Moe’s Southwest Grill

Posted in Restaurants, Southwest
on September 30, 2016

Moe’s Southwest Grill, is one of my favorite places to eat. It has always been easy eating there as a vegan. You can have all the veggies, the rice, and of course the beans. However, not too long ago they added tofu to their menu, and let me tell you it’s delicious. I had no idea they added tofu to their menu until the beginning of last semester when my friends told me.

I always get the same thing when I go to Moe’s an earmuff bowl; tofu, black beans, grilled mushrooms or grilled green bell peppers, olives, guacamole, pico de gallo and onions. I only add the onion if it’s not in the mushrooms or bell peppers. It becomes too much if you have the grilled onion and fresh onion in my opinion. I also dip into the salsa bar and add medium salsa to it, and mix it all together. Even though it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, I love to get a basket of their tortilla chips. I usually just eat my bowl with the chips, and pass on the fork.

Moe’s Southwest Grill is absolutely a fantastic place to eat. I’m so glad they added a vegan protein to their menu, because it gets a little boring when all you can get is rice, beans and veggies. I love their food, and I highly recommend you try it out when you get the chance.

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Over a Month Since I Have Posted Anything

Posted in Life
on September 17, 2016

It’s been over a month since I have posted anything, and let’s be honest it bothers me a lot. However, I have had so much going on in my life that I want to use this post to catch you guys up on everything. One of the biggest thing going on in my life is the fact that we are moving currently. It also happens to be the main reason why I have not been able to be active. When I found out about the move it was never in my intentions to stop blogging. However, life happens and unfortunately it happened. Another, thing keeping me highly busy right now is the fact that the semester has begun. Since we are in the process of moving, I am taking all of my classes online. So luckily I can work at my own pace and make time for blogging.

Moves don’t always come easily and this one has been absolutely horrendous. Purely because our move fell at the worst time of the year in Florida. The time of the year I am talking about is fall and winter. Every year we get the annual flock of snowbirds fleeing the snow filled winters of the north. Personally, I would stay up north during the winters however, I have a love for snow that many people don’t have. There’s just something magical about snow, even if it’s not always flawless. Due to the time of year landlords get thrilled, because they can charge more than what they could get normally. So rent skyrockets to over $900 a month for a one-bedroom home, and housing becomes extremely limited.

Since, this has happened we are having a very difficult time finding a place to rent. It doesn’t help that we have two small dogs, and I am not sure if it’s just our luck or what but very few places are taking pets now. We have been so fortunate that my sister and her fiancé are allowing us to stay with them until we find a place. However, we are feeling the stress of not having our own place and I desperately miss having my own kitchen. I already have a laundry list of meals I am making the minute we move. So keep a look out because I will be in recipe posting bliss when that time comes.

The worst thing is that due to circumstances out of my control, I had to do an extremely heartbreaking thing and had to give Daisy (A.K.A. Bun Bun) to another family. I did everything in my power to keep her; I searched for kennels, asked friends to watch her, and even called shelters to see if they had any suggestions. After many arguments plus plenty of tears, I had to make this decision. It was never in my intentions to find her a new home.

Over a Month Since I Have Posted Anything

She is the reason I went vegan and why I am who I am today. I told my mother this more times than I can count over the last two and a half years. She helped me see a part of the world that I was never fully aware of, and because of her I am living a happier and healthier life. I am vegan because this great big ball of fluffy fat hopped into my heart and flipped my life upside down. I would never change that for the world, and I will always maintain a vegan lifestyle. This is a choice and a path I have chosen, because I learned so much through having her. If the time ever comes and I can get her back, I can promise you I will be doing everything in my power to make that happen.

The semester has started and I can already tell you I’m feeling the stress of the semester. I am having major withdraws from spending time on campus with my friends. I also regret having to give up the leadership positions, I was elected into at the end of last semester. Until I know what was going to happen, I decided it was best to take online classes. That way no matter where in the country I wound up, I would be able to attend classes this semester. I do not want to mess up my graduation date. I am so close to being able to start working on my dream degree and I do not want to postpone that.

So this has been my life for the last month and a half. I can promise you I’m going to start posting regularly again. It might not always be a recipe however, I will find great things to post about. My next post is on two of my new favorite health apps and one vegan app. They are the best apps I have ever used. Stick around because I am back at blogging full force.

Turning 22, Disney Springs, and Pokémon… Oh My!

Posted in Birthdays, Special Occasions
on August 5, 2016

My 22nd birthday came and went (on the 29th of July), and one of the gifts I got was this adorable little vintage looking apron and a pasta maker. Thank you to my mom for not only the new cookware but for supporting my recent love of cooking. I have been wanting to learn how to make pasta for such a long time. Unfortunately, the photos I have of the pasta drying aren’t that great.

My mom, sister and I went to Disney Springs. Just so we could go Pokémon hunting (we all play Pokémon Go). I had seen online that it was a great spot for PokéStops. Whoever said that was right on the money, because I had completely replenished my Poké Ball supply… or lack there of. I had previously been without Poké Balls for a few days, so I didn’t play unless I left the house to try and get more (a dream of mine would be to live in a PokéStop so I have an unlimited supply).

After arriving we stopped in Wolfgang Puck Express for lunch. I had this spaghetti that was absolutely exquisite, but unfortunately my mom and sister’s lunch wasn’t quite to their liking. We spent the entire day running around Disney Springs browsing all the stores and catching Pokémon. Before we left, we stopped into this adorable place called Bakery NYC. It’s vegan and gluten free. I got a brownie bite to take home. Next time I take a trip to Disney Springs I will go back. Then we stopped into Sprinkles Cupcakes for another delicious treat, we sat outside and talked. Afterwards, we went to guest relations and to get a birthday button for myself (suggestion of the sweet girl in Bakery NYC). As we were heading back to our car, it started to rain again. While we were waiting I found a Pokémon on radar my sister had been looking for.

My sister grabbed my phone and took off looking for it leaving me and my mom waiting under a pavilion for her. She unfortunately, came back Pokémon-less and couldn’t even find it on PokéVision. So we grabbed Starbucks drinks and left Disney Springs, and despite the lack of the Pokémon my sister wanted it was a fantastic way to spend my birthday. Eventually I will post a vegan guide to Disney Springs, because it’s a place I love. My one regret was that I didn’t take photos, because I feel like this post could use a good photo.

I want to touch on the pasta maker I got for my birthday, because this is something I have always wanted. It’s stainless steel and super easy not only to use but to clean. I have always wanted to make homemade pasta. Now I finally have a pasta maker, and I used it last night for the first time. I made an easy pasta recipe (coming soon) and it was absolutely fantastic. The recipe is something I will be making over and over again, and I am so happy with how the fettuccini noodles turned out. I had to improvise when it came to drying the pasta, because I don’t have a drying rack yet. So I strung the noodles over bowls, a cutting board, and a dishtowel laying on the counter. Literally it looked like noodles had taken over my kitchen (not that I mind).

I had an amazing birthday spending time with my family (even though we were down one member). My brother in-law unfortunately, had to work so he was unable to join us. I have no idea how we can possibly top next year, because this one was full of laughing and fantastic memories.

 

Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta

Posted in Dinner, Recipe
on July 21, 2016

Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta was a mouthwatering dish from The Cheesecake Factory. I went a couple weeks ago, and I had to do a post on it. I love this dish so much; I was already craving it when I walked out the restaurant. So I decided the best course of action was to come up with my own version of this dish. Luckily like most places, The Cheesecake Factory lists the ingredients in each dish on their menu. So it was very easy to figure out what was in the dish, not only from what I remember myself but from the menu.

Once I was able to figure out what was in the dish finding the ingredients was a breeze. I was able to get a lot of the same ingredients and flavors in my version of the dish. This recipe requires a lot of prep work, so I suggest getting your ingredients together early. When you’re ready to cook you need to start with the eggplant.

The eggplant takes a the longest out of everything, because you have to make the eggplant sweat. It’s easy to do this, and requires little work. What you do slice the eggplant into 1/4-1/2 inch slices, spread out onto a piece of parchment paper (I used a cookie sheet) and coat both sides with salt. Then you let it sit for 25-30 minutes and take a paper towel to gently remove the salt. The reason why you do this is because eggplant is bitter, and this process helps cut back on the bitterness.

After you sweat the eggplant, you roast it in the oven. I suggest you do that before you cook anything, because it does take about 30-45 minutes to cook. Once you get down to the last 15-20 minutes, you should start the pasta, for this dish I use fusilli noodles. When the noodles are almost tender I start frying the rest of the ingredients. This dish is full of amazing ingredients and flavors.

Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta is an absolute amazing dish, and my copycat recipe comes in at a close second to the real thing. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta

Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 box Fusilli noodles
  • 1 Broccoli stalk, cut
  • 1 bag oven-dried tomatoes
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 jar artichoke
  • 1 jar kalamata olives
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful pine nuts

Instructions

  1. Slice the eggplant into 1/4-1/2 inch slices, spread out onto a piece of parchment paper (I used a cookie sheet) and coat both sides with salt. Preheat the oven at 425F and then let it sit at room temperature for 25-30 minutes. Then take a paper towel to gently remove the salt.
  2. Cut the eggplant slices into 1/6 and then coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a pan and put in the oven after 10-15 minutes stir the eggplants and put back into the oven. Let cook for the next 20-25 minutes.
  3. Cook the noodles as instructed by the box, and prepare any ingredients that need to be prepped (i.e. sliced, cut, or chopped). Once the ingredients are ready put the broccoli, pine nuts and bell peppers into a sauce pan on a medium high heat with olive oil.
  4. When they start to get tender throw the rest of the ingredients into the pan and add a touch more olive oil with salt and pepper. Mix together well and once the veggies are almost finished throw the eggplant in to the pan for just a few minutes to heat up again.
  5. If you want you can throw the oven-dried tomatoes into the pan as well, or cook them separately in a pan with a little olive oil to warm them up. Cook for 5 minutes take off the heat and mix into the finished pasta. Serve and enjoy!
http://basilandbows.com/evelyns-favorite-pasta/

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Posted in Dinner, Recipe
on July 17, 2016

Vegetable Noodle Soup is an everything but the kitchen sink recipe. I haven’t been feeling good lately, and when I don’t feel good the one thing I crave is soup. Unfortunately for me we didn’t have any soup at all. So I did what anyone would do, I raided the pantry and fridge. Originally, I wanted to make a vegan chicken noodle but I had no idea how to make the tofu for it.

I found a ton of vegetables which gave me the perfect excuse to try out my improv cooking skills. My mom likes to buy our most used food products in bulk, so I had a pretty big selection of noodles. I chose this cute spiral noodles, because I wanted a huge noodle in my soup. I did wind up using tofu in this recipe, because I felt like it needed the extra texture. This vegetable noodle soup is rich in flavors, and has an amazing array of colors. Every mouthful has a burst of flavor which makes this soup even better. You get so many vegetables in a spoonful, that every bite has a different flavor.

So a short story about this soup, when I started making it I originally had it in a medium sized pot. However, due to how many ingredients and liquid was in the soup it had to be moved. The soup was on the verge of spilling over and I could not even stir it. I moved it into the rice cooker, which lucky has multiple uses. One of them being a fantastic slow cooker. I must say out of all the rice cookers I have owned, this one is my all time favorite so far. It cooked perfectly in the rice cooker, and was so much better than cooking on the stove top.

One lesson I learned during this process was the importance of not throwing everything in right away. Since it was my first time making soup without help, I unfortunately added my noodles right away. When the soup was finished the noodles where overcooked and anyone who has ever eaten an overcooked noodle knows how mushy they are. I learned my lesson, and now I will remember to put my noodles in at the end.

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • Half pound baby Lima beans
  • 1 large and 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • 1-2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/3 tofu block, cubed
  • 1 half box elbow noodles
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 5 tbsp vegan chicken base or 5 bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 handful kale, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Since I used a bag of baby lima beans I had to soak them before I could cook them. I soaked them in boiling hot water with a lid on the bowl for over an hour (but I highly recommend soaking them longer, preferably overnight) until softened. I then drained and rinsed the lima beans.
  2. After that I chopped, diced and minced all the vegetables. Thoroughly rinse the vegetables in a colander, and leave them in the sink so all the excess water can drip out.
  3. Then put 5 quarts of water in your slow cooker with 5 tbsp. of vegan chicken base. Throw all the vegetables and seasonings in, mix together. Drain the can of petite diced tomatoes in the sink then add into the slow cooker.
  4. For the tofu, lightly coat the bottom of a frying pan in oil on a medium high heat. Slice the tofu into thin slices and press gently with a paper towel. After that dice it and when the oil is hot throw the tofu into the pan. Add a pinch of salt and pepper then coat with soy sauce.
  5. Cook evenly on each side until golden brown, then mix well one last time. Toss into the slow cooker, and mix well.
  6. Let cook for 4-6 hours or until all the vegetables are softened. Stir every couple of hours. In the last 15 minutes or according to directions on the box, add the noodles. This way the noodles do not get overcooked. Once finished ladle into a bowl and serve!
http://basilandbows.com/vegetable-noodle-soup/

Cheesecake Factory Does Vegan

Posted in Pasta, Restaurants
on July 14, 2016

Cheesecake Factory does vegan food, and I’ve only tried one dish so far and that’s Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta. You need to replace the rigatoni with fusilli noodles to make it vegan. However, it’s so good I will have a hard time bringing myself to try the other vegan dishes they offer. They do offer a few other vegan dishes, but I was absolutely enthralled with this pasta. I was so enthralled with Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta, it’s that good.

This pasta is full of beautiful colors which caught my attention the second the plate came out. When I took that first bite my Cheesecake Factory Does Veganmouth was practically watering. So many different flavors were combined in this dish, and it was done perfectly. Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta has become my new favorite restaurant dish ever. I was curious as to whether or not I could make this dish at home.

So I experimented and wound up with a fantastic copycat of the recipe. It’s not the exact recipe so it doesn’t taste exactly the same. I think it’s pretty close though, and it has a lot of the same flavors as the original dish. I wasn’t sure how some of the ingredients were cooked, but I tried my best. My copycat version of Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta, will wind up being a recipe I will go back to again and again.

My mom even wound up loving this recipe, and she has never tried some of the ingredients in the dish. So she was nervous to try it, and she wouldn’t even try it at the restaurant. When I made it I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to her. I am just so glad she liked it too, because I love cooking for her!

If you have any recommendations for Cheesecake Factory or anywhere else, please let me know! I love trying new food out, and think it’s a great way to try new foods.

Spicy Southwest Tofu Scramble

Posted in Breakfast, Recipe
on July 7, 2016

Spicy Southwest Tofu Scramble is one of my go to recipes for breakfast. This recipe is great for many reasons, and it’s not just because it’s bursting with flavor and color. You can make this recipe as versatile as you want using any vegetables you want. You can also serve it over rice and chips for delicious nachos, rice on it’s own or even on tortillas. That’s the great thing about this recipe, you can do so much to it.

This recipe calls for a ton of spices, and can wind up really spicy if you’re not careful. I tend to love how spicy this recipe can get, but if you aren’t fond of spice I recommend cutting out or cutting back on the sriracha sauce. The sriracha adds a lot of the spiciness to this dish, and may be overwhelming to some. A great thing to do with this recipe is to add some vegan cheese into the pan while it’s cooking. I prefer the diaya cheddar cheese since it melts really well. Adding the cheese gives this recipe a cheesy goodness.

I highly recommend adding vegan sour cream or salsa (or salsa verde) on top to give it even more flavor once it’s cooked. This recipe is fantastic on it’s own, but sometimes I like to throw it over some of my Southwest Breakfast Potatoes. It adds even more flavor, and textures.

 

Spicy Southwest Tofu Scramble

Spicy Southwest Tofu Scramble

Ingredients

  • 1/3 block tofu
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 3 tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice, dice, and mince all your vegetables as needed then put into a pan over medium heat. Mix together and stir occasionally so it doesn't burn.
  2. After the vegetables start to soften, take the tofu and rip it into chunks, over a sink squeeze out the water. Once the water is squeezed out crumble the tofu over your pan.
  3. Add in the sriracha sauce and spices, mix together well. Stir occasionally and after five minutes it's ready to serve!
http://basilandbows.com/spicy-southwest-tofu-scramble/

A Sprinkles Cupcake? Um… YES PLEASE!

Posted in Restaurants, Sweets
on July 3, 2016

Sprinkles Cupcakes is this adorable little cupcake shop with the best vegan cupcake I have ever eaten. The atmosphere in this location is absolutely fun, and colorful. Some locations even have a cupcake vending machine. Sadly,  location near me is still in the process of putting one in and I absolutely can not wait. They have a huge variety of cupcakes, unfortunately for me they only make red velvet cupcakes vegan. I have never been a fan of red velvet however, I tried it today anyway because I was craving something sweet.

I can honestly say that I was blown away by their red velvet cupcake. There are so many words I can use to describe this cupcake a few that come to mind are moist, decadent, delicious and amazing. The best thing about these cupcakes are that they aren’t too sweet. Which is something I appreciate seeing as I’m not a big sugar person. I was honestly expecting to regret buying it, since I have had red velvet before and I hated the taste. However, it was definitely not a regret of mine and I will be going back again and again.

sprinkles cupcakes

An awesome pawesome thing about this place is that they offer dog cupcakes. Having two fur children that bark of my own (one of them who will be having her tenth birthday tomorrow), I had to buy them each their own cupcake to celebrate. I can not wait to see their reactions to these adorable little treats. It’s not everyday that our dogs get a goody like this, since I try to avoid spoiling them. So I know they will be ecstatic. Especially since my toy poodle Harmony absolutely loves anything sweet.

sprinkles cupcakes

My mom and I have already decided that we will be getting a dozen of these delicious beauties for my twenty-second birthday. I can’t wait and probably will be asking to go get another cupcake really soon. So for anyone who is curious about whether or not they should get a Sprinkles cupcake, the answer is a do it!

 

Note: This post is NOT sponsored, and was written of my own accord. Sprinkles Cupcakes did not ask me to write this post. I just couldn’t help, but to rave about how good they are.

Lazy Macaroni and Cheese

Posted in Lunch, Recipe
on July 1, 2016

Lazy Macaroni and Cheese wound up being a very tasty experiment. One day I was craving mac and cheese like crazy, and decided that I would try and make it with what I had on hand. I had no idea if it would even be good, and I used vegan mozzarella instead of cheddar. It wound up being absolutely fantastic and very gooey, it was by far my favorite mac and cheese recipe. I recently tried it out with vegan cheddar, and that was even fantastic. I used the cheddar slices instead of shredded cheddar, it takes a lot of slices (four or five) so when I make it there needs to be shredded on hand. I am not very fond of the way shredded cooks for my Lazy Macaroni and Cheese to be honest, because it takes longer to melt. However, it is just as tasty as the slices so taking a few minutes longer is definitely worth it not to use all of my cheese slices. Epically since I love making double cheese grilled cheese sandwiches (recipe will be posted for that soon). That alone makes me run out of cheese slices fairly fast.

My mom who is an avid vegan cheese hater (she hates the way it smells so she refuses to try it) decided she was curious and tried it out. She loved it much to my surprise and asked me to make it again. She always gets the ingredients now when we go to the store just so I can make it for her. I am so glad I found a recipe she loves that incorporates a vegan cheese. Now maybe I can get lucky and get her to try tofu if I cook it right since that’s another thing she refuses to eat.

I hope you guys enjoy!

Lazy Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 4-6

Lazy Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened original almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
  • 4 tbsp non-dairy butter
  • 4-5 daiya cheddar cheese slices or half a bag of vegan shredded cheddar cheese (or brand you prefer)
  • 1/2 a box of elbow noodles
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot boil water on high (I like to add a pinch of salt to my water before it boils) until it's a rapidly bubbling. When the water starts to boil pour in the noodles then turn the heat down to medium. Stir occasionally and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the noodles are cooked all the way through.
  2. When the noodles are finished turn off the burner and strain the noodles with a colander. Leave the noodles in the colander, and on a medium heat pour the non-dairy milk into the pot then add the butter and vegan cheese (if the cheese is in slices I break it up into fourths). Add pepper to taste.
  3. Stir continuously and once the cheese is fully melted add your noodles. Mix well until all noodles are coated evenly, and then serve!
http://basilandbows.com/lazy-macaroni-and-cheese/

Simple and Crispy Yam Chips

Posted in Snacks
on June 27, 2016

Simple and Crispy Yam Chips has been something my mom has made for me for years. The one reason why I love making my own chips instead of buying them at the store, is that I can avoid all the preservatives they put in them. Another perk is that you can control the salt content in them, I have never been a big salt person and rarely add salt to anything. So that’s a huge bonus for me. This was my first time ever making these myself (with the help of my mom of course), and to be quite honest with you this wound up being a crazy experience.

We bought a mandolin the last time we went to the store, and it was our first time ever using it. Of course, like every cooking disaster story involving a mandolin we both wound up slicing our fingers on it. Mine was minor and mom being the well meaning person she is, got on my case about how small the yam I was slicing was. Well when I went to go clean up my finger, mom decided to continue slicing the yams to get them finished for me. However, ironically enough right after getting on my case about slicing my finger she did the exact same thing. Unfortunately, it resulted in a trip to the ER for my dear mom. She luckily didn’t need stitches, but it did result in a shot and prescripts. We have both learned a valuable lesson in yam slicing, mine was to not let the yam get to small and hers was to watch what she is doing.

Despite all the drama (and if it happens to you please make sure you clean your mandolin before continuing to use it) these yam chips have caused us, they turned out absolutely delicious. They are perfectly crispy and salty, leaving a desire to eat more!

Simple and Crispy Yam Chips

Simple and Crispy Yam Chips

Ingredients

  • 2 large yams, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • Canola oil blend (or your preference)

Instructions

  1. Using a mandolin or knife (if you have the kind of ninja skills required) please carefully slice your yams so they are thin, using enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (about an inch) put the pan on a medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot enough, gently place about 6-8 yams depending on how big your pan is (we used a large skillet). If your pan/skillet is smaller use less. This will help make sure the yams cook correctly.
  3. Let cook for a couple minutes then flip one over, if it is starting to turn brown (you don't want them to be burnt) on the underside flip the rest over. Check them again after a couple minutes, then when finished place them on some paper towels. Then repeat.
  4. When all of the yams are cooked through, toss with salt and pepper and let cool. Then dig in and enjoy the incredible yam chips you just made!
http://basilandbows.com/simple-crispy-yam-chips/