Free Food at Fire Bowl

My blogging is finally paying off.  I was recently awarded a free entrée at Fire Bowl Cafe.  Of course, anyone following Fire Bowl Cafe’s Twitter or Facebook accounts were entitled to the same free entrée but, hey, free is free and a girl can dream.

Fire Bowl was promoting its new Lemongrass Green Bean Stir Fry entrée and all I had to do to claim mine was show the Direct Message I received via Twitter to my location’s manager.  Well, I don’t have a smart phone so figuring out how to show the message was a bit difficult.  I finally printed the photo but couldn’t figure out how to get the verbiage so took my black and white photo (I printed it at work) to the restaurant in hopes that mentioning it did indeed come from my Twitter account would be enough.  If not, I’m partial to the Thai Red Curry so the trip wasn’t going to be a total loss.  Fortunately, the manager knew what promotion I was talking about and I got my free entrée.  I may still upgrade my obsolete tech but the need is not yet pressing.

I ordered my stir fry with the fried tofu and added an order of the Soft Thai Summer Rolls because they’re delicious and you can have extra peanut dipping sauce of you ask.  Then, lunch and dinner in hand, (I get enough food for two meals) I headed home.  I was ravenous by the time I walked through my front door so divided my meal neatly in half and tucked in.

And now, to answer Fire Bowl Cafe’s question.  Did I like it?  Answer, yes.  I don’t know if it will take the place of the red curry but I did like it.  I knew I was going to when I popped the lid off the to-go container and inhaled.

The flavors blended well.  I sometimes find meals made with lemongrass a bit bitter but not this entrée: no one flavor overpowered another.  The dish was also perfect spicy, for me anyway.  I like hot food but not when the spice makes it impossible to taste anything else, or too painful to eat at all.  The level of spice in this dish added a pleasant tingle to the tongue while still allowing me to taste the sauce.

The green beans were a bit odd at first.  I tend to cook mine softer at home and these reminded me of asparagus in texture not taste.  After a few bites, I found I liked the crunch in what was otherwise a soft meal: tofu and rice.  Would I eat it again?  Well yes but, again, if I’m heading out there and paying for a meal, I prefer the red curry.  Would I recommend it?  Absolutely.  As a vegan, I wouldn’t eat it with the chicken or beef so can’t contrast those for you but try the tofu: the manager said the dish was the best with the tofu and I found no reason to disagree.

Not only was my entrée free but the to-go container came in handy.  The box for my old colored pencils was beginning to disintegrate and I couldn’t find anything at home to re-purpose.  After a good scrub, the to-go container for my Lemongrass Green Bean Stir Fry was perfect.  Thanks, Fire Bowl Cafe!

Blog pencils
The thoroughly cleaned to-go container is handy for my colored pencils.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget To Smoke Your Weed

I follow blogger Shared Skillet and find her recipes useful as I too am living in a “mixed” family in that I am the sole vegan amidst omnivores who don’t mind eating strictly vegan meals a surprising amount of the time but who are not interested in giving up meat, eggs, and cheese.  In January, a recipe for Smoked Spinach and Artichoke dip was posted on Shared Skillet’s blog and I read the recipe as just that: smoked spinach and artichoke dip.

How does one smoke spinach? I wondered.  Does the spinach get crispy like when making kale chips?  Wouldn’t that be a weird texture?  Would the spinach stay crispy once the other ingredients were added?  Didn’t I read somewhere that spinach is referred to as ditch weed?  Ha Ha.  Smoked weed.  Especially apropos as I live in Colorado.  And that, my friends, is how a blog post title is born.

In answer to my most pressing question, no; spinach is not synonymous with ditch weed.  According to Wikipedia, wild spinach is wild spinach and feral cannabis is ditch weed.  In answer to all my other questions, I found it helpful to actually read the recipe.  It isn’t the spinach that’s smoked: “smoked” refers to the type of cashew cheese used.

I recently found myself with artichokes I needed to use and remembered the recipe.  I had enough ingredients on hand that, while I didn’t exactly follow the recipe, I didn’t make any weird substitutions.  The only big substitution I made was Heidi Ho brand smoked chia cheese for the Miyoko’s Kitchen  High Sierra Rustic Alpine cheese because Heidi Ho was on sale and Miyoko’s Kitchen wasn’t.  I used a package of frozen spinach instead of fresh and my artichokes were jarred rather than canned.  No worries: I borrowed my parents’ food scale and weighed out 14 oz of artichokes.

The recipe calls for olive oil and I don’t use oil to cook so I wasn’t vigorous when squeezing the water out of the defrosted spinach in hopes it wouldn’t stick when cooking.  The little bit of water and medium low heat was all I needed.

I wish I could say leaving out the olive oil makes this dip a healthy treat but it doesn’t.  A cup of vegan mayo and the entire package of chia cheese made this dip as rich and creamy as any I ever ordered as an appetizer in my pre-vegan days.  I admit that, while it was cooking, I wondered if it was something I was going to be interested in eating…

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Hmmm…doesn’t look very delicieux

…but then the smells hit me and I started salivating.  When all the ingredients had heated through I could hardly wait to spoon some into a dish and set to.  The recipe suggests eating the dip with crusty bread which I would have done if I hadn’t eaten the bread I had with spaghetti earlier in the week.  I did have some Tres Madres purple corn chips-non GMO thank you very much-which I figured would do just as well.

I was not disappointed.  The dip is rich, creamy, and I could taste both the sweet and smoky flavor of the paprika.  My version might be a bit too smoky with the cheese I used as well as including a full cup of nutritional yeast.  I probably could have used a bit less nutritional yeast as the smoked flavor of this dip did hit me in the back of the throat.  I don’t mind strong flavors though and now my only question is; how am I going to avoid eating the entire pan by myself?

I Had A Craving…

I’ve had some strange cravings since becoming vegan.  Strange for me, anyway.  I never thought I’d have a taste for tofu or seitan.  Such cravings have happened but, more often than not, I want Asian food.  Recently, I wanted spring rolls but not the crispy ones; the big ones with noodles and veggies shoved inside rice paper and served with peanut sauce.  I can make a tasty peanut sauce but I haven’t yet perfected the art of wrapping those rolls.  Instead of attempting to make them myself, I took to the internet and began searching for a restaurant in my area that served them.

I found several restaurants that served them but none I could order.  I found rolls that contained shrimp, some that contained chicken, some that contained both shrimp and chicken.  The only vegetarian ones I found were at a Thai place I frequent but even those contained eggs.  The only place I found that served meat and egg free soft Thai rolls was Fire Bowl Cafe.  Fire Bowl isn’t a place that convenient for me to get to but, I had a craving, and I made the time.  I made a meal of it and created my own bowl with brown rice, vegetables, tofu, and Thai Red Curry sauce.  My cost came in at just over ten dollars and I received enough food to make two meals.

Meal
Tofu Bowl with Thai Red Curry Sauce

The rolls were everything I wanted-I got extra peanut dipping sauce-but the basil in them was pungent.

Rolls with Sauce
Fire Bowl Cafe’s Thai Rolls with Peanut Sauce

I’ve got to pick up rice papers from my local grocery and learn to make the rolls myself.  Until then, I did find that Vitamin Cottage sells the same soft Thai rolls; completely vegan.  They come with plum sauce instead of peanut sauce but I’m not opposed to trying them.  They’ll do in a pinch until I master the recipe for Vietnamese Salad Wraps I found in my Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats From Around the World cookbook by Allyson Kramer.  That, and master the rolling of the rice papers.

 

Pizza Perfect

I’ve been spending a few months focused on my manuscript and haven’t been going out or experimenting with food.  My dinners have been tried and true meals I through together without need of a recipe: usually a bean and veggie soup served with a grain.  They’re easy to make, don’t require much planning, and my entire family likes them.  I can focus on my writing rather than spending a great deal of time planning dinner.  But then, the time comes when I’m ready to take a break from my manuscript and look forward to trying something new.

Last weekend, that something new was a chicken artichoke pizza.  Or chik’n, as there was no bird involved.  I had a package of Beyond Meat‘s Lightly Seasoned Strips and a jar of artichoke hearts.  I also had an Archer Farms brand thin pizza crust (no dairy or eggs!), a block of Daiya‘s Jalapeno Havarti, and half a bag of Daiya’s Cheddar Shreds.  I like making my own pizza because ordering a veganized pizza from a vendor costs me over ten dollars and a ready-made vegan pizza from the supermarket’s freezer section costs about as much.  Plus, if I make my own, I can have as many toppings as I like.

Most of my pizzas have olives on them as I am an olive addict.  Green, black, kalamata…you name ’em I love ’em.  This time, I decided to leave them off.  I only had green and black and I didn’t feel the flavor of black olives would compliment my pizza.  The pizza was going to be tart enough with the artichokes and I decided to leave the green off as well.  I gathered my ingredients, checked my instructions on the crust, and was ready to go.

The crust didn’t require pre-baking so got my oven ready, layered on my toppings, and slid my pie into the oven.  15 minutes later, I had a pizza that smelled delicious, the crust lightly browned on the edges.  The middle was a bit soggy but another five minutes did the trick.

How was it?  Wonderful.  The shreds of jalapeno havarti on the top of the pizza didn’t melt all that well but the cheddar shreds layered between the strips and the artichokes did and helped hold the pizza together.  Nothing was missing.  There was no layer of flavor I searched for while consuming way more pizza in one sitting than I should.  The thin crust was a bit fragile but once I folded the edges of a piece together, I didn’t deal with the crust giving way and all my toppings ending scattered on the plate.  The best part?  I had leftovers and my workplace has a toaster oven.  Delicious pizza, two days in a row.

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So good!

Want to try it?

Vegan Chicken Artichoke Pizza

1 vegan pizza crust

4 TBSP organic tomato sauce

2 TBSP Italian Seasoning

2/3 package Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Strips

1 cup Daiya Vegan Cheddar Shreds

6 jarred artichoke hearts (equals about two cups once chopped)

1/3 block Daiya Jalapeno Havarti Cheese block, shredded

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. While oven is preheating, prepare Beyond Meat according to the package’s skillet instructions.  Remove from heat and, when cool enough to handle, chop into chunks.
  3.  Chop the artichoke hearts and press well to get rid of any excess liquid.
  4. Spread the tomato sauce on crust, coming close to the edge.  Top with the Italian seasoning, then the artichokes, the cheddar shreds, and the chicken chunks.
  5. Top with the jalapeno havarti shreds.
  6. Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.  Check center of pizza and, if necessary, bake 5 minutes more.
  7. Cut into triangles with a pizza cutter.
  8. Makes 8 slices but only serves 2 unless paired with a salad.