May in a nutshell

Wow, what a couple weeks it has been! I feel like I blinked and suddenly it was June. As such, I’ve got some serious recapping to do… here are some highlights in kind-of chronological order:

1. Flew to Boston and back to Chicago in 24 hours.

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2. Got a job! Officially moving to Boston August 1st!

3. Planted some tomatoes, daisies, basil, thyme, and oregano…

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4. … and watched them grow!

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5. Made this really yummy veggie bake of 2 beets, one head of asparagus, radishes, cilantro, EVOO, and juice from 1/2 lime (the pre-bake picture is below).

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6. Cleaned out the fridge and decided to make cauliflower poppers w/ mango marinade. To make the poppers, cut the cauliflower into small pieces, toss lightly with EVOO and spices (I used salt, pepper, and sage), and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 mins, turning every so often.

The mango marinade was also super easy and delicious. In my Vitamix, I pureed 1 garlic clove, 4 shallots, 1 mango (peeled and chopped), juice from 1 lime, 1 Tbsp EVOO, salt, and pepper for about 30 seconds on level 10 (or until smooth). Put a spoonful on your warm cauliflower et voila!

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7. Went on a walk around the ‘hood and cut some lilacs. They’re my favorite! Oh, and then made a dish of rice noodles, pineapple, broccoli, sauteed spinach, and jalapenos. Mmmm.

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8. Watched the Cubs beat the Mets 8-2!IMG_1732

9. And the Red Sox lose to the White Sox 3-1 (this was a White Sox home run…. booo). Although the Red Sox lost, it was great to catch up with some fellow Chicago Batesies.

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10. Watched my 5 seniors graduate from high school, all of them the first in their families to head on to college. And did I mention their graduation was at Ravinia?!

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11. And last but not least, got some beautiful tulips in the mail from my mom (thanks ma!)

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One thing I obviously wasn’t doing these past couple weeks was blogging- sorry ya’ll! Be on the lookout this week for posts about my (surprise) trip to Vacationland, summer BBQ-ing, and vegan burritos 🙂 Happy Monday!

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recipe: raw zucchini lasagna

When I was studying abroad in Florence, Italy my junior year of college, there was this amazing restaurant that my friends and I frequented called Il Gato e la Volpe. It was known for two things: its out-of-this-world balsamic vinaigrette that had this creamy, thick texture that you won’t find in a bottle from your neighborhood grocery store, and one of my favorite dishes of all time: lasagna. However, this was no ordinary lasagna. It was served on a sizzling hot, boat-like ramekin that I was always warned not to touch, and the cheese and marinara had oozed out so much that you couldn’t even see the pasta layers. It was also big enough to feed a small family, but of course I was always able to clear my plate. (More after the jump.)

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THE lasagna

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one of many dinners at Il Gato

Did I mention that it was amazing? Well, vegan lasagna is also amazing. At first I was doubtful that a plant-based lasagna could even BEGIN to live up to my Florentine delicacy, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good this recipe from Deliciously Ella turned out to be. And it was super easy to make! Perfect for those days that you really just want to eat some cheese… and resist.

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Raw Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients

2 zucchini

6 plum tomatoes

For the avocado-basil pesto:

1 ripe avocado

2 cups fresh basil

1 cup spinach

1/3 cup pine nuts

juice from 1 lemon

salt

water (as needed)

For the brazil nut “cheese”:

1/2 cup brazil nuts

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (I couldn’t find any at the grocery store, so I went without and it was still delicious)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 stick fresh rosemary

1 lemon

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Start by making the brazil nut cheese (above). Place the brazil nuts and the lemon juice in a food processor (I used my Vitamix) and blend. Once the nuts are crushed, add the remaining ingredients. Slowly add a little water to help the blending, but keep it on the thick side. Once this is done, remove it from the blender and keep to one side.

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Then make the pesto by simply adding all the needed ingredients into the processor and blending with a little water until smooth and creamy. Place to one side.

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Next, cut the zucchini in half and then slice it lengthwise (aka hot dog style) into thin slices, about 1/4 of an inch or so. Then cut the tomatoes, also into 1/4 inch slices.

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Once everything is ready assemble, place a layer of zucchini on the bottom, then add a layer of brazil nut cheese followed by tomato slices and then pesto. Repeat each layer one more time, sprinkling a few pine nuts on the top for decoration if you would like. Enjoy!

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the (inescapable) first post

Hello and welcome!

As the title of this post implies, there’s a first time for everything, and for me it’s blogging. Does that make me a rookie? Yup. And that’s okay with me.

The inspiration for starting this blog came from two sources: missing my hometown and taking the plunge into a plant-based diet. My aunt’s family decided to go vegan about a year and a half ago for a number of reasons, namely the many health benefits of cutting out meat and dairy from your diet. This prompted many members of my family to follow in their footsteps and be more cognizant about what they were eating;  my mom became a pescetarian, my grandmother became vegan and gluten-free, and now me! I attempted being a vegan towards the end of college, but that failed miserably when I ended my month of success my eating a cheeseburger and hot dog. Oops. Cheers to trying again! (More after the jump.)

Ocean sunset in Camden

Ocean sunset in Camden

As far as missing Maine goes… that’s something that will never go away by eating a cheeseburger and hot dog. It’s the type of place where time passes slowly, pickup trucks stop to let pedestrians cross the street, and lobsters reign supreme. It’s the type of place where the ocean breeze wafts through the streets of the small downtown and a successful day is one where you go for a hike, sail, boil some lobster (ten bucks says I won’t be able to resist having lobster when I go home…), and grab a drink with friends at Cuzzy’s. I guess that’s why the state is nicknamed “Vacationland”.

So, enjoy my Maine musings and follow me as I cook my way through vegan breakfasts, lunches, and dinners! Rookie out.