Vegetarian Tuna Salad Romaine… Boats.

Vegetarian Tuna Salad Romaine… Boats.
You’re making WHAT?

Okay, listen, I don’t know what to call this. I spent a really long time trying to come up with a clever way to combine Chickpea and Chicken so that you understood that the main ingredient was CHICKpeas as a meat substitute. EH??? But. I failed. If anyone has any better ideas… I will rename this post. Also, I didn’t want to call this a lettuce “wrap” because the romaine in this is not WRAPPING around anything, it is really cradling the salad, like a leafy bassinet. Thus, “boats”. Moving on!

One of the only foods I miss after 9 years of being a vegetarian is tuna salad. Not like a nice cut of fish, or steak, or whatever, but I miss straight up mixing way too much mayonnaise with a whole can of Chicken of the Sea and just eating the whole thing in about 10 minutes. SO GOOD. I mostly cooked for myself growing up, and tuna salad was a staple (so was an entire casserole dish of Minute Rice, but luckily, I didn’t have to give that up when I went veg).

Vegetarian Tuna Salad Romaine Boats 

No, YOU have a cluttered kitchen counter

– Chickpeas [garbanzo beans] (2 cans)
– Celery (one stalk, diced)
– Onion (1/2, diced)
– Mayonnaise (3 HEAPING tablespoons)
– Chili powder (dash)
– Garlic powder (dash)
– Salt (just a spranklin’)
– Avocado (1)
– Romaine leaves (7 or 8 big ones!)

First, chop up your celery and onion!  Then you need to mash up your chickpeas. There are two ways to do this. The most effective and fancy way is to put the chickpeas into some sort of food processor. Or blender? But the best way to do this is with my favorite kitchen tool: THE POTATO MASHER


Just mash the hell outta those chickpeas! Do you see a chickpea that is intact? SMASH ITTTTTTT. Then, mix the chickpea mash up with the onions, celery, garlic, chili, salt and mayonnaise all cozy in a big ole bowl.

The tricky part is getting all the deliciousness into the romaine leaf. Spoon it into the leaf and DON’T over do it. Put in like three big spoonfulsish into each leaf. If you over-stuff it, then you won’t be able to eat the boat like a taco and that is the funnest part. Then, I like to add a line of smashed avocado right in there next to the line of chickpea salad. This compensates for the fact that there isn’t really much mayonnaise in this recipe, when compared to normal mayonnaise “salads”.

Then eat it with your bare hands like a friggin’ taco AW YEAH.




Except, you know, not evil

This post brought to you by Teacher Supreme, another co-worker of mine who has a real teaching blog  where she talks about teaching and not whatever harebrained thing crosses her mind (nice burn on myself, myself!). She tagged me to answer these questions, and I know this is supposed to be a blog about my budget but maybe I’m on a budget because I’m a teacher hmm and also THIS IS MY BLOG AND I DO WHAT I WANT:



1) What has been your one biggest struggle this year?

Several things come to mind but, as I’ll mention in question #4, I don’t know that “struggle” is the word I would use because after years and years of really crazy, awful jobs I wake up every morning feeling like 50% “ugh, waking up” and 50% “oh my god, I have a real career I like and it hasn’t proven to be a dream for yet another day wow”.

So anyway, ummm, my struggles include, loosing my full-size classroom that I was already sharing and getting a non-classroom room with no windows (this implies that my old classroom had windows, that isn’t true though) that used to be a break room and I now share with another self-contained teacher instead of a resource teacher. There is LITERALLY just enough room for our two desks and enough chairs table/desk space for our biggest class. It’s nuts. BUT ACTUALLY: even this struggle is okay because the self-contained teacher I share with is one of my best friends (so is Teacher 3, the resource teacher I used to share with! Sharing a classroom with me = INSTANT BESTFRIENDSHIP) AND it has a sink in it, which was my greatest wish.

2) Share two accomplishments that you are proud of this school year.

  1. Getting a sink. I’m proud of this because I asked for a sink and even though I got stuffed into a break room that is so small that I literally can’t get to my desk when students are sitting in their chairs I still GOT what I asked for. Proving that I’m, at the very least, sometimes listened to. Do you know how much easier it is to care for my classroom turtle with a sink? When I do water changes I can just siphon the old water straight into the drain IT’S INCREDIBLE.
  2. Becoming the Science Department Lead Teacher. This is less impressive when you realize I wasn’t voted in or anything, I saw there was an opening and I wanted to do it and administration said yes, that’s literally the story. But I’m still proud of it because I got snacks to be an institution at the science department meetings. EVIDENCE: When I had another teacher lead the meeting because I had another meeting he brought snacks and later he told me that it was because he thought the teachers would be expecting it. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

3) What are three things you want to accomplish this year?

  1. Helping form the Gay-Straight Alliance. This is already in the works thanks to a better organized teacher than me who had a meeting after school today to plan that was already rescheduled once because of me and then I up and got sick and missed this one, ugh. I’m the worst co-worker, sorry all the people I work with ;_;
  2. Increase the pass rate for the 8th grade Science SOL for our gap groups. Ugh, I actually really want this. But before you’re like, wow, leadership has CHANGED you man, I want this for the kids because I have a group that I taught science to last year and they’ve passed a handful of SOLs among them and I KNOW THEY CAN DO IT, HO YEAH.
  3. More projects that my students are actually excited to do. Class is more fun when students aren’t constantly whining “ARGH, WHY DO WE HAVE TO DO THE SCIENCE FAIR” and are instead like “OH MY GOD, CAN I USE THESE PIPE CLEANERS FOR THE ENDOPLASMIC RETICULUM??” which really happened once!!!!!

4) Give four reasons why you remain in education despite today’s rough culture.

  1. Because I spent so many years in retail. And I know that other jobs are shit. Teaching may be stressful, but it is not even a little bit as shitty as the various jobs I have had. (This includes the literally shitty jobs, like working at a Doggie Day Care)
  2. The looks on my students’ faces when they accomplish something after working hard. You know what was the most amazing this year? When we had to have a mini science fair because of Snowzilla, when I told my four top students that they were invited to participate in the fair their faces just LIT UP they were so proud.
  3. I LOVE the people I work with. I mean, like, love. I work with amazing people at an amazing school.
  4. Sharing awesome knowledge with students. I love teaching science! I’m like, did you guys know that you started as one cell? You were first a zygote and look at you now IT’S AMAZINGGGGGG


5) Which five people do you hope will  challenge themselves with answering these questions?

Michael, Ginz, Teacher 3, Goddess, and Teacher 2

Only one of these people has a blog BUT THAT’S OKAY

Vegetarian Sportsball Hot Wings

Vegetarian Sportsball Hot Wings

My favorite thing about being a vegetarian is ruining meat for other people.

Now if you know me, you know that I’m actually pretty soft-spoken about not eating meat. (Other than my habit of calling non-veggies “flesh eaters”, a phrase I try not to say because it makes my meat-eating-boyfriend uncomfortable). So when I say ruining meat… I don’t mean by spreading scary PETA videos and scoffing at the horrific things that my meat-eating friends eat at bars. No, in reality, being a vegetarian ruins meat for people because of the amazing veg food we bring to parties!

“It’s tomato soup served ICE COLD!”

Now, I think all the food I bring is amazing, but really it’s hit or miss. I maybe have a 50% success rate. But in my mind, 50% of party-goers leave the food table thinking “wow, who needs meat when vegetarian food is this tasty!” (the other 50% leave thinking “wow, if Kaila makes cabbage matzo ball soup for a potluck one more time, we’re not inviting her again!!”)

So today I am preparing a classic Super Bowl party dish – hot wings. Featuring the miracle of seitan in place of … I think, chicken.

NOTE: I’m nothing if not sensitive to the food restrictions of others. The main ingredient of this recipe is Vital Wheat Gluten and a minor ingredient is peanut butter. So stay away if you are allergic to either! 

NOTE 2.0: This recipe is basically a modification of many different recipes I’ve used to make spicy seitan, most recently this vegan recipe by The Edgy Veg

Vegetarian Sportsball Hot Wings
Vital Wheat Gluten*20160207_134628_HDR (2 cups)  (approx. one and a half boxes of the brand shown)
– Nutritional Yeast (4 tbsp)
– Salt (2 tsp)
– Onion powder (2 tsp)
– Poultry seasoning (1 tsp: this ingredient is just a dry mixture of herbs that I guess tastes good on chicken. I have it on hand because it comes up in vegetarian recipes surprisingly often but if you don’t have it, skip it! Or replace with your favorite seasoning mix)
– Vegetable broth (4 cups: 2 cups for the seitan batter, 2 cups for the baking)
– Peanut butter (4 tbsp)
– Eggs (3, but: a. this recipe could EASILY be made vegan if you have an egg replacer and b. less than 3 is still okay if you’re someone like me who is an idiot who never has more than one egg on hand, argh, just mix with 2 tbsp oil and a sprinkle of flax seed to stretch it out)
– Hot sauce (1/3 cup)
– Butter ( only if you’re NOT stretching out your eggs, 2 tablespoons, melted. Again, use vegan butter to make vegan!)
– Pepper (2 tsp)
– Chili pepper powder (1 tbsp)
– Flour (2 cups)
-Vegetable oil (enough for pan frying)

First, mix the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder, poultry seasoning, 2 cups of the veggie broth and peanut butter all together in a big bowl. I use a potato masher to get it started, then I usually knead it with my hands to check the consistency. It should be the consistency of bread dough, and you can add more wheat gluten or veggie broth if it doesn’t feel right. (Making seitan batter is kind of a pain in the ass and the more you make it the easier it will get. The first time I made it, it was so sticky and wet that I couldn’t form it into shapes – I baked it anyway and it was fine but you know)

As you can see.. I only had chunky peanut butter on hand

Next, form the seitan into adorable little hot wing shapes and place in a baking dish. I use a pyrex casserole dish… because that’s the only one I have. Then cover the seitan with the remaining vegetable broth (approx. 2 cups)**


Bake for 45 minutes at 350°F. Flip the seitan pieces. Bake for another 45 minutes.

While the seitan cools, mix the hot sauce, egg, pepper, and chili powder in a bowl. When 20160207_160010_HDRthe seitan is coolish, dunk it in the hot sauce mixture and then pad in flour (I normally spread the flour out on a plate with a raised rim for easy padding). Fry the seitan pieces in a large frying pan with about a half an inch of oil in it. Once the pieces are browned, place them on like one million paper towels cuz these wings are HELLA GREASY. Add more hot sauce to taste! Serve with ranch and celery sticks if you’re fancy.


It kind of looks like a hot wing, right????

Note on the recipe:

*The first time I made seitan I had the damnedest time finding Vital Wheat Gluten. I don’t want to blame the Gluten-Free movement BUT…! Anyhoo, after searching Shopper’s Food Warehouse, Giant, and Safeway, I finally found it at Harris Teeter. I don’t know if Harris Teeter is national, so if you know any other places you can find Vital Wheat Gluten, post it in the comments!

** This was the first time I baked seitan with broth (shout out again to The Edgy Veg!), but I’ve used this technique with tofu before and it’s worked nicely. However, I think I used too much broth, it really messed with the integrity of the pieces. Or my dough wasn’t dry enough? In any case I ended up with a long of little bitty crumbly pieces (that tasted pretty good if you ask me!)

I love you little crumbles