Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Cleaning

So it is spring in Naples! Since the weather is mostly chilly and rainy, you really wouldn't be able to tell if it weren't for my itchy swollen eyes, runny nose and full body rash that I get every time spring time comes to Naples.  With spring, comes spring cleaning.  Anyone who knows me and has seen my car, or my room or my work locker knows that I'm not big on cleaning.  If it's going to take me longer than five minutes, my  attention span drops to zero and you can find me reading a book or watching TV, or cooking, or trying to learn a new language... literally anything other than cleaning.

However, this year it's going to be different.  I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things that I own.  I wear maybe 5% of my clothing on a regular basis.  I have so many things that are purely decorative.  I took part in a community flea market on Saturday with my boyfriend and while we unloaded a lot of things, it's still ridiculous what I have that I am NEVER going to wear.  Why don't you just get rid of it? you ask.  Well, the truthful answer to that is I have no idea.  On one hand, it makes me a little angry that I purchased this item and I didn't wear it and will probably never wear it so I essentially just wasted my money.

The beginning of my "good-bye" pile
 On the other hand, I am a little bit emotionally attached to all of my things and I just need to let it go and grow up!  There are people that travel the world with just a backpack!  I'd like to think that I  could do that.  But for as long as I can remember, I have been personifying inanimate objects.  Like, I feel bad when I have to throw away Mr. Toothbrush because he is more than 2 months old and then I feel bad for Mr. Corkscrew because I called him a POS.

 Yesterday at the flea market, I realized that I probably wasn't going to sell all of my stuff, so I gave some of it to the women that were selling things to benefit TNR which is a local organization that assists the local stray population by Trapping, Neutering and Releasing them.   It's kind of killing me that I didn't get any pictures of the flea market but it is what it is.

Glad to get all of that gunk off of my brushes.ewwwww
 Today I cleaned my makeup brushes out the way I usually do because it has been TOOO long, I could probably just apply my makeup using the residue on my brushes:
-1 part water
-1 part hyrdrogen peroxide
-few squirts of soap.
This time I used Dr. Bronner's Hemp Lavender Pure-Castile soap because I was curious about it.  Have you ever read the label on that thing? It's like a cult handbook.  Kind of creepy.  But it worked really well in my brush washing and now my brushes smell like lavender. 

Also, something terrible has happened to me.  I ran out of/can't find my Vital Wheat Gluten so I can't make any seitan and I am very upset about it.  I ordered more but who knows when it's going to get here.  I don't have anything that I want to put in wraps or on salads and it is not a good time :(

So I've been compensating by making baked tofu bites marinated in balsamic vinegar.  Here's the gist of it in a recipe but I usually just wing it.

Balsamic Baked Tofu Bites
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Press your tofu.  I use the EZ Tofu Press.  Then cut it into cubes or triangles or however you'd like, but I have realized that the smaller the pieces are, the better it is because the pieces are more seasoned, here are what my pieces looked like.
Not very aesthetically pleasing, but so tasty!
Mix together the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl that can be covered and sealed and then add the tofu.  Cover the bowl and shake it up.  Let sit for a bit.  The longer you let it marinate (with occasional shaking) the more flavorful the pieces will be.  I usually let mine sit for like 30-45 minutes.

Then place them on the baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees F for 30 mins, flipping over halfway through.

I really like them to add flavor and protein to salad or wraps.  I tried to make it as a copy cat of the balsamic tofu that you can find in Whole Foods' salad bar, but I haven't had that in so long because I've been overseas and this recipe has evolved so much, it's probably not similar at all. 

I'm sorry I don't have a finished picture of the batch, but they basically look like what I posted above just a little crispier.

Also a few nights ago I made THE BESTTTT dinner ever.  I used the basil tofu that I picked up at Mondo Bio in Sorrento, sauteed it with some garlic and then added it to some Newman's Own tomato sauce to make a kind of "meat" sauce.  I served it over the vegan raviolis I picked up there too.  So good.  Even my omnivore boyfriend loved it!  

The ravioli, not sure what was in it but is says Vegan!

The basil tofu tomato sauce

Anyways, pretty uneventful week for me, but I really enjoyed it because who doesn't love to relax? and also I got to spend basically 24/7 with my boyfriend, so that was magical. Now I have to get back to adding to my pile of things I do not need or want anymore!

ciao ciao! -xo Katelyn

ps. My friend and hairstylist Brittany did my hair and it's awesome. I did ombre again but there are highlights too.  Honestly I have no idea what she did to it, but it looks fantastic and really natural.  Also there was the bonus of a puppy being present for my appointment (she does hair out of her house).

No makeup and I still look good

Not sure what they decided to name her, but I called her Banshee

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Very Vegan Day in Sorrento!

On Thursday, Peter, my new friend and coworker, Tasha and I went to Sorrento for the day.  It was amazing.  I just planned on doing the usual down there, see the views, try the free limoncello in every single shop, pet some puppies, but Tasha found this wonderful store/restaurant conveniently located by the train station near the center of Sorrento! So we had to go.  I'm going to take you through our day.

We got a late start in the morning so we decided to drive.  My car has seen better days, so let's just say after the windy, twisted roads on the about 1.5 hour drive to Sorrento, I needed a big old glass of wine. 

When we started our walk, we ended up near this giant lemon grove in the middle of a city block.  It was a pretty long walk through the grove, and it ended at a limoncello tasting-station.  Unfortunately, around then, the weather started to get bad so we were running from raindrops for a bit.

Tasha took this in the lemon grove

Then we get to Mondo Bio (click here for more info), which is the sixth ranked restaurant in Sorrento, to find that it's also a store and that the restaurant doesn't open up for a few more hours so we decided to walk around and see the shops and the views.  When I go to Sorrento I like to do this thing where I get a free sample of limoncello at every shop that I go to.  You usually end up hitting about 5 shops.  Worth it. 
There were a bunch of old men zesting the lemons to make limoncello, it was pretty cool.  

Soooo muchhhh limoncello and meloncello.

We all made some purchases and went on our way.  We decided that we were too hungry to wait for Mondo Bio Cafe to open and that we would be totally fine with eating a second time in like an hour and found a cafe to sit at.  We asked for the Vegetarian menu, and ordered a LOT of bruschetta, some grilled vegetables, french fries and a bottle of wine.

Yummm bruschetta
 We still had a little bit of time so we decided to go out and see the view of the coast.  Even though it was a little rainy, we were not disappointed!
The church courtyard right before the view of the coast
A pic I took before the weather started to get bad
Finally it was time to go to Mondo Bio and purchase tons of vegan items!!! I was super duper excited.  So was Tasha.  I think we both spent like 45 euro, which is basically like 65 dollars.  We got there at around eight, and the store closes at eight and the restaurant closes at like 8:30 so we had to make it quick.  It had everything I wanted!!! TEMPEH, SEITAN, NUTRITIONAL YEAST, all sorts of vegan lunch meats, some vegan cheeses.  It also had a very large selection of organic produce for sale.  Safe to say it is one of my favorite places in the Naples area now.

About half of their refrigerator selection after Tasha and I cleaned them out
A few of the items I picked up! Check out the basil tofu and rice milk mozz.
Then after we finished up with our shopping, we sat down to have a nice meal, even though we had eaten about an hour previously, but whatevs.  Tasha and I both got gnocchetti alla sorrentina with vegan mozzarella and Peter got an organic egg omelet.  The gnochetti were pretty great!! The tomato sauce was obviously fresh and I can't wait to go back and try their seitan-stuffed ravioli!  They also had an extensive selection of vegan wines to choose from but I had to drive back in a few, so I abstained.  

 I already started to make tempeh bacon and I have a feeling that I'm going to be making a few more trips there in the future!! Also, on the way back, my data was used up on my phone so we had no GPS and all of the streets that we needed to take us home were closed because of a Holy Thursday procession, so we had a pretty rough time getting home, but we made it eventually! 

Here are some pics from Tasha's camera!

Sometimes we are just awkward
To any vegans/vegetarians living in the Naples area, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Mondo Bio Cafe! The address is Via Degli Aranci, 108-110, 80067, Sorrento, Naples.  There's parking up the street that isn't too expensive.  Maybe a 10 minute walk.

Overall, it was a great day.  I love showing people around the Naples area and I am SO glad that Tasha looked up this restaurant/store.  I will probably return as soon as I use up all of my tempeh and once the weather gets perfect it'll be an even better day trip!!

ciao ciao! xo - Katelyn

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recipe Thursdays - Not actually spicy Peanut Butter Tofu

I hate eating peanuts.  Roasted, honey roasted, plain, I am just burned out on peanuts.  Not. A. Fan.  However, I am a fan of things that have peanuts in them.  Like pad thai and peanut butter and recently the peanut butter and chocolate Pro Bar.

I found THIS recipe on Pinterest (of course, where else?) from Kalyn's Kitchen and I knew I had to make it.  Usually I just browse through and pin stuff, but with this one, I knew I had to make it because 1) it looked ridiculously easy 2) peanut butter 3) soy sauce 4) tofu.

I tweaked it a little bit to fit my own tastes/also I didn't have all of the ingredients I needed.  Enjoy!  I made if a few days ago, and I really cannot wait to make it again!

Vegan Asian Peanut Butter Tofu
1 block of extra firm tofu sliced into diagonal pieces
1 tablespoon of peanut oil
3 cloves of garlic sliced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (the recipe stressed to use natural peanut butter but all I had was jif.  Sorry I'm not sorry haha.)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons of Sriracha or rooster sauce

Press your tofu to get rid of all of the excess water.  For a while I was pretty ghetto and I would just wrap my tofu in paper towels and place it in between two plates with some books on top.  Now I have my Tofu EZPress that I got from Amazon and it saves me a lot of time and paper towels.  I highly recommend it!!

Mix together all of the sauce ingredients!  Put in as much Sriracha as you would like!  I surprised myself and kept adding the rooster sauce until I was satisfied with the spiciness.  It took me a while to work up to medium salsa so this was not expected.  

Heat up a pan.  Throw the oil in there, then let it heat up a bit.  Then throw that garlic in there.  Let the garlic stay in the pan until it smells really strong.  Then take it out and set aside or throw away.  I personally set it aside to reuse in my next recipe because I felt bad throwing it away.

Now put the tofu in the oil. Cook until it is lightly browned on each side.  Then put the pan on low heat and add the sauce.  Cook until the tofu is coated and the sauce is getting a little thick.

Place the tofu on a plate and pour the sauce over it.  Garnish with green onions if you have them! I didn't think I had any but apparently my family has tons in the garden! I didn't find this out until after I ate it though.  Sooooo not cool.

When I was making this, my mother was cooking sausage for my dad right next to me.  Seeing my nice tofu cooking in this light, plant based sauce next to the sausage, which had gone from red to purple (how does that even happen??!) cooking in basically a mixture of water and its own fat was really interesting.  My mom was like, "Oh well I'd eat healthier if it wasn't for your father liking this food."  She also said, "We come from a different generation."  Not sure why being from a different generation is an excuse to eat junk and animal fat, but that's their prerogative.

 I'm actually really glad that growing up my mother didn't let me eat sugary stuff and provided me with balanced meals before I was able to feed myself and was moderately supportive of my decision to become a vegetarian at the age of 12.  I just wish there was something that I could do that would help my family let go of what I can only assume is an emotional attachment to fake food.  There's some type of chicken product in the freezer right now called "Wyngz".  What? No. Stop.  Right now.  That's not a real word and those are not real things. 

I have a few non-recipe blog posts in the works except I haven't really materialized them yet.  I'm working on it! Haven't been doing much except working and being lame because Peter is in Barcelona but he comes back today yay! Doing spring cleaning today and I cleared out so much stuff that I don't need anymore! 

I'm going to bring it to our community flea market in a few weeks.  That's one of the biggest things I miss about being in the states (other than the number one which is obviously Target), when everyone can just get together and sell stuff in their yard.  In the community here, people either live in apartments on base or out in the Italian economy so it's basically impossible. 

I've been trying to get into some new music because I feel like I have been listening to the same stuff over and over again for the past few weeks.  I can't stop listening to Hozier.  I've been doing a lot of pet sitting and here are two of my new favorite little furry friends, Bella and Daisy.  Their cuddle game is on point. 

Ciao ciao! - x Katelyn

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recipe Thursdays - Breakfast Burrito

I try to eat relatively healthy.  I include very little processed foods and frozen meals in my diet.  What I've noticed about my eating habits is that if I eat a healthy breakfast, I'm on track for basically the rest of the day.  If I start my day out with a wrap or a salad, I'm good to go for a few hours.  However, if I start my day off with ten handfuls of pretzels during my drive to work, then I'm in trouble.   

As I was browsing Pinterest one day, I came across a recipe that advertised itself as "The Best Breakfast Burrito in Town" and I was intrigued.  I put it on my "To make" list.  What really sealed the deal for me was that you can freeze them for a few months, you just have to take them out of the freezer the night before you want to make it.  I had a few days off so I decided to make them!  Also I thought it was time for me to make something not from my Isa Does It cookbook.  You can read the recipe that I used HERE but I'm including the way that I made it below.  

Vegan Lentil Breakfast Burritos
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

1 cup of crumbled seitan

1 small onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper,chopped
1 pound package (16 oz.) lentils
2-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt for the lentils
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used button)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup vegan cheese
your favorite salsa
however many soft tortillas you need

Directions:  Put the lentils and the teaspoon of salt in a large saucepan.  Add the water to cover the top of the lentils.  Bring to a boil and cover the pot.  Turn down to medium low heat.  Cook 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and the lentils are tender.  I added a splash of soy sauce.  Taste to see if the texture is done but not mushy.  Set lentils aside.
Anyone who ever ate Dinosaur Egg oatmeal will recognize this bowl
Heat the oil in a skillet to medium high heat.  Brown the seitan on all sides. Set aside.

Add your onion and bell pepper to the pan.  If the pan is dry add a little bit more oil.  Saute until the onion is translucent and the peppers and onions are turning a bit brown.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the sliced mushrooms to the same skillet and saute for about 15-20 minutes.

Now place a little bit of everything in a tortilla until you have enough to fill up a burrito.  You should google, "how to fold burritos" because I'm terrible at it and will not be able to help you in this.  If it is possible, i actually got worse with each burrito. 

Heat each burrito in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

Serve immediately. 

To serve after freezing:
Put in the refrigerator the day before serving.
Unwrap from the plastic wrap.
Heat in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and then flip over. Heat 15-20 more seconds. 

Edit: Okay so after actually "serving after freezing" I have realized that 15-20 seconds isn't going to cut it. I do 30 each side!

My tower of burritos

Reasons I like this recipe: 1) I really like the flavor that coconut oil adds to the food.  2) Although it's a little time consuming to make, I ended up making 15 burritos so I'd say it was worth it!  3) they keep really well in the freezer.

What I would do differently: 1) I would season the lentils with some southwestern seasoning because I think they were a liiiittle too plain.  Also, let's be honest, lentils taste like dirt. I know the flavor is described as "earthy" but we all know it is actually "dirt-y".  2) I would add more vegetables, maybe some chopped carrots.  3) I think I would add some avocado or guacamole.  

If you are like some people I know (not me even though I'm working on it) and like to make your meals in advance, then this would be a really great addition to anyone's food prep day.

ps. Here's a bonus pic of my super cute dog Cleo.  She's almost 15, deaf and blind but she's still pretty spry and gives cats a run for their money.  
I love this face. 

ciao ciao -Katelyn
Blog Design by Caked Designs