Category Archives: Lunch

Baked Vegan Macaroni Casserole


I made this macaroni casserole a couple of weeks ago to satisfy an urge for comfort food.  It hit the spot!  Although I will not claim that it is exactly like it’s non-vegan equivalents, it is pretty darn good all the same.  I served it with my Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup for the ultimate cozy Sunday afternoon meal.  Recipe below!

Baked Vegan Macaroni Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb cooked Macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat and it tasted fine in the casserole!)
  • ½ c raw cashews, processed into a powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium chopped potato
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 c non dairy milk
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1 tbsp oil/earth balance
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t Dijon mustard
  • ½ t tumeric
  • ½ t onion powder
  • ¼ t black pepper
  • 1/8 t cayenne
  • dash of soy sauce
  • **Garnish:  Paprika, bread crumbs, ground almonds
  • **Optional:  Peas and halved cherry tomates

Instructions:

  1. Grease a large casserole pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook your macaroni noodles according to the package instructions and drain.  Put in casserole pan and set aside
  3. In a food processor, blend the raw cashews with the carrots, potato, and garlic, and process until well combined.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the macaroni, the garnish, and the optional ingredients) to the food processor and process again until a smooth “cheese” sauce forms.
  5. Pour the “cheese” sauce directly onto the macaroni noodles and toss to coat the noodles evenly.  If you want to add optional ingredients to your casserole, now is the time to do it!  I added a bag of frozen peas and some spare, halved cherry tomatoes for color and nutrition.
  6. Top with paprika (for a little kick), bread crumbs, and crushed almonds (for some crunch).
  7. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve!  This recipe makes enough to serve about 4-6 people, depending on how hungry everyone is.

-Dominique

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Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup


We’ve had a couple of cold weekends in Pittsburgh lately, so I decided to throw together some tomato soup out of two cans of plain tomato sauce I had in my pantry (which is actually just my dining room floor…college kitchens are tiny!).  In my pre-vegan days, I would have let heavy whipping cream give this tomato soup it’s comforting creaminess, but I veganized it with some full fat coconut milk and added thickness by blending it with carrots and potatoes.  I wouldn’t skip the the Herbs de Provence, they really elevate the flavor, adding an air of French sophistication (maybe?)

Anyways, the result is a thick and creamy tomato soup that even my tomato soup hating boyfriend and roommate really enjoyed.  Recipe below!

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 t Herbs de Provence
  • 1 t basil pesto
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium chopped potato
  • 23 oz (for me, one small can and one regular-sized can) of plain tomato sauce
  • 4 T full fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste (wait until the end to add)

Instructions:

  1. Coat a medium saucepan with olive oil and sauté garlic on medium heat until fragrant.  Add the onion and carrots and turn heat to low.
  2. Add the spices and combine, and cook until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, and tomato sauce.  Turn the heat to medium, and wait until the soup starts gently bubbling and potatoes are tender (for me this was conveniently the same time).  Take the soup off of the heat and allow it to cool down a bit.
  4. Put the soup in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Pour it back into the saucepan and heat on low.
  5. Slowly add the coconut milk while stirring the soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve!

Enjoy!

-Dominique

Quick and Easy Indian-Inspired Chili (Vegan) with Coconut Basmati Rice


Last night I had a bunch of produce that had just about outlived it’s fridge time so I decided to cook up an Indian-inspired chili to use it all up! The only part of this recipe that is time consuming is the veggie chopping, other than that you just throw everything in the pot and let it simmer away. It ended up being pretty spicy because I was a little heavy-handed with the crushed red pepper flakes (oops! I adjusted the recipe afterwards as to not kill anyone), so I paired it with some mellow coconut basmati rice.  It was really yummy and really filling!

Image

Spicy Indian-Inspired Chili

Yield: About 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½  each of garam masala, cumin, & turmeric
  • ½ t each of cayenne, nutmeg, ginger, & cardamom
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (I did green, yellow, orange, because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 3 small or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ jar of marinara sauce
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • olive oil

Instructions:

  1. In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil and garlic on medium heat.  Add the chopped onions along with all the spices and sauté until your kitchen smells like magic!
  2. Add in a little more olive oil (to cover the bottom of the pot) and toss in the chopped zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, and beans.  Toss it around with a spoon so everything is combined.
  3. Add the marinara sauce and vegetable broth and mix.  Heat until the entire mixture boils, then turn down the heat to low.
  4. Simmer the chili on the stove for about twenty minutes (or more if you want, I just used this time to make the rice) to let the flavors meld.  FLAVA FLAVVVVE!!!
  5. EAT!

Notes:

  • If you like your chili to be spicier, add crushed red pepper flakes along with the other spices.  BE CAREFUL THOUGH! Once you put them in, you can’t take them out. (If you don’t heed this warning and your chili ends up being too spicy, salt it a bit and it will tone the spice down).
  • You can essentially use any vegetables or beans that you want in this recipe, or leave them out entirely.  I just used what I had on hand!  This is why chili is awesome.

Coconut Basmati Rice

Yield:  About 3 cups (6 servings, 1/2 cup each)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c basamati rice, rinsed and drained until it doesn’t make the water cloudy (this took about 4 rinses for me)
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1 ½ c water
  • ½ t turmeric
  • pinch of salt
Instructions:
  1. Put everything in a rice cooker and mix so the turmeric and and coconut milk are well combined with the water.
  2. Turn the rice cooker on and let it do it’s rice cooker magic!
  3. EAT!
Notes:
  • If you don’t have a rice cooker (I actually don’t, but my lovely roommate Abbey let’s me use hers [and all her spices (THANKS ABBEY!)]) then you can easily do this on the stove following these basic cooking instructions.  Just use the same ingredients/water and coconut milk ratio above.
  • You can easily do this with another kind of white rice, I just had Basmati in my pantry.

Happy cooking 🙂

-Dominique

Spicy Homemade Falafel Recipe


Today, after I took my first final, I needed to relax and forget about studying for a bit!  For me, relaxing usually means whipping something up in the kitchen.

I wanted to make something that I could enjoy now, but also freeze and eat throughout the next week.  I was craving Middle Eastern food to go with some hummus I needed to use up, so I figured I’d try my hand at making falafel.  This isn’t the most traditional of falafel recipes; I usually find falafel to be pretty bland so I added extra cayenne and red pepper flakes to give it a little kick!  If you don’t like spicy food, omit the red pepper flakes and cut down on the cayenne to mellow it out a bit.  Also, I had a bell pepper that I needed to use, so I threw that in the food processor too!  Yum.

Spicy Falafel

Yield:  Between 18-24 falafel balls, depending on how big you make them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) of rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 1/3 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used an orange pepper, but whatever you have on hand is fine!)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 7 T flour (or more, if it isn’t forming a doughy enough texture)
  • 2 T tahini
  • 2 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 t coriander
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 t baking powder
  • hot pepper flakes, to taste
  • oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except oil in food processor.  Pulse until it turns into a wet “dough”.  Some chunkiness is fine, depending on how you like your falafel.
  3. Put vegetable oil in a skillet and heat at medium.  While oil is heating, grease a large oven pan and flour an area next to the stove (you’re setting up your little falafel factory’s production line!)
  4. With some flour on your hands, start scooping falafel out of the (unplugged!) food processor and shaping it into patties or balls.  Set on floured surface.
  5. Drop falafel balls into the oil, cooking for about 2 minutes on each side to make the outside nice and crispy.  Don’t worry about cooking the falafel through, you’ll do that later!
  6. Transfer cooked falafel to lightly greased pan, and put it in the oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove falafel from pan, and use a towel to absorb excess grease.  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If your falafel isn’t sticking together in the oil, add more flour to the “dough”.
  • If you have extra time, you can refrigerate falafel balls before frying them.  This may also help them stay together.  (I was impatient and took my chances, but it worked fine anyways)
  • If you don’t like to fry foods (it can be scary in a multitude of ways, hot oil freaks me out sometimes), feel free to bake these falafel balls or patties in your oven!  10 minutes on each side should do it.

Enjoy!

-Dominique

High Tea at the Talking Teacup


Emma and I LOVE tradition. We have been neighbors and best friends since middle school, so we’ve had a lot of time to develop special things that we always do together!  One of our most treasured traditions is going to The Talking Teacup, a wonderful little teahouse in Chalfont, Pennsylvania.

Christmas 2010 at the Talking Teacup!

Last weekend we visited again, the occasion being Emma’s 20th birthday (a little belated, I know, but this was the only time that we could do it! Check out Emma’s other birthday festivities here and here). My mom got her a groupon for 2 high teas for her birthday, and surprise, she decided to ask me to go with her.

Happy Belated Birthday, Emma!

We started out by selecting our teas, I got a vanilla chai and Emma got an immunity booster. Each pot has about four or five cups, which is great! Way better than the Willow Tea Room in Scotland that I just recapped.

Our first course was scones, hot out of the oven!

Walnut Cinnamon and Chocolate Chip Scones w/ Jam and Devonshire Cream

I LOVE Devonshire cream, I could lick it right out of the bowl!!

Then came the soup of the day. We were in luck, it was tomato bisque! (Actually, every soup I’ve had there has been out of this world, but the tomato bisque is one of my favorites!)

Tomato Bisque Soup

Then the sandwiches! Emma got vegetarian, I got omnivorous.
So many yummy sandwiches
I always forget what kind of sandwiches there are, but I distinctively remember cucumber with herby mayo spread on white bread, ham and dijon mustard on cinnamon swirl bread, egg salad on wheat, chicken salad, artichoke, sundried tomato, and lots of other yummies! I would rather eat a million different mini-sandwiches than one amazing big sandwich. There’s just something about mini food that really excites me!! Especially mini food shaped like teapots…
CUTEST SANDWICH

Something Emma and I love about the Talking Teacup is all of the little details, like the mismatched dishes…
We love the mismatched dishes and cutlery!
and the scone tray that is really just a plate hot glued to a candlestick!! I gotta get on that craft.

NEED TO CRAFT THIS

Lastly, dessert. I told myself I’d just eat half of each, but I couldn’t help but eat the whole thing! High tea only happens twice a year, after all 😉

Trio of Desserts (Sugar Cookie, Chocolate Chip Pound Cake, Vanilla Cake with Marmalade Layers)

Overall it was a great time at the Talking Teacup as usual (and even better because we didn’t have to pay! Thanks mom!). I already can’t wait to go again!!

If you want to read Emma’s recap, you can here!

-Dominique

Scotland Recap: The Willow Tea Room in Glasgow


We spent our last night in Scotland in city of Glasgow, near the airport.

Glasgow, Scotland

We did some last minute souvenir shopping, and then stopped at the Willow Tea Rooms for lunch. The Willow Tea Rooms are done in the style of the Scottish artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I’m not a big fan of the look, but my mom is!

Tourist Trap Ahead!

The coolest features were the dramatic high backed chairs. They closed off the tables like dividers! I’m not sure how I felt about them, but they were certainly different.

Signature High Backed Chairs


I ordered Earl Grey tea, which was actually a huge disappointment.

My Earl Grey Tea

They served the pot of tea with the leaves steeping in it, and then gave me a teacup with a small strainer to catch the leaves as I poured it from the pot. The first cup was great, but, as I knew would happen, by the time I had my second cup the leaves had over-steeped and the tea was bitter and awful. What a strange mistake for a tea room to make! You think they would know better than to just put leaves in a whole pot of tea with no way to remove them. Oh well, I’m a bit of a tea snob.

I should have just went with a mocha like Nicole did. It looked so yummy!

Nicole's Mocha

To eat I got French toast with some yogurt, which was pretty tasty, but definitely overpriced for what it was.

French Toast with Yogurt

I would definitely NOT recommend the Willow Tea Rooms, unless you are a Mackintosh enthusiast and can absolutely not pass it up. The tea (that was drinkable) was mediocre, the food was decent, and the prices were sky high. Willow Tea Rooms is clearly a tourist trap! We still enjoyed our time there though, and my mom liked looking at the art.

This is the last of my Scotland recaps! Hope you’ve enjoyed them, and that they’ve been helpful in planning your own travels.

If you need to catch up, here’s all of them:






-Dominique

Scotland Recap: Edinburgh Eats!


In contrast to Campbeltown, there was such a large selection of restaurants in Edinburgh! It was almost overwhelming to choose which ones to go to, but with the help of our Lonely Planet tour book, we narrowed it down to some great places. Here are my favorite meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in Edinburgh!

For breakfast, I loved the Urban Angel Cafe (also serves lunch and dinner). It was cozy and hip, and boasted local, organic, free trade produce. Gotta love that!



To drink, my mom and I ordered tea

Chai tea with Honey and Steamed Milk


and Nicole and Gigi got smoothies.

Smoothie #1 (Strawberries and Fresh Squeezed OJ)

Smoothie #2 (Berries and Yogurt)


To eat, my mom got mueseli,

Freshly Made Muesli!


Nicole and Gigi got French toast,

French Toast (with Homemade Bread) and Bacon


and I got Eggs Benedict. The Hollandaise sauce was PERFECT, tangy and creamy!

Eggs Benedict

The only thing about Urban Angel was that it was definitely overpriced for what it was. That’s the cost of organic, local eating, I suppose.

My favorite lunch was at the Deacon’s House Cafe, a small cafe built in the space that used to be the infamous Deacon Brodie’s workshop! TO give you the reader’s digest version, Deacon Brodie was an upstanding cabinet maker by day and a thief by night. When he was finally caught, he was hung on gallows he designed himself. Pretty cool, huh? We actually just walked into the cafe on a whim, but it turned out to be quite good, and you all should know by now that I love anything of historical significance.

Deacon Brodie was the inspiration for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


I got some delicious soup and a cheese scone…a very Scottish lunch!

Vegetable Soup and a Cheese Scone from Deacon Brodie's


Nicole opted for a BLT on a bagel and some hot chocolate, both of which she said were great as well!

Nicole with her BLT bagel and hot chocolate at Deacon Brodie's

My favorite dinner, and probably favorite meal in all of Scotland, and one of my top five restaurant meals EVER, was at Mums.

I left my heart at Mums ❤


Mum’s motto is “Eat Great Comfort Food”. As soon as I read that, I knew I was in for a treat. I am the comfort food queen!

My new life motto!


The restaurant itself was small, but cozy. Selections of the day were written on chalkboards, and the waitstaff and cook were very friendly and helpful!
EVERYONE’S food looked delicious.
Nicole’s Mac and Cheese was perfectly cheese and creamy, and so filling that she couldn’t finish! And yes, those are hand-cut homemade chips.

Mac and Cheese with Chips


Dad’s special ordered lamb pie (the chef didn’t want to make it at first because she didn’t think it would taste good, but finally she caved under my dad’s begging). The pastry was as big as a whole loaf of bread! He was like a kid on Christmas morning.

Dad feasting on a lamb pie


Delicious Lamb Pie is Revealed!


I got the classic “Sausages with Mash and Gravy”. They had a huge selection of sausages, even vegetarian ones, all made fresh. I opted for a one chicken and blue cheese sausage, and one classic Mum’s sausage (pork and herbs). Both were equally delicious! There were also tons of mash (mashed potatoes) options! After a long deliberation period, I chose cauliflower and cheese. And I went with classic gravy.

My Sausages and Mash (pre-gravy)


My Sausages and Mash (Post-Gravy) with Dad's Veggies

I have never been so full or so happy finishing a meal. Mum’s is truly the best of British comfort food!

Cute postcard and candies with our check!

Keep reading to find out about all the amazing sights we saw in Edinburgh!

-Dominique