Monday, March 31, 2008
It was supposed to be pizza night here, but after visiting Chez Mama this morning I decided to make calzones instead. The Dalai Mama had made calzones a few weeks ago, and I had said then that I was going to make them, but I forgot until I popped over there this morning and lo and behold she'd made them again. I was going to make pizza dough for tonight anyway, so why not make calzones.
The dough recipe I use makes 2 pizza crusts. I usually freeze one and use one that night. However, tonight I used one crust to make a "cheese" pizza for the girls, and I split the other ball of dough in half and used it for calzones for Rob and myself. The sauce was just some organic tomato sauce combined with some dried oregano, basil, garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes. The calzones were stuffed full of veggies (tomatoes, roasted red peppers, zucchini slices, onions, black olives, and artichoke hearts). The veggies were then topped with a bit of grated Follow Your Heart mozzarella. These were very good, and a nice change from pizza.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
So, the pantry is getting very bare, and we are running out of options. When I was reading Jenny's blog the other night, she had me craving something Thai. What could I make with no coconut milk, no tofu, and very few vegetable options in the house? Peanut sauce. We had spaghetti and jarred sauce last night, and had some pasta left over. I also had a few scallions left and some sugar snap peas, so I whipped up the sauce, then threw in the noodles and veg to heat them through.
Of course, their was a bit of logistical planning involved in this meal with regards to keeping it away from Stella. Pasta is her absolute favorite, and if she saw it she'd for sure want to eat it. So, we started by giving the girls some plain pasta drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a dash of black pepper. While they were eating I made the peanut sauce. By the time our meal was cooked the girls had finished eating and were ready to leave the table. So, we put on a movie (yes, I know all about using the tv as a babysitter.....shame, shame), put the girls in the living room and ate our dinner at the bar. After dinner we washed up real good, and washed all of the peanut-y dishes in scalding hot water. Then we cleaned the sink, changed dish cloths and washed up the rest of the dishes.
Oh man, this sauce was good. We only had a small amount of pasta left, so I was afraid we wouldn't have enough, but it was perfect. The sauce was very rich and very filling.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Last night we had black bean burgers. I had gotten the recipe from V-con a few weeks ago, and this recipe is loosely based on that. I had some mashed potatoes left from Saturday night's dinner so I chopped up some scallions, red pepper and garlic and turned those into hash browns to accompany the burgers. And of course, our ever present side of broccoli (it's the only thing green, aside from avocado, that my kids will eat).
Rob and I both concurred that the burgers were good, but slightly lacking in flavor. However, these burgers were devoured by the kids (and Mairin despises beans), so I hesitate to spice up the recipe any. I've decided that my kids just don't like "big" flavors. I hope it's just a phase, as "big" flavors are served quite frequently here. I'll share the recipe below, but you'll likely want to spice it up a bit to suit your tastes. A little chili powder and possibly some lime juice would do nicely.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
My in-laws are over from Ireland, and they spent the weekend with us. As many of you know, there's very little in the way of pre-made, pre-packaged vegan food, so this meant a lot of time in the kitchen for me. It was both fun and stressful, as I always get a little nervous about cooking for my non-veg family. Have any of you noticed that the tastes of vegetarians and non-vegetarians are quite different? Us veg-heads tend to love the "real" flavor of food, grains and tofu are fave's of vegetarians (and often snubbed by the omni's), and I don't know about you all, but I ADORE beans. So, I always find it difficult to come up with vegetarian meals to satisfy the tastes of the omnivores among us.
Our guests arrived on Saturday afternoon, so I needed to fix dinner for everyone on Saturday. Actually, I spent much of Saturday preparing things for that meal as well as for the rest of the weekend. For Saturday's dinner we had Fried Chick-un with mustard dipping sauce, Mashed Potatoes, Tantalizing Thai Slaw from Compassionate Cooks, and Vegan Cornbread. For dessert I made Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. I think the meal was a success. My in-laws really liked the "chicken", and the slaw was a great hit. One meal finished, one success under the belt!!
Sunday we had my vegan blueberry muffins for breakfast. It was quite chaotic here with 5 adults trying to shower for church, two kids going crazy over what the Easter Bunny brought, and egg hunting galore going on. I knew this would be the case, so I baked the muffins Saturday night, and breakfast was waiting for us on Sunday when we were ready.
Following church, my dad and step-mom also came to our house, as well as my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my niece. For lunch we had Egg-less Egg Salad on whole wheat pita, Chipotle-Lime Two Bean Hummus with assorted chips and pita chips for dipping, and some crudites. Again, another success. I even fooled my dad, omnivore of omnivores, with the "egg" salad.
Following lunch my dad and step-mom left, and were replaced by my mother, stepfather, brother, grandmother and grandfather. So, I think for our evening meal we had a total of 12 adults and 3 children. Our dinner menu consisted of Chickpea Cutlets, grilled asparagus, Less Dressed Potato Salad,and The Dalai Mama's Mama's Baked Beans! There was also a fruit salad that my mother brought that was not vegan (it contained dairy and marshmallows), and a small ham for the omnis. For dessert I made the Pieless Apples A'la Mode from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Below is a photo of my plate of yummy vegan goodness. Unfortunately by the time we got around to eating dessert I was too beat to go get the camera and take a picture, so I have no photo of that.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Our stir-fry was a combo of diced tofu, sliced carrots, sliced red peppers, sliced onions and sliced zucchini,some broccoli florets, and about 4 oz of sliced button mushrooms. I fried the tofu cubes in a bit of olive oil then removed them from the pan, adding the veggies starting with the slowest to cook to the fastest. When the veggies were cooked I added back the tofu and stirred in the sauce. This was heated through and served over the quinoa, garnished with chopped cilantro leaves.
I've made an Orange Chili sauce before, but this one was much better, so I'll post it too! This recipe makes a hot sauce, so if you prefer a milder flavor reduce the amount of chili paste.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Éireann go Brách
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I bought the White Wave Chicken Style seitan and decided to make fried chicken with it. I found this recipe from the PETA website, and decided to give it a go. Holy smokes, this stuff is awesome. I absolutely could not believe how good it was. Rob also loved this dinner, and he is not a fan of fried chicken. As a matter of fact, I'd say real fried chicken is probably one of his least favorite things to eat. He's already been asking when we can have this again!!
To go with the "chicken" I made some potatoes mashed with plain rice milk, some sauteed rainbow chard, and some biscuits using this recipe. The biscuits were surprisingly good as well. I also made a mustard sauce for dipping. I didn't actually measure anything when I made the sauce, so I can't give you an exact recipe, but the ingredients were Dijon mustard, olive oil, brown sugar and vegan Worcestershire. I brought the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then removed it from the heat and let it set while the "chicken" fried.
This "chicken" was truly finger lickin'.
The second thing I learned.......I don't like tempeh. I mentioned in my post about tempeh curry that there was something about the way tempeh felt in my mouth that just didn't do it for me. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like tempeh, I still feel that way.
This morning I made the tempeh bacon from the current issue of Vegetarian Times. The marinade was great, and the flavor was delicious, but the way that the tempeh felt in my mouth just grossed me right out. It's that firm, chewy, nutty thing that just makes my stomach turn. Tempeh will not be making any future appearances on this blog, sorry all you tempeh lovers.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I'm happy to report that FYH mozzarella was a hit, and we can have "cheese" pizza again!! Mairin is extremely sensitive to any changes in our food routines, so I was especially surprised to find that she actually liked the pizza. And, to my surprise, she liked the "cheese" best of all just cut off of the block (which I tried as well, and didn't like nearly as much as I liked it melted on the pizza). She even asked me after dinner if we could have this pizza every Sunday night :) (note that it's Thursday night, so I have no idea where that came from). I'm also happy to report, that as of blogging this, Stella ate the "cheese" and has had no reactions!!
I've read reviews that this "cheese" doesn't melt as well as the bold type "IT MELTS" on the package would have you believe. However, I found the bold type to be true. This "cheese" melted very well on our pizzas with no extra effort. Perhaps because I grated it with a fine holed grater. Or, perhaps because I cook my pizzas at 500F. But, either way, the "cheese" melted nicely in the same amount of time that dairy mozzarella would have melted. The flavor was very nice as well. Really, the only difference we noticed was that this "cheese" was creamier than dairy mozzarella, and it didn't have the stringy characteristic of dairy mozzarella.
About the pizzas, they were both made on white pizza crusts from dough made in my bread machine (I went with white crust because it tastes oh so good, and I thought that if the "cheese" was a bust, at least the crust would be good!). The sauce on both was made from one small can of organic tomato sauce mixed with a few teaspoons each of dried oregano and dried basil. The pizza in the top photo was topped with sliced black olives, baby spinach leaves, halved artichoke hearts, sliced roma tomatoes, Follow Your Heart mozzarella, and salt and pepper. The pizza in the photo below was topped with only black olives and Follow Your Heart mozzarella (Mairin's favorite way to eat pizza).
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
These have actually become both breakfast bars and snack bars at our house. They are a really quick and easy breakfast for those rushed school mornings. And really, they are just oats, syrup and rice milk.....pretty much what my kids would be eating anyway, only condensed in a less messy bar instead of a bowl!!
I'm thinking version 3.0 will be Coconut-Chocolate Chip. However, Mairin asked today if I could put apples in them, so I guess I'll have to get to work on version 4.0 as well!! I can see all manner of oat bars in our distant future. If you have any suggestions throw them my way, I'll be sure to try them out.
I urge you to try them out for yourself very soon. The original recipe is fantastic, so be sure to start there. After that, the possibilities are endless, really!!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
First up was the Hot Coco-Cocoa from the previous post. After we'd enjoyed our cocoa I got started on lunch. Mairin had requested nachos, that sounded good to me, so I headed to the kitchen to whip some up. First I made the lentils from the lentil taco recipe. When those were finished I poured them over some tortilla chips and topped it with some diced onion, tomato, and avocado. Then I sprinkled it all with some chopped fresh cilantro and squeezed the juice of one lime down over it all. These were so good that none of us even missed the cheese at all!
After our lunch we all laid down and took a nap. I have to admit, it was so awesome to lay down in the middle of the day and sleep. I felt soooo good when I woke up! After our nap we bundled up and went back out in the snow again. This time the powdery snow of the morning had started to freeze and stick together, so we had us a little snowball fight. After that the girls did a little more sledding and then we headed in for dinner.
While Rob and the girls warmed up in front of the heater watching a movie, I got dinner going. We had "Fettuccine with Red Lentil Sauce" from Vegan Planet, only I used whole wheat linguine instead. This sauce is very quick and easy to make, however, it is lacking in flavor just a bit. I added about 2 tsp of dried basil to it, and that helped bring it to life. On the side we had some grilled asparagus and portobello mushrooms. I just put the veggies on the grill and drizzled them with olive oil. Once they were cooked I removed them from the heat and sprinkled them with sea salt while they were still hot. Oh man, they were good. I could have made a meal out of just the veggies. We also had some simple garlic bread to go along with it all.
And yes, this post was food (well, ok, drink) related. This is the best part of playing in the snow.....hot cocoa when you come in!! We made Hot Coco-Cocoa from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. It's a combination of coconut milk, vanilla non-dairy milk, cocoa and maple syrup. What a great way to warm up!!
I had to go to our local, small town grocery. Dairy free chocolate chips were scarce, but I did manage to find one brand, that happened to be an "off" brand, and not a big name brand. What's in a name anyway, right?
So, Friday evening I baked Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Vive Le Vegan. These cookies have the Toll House recipe beat, hands down. I've not had a more delicious chocolate chip cookie, ever! My only complaint......there weren't enough!! I ate mine dunked in some vanilla soy milk.....YUM. And, in our haste to eat them, I forgot to take pictures until we had only one lonely cookie left setting on the plate!
I also made some chocolate chip muffins for Saturday morning's breakfast. With the snow falling by the inch it seemed like muffins would be a good way to start the day before we headed out in the snow. I just used my regular recipe for blueberry muffins, only subbing in the chocolate chips instead. They turned out really well, only they need to cook about 2 minutes less than the blueberry one's, so they were a tad on the dry side.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Well, anyway, I got tagged by Jenny today, and started thinking, "OK, maybe there is something to this "better social life" thing".
Here's how it works...I tell you 5 things about myself, then tag 5 other people via their blog. Sounds fun, right?? Here goes:
1. I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order.
2. I love to sing and dance, although I am not good at either!!
3. I almost never stay awake to watch an entire movie....movies put me to sleep.
4. I LOVE to color, with crayons in coloring books, it's so relaxing.
5. I was 29 years old before I ever used a lawn mower!!
Well, there you go, 5 things about me that you probably didn't know. Now......who to tag, hmmmm, let me see: Dalai Mama, Vegan Mother, Keeta, Vegetation, and Michelle.
Link to your tagger and post these rules.
Share 5 facts about yourself.
Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
To really get to the answer of that we're going to have to go back a bit, and revisit why I stopped eating meat in the first place. Going back nearly a year now, I decided, as a personal challenge, to stop eating meat. Initially there were no health, environmental, or ethical reasons for not eating meat. It was simply a test, can I do it or not? So, a few weeks passed, I hadn't eaten any meat, and it really didn't seem like something that was going to be too terribly hard to do. OK, so I can do this vegetarian thing, now I need to find out why people are vegetarian, and in particular, why I should remain meat free. So, I start doing some research.
That research leads me to some very compelling health reasons for not eating meat. According to numerous studies (which you can find all over the internet), vegetarians have lower rates of almost all chronic diseases, and in particular diseases of the heart. Now, there isn't any heart disease in my family, but, it seems to be less and less a hereditary thing, and more and more directly related to our diets, and in particular the Standard American Diet, ironically abbreviated SAD. Vegetarians also have lower BMI's and lower waist to hip ratios than their meat eating counterparts. Sounds like a good reason to stop eating meat doesn't it? By just doing an internet search you can come up with many more health benefits to not eating a meat based diet.
In researching health and vegetarianism, the link between factory farming and the environment kept coming up time and again. The most prominent of these issues seems to be the pollution that factory farming causes to our water, via run-off. Another major issue I learned about was the vast areas of land that are required for factory farming, not necessarily for the animals themselves, but for the massive amounts of corn and soy that are grown to feed these animals (the same amounts of food which could be grown to feed a lot more people than the animals feed). It also takes lots of water, lots of energy and lots of dangerous chemicals to grow the crops meant for these animals. Factory farms also produce some of the highest amounts of greenhouse gasses.
So, given the fact that we had been putting a lot of energy into reducing our impact on the Earth, it only seemed logical that we become vegetarian. How could we make all of these changes that we'd previously made for the Earth, yet continue to contribute to what may be the largest source of pollution out there?
Obviously, the decision had been made, I wasn't going to eat meat, and I was never going to look back. So, I started buying vegetarian cookbooks, finding recipes on the internet, and cruising the vegetarian and vegan blogs. One of those blogs that I frequented was/is Eat Air-A Vegan Food Log. While looking through the blogs one day I came across a post on Eat Air about the Vegetarian Food For Thought podcast. Out of sheer curiosity I decided to listen. After listening to just one episode I knew that I had to make the change.
I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I really had no idea how horrific the animal slaughter industry is. I mean, I knew that the animals had to die, and I knew that there were reports of animal cruelty, but I also knew that cruelty wasn't the norm. Wow! Was I ever wrong. The animals that are used for our food are treated absolutely horribly. Honestly, I'm not a huge animal lover, but even so, I can not contribute to such horrendous suffering and abuse (both to the animals and the workers).
So, that still doesn't explain the whole no eggs, no dairy, no animal by-products thing, now does it? Well, it does. Even the animals that are used for eggs and dairy are eventually slaughtered, and therefore have to suffer the same horrible fate as those that are used for direct consumption. Not only that, but the reproductive systems of the hens and cows that are used for egg and dairy production are egregiously exploited. The male offspring of these animals, which are obviously of no use to the egg or dairy industry, are either slaughtered or used as veal. The conditions that these egg and dairy producers live in are unbelievably bad. Really, the list goes on and on. The long and short of it is this....I just can't be a part of the abuse and suffering.
Becoming vegetarian was easy, I did it cold-turkey and I've never looked back. Becoming vegan is not as easy, it is a process, a process that I am slowly conquering. A process that we are all still working through. Mairin for instance isn't quite ready to give up cow's milk, cheese, and eggs. I'm ok with that. I've made it quite clear to her several times that I'm ok with whatever choice she makes, vegetarian or not. I will provide her with the information she needs as it becomes age appropriate, and what she decides to do with it is hers. Of course, I hope she chooses not to participate in the needless suffering, but forcing my ethics on her, or anyone else for that matter just doesn't seem right.
This was a very long answer to the question, but I felt that it was necessary for those who truly want to know.....I don't eat meat, dairy and eggs because I don't need to. I don't want to contribute to a systen that produces so much unnecessary waste and suffering.
In my last post I said I would be absent for awhile, because we are having a lot of repeats for dinner this week. Jenny sweetly commented that she'd miss me......so Jenny, this one's for you!!
This morning it was cold and rainy, and it just seemed like a good morning for pancakes. There really isn't anything too special about these pancakes, no fancy fillings or flavors, just your run of the mill pancakes. So, what makes these pancakes powerhouses you ask........the addition of wheat germ. Wheat germ really gives these pancakes a nutritional boost. And, best of all, they've finally broken me from my usual pre-mixed pancake mix that includes milk powder (it was really the last thing holding me back from having a diet completely free of animals and animal by-products). These were so simple to make, I'm not sure what took me so long to break free from that pre mixed stuff. The kids all loved them (I have my extra kid today, so I was feeding 3), and they are the true test of whether a recipe is a success or not!!
1 cup plain rice milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs organic unsweetened applesauce
Combine rice milk and vinegar and set aside. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the milk mixture, vanilla, oil and applesauce and mix until smooth. Spoon or pour batter onto griddle. Cook until edges are cooked and bubbles appear in the center, then flip gently. Cook a few minutes more, then remove gently from griddle. Serve with warm maple syrup, and enjoy.
I was able to get nine pancakes from this recipe, but I make them fairly small for the kids. You may need to double the recipe if you are feeding bigger eaters. Or, make extras and freeze them for quick weekday breakfasts. I freeze extra pancakes between layers of paper towel in a quart sized freezer bag, then just pop them in the toaster on the lightest setting until they have thawed.
Monday, March 3, 2008
I served the beans and rice with some sauteed baby spinach and vegan cornbread.
I will probably be mostly absent from the blog this week. As much as I love finding new and exciting things to prepare, my family isn't always so keen on it. They've been asking for some old favorites, noodle soup and Thai curry, as well as some new favorites like Snobby Joes and Grain and Veggie burgers. So, our week is filled with a lot of repeats for the family. I'll post a few pics at the end of our repeat-a-thon, but I'll probably have little to say.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
I finally did it.....I made V-con's Chickpea Cutlets!! For months now I've read rave reviews on nearly every vegetarian and vegan blog I frequent, as well as on Mothering.com. People can't seem to get enough of these cutlets, so I finally decided to find out what all the fuss was about. I still don't own this book, but I found the recipe on Chow.com. The only change I made was to leave out the soy sauce so that Stella could eat them as well.
You'll recall that I made ED&BV's Chickpea Sensation Patties awhile back. And, you'll recall that we all really liked them, even Mairin. Well, I'll have to say, V-con's cutlets may well have been better than ED&BV's (although, Mairin disagrees....she didn't eat any of these). I really like the addition of the vital wheat gluten to these cutlets. They make such a wonderfully textured patty. And, contrary to my previous experience, these patties came together in less time than Dreena's version (I usually find that Dreena's recipes come together very quick and easy, and not so with Isa). We will definitely be putting these into our rotation of frequent repeats.
I decided, at the advice of a fellow mothering.com mom, to bake the patties first and then fry them. When I took them out of the oven they seemed like they were going to be a bit dry, so while they were frying up I made a quick little mustard sauce to go over them. For the sauce I added about 1/4 cup Dijon mustard to 1/4 cup olive oil and whisked it together. To that I added about 1 Tbs of light brown sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper, then gently heated it over low heat. It turns out the cutlets weren't dry at all, but the sauce was still a great addition. With the cutlets I served some yukon gold potatoes mashed with original Rice Dream. I also steamed up the last bit of broccoli and carrots I had in the fridge.
Last night we went to Buca di Beppo for my baby brother's 18th birthday. I am happy to report that they were very nice and accommodating to my requests of no animal products. I was able to eat their bruschetta and the penne campofiore (both of which they were happy to serve without cheese).