Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Meatless Monday: Personal Mexican Pizza

Last week while on Twitter, I jumped into a conversation with Ashley and Dori about pizza. The next thing I knew we had plans to grab pizza the following week (tomorrow!), and all I could think about was having pizza for dinner. I toyed with the idea of ordering some, but then figured it’d be nice to save a few extra bucks (and calories), and so I made  beeline for my refrigerator. I didn’t think I had all of the ingredients to make pizza, but with a few creative adjustments wound up with probably one of the best homemade pizzas I’ve made to date.

There’s nothing traditional about this pizza, but it combines some of my absolute favorite flavors and is easily customizable. I don’t know why I waited this long to use a burrito sized tortilla as pizza crust. I guess it’s better late than never, because this “pizza” is going to become a regular on my weekly menus, that’s for sure. This is hardly a complex meal and comes together in a matter of minutes, so I feel silly labeling it as a “recipe.” But I thought it would be helpful to include the measurements and cooking temperature/time as a guideline.

Personal Mexican Pizza | FoodosaurusRex.com

Personal Mexican Pizza
– makes one personal pizza –

Ingredients:
1 burrito sized tortilla
2 Tbsp your favorite salsa
1 tsp oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup pepper, chopped (any will do – red, green, yellow, orange)
1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Directions: 
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Once the oil is warm, add the chopped onion and pepper, sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion starts to become translucent. 
3. Add the black beans and chili powder, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. 
4. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray, and lay the tortilla flat. Spread the 2 tablespoons of salsa evenly across the tortilla. Top with 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, followed by the sauté mixture. Finish off with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the tortilla is beginning to crisp. 

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Filed under Home Cooking, Pizza, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Pierogi Party

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Millennial Central for Mrs. T’s Pierogies. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Today’s post is just in time for that little football game scheduled for Sunday. You know the one I’m talking about, right? The SUPERBOWL! It’s in my home state (New Jersey, not to be confused by all of the advertisements that reference New York, which ironically is the state I was born & grew up in, at least the first few years), and while I’m not a huge football fan, I am a big food fan, and the Superbowl is the perfect excuse to indulge in some of my favorites. One thing I hadn’t thought about including in my Superbowl spread until recently, though, is pierogies!

Sweet Potato Pierogis? Yes please.

Sweet Potato Pierogis? Yes please.

When I was given the opportunity to try out Mrs. T Pierogies, I jumped at the offer. I absolutely love pierogies and have enjoyed Mrs. T’s for years as a convenient and easy addition to weeknight meals. My favorite way to prepare them has been with some sauteed onion and cabbage, but before I was a vegetarian I also loved them alongside some kielbasa! I’m yet to meet a combination I don’t like, though the classic potato and onion is my favorite. They’re really quick and easy to make; you can bake, boil, or pan-fry them which gives you a lot of different options. I try to keep some in my freezer just in case I can’t come up with a weeknight meal idea, a recipe doesn’t work out, or I just don’t feel like cooking. I’m even in the process of trying to come up with a pierogi bake of sorts for a later post. But back to Superbowl snacks…

In addition to making (veggie) chorizo & caramelized onion cheesy dip, Irish nachos, and buffalo cauliflower, I’m also planning on baking some Mrs. T Pierogies that will basically act as stuffed chips – perfect for dipping into the chorizo dip, guacamole, mustard, or just eaten on their own. I know they’ll be a great addition to a wine and cheese night I’m planning later in the month with a bunch of my girlfriends, too… everyone needs foods with sustenance when they’re sampling wines, and these will be perfect. Who knew that pierogies could be so versatile?!

Feel free to check out Mrs. T’s WebsiteFacebook, or Twitter for more information and to see all the different kinds of pierogies they offer!

Tell me…
Are you a pierogi fan? What’s your favorite combination? 

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Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Vegetarian/Vegan

A Trip to Brussels: The Food, Part 2

I left off my last post about Brussel’s food with my dinner on Monday evening. I went to work again on Tuesday, and while we didn’t go out for lunch (we ordered sandwiches), my lunch was fabulous; a baguette with brie cheese on it. It doesn’t sound like anything special, and to some might actually sound boring and not enough, but it was hands down the best bread and brie cheese I’ve ever had. Seriously, so good.

Dinner on Tuesday night took me to a more authentic and traditionally Belgian restaurant, Fin de Siécle. The restaurant had mostly rave reviews, but I was a little timid knowing that their only menu was a  giant blackboard in the middle of the restaurant, and it was only in French as it was a “locals” place. I decided to take a chance and go for it, and arrived around 6:30pm. The restaurant was mostly empty, but in a matter of about 40 minutes it was completely packed and people were waiting for seats! The restaurant is actually hall/cafeteria style, so you’ll likely be sharing a table and sitting next to people you don’t know (unless you snag one of the single tables, which are few and far between). While there were a lot of things on the menu that I couldn’t decipher, there were also a lot of things that I did know, which is the beauty of being somewhat familiar with the culinary world (albeit in a very novice sense), since a lot of words aren’t English. While I was deciding on what to get, I noticed one of the waitresses taking the time to talk with two young girls (in English) about their menu and what everything was, and I was impressed that she’d take the time to do so, as customer service isn’t put at such high standards as it is here in the U.S. (service people are paid accordingly so they don’t rely on tips, and they work together). Eventually I decided on the Stoemp, which was essentially fancy mashed potatoes. It was served with two sausage links (that I didn’t eat – but I’m not picky when it comes to that, I don’t care if meat might have touched what I’m eating – I just don’t want to eat it myself) and a phenomenal gravy. I washed everything down with a beer (of course) and loved the entire experience. It’s cash only (they have a bunch of signs) so make sure you stop at an ATM beforehand!

Stoemp | FoodosaurusRex.com

After dinner I decided to take a trip to EXKi, which is a quick service health food restaurant. They serve up pre-made salads and sandwiches, as well as baked goods, coffees and tea, and juices. I had read about a speculoos cheesecake, and knew I had to have it. I grabbed myself a slice of the cake and ordered an espresso machiatto to wash it all down. I should note that they aren’t big on “Americanos” (or what we know to be regular ‘coffee’) so most of the coffee drinks you’ll get are espresso based, and served in miniature cups. The cheesecake and espresso were both delicious, and I wished I had more time to visit the restaurant to try more.

Speculoos crusted cheesecake FTW

Speculoos crusted cheesecake FTW

I worked from my hotel on Wednesday since we were done with our necessary meetings, and made my lunch break a little nontraditional – hot chocolate at Frederic Blondeel! In addition to having a shop full of their delicious chocolates (or as the Belgians call them, confections), they also have a tea room that serves up coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. I settled in to a comfortable seat in the adorable little shop and ordered myself their 100% cacao hot chocolate. Each of their drinks come with a chocolate that compliments your hot chocolate, a biscuit, and a small glass of water to help wash it all down. This was hands down the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, and I didn’t want it to end!

This picture does not do the deliciousness justice!

This picture does not do the deliciousness justice!

For dinner, I decided to try a restaurant literally around the corner from my hotel, that had rave reviews – Bia Mara. A fish and chips restaurant started by two Irishmen is simple, no frills, and seriously delicious. You have the option of choosing the kind of fish and the batter you want, a seasoning for your chips, and also a dipping sauce for it all. They also have a vegetarian option, which is always appreciated! I had walked by the restaurant my first night and noticed people literally waiting in line outside for a seat, so I knew I’d have to get there early (which seemed to be the theme of my trip). And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! The chips were unbelievable (dare I say better than any of the frites I devoured), and the dipping sauce (I went with their lemon truffle aoli) was absolutely amazing. The service was also super quick and really really friendly, and I left wanting more! I wish I had tried Bia Mara earlier in the trip, because I definitely would have made a point to make my way back there at least one more time to try another combination. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the deliciousness – but trust me – it was great!

Despite being pleasantly full and happy with my dinner, I knew that my trip wouldn’t be complete without at least one Belgian waffle. There are tons of stands and stores all around the city that offer up the same thing, so it was really just a matter of picking one. The waffles start at one Euro and go up from there depending on what kind of toppings you go for. Naturally I picked the Nutella waffle, and loved it. They aren’t just any kind of waffle; they have just the right amount of crisp with a hint of caramelized sugar, but are stilly chewy and soft like you’d expect from a waffle. Whatever topping you get melts all over, and there’s really no good way to eat one. I’m pretty sure I had it all over my face by the time I was done, but it was worth it!

Oh yes

Oh yes

Thursday was my last full day in Brussels as I had an early flight out on Friday morning, so I made sure to get in everything I had on my to-do list. First up was “breakfast,” which by the time I got out of the hotel and walked all the way to the restaurant, it was more like lunch. I had read this particular restaurant, La Clef d’Or, was a bit further off the beaten path, but worth the trip. It reminded me a lot of an old school diner, where they offer up a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and it’s no frills. It’s actually right across the street from a flea market which would have been fun to check out, but it was raining and I was already pretty miserable from the cold and wet walk over. I remember reading about their Spaghetti and that it was not only a generous portion that was delicious and covered in cheese, but you could order it any time of day. After looking at the menu and their specials, I went with the giant bowl of spaghetti (for only 8 euros) and a coffee. It was absolutely delicious and filling, and worth the trek there. It’s cash only, though, so keep that in mind!

Nothing fancy, but oh so delicious!

Nothing fancy, but oh so delicious!

After lunch I made sure to stop and get as much chocolate as possible to bring home. This sounds like an easy task, but I was actually a little overwhelmed. I wanted to get “the best” chocolate, and with so many artisan chocolatiers in Brussels, I didn’t know what stores to go to. Eventually I decided on Neuhaus and Galler, and picked up a bunch of different variations of dark chocolate for myself as well as some friends and family. I also read fabulous things about Mary and Pierre Marcolini, and would have stopped in to grab a little something if I had more time. After loading up on chocolates I headed over to Maison Dandoy to get myself some speculoos biscuits. If you know me at all, you know I’m completely obsessed with Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter (which is made up of ground speculoos cookies), so it was only natural that I bought some of the real thing while in Brussels. I wanted to buy everything in the store, but eventually settled on a box of vanilla speculoos biscuits and left before I got myself (and my wallet) in deeper trouble.

It IS a good day when you have speculoos

It IS a good day when you have speculoos

When it came time for my final meal in Brussels, I had one requirement – moules and frites. Despite it being a “must have” meal when you’re visiting, I couldn’t really find any one particular restaurant that had good enough reviews to make me want to venture out somewhere new. Having eaten at Houtisplou on my first day and enjoying it, I decided to head back there since I knew they offered moules and frites. The restaurant is two stories, so I decided to sit upstairs for dinner on my last night, which felt fancier (although it wasn’t really). I ordered the famed moules and frites and of course enjoyed it with a beer. I’m going to be honest here – when I’m traveling abroad I’m not strict with my vegetarian diet. When there are language barriers, and typical traditional cuisine, I like to try and fully experience the city I’m in. That being said, if there are vegetarian options available I will always order it, and if not, I go for a fish dish. So knowing that moules and frites were a must-have in Brussels, I went for it… even though I’ve never been a fan of mussels. I’m not exaggerating when I say that these were probably the best mussels I’ve ever had. While eating them I remembered why I didn’t like them – you almost always get a few that are super gritty, as well as a bunch of shells that haven’t opened from cooking. Well that wasn’t the case with these mussels; they were almost all completely open, and there was no grit. Not to mention the broth they were served in was phenomenal. The meal was well worth veering off of my vegetarian diet for – but I don’t plan on making it a regular occurrence.

Mussles from Brussels (not to be confused w. Jean Claude Van Damme)

Mussles from Brussels (not to be confused w. Jean Claude Van Damme)

Being stuffed from dinner, I didn’t make a stop for one last frites cone or one last waffle. But I did head back to Delirium Café for one more beer! After my farewell beer it was back to the hotel to pack up and get to bed, since I had to be up early for my flight back the next morning. While it isn’t really specific to this trip, I think it’s worth noting that the meals I was served on both of my United flights were actually quite impressive. I selected the vegetarian option, and received an Indian styled dish on both flights, which looked infinitely better than either of the meat options that were available for everyone else. So I suggest to anyone flying that isn’t vegetarian, you should still request the vegetarian option (if available)!

My next post will be all about the beer – so stay tuned!!

Tell me…
Ever traveled somewhere that has a famous or traditional dish? What was it? Did you try it (and like it or hate it)?

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Filed under Food Review, Restaurant, Travel, Vegetarian/Vegan

A Trip to Brussels: The Food, Part 1

When I found out about a month ago that I needed to take a trip to my company’s office in Brussels, Belgium to work on documenting a new product, all I could think about was the awesome food and drink I’d get to experience. They didn’t even have to finish the sentence or tell me much about the project in order to get me to say yes! So I took a trip “across the pond” last week, and am back (likely heavier) to talk about the deliciousness.

Whenever I’m planning a trip, I do as much research as I can, and really appreciate when people take the time to review things. I rely heavily on Yelp and FourSquare when it comes to food and drink, and I feel as though it’s only appropriate to pay it back by doing the same. So in addition to the reviews there, I wanted to blog about it too. I’m going to break it into two parts: first the food, then the drink. You can experience most of Brussels and the “sights” in a matter of three days (if you hit up the big attractions and are diligent with your time), but obviously staying longer means you’ll have more of an opportunity to try different restaurants and bars. I was in Brussels for six days; three days of work and three days of sight seeing and being a tourist.

Grand Place / Grote Markt

Grand Place / Grote Markt

I must admit I was a little nervous for my first dining experience in Brussels, as each country seems to have their own social and cultural norms when it comes to dining. I tried to do some research beforehand to see what was common, etc., but didn’t get much information. My timidness only stems from my first night in Berlin two years ago, when we walked into a restaurant and didn’t realize that they go by the “seat yourself” rule, and stood in the doorway for awhile until a surly man ushered us to a table. It seems as though in Brussels, you are acknowledged and directed by waitstaff when you walk in, but you’re able to pick your own seat. And when it comes to the check, they don’t rush you – so you either have to ask for it when they’re clearing your place, or flag them down to request it. Or, in some cases, just go up to the register and they’ll ring you up right there. It’s also worth noting that a lot of places are cash only – so make sure you have plenty of Euros with you! Now onto the food…

My ahead of time research led me to my first meal at Houtsiplou. There seem to be a lot of burger joints in Brussels, but this particular restaurant had the best reviews, and they their food is served up in a kitschy environment (all of their walls are painted with fun scenes and their food is delivered up from the kitchen via dumbwaiter). After perusing the menu for awhile, I ordered a beer (of course – review to come in a separate post) and their veggie burger, “Lola.” The burger had some grilled eggplant, tomato sauce, lettuce, and cheddar cheese served with frites in a cute little flower pot. I absolutely loved everything about the restaurant, and planned to take a trip back (which I did on my last night) before leaving. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good burger and delicious frites just outside of the central tourist area of Brussels.

Lola Burger & frites

Lola Burger & frites

Since my sense of time was out of whack (Left at 6pm EST and arrived at 8am CET, took a little nap before and after lunch), I wasn’t really hungry for dinner that first night. After a trip to Delirium Café (full review on that awesomeness to come in my beer post) for beer, I headed to one of many Friteries just two blocks from my hotel for fries (yes, this was after having them with my burger at lunch). This particular location, Friterie Tabora, offered two different sizes (small or large) and a plethora of sauce options. I decided on the curry sauce, and watched the guy behind the counter smother my piping hot cone of fries thinking to myself, “Um, how am I going to eat this?!” Thankfully they offer those cute little forks for frites consumption, so I had no problem strolling back to my hotel while devouring them.

Frites!

Frites!

On Sunday morning I woke up with two goals in mind: breakfast that included a giant cup of coffee, and a visit to a museum and Mannekin Pis (and more beer, of course). Despite Brussels being a bustling city, there weren’t a lot of coffee shops around. And I quickly learned while trying to find one nearby that a lot of stores, restaurants, and even coffee shops are closed on Sundays. Eventually I settled on The Coffee Company, and ordered myself a blueberry muffin and a cappuccino. It was nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy my breakfast in a familiar environment (well, except for the fact that everyone around me was speaking French). Eventually I made my way to the Magritte Museum to enjoy a little culture. The museum actually made me really tired (it was quiet and dark), so I knew I’d need to walk around outside a bit to wake up.

Brussels | FoodosaurusRex.com

After wandering around for a bit, I decided on my early dinner haphazardly. The hotel I was staying at offered wifi, so I was able to look up the location of things and read reviews, etc., anytime I was in my hotel, but I kept my phone in airplane mode the entire trip so I wouldn’t incur any international data charges. This worked out well, until I was out somewhere without internet and needed it. I had bookmarked one restaurant, Rachel, based on it’s reviews and location, and just as my stomach started to grumble, I walked past the restaurant. This is also a bit of a burger joint, but they offer more than just burgers (apparently their brunch is very good). Even though I had a burger for lunch the day before, I went with their Frankenstein burger (with a veggie patty substituted) which was served on a bagel. That’s right – a burger on a bagel. It was as amazing as it sounds! I also had my first tasted of Kriek, which I really enjoyed (and was shocked I did). The service was quick and friendly, and I didn’t feel out of place at all. After my second burger of the trip, I walked down to the famed Mannekin Pis for a picture. I must admit it’s pretty weird, but funny, and picture worthy.

NSFW?

NSFW?

Monday meant it was time for work, so I took a trip to the office, which was about 20 minutes outside of Brussels in an office park. I must admit I have no idea where we went for lunch which isn’t very helpful, but again, it was outside of Brussels so I’m assuming the average tourist wouldn’t be out that way anyway. By the time I got back to my hotel I couldn’t wait for dinner. And again, I decided to go a few blocks away from the touristy section of the city. I should note that anyone who wants to have a good, non-tourist centered meal should avoid any restaurant near Grand Place, especially Beenhouwersstraat / Rue des Bouchers streets. You have to walk down them to get to the Delirium Café, but you really shouldn’t go down them for any other reason; unless you like having people jump out at you from the restaurant trying to get you to come in and eat. I nearly punched someone in the face after telling him no and saying excuse me (in French) multiple times without him moving. More on that later, though!

Dinner on Monday night was at Publico – a small and intimate Mediterranean restaurant. I was thrown for a loop when I first opened the door, since you need to completely close it before being able to stand inside. When you do, it’s pitch black as there is a big heavy curtain separating the doorway from the actual restaurant (which I’m assuming is to help keep out the cold). Once you realize what’s going on and you open the curtain, you’re faced with a warm and inviting restaurant. I ordered the bruschetta to start followed by one of their specials (orecchiette) and it was phenomenal. They have an extensive wine list, and in addition to serving you bread (as all restaurants in Brussels do) they also had herbed olives that were delicious. My main dish was so big that I couldn’t finish it, and the server asked me if I didn’t like it and that’s why I didn’t finish it (and he seemed insulted). I had to assure him that I was just too full to finish, as they take finishing their food in Brussels seriously. I must admit that was the only meal I didn’t devour!

Wall art in Publico

Wall art in Publico

At the risk of getting too long and too wordy, I’m going to split this post into two parts – I still have three more days worth of food to talk about! And don’t worry, things like Belgian waffles, moules frites, Belgian chocolate, and speculoos are up next.

So in the meantime, tell me…
Have you ever traveled somewhere that had different dining customs? Did you know about them beforehand, or discover them once you were there? 

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Filed under Food Review, Restaurant, Travel, Vegetarian/Vegan

Make It Vegetarian

One of the hardest parts about being a vegetarian (for me) has been the fear of missing out on delicious food. As a self proclaimed food lover, I like having the ability to try anything and everything. But as a vegetarian, that obviously leaves out a lot of things I can try. When I first decided to take the plunge I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to come up with enough creative ways to eat the meat-centric things I loved before. It isn’t always easy, but thanks to a lot of meat substitutes I’ve been able to have my fair share of faux meat favorites (albeit sparingly, since they’re usually on the highly processed side).

One thing I haven’t had in awhile is a cheesesteak… obviously. I’ve seen quite a few recipes on Pinterest for a “low carb” version of them with green peppers instead of rolls. So even though I love carbs like no one’s business, I liked the idea of swapping out the bread for green peppers since it meant more veggies. Of course the original recipe called for thinly sliced roast beef, so I decided to swap it out for seitan instead. For those of you that haven’t had (or haven’t even heard of) seitan, it’s made from vital wheat gluten (so it’s out for anyone that’s gluten-free), and has a chewy texture that is very similar to meat. You can make your own, or buy it at the grocery store (usually found with the tofu and tempeh). While I used regular cheese, you could always use a vegan cheese to make the entire meal vegan. I’ve since used the sietan concoction with sautéed onion and peppers on rolls, and it really is the closest you can get to “the real thing.”

It’s a really easy dinner that comes together quickly, and you won’t miss the meat. So whether you’re a vegetarian (or vegan) that has a hankering for a meat-centric classic, you’re looking to cut back on the amount of meat you eat, or you just want to try something new, make these! And of course, report back to let me know what you think.

Vegetarian Green Pepper Stuffed Philly Cheesesteaks

Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
– makes 2 servings (one whole pepper each) –

Ingredients:
2 medium green peppers, cut in half length wise and de-seeded
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced in half moons
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
8 oz. Seitan (strips or cubes work)
8 slices provolone or swiss cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sauté until the onions are caramelized. This takes time!! (at least 30 minutes). If you’re pressed for time, you only have to sauté them until they are translucent and soft, about 5-10 minutes. 
3. Add the sietan, minced garlic, and soy sauce. Sauté for an additional 5-10 minutes, until the seitan is heated through and everything is combined nicely. 
4. Take the halved green peppers, and add a slice of cheese to each. Fill the pepper with the sietan and onion mixture until it’s overflowing. Top with another piece of cheese. 
5. On a sprayed baking sheet, bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbling. 

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Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Belated: San Francisco Food Recap

I’ve been meaning to write a recap about all the delicious food I ate while in San Francisco, but as the days and weeks (and now months) passed, I completely forgot. But after being reminded multiple times, I’m finally doing it! Better late than never, right?

After our fun trip in Disneyland, we took a 45 minute plane ride up to San Francisco to spend a few days before heading home. When it comes to trip planning I like to stick to what I know: food, and I leave the rest up to everyone else. So, prior to the trip I spent some time looking up restaurants, per the usual, and was thrilled with the amount of vegetarian and vegan restaurants I found with glowing reviews, along with tons of other restaurants and must-do suggestions. I knew going into this half of the trip that the majority of it would be spent doing two things: walking, and eating.

We arrived in San Francisco mid-day, so after a quick check-in at the Intercontinental San Francisco, we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf via trolley. Riding the trolley was simultaneously super cool and kind of terrifying. I couldn’t help but think of my mom who would have been mildly terrified to know I was hanging off the side of the trolley mere inches away from parked cars as it flew up and down the rolling hills of San Fran, controlled only by a man pulling and pushing levers. Mildly dramatic, but the truth (though not nearly as terrifying in real life as it would be for a mother thinking about it, I’m sure).

Lombard St!

Lombard St!

After spending some time walking around and admiring the tons of seals, we decided to have dinner at Pier Market Sustainable Seafood Restaurant, overlooking the bay. I started off the meal with an Anchor Steam beer since it’s a San Francisco institution, and devoured the pesto penne seen below. There is blackened swordfish on top that I didn’t eat, but I was told it was delicious… and I don’t doubt it was considering how awesome the pasta was. When we got our receipt, I noticed there was a note suggesting a trip to the Biscoff Coffee stand the pier nearby. Being completely obsessed with Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter and Biscoff Spread, I knew I had to get over there for dessert, immediately. I ordered a Biscoff latte, and it was as delicious as I had hoped, and helped warm me up since it was windy and quite cool for an early September evening (for me). After that we headed back to the hotel for an early night, and were up nice and early for the next day of fun.

Pasta at Pier Market Sustainable Fish

Delicious pasta!

One place I knew I needed to get to quickly was the Ferry Building, which is why I started my day there. It came highly recommended to me by a bunch of people, so I knew I had to get there early in the trip to make sure I had enough time. I absolutely loved the Ferry building! It was awesome – food, little shops, and they have a farmer’s market there on the weekend. I had a breakfast of Blue Bottle Coffee, and Cowgirl Creamery toasties. I’ve had Blue Bottle Coffee before in NYC, so I knew I had to have it in it’s birthplace. And, as someone who absolutely loves cheese, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have food from creamery! I ordered the cheddar toasties, which were two pieces of perfectly crunchy and chewy bread topped with grain mustard and melted cheddar cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee, the best!

In addition to grabbing breakfast, I saw an adorable canvas tote bag with birds all over it that I had to get, and I also picked up some chocolate for a friend (and myself) from Recchiuti Confections. Before leaving I decided to get a second coffee from Peet’s, to make sure I was sampling all the different kinds of coffee the locals love. We walked past the America’s Cup, and made our way to the Painted Ladies, which was another must-do on the list.

Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies!

I must admit, this trip was so long ago (over three months), that I don’t remember the exact order of events for each day, but that isn’t what this post is about – it’s all about the food!

One day we decided to venture to the Mission District with only one goal: a mission burrito. After scouring Yelp and Foursquare, we decided on Taqueria El Farolito. As soon as I looked at the menu I knew exactly what I was getting… they had a burrito with a chile relleno stuffed inside! The burrito was huge, and everything I could have dreamed it would be. And now that I’ve written about it, I want one.

Mission Burrito!

Mission Burrito!

After letting the mound of fried burrito deliciousness settle in my stomach, at the recommendation of a bunch of friends we headed to Monk’s Kettle for dinner. This is a (very small) gastropub that has so many beers to choose from it can be kind of overwhelming. Thankfully the waiters and waitresses as well as bartenders are more than happy to help you pick out a beer. I zeroed in on a beer that I’d heard so much about and knew I could only get on the west coast, Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny The Elder.

Scranton Swimming box in the background!

Scranton Swimming box in the background!

It was as awesome as everyone said, and it helped ease the pain of having to wait an hour for a table in a small restaurant. And I should mention that while I don’t have any pictures of the food, it was phenomenal. We had a cheese plate (heaven) to start, and I went with their chickpea and spelt veggie burger. I couldn’t have been happier with the entire experience, and riding the bus home later at night is always fun and filled with characters.

Strikin' a pose at the Golden Gate Bridge

Strikin’ a pose at the Golden Gate Bridge

The second to last day involved being super touristy with a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge and a breakfast burrito at the little Warming Hut that was actually really delicious! After a lot of walking around, we refueled at Source, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant that wasn’t too far from our hotel. I ordered the Hummus platter and paired it with a house made kombucha, which were both awesome. I wanted to try everything on the menu, but resolved myself to grabbing a vegan twinkie on the way out instead of getting a second meal.

Hummus plate with falafel

Hummus plate with falafel

Our final day was spent up in Sonoma and Napa Valley, stopping at a few wineries. I had two favorites; Cline Cellars because their wines were phenomenal (we bought some to bring home with us – if you’re ever there, try their Cashmere wines), and V. Sattui Winery because they had an awesome little deli where you could buy food and then just sit outside and relax with wine. Also, the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards (yes, the same family that invented THE jacuzzi) has a little shop inside their main tasting building called The Olive Press that has tons of different kinds of fresh olive oils and balsamic vinegars. As soon as I locked eyes with their jalapeno olive oil I knew I had to have it. It was so good I bought a bottle to bring home with me, and have been babying it every since.

Jalapeño olive oil

Jalapeño olive oil

Before I knew it, it was time to pack up and head home. It was so fun to spend the majority of this trip based around delicious food… and I feel like I didn’t even crack the surface of the San Francisco food scene!  But at least that’s a good excuse to have to go back.

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Beet Ya

Beets are an interesting vegetable, don’t you think? They’re deep red, taste like the earth (but not in a “I just put dirt in my mouth” way), and are actually quite versatile. Admittedly, I didn’t really embrace the beet up until recently. Thanks to the CSA program I’ve belonged to for the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to try both regular (red) and golden beets multiple times, and I’ve used them in a lot of different ways. Some of my favorites have been these beet burgers, as well as simply roasting them with some potatoes. I also gravitate towards beet salads when I’m dining out, but that’s mostly because they seem to always top the salad with goat cheese (one of my favorites).

So when I got beets as part of my very last CSA box of the season, I wanted to do something a little different with them. After looking around my refrigerator and pantry, I decided on beet quesadillas! It sounds weird, but it works. The combination of the earthy beets sautéed in spices, their chard-like leafy greens, and some melty cheese all folded into a tortilla was a perfect weeknight dinner. I would definitely recommend giving these a try. But be forewarned, you may experience some panic moments in the bathroom the next day!

Beet Quesadilla | FoodosaurusRex.com

Beet Quesadillas
– makes 6 quesadillas – 

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
Bunch of beets (mine was 3 large beets) and their greens
1 medium onion
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp water
1.5 cups shredded cheese
6 burrito sized tortillas

Directions:
1. Remove the beet greens, wash  and roughly chop them; put them aside. Peel and chop the beets into small cubes. Dice the onion. 
2. In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chopped onions and sauté for 5 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add the cubed beets and continue to sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the spices and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the beets are soft.
3. Slowly add the chopped beet greens, being sure to stir them around to make sure they are coated in the oil remaining in the pan. As you’re doing this, add the 2 Tbsp of water to help deglaze the pan. Sauté until the beet greens are wilted. 
4. Put the sautéd mix aside, and wipe the pan clean. 
5. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and re-heat over medium heat. 
6. Sprinkle a quarter cup of shredded cheese onto one side of the tortilla. Top with 2-4 tablespoons of the beet mixture. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the cheese and beet mixture. 
7. Cook the tortilla for about 1-2 minutes, flip, and cook the other side for the same amount of time.*
8. Repeat with the remaining ingredients

*NOTE: In order to make sure my quesadillas stayed warm after I cooked them on the stovetop, I put them into the oven to stay warm (300 degrees for just a few minutes). This will of course depend on the number of quesadillas you are making, and how long the whole process will take. 

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What Vegetarians Eat: Thanksgiving Edition

A lot of times when people find out you’re vegetarian, you get questions like, “So, um, what do you eat?” “Well do you at least eat chicken? Fish?” as well as the always funny jokes about only eating lettuce. And when it comes to the holidays, it can be tricky navigating the buffet table when the main focus of holiday get togethers is food, and often times, they’re meat-based.

Last year I made it easy on myself (read: I was lazy) since it was my first Thanksgiving as an official vegetarian, and I opted to only eat the side dishes. This was easy, because like many, the side dishes are my favorite part. I had stuffing (made with veggie sausage), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, maple glazed Brussels sprouts, corn and peas, mashed turnips, creamed pearl onions, and cranberry sauce. That’s obviously a lot of food, and I was more than satisfied without having a “main” on my plate. This will likely continue to be my approach for holiday events at a friend or family member’s house, but I’ve decided to get a little more creative this year.

No turkey here! I certainly don't miss cleaning & stuffing it...

No turkey here! I certainly don’t miss cleaning & stuffing it…

When dreaming up my Thanksgiving menu, I decided it was time to try a turkey alternative. No, I’m not talking about a tofurkey – I wanted to make something homemade! While I’ve opted to have a “main dish” this year, that doesn’t mean I plan to skimp on the sides; they are my favorite part! And since meal planning is something I really enjoy doing, I figured I would share with you all what I plan on serving for my Vegetarian Thanksgiving! That way, if you’re scrounging around for a last minute side dish idea maybe one of these will spark your interest, or, you can always save them for next year.

2013 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu
Seitan Roast – recipe found here

Brussels Sprout Mac ‘n Cheese – recipe found here
Veggie Stuffing – my recipe found here
Peas & Corn
Mashed Potatoes
Apple & Cranberry Crumble

I’m going to be so full, and I’ll have leftovers for days. It’s going to rule.

What’s your favorite side dish? 

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Friday Favorites

I’m currently on my way down to Richmond for the weekend to run the Richmond Half Marathon and spectate the full! While I was hammering away at work yesterday to make sure I had everything in order for the long weekend I was taking, I found myself also thinking about some things I’m currently loving. And obviously, that makes for an excellent blog post.

So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been loving lately!

Candy Crush
I’m kind of embarrassed about this one. But obviously not embarrassed enough to not share it. After months and months of resisting, I finally gave in and downloaded the app about two weeks ago. Well, it’s safe to say I’m obsessed with it. I’m currently stuck at level 35, battling my way through some extra “quests” to earn the right to carry on past Lemonade Lake.

The Cinnamon Snail
If you live in the New York/New Jersey area, you NEED to try Cinnamon Snail (known as @veganlunchtruck on Twitter). They are in NYC most week days at various locations, Jersey City on Thursday nights, and Red Bank, NJ on Sunday mornings. I am yet to have something from this delicious food truck that I haven’t been in love with. My favorites (if I had to pick) would be the Chipotle Breakfast Burrito, and any of their doughnuts.

Blue Corn Crusted Tempeh

Blue Corn Crusted Tempeh

I mean, just look at that! So far I’ve had the breakfast burrito, Korean BBQ Seitan, Blue Corn Hempseed Crusted Tempeh, and one of their specials, a Red Curry Tofu Bahn Mi. All magically delicious, vegan, and served up with a smile. Can’t beat that if you ask me!

RAC’s Chapter One
I suppose it isn’t really fair to include this on my list since I just discovered the album yesterday, but it’s been on repeat ever since. Thanks to Spotify and its ability to creep on what other people are listening to, I found the album by accident. I saw Sarah had listened to a track on it, and decided to see what it was all about. After listening to that track, and all subsequent tracks, I was hooked. Remixes of some of my favorite artists that are workday friendly? Yes please.

Oiselle Runfinity French Fleece Scarf
I love a good infinity scarf (or any scarf for that matter) and seem to hold the mindset of “bigger is better” when it comes to them. So, when I saw this scarf on Oiselle’s website, I knew I had to have it. Not only it is big and cozy, but I’m obsessed with anything French fleece.

A little French Fleece #FlyStyle

A little French Fleece #FlyStyle

I got bold and ordered it in ghost, so it’s only a matter of time before it’s covered in food and coffee (that’ll add character?). I found myself wishing it was cooler so I could wear it in the early days of November, but then when it dipped below freezing this past week, I was singing another tune. But at least I had this big and cozy scarf!

Erica Sara Designs “Run” Ring
I had been eyeing this particular ring since it was introduced, and had it on my “Giftables” Pinterest page for ages. For whatever reason, I never bought it for myself, and no one else seemed to be interested in getting it for me either. About a month ago, I finally decided it was time to treat myself, and I ordered one. And now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long.

Married to the run?

Married to the run?

This is the second Erica Sara Designs piece I own (the first is a Say It Do It bracelet I got earlier this year) and I absolutely love it. It’s small and delicate, yet represents something that is far from small and delicate. The best part is that her ring sizing starts small, and as a 4.5, I always have trouble finding fashionable rings that fit my fingers. I’m already thinking about ordering some stackables to add to the collection, and I’m looking forward to her small wrist friendly bangles that will be coming out in the spring!

So there you have it, the things I’ve been loving lately. I’ll be in Richmond this weekend running the half marathon and then cheering for the full with some Oiselle teammates, and enjoying delicious food (mac ‘n cheese specifically) with Dori! I’m not planning on all-out racing the half marathon, but running it at about 90% so I can use it as a starting point for potential spring marathon training. It should be a great running, friends, and food filled weekend.

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Filed under Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Meatless Monday: White Bean Basil Burgers

One of the things I miss most about no longer eating meat is a good hamburger. I can easily turn down a steak, chicken (even wings!), and seafood. But I won’t try to pretend that I don’t miss a juicy hamburger (well, 99.9% of the time it’s a cheeseburger) from time to time. There was even an period when I was in middle school that my go-to order when out to eat was some type of burger and fries. It wasn’t because I was picky eater – it was simply because I loved them that much! So now that I’m a vegetarian, I think it’s natural that I find myself making some type of veggie burger frequently.

In the past my go-to base for a veggie burger has been black beans… partially because I love black beans, and partially because they seem to be the default for most restaurant and packaged veggie burgers. As I’ve delved more and more into a vegetarian diet and cooking in general, I’ve come to realize that you can really transform almost anything if you’re willing to take a little time and get creative.

These particular burgers came about due to a craving for both falafel and a veggie burger. I knew I had white beans at home (but no chickpeas), so my first instinct was to try and make a generic falafel based on white beans instead of chickpeas. While trying to remember what else I had laying around at home, I remembered the fresh basil from the previous week’s fresh box that was definitely on its last legs. That’s when I realized I could use the white beans and basil together, and satisfy my veggie burger craving; enter the White Bean Basil Burgers!

With the perfect combination of basil, red onion, and fresh sliced tomato and mozzarella, these burgers are a great end-0f-summer treat. I didn’t have mine on a bun simply because I didn’t have any, but they would be great on an Italian roll!

White Bean Basil Burger | FoodosaurusRex.com

White Bean Basil Burgers
– makes 4 burgers –

Ingredients:
1 15 oz. can white beans (cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
10 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade (just chopped works too)
1 tsp rosemary
2 tsp oil for cooking
Optional: Sliced tomato & fresh mozzarella cheese to top the burgers

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mash the white bean burgers with a potato masher or a fork.
2. Once the white beans are mashed, add in the rest of the ingredients: bread crumbs, garlic, onion, basil, and rosemary, stirring to make sure everything is combined well. Form into 4 patties.
4. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes, flipping once.
5. Serve with sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese, and additional fresh basil if desired.

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Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan