New recipe: Cold Spaghetti Salad

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I’ve posted a new recipe for Cold Spaghetti Salad that’s sure to please. It’s my mom’s recipe, so you know it has to be good. :)

It’s a lacto dish (it has feta cheese), but I’ve specified how you can make it vegan, if you so desire.

Off-the-cuff stir-frys

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Often when I’m looking for something to cook and don’t feel like running to the supermarket to pick up the necessary ingredients, Huyen or I will slap together a stir-fry with whatever veggies are in the fridge and serve it over rice or noodles. It’s a simple “go to” meal that offers up some taste and stays healthy. Last night’s “go to” stir-fry, though, was quite good. Better than usual, actually.

In extra virgin olive oil, we stir fried onions, garlic, cabbage, green beans, and broccoli. We then added some seitan in a can (woa, that rhymes!) and Ramen noodles. The juice from the seitan blended nicely with the other ingredients while the seitan itself provided a nice “meatiness” to the dish. For seasonings, we added a standard store-bought seasoning blend, a dash of pepper and sea salt, and (I think) a sprinkling of dried thyme. It came out tasting extremely good with a variety of flavors and textures. About the only thing I’d do differently would have been to add the noodles later so that they were a little more crispy.

It just goes to show that sometimes the best dinners come from “making do” with what you have on hand.

Trader Joe’s avoids GMOs

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Trader Joe’s has decided to avoid GMOs in their store brand products. The anti-GMO trend seems to be gaining popularity, which is good news for all of us. Perhaps the US government will get the hint and start requiring labeling of GE foods. (via johanna)

Risotto and vegetarian onion soup mixes

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After watching an episode of Regina’s Vegetarian Table yesterday, I was inspired to make her New England Risotto recipe. Risotto, of course, is a traditional Italian recipe that uses the unique Arborio rice. Regina gave it a little New England twist. I liked the taste of the apples mixed in with the sage and smoked gouda. I probably could have let it cook a little longer, and it wasn’t as fluffy as I would have liked, but it made a nice, hot dinner and worked well for lunch leftovers.

One thing I encountered worth noting is that it called for “dry onion soup mix.” I was going to use Lipton Recipe Secrets onion soup mix, but held off because it listed the ever-questionable “natural flavors” in the ingredients. As you may know, the only difference between natural and artificial flavors are the source. Artificial flavors are made in the lab while natural flavors simply derive from a “natural” source (which may include animals). An artificial flavor and a natural flavor can be exactly the same, chemcially, but must be labeled differently based on the source. It’s important for vegetarians to remember that “natural flavors” can mean beef powder or chicken brother as easily as it can mean vegetable powder. This was best illustrated by the McDonald’s french fries debacle, where the company caused an uproar by not specifiying that their natural flavor came from beef-derived flavoring.

I checked a few other brands of dry onion soup and noticed that Knorr’s uses both beef and chicken-derived flavoring, which was enough of a hint for me to stay away from Lipton’s. I did find, though that the store brand onion soup mix did not have any animal derived flavoring (though it did contain MSG). I have written to Lipton’s to find out if their dry onion soup mix is vegetarian-safe.