Learning to love the sweet potato has taken time for me. It was too sweet. The flavors too strong. I felt overwhelmed. Well, it is hard being vegan and not eating sweet potatoes. I can safely say that I am a converted fan. Especially since I get a BUNCH of sweet potatoes from my local CSA share. Since I had so many sweet potatoes, I’ve been busy in the kitchen.
Okay, so the easiest way to sum this up is that this dish is yummy, easy, and somewhat fast. (or rather little manual work). But the dish is a little bland, and can be easily altered according to personal tastes, adding some more hot sauce, more oil, more salt, whatever.
But actually reading the recipe is annoying. The directions are clear, but the ingredients are not listed as you use them, which is pretty standard practice. Then midway through the recipe switches from vegetable stock to chicken stock, therefore making it not vegetarian. Yes, anyone would be able to figure this out, but it is sloppy from the authors standpoint.
Bottom Line: Yummy, easy, a little bland.
I had my doubts with this recipe. I never had luck with having raw vegetables cook in the oven in a casserole or having no bake lasagna cook all the way. Both happened. The sweet potato, cauliflower, and noodles cooked to perfection. The only issues I had was that if the noodles weren’t covered, they didn’t bake properly. So I would recommend making a smidgen more béchamel sauce just to cover your basis.
The dish was super easy to make, just make the sauce, then layer all the parts. Super simple. The end result is a super creamy and super dense lasagna, which got my husband’s seal of approval. Plus the dish is pretty open for changes. I added some daiya mozzarella on top and bread crumbs. I even doubled the sauce and made an extra large batch at once. I would make sure you have extra sweet potato and cauliflower since the dish is pretty open ended. I actually used one and two thirds of a sweet potato for a double batch, when the recipe would of used only one whole sweet potato.
Bottom Line: Super easy and open for changes, just time consuming for layering.
Is there some unspoken party rule that dips should be named after other foods? I mean there is buffalo wing dip, hoagie dip, jalapeno popper dip, banana pudding dip, smores dip, it seriously gets out of control. But I have to admit I have a soft spot for pizza dip. It was sort of my family’s staple appetizer for parties.
The original version was pretty easy to make, just take cream cheese and sour cream and beat together. Then add tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni chunks. Now, clearly the original isn’t vegan. But I would make the argument that I prefer my newer vegan version, though I miss the pepperoni. So instead I topped it with other items you would find on a pizza, onions and peppers. But you are free to use whatever you want, like olives, faux pepperoni, faux sausage, tomato slices, etc.
This dip is really tasty. It made my omnivorous friends scratch their heads when they found out there wasn’t any dairy in it. And they ate it so fast I couldn’t take any photos showing the different layers.
My biggest tip with the dip? Finding the right container. You don’t need the dip to fill up all the way to the top. Keeping nice thin layers is ideal so you can get a little bit of everything in one scoop. I am merely poor and lack a huge collection of dishes to cook in (gotta work with what you got)
It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Truthfully I only started to care about the Super Bowl when I started dating Jon. He got me to start watching and liking football. Granted, I think I care a lot less than most people about the Super Bowl. I mean it is fun but I tend not to care if there isn’t a team I like going in. This years line up I am not too thrilled about, and if my husband didn’t have anything to say about it, I would be watching the Puppy Bowl instead.
But here are 5 articles or videos I found interesting this week:
I think all vegans and vegetarians have seen this article at some point in past two weeks. But if you haven’t, I highly recommend checking it out. It is a hard read but an important one.
If you live on the Eastcoast of the United States you probably heard about the blizzard. You also might of heard about the mad panic that New York (and the states below it) went through to have it be a big bust. There is always a joke that during storms people always grab toilet paper, eggs, milk, and bread. But The Kitchn makes their own stock up list, and I have to agree with them.
Anyone a Settlers fan? A friend taught my husband and me how to play, and we enjoyed it a lot. As time passed I learned about how many other people were playing it, then I read this article. Complicated games for adults are thought of as nerdy, but it makes lots of sense that they should be fun for everyone. I think most people are just distracted by bars, tv, and movies.
This article hit home. As someone who use to live in Philadelphia, a city that has a pretty big catcalling problem, and moved the suburbs, I’ve noticed how my behaviors have changed. I cross the street when I see men walking, I walk down different blocks to avoid construction sites, and I tune out other people. So it is good to see evidence that what I do is normal.
Side note- I figured we should have a fuzzy cat as a photo instead of a stressed out woman, because why not?
The War on Ballsacks
Ever taken public transportation? Ever had to commute? If you have, I am sure you know that “rush hour” brings out the worse in people. At least everyone can have a sense of humor about it.
Day 24: Tried playing with my cat, but she just left the tinsel on.
Day 25: A nice shot of my hubby and his beard.
Day 26: While cleaning the sheets, my cat decided to climb on my big pile for a nap.
Day 27: There is a local cemetery in my town that is across from the high school. It is interesting since it is so close to residential houses as well. One of the downsides, I guess, when living in a small older town.
Day 28: Fixed my old bike necklace and thought I would start playing around with manual exposure and shutter speeds.
Day 29: Still playing around with exposures, apertures, and lighting the next day.
Day 30: I had a horrible migraine all day so I took the day off.
Let’s start with the obvious, the Northeast Blizzard was a total bust for people in New Jersey. Schools were canceled, stores announced they would close, and everyone was ready to work from home. Then we all woke up to snow on the ground, but the grass still peaking through. It only seems silly since there were travel bans and everything. Why couldn’t I be living in Boston? With snow all around and me snuggling with a blanket and a good book.
But I figured I would still share my super snuggly outfit from this weekend. I wear something similar on a fairly regular basis. My work is in an old building and the back rooms where I work are really cold. So I pretty much just wear sweaters all winter. I even got this bunny sweater just for work. It is cheap and polyester, which works out nicely for a vegan! I originally got it on ebay, but now you can find this shirt all over the place (and several sellers on amazon!)
I even saw this shirt make an appearance on the popular blog A Beautiful Mess. But I can assure you I’ve had this sweater for much longer. It is cute, but it is starting to wear down. And if you plan on picking up your own, I can say that it is definitely a layering sweater. It is way too itchy to wear by itself, though I am always fine wearing short sleeved shirts underneath.
I do want to stop and talk about this cute new necklace my husband gave me as an early Valentines Day gift. The necklace is a replica from the Korean drama The Master’s Sun, which I’ve talked about briefly before. I think this is such a creative idea for a show and plays around norms in sexualities and gender in Korea. Anyways, this necklace plays a symbolic role in the show, and you can buy it for yourself. It is so cute and I nerded way out and needed it. I am very nerding out and want this knock off dress from the show as well.
Well, snow or no snow, I hope everyone is having a good week.
Did anyone else get some snow?
Asian cooking can be intimidating. There are many pastes, sauces, and liquids that are specific to certain regions and countries. You’ll be told there aren’t any substitutes, so you buy sauce after sauce, cluttering your refrigerator. So it is understandable if you want to really know about what you are buying.
But if you are into Korean food you’ll notice a common ingredient- gochujang. It is a fermented soybean chili paste that goes on a lot of various dishes. It is either really easy or extreamly hard to find. It usually depends on where you live. In New Jersey I can find some at a few generic grocery stores chains in their “international” aisles. But I am aware that there is a large Korean population in the area. It is easy to order through HMart or Amazon, with many brands to choose from. Each brand has their own heat and sweetness levels, so keep that in mind with your recipes and shopping.
How to Make It
Gochujang is made by taking fermented soybeans and mixing them with chili powder and rice. The mixture is put into earthenware and left out into the sun to ferment further, developing a unique flavor. Modern gochujang is sweetened and pasteurized to stop the fermentation process. This makes a shelf stable product, making transportation cheaper.
You can make your own gochujang but you’ll need a sunny backyard as sunlight is vital for the fermentation. If you want to give it a try Maangchi has directions to make you own gochujang. Her recipe uses various powders that are made to make process easier.
But what if you live in the middle of nowhere? There are no Asian food markets? You can still buy tubs pre-made, but it can be intimidating to buy online. Plus gochujang can have coloring and preservatives. If you want to avoid that you can make cheaters gochujang No, it isn’t authentic, but it tastes very similar and it’s pretty damn good. It will also give you a taste before buying the tub.
- 1/4 cup miso
- 4 tbsp agave syrup
- 1 tsp-1 tbsp korean chili powder
- Stir all ingredients together until combined
- If you can't find korean chili powder you can use 1/2-2 tsp of cayenne powder
Although Wikipedia says that gochujang is made with soybeans, rice, and pepper, wheat sneaks in there with modern recipes. I have not sat down at the market and read the backs of all the gochujang cases, but I haven’t come across one without wheat. If you want a gluten-free version you can make gochujang at home with Maangchi’s directions, which is good for people with wheat allergies. The recipe uses barley malt flour, which barley contains gluten, so that might be a problem for you.
Or you can find a gluten-free miso and make my faux gochujang! This also extends to whatever miso you want including chickpea miso, making a soy friendly version. Realistically, the amount of gluten in gochujang is very small. If you eat normal miso without a problem, gochujang shouldn’t be a problem either.
Gochujang is often used as major component in Korean cooking. It is often mixed with other ingredients to make sauces or vinaigrettes. Most of the time it is used to coat food while being cooked, such as spicy Korean rice cakes or in a veggie stir-fry. The key to unlocking the power of gochujang is letting it caramelize when grilling or baking.
This shake was a pleasant accident. I was originally had ideas for a new dish stewing around for a few months, but I when I made this shake plans had to put on hold. See, I had leftover black sesame latte that I drank while I did errands around town. Instead of dumping the leftovers in the sink, I saved it to toss in a smoothie. So the next morning I made my shake, tossed in the leftover sesame latte and blended.
The end result was beyond delicious. The sesame flavor was present and seemed to work well with the chocolate. And even more to my surprise was that I could still distinguish the sesame and chocolate flavors even with my daily teaspoon of spirulina.
I tested the recipe again making modification so my recipe didn’t read “1. make on batch black sesame latte 2. drink one third of it 3 blend all ingredients” Plus I wanted to make sure it still tasted the same. The result was still tasty, and prettier since I omitted the spirulina for the photos. I still stand by that the sesame and chocolate cover the spirulina taste pretty well, which is good news for anyone who doesn’t like it. I personally like spirulina, but somedays I just don’t want to taste it.
I will point out that some people might not dig this flavor combo as much as I did. If you don’t like tahini or sesame seeds you probably won’t like this shake. The sesame plays a big role in the flavor, and it should distinguishable in the shake.
It should also be noted I used black sesame paste in the recipe. You could use whole black sesame seeds and leave the blender running a little longer. You can use tahini, but those sesame seeds are not roasted and therefore has a different flavor than “sesame pastes.” Sesame pastes are more often used in Asian cooking, and come in black and white sesame seeds. The flavor difference is minimal, but just something to keep in mind.
This week has been pretty gross. Well weather wise. I love winter. I mean I love everything about it, the snow, the ice, the chilly air, etc. But year is a far cry from the last. It is usually above freezing, which causes lots of gross snowy-rain mix. I really can’t stand that. It is effecting my running too since I draw the line at running in near freezing rain, or icey patches, which happens the next morning.
BUT I have some exciting news- Alexa is coming down today and tomorrow and it is suppose to snow tomorrow. So maybe we will have some super cute photos to share. And maybe we will have a new restaurant review to add to the site.
I love Jenny from She Loves Dresses. I think she is really great at talking about social issues on a platform that normally doesn’t talk about it (I mean how many feminist, socially aware vintage fashion blogs are there?) I think she poses great arguments, and there’s some great dialogue going in the comments.
This is another post that made me think “yeah I get where you are coming from.” Kat talks about how positive self-talk is great for helping mental illnesses but isn’t a cure. But there is a big push back where people will claim that if alternative medicine doesn’t cure you, then you aren’t doing it right. I think this concept hits pretty much every movement including eating healthy and veganism. I mean how many times have you heard someone who stopped being vegan due to health reasons be called out for “not trying hard enough” to stay vegan?
So this week I MIGHT be putting up a page about Gochujang, which was perfect timing with Olives For Dinner’s new recipe. I am thinking about grabbing a few ingredients for a last minute dinner this week.
I stumbled on this cool etsy shop full of jewelry made from dried foods. I love this current food-fashion culture except I am not big on most of the popular foods used in clothing since they aren’t normally vegan. I mean I love pizza but they are always CHEESE pizzas on leggings. Nor am I a big cupcake or donut fan. So I love seeing fruits and veggies take center stage!
YouTube Interview with President Obama
I am a big Hank Green fan, and I got excited when I heard he would be interviewing President Obama. It was a smart move to try and get younger kids involved with politics. I am firm believer that the more involved the public is involved with politics, the less corruption gets by.
Day 17: Started to flip through my copy of I Could Never Go Vegan. Already made one of the recipes!
Day 18: Raining day, so I took a photo of my vintage swinger camera.
Day 19: Took a day trip into Collingswood.
Day 20: Had a bad photo day. None of my photos came out, and sadly this one was the best one I got.
Day 21: It was suppose to snow on this day, but not much came down, as you can see from this photo. Major bummer.
Day 22: I am super excited about this photo. I wasn’t feeling very inspired and was kind-of just taking a photo of something. I ended up with my favorite photo of the week.
Day 23: I had to place my backpack down to look for my house keys and thought the peeling paint looked pretty cool.