Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Christmas Feast

OK folks, get ready, this is going to be a LONG post. I'm covering two days worth of cooking in this one post because I've been too swamped to get around to posting.

So, as you saw, we got the cookies for Santa made and we had one more batch left to make on Christmas Eve. That was these babies, Chocolate Mint Melties, from Eat Drink and Be Vegan. They are sooo good, although, not as minty as I had hoped they would be. I will definitely be making them again, only next time I will add more chopped chocolate bar to the batter.

While the cookies were baking I started up the Traditional Cranberry Sauce, also from ED&BV. I wanted to make this the day before so it would have time to chill because I wanted to serve it cold. I don't usually like cranberry sauce, this recipe however has changed my mind. It is super easy to make and incredibly delicious. I'll never buy or serve prepared cranberry sauce again. Unfortunately, when the time came to set up the buffet on Christmas evening, I forgot to get the sauce out of the, guess who's been eating cranberry sauce like it's going out of style the last 2 days!!

Also on Christmas Eve I prepared the gravy, as the recipe said it was better left to set over night and gently reheated. I used the vegan gravy recipe from vegweb. I thought the gravy was delicious. My family of meat eaters weren't too impressed. Actually, no one said they didn't like it, but the fact that no one said they did says it all. Needless to say, I've got loads of gravy sitting in the refrigerator as well.....too bad gravy doesn't go so well over cranberry sauce!!

Anyway, after I got the gravy cooking I went ahead and chopped up all of the veggies I would need for various things the following day, just to save myself some time in the kitchen. I also made homemade pumpkin ice cream for a pumpkin ice cream pie that I made (no picture, sorry). I just poured the soft, freshly churned ice cream into a pre made graham cracker crust and froze it.

The final thing that I prepared on Christmas Eve was the cinnamon rolls that were for breakfast on Christmas Day. I used this Orange Cranberry recipe that I saw on tv while Rob and I were laying in bed relaxing on our recent trip to Chicago. These are the rolls before they've been baked and iced. In all of the excitement of present opening on Christmas morning, I forgot to take a picture of the cinnamon rolls. By the time I remembered over half of them had been devoured and the icing was hard, cracked, and disgusting looking. Sorry, I'll snap a picture next time I make them. By the way, the cranberry's are a wonderful addition to the cinnamon rolls.

Whew!! I was exhausted Christmas Eve night (I'm getting tired again just typing about all I did!). So tired, and hoping to get in bed early, but guess what........the teeter todder that the girls got "from Santa" took almost 2 hours to put together, and Mairin's stable nearly an hour.......Santa didn't get to bed until after 11pm.

So, on to the big day.....I'll spare all of the details of present opening, etc. and just get right to the food, since that's what this blog's all about anyway. Well, obviously, breakfast was cinnamon rolls and coffee. The cinnamon rolls required 40 minutes in the oven, so we snacked on a loaf of Panera's Holiday bread while we were waiting.

Rob's family wasn't able to stay for dinner, so we made lunch for them. Our lunch was the "No Chicken" Noodle soup that I blogged about last week. We also had some shrimp cocktail for snacking, as well as some cheddar cranberry cheese and crackers.

Then came the big meal. We had 16 people for dinner, both friends and family. I was the only vegetarian. Turkey and ham were provided by my mother and my grandfather for the meat eaters. I supplied pretty much everything else. We went with a traditional Thanksgiving type meal since we missed Thanksgiving as a family this year. Again, in all of the excitement, I forgot to photograph our feast, so the following picture is a shot of my plate of left-overs that I ate for dinner last night.

The menu consisted of: Mashed Yukon Golds with Vegan Gravy, Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts from Super Natural Cooking, Baked Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon, Vegetarian Stuffing (which by the way, my mom swore couldn't be make without chicken was, I made it with my home made veggie stock, and it was enjoyed by all), and a broccoli casserole supplied by my good friend Steph (thanks for the vegetarian dish Steph!!).
We had such a wonderful Christmas. We are truly blessed to have such great friends and family. This was our first year having Christmas at our house, and even though it was a lot of hard work, I hope it isn't our last.

There probably won't be too much new to blog about over the next few days, we're kind of busy until the New Year, but there will be plenty to blog about in 2008!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cookies for Santa

We're finishing up all of our final preparations before the "Big Man" comes tomorrow night. The presents have been bought and wrapped. The house has been cleaned. The Christmas dinner has been planned and the groceries have been purchased. And, most importantly, in anticipation of Jolly Ol' St. Nick, the kids have been GOOD!!!

Last evening, after getting a haircut and having 2 glorious hours to sit in Caffe Classico sipping my soy mocha cappuccino and reading the LEO and Velocity while Mairin had yoga camp, we came home to bake cookies for Santa. We always bake chocolate chip cookies for Santa, so that was a no brainer. This year, Mairin's been begging for gingerbread men as well, so we tackled that too.

For the chocolate chip cookies, we always make the Toll House recipe, but this year we changed it up a little. Instead of Toll House, which are produced on equipment that also processes peanuts, we opted for Sunspire Organic Semi Sweet chocolate chips. We used their recipe, which is nearly identical to Toll House. Instead of all purpose flour we used white whole wheat flour, which can be substituted 1:1 for all purpose baking flour. And, I didn't have any vanilla bean, so we omitted that and just used the extract. These cookies definitely taste more buttery than the Toll House version, and honestly, I think that makes them delicious!! This recipe made 3 1/2 dozen, so we have plenty for the rest of the holiday season!!

For the gingerbread men we used Heidi's recipe at These were very easy to make, and relatively healthy too. They rolled out nicely and were easy to cut, not sticky at all like I've heard about other gingerbread recipes (I've sadly, never made these cute little cookies before). This recipe also made 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Our 42 gingerbread men are patiently waiting naked in the freezer to be iced and decorated on Christmas Eve.

Since Mairin's been begging since November for the gingerbread men, she had decided that we would give Santa the chocolate chip cookies and she would keep and eat all of the gingerbread men. We of course, taste tested each set of cookies at Mairin's insistence......."we have to make sure they are yummy for Santa, he doesn't like gross things you know". Well, Mairin decided after the taste test that she's not really a big fan of gingerbread cookies, but that Santa will surely love them better than the chocolate chips. So Santa, get ready for some gingerbread and milk with you get to our house!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"No Chicken" Noodle Soup for the Soul.

So much for finding an interesting suitable substitute for Chicken Noodle Soup. None of the recipes I've tried really satisfied that need for chicken noodle soup in the winter.....and surely none of them were winning Mairin over! So, I gave up on trying to find our oh-so-cool veg substitute for the soul warming goodness of chicken noodle soup, and just went back to basics.

Tonight, we had "No Chicken" Noodle Soup......perfect, it was absolutely perfect (Rob dubbed it Noodle Noodle Soup). EVERYONE loved it, and to make a dish that all of us like is quite a feat (making something Mairin likes is the true test!!). At first Mairin threw herself on the floor in a full fledged tantrum, refusing to eat the soup because I said we were having chicken noodle soup, and there was no chicken.........she wanted a chicken bite. The funny thing is, when we at meat, and I made chicken noodle soup, she picked every bit of chicken out of it!!

I just went back to my stand-by, quick and easy, chicken noodle soup recipe, excluding the chicken and substituting the chicken stock with Imagine No Chicken Broth. I'm telling you, you would never ever know this wasn't the real thing (except of course that there is no chicken meat floating around in there).

"No Chicken" Noodle Soup
2 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Large Carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
4 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp dried thyme
2 32 oz boxes of No Chicken Broth
3/4 of a 12oz bag of No Yolk Egg Noodles
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat. Add vegetables and saute until carrots are beginning to soften. Add salt and pepper and thyme and saute for a minute longer. Add 2 boxes of broth and bring to a boil. Here I turn down the heat and let it simmer for awhile, then add the noodles about 5 minutes before you are ready to serve.

This soup is "MMM MMM Good". I served it with grilled cheese sandwiches. You can expect to hear about this one being made many, many more times this winter (chicken noodle soup was always something I looked forward to and loved in the winter months, and I can't wait to eat it again....actually, just blogging about it is making me hungry all over again)

Sloppy Joe, 2nd Edition

Yesterday the girls and I shopped until we dropped. We braved the last minute crowds and spent SEVEN hours shopping. And, we survived!! However, we were all beat when we got home. Luckily, I had made some sloppy lentils in my crock pot the night before, so all I had to do for dinner was heat up the lentils and whip up some sides. As you can see, we had oven baked, frozen, crinkle cut fries and steamed broccoli.

This time I used the sloppy lentils recipe from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slowcooker. I added a bit more chili powder than was called for, and I also added some cumin, which wasn't on the ingredients list. But honestly, I really couldn't tell a difference from the Snobby Joe's I made last month, and these are less labor intensive. Plus, the fact that they cook in the crock pot, so you don't have to be around while they are cooking.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Revisiting Eat Drink and Be Vegan

Yes, it really has been 5 days since I've cooked a meal. Well, almost. I did make some lentil soup in the crock pot last Thursday, but it's been 5 days since I've really cooked. Rob and I have been in Chicago celebrating our 8th anniversary and spending some much needed time alone together!! I've been letting someone else do the cooking for me. We had room service for breakfast every day. Oh, how heavenly......laying in bed while your breakfast is delivered right to you. I can't even remember the last time I got to lay in bed, eat my breakfast, and then continue to lay in bed for 2, yes TWO, more hours. Dozing off and on, no kids climbing on me, heavenly I tell you, simply heavenly!!

We did get out of bed and venture into the city as well. We had a lovely dinner at the Silver Spoon. Fried tofu with peanut dipping sauce for starters, and Spicy Crazy Noodles with Tofu for a main course. Followed by drinks at the Palm Court of the Drake Hotel. For our anniversary dinner the following night we ate at Sushi Wabi. I, unfortunately, didn't stay totally's hard to do at a Sushi Bar. Here we had Yawa Ragani (tempura soft shelled crab with honey wasabi dipping sauce) for starters. Followed by a Godzilla Roll for me (tempura shrimp, orange tobikko, avocado, cream cheese, green onion, chili sauce, spicy mayo and sesame seed). We finished with Green Tea Cheesecake and again drinks at The Drake. I had intended to take pictures of our weekend meals, but we failed to bring the camera, so you'll just have to use your imaginations.

So, on to tonight. I decided to revisit ED&BV for Dreena's Olive Oyl Pasta. This is basically a pasta of your choice topped with a tomato based sauce with sauteed garlic and shallots (I substituted some minced red onion), and a combo of Kalamata and green olives. All drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. As expected, this dish was out of this world.......Dreena really does have some amazing recipes in this book. I served the pasta with some garlic bread that I made by slicing a mini baguette from WFM then brushing it with a bit of melted butter and sprinkling with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then I baked it at 350 until it was starting to brown and was crisp. Rob says it was possibly the best garlic bread he's ever had!

For dessert Mairin and I made Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, also from ED&BV. Again, they are amazing. And again, they were another "best I ever had" from Rob. They really are great, and relatively healthy too. And an added bonus, they don't have one single ingredient that Stella can't eat, which seems to be unusual these days. So, we've finally found a treat that Stella can eat...yay!!

With the holiday's coming, the posts may become few and far between, as I've got a a lot of planning and prepping to do, but keep checking, there will at least be a few this week. I do have quite a feast planned for Christmas day, so hopefully in the hustle and bustle of it all I can remember to snap a few pics for you guys!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Not Planning to Cook Tonight, What Can I Throw Together??

I wasn't planning to cook tonight. It was Holiday Meal night at my Grandmother's nursing home, and we were all meant to go dine with her. Of course, as seems to be the norm around here lately, things didn't work out as planned. Stella was running a fever this afternoon, and was more or less miserable. So, needless to say, I didn't think a nursing home was the best place for a sick toddler to be, for her sake and the sake of it's residents.

Being that Rob works about 2 minutes from her nursing home, he kindly went to have dinner with my grandmother while I stayed home with Stella. Now, as you know, I do my menu planning on the weekend, and hadn't planned to cook tonight. So, what to eat? Well, I had a gander through the fridge and came away with eggs, an avocado that was about to go, some cheddar cheese, a few tortillas, a jar of tomatillo salsa, and some left over beans and greens from Monday night. From that I came up with a scrambled egg burrito with a side of beans for myself and some scrambled eggs and avocado slices for Stella. The burrito is self explanatory and doesn't really need a recipe, so I'll spare you. It sounds really weird, but honestly, it was really really good. If I were single with no one else to cook for, this is the kind of thing I'd eat nearly every night.

This decadent Dark Chocolate Sorbet on the other hand, was planned for tonight. I figured there would be desert served at the holiday dinner. And, well, Stella can't indulge in desserts that aren't homemade. What with the nut allergy, the milk intolerance, the soy allergy, well, it's just not safe to eat commercially made desserts. So, our wonderfully thoughtful Aunt gave us this really nice ice cream maker for Christmas, and tonight was our first batch. This sorbet was incredibly rich, and surprisingly creamy. You almost wouldn't know that there was no dairy in it. I followed the recipe that came with the machine, which called for 2 cups of unsweetened cocoa. As I said, it was rich........really rich. I think next time I'll cut the amount of cocoa in half and see what we come up with. Just for fun, here are Stella and Mairin after they've enjoyed the sorbet!!

As an aside, and un-food related, if any of you are interested in yoga, I started a new blog today, feel free to check it out!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vegetable Gratin and Beans with Greens

Wow!! December has been a whirlwind for us, and it doesn't look like it's going to slow down until the Holiday's have passed. I apologize for the sparse blogging of late, but I've been cooking very little and making a lot of easy repeats (pizzas, quesadillas, and soups). We've also been eating out a fact, way too much.

I did find some time for cooking last night though. It's been cold, gray, and rainy here for days. We've been so busy, running around from here to there, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, School Programs, and Dance Recitals. Yesterday we finally got to take a breather from all of our running and it was the perfect day for some hearty comfort food. So, I made a rainbow vegetable gratin and some crusty white beans with rainbow chard from Super Natural Cooking. It was delicious and perfect for the cold, rainy weather.

The vegetable gratin is a combination of red potatoes, sweet potatoes, shallots, carrots, and green onion all browned on the stove-top and then sprinkled with whole grain bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese before baking to a crispy golden brown in the oven. I've been wanting to try this one out, because I was planning to use it as part of our holiday meal. Well, it definitely makes the holiday meal cut, it was outstanding.

The beans are just some white kidney (cannellini) that I cooked up in the crock pot over the weekend. They too are browned on the stove top along with some onion and garlic, rainbow chard is then wilted in and the whole thing gets sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese before serving. Again, delish!! This would actually be a great meal all on it's own, possibly with some corn bread....yum!!

This isn't the type of meal that Rob is very keen on, but he did enjoy it none the less. Mairin of course, didn't even try any of it. And Stella, well, Stella is digging the beans lately, so she ate a big bowl of beans and some applesauce.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Chickpea Noodle Soup

Well, my cooking has been about as lazy as my blogging this week!! We've all been feeling a bit under the weather at one point or another, and after taking care of sick children, and then being sick myself, well, my menu didn't quite pan out as planned this week.

So, after a short hiatus, here's Wednesday's dinner. We had Chickpea Noodle Soup from Veganomicon.

Unfortunately, I made this on the first night I was not feeling well, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping I would. It was very delicious, but my stomach just couldn't handle it. Stella and Rob also approved (although, I had to serve Stella's before I added the miso, so it was slightly different). As a matter of fact, Rob enthusiatically approved of this soup, and he's usually one to turn his nose up at soup (which is unfortunate for him, since I'm a huge soup fan and make LOTS of it in the winter months).

The soup did not capture the essence of chicken noodle soup, like I had hoped it would. I have to admit, chicken noodle soup is one thing I'm sure missing so far this winter, and I was hoping this would be my replacement. I'm going to have to keep looking I think. I had big plans for making some Chicken Noodle soup with some No-Chicken Broth and some chicken style seitan, but after the seitan incident of last week, I'm not sure if I can stomach it or not. Perhaps I'll try the recipe without the seitan and see how it goes.

Chickpea Noodle Soup will definately be made again this winter. However, next time I think I will use regular spaghetti instead of the soba noodles. The brown noodles really freak Mairin out(I have to cover our whole wheat spaghetti with sauce so she doesn't know the noodles are brown!!), so I think regular spaghetti will ensure she will at least try it. Other than that, the recipe is practically perfect.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Vegetable and Soba Stirfry with Orange-Chile Sauce

Well, we had a pretty jam packed weekend, so we did a lot of eating out. Saturday we were busy with yoga class, dance rehearsals, and a bit of shopping that needed to be done. Plus, we'd promised Mairin that we'd go see Santa that night. We ate at Panera Bread after our visit with Jolly Ol' St. Nick. Their Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich is to die for, the cilantro hummus they put on it is incredible, I could eat this sandwich every day and never tire if it.

Sunday was Mairin's Christmas recital and we'd promised her pizza after the recital, so we went to one of or local favorites, Bearno's. The omni's ordered the Mama Bearno's, I had a small veggie that I shared with the girls. Theirs is that American version of pizza, doughy, saucy, and loaded with toppings, that I've blogged about before. Sunday evening, it really hit the spot!!

When I was making my menu and shopping list for the week on Sunday evening I was having a craving for something Asian, and spicy. So, this little stir fry is what I came up with. Turns out stir fry was a good choice for Monday's dinner. I ended up not getting to the store on Monday morning because Stella was sick, I sat in the doctor's office with her for almost 2 hours on Monday afternoon, and it was nearly 7 o'clock before I ever made it home with groceries. So, something quick and easy was what I needed.

Because I knew I was going to be pressed for time getting dinner ready I opted to pay the premium for the stir fry veggie mix that's already washed and chopped. It included broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms, shredded carrot, zucchini, and bean sprouts. I added some sliced onions, frozen shelled edamame and some chopped ginger, and minced garlic. I stir fried the veggies in canola oil, then added in about 4 oz of cooked soba noodles to stir fry for a few minutes, slathered it all in my orange-chile sauce, let it cook for a minute while the sauce thickens and serve it sprinkled with some fresh chopped cilantro.

Orange Chile Stir fry Sauce
Zest from one large navel orange
Juice from 2 large navel oranges
2 Tbs. tamari or other soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp chile paste
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over stir fry during last few minutes of cooking. Stir until sauce thickens. Serve stir fry garnished with chopped cilantro.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew

Thankfully I redeemed myself tonight. After the seitan disaster of last night, I considered making a tried and true standby, but bravely went with what I had planned. For tonight I had planned Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew from Easy, Everyday Vegetarian. I figured curry, sweet potatoes, and lentils, what could possibly go wrong?? Not a thing, that's what. And yes, we did have soup that involved lentils twice this week. It's winter, I love soup, I love lentils, what more can I say?? Expect to see a lot more lentil soup variations over the next few months!

The stew (which came out thinner than stew in my case, because I added more veggie stock than what was called for.......doesn't Rachel Ray call that a Stoup??), anyway, the stew/soup was very hearty. There was a hint of curry flavor in every bite, yet it didn't over power the taste of the individual veggies (which include carrots, green beans, onion, and well, sweet potatoes of course). Rob and I both loved this dish, the kids of course weren't crazy about it, but they did at least try it. I served the stew/soup with a side of steamed broccoli drizzled in toasted sesame oil, and some quartered Jonagold apples.

There won't be any cookin' in Carrie's kitchen this weekend (except maybe breakfast). We have a very busy weekend ahead of us, it'll be leftovers of whatever's still hanging out in the refrigerator for tomorrow. Sunday Mairin has a dance program for the holiday's and we've promised her pizza.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Live and Learn

Have you ever eaten seitan?? I hadn't until tonight, and if you want my advice, don't!! If anyone ever offers it to you politely decline, and then run, run far away.

You guessed it, the barbequed seitan I had planned for tonight was a bust. I'm ashamed to admit that almost every bit of it got thrown in the trash. I was so excited, I had made the seitan from scratch. It was going to be this wonderful new thing that we were all going to love. I'd had a bad day and I was so looking forward to this wonderful meal that had been simmering in the Crock Pot all day. Instead, I dished it up, and wanted to cry. I couldn't even bring myself to bust out the camera and take a picture for you.

The dish I made was Barbequed Seitan and Layered Vegetables from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. The barbeque sauce was fine, the veggies were fine, the seitan, well, it really didn't even taste that bad. The problem with this dish was the way the seitan felt in my mouth. Even thinking of it now makes my stomach turn. Yuck! And on top of that, I just couldn't get over that it was really a big lump of soggy bread.

So, what was for dinner you ask. Well, I ate some rice and all the barbequed veggies I could muster, then I went to bunco, ate a big piece of chocolate cake and had a few drinks. Rob and the girls ordered a veggie pizza from our local pizza delivery. As they say, live and learn. Lesson learned, seitan is not for me.

Maybe I can redeem myself tomorrow with curried sweet potato and lentil stew.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lentil Soup

Tuesday is upon us once again, and you know what that means, the Crock Pot was a cookin' today. If I want my family to have a homecooked meal on Tuesday's it's got to come from the slowcooker. We've done the Slow Cooked Ziti several Tuesday's now, so it was time for a change. Besides needing to be cooked in the slowcooker, our other Tuesday night requisite is that it has to be something the girls will eat without giving Rob too much hassle since he has to feed them on his own. There's not a lot of time for dinner before dance class starts, so our meal needs to be something that they will eat quickly and that won't require Rob making them a different meal.

Tonight I decided on one of my favorite quick and easy soups. This lentil soup is based on this recipe that I found at The Fat Free Vegan. The soup is pretty good as the recipe directs, however I've made some additions to it that I think make it taste quite a bit better.

1 1/2 C. Puy lentils
1 Large can of crushed tomatoes with basil
2 C. Vegetable broth
1 medium onion chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1 Bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp sea salt (I use homemade veggie stock that is salt free, so if you are using canned stalk you may need less salt)
fresh ground black pepper.

Put it all in the crock pot, add 4 cups of water. Cook on low 8 hrs or until lentils have softened.

This soup is delicious served with some crusty bread for dipping, but tonight we had it solo.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stuffed Mushrooms

Tonight was something I just kind of made up and hoped that it turned out ok. We had grilled portabello mushroom caps stuffed with a spinach ricotta mixture. Some short grain brown rice and a spinach salad.

For the mushrooms, preheat the oven to 350. Remove the gills, drizzle with olive oil and place gill side up on grill pan (or outdoor grill if weather permits), turning once the tops of the mushrooms are grilled. While the mushrooms are grilling you can whip up the stuffing. For 3 good sized mushroom caps you will need one 15 oz container of part skim ricotta cheese, one 10 oz box of frozen spinach, thawed, and about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus salt and pepper to taste. Once the mushrooms are grilled transfer them to a baking dish, fill each mushroom with equal parts stuffing, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and plain bread crumbs and bake until tops are beginning to turn golden brown.

The rice was left over from my chickpea patties last night, I just nuked it with about a cup of veggie stock. When it was heated through and stock was absorbed I added in 3 pats of butter and salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkled with dried oregano to serve. And, well, the salad is self explanatory and was dressed with a slurry of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

The mushrooms were fantastic, just as I had hoped they would be. True to her nature, Mairin refused to try them, and because of Stella's dairy issues I couldn't even offer them to her. But, Rob and I both liked them and I will be preparing them again in the future, as they were so quick and easy.

I also cooked some seitan today, for a barbecued seitan dish I will be making later in the week. I've never cooked seitan before (actually, I've never even eaten it before), so I don't know if this is what the finished product is supposed to look like or not (anyone else know?). When it was cooled I cut a little piece off of the corner to taste, and it tasted really good, but I think it will be better barbecued. If it turns out well I'm going to be making some fried "chicken" with it soon.

And finally, those chickpea patties Rob forgot to take to work, well guess who ate them for lunch. You guessed it, me. The leftover gravy had kind of solidified and looked really yucky, so I threw it out and ate the patties on a whole grain bun with some dijon mustard and sliced onion. They were incredible, and will be served this way next time I make them.

Back to the Kitchen

Back to reality.......we had a wonderful time in Cancun, no one was ready to come back to our real lives. It was one of those vacations where you do absolutely nothing but relax. We were all loving basking in the sun, swimming all day, sipping drinks by the pool, having massages, temperatures in the 80's........but alas, back to reality.

Back to reality can only mean one thing, back to the kitchen (it was nice having someone else cook all of my meals for 7 days!!). But, before I could get back in the kitchen, I had to get to the store (we had a box of cereal, a dozen eggs, and one 1/2 gallon of Silk left when we returned). So, I hauled myself out into the frigid weather (in all fairness it was in the high 40's yesterday, but it felt pretty chilly in comparison), and got to WFM. Needless to say, with next to nothing left at home I had to spend a small fortune, but we do have food now, and I'm all set to cook.

Rob and I were both commenting that while we didn't want to leave Cancun, we were looking forward to returning home to my cooking (a girl can't get a decent vegetarian meal in Cancun...hence all of the seafood I consumed). So, for last nights dinner I planned Chickpea Sensation Patties from ED&bV, mashed potatoes with Thick and Rich Gravy (gravy also from ED&bV) and I cooked up some green beans that we'd bought at the end of the season from the Farmer's market and had frozen.

I've been reading a lot of raves for Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon lately, and since I don't have that book I used Dreena's chickpea patty recipe instead. I haven't made one of Dreena's recipes that I haven't liked, so I was sure this one would serve as a wonderful substitute until I get my hands on Veganomicon.

Of course, I was right. The chickpea patties really were sensational, and the gravy was incredible. This wasn't a meal that I thought Rob would be crazy for, but he loved the patties and even asked for more gravy (which says a lot considering he very much dislikes gravy). Even Mairin ate half a patty which is really something for her.

The recipe makes 8 patties, so there are leftovers for lunch forgot to take your lunch today Rob, looks like I'll be eating the patties, sorry.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hola from Sunny Mexico!!


Hola faithful readers....(is anyone still reading??) Obviously not much food preparation going on here. The extent of my food prep has been walking to the buffet and picking out fillings for my omlette every morning!! I just wanted to check in with all you guys to say hello and Happy Thanksgiving to you.

The weather is great....sunny and in the 80's. The pool is warm, the sea is gorgeous, and the drinks are delicious. Eating has been quite an adventure for me here. There's ALOT of meat served around these parts. Unfortunately, I haven't remained totally veggie while we've been here. But, I'm happy to say my only non-veggie meals have been seafood. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant twice and I couldn't pass on the free sushi they brought as a starter (but I did order a veggie dish). And, just today, they were serving a seafood feast out at the pool. I ate octopus salad, the biggest steamed prawns you've ever laid eyes on, steamed mussels and grilled salmon. It looked and smelled delicious, so I gave in to my temptations and feasted!!

I'll be back to the kitchen on Sunday!!!
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Friday, November 16, 2007

Pizza Night Again

You've probably noticed by is a favorite around here. All 4 of us love pizza and we have it frequently. This is something I might feel really guilty about if we ordered take out. But, being that it's all made from scratch, I know exactly what goes into the crust, and there's none of that nasty delivery pizza grease involved, I really don't feel bad about serving pizza at all. As a matter of fact, it's a great way of getting in a balanced meal. Tonight we had my mom, step dad and brother over for dinner so I made two pizzas. The first was just a cheese pizza. Tomato sauce with a dash of oregano for sauce, sprinkled with shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan. The second pizza was something I just made up from what I had on hand (cheese pizza was the plan for tonight, then I invited guests and needed more than one pizza, we're leaving town tomorrow so I had to avoid buying anymore food).

I started by making a roasted red pepper sauce. I used one jar of roasted red peppers, 2 cloves of garlic and 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. I threw it all in the food processor, and drizzled in EVOO while the machine ran until it was the consistency I was looking for. I topped the red pepper sauce with a can of artichoke hearts, diced; 1/2 bag of frozen spinach, leaves only, stems removed; 1/2 small onion, diced; and one roasted pepper, sliced, that I had saved out of the jar. Top it with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake.

It was incredibly delicious, I'll definitely be making it again. I served it with a simple iceberg salad and balsamic vinaigrette.

This will be the last post for awhile. We're heading to Cancun tomorrow for the Thanksgiving Holiday. This is my first Thanksgiving as a vegetarian, and I have to say, I'm thankful I'm not going to have to deal with the whole turkey thing, and the pressure to eat it. I'm going to make my family a nice vegetarian feast sometime when we return to celebrate the holidays.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Curry Noodles

We love curry, especially Thai Curry. I typically make a Thai green curry that I've been making for several years, sometimes with just veggies, sometimes with tofu, and before we went veg I made it with chicken. It's very delicious and easy to make, and it will undoubtedly be made many times in the future.

I'm always looking for new curry ideas, so imagine my delight when I ran across the recipe for Big Curry Noodle Pot while thumbing through Super Natural Cooking. I think I mentioned this book before. I got it for my birthday, and if anyone is in search of a new cookbook, you really should check this one out. Not only is it full of great recipes and very informative food facts, it's a beautiful's wonderfully designed, and the photography is amazing (it's also one of those books that just feels good in your hands, ya know what I mean?).

Anyway, enough about the book, on to the curry. This was different than the curries we normally eat, it was more like a big bowl of delicious curry noodle soup.....not something you'd want to make if you are embarrassed about slurping noodles into your mouth and getting covered in yellow coconut milk!! I didn't follow the recipe exactly, as I didn't have all of the ingredients, I didn't like some of the techniques (it called for cooking the curry sauce first, then adding the tofu into the simmering curry, which in my opinion just leads to mushy, disgusting tofu), and it called for peanuts which are a forbidden food in anything that Stella may decide to eat (it turns out this one was a little too spicy for her, so I could have added the peanuts, but I didn't know how the heat would be until it was finished). So, I think I changed the recipe just enough to make it safe to post:

Curry Noodles

8 oz dried Asian wide noodles (I used Eden Brown Rice Udon)

2 Tbs canola oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste

12 oz extra firm tofu (pressed and cut into slices 1/2 inch thick by 1 inch long)

1 can coconut milk

1 cup vegetable stock

2 Tbs light brown sugar (packed)

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 Tbs soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

chopped cilantro for garnish.

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain and set aside. While the noodles cook begin making the curry. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add tofu and brown on all sides. When tofu is almost finished browning, add onion and saute until tender. Add garlic and curry paste, smashing paste around pan to distribute it evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes until curry paste become fragrant. Add in the coconut milk, stock, turmeric, brown sugar and soy sauce, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add in lime juice and noodles, stir to cover noodles with sauce and distribute sauce and tofu evenly. Serve noodles in bowls with a few ladles of curry sauce. Top with cilantro and serve.

The book says this serves 4-6, but in reality it served Rob and I with a nice helping left for one of us to have for lunch tomorrow. Plus, each girl had about half a bowl of plain udon noodles.

Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna

Last night we had my dad and step mom over for dinner so they could visit with the girls before we leave on our Holiday Vacation. I decided to make a repeat of a meal we had a few weeks ago, Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna, from ED&bV. Rob loved this dish when I made it before, so I knew it was a satisfying vegetarian option for the meat eaters. My dad and Sandy both loved the dish, and as far as I know, they didn't even miss the meat. You may recall from last time that I had changed the recipe slightly to make it in a smaller casserole dish. Well, this time I followed the recipe exactly, and to be honest I think Rob and I liked it better last time. Stella again gobbled hers up like the little piggy she is. Mairin was a little more hesitant, and in the end, ate Weetabix for dinner (again!!).

To go along with the lasagna I made a fresh guacamole. For this I use one ripe avocado, smashed. Sprinkle with a tad of sea salt, and squeeze half a lime over it. Mix in one chopped roma tomato, half a small onion diced very small and a handful of cilantro leaves and stems chopped. When the dish is intended for adults only I add in one jalapeno pepper also diced small. Knowing that the girls would be eating the guac last night, I left the jalapeno out. I also served some tomatillo salsa from Whole Foods Market along with the guac and chips.

Lastly, and un-food related, I just wanted to share the view out my kitchen door (I wish I'd taken it about 2 days ago though before the wind came and blew off half the leaves). I often look out onto my back-yard while I am cooking and think of how fortunate I am. The trees are lovely in fall (they are lovely in the summer too, but the fall colors are just spectacular). We are blessed with such a beautiful home and beautiful surroundings, and I just felt like sharing..........thanks Rob!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday Night

Well, it's Tuesday night, and that can only mean one thing at the K house........BUSY!!! Tonight's meal was a repeat. We had Slow Cooked Ziti Casserole from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow cooker again. It's a real crowd pleaser, and so simple to make. Plus, since there's a lot of running around and not being at home to tend to the stove, using the slow cooker is a must. Unfortunately I don't have any photos to share, so you'll have to refer to my previous post if you want to see pictures (although, it's a really horrible picture).

Tomorrow is going to be a repeater as well. We are having my dad and step-mom over for dinner so they can see the girls before we leave on our Thanksgiving getaway. We're having Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna from Eat, Drink and, Be Vegan. My dad and step-mom are omni's, and I think this little creation of Dreena's is sure to delight and satisfy. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have some pictures and a review of how the omni's liked it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sloppy Joe Gets a Vegetarian Make-Over

Wow, it's been a looooong time since I've been in the kitchen!! We were out of town this weekend, celebrating Diwali/Thanksgiving with some friends on Friday and visiting family Saturday and Sunday. Thursday really was the last time I cooked something. It was a nice break from the kitchen, but I was glad to be back today.

We got back last night and there was no food in the house. The girls ate Weetabix, and Rob and I ate chili that I had frozen a few weeks ago. So, needless to say, we made a trip to Whole Foods today. The menu for this week consists of some newcomers and some repeats.

Tonight's feature was a newcomer from Veganomicon. We had Sloppy Joe's vegetarian cousin Snobby Joe. Remember Manwich from when you were a kid??? Snobby Joe is about as close as you will ever get with a homemade, vegetarian version. These sammies (more Rachel Ray speak) really do take you back. Our girls have never had Sloppy Joe's before, so this was their first experience, and I think it was a good one. Mairin actually ate and liked hers, and Stella wolfed it down (although, she had to eat hers without a bun, because WFM had no buns that were not potentially contaminated with peanuts). I followed the recipe exactly, except I gave each sandwich a sprinkling of nutritional yeast just before serving. The recipe didn't specify what kind of lentils to use, so I used Puy's because I like them the best. Our Snobby Joe's were accompanied by some oven baked sweet potato fries and some steamed broccoli. It was delish.

Sweet Potato Fries:

4 sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp canola oil
sea salt

Heat oven to 450. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into fry shape. Combine fries with oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread fries on baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450 for 30 minutes, turning once during cooking.

I also made some veggie stock tonight. My bag of scraps in the freezer was so full I'd already started a second, so I thought it was time to get the stock made. I didn't take a picture last time I made stock, and I regretted it in the end, so this time I took a picture.

I can't really give a recipe, as the stock is different each time I make it. It just depends on what particular scraps I've saved up since last time, and I don't measure the herbs and spices, I just throw them in. So, each batch is unique. But, always delicious.

There's something so rewarding about simmering your own stock all day, and then using it for your cooking. Homemade stock really lends a terrific flavor to all of your dishes, and it's so easy to make, you should try it sometime.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pancakes for Dinner

Tonight's dinner wasn't at all creative, and really wasn't blog worthy either, but I can't only write about the really awesome meals can I? I mean, I am human, and we do have many, many less than creative meals. So, here ya go.......pancakes and scrambled eggs. And, guess what, the pancakes aren't even home-made, they are made with Whole Foods Market 365 brand pancake mix!!

Rob has been out of town this week, and he's due back tonight. Mairin loves to "be silly" and eat pancakes when her daddy is out of town, so, with him returning later tonight, we had to get this one in . I served them up with some scrambled eggs, because eggs make me feel better about serving pancakes for dinner......we're at least getting some protein.

I did do a little bit of real cooking today though. We've been invited to share a Thanksgiving with some friends tomorrow, and I made a home-made pumpkin pie to bring. Unlike the pancakes, this is completely from scratch (I didn't even used canned pumpkin on this one!!).

Sweet and Savory Lentils

I've read several times in the past few weeks both at Chez Mama and at about Honey Baked Lentils. Since I'm always looking for new ways to use lentils I thought I'd give it a try. While searching for recipes, I couldn't find one that was consistent, but there were many that sounded yummy. So, drawing elements from several recipes I decided to throw together my own version of honey baked lentils. I was running low on honey, but had plenty of agave nectar in the pantry, so I substituted agave (which, personally I like better than honey, for it's mild flavor). I served the lentils with a side of sweet potato mashed with a few tablespoons of Vanilla Silk, and about 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.

The lentils were delicious, it was just the right balance between sweet and savory. Rob was out of town last night, so in essence I cooked this for myself. Both girls are feeling a bit under the weather, and weren't exactly in the mood for eating last night. Fortunately, we have plenty left for lunch, because I am sure this is one dish that they will both love. When Mairin spoke to Rob on the phone last night and told him what we were having for dinner he apparently asked her to save some for him, because she promptly hung up and told me that daddy said dinner sounded yummy and that we have to be sure there is some left for him to, honey, there's plenty here for you when you get home tonight!!!

Agave Baked Lentils:

2 cups Puy Lentil (you could use any kind of lentils, but I prefer the french lentils, they seem to hold their shape and not become mushy)

4 cups water

1 Bay Leaf

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 large carrot, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup agave nectar (or substitute honey if you like)

1 tsp nutmeg

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. In sauce pot add 4 cups of water with 2 cups Puy lentils, vegetable bouillon cube, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minute remove lentils from heat and set aside. In a 9x12 baking dish combine carrots, celery, onions and garlic with agave, nutmeg, EVOO and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Then, pour lentils with their cooking liquid into baking dish. Stir to incorporate vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. After 1 hour remove foil and bake about 10 more minutes to evaporate some of the liquid.

I baked the sweet potatoes at the same time the lentils were baking, when they were done I cut them in half, scooped out the flesh and mashed it with a few Tbs of soy milk and 1 Tbs of brown sugar.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Orange Sesame Tofu

We had another Eat, Drink and Be Vegan night last night (we had quite a break from it and I was excited to start in on some more of Dreena's recipes, they are always winners with me.). I made Orange Sesame Tofu over Coconut Lime Basmati Rice, with a side of roasted broccoli that was drizzled with toasted sesame oil and tamari. I started by pressing the tofu for about an hour to remove the excess moisture. To do this I cut a block of extra firm tofu in half horizontally, wrap both halves in cheese cloth then I sit a smaller plate upside down on top of a larger plate, place the tofu on top of that and weight it down with a cast iron skillet. After about an hour the tofu is pretty well pressed, although if you'd like a drier tofu you can always press it longer.

I then proceeded with Dreena's recipe for both the Coconut Lime Rice and for the Orange Sesame Tofu. The tofu marinated while the rice cooked and then I prepped the broccoli. I washed and trimmed one head of broccoli into bite-sized florets. After it has dried slightly I place it on a baking sheet, drizzle it with toasted sesame oil, a dash of salt and pepper, then stick it in the oven at 400 with the tofu. The tofu took about 20 minutes total, and I let the broccoli cook for as long. After the broccoli is removed from the oven I splash on just a dash of tamari and mix it all up real good.

I served it all up and we ate it with chopsticks just for fun. Mairin was determined to use chopsticks and lo and behold, she was able to eat with them on her first took me forever to learn to use chopsticks. She tasted her tofu and claimed to not like it, but I think she was just being obstinate, as she didn't make a face or spit it out as is what generally happens when she doesn't like something. She did eat all of her broccoli though, and for that I am happy!!

To finish it off we had Coconut Cake (also from ED&BV), but instead of a 2-layer cake, I turned it into cupcakes. I was also going to make the Coconut Icing, but it required Xanthan Gum, which costs over $10 at WFM, and I refuse to pay that much for any one ingredient. So instead, we drizzled it with Warm Raspberry Sauce.......ok, so I didn't drizzle it, I poured it on because that stuff is so dang delicious (we used the rest of it to cover our pancakes this morning).

All in all, it was a delicious meal. It was actually meant to be my birthday meal last week until my mom offered to take us out. It would have made a fantastic birthday meal, even if I did have to cook it myself. We did decide that next time the tofu needs some red chili flakes sprinkled on it. It just really needed another layer of flavor, and some heat as well.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Game night

Yoga retreat is over, and I'm back to the real world. The retreat was great, and while I did miss Rob and the girls, I could have easily stayed a few more days!! It was peaceful, quiet, relaxing, and also a bit strange. All in all, quite and experience. I got to sample a few styles of yoga I wasn't familiar with, including laughter yoga, which was really fun and really brings you back to being a kid again. I also got to participate in some chanting (which admittedly was a little....ok, a lot strange), but interesting. And, as strange as it was I've been chanting "Wahe Guru, Wahe Jio" over and over all weekend, I can't get it out of my head.

As good as the retreat was, I couldn't wait to get home to eat. The location of the retreat left a lot to be desired in food options, especially for a vegetarian, and I was longing from some good vegetarian comfort food. So, I headed home Sunday afternoon, with a big ol' pot of vegetable soup on my mind.

It was game day, Colts vs. Patriots, so Rob had invited some friends over. In addition to the vegetable orzo soup, I made Dreena's Chipotle Lime 2 bean Hummus to snack on while waiting for the soup.

The soup was delicious. It was very rich and filling, and exactly what a hungry girl needed after a long weekend of eating crap. The recipe follows, but is merely my best estimate, as I didn't really measure anything and kind of went by the seat of my pants on this one.

Vegetable Orzo Soup

2 Tbs Olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced in half rounds
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 smal bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp tarragon
2 small zucchini, quartered and sliced about 1/2 inch thick
2 cups lima beans (frozen)
1 cup frozen sweet corn kernels
1 cup frozen sweet peas
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water plus 1 cube vegetable bouillon (could also use 2 more cups of stock)
2 cups orzo pasta

Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add carrots and saute for a few minutes before adding celery and onion. Saute until onion begins to become translucent, then add garlic, saute until garlic becomes fragrant and add in bay leave and other dried herbs and stir to combine. Add zucchini and saute about 2 minutes. Add limas, corn, peas and stir to combine well. Saute all vegetables for a few minutes until the thaw and begin to soften. Add in vegetable stock and water+bouillon. Bring to a boil and let simmer until about 5 minutes until ready to serve. During last 5 minutes add orzo and return soup to a boil to cook orzo. Once orzo is cooked, remove from heat and serve.

We've definitely found another soup for the long winter here!! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Not a lot of food stuffs to write about today. Last night was leftover risotto for me, some pasta with jarred sauce for the girls, and I think a bowl of ice-cream for Rob. It was Tuesday, so you know by now, our busy dance class night.

Tonight was Halloween, and no cooking happened here again. We ordered take out pizza and had some friends over before we took Dorothy and The Wicked Witch of the West trick-or-treating. We of course have enough candy to last us until next year. Stella's been diagnosed with a peanut allergy, so that pretty much eliminates all of the candy she got, save for a few suckers. And Mairin scored big since she got all of Stella's goods as well!! We allowed Mairin to eat ALL OF THE CANDY SHE WANTED......she ate about 5 pieces and was done......what a good girl!

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I was going to make myself a meal from ED&BV, but my mom offered to take me out to eat, so we're going to Buca di Beppo instead. So, stay tuned for the orange sesame tofu and coconut lime rice early next week.

I got two early birthday presents from my friends. Both of them cookbooks, my friends know me so well. So, there will be some delicious new recipes in the coming weeks from Super Natural Cooking and Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking. Actually, I got 3 early dear husband and children gave me a Manduka Mat.

I will be taking the aforementioned Manduka with me on my yoga retreat this weekend. This too is a present from my family, and one that I am looking forward to more than you can imagine. So, what this means is you won't be seeing any posts, at least cooking related until my return on Sunday.

I hope everyone enjoyed a safe and fun Halloween, and that you all have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back with vegetable orzo soup (if things go as planned) on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mushroom Risotto

Last night I made mushroom risotto. It wasn't anyone's favorite, but it was good. Rob doesn't particularly like mushrooms, and the girls were both in a picky mood last night. I, on the other hand, love mushrooms and I love risotto (I had a fantastic risotto in Italy, tomato and basil, it was phenomenal), so it was a winner for me (and hey, I do the cooking right?? Sometimes they've gotta just eat what I like, plus, we needed a break from ED&BV!!). I started by heating 8 cups of vegetable stock in a saucepan. While the stock was heating I sauteed 1/2 a medium onion (chopped), and 3 cloves of garlic in about 2 Tbs of olive oil. Once the onion was soft and translucent I added in 4 oz of chopped mixed mushrooms (mine was a mixture of baby bella, oyster, and crimini) and sauteed those until they started to soften and get a nice brown color. Once the mushrooms begin to brown, I added in about 2 tsp of sea salt and a few turns of the pepper mill, 1 Tbs Spanish thyme, a pinch of oregano, and 1 bay leaf. I stirred all of the herbs in and added 3 cups of Arborio rice. I stir around the rice to coat it with the oil and then let it saute until it gets slightly brown and nutty smelling. Next, add in 3 cups of warm stock and stir. Let rice simmer, stirring frequently. As stock is absorbed add in more stock by the ladle full, stirring and simmering as rice becomes creamy. Keep adding more warm stock as the old stock is absorbed, until you've used all 8 cups. Once the rice was tender and creamy I added in 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and stir it in to combine. On the side I served rainbow chard, sauteed in sesame oil with a splash of tamari.

Once you've gotten the basics of risotto, namely, adding warm stock continually, creating a creamy texture, you can basically add anything you prefer. Just cheese is nice (and Rob's favorite risotto). Tomatoes are another nice thing to add to risotto. A while back I made a butternut squash risotto, that was perfect for fall, and I think next I'll be trying pumpkin risotto.

Risotto's are a very nice filling and warming dish. Just remember, if you decide to make this, or any other risotto, they do require a lot of stirring and attention, so it's not one you can put on while you are tending to clingy children. This one works best when someone is home to occupy the kids for awhile (try it as a Sunday dish sometime).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lazy Sunday Morning Becomes Lazy Sunday Evening

Well, the slow and lazy morning became afternoon, and then it became evening. Yep, it was a full day of lazy. At 5pm we finally decided we should take our pajamas off and go outside for awhile. So, we threw on some clothes and caps and hauled our butts outside. We took a walk and played on the swings for awhile before coming in to make dinner.

Again, dinner came from ED&BV (and I promise to lay off of it for awhile after this, my next 3 days of meal plans do not involve opening this book!!). Tonight we had Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna with Avocado. I changed the recipe slightly because we didn't need a 9x13 sized dish of this for just the 4 of us. So, I halved the amount of tomato sauce used, halved all of the spices, but kept the original amount of garlic, beans and avocado, then assembled it in a small Corningware dish. I didn't measure the amount of corn I used, I just sprinkled some on until I thought it looked right. I also didn't measure the amount of cheese I used, again, just sprinkled it on until it looked right (by the way, I subbed shredded cheddar jack for the vegan cheese). Then I baked at 400 until the cheese was melted and bubbly.

It was incredibly easy to make and tasted fantastic! Rob claimed to not be hungry prior to dinner, but somehow managed to eat 2 pieces of this lasagna (go figure). Stella didn't approve upon first try, but eventually decided that she loved it and couldn't get enough. Mairin flat out refused to eat hers. But when faced with the possibility of getting a cupcake for dessert she quickly decided that she'd eat it, and lo and behold, she even liked it (oh, the wonders of bribery!!)

This is definately one for all of you meat eaters to try. It's going on my list of meals to make when my non-veg friends come over (wait, I guess I mean when anyone comes over, as I don't actually have any veg friends.......except you HM-D, but I don't expect you guys to be over for dinner anytime soon, although we'd love to have you!!)

A Lazy Sunday Morning

Sunday morning is pancake morning at our house. We have pancakes for breakfast nearly every Sunday morning. It's something Rob started doing for me when I was pregnant with Mairin. We've kind of kept at it, except that now I fix the pancakes.

Typically it's just 365 brand pancake mix from Whole Foods Market topped with maple syrup. Sometimes we mix it up a bit and use strawberry sauce to top them.

Today, we tried something totally new. We had Banana Cream Pancakes from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan (no, it's not the only cookbook I own, but it's the newest in my collection, so I'm trying as much of it as I can) topped with Warm Raspberry Sauce (you guessed it, also from ED&BV!!). The batter consists of spelt flour, bananas and coconut milk. They were delicious, and a very nice change from the norm. Mairin ate hers topped with whipped cream. Stella didn't eat hers at all. She loves pancakes, but she was less than thrilled with these. It was quite humerous to see her look at the pancakes (which look like your run of the mill pancake), pick it up to eat it, and get angry and spit it out when it didn't taste like the pancakes she knows and loves. But, don't let her reaction be your judge, get the book and try them for yourself, I think you'll like them.

After breakfast we proceeded to prep some green beans we got from the farmers market yesterday. Mairin and I snapped and washed them all. Then we blanched them, threw them in an ice bath, laid them out to dry and bagged them to be frozen.

Following green bean prep was pumpkin carving. I love pumpkin carving, there's something so nostalgic about carving pumpkins. One of my favorite parts is sticking my hand in the pumpkin and pulling out all of the goo. I love the way it feels and the way it smells....mmmm.

Apparently Mairin doesn't like it as much as I do. In her eagerness to help, she stuck her hand in the pumpkin and quickly let out a blood curdling scream, as she pulled out her hand covered in goo. We couldn't get her to the sink quick enough to satisfy her. Anyway, the carving continued, and the end results were quite nice. The princess of course belongs to Mairin, and the traditional jack-o-lantern is Stella's (it has 3 teeth, just like her!!).

While I did the carving (I know, it's typically Daddy's who do the carving.....I'm too much of a control freak to let that happen here), Rob washed the goo off of all the pumpkin seeds. We then laid them out on a baking sheet to dry for a bit. Before they were completely dry we sprinkled them with brown sugar, a touch of granulated sugar, and some cinnamon. Then we roasted them at 350 until the sugar carmalized and the seeds were crisp.

They taste like fall. And an added bonus was that our house smelled absolutely fabulous as the seeds roasted.

By then lunch time had rolled around. I know what you are thinking, and yes we did spend our entire morning in the kitchen.

We had left-over chili and hummus from last night. The girls had grilled cheese and tomato soup that was left over from Whole Foods Market yesterday. We eat lunch at WFM every Saturday and Mairin loves their Tomato Dill soup. This was Mairin's creation -----------> tortilla chips crumbled into her tomato soup. She insisted that we photograph it to post on the blog. And she's sure that you will all try this tasty concoctions yourselves.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Nice Evening for a Bowl of Chili, and a Bonfire

It was cold today. And worse than that, it was cold and gray. It was truly a stereotypical fall day. It was a perfect day for a bowl (or 2) of chili. We'd been invited to a Halloween/Fall party and bonfire and we were to bring a dish to share. Chili was what I brought to share.

I make a Vegetable 3-Bean Chili. It's my adaptation of a recipe that I got off of a Rachael Ray episode. I know how a lot of my fellow bloggers feel about RR, but I like her. Granted she doesn't make a lot of vegetarian friendly meals, but she does inspire a lot of people to cook at home (and remember, I'm just recently vegetarian, so I myself have made a lot of her meals). And she's just so darn personable. I mean, when you watch her on t.v. she feels like someone you went to high school with or something, ya know?

Anyway, I don't know the exact recipe (I've been making it so long I kind of know it by heart now), and I don't have exact measurements because I basically just make it by taste, but here's a pretty close guesstimate:

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO in Rachael Ray speak)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (or hot pepper of your choice), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced.
sea salt
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs chili powder (plus more to taste)
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 cups cooked black beans
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 can vegetarian refried beans

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Saute peppers, onion and garlic until vegetables begin to soften. Season with salt, cumin and chili powder and cook for about a minute more. Deglaze pot with vegetable stock. Then add in kidney beans, black beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Let simmer for awhile (I don't really know how long, just until you are about ready to eat I guess). Stir in 1 can of refried beans to thicken chili. Taste and season accordingly with more chili powder and/or salt.

Since we aren't vegan we like to eat ours with a dollop of sour cream and a little sprinkling of cheddar cheese. I also add in some chopped cilantro leaves when I have them.

I also made the Chipotle Lime 2-Bean Hummus from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan to bring along and share. I let Rob have a sample after I whirled it up in the food processor, and he couldn't stop eating it. It really did turn out delicious, and we have plenty left over (I made a double batch) to snack on tomorrow. I think next time I will add slightly more chipotle hot sauce, but other than that, it was perfect. We dipped tortilla chips in it, but we're going to be trying it very soon as a burrito filling.

The Unaverage American Diet

Last week fellow food blogger, The Dalai Mama, posted about her weekly grocery purchases after reading an article showcasing an average weeks worth of groceries around the world. I found her post very interesting, and thought it would be fun to post about our weekly purchases. Like The Dalai Mama, one thing that struck me about the article was the amount of money some of these families were spending on their grocery bill in just one week. The other thing that I noticed when flipping through the pictures was the amount of unhealthy and highly processed food that the average American purchases weekly (not that we don't purchase anything unhealthy or processed, but compared to the photographs in the article, we look like pillars of health!!). Another thing I noticed was the amount of soda a lot of the families had out with their purchases. We purchase soda only for special occasions, like summer bar-b-ques, and various other social gatherings, but never as a weekly staple.

We will be consuming most of what you see here this week. Of course, it was time to stock up on some staples like olive oil, rice, tahini, and coffee. But the rest of the food will be used throughout this week. Yes, we really will go through that many bananas (and more if I bought them, the girls LOVE their 'nanas.......and their Nana too!!)

Friday Night Pizza

I'm a few days behind in posting, so we'll start where we left off. Thursday we had left-overs of the One Wild Chick Soup from Wednesday night. Usually I think soup is better the second day, not so with this one. It was still good on the second day, but it wasn't nearly as good as it was fresh from the pot on Wednesday.

Friday was going to be quesadillas, but when Friday rolled around that just didn't sound good any more. So, I pulled a ball of pizza dough out of the freezer and let it thaw. Later that evening Mairin and I rolled out the dough and topped it with a little tomato sauce, some mozzarella cheese, sliced roma tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a little bit of fresh basil. It was plain, and simple and incredibly delicious. Since our trip to Italy, pizza just hasn't been the same. American pizza is too doughy, too saucy, and just too much. This pizza came pretty darn close to the pizza margherita we came to love.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Soup's On!!! (and cookies too)

After nearly a week with ED&BV sitting on my shelf, I've finally gotten around to making something from it!! I must be the only person who owns ED&BV that didn't start cooking from it right away. It's that whole menu planning thing, you know. I had my weeks meals already planned before I purchased the book, so it kind of set me back a bit on getting to try some of Dreena's tasty creations.

Last night was cold and rainy, again (I think it's been raining for a week now). I'm trying really hard not to complain. We were 10 inches behind normal for rainfall this year and in the past week we've gotten 8.36 inches, so we're nearly breaking even now. And, I've been hoping for awhile now that soup weather would get here. However, the grey rainy days are starting to get about chilly and sunny for a change.

Anyway, it was again, another perfect night for soup, so I finally pulled out ED&BV. One Wild Chick Soup was what caught my eye. I followed the recipe pretty close, however, I didn't have any wild rice. I did have a combo of long grain and wild, so I used that. I also threw in a vegan vegetable bouillon cube to amp up the flavor a bit. I left out the fresh herbs and used slightly more (on Dreena's recommendation) dried herb. And finally, I had a bunch of red kale in the refrigerator that needed used up, so I chopped it up and threw it in too. The result was savory and delish!! Rob thought it tasted like Thanksgiving (isn't it funny how anything with sage reminds us of Thanksgiving). This one was comfort food for sure, and it will be frequenting our dinner table this winter.

Yesterday started off kind of rough for us. Mairin hates getting up in the morning and getting ready for school, it's a battle every time. Thank heavens it's only 3 days a week......we're in for it when she starts kindergarten next year, oy.

So, to make everyone feel better, I thought baking cookies together would be a good idea. What kid doesn't love baking cookies with their mama? And who can feel bad when there's chocolate involved? So, we settled on Chocolate Chunk Spice Cookies (also from ED&BV).

I didn't have everything for this recipe either, so we winged it, and they turned out fabulous. I didn't have any dark chocolate chunks, but I did have semi-sweet chocolate chips, so I subbed those. I also didn't have any barley flour so we used all-purpose baking flour. And, believe it or not, I didn't have any baking soda (I used the last of it to scrub my bathroom last week), so I had to skip that. Otherwise, we followed the recipe. They were so gooey and chocolatey, and without all of the sugar that regular cookies have they felt so "unsinful".......I had 2!!

It's left-overs tonight, so I'll be back with more in a few days.