Vegetarian Gyros


Vegetarian Gyro

Vegetarian Gyro with Homemade Tzatziki

Every word I type right now is one less word that is going into my research paper.  This blog is a lot of things for me – an outlet, a collection, an experiment – but it’s also an excellent tool for procrastination, alongside my guitar, my dog and the rest of the internet.

I bounce between them in order to stretch my homework in to the early morning hours, which is something I regularly do, but wouldn’t recommend.  It’s difficult going back and forth, too.  As I typed that last sentence, I questioned whether I should be writing this post in AP style or APA format, which is probably as depressing to read as it was to type.

Grad school isn’t for the faint of heart, I guess.  It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’ve got another 15-2o pages of research paper to knock out before Tuesday at 5 p.m., and all I can think about is making a milkshake.

So, here I am, boring you and unclogging my writer’s block.

Brave New Food, ever a bountiful source for good ideas, recently sent me a link to a post about vegetarian gyros at Curvy Carrot.

CC’s recipe looked good, so I stuck to it pretty close, with the exception of two pretty big diffs.  I made my own tzatziki sauce and instead of seitan, which I had none of, I used Gardein brand fake chicken breasts (which, for the record, taste pretty much like whatever you season them with – and they’re BOGO at Publix this week).

Traditional gyros use lamb, but if you’re veggie, seitan or any other meat sub would work nicely.  Also, I know of those who make them with broccoli, instead of a meat-less sub.

Wanna complete the deal with homemade pita?  Check out My Diverse Kitchen’s recipe here.

Without further ado.

Tzatziki Ingredients

Easier to make than it is to spell - Tzatziki

Here’s what you need (for the tzatziki): (makes more than you will use for two gyros, by the way)

 

  • 8 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you need (for the gyros):

  • 2 warm pitas
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • lettuce
  • 2 fake chicken breasts, or 1 package of seitan strips, or 2 cups of broccolli
  • 1/4 red onion, diced or cut into strips
  • Cumin (two shakes)
  • Cinnamon (one shake)
  • Cayenne pepper (one shake)
  • Nutmeg (a pinch)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) To make the tzatziki, peel and seed (scoop out the seed junk with a spoon) the cucumber.  If you don’t seed the cucumber, your tzatziki will be unecessarily runny.  Once prepared, dice the cucumber into pieces roughly the size of peanut M&M’s (that’s the best I’ve got today)

Scoop those seeds out!

Step 2) Mix the cucumber into the Greek yogurt, and add in two to three minced cloves of garlic, depending on how spicy you like things.  Add in the olive oil, most of the juice from half a medium sized lemon, and some salt and pepper.  Fold it all together, but don’t beat it to hard or the yogurt can begin to break down.

Step 3) Place the tzatziki in the fridge for a while, so it is nice and chilled when it’s time to serve.  Oh, and don’t leave the cucumber out for too long after it’s been peeled.  It’ll start browning like an apple.

Step 4) Place your fake chicken/seitan strips in a pan with a little evoo and cook according to package directions (plus a few minutes if you like it a little crispy like me).  Once it is cooked through, season with the cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper.  Let the flavors cook in for a minute or two, then remove.

Step 5) Place the chicken/seitan in a warm pita, and top with diced tomatoes, onions, lettuce and a generous helping of tzatziki sauce.  Wrap it up in foil like they do on the mean streets of Greece.

Fake Chicken Gyros

If you’ve got leftover tzatziki sauce, which you will unless you are a tzatziki glutton, try them out as a topping on these Greek-inspired homemade spinach veggie burgers.

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Chicken “Wyngz”… huh?


DiGiorno, purveyors of fine frozen pizzas, have added a few new, flashy products to their pizza boxes.

Cookies, which I presume are not intended to be a topping, and something they call “WYNGZ,” which are chicken products to cook alongside the pizza.

DiGiorno Pizza and Wyngz

Chyckenz Wyngz

This bothered me in two regards – as a journalism student, I object to that absurd spelling, and as a foodie, I object to whatever it is that a wyngz is (not sure if that is the singular spelling, but I’ll go with it for now).

So what the heck is a wyngz?  According to DiGiorno, they use the spelling “wyngz” because, and I quote, “they’re not wings.  They’re even better.”

“Wyngz,” in reality, are probably not better (if you’re into chicken wings).   They are, according to the USDA, who regulates this sort of thing, “a product that is in the shape of a wing or a bite-size appetizer type product under the following conditions…”

  • It can’t contain any real wing meat.
  • It has to be white meat.
  • No other misspellings are permitted.

Read the USDA’s full definition here.

This brings up all sorts of questions – like, how much taxpayer money is spent on the definition and regulation of wyngz?  And why would DiGiorno want to sell them instead of “wings”?  And do they grow on chykenz?

Stephen Colbert recently had a little fun at Digornio’s expense in his non-weekly word of the week segment, and I don’t blame him.  If you put out a product like that, you’ve got to expect a little backlash.

As he put it, “It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno.  And it’s not wings, it’s wyngz.”  Touche.

Stephen Colbert Wyngz

Stephen Colbert's Word of the Week - "Wyngz"

Because Comedy Central doesn’t allow its videos on YouTube and WordPress doesn’t allow flash videos on their sites, I have no way of posting the video.  But I’ll link to it here – it’s definitely worth a watch.


Tasty Beer Bread


Easy Beer Bread

Easy, butter beer bread - so, so good.

Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either.

But if someone says you can put beer in bread, or beans in brownies, I can resist trying it out.

So this one is exactly like what it sounds – it’s regular bread, except it has beer in it.  You leave out the yeast, and the yeast in the beer does the trick.  The resulting bread was extremely good.  And way easier than I expected.

The recipe I used made from a bread that had a slightly buttery, crunchy crust and a dense, moist bread.  It’s not the kind of bread you’d make PB&J on, but it’s perfect as a side to an otherwise light meal.  OR, as we did, just make it in the middle of a lazy afternoon and eat half the loaf while you watch a movie.

As far as the beer goes, I have no idea.  I’ve made this once, with Miller Light (because the other beers we had around have citrus flavors, and I wasn’t sure how that would taste), and it was delicious.  I’ve heard/read that Guinness makes a good bread as well.

Oh, and you can make it vegan by subbing vegan margarine (like Earth Balance) for the butter.

(Recipe adapted from food.com)

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 cups flour (sifted – or at least spooned into the mixing cup – do not pack!)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1/4 cup will do just fine)
Here’s what to do:
Step 1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Step 2) Mix the dry ingredients and the beer in a large mixing bowl, making sure to get rid of all clumps.  Add half of the melted butter to the mixture.
Step 3) Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan, and then pour the remaining butter on top (you could leave this out if you want, but I liked the buttery crust)
Step 4) Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.  Then remove and let cool for 15 minutes (or don’t, but it’s going to be hot – fair warning).
sliced beer bread

5 seconds after I burnt my hand trying to cut the bread right out of the oven

But, if you’re in the mood for a different flavor, my good friend and fellow blogger BNF coincidentally whipped up her own batch of unconventional bread recently – I’ll guarantee you it’s good.

Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers


Stuffed Peppers

Easy, cheesy, beautiful | Photo by HFLP

I hope everyone out there had a great Memorial Day weekend.  We spent a lot of time on the boat, the jet ski and in the pool, saw some old friends, caught a Rays game and ate lots of good food – which was as good a break as I could hope for from the heat and tedium of school in Gainesville.

We went bowling, too, which is something that, despite my enthusiasm for, I am absolutely terrible at.  You’d think rolling a ball in a straight line would be easy, but it ain’t.  I did, however, win $1 during the aptly-named “Strike it Rich” competition held Saturday nights at that bowling alley, which was enough to make me smile but not quite enough to get a pack of gum from the vending machine.

Back in Gainesville now, and back to the blog.

Before we left, I whipped up some stuffed peppers, which is a great thing to make if you’ve got a few peppers around and don’t want to the grocery store.  Really, you can stuff them with anything you’d like.  I used a hefty amount of yellow rice, but brown rice works great as well – some people even like to use quinoa or cousous.  Feel free to experiment.

Also, this particular recipe made more stuffing than I could fit in four peppers.  I could have used more peppers, but decided instead to save the extra stuffing to make a burrito the next day – which was delicious.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 large bell peppers of any color
  • 3 cups cooked rice (I used yellow rice, but brown is good as well)
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1/2 can corn
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 oz crushed tomato (jarred or fresh tomatoes crushed by hand)
  • 1 cup cheese (Mexican blends are good, but whatever you have handy works)
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapenos (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Serve with salsa and sour cream
  • 1/2 packet or a few shakes of fajita seasoning (optional)

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Cook rice according to package instructions and set aside.

Step 2) Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and white stuff.  They need to be softened before being stuffed, so either steam them for a few minutes or boil them (which I did) for about 8 minutes.  You want them “soft” but not “floppy.”  They should still stand up by themselves and hold their shape, but they shouldn’t be “crisp.”  That’s the best I can do – use your judgement :)

Step 3) In a small fry pan, sautee the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until the onions become translucent.

Step 4) In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, sauteed onions, garlic, jalapenos, black beans, corn, fajita seasoning and 1/2 a cup of cheese.  Stir it up good.  This is your filling.

stuffed pepper filling

Filling for the peppers | Photo by HFLP

Step 5) When the peppers are softened, stand them upright in a baking dish and fill them with stuffing mixture and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

uncooked stuffed peppers

Pre-cheese, pre-oven

Step 6) Pour a 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the dish around the peppers (this creates a steamy environment and prevents the peppers from browning too much).

Step 7) Cover with foil, but make sure not to let the foil sit on top of the peppers or your cheese will melt to the foil.  Set the oven to 350 degrees, and bake covered for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown.

stuffed peppers in the oven

Vegetarian stuffed peppers | Photo by HFLP

The water in the bottom of the dish should have cooked off, and the peppers should be tender but not mushy.  Serve with a little sour cream and salsa, or hot sauce if the jalapenos didn’t do the trick.

Thanks for reading!


New “Food” at Dunkin’ Donuts


Dunkin Donuts Logo

Not just coffee and donuts anymore

Let me first say this – I don’t spend a lot of time at fast food restaurants.  I haven’t been to one in months.  But I’m consumed by this weird fascination with the whole industry.

We’re at a really interesting point in the history of food.  It has never been safer, more readily available or more diverse.  We have, as a culture, the technology to grow healthy food in a multitude of environments and make it available to the public at any time, at any place in this country of ours.

We have methods to preserve foods that, just 50 years ago, you had to consume within days of harvest.  Heck, an orange in New York used to be an oddity – now people in the north can eat them every day of the week if they wanted.

And these technologies have been embraced by a lot of restaurants and grocery stores, expanding local flavors and offering new ways to eat healthy.

But the fast food industry has run in the opposite direction.  Take, unassuming as it may sound, Dunkin’ Donuts for example.  They have the same technology available to them as everybody else, but do they use it to make inexpensive food that is healthy and fresh?  Nope.  They make this, the blueberry waffle breakfast sandwich:

Blueberry Waffle Breakfast Sandwich Dunkin Donuts

Blueberry Waffle Breakfast Sandwich | Photo from Dunkin Donuts

Keep in mind, this is Dunkin’ Donuts own photo which means this is as good as it could possibly, under any circumstance, look.  The blueberries next to it are also misleading, considering what constitutes the “blueberry nuggets” that are actually in the waffle.

I’ve got nothing against Dunkin’ Donuts, but I just find this whole phenomenon bizarre.  To me, eggs, cheese and sausage sandwiched between two blueberry waffles is a weird breakfast – and the shapes of everything kinda creeps me out – the perfectly round egg thing and the perfectly square sausage and cheese.  I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy.

Nutrition wise, it’s got 550 calories, 38 grams of fat and 78% of your daily cholesterol.  It’s no Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowl, but still pretty bad.

And the ingredient list is strange as well, not for any one particular thing, really, but just a general abundance of ingredients.

Dunkin' Donuts Ingredients

Ingredients in Dunkin' Donuts Sandwich

Most of the ingredients are your typical fast food fillers (the waffle, sausage and eggs all contain citric acid, for example).  The sausage does contain BHA and Propyl Gallate, which are both approved by the FDA but having been subject to some debate, especially since they have been shown to cause cancer in certain animals.

Regardless, while you’re at Dunkin’ Donuts, make sure to get a Coffee Coolatta.  It’s a great way to start your day – with only 800 calories in a large, 46 grams of fat and 145% of your daily saturated fat intake.  Considering it’s a drink, that’s pretty impressive.  I’ll look for something to top it, but until then, this might be the worst thing you could drink.

Dunkin Donuts Coolatta

The Coolatta - looks good though, right? | Photo from Dunkin' Donuts

I’ll keep a lookout for the next crazy fast food trend, but until then, thanks for reading.


Vegan Lentil Curry


Vegan Lentil Curry

Vegan Lentil Curry | Photo by HFLP

I had an excellent food-day last week.  Ali and I made this awesome curry for lunch, and our friends (and writers of Veganerds) cooked an amazing Afghani feast for dinner.  I went to bed fat and happy, as another friend likes to say (I’m looking at you, Mr. L).

This delicious lentil curry was fantastic and way easier than the length of the ingredient list would seem to indicate.  It’s really lentils + tomatoes + spices.  I adapted the recipe from here.

I hadn’t really cooked with lentils much before, but turns out it’s no different than rice or couscous or anything else.  Fill a pot with water (according to the package instructions, of course) and let ’em simmer until they plump up and soften.  I read that it’s very important to wash them thoroughly before cooking, but the ones I bought were pre-washed.  I tried rinsing them anyways, but the water ran clear immediately.  So, just keep that in mind.

This would make a great side dish, or, as we had it, a great main course if served with some pita or rise.  All vegan, all the way.

I’m going to try my hand at beer bread and homemade polenta in the next few days, so be sure to check back in!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups red lentils (I used regular, green-ish lentils)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
  • 1 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree (I used crushed tomatoes)
Curry Paste

I don't know one curry paste from the next | Photo by HFLP

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Begin cooking lentils according to package directions – this usually takes between 20-30 minutes.

Dry Lentils

Dry lentils in a towel in a strainer (for rinsing) | Photo by HFLP

Step 2) Begin cooking the onions in a large skillet or pan with a little oil until they begin to carmelize.

Step 3) Mix all of the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the tomato puree, in a mixing bowl.  When they are nice and mixed, add them to the onions and let cook for about 2 minutes, mixing the onions into the spice mixture.

Curry Spice Mixture

A plethora of spices | Photo by HFLP

Step 4) Next, add the tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes) to the spices and onions and let simmer until the lentils are done to you liking.

Step 5) The lentils should have absorbed most of the water.  Taste a few and make sure they are soft and tasty.  When the lentils are done, mix with the curry base and serve immediately.

Wet Lentils

Plump and delicious | Photo by HFLP

We loved this recipe, and it’ll definitely enter our monthly rotation.  Quick and easy, healthy and lazy, and a good way to mix in some vegan meals into my diet.

Thanks for reading!


Vegetarian Sausage Balls


Sausage Balls

Spicy sausage balls | Photo by HFLP

Oh, the venerable sausage ball.  The friendliest finger food I’ve ever known.

These little guys are simple, and if I do say so myself, delicious.  I could have come up with a more elegant name for them, but it wouldn’t be true to the nature of the food.

A little bit of sausage, a little cheese, a little spice in a small, warm ball of dough – really, what could be better?

They are perfect for pot lucks, parties and hanging-out-watching-the-game…

These have been made for years with regular sausage, but they adapt well to vegetarian sausage.  For the latest batch, we added some dice jalapenos, and it added the perfect zip to complement the sausage (and vegetarian sausage isn’t real spicy, so it’s a good addition).

They are incredibly easy to make, the only un-fun part (and it’s really the only part) is mixing all the ingredients, which I usually convince someone else to do for me.  You can only do it by hand and there’s something unagreeable about sausage squishing through my fingers, vegetarian or otherwise.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb vegetarian sausage (use the ground Gimme Lean brand, trust me)
  • 3 cups Bisquick
  • 2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese (I usually go cheddar, but other kinds work well)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced jalapenos (optional, but recommended)
  • Less than 1/8 cup milk (really just a literal “splash”)

Here’s what to do:

Step 1) Mix the ingredients, by hand, in a large mixing bowl.  When you can’t seem to get all the Bisquick absorbed, just keep going.  If you still can’t, add another splash of milk (a little goes a long way).

Mixing sausage balls

Ali mixing for me | Photo by HFLP

Step 2) Form into mounds roughly the size of ping pong balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Baking sausage balls

Cram 'em on the cookie sheet | Photo by HFLP

Step 3) Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes

Sausage balls right out of the oven

Fresh from the oven | Photo by HFLP

Enjoy ’em.  Thanks for reading!


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