Carrabba’s Dipping Oil Pasta

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January 27, 2015 By

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I do my best to support local family-owned restaurants. However, most of the restaurants I go to are vegan; therefore, when it comes to eating out with omnivorous family and friends, sometimes the easiest decision is to go to a chain restaurant. I have been impressed the past few times I’ve been to Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

For those of you who have been to Carrabba’s, have you ever had to consciously tell yourself to put down the bread and step away from the dipping oil full of herbs? I swear I could make that dipping oil my entire meal.

This pasta is inspired by the dipping oil at Carrabba’s. I basically made my own dipping oil with tons of herbs, added some tomatoes, olives, spinach, and homemade cream cheese, and mixed in some pasta. It’s so, so good and has lots of health benefits:

  • Oregano – has both antibacterial and anti fungal properties that make it effective against some forms of food-borne illnesses and even some antibiotic resistant infections
  • Thyme – full of antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage that can boost overall health and help prevent cancer, inflammation, signs of aging and more
  • Parsley – contains chlorophyll, myricetin,  and vitamin K, which can help prevent cancer  and diabetes, as well as improve bone health
  • Basil – reduces inflammation and swelling, contains anti-aging properties, and is rich in antioxidants
  • Garlic chives – helps prevent prostate, esophageal, and stomach cancer, as well as regulating sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory; folate, found in chives, also helps prevent excess homocysteine, which helps with depression and production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

 

Carrabba’s Dipping Oil Pasta

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic chives, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Must-haves:

  • 1 pound of pasta (I used GF Ancient Harvest quinoa rotelle)

Optional add-ins (all highly recommended!):

  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, cut into thirds
  • 2 tablespoons of 5-minute cream cheese (recipe here)

 

Step 1: Chop the dressing ingredients.

I picked all the herbs straight from my herb garden. Here in Florida, all these herbs are easy to maintain as long as they are watered a few times per week.

Place all the herbs, and other dressing ingredients, in a large boil with the olive oil, mix, and let it sit and relax in there. The idea is to mildly infuse the flavors into the oil.

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Step 2: Start boiling the noodles.

Boil your noodles of choice according to packaged directions. When the pasta is finished boiling and it’s time for straining, I like to spray cold water on the noodles for a lukewarm pasta salad experience.

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Step 3: Chop/add optional ingredients.

While the noodles are boiling, chop/add the optional ingredients you would like to add to your dish. This might be the perfect time to make your 5-minute homemade cream cheese. I love adding this stuff to pasta!

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Step 4: Mix and serve!

Once all ingredients are in finished, add all ingredients to the large bowl, mix, and serve!

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If you love what you see, you might want to:

  • Check out my Instagram @thisvegangirl to see what I eat every day. I love to see you guys making my recipes, posting it to IG, and tagging me in the picture!
  • Add me on Facebook to see when new recipes are posted
  • Follow my board on Pinterest
  • Comment below!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

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August 24, 2014 By

I’ve been wanting to make a pizza with a pesto base for quite some time now. However, I just couldn’t seem to come up with ideal toppings for the pizza. I had found myself in a rut, using the same ingredients as toppings over and over. I decided to put off posting the recipe until I came up with the answer.

A week ago, we went to Clearwater, FL to celebrate Matt’s birthday with his parents. Matt’s mom, Gail, loves to cook, and she made him a spectacular dinner for his birthday. On the menu was this to-die-for fennel, red onion, and olive salad. The rest of the family had their salad topped with sea scallops, but even without, mine was incredible.

An Instagram photo of Matt’s birthday dinner. The winning salad is on the bottom left.

I kept thinking about that salad. I thought about it for the next week. I’m not a fan of fennel, or olives for that matter. Nonetheless, I kept thinking about how perfect it was.

It suddenly clicked that this winning salad combination might be my answer to my pesto base pizza woes. I acquired the recipe from Gail, put it on top of the pizza, and the result was out of this world. I always say this, but this time, I mean it; this is my new favorite pizza. Shh… don’t tell the others.

 

Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: One pizza pie

 

Ingredients

For the Gluten-Free Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (warm)
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Fennel Salad:

  • 5-6 fennel stalks OR 1 head of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, rinsed with cold water to reduce raw harshness
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
  • 2 tbs fresh or dried tarragon
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

For the Pesto Base:

  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 1 handful of raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Step 1: Make the fennel salad.

The fennel salad needs to marinate for 20 minutes, so I think this should be numero uno.

I bought my olives at Whole Foods at their olive bar. Start by placing the olives in between sheets of parchment paper.  Mash the olives with the palms of your hand. If it hurts your hand too much, a potato masher will probably do the trick. Once all the olives are mashed, remove the pits, separate the olives into smaller bits with your hands, and place in a bowl.

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mashed

Ready!

Ready!

Next, chop up the red onion. Once chopped, place the red onion in a strainer, rinse off with cold water, and add it to the bowl of olives. Raw red onion is extremely harsh and has quite a bite to it, so we don’t need that type of drama here.

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My knives are an embarrassment to the world of cooking, as I am a starving artist. Therefore, I had to pulse my fennel in the food processor to chop it properly. Hopefully, you don’t have these problems and can cut your fennel like a normal human being. Nevertheless, feel free to use my method.

The three caballeros.

The three caballeros.

Place the rest of the salad ingredients into the bowl. Mix and set aside. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

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Step 2: Prepare the gluten-free pizza crust. (optional)

Not everyone needs to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Not everyone wants to make a gluten-free pizza crust. However, if you do, I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill’s website has provided the best recipe. View it here. (Substitute 1 tbs flax seed meal & 3 tbs warm water (mixed) for the egg to make it vegan.)

Your pizza crust should look like this when complete:

Pre precook

Pre precook

Gluten-free crust needs to be pre-cooked before adding any base or toppings to it. At 425º, cook the pizza crust for 7 minutes. Set aside.

 

Step 3: Food process the pesto base.

This is the easy part, and it’s the perfect thing to do while you’re waiting for your gluten-free crust to precook. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy. Garlic bits are graciously accepted.

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Step 4: Spread pesto base on pizza crust and bake.

Scoop the pesto with a spoon, then use the back of the spoon to smooth out the pesto throughout the crust.

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Bake in the oven at 425º for another 5-7 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

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Why bake the pesto, you ask? I think it gives the garlic a roast-y taste, which I like.

Step 5: Strain the marinade and scoop contents on top of pizza.

Straining the marinade is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the most greasy pizza of all time, and that’s not what we’re about here. Just stick it in a colander, let the oil drip out for a few minutes, and scoop the remaining salad on top of the pizza.

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I’d be surprised if you’ve had anything like this pizza before. It tastes so fresh. One thing I really like about this pizza is that the need for tons of salt is minimal, as the parsley and lemon take care of that. It throws so many flavors at you at once, but they all seem to complement each other so nicely. These flavors really have seemed to taken a liking to each other and get along so well. I think they’ll be friends for a long time to come, and my mouth isn’t complaining.

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If you’re interested on trying any of my other pizzas, take a look at the following:

If you happen to try making this pizza and are on Instagram, take a picture of it and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can take a peek. I’d love to see how it worked out for you. Don’t forget to add me on Facebook, too, as I post all my blog updates on there.

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

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Classic Hummus (Revamped)

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July 21, 2014 By

It’s a damn shame that after a year of blogging, I have yet to post a single hummus recipe. It’s better late than never, I suppose!

Ever since I’ve had a food processor, I have been stirring up hummus around once per week. It’s such a staple in my diet, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down hummus before, nor will I ever do such a thing. If I ever turn down hummus, please put me down to sleep, as I am bedridden, being fed by tubes, and most likely shitting my pants. I should put that in my will…

As I digress from that disturbing thought, let’s shift the topic over to something more pleasant: how easy it is to make hummus. Dump, mix, taste, mix some more, taste again, tweak, mix one more time, and serve. It’s the best snack/light lunch of all time.

I’ve been making the same recipe for a long time, involving chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon, garlic, and salt. Simple, but it was a bit plain. Spices are a vegan’s best friend, so I decided to, ya know, SPICE THINGS UP A BIT. The result was WOW! It definitely had the kick that was missing for so long. Thus, the classic hummus routine had become revamped.

If you’re looking to revamp your classic hummus recipe, give mine a mix!

 

Classic Hummus (Revamped)

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups of hummus

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 4 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • hemp hearts as garnish (optional)

 

STEP 1: Drain and rinse the chickpeas.

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STEP 2: Place all ingredients in the food processor.

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STEP 3: Mix.

STEP 4: Enjoy.

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Wow. That was the easiest entry I’ve ever written. Again, this is why hummus reigns supreme.

 

Don’t forget to add me on Instagram, which I update every day. Also, use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see your renditions of my recipes you try!

 

Happy mixing,

thisvegangirllogo

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The Toast Sampler

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July 7, 2014 By

It’s breakfast time, and you’re not quite sure what you’re in the mood for. Never to fear, for The Toast Sampler is here!

The Toast Sampler cures breakfast heartaches and solves all your morning culinary problems, including:

  • I don’t know what I’m in the mood for. Each piece of toast caters to a different taste region of your tastebuds, so it’ll combat any/all cravings.
  • I don’t want a sugary breakfast. I hear ya. With The Toast Sampler, few strawberries will be the only sugar you’ll consume, and it’ll be the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • I need something to-go. Have you ever tried eating cereal and driving? I have, during my stupid teenage years. Not only was it completely idiotic, but extremely difficult. My point is that toast is a lot easier, and more safe, to eat on-the-go.
  • I’ll be hungry in an hour. You obviously didn’t have The Toast Sampler for breakfast, then. I pile on the vegetables and fruit, with filling spreads on the bottom.
  • It’s not gluten-free. Oh, but it is. I use GF bread and toast them up. The GF bread will also help with problem of staying full.
  • I’m not hungry in the morning. The Toast Sampler is so yummy, you’ll want it.
  • I don’t have time. You’ll need a bit more time to prepare this than cereal, but definitely not as much time as, say, pancakes.Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier to indulge in this breakfast delight. It’s worth it.
  • I don’t cook. … it’s toast.

 

Are you convinced? If not, maybe the pictures will help. BEHOLD:

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Forgive me, as I don’t  have exact measurements on spreads and seasoning. Just spread and sprinkle, guys. It’s not that hard.

 

Avocado Toast

  • Tofutti vegan cream cheese base
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • spinach on top (I took a few leaves and tore them with my fingers.)

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If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or someone who loves avocado, you’re probably very good friends with avocado toast. There is my spin on it.

 

Almond Butter Toast

  • almond butter base
  • lots of strawberry slices on top

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I actually have two almond butters right now. One is a CRUNCHY VARIETY (hardly ever seen), which I adore. The other is a vanilla espresso variety, which I equally adore. I hope that eating the vanilla espresso almond butter gives me a tiny boost in the morning.

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Hummus Toast

  • hummus base
  • grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • arugula leaves
  • hemp hearts

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This one was a spur-of-the-moment toast that I ended up loving! I used a kalamata olive hummus, which was divine.

 

Happy toasting,

thisvegangirllogo

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Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

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July 1, 2014 By

I love experimenting with vegan pizza. This is my fourth pizza on the blog, officially making pizza the most versatile dish ever. It’s all about the base.

My other three pizzas include:

And now, the latest edition to the vegan pizza brigade: the creamy garlic base!

I’m proud of this one. The creaminess imitates the presence of cheese. I’m also thrilled by the fact that this is soy-free and free of processed ingredients!

 

Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

Prep Time: about 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes (most can be done during prep time)

Yield: 8 slices

 

Ingredients

GF Pizza Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (warm)
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Cashew Cream Base/Drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled (or soaked in water for 8 hours)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8-1/4 cup water (depending on how thick you want it. I opted for 1/4 cup.)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Pizza Toppings:

  • 4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • 1 small handful of arugula
  • 1 small handful of pine nuts

 

STEP 1: Make the pizza crust or knead your dough. 

For all the glutards out there (don’t worry, guys… I’m a part of the community, so it’s cool), I have provided a great gluten-free recipe hereIt’s from Bob’s Red Mill’s website. I have tried more than a handful of different pizza crust recipes, and that one is by far my favorite one.

GF pizza crust works way differently in terms of how it’s handled. Regular dough requires kneading to spread it onto a pizza pan. GF pizza crust is more of a smoothing process, as the dough doesn’t “bounce back” like normal dough does. A great tip for smoothing the GF dough onto a pan is to keep your hands wet.  This prevents your fingers from transforming into those of a dough monster.

GF crust needs to go through a preliminary cooking stage before any toppings go on. Place the crust in the oven at 425 degrees for 7 minutes. Take out and set aside.

 

Pre precook

Pre precook

Post precook

Post precook

 

STEP 2: Prepare toppings that need to be cooked down beforehand.

After the mushrooms and onions are chopped, let them simmer in the coconut oil until they are sweating, which will take 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Spritz them with lemon juice during the last minute. Set aside.

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STEP 3: Prepare the cashew cream. 

This is a great step to tackle while Step 1 and 2 are cooking.

If you did not soak your cashews and have a very strong food processor or milling device (I use my Nutribullet milling blade. A coffee grinder will probably work, too.), mill the cashews and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients. Mix until creamy and smooth.

If you did soak the cashews, drain the cashews and mix well in the food processor with the garlic. Once the cashews are completely liquified, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until creamy and smooth.

If you want a thick cream, opt for 1/8 cup of water. I wanted my base to be the consistency of a drizzle, so I measured out 1/4 cup instead. It’s all about preference.

 

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

 

STEP 4: Put the crust with base and precooked toppings in the oven.

Start with pouring the cashew cream on the crust and spreading it to the edges. Make sure to save some for the drizzle at the end! Sprinkle on the mushroom/onion mixture as the topping. Place in the oven for 6-7 minutes at the same temperature.

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STEP 5: Chop and prepare raw toppings. 

I love mixing fresh, raw toppings with cooked toppings on pizza! Grape tomatoes and arugula worked very well with this recipe. Complete this step while your base is still cooking.

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STEP 6: Once the base is done cooking, dress up the rest of your pizza! 

Add on the tomatoes and arugula, along with pine nuts and drizzle. Slice it up and enjoy!

Pre drizzle

Pre drizzle

Post drizzle

Post drizzle

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So, I went to sit down in front of the TV to relish this tasty lunch I made when I found THIS. TWO SLEEPY BEEPY BABIES.

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Be still my heart.

 

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Spicy Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

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June 24, 2014 By

Who out there can’t live without their food processor? Mine is perpetually in the dishwasher, being that I use it on the daily. Now that I’ve had one, I don’t think I could happily go on without one.

I regularly make hummus, broth, dressings, and drizzles with it. I’ve dabbled with ice cream-making and pie crusts with it, too. Surprisingly enough, this was the first time I’ve made pasta sauce with it, and I feel like I’ve found a key to a door that should’ve been opened a long time ago.

Pasta dishes seem so boring and cliche. Not to mention that the pictures are pretty unstimulating, as well. (Who has the energy to put the oregano leaves on top, and surround the final photo with the raw ingredients used? Hmm… real photographers, I guess. Complaining like a true amateur.) But trust me when I say that despite the dullness these photos may exude, this pasta sauce is easy to make and easy to fall in love with.

 

Spicy Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings

 

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 Ingredients

Sauce ingredients:

  • a heaping cup of tomatoes
  • a heaping cup of red bell pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Other ingredients seen in pictures:

  • gluten-free quinoa spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup baby eggplants, sliced
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped

 

STEP 1: Mince the garlic and oregano.

I use my NutriBullet’s mincing blade to make these two as small as possible. I find that if I throw the garlic and herbs full-sized along with the other ingredients in the food processor, it doesn’t get the ingredients as small as I want it to be. The smaller it is, the more flavor throughout.

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Dat Purple Haze… just kidding. It’s oregano.

By the way, I would like to congratulate my oregano on its first appearance! It’s doing well in the herb garden.

 

STEP 2: Throw in all ingredients in the food processor.

Make sure it’s a strong food processor, as you want the sauce to be smooth. If not thoroughly mixed, this will not produce the “chunky” sauce you want.

Set aside when smooth.

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STEP 3: Chop up other ingredients you wish to feature in your pasta.

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I found these adorable baby eggplants at Nelson Family Farms in Fort Pierce, FL! There a bit longer than my palm. I’ve never seen these before! This variety of eggplant is easy to chop, perfect for bite-sized disks, and absorbs flavors like a dream.

I also chose to throw in onion and mushrooms. It was a medley of perfection.

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STEP 4: Cook pasta and chopped veggies.

I used two tablespoons of coconut oil to cook the veggies with. It takes about 10 or so minutes to accomplish.

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STEP 6: Simmer sauce and strain pasta.

Once the veggies are cooked down, set the stove to a low setting and pour in the spicy red pepper sauce. Mix and let it sit for a few minutes.

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Dish out the pasta noodles, pour the sauce on top, and enjoy!

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Lemon-Garlic Rosemary French Fries

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June 17, 2014 By

I think I have a poser green thumb. I love nature, and I desperately want to have my own garden. However, it seems that I have a knack for killing plant life. Quite a dilemma indeed. Whatever I touch seems to turn to shit. Dead shit.

Okay okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. The truth is, growing plants is not easy. Sometimes it takes the plant wilting or drying up before I realize how much sunlight/water it needs. I’ve gotten a lot better about it. Now, I research what the plant needs as soon as I get it, as the wait-and-see approach seems to have failed me time and time again.

Through my wannabe green thumb ups-and-downs, the only plant that has seen me through is my rosemary. The ironic thing is that rosemary is an herb mostly used for meat, so I haven’t used it very much. That is, until recently, when I realized it pairs well with potatoes, too.

French fries are my ultimate weakness. In a world full of restaurants that have items I can’t eat, you can bet that the one thing I CAN eat are those french fries. Matt is a fanatic, too. Celiac people are strangely addicted to potatoes, which I suppose is a result of the lack of starches in their lives, I guess. I digress, potatoes rock.

We have combined our love for french fries and rosemary and created these kickass fries.

 

Rosemary French Fries

Prep Time: Less than 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40-45 minutes

Yield: 2 large servings (for the massive french fry lovers) OR 4 small servings

 

Ingredients

  • around 6+ red potatoes (medium sized)
  • 1 tbs coconut oil + 1 tbs coconut oil (used in different parts in the recipe)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (1 tsp seems like a lot, but potatoes easily absorb salt, making it seem like less. Use to your discretion.)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

 

STEP 1: Preheat your oven to 425 and start chopping your potatoes.

I’ve always had trouble with this until Matt, the potato guru (Mr. Potato Head himself) came along. He showed me step-by-step on how to perfectly chop potatoes to create french fries.

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Slice them vertically, like so…

DSC_0006… until the entire potato looks something like this.

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Then, take each potato slice and slice them about a quarter inch thick, and there you go! Awesome fries!

I suppose you could skin your potatoes prior to slicing, but why would you go and strip the potato from its nutrients? We’re a pro-skin household, so we prefer to keep it on.

 

STEP 2: Grease the baking pan.

Take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to grease up the baking sheet you will use.

STEP 3: Make the seasoning in the food processor.

Start off by throwing the rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic into a food processor. Grind it up until everything is minced. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can certainly chop by hand. It just doesn’t become as small as I would prefer.)

Add in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to the food processor with the rosemary mixture, and process it a little more. (If no food processor, just mix it all together by hand.)

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STEP 4: Place the fries on the baking sheet.

Gloop the rosemary mixture on top of the fries. Using your hands, work the mixture and the fries together until every fry is coated.

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STEP 5: Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Use the extra time to clean your kitchen and basque in the wonderful aroma that will be wafting through the house. I prefer to dance with my golden retriever Mia during this time.

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Beautiful, tasty fries! GET IN MY BELLY, NOW!

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By the way, I am actively using Instagram as a way to connect with me. If you’re interested in seeing what I eat day-by-day, you can connect with me by clicking the Instagram icon on the sidebar to the right. Use the hashtag #thisvegangirl to show me recipes of mine that you’ve done!

I’m also available on Facebook, which you’ll see on the right sidebar as well. It’s probably the easiest way to see that I’ve updated the blog.

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

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Rasta Pasta Salad

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January 12, 2014 By

Happy New Year, everyone! I officially went vegan on January 1, 2013, so here’s to 1 full year of veganism!

Pasta salad is an easy go-to for anyone. It’s perfect for big groups and entertaining. You can arrive with a vegan pasta salad to an event and no one will bat an eye. It’s a wonderful “clear the fridge” dish, too, as it is so versatile. Every time I make pasta salad, different veggies go into it, depending on what’s chilling (literally and figuratively) in my fridge.

For a long time, I was going through a trial-and-error period with my pasta salad recipe, particularly the dressing. In the past, I’ve tried to make the dressing from scratch, but something always went wrong. Too lemony. Too tart. Way too much balsamic. Too creamy. Too salty. Too bland. For someone who loves pasta salad so much, I couldn’t seem to get it right. It was a dark place.

Then, my sister and I decided to cook it together one day, and it was PERFECT. Who knew that the answer to my pasta problems was someone so close to home?

Cooking with others is so fun. I always come out of it feeling like I’ve learned something new. So here is the product of collaboration and deliciousness.

Oh yeah, and the Rastafarian thing? This is definitely not an authentic Rastafarian dish by any means. It’s only based on the matching flag colors. 😉

 

Rasta Pasta Salad

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients

Pasta Dressing:

  • 8 tbs EVOO
  • 1 1/2 tbs white wine vinegar (In a pinch, any vinegar will do, really. I used Apple Cider.)
  • 2 heaping tsp Veganaise (or as I like to call it, “goops.” Two goops of Veganaise.)
  • 2-3 tbs Agave Nectar
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced

Other Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Quinoa Pasta (gluten-free deliciousness; so much better than any GF pasta out there)
  • 1-2 cups of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup of carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 can, or 7.5 ounces, chickpeas
  • salt/pepper as garnish

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STEP 1: Cook the pasta.

Start boiling that water and get the pasta started! When your pasta is finished cooking, strain it and run it under cold water. Pasta salad shouldn’t be hot, so cooling off your pasta right after cooking keeps it cool and firm. Set aside or place in the fridge if you are still working on the meal.

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!

Mmm… I love the Garden Pagodas!

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STEP 2: Create the magic sauce!

There’s a science behind the sauce, so don’t throw in everything at once and mix.

In a bowl, mix the olive oil and balsamic first. Whisk it quickly for about 30 seconds. This will allow the two opposing ingredients to blend. Add the Veganaise next and whisk, but not like a crazy person this time. Just normal whisking. After that, you may add the other pasta sauce ingredients in any manner you’d like.

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STEP 3: Chop up those veggies!

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STEP 4: Mix all ingredients.

The fun part! Get a great, big bowl and mix the pasta, pasta sauce, veggies, and chickpeas all together! Add more salt and pepper as needed.

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RASTA!

 

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Extra pepper on mine, please!

 

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Buffalo Quinoa Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

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July 17, 2013 By

There is a new and improved version of this recipe. To view it, click here!

 

The idea for this recipe developed from two inspirations: my favorite local vegan restaurant & Pinterest.

At Dandelion Communitea Cafe in Orlando, FL, they have a variety of vegan and gluten-free options. I try to avoid getting in the rut of ordering the same thing every time, so recently, I ordered the Buffalo 66, a quinoa salad with tempeh tenders, veggies, and “blue cheese” dressing. When I tried this dish, my mouth was exploding in a flavor-war between the heat of the buffalo and the chill from the blue cheese. You know the devil & angel on your shoulders, pulling you in either direction? It was like that… but in my mouth, and delicious. The freshness of the veggies and the absorbency of the quinoa really pulled this dish together to make a truly exquisite dish.

Afterward, I told myself, “I have to make this!”

Flash forward to last night. It was time.

 

As for Pinterest, who isn’t inspired by the ideas people bring into this world on a daily basis? It took a bit of research to find a good “blue cheese” dressing. It wasn’t until this popular pin by PETA that I felt like I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

So, with a combination of ideas, as well as specific options that were found in my local grocery store, I created this mouth-watering, scarf-worthy, and heavenly dish! Seriously guys, it might be the best thing I’ve ever made. Oh yeah, and Matt helped, and his help made this dish even more awesome! It’s true that it takes one to have a good idea, but 2+ to make a good idea great!

 

Buffalo Quinoa Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Prep Time: 30 minutes (can be done during cook time)

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 3-4 servings

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water (to boil quinoa in)
  • 1 bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce (use as needed)
  • 1 cup GF Seasoned Coating Mix
  • 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans (will become roasted, drizzle with Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce)
  • 1 package of tempeh, sliced (8oz)
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • ½ small onion

For Blue Cheese Dressing:

  • 1 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1 lemon, squeezed
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp tahini
  • 1/4 tsp agave nectar
  • a dash of garlic powder
  • 1/8 block of firm tofu, drained and pressed

 

 

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain chickpeas and pat dry. Get an oven pan oiled and ready, place chickpeas onto the pan, and dress them with 3-4 tbs of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce. Move your fingers along the tops of the chickpeas and place them in the oven for about 60 minutes.

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A hand model BY NO MEANS.

 

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STEP 2: Tempeh time! After slicing your tempeh, gather 2 bowls and an oiled oven tray to create an assembly line. In the first bowl, pour some buffalo wing sauce. In the second bowl, pour some GF Seasoned Coating Mix. When everything is ready, dip your tempeh into the buffalo wing sauce, followed by the seasoning, and place it on the tray. Place in the oven with the chickpeas. They should cook for about 30-35 minutes.

Atten-TION!

Atten-TION!

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STEP 3: Time to create the dressing! Gather your ingredients and mix them all into a small bowl, except for the tofu. You will drain and press your tofu, then crumble it up (I did this by taking a spoon and flattening out the tofu). Mix in with the dressing, cover, and place into the fridge until ready.

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STEP 4: With 20 minutes left on the chickpeas/tempeh, get your quinoa ready. I used 1 cup of quinoa. Use the 2 cups of water to boil your quinoa, then let it simmer (covered) for 15 minutes.

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STEP 5: You’re cooking 3 things at once, yet you have one more task! Get a big bowl ready, cut up the carrots, celery, and onion, and place them in the bowl.

The perfect medley of freshness!

The perfect medley of freshness!

 

STEP 6: When everything is done cooking, mix the steaming-hot quinoa and chickpeas in the bowl with the veggies. Gather your rather large helping (your stomach won’t let you get a small one, I promise you), place your tempeh tenders on top, and garnish with a little more buffalo sauce and your dressing.

Chickpeas are done!

Chickpeas are done!

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Tempeh tenders are done!

The tempeh tenders were fantastic. In fact, they’re amazing by themselves! I might make them as a finger food one day… hmm, perhaps the Superbowl…

 

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There was no way to make the dish look cute with this clumpy dressing.

There was no way to make the dish look cute with this clumpy dressing.

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Anyway, this dish is tantalizing and all-out amazing. Stop what you’re doing and make this today. Your tastebuds, and your audience, will thank you.

 

Happy cooking!

thisvegangirllogo

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Mexican Pizza

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July 7, 2013 By

Do you want a dish that will make even the biggest vegan skeptics begging you for more? Look no further than this Mexican Pizza!

This is adapted from Vegan Richa, who has incredible recipe ideas! (Thank you!)

I adore this recipe because it’s really easy. It’s unlike any kind of pizza most people have ever tasted. You can make it as mild -or hot- as you want. I’ve made this pizza for almost every non-vegan I know and they always seem blown away at how delicious and flavorful it is.

In fact, I’ve made it so many times that I’ve kind of made my own adaptations to the recipe.

 

Mexican Pizza

Soak Time: 8 hours/overnight

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1-2 pizza dough balls

1 can of refried beans (I do Old El Paso Fat Free refried beans, as it is the only one without lard)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 red onion

1-2 avocado

1-2 tbs olive oil

1/2 lime, squeezed

a small bunch of kale, chopped

salt/pepper to taste

 

Lemon & Lime Crema Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours/overnight

1/2 tsp salt

1-2 garlic cloves

1/2 lemon, squeezed

1/2 lime, squeezed

lemon/lime zest

 

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spread your pizza dough out on your cooking pan. Spread the refried beans on top of the dough. Place in the oven when ready. It should cook for about 20 minutes.

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STEP 2: Create your lemon/lime crema. Drain your soaked cashews and place them in a food processor. Slowly fill up your food processor with water until it barely covers the top of your cashews. Turn your food processor on high. It might be a few minutes until they  become creamy.

After that, mix in your other ingredients. It may seem like a ton of flavor now, but you’ll thank me later when it’s on top of the pizza! Place in the refrigerator to cool.

 

Soaked cashews.

Soaked cashews.

 


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STEP 3: Prepare your pizza toppings. In a bowl, combine the fruits/vegetables, oil, juice, and seasonings into the bowl and mix.

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STEP 4: By this time, your dough should be ready! Take out the dough, spread out your toppings, and pour the Lemon/Lime crema on top!

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STEP 5: Get to this thing as fast as possible before it’s all gone.

 

I LOVE to smother the heck out of this bad boy with hot sauce. It pairs so well with the coolness of the Lemon/Lime crema.

 

I’m drooling just looking at this thing. Stop what you’re doing right now and make this insanely tasty pizza!

 

 

Happy cooking!

thisvegangirllogo

 

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