Saturday, December 28, 2013

Spicy Asian Pasta

I just want to start off by apologizing for my surprise absence.  While the holiday time isn't the biggest deal to me, it does come with lots of extra work at my job, which means long hours.  Working so hard, plus a trip up to see Ben's family, I didn't have much time to blog. While I'm still super busy, I was really happy I finally found the time to sit down and write a blog post.

Even though it's not the best food for you, I just love pasta. Its delicious, filling, and easy to make it into a great vegetarian meal. I am always looking for pasta recipes to add to my collection.  When I don't know what to make with my pasta, I go with the standard garlic and oil sauce, but I was looking for something a little different. I found THIS spicy pasta with broccoli recipe and decided to give it a go.


Adapted from Recipe Treasure.

What you need:


1 lb box of pasta
2 head of broccoli, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of olive oil (some to cook the broccoli, and some to coat the pasta)
1.5 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes

What to do:
Cook pasta according to directions on the box.
While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes.
Once the broccoli is golden, add the broccoli and salt.
Saute until the broccoli is fully cooked and starting to soften.
Drain the pasta, and mix in the broccoli.
Mix in the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, serve hot, or chill.






If you like spicy, then this pasta is for you. It is packed with lots of heat!  There was a bit of Asian inspired flavors from the soy sauce, a hint of tang from the vinegar, and lots of tasty garlic flavor. It definitely was unique, but it was really delicious!

What is your favorite pasta meal? Have you ever tried an Asian style pasta?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SunBird Mongolian Be...Tofu!

Living away from home, and buying my own food, has made me very aware of the price of food. I used to love to go out to eat and thought $10 for a meal was cheap. Now that I am cooking a lot more, I usually pay $3-$4 per meal.  Its hard to bring myself to order take out when it is so expensive, but sometimes you just need a big bowl of Chinese food, amiright?

On a shopping trip, Ben noticed a brand of Asian seasoning packets called SunBird. They made a few different flavors, a few of which are vegetarian.  I have never had Mongolian beef in my life, but Ben knows me well and said I would like the flavors and should try the spice packet with tofu instead. Well, with the spices on sale for only $1 per packet, I thought it couldn't hurt to try.


What you need & what to do:



As you can see, all the ingredients and instructions are printed on the back of the packet. Of course, swap out the beef for 1 package of tofu. Since I never had Mongolian beef before, I asked Ben what veggies usually come with it and he suggested broccoli. I'm not a fan of onions, so I swapped them for 2 cups of frozen broccoli. I decided to eat my meal with rice, but this would work great with noodles, quinoa, or even more veggies!

Before you start cooking, remember to cut and press your tofu for about 45 minutes, then you can continue cooking as directed.





The first thing I noticed was the authentic Asian flavor, it literally tasted as if it was straight out of a take out container! Its had prominent flavors of garlic and ginger, with a big kick of spice. The sauce had the perfect, thick, consistency and almost tasted like Szechuan sauce. The tofu had a great texture, firm but not yet crispy. The broccoli was the perfect addition, adding a nice crunch to the meal.  This definitely satisfied my craving for Chinese food take out, and for a lot less money!

Have you tried these SunBird flavor packets?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Veggie Sausage Stuffing

Thanksgiving might have come and gone, but that doesn't mean I'm done eating my favorite holiday foods. Lucky for me, all those favorite foods are now on sale at the supermarket!  On a recent shopping trip, Ben noticed that my favorite Thanksgiving food, stuffing, was on sale. I snatched it right up, but I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted to eat it. At Ben's family's dinner, they had sausage stuffing, which everyone seemed to love. I was sad that I wasn't able to enjoy my Thanksgiving favorite because it was tainted with meat.  But you all know that my favorite thing to do is take meaty foods and vegetarianize them. There was a brand of veggie sausage, Frieda's, that makes a vegetarian chorizo, called Soyrizo I have been wanting to try, and vegetarian sausage stuffing was born!


What you need:


1 Bag of seasoned stuffing
5 Tablespoons butter
1 Soyrizo sausage
Salt to taste

What to do:
Start by cooking the Soyrizo according to the instructions. IMPORTANT: the casing that the Soyrizo is in is made of plastic, so you need to squeeze the veggie sausage out to cook it.


Cook Soyrizo over high heat until it is brown and crispy, about 10 minutes.
When the Soyrizo is almost done cooking, cook the stuffing according to the package. You can either use salt butter, or sweet butter and add the salt in yourself.
Then just mix the sausage into the stuffing and enjoy!



I ate my sausage stuffing with a side of roasted garlic lemon broccoli.




The Soyrizo had a pretty strong veggie flavor with just the right amount of meatiness and just a hint of tang. It had a tasty Mexican flavor with a little bit of spice. The Soyrizo had a nice, chewy texture, while the stuffing was perfectly fluffy. The stuffing has a great flavor on its own, but it also absorbed the flavors from the sausage, and it all came together really nicely. This is warm, hearty, and filling!

Have you tried to make veggie sausage stuffing? What do you like making with left-over Thanksgiving favorites?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

As December continues on, we are slowly creeping into the winter. Well maybe not all that slowly as its been snowing here all week! Luckily for me, pumpkin time is still lingering on, and with Thanksgiving just passed and Christmas on the way, canned pumpkin has been on sale. I had been wanted to make a pumpkin mac and cheese for a long time and now was finally the time. Nothing is better in the winter than the classic fall flavors mixed with the ultimate comfort food!


Recipe inspired from Inspired Taste.

What you need:


1 16 ounce box of pasta*
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mustard
1 can of pumpkin
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

What to do:
Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.
Stir in flour and cook while stirring, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in milk.
Place back onto heat and bring to a simmer.
Simmer and stir until thickened.
Stir in salt, pepper, clove, cinnamon, mustard and pumpkin puree.
Add cheese then cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.


Drain pasta and add it into cheese sauce and stir until coated.





While this was cooking, it was so incredibly fragrant. Pumpkin spice flavors filled my kitchen, which is amazing any time of year. This pasta had the perfect mix of pumpkin flavors and cheesiness. It had just the slightest hint of sweetness that paired well with the sharp cheddar flavor. It reminded me of a savory pumpkin pie! The sauce was think and creamy, and amazingly comforting. This might have been my favorite mac and cheese!

What are you favorite ways to make the classic seasonal flavors?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

*As you can see the photo of ingredients has a box of bow tie pasta, but in the photos I used rotini. As I was making this I decided to switch pasta shapes.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Veggie Burger Chronicles: At Home Southwestern

Have you even been struck by a brilliant food idea, only to have to wait all day to execute it? Well that's what happened to me at work the other day. While I was eating lunch, I was planning out what I was going to make for dinner. Yes, my whole life really does center around food.  I had just gotten some avocados on sale, and was making paninis with them. But then it hit me: avocado veggie burgers! I spent the rest of my day at work thinking about how I would accessorize it, and I decided on a southwestern style.

 photo 030_zpsbaa69f2d.jpg

What you need:


2 Slices of bread
Half of an avocado
Any veggie burger of your choice
Mexican cheese

What to do:

Toast the bread.
Scoop out half of the avocado and layer it on.
Layer on the veggie burger, cheese, ketchup, and tapatio sauce.
Top with the second piece of bread.




This was well work the all day wait, because it was so good! The burger had a nice meaty flavor, while the cheese and avocado gave this a Mexican flare. This was packed with heat from the tapatio sauce.  I love this sauce. It not only has the perfect amount of spicy, but its super flavorful too. The avocado was creamy and buttery, and acted almost like a sauce. Topping this burger with ketchup made it super classic, but with a Mexican twist.

How do you make your veggie burgers at home? Will this southwestern one be on your menu?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Leftovers Fried Rice

I love Chinese food. If it weren't on the pricier side, I'd order take out everyday.  Without fail, I always order a side of fried rice. Its always so good and flavorful and authentic, I just can't say no.  However, most Chinese food places also give you a side of white rice for free. What would I do with that white rice, when I have this amazing fried? It took me ages to figure it out. It used to just sit in the fridge until it got old, and then I tossed it. But I kept feeling guilty for wasting perfectly good food. I tried eating it plain with butter, I tried vegetarian chicken and rice, but nothing was a real winner. And then it hit me, why not make more fried rice??

I had no idea how to make fried rice. I have never done it before, and from my experience, its pretty difficult to make an ethnic food if you haven't done it before. While the majority of my cooking starts off with a recipe, for this once I decided to wing it. I ran through my kitchen picking out foods and flavors that I thought would work well fried rice. Anything that I have left over from another meal I cooked went into the mix. Once I was all done, this is what I had...

What you need:


1 Package of leftover rice
A bowl of your favorite veggies, I chose brocolli and peas
1 large egg
Soy sauce
Chili paste
Powdered ginger
Powdered garlic
Oil for frying

What to do:
Heat up the oil in a pan, and add in the rice.
As the oil heats up, use a spatula to mix the rice up and evenly fry.


Mix in the bowl of veggies and stir them up.


Add in the ginger, garlic, and chili paste, all to taste, and stir in.
Mix in the soy sauce, until your rice is a nice golden brown color.
Crack the egg right into the veggie-rice mix.
Quickly, break up and stir the egg in, making sure it completely solidifies.


Keep flipping and stirring for another 5 minutes, until everything is evenly fried.




All the ingredients for this meal were made just with things I found around the house, as well as ingredients left over from other meals I have made in the past. This dish is insanely versatile. Want more salt? Add more soy sauce! Like different veggies? Put any ones you want in. More or less heat? Just adjust the amount of chili paste. Want to turn this into a meal? Add some chickpeas or tofu for a protein. You can easily make this 100% vegan by leaving out the egg, and with my quest for better eating, I have been usually leaving the egg out. This meal is completely custom order.  Just a quick tip, I would definitely make sure you had a good amount of ginger, I find that its the ginger that gives this fried rice that authentic Chinese take out flavor.  I love the little bit of heat from the chili paste, and the nice saltiness and garlic flavors. This can be a great way to make your own take out side, or even eat as a whole meal.

What is your favorite way to use left over? Are you going to try this easy fried rice?

Bye from the Veggie Side!


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