Bacon Cacio e Pepe

Before y’all poo poo me, I have stated before that I will make compromises with food because the Hubs and little one make compromises and eat all the vegan dishes I prepare. They didn’t make the choice to be vegan, so I will bow out sometimes and prepare a meat dish for them.

So enters this dish: Bacon Cacio e Pepe from Ali Maffucci‘s book InspiralizedThis dish is made with zucchini noodles. I’ve been dying to make a zucchini dish to see how my spirooli handles it and to see how easy it would be. So far, I’ve done a sweet potato, daikon radish, and now zucchinis.

In Maffucci’s book, she calls for two zucchinis which makes up two servings. Since we don’t know how to practice portion control in this house and since the little one would be eating this dish, I got three zucchinis. I was kind of hoping for leftovers so either the Hubs or I could have it for lunch the next day. No luck though. It was just that good that there was nothing leftover!

You’ll peel the zucchini’s (if you want), and chop off the ends to put it in your spiralizer. When you’re spiralizing something, you’ll have the core that will be leftover and then the end that sticks on to the handle.

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Don’t worry about it…it’s minimal waste. The ends are where my spirooli decided to quit making noodles. The spiralizer might be a bit different.

After you’re done, you’ll have zucchini noodles like this (and it was easy spiralizing a zucchini):

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Maffucci does mention in her book that zucchini is 95 percent water. So to prevent a watery dish, I put my noodles in a dish towel and pat them as close to dry as I could.

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The next steps I won’t go into too much detail because you’ll just have to buy her book. The book is fabulous.

So, cacio e pepe is originally a Roman dish. I hate using Wikipedia as a source, but this is the only site I could find that any information on what cacio e pepe is because being of non-Italian descent I didn’t know what it meant.

Cacio e Pepe is a Roman pasta dish. “Cacio e Pepe” means “cheese and pepper” in several central Italian languages. As the name suggests, the ingredients of the dish are very simple and include only pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pasta. The only precaution to be taken in preparing this dish is to leave some of the hot cooking water with the pasta: the heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help bind the pepper and cheese to the pasta. The Cacio e pepe is typically made with long, thin spaghetti, such as tonnarelli or vermicelli.

So, from that you can guess what the ingredients are, but that’s not everything Maffucci uses. I won’t go into details. Sorry. I will tell you that this dish was easy to make, it was quick, it was simple, and it tasted great. The Hubs wasn’t too sure about zucchini being used as a noodle. In fact, in Maffucci’s intro to the recipe she addresses this and we both thought it was funny. And it is SO true too!

Ladies, if you have a hard time convincing your man to eat zucchini noodles, make him this dish–he’ll be a believer after that first bite!

This is what the little one’s dish looked like.

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And this is what my dish looked like:

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For obvious reasons, because I can’t and won’t eat dairy, I didn’t mix the cheese in with the zucchini noodles as they were cooking. I grated the cheese and sprinkled it on top of the dish for the Hubs and the little one. I used nutritional yeast on mine. That was before I started my elimination diet. We had this dish Saturday night. The dish was good. It was nice and light, and the little one liked his dish as well. I think we’ll make this dish again but I’ll leave out the nutritional yeast. I can’t have it anymore sadly.

Tonight we’re having sweet potato enchiladas. I hope you have a wonderful Monday.

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Cream of Tomato Soup

Last night we had tomato soup for supper. We’re getting our taxes done this afternoon right around supper time, so I figured the tomato soup would make enough to have leftovers.

In the Oh She Glows cookbook, her recipe is cream of tomato soup with roasted Italian chickpea croutons. I didn’t do the chickpea croutons because I didn’t have time. I was too busy trying to find a gluten-free, soy-free substitute for soy sauce. Not being able to have soy sauce is disappointing because I eat tofu and my mom is Korean for crying out loud. You’re supposed to bake your chickpeas for 20 minutes, so I decided to leave them out.

I did glance over this recipe yesterday morning and knew I had to soak some cashews. So, I put some in a bowl with water that morning. That way they had more than 4 hours (minimum) to soak.

Let me just mention that this recipe has some things that I’m not supposed to: oregano, thyme, and cashews. I did feel EXTREMELY tired right after supper. I’ve felt that way several times before and never even thought to attribute that to any of the foods I ate. It all makes sense now!

Ok, so the recipe. You put the cashews and broth into a blender and blend it. The cashews are what gives the soup its creaminess and thickens it up a bit.

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One piece of advice: when you’re ready to turn your blender on, make sure it’s not at the highest setting. I turned ours on and it was at the highest setting and it scared the living daylights out of me.

Once your cashews are blended, you go to work on sautéing your vegetables. Then you add those to the blender along with the herbs, spices, and tomatoes. Then you pour that into a pot and let it cook for a bit.

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Once I was happy with the way the soup tasted and it got the thumbs up from the Hubs and little one, I made some grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with it. Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich go together like peanut butter and jelly. They’re just perfect for each other. The little one had fun dipping his sandwich into his soup. Plus he ate all of his soup.

The recipe says it makes 8 cups. I think there’s enough leftover for one adult. I think next time I’ll double the recipe so I can have some to freeze. I also didn’t have any tomato paste. That probably helps to thicken up the soup a bit but I thought the consistency was fine.

I also drizzled an herb de provence olive oil to my soup. I just LOVE herb de provence.

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Herb de provence is a mix of herbs typically used in cooking in the southeastern region of France. If you google it, you’ll find different recipes for making your own herb de provence, but the common herbs used are: thyme, rosemary, savory, marjoram, and oregano. You’ll see lavender but it’s usually only used in the mix for the American market. If you’ve never heard of savory, you’re not alone. I’ve never heard of this herb either. Apparently it’s a herb that has a thyme-like flavor and is used quite a bit. You can read about here on the Kitchn.

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I got my oil from Evoolution. It’s a local store that carries all kinds of olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world and with different flavors. I could spend ages in that store. There’s tins of the different oils and vinegars and there’s bread so you can taste them. I usually get a sample pack that has several small bottles of different flavors (you can get oils and vinegars, just oil, or just vinegar). The pack has flavor cards that tells you about the oil or vinegar and gives you suggested pairings and how to use it. I love this place!

So, the drizzle of the herb de provence olive oil just took my good ol’ tomato soup to a whole other level. It added so much flavor to an otherwise “plain” bowl of tomato soup. I don’t want to call it plain because it’s not plain on its own. But the oil did add so much more to it.

With that said, I thought this dish was easy and quick to make. Throwing everything into the blender just made cooking the soup SO much faster instead of using an immersion blender. I’m definitely going to make this again but in a bigger batch.

I’m not sure if I’ll post tomorrow. I’m still trying to do some research on things I can have, so I might talk about that. Tonight is just going to be leftovers since we’re getting our taxes done. FUN! Since I’m an American citizen, I still have to file. I file in Canada and with the IRS. However, since I pay taxes here in Canada I don’t pay in the U.S. Basically the IRS just wants to know if I’m paying taxes. If I’m not paying taxes here then the IRS will want me to pay them. Fun huh?

I hope you all enjoy your Friday!

Vindicated!

WARNING: This is a long post

As y’all may know, I’ve been fighting a mysterious illness for a while now. I think it started years ago but came to a head in January. I put my social and active life on hold because I was getting sick and was trying to figure out what the cause was. I didn’t get any answers from my family doctor. You can read all about it here in my previous post: Honest.

The test I was given is an IgG ELISA Fingerstick test. There’s a lot of mixed reviews on tests for food sensitivities. Some say there’s no real way to find out if you have a sensitivity to a food because it’s not as strong of a reaction as an allergy. Don’t quote me on any of this. I’m just a normal person trying to decipher my new diagnosis and I’m trying to learn more about it.

From what I understand, a food allergy could cause a severe reaction. Think of someone having a nut allergy and eats a peanut M&M and then goes in to anaphylactic shock. Then a food sensitivity or intolerance (as some people like to use that term) is something less severe. You might develop a skin rash (like I did) or experience headaches, nausea, tiredness, or a whole bunch of other symptoms.

With me and dairy, I’d get a reaction the next day. It wasn’t immediate so I knew it wasn’t an allergy. For example, I’d have a bowl of cereal (before going vegan), and then the next morning I’d develop this horrible REALLY itchy rash. It was so itchy that I’d have to stop everything to deal with it. Nothing to could soothe the itch unless I took an antihistamine.

In January, I was a vegan at this point, I’d get sick after eating certain foods. It would take about two hours for the symptoms to develop, so this wasn’t a sensitivity or intolerance. This was something much more than that if it took two hours to manifest. Usually, I’d have supper then we’d put the little one to bed and I’d go to the gym to run. I couldn’t do that for 2.5 months. Two hours after I ate, I’d get nauseous and feel like I was drunk. Sometimes the symptoms would manifest in less than two hours. I wouldn’t even have any alcohol! I felt almost buzzed or cloudy, and when I looked somewhere I felt like my eyes moved faster than whatever it was that I was seeing. Does that make sense? It’s like my vision wasn’t in sync with my eyes. Then I’d feel nauseous all night. I REALLY hate feeling that way because you just want to vomit and get it over with, but that relief never came.

I felt this way for months and then went to my family doctor. He didn’t come up with anything so I decided to see a naturopath. The naturopath was very understanding, he listened, and he explained everything to me so I would understand. He even drew pictures!

So, I had a test that would test me against 184 different foods. I was REALLY nervous while waiting for the results. I had taken out wheat from my diet because I had a feeling that was making me sick. I felt fine when I didn’t eat it but I wanted confirmation. I wanted to know I wasn’t crazy because it seemed like every time I went to my family doctor I’d hit a brick wall. And I was convinced he thought I was crazy. I was also pretty sure the Hubs was getting tired of hearing me say I was feeling sick all the time. I missed social events and I felt so bad. I knew people thought I was just saying I was sick to get out of going. And that was FAR from the truth.

The results I got were not what was I expecting. On the two page print out, there’s a lot of red that’s highlighted. The foods you’re sensitive to show up in red and have an asterisk next to them to indicate the severity. Out of the 184 foods I was tested against, I can’t have the following:

  1. Almond (I have almond milk with my gluten-free cereal)
  2. Asparagus
  3. Green Bean
  4. Lima Bean
  5. Pinto Bean
  6. Blackberry
  7. Cabbage
  8. Cashew (I make a cashew cheese as a ricotta substitute)
  9. Cherry
  10. Cola
  11. Cucumber
  12. Dill
  13. Egg yolk
  14. Fennel
  15. Flaxseed (I use ground flaxseed as an egg substitute)
  16. Gluten
  17. Grape
  18. Haddock
  19. Honey
  20. Lentil (lentils are something I’ll eat a lot of)
  21. Licorice
  22. Mushroom (there goes my beloved portobellos)
  23. Oregano (this herb might be hard to eliminate)
  24. Parsley
  25. White potato
  26. Raspberry
  27. Brown rice
  28. Rosemary
  29. Safflower
  30. Soybean (soybeans are a big part of the vegan diet, so this one is going to be hard)
  31. Black tea
  32. Thyme
  33. Wheat
  34. Baker’s Yeast
  35. Brewer’s Yeast

Some of the foods you might think are kind of odd to have flagged like almond and Haddock. I felt the same way and asked him about it. He said when they’re stacked with each other, then I’d most likely have a reaction. Like if I had Haddock with oregano, parsley, dill, and almonds. So that makes sense.

On my results, Wheat and Brewer’s Yeast had two asterisks next to them. I could deal with a lot of the foods on there like cola because I haven’t had a coke in years. Licorice I never liked. Coffee is my choice for caffeine so I don’t have much black tea. Wheat has already been eliminated from my diet for a while now. However, foods like almond, cashew, flaxseed, lentil, and soybean are a large part of my vegan/plant-based diet. Brewer’s yeast it a monster on its own.

I’m supposed to eliminate all of my highlighted foods for 4-6 weeks and then introduce them one by one three times a day to see if I continue to have a reaction.

But before I get into that, my doctor said because I had so many red flags on my results I have leaky gut syndrome. It sounds nasty and horrible, and you think that you’re rear end is leaking all the time. That’s what I thought when I was searching for what was making me sick. I had seen this on the internet a few times. He explained it to me as the lining of my intestine has become so thin and the junctions in my intestine have become compromised. Because of that, it’s letting particles get through to my body that aren’t normally supposed to. Then my body reacts to the foreign invaders.

So, I’ve been given Betaine Plus, Glutamine, and a probiotic. The Betaine is supposed to help with my stomach acid to break down stuff before it reaches my intestine. The Glutamine helps to heal and soothe my intestine. And we all know probiotics are healthy, beneficial bacteria for your intestines.

My biggest problem is going to be the Brewer’s Yeast. Brewer’s Yeast is used in the process of making beer and wine. I haven’t had beer since around Christmas (I do love my Guinness) and I can’t remember the last time I had wine other than last Saturday. I read that casein (a protein found in milk) is used in the clarification process of wine. So I hadn’t had a drop since Christmas (with the exception of last Saturday). And I do love my Reisling.

Because of its nutritional properties: chromium, selenium, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc, and copper and it’s use as a medium to grow B vitamins, Brewer’s Yeast is found in everything. As a vegan I take a vitamin supplement to make sure I get my vitamin B12. I’m going to have to scour the labels and manufacturers sites to see if their B12s are grown from yeast.

Many common foods that contain Brewer’s Yeast and Baker’s Yeast (other than baked goods) or wild strains of yeast are: blueberries, blackberries, cider, gingerale, grapes, james and jellies, MSG (which you shouldn’t be consuming anyway), mushrooms, aged meats, black tea, root bear (the cola category), strawberries, and tempeh. So, I understand why some foods were highlighted in my results like black tea and blackberries and grapes.

I also can’t have anything that went through a fermentation process: vinegar, alcohol, bean paste, soy sauce (which includes tamari), mustard, and my beloved ketchup.

Also, citric acid is something that’s fermented. When you see it in the ingredient list, you’d think that it comes from citrus juice. It used to. Now, it’s from fermented corn. Ever see “flavor enhancer” on the list? It’s usually MSG (monosodium glutamate) but it could also be from a yeast extract. We’ve all seen “lactic acid” in the ingredient list. When I see it, I immediately think of muscle and a build up of lactic acid is why your legs are sore after a workout. But this ingredient is usually made from fermented corn or potatoes.

So, therein lies my problem. I’m gonna have to eliminate A LOT of stuff from my diet. The yeast and soybean make up a lot of the stuff that’s a part of my vegan/plant-based diet. So, I have to do some research and figure out what I can have, then I’ll start my elimination and meds next week. I’ll chronicle my journey but I won’t do it daily. I’ll probably do an “Honest” post at the end of the week, and I’ll continue with my recipe reviews. However, these recipes will be slightly different. They’ll have to be gluten-free, dairy-free, and yeast-free.

If y’all have any questions, suggestions, or comments about any of this or want to share your experience or someone else’s experience, please feel free to holler at me. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at: tryingtobeagoodvegan@gmail.com or twitter: lizzimclean.

Thank you for reading my post and thank you for reading my blog.

Daikon Ramen

I grew up eating ramen and we learned to pronounce it as rah-me-yan. That’s how my momma says it. She’s Korean so she should know. So I cringe when I hear people say it as rah-men. When I was flipping through Ali Maffucci’s Inspiralized cookbook, I was excited when I came across this recipe because sometimes I miss having ramen. In the book, the recipe is Daikon Ramen with Skirt Steak, but I left the skirt steak part out. I was going to make the skirt steak for the Hubs and little one but I forgot to go to the butcher, so they had to do without.

Daikon radish is mainly used in Asian cuisine. I remember it from my childhood as Korean yellow kimchi. It’s just a pickled daikon radish but has a yellow color after the process (my mom says that color is added in). I was nervous about this recipe because I didn’t know how the daikon would be as noodles. So I bought some rice noodles as a backup for the Hubs and little one.

The recipe calls for one medium daikon, but my grocery store had a huge one!

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You peel the daikon, chop the ends off, and slice it in half. Then you get to work with your spiralizer (or spirooli in my case).

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Once you’re done making your daikon noodles, you start your vegetables. I couldn’t find one bunch of bok choy, so I got a bag of baby bok choy. Which is fine, I just had to guess at the amount that I would need to make up for one bok choy. Then you get your mushrooms and other ingredients. Sorry. I can’t tell you the full list of ingredients because you’ll have to go out and get her book.

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I had to adjust my seasoning and add salt because one of the things I love about ramen is the saltiness. So, I added some salt and more soy sauce (I use tamari) to mine. Also, I had the Hubs make me some gluten-free hoison sauce. Because she calls for it in her recipe and I thought that the sauce would add some good flavor to the broth, I decided we should have some even if we weren’t having the steak. If you’d like the gluten-free hoisin sauce recipe, it’s on food.com. Traditional hoisin sauce has wheat in it. So, if you’re allergic, celiac, or sensitive to wheat this homemade recipe is good. It makes a small amount too so you won’t have your sauce sitting in the cabinet for ages until you use it the next time.

Once I had my seasoning just right, you add the daikon noodles and then let them cook until the desired doneness.

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Once I felt that they were done, I put some in a bowl and then drizzled on the hoisin sauce. This is the little one’s bowl.

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I let the little one taste the broth as I was cooking it so I knew he’d like that, but it was the daikon noodles that I was really nervous about. I was ready to go in the pantry and grab the rice noodles just incase. But my fears were unfounded. He liked it and got mad at the Hubs when he was too slow at feeding him. We were both kind of shocked. The child will try anything once. He even ate the bok choy! Granted I had to cut up everything for him with some scissors so he could eat it, but he ate it happily! The Hubs liked his and I liked it. It’s definitely worth making again and it was quick. The only thing that took some time was spiralizing the daikon but that really didn’t take too long. It’s not like cooking a packet of ramen for five minutes or anything, but this is a quick dish. If you’re serving the steak there might be some time added but that’s ok.

Tonight we’re having a creamy tomato soup, but I just got my test results back about my mysterious illness. So I might talk about that tomorrow instead.

I hope you all have a wonderful hump day!

Creamy Avocado Pasta and Apple Crumble

Yesterday I made two dishes from the Oh She Glows cookbook. I made the 15 minute creamy avocado pasta and the vegan apple crumble called Mother Nature’s Apple Crumble. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of the finished apple crumble. You can see the photos on my instagram though. I’m lizzimclean1 if you want to find me.

The apple crumble was surprisingly easy to make. I’ve never made an apple crumble before so I didn’t know what to expect. Most apple crumble recipes call for A LOT of butter and some flour. The Oh She Glows recipe only had simple ingredients: apple, cinnamon, oats, and some other things that I can’t mention because you’ll just have to get the book. The only time-consuming part was peeling and chopping up the apples. I had the little one and the dog asking for apples. (Our dog loves apples, banana, blueberries, carrots, and strawberries.)

Other than those two hovering around me, the process of putting everything together was simple and easy. You bake it for about 45 minutes covered with some tin foil, and then remove the tin foil and bake it some more for about 15 minutes. I served it with vanilla flavored coconut ice cream. Let me tell you, it was heavenly!! The little one loved it and got made when I was too slow in feeding it to him.

But now for the main dish: 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta. Instead of pasta the Hubs and I had spaghetti squash. The little one had penne. If you’ve never cooked with a spaghetti squash before, it’s a nice alternative to carbs and sugar from regular pasta. Or maybe you’re tired of eating gluten-free pasta (I get that way sometimes).

You’ll slice your squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stuff. Preparing a spaghetti squash is VERY similar to preparing a butternut squash because they’re in the same family.

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Once you scoop all of that stuff out, you’ll put in a roasting pan. Drizzle some olive oil all over the flesh and sprinkle some salt and pepper on it. One tip: remove the sticker that’s on your squash before roasting it.

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Pour some water into the pan. That way the squash won’t burn. I put 1/4 cup of water in but I think that was too little. You’ll roast the squash at 400F for 30 minutes.

When the squash was done, I started to work on the avocado sauce. That way the squash would have time to cool so I could touch it. I’ve never really liked avocado in the past. It was only recently that I started to like them. I used avocados instead of mayonnaise on my sandwiches when I was pregnant with the little one and I’ve loved them ever since.

Here was my beloved Flavor Thesaurus has to say about avocados:

No wonder it’s hard to stop grazing on avocados: they taste like grass and have the texture of butter. Delicate avocado goes well with other subtly flavored ingredients, such as mozzarella and crustaceans; the latter love the light anise note in avocado flesh. Often buried under stronger flavors, like lime and garlic, the flavor of avocado arguably runs second to its lovely, unctuous texture, and the cooling, fatty quality it brings to sandwiches, salads and salsas. Avocado oil is even more delicately flavored than the flesh, and lacks the grassy note, for which you’d be advised to see out an olive oil instead.

I never thought of avocados as having a “grassy note.” Now that I think about it, I can see how she came to that conclusion. I probably won’t ever eat an avocado without thinking about this now.

While the squash was roasting, I put just one garlic clove into a food processor (she says 1 to 2 cloves). I didn’t want it to have an overpowering garlic taste. Besides, I was going running later and I didn’t want to burp up garlic every time and have the people around me suffer.

Next, I threw in some basil leaves. She calls for 1/4 cup but I think I threw in more. Then I squeezed in the juice of half of a lemon, the olive oil, and the avocado.

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The only thing I found with this is that next time I’ll use a mini food processor instead of my regular one. I think that because there was so little of the sauce for it to properly blend, some of the avocado bits didn’t get mashed up all the way. Those bits didn’t bother me but it did the Hubs because he’s not a real fan of avocados. If you’re not bothered about it not getting mashed up all the way then use your regular processor. If you have a non fan in your house, you might want to use a mini processor or mash it up with a fork afterwards.

When I was done with the sauce, I went to work on the squash, you’ll drag a fork across the flesh of the squash and then that comes out looking like noodles.

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I find that one squash is perfect for two servings. One half is one serving. Just be aware that you might not have leftovers for lunch the next day. Once you scrape all of the squash out, put some of the avocado sauce on top and grate the zest of a lemon over it. You can leave this part out, but the lemon zest really makes the sauce pop. I put some basil leaves on top as a garnish/presentation. You don’t have to, but if you’re making this to impress someone…do it.

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This dish was so good! The little one had 1 1/2 bowls of his and the apple crumble. I fed him the leftover pasta for lunch today and he got mad because there was no more. I was full all night, even after going to the gym later that night. I loved the creaminess of the avocado sauce. Next time, I’ll try using two avocados instead of just one. It’s just because I love them and wanted more of the sauce.

Another thing is that this is perfect for a weeknight if you’re tired from work or have to take the kids to practice. If you use pasta, this dish could be prepared in a snap.

If you’d like the recipe, this one is on her website: Oh She Glows.

Tonight we’ll be having daikon ramen from the Insprialized cookbook. I think the Hubs and I are both a little nervous about this one. I’m not sure how using a daikon as noodles will work, but there’s only one way to find out!

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Portobello Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Kale Pesto

I apologize for not posting the last few days. Staying up late watching the northern lights, watching House of Cards, and staying out late Saturday with the girls took its toll on me. I can’t stay up later than 10pm nowadays!

Saturday we had Portobello burgers from the Oh She Glows cookbook. We love portobellos in this house. I wanted something easy to make since I was going out with the girls that night and something that was yummy.

In my portobello mushroom steak post, I show you how to clean your portobellos. After you clean them, you’ll pour the marinade on them and let them sit for 30 to 60 minutes.

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However, me being me, I didn’t read the part about having to marinade the portobellos for that long. So, I just let them sit while I prepared the kale peso. Which, I think, ended up being about 15 minutes.

Making the kale pesto was pretty easy. You just throw everything into a food processor and let it go.

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I’ll be honest. I wasn’t too sure about the pesto when I read that it consists of kale. Pesto is usually made with basil, but there are different varieties and versions of pesto out in the culinary world.

Once my pesto was done, I went to work using a grill pan (because it’s still too cold to grill) and cooked the portobellos. I had two normal sized portobellos and four mini ones. So I had to cook them in batches. When I was done cooking them, I put them back into the pan with the marinade in hopes that they soak up some more of the sauce.

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There’s no risk of contamination with anything because you’re using all vegetables. That’s one of the beautiful things about vegan cooking. There’s no risk of salmonella or trichinosis. I love being able to lick the spoon when I bake something vegan too. I can do that without worrying because you don’t use raw eggs.

My portobello was a perfect fit for my gluten-free hamburger bun. Our burgers weren’t anything fancy. We didn’t use a tomato or lettuce or caramelized onions for extra toppings (which takes 30 minutes to make by the way). We just had the portobellos and the kale pesto.

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Don’t laugh. It might look a bit sad but let me tell you. It was far from being sad. This dish was excellent! The sun-dried tomato kale pesto was surprisingly good. The Hubs didn’t know it was made of kale until I told him after he took a few bites. I’ve never had a portobello mushroom burger, but after trying this it will definitely be something we’ll be making a lot more. I might have to make the pesto another time as well. The sun-dried tomato kale pesto could actually be used for any sandwich or burger really. It was that good.

I hope you get the Oh She Glows because this is something you need to have in your vegan recipe arsenal. Tonight we’re having creamy avocado pasta, but with spaghetti squash instead of pasta.

Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole

I think Tex-Mex cuisine is one of those culinary categories that just about everyone loves whether you hail from Texas or not. The Hubs has even taken lessons in how to make homemade tortillas and guacamole. He will never turn down a burrito or taco. As you can guess, Tex-Mex food is a mix of Mexican and American cuisine. It’s a fusion that supposedly started with Texans who were of Mexican descent and you can easily identify Tex-Mex because of the heavy use of cheese.

The other night I had to give the little one and the Hubs a break from beans so we just had “brinner” (breakfast as dinner). Just in case you’re wondering why there wasn’t a post yesterday, that’s why.

I thought this casserole from the Oh She Glows cookbook would take a while to do, so I got started kind of early to prep all the vegetables and waited for the Hubs to come home from work. I had asked him to stop by the grocery store for some black beans because we used all of them in the Ten Minute Tomato Pasta the other night.

I made the Tex-Mex spice blend first. Let me tell you, now that I know I can make this from scratch, we’ll be using this spice recipe every time we have tacos or burritos. My only omission was the cayenne pepper. I didn’t want this dish to be spicy because the little one was going to have some too.

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Then I got to work on chopping up all of the vegetables and opening the canned ingredients that I would need. I paired vegetables together that needed to be sautéed together. For example, when a recipe says to sauté onions and garlic together, I would put those in a plate together. That way all I have to do is dump it into the pan.

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The colors just look beautiful don’t they? For me, I think, that’s one of the reasons why I like Tex-Mex food. It’s all of the vibrant colors that you see and makes it so appealing.

For the kale I just pulled the leaves off the stalks and chopped them up. I rolled the leaves up like I do with basil and then chopped.

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Even though kale is one of the super foods out there, I only recently developed an affinity towards this leafy green plant. I guess it just reminded me of collard greens too much. Which is understandable because they’re in the same family. We used to have collards every New Years Day dinner (or lunch in our house). We were always told that collards were god luck and would bring you money. I hated eating them. Maybe it was the way they were cooked? I don’t know. Sorry Momma or Daddy if you’re reading this. Now that I’m an adult, I think kale is ok. I won’t go out of my way to eat it all the time but I will eat it without drowning it in vinegar (something my Dad used to do) or turn my nose up at it.

Once you sauté everything together, you’ll put it all in a dish and bake it. I must mention that I didn’t add the cheese in before baking. Because I can’t and won’t eat dairy, I mixed the cheese in after. I grated some regular cheddar and mixed it in the little one’s bowl and didn’t add any vegan cheese to mine. Simply because I didn’t have any cheese. I did, however, use some crushed corn chips (after baking) and sliced up an avocado for mine.

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This dish was lovely and easy. She does say that the prep time is 30 minutes and the cook time is 20 minutes. I’d say that’s about right because I was done with everything in under an hour. You don’t notice the kale at all, the Hubs had seconds, and the little one put a HUGE dent in his bowl (I gave him a pretty big portion). I don’t think there’s anything different I would do with this recipe except for maybe add a spoonful of salsa and use cheese (for my portion) next time. This is an EXCELLENT dish to make and it would be perfect for a get together as well. And another thing, it was excellent for lunch the next day.

Tonight we’re going to have portobello mushroom burgers from Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows cookbook. I’m excited because we all love portobellos in this house.

I hope y’all all (yes, that is a proper way of saying it) have a wonderful Friday!