this recipe from Guy Fieri, Seitan and the Bodacious Bulb. Aright, he didn't use seitan, but he should have! Because it's so good! For someone who doesn't like to use oil, I picked a recipe that calls for a lot of it. And also a lot of garlic (although, I don't feel like this was garlicy enough for me, I must have done something wrong..). Michael and I love garlic, like to the point where we get garlic burn.. I didn't exactly follow his recipe, because there were so many steps.. so I'll tell you what I did!

First, like I said, I used seitan in place of the chicken. The seitan recipe I used was adapted from the Tender Seitan recipe from Weekly Vegan Menu. The only reasons why it was "adapted" was because I didn't have all the ingredients or the time that it called for. I didn't have the chicken-style broth mix or the tahini, but other than that I followed it pretty closely. Instead of baking for 3 hours at 325°, I did it for 45 minute increments at 375°. This seitan was really good! And as you can see in the last photo, it had kind of a skin to it, like chicken. Michael actually asked me if I "made a skin" for it, not entirely sure what that meant.. but that's just what the baking process did to it!

Now, Guy's recipe was quite long and the first part of it included cooking the chicken backbone (ick!) alone. Here's what I did: I made the garlic oil, browned the seitan pieces (I used two out of the four pieces I got from the seitan recipe) in some of the oil. 

I then added in the onion/celery/carrot/garlic (from the oil) until it was all tender (I realized afterwards the veggies were just for flavor, and I wasn't supposed to cut them up so small, but I strained it through a colander anyways, so it was fine!)

Then, I took out the seitan and added the water/broth and let it boil for about 30 minutes. 

Then, I strained the sauce, reserving the liquid to make the gravy.  I took some of the liquid and added some flour to create the roux, then I added in the remaining liquid to create the gravy. 

I didn't fry up any of the garlic slices like he suggested. I wonder if I didn't cook my garlic oil for long enough, because, like I said I wanted more garlic!! Oh, it may be because I only made half of the garlic oil recipe (or did I make 1/4 of it?) Either way, I didn't use the correct amount of garlic cloves now that I think about it (whoops!) Or maybe those fried garlic pieces really were necessary.. Either way, I thought this dish was pretty good!