Posts Tagged pasta salad

Summer CSA’s

I stopped taking pictures of my CSA deliveries for a while there.  I like winter squash, greens and citrus plenty, but after a while they’re not that exciting.  When summer produce starting arriving my interest was renewed!  Before I get to that, here are a few dishes that used up the last of my winter and spring produce.

Fajita-style poblanos, fennel and mushrooms over polenta cakes with lettuce, tangerine salsa, beans and a bit of Daiya.

I had some sweet potatoes sitting around and decided to try to make a sweet potato based bbq sauce.  It turned out a little grainy but tasted good enough on tempeh.  In the back is a brussels sprout and corn hash.

To use up some root veggies, I made this Root Vegetable Stew with Herbed Dumplings from Eating Well.

I used Tofurkey Italian Sausage and subbed egg substitute in the dumplings.  This was a very hearty and tasty dish.  You cook the dumplings right on top of the stew!  Some of my root veggies were beets, which turned the whole thing red and a little sweet.  Next time I would probably stick with neutral colored roots.

Black bean and sweet potato hash with cumin, coriander and orange; steamed broccoli on the side.

6-9-11 CSA - corn, lettuce, peppermint, carots and radishes

cherries, cantaloupe, tomatoes

This orzo salad was for Vegan Happy Hour.  I caramelized shallots then reduced some balsamic vinegar in the same pan, and blended the mixture with mayo and seasonings.  The orzo and dressing was tossed with diced tomato, raw corn and fresh basil.

This isn’t CSA related, but these blackberries came from my backyard!  We had some friends over on a Saturday and I had a bowl of freshly picked berries, so I made the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Joy of Vegan Baking into a cake, subbing berries for the chocolate.  I added some cinnamon, which was a great compliment to the banana and berries.  This was a perfect snack cake – moist but not dense, sweet but not too sweet.

6-16-11 CSA - bok choy, avocado, lettuce, cilantro

melon, strawberries, carrots, gypsy peppers, tomatoes

Peppermint tea!  I’m not a huge fan of mint in food, so I boiled a pot of water then seeped a whole bunch of mint.  Strained, chilled and served cold with stevia and lemon, it was a great treat.

After my last CSA delivery included basil, I was wondering what I could use to make an interesting pesto other than nuts.  Lucky for me, that very same day Gena of Choosing Raw posted a recipe for hemp pesto.  Perfect!  I dont’ love hemp seeds as is, so I’m always looking for different ways to incorporate them into my diet.  I used only one tablespoon of oil, and mixed the pesto with some shirataki noodles.  In the back are some green beans cooked with coconut oil, onion, lemon and fresh dill.  I really liked the pesto, and had the leftovers on toast with arugula and sliced tomato.

Lastly, one of my favorite ways to use up random veggies, the hot dog salad.  This salad included lettuce, tomato, gypsy peppers, radishes, carrot, cilantro, sliced veggie dogs and Cesar Chavez Dressing from Appetite for Reduction.  What is most important about this picture is that I finally figured out how to take a good picture of a giant salad!  Normally I just pile stuff in the salad bowl while I chop it up.  For this picture, I kept a bit of each topping off to the side then sprinkled them on top at the end so that you can see all the pretty colors!  Obvious to some, maybe, but I was pretty proud of this accomplishment.

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Another Saturday & Laptop Lunches

Another weekend, another excuse to invite everyone to our house for football and the fight.  I’m exhausted, so I’m gonna keep this one as short as possible.

Our guests included two vegan friends (yay!) so I made sure to offer plenty.

Veggie tray with homemade ranch.

Fiesta Macaroni (except not) Bean Salad, one of my favorites from La Dolce Vegan.  This was vegan AND gluten-free and nobody suspected a thing.

Cheater Baked Beans from VCON.  I like to add a bit of sugar, hot sauce and liquid smoke or worcestershire.

All of these dishes were a little routine since I wanted them to be “omni-friendly”, but here was the real winner:  Ricki’s Portobello Steaks.  I grilled the mushrooms after marinating, sauteed some sliced red onion, added the remaining marinade and thickened with cornstarch because I’m impatient.  While the reduced marinade was strongly flavored, it was delicious and I’m glad I took the extra step.

These mushrooms were huge!

Here’s my plate, with some sauce on the mushroom.

I was going to make butterscotch blondies for dessert but I ran out of time, so instead I give you two bonuses…beer and cat.

Here we have Stone Vertical Epic Ale, Anchor 2008 Christmas Ale and Piraat Ale.  The Stone and the Piraat were belgians, and while they were good I don’t remember any specifics other than their high alcohol content.  Belgians aren’t really my thing.  The Anchor was really good.  I highly recommend it, especially since it’s seasonal and you won’t be able to get it for very long.  I mean, look at the bottle!  It was so pretty that I felt bad opening it.

Here’s a shot of Mr. Jake on Saturday in a sun spot.  I thought the shadows of the blinds and his stripes made a really nice pattern.  And he actually stayed still long enough for me to get a good number of shots!

On to last week’s Laptop Lunches.

11-10 pizza & salad w/ carrot, celery & goddess dressing

Tuesday was a holiday!


11-12 cauliflower-millet mash, roasted fall veggies, celery sticks & almond butter, grapes

I took this lunch Thursday but we ended up going out, so I ate it Friday.


11-14 wheat wrap w/ hummus, grilled eggplant & zucchini, lettuce,
tomato & pickle, cucumbers w/ tahini dip, kiwi

That’s it for last week, and it for now.  Bianca from Vegan Crunk tagged me for a meme that I was going to do tonight, but for whatever reason I’m too tired to think about anything, much less seven whole interesting things about myself.

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Annual Baseball Pilgrimage

Every summer a group of us take a road trip down to Tampa to watch the Rays (formerly the Devil Rays) play a couple weekend games.  We chose Memorial Day weekend so that we could recuperate on Monday, as one definitely requires a full day of rest afterwards.  This is my fourth year going, and every year the celebrations grow a little larger and a little wilder.  You can tailgate at Tropicana Field, so we show up a couple hours early and do it up right.

As most of my friends are quite content to eat hot dogs, burgers, and chicken wings all day long, I made quite a bit of food to take along and share.

First we have Joanna’s Beer Brats (the March 16th entry, currently at the top).  The recipe says that she made 10, and for whatever reason I decided to make them really big, and ended up with 8.  These guys were HUGE.  I selected a few bun-sized dogs for the road trip, and put the rest in the freezer.  A few of them were so large I’ll definitely have to chop them up small in order to use them in anything.  These were really tasty.  The texture is distinctively seitan-y, but the flavor as far as I can tell is dead on.  Very similar to Tofurkey’sBeer Brats which I really like, but about a million times cheaper.  Here they are posing with the beer from whence they came.  Next time I’ll use a nicer beer, this is just what I had in the fridge.

brats

I made a big batch of my favorite pasta salad, Wolfie’s Fiesta Pasta Salad from La Dolce Vegan.  The dressing on this stuff is unreal.  The original recipe is a little heavy on the pasta and light on the veggies for my taste, so I added extra peppers, peas and blanched broccoli.  And I used mini bowties instead of macaroni, just because they’re cute.

pasta salad

I also made a “fixings salad”.  The recipe is from the Food Network site, but I can’t seem to find it now.  I’ll post a link later if it’s still there.  All that’s in it is lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, olive oil and red wine vinegar, to go on burgers and sandwiches.  I thought it was a really cute idea, and nice since we wouldn’t have to cart all those things individually, but it didn’t go over too well.  It could be my friends just aren’t fixings kinds of people, or that the lettuce had wilted by the time we ate it (it tasted fine though), or that their burgers were mounded so high with mushrooms, bacon and cheese that there just wasn’t room.  Either way, I liked it and may make it again sometime for a cookout.  Just don’t mix it till right before you want to eat it!

fixings salad

Here we have VCON Chocolate-Chocolate Chip-Walnuts Cookies.  These got rave reviews.  They’re delicious and stay soft for days, and the recipe makes a ton so I’m still working on leftovers and have a stash in the freezer.  I can see myself making many variations on these in the future.

cookies

I wanted to take something for breakfast other than a Luna bar, so before we left Saturday I made FatFree Vegan’s Banana Coffee Cake.  I wanted to make it soy-free so soy-intolerant Janeen could partake, so I had to adapt the recipe.  My first instinct for soy yogurt replacement was mashed banana, but as the recipe already contained two bananas I was wary.  I asked Susan of FFV and she replied “you can never have enough banana”, and I tend to agree.  Because I’m a little insane, I made two variations.

coffee cake

For the first I subbed mashed banana for the soy yogurt and added 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

coffee cake

The other variation was peanut butter, because peanut butter and banana is the best.  I subbed 1/2 cup pb for the soy yogurt, flax and water, and added an extra 1/4 cup rice milk to keep the wet mixture at the right consistency.  I also added 1/4 cup peanuts since my pb was creamy, but I would definitely prefer to use crunchy pb in the future, as the peanuts got a little soft once baked inside the cake.  You can see the layer of bananas nicely in this one.

coffee cake

I forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the banana layer both times.  It would’ve been nice there in the middle, but the cakes were fine without.  My favorite was the peanut butter kind, although it was a bit more dense and crumbly.  I think everyone else gravitated towards the chocolate chip variation.  15 seconds in the microwave was the perfect fix to warm it back up after sitting overnight.

coffee cake

So yeah, I did all this the night before and the morning that we left.  I packed it all up to go in the cooler…

tailgating food

…and THEN we finally left.  The amount of food and drink (read:  beer) that we took for nine people was a little insane.  It filled up five coolers.  We got through most of it before the weekend was over though.

After the 2 1/2 hour drive, we were happy to find a nice spot in the shade.  Here is what I would look like if I regularly wore things like “hats” and “sunglasses”.  And I even remembered to put sunscreen on the first day!

tailgating

It was HOT that afternoon!  The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms and we brought a big tent just incase, but of course because we were prepared there wasn’t a drop of rain in sight.

For my tailgate meal before the game I had one of the brats on a bun with sauerkraut and mustard, my pasta salad, and another pasta salad Janeen made.  Hers had artichokes, roasted tomatoes, olives and cilantro and was delicious, as always.  She’s got me rethinking my stance on olives, just a little bit.  I also had too many chips, a couple beers, and probably a cookie or two.

tailgating

Here’s the view of Tropicana Field from our area.  This place is large and white and you can see it from very far away.  A lot of people don’t like going to games here because it’s enclosed and all artificial turf, but I like it just fine, mostly because it’s climate controlled.

tropicana firled

It was “70’s Night” at the Saturday game, which involved handing out blue afro wigs to the first 10,000 fans and an after-game show by The Commodores, which we didn’t end up staying for.  It also involved ridiculously photoshopped pictures of all the players.

baseball

baseball

The Rays (along with the rest of the world) are going green!  Any car with four or more people parks for free (which we did with two cars), and look at this cup our beers came in.

baseball cup

Although I don’t think that sentence is gramatically correct…

We stayed at our friend Nate’s parents’ lovely house in Tampa.  They live on a lake, have a pool, and don’t seem to mind if Nate’s friends come in and trash their house while they’re away on vacation.  We’re good kiddies though, we cleaned up before we left.  Saturday night we watched BJ Penn win his UFC fight, and the party lasted long into the night.  I layed down in this hammock for a couple minutes before I realized I had better get to bed, lest I spend the whole night in the hammock.

hammock

Here’s the view I had the next morning while I enjoyed my coffee cake.

lake

My eats at the Sunday tailgate, along with the requisite chips and beer, was a veggie burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, and a marinated portobello, both topped with the fixings salad.

tailgating

I also may have drank some champagne straight from the bottle with the aforementioned Janeen.  Well, we didn’t have any cups and it was the classy thing to do.

tailgating

There is a tank of live rays inside the stadium, so Sunday we went to see them first thing.  You can pet them, and you can even pay a few dollars to feed them, but none of us wanted our hands anywhere near there mouths.  Sea creatures and I don’t get along in a phobia type of way, so petting their wings was quite enough of a thrill for me.  These guys were hard to catch in a good picture, they’re fast!

rays

We had some debate about whether they like being in the tank and having people pet them all day.  They zoom right up to the side of the tank and let you pet them with no problems, although they might just be hoping for food each time.

rays

Courtesy of Adrian, a picture of me taking a picture of the rays.  Adrian’s camera has some neat-o function that singles out colors or something.

rays

Hope you enjoyed reliving my weekend through pictures.  Tonight it’s back to exercise and healthy eating.

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Southern-Style Dolmades & Goddess Pasta Salad

My car was dead all last week, so I got a new battery yesterday and made a massive shopping trip to stock back up on stuff that I had run out of, and for some fresh produce.  I spent almost $80, which is supposed to be my entire food budget for two weeks.  I’ll just have to be wary on my next trip or two.  Since I’m not driving very much at all these days, I guess I’m saving money on gas.

groceries

Friday night I picked up some dolmades for dinner at my favorite Greek eatery, and it inspired me to make a twist on dolmades that would use up some veggies I already had.  I was going to go super simple, but then I went on my grocery bender and souped up the recipe a little bit.  I thought I was being really inventive and original and was pretty pleased with myself, until something in the back of my mind told me that there was a very similar recipe in VCON.  So I looked it up, and sure ‘nough there is a recipe for BBQ Collard Rolls or something like that.  The directions are fairly similar, but the ingredients are totally different, so I am confident in calling it my own invention.

dolmades

Southern-Style Dolmades with Tahini Sauce

Makes 12 rolls, serves 3-4.

large bunch swiss chard
1 Tbs olive oil
medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 small or 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 patty pan or crookneck squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice
15.5 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
generous grinds black pepper

Sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs water, or more to desired consistency
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Pick out the 12 largest, nicest chard leaves and set the rest aside. Cut the stem from the leaves, making a V a couple inches into the leaf so that no thick stem is left. Set the stems aside. Submerge the leaves in simmering water for 5 minutes. Remove them gently with tongs, transfer to a colander and set aside to cool. Let the water cool a few minutes then discard.
2. Slice across 6 of the chard stems finely, and coarsely chop any remaining chard leaves.
3. In the same pot, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Saute the onion for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add the jalapeno, carrot, sliced chard stems and squash and sate 5-7 minutes more, until vegetables are cooked but still firm. Put a bit of water in the pot if vegetables start sticking to the bottom. Add the chopped chard greens and cook for a minute, until greens wilt. Add the rest of the ingredients (peas through pepper), mix well and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add more water if a thinner consistency is desired.

dolmades

5. Form the rolls. Lay one chard leave flat with the stem facing you and blot off any excess water. Place 2-3 Tbs of the mixture on the bottom of the leaf near the V. Fold up the two bottom points of the leaf diagonally, then fold the bottom away from you, tucking the mixture tightly into the leaf. Fold in the sides, then continue to roll away from you. Press the end of the leaf gently to seal.
6. Serve with the tahini sauce.

Notes:
– The sauce recipe makes enough to have a little dab of sauce with each bite. Any more, and I think the sauce overpowers the roll. Feel free to double the sauce recipe.
– Imperfect leaves (mis-shapen or with holes) can still form a nice roll if you roll it carefully.
– There will probably be filling leftover. I suggest eating it with hot sauce and a spoon.

dolmades

My friend Jackie invited me to her going away potluck picnic, and she knows me well so she told me not to go crazy with the food.  I agreed to keep it simple and planned on a pasta salad and some cookies.  I ran short on time yesterday, so I only made the pasta salad but it was okay because Jackie made vegan cupcakes!

I decided on Goddess Pasta Salad from Yellow Rose Recipes because it looked amazing.  And it was.

pasta salad

Although, if a recipe calls for 2 cloves of raw garlic and your garlic pieces are gargantuan, it’s a good idea to scale back to one lest ye give everyone dragon breath.  Nobody seemed to mind too much though, everyone seemed to like it.  The only change I made to the recipe was using red bell pepper instead of the cherry tomatoes.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get down with raw tomatoes, especially the small ones that burst when you bite them.  Yuck.

All packed up for the picnic:

pasta salad

I packed a cooler for the ride because I was going to a coffee shop opening before the picnic, and a show afterwards.  It was the night of the free activities, and that suits me just fine.  Jackie asked in an accusing manner “Erin, are you toting a cooler full of booze in the car?” and I was all “noooo, it’s to keep the pasta salad cool.  But yeah, there are a few beers in there too…”.  One must be prepared.

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