Thursday, February 27, 2014

Recipe Thursdays - Mushroom Stroganoff

As many of you know, I got my Isa Does It cookbook in the mail.  Since I've gotten it, I've made a few recipes which I'll blog about in the future but my favorite so far has been the Mushroom Stroganoff.  I'm not going to type out the recipe because I'm too lazy, but you can find the recipe HERE.

I didn't make it with the tofu because I was kind of crunched for time and wasn't sure if I was going to make it out of the house in time so I sacrificed what I'm sure would have been a delicious addition to this dish.  Also I used bowties (or "farfalle" in Italian which basically means "butterfly") instead of fusilli because I love bowties and think that they are just so darn cute.

Mushrooms and onions sauteeing with garlic and thyme. 
 In the past, I had been intimidated by cashew-based sauces, so this was my first one ever.  It was so easy! It just seemed like so much work... the soaking and the blending.  I really thought I was too lazy for that.  In Isa Does It, Isa Moskowitz, the author says "ABS" or "Always be soaking", so now I always make sure to have some cashews soaking in case I need to use them.  I really really really want a new blender though.  This must be what it's like to be a grown up... to want a blender more than anything else. 
Adorable little bowties cooking

 I remember growing up my mother would make stroganoff and I would flip out.  It was my favorite.  Sometimes I would put soy sauce in it because I was a rebel.  Making this recipe in the future, I think I would add more mushrooms because I love mushrooms.

The mushrooms and onions soaking up the white wine and tomato paste

 This being my first time making a cashew based sauce, I was bound to screw it up a little bit and I did.  I didn't blend the cashew and vegetable broth mixture enough.  I thought maybe it was the blender, but on one of the next recipes that I tried I blended longer and the results were better, so this was my bad.  But it was still great!  The sauce thickened in about five minutes and it was so so tasty.

The sauce thickening

I was really proud of myself for this recipe because 1) it was my first cashew-based sauce 2) I made it really efficiently in a short amount of time 3) it was delicious! I had TWO people tell me, so I know I'm not deluding myself. 4) I used my mom's cheap Chardonnay from a box as the "dry white wine" ingredient and it was still amahhhhzing.


It was so good that I forgot to take a pic before I started eating.  Whoops.

Also I binge-read this one blog called Vegan Runner Eats and THIS is by far my favorite post on there.  It teaches you how to maximize the health benefits of your plant-based diet by eating certain foods together.  It's really interesting and I really recommend reading it.  She's also a really good example of how cutting back on meat, eggs and dairy (or eliminating it completely) can help your body run more efficiently!  She runs marathons!

ps. here's a bonus pic of the delicious bruschetta I got at dinner last night at Il Cerbero.

yummm. and of course wine.

ciao ciao! -Katelyn

UPDATE: I made this today with some sautéed seitan and I added a few splashes of soy sauce and it was amazing!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I'm an almost local - Around Naples

For someone with barely enough sense of direction to find my own kitchen, I'd like to think that I navigate the streets of Naples pretty well.  It sure isn't the prettiest city and most definitely is not the cleanest, but it's my little pirate city and I love it.  

 Some fun facts and tips about Naples: 

1) There are no rules.   Cars will not stop for you. 
2) Do not expect to find ethnic food like you would in any other big city.  You are limited to pizza, paninis and kebabs.  
3) When buying knock off things, walk away like you aren't going to buy it and I guarantee they will lower the price five euro.  
4) DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH THE PEOPLE SELLING FLOWERS. They will recognize that as a sign of weakness and bother you relentlessly.  
5) Cobblestone.  Wear comfortable shoes. 

Two days ago I went to downtown Naples with my boyfriend. It's a very fun and easy day trip to do when you're bored and it's a nice day out. We took the Ali bus from the Capodichino airport down to Piazza Garibaldi. When you take the Alibus you can either get off at the Piazza or down by the port. I usually try to get off at the piazza and hop on to go home at the end of the day by the port because the port seems safer.   Buying your ticket on the bus is one euro more expensive than buying it in the airport or in a cafe.  

A lot of people are so scared of downtown Naples. I guess I know a few people that have been robbed. But I also know people that have been robbed in Rome, Paris and Budapest. I have never been pickpocketted. I understand that there are some circumstances that you cannot control. For example, my friend had her Coach wristlet snatched by a guy riding past on a moped. But other than that if you keep your bag closed and hand on your wallet, you should be fine. 

A really beautiful arch near the train station and piazza.

We started our day out looking for this pet shop that I wanted to show Peter because in addition to cool pets like squirrels and hedgehogs, they also sell knives and guns. Unfortunately my very tiny sense of direction failed me and after about thirty mins of looking we decided to cut our losses and move on. 
Sorry about the low quality.  I had to use an old photo because I forgot to take a pic this time around!

Next we went to Da Michele's, which if you are not familiar is a pizzeria featured in the book Eat, Pray, Love and Julia Roberts came down to the restaurant to film the movie.  It was founded in 1870. I consider myself lucky to have eaten at this pizzeria more times than I can count. Sometimes you have to wait an hour to be seated but it's worth it. The dough is perfect, the sauce is perfect and dare I say it, the cheese is perfect. I ate cheese.

 There are three choices at Da Michele's.
Margherita - dough and sauce and cheese with a basil leaf or two. 
Doppio Margherita - dough and sauce and EXTRA cheese with a basil leaf or two. 
Marinara - dough and sauce with oregano and basil and garlic. 
They are all doused in olive oil and the dough is just on point. Comparing it to anything would not do it justice. 

Sometimes you have to sit next to randos like we did, but I guarantee you it is worth it.  

Super duper excited to begin eating.
First Da Michele experience was a success!
Then we walked down to the Castle Nuovo and made a loop to the Galleria Umberto and did some shopping. Also I watched a puppy play with another dog for like an hour and seriously considered picking him up and just running.  At this point it got dark and I stopped taking pictures because I got lazy.  We saw a lot of cool things, like a band playing where the man made his own drum set out of empty containers and a bunch of Africans playing the bongos.  There were so many dogs.  Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about dogs.  Spoiler alert: I'M OBSESSED WITH THEM.  

Basically every pic of the Castel Nuovo has been ruined by construction FOR YEARS.

All in all it was a super fun, perfect, Naples day.

xo Katelyn

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Seitan is my favorite

I eat SO much seitan.  It's my favorite (aside from the "haha i thought you said SATAN" jokes).  I posted the recipe that I use before, and I will post it again because it is perfect.  Some of the seitan recipes you find online need cheesecloth, and there's boiling involved and you have to spin around nine times and have it blessed by a priest for it to turn out right and it's a pain in the ass. BUT NOT THIS RECIPE.
This literally takes three minutes to throw together and then it has to bake for an hour. Done.

I usually make it about once a week because I eat it so often.  Here are a few pictures of my weekly seitan bake.

 I ordered this stuff online because they don't sell it in the stores here and they sent me a whole box of it.  It is unreal the amount of Vital Wheat Gluten that I have in my pantry. 
Doesn't that look gooood? Or maybe a little like vomit.  Whatevs.  In the ingredients list, it says to use soy sauce, but lately I've been doing 1/2 soy sauce and 1/2 Bragg's Liquid Aminos. 
When you mix it, it turns into a nice dough.  When I try to describe seitan to people without making it sound gross, I say that it's like bread, but denser and approximately 400 times more delicious. 

You can do basically anything with it.  Sometimes I chop it up and put it in salads, sometimes I put it in a stir fry, or fajitas or my new favorite thing to put it in: wrap.  Lately I've been making this perfect wrap with a spiced tomato flour tortilla, vegan mozzarella shreds, baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and peppers.  The sauce I use is a mixture of Larrupin sauce (Click here to learn about the wonder that is laurrupin sauce) and balsamic vinegar and it is so so so good that my mouth is salivating as I type. 

My aunt introduced me to Larrupin sauce when I was in California a few months ago, and you can usually only get it in Humboldt County but I found somewhere that delivers online and I just realized today that I have been spending $16 a jar on this sauce.  But you know what? It's worth it because it's amazing and perfect.  It's a mustard dill sauce.  Just looking at mustard used to make me want to vom, but now Larrupin sauce is ALMOST tied with balsamic vinegar as my favorite condiment and anyone that knows me knows that this is a BIG DEAL.  

Also last night I went on a pizza date with my boyfrannn at my favorite pizzeria, Il Panda and I got a pizza marinara and it was all sorts of delicious.  He got a diavolo which has cheese and like three different kinds of meat but that is irrelevant.  What is relevant though is the wine because it was on point.

The moral of this post is that seitan is delicious and everyone should make it and eat it because it's magical. brb going to make more seitan

xo Katelyn

ps. I just got my Isa Does It vegan cookbook in the mail after waiting for TWO MONTHS and I will be making something from it shortly! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Things that I've learned - Part One

While a lot of my friends are getting engaged, married and having kids (three pregnancy announcements in the past week), I sit and think... wow, what have I done in the past few years? Anything? Well, I dropped out of college, thanks to what I now affectionately refer to as my "Emotional Breakdown", I owe tens of thousands of dollars in debt and I moved back "home" to Naples, Italy.  Although this might seem as a regression to some, I have actually grown and learned a lot from the experience. 

Here are just a few things:

1) Just because some things come easily to others doesn't mean they will come easily to you.  I have friends that breezed through college in four years, some did it in three and here I am... on year five.  My father, who I think is brilliant (and not just because he's my dad) still has me proofread some of the things that he writes for work.  If you could get a college degree for good spelling, then hot damn I would have a P.h.d. but you can't and here I am. 

2) Assigning blame isn't going to help.  Figuring out who or what caused your problem could be a useful exercise in not repeating the same mistake, but dwelling on it and never moving on is going to get you nowhere.  Your boyfriend cheated on you, you blame the slut with the big boobs that he slept with.  But then you blame your boyfriend for trying to get it in.  Then you blame your boyfriend's parents for bringing him into this world and not instilling in him a healthy respect for women.  Where does it end? Fix your problem and move on. 

3) Eating a plate of french fries isn't going to make you fat.  I found myself in a constant cycle of, really want french fries, debate whether I want french fries for hours, eventually decide that I want french fries, inhale french fries, feel bad about it for hours.  It's just a really bad time.  Sometime over the past year or so it just clicked that I can eat some french fries every once in a while and not be in danger of going a size up.

4) Reading never gets old.  Read more.  Everyone. 

5) Drink more wine. Everyone.
more to come
ciao ciao! -K

Recipe Thursdays - Roasted Seitan Fajitas

Last week I got bored on one of my off days and I decided to make some seitan.  I love seitan.  People make fun of me all the time and say, "Oh I thought you meant Satan." Haha, that joke never gets old... oh wait.... yes it does.


This is the recipe for seitan that I use.  It's insanely easy.  I'm not picky about my seitan.  Even if it's a little over or under cooked, I'm still going to eat it, because it's still pretty delicious.  I haven't even tried any other seitan recipes because this one is just too easy and too good.  You don't have to deal with any boiling or any cheese cloth.  You just mix it all up and roll it in parchment paper and bake it and you're good to go.  

As I was gathering my ingredients for the seitan, I noticed that I also had the necessary ingredients to make FAJITAS.  Remembering that seitan fajitas is a recipe on my Vegan Recipe board on pinterest, I saw an opportunity and I took it.

Roasted Seitan Fajitas
I followed this recipe basically to the letter.  I think I would have used less sugar in the future.  Also, I added about two tablespoons of nutritional yeast to the dry ingredients. 

My Italian oven is so small that I have to put things diagonally if I want them to fit usually. 

Doesn't that look GOOOOD? I rolled it in a whole wheat tortilla with melted vegan cheddar cheese and some salsa. It was amazing.  I died. A million times. Everyone should try it! It's amazing and delicious and SO easy! 

I would rate it as follows 
Taste: 9/10
Ease: 7/10 

Ciao ciao! Katelyn

Recipe Thursdays - Vegan Mac and Cheese

I get about two days off a week.  Sometimes three if I decide I don't want to deal with douchebag customers.  Lately, I've been trying to use my days off for constructive things.  If I was a normal person, I wold probably be using them to clean the monstrosity that is my room or to study for my classes, but because I am definitely not normal I am using it to knock out some of the >1000 recipes that I have on my Pinterest boards.

I have three main boards that I pin on.
Vegan Recipes
Vegetarian Recipes
Things I have actually made

I've been trying to move things over to the "Things I have actually made" board.  So far I have 14.  I have made the resolution to make at least one recipe a week.  This week I chose the "Mac n' Yeast" recipe from the Bake and Destroy vegan cookbook.


There were a few things that I noted about this recipe.
1) I needed to add water as the "Cheezy sauce" cooked because it would get too thick, I think that in the future I might add almond milk instead.
2) I wish that I added Sriracha sauce or Tabasco sauce to the "Cheezy sauce".  Instead I added it afterwards and it was still a really good addition.
3) I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce.
4) I used some random vegan margarine that I found at Carrefour yesterday.  I am curious how it would have tasted if I used Earth Balance instead.
5) Last but not least, I used premade bread crumbs because I'm lazy.  Next time I would like to use my own!

I doused it in Sriracha sauce and it was amazinggggg.  I would compare the flavor to a really sharp cheddar.  The yeast gives it a bite.

Overall I would rate this recipe as follows.

Flavor: 7/10
Ease: 7.5/10 (with 1 being difficult and 10 being super easy)

Next week, I look forward to trying a cashew-based vegan mac and cheese because I have about three pounds of cashews sitting in my house that I bought for this very purpose a few months ago and I still haven't touched them. 

Ciao Ciao! Katelyn
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