Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bean-balls (hehe)

Instead of meatballs, I like to make bean-balls. I've made tempeh bean-balls in the past (see this post). I decided to try a different bean ball recipe. I saw this white bean recipe on Pinterest. I soaked and cooked my beans, instead of using beans from a can. I used a flax egg (2 Tbs milled flax + 2-3 Tbs water). Because I added a little more roasted red pepper, I should have used more bread crumbs. I just cooked them a little longer to dry them out some. They were quite good and surprisingly flavorful given the simplicity of the recipe. I served them over a little portion of whole wheat pasta with some pre-made sauce from a jar. I even added a little bit of the Daiya jack wedge, which really pushed this dish to the next level. I should mention that I love my silicone baking mat. I totally recommend buying one! :)


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Southern Food

I was intrigued by the Creole sausage recipe on Chubby Vegetarian recently. I added it to my pinterest board and tried to figure out when would be a good time to make them. They require a 45 minute steaming step, so I actually made them the day before I planned to eat them. I made them after eating my other leftovers for dinner. Smart plan, right? Anyways, I wasn't sure what to serve with these until I saw fresh okra in the grocery store. I followed this recipe for the okra using Tony's seasoning. Overall, this was a fun meal, but I think the sausage recipe could be improved. I used oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, so I let them drain for a bit before making the recipe. I also added a teaspoon of liquid smoke to the mix. I think the rice should go through the food processor too. Maybe a touch more water to get the gluten to hold everything together a little better.


Monday, July 23, 2012

A Personal Moment

I don't really post personal things here, because I don't like to consider this blog as an emotional outlet. I came across some quotes that I've been thinking over for a couple months now. I thought 2010 was a really bad year and I consider 2011 the absolute worst year of my life. I was struggling with a set of personal issues and then a series of really bad things happened in my family. It was just like being punched in the gut repeatedly, but spaced apart just enough that you feel like you can stand up straight again before the next hit. 2011 had some of the darkest moments of my life, and the sad part was that most of the people I would have reached out to weren't there anymore. Some of these friendships fell apart for reasons beyond my control (betrayal of my trust), whereas others kinda fizzled out for things that I am responsible for (too much whining about the other failing friendships, moodiness, comments that came out harsher than I meant to, etc). The failed friendships were just the tip of the iceberg, my entire life felt like it was crumbling around me shortly after those things passed. Just one hit after another with family issues. These quotes were really helpful over the last few months as I decided to pursue a fresh start in a new city. I can't fix those friendships or change the past, but I can take the lessons I learned with me as I start over in a new city.


OK, enough with the feelings! Just wanted to share those quotes that were really helpful to me recently. Maybe someone will stumble upon this blog and realize that there is SO MUCH good ahead. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fun Foods with Vegan Cheese

I was in my new Whole Foods store the other day to buy Garden of Life vitamins, vegan SPF15 body lotion, and the new Galaxy cheese. I returned yesterday to see if I could find a better deal on body lotion, since the giant bottle I bought was $25. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but I was a little surprised when I got home and saw the receipt. It was the only body lotion that had sunscreen in it, whereas everything else in that section was straight up sunscreen. Of course, I had to browse the store just to see what was available - vegan cake slices but no doughnuts in the bakery, Upton's seitan, Wayfare cheese spreads, and Daiya wedges. These are all new-to-me products, so I can't wait to try everything. I couldn't buy one of everything like I wanted, since that would drain my bank account! I did buy the jack-style Daiya wedge and some Good Belly shots though. Those shots are great when I don't feel like eating yogurt.

So what is one to do with vegan cheese? Well, I used some of the Galaxy shreds for that enchilada casserole in the previous post. I still had 3/4 of the bag left. I decided to make little personal pizzas! I bought a tube of dough (totally cheating!), which I cut into 3 sections. I unrolled the dough and cut each piece in half, then pinched together the halves to make a personal-sized pizza. I topped each one with sauce, the Galaxy shreds, and sauteed goodness (garlic, onion, bell pepper, and portabella). Look at the meltiness of that cheese!! Galaxy has really made a great vegan cheese! (I have read that the Mexican style and the mozzarella taste the same, but the Mexican style has orange shreds too.)


Now, with the Daiya wedge, I wasn't sure what I would use it for at first. Then I remembered seeing "weiner wraps" on Spabettie recently. I used crescent roll dough, Smart Dogs, and the Daiya wedge. These were a fun little lunch food. Look at that meltiness! Wow! It is really interesting to think about how many options exist now that didn't exist just a few years ago when I went vegan. I guess more and more companies are aware of vegans and people with food allergies. :)


Friday, July 20, 2012

What a week!

I am going to start experiments next week! After only doing about 2 weeks of bench work this year, I am SO excited to return to experiments. I made a list of reagents, dug around in the freezer, designed some mutagenesis primers, and made a plan for next week. I get to do mutagenesis and gene expression studies as my two starter projects. I am hoping to get a better understanding of the literature and start crafting an outline for a December fellowship. I want to avoid mouse work, so I'm thinking I can write about using samples from human patients since I work in the world's largest medical center. Can't beat that!

I've reorganized my days to improve my efficiency and stay motivated to work out like I used to. My new morning routine involves 30 min run outside (gotta get out there before 6:30 to stand a chance of staying cool), 30 min weight-training in my room, protein and fruit smoothie while watching CNN, and shower. I decided to change the cat boxes, change the cat water, and pack my lunches at night, allowing me to get to work around 8:30! I get to ride a free shuttle to work, so I only drive my car one day per week now! That's Saturdays to go buy groceries and run errands. :)

Last weekend, I went to the farmers' market and scored the peaches I've been eating all week in my lunch. They're gone now, so I'm debating whether I should return to the farmers' market with more money (therefore doing most of my shopping there) tomorrow or go to a new-to-me grocery store that is supposed to be cheaper than the other places I've gone. I guess I'll have to see how I feel in the morning and how much money is in my account. ;)

This week, I made the upside down lentil shepherds' pie with caulipots from Appetite for Reduction. The recipe for caulipots (mashed cauliflower mixed in with mashed potatoes) does not have adequate cookings times and temperatures for the potatoes and cauliflower. I would suggest boiling the potatoes the entire time to get them soft enough to mash, and adding the cauliflower to the boiling water as well. Otherwise, this dish was good, but it looked rather blah. I used regular lentils instead of lentils du Puy (French lentils). Lentils du Puy are more expensive and I can only find them at Whole Foods, which I didn't feel like driving to just for lentils. I didn't get a good photograph of this, because the steam ended up blurring the photo.

I also made the 2nd Avenue vegetable korma from Appetite for Reduction and served it over quinoa. This recipe calls for light coconut milk, since it's a lower fat cookbook. Overall, the flavor was good, but I think more coconut milk or full-fat coconut milk would have made for a creamier sauce. I used the leftover coconut milk to make popsicles, even though that recipe specifically called for full-fat coconut milk. The popsicles were good, but there were a few ice crystals. Guess the full-fat coconut milk would have prevented that. Oh well, they were still a nice treat at the end of a hot day. I wish I had the chocolate to coat them like the original recipe! (Also, check out my nails - they've grown a tiny bit since my manicure two weeks ago! This could be the year I stop biting them for good!)


The last recipe I made this week was the enchilada casserole from OhSheGlows. I haven't had pasta in a while, since my dinners lately have been loaded with vegetables. I wanted some pasta, but not another boring pasta dish. I saw this casserole and decided to go for it! Perfect excuse to try the new Galaxy brand shredded vegan cheese, which is supposed to be the first real competitor to Daiya shredded vegan cheese. I didn't buy a fresh avocado since I knew the casserole would last for days. I bought little pouches of guacamole to dollop on top. I also didn't put the crunchy tortilla chip layer, because I forgot to buy a bag of chips. This was so good, even with the extra tomato paste I used! It'll last several days for just me, but I don't mind eating this three days in a row!


Alright, I'm going to go find a movie on TV to watch. I had to turn off the news (for the first time this week!) because of all the Colorado movie theater shooting coverage.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Recent Eats

I just finished a FaceTime conversation with my mom! I love FaceTime. I got to take her on a tour of my new place. :)

Anyways, here are some of the things I've been eating in the last couple months that I remembered to photograph.

California Pizza Kitchen - vegan info for the chain here

Indus in West Palm Beach, FL

Freebirds World Burrito in Houston, TX

Tutti Frutti banana and taro soy yogurt in Houston, TX

Sinfull Bakery vegan potpie from the Urban Harvest farmers' market in Houston, TX

Texas peaches! So tiny! Scored these at the farmers' market too.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reunited with the Internet

I've posted the last couple posts from my iPhone. Now, I love my iPhone, but I don't consider it a suitable blogging tool. I prefer my Macbook with its full keyboard. I was able to get internet at my new place today after my landlord dealt with some run-around from the company. He left his cable box here, so there was an account here in his name, preventing me from getting any service set up. Anyways, I was able to read the last week's worth of posts from the blogs I follow FINALLY.

I noticed that my pen pal included me in her post about the Liebster blog award. It's a way for small blogs to share some info about themselves and link to other blogs. Here is my reply.

11 Random Facts
* I was high school valedictorian.
* I never wear make-up.
* I have an undiagnosed case of OCD.
* I love my friends' unusual sense of humor - wearing ugly/mismatched/inappropriately small clothes for humor. :)
* I don't bicycle as much I would like.
* I don't want kids, but I take care of my future children as well as I take care of my cats, they'll be just fine.
* I am trying to change a bunch of my bad habits right now - stop biting my nails, floss more, and eat less sweets.
* Growing up, my favorite TV show was The Simpsons. Too bad it's been on so long that it's not that funny anymore.
* I thought about pursuing history in college, but there aren't any jobs in history.
* I always liked sewing class the best in summer camp.
* My favorite coconut ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip.

Questions posed:
1. Favorite season? I live in the south. The seasons are hot and less hot. I enjoy the winter, but I love sunshine.
2. Homemade dip or store bought? Layered dip for tortilla chips made vegan.
3. Favorite book? My favorite genres are historical thrillers and true crime books, but I can't pick a favorite.
4. Last place you went on vacation? I went to Whistler for a conference earlier this year. It's almost like a vacation.
5. Cats, dogs, or both? Cats! I wouldn't mind owning a dog, but I do love my cats.
6. Are you afraid to fly? A little. I usually take anxiety meds on flights and sleep. :)
7. Do you have a big family? Not really. My mom's family is normal sized, but my dad's sisters never had kids.
8. What did you want to be when you grew up? A veterinarian, astronaut, or teacher. Now I'm a scientist.
9. Do you have a nickname? My favorite nickname is from my best friend. She calls me Chip, Chip-chip, and Chippy, based on the sound that a squirrel makes when it eats an acorn and the fact that Bubbles (my favorite Powerpuff Girl) likes squirrels. She's recently changed my nickname to Dr. Chip though.
10. Why did you start blogging? To just have a new hobby and find vegan recipes to learn how to cook.
11. Do you take pictures of your food even if you don't share it on your blog? No, they all go on the blog.

I don't really know who to tag in something like this, because I follow most blogs anonymously and rarely comment. Anyways, I'll finally be able to post some photos of my new place in Houston and the food I've been enjoying lately.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Settling in nicely

I'm all settled into my new place. Just going to work on my patio tomorrow. I still don't have internet at home, so pictures will come later. I start my postdoc on Monday! I spent a couple days unpacking and cleaning, arranging my furniture, setting up my new kitchen, and doing laundry and dishes. I'm ready to tackle the patio tomorrow - it needs a screen over the top, some weatherstripping around the door, some plants by the door, and some weed barrier laid down to cover the dirt. I plan to pamper myself on Sunday. I need a haircut and I'd love to go to the movies. Maybe get a pedicure... And a manicure to stop biting my nails. I was doing OK and could go about a week before some stress trigger set me off biting them again. Anyways, I'll post again when I get internet at home. Hope everyone had a happy 4th of July!