Saturday, June 29, 2013


Quick post -

A lot of weekend mornings we make homefries.  They're so easy to make and so delicious. 

This morning was a homefries kind of morning.  They won out over tofu scramble because I want to save the tofu for something else.

Actually, I learned (Thanks wikipedia) that if one were to add onions and bell peppers to the mix this magically transforms Homefries into Potatoes O'Brien.

(I have to pause to explain that while I write this, our cat Max is trying to drive me insane.  He is not allowed to walk on the kitchen table.  I think its gross when cats walk on kitchen tables or counters or anywhere you put food because they stand in their litter boxes.  Gina argues that I let Bob jump onto the sink in the bathroom to drink out of it and we keep out toothpaste there.  I really have no backing argument to that but I continue to let Bob drink out of the sink in the bathroom.  Anyway, Max keeps jumping up on the kitchen table, and I keep picking him up and puting his heavy ass back on the floor - from which he immediately jumps back up.  The only solution to this, for some reason, is to shake a plastic bag at him.  It works every time.)

Back to potatoes and breakfast:

POTATOES O'BRIEN (with a smoky twist)

What you'll need:

6 medium sized potatoes (chopped into medium cubes)
1 large red onion
1 bell pepper (I used green but use whatever you've got lying around)
1 tbs olive oil
non stick cooking spray
soy sauce
1/2 tbs garlic powder
1/2 tbs smoked paprika

Whatchooo do:

0.  Put on The Besnard Lakes album "...Are the Dark Horse".
1.  Put your cubed potatoes into a stock pot and then cover them with water, but only just enough to cover them completely.
2.  Bring the potatoes in the water to a boil on your stovetop and then turn the heat to medium/high-ish and cover them letting them simmer for 15 minues.

3.  In the meantime, chop you onion, chop your bell pepper.

Now, while the potatoes boil do whatever dishes you have lying around, play with the cats, talk to your wife about how you love this Besnard Lakes album and then get into a kind of/sort of argument with her about how they do not sound like a billion other bands and their songs are not all really long and boring.  Walk away from this argument, its not worth it.  (She's wrong).  Change the subject, go back into the kitchen to check the potato time and then still realize you have like 5 minutes of potato boiling to wait out.

4.  Once the timer FINALLY goes off, pour the potatoes into a strainer.

5.  Heat in a pan the olive oil, once hot add the potatoes and flip them a bunch to coat all of them with olive oil.  Turn the heat down to medium and then cover the potatoes and let them cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.

6.  Flip the potatoes gently and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Re cover and cook for another 5 minutes occasionally flipping them.

7.  Add the peppers and onions and spices.  Then add the soy sauce, enough to get the tops of all of the potatoes you can see.  Stir everything well and re-cover for 3 minutes flipping occasionally.  Traditionally salt and pepper are the only things you use but I wanted the smoked paprika for some smoky mystery and I like the way the soy sauce tastes as a substitute for just plain old salt.  The garlic powder just made sense to me.

8.  ENJOY.

Now imma figure out what to do with the rest of today.  Maybe get a haircut.  Maybe walk on the Montour Trail.  IDK.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Thank God it's Friday.

Seriously, what an annoyingly long week!  Every freakin' day felt like forever.  But now it's THE WEEKEND!  (Insert chorus of triumphant screams)

It was kind of busy week.  For the first few days I was helping my Dad with some computer issues until really late each night - and by "helping my Dad" I really mean that I called my best friend John, who happens to be an I.T. Guru and put him on the phone with my Dad while I kind of hung out because I know nothing about computers.

Each night I threw dinner together fairly quickly because I was getting home earlier than Gina - but the quickest and most satisfying of all was TACO PIE.

I have accepted that there isn't a chance in hell that I invented this.  I haven't looked, but I'll bet if you Google "recipe for Taco Pie" about a billion hits will come up.

Cut me some slack, though!  I threw it together in like 5 minutes and just kind of went on instinct (hungry, tired, annoyed instinct)

So you too can make a very quick (albeit, likely not super healthy) dinner, below is a run down of what I did.


What you'll need:

- 2 tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (which, incidentally, are vegan ((who knew?)) as long as you buy the original, not the weird pre-buttered ones)
- 1 package of Yves veggie crumbles. (or whatever veggie crumbles you have.  I like the Yves brand better than Morning Star and Boca)
- 1 15 oz can of black beans
- Non Stick cooking spray.
- 1 package of taco seasoning
- 1 half of a small jar of salsa - I guess it'd be like a cup of salsa?  That sounds about right.
- 1/4 cup of water

How you do this thing:

1.  Preheat your oven to about 350
2.  "Brown" your veggie crumbles in a pan with the black beans.  "Brown them?" You ask. Yes. That's what it says to do to the ground beef on the taco seasoning package.  Secretly your veggie crumbles will remain exactly the same color.  Sorry.
3.  Add your package of taco seasoning and stir it in well.
4.  Add 1/4 cup of water.
5.  Add your salsa, mix well, cook stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
6.  Spray a 21x21.5  inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray
7.  Pop open one of those Pillsbury Crescent Roll tubes (don't even try to deny how fun it is to do that.  Who even thought of that!  So satisfying.)  Stretch the whole dough sheet so it covers the bottom and the sides of the casserole dish.
8.  Pour your taco "meat"  into the casserole dish on top of the spread crescent roll dough and spread it out evenly.
9.  Pop open the 2nd crescent roll package and divide the triangles placing them strategically across the top of the taco meat until they cover it all the way.
10. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the crescent roll begins to get - you know - golden brown.

The final product looked like this:

I was so sure that this would miserably fail while it was baking that I was super shocked when it turned out so well!

Here's a cut slice:

Other nights we ate things like Tofurky brauts, hastily made soup (not even a real soup recipe), and one ambitious night I made that same chickpea picatta that we posted about on our Anniversary.  I've been making that picatta about once or twice a week for the last month - it's become kind of an obsession.

We also discovered our favorite no cheese pizza by far, ANYWHERE.

It's from Doughboy's Pizza in McKees Rocks and they have magically perfected the no cheese pizza in such a way that any other pizza place around here that tries it should hang their heads in shame.

We get it with spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms.  Their spinach is fresh, though.  And the tomatoes - I swear to God - taste and look like bruschetta topping.

It looks like this:

Yes, that is a gigantic jug of Carlo Rossi in the background.  I'm drinking some of that jug while I write this.  (Please ignore the zip lock bags resting atop the oranges...  Better yet, please ignore everything else in the picture except that amazing pizza pie.)

That's it for now!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Guacamole: How to get possessed by Aztec Gods.

In 2010, during the cold, cold winter I read Gary Jennings' Aztec and loved the crap out of it.  I guess my love for ancient South America started when I was a very young buck (like 4 years old young) and I religiously watched The Mysterious Cities of Gold, an 80's weekly cartoon about a young orphan from Spain that gets wrapped up with a group of explorers searching South America for the Lost Cities of Gold in the 15, or 1600's (I cant remember).

Somehow aliens come into the story.  I kid you not.

I watched this when it was on TV in the 80's (Incidentally, a very dorky 28 year old Jason would find every freaking episode of the aforementioned French/Asian cartoon and re-watch it on Hooloo over the span of a couple weeks.  He loved it just as much as his 4 year old self did.)  and from this arose a really intense kid-love of anything Myan, Incan, or Aztec.

Anyway - you may be wondering where I am going with this.  Well, I'll tell you.

The fantastic novel Aztec may not mention it, but Guacamole came to us directly from the ancient Aztecs.  Its of 16th century origin and literally translates to Avocado sauce.

Gina is going to meet up with some co workers today - and I offered to make some guacamole for her. 

Once upon a time I followed a recipe from this that I found online - but since then I've stopped and just kind of put in whatever I want.  Let's just say the spirit of ancient Aztec takes me and I lose all sense of space and time and find myself, suddenly, with delicious green goodness.  Something like that.

Here's what yinz'll need:

2 ripe acacados
2 tomatoes (chopped up with a Macuahuitl - you know, an Aztec sword.  If you dont have one of these just use a sharp kitchen knife.  Be careful.)
3 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 small red onion or half of a large one.  (see above instructions for the tomato)
lemon juice (3 tablespoons)
Cumin (1 teaspoon)
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Combine the tomatoes with the avacadoes.
2.  Add the garlic to the tomatoes.
3. Combine the onions with the stuff already in there. (I am fully aware of how unnecessary the photographs of these steps are - but lets be honest, guacamole doesnt really take a master chef to concoct, I needed to fill space with something.) 

4.  Add the cumin to the mix:
5.  Add the salt, pepper, and lemon juice (After the cumin I got a little over ambitious and stopped taking pictures of the next few steps.  That's probably where Quetzalcoatl (you know, the Aztec feathered serpent god?  Duh.) possessed me and guided my hand in the final steps of Guac making.)

6.  Mix well with a fork smashing up all of the avocado. Its best enjoyed pretty immediately. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer time GAZPACHO and ChickPea cutlets with Mustard Sauce

It's been humid as hell recently.  I and mean that in the least vulgar way possible - like, if there really is a hell - it is probs about this humid.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned my sultry love affair with Salsa on here or not?

Well - to put it mildly, I have 3 loves in my life right now:

1.  Gina
2. Bob
3. Soup

But if I were to have a secret lover on the side - it would be Salsa.

That said, I have always held a fascination with that old time Spanish/Andalucian classic:  Gazpacho.

Believe it or not - this guy you're reading about right now, who has an outright love for soup and secret love for Salsa has never even tried the almost mind altering combination of the two.

But its true.  Never before had gazpacho passed these teeth.

Never before, that is, this past weekend:


Catchy subtitle, huh?

Okay - I admit, the very first time I tried this wonder, I made it myself - so I have absolutely no way of knowing if it tastes anything like the real deal - but trust, me - it was damn good.

(That said, I also kinda...  well you know...  I sort of...  Okay - I altered the recipe of something that I had never tried before to make it the way I have always wanted this to taste - when I pictured the taste in my head...  Sorry ancient Spaniards.)

The origins of this are actually ancient (here's where my use of a food processor falls distressingly short of authenticity - sorry, I didn;t have a mortar and pestle large enough to make it the way the old timers did!)

Some history on it here.  Some think its a variation on a soup the Arabs once made involving bread and olive oil and garlic (Mmmm), other think the Romans are responsible due to the use of vinegar.  What is known for sure, though, is that it made its way eventually to Andelusian cuisine.

What I used:

1 cucumber
2 red bell peppers
6 cloves of garlic
1 small red onion
2 cups of vegetable juice (I just used the Shop n' Save brand in a bottle)
1 jalapeno
5 medium tomatos
3 tablespoons of Lemon Juice (I used a bottle of lemon juice, but you can use real lemons if you want)
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1/4 cup (or more) or vinegar - I used apple cidar
1 can of chickpeas (definitely NOT part of any of the original recipes but I added it for protein)

 What I did was:

1.  Roughly chop each vegetable separately into medium chunks.
2. Use a food processor to individually chop each, but not too finely.
3. Combine all chopped veggies in a very large bowl, mix
4. Add garlic, lemon juice, Olive Oil and the vegetable juice, vinegar and chickpeas and mix well:

5. Chill for at least an hour (longer if you can wait - the longer you let it sit, the better it tastes)
6.  ENJOY in multiple bowl fulls

It was pretty much heaven.  I ate it for like 3 meals.

Chick Pea Cutlets smothered in amazing Mustard Sauce

A few years ago, when Gina and I first started dating, I lived in this studio apartment in Squirrel Hill.

I was between jobs for a couple weeks and had some time on my hands.  I had just gotten into starting to make vegetarian/vegan food for myself and had bought The Veganomicon.

One day, Gina was just getting home from work and I texted her and told her to just come over, I had dinner all made.  

I was so proud of myself.

What I created was the recipe for Chickpea Cutlets from that book, with a recipe for Mustard Sauce (also - you know - from that book.)

Gina brought things full circle and made the same meal for us the other night.

You mash up chickpeas with spices and vital wheat gluten and veggie broth and form it into a ball first:

Then you divide it into four small balls and then shape them cutlets and bake them.

For the mustard sauce it is - I believe Dijon Mustard combined with veggie broth, white wine, capers and spices.

We enjoyed it with steamed broccoli and mustard greens.

My plate:


It was delicious!  The cutlets are so meaty and wonderful and I cant even explain the mustard sauce - its totally key.  Definitely try it.

And that's all for this evening.  

Posting is back ON.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Flatbread Paradise.


I apologize for our long absence of blogging. Jason posted about the flatbread delights we have been experiencing for lunch so I thought I would show you how to also have them for dinner.

This was a quick after work meal. I used Victoria Vegan Mushroom Marinara for the sauce, which though it is a bit pricey for a jar of it (7.99) it is worth it if you want to save some time. It's delicious and very flavorful. Other additions were mushrooms, spinach, Yves vegan pepperoni, and glorious Daiya mozzarella cheese. Obviously, you can put whatever you want on this pizza.

 This is the finished product.

It was really good and it only took about 20 minutes to prepare and bake. It definitely helped curb the pizza craving we experience every so often and was much better (and cheaper!) than ordering a pizza with no cheese from a pizza place out here which always leaves much to be desired.

In April, I celebrated birthday number 29 and we had some friends over for a little birthday celebration. Earlier in the day we had our families over so I made many dips. In all of the rushing around I only managed to take a picture of two of them. I'm sorry. This brings us to my new favorite dip - Buffalo Chickpea Dip. You can find the recipe I used here. I really loved this dip, it was really easy to make and found that even though I did not like Buffalo Chicken Dip in my long ago meat eating days, I definitely like this dip.

I also tried a new spinach and artichoke dip. Recipe is here. I thought incorporating sauerkraut was really interesting so I wanted to give it a shot. I thought it was decent but the next time I found myself making a dip I reverted to my tried and true recipe from Betty Crocker and just veganized it. That recipe can be found here. Here is a picture of the new one I tried. I never took a picture of them once baked so I apologize. Above all, I thought it was good but the consistency seemed a bit too soupy for my liking. 

 In April I also made this awesome meal using a recipe from The V Word. It is Penne with Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash, Kale and Hazelnuts, it was amazing, as every recipe from that website is.

Also from The V Word I made Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti which was also an amazing meal and we had leftovers for pretty much a whole week. Make this with some garlic bread and a nice salad and you have a kickass Italian dinner for two (or an entire army since that is how Italians cook).

I have a little staycation from work this coming week so hopefully I will get to share some more awesome recipes. Since it is finally nice out we should also be experimenting with some grilling fun. Stay tuned! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lizzy Borden sandwiches and Thai Food.

At this moment Gina is reading me the wikipedia page for Lizzy Borden.  This is our breakfast conversation.  We are simultaneously listening to Wampire who are great, and who's album you can stream in it's entirety on Polyvinyl Record's website.

Sorry its been so long!  To calm a fear I am sure anyone reading this must have had in our absence, I assure you, we do still eat when we're not blogging, you just dont get to see it.

I guess I'll start off with something we've been making for workday lunches recently - Pinwheel sandwiches.  We totally invented these (we did not really invent these.).

[Side Note:  I just did some extensive research (wikipedia) and couldn't find any cool history for these so lets just say that Lizzy Borden invented them (Editors note:  though we cannot definitively prove that Lizzy Borden did not invent this sandwich, we cannot definitively state that she did either. She likely did not.) .  I did, however, discover a page on wikipedia that just lists sandwiches.  Its awesome.  Read it.]

So here's the story:  Its, say, Tuesday.  Your alarm goes off and you hit snooze a few dozen times and then  finally drag yourself out of bed weeping in your mind at the injustice of the fact that IT'S HARDLY EVER FRIDAY.  You feed the cats, you give your oldest cat (and best bud) his thyroid meds, you put on the coffee.

It's around the time that you're in the shower thinking about how you have roughly ten minutes left to get out the door or you will certainly be late for work when you suddenly think, "Well crap, I've got to make something for lunch."  This thought is immediately followed by, "Wow, we've got to clean the soap scum off of this shower door."

You dont need to stress though - lunch can be made in pretty much no time!  (Your shower door, however, will require some time.  Sorry.)

Here's what you do.

You take the leftover flat bread out of the fridge from those flatbread pizza's Gina made that we didn't show you.

The pictures look weird, today.  Sorry they're stretched out - I have no idea how to fix this or if it will even display this way once I publish this post.  Oh well.


You lay the flatbread on a cutting board (because you've convinced yourself, for some reason, that the table is more germy).

You take out that tub of Tribe Everything Hummus which initially sounded kind of gross to you but you ended up admitting to yourself was really good.

Spread that wonder onto the flatbread - really smother it on there - go on, let yourself go.  Yes!  There it is...

(clears throat nervously)

Lay on there some greens (because if you don't use them for something soon, they'll likely go bad and you will have to throw them away and feel guilty about it.)

Take out your trusty, delicious Tofurky brand lunch"meat" and lay down a layer of that.

Then (this is my favorite part) ROLL IT!

Sing a song to yourself while you do this that only uses the words "roll it".  Get into the rhythm.

Then cut it into segments imagining that you are a master sushi chef and you are on Iron Chef and you just won.

And there you have it.

What else have we been doing...

Oh yeah, we tried out this new thai/cambodian place in the South Side called Aspara Cafe.  It was really good!

As a rule we typically do not frequent the South Side - however - Gina was stationed at the South Side branch for work that day, and I drove down to pick her up after.

The restaurant itself is a really neat space.  The decor is well done and interesting.  Lots of elephants.  

Because I suck I only remembered to take a picture of the appetizer that we got:

They're fresh spring rolls with tofu, and they were really good.  They had a hint of mint in them which was really pleasing,  The peanut dipping sauce was thicker and sweeter than I'm used to, but was really good - oh and they give it to you with this awesome little wooden spoon which I found endlessly entertaining to use to apply the sauce.

I got their Panang and it was delicious.  It was bell peppers, peas, carrots, thai basil, kaffir lime leaves and smothered in a wonderful coconut curry.

I got it super spicey so unfortunately Gina did not try it.

Gina got Phad Thai and really liked it as well.  I did sample her Phad Thai and can attest, it is definitely worth trying (maybe even worth going to the South Side for, ugh....)

That's about all I've got.  Imma try to post more frequently again, so stay tuned.