Really Rabbity Eats

Every week or few, I buy one set of “themed” salad ingredients that go together and eat that sort of salad every day for a little while.  This might not work for everyone, but it’s great for me because a) I don’t mind small bouts of monotony and 2) I can pre-cook and chop the ingredients at the beginning of the week and just keep them in the fridge. Here are a couple salads I’ve been munching on these last few weeks:

^ Sliced strawberries, slivered almonds, raisins, goat cheese crumbles, and Marketside poppy-seed dressing on a bed of romaine. I know, I know, it’s a beaut.

^ This combo looks a little less glamourous, but boy is it yummy– I’ve been eating almost the same combination every other week for months! Cooked/chilled frozen peas and corn, hunks of avocado, quality shaved or shredded parm, and Newman’s Own light honey mustard on romaine = simple, pretty harmless, and super satisfying!

What are some of your favorite salad combos?

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Terrible Tuesday Vs. Tot Sauce

The semester’s My entire school career is a couple weeks from over, and the all-nighters are now at least weekly. After all but pulling one last evening (today?), I got the pleasure of sandwiching a serving shift between two classes. I had about an hour between work and the second one, though, and needless to say, I was exhausted! But what’s a girl to do when there’s no time to properly nap, she’s starving, and -forgot to mention this bonus- her phone is broken? Treat herself to some sushi takeout, of course!

With my phone’s two week hiatuses every four or so months, no matter its make or model, I’ve had to become pretty accustomed to doing without one these past couple years. Gmail SMS and voice functions are extremely handy for keeping up with friends, but when I’m hungry and lazy, Campus Special and (now) Order Richmond are godsends.

Today was actually my first time using Order Richmond, and my first time eating Sticky Rice. I placed my online order for three veggie rolls: the G.I. Jane, the South Roll, and the Avocado Roll– as well as a side of tater tots.

The South Roll was the best by FAR; I’d eaten it before I even remembered to snap a picture!  It consisted of “tempura-fried sweet potato drizzled with honey and topped with sesame seeds.” I’d never had sweet potato in a roll before, as my hometown’s sushi joint only has an (awesome!!) standard vegetable roll. This was definitely a departure from that, but also a huge departure from the quantity/price ratio I get back there. Finding a sushi deal anywhere in Richmond that even comes close has been quite the challenge.

The G.I. Jane (pictured on the right) was my least favorite of the three, with cucumbers, cream cheese, and scallions rolled in crushed wasabi peas. Again, due to my origin’s limitation’s, I’d never tried cream cheese on a roll, and while I love it in most other things, I really felt that it needed to be jazzed up with something before making an appearance in my sushi. The outside wasabi pea coating was a redeeming factor though.

The avocado roll was, well, an avocado roll, but the tater tots– not your average at all! I’m not sure what they put in this sauce, or why I’m so late in discovering it, but it may be the most addictive dipping stuff on earth. My best guesses for its ingredients are Sriacha, mayo and perhaps ranch, but they keep the recipe under tight wraps. Too bad, cause that tot sauce really helped out my terrible Tuesday!

Any guess as to what goes into Sticky Rice’s secret sauce? What’s the best sushi deal you’ve come across?

The Tastiest Mechanic Visit Ever

Early on in the week, the fellow asked me if I’d be available to follow him to the car mechanic on Friday and bring him back to town. Not knowing much about cars, I didn’t even bother to ask what was wrong with his vehicle, but just cleared my schedule and said “sure.”

Then on the morning of, I was getting ready and got a call telling me the mechanic he needed to go to was right next to the mall, and “would-I-mind-riding-with-him-and-walking-around-for-awhile” instead. I fought tooth and nail just to take my own vehicle; this is this guy whose one hour eye appointment I waited 5 hours for!

Still.. he won, and as I hopped in the car, I noticed we weren’t heading in the direction of I-64. Instead, we landed at Byrd Park for a surprise picnic! On the menu: Curried Egg Salad with cucumbers on pita, Pistachio Lime Poppyseed Fruit Salad, and my favorite Kettle brand chips.

The cucumbers lent the egg salad a perfect crunch, and it was definitely a change from the standard without being too exotic to pair with most things/eat all the darn time (which I feel may happen). The fruit salad was TO DIE FOR (and healthy!!)– he even thought far enough ahead to bum some Splenda packets from a coffee shop to replace the sugar.

I made him give me a copy of the recipes just to share with you guys. Hope you love both as much as I did.

Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches (adapted from here)

Ingredients:
•12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, halved
•1/4 cup raisins
•1 large green onion, finely chopped
•2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
•1/2 cup plus additional mayonnaise (he used miracle whip and it was awesome)
•2 3/4 teaspoons curry powder
•1 small cucumber, peeled, cut lengthwise in half, seeded
•pita pockets

Directions: Scoop egg yolks into large bowl; mash well with fork. Finely chop egg whites; add to yolks. Mix in raisins, green onion, and cilantro. Mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise and curry powder in small bowl; stir into egg mixture. If salad is dry, mix in more mayo by the tablespoon. Season with salt and pepper. Try to make this at least 3 hours ahead (cover and chill it, of course) so that the flavors have some time to set in.

*Magical* Fruit Salad with Poppyseed Dressing (adapted from here)

Ingredients:
•1 cup halved green seedless grapes
•1 cup quartered strawberries
•1/2 cup blueberries
•2 tablespoons no-calorie sweetener
•1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 tablespoons = 1 lime)
•1 teaspoon poppy seeds
•1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, toasted

Directions: Toss grapes, strawberries and blueberries with sweetener in a medium bowl. Stir in lime juice and poppy seeds. Let sit at room temperature for at least half an hour. Garnish with pistachios and serve. I’m gonna go ahead and suggest a double batch of this stuff. It’s guiltless and you’ll want it all.

Is it safe to say my day ended up slightly better than sitting at a mechanic’s? What are some of your favorite picnic recipes?

Holiday Spirit

Some fabulous friends came from out of town for St. Patty’s Day weekend! We decided to do potluck style sweet treats for the occasion, and as a vegetarian who doesn’t opt to eat gelatin (with several full-on vegan friends), I decided to make vegan green rice crispy treats!

They look kind of like green mush, but everyone said they were yummy!

Recipe:

  • 3 cups rice crispies
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T nut butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup (original recipe uses Agave, if you’re cool n’ healthy n’ not-so-poor)
  • 4-5 drops green food coloring

Directions: Mix the pb, corn syrup, extract, and salt. Melt (either in the microwave or stove), then pour over the cereal and stir very well, making sure all of the rice crispies are thoroughly coated. Form into balls or line a pan with wax paper and spread the mixture evenly into the pan (like I did). Place a sheet of wax paper on top of the mixture, then press down as firmly as you can. Really press it down! Freeze for at least a half hour before slicing.

These  can be stored in the freezer, in the fridge, or loosely covered in a cool, dry place. But you probably won’t need to store them once your festivity friends get ahold of them ;).

Original Recipe here.

Places You Wouldn’t Go Without Social Coupons

I’m sure you’ve all heard of social coupons– Groupon, LivingSocial, and a few of the  less popular entities I’ve only just learned about like Seize the Deal and Moocho (just for college students). While these sites seem to increasingly be basing their daily steals on laser hair removal (c’mon, Groupon, really?) and auto detailing, they historically have and still semi-frequently do offer half-price vouchers to restaurants.

In truth, it’s better to look at these vouchers as “X dollars off” rather than as being half-priced, because by the time you get to the restaurant, you’ll forget that you paid for it a month ago and almost certainly go over your limit, even before tax and tip. Still, these coupons offer a great reason to try new places, and in the case of my broke-college-self, dine in places I couldn’t otherwise afford without thinking about the pricetag once I’m there.

Take Valentine’s day (or, in holiday crowd avoidance honesty, the Friday after) for example. We’d had a LivingSocial coupon to Selba for a long time and even tried to go the month before, but like the uncivilized creatons we are, didn’t realize the establishment all but requires reservations. So, we planned ahead for this unholiday, and arrived at 7 on Friday.

Perhaps it’s something I’ll grow into with age, but I really can’t stand exceptional service. I mean it. I understand how finer dining works (laugh all you want, the atmosphere in Selba is a big step from say, The Melting Pot, which sort of caters to the less comfortable with this sort of thing), but there is no way I can just continue a personal conversation over someone silently attempting to refill my water! Maybe one day.

Awkwardness aside, the food was fine. I ordered the side green salad (manakintowne lettuces and lemon-thyme vinaigrette) to start, and it was just what I expected– light and very cleansing. I might not have gone with this choice had I known that there was a miniature version plated with my entree.

For the main course, I ordered the roasted vegetable wellington, which specifically, is “Roasted carrot, shiitake, Hubbard squash, black garlic and beet greens wrapped in brick pastry with marble potatoes and vegetable demi-glace.” I’ve had my eye on some vegetable wellington recipes lately, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to try.  The mushrooms, squash, and black garlic played very well with each other, but the impermeable nature of the brick pastry meant that the insides stayed try– I felt the filling would’ve really benefited if it could soak up some of the demi-glace (I know this only because, blasphemously, the last few bites marinated in my fridge over night, and man!). The marble potatoes, on the other hand, were swimming in it, and undoubtedly the best thing on my plate! They had a very delicate crisp to the outside and were cooked to a perfect level internally.

My date ordered the vegetarian baked pasta (mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, tomato ragout, chickpea ditalini pasta, house-made mozzarella and feta), and while it wasn’t a far cry from many other house pasta dishes, it was yummy.

The atmosphere was extremely loud the first time we tried to go, but this time, it was pretty calm. The decor was swanky, and our server was… just doing his job and not treating us like college students. All in all, a fun “fancy” experience but I don’t know that we’ll be coming back. Still, go social couponing!

Do you use social coupon sites or know of any others than the ones I’ve mentioned? If you’re young, do you feel strange in finer establishments?

An Ode to Oikos (and Making a Mud Monster Smoothie)

When it comes to grocery shopping and day-to-day eats, I don’t make the most diverse choices. And by that, I may mean I’ve had the same substance in some shape-or-form oh, 340 days of the last year?

It’s greek yogurt, and I can’t stop.

As a vegetarian, I need all of the protein I can get, and I prefer to get it from fairly unprocessed sources. Enter the magic of oikos: it’s just triple strained milk that, in its completed form, has 22grams of the stuff in each 1 cup, 120 calorie serving. (Though good luck eating an entire cup at once, this stuff is RICH.)

Chances are you’ve had some brand of oikos; new data is showing that greek yogurt accounts for $1 billion of $4 billion annual total yogurt sales.

Plain greek yogurt is tart, but available by the tub and much more economical than the individual fruit-on-the-bottom cups. Its flavor is easily remedied with a tablespoon of honey, and this with granola has been my go-to delicious and pretty-decently-healthy breakfast for a long time.

But there are tons of ways to mix it up. Some of my favorites include:
– Using greek yogurt as replacement for most of the mayonnaise in egg salad
– As a base for a healthy vegetable dip
– And in a pumpkin pie smoothie!

One creation I’ve been seeing in a lot of food blogs that I decided to try this week is the green monster smoothie. The idea is basically to mix a frozen banana with my greek love, “milk”, sweetener, and tons of spinach, creating an ugly but yummy concoction with all the benefits of spinach!

First, I loaded up all the ingredients. I added some frozen mixed berries and used stevia as the sweetener. I’m really happy I did this before going to the gym, as I forgot that magic bullets work upside-down and packed tons of spinach into the bottom near the blade. Even after an hour, only a few drops of liquid had leaked through the intense density of greenery, so I had to add a little more almond milk. Before blending, it looked like this:

In every post I see, green monster smoothies come out to be the most brilliant shade of green. Mine, however…

Would you say “primordial swamp juice” is fitting?

Still, I’m glad I made a green  mud monster smoothie and intend to make more. I felt super energized after its consumption, and despite the gnarly appearance, it really just tasted like banana and berries.

Do you love greek yogurt as much as I do? What are some ways you like to use it?

First Post, Last Meal

I’m really not qualified to start a food blog.

I don’t cook often, and when I do, it’s usually not very innovative. Sometimes it doesn’t even turn out that well.

I’m pretty healthy, but I don’t sprinkle the newest superseed! in my morning yogurt. And I just really like cheese.

I’m a vegetarian. Not a vegan (anymore), or rawist, or macrobiotic, or air-only.

I go to affordable restaurants, in a well-known city, that have been reviewed many times by the disproportionate number of veggies and food bloggers here.

But what I DO have, that very few else do, is an exact plan for what I want to have as my last meal. It’s a weighty decision when you think about it. Would you want 5-star with truffle oil or grandma’s mac n’ cheese? Get stuffed to the brim or leaving your stomach growling in self-pity? As your mind’s blown by these questions, I hope you appreciate my decisiveness on this very delicate matter…

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