Lunch Option: Vegan Cabbage Curry

More vegan stuff!  So the reason for all the vegan recipes?  Well, a few months ago I decided to go full vegetarian (I will make exceptions on rare occasions, but for the most part I don’t eat meat anymore), and I also found out after I made that decision that I have high cholesterol!  Woo! Not enough that I need medication, but enough that some dietary changes were suggested.  I am not super strict about it since I already eat fairly healthy, but I cut out my morning yogurt and replaced it with oatmeal or a granola bar, and I try to cut out other items like dairy when I am cooking at home.  That way, I don’t have to be outrageously picky when I go out to eat.  Given the changes I’ve made, I think it will make a dent in the numbers.

I cooked this recipe for dinner one night and decided that it was better as a lunch meal.  It’s flavorful, but not enough that it left me satisfied me for dinner.  However, for lunch it is perfect because I’m not a big fan of heavy lunches.  It’s light enough to bring as a lunch and leaves me full, but not feeling sluggish.

I originally found this recipe on Healthier Steps, but modified it and added a few ingredients.  You should have about 4 days worth of lunches when you make this batch!

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Ingredients:

Jasmine rice – 4 servings

1/2 of a large cabbage, cut into strips

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground thyme or 2 fresh sprigs

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 carrot, chopped

1 can of chick peas

1 cup of potatoes or sweet potatoes, chopped into small chunks

1-14oz can of light coconut milk

1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Prep and cook rice.  You can have the rice cooking while you make the curry.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft – about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coriander, turmeric, thyme, cumin, carrot, chick peas, potatoes, and cabbage and stir.
  4. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover saucepan and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Add some cornstarch if the sauce is not thick enough.

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Vegan Orange “Chicken” (Cauliflower)…or not vegan if you want!

Recently I’ve been trying to eat less meat, eggs, and dairy.  It’s very hard to completely cut out eggs and dairy (shoutout to the vegans out there), but the cutting out meat has been pretty easy, especially since I’ve been a vegetarian before.  My boyfriend isn’t a vegetarian, but I find it pretty easy to make us both the same dinner and just sub out my portion of meat for tofu or veggies.  I’m not picky about using the same pan or having them touch, so that makes things a lot easier.  Anyway, I came across this recipe and was very excited to make it.  By no means is it healthy, but I guess it’s slightly healthier than if you used chicken.  No matter how you slice it, you’re still deep frying something.

HOWEVER, the great part about this recipe is that if you don’t fry the cauliflower, the orange sauce is actually pretty healthy.  So, if you’re in the mood for something Chinese food-esque, I’d recommend frying the cauliflower.  If you’re looking for a quick vegan stir fry, just cook up some tofu (1/2 package) and add some frozen broccoli (170 oz for one).  If you want some legit orange chicken, just cook up some chicken (6 oz) and add some broccoli. Don’t use any cauliflower or batter. It’s that simple!

I found this recipe on Yummily Yours.  I adapted it slightly.

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Ingredients (serves one):

One serving of rice

6-8 florets of cauliflower

1/2 cup sliced into strips bell peppers of various colors

1/3 cup & 2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup all purpose flower

1/4-1/2 cup water (to make batter)

Oil for frying

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon orange zest

3/4 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp Sriracha

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Sprinkle of green onions

 

Instructions:

  1. Prepare rice – this can cook while you are making everything else.
  2. Heat oil for frying
  3. In another small frying pan, saute peppers for about 2-3 minutes.  Don’t overcook.  Set aside when done.
  4. Mix the corn starch, flour, and water to make a thick batter.  It should be thick enough to coat each cauliflower floret evenly.
  5. Coat each floret in batter and dip into the oil.
  6. Once the batter is crisp, remove the florets from the oil and place them on a paper towel to absorb extra oil.  You want them to remain crisp, so while they are cooking, you’ll want to make the sauce.
  7. Heat up the minced ginger and garlic for about a minute.  You can do this in the same pan you cooked the peppers in.
  8. Add in the orange zest.  Cook for another 30-60 seconds.
  9. Add broth, orange juice, sriracha, soy sauce, sugar and stir together.
  10. While that is heating up, mix together the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in some cold water.
  11. Once the broth/orange juice/soy sauce/etc mixture comes to a boil, lower heat.
  12. Add in the corn starch slowly to mixture while stirring constantly.  The mixture should be very thick.
  13. Once it is thick, add in the peppers and cauliflower (or chicken/tofu + broccoli if you’re not using cauliflower).
  14. Mix well and heat everything in the pan for about 2 minutes.
  15. Put rice on a plate, and put your orange cauliflower on top. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions on top.

Dim Sum Steamer Round Shelf

As I’m sure many of you also do, I rent.  I also have a bunch of tchatskis/pictures/etc and not a lot of space, so I need to utilize some vertical space to display them.  I bought some shelves from Urban Outfitters that I thought were really cool, but would have required 4 screws each.  Eight holes in the wall is not really the best situation when you’re renting.  My boyfriend and I kept getting cold feet before putting them up, so I started exploring more options for shelving that required only one small hole.  (Ps – If you’re interested in two really cute shelves from Urban Outfitters and are not concerned about holes, hit me up.)  What initially came to mind was some type of shelf/shelves that hung with rope or string and therefore required only one or two holes each (thus creating little damage to the walls).  I found a round shelf I really liked on some site, but waited too long and it somehow totally disappeared.  I wasn’t able to find a similar style, which really surprised me.  Anyway, upon looking endlessly for DIY round shelves, I came across this post from A Pair and A Spare DIY and thought it was a really great idea!  I think she found her dim sum steamer just walking on the streets in Hong Kong, so I was initially a little skeptical of how I was going to replicate this.  However, my boyfriend mentioned that we could probably find one at a restaurant warehouse store.  HE WAS RIGHT!   A google search just happened to bring up Kamei Restaurant Supply in San Francisco, and it just happens to specialize in Asian restaurant supplies.  Jackpot!  Were able to find a fairly large one that would nicely match the size of our wall (and fit a bunch of stuff!).  Anyway, this is a great project for those of us who want something a little unique with little damage to the walls.  Now here’s what you’re really looking for…how to make it!

Dim Sum Steamer Shelf 1

You’ll need:

A Dim Sum Steamer of your size choice

Piece of plywood – got this from Home Depot

Rope – I used Wellington 28764 Manila Rope, 1/4″ X 50′ (you can find it on Amazon)

Wood Glue

Hacksaw

Wood file

Drill

Measuring tape

Hanging materials (Hercules hook, picture hook, nail, etc)

 

dim sum steamer shelf supplies

Directions:

1. Remove the criss cross backing of the dim sum steamer.  This was actually pretty easy and you just need to wiggle the pieces to get them to come out.

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2. Cut the plywood down with the hacksaw so it is an appropriate size to fit approximately where you’d like the shelf to stand.  I put mine about 3/4 of the way down, but you can make it higher or lower as you please.

3. We cut wedges in the plywood so it sat comfortably and fit like a puzzle in the sides of the steamer.  This also required some use of the wood file to make it exact. (Thanks to my awesome boyfriend for helping me with this step!)

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4. Use the wood glue to glue the shelf onto the sides of the dim sum steamer.  The shelf should fit snug and stay put naturally, but it was very hard to get it that way, and still wasn’t completely exact, so I’d recommend using some glue to ensure it stays.

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5. Use the drill to drill two holes on both sides of the steamer.  Be sure to measure so that the holes are even!

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6.  Thread the rope through the holes and tie.

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7. Hang up on your wall using whatever hanging materials you deem necessary for the wall you are hanging it on.  We choose a picture hook.  Decorate however you please!

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Cactus and Succulent Terrarium

Terrariums are super popular these days, so about a year ago I set out to create my own!  I ended up creating two; one is a closed terrarium and the other is an open terrarium.  Today I’m going to be showcasing the open terrarium because it’s very easy to recreate, and I have recently!  The images below are from my second iteration of the same terrarium.  The first one was doing so well that I had to remove one of the cacti because it was getting too big for the bowl!  And believe it or not, it’s not the “bunny ears” cacti that I replanted in this new one.

To start, you’ll need a terrarium bowl.  I was able to find the first and the second at local hardware stores here in San Francisco.  Both of these hardware stores sell some terrarium sized plants (and regular plants), so I would recommend checking out local hardware stores (like ACE Hardware branches) you know carry those supplies.  Plus, you’ll be able to grab a few terrarium plants while you’re there!  Second, you’ll need some pebbles for the very bottom of the terrarium.  You should also be able to find these at hardware stores.  Amazon.com is a great place to grab some as well.  Third, you’ll need some soil.  Fourth, some sand.  And lastly, the terrarium plants!  For open terrariums, I have found that small succulents and cacti work best because they prefer dryer soil and low humidity.  My closed terrarium has fern-like plants and I have not had to water in months!

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The easiest way to put this together is rocks, some soil, the plants, more soil, and sand.  Once you water it for the first time, some of the soil will creep through the sand, so it will look kind of dirty. I usually combat this by adding some more sand after maybe the second watering.

For last touches, you can add some dinos or any other terrarium creatures you please! I found these at Urban Outfitters in a package with some others (horses, gnomes, dogs, etc).  Novelty stores and dollar stores (in the kid toy/party favor sections) are great places to find these as well.

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Darby Smart Box Review

I was quite excited to have come across Darby Smart via Tried & Glue way, way back in early October.  I was so excited that I actually bought 3 of them in a matter of a few days.  Well, really excited and I somehow snagged two $10 off coupons, which brought two of the boxes down to $9 each, which is a pretty awesome price (plus there’s free shipping).  PS if you sign up via this link, you’ll get $10 off your first purchase, too.

If you’re not familiar with Darby Smart, here’s a quick rundown of one of the services they offer.  I think they’ve expanded to adding a seller platform as well, but back in early October their main squeeze were these DIY kits you could purchase one at a time (not a subscription).  Basically you pick a project you want to do, and they send you all the materials you need to make that project, which is really cool.  I was extremely excited to have basically everything I need to complete a craft sent to me in a box.  Another great part was that they sent you enough materials that you could potentially make another project by just replacing certain items that they sold individually on their site.  So for instance, one of the boxes I bought was printed kitchen towels.  They came with the two towels, ink, brushes, and stencils.  So if I wanted to make more than just the two towels that were initially sent, I had the materials to make more.  All I had to do was purchase the same towels (sold separately outside the box) on their site.  Perfect.  Further, they give you a link to instructions on how to do the craft if you need a little help.

Darby Smart Box

The stuff they offer is all really, really cute.  Overall, I had an OK experience with it and enjoyed doing the craft boxes I bought.  I was a little disappointed that my experience was only OK though, and I’ll go into specifically why with each craft box I bought.  I picked Stenciled Tea Towels, Pocket Terrarium Necklaces, and Agate Cuff bracelet.  Here’s my experiences with each of the boxes I received.

1. Kitchen Towels – $17 (1 star out of 5) – Unfortunately, these did not work out for me.  I’m pretty sure I followed all the directions properly and everything, but after I “set” the ink, it continued to smudge, even after I did it a second time where I set the ink for twice as long and let the towel sit for a few days.  I was quite disappointed with this one because the towels came out super cute, but were basically useless.  Unfortunately, I didn’t grab any pictures before I tossed the towels.

2. Terrarium Necklace – $19 (2.5 stars out of 5) – I thought this one was really really cool because we all know I love plants, and I do still think it’s cool.  However, I have a few problems with this one.  First, the gold necklace portion is super cheap looking.  I get this is only a $19 kit and I’m not expecting a 14 carrot gold chain, but I feel a different chain could be used that’s not so “cheap looking” (and I really hate saying that).  Second, when you wear this chain, the sand that’s in the little bottles inevitably gets knocked around.  When that happens, for some reason the sand residue sticks on the sides of the inside of the bottle and makes it look super cloudy. You can barely see the grass in mine these days.  I still wear this occasionally and it was fun to make, but the quality is lacking unfortunately.

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3. Agate Cuff – $19 (5 stars out of 5) – This one I would definitely recommend.  What a cool bracelet!  Easy to make and is now one of my favorite jewelry pieces.  Like I mentioned before, with this one there is extra glue, extra gold wire, and they even gave me a second stone in a different color, so I actually just ordered another cuff and will make a second.  Only issue I had with this one is that it states the glue only needs to set for 10 minutes.  Try 10 hours.

Cuff bracelet

Overall, making the items was the most fun, but it would be really great if they were better quality and I could actually use them.  Overall, I’d definitely say Darby Smart is worth trying because I had a lot of fun creating the items, regardless if they ended up working out or not, and will probably purchase again.

Your Introduction To Reggaeton

I have an embarrassing secret to admit.  When I first heard reggaeton, I kind of hated it.  YES IT’S TRUE; I hated reggaeton.  These days, I’m embarrassed to admit it and honestly, have no idea how this is even possible since I’ve been obsessed for a few years now.  I don’t speak a lick of Spanish (which is actually surprising considering the amount of reggaeton I listen to), but reggaeton is basically one of my favorite musical genres (after classic rock and right before dancehall – yes I love that to death too).

My journey to reggaeton appreciation was not a fun one.  One of my earliest experiences with reggaeton (outside of Gasolina in high school and what is played on the radio) was during my senior year of college and my two friends who had studied abroad in South America had come back more in love with reggaeton than ever before.  We were in the car driving to one of our club lacrosse games and they had been blasting hardcore reggaeton for over an hour, and I was over it.  I had a headache, the beat was driving me nuts, and I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.  Surprisingly though after that moment when it beat me down, I started to like it shortly after.

Reggaeton holds its roots in the same resounding drum/bass background beat. At first I kind of thought all the songs sounded the same, but it wasn’t until I branched out and heard other artists and their songs when I realized reggaeton could be so many things.  Danza Kuduro introduced me to Don Omar.  It was then when I realized reggaeton artists can do so much more.  I also realized that you don’t need to understand the lyrics to enjoy the music as long as it has a good beat.  Most of the time these days no one is even saying anything noteworthy in English and I still listen to that stuff.  And lastly, I realized that if there’s any type of music you can dance to all night, it’s reggaeton and latin hip hop and pop.

Anyway, I know that reggaeton can be a little scary for those who aren’t familiar.  If you don’t speak Spanish, you won’t understand any of the lyrics. Why is there this beat that just keeps repeating?  Well, although reggaeton’s roots are in one specific type of beat, there are a lot of Latin artists that make a wide variety of different sounding music that is just excellent.  So, if you’re a little scared of reggaeton and want to know what it’s all about, here are five songs I recommend you check out.

1. Danza Kuduro – Don Omar

If this song doesn’t make you want to dance, get off my blog now.  Whenever this song goes on in a bar, club, car, passing car, neighbor playing so loud I can hear, my playlist at work, you’ll find me dancing.

Danza kuduro

2. Te Siento – Wisin & Yandel

I love this song.  It’s my favorite song by duo Wisin & Yandel.  The rap in the middle is my favorite part (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you hear it).

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3. Lovumba – Daddy Yankee

Daddy Yankee is a big hitter in the reggaeton world, and this is a big hit that has a great beat.

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4. Gasolina – Daddy Yankee, Pitbull, N.O.R.E

Classic reggaeton hit that put Daddy Yankee on the charts in the US.  I chose the remix because it has a familiar face to us all, Pitbull (before he started doing whatever it is that he does now).

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5. No Te Veo – Casa De Leones

Classic song with a classic reggaeton beat.

No Te Veo

Like I said, these are some “intro” songs that I hope will give you a good introduction to reggaeton.  They’re catchy and by well known artists, and I’d definitely recommend checking out these artists’ other songs on Spotify.  When all else fails, Songza has a bunch of really great reggaeton stations (many located in the “Party at the Beach” activities section).  If you’re not familiar Songza is a great site and app that’s similar to Pandora, but has better playlists in my opinion. Enjoy!

For my reggaeton lovers out there, what are some of your favorite classic reggaeton songs?

Where have I been?

Where have I been? It’s been over 3 months since a post and I know everyone’s been waiting with baited breath for the next (just kidding of course).  Anyway, a lot has happened!  Not many life changing events, but fun stuff along the way, which I’ll eventually post about.  For starters, the main delay was due to the fact that back in mid-November, I had arthroscopic knee surgery to realign my knee cap and scrape out excess damaged cartilage that was also causing me pain.  You’d think that being cooped up in the house for a few weeks would be cause for writing ALL OF THE BLOGSSSS, but actually it was quite the contrary.  I have basically spent my entire adult life (the past 10 years) steadily working out 3-6x per week with very little periods of a long break.  Even on vacations I always try to work in some type of exercise.  So when I was basically confined to a couch for a week and then crutches for another two, I got quite lethargic very quickly.  Because I was moving so little, I was constantly tied.  And on top of that, I couldn’t do much.  So what was I to write about?  More on knee surgery and how to survive later.

But what else has happened? Thanksgiving, binge listening to Serial, discovering my new favorite app (Keep), traveling back to the east coast for Christmas, my boyfriend buying me a REALLY nice camera for Christmas, birthdays, buying a 5 gallon fish tank for our kitchen counter top, finally finishing my natural beauty/cleaning product replacement project, becoming obsessed with Parks & Recreation and deciding to get back on this blog and eventually adding a little bit more fashion twist.  Yup! So you’ll be seeing a little more of me (literally because I’ll be posting some fashion type pictures courtesy of that new fancy camera) from now on. See you soon!

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust!

The time has come… Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust is here!  This recipe is nothing short of a modern day pizza miracle.  Seriously.  While slightly labor intensive, this low calorie, low carb, high fiber crust will make your pizza become everything you want and more.  Just take my word for it and make it.  Inspired by: Delighted Momma

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of spaghetti squash (about 1 very large spaghetti squash or two smaller sized ones)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp of garlic salt
  • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of flax meal

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook your spaghetti squash however you prefer (see my post on cooking spaghetti squash).
  3. Once your spaghetti squash is cooked, use a fork scrape out the insides.  You will now need to squeeze out as much water from the spaghetti squash as possible.  This is very important if you do not want a mushy pizza crust (it is also the most time consuming part of the recipe).  I have found that placing the spaghetti squash in a strainer as it cools is helpful, as well as using two cutting boards to squeeze the squash, just squeezing it with my hands in fist fulls, and using paper towels to absorb extra moisture.
  4. Combine the spaghetti squash and all the other ingredients listed above with your hands.
  5. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper and evenly spread your mixture on it. Make sure you keep the dough pressed together firmly as you spread.
  6. Bake your pizza crust for 25- 30 minutes or until you notice the edges starting to brown.  At the end of the 30 minutes carefully flip your crust and continue to bake for additional 25-30 minutes until pizza is no longer mushy and fully baked through.
  7. Take your crust out and spread on pizza sauce and whatever toppings you love.  Place it back it the oven for a few more minutes to let everything melt and get all bubbly.

Terracotta Pot “Upgrade”

So this is nothing special really…just thought I’d post this cute idea (I think!) for some terracotta pots.  I bought these cacti from CVS for about $.40 (they were 90% off for some reason) and we all know I can’t resist a $.40 plant.  Anyway, I mixed and matched the color scheme to get the plant matching pink and yellow look.

Painted Terracotta Pots

Fall Chickpea Squash Chili

Fall recipe time!  I would definitely consider this chili a fall recipe since it uses butternut squash (for some reason squash equates to fall and winter in my mind).  I waited to post this until fall for this reason because I actually made it this summer (breaking all the rules!).  We had leftover butternut squash from this mac & cheese recipe I made a few days earlier.  I originally followed the “seasonality rules” with this two falls ago when I was living in Boston and wanted to make a fall dish (which was a surprise to myself since I wasn’t big on complicated recipes).  Similar with baking, I was never super into cooking elaborate dishes, but for some reason I saw the squash at a farmer’s market and found this particular recipe for Chickpea Chili calling to me.  It turns out that I really enjoyed cooking it and suddenly cooking became a lot less scary and a lot more interesting.  The original recipe can be found from Cooking Light and requires a crock pot and around 9 hours of simmering, but it can definitely be made in a medium-large pot with 3-5 hours of simmering.  It’s a great dish to make on a Sunday afternoon when you don’t have any plans and it fills the entire house up with a lovely aroma of spices.  It also keeps well and tastes excellent heated up!  And the great part is that you WILL have leftovers from this recipe!

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Ingredients:
1 cup canned chickpeas
2 tbs olive oil (or cooking spray if you want to keep it very healthy)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
2 1/2 cups fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (undrained)
4 cups chopped butternut squash
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
6 cups hot couscous
8 lime wedges
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan (or cooking spray). Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through turmeric); sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  2. Add onion mixture to slow cooker.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a large pot (which is what I used).   Add broth and next 4 ingredients (through tomatoes); cover and cook on HIGH 8 hours.  Or, if you are using a pot, 4-5 hours.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add squash and sauté 5 minutes. Add squash to slow cooker/pot. Cover and cook on HIGH 1 hour, or low-medium heat.  Stir in peas. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve over couscous with lime wedges!

Chickpea & Squash Chili - plate 2!Chickpea & Squash Chili - plate!