Feeling Fall, Kimchi rice, and Brussels Sprouts

It’s fall here in Asheville, and I couldn’t be happier. I spend the whole year looking forward to October/November. I start surrounding myself with oranges and reds, cooking with cinnamon and nutmeg, and eating every imaginable pumpkin-flavored food. 

A couple days ago I purchased my first table. Buying furniture makes me feel like such an adult. I love it. To celebrate, I put together a beautiful fall-inspired centerpiece.

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Later that night, I cooked a delicious dinner for a date, although I was having such a good time I forgot to take a picture. I made pumpkin risotto (which I plan on making again next week, and I will definitely share the recipe), which I served inside of a roasted pie pumpkin and topped with a few thin strips of romano cheese. I served a Caesar salad alongside of it, and for dessert served up some pumpkin cheesecake from Trader Joe’s. 

Tonight was a more subtly awesome dinner. I bought some Kimchi rice from Trader Joe’s, and then made miso-roasted Brussels sprouts to go with it, along with a (rather ugly) fried egg. I added sliced red bell pepper to the Brussels sprouts, which was a great addition. The whole meal was really fancy, and much healthier than takeout. 

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My goal for this coming week is to be mindful of portion control. It’s my largest nutritional problem. Even healthy meals can become unhealthy when you eat too much of it at once. Wish me luck!

Saag Paneer and Roasted Chickpeas

Today is the first lazy day at home I’ve had in a while, so I decided to take the time to make a delicious lunch. I had some tofu and frozen spinach, so Saag Paneer seemed an obvious choice. I used the recipe from the Elizavegan blog, and it turned out great, despite my not having basic spices like turmeric and coriander (although now I have an excuse to go grocery shopping tomorrow). It was so creamy and flavorful, and filled the house with the aromatic scent of an Indian kitchen. This recipe makes so much food; I’ll be able to eat off this for a couple of days.

Saag paneer is also known as palak paneer, and is a traditional dish of India and Pakistan. Saag simply refers to greens, although spinach seems to be the most popular choice. Next time I make this dish, I’m going to try using kale. Although paneer is cheese, firm tofu makes a great substitution.  This dish is typically eaten with roti or rice, but I chose to serve it with quinoa, mainly for its health benefits (protein, calcium, iron, and fiber, to name just a few) and because I’d been craving it lately.

If you search the internet, you’ll find thousands of slightly different variations of this dish, including hundreds of specifically vegan recipes. I’m sure many of them are delicious, but I do recommend the Elizavegan recipe, mainly because the curry and nutritional yeast-crusted fried tofu is a delicious addition and goes so well with the spinach and coconut milk.

I also made one of my favorite snacks: roasted chickpeas. I like my snacks to be savory and salty rather than sweet, and chickpeas are much healthier than the potato chips or bread I would otherwise reach for. Versatility is the best part of snacking on roasted chickpeas – you can literally season them in hundreds of different ways. The recipe I’m sharing for you today is my favorite.

Savory Mushroomy Chickpea Snacks

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp mushroom seasoning (I used Lunds & Byerlys, which I couldn’t find online, but FungusAmongUs is great too)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (Truffle salt would be great here
1 tsp white truffle oil, plus more to finish

Preheat oven to 425. Line a pizza pan or baking dish with parchment.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss until the chickpeas are coated thoroughly. Spread in a single layer on the parchment. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

When chickpeas are nice and golden, and slightly crisp, remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. Add truffle oil to taste.

And try not to eat them all at once! ;)

Other than cooking, today has been  a very calm day. My boyfriend has recently gotten me into video games and lent me his PSP to play Final Fantasy Tactics, so my goal for today is to play games and eat delicious food. Sounds like a great time, right?

My Gas Station Thanksgiving

I volunteered to work on Thanksgiving, not only to let my co-workers have the day off to be with their families if they wanted, but because I wanted to get paid time-and-a-half. (Hell yeah!) I’ve been working so much that I haven’t had time to do much, including grocery shopping. I have literally been eating rice or oatmeal for lunch for days because I don’t feel like walking to the grocery store. Last night it dawned on me that everything would be closed today, so I stopped at a gas station on my way home from work out of desperation. I ended up with a couple packages of ramen noodles, a box of elbow macaroni, a can of Manwich Sauce, and a bottle of wine.

So, my thanksgiving lunch:

Macaroni noodles with doctored-up Manwich sauce. I sauteed some onion and garlic, and added cumin and Adobo seasoning. I also added some Mexican-style hot sauce. Not at all Thanksgiving-y, but it was edible. Poverty diet prevails!

I also made Chocolate Covered Katie‘s No-Bake Coconut Crack Bars. I was searching through a bunch of recipes I’ve been saving, and realized I had all the ingredients. I love coconut, and these were delicious. I ended up with eight bite-sized bars, and I ate two for my lunch dessert. I love Katie’s recipes, mainly because they’re healthier than your typical desserts, but also because her recipes aren’t overly sweet.

What are you eating today?

Pumpkin Birthday Cookies

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. Mostly it was  due to lack of a working computer (I’m buying a new computer this week, but this update is coming to you via phone), but my life has also been delightfully exciting since my last update. I’ve been staying busy, spending time with quality individuals, and just generally spreading my awesomeness around the community.

Who doesn’t love cookies?!

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I’m starting Ahimsa up again with delicious winter cookies! These are the Sell Your Soul Pumpkin Cookies  from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I made them for a friend’s birthday picnic today. They aren’t the sweetest treats in the world, but with all the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, they are perfect for this cold mountain weather.

I’ve been going crazy over all the pumpkin flavored food and drink that appears this time of year, particularly beer. What’s your favorite seasonal pumpkin goody?

A Fancy Pizza, Breakfast, and Brownies

Breakfast was grits (with vegan butter), roasted potatoes (made with extra virgin olive oil and garlic salt), and the tempeh white bean sausage patties from Vegan with a Vengeance.  Although the sausage patties were definitely tasty, I still prefer seitan-style versions, like those in Vegan Diner.

My lunch today was a bit unusual in that it was an incredibly high-fat meal. I tend to eat something small, but I felt adventurous and wanted something fancy. I started with a marinated kale salad using Gena’s incredible Smoky Avocado and Cumin Dressing. I actually made the salad last night for dinner, but marinated salads keep well, and letting the salad marinate overnight really increased the great flavor the dressing gave the kale. I threw some diced roasted red pepper into the salad for a little more flavor and color.

I also made the unique pizza you see above. It’s unique because it was never in the oven – I made this pizza using a frying pan on the stove, which is considerably faster than using the oven, and the crust gets nice and crispy but remains chewy. I topped the pizza with a simple home-made cashew cheese (cashews, sunflower seeds, nooch, salt, water, and turmeric for color) and caramelized onions tossed with chopped fresh chives and white truffle oil. I topped it with a sprinkle of hickory smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Yesterday afternoon I was craving a little chocolate in my life, so I made the banana split pudding brownies from Vegan with a Vengeance. Banana and chocolate always pair well, so obviously these were great. My brother also approved, and lamented that he wouldn’t have sweets around the house once I’m back in Asheville.

Oh! That reminds me – my awesome vegan friend Carol and I got approved for a great apartment close to downtown Asheville. I’ll be back in Asheville soon, and that makes me unbelievably happy!

Something else I’m excited about is that there is now an Instagram app for Android. Finally!

Meals When You’re Short on Time

I have to admit, I have a great view while I work, even on a stormy day. However, because I’ve been incredibly busy lately both with working and trying to get things straight to move back to my beloved Asheville, I haven’t had a lot of time to devote to prepping and cooking food. So here is a bit of what I’ve been eating over the past week.

Peanut butter tofu with veggies and brown rice. This dish (and a bunch of variations on it) has been in regular rotation for me for a long time. I can’t share a recipe, because I always wing it and use what I have laying around. Generally though, I dry-fry tofu until it’s golden brown (I used frozen and thawed tofu for this version, and it worked great), and then set aside. Then I add canola oil, and saute vegetables. Most of the time I use frozen vegetables because there is no prep involved and you can get a nice variety for really cheap. After the vegetables are cooked, I add the tofu back into the pan. In a small bowl, I combine peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriacha or chili-garlic sauce, crushed garlic, minced ginger, and water, and then whisk. I pour this over the vegetables and tofu, and toss to coat. Turn off the heat, and serve.

One great tip for being able to throw together quick meals is to always keep extra cooked grains on hand. For example, any time I make brown rice, I make at least four cups of it. It lasts up to a week in the fridge, and you don’t have to worry about having a healthy, filling base for a weeknight meal.

Black beans with Salsa. This is so ridiculously easy: saute aromatics (garlic, onion), add 1 can of drained and rinsed beans, and about half a jar of really chunky salsa. Serve with rice. I also had some orange baked tofu.

Cajun-Creole-Spiced Tempeh Pieces with Creamy Grits from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry. Ok, so this wasn’t exactly a quick meal, but it was fucking delicious. The tempeh is tossed with a ton of spices in this recipe, and the flavors are so vibrant. And spicy! I’ve always loved grits, but I’ve never had them with almond milk and creamed cashews, which made them so creamy and rich-tasting. I also thought the cherry tomato/green onion (I didn’t have the leeks called for in the recipe, so I used a large scallion) went really well with the tempeh and grits. This recipe made me really sad that I haven’t made very much from this cookbook. Now I’ve got several pages marked so I can try more in the future. I also love that every recipe comes with a song suggestion!

I’ve also been eating meals out of Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook by Carole Raymond. I received this cookbook as a Christmas present from my cousins, and it’s been a great help to me. Sometimes I come home and don’t feel like being creative, so I just want a cookbook I can rely on that doesn’t have ingredient lists a mile long, and with recipes that are truly quick. So far, I’ve made several recipes from this book, and they have all proved simple yet flavorful. The Chinese Vegetable Lo Mein with Tofu, the Barbecued Beans, Caramelized Onion, Walnut, and Sage Pizza, and the Crusty Tempeh Cutlets are all particularly awesome.

What are your favorite quick weeknight meals?

Rockin’ Raw-fredo Sauce

I was playing around in the kitchen for lunch last week when I came up with this delicious recipe. It feels really decadent and will definitely satisfy you. I started off with some cashews I had soaked, and added ingredients that reminded me of alfredo sauce. I’m sure it doesn’t taste anything like real alfredo, but it’s close enough! I served this over zucchini noodles that I made using a vegetable peeler.

If you don’t like nutmeg, feel free to leave it out. I happen to love it, so I added a lot more than I wrote in the recipe below. You can use ground nutmeg, but I used freshly grated.

Rockin’ Raw-fredo Sauce (serves 1-2)

1 cup raw cashews, soaked
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 Tbs stone-ground mustard
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/8-1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tbs fresh chives, minced
2 Tbs chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1-2 zucchini, made into noodles using a vegetable peeler

In a blender or food processor, blend the cashews, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, oil, water, nutmeg, salt and pepper until smooth. Season to taste. Add chives and sun-dried tomatoes, and pulse to incorporate into the sauce, but don’t blend all the way.

Toss with zucchini noodles, and then devour. :)

Rosemary-Mustard Sausage and a Veggie Burger

I woke up feeling sluggish yesterday, so I wanted a hearty breakfast. I made Ricki’s chickpea flour scramble, which reminds me of eggs even more than a tofu scramble. I’ve tried the recipe once before, but I ended up burning the chickpea flour. This time I kept the heat on medium-low and it cooked perfectly. I didn’t have tahini so I left that ingredient out, and the texture and flavor were still fine. I also added spinach, fresh chives, and a little black salt.

The sausage was delicious. I had a coupon for Gimme Lean Sausage, so I had bought some, but I wanted to do something more exciting with it than the usual light frying. I added some Dijon mustard and spices to it, and it turned out great.

Rosemary-Mustard Sausage (makes 4 patties)

1 cup Gimme Lean sausage
1 1/2 Tbs Dijon or stone-ground mustard
1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion salt (or 1/4 tsp onion powder + 1/4 tsp salt)
White pepper, to taste
2 tsp vegetable oil, for frying

In a frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Mash together with a fork, and once everything is well-incorporated, shape into four equal-sized patties.

Once the oil is hot, fry the patties for 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Serve.

I also made these awesome gluten-free veggie burgers for dinner last night. The recipe is from Meghan Telpner’s Making Love in the Kitchen, which is a blog I’ve recently fallen in love with. There’s a lot of great information and recipes for healthy eating.

Most of the veggie burgers I’ve made in the past were bean or vital wheat gluten based, but these ones were made of tempeh and veggies, including broccoli stalk! (I’m always searching for a great way to use those up.) I used chickpea flour rather than spelt or  brown rice because it was the only gluten-free flour I had on hand, but you couldn’t taste the flour anyway. I also added some chipotle powder and red chili flakes to give it a nice kick.

I had no idea that chia seeds would be such a great binder! These burgers held together better than many I’ve made in the past.

I served my burger on sprouted Ezekiel bread (not gluten-free, I know, but it was all I had) with Vegenaise, dill pickle, spicy brown mustard, and alfalfa sprouts. And of course, I had tater tots on the side. :)

Oh, and taking a break from food talk, republican representative Steve King of Iowa, said this during a meeting of the House Agriculture Committee:

I’m here to tell you I’m a committed carnivore. I like meat. I sit on the Ag Committee and we had a hearing before the Ag Committee when we invited in the president of the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS, President Wayne Pacelle. And we had one or two other witnesses from the anti-meat crowd or anti-animal husbandry crowd. PETA was there and one other animal activist group. So we just asked them, under oath, “are you a vegetarian?” And they confessed they were vegetarians, all of them. Well there they are with an agenda for our diets.

Um, really?  Vegetarians and vegans don’t have to “confess,” we usually make our diets well-known. And sure, treating animals in factory farms better and getting Americans eating healthier might be an agenda, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the agendas of Big Ag.

Gluten-Free Pizza, & How to Make Balsamic Glaze

I’ve long been interested in gluten-free cooking, but gluten-free baking almost scares me. I don’t want to have to run out and buy a bunch of crazy bean or nut flours, new starches, etc. When I move back to Asheville I’ll stock up on all of those things if I find them cheap at Amazing Savings, but for now I want to keep my gluten-free cooking simple.

When I saw this recipe for a chickpea flour based gluten-free crust from Meghan Telpner, I got excited. I love the flavor of chickpea flour, so it’s the one non-all-purpose flour I buy regularly. Although the dough seemed way too wet after mixing the ingredients, after baking it transformed into an awesomely crispy thin pizza crust. And the best part was that there is absolutely no rising time! I made the entire pizza in half an hour. As I continue to eat healthier and consume less wheat and sugar, this will undoubtedly be my go-to pizza crust.

I topped the pizza with homemade pesto (fresh basil, chives, spinach, cashews, oil, salt, garlic, and lemon), sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, and balsamic glaze. I love balsamic glaze on pizza, and I know a lot of other people do too. I’ve been out with so many people who get super excited when a pizza place offers it. Luckily, it’s super easy to make.

Balsamic Glaze

1 cup balsamic vinegar

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. The liquid will reduce in volume and become syrupy. You’ll end up with 1/4 cup or so.

That’s it! Now you can make it at home and drizzle it over everything like I do. :) It keeps for a ridiculously long time in the fridge, but I usually finish it off fairly quickly because it tastes so damn good.

Almost Raw Wednesday + 2 Recipes

Every time I lose track of eating healthy, I begin to feel like shit, and I have to remind myself to get back on track. This usually happens when I work an excessive amount, because by the time I get home at night I’m not willing to cook, so I grab something easy but not necessarily nutritious. So today, my first day off in 8 days, I decided to eat mostly raw.

I love eating raw foods, but during the winter months I tend to stay away from them. The quality of raw meals are based on the quality of the ingredients you use because you’re not cooking anything. Luckily, as spring continues onward, supermarkets are getting better fruits and vegetables.

Raw foods make me feel clear-headed and focused, and I love finishing a meal and not feeling weighed down by the things I just ate. I also love being able to taste every component of a recipe. Raw meals can be as simple or as complicated as you want, and you don’t need a Vita-Mix or Excalibur Dehydrator to make varied and delicious raw recipes. The food I made today was super easy.

Breakfast – Orange Carob Chia Pudding 

Chia pudding is hard to make pretty.

Originally, I had planned on having a carob-orange smoothie for breakfast, but as crazy as it sounds, there are no ice cube trays in this apartment. Also, I couldn’t figure out how to use my brother’s crazy blender. So I made my idea into chia pudding! And it was great and satisfying.

Chia seeds are an amazing superfood, full of minerals and nutrients our bodies need. Chia also contains a ridiculous amount of protein. Most health-food stores now carry chia seeds, and you can also order them from numerous places online. I love chia for breakfast because of how filling it is (one small bowl and I’m great until lunch), and if you google chia seed recipes you’ll find hundreds. Here’s mine:

Carob-Orange Chia Seed Pudding (serves 1)
1/4 cup walnuts, soaked for at least 1 hour
2 Tbs chia seeds
1 orange, peeled and cut into segments
1 Tbs raw carob powder
1/2 Tbs agave nectar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water

Drain the walnuts.  Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and blend on high until creamy. Top with fresh fruit.

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Lunch – Mango Mayo Wrap and Kale Chips

Lunch was raw except for the baked kale chips, but who cares? The wrap was a variation of this recipe from Megan Elizabeth. I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand, so I left those out, but I did add some curry powder to the “mayo”. Inside the wrap I used alfalfa sprouts, red pepper, and carrot shavings (made with a vegetable peeler). Megan used tomato in her wrap, but since I was having tomato for dinner, I left it out. I’ve found that because of their acidity, my body can’t handle more than one tomato every couple days.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s low-fat. I ended up eating 3 collard wraps (my leaves were small), and along with the kale chips, I ended up satisfied without being full.  Oh, and if you’d like a tutorial on rolling up collard wraps, there’s a great one over at Choosing Raw.

The wraps were really tasty, and you guys already know how much I love mango.

I don’t have a dehydrator, so I baked my kale chips, but I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal. They were delicious. I wanted something other than the salt and vinegar style chips I usually make, so I came up with the following recipe. You can add soaked cashews if you want for a creamier texture, but I wanted to keep it lower in fat. The flavor the herbs gave to the dressing reminded me a little of Ranch, but much thinner.

Ranchy Kale Chips
2 cups kale, washed and de-stemmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, skin removed
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
2 tsp nutritional yeast

Preheat oven to 300. Combine all the ingredients (except kale) in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Toss kale with the dressing, and then lay on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crispy. Enjoy immediately.

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Dinner: Zucchini Noodles with Raw Vodka Sauce, and Salad

Dinner was so yummy! The recipe for the zucchini noodles with raw “vodka” sauce is from Bonzai Aphrodite. The sauce was so good I wanted to eat it with a spoon as if it were soup! I had a perfectly ripe tomato to work with, and along with the sun-dried tomatoes, the flavor was so vibrant. The cashews added the creaminess.

I ate it alongside a very simple baby green and sprout salad.

(The picture sucks because I had already started eating it before I remembered to take a picture. I was really hungry!)

Overall, it was a great day filled with delicious fresh-tasting food. I feel great! What are your thoughts on raw food?

Spinach-Walnut Pesto Pasta

Traditional pesto can be expensive to make. Unless you grow your own basil, it can be pricey to buy a few bunches to get enough for a good-size batch of pesto. And who the hell can afford pine nuts?

Although my preferred nuts for pesto are cashews (which I used for my pesto risotto and pesto gnocchi), I’ve been interested in experimenting a little more. I also wanted to branch out with the greens a little more, and luckily I had a bag of baby spinach.

My trick to making a great pesto is blending the nuts and oil before adding any of the other ingredients. My food processor isn’t exactly a beast, so it takes up to 5 minutes to get it blended as smoothly as I want. If you have a Vita-Mix or other high-powered blender, that would make this a lot easier.

Also, I’m a garlic fiend, so I realize that four cloves of garlic might be too much for some people. Feel free to cut it down to two.

I served this pasta with a roasted portabello. The recipe is in Veganomicon.

Oh, and in case you guys haven’t noticed, I don’t write how many servings are in a recipe. This is because I don’t measure the food I eat – I just eat until I’m almost full. This recipe makes a ton, so it’d be great if you’re feeding a large group or if you want something you can eat for days.

Spinach-Walnut Pesto Pasta
3 cups baby spinach, washed
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup walnuts, raw
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1 lb pasta of choice (I used shells)

First, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles according to package instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, add the walnuts and olive oil to a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend until almost completely smooth (time will depend on your machine). Once smooth, add the basil and spinach, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and place in a large bowl. Toss with the pesto and cherry tomatoes. Serve.

What is your favorite herb/green and nut combo for pesto?

Wacky Cake

What you see in this picture is the most delicious vegan cake I’ve ever made, topped with very simple chocolate and orange glazes.

The recipe for the cake (wacky cake!) is from The Vegan Zombie. There are only a few ingredients, and they’re all pantry staples. I was thrilled when I found the recipe, because I was craving something chocolate-y, but I was out of soy milk. Luckily, this recipe uses water as the main liquid. You can get easier than that!

The cake turned out super moist, almost fudgey.

The icing was from FatFree Vegan’s Chocolate-Orange Cake recipe. In fact, it was two icings. One was a chocolate-orange frosting, and the other was an orange icing. I used some high quality ingredients here, whose tastes shone through in the cake.

(The orange sugar wasn’t for the icing, I used it in the actual cake.)

My brother, a friend, and I all agreed this cake was killer. I keep finding myself going back for more. I’m actually eating some now. :)

Hot Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette

This is going to be a really quick post, but I wanted to share an awesome sort-of-recipe with you guys.

A few months ago I received a gift of some foodstuff from Belize, including some habanero hot pepper jelly.

I had no idea what to do with it, so it’s been sitting in my pantry since January. Problem solved! I was trying to think of a quick salad dressing I could whip up for lunch, and I remember once reading about using this stuff to make a vinaigrette. I tried it, and it was great. Plus, it was a pretty yellow color:

Although I typically have a notepad nearby in the kitchen to write down recipes, unfortunately I wasn’t exactly expecting this to be as awesome as it was, so I don’t have a recipe. So here are my basic instructions.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon or stone-ground mustard, hot pepper jelly, and garlic salt. Whisk vigorously with a fork. As for amounts, the dressing was predominately olive oil, probably 1/4 cup or so. Maybe a tablespoon of vinegar, and then just a little of everything else to taste. This was ridiculously good, and I’m sad my jar was so tiny!

Fried Rice & A Few Kitchen Faves

Since I almost always have leftover rice in my fridge, I tend to eat a lot of fried rice. It’s easy, and you can use whatever vegetables or protein you have lying around. Apparently I’ve been making it all wrong though.

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian was one of my wisest purchases. I use it all the time, and if you’re running low on ingredients I’ll almost guarantee you’d be able to find a delicious way to use whatever few things you have left with this book. I have a surplus of rice right now so I was searching for some easy pilafs or something to make. I ended up reading his recipe for fried rice and thinking that I found it odd that he was cooking all the ingredients separately. I never do that – I just saute everything together.

I was intrigued by this method, and made it for dinner last night (using his Thai style variation), and was impressed at how much better it turned out when you do cook everything seperate. Especially the tofu – it was super crispy. I also added some black salt at the end of cooking to give it the “eggy” taste that I used to love about fried rice in my pregan days. So, apparently, cooking everything separate results in every component of your fried rice being cooked perfectly, and when you combine all the ingredients at the end, it’s delicious.

On the back of the plate is a really sub-par green bean salad I played around with. It was gross, so no recipe.

While I was making the fried rice, I was reminded of how amazing jasmine rice smells when it’s cooked. The slightly-sweet, nutty aroma makes me way too happy. It’s one of my favorite scents. The rest of this post is devoted to a few other things I love.

Brussels sprouts! These were roasted with extra-virgin olive oil, nutritional yeast, and garlic salt. I like to keep some around for smart snacking. They’re good hot or cold.

Potato Pancakes! Crispy fried potatoes dipped in hot sauce and ketchup? Awesome.

Open-faced breakfast sandwiches! This is a slightly new obsession of mine. Whole wheat toast, alfalfa sprouts, and tofu scramble.

 

Have you ever found out you were making a favorite dish wrong?

Mango Curry

Most of my friends know the one thing they can do for me if they ever make me mad – give me a mango. Mangoes are the sunshine of my life. Eating the ripe flesh of a mango boosts my mood like nothing else in the world can do. I’ll forgive practically anything if someone gives one to me. They just make me so damn happy!

So, obviously, I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate mangoes into my day-to-day life. And mango curry is a great option. I’ve been craving a Thai-style curry for a while, and since I finally got my hands on some red curry paste (why is it so hard to find in Virginia Beach? ugh) I figured today would be a nice opportunity to get my curry fix and try something new.

Here’s my basic recipe for the curry I made tonight. It was good – spicy with a hint of sweetness.

Mango Curry

2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
1 small jalapeno, de-seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 can full-fat coconut milk, plus 1 can’s worth of water
2 Tbs red curry paste
1 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs tamari
1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cubed
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 bunch Thai or regular basil, chopped

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, saute the onion in the oil for 5-7 minutes, until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add  the red pepper strips, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno, and saute for a few more minutes, until everything is fragrant. Add the coconut milk, additional water, curry paste, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.

After the curry is boiling, turn the heat down and bring to a low simmer. Add the tofu and mango. Let simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes for all the flavors to come together. Right before you turn off the heat, add the basil. Serve over jasmine rice, or another grain of choice.

I loved having a curry with fresh fruit in it. I think the next curry I make will have pineapple – I once went to Thai Basil in Asheville and ordered a pineapple curry that was out of this world. Have you ever had a curry made with fruit?