All posts by AmandaE

Reality

DC VegFest

VegFest Nachos

It’s not often that I go to an event regarding food and come away disappointed, but that seems to be the trend lately.  I’ve been a HUGE fan of the DC VegFest since I stumbled upon it a few years ago on a DC adventure involving the Eastern Market and the Capitol Book Faire – and I was hooked.  There were demos showing how to work with nutritional yeast and Vegg when it come to vegan baking as well as info booths about all the uses for tofu and why the type matters.  I was able to try vegan cookies and cupcakes as well as smoothies thickened with tofu and the new (at the time) Daiya meltable line.  I came away with information on why being a vegetarian matters as well as how to be a GOOD vegetarian.  For many people, including myself in my early veg years, living vegetarian is synonymous with living the anti-Adkins diet of all carbs all the time.  VegFest was a nice post-college reminder that there is more to life than pasta and rice.  It was at VegFest that I saw my first Tofu Press and while I’ve never invested in an official one, I press my tofu each and every time and the difference in taste/texture is amazing.  To me this is what a vegetarian food festival should be – teaching people how to live a healthier life even if it’s as simple as #MeatlessMonday.

Instead more and more food festivals seem to be about preaching to people why what they are doing isn’t enough, or isn’t “right”.   From National Food Expos to VegFest to the Emporiyum, more and more of the focus seems to be on organizations preaching to people about why their specific type of living (natural oils, fruitarianism, freegans, etc) is the RIGHT one- Revival style if you will.  It’s almost the reverse of the classic teach a man to “fish” story – instead of being taught how to do the skill they are being told they aren’t good enough since they aren’t “fishing” but not being told HOW to do it.  I have heard speaker after speaker preach about the importance of green leafy vegetables,  but not one of them gave a recipe for HOW to use green leafy vegetables.  I heard speakers going on about the importance of limiting soy intake, but not one of them talked about HOW to make your own nut milk/cheese.  I get that talking about the problem is easier than fixing the problem, but from my experience it seems as if many of these organizations were doing a better job in their early years which makes me wonder why the change.   I saw more clothing, soup, and products booths at the event this year then anything else.

In the end I’m sure it comes down to money – bringing in produce to cook is not cheap and shockingly (to me) I’ve never seen a local farm participate in one these food events, only restaurants selling the final product.  So why the disconnect?  Why the move from showing people HOW to borderline discouraging them by saying what they are doing isn’t enough?  Is this the new direction for Food Festivals – making them more like user group seminars where the attendees are expected to already know how to make their own almond milk or cashew cheese?  I’m not sure, and with that I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to stop going to these events – but I know that I’m not going to be as eager to bring friends to the events.  I want to go to a VegFest that is a celebration of all things veg*n – which to me means including the fruits and vegetables and legumes that are so fundamental to this way of living.

Note: Nachos pictured above are from Bread and Brew and were fantastic!  However in fitting with my other issues, a recipe for that fantastic vegan queso would have been a fantastic addition :-) Tho Belle did appreciate the frisbee the bamboo plate was resting in!

Steal My Sunshine

Summer Tomato Sauce

summer_tomato_pasta_sauce

Working a Farmer’s Market is fantastic, especially when there are leftover tomatoes at the end of the day!  Second tomatoes aren’t always the easiest to use, but if you are willing to put the work in when it comes time to cutting they are a fantastic (cheaper) option.  It also means getting a variety of types, so I indulged in some research to figure out what I had and what it would work as.  A quick google led me to realize that the Green Zebra would be a fantastic addition for a stew or a quinoa dish – and I was really craving some pasta.  This left me with some Cherokee  purple, yellow pear, and Virginia sweet all of which were perfect for the sauce I was hoping to create.  All I needed was to go to my herb garden and grab a handful of basil, and figure out where the missing vidalia onion was hiding.

Steal My Sunshine

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 lbs fresh tomatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, diced
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 lb angel hair pasta

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 7 minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to help break the tomatoes down. Add the basil along with the chili flakes and the pinch of salt. Cover and turn heat to low.
  2. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and then add the pasta to the sauce.
  3. Stir the pasta in to the sauce, making sure to fully cover. Allow to simmer for a final 5 minutes.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

I used Barilla Plus angel hair but have used their Gluten Free line before with fantastic results - just adjust cooking time since GF takes longer to cook!

http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/09/steal-my-sunshine.html

By allowing the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce it was able to suck up every last drop of tomato goodness, and also gave the pasta a fantastic pink shade (this trick also works with gluten free pasta!).  Joe topped his with some cheese while I kept mine on the naked side, though as with any pasta dish there is no right or wrong.  The only important thing is to make sure all the sauce is fully enjoyed otherwise it’s a total sauce foul!

I’m also sending this over to Franglais Kitchen – where this month’s Simple and in Season is being hosted.   Also sending a HUGE thanks to Chocolates and Tomato Farm for growing and harvesting such tasty treats!

Happy Birthday Dear

Joe’s Favorite Things

stove_top_mac_n_cheese

Today is my wonderful husband’s birthday – and so I’m celebrating him with a post featuring all of his favorite foods.  I’ve been cooking for him since before we were dating, at the time just trying to help out a coworker who was living on hummus sandwiches and veggie burgers.  Cooking has always been a big part of my life, and with his support, and willingness to taste test, Dancing Veggies was born.  Things haven’t exactly been easy over the past year (silly troll uterus) but my husband has been there for it all – equipped with Vitamin Water and ice cream – which is why today is all about him.

caprese_grilled_cheese

When Joe and I first moved in together he brought a few cookbooks with him, including a number of the Moosewood series.  In one of those books was a recipe for Yellow Rice with Curry Beans – something he made for me a few times when I was late getting home due to yoga.  I started tweaking it early on, which eventually resulted in this Curry Bean and Rice Dish.  Every time I make this dish I immediately flash back to those early days – and how hard it was to add the pineapples to the dish before he snatched them up!!!

Caramel Potatoes

Apparently this Coffee Cake is how one of Joe’s sisters “knew” he was going to be well taken care of.  It takes some early morning planning but the end result is worth it.  Amazingly enough these  caramelized potatoes are also on the list – along with creme brulee (another Joe birthday post!).  It’s almost as if my other half has a thing for caramel…tho that would explain why the homemade dulce de leche never lasts!

Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese

However while he might love caramel, his favorite food group (yes, group) is easily CHEESE!  I once made a comment about going vegan and there were no comments regarding the missing eggs, or milk, but rather extreme concern about the potential for no more cheesy dinners.  Which is why at least one meal a week includes a fair amount of this special diary product to include: Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese, Caprese Grilled Cheese (was served at our wedding as a surprise for Joe!), Stove Top Mac & Cheese, Stuffed Shells, and Cannelloni.

 

Stuffed Shell Stuffing

I’m still not 100% certain what I’m going to make for his actual birthday dinner – tho I do have dessert planned out!   

Apple Caramel Muffin

and Let Live

Taco Bowl

Taco Bowl

Greeting!  Today’s dish is what happens when you leave a crucial item off of a shopping list – in this case taco shells.  While I first debated attempting to make my own shells, I then realized a much safer option would be forgetting about the shells and going for the taco version of a burrito bowl.  I used the usual cast of characters when it came to the taco “filling” and then tossed it all with some rice for a simple bowl of delicious.   As an added bonus the jalapeno came from my own garden, tho sadly I can not claim the tomatoes since this year I only have the cherry variety going – but maybe next year!

and Let Live

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, diced
  • 2 cups presoaked black (or pinto) beans
  • 1/2 cup black olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the brown rice in the water for 25 minutes, set aside.
  2. While the rice is soaking heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and toast for 3 minutes before adding the remaining spices, cook for 2 minutes while stirring constantly.
  3. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes before adding the peppers. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until onion starts to brown. Add the tomato, beans, and olives and cook for 5 minutes stirring as needed to break up the tomato.
  4. Drain the rice then place in a sauce pan along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a quick boil, then turn hit to simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and then add to the vegetable mixture along with any remaining water.
  5. Stir well and cook for a final 10 minutes. Add the crushed up chips and give everything a final stir.
  6. Serve and Enjoy!
http://www.dancingveggies.com/blog/2014/09/and-let-live.html

Sometimes it pays off to forget something as now I have a new quick dish that has all the taco taste – just minus the shells. Plus it uses up random scraps of food that might otherwise have been thrown away, which is a HUGE positive in my opinion.  The taco rice can be topped with avocado, sour cream, cheese, or salsa – whatever your taste buds desire!

Note: Saying extra prayers today for all the family and friends who lost loved ones in the horrible attacks 13 years ago.  I’ve written before about my own experience before here for anyone interested.

Are You Ready

Tailgate Round-Up

One more sign of fall – Football season is here!  I’m not a huge fan of football, more of a hockey girl, but now that we are living in a football town I feel like I have to at least show some team spirit.  So with that in mind, below are some awesome dishes perfect for tailgating.

Corn Salsa

Corn Salsa

Sweet Potato Chili

Sweet Potato Chili

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

 Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili

Garlic Feta Dip

Garlic Feta Dip

 Hot Artichoke Dip

Hot Artichoke Dip

These are also the same dips that I rotate in and out for gaming days – with the Garlic Feta Dip being everyone’s favorite.  It also makes a great burger topping, be it meat or otherwise.   Chili is also the perfect group dish since it can easily be doubled and switched to a stock pan if it becomes too much for the slow cooker.