Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sweet Potato Oatmeal Breakfast Casserole

I love breakfast. And within the last year or so I've started eating oatmeal. A lot. Like almost every day. For better or for worse, a few months ago I discovered that a spoonful of Nutella is an excellent way to make oatmeal exciting. Now even though I still recommend this as an occasional treat, it's not the most healthy way to eat oatmeal. So when I stumbled across this recipe from Oh She Glows I knew I had to make it. I've made this recipe about four times, almost once a week since I discovered it. I've made adjustments based on a) my personal preferences and b) what I have one hand in my pantry. I think I've got it pretty perfect now.

Sweet Potato Oatmeal Breakfast Casserole, adapted from Oh She Glows

For the Oatmeal:
  • 1/2 cup oats (instant is fine)
  • 2 cups almond/soy milk
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled, diced
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
For the Topping:
  • 1/3 cup chopped pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance), cold
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the sweet potato. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Give the pot a quick rinse then add the milk and oats. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 1-2 minutes (if using instant) or 5-7 minutes (if using regular), stirring frequently. With a potato masher or pastry cutter, mash in the sweet potato and banana. Then stir in the cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and agave. Cook on low for another minute or two. Make the topping by cutting the butter, flour, and sugar with a fork or pastry cutter. When the margarine is pea sized, stir in the pistachios. Transfer the oatmeal to a greased casserole dish or cake pan (I use an 8x11 pan). Sprinkle the topping on the oatmeal. Bake the oatmeal uncovered for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes set the oven to broil. Broil on low for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to let the topping burn. Serve warm out the the oven. Yum!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vegetarian in Savannah, GA!

This week is my spring break. Back in November a good friend of mine mentioned taking a trip to Savannah or Charleston for spring break. Because we're both from Florida, partying it up on the beach in Daytona or Ft. Lauderdale just sounded boring and unappealing (I'm also a really big square and I don't actually party). I had heard really great things about both Savannah and Charleston but we ended up deciding on Savannah. She invited her roommate and I invited my boyfriend and off we went!

Savannah is just a really neat little town. If you're a history buff like me then you'll love it. The town is really old and there are just loads of historic sites. But let's be real, this is a food blog. So this trip was really about some great food. I'm proud to say we didn't eat a single chain the whole time we were there; we only ate at local, independent businesses. And the food was really really really good.

After a 6 hour car drive and no lunch, we were pretty much starving upon our arrival in Savannah. I have a friend there and he had recommended a few places to eat. One of those places was Zunzi's, which we happened to spot after being downtown for about 5 minutes. We liked Zunzi's so much we ate there twice. And it was fabulous.

The first picture is of some really excellent falafel. It was served with lettuce, a fresh pita, and homemade yogurt sauce (it usually comes with tomato, but I don't like raw tomato so I asked them to leave it off). Now, this wasn't necessarily the most authentic falafel I've ever had but it was delicious. It was moist on the inside, crisp on the outside and the yogurt sauce just really pulled it all together. I demolished it and didn't even leave a single crumb.

My boyfriend ordered the portobello mushroom sub both times we went, that's how much he liked it. The sub comes with portobello mushrooms, zucchini, hummus, cheese, spinach, and tomato on freshly baked french bread. They also put their house-made dressings on the sandwich. I really don't know what kind of dressings they were, but they were delicious. Kind of like a buttermilk, vinagrette-like, ranch. And a spicy kind of the same dressing. Seriously delicious (and I don't even really like salad dressing!).

On our second trip to Zunzi's I decided to order something different, even though my falafel was delicious. I ordered the vegetable curry over mashed potatoes (you get a choice of mash or rice). It also came with a choice of spinach, romaine, or peas and carrots with a hunk of fresh french bread. Again, it was delicious. The curry was definitely a "white people curry" but super flavorful with lots of fresh vegetables. Again, the home-made dressing on the salad was delicious. The mashed potatoes were just how I like them, super smooth. And I am a sucker for any kind of fresh bread.

Also, one of the best things at Zunzi's I never snapped a picture of. They had some amazing iced tea. Not southern iced tea, which I drank a lot of in Savannah. But iced African tea. It was some sort of rooibos blend. It was amazing. They even gave me a sample before I ordered a cup. Basically, if you're ever in Savannah you have to check out Zunzi's! And if nothing else, order the African iced tea!

The next night for dinner we were planning on going to another recommendation of two Savannah locals, a pizza place called Vinnie Van Go Go's. But when we got to the restaurant it was an hour wait so we decided to look somewhere else. And we stumbled upon 606 East Cafe. Again, we had a pretty delicious, inexpensive meal. One of my favorite parts was the decor. There were an assortment of bras and panties hanging from clotheslines throughout the restaurant. There were also funky lamps and other furniture.

My boyfriend and I both ordered a sandwich (I don't remember the name). It had artichoke hearts, onions, cheese, and broccoli. We also ordered a side of curly fries. The sandwich was pretty good, but my only criticism is that is was cold. It was really tasty, but it would've been better warm. But my friend Sam ordered a curry chicken salad. I tried a bite of the lettuce that the chicken hadn't touched. And oh my goodness. The curry salad dressing was amazing! I am definitely going to try and recreate it at home.

Our last dinner in Savannah was a success at Vinnie Van Go Go's. We went on a Monday night before the dinner rush and were able to get seated right away. You can do pizza by the slice, but my boyfriend has a pretty big appetite (I've seen him eat an entire pizza by himself) so we split a medium pizza with pineapple and onions, our favorite toppings.

This was seriously good pizza. The crust was perfect, just the way I like it; really thin with fluffy edges. The cheese was ooey gooey and melted and perfect. And they used fresh pineapple, not canned. And it was $13 for a huge "medium" pizza with two toppings. Two thumbs up.

So if you're ever in Savannah, don't eat at chains. It is totally possible to eat entirely at awesome, local businesses. There were places that looked really good but we didn't get to try. But seriously, if you ever go, eat at Zunzi's, 606 East Cafe, and Vinnie Van Go Go's. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

West Palm Beach Green Market and the ABC's of Me

Though I am currently living in Tampa, I'm originally from Palm Beach County, FL. My one Friday class was canceled last week, and I am done with class at 12:15 on Thursdays so I took the opportunity to go home and see my family. My mom happens to be just as big of a foodie as me. So Saturday morning we headed to downtown West Palm Beach to enjoy the beautiful weather and walk around the Green Market.

The West Palm Beach Green Market is a great market. It's located at the end of Clematis Street right on the Intercoastal. Currently, there are over 50 vendors and free samples are plentiful.

My favorite vendor? Oh! Pickles. I know what you're thinking. Pickles? Really? But let me explain. These are the BEST PICKLES EVER. They are sweet, spicy, and garlicky all at the same time. The picture is really not indicative of how delicious they are, but if you look closely you can see the pickles swimming in red chili flakes and whole garlic cloves. They give out free samples on crackers with a little bit of cream cheese. My boyfriend likes his on sandwiches, my mom on black bean burgers. But me? I like them straight up, right out of the container.
And here a few other photos of some great vendors, Organic Teas N Spices and Farmhouse Tomatoes, Inc.

Now on to the ABC's of Me. This is just a fun little thing floating around the blog world that I stumbled on at one of my favorite blogs, Organically Me.

A. Age: 20

B. Bed size: Queen. It's basically the perfect size.

C. Chore you hate: Dishes. You think I would get over it because I cook so much and cleaning the dishes becomes routine, but I really do hate it. I keep trying to make my boyfriend responsible for all the dishes since I do all the cooking.

D. Dogs: I am definitely a dog person. My entire childhood I had the best dog ever. Her name was Lisa and she was the perfect mutt we found at the pound. She passed away my freshman year of college. I haven't gotten another dog yet, for several reasons, but whenever I need some dog time I go visit Oliver, my friend Sammi's dog. He's the second best dog ever.

E. Essential start to your day: OJ and a banana. I also enjoy a cup of coffee with agave and soy/almond milk, but the coffee is optional. The OJ and banana are a requirement. I only go to the grocery store when I am low on OJ and bananas. If I'm out then it's a real emergency.

F. Favorite Color: Blue

G. Gold or silver: Silver

H. Height: 5'4

I. Instruments that you can play: I played cello from third grade all the way through high school. I also used to play guitar and bass guitar, but I haven't picked up either in a while.

J. Job title: Student. And also Park Operations Hostess, but I don't like to talk about that one.

K. Kids: Not today. Get back to me in 7+ years.

L. Live: Florida, born and raised. Tampa is the furthest north I've ever lived and I'm fairly certain I'd like to keep it that way.

M. Mom's name: Darlene. Hi Mom!

N. Nicknames: Blakey and/or Blakey Wakey. My dad always calls me Blakers.

O. Overnight hospital stays: When I was born. That's about it.

P. Pet peeves: Bad drivers. Wet towels on the bed. When my classmates ask a question that the professor already answered...twice. When I tell people I'm a vegetarian, they ask if I eat eggs, I say yes, and they say: "Well, that's just like chicken abortion!". Just to name a few.

Q. Quotes from a movie: "No, no. It's not schizophrenia. It's just a voice in my head. I mean, the voice isn't telling me to do anything. It's telling me what I've already done... accurately, and with a better vocabulary." Any guesses?

R. Righty or lefty: Lefty. I'm special.

S. Sibling: I have a little sister, Paige. She's 17, so not so little any more.

T. Time you wake up: Usually by 8 for school. On days when I have no responsibilities I prefer not to set the alarm which means I get up around 11, sometimes later.

U. Underwear: Excuse me?

V. Vegetables you dislike: I'm not a huge fan of broccoli, but it's growing on me. I've also never been brave enough to try brussel sprouts.

W. What makes you run late: I always set my alarm three seperate times, in five minute intervals. But somehow I still keep sleeping...

X. X-rays: Only of my teeth. Luckily, I've never needed any other x-ray.

Y. Yummy food you make: Everything on this blog, hahaha.

Z. Zoo animal: Ok, I don't really support zoos. But. My favorite animal has always been the bottle nosed dolphin and I like sea mammals in general. And elephants.