Monday, May 26, 2008
And with this post I am now up to date. It took me all weekend, but I did it. Now I'm off to start on dinner and another dish to blog about later.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day on Saturday, and our family had a nice little cook out to celebrate the big day (and to celebrate my grandpa's 86th birthday!!). Now, apparently my mom isn't quite down with the whole vegan thing yet, and is seemingly unwilling to accommodate us, seeing as she didn't make one single dish that we could eat. OK, to be fair, she did have chips and salsa and some dinner rolls that were vegan, but I'd hardly call that a meal.
Luckily I didn't come empty handed. I brought the baked beans and orzo salad that I blogged about previously. I also brought along some Creamy Vegan Cole Slaw. I made this on mother's day and my grandpa just raved about it, so I decided to make some for him. I must admit, it is some damn good cole slaw. Rob and I also provided some huge portobello mushroom caps to throw on the barbie. And what celebration would be complete without dessert?? I made some chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing to take care of that!!
3/4 cup Vegenaise
2 Tbs unrefined sugar
2 Tbs Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbs dry mustard
2 tsp celery seed
1 small onion diced small
1 bag Dole Cole Slaw Mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl whisk together all ingredients up to onion. Add onion and cole slaw mix to bowl and fold to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.
Now that's what I call a meal!!!!
First up was the Vegetarian Gumbo from the May issue. This was pretty good, but was lacking something. It was a lot better once we put a few dashes of chipotle hot sauce on it. I think next time I will make some vegan sausages to add to it. I served it with vegan cornbread and some sauteed Mustard Greens from our CSA basket. The greens were sauteed with garlic, and onion and just a dash of Liquid Smoke. Oh man, they were sooo good!!
Next I made the Spring Orzo Salad from the current June issue. The CSA basket had asparagus in it again this week, so this was a nice way to use it up. This was really good. Even my salad-phobic husband liked it. He liked it so much we've been eating it for 3 days now!! I altered the recipe a bit, so I'll post it here.
Vegetable Orzo Salad
2 cups orzo pasta
1 lb asparagus
6 green onions
2 cloves garlic
6 oz Portobello mushroom caps, diced
10 oz package frozen peas
1 14.5 oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp brown sugar
Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside. Heat skillet over medium heat with 1 Tbs olive oil. Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add asparagus and saute 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until soft. Remove from heat, add in peas and artichoke hearts and stir to combine and heat through. Toss vegetable mixture with pasta. Whisk together vinaigrette and toss with salad. Serve warm or chilled.
Finally, I made the Fettuccine Alfredo from April's issue. I didn't have the mushrooms, so I didn't use those. Again, another VT recipe that didn't disappoint. This was some seriously good alfredo sauce. It's different than the "heart attack on a plate" sauce that most of us associate with fettuccine, but the flavor of this can't be beat. Rob again loved this one. He is a serious pasta man, and he said this was one of his favorite sauces. The cayenne pepper makes it a tad too spicy for the kiddos, but you could easily leave it out.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
This week for lunch I spiced them up a little. I made a variation of a Red Beans and Rice dish from Vegan Planet. Robin's version is Caribbean Rice with Red Beans.......I spiced the beans instead of the rice, so my version is Caribbean Beans with Rice (clever name isn't it??!!)
I stared out with the basic scramble you see above. It consisted of Organic Firm Tofu, green peppers, onions and spinach. Of course there was a little turmeric for color, and some cumin along with salt and pepper for flavor enhancement. This little scramble was mighty tasty, but a bit on the "moist" side, as I didn't press the tofu first. I simply squeezed the water out of it as I crumbled it.
A few days after my initial scramble I made this Mexican version and wrapped it in a tortilla. This scramble was Organic Extra Firm Tofu, onions and spinach. The requisite turmeric was added, along with some Mexican seasoning, salt and pepper. I topped it with medium spiced salsa and avocado slices. This time I pressed the tofu for nearly an hour before cooking it. The result was superb. I also liked the texture of the extra firm tofu better.
Scrambled tofu is a perfect way to start the day. Full of enough protein to stick with you until lunch, and as I said, the flavor combinations are endless.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I decided to make panini with the focaccia tonight. I spread each side of the bread with some cilantro hummus, then layered the veggies (roma tomatoes, watercress, red onion, and cucumber) in the middle. I pressed it on the panini press until the bread was warm and toasty, then served it with some Salt and Pepper Kettle Chips, and some blanched green beans. These were really great sandwiches, and an ideal summer meal.
We rode into town just about dinner time on Friday night, so we unloaded our car at the hotel and hit the street to find some dinner. We ended up at Karyn's Cooked. Unfortunately, they were reservation only, so we didn't get a seat. We did however, decide to place an order for take out and head back to the hotel so we could kick off our shoes and relax (if you've ever eaten at a restaurant with a toddler, you'll know it's not exactly relaxing!!).
Karyn's is totally vegan, except for one pizza that is topped with rice cheese containing casein. From Karyn's we ended up with Hummus and Pita as a starter. Not the best hummus I've ever had, but good none the less. For dinner the girls shared the Spaghetti and Meatballs, I had the Classic Lasagna, and Rob had Jenny's Pizza (the one with the casein). It was all very good, the girls really liked the "meatballs", and Rob's pizza smelled incredible. He said the cheese was very close to dairy cheese (more so than the FYH cheese we've been using). We were all extremely satisfied, and excited for the vegan eating of the next day!!
We started Saturday in our room with some cereal and soy milk that we brought along with us. We also purchased a fruit cup from the lobby coffee shop. That, along with a few snacks held us nicely until lunch, which we ate at the Green Festivals food court. The entire food court was strictly vegan and their were options from so many local restaurants we had a tough time choosing.
Our lunch ended up being these incredible vegan sausages (which you can barely see peeking out from under all of those grilled veggies). We also all shared some macaroni and cheese from Soul Vegetarian restaurant. They make their own soy cheese, and it was phenomenal. The girls also had some vegan cornbread from Soul, which I didn't taste, but they put it away pretty quickly so I'm guessing it was pretty tasty!! Can you even imagine what it was like to eat a food court, and be able to choose anything you wanted!!
We finished the Green Festival with these out of this world Temptation Vegan ice cream cones. Temptation ice cream is perfect, it was creamy, and it didn't have that "soy" taste that most commercial brands have. They make it in small batches in a dedicated vegan and nut free facility. Ice cream heaven for sufferers of nut allergies!!! I found out that they sell it at my WFM and couldn't wait to get home and buy some. I went immediately to WFM on Monday, only to find 4 pints left in the freezer and a "discontinued" sign hanging above them. I got the 4 pints for a steal, but 4 pints of ice cream won't last long around here!! My WFM is definitely going to get some complaints from me!!
Saturday evening we headed out to Chicago Diner for our dinner. This is apparently a pretty well known veg restaurant in Chicago, so I was super excited to try it. And it didn't disappoint. It's not 100% vegan, but every dish can be made vegan (I'm assuming....they use soy cheese, but I didn't get cheese on my dish so I didn't ask if it had casein or not).
I didn't get any photos at Chicago diner, so you'll have to use your imaginations. We started with chips and guac, because we know the girls will always eat it. The girls had quesadillas and mashed potatoes with gravy. Rob had the Enchiladas with soy cheese, and I had the Chicken Ranch Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries. The sandwich was incredible. It was a very thin piece of seitan, breaded and fried, served on a bun with some veggies and an out of this world ranch sauce. Ranch is one of the things I've been missing since I've been vegan, I'm definitely going to have to learn how to make it!! The girls didn't eat well, so we skipped dessert.
Sunday we got up and met our friends, Jesse and Holly, for brunch at M. Henry. It's not vegetarian, but it does feature seasonal, local and organic food whenever possible. Again, I have not pictures, so just imagine. I had the Vegan Epiphany, which is a tofu scramble with peppers, spinach and onions. I've been wanting to try tofu scramble for quite some time now, but for whatever reason, I've been afraid. Well, on my trip to WFM I picked up a ton of tofu, and we'll be having scrambles very soon. Even Stella loved her tofu scramble!! Rob got the Stuffed Poblano Pepper. It's stuffed with scrambled tofu, and vegan chorizo. He said it was incredible, and his favorite meal that we'd eaten so far.
It was his favorite until we went to visit our other friends, Chris and Anne, for dinner. We were having dinner at their home which always makes me a little nervous. I hate to dictate to people what they can cook, and I hate to be a PITA when I'm visiting someone. I haven't been vegan long enough that everyone knows, no long enough to speak up for myself yet, so I swallowed my pride and resigned myself to eating whatever they served (they knew we were vegetarian, so I knew it at least wouldn't have any meat).
Well, let me tell you, we have the BEST friends in the world!!! Chris prepared an awesome vegan meal for us (apparenlty Rob had told him a while back that I had gone vegan)!! We had vegan enchiladas that were just stuffed to the gills with veggies and beans (black beans, corn, eggplant, onion, and I'm sure a lot of other stuff too), and the enchilada sauce was just fantastic. Along with the enchiladas we had a Jicama-Mango salad that was dressed with this crazy good lime vinaigrette. There was also a really nice, and really beautiful beet salad (that I unfortunately didn't get a photo of apparently).
As soon as I can get the recipe off of Chris I'll be making these enchiladas, then maybe you guys can enjoy them too!!
We had a wonderful weekend, and are already looking forward to heading back to Chicago to finish scoping out the vegetarian/vegan eating scene.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
As it turns out, we're leaving town for the weekend, and wouldn't have been able to use up a whole basket of stuff anyway, so I guess it all works out in the end.
So, what to do with over 2 pounds of asparagus?? Well, when your kids won't eat asparagus when they can see what it is, you make asparagus soup, of course. So, that's exactly what I did with this bunch of asparagus. Mairin gives asparagus a big "blech" whenever I mention it, but lo and behold, she ate 2 adult sized bowls of this soup!! She wasn't the only one to eat more than their share of soup......as a matter of fact, we finished off the entire pot!!
Asparagus Potato Soup
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly diced
2 stalks of celery roughly diced
1 small onion, roughly diced
4 Yukon gold potatoes, roughly diced
2 pounds asparagus, cut into 3 inch pieces
2 tsp dried tarragon
6 cups good quality vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Add carrots, celery and onion. Saute until softened. Add potatoes and tarragon. Stir around until fragrant then add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil then simmer until potatoes are beginning to soften. Add asparagus and cook until potatoes have softened and asparagus is still bright green. Transfer in batches to food processor and process until smooth. Return to heat, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with raw asparagus tops and home made salt and pepper croutons. (leave off asparagus tops and add extra croutons if you have kids that turn up their noses at asparagus!!!)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Traditionally bolognese is a thick, rich, meaty sauce. I found a recipe for this bean version while sitting in the pediatrician's office one day. I have no idea what magazine this recipe came from, so I'm just going to go ahead and post the recipe here for you. This turned out to be a very satisfying meal considering that it was made with all stuff I had on hand. I ate the left-overs for lunch on Sunday, and I have to say, I think it was better after having set for a bit. I think next time I make this I'll try to plan ahead and make it the day before I plan to serve it.
I do have some exciting news to post though............I just found out that I've been nominated as a finalist for the 2007 Best Of Blog Awards!!! If you like what you see on this blog please vote for me here. Just scroll down to Best Food/Wine/Cooking Blog, and cast your vote. It appears that you can vote more than once, so you have my permission to cast as many votes as you feel necessary!!
Thanks to all of you who nominated me in the first round of this contest!! Your support means so much!!
I'll be back tonight with a food related post, I promise!!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
I served the falafels stuffed in whole wheat pitas with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumber. Along with the falafels we had some tabbouleh. I didn't use a recipe for this. Just cook the bulgur, and add in one large tomato, chopped, one medium onion chopped, and 1 medium cucumber diced small. Then flavor it all with lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley and chopped mint to taste.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
This pie was so good. I love pie (actually, I love pie crust). The bottom crust was so "buttery" and moist, and the top crust was so sweet and crunchy. YUM, just perfect!!
I also made some vanilla non dairy ice cream to go alongside the pie. I haven't had much luck with the consistency of my vanilla ice cream in the past, but this time I used Silk Creamer, rather than regular soy milk, and it turned out nice and creamy (the closest yet to real ice cream).
OK, so, we didn't eat our dessert first. Before we enjoyed the apple pie we chowed on the All American meal of burgers and fries. Our burgers were Original Sunshine Burgers, cooked on the grill and topped with all the fixin's. And, I just baked some crinkle cut fries from WFM. I wanted to try some of the new Amy's burgers that The Chocolate Covered Vegan blogged about not too long ago. However, I couldn't find any of this particular Amy's brand, and the only one's they had at my store all contained nuts, so they weren't an option. Sunshine Burgers were the only other veggie burgers I could find that were vegan and didn't contain nuts. They turned out to be very good, even the girls really liked them!!
It still remains to be seen what the results of our vote will be..........go "hopes and dreams"!!!
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. It was sunny, warm (but not too hot), and the wind of the past 2 days has finally stopped. I knew I wouldn't want to be in the kitchen cooking dinner tonight, so I opted for a dinner made almost entirely on the grill. We had tofu kabobs and grilled polenta. I did hit the stove to saute a bit of red chard to go along with it.
I started this morning by pressing the tofu for a few hours, then marinading it in some olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil and oregano. Then, when it was time for dinner, I skewered the tofu, some zucchini, onion, bell pepper and cherry tomatoes. I sliced a tube of polenta, then threw it all on the heated grill.
It turned out very nice, although, I wasn't a big fan of the grilled polenta (Rob however, ate most of the tube himself!!). The tofu was freakishly chicken like, and I've saved the left-overs to go on a salad for lunch tomorrow.
I had plans for a Cinco de Mayo dinner tomorrow, but I got invited to play bunco with some friends, so my hubby and kiddos will be on their own tomorrow evening, and my Mexican feast will have to wait until another day. I'll be back on Tuesday.
By the way, Tuesday is election day here in Indiana..............all of you Hoosiers, get out and VOTE. I'll anxiously be watching the returns as, Obama and Clinton are in a dead heat here in the Hoosier state, so my Tuesday post may not make it up until Wednesday!!
We weren't really hungry for lunch after our waffles this morning (the girls actually slept in and we got around to eating breakfast quite late). Rob had a lot to do outside today, and we knew he'd need some fuel to make it through the afternoon, so skipping lunch was out of the question. I decided that a light lunch of hummus and crudite would be perfect.
I've been wanting to try the Black Bean-Orange Hummus from Eat Drink and Be Vegan for quite some time now. Today seemed like the perfect day to give it a try. Wow, this hummus will knock your socks off. It is so good. I tell you, Dreena Burton is a genious when it comes to hummus!! We thought we loved the Chipotle Lime Two Bean Hummus until we tried this one.....Black Bean-Orange Hummus has now taken over 1st place on our favorite hummus list!!
This morning I went all out with the "sweet" theme and made Chocolate Chip Waffles topped with more chocolate chips and powdered sugar with pure maple syrup for dipping. And, you'll notice I added in a some strawberries on the side to "healthify" it a bit!!