Recipe First Impression: Stuffed Acorn Squash

recipe fip acorn

I recently moved in to my first apartment, giving me the opportunity to try lots of new vegan recipes. So to share my culinary experiments with you, I thought I would create a series of “Recipe First Impressions.” In these posts, I will share a recipe I have never made before, recreate it, and share my finished product and opinion about it.

The first new recipe I am tackling is Stuffed Acorn Squash, using this recipe from The Roasted Root. I decided to veer away from the recipe by filling the squashes with wild rice, cranberries, apples,  pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup. When I first picked up the acorn squashes, I was a bit nervous about how this meal would turn out, since they are a bit strange looking! But I found that they were very easy to cut open and cook. The wild rice filling was lovely and fragrant, too.

I enjoyed the combination of the buttery, nutty taste of the squash with the tart cranberries and apples. The pecans also added a nice texture. The only drawback was that I overcooked the squashes! 35 minutes as recommended in the recipe was not long enough, but the 55 minutes I cooked them for was too long. Next time, I will try cooking them for around 40 minutes.

Overall, I really liked this recipe. It was easy to make, delicious, satisfying, and healthy. It makes a festive and pretty autumn meal, and would be perfect for the holidays. I would make this recipe again, and I would recommend it to anyone interested. Below is a picture of how my stuffed squash turned out:

acorn squashhh

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any recommendations for what I should make next, please let me know!

Best,

Leila

How To Cut a Mango

how to cut a mango 2Ripe and sweet mangoes are the perfect cool and refreshing summer fruit. They are also rich in vitamins A, B and C, aid in maintaining clear skin, and even have cancer fighting properties. So in case you do not know this trick, this is how to cut a mango for maximum enjoyment. 🙂

To get started, find a ripe mango and a sharp knife. If the mango is ripe, it should feel slightly soft when you squeeze it. They ripen well on a sunny windowsill.

Steps:

1. First, locate the top of the mango. To do this, hold it upright and find the knot where it attached to the tree.

IMG_20150803_134157470

2. Using the knot for reference, place two parallel cuts about one inch apart so the pit lies between them. Cut all the way through the mango to produce 3 slices.

IMG_20150803_134220721

IMG_20150803_134321460

3. On both end slices, place 3 parallel cuts and 3 perpendicular cuts in a checkered pattern, but do not cut through the skin. Then push up from the bottom to invert the mango skin and form cubes.

IMG_20150803_134438825

IMG_20150803_134455932

4. On the slice with the pit, place a slit in the skin so it is easy to peel away as you eat. This also makes it easier to hold the pit.

IMG_20150803_134624845_HDR

Now the mango is ready to eat! Happy snacking! 🙂

Best,

Leila

Tofu Vegetable Chow Mein Bowl

IMG_20140926_193104929

Tonight, my friend and I did not feel like eating at the dining hall, and because we’re broke college students, going out for dinner was out of our budget. So instead, we decided to use some of the dining dollars that came with our meal plans at our campus Panda Express!

The only vegan options Panda Express carries are white rice, chow mein, and a tofu eggplant dish. (Their steamed vegetables contain milk. Why!?) Unfortunately, our Panda Express did not carry the tofu, so I just picked up some of the chow mein. To jazz it up a bit, I heated up some frozen veggies, edamame, and baked tofu in the microwave and mixed them in with the noodles. This dish would be even more incredible topped with crushed peanuts or sesame seeds.

IMG_20140926_224109541

As you can see, being vegan can be convenient and affordable! Most chain restaurants, like Panda Express, have the allergen information for all of their menu items listed online, so you can plan your meal in advance. The size small chow mein cost $2.50, and I only used about half of the container for one meal. Frozen veggies are typically around $3 or less per package, and one bag tends to last for 2-3 meals. Tofu, depending on the type, size, and brand, typically costs around $3-$5 and lasts for 3 or more meals.

So there goes your last excuse! Being vegan is easy, delicious, and cheap. It just takes some creativity! 🙂

Best,

Leila

Easy Tofu Scramble

032

Since I went vegan, I have been eating a lot of tofu and have come to appreciate its versatility. In this post, I will show you how to turn a cold block of tofu into a delicious breakfast scramble.

You will need:

1. Extra Firm Tofu

???????????????????????????????

2. Vegetables (I will be using onions, green peppers, and mushrooms)

???????????????????????????????

3. Plant-based cooking oil

???????????????????????????????

4. Optional: spices such as salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Toppings such as vegan cheese shreds or nutritional yeast.

???????????????????????????????

Steps:

1. Cut the tofu into cubes. Wrap 7-10 of them in a paper towel, set them flat on a plate, and put a heavy object such as a cooking pan on top of them. This will squeeze out the water. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

2. Dice your vegetables and saute in a pan with a teaspoon of cooking oil.

???????????????????????????????

3. With your fingers, crumble the tofu cubes into the pan and continue to saute, turning down the heat. Stir frequently, as the tofu tends to stick to the pan.

???????????????????????????????

4. After about a minute, turn off the heat and put on a plate.

5. Sprinkle with spices and toppings.

???????????????????????????????

Done! Yummy! 🙂

Serving Suggestion:

I like to eat my tofu scramble with a piece of toast and a bit of coconut oil spread.

???????????????????????????????

I typically add a small cup of fruit to give me some natural energy. Today, I am eating some sliced strawberries.

030

031That’s it! I Hope this recipe gives you some inspiration. If you try it, I would love to know what you think of it!

Best,

Leila