Category Archives: Vegetarian

Vegetarian Bangers and Mash

“Bangers and Mash” is a quintessentially British meal with a predictably bizarre-sounding name. The word “bangers” comes from an early-twentieth-century reference to the fact that sausages would make popping sounds when fried (due to their high water content during meat shortages), while “mash” is simply short for “mashed potatoes.” This delicious vegetarian spin uses pre-made Italian veggie sausages and the fluffiest mashed potatoes recipe ever!

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Well, it’s official! GUESS WHO’S HEADED TO HARRY POTTER STUDIOS IN LONDON THIS SUMMER?!

Yeahhh, this girl is. Whoo-hoo!

Visiting the Hogwarts film set at Leavesdon Studios has been a dream of mine ever since prepubescent Daniel Radcliffe showed off his black-rimmed glasses (and terrible acting skills) for the first time back in 2001. I was, of course, majorly bummed when we didn’t visit the set during my trip to the UK last summer–but in a way I’m glad to be saving this special experience for one of the most magical years of my life to date. In addition to finishing my PhD, I’ve also started a brand new job and am incredibly stoked for this upcoming trip. The only real obstacle at this point–besides deciding which sites to visit and which ones to skip while I’m abroad–is trying to cram several weeks’ worth of clothing, shoes, meds, and essentials into my beautiful green 40-liter Osprey backpack. Wish me luck, and send me tips if you have them!

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In the spirit of my upcoming trip, my friend and I decided to co-host a Harry Potter-themed party replete with traditional Hogwartsian fare to boot. Twenty of us enjoyed Yorkshire pudding, treacle tart, shepherd’s pie, roast, and veggie sausages with mashed potatoes–or, as the British call it, (vegetarian) bangers and mash! The recipe I made yielded some of the smoothest, most buttery mashed potatoes that I have ever tried, and I would recommend it for your next big gathering without a moment’s hesitation.… Read more

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Hong Kong Style Ketchup Fried Rice

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #KetchupWithFrenchs #CollectiveBias

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If you’re like me, your friends laugh when you try to talk to them about football. I’m actually quite well-versed in first downs, punts, and incompletes–I even played some touch football in high school–but somehow I never found the patience to sit down for a game, and sooner or later everyone just assumed that I wasn’t interested in the sport (which was mostly true).

Now that the end of grad school is in sight, though (!!!), and now that I’m plotting elaborate schemes on how to use the piles and piles of free time that I’m sure post-grad freedom has to offer, I’m toying with the idea of joining a…wait for it…fantasy football league!

Am I kidding? Am I? Hmmm?

I might be–apparently it’s a huge time commitment, and the only thing I can think about committing to right now is a large bar of chocolate–but until I decide that fateful question next season, I’m going to stick to whipping up recipes for the big game instead. In the past, I’ve shared savory sides like these cheesy cauliflower breadsticks and my favorite roasted maple brussel sprouts; I’ve also made sweets like these white chocolate cookie butter shortbread cookies and these amazing Oreo-stuffed peanut butter cookies. This year, however, with the big game so close to Lunar New Year’s, I chose to make one of my favorite Chinese comfort foods to share:

Hong Kong Style Ketchup Fried Rice!

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I know what you’re probably thinking: ketchup? In rice?? If you didn’t grow up eating this dish, I’ll admit that it sounds like a weird concept. But I’ve been eating this meal since I was five and I can tell you for a fact that it’s a staple that you absolutely need for those days when you have wayyy too many leftovers waiting to be used up.… Read more

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Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts

“I’ve never met a brussel sprout I didn’t like!”

…said nobody ever.

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My first encounter with the infamous brussel sprout didn’t happen until grad school. While kids around the Western world were crinkling their noses at piles of mushy, oversteamed sprouts, I was gobbling up perfectly stir-fried bok choy and steamed gai lan at home. Naturally, I was curious about the villainized vegetable when my friend finally served it at a potluck, and I brought the fork to my lips with a hint of trepidation before taking a nibble. But surprise surprise: it was delicious!

Of course, I’ve had tons of terrible encounters with poorly-made sprouts since then: ranging from the could-not-be-pierced-with-a-spear variety to the steam-the-crap-out-of-it-boogery-mash kind, brussel sprouts admittedly live up to their bad reputation more often than not.

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution, and it lies in these Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts! The key to the perfect roast is a fairly high temperature (for those crispy burnt outer leaves) and plenty of oil. I tossed my brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted them on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes before drizzling a heap of maple syrup over them. Then back in the oven they went for another 15 minutes–and voila! The perfect side dish or appetizer for any party–I’ve made these on at least five different occasions and they’re always the first dish to go!

It’s been freezing here lately–um, and I mean that metaphorically because a) I live in California and b) the temperature is actually only 52 degrees F outside, but that’s COLD here–so I’m super excited to turn on my oven soon and get roasting again. May these sprouts keep your body warm and your belly super satisfied!

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STOP STEAMING, start roasting!

Ala

Roasted Maple Brussel Sprouts

These easy roasted maple brussel sprouts are perfectly crispy on the outside, tender and filled with maple flavor on the inside.

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Filed under Appetizers, Lunch & Dinner, Vegetarian

Creamy Tomato Penne Pasta with Jalapeno Poppers

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #20MinutesToTasty #CollectiveBias

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I’m taking a break from talking your ears off about my Europe trip today to tell you all about what went down this Halloween weekend with this mm-mazing Creamy Tomato Penne Pasta with Jalapeno Poppers! (Which, I suppose, is Italian food, so I suppose we’re still talking about Italy today. Bite me, Italy rocks.)

This weekend we invited over our new “global siblings” family for a Halloween potluck & party. The fam is part of a program that helps international and domestic students connect throughout the year in an open, welcoming environment, and this year Anson & I are co-coordinators for our 30-sib group! About twenty of us crammed ourselves into my cozy apartment on Saturday night, dressed to the nines in pirate gear and oblique Game of Thrones costumes involving dragons. We all had such a blast, getting to know each other and mingling and chowing down and, in typical grad student fashion, drinking. Four hours prior, however, the fun had already begun–A had brought his bluetooth speakers and we were jamming out to 80s dance music in my kitchen while exchanging costumes (I was young Ellie from Up, he had a kangaroo onesie) and cooking up a storm with this bomb-amazing pasta!

Halloween Kangaroo

Diligently preparing pasta–perfect for entertaining season!–for our sibling potluck

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One of the things that I love most about this pasta is that, amidst all the bustle and business of trying to get ready in time for the family party and the rest of the entertaining season, it only took 20 minutes to make from start to finish. Knowing under what time crunch we’d be operating on Saturday afternoon, I had made a trip over to Walmart the day before to grab a box of Farm Rich jalapeno poppers and another of breaded mushrooms in the frozen food aisle of the store, thinking that I’d toss them into one of our pasta potluck dishes. … Read more

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Quinoa Salad

Guess who’s back, back again? I’ll give you a hint: it’s this girl, and she’s back all the way from beeeeautiful Europe!

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Okay, that was more of an answer than a hint–BUT only because I’m seriously excited to share all of my adventures with you. As I mentioned in my penultimate post, travel planning for this three-week trip had basically swallowed up my life (and the better part of my sanity) in the months leading up to August, so getting in the groove of blogging again is a super squeal-worthy enterprise. In fact, I got so ahead of myself that the first thing I did after hopping off my 12-hour flight was barrel into the grocery store to pick up a few A LOT of fresh ingredients and start cooking.

There’s really nothing like a month away from home to make you fall madly in love with your kitchen again!

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But more on Europe later, because first I want to tell you all about this quinoa salad. Does it look innocuous and unassuming to you? HA!

Sorry. Sorry.

But also not sorry, because it’s seriously great stuff. The tangy flavors of lemon and rice vinegar in the dressing blend perfectly with the subtly earthy taste of cumin, the nuttiness of sliced almonds, the freshness of chopped tomatoes, and the sweetness of raisins. After three weeks of basically eating my heart out in delicious, occasionally coma-inducing bliss through England, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy, I simply couldn’t wait to create a homemade dish full of greens and vegan-friendly produce. Luckily, I kept a running memo pad throughout my travels of dishes that I wanted to try making (you’ll see them over the next few weeks!), and quinoa salad was at the top of my list. Can you guess where I was inspired?… Read more

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Filed under Healthy, Lunch & Dinner, Salads, Vegetarian

Zucchini Tomato Marinara Pasta with #OXO

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“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

If you were standing in my apartment earlier this morning, that would have been the inarticulate sound from the kitchen.

Now before you panic (oh my god, there’s a MANDOLIN SLICER in her photos!!!), I can assure you that it wasn’t a scream of pain.

No, my friends–that was a shriek of pure joy issuing in glass-shattering pitch as I played with my newest kitchen toy. And I am so so so excited to share it with all of you today–can you tell?

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OXO recently sent me another lovely bundle for my pasta-making lazy days: this Adjustable Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer, a Grape & Tomato Cutter, and a beautifully sturdy Rice & Grains Washing Colander with a draining spout near the top edge for easy pouring. Now as a gal who doesn’t often indulge in acquiring “kitchen gadgets” (okay, maybe the bread maker I got for Christmas is an exception. And the confectioner’s sugar dusting wand. And the Mickey Mouse ice cream scoop….oh fine, I love kitchen gadgets), the arrival of these wonderful toys via mail could only mean one thing: pasta play day!

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By noontime, thinly sliced zucchini was sizzling on the stovetop and my pasta was happily draining al dente in its colander. With all of the craziness happening around here lately, it was a relief to just spend an hour in the kitchen cooking, slicing, photographing, and–best of all–eating a truly homecooked meal.

Even I was surprised at how fresh this whole meal tasted–with whole wheat pasta, lightly cooked zucchini, quartered cherry tomatoes, a dollop of marinara sauce, and a sprinkling of assorted cheeses, this pasta is giving me the physical, emotional, and mental fuel to get through the rest of this crazy day (I’m currently preparing a guest lecture for Tuesday’s English survey course and am slightly freaking out, but don’t mind me).… Read more

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Tofu Pineapple Veggie Rice Bowl with Tangy Asian Peanut Sauce

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ChineseNYeats #CollectiveBias

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It feels like it’s been forever. It really has been forever, hasn’t it? HI!

Things have been flat-out crazy around here lately, hence the radio silence recently. I drafted up a Life Plan-of-Attack a few weeks ago that basically boiled my hours down to a fine dust: 63 hours of research, 20 hours of miscellaneous writing work, 15 hours of blogging, 15 hours for teaching prep, and 15 hours for swimming. That left 40 hours in the week for sleeping, and next to the word “social” on my whiteboard are two giant symbols:

“??”

Thankfully, it turns out that the weeks of sleepless fervor were well worth it, because now that we’re entering February (WHAT), the dissertation writing momentum is finally, finally starting to pick up. I’ve waded through what must be a quarter of the school library’s tomes on evolutionary theory and child development, not to mention haunted the local Starbucks in more stuporific dazes than I care to mention. Meanwhile, I’m slowly reintroducing parts of my social life back into its place, and guess what? Now that I’ve done some preemptive cramming, I actually get to spend this coming weekend rocking out with my fambam for Chinese New Year’s!

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CNY is kiiiiinda a crazy weeklong affair for my family. While we’re pretty Americanized in a lot of ways (helloooo, English major and not yet disowned! hooray!) this is one holiday on which our household definitely does NOT skimp.

The end of every year always starts with a head-to-toe house cleaning, followed by the plastering of new fortune papers and placing of tangerines all around the house. This year will be the year of the monkey, so we’ll spend the next lunar year in the company of the troop of cartoonized red-cheeked primates that will deck our walls.… Read more

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Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Breadsticks

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EatLightEatRight #CollectiveBias

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I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling just a wee bit nostalgic now that the holiday season is over. Classes started again this week, which means that I’m back to being a responsible (er, “responsible” adult on a teaching schedule and that my three-day stretches of wearing only PJs are over. Research, teach, work, blog, repeat…

And then, of course, there’s the food, best enjoyed with the fam. Who wouldn’t miss the food?

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Comfort food with family and a healthy start to the new year might sound like an oxymoronic combination, but thankfully I’ve done my fair share of digging and discovered some neat ways to reconcile the two. You might have heard of the power of cauliflower–have you ever tried using it as a carb sub? If not, you’re TOTALLY in for a treat!

To be honest, I didn’t believe the hype until I tried it myself a few months ago. I made a version of these cheesy garlic cauliflower breadsticks and instantly fell in love with the major gooey oozing shredded cheese that I’d smothered all over the light, delightfully gluten-free cauliflower crust. But how does it work, precisely? So glad you asked…

In full-blown vegetable mode, cauliflower seems like a formidable substance to handle. Luckily, all you need to do here is give it a few good chops, throw everything in your food processor to create cauliflower “rice,” and then microwave the whole shebang! From there on out, I’m happy to report that it gets even easier…

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Microwave! Oh boy oh boy. After microwaving your cauliflower rice for 8-10 minutes, you’re ready to mix in some eggs, cheese, minced garlic, garlic salt, pepper, and dried basil. Then it’s off to the oven!… Read more

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Easy Squash Casserole

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NaturallyCheesy #CollectiveBias

Need more cheese in your life already? Visit Kraft for more delightfully cheesy recipes!

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Tortilla Chip: I can’t believe how mean you were today on the playground. You know how sensitive I am about my toasty crisp edges!

Cheese: Aww, c’mon–it was just a joke!

Tortilla Chip: I don’t want to taco ’bout it.

Cheese: But we’re friends–

Tortilla Chip: I am nacho friend!!!

(ba bum chiii)

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Have you ever been asked to tell a joke during an interview? After going to piano lessons unprepared and being eaten alive by a pit full of beetles, one of my greatest fears is having someone pop the “tell us a joke” question on me in a professional setting. Not only are the majority of jokes I know utterly unsuited for PC retelling–the ones that aren’t morally, religiously, or politically offensive are so, so cheesy.

Especially when they’re about tacos.

Eh? Eh?

No? Okay….

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Last week, I tried telling a joke about a chihuahua and was completely shut down by my friend, who just looked at me and asked blankly, “Was that the punch line?” Ouch. Guess it was a yappy joke anyway.

Thankfully, I redeemed myself shortly thereafter by telling a joke about a bear raiding a restaurant in Yosemite (in fact, the joke was stolen from a Yosemite park ranger), but after that I decided to stick to the kind of cheesy that I know I can do without shattering my dignity too badly. Enter cheesy easy squash casserole!

Now that the holiday season is officially here–yes, “Last Christmas” is currently playing on repeat on my computer, even though it’s not yet Thanksgiving–my oven is back on in full swing and the order of the day is casseroles.… Read more

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Apple Cheddar Veggie Meatball Skewers

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameTimeClean#CollectiveBias

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Everyone in my family has an obsession. My dad and brother are obsessed with football; I’m crazy about cooking (obviously); and my mom–well, she loves puzzle games and…paper towels.

I kid you not.When we went out for some quality grocery shopping time a few weeks ago while my dad and brother were at home watching the football game, she said to me: “Now where’s Viva?”

“What?”

“Viva. You know, Viva.

I had just begun to look around in bewilderment for a dog or person who might answer to this strange name when I looked up–and realized that we were standing in front in the paper towel aisle.

“Oh,” I said. “Ohhhhhh. VIVA.”

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My mom likes to tell the story about how she once visited a friend in Boston and brought her own paper towels with her, heaven forbid Massachusetts suddenly put a tax on all paper products and there was a towel shortage or something. The roll she brought with her was, predictably, a Viva® one–and the friend, as it turned out, must’ve made excellent use of it after my mom left, because the next week my mom received a phone call. It was her friend, who demanded to know how she had never used such incredibly soft, absorbent paper towels in her life.

Again, this is a true story.

And my mom, in usually fashion, simply replied:

Viva.”

“What?”

“VIVA.”

So we’re kind of Viva® purists over here.

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All of this brings me back to the grocery trip a few weeks ago. When the two of us finally got back from the store, scores were in full swing and my brother and dad were “OOOH”ing and “OHHHH”ing like madmen.… Read more

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