I’ve moved!

I’ve officially moved this blog over to a new location: [blank] this – a blog that I’m going to be using to post about everything I try! Not just food, recipes, and restaurants… but current hobbies (knitting, running, traveling) and future hobbies I may dive into (like that sewing machine I bought months ago but have barely used…!).

So, go and follow my antics over there.

Over and out!

Sayonara

As mentioned before, I’ve been packing. A lot.

I’ll be leaving on Friday 10/21 for Japan for a 3-week-long business trip. Yup: three weeks in a country that I’ve never visited (and have always wanted to)! Sure, I’ll be doing work for at least 8 hours every weekday, but that won’t stop me from seeing the sights, experiencing the culture, and especially eating the food!

I found a list of 100 foods to try in Japan, and I intend to try as many as possible!

There are plenty on the list that I’ve eaten here in the states (natto, tofu, onigiri, tonkatsu, soba, tamago, edamame, umebochi, mochi, sashimi) I not only want to try those while in Japan so that I can have the true experience, but I want to try a ton of new things, of course! I’m especially intrigued by…

…to name a few!

My mostly-vegan eating habits are probably going to sit on the backburner for the trip, as I’ve read that vegan and vegetarian eats are hard to come by over in Japan. Even my strict vegetarian friend said he had to consume animal-based products while there. You’d think soup would be an easy thing for herbivores in Japan, but most of the soups are made with fish- or beef-based broths!

Anyway, I’m really, really excited to head to a new continent and embrace the local flair! During my time away, I probably won’t be blogging much, but I’ll try to do so once in a while.

Sayonara minasan!

5 Reasons Why I Haven’t Blogged in 5 Days

…inspired by this post.

  1. I took Friday off from work. No real reason, other than the obvious fact that vacation days and three-day weekends are awesome. Also, I didn’t use enough vacation days this year and they will all disappear at the end of December… so, like everyone else at work, I’m rushing to use them all up!

    I slept in, went for a bike ride downtown, ate here, shopped here, and listened to Christian evangelists yell at us while I enjoyed my grilled cheese sandwich here.

    I took a glorious nap when I got home!

  2. I was busy busy busy giving tours in the morning on Saturday. Needless to say, after 5 hours on my feet I took another glorious nap! But, before I did, I ate here… yes, for both breakfast and lunch!
  3. I packed. A lot.

    More about this in a future post!

  4. Sunday = football… preceded by a little bit of shopping. I’ve tried drafting blog posts while watching my beloved Giants, but I can’t focus and/or come close to spilling adult beverages on my laptop. Not safe at all!
  5. We have no food. Well, obviously that’s not entirely true, but we don’t have much going on in the kitchen lately. The boy and I are planning on going grocery shopping today so maybe – just maybe – we’ll be able to eat something that didn’t come from a box or from the freezer.

    Then again, not everything boxed and bagged is all that bad…

Wannabe Vegan Pho
Makes one serving.

  • 3 oz firm tofu (I used Trader Joe’s Sprouted Tofu), drained and patted dry
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Non-stick, 100% natural cooking spray
  • 1 oz soba noodles (rice noodles can be substituted)
  • 1 cup Pacific Natural Foods Vegetarian Pho Base
  • 1 cup water
  • Toppings of your choice: traditionally cilantro, fish sauce, sriracha, bean sprouts, etc.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Cut tofu into 2″x1″x1/4″ rectangles and place the pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray the top of the tofu pieces with non-stick spray and sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper on top. Rub into each piece, place the sheet into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Turn off the oven and let the tofu sit for another 5 minutes inside the oven.

In a small pot, heat water and pho base until it boils. Add noodles and lower heat to medium-low. Let cook for 3 minutes or until the noodles are done. Add the tofu pieces and let simmer for 2 minutes.

Serve in a bowl topped with whatever you’d like! All I had on hand at the time was sriracha and dried cilantro… but it was still delicious!

WIAW #3

I know, I know. I’ve skipped out on the last two weeks’ WIAW posts. Two Wednesdays ago I was in a training class all day and couldn’t take photos of anything because I was eating and learning simultaneously. (Multitasking is hard in a windowless room when you’re being lectured to!) Last Wednesday I had a Dentist appointment in the middle of the day and found it pretty pointless to just post my breakfast, my lunch that I ate on the car ride to the dentist, and the dinner I ate 6 hours later when I could finally feel my face again!

Well, here I am again! Back to WIAW mode!

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Breakfast was muesli, coffee, and chocolate soy milk.

I had a morning snack of a really yummy chocolate-coconut granola bar, but I forgot to get a photo. :(

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Lunch was leftover Grown-Up Hamburger Helper. So, so yum.

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My afternoon snack was a big handful of leftover home-roasted garlic pumpkin seeds.

Now, dinner was the highlight of yesterday. (See my contradictory, food-flirty ways of eating vegan all day, then eating a very non-vegan dinner! Haha.) We decided to try this barely month-old restaurant that is about 4 miles from our apartment: A Tavola.

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Beer to start.

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Crazy-good meatballs topped with goat cheese and salsa verde. For someone who hates tomatoes (including tomato sauce) I could’ve probably drank the rest of the sauce after the meatballs were gone!

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Dinner itself was a pizza creation of our own: margarita pizza with crumbled sausage and fontina cheese. (If the boyfriend wasn’t with me, I’d have had one of the house specialties, like the one with roasted cauliflower or fig jam! Silly picky boy!) And that leftover sauce from the meatballs? You’d better believe we dunked our pizza crusts in that!

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Dessert was the restaurants own home-made soft-serve gelato… salted caramel was the obvious choice!

Hamburger Helper… All Grown Up!

For decades, Hamburger Helper has been one of my favorite dinners. We didn’t eat it much in our home when I was a kid, but on those days when mom didn’t want to cook and dad didn’t want to spend money on Chinese or pizza, we’d bust out a box of Hamburger Helper, defrost a pound of ground beef from the freezer, and soon enough we’d be enjoying a high-sodium, saturated fat laden, cheesy, hot, abso-freaking-lutely delectable dinner.

As recent as college (wow, has it already been 3 and a half years since I graduated??) I would make and enjoy Hamburger Helper on my own terms… which was much more frequently than when I was a kid! My boyfriend and I would easily polish off a box of the stuff between the two of us. And, yes, each box has 5 servings… at about 330 Calories each… you do the math!

Now that I’m a bit less naive, I understand that this stuff isn’t exactly the best thing for you. Although wisdom comes with age, a change in certain tastes does not! I still long for that yummy dinner that I adored so much way back when! Well, it’s time to make my Hamburger Helper grow up.

I’ve been a fan of Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo for a long time. Though salty, a little goes a long way and its texture and flavor are absolutely identical to real chorizo. I knew this would be better than plain seitan for this dish because of the spice and flavor it adds to everything it is with.

As far as the cheese sauce, I needn’t look any further than The Kind Diet‘s vegan “cheez” sauce. I use this recipe so often that I am almost to the point of needing to buy nutritional yeast in bulk! I don’t follow her recipe exactly, but the ingredients are pretty much the same.

As far as the pasta goes, I could’ve gone with macaroni… but where’s the fun in that? We happened to have fusilli pasta (little bowties) on hand and figured this would be a great, grown-up alternative to the plain ol’ macaroni we’re all familiar with.

“Meat”? Check. “Cheez” sauce? Check. Pasta? Check.

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Vegan Non-Burger Helper
Makes 3 servings.

  • 3 cups fusilli pasta (or macaroni)
  • 1/2 Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)

Prepare pasta according to directions. While pasta is boiling, heat Earth Balance in a large pan on medium-high heat until melted. Add minced garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and turns golden, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add all remaining ingredients except pasta, whisking until combined and hot. If the sauce is too thick or begins to dry up, add a bit more soy milk one tablespoon at a time; if it is too thin, add more nutritional yeast 1-2 teaspoons at a time. Lower heat to medium-low and add pasta. Stir until pasta is completely coated in the sauce. Serve hot.

Note: If you plan on storing this and reheating it later on, be sure to add at least 2 tbsp of milk per serving when reheating, because the sauce will dry up while reheating if you don’t!

To say that this was a trip down memory lane was an understatement. I’ll never have to buy another box of Hamburger Helper again!

Sweet Potato Trio: Part II

So, the other day I had a minor fail. It was an edible creation, but that baby food consistency of what I hoped would be soup made it a little unappealing.

Time for a renaissance.

The reason why I love cooking more than baking is that when you cook, even if you mess up you can fix it (most of the time). A baking disaster is almost impossible to fix, but as you will see below, with a little bit of creativity, you can turn a minor cooking faux pas into a delicious creation (or two)!

Curried Sweet Potato & Zucchini Stew
Makes approximately 4 servings.

  • 3 cups of leftover curried sweet potato stew *
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or stock
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp dried cilantro

In a large saucepan, brown the garlic in sesame oil on medium-high heat until fragrant and barely golden brown. Add cubed zucchini and cook until zucchini begins to soften and get browned on some sides.

Add sweet potato, vegetable broth, and cilantro stirring until completely combined. Continue to stir until soup begins to boil, then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve hot.

* NOTE: You can use store-bought pureed sweet potatoes or plain sweet potatoes that you’ve processed yourself. If so, add 1.5 tbsp of yellow curry powder, 2 tsp of smoked paprika, a good tablespoon of garlic powder, and a tablespoon of cumin. Follow the rest of the directions as written.

Yom Tov!

Tonight at 7:11 the sun set, kicking off my (and my fellow Jews’) fast for Yom Kippur – the day of atonement and the biggest of the High Holy Days. Now, this isn’t just a “hey, I’m not going to eat for 24 hours!” kind of fast: I can’t have food, water, or even gum!

So, what’s a food-lover to do during Yom Kippur?

  • Eat a mostly normal dinner. As much as I’d like to binge-eat, I don’t. That’s a rookie mistake I learned in college, resulting in lots of stomach aches and discomfort! Instead, I eat a dinner about 25% larger than normal and make it something satisfying to body and mind. I always pick foods I love to eat that will last a while in my belly.
  • Hydrate hydrate hydrate! I stay hydrated all day. Seriously, seriously hydrated. In a normal day, I rarely drink more than 16 ounces of liquid that isn’t coffee. Today I drank about 24 ounces of water as well as five 20-ounce bottles of [low-Calorie] Gatorade. Because the body can last longer without food than without water, this is incredibly important!
  • Stay put. Traditionally, Jews are not to perform any work; even more conservative Jews don’t operate anything with moving parts during the holy day, too. This is because the 24 hours are meant to be spent in synagogue, praying. Although I don’t do all of that, I do make sure to do minimal activity, not only to respect the day but because the less activity I do, the less thirsty I’ll get. Hello, couch potato!
  • Break the fast slowly. Similar to my first point, eating too much after not eating anything is a bad, bad idea and will result in awful tummy trouble and discomfort. For the first hour after the fast ends, I drink liquids… more Gatorade to rehydrate, maybe soup, but usually just water and sports drinks. Then I start incorporating other foods that are easy on the tummy. I don’t go and eat an entire pizza. I just kind of pretend that I didn’t fast and just eat normal. One day is nothing in the scheme of things!

Check out my dinner tonight, full of yummy things that I still feel sitting in my stomach: toasted sourdough bread, local Kentucky cheese of some kind (forgot the name! sorry!), avocado, and a bottle of VitaminWater.

50 minutes down… 23 hours 10 minutes to go!