Pastaaaaa. I have been craving pasta for quite some time now. I don’t know why. Probably because carbs = love.
Pasta has always been one of my favorite foods. I grew up with an Italian grandma and her penne arrabiata with charred peppers was the best.thing.ever. It has ruined almost all other pastas I’ve had since. Nothing like what Oma cooked up. Somewhere I have her recipe for her sauce. I can never make it quite like she did though…must be that Italian grandma magic.
I decided to make some pasta with some leftover veggies I got to take home from an event. I roasted up some cauliflower, broccolini, and tomatoes on Friday, and while I was eating them, the deliciousness of the roasted tomatoes just called for pasta.
I was too lazy and hungry to make it at the time, but today I cooked up some whole wheat noodles, paired it with steamed broccoli, a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, salt & pepper, a bunch of Vegan Hemp Parmesan, and the real MVP, the charred tomatoes.
Super simple, very flavorful, and far from over-complicated. The way Italian-inspired food should be, as far as I’m concerned.
Let’s talk pasta for a minute, shall we? At some point society demonized the glorious stuff. The thing is, there is nothing inherently significantly worse about pasta than many other forms of carbohydrates, especially when it’s whole grain.
Don’t you love it when you turn on the oven, throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl, hope for the best, and the result turns out amazing? Same here. And that’s exactly what happened with these Oatmeal Almond Butter Blueberry Pancake Cookies today.
So this blog post is rather spontaneous. To be honest I’m in the middle of a few others that are more intensive in terms of scope and research required (think nutrition and sustainability).
But I’ve done so much grueling brain-sucking work this weekend I decided to take a break and make some cookie muffin things and they turned out so yummy I decided I’m extend said break by snapping a few phone photos (I need to get out my real camera…I’ve just been so damn busy the past few weeks) and toss them (figuratively) on the blog.
The plus of spending so much time on the grind this weekend for work/school is that I suppose I learned a lot. Including that school is hard, I have a lot of self-reflection to do with professional development/relationships, having a working kitchen is very therapeutic to my existance and that people definitely notice dog hair in jam photos. Oops.
Naturally, everything I’ve eaten since purchasing said loaf has revolved around things to eat with bread. I didn’t have any avocados (boo), nor vegan cream cheese (double boo) and wanted something savory to eat with my bread.
So I decided to use some tofu to make a plant-based whipped cream cheese spread. I figured, if delis can make cream cheese out of tofu, so can I. So there.
Now. I whipped this cream cheese up with a whisk because I don’t have my food processor with me in NJ yet. I keep forgetting to bring it out here and am setting a reminder to do so when I come back from spring break.
Anyways, whipping the tofu gave me a whipped fluffy texture, like a whipped cream cheese.
Last night I was cleaning out the fridge/freezer/pantry (party) and started making a bunch of random things to use up odds and ends to help the organization process along.
I whipped up some dark chocolate hazelnut bark with sea salt and was SUPER thrilled with the result. Chocolate + nuts + salt = my favorite. So obviously, I was into this.
It was a spontaneous creation, but so good, and so simple, I decided to snap some phone pics today to put it on the blog in case anyone needs some #inspo for an easy yet impressive homemade chocolate treat.
This is basically a no-recipe recipe. You can use whatever nuts you fancy. Or you can add in some chopped figs/dates if you like. You really can’t mess it up.
No matter what you add, you’ll end up with delicious, rich, chocolate bark. It’s impressive to put on a plate at gatherings (so long as you keep it elevated if you have doggos) and/or bring to a party or dinner. It also takes minimal effort and is perfect for using up odds and ends in your baking pantry.
Prep Time: 10 minutes Freezer Time: 20 minutes Servings: 1-4, depending on how much you like chocolate
2 cups chopped dark chocolate (or one bag dark chocolate chips) – I used Dark Chocolate Lover’s bar from Trader Joe’s
1 1/2 cups toasted or raw (based on your flavor preference, I used raw) whole or chopped hazelnuts, plus additional handful chopped for topping (about 1 3/4 cup total)
1-2 tablespoon flakey sea salt
Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Melt dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl using medium-high heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment until melted. This will take about 90-180 seconds, depending on your microwave.
Stir in 1 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Chop additional handful for garnish and set aside.
Spread mixture over prepared baking pan.
Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts and sea salt over the top of the hazelnut bark.
Place bark in freezer for at least 20 minutes or refrigerator for 60 minutes to set.
Break bark into rough pieces with hands.
Store in refrigerator in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Our department has a lunch meeting every Wednesday where first year students sit and eat while a faculty member tells us about their research how they got where they are, and sometimes their life story, etc. it’s a nice time / I’m all about free food.
Delivery options are limited around the Columbia University Medical Center campus. Hence why every single week lunch ends up being one of 3 options: pizza that smells like burnt Chuck E Cheese kitchen grease and is paired with a salad cloaked in sad cold deli meat (and one plain salad, but that goes fast), Dominican food, or on a good day, sandwiches on really strangely delicious fluffy crusty white hoagie bread.
Dominican food days are frequent, and I don’t hate it. The buffet has enough veggie options (salad with avocado, rice, beans) that I can finagle a decent meal out of it.
The star of every Dominican week is, of course, the fried plantains. Sticky sweet gooey goodness, the fried plantains have become a cherished and familiar treat.
It dawned upon me this week that I’ve never actually made plantains at home which considering bananas and potatoes are my favorite foods and plantains are essentially the potato of bananas (as in not sweet and rather starchy), is quite odd. So over the weekend I decided to change this. I picked up some plantains, 3/$1, at my local grocery store.
A kind woman was also picking out plantains when I was sorting through them. I asked her if she had any advice for a new plantain cook, and she told me to wait until the plantains were “soft like sponges.” Noted.
Now onto cooking. I don’t love frying things and my stomach doesn’t love eating large quantities of fried food. Hence why I after doing some googling to confirm it was possible, I opted to bake mine.
I did mine skin-on because the method sounded intriguing to me. You can totally peel them and cube them, coat them in oil and seasonings, and bake them that way (just for a shorter duration, 20-25 minutes until tender rather than 40-45).
If you are curious about the skin-on method as I was, I am happy to report that it totally works. Just take it out of the oven when the foil-wrapped plantain gives to a squeeze.
Next comes topping. I played around with topping these babies. One I coined and ate with melted vegan butter and brown sugar.
Another I drizzled with almond butter, cinnamon, and a dash of sugar. The last I ate with leftover black bean soup and cilantro. I decided they would also taste great with guacamole. All were solid options, and it was a very plantain-filled day.
Speaking of filled, I found plantains quite filling. I plan to keep this in mind since they are a cheap starchy piece of produce aka something I desperately need to befriend.
I hope you give these a try. If you do, please let me know, and let me know how you topped or are them.
Yum yum yum. Avocado toast. I love to make it! Because I am a millennial and never want to be able to buy a house! I’d rather spend my time creating easy avocado toasts so you can have some easy avocado toast ideas on hand.
Lol. All jokes aside, people who rip on avocado toast can shove it. Sure, it can be overpriced on brunch menus, but isn’t everything? Like people pay $8-20 for an omelet. And eggs are CHEAP AF.
Anyways, here are a few avocado toast ideas for you. I hope you enjoy for a snack or breakfast or for lunch or for whatever!
Avocado Toast with Pomegranate Seeds
An old favorite! And so cute and festive for the holidays. The recipe exists on my site here, but basically it’s just bread + avo + pomegranate perils. You can add red pepper flakes if you want too. Add S&P and: Yum!
Avocado Toast with Nutritional Yeast
Yes. Simple and delicious. The nutritional yeast truly kicks it up a major notch. Try it. Trust me. Cheesy, umami goodness. Add S&P, of course. Yum. #vegan
Avocado Toast with Preserved Lemons and Radish
This was better than expected. I had a jar of perserved lemons I had no idea what to do with. Honestly, I’d never even had them before. I opened them up and they tasted like olives. But lemon. It’s weird and wonderful at once.
They are super salty, so naturally they go well on avocado toast. I added radish. You could also do tomatoes. Whatever you want!
Avocado Toast with Everything Sea Salt
Another simple wonderful creation. Simply mash avocado, and sprinkle with everything bagel salt. I get it at Trader Joe’s for $1.99. This salt is a GAME CHANGER. Invest.
Avocado Toast with Herbs, Walnuts, and Crushed Chips or Sundried Tomatoes
I love avocado toast with herbs. It just tastes and feels so right. Cilantro on top makes it like a guac toast (also good). Parsley also tastes SO FRESH. I also like adding nuts for crunch, and something to contrast the savoriness.
In this case, it was Just Beets from Trader Joe’s. Any pop of sweet tanginess (see pomegranate perils above, or sun-dried tomatoes), or juiceness (like tomatoes) will do.
Hope this gave you some ideas! Stay #blessed, y’all.
Puppy chow!! Aka muddy buddies (apparently). Aka the best darn sweet crunchy snack of all times ever period!I remember puppy chow sales being a thing when I was little. Were they a thing where you grew up? Because when I went to college I realized they aren’t a thing everywhere. In fact all 3 of my freshman year suite-mates hadn’t heard of puppy chow. How sad, I know.
I think Puppy Chow is a Midwest thing. I could be wrong. All I know is that everyone I know from the Midwest knows what it is, and I’ve met lots of coasties who do not. But that could be an anomaly.
If you look on the back of a Chex box for a puppy chow recipe, you may notice that that recipe contains butter and vanilla. I find these additions to be unessential. Like, when you’re eating puppy chow, I feel like they don’t add much.
At least to me. I just use peanut butter, chocolate, powdered sugar, and cereal, and I don’t miss anything. So I reason I’ll save vanilla and butter for instances where it really does add shine. Gotta save those valuable baking resources, amiright?
So here is my coincidentally, stripped-down, bare-bones, completely delicious vegan puppy chow recipe. If you’ve never had it, make it right the fuck now. Trust me.
Servings: varies on how much you can eat at once (I can eat a lot of this at once)
6 cups Chex or other plain cereal
1/2 cup peanut butter or other nut butter (almond or sunflower seed butter would also be yummy)
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I use Trader Joe’s) or chopped dark chocoalte
1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar, depending on if you’re one of those people who likes a little or a lot of powdered sugar on your chow
Melt the chocolate in a large microwave safe bowl by heating in 30-second increments in your microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring between each until chocolate is almost (but not completely) melted. Add peanut butter to the bowl and return to the microwave and heat for an additional 30-60 seconds, until peanut butter is also melty.
Mix those two together. Enjoy the views and the smells.
Add cereal to bowl and mix gently. You want to coat the cereal with the chocolate/peanut butter mixture, but also want to be careful as to not crush the cereal.
Transfer to a large zip-lock, add powdered sugar, and shake it up until cereal is coated with powdered sugar.