Tasty Tuesday #7: Tempeh and Black Bean Taco Bowls

Good morning! I hope all of you are having a wonderful morning and a great week. 🙂 It’s hot here in the windy city, so I got my run in early this morning. I am so happy I did, even though I have the day off work, because holy cow it’s getting humid! I had another good run this morning of 3 miles at 7:35 pace.  🙂 I have a ways to go before getting to where I was before my injury, but I am starting to feel more like my old self. I still have to build up my mileage slowly and continue my PT exercises, but at least my run pace is starting to come down as I get back into shape!

Now, for the real reason I am here…Tasty Tuesday! This week’s Tasty Tuesday is a taco recipe because I am a little too excited about Taco Tuesday! I know, I know I already shared a taco recipe with all of you last week….BUT tacos are so tasty and this recipe is different! I love both recipes, but these tacos are a little more filling than the black bean and quinoa ones from last week. Plus, I absolutely love meals in a bowl and anything that is made with black beans, if you guys could not tell. 😛 These tempeh and black bean taco bowls are tasty, filling, full of protein, healthy, and last, but not least they are vegan. Bonus points for how quick they are to make! So do yourself a favor and make tacos tonight! I do have to confess that I made these last night…I could not wait for taco Tuesday! haha. I really want to make them again tonight because they are so delicious…. Without further ado here is the recipe! 🙂

Tempeh and Black Bean Taco Bowls

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 packet taco seasoning (I used mild, but if you like things spicy I’d use medium or hot) 

1 cup rice of your choice (I used Jasmine rice)

1 package of tempeh (I used Lightlife original)

1 can of black beans drained and rinsed

1 cup of frozen peppers

canola oil (as needed)

Optional: red pepper flakes, salsa, pico de gallo, tortilla chips

1. Prepare the rice according to the directions on the package.

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2. Mix the packet of taco seasoning with water, according to the package directions. Set aside.

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3. Cut the tempeh into bite sized pieces.

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4. Let the tempeh marinate in the taco seasoning mixture for 5-10 minutes.

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5. Sauté the tempeh in canola oil and spoon some of the taco seasoning mixture into the frying pan for added flavor. Fry until the tempeh starts to brown ( ~ 10 minutes).

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6.  In the meantime, sauté the peppers in canola oil. Add the drained and rinsed black beans once the peppers are almost fully cooked (~10 minutes.). Optional: for more flavor add some of the taco seasoning mixture to the pepper and black beans too.

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7. Once everything is fully cooked, serve! Spoon the rice into bowls, add the tempeh, black bean/ pepper mixture, and any desired toppings (salsa,red pepper flakes, pico de gallo, etc). Mix it all together! If bowls aren’t your thing, serve in a warm tortilla! YUM!! 🙂

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I hope all of you have a great day and more importantly, a happy Taco Tuesday (am I the only one who thinks of the Lego movie?)!

Today’s question: Any fun plans this week or weekend? I’m going to Lollapalooza this weekend and I cannot wait! 🙂

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Tasty Tuesday #6: Brick’s restaurant review

Good evening, friends! I hope all of you are having a great Tuesday. Today I wanted to try something new and do my first ever restaurant review on this blog. Living in Chicago has given me nearly unlimited access to pizza, but I have made it my mission to find the best tasting thin crust and deep dish pizza places in the windy city. Did I succeed?

Today’s review is about Brick’s, a tiny little pizza place located at 1909 N Lincoln Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood (http://brickschicago.com/index.html). They have the best tasting thin crust pizza I have tasted in the city so far! I went there twice in this last week alone…Granted, I normally only go out to eat once or twice a month, but this was worthwhile exception! I went out to Brick’s on Wednesday for a date with my boyfriend, but then again Sunday with our friend from college who was in town. We decided he needed to try Brick’s too. He had his share of deep dish during his visit and was game for something new. He was not disappointed!

Brick’s is so tiny that it is easy to miss. The restaurant is located in what looks like a basement, but do not let that scare you away. Once you go down the stairs and open the door you are instantly in a dimly lit, but quaint and welcoming little restaurant. You can either sit at the bar or at one of the tables. They have a few small tables with candles perfect for couples and some larger tables and booths for groups. They usually have a game on the TV and some music playing in the background. It is noisy, but not so loud that you cannot hold a conversation. During both my visits this week our waitress was nice and checked on us often. All the employees were friendly in general.

The first thing I did during both my visits in the last week was order a beer. They have a pretty extensive beer and wine list. They also have a decent bar. What my boyfriend and I really like about Brick’s is that they have drink specials during the week Monday-Thursday. On Wednesday the Wisconsin beers were half price, so my boyfriend’s can of Schlitz was $1.50 and my bottle of Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge was $2.50. On Sunday, there was not any drink specials so we all ordered cans of Schlitz. You cannot really beat $3 cans in Chicago… It’s not bad for a “cheaper” beer either.

Bricks vegetarian pizza

For the date on Wednesday, my boyfriend and I tried the vegetarian specialty pizza (pictured above). We split a 14 inch, but had plenty of leftovers. In terms of pricing, the 14 inch was $22.95, so not too bad! Brick’s has several vegetarian specialty pizzas or you can create your own. They also have meat pizzas for those of you that eat meat. The vegetarian was amazing. It had green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and is topped with basil. It was perfectly crispy, but not burned. They did not go overboard on the cheese which was good. I like deep dish, but it almost has too much cheese…When I eat thin crust I like one that is easy on the cheese, crispy, and full of veggies.

When our friend was in town on Sunday, I ordered a 10 inch vegetarian pizza (again!). My boyfriend and our friend split one of the pizza specials: a 12 inch spicy pizza with pork and veggies. I cannot remember the exact name of the pizza. The 10 inch was $12.00 and the 12 inch was $18.50. I had leftovers on Sunday, but they did not. The leftovers were almost as delicious as eating in the restaurant. The leftovers were still crispy, not soggy. As a side note I cannot stand cold pizza, I always have to reheat my leftovers. 😛

Overall, both my boyfriend and I loved the vegetarian pizza.  I think he liked it better than that one with meat that he split with our friend on Sunday. Our friend enjoyed Brick’s too! It is not only a great place for a date, but also a fun place to hang with friends or to take out-of-towners to. The pizza tastes wonderful, it’s vegetarian friendly, they have a decent drink menu, weekly drink specials, and it won’t break your wallet. I highly recommend checking out Brick’s if you live in Chicago or if you are visiting. 🙂

I MAY have found the best thin crust pizza in the city, but stay tuned! I have many more pizza places to try. Maybe next time I’ll review a deep dish place!

Do you prefer deep dish or thin crust? What’s your favorite pizza place? Have you ever been to Brick’s?

Tasty Tuesday #6: Brick’s restaurant review

Good evening, friends! I hope all of you are having a great Tuesday. Today I wanted to try something new and do my first ever restaurant review on this blog. Living in Chicago has given me nearly unlimited access to pizza, but I have made it my mission to find the best tasting thin crust and deep dish pizza places in the windy city. Did I succeed?

Today’s review is about Brick’s, a tiny little pizza place located at 1909 N Lincoln Avenue in the Old Town neighborhood (http://brickschicago.com/index.html). They have the best tasting thin crust pizza I have tasted in the city so far! I went there twice in this last week alone…Granted, I normally only go out to eat once or twice a month, but this was worthwhile exception! I went out to Brick’s on Wednesday for a date with my boyfriend, but then again Sunday with our friend from college who was in town. We decided he needed to try Brick’s too. He had his share of deep dish during his visit and was game for something new. He was not disappointed!

Brick’s is so tiny that it is easy to miss. The restaurant is located in what looks like a basement, but do not let that scare you away. Once you go down the stairs and open the door you are instantly in a dimly lit, but quaint and welcoming little restaurant. You can either sit at the bar or at one of the tables. They have a few small tables with candles perfect for couples and some larger tables and booths for groups. They usually have a game on the TV and some music playing in the background. It is noisy, but not so loud that you cannot hold a conversation. During both my visits this week our waitress was nice and checked on us often. All the employees were friendly in general.

The first thing I did during both my visits in the last week was order a beer. They have a pretty extensive beer and wine list. They also have a decent bar. What my boyfriend and I really like about Brick’s is that they have drink specials during the week Monday-Thursday. On Wednesday the Wisconsin beers were half price, so my boyfriend’s can of Schlitz was $1.50 and my bottle of Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge was $2.50. On Sunday, there was not any drink specials so we all ordered cans of Schlitz. You cannot really beat $3 cans in Chicago… It’s not bad for a “cheaper” beer either.

Bricks vegetarian pizza

For the date on Wednesday, my boyfriend and I tried the vegetarian specialty pizza (pictured above). We split a 14 inch, but had plenty of leftovers. In terms of pricing, the 14 inch was $22.95, so not too bad! Brick’s has several vegetarian specialty pizzas or you can create your own. They also have meat pizzas for those of you that eat meat. The vegetarian was amazing. It had green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and is topped with basil. It was perfectly crispy, but not burned. They did not go overboard on the cheese which was good. I like deep dish, but it almost has too much cheese…When I eat thin crust I like one that is easy on the cheese, crispy, and full of veggies.

When our friend was in town on Sunday, I ordered a 10 inch vegetarian pizza (again!). My boyfriend and our friend split one of the pizza specials: a 12 inch spicy pizza with pork and veggies. I cannot remember the exact name of the pizza. The 10 inch was $12.00 and the 12 inch was $18.50. I had leftovers on Sunday, but they did not. The leftovers were almost as delicious as eating in the restaurant. The leftovers were still crispy, not soggy. As a side note I cannot stand cold pizza, I always have to reheat my leftovers. 😛

Overall, both my boyfriend and I loved the vegetarian pizza.  I think he liked it better than that one with meat that he split with our friend on Sunday. Our friend enjoyed Brick’s too! It is not only a great place for a date, but also a fun place to hang with friends or to take out-of-towners to. The pizza tastes wonderful, it’s vegetarian friendly, they have a decent drink menu, weekly drink specials, and it won’t break your wallet. I highly recommend checking out Brick’s if you live in Chicago or if you are visiting. 🙂

I MAY have found the best thin crust pizza in the city, but stay tuned! I have many more pizza places to try. Maybe next time I’ll review a deep dish place!

Do you prefer deep dish or thin crust? What’s your favorite pizza place? Have you ever been to Brick’s?

A cold day calls for some warm minestrone soup

Hello guys! Happy November…well, I guess it’s almost December. I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving and the end of the semester. I promise I have not forgotten this blog. Neglected, yes. Forgotten, no! I know it’s always the same story, but life really got in the way for the last 1.5 months and I am very sorry. 😦

My life has gone through some changes since I last blogged. Telling you guys about them will be a tale for another time. Promise! Once I get it all figured out, of course. I assure you guys, though, that the changes do not have to do with the blog, being vegetarian, or my boyfriend. I plan to continue to blog here as a space to share vegetarian recipes/insight, anything running related, and random ramblings about my life. I am still a vegetarian! Also, do not worry my boyfriend of 5.5 years and I are very much in love and going strong! 🙂

Anyway, I remembered in a previous post that I promised that I would share my favorite Minestrone recipe with you guys (https://blackbeanqueen.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/im-back-world-vegetarian-day-and-sweet-potato-bites/). Well, over a month and several batches of minestrone later, I finally remembered! Nothing warms me up or gives me strength on a chilly autumn or winter day like homemade minestrone. I’ve been craving soup after this unusually cold week (on Tuesday with the wind chill it felt like -4 degrees outside!)

Minestrone is very easy to make and relatively inexpensive! This recipe is adapted from Mighty Minestrone on pages 128-129 of The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Judy Krizmanic.

Minestrone

Yield: 4-6 servings

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ingredients:

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of garlic

2-3 stalks of washed and chopped celery

28 ounce can of diced and peeled tomatoes (fire roasted tomatoes work nicely too)

6 cups of water

1 teaspoon oregano

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons of basil

1 package of frozen vegetables  (16 ounces)

1 can of kidney or garbanzo beans, rinsed, and drained

0.5-1 package of whole wheat elbow or spiral pasta (16 ounces)

salt to taste

1. In a large pot mix together the canned tomatoes, 6 cups of water, 2-3 stalks of celery, and all the spices (including the garlic if you use cloves instead of garlic powder) . Bring to a boil uncovered.

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2. Once the mixture boils reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes add the frozen veggies, kidney beans, and pasta to the large pot. Cook for 20-30 more minutes. Add salt if desired.

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4. Serve. For leftovers, put the uneaten Minestrone into shallow Tupperware containers and refrigerate promptly. Enjoy, a cold day calls for some warm minestrone soup! 🙂

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What is your favorite soup to make when the weather turns cold? Although, I admit I make soup in the summer sometimes and maybe I’m not the only one…Also, is there a soup you’ve always wanted to make, but have not yet?

Rice, veggie, and bean bowls & Monday motivation

Hello friends, I’m back! I hope you all had a lovely labor day, week, and weekend. Sorry for the 1.5 week hiatus- school, studying, and more hours than I anticipated at my part time job have been keeping me busy, but regardless that’s no excuse. I’ll TRY to update this blog at least once a week from now on! 🙂

Today, I wanted to share my  go-to quick week night dinner (or lunch) recipes. As many vegetarians already know, convenience food is OFTEN tailored to meat eaters. And yes, I know this is not completely true as there are veggie burgers, chickenless nuggets, faux hot dogs, and microwave vegetarian meals. Yet, just like their meat counterparts, vegetarian convenience food CAN high in sodium, calories, fat, and somewhat low in nutrients. Also, vegetarian microwave or convenience meals tend to be pricier than meat based convenience meals. So what’s a hungry vegetarian student who is trying to balance a part time job, attend class, be a part of school activities, and study all the bones in the human body to do? Okay, okay that last part about the human bones is specific to my nutrition course work, but you all get the picture. 😛

During the week busy and hungry vegetarian students need nutrient dense, healthy, quick, and budget friendly options for dinner so they do not turn to veggie convenience food all the time. Considering black beans are one of my favorite foods I hope it comes as no surprise that I used black beans in this recipe I am sharing with all of you. You could definitely use other types of beans you just may need to use different spices than I used then.

Now as a forewarning, the following recipe I am sharing is not super glamorous and may even be bland in some of your options. I personally love turmeric and garlic powder together, but feel free to substitute any spices you’d like. As a side note, toping with salsa and/or using cilantro are also both wonderful additions to this recipe! Benefits of this recipe: It is quick to prepare, easy to make for yourself or a few people, a complete protein, high in fiber, and the vitamin C in the peppers should help you absorb the plant based iron in the black beans more efficiently.

Rice, veggie, and bean bowls

ingredients:

1/3-1/2 can of black beans (or any canned beans you like)

1/2 cup-3/4 cup frozen sweet peppers or frozen mixed veggies

1/2 cup jasmine rice (or any kind of rice)

turmeric & garlic powder (or any herbs or spices you want)

optional: whole wheat wraps

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1. Rinse the jasmine rice using a mesh sieve. Then, cook the rice according the package directions.

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2.  While the rice is cooking, microwave the desired amount of peppers or mixed veggies with a tablespoon of water and covered with plastic wrap or using a covered microwave safe dish.

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3. Also while the rice is cooking, rinse the 1/3 can- 1.2 can of black beans and then cook in the microwave for approximately 3 minutes or on the stovetop, also covered. Store the remaining black beans in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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4. Once everything is thoroughly heated/cooked mix the rice, black beans, and veggies together in a bowl.

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5.  Add the turmeric and garlic or any spices you want. Sometimes I also eat this mixture in a whole wheat wrap topped with salsa for a bit of a heartier meal. Both the bowl and wrap are delicious and quick options so give them a try! 🙂

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P.S. Here’s some very late Monday motivation. Use it to motivate you for tomorrow morning’s run (or tonight for those of you who are evening/night runners). I went on a lovely run this morning and while it was extremely hard to get out of bed early after working Sunday night I was so glad I did! I’ve been trying to keep up with morning runs so I do not use work or studying as excuses to prevent me from running later in the day.

I  got up, ran, and finished all before 8 am and  had plenty of time to eat and shower before for my 45 minute commute to my 11 am class! I love how morning runs make me feel, what about you guys? Today’s motivation is one of those “reasons why I run posts” and this one seemed especially fitting.  🙂

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What is your go-to quick and easy vegetarian weekday meal (or meatless Monday meal for those non vegetarians out there)?