Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spicy Lentils with Veggies

I have mentioned around here a few times that I have been trying to make better food choices. Cheese is probably my weakness, along with other dairy foods. I have been doing lots of thinking about my egg and dairy intake. While I would love to be able to be a vegan, I am just too weak. I tried vegan Mondays, but that failed too. I started making conscious choices to cut down all animal products; no eggs in my fried rice, no cheese on my veggie burger.

Eventually, these choices weren't conscious anymore. I found that so many times I would be halfway through a meal that I cooked, and realize that it is completely vegan! Now that I am supporting myself, I am cooking more and ordering take out less, which made it a lot easier to cut out dairy. I used to rely on bagels and pizza when I was living in New York. I guess one TINY good thing about being away from home is that I am away from the most tempting of dairy products.

I have seen lots of "one-pot" meals, but it was only as I was cooking this that I even realized this meal was vegan! I love that making the right food choices has become so instinctual.


Inspired by Eat Live Run.

What you need:


2 cups of lentils
2 bunches of kale
2 sweet potatoes
2 cups of chopped carrots
2 serrano peppers
4 cups of vegetable broth
3-4 cloves of garlic
salt/celery salt to taste
oil for cooking

What to do:
Chop up the kale, serrano peppers, garlic, and peal and chop the sweet potatoes.
Heat the oil in a large pot and add the carrots and sweet potatoes. Cook until softened.
Next, add in the garlic and kale, until the kale starts to wilt.
Add in the peppers, lentils, salt, celery salt, and vegetable broth.


Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer, until the lentils are soft and the water has been absorbed.
Serve hot.






These lentils were chewy and hardy. I was nervous that the pepper would be too spicy, but it added the perfect amount of heat. The sweet potatoes and carrots were nice and soft, and added an element of sweetness. The kale was mild, and the veggie broth and celery salt added lots of different flavors. This ended up tasting just like how I would have described my grandma's cooking: comforting and healthy!

How easy is it for you to eat vegan? Will you try this one pot lentil meal?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Crock Pot Corn and Potato Chowder

There is nothing better than a bowl of warm and creamy soup after a long day at work, and a cold winter day. Of course you could heat up a can of soup, and while I do that on most occasions, I wanted to try my hand at cooking soup myself. Lots of you lovely followers have commented on how easy it is to make a lot of soup at once, and of course it is more affordable (also, potatoes and onions were buy one-get one at the supermarket this week!). I knew I had to work all day on Sunday, so how else could I have a hot bowl of soup waiting for me than making my boyfriend cook it it in my crock pot! I love that with a crock pot you can just put all the ingredients in and it does all the cooking for you. No-fuss hot bowl of soup after a longer winter day - here I come!


Inspired by All Recipes.

What You Need:


5 medium russet potatoes, cubed
2 yellow onions, diced
1 can of corn
2 tablespoons butter
1 12-oz can of evaporated milk
4 cups of vegetable broth (I used 2 cubes of bouillon and 4 cups of water)
celery salt and pepper to taste

What To Do:
Put all of the ingredients, except for the milk, into the crock pot.


Cook on the low setting for 5-6 hours, or until potatoes can split easily with a fork.
Pour in the evaporated milk, and cook for 30 more minutes. Serve hot.





I ate my soup with a side salad and a small panini.


This soup was so flavorful with just a bit of creaminess. I might have overdone it just a tad with a pepper, but it really gave this chowder a nice kick of spice! There was some added sweetness and crunch from the corn. The onions were nice and soft while the potatoes turned this soup into a hardy dish.  It was great coming home to this comfort food waiting for me!

Do you like making soup in the crock pot? What is your favorite kind to make?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Normally, I'm not one for Mexican food. While I love tomatoes, cheese, avocados, and spice, I'm not a fan of beans and of course I don't eat meat. When going out to Mexican restaurants every meal is either centered around meat, or beans.  I brushed off Mexican food for a while thinking it just wasn't for me. Then I wised up. I may not be able to go out to enjoy Mexican food, but there is nothing stopping me from cooking my own Mexican food and adding in, or leaving out exactly what I want.  I sought out ground beef taquito recipes, swapped it for soy crumbles, and tailored them to my tastes. I think I ended up with a pretty awesome result.


What You Need:


1 box of Smart Ground Soy Crumbles
1 Can of corn
1/2 cup of salsa
12 6-inch tortillas (as you can see I only had 10, and I had some filling left over)
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons of taco seasoning

What do to:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat up some oil over medium heat and cook the soy crumble according to the directions on the box.
Stir in the corn, salsa, and taco seasoning and continue to cook the filling mixture.
Place the tortillas on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.
Microwave for 45 seconds to make them soft and pliable.
Scoop about a 1/4 cup of the filling onto the tortilla and sprinkle cheese on top.


Carefully roll up the tortillas and place on a greased baking sheet, seem side down.
Continue until all of the tortillas are filled, rolled, and placed on the baking sheet.
Optional: brush the taquitos lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on more cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned, serve hot.




I ate mine with a side of Salsa Rice, inspired by The Garden Grazer.



Oh my goodness, I am obsessed with these! The soy crumbles were meaty and the tortillas were so soft and chewy. I loved how the tortillas were perfectly crispy and crunchy on the edges The salsa made these taquitos tomatoes and added that authentic Mexican flavor. The melted cheese added a nice, sharp flavor and the corn was sweet and mild. They were a little lacking in the spicy category, so I added a splash of hot sauce afterwards. Adding salsa to the rice took it to the next level. It went from plain, boring rice, to a great Mexican side dish!

Have you ever made your own vegetarian taquitos? What would you add to yours?

Bye From the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tomato Basil Pasta

There are some foods that you have been making for so long, you don't even remember the first time you made it. When I first learned to cook I usually just stuck with the basics. I could make anything from a recipe, and I could make pasta.  When I first started to stray from recipe cooking, I remember my dad taught me that you can always add some more of an ingredient, but if you put in too much you can't take it out. Those are the words I still live by when I cook.

When first learning to cook, I found that it was easiest for me to work with Italian flavors. The tomato/basil/garlic combination of flavors was simple but so good. It was easy to work with those flavors and build off from there. Still to this day, when I don't know what flavors to cook with, that is my go to. Today, I am going to share with you a basic pasta dish. What is special about this is not that it is mind-blowingly delicious, or unusual, but that I have been making this pasta for as long as I have been cooking food.


What you need:


1 lb box of pasta
1 cup shredded or fresh mozzarella
1 bunch fresh basil
5 cloves of garlic, diced
4 medium vine tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
Cook pasta according to instructions on the box.
While pasta is cooking dice tomatoes, roughly chop the basil, and dice garlic.


Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, and roast garlic until it just starts to turn golden.
Add tomatoes and basil, and cook until tomatoes are soft and the basil just starts to wilt.


Top with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta, and stir in olive oil to coat the pasta.
Mix in the tomato basil sauce and cheese.





This dish features the most basic, and classic Italian colors and flavors. Its so simple, but incredibly fresh and delicious. The tomatoes were warm and juicy and the basil was so pungent and fresh. The garlic was the perfect compliment to the flavors and the mozzarella was chewy and melty. Personally, I do prefer fresh mozzarella, however cooking on a budget means you need to sacrifice at times. I find that with few and basic ingredients, that it really allows each element to shine on its own. This pasta tasted like it was straight out of an Italian restaurant.

What is your go to meal to make? Do you enjoy cooking with Italian flavors as much as I do?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

ToFish & Chips

I have featured many different nationalities of food on this blog. You have seen Greek, Chinese, Italian, and even Mexican, but there is one country that this blog has never been too, until now. I have always loved England, I mean who doesn't? They make lots of different foods across the pond, but the one that comes to might right away is the classic fish and chips.  Fish and chips are so popular, it is even a common bar food in the states. I have mentioned that my biggest goal as a vegetarian is to re-create meat dishes. I have also mentioned that I have never found a decent vegetarian fish substitute. I guess that meant it was time to get creative.


What you need:


1 package of tofu
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

As you can see, I strayed away from the traditional battered and fried fish, and opted to go more towards a lemony and baked fish. This meal is already non-traditional using tofu, so I thought it was OK to bend the rules a bit.

What to do:
Drain and slice the tofu, then press for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine Old Bay, garlic, salt if desired, and pepper in a small bowl.


Coat all pieces of tofu with the spice mixture, and lay out on a baking sheet.
Drizzle the tofu with the lemon juice.


Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through.
Serve hot, with a side of french fries.




Of course, I had to enjoy this meal in true British style, with some vinegar on my chips!


The tofu had a firm, but flaky texture, and being naturally mild, it definitely let the flavors in the Old Bay shine. There was a nice bite from the garlic, a tang from the lemon, and saltiness just as you would expect fish to have. The tofu itself wasn't very fishy, but incorporated the flavors normally eaten with seafood. It was fun trying out something new, and nice to make a tofu dish inspired by foods from a different country.

Have you tried to make your own version of fish and chips?

Bye from the Veggie Side!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Couscous

Happy 2014!!! The New Year is always a fun time, filled with reflection and hope for what's to come. However, this New Years feel a little bit different to me.

14 years ago, the number 14 became my lucky number (my online name is LittleMonsterx14 for a reason!). When I turned 14, my mom told me that it would be my lucky year. We now entered the year 2014, and I can just feel that its going to be something special. I don't know why, or what will happen, but the year '14 is going to be a special one. I am so excited to see what the year brings, and to fully enjoy all the things the number 14 will bring me!

I have always been intimidated by Brussels sprouts. They smell funny, look funny, and everyone always says how they taste bad.  Why would anyone want to eat a food like that? Well, over the summer my dad ordered some Brussels sprouts at a restarunt, I tried a bite and they were delisious!  I decided it was time to investigate them a little more.  Over Thanksgving, I tried a roasted sprout, and I liked it. The final test was to try cooking them myself.  Last week they went on sale, and I knew it was the veggie gods telling me it was time.


What you need:


1 large bag of Brussels sprouts
1 box of plain couscous
olive oil
onion powder
celery salt
garlic powder
salt and pepper
lemon juice

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
While oven is heating, cut the sprouts in half.
Put the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl and mix in salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.
Mix in enough olive oil to evenly coat everything.


Spread the Brussels sprouts evenly on a baking sheet, and bake for 35 minutes, flipping every 5-10 minutes.
Once the sprouts are nearly done, cook the couscous according to the directions on the box. The box only says to add olive oil and salt, but I decided to add a few other spices to give it some extra flavor.
Serve everything together!






After trying Brussels sprouts for the third time I have officially jumped on the sprout train! They were crispy on the outside and crunchy on the inside.  They had a bit of tang from the lemon, some spice from the pepper, and the perfect amount of saltiness. The Brussels sprouts themselves had a really nice fresh veggie taste with that roasted flavor. The couscous was super fluffy with a nice array of different spices. This meal was surprisingly comforting, and super delicious. Hooray for Brussels sprouts!

Do you love Brussles sprouts as much as I do? Will you be trying them out this new year?

Bye from the Veggie Side.


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