4 Ways to Add Flavor to Vegetarian Meals (Guest Post from My Little Box of Tricks)

As I mentioned earlier this week, I’m thrilled to welcome Kristine from My Little Box of Tricks to TO&E to feature this wonderful guest post!  Be sure to check out her site, too! 🙂

When you think of ‘vegetarian’ food, what do you think of? Odds are tofu, soy products, rice and pasta come to mind – maybe a vegetable or two. For years, I thought that eating a vegetarian diet meant bland, texture-less food that would cost me a fortune. With a sister and fiancée who have vegetarian diets, I quickly learned that it didn’t need to be that way. Here are the ways that I add extra flavor to vegetarian meals.

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There’s a reason that nearly every chef on The Food Network has a stockpile of wine in his or her kitchen. Both red and white wine can add another layer of flavor and body to an otherwise run-of-the-mill dish. White wine goes great in butter/cheese sauces, risottos and simple pasta dishes. Red wine is typically better suited for heartier dishes like stews or tomato-based sauces.


Have you ever cooked a meal that tasted pretty good, but left you feeling like something was missing? I’ve found that a lot of time that something “extra” is citrus. I’m a big fan of all types of citrus and have an especially weak spot for limes. I’ve been cooking for years and feel as though lemons, in particular, can add a welcome brightness to most dishes and cuisines. Limes on the other hand are more tart and lend themselves to different types of cuisine like Mexican and some types of Asian cuisines.


This may seem like a no-brainer, but even my vegetarian-for-three-years sister has difficulty combining spices. Spices alone can seem very intimidating, never mind when you combine multiple spices together. However, spices contain so much flavor in their condensed form that you’re doing yourself a disservice by turning a blind eye to them. Spices are especially fantastic for vegetarians for a few reasons: they are widely available, typically cost effective and add a lot of flavor. I understand that the spice aisle can be intimidating, especially when you’re first building your spice collection, here are a few I recommend starting out with: garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried basil and bay leaves (in addition to your run-of-the-mill salt & pepper).

Cooking low & slow

Let me point out the obvious: cooking food at a low temperature for a long period of time (slow) is time consuming. As most of us are college students, we can be pretty short on spare time. However, if you’re seeking to thrill your taste buds with extra flavor, I highly recommend trying this method at least once. Cooking low and slow allows for the ingredients to develop deeper flavors and come together as a pretty spectacular final dish. However, this isn’t suited for every single meal, but does apply to many staples: risotto, pasta sauces, chili, soup, and stew, just to name a few.

These are the ways that I add flavor to the vegetarian meals I cook on the regular. I’d love to hear other ways that you add flavor to your meals (both vegetarian and not). Feel free to leave me your tip down in the comments or shoot me an email at mylittleboxoftricks@gmail.com!

Such great tips from Kristine!  I know I’ll be trying them out ASAP—my diet could use some more lime. 🙂  Be sure to check out her blog and social media to check out some more wonderful content!


“Crazy, but that’s how it goes….”

“Crazy, but that’s how it goes;  millions of people living as foes.   Maybe it’s not too late to learn how to love, and forget how to hate…. Mental wounds not healing; life’s a bitter shame.  I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train….” –Ozzy Osbourne, Crazy Train

I’ve been slacking a bit in blog-land lately—sorry, guys.

But I promise I have good reason.

Simply put, life has been CRAZY.

Prepping for abroad is hard work.  Not that I expected an easy time of it, but gosh.

Who needs sleep, anyway?

With my current state of insanity in mind, I’m super excited to have Kristine from My Little Box of Tricks around for a guest post later this week!  It’s going to be pretty great (I’ve seen it already, so I can tell you that much for certain! 🙂 )

Want to get to know her in the meantime?  Check out her blog (linked above) and….





and Google+!

And, if you’re really sad about not hearing from me for a while, check out my Study Abroad Tumblr here.

Piece by Piece.

“And all I remember is your back walking towards the airport, leaving us all in your past.  I travelled fifteen hundred miles to see you, begged you to want me, but you didn’t want to.  But piece by piece he collected me up off the ground, where you abandoned things and piece by piece he filled the holes that you burned in me at six years old and, you, know, he never walks away, he never asks for money, he takes care of me, he loves me.  Piece by piece he restored my faith that a man could be kind and a father could stay….”  –Kelly Clarkson,  Piece by Piece

 I’ve hinted at it a few times now (some more obviously than others), but I recently had my name legally changed to my dad (and, subsequently, my family)’s last name.
…and, I changed my first name.
This has been met with a lot of questions, naturally.  What better place to explain than TO&E?
First, some context.  About 22 years ago, my mom was seeing her high school boyfriend again.  Suddenly, she was having a baby (but actually, it was a complete surprise when she suddenly had a seizure and went into labour [I was a complicated baby].  It’s more complicated than you’d think!).  Now, while she was in the ICU (I told you, complicated), the father named the baby—giving her his last name and a family first name.
That would be me.
Now, Mom never blatantly hated the name (to my knowledge), but I did. After this “father” disappeared, we launched into a years-long custody battle with his parents:  obviously, Mom was “keeping me away from them;”  it had nothing to do with the fact that I hated them as much as I did him.
 Fast forward just a bit, and I’m in kindergarten.  Now, my mom is dating a man named Chris.  I like Chris.  Eventually, the two of them get married.  But adoption is expensive and we have more important things to pay for—like my new baby sister.  So, I remain a Sebock unofficially.
 My grandfather—Dad’s dad—desperately wants to formally change my name:  adoption, the whole nine yards.  But being a minor complicates things, and issues like signing away parental rights on the biological side come into play.  Before we can try it out, Pop passes away.
Simultaneously, we have the first day of school each year.  Teachers, not knowing any better, call “Julia,” or worse, my full name.  I can’t say “it’s Jules quickly enough.”  Every time, I hear it in the “grandmother”‘s voice.  Every time, I feel a little more sick.
Finally, I get fed up.  Finally, I do the research.  Finally, I get it done.
So now I’m Juliette—still Jules, but no more first day of school sickness.  Now I’m a *real* member of the family, though I’d hardly been treated as anything less.  Now we feel like a legitimate family.

Shout out to my former roommate for helping me make a “birth certificate” to surprise my Dad.  I’m told I topped all birthday presents for eternity!