Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Sammies

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It’s still over a month away yet here I sit stressed about Christmas.

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It’s not supposed to be this way. I should be focused on the birth of our Lord and Savior! The many blessings the year has brought me! The New Year’s resolutions I will certainly not keep!

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Instead I am left wrestling with answers to the dreaded question, “What do you want for Christmas?”

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To be left alone, honestly. Seriously, it’s so stressful coming up with random things I want others to purchase for me and then wrap and hold onto until 12/25. If I want something, I typically weight the pros and cons, research the best deals, find a coupon code, put it in my cart and then talk myself out of it. I like this process, I’m comfortable with it, it makes sense to me. Why organize a Christmas list? Let’s just spend time together and sing carols and string popcorn on trees like the olden days. But I am an acquiescent child. I put together a list, I checked it twice, I sent it it to my parents and husband. I thought I was really doing them a favor, too. Look, here are some ideas you unimaginative shoppers. Know what I get in return? “That’s a really long list.” K. I’m out.

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Garrett also said, “Wow, I started a list for you too and it has none of this stuff on it.” He knows me so well.

 

 

Time: 1 hour (prep + cooking) | Serves: 3-4 sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of tempeh, sliced thin
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 green pepper, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce + 2 tbsp.
  • 1 tbsp. of dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. of garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp. of nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp. of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. of sriracha
  • 5 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. of paprika
  • S+P, to taste
  • Crusty french bread, for serving

How to:

  • In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of soy sauce + dijon + 1 tbsp. of garlic + 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • Add tempeh slices, coat in the soy sauce mix + set aside
  • Add sweet potato to a sauce pan + add water + bring to a boil
  • Lower heat + simmer for 15 minutes, drain + let cool
  • Add sweet potato + remaining soy sauce + coconut milk + nutritional yeast + lemon juice + sriracha + 3 tbsp. of olive oil + garlic powder + S+P to a food processor + pulse until smooth, set aside
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat
  • Add tempeh + sauce it marinated in, cook for 6-7 minutes, until crisp + browned to your liking
  • Remove from the pan
  • Add remaining olive oil
  • Add onion + S+P, cook 3-4 minutes
  • Add garlic, cook another minute
  • Add green peppers, cook another 3-4 minutes
  • Add tempeh + paprika, cook another 2-3 minutes
  • To serve, place some tempeh mix into your crusty bread + top with cheese sauce

 

Adapted from here!

Stuffed Red Pepper Soup

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I consider myself very responsible.

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I’m organized, make to-do lists just to cross things off, am always on time, look both ways before crossing the road, etc. The pillars of responsibility!

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So at my pal’s bachelorette party this weekend, I obvio offered to be a designated driver.

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I didn’t have a car on this trip, so I drove my friend’s. I was also the keeper of one of our AirBNB keys. See, responsibility is my middle name! Everything went well. I didn’t crash my friend’s car and we all got to our destinations safely. I made sure the AirBNB was locked at all times even when we were inside for 5 minutes – I’m sorry, I trust no one. So a safe and lovely time was had by all. I’m in the airport Sunday sipping on a smoothie, reading my book. I’m really just living my best airport life when I get a text asking where I put my friend’s keys. I mentally retrace my steps. I parked and locked the car. I fished out the AirBNB key. We walked in the house. I set the AirBNB key down, but not the car keys. Where would I have put them???? ………..No, no, no, no, no! I open my purse and there they are, neatly placed in a side pocket where my own car keys usually go. The best part is I’m in Baltimore and 900 miles away from my friend and her car at this point. *Face palm*

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Big shouts to Andre at the BWI UPS for helping a girl out and making me feel a lot better by sharing he ships keys every day. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone in this idiotic world.

 

 

Time: 1 hour (prep + cooking) | Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of red lentils, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup of brown rice, uncooked
  • 3 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. of cumin
  • 1 tsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tsp. of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. of oregano
  • 1 container of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • Cilantro, for serving
  • Avocado, for serving

How to:

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
  • Add onion + S+P, cook 3-4 minutes
  • Add garlic, cook another minute
  • Add red peppers, cook 3-4 minutes
  • Add lentils + rice, coat to combine + toast for 2 minutes
  • Add tomato paste + crushed tomatoes + seasonings + S+P, cook another minutes
  • Add vegetable broth, bring to boil, lower heat + simmer for 30 minutes
  • Add spinach + adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serve warm with cilantro + avocado
  • Sit outside in the 100 degree summer weather with your hot bowl of soup + pretend you are at a spa in a really nice sauna allowing all the toxins to sweat out of your body

 

Adapted from here!

 

Open-Faced Pitas with Roasted Eggplant + Red Pepper Spread

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I think it’s time I get a little real with y’all.

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And that’s not even a sarcastic opening this time!!! I realized I’ve never really shared why I started cooking.

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Let us venture back to pre-teen Rachel. Or as I like to refer to her, she who must not be named. Growing up, I was ALWAYS the smallest kid in class. Like, got the kids menu and looked like an 8-year-old boy until I was 17. I don’t recommend this if you’re interested in having self esteem. Puberty rolled around my junior year and I became an average height, but was still skinny and could eat WHATEVER I wanted. I’ve told y’all about how I used to leave school, eat 12 nuggets, fries and a milkshake and THEN eat dinner. Those were the TIMES, man.

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Sophomore year of college came around and I gained the weight we all do at that pivotal time. Nothing crazy, but it looked odd on my small frame. I honestly would have been blissfully ignorant except this was during the rise of social media when it became the vortex of self-pity and comparison we now know and love. I saw pictures of myself and just hated what I saw. I had never felt pretty (have you seen this schnoz?!), but I had always counted on being small. My first world, middle class, not enough problem-having world was rocked! Chicken nugget girl had no idea how to eat healthy, so I started restricting myself. I lost 20 pounds eating a bagel for breakfast, a granola bar for lunch and a little something for dinner. Or as I like to call it, the diet of an idiotic college girl who cared far too much what peeps thought of her. While I eventually began eating more, I continued the unhealthy restrictive habits. It wasn’t until I called my mom crying one afternoon after treating myself to Zaxby’s (wow, what a treat!) and feeling SO guilty, that I realized it was time to make a change. She took me to the grocery store, bought me food and taught me how to bake some chicken breasts. From there, I turned on Food Network and haven’t turned it off in over six years. I watched every single show and tried to learn as much as I could. I would spend my free time searching for recipes and reading about food. I started this blog to document some of the recipes I liked, and here we are. Almost 5 years later and this little space of the Internet is still one of my favorites.

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Thank you for reading along and allowing me to be a lunatic and share some food and look at your food and I promise I eat quadruple the calories I used to – for example, I ate both of these pitas immediately after taking these photos.

 

Time: 1 hour (prep + cooking) | Serves: 4 pitas

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, peeled + sliced into 1/2 inch discs
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained .+ rinsed
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 a small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 zucchini, zoodled
  • 2 tbsp. of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper
  • S+P, to taste
  • Pitas, toasted
  • Cilantro, for serving

How to:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Arrange eggplant discs on a lined baking sheet, using 1 tbsp. of olive oil, brush each side + sprinkle with S+P
  • Arrange red peppers on another lined baking sheet
  • Arrange chickpeas on a third lined baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp. of olive oil + some S+P
  • Place all in the oven (peppers + eggplant on the same rack if possible), bake chickpeas for 25 minutes, turning once, eggplant for 30 minutes, turning once, red peppers for 45 minutes, turning once
  • Once cooled, remove the charred skins from the peppers + cut the tops off + remove any seeds
  • In a food processor combine eggplant + red peppers + garlic + remaining olive oil + tomato paste + crushed red pepper + S+P, process until smooth
  • To serve, spread your eggplant + pepper goodness on a pita + top with zoodles + tomatoes + chickpeas + onion + cilantro
  • Fold pita up like a boat + swim it right into the giant hole in your face

 

Spread adapted from my girl, Ina!