Sunday, March 30, 2014

Recipe Thursdays (On a Sunday again) - HUMMUS

My blender is my best friend
 At potlucks or parties you can usually find the meat eaters happily munching away on some buffalo chicken dip or maybe some seven layer dip with ground beef. When I was a vegetarian with no cares in the world, I remember eating a dip that I'm pretty sure was basically just three different kinds of cheese mixed with mayonnaise. It was delicious but I probably consumed a day's worth of calories in ten minutes. Now my options are more limited. 

I was up late the other night and wanted a snack and I wasn't too tired so I decided to try to make some hummus. It was a solid decision on my part. The best thing about hummus in my opinion is that it's so easy to personalize. I don't think I will ever stop being obsessed with sun dried tomatoes so I threw some in my blender with the chickpea mixture and I had sundried tomato hummus! You can sub anything for the tomatoes. You like olives? Throw some Kalamatas in there! Add some extra garlic or some more lemon! You can even switch the chickpeas with some edamame for edamame hummus. 

I brought it to work and made basically everyone I know try it and it was loved by all. So here's the recipe and whip up your own.  I like to serve it with pretzel chips or the "Food should taste good" olive chips! 

"Whatever you want" Hummus  
1 can of chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil (you might need to add a little more to achieve the consistency you want
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whatever you want 

Add all of your ingredients together into the blender and blend until you get hummus.  Done.  

In the picture to the left you can see that for my "whatever you want" I used Italian oil-packed sundried tomatoes and a few sprigs of cilantro because why not? I also used 2 cloves of garlic because I really like garlic.

There's just something that makes me feel really accomplished about making my own hummus.  It's like, I used to spend about ten dollars a week on hummus and now I probably spend half of that and I MADE IT.  Granted, it was very very easy to make.  But still, I made it.  Go me.  You too can have this sense of accomplishment if you make your own hummus.  I highly reccomend it.  

I live overseas and do a lot of my shopping at our military commissary and the selection of vegan foods is very very VERY limited. As far as I can tell the only avenue to get them to stock more things that are vegan-friendly is to put in request forms, which I have done. I just want some tempeh mannnn. I'm dying here.  If you can think of anything else I should request, put it in the comments!  I already asked for Daiya products and tempeh.  We JUST got Earth Balance buttery sticks so props to the commissary for that. 

I promise that next week the recipe will actually be on a Thursday! My time management skills are not so hot but I'm working on it! I have the next three days off of work to get some stuff done!


 Here's a bonus pic of a wrap I made.  Low carb tortilla, hummus, seitan, baby spinach, red bell pepper and balsamic vinegar.  I sprinkled on some chia seeds too.  Too delicious.  I can't even describe in words how tasty this was. 

ciao ciao! - Katelyn

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Recipe Thursdays (on a Sunday)- Anatomy of a Quality Salad w/ Cashew Feta Cheese

I'm sorry I haven't posted as often.  I've been working forty hours a week to pay for my car damage so I haven't written as much as I'd like.  But yesterday and today a few people mentioned to me in passing that they liked to read my blog and I was soooo flattered so I decided to finish up this piece and set it free on the internet.  Enjoy! 

One night I had a liiiiittle too much wine and Amazon one-click purchased a 5 lb bag of cashews.  I have since cancelled my Prime membership (may it rest in peace) because it turns out that my parents have one and that it is $80!! Whoops. 

Anyways, so I have a LOT of cashews.  I decided to find a few recipes in my Isa Does It cookbook that will utilize them! 

Did I mention I have a lot of cashews?

I love love love love feta cheese.  I used to put it on everything.  Wraps, salads, pizzas, frozen meals, it tasted perfect on everything.  It was salty and creamy and I missed it.  A few months ago I wouldn't even consider making a salad without a decent amount of feta on top.  I gradually weaned myself off of it and I compensated by adding more balsamic vinegar and a lot of fresh pepper and salt and some lemon juice. 

Going through my Isa Does It by the great Isa Moskowitz I saw what I had been waiting for.  I listed the recipe that's in the book (with a few tweaks to fit my personal tastes) below. 

Next up, I'm going to make a tofu feta but right now this has been working great for me!  I added an additional tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic vinegar because I loooove vinegar and I adjusted it from 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt to 1/2 of a teaspoon because I accidentally put that much in last time around and it tasted gooood! 

Cashew Feta
1 cup cashews
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
splash of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Directions:  Put the cashews in a saucepan with a decent amount of water, bring to a boil and then cover and boil for 30 mins.  Drain the cashews and put them in a bowl and then mash them up so they look like crumbled feta.  Add all of the other ingredients and stir.  Let it sit in the fridge overnight and in the morning you have cashew feta!

A delicious, delicious salad from the past
 In Isa Does It, she pairs the cashew feta with a quintessential Greek salad but you can really go anywhere with this.  I usually end up putting it in a wrap but my absolute favorite thing to eat this with would be my salad.  I average about one salad a day.  I love salad.  I would eat a salad for all three meals if I had the time/could. 

I regard salad construction as an art and I am an artist. You are so lucky that I am here to teach you how to make a good salad.

How To Make A Salad by Katelyn O'Brien

1) Choose your green. I will not touch iceberg lettuce with a stick. I don't like it I don't even consider it a vegetable. When making a Katelyn salad you should probably not use iceberg lettuce. I stick with baby spinach or rucola. They're both very flavorful and compliment the flavors of the things I like to throw on a salad. 

2) Choose your bean. I like to add some protein in my salad because when I eat a salad, it's the whole meal. I alternate between canned black beans and canned chickpeas but I've used kidney beans before. For some more protein you can throw some quinoa in there. 

3) Choose your FRESH veggies. Chop up whatever you have on hand! I usually end up with bell peppers, avocado and broccoli. 

4) Choose your CANNED veggies. I have gotten myself addicted to sun dried tomatoes packed in oil. I put them in wraps and on sandwiches and they taste so good in salads. I almost always use Kalamata olives too. 

5) Choose your crunch. Walnuts on salads are my favorite but I went through a sunflower seed phase. 

6) Choose your extras. I like to sprinkle on some chia seeds for some more nutrition and a few twists of freshly ground pepper. I will also include some chopped up seitan or tofu! 

7) Dress that salad up. Choose your dressing of choice!! I usually stick with balsamic vinegar mixed with some larrupin sauce. Yummmm. My mouth is watering so hard right now. 

Now go make your salads my students.   Also I got the Veganomicon cookbook in the mail a few days ago and I am SO. PSYCHED.

Nothing is really new in my life.  Peter and I took another trip downtown and just walked around and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  Here are some pics!

oh hey Peter
The Egg Castle
Sunset oooOOOOoooo how romantic
Ciao ciao! - Katelyn

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Recipe Thursdays - No Recipe! My bad!

Unfortunately I can't do a "Recipe Thursday" today because I went over a curb at high speed and destroyed two tires and one rim. Luckily Peter was there to change my tire or I probably would have curled up in a ball in the back seat and waited for someone to come find me.
I'm super talented.

Anyways! I spent today dealing with Italians fixing my car and sitting in the sun on my swing with my feet up reading my book. Winter of the World by Kenneth Follett. I cried.  TWICE. Also I was drinking a nice Ripasso.
The view from my balcony when I stand up
The comfortable view from my balcony while I'm sitting down.
So because I have no transportation and can go nowhere but work and my house I'm going to make the mushroom stroganoff that I made before: recipe here because I know I have all of the ingredients and I think I'm going to sautee some seitan with the mushrooms.  Have a wonderful Thursday everyone!

ciao ciao! -Katelyn

Monday, March 10, 2014

Things That I've Learned - Part Two

If you missed the first installment of "Things That I've Learned" you can read it HERE.

This is mostly a rant in the form of an enlightened post.  My bad.

1) People are annoying.  Sometimes you can't change people's minds.  Example:  I cook delicious food.  I'm not bragging, it's just a fact, my food is amazing.  My father will NOT try my food.  If it even looks a little bit healthy he won't even try it.  Not only will he not try it, but he will also remark that it smells weird or looks weird.  This frustrates the hell out of me.  What also frustrates me is when people tell me that I need to eat meat to survive.  Whoah... I haven't had meat in OVER ELEVEN YEARS and here I am... SURVIVING.  Please don't spout off an unsubstantiated fact that you "know" is true and then completely shut down when I try to provide you (nicely) with actual evidence that I'm going to keep on surviving.  I'm not even the type of person that will give you a dirty look if you're eating meat.  If you want to eat meat, be my guest, I'm not even going to judge you, everyone does it and has been doing it for years but please respect my choice to not eat meat and don't act like I'm some hippie that eats dirt and grass.  No. I get all of the vitamins and minerals that I need because I am informed and I am an intelligent human being.  But you know what? I am going to judge you if you're telling me that I'm not getting enough protein while you eat a fucking twinkie and wash it down with a Coke.  Bye.

Obviously disregard the animal products on the right but the message is clear.

2) A good blender changes EVERYTHING! I used to avoid recipes where i had to blend anything because my blender was a piece of crap and now I go out of my way to blend things.  I got the Ninja Food and Drink Maker.  You can see it HERE.

3) All that I really need is a job that allows me two hours a day of company time to watch my shows because I have to watch them the day after. Okay maybe four hours. Five on Thursdays and Mondays.

ps. here is a bonus recipe that I tried and think should be shared with the masses!

It's basically baked tofu covered in a cilantro pesto.  Read it HERE.

I made it twice.  Once the way that the recipe has listed above and the second time I changed it a little bit to fit my tastes.

All of the ingredients. yum!
Cilantro Pesto Tofu
1 package of extra firm tofu (I used the kind packed in water)
small handful of pine nuts
1 generous bunch of cilantro
3 cloves of garlic
1/8 cup of lime juice
1 heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt

1) Press the tofu using a tofu press or place in between two cutting boards and put something heavy on top of it to get all of the water out of it.
2) After water is removed, cut tofu into cubes and place of a baking sheet covered in tin foil.
3) Bake at 325 F for about 30 mins, flipping over halfway through.  I like to cook it until the outside is firm to the touch.
4) While the tofu is baking, place all of the ingredients except for the tofu in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
5) After tofu is done and relatively cooled, mix together.  Eat hot or cold!

The pesto!

Ciao ciao! -Katelyn

pps. If you need any ideas for vegan recipes go look at my Vegan Recipe Pinterest board HERE!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Recipe Thursdays - Vegan Lasagna

I am obsessed with lasagna. Nothing satisfies like layers of tomato sauce, noodles and cheese cooked to perfection.  Making a lasagna without cheese might sound like sacrilege, but I assure you that this lasagna lives up to expectations!
I got invited to a dinner party at my friend and former neighbor, Erika's new house and I told her I would bring a dish.  I spend a lot of time on Pinterest (code for: I am obsessed with Pinterest and have over 1000 recipes pinned - see my Vegan board HERE ) and I very fortunately stumbled upon THIS recipe for vegan lasagna with a "Basil Cheeze" sauce. 

My attempt at being artistic pre-oven.
 I was so excited to make it because I was still riding my mushroom stroganoff cashew sauce high. I was like 95% sure that I had all of the ingredients that I needed. Unfortunately I was very wrong. I had no basil, no zucchini and maybe a cup of spinach. I was pretty close to not making it.

But I had to, I was a superhero. I could do anything. Anything I made was going to turn out phenomenally. I MADE VEGAN CHEESE. I COULD DO ANYTHING.

So I made a risky move, I substituted baby spinach for the basil. I was so scared that it wasn't going to work because after all it is a "Basil 'Cheese'" sauce. And because I didn't have any spinach left to put in the vegetable mix I threw some kale in that beeyotch.

Vegetable mix 1.0


I undercooked it a little bit but other than that it was amazing.  The next time around I used the basil that the recipe actually called for but I kept the kale because I really liked it in there and I added mushrooms.

In the future I think I would use less nutritional yeast.  I've found that in most recipes that call for nutritional yeast, I always wish there was a little less.  So in this recipe I would probably add less yeast and more cashews to get a creamier and less tangy flavor. 

In the recipe it says to be careful to not under-season the vegetables because they will taste bland.  Well let me tell you, my vegetables were so perfectly seasoned that it was ridiculous.  I splashed some balsamic vinegar in there, I twisted my garlic and pepper grinder copious times and I'm pretty sure that I added some red pepper flakes.  It wasn't too much though.

I'd have to say that my favorite part about this dish was the assembly.  Repeating the tomato sauce, noodles, "cheese" sauce and vegetable layers didn't feel like work.  I genuinely enjoyed piecing it all together and it really didn't take long at all. 

And it wasn't ugly at all either

Overall the dish was a success.  My friend Lesly even said that it was very good and I know that if it tasted terrible, she would definitely tell me that it tasted terrible.  I think it could have benefited from a little bit of fake meat.  I think that an Amy's Sonoma burger would have tasted really great in this recipe and I am going to try it in the future.  Also next time I have more time on my hands I'll be using my own tomato sauce! 

All done! So delicious I can't even.
  Dinner at Erika's was great.  She ordered pizza at a place where you can literally get it by the meter.  She got me my own little meter of marinara.  There was so much pizza.  Where at a traditional dinner party there would be a table runner, here there was pizza.

She also flawlessly made martinis for everyone.  At the end of the night after everyone left, Erika, her husband Alessandro, Peter and I had prosecco poured over mango sorbet as dessert and it was delicious.

mmmm prosecco and sorbet
Hey self, looking good.

ciao ciao! -Katelyn

Monday, March 3, 2014

I quit shampoo

A few weeks ago I quit shampooing and conditioning my hair. I saw one of my friends tweet about how she was trying it and I thought why not? I'm trying to eat cleaner, I might as well use less chemicals on my body as well.  My mother pointed out that it's kind of pointless considering I am bathing in Naples water, which is notorious for chemicals, but I see it as something good that I can do for my body.  Also, when that water washes down the drain there's really no guarantee of where it's going so I feel like it's also better for the environment to use less shampoo. 

I read a few blog posts/reviews about it. One of them described the process as going "no-poo". You sound stupid. Stop saying that. "Shampoo" is only one syllable longer than "poo", you don't need to shorten it. Stahhhhp. 

One of the benefits of this is you don't have to wash your hair as much because it doesn't get as oily. I already went days without washing my hair but now I can do it without looking like a complete train wreck/homeless person! Yay!

So how do I clean my hair you ask? With two things that you can find in basically every pantry. Baking soda and apple cider vinegar. How does it work you ask? I honestly have no idea. It has something to do with PH levels. I am not even going to pretend like I understand because I don't. 

The way that I do it... 
I have a cup that I keep in the shower. I am considering investing in squirt bottles so that I don't have to make the mixtures each time I wash my hair but it's not like it's hard or takes a while so it's whatevs.   I fill the cup up about 1/4 of the way with baking soda and the rest with water.  Then I strategically pour it on my head and scrub, concentrated at the scalp. Then rinse with water.

Make sure you rinse out the cup really well before the next step because if you add vinegar to a cup with baking soda residue in it, it's gross.  I think we all remember making volcanoes with the stuff and if you don't you were robbed of a childhood.  

Then I fill the cup about 1/6 of the way with apple cider vinegar (ACV) and the rest of the way with water.  I usually use bottled water for this part because it makes me feel better.  I take the ends of my hair and dunk it in the ACV/water mixture making sure it's really saturated.  Then I VERY CAREFULLY pour it on my scalp.  I usually wrap it up in a towel and let it sit for a little bit because it gets really annoying when it drips down my body.  Then I rinse.

What my hair looked like at first... ew.

A few notes on the process:
1) It took me about three washes to finally balance out my hair.  The first time that I washed my hair this way even after I dried my hair, it looked wet.  One of my bosses was like, "Oh honey... no, you must wash your hair" and I explained it to her.  I was rocking the "wet hair" trend for like two days... it was rough.
2) The smell.  The number one concern that people have when I tell them that I was trying this is, "wait doesn't it smell?"  Honestly, yeah... it does.  For a little bit.  Maybe like 12 hours? I haven't blown my hair dry yet so maybe that would help.  What I've been doing lately is putting a few drops of jasmine oil in my hair after I wash.
3) It is so worth it.  My hair is shiny and has tons of volume and my ends are not dry at all.  I literally have not washed it in five days and it looks like I washed it yesterday.  I think I might do this for the rest of my life.
4) It's cheaper! No more 15 dollar shampoo and 30 dollar conditioning treatment for me!

I literally have not washed my hair in a week.  I feel like that sounds gross, but I don't need to because it's not oily AT ALL. After SEVEN DAYS.

Proof.  It should be brushed but that's irrelevant.
Update: Every time I was my hair the results are better! My hair is so shiny and smooth and it has SO much volume and I love it because it's just my natural hair, no chemicals or additives! I can't remember the time my hair looked and felt so fantastic.  I used to use the It's a 10 hair masque and while it was effective when I used it, I didn't know it could be like this!!

ciao ciao!
- Katelyn

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