Family fun, food fails and favourites

Another weekend on the train – four hours on Friday, three on Sunday – and lots in between.  Don’t worry, though, I won’t center another What I ate Wednesday around train food. Instead, I’ll show you the good and not that good food I ate at my destination(s). Hence the favourite and fails in the title but you guessed that by now, right? Spending time with my family and eating fall-ish foods was definitely a way of falling into good habits for this week’s What I ate Wednesday.

wiaw fall into good habits button

Obviously,  I had to make the best use of my short, no, very short,  stay at my parents’. Think: eat all the food. The first home-grown kabocha in way too long. I arrived with an empty suitcase for a reason – a miracle happened because I can’t remember I’ve ever packed this light before – kabocha dedication.

Kabocha_cut

Can we agree that home-grown raspberries > storebought. And yellow raspberries > any other kind. So when I walked to the vegetable patch to pick up more kabocha and came across bushes upon bushes of these I couldn’t help myself from helping myself [ha!]. Actually,  I was overstuffed at this point already but knowing I wouldn’t be able to get another chance this year anymore so it was worth the stomach ache. Don’t tell me you couldn’t relate. I know you’ve been there before ;).

Raspberries

We had a packed weekend ahead. After arriving Friday night Saturday included a gorgeous autumn-y bike ride through the countryside.  I miss it [and my family] so much. I was barely there when we already  because we had plans to meet my sister, her husband,  a cousins and friends on Saturday night. It had been way too long since my last visit to the theatre and my sister had suggested going a while ago already.

Friedrich Fett_interior

Right after the theatre we had  reservations for dinner. And by dinner I mean at 9.45 PM which means we didn’t get to eat until 10.30 PM. Hello, eating late at night.

Friedrich Fett is a newly opened restaurant in Hamburg-Altona my sister insisted on trying instead of going for one of our usual favourites. Unfortunately not as much of a vegan-friendly as my sister had promised. Or maybe going on Saturday – their proclaimed ‘meat day’ – was bad luck for me. Fortunately, the kitchen offered to cater spontaneously and even brought out an additional vegan platter for a first course: a piece of grilled corn; avocado atop marinated hokkaido squash (!!), spears of fried Parsnip and eggplant. The squash was incredible, the corn too bland for my taste.

Friedrich Fett_Vorspeise
We sadly missed out on the guacamole with plantain chips I’d been eyeing on the menu but you can’t have everything. (:

For my main I tried to customize a tofu bolognese that was originally meant to go with pasta asking them to sub plain quinoa. The waiter – very sweet and genuinely making an effort but probably still new to the job [given they’d opened just four weeks ago] – mixed things up. When our plates arrived I got a small dish of zucchini quinoa mixed with red pesto;  a tofu and vegetable stir-fry and peanut sauce on the side. Both sides went unpictured because my family protested when I took pictures of the food before already and family harmony > blogging duties. Right?! I still gave the stank eye to my sister because that way I can neither show you the quinoa [picture a dish of red-ish hued quinoa with fried zucchini here] and peanut sauce. And the latter was of the I want to drink it with a straw kind. Ridiculous. The best part of my dish.

Friedrich Fett_1

I won’t lie: it was somewhat disappointing. Not bad per se but not a sensation for my tastebuds, either. If you saw one of my recent WIAWs you’ll probably notice the resemblance here.  Petzi from the Vegan Wednesday team said it right in her note on the Pinterest board: the stand-by vegan dish at non-vegan restaurants. There’s still room for improvement. I’ll admit I thought differently the night of but in hindsight most other family members pleased with their choices are worth one sub-par meal on my part. And you know it: next time I’ll pick the restaurant. For any German readers: I can’t recommend Friedrich Fett as of now.

Eggplant Lasagna_soy yogurt

Ending this post on the note of favourites: in an effort to re-shoot the eggplant lasagna – obviously just out of blogger dedication and not because I’m obsessed with it – I snagged the eggplant my mum had sitting around. Apparently well-traveled vegetables makes the best dishes because it was even better than the times before. I’ll edit the post soon – not just for the pictures but to add an even simpler variation on the white sauce. Because why go with simple if you can go even simpler??

On the note of simple I’ll go the easy route of ending this post by wishing you a happy Wednesday! See you tomorrow for thinking out loud,

Happiness-inducing today: The sky turning pink when I walked home after running errands after work – and you better believe I took a picture with my phone. Even if I looked ridiculous while doing so [think: barely able to move my arm clinging a four-pack of water bottles and carrying a bag].

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
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Vegans/ vegetarians: what were your best and worst experiences when eating out at non-vegetarian restaurants?

Kabocha fiends: how long can you go without major cravings? I didn’t even realize how intense mine were until I sank my teeth into that first piece of buttery amazingness on Friday night. It’s the simple things.

Early and late [Eggplant Lasagna – gluten-free and vegan options]

Creamy, cheesy and comforting while not too heavy:  a single-serving eggplant lasagna that leaves you feeling good – and longing for a repeat. Vegan and gluten-free options.

Eggplant Lasagna 10

Anniversairies. Birthdays. Christmas. New Year’s Eve. Special occasions call for special food to celebrate. And Wednesday happened to be one of those special occasions – or at least for a fairly large group of people: World Vegetarian Day. In case you stopped by that day you’ll have known this already and seen some foods I ate to celebrate. One of them being a pan of cheesy deliciousness …

As an advance apology for the quality of the pictures: I celebrated World Vegetarian Day early [Saturday rather than Wednesday] but late at night. I’m not a food blogger so I don’t plan my meals according to the best photography times. Fail whale. But as I know I’ll be making this lasagna again very soon updated pictures will follow. Unless I slack at time management again – not that this might happen …

Eggplant lasagna 2

Deciding what I’d prepare to celebrate surprisingly – unlike in past years – wasn’t hard. I’d been craving lasagna -forever-. I mean it. Lasagna with all the fixings: Vegan bolognese sauce,  white sauce, cheese.  These three components are what -make- lasagna for me. Only: preparing all three of them is quite involved.  I know why my mum didn’t feature lasagna as a regular weekday lunch years back but just on those days with extra time. And preparing just a single serving of each because it’s only me eating?  No way. But I still had my heart and mind set on lasagna so there had to be a way. You get what you want after all. So I went with a few short-cuts: store-bought organic vegan bolognese and switching out the time-intense bechamel for a quick blend-and-go option. A magical vegan high-protein favourite jumped in to help out.

Eggplant lasagna 1

And preparing just a single serving of each because it’s only me eating?  No way. But I still had my heart and mind set on lasagna so there had to be a way. You get what you want after all. So I went with a few short-cuts: store-bought organic vegan bolognese and switching out the time-intense bechamel for a quick blend-and-go option. A magical vegan high-protein favourite jumped in to help out. The fact I don’t currently have any lasagna noodles at hand proved to be the smallest problem. If you’ve never had twice-baked eggplant in a casserole before you’re in for a treat.  However,  if you absolutely dislike eggplant you could easily sub it for real pasta. And mail me some lasagna noodles pretty please?! Eggplant or pasta, though: with the hearty bolognese,  creamy white sauce and packing in an abundance of nutritious vegetables this is good-for-you comfort food. And let’s not forget the cheese. Perfect for a little celebration. Or just any day you want to treat yourself with food.

Eggplant lasagna 4_plate

Cheesy Eggplant Lasagna

  • 1 small to medium eggplant,  sliced into 10-14 rounds [250 g]
  • 3/4 cup store-bought vegan bolognese sauce [180 g] – I used this organic brand OR prepare your own [see notes]
  • 3.5 oz silken tofu [100 g/ 1/3rd of a regular package]
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh spinach, chopped – vary the amount according to preference [I had a lot to use up so went with ~ 3 oz]
  • 1/2 cup vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots, chopped/ diced finely [about 100 g]
  • 1/4 cup [~ 28 g] [vegan] shredded cheese [Daiya is a great vegan meltable option]

 

  1. Grease a single-serving baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Layer the eggplant slices in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 30 minutes to release some of their water content. Squeeze between kitchen paper to remove as much water as possible but don’t stress too much.
  3. Places the rounds on a sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for twenty minutes,  flipping the eggplant once in between to brown evenly on both sides.
  4. Blend the silken tofu with a generous grating of nutmeg plus salt and pepper to taste.
    Bring the bolognese sauce to a low boil on the stove.  Add the vegetables and let simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the vegetables are a little more tender. They should still have some bite, though.
  5. Assemble by speading a thin layer of tomato sauce at the bottom of the baking dish.
    Top with spinach and a few spoonfuls of white sauce.
    Layer half of the eggplant slices on top. Spread with more tomatoe sauce.
  6. Stir the cheese into the remaining white sauce,  add a splash of non-dairy milk for a more spreadable consistency. Spread on top of the lasagna.
    Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Notes:

This is gluten-free if you use a gluten-free bolognese or marinara sauce.
Make it vegan by using vegan cheese like Daiya. Mixing vegan cheese with a sauce like here helps it melt better.

I’m sharing this with Strange but good, RecipeFriday, Recipe of the Week, Tasty Tuesday, Gluten-free Wednesday and GlutenFreeFridays.

Happiness-inducing today: Having the day off of work due to a public holiday.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
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What is a dish that screams ‘special occasion’ to you?

Do you make lasagna completely from scratch or use a few short-cuts? I can’t be the only one there.

WIAW: Celebrating World Vegetarian Day [early]

Yay for coincidences! What better day to celebrate today being today than a gloriously food-filled What I ate Wednesday?! And obviously even more so Vegan Wednesday – shhhh … mark November 1st in your calendars already [I’ll let you know why in time]! For anybody still clueless:  Happy World Vegetarian Day! Even if you’re not an all-out veg-head the mere fact that you’re a foodie is good enough for me. Thanks to the probably not entirely veg but definitely veggie-loving Jenn for hosting!

 ]One more thing before diving into the food: I might be vegetarian, took the minute to play around with the WIAW button and gave a shout-out about World Vegetarian Day [again]. But that doesn’t change anything about what I said before. No matter which diet we’re all united in our fondness of food – and that’s more than enough.

special_wiawloveyourveggiesmonthbutton2

Because Wednesday as yet another office day [read: food eaten from tupperware] I celebrated early with a special lunch and will fill you in on what I might be eating the very moment you’re reading this post. Breakfast today is/ was a bowl of the usual: oatmeal with chia seeds and lots of zucchini grated in. Don’t you like sneaking in a serving of vegetables you hardly remember eating despite the fact you added it yourself?  I kid you not. I start eating and don’t even think about it. With coconut flour, apple chunks and cocoa added it’s simply not detectable. Or at least not in semi-sleepy state …

oat bran_zucchini_peanut flour[and because I’m unable to take pictures in said sleepy state you’re getting a recycled picture. Just imagine cocoa and almond butter added]

New and happening before I even got started on breakfast: coffee!  Yes. Me, the “who cares about coffee??” tea fiend. Granted,  I still think coffee is overrated. But I decided that at 23 and working in an office of coffee drinkers I should at least give it a go. True coffee purists will shake their head at the fact I bought the granulated kind. To each their own.  So how was it? Better than I guessed. I added some of NuNaturals’ Simple Syrup and only a splash of almond milk.  However, I have to admit I felt a little … funky afterwards. Maybe it’s just getting used to it?

New in 004

Let’s talk lunch because I’m waaay excited.  A lasagna craving has stuck around for me for-ev-er. The only problem? My cupboards are still ridiculously crammed with all kinds of grains, flours, snacks and whatever else – but no lasagna sheets. I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t buy any new pantry staples until I’ve made a dent in my current ones. What’s a lasagna – longing vegetarian to do? Eggplant to the rescue. And that’s despite being torn in between liking and despising this vegetable.

Eggplant lasagna_pre-baking

Trust me: this dish is ridiculous – in a very good way. Single-serving cheesy lasagna packed with nutrients – and low-carb, too. Personally, I don’t mind that last aspect and still want some classic pasta-filled lasagna in ny life but until then this is an awesome dish to fill the spot. It can be vegetarian or vegan [Daiya cheese melts well] and gluten-free as well. Tender eggplant slices mingling with [storebought] a duo of sauces, fresh spinach and cheese. I had a hard time taking pictures as a) the scent alone was intoxicating [sorry to tout my own horn but you’d understand if this was in front of you right now]. And b) it was late both days I ate it. Nevertheless I wanted to share the recipe as soon as possible – it is too good not to and I know my forgetfulness if I don’t get to it during the next days.

Eggplant lasagna_right

Celebrating a special occasion calls for a special dessert, too. Perfect if it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon treat you picked up with the intention of saving it for a … day. This Coco Mylk OmBar fit the bill right there. I got a chance to review this flavour  before it was available in Germany. So I knew how good it was when I spotted it on special offer on my recent trip to Hamburg. Yes, I lugged home more than just that green guy. These hardly compare in terms of weight but don’t need to hide in terms of deliciousness. Given I’ll be at the office linking up from my phone by the time the WIAW link-up goes live just looking at the picture below will make me hungry/ look forward to returning home from work already. Oh the things chocolate does for me …

Ombar Coco Mylk

Happiness-inducing today: my first run in the new city and also first longer run in forever post-injury – mostly pain-free!

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

 

Do [or will] you celebrate World Vegetarian Day or any other not-quite-as-wellknown holidays? There’s a huge number of food holidays out there to choose from if you haven’t done this yet. I highly recommend National Chocolate Day and I know for a fact I’ll celebrate October 29th in style.

What’s your favourite kind of [vegetarian please!] lasagna? Let me know of any recipes worth trying.

Pastinake not pasta [Parsnip Lasagna]

Sometimes I wonder what the blog world has done to me – or more precisely my mind when it comes to recupe creating. But to let you in on my thoughts a little more I’ll begin at the beginning, okay? In an effort to use up as much produce as possible [sounds familiar 😉 ?] before leaving for my grandparents’ house for Christmas I had to come up with some meals to use them in. My initial idea was a vegetable lasagna simply chopping up every vegetable in sight and add it to the sauce part of the dish.

Pasta-naken

But when I started rummaging through my impressive vegetable stash I realized a sauce could only host so many veggies until becoming a stew. Add in that I didn’t have any lasagna sheets at hand and spaghetti [the only kind of pasta I did have] just wouldn’t have quenched my cravings. Spotting some of my favourite winter vegtables – parsnips – my mind quickly changed into strange but good mode and got spinning.

Dish_parsnip

Thinking about it maybe it’s not just Laura’s influence on my recipe creations but also the name of the vegetable itself. Pastinaken as they are called in German sounds similar enough to pasta[-naken], no? Yes, totally not what I thought initially but it came to mind when I took the first bites and laughed at myself for not trying it any earlier. Parsnips as a sub for the pasta layers: why not?*

* here’s to hoping I either don’t have any Italian readers or – preferably – none that will get mad at me for daring to present a pasta-less lasagna. Dear Italians: I like pasta [almost] as much as you, promise.

Parsnip_layer

You’ll notice this recipe – unlike my others – is not vegan. That’s because I still consider myself a vegan with benefits and couldn’t pass up the cottage cheese when it was on special offer recently. Yet another impulse purchase with no idea on how to use it in mind. Some things will never change. However, I’d seen recipe for cottage cheese lasagna before and got curious.

Cottage cheese

The verdict: Pretty good. The cheese added a unique and very interesting texture – and you know that’s a key criterion for me – as well as creaminess to the dish without being too heavy like other kinds of cheese or bechamel sauce – and way faster [hello, impatience]!  Give it a try if you haven’t yet. And parsnips as ‘lasagna sheets’? Awesome. Flavourful. And once more an exciting texture element. That’s all I have to say.

Parsnip Cottage Cheese Lasagna

Sauce:

  • 200 g carrots, chopped into half-moons
  • 150 g zucchini [a small to medium one]
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • about a 1/4 tsp each smoked paprika, oregano, thyme [season to taste]
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped or onion powder
  • salt + pepper
  • 150 g passata [a scant 3/4 cup]
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas
  • 1 small parsnip [100 g], sliced thinly into rounds
  • 100 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 115 g (1/2 cup) cottage cheese, mixed with 1/4 tsp dried basil
  1.  For the sauce: If using fresh onion [recommended] sauté in a small sauce pan until translucent. Add the carrots and sauté covered for about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and spices [onion powder if using it, too], stir-frying so the zucchini and carrots get browned a little.
  2. Pour in the passata and mix in the chickpeas.
  3. To assemble: Layer mushrooms into the bottom of a casserole dish. Add a layer of sauce. Top with about half of the cottage cheese.
  4. Layer parsnips on top. Cover with the remaining sauce and cottage cheese. It’s important to end with tomato sauce to avoid burning/drying out the cottage cheese.
  5. Bake covered for about 25 minutes at 350 °F.

Pastinaken-Lasagne

Trust me when I say this one’s not too strange to appeal to ‘normal’ eaters, either. Just maybe don’t call it lasagna but simply parsnip bake in that case. Or do however you like – because who’s listening to recommendations in anyway? I recommend, however, that you take a look at some more recipe inspiration over at Kierston’s and Laura’s for some more food fun on this fine Friday*.

* my fondness of alliterations is a well-known fact by now and I’m okay with that.

Happiness inducing today: A rainy weather run after two rest days over Christmas.

Are you a fan of parnips? What’s your favourite way to use them? Have you ever tried cottage cheese in lasagna?

Culinary confessions of an overbuyer

Hi there, fellow foodies!

First off: thank you so much for all of the encouraging and supportive comments on my last post! I appreciated every single one of them. Change still isn’t easy for me but I’m trying to just let it happen and see where life leads me.

Before we head straight into the more illustrated part of this post I feel like I need to explain its background a little. all it a confession of an overbuyer if you will … Picture this: you’re visiting the Farmers’ Market knowing that you’re well stocked in the vegetable department already. Clearly, your only intention is to get some of your favourite apples only available at a certain stall and then head home again. No other purchases or even side glances at the full array of beautiful produce allowed … Can you guess the end of the story? Yes, I somehow ended up buying the most humungous head of cauliflower you’ve seen so far for a fantastic price and a bag of awesome pears as well. Typical foodie problems?! Which leads me to today’s What I ate Wednesday.

wiaw fall into good habits buttonUsing up what’s on hand and not buying new produce anymore sounds like a good habit to fall into, don’t you think so?! Once more I’m also linking up for Vegan Wednesday so to all German readers: take a look at a collection of delicious vegan food over at Julia’s.

Finding myself with an overload of produce – more specifically: cauliflower, bell pepper and carrots as well as slightly more “normal” amounts of random others – I had to modify my Pinterest challenge. It’s almost the usual for me to overbuy produce. But with my move coming closer I need to hurry up on eating my way through the produce party. Hence challenge “Make a dent” – not to be confused with any current appointments at the dentist’s …

Cream of corn

Have you ever been lured into the “season’s almost over so I have to buy it!” syndrome? With corn season being almost or even already over I noticed I hadn’t had fresh corn at all so far. Yes, shame on me. This recipe for sounded awesome and it didn’t disappoint. While I expected it to be good it turned out even better. So good, in fact, that I could have even done without any add-ins. Why didn’t I realize any earlier just how amazing fresh corn tastes?!

[Actually, I made this months back already but forgot to mention it in previous WIAW posts. Sorry!]

Next up was a freshly pinned recipe that I mentioned in my post on Sunday: Susan’s Spaghetti Squash Pesto Lasagna. Will you believe I actually followed the recipe [almost] to a T??? Okaaay, I subbed grated zucchini for the spinach – all for the sake of using it up – and used additional and also silken tofu though Susan doesn’t recommend it [with added cornstarch to thicken it up]. But other than that I didn’t make a lot of modifications. Verdict: Delicious! Once more I was skeeved by the low lighting but you can’t change the weather.

Squash Lasagna

Carrots first found their way into my Red Lentil Kabocha Chili which you’ll probably notice I modified a little and tried to measure how much water I added. How I forgot to add almond butter on top the first time I tried it is beyond me.

My original intention had been to try a Pumpkin Cauliflower Curry. However, the [red kuri] squash stored in the basement seems less perishable than carrots. And with no canned pumpkin available I had to prepare my own puree in anyway. So why not go for carrot instead of pumpkin?

oat loli

Don’t let the look deceive you. Despite its mediocre appearance I came up with a flavourful and spicy (!) curry that hit the spot once reheated. Does anybody else find that curry – just like chili – tastes better when reheated? On the side I tried another new-to-me recipe: Khusboo’s Oat Lolis. They had been on my Pinterest board/to-make list ever since she posted them and yesterday offered a great opportunity to try them.

scoop

Super easy and fast to prepare but the best part: they’re an great scooping device. In case you’re wondering: I added cumin seeds [obsessed!] and the first loli disappeared before it could even make it into a picture. Hangry blogger at work? Maybe … I’ll share the recipe for the curry later this week for any others desperately in need of using up cauliflower ;). Or just those who enjoy a good curry.

Cauliflower snack

Okay, this one is strange but good. Remember how I mentioned the cauliflower was humungous? I wasn’t kidding and I actually still had half a head sitting in the basement that I’d somehow forgotten about. Enter cauliflower not only for lunch but as a snack, too. Not any old cauliflower, though, but vegan egg-battered amaranth-coated cauliflower. More details on that in my next post :).

Avocado-Törtchen

Ending on a sweet and [semi-]raw note once more: [frozen] Chocolate Avocado Cupcake made by my sister. She’s been asking me for healthy food ideas and started experimenting on her own for quite some time already coming up with some awesome creations. Though they haven’t been eating weird food before it’s funny to see family members jump on the health foodie bandwagon every now and then lately, too. Who knows, maybe I’ll turn them into nut butter addicts and oat bran fiends one day after all?! Wishful thinking – but then again: Sharing my nut butters? I don’t think so ;).

Happy [healthy] Wednesday!

Happiness inducing today: Mailing another surprise letter.

Help me out: What are your favourite uses/recipes for cauliflower and bell peppers? Aside from roasting [still not a fan – totally untypical foodie here, sorry!] I appreciate any suggestions.

Are you good at resisting produce offers when you know you’re well stocked already?

Did you interest in [healthy] food rub off on family members yet?