It’s Late May and I’m Still Eating Cold Weather Food

Hello and Happy Thursday!  Only one more day until the weekend.  I can hardly believe that this one will bring the start of June!

No but actually, it’s really hard to believe, especially after last night, when I had to turn the heat back on in my house, and even then sleep under the covers in a long-sleeved shirt and sweatshirt.  Also, on Tuesday one of my friends said she saw snow (that’s right, SNOW) falling in Boston.  Not cool, weather, not cool at all.

I’ve been a little clandestine with my blogging activity lately, meaning that I’ve been lurking on many of your blogs but unfortunately not being able to fully read and comment.  I do apologize and hope to be back to my previous level of participation very soon!

Part of my silence has been busy-ness/laziness, and to be perfectly honest part of it has been crankiness and not feeling like seeing all of the beautiful warm-weather food everyone else seems to be enjoying while I’m stuck in the rainy high 40’s (or mid-50’s if we’re really lucky).  World’s smallest violin, I know.

To cope though, I’ve been eating lots of yummy hot food when I go out, and assembling scrumptious comfort food meals at home.

Yesterday I had a very satisfying vegetarian pho at a tiny Vietnamese & Thai restaurant in Woburn called Pho #1.  It’s a little hole in the wall with some seriously delicious eats and a decent-sized veg menu.
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The soup was hot and steamy and just what I needed.

On the side I had possibly the best summer rolls (for luck, y’know?) I’ve ever tasted. They were SO fresh and had just the right amount of mint. And that peanut sauce–wow!
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I am considering going back today to get more of them, even though I brought my lunch.

At home I’ve been very into baked potatoes.  A baked potato with chili is one of the quickest, cheapest meals I know of, and never fails to be delish, so that has made a few appearances.  But the one I’m really proud of is my Loaded Baked Potato from last week.
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Feast your eyes.
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This thing was SO FRIGGIN GOOD!  I baked the potato in the microwave, spread a little Earth Balance inside, then added steamed broccoli, a generous drizzle of Jackie’s cheese sauce (yeah definitely added more after the pictures were taken), and some chopped Upton’s Naturals bacon seitan on top.

I need to make some more cheese sauce, because I want to eat this again tonight.  And maybe tomorrow night as well.

Oh also, this was my first time trying Upton’s bacon seitan and I am hooked!  In case anyone is keeping track 🙂

See you all in your comments boxes soon!

Oh and a reminder–if you want to give Beyond Meat a try this weekend, you can get some using this Buy One Get One Free coupon.  It expires June 1!

Vegan “Hamburger Helper” & a BOGO Beyond Meat Coupon!

Hello there!  Do I have a treat for you today!

It’s no secret that I love me some meat analogues.  In fact, I have always loved these going way back, many years before I had even contemplated going vegan.  At present, I work pretty hard to ensure that my diet is comprised of 80-90% whole foods, but every so often I still like to indulge in some meaty goodness (cruelty-free of course!).

I’ve blogged about Beyond Meat’s chicken-style strips before (check out this Grilled Chicken and Avocado Sandwich or this Spicy Chicken Quesadilla), but it was not until last week that I finally got my hands on some of their beef-free crumbles (using a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon that you can snag for yourself at the bottom of this post).

The bottom line: I LOVE IT.  I think this is the best ground beef analogue I’ve had.  And yes, it’s processed food, but it also happens to not be complete garbage.  The ingredients are 100% gluten-free and soy-free, and do not include GMO’s.

The first thing I did with my Beef-free Crumbles was to recreate a comfort food that throws it WAY back: Hamburger Helper.  Or, to take my darling H’s suggestion, we can refer to it as “Herbivore Helper.”

For the cheesy sauce, I used a recipe that one of my favorite bloggers, Jackie at Vegan Yack Attack, posted last week as part of her Vegan Cuts Pizza Party.  I could have made my own cheese sauce, but hers is so damn good that there would be no sense to that!  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Okay, the recipe!BeyondMeat002_zps587a3e1b
Vegan Hamburger Helper, aka Herbivore Helper, featuring Beyond Meat Beef-free Crumbles
Serves 2 very hungry people, or 4 normals…I am not normal
Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free option 

4 oz. pappardelle pasta (or other pasta of choice…use GF pasta for gluten-free)
1 cup Beyond Meat beef-free crumbles
1 recipe of Jackie’s Cheese Sauce (or other cheese sauce of choice)–you will only need about half of it for this recipe, but make the whole thing and then go nuts putting the leftovers on everything!
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Additional nutritional yeast (optional)

[Remember to put the cashews for the cheese sauce out to soak for at least 30 minutes before starting the rest of the ingredients!]

Boil water for pasta.  While the water is coming to a boil, warm the beef-free crumbles in a skillet with a little bit of oil (per package directions).

When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta, while it’s cooking, make the cheese sauce in your blender (it’ll yield about 3/4 cup).

When pasta is done cooking, drain it, then add it to a large bowl and toss with 1/2 of the cheese sauce (use more or less to taste), beef-free crumbles, basil, and garlic powder.  Add salt, pepper, and additional nutritional yeast to taste.

Scarf it down!
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The second I was done snapping these photos, I completely devoured a heaping bowl of this stuff (like seriously, 3-4 times the size of the pictured serving).  This is good, solid comfort food, folks.  Even H, who normally is very picky and skeptical about any “fake” meats, tried a bite, and then asked for another, and another.  I’d say it’s a winner!

If you would like your own Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon, redeemable for any Beyond Meat product, you can get one by clicking this link.  The coupon is good through June 1st.  Stock up this week for Memorial Day 🙂

Disclaimer: I am a 2014 Beyond Meat ambassador.  I am not compensated in any way for this, other than by getting awesome coupons that I can then share with you!  All opinions are my own and as always, completely honest.

Tropical Ginger Green Smoothie (with a Secret Ingredient!)

I have been on one of the most intense green smoothie kicks of my life over the past couple of weeks.  Today I’ve got a new one for you that makes use of an ingredient for which I’ve struggled to find a use in the past…
Broccoli stalks!

Now, you may be thinking one (or more) of the following things:

  • Gross!  Broccoli in a smoothie?! 
  • What do you mean you’ve struggled to find a use for those?  Just eat them, dummy!
  • This is not new.  I do this all the time.  <—the thoughts of my very enlightened, smoothie guru readers!

But seriously, I eat broccoli ALL. THE. TIME.  And this does usually include parts of the stalk.  However, I just have a *thing* about the proportion of stalk to floret that I want to have in a dish (it can only be like, 30:70, max, but preferably closer to 20:80).  This means that 99% of the time, I have some broccoli stalks left over.

They can be composted, of course.  But really that is such a waste of money (since you pay for broccoli by weight), not to mention outstanding nutritional value (including folate, potassium, and Vitamin C)!

So I finally decided to take a flyer on using it in a smoothie, and lo and behold, it blends right in, adding bulk and tons of nutrients while imparting no detectable broccoli flavor.  Win!
 photo BroccoliSmoothie003_zps46f1dabb.jpgTropical Ginger Green Smoothie with Broccoli Stalk
Yield: 1 very large smoothie
Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free

1 cup water
1 large frozen banana
1/3 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen mango or pineapple chunks
1 broccoli stalk, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half (use about half this amount if you don’t adore ginger…I *adore* ginger)
2 big handfuls baby spinach (about 2 cups)
(optional) agave nectar to sweeten, if necessary

Add to blender in order shown, blend from low to high, and serve!BroccoliSmoothie002_zpsa5997cc7Try it, you’ll like it!

Have you ever tried broccoli stalks in a smoothie before?  What other leftover veggies have you smoothie-fied?

Giveaway Winner! And Watermelon

Ugh, sorry it took me more than half the day to announce the giveaway winner.  Wordpress and my computer were in a fight, and I was stuck in the middle trying to make peace.  Can’t we all just get along??

Anyway, without further ado, the winner of a bottle of Benny T’s Vesta is Em!  Em wrote:
I’d love to try the very hot. I put hot peppers or hot sauce on EVERYTHING. It doesn’t taste right until it burns 🙂 

AMEN.  Congratulations to Em and thanks to everyone that entered!

In the meantime, I am super-jazzed about the watermelon I just bought.  My arm aches from carrying it around the store (it’s a whopper!) but it will be so worth it when I bite into that juicy summery goodness this evening.

I don’t have a pic of mine because it’s waiting for me in the car but here is what a watermelon looks like in case the horrid winter has eradicated all of your wonderful warm memories:
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I love you.

What’s your favorite summertime fruit?

I Am Boring

Good morning!  Sorry it’s been sort of quiet around here this past week.  Things have been super-busy, I haven’t been in any kind of mood to cook, and I really haven’t been eating or doing anything all that interesting.

Let’s see.  Well, I ate lots of fresh fruit:
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And froze some for smoothies:
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Um, I had a hummus sandwich with homemade pickles:
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By homemade, I mean that I dumped some cucumber spears into the juice of an almost-empty jar of Ba-Tampte Garlic Dill Pickles and left them there for a few days, then took them out and ate them.

Oh, I did actually try something new:
AmysThis exceeded my expectations.  It was really good!  I heated it up and then mixed it into a bowl of steamed broccoli.  I also seasoned it with some Vesta, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast.  The meal took all of 6 minutes to make and I’ll almost certainly be doing it again.

Speaking of Vesta, my giveaway of a free bottle ends tonight at midnight!  I will be picking a winner using a random number generator first thing tomorrow, so enter while you still have time!
 photo 83823c1c-b303-4d70-9fb2-cb8e628d7302_zpsdf649a5e.jpgHave a great day!!!


Weekend Wishes

Happy Friday!!!  I don’t have a whole lot to report today but just wanted to check in to wish everyone a good weekend.  It’s been a very crazy week in A.Cook land so I will be taking it easy this weekend, catching up on some sleep and spending some quality time with H and these two nuggets:

Maybe I’ll even have time to do some cooking!  OOH and exercise!! Haha whatever happens, I’ll be content.  I’m just feeling happy today, which might have something to do with the temperatures getting out of the 40’s here for the first time this week 🙂  I mean, I can’t not be cheerful with this in my hand:
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So, have a great one!  And in the meantime, if you haven’t yet entered my giveaway for a free bottle of Benny T’s Vesta dry hot sauce, visit this post and get going on that–contest closes Wednesday!
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