Stupid Simple & Vegan

Way back in the day I used to flip-flop between being a carnivore and a vegetarian. I even dabbled in veganism for about a month. It was actually during my first month of grad school. I’d amble around Denton with my nose in the air because I was smart, didn’t eat animal products, and rode a bike. Then one morning I woke up to yet another eggless breakfast and realized it was a life I did not want to live.

Fast forward four years and I am doing yet another Whole30. This means no dairy, among other things. Eggs are okay. But this post will actually focus on potatoes. Of the mashed variety. The vegan mashed variety! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

12 small, organic red potatoes cut into quarters

2 tsp coconut oil

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tbs garlic powder

s & p to taste

  1. Rinse and quarter your red potatoes. Boil in a pot of salted water until soft- about 20 minutes.
  2. After draining the potatoes, place in a bowl or the original pot. Add the coconut oil, coconut milk, and garlic powder. Mash away.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

Blogging a recipe that is this simple is actually really weird for me. It’s like posting about how to put on socks and then calling myself a fashion blogger…

BUT

Some people don’t know how to make mashed potatoes? Or maybe they don’t know coconut oil easily replaces butter? Whatever. I quickly added these vegan mashed potatoes to a very non-vegan fried egg and even later, I topped my stuffed peppers with ’em to make shepherd’s pie. Potatoes are pretty damn versatile and my go-to comfort food while on a Whole30. And, when paired with eggs, they make up 1/2 of the breakfast power couple! (Even when they are mashed!)

Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

The End.

Citrus and Spice and Everything Nice

(The everything nice being an abundance of cilantro and goat cheese.)

I judge a Mexican restaurant by three things: tortillas, guacamole, and salsa. If your restaurant strikes out on 2 out of 3 of these, chances are 98% to none, that I will no longer patronize your establishment. An example: 7 Mile Cafe in Denton. Old guacamole and marinara sauce salsa? Ummm, no thank you! They have since stepped up their freshness and salsa game, bumping them off my shit list. That sentiment is now semi-directed at Loco Cafe, but their biscuits make up for everything!

When it comes to guac, I am a total snob. I turn my nose up at that previously froze, pre-packaged crap they call avocado dip or guacamole spread. Some places, like Subway for example, disgrace the guacamole name. I may be slightly partial to their 50 cents per scoop guac because I swear it gave me food poisoning. They saying “if it’s brown flush it down” should also apply to avocados. I hate the smell and taste over an overly overly ripe avocado. <end rant>

Guacamole is one of my favorite snacks. Avocados are God’s gift to earth along with central air and <insert hot celebrity here>. Oh yeah, and they are one of those good fats! I’ll take a large avocado sprinkled with sea salt over a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked any day as long as I’m not PMSing!

That being said, guac makes for a pretty healthy snack. Something I can throw together in under 30 minutes time. Damn, I can make amazing guacamole faster than I can run a mile? (Sad but quite possibly true. I need to work on that!)

Here is my recipe! I love garlic more than vampire hunters!

Ingredients

2 large, ripe avocados

4 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 yellow or purple onion, diced

1 jalapeno, diced (seed if you don’t like spice)

a handful of cilantro but more than that would not hurt

the juice of half a large lemon

1/2 tsp ground cumin

sea salt, black pepper, and chipotle powder to taste

Image

The Process

  1. Deseed avocados and empty the flesh into a large bowl. I like to use the knife method, just make sure your aim is right!ImageImage
  2. Chop and dice garlic, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Add to bowl along with stated spices.ImageImageImage
  3. Mash together really well with a fork. Oh my! I think this is the most difficult recipe I have yet to post on my blog!Image

If you like your guac a bit creamier, I suggest adding a tbs of Greek yogurt. I am personally not a fan of tomatoes in my guac either. On top is whole different story!ImageImage

The tangyness of goat cheese accompanied with the smokey chipotle in the guac tast amazing together. Out of tortilla chips, I opted for the sea salt, dill, and olive oil Triscuits. Best decision of the day (besides this blog post).ImageImage

Tomorrow is the 4th of July! I hope you all have a very happy and safe holiday!

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Clarification, homemade sauce with spinach and Parmesan meatballs.

For two weeks I have been craving spaghetti and meatballs, which is strange because it was a dish I hardly enjoyed as a kid. My dad always made us spaghetti, but he always opted for meat sauce. When we were little little, my mother used to make me and all 5 of my siblings take our shirts off when spaghetti was on the menu, that way she would not have to deal with tedious stain removals from our clothes. Things still got messy. I do remember the one time my mother hosted a spaghetti dinner. . .almost all of our church members attended as well as our priest! We aren’t even Italian! Just Catholic. Same thing almost. I remember she made meatballs for the occasion which were then gone in 60 seconds.

Sometimes when I am bored and very hungry at work I will search meatballs on Pinterest and Food Gawker. It’s only a little bit awkward when a coworker sneaks up behind you and asks why you are drooling at balls of meat. (I do this on a weekly basis, including today.)

Image

Today I am finally going to put that craving to bed! I took the afternoon to help Jonathan move into his temporary place today. Having a semi-free afternoon meant adequate time to make HOMEMADE pasta sauce and baked meatballs. These days I am trying to stray away from buying things in a can or jar due to excess salts, sugars, and preservative. Plus, fresh is pretty much always better than the real thing. I also like being able to gloat, ‘yeah I made that. . . FROM SCRATCH!!). Aside from fresh basil which I bought from the store, I had all the ingredients lying around to make a garden sauce at home.

Image

The only other 2 items I had to purchase for this were ground beef and a small (6 oz) can of tomato paste.

I didn’t really follow an exact recipe, but rather made things up as I went. I feel like if you have an understanding of the main food components of specific cultures then the rest is easy. I am making Italian food. Hmmmm should I use tomatoes and fresh herbs? Why yes. I also feel like once you have an understanding of what flavors work well together and how they work, making things up as you go isn’t so much a blindfolded walk in the park.

Ingredients

For Spaghetti Sauce

5 large red tomatoes, quartered then halved

1 handful (about 1 cup) yellow sunburst tomatoes

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 sweet yellow onion, quartered then halved

1 entire bulb of garlic, crushed

10 fresh basil leaves

olive oil

6 oz tomato paste

1 tbs brown sugar

fresh rosemary

generous amounts of kosher salt and black pepper

For Meatballs

1 lb ground chuck beef ~80% lean

1 cup finely chopped spinach

3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup mozzarella cheese

1 egg

2 tbs garlic powder

1 tbs red pepper flakes

1 tbs kosher salt

1 tbs black pepper

Image

The Process

  1. Chop vegetables as specified and layer into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tbs) and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Give a good mix with you hands making sure everything is nicely coated in olive oil. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top. You may be thinking, ‘”Whatttt brown sugar?” it gives the sauce a sweetness that nicely compliments the basil! I remember when my friend John was explaining to me his pizza sauce recipe, he said a tablespoon of sugar was his secret ingredient. in this case it is not a secret!ImageImageImage
  2. Roast your vegetable in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes. Be sure to toss around with a spoon every 15 minutes. Your kitchen should smell like Little Italy be now and you may or may not be talking to yourself in an Italian accent.Image
  3. When vegetables are done roasting, transfer to a blender and pulse for about 20 seconds. Image
  4. In a large saucepan, saute your chopped green bell pepper. I do not include the pepper in the roasting process because I like having chunks in my sauce. I also did not want the peppers to alter the color of the sauce.Image
  5. Add your blended spaghetti sauce to the pan with green peppers along with a small can of tomato paste. Stir until the paste is incorporated with the rest of the sauce, deepened the reddish color. Season with salt and pepper to taste. ImageImage
  6. I transferred the sauce to a crock pot set on low to keep warm for a long period of time since dinner would not be for several hours later. You can now begin the meatballs!Image
  7. In a large mixing bowl, assemble your meatball ingredients: ground beef, breadcrumbs, chopped spinach, cheeses, garlic powder, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and 1 egg. ImageImage
  8. Mix all ingredient with your hands. Some people get grossed out by touching raw meat, but for some reason I really like it as long as it’s red meat. I guess it makes me think back to the days when I’d help my dad make hamburger patties. I swear, everything I like to cook is associated with some sort of childhood memory! Image
  9. Once your meat is mixed in with the other ingredients, form into balls resembling the size of a golf ball. this recipe should yield around 11-12. Image
  10. In a saucepan using a very small amount of olive oil, lightly brown the meatballs on each side. Be sure to pay attention! I accidentally burnt a few, but no worries! It still tastes good!ImageImage
  11. Transfer meatballs to a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until fully cooked. ImageImage
  12. Once finished, transfer to the crock pot of sauce to keep warm. Image

These meat balls are delicious! Now all you have to do is boil water and cook your pasta! If you’re feeling really fancy, bake some garlic bread! Oh man! I can’t wait to eat the final final product!!

Imagebowl 1bowl o spaghetti

(You could easily make this vegetarian/vegan by leaving out the meatball part or by subbing tempeh! )