Nico's Room

Butternut squash lasagna cupcakes! Inspired by the more traditional lasagna recipe on Once Upon a Cutting Board combined with my favorite savory cupcake recipe.

And, this was finally an excuse to make the cashew ricotta cheese on last month’s blog, The Simple Veganista. This was incredibly easy, it’s tasty, & held up really well in the lasagna cupcakes.

Note to self: goat cheese doesn’t melt. In the future I’ll plan on using a yogurt cheese on top.

#dashofsasscbc: chicken & apple sauté (w/mashed potatoes). #onceuponacuttingboard #fall #dinner

#dashofsasscbc: chicken & apple sauté (w/mashed potatoes). #onceuponacuttingboard #fall #dinner

An unappetizing photo of the cashew ricotta cheese I just made. #dashofsasscbc #thesimpleveganista

An unappetizing photo of the cashew ricotta cheese I just made. #dashofsasscbc #thesimpleveganista

New trend: panoramic instead of huddling for group photos. #friday

New trend: panoramic instead of huddling for group photos. #friday

Tags: friday

#psl meets #greensmoothie. #friday #vitamix

#psl meets #greensmoothie. #friday #vitamix

Good morning, pumpkin pie yogurt with pumpkin granola. I also made some kind of pumpkin pie spice mocha drink… #saturday #breakfast #pumpkins

Good morning, pumpkin pie yogurt with pumpkin granola. I also made some kind of pumpkin pie spice mocha drink… #saturday #breakfast #pumpkins

Pumpkin pie yogurt. I’m so excited to go to bed so that I can wake up & eat breakfast!

Pumpkin pie yogurt. I’m so excited to go to bed so that I can wake up & eat breakfast!

I finally took some of my clothes to be altered and repaired. Deb at the Village Seamstress did amazing work! And, the total cost was just $40.

October 3-9

Pumpkin stuffed French Toast breakfast date at Half Day Cafe; pig hunt/walk through scenic Wyoming; College Hill Coffee Co workday & lunch
Lasagna dinner with Ramstetters & Deitschels
Costco for dark chocolate w/ pumpkin seeds & sea salt
Outing w/ le Tony in Ox
Weeklong catch up
Tuesday meeting blitz
Ordered Jawbone fitness tracker
Offered graduate associate position at the Humanities Center - more info TBA
Gym 1x
Picked up my improved wardrobe pieces from the Village Seamstress
Meeting/revising session w/ Theresa at True West
Coat shopping at Valley Thrift -photo forthcoming (I wanted to dry clean the coat first)
MIA outing w/GSCA folks

Weekend Wishlist
“Fall Break” productivity
Gym 2x
Farmer’s market
Pumpkin yums

#NewAgainWardrobe! I had these five pieces altered or repaired & it only cost $40. #thrifty

#NewAgainWardrobe! I had these five pieces altered or repaired & it only cost $40. #thrifty

Review: The Simple Veganista

“Simple” is the keyword here. Most of the ingredients in most of these recipes are things I buy anyway put together in combinations that I’ve never considered before. I have a long list of recipes from this blog that I still want to make, although it is time to move on to another. I’ll get to them, someday. My favorite recipe was the mushroom and lentil ragu. And, next time, I think I’ll use twice as many mushrooms. I don’t think I had a least favorite this time. But, I did make some crucial mistakes on a couple dishes: (1) I used whole wheat pasta with my avocado and cucumber sauce, which was too wheat-y/think/heavy; conventional noodles next time. (2) I left way too many seeds from the hot peppers in the thai mushroom, pepper, and basil stir fry; better luck next time. Another favorite is the cinnamon blueberry smoothie! It’s such a great fall treat! I’ve adapted the recipe to be “green,” to include spinach and vanilla yogurt. Also, instead of using cinnamon in the smoothie, I’ve been using a concentrated brew of cinnamon tea for the base (I usually leave it overnight in about 8 oz water).

A question klkl1 asked me is if cooking vegan was more difficult and/or more expensive. The answer is complicated. According to Mint.com, I spent $19 more than usual on my groceries—but I’m not sure if that is reflective since I made a trip to Costco to buy a bunch of bulk staples. So, I might say it wasn’t more expensive, but it also wasn’t necessarily cheaper. I didn’t buy any meat products during the month, so I saved money there. However, I did buy a lot more veggies more often, and some that I wouldn’t normally use (like fresh mushrooms). Over all, though, I didn’t notice a huge extra cost. In September, I also ate out significantly less than in the summer months—that is, I didn’t have a single meal in a restaurant (though I spent ~$30 on cocktails and ~$5 on coffee). It’s encouraging that the cookbook club is motivating me to want to cook/eat at home rather than buy in the few restaurants here.

As for more difficult…I’m inclined to say no. As I noted above, “simple” is something this blogger certainly sticks to. The necessary ingredients were often things I buy anyway, but the recipes encouraged me to use them in very different ways than I’d normally do. For instance, the white bean and cauliflower alfredo sauce was mind-blowing! I always have white beans around, and frequently keep frozen cauliflower on hand to roast or to puree into mashed potatoes. I have been avoiding alfredo sauce for years, as I’ve discovered it’s one of those too-rich-in-lactose foods, and it was awesome to try something that approximates the dish. I love it with spinach, mushrooms, and chicken (with lots of garlic). There were some recipes in which I cut corners, since I am not actually a vegan. So I did use chicken bouillon when the recipes may have called for veggie broth/stock; and, I skipped the tofu in a couple recipes because I just don’t care for it (unless they’re deep fried cubes, but those I go to the Chinese restaurant for). I don’t think I bought any unusual ingredients, though I did end up buying a mortar & pestle. Mid-September I ran out of ground cumin and I also needed to cloves for the chocolate chai almonds (which are great for work/school snacks!). My former roommate had left whole cloves and whole cumin seeds here when she moved out in June. I bought a tiny one for ~$9 and it’s perhaps among the best money I’ve ever spent.

Overall, this was an extremely positive experience and there are so many more recipes I want to try—including a cashew ricotta, which I would then make a lasagna with. I’m really encouraged to eat more veggie/vegan dishes and much, much less meat. And, I’m trying to commit to eating organic and/or local meats if I can, which obviously cost more, so cutting down on the frequency of eating meat dishes is key. Trying all these vegan recipes is certainly good practice. Even on the blog for October, I am gravitating toward so many of the recipes in her vegetarian section.

As posted last week, I’ve chosen Once Upon a Cutting Board for October! Check out the “recipes by category” page! I’m mostly in it for all the squash and pumpkin recipes this month.

I also really failed on the potluck. Hopefully, this month!

*See all of thesimpleveganista's recipes.

There is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

In fact, the quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there. It’s beginning to look like a cautionary tale of how a focus on exporting premium foods can damage the producer country’s food security.

"Can Vegans Stomach the Unpalatable Truth About Quinoa?" (The Guardian)
I spent $8.59 on ground beef, from grass fed cows born, raised, & butchered in this county. & I also made my own roasted red pepper tomato sauce. 
This was my first venture into buying organic and local meat. Unlike when I transitioned to pastured, organic, local eggs, the sticker shock isn’t really getting to me. It’s about $2.99 for a pound of the conventional, least lean ground beef at the Kroger, a near $6 difference. I hadn’t bought any meat since August, as I was eating all the chicken, sausage, and chorizo in my freezer, and I was more aware how much more expensive organic, properly fed, and local meats can be. 
You get what you pay for and I can taste and smell the difference. Something about ground beef’s bloody smell of death has always bothered me. This beef didn’t smell like death. This beef was incredibly lean. I usually drain the fat off any beef I cook, but not necessary here. And the clean, clear taste was phenomenal. 
Half was sauteed with onions, garlic, and mushroom for this pasta dish. The other half is in the freezer. I plan to make pumpkin chili next week. 

I spent $8.59 on ground beef, from grass fed cows born, raised, & butchered in this county. & I also made my own roasted red pepper tomato sauce. 

This was my first venture into buying organic and local meat. Unlike when I transitioned to pastured, organic, local eggs, the sticker shock isn’t really getting to me. It’s about $2.99 for a pound of the conventional, least lean ground beef at the Kroger, a near $6 difference. I hadn’t bought any meat since August, as I was eating all the chicken, sausage, and chorizo in my freezer, and I was more aware how much more expensive organic, properly fed, and local meats can be. 

You get what you pay for and I can taste and smell the difference. Something about ground beef’s bloody smell of death has always bothered me. This beef didn’t smell like death. This beef was incredibly lean. I usually drain the fat off any beef I cook, but not necessary here. And the clean, clear taste was phenomenal. 

Half was sauteed with onions, garlic, and mushroom for this pasta dish. The other half is in the freezer. I plan to make pumpkin chili next week. 

spiced squash, lentil, & goat cheese salad. 
http://www.onceuponacuttingboard.com/2013/10/spiced-squash-lentil-goat-cheese-salad.html

spiced squash, lentil, & goat cheese salad. 

http://www.onceuponacuttingboard.com/2013/10/spiced-squash-lentil-goat-cheese-salad.html

September 26-October 3

Sick all weekend :(
Writing boot camp productivity
Applied for an extra job! (Fingers crossed)
Payday!
Kazim Ali reading + he signed my copy of The Disappearance of Seth
Meet the President - Cincinnati Regional Kenyon Alumni Association event at the new Renaissance hotel
Le Tony!
Dinner at Stonecreek with me Tony’s parents & Uncle Terry

Weekend Wishlist
Pigs!
Lasagna dinner with le Tony’s grandparents
Minor productivity

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25   Next »