Tuesday, July 31, 2012

VIENNA:

Garlic Fettuccine with Cherry Tomatoes:


Our last Thursday in El Escorial (the village that we lived in for the month) was crazy. I got about 45 minutes of sleep that night.  I was so worn out and exhausted after a month of craziness, but we still had one more trip before we crossed the Atlantic...Vienna. 

We decided to travel to Vienna to meet up with my friend Taylor, who was studying there at the time, and my other good friend from Orlando, Danielle, was flying in so that we could all reunite in Europe.



 When will you realize Vienna waits for you?
 Stephansplatz?
 McDonald's has veggie burgers?!
 DONAUINSELFEST! Apparently this dude's lookin for a girlfriend...
BEST FRIENDS.

VIENNA: what to say?

The weekend included Donauinselfest, a trip to the hospital, sharing a twin bed with two other girls with no air conditioning, some good food, meeting some really cool people from Turkey and Ireland, having a conversation with a nice Austrian lad about How I Met Your Mother and Arnold Schwarzenegger, some beautiful mountain and roof top views, utter exhaustion, exploring the city, and the experience  of Austrian dorm life...it was awesome. 

We were expecting to have a laid-back night the first night we got there. However, Taylor and her friends had other plans. As soon as we landed, Taylor told us that all of her friends from study abroad were waiting for us with wine and Schnapps, and that we were going to Donauinselfest, which is one of the biggest music festivals in Europe.

Anyways, we stopped at Vapianos for dinner on our first night. They cook in front of you there, so I had the cute chef make me this garlic and cherry tomato dish. He spoke broken English and laughed at the fact that I was so particular and didn't want meat or butter. This recipe, although not incredibly creative, is easy to make and delicious. I've heard that there will be a Vapianos in Orlando very soon, so I'm pretty excited.

Ingredients:

1 package macaroni or fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
5 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Dash of oregano
Dash of cayenne pepper 
1 tsp. lemon juice

Serves 4. 
Total cook time: 30 minutes. 

Instructions:

1. Cook pasta. Set aside.

2. Add the cherry tomatoes, garlic, 1 tbsp. of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a large saucepan. Cook on medium to medium high until tomatoes are almost tender, about 7 minutes. 

3. Stir in basil and oregano. Cook on medium heat for another 3 or so minutes. 

4. Add the veggie mixture to the pasta along with the remaining olive oil and cayenne, toss to coat.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Vegans Eat In Spain...

GRILLED ZUCCHINI, TOMATOES, MUSHROOMS, AND ONIONS:


I ate this dish a lot in Spain. I probably could've eaten it every day. The picture above is from my last dinner in El Escorial. We ate dinner at Asador Del Rey, which is right next to the hotel we stayed in. It's also owned by the same guy, who we've nicknamed, "The Most Interesting Man in the World."

 

The dish that I ordered was not on the menu, but they were glad to make it for me. As you can see, I had my fair share of beer and sangria. Also, in order to fuel my carb addiction, although for the normal person this would not be necessary, I ordered fries as well.

Anyways, the terrace looks out to El Escorial, a beautiful monastery and palace that was once the summer resort of the Spanish kings. The sun was setting, and my last dinner in Spain couldn't have been better. We snuck off while waiting for our food to snap some pictures of the monastery in the sunset (see below). Once we finished dinner, we headed over to the Nacho Loco for our last night at our favorite dive bar in El Escorial.

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 large eggplant, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
4 portabella mushroom caps
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced
1 large sweet onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil + more for greasing
1/4 tbsp. garlic salt
Black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste

Serves 4.
Total Cook Time: 25 minutes.


Instructions:

1. Place a large sheet of foil (or a veggie grill rack) on grill. If using foil, just coat it with olive oil. If using grill rack, spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the grill.

2. In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients. Toss to coat.

3. Place all the veggies on the grill. Add seasoning as desired. Cook on medium to high heat until the veggies are cooked through and charred, but not mushy, anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the grill).  Serve with fries, rice, or pasta.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

PRAHA:

A LITTLE MORE ON PRAGUE:

If you ever come across the opportunity to visit Prague, take it! It's a cultural gem with tons of things to do, the food is delicious, and the people are incredibly friendly and accomodating. I couldn't get over how pretty and clean the city was; it was just like a fairytale. (I felt like I was in Beauty & the Beast the entire time).

Go to Old Town Square for fun, Upinkasu or Nostalgie for food, and Nebe or Roxy for drinks. Old Town Square has some really good restaurants as well, but they're a little more expensive. There's also a party boat that you can catch, with power hour and free admission to one of the clubs. Prague even has a Hooters!

 Besties <3
 I love rose gardens.
 MUSEUM OF COMMUNISM (There's also a Museum of Torture in Prague).
 Who doesn't love unfiltered beer and live music?
 Side street on our walking tour of the city.
 Old Town Square
 Old Town Square
EWWW! MEAT!!!
 HOOTERS PRAHA!
 Always a blonde...
 Delicious dinner in Old Town Square before heading over to the fanzone (the cigs aren't mine!)...
MORE PIVO! (at Upinkasu, the first place to serve Czech's own Pilsner Urquell beer on draft).

My friend Liza's quote on the weekend, "I mean, we each drank, like, a keg." [That we did]. The beer gut was more than worth it. I'm going back to Prague the first chance that I get.


Vegan Chickpea Salad: ♥♥♥

CHICKPEA SALAD:


This is my first no-cook recipe! It takes less than 10 minutes to make, and you can easily double it for a summer barbecue. I didn't have red peppers when I made this, but they would add a little more color to the dish. My little sister loved this salad so much that she was taking heaping bites of it right out of the serving dish.

Ingredients:

1 large can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large zucchini, diced
2/3 cup corn
3/4 cup baby spinach/ arugula
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 cup Italian vinaigrette
1/4 cup white vinegar
1tsbp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tbsp garlic salt
Black pepper, to taste

Serves 5.
Total cook time: 10 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl or serving dish. Mix ingredients together until everything is coated with the dressing. Add dressing, salt, or pepper as needed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vegan Mac N' Cheese:

VEGAN MAC N' CHEESE:


Every vegan needs a vegan mac n' cheese recipe. This one is much healthier than the mac n' cheese that we're used to, and it's easy to make as well. I like this better the next day (once all of the flavors have soaked in), but I promise that it will taste good whenever you decide to eat it.

Ingredients:

1 package elbow macaroni
1 can rutabagas (or 1 cup roasted butternut squash)
1 cup almond or soy milk
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or Smart Balance buttery spread
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Serves 4.
Total Cook Time: 25 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.

2. Add garlic and Earth Balance to a medium pot, sauté on medium heat for about 7
minutes.

3. Process the squash or rutabagas and half of the almond or soy milk in a blender or food processor
until smooth. Add to the pot with the garlic, along with the rest of the lactose-free milk, nutritional yeast,salt and pepper. Cook sauce on medium heat while the macaroni is boiling, 7-10
minutes.

4. Once you have drained the noodles, stir in the sauce. Serve with broccoli, sautéed
onions, celery, etc.



A light summer dish...

COUS COUS WITH TOASTED ALMONDS AND GREEN BEANS:


For some reason, I just love Cous Cous. It has enough carbs, yet it's not too heavy and not too light. It's easy to cook, and just one cup of it goes a surprisingly long way. Toasted almonds or sunflower seeds also add a good amount of flavor. They're versatile, and can be seasoned with anything from cayenne pepper to agave syrup, adding just the right amount of flavor or kick to a dish.

Ingredients:

1 box or 1 1/2 cups Cous Cous, cooked according to package directions
Handful of almonds, sliced
Handful of sunflower seeds
Handful of pumpkin seeds (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced (or sub garlic salt)
1 cup pineapple, cubed or diced
2 to 3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp olive oil (for pineapple cubes)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper

Serves 6.
Total Cook Time:  20 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Cook Cous Cous. Once it's cooked, stir in soy sauce and desired seasonings.

2. While the Cous Cous is cooking, add the almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,  garlic, and olive oil to a small saucepan. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes.

3. Once the seeds are browned, set aside in a small bowl. Add the remaining oil  and soy sauce to the pan, along with the pineapple cubes. Cook the pineapple over medium-high heat until heated through and browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Mix Cous Cous and half of the almonds and seeds together. Top with the pineapple cubes and remaining seeds.

 

GREEN BEANS:

Ingredients:

2 cups green beans, stemmed
1 tsp olive oil or 2 tsp Earth Balance buttery spread
Dash of salt
Dash of pepper
Dash of paprika or allspice (optional)

Serves 4.
Total Cook Time: 10 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and boil 7 minutes, until tender but still crispy. (This can be done while cooking the Cous Cous).

2. Add olive oil or other butter substitute, salt, pepper, and paprika/allspice.



Comfort where you least expect to find it...

BLACK-EYED PEA SALAD WITH BASIL AND GARLIC:



I made this meal after a long day of school and work. I was starving and running low on
ingredients and inspiration. As anyone who loves food and cooking as much as I do knows, it's a terrible combination.

I was going to the store the next day, but I had to find something to make for dinner in the meantime. I was craving comfort food, but I wasn't in the mood for pasta. So I turned to another option: rice and beans.

Anyways, when I looked at what was left in my pantry, I noticed that I had a can of black-eyed peas that had been sitting in my pantry for a few months. I also had some cooked rice in the fridge. I'm not the biggest celery fan, but for some reason, celery sounded good as well. I only used one clove of garlic because I have a fear that using more than 3 cloves at each meal is going to make garlic start oozing from my pores. I also added nutritional yeast to my meal for a hardier comfort food taste. It worked, but don't worry about it if you don't have it.

So, in under a half an hour, with very little inspiration and a sparse pantry, I somehow managed to come up with this. Hope you like it!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package directions
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup celery, chopped
3/4 cup basil, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 cup white cooking wine
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast, optional
1-2 tbsp. olive or canola oil
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Serves 3 or 4.
Total Cook Time: 35 to 45 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Cook rice according to the package instructions. Once rice is cooked, pour the cooking wine in with it and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often so that it doesn't stick.

3. Add the celery, garlic, and onions to a pan with salt and pepper. Coat with olive
oil and cook on medium high heat for about 7 minutes. Stir in nutritional yeast. Add
basil and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes.

4. Place rice on plate, add the veggies and the black-eyed peas.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Adventures in Tofurky...



VEGGIE SAUSAGES WITH MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS:


I generally don't venture this far into the processed food world. However, my stepmom was kind enough to pick these up for me, so I decided to give them a shot.

Tofurky makes some good stuff, but I wouldn't really recommend the sun-dried tomato sausages unless you're in a pinch with few other options. . They honestly kind of tasted like dog food to me, but topping it with the veggies makes them taste a lot better.  I like the regular veggie sausages better.

Anyways, here's a recipe to pair with vegan sausages (or veggie dogs). I've taken a liking to veggie dogs, they taste exactly like hot dogs. The only problem is that you have to make sure not to overcook them. They shrivel up very quickly.

Serve these with grilled veggies, beans, or salad.

Ingredients:

4 Tofurky Italian Sausages (or other brand/flavor/ veggie dogs)
4 bakery fresh buns
1½ cups portabella mushrooms, sliced or diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or sub garlic salt)
Ketchup, mustard, etc.
Salt
Pepper

Serves 4.
Total Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Grill sausages according to package directions, adding salt and pepper as needed. Make sure not to dry them out. (Their texture can be kind of weird).

2. Sauté mushrooms, pepper, onions, and garlic on medium heat until onions are caramelized  and mushrooms are tender; 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Once everything is done, place sausages and veggies on the buns along with whatever other condiments you may want.

GRILLED ASPARAGUS AND CHERRY TOMATOES IN BALSAMIC GLAZE


Ingredients:

2 bunches of asparagus
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup olives (any kind - optional)
1/2 to 1/4 cup pine nuts or sesame seeds (optional)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Dash of thyme
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar + 2 tsp. olive oil + salt, cayenne, oregano, etc.

Serves 4 to 6.
Total cook time: 20 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Preheat the grill.

2. While the grill is preheating, add the balsamic, 2 tsp. olive oil, and seasonings to a small saucepan. Cook on medium heat until it thickens, whisking frequently.

3. Add the remaining ingredients (minus pine nuts/ sesame seeds) to a large bowl and stir so that the asparagus is fully coated with the oil and seasonings.

3. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and pour the veggies out on it, so that they are all laying flat.

4.  Place the foil with veggies on the grill and cook on medium-high to high heat until tender and a little charred, about 12 to 15 minutes.

5. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Top with pine nuts or sesame seeds.


"She finally found her paradise, it seems.."


Majorca, one of the Balearic Islands, is one of the most beautiful places that I've ever seen. A group of us stayed at the Bellevue Club, an all-inclusive resort in Alcudia, Majorca. The price was reasonable, just $110 Euro for three nights in a 5-person apartment and all the food and drinks you could possibly want.

The food and drinks on the island were amazing, from paella to falafel to mojitos. All of the locals told us to go to Bistro Mar, a restaurant in the port of Alucidia Mar. The tables on the patio look out over the port, and the front side of the island faces a public beach and a mountain. Small fishing boats line the water. I ordered the Vegan Paella and loved it. Considering that this was one of the best weekends of my life, I will add more on Majorca later.
For now, here's my version of the recipe:

MAJORCAN-INSPIRED VEGAN PAELLA:


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups yellow rice, cooked according to package directions
1 cup fresh green beans, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup green bell  pepper, diced
1/3 cup carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
Cajun seasoning, to taste (optional)
+ 1 more tbsp. olive oil

Serves 4.
Total Cook Time: about 35 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Cook rice. Set aside.

2. Add the green beans through black pepper to a large pot or wok, sauté on medium-high heat until tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in rice and remaining seasonings, add the other teaspoon of olive oil, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often.

A trip to the other side of Europe:


PRAGUE:


Prague: an Eastern European city full of beer, bread, and dumplings. Who could possibly ask for more? We got there around 9 or 10 on a Wednesday night, and we were still tired from out trip to Mallorca and our Spain field trip (more on that later). As a result, we decided to begin the trip with a laid-back night of sushi and absinthe cocktails at the Buddha Bar Hotel, a small boutique hotel located right in Prague City Center. We woke up the next morning and had a traditional Czech breakfast of cabbage, dumplings, and beer (or "pivo," as the Czechs would say), and then we were off to explore.

We met the nice fellow in the picture above at a market near the Paladium Shopping Center. What an incredible musician. He was singing the Beatles and Zeppelin and fading in and out between the two. He told us that he's always flattered when Americans appreciate his music, so we shared a beer, and he told my friend Liza that she inspired him. The market was adorable. There were booths selling flowers, veggies, beer, and, my favorite, all the bread a girl could possibly want. I wish we had more markets like this one in the states.

Anyways, back to the reason for this post. We happened to be in Prague while the Eurocup was going on, and fortunately for us, they had a fan zone set up in Old Town Square, with a big screen to watch the games, live music, and food vendors. It was really awesome. One of the nights we were there, we decided to stop at Caffrey's Irish Pub, which was located in Old Town Square, before we headed off to watch the Czech game. I ordered Magner's Hard Cider and colcannon as a snack. Although it's traditionally an Irish dish, I decided to include it along with a post on Prague because that was the first time that I had it, and I liked it. I came up with my own recipe for it. Hope you like it:

IRISH COLCANNON:  

 

Ingredients:

10 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup green cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup baby carrots, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped (optional)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup plain almond or soy milk
1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread or olive oil
Garlic salt, to taste
Dash of black pepper

Serves 4.
Total cook time: about 30 minutes.

Instructions:

1. Boil potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, and garlic on medium-high heat until tender, 11 to 12 minutes. Drain and return to pan.

2. Stir in almond milk, Earth Balance or other vegan buttery spread, salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Be careful not to mash the carrots (you might want to separate them before mashing the potatoes, and then adding them back in). Top with chives.

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