Thursday, June 25, 2009

Long time, no blog!!

Wow, it seems like forever since I've posted anything here. I've been busy and otherwise consumed with my new technological obsession, Twitter. It's actually been so long that I have some photos of meals that I no longer even remember what they are!! I admittedly haven't been very creative in the kitchen lately, and have been making repeat meals or meals directly out of cookbooks. I've also been using the grill a lot, for veggies, tofu and my new favorite, Italian Style Field Roast. I've been meaning to do a pizza on the grill, but just haven't gotten around to that yet. Maybe next week.

These are just a few things we've been eating lately:

Grilled Barbeque Tofu
I froze this in the sauce, and then thawed before grilling. It gave it a nice, dense texture, and really infused the tofu with the sauce.

Grilled Potato Packet

This has been one of my favorite ways to make potatoes for as long as I can remember. I know a lot of people have issues with cooking in foil, but it doesn't bother me so much. This is so simple, and makes THE BEST potatoes. Slice potatoes thin (skins on), add sliced onion, salt, pepper, olive oil. Toss with hands, and seal up the foil packet. Poke some holes in the top of the packet and throw on a hot grill. It doesn't take long to cook these, just test them after about 10 minutes by poking a sharp knife through the packet, it the potatoes give no resistance, they are finished.

Grilled Zucchini with Corn and Radish salsa

This is a recipe from the current issue of Vegetarian Times. My youngest daughter LOVES zucchini, and I'm always looking for new things to do with it. The salsa is really what sold me on this one, after all, who hasn't grilled zucchini before? Anyway, this salsa is made with grilled corn that you coat with garlic oil, radishes, onions, jalapeno pepper, a little lime juice and cilantro. I made it a few hours before serving, and couldn't wait to eat it. Man, this stuff is out of this world. I don't think anyone else really thought so, but I loved it.

That's it for what's been cookin' around here lately. Maybe creativity will strike soon......until then, I have a few recipes that I have my eye on. Back with more later.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Shift of Consciousness

I love being vegan. Being vegan makes me happy for reasons that are hard to explain. It almost feels as if a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. A weight has been lifted....I no longer have to carry around the guilt that comes with eating the flesh and secretions of another being. My body feels free, healthy and alive. And in fact it is more alive, being nourished by healthy plant based foods and not nourished by suffering and death.

But, being vegan means more than just dietary changes. Veganism is an entire lifestyle of rejecting anything that creates suffering to another being. It is a lifestyle of compassion. It is a lifestyle that has changed my life.

Being vegan has really brought me to a higher level of consciousness. I've suspected for quite sometime that being vegan has changed me in some way, but it was never quite evident what that way was until recently. My first "a-ha" moment was earlier this year during Kentucky Derby time. The Derby has always been an event that I have loved (not so much for the racing, but simply for the fact that it indicates the start of summer around here), and like so many others around here I loved checking out the racing form and placing my bet. Even last year, at the start of my shift to veganism, I still placed a bet on the race. This year things were different. I had absolutely no interest in the Derby, and was even able to turn down an invitation to attend the race the day before and spend time with some out of town friends. It just didn't feel right anymore. Exploiting those animals for my entertainment just felt fundamentally wrong. Granted, those horses are often treated phenomenally well, they are worth millions after all, it wasn't mistreatment that turned me off. It was the sheer fact that they were being exploited. I am sure many human beings that are exploited are treated well, but that doesn't make human exploitation right, any more than it makes animal exploitation right. My days of a Louisvillian living for Derby are over.

The Derby episode was one of the first major shifts in consciousness that I became aware of. But, what really solidified the shift was this weeks visit to the zoo. It started with an uneasy feeling that something just wasn't quite right about going to the zoo, but I convinced myself that it was fine. The kids love it, the animals are treated well, they are safe from predators and what not, and it is after all, educational. It didn't take long to realize that all of the convincing I had done was based on a lie. My first glimpse of an animal in cage brought heartbreak. I felt a piece of myself sitting behind that glass, longing to be free, longing to succumb to my instincts. I couldn't bear to look at the orangutans or the gorillas without nearly feeling sick. Why do we as humans feel that we are the superior species? What has conditioned us to believe that it is ok to imprison innocent animals so that we can drag our kids around to look at them? Why doesn't this seem wrong to anyone else???

Needless to say, I will not be renewing my zoo membership this year.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What to do with abundant fresh berries???

Make Raw Berry Cobbler, of course........................

I do believe that this is my new favorite dessert. Well, at least for the summer that is. I'm not going to abandon my first dessert love, the cupcake, but I mean yummy dessert with no oven required, how can you beat that on a hot summer day??

Not to mention, as an added bonus you get ALL of the nutrients from the berries, nuts and seeds because they aren't cooked out. And I guarantee, this is one of the healthiest desserts you will ever eat.

Raw Berry Cobbler


2 cups Almonds Soaked & Drained

1/2 cup Sunflower seeds Soaked & Drained

2 Tbs Shredded Coconut

1/2 cup Pitted Dates

1/4 cup Lemon Juice

2 Tsp Vanilla extract

1 Tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp Nutmeg


1 cup raspberries

1 cup blueberries

1 cup Mango, dried and re-hydrated

3 Tbs Agave Nectar

To make the crust: In a food processor, process the almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut, dates, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Press mixture into a pie plate.

To make the filling: In a food processor, process the berries, mango, and agave. Pour the fruit mixture over the pie crust and refrigerate for two hours or more, allowing the pie to solidify.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A new quick and easy favorite

So, I'm still on that quick and easy kick. I can not wait for school to be over and life to slow down a bit this summer. Not to mention, I can't wait for the rain to stop and the farmer's markets to get in full swing. They've been on for about 3 weeks now, but they are pretty skimpy this time of year.

Lack of time + Lack of inspiration = Quick and Easy!! Luckily, though, with this sandwich quick and easy does not = boring. What sandwich do I speak of you ask?? Well, that would be "Better Than a BLT" from ED&BV. I was a huge fan of BLT back in the day, but I've never been much of a fan of tempeh, so I figured my BLT eating days were over. That was until I came across this recipe that called for the tempeh to be chopped (and since my dislike of tempeh is a texture thing, I thought chopped might do the trick). Not only did this recipe take care of my tempeh problem, it also included one of my most favorite foods in the entire world, avocado.

I can't even begin to tell you how delicious this sandwich was. It will definitely be a summertime staple here....can't wait until those tomatoes get ripe!! Since the girls didn't like it too much there were leftovers which we had as a condiment on tofu scramble tacos the following night....again, a delicious use of this sandwich filling.

Along with the sandwiches we also had Roasted Garlic and Artichoke dip from ED&BV as well. This dip was good, but slightly too garlicky for me. I think next time I will decrease the amount of garlic a bit. Surprisingly the garlic didn't even phase Mairin, who gobbled up a rather hefty portion. This will be a fantastic dish to bring to any summer picnics that might come up, as it can be served hot or at room temperature, and can withstand several hours of setting out on a buffet or in a basket with no need for refrigeration.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Food Again

Finally, some food to post. This is actually something we had several weeks ago, that I'm just now getting around to posting about. I'm not sure what has changed in my life, but I recently seem so overwhelmed with things to do that cooking has taken a backseat. We've been having a lot of simple repeats recently, and experimenting with a lot of homemade pizzas (which just seem too mundane to blog about). Even on my evenings off I've been looking for quick and easy recipes/methods. Enter this Jamaican Jerk Seitan with Caribbean Coconut Rice and Greens. The rice recipe comes from the May (I believe) issue of vegetarian times, and the seitan is simply Westsoy Chicken style seitan simmered in a jar of Whole Foods brand Jerk marinade. Quick, easy, and tasty. Perfect for a busy summer weeknight.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!!

No food to post today.....just a quick note to say Happy Earth Day to all of my readers. Do something special for our Mother Earth today. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Plant a tree

2. Give up one eco-unfriendly practice (running the water while you wash dishes, running the water while you brush your teeth, using papertowels to clean up messes, leaving your car running when you aren't driving)

3. Switch to cloth napkins

4. Switch to eco-friendly cleaning supplies (Method brand from Target are great, animal friendly, and reasonably priced)

5. Remember to "reduce, reuse, and recycle"

6. Stop drinking bottled water (get a water filter and buy a reusable bottle)

7. Eat Organic and/or Local whenever you can.

8. Use reusable shopping bags....keep them in the front seat of your car so you don't forget to take them into the store with you

9. Switch to CFL bulbs, turn off and/or unplug electronic equipment that is not in use

10. Adopt a mostly (or completely *wink*, *wink*) vegetarian diet. Did you know, factory farming produces more greenhouse gas than our addiction to our automobiles? The single most important thing you can do for the environment is to stop or greatly reduce your meat and dairy consumption.

And if ten ideas weren't's one final suggestion.....go outside, enjoy nature, notice it's beauty, and you can't help but want to protect it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A vegan in Disney World

Finally, this long ago promised post is making it's way onto Adventures in Vegetarianism. Life has been so busy since our return from Disney that it almost feels like a lifetime ago I promised my ever patient readers a review of vegan Disney. I'll save you all of the details of our trip some good, some bad, all absolutely memorable.

I'll start by letting you know, I have no idea what you can eat for breakfast in Disney World if you are vegan. You see, we stayed in a cabin in Fort Wilderness, and ate breakfast at the cabin every morning. We decided to do this to save time, money, and hunger if there were nothing suitable and filling in the park. We just stopped by Whole Foods Market in Orlando, picked up some supplies for the week, and we were set. We alternated between vegan pancakes and cereal to start the day. Since we drove, I also brought along the juicer and we enjoyed our regular fresh fruit juices most mornings.

OK, breakfast is over.....what does a vegan eat for lunch at Disney World?? Well, we aren't that family that gets up and makes it to the park by opening time. As a matter of fact, we are that family that comes moseying in around lunch time, when most people have been in the parks nearly four hours already!! So, a few days we actually made sandwiches at the cabin, and packed a lunch to take with us. We did soynut butter sandwiches, Smart Deli Turkey sandwiches, veggie booty, bananas and fruit snacks. This seemed to work well for us, because we mostly ended up eating our lunch while we were waiting in lines (we were able to make up some time this way).

I bet by now you are wondering what exactly can a vegan eat that they serve at the parks, right?? Well, let's get to it then. My first experience with vegan Disney really had me worried. We of course spent our first day in The Magic Kingdom, and having two young children went straight to Fantasy Land. Starving, and not wanting to leave Fantasy Land we ended up at Pinnocchio's Village Haus. Not a good place for vegan to eat. This was a pizza place, serving pre-made pizzas, so no leaving the cheese off. I settled for a salad (which was basically iceberg lettuce, a few shredded carrots and 1 grape tomato) with sub par packaged dressing, and fries. The fries were delicious, but not good fuel for a day at Disney World. Vegan options for the girls were few and far between at most restaurants, but there were at least veg options for them. Pizza or mac and cheese were the standard vegetarian options for the kiddos, and they alternated between the two when we needed to. They also offered PB&J at several places, but peanut butter is off limits to us, so that wasn't really an option for our family.

This sub-par lunch meant I was ready for a snack in just a few hours. I was very happy to see that there are fresh fruit and vegetables available at many of the snack stands. And, while this of course would have been the smart option, we were after all on vacation, so we went instead the the ice cream cart. They didn't offer any vegan ice-creams at the cart, but they did have several popscicle choices. One in particular was delicious, and not really all that bad for a person. It was Edy's brand I think, and while it was full of sugar, the rest of the pop was just pureed strawberries, and even some whole strawberry pieces. Delicious.......I had more than one of these throughout the week!! I will throw in one caveat here in the snack section......if seeing people eat meat really disgusts you, you should think long and hard about going to Disney. Apparently one of their most popular snacks are giant (and I mean GIANT) turkey legs. It is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life....hundreds if not thousands of people walking around with these giant bird legs gnawing on them as if they were cave-men. Absolutely horrible, my husband and I had to avert our eyes every time we saw one.

My hopes for dining vegan at Disney World were raised quite a bit when we landed in Tomorrowland for dinner. We ended up at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. It's listed as a chicken/burger place, but we found an incredible veggie burger there, and lo and behold the veggie burger was sans egg (miracle of miracles, I know!!). Anyway, all 4 of us went with burger and fries this night. This burger was awesome, carrots, corn and broccoli all visible in the patty, and it was made even better by the build-your-own-burger toppings bar.

Day two we didn't eat anything at the parks except for another popscicle. We ended up back at the cabin around dinner time, and cooked up some Tofu Pups and sweet potato fries for a delicious meal of chili dogs and fries. We went to Animal Kingdom this day, and I've read on the internet that you can find some vegan options here, but as it's not really a park that you can spend an entire day in we just thought it was best to head back, rest, and know for sure we'd have something we like to eat.

Day three started as usual, breakfast in the cabin and sandwiches to take along. We spent this day in Epcot. Epcot is actually a fantastic place for a vegan to find a meal. There are several places in the World Showcase that you can find a decent meal and snack. In Germany they have fantastic soft pretzels. In China they have several veggies stir-fries and a seared tofu dish. In Japan there are two sushi places that will make veggie sushi for you, then there is a teppinyaki place that can do veggies and tofu. Apparently you can get some good curry in England. And, in Morrocco there's hummus, pita, falafel, and tabouleh. We chose Morrocco as our country of dining because the girls love hummus and falafel. We ate at Tangierine Café because it was a little more low-key and seemed to have more options for us. We actually visited Epcot twice on this trip and ate here both times. We had all of the favorites, hummus, pita, falafel, tabouleh, marinated olives and tangerine couscous. This place was delicious. Their pita unfortunately had the potential to be cross contaminated with nut products so for Stella they served us an Ener-G roll to go with her hummus. As a side note, if you are traveling with food allergies (or even as a vegan) Disney World is fantastic at making sure you know exactly what goes into your food, and having at least one option for everyone.

Our snack at Epcot, was popcorn, which despite it's buttery appearance is actually vegan. And, very yummy to boot!!

After all of this we had only one park left, Hollywood Studios. We didn't actually eat much here, but there were a few options. Toy Story's Pizza Planet had a nice greek salad that you could get without the cheese, and Starring Rolls Cafe had a grilled veggie sandwich on focaccia. I think I also recall that the ABC Commisary may have had a grilled tofu dish, but don't hold me to it. And if I'm not mistaken, the Hollywood Brown Derby even had a vegan option, but it was quite pricey. We ended up at the Pizza Planet, so it was cheese pizza for the girls and Rob, salad for me.

Having done all 4 parks the girls wanted to go back to Magic Kingdom on the fifth day. We went for lunch in Adventureland this day. El Pirata y El Perico Restaurant is a taco place. We all had vegetarian tacos, which is just a crunchy corn taco shell filled with beans. Then you dress it up yourself by visiting the topping bar for lettuce, tomato, onion, and salsa (and cheese and sour cream if you are into that sort of thing). A good choice for lunch I think, filling and satisfying. Dinner this evening was Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station for Rob and I, Cosmic Ray's veggie burgers for the girls. At the noodle station Rob opted for the Noodle Bowl, which was veggies and tofu with egg-noodles in a veggie broth. I had the tofu and veggie with rice. It was fantastic once I added a little spicy mustard sauce and some soy sauce, I actually ended up getting a second order.

Day 6 was our final day, we did lunch in Epcot's Morrocco again, and for dinner we had a special meal planned in Cinderella's castle. The girls got all dressed up like princesses and we got to dine at the very fancy Cinderella's Table. We met Cinderella, and appearances were made by The Fairy Godmother and Cinderella's Mice Friends. It was a magical evening for the girls, they just had the time of their lives dressed as princesses and eating in the castle. It was the perfect end to a perfect vacation. I had called ahead to arrange this dinner, and spoken with the chef about our food allergies and preferences. The girls were served pasta with butter substitute (which probably had a little dairy in it, but I was ok with that), and Ener-G rolls. Rob and I had pasta with oil and grilled veggies, I also had a fantastic raspberry salad (they just left the cheese off), and for Dessert we all had Tofutti Vanilla Ice-cream.

Being vegan in Disney World proved to be quite easy for me (a little more challenging for the kids, but we managed with only one or two dairy based meals). I didn't find it a challenge at all, and I didn't find that I had to make special requests too often, beyond "hold the cheese" on few salads. I do however suggest staying in a cabin so you can prepare some of your own meals. It's a great way to save money, and make sure you are getting at least a few healthy dishes into your kids. Disney World bills themselves as the Happiest Place on Earth, and they really want to live up to that title. When you tell them you are vegan/vegetarian/food allergy they do all they can to accommodate you and make sure you have a satisfying meal. It pays to do a little research ahead of time, but all in all I we were satisfied with our vegan Disney exp"ear"iance.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Feelin' Like Summer

Hello everyone, let me start by apologizing for my long, long absence. I really don't have an excuse, other than I haven't felt much like cooking anything that hasn't already been blogged about. Plus, I'm swamped with reading from a yoga course right now, so I really don't have time to do much else beyond work and read (OK, I guess that was an excuse wasn't it?).

We are leaving today for Disney World (I'm still doing laundry, so of course in true procrastinator fashion, NOTHING is ready to what's a good procrastinator to do, sit down at the computer and waste half of the morning surfing the internet and blogging, of course!!). Anyway, the point of telling you we are leaving on vacation today was to warn you that my return to the blogosphere will be short lived.

Unfortunately, for my short lived return I don't even have a recipe for you, only the lovely photo above of what may now be my new favorite meal, and something that is sure to be made over and over again this summer......Mexican Sunflower Salad. This dish is fantastic, it's nothing but chopped up sunflower seeds, tomato, onion, cilantro and some spices, olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing, and it's out of this world. My favorite way to eat it so far is wrapped up in a nice big lettuce leaf with some alfalfa sprouts. I'm waiting for permission to reprint the recipe here, so check back often because when I do this will quickly become your new summertime favorite too!!
I'll be back in a few weeks with my "Vegan Disney"'s hopin' I'll get to eat more than undressed salad over the next 8 days!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fat Tuesday Cake

Yes, I know it's Friday, and Mardi Gras passed 3 days ago, call me a procrastinator!! We celebrated Mardi Gras with a Vegetarian Gumbo and Cornbread. But, I couldn't let Fat Tuesday pass us by without a fattening dessert. This year I tried my hand at a vegan King's Cake. I made this recipe, which was basically a giant, sugary, cinnamon roll. It was very delicious, and while it wasn't the most unhealthy dessert in the world, for some reason it felt so sinful to have the leftovers the second night!! My cake didn't turn out beautifully, but now that I know what I'm doing I think I can improve it for next year. I didn't have a tiny baby figurine to bake in the cake (and I'm not sure I could have baked a baby in a cake even if I'd had the appropriate figure), and being that the kids were going to be partaking in this dessert I didn't feel safe about hiding a dried bean in it either (it felt like a bit of a choking hazard). Therefore, our cake was without it's good luck charm..........I hope this doesn't mean misfortune for the rest of the year to come.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chocolatey Goodness

Here are a few pics of some desserts we've been eating lately. As many of you know, I was on a major cupcake kick for the biggest part of a year. While I still love cupcakes, and plan to be baking them again soon, I thought it was time indulge in my other favorite sweet treat for awhile....Brownies!!

Until now I've been quite disappointed with vegan brownies. Don't get me wrong, I've made and eaten them. They tasted fine, OK, they tasted good. But they just didn't' have that satisfying, moist gooey goodness that I love in a brownie. I've found most vegan brownies to be dry or cake-like, and to be honest, just too darn healthy. I love health food, I even have strange cravings for it at times, but when I eat a brownie, I don't want it to be health food, ya know?

Flipping through Vegan Planet one day I fast forwarded to the dessert chapter, and saw the recipe for some sort of peanut butter swirl brownie. It really started the brownie craving, but a) peanuts are forbidden in our house, and b) I don't like things mixed into my brownies. Lo and behold, the recipe had an option to leave out the peanut butter. Lucky me, I had all of the ingredients and went straight to work. This brownie recipe is both delicious and gooey. As a matter of fact, best I can remember, it's just like its non-vegan counterpart. I am convinced that what does it for this brownie is the chocolate chips melted in canola oil. This is what lends that gooey brownie goodness. Most brownies call for cocoa powder, which in my opinion just makes them cake. Anyway, if you are a brownie lover, get this book and make these brownies STAT!!

Next up is another recipe that I can't quite remember the exact name of. It comes from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. The name of it goes something like this, Chocolate Chunk Spice Cookies. Really though, the name's not that important, what you people want to know is, are they good. Good, you ask......these are delicious!! I didn't have enough dark chocolate to chunk, so I combined chocolate chunks and chocolate chips for these cookies. The chocolate and spice is a perfect combination as we finish out these last few weeks of winter.

Speaking of finishing the last few weeks of winter..........I can't wait!! I can't wait for my CSA to begin. I can't wait to get some things planted in the garden. I can't wait for the grocery store to be full of fresh, local produce. I can't wait for the days to get longer. I can't wait to have natural light when I photograph my food!!

To take some of the burden of all of that waiting we are taking the girls to Disney World for Spring Break in a few weeks. We are staying in a cabin at Fort Wilderness, so a lot of our meals will be cooked by me there. But, I am excited to check out our vegan options throughout the park. We have one special dinner planned with the princesses, and when I told them we were vegan and had food allergy issues with Stella the chef from the restaurant called me and assured me that we would all have plenty to eat. I'm also under the impression that both Rice Dream ice-cream and Tofutti ice-cream are available at the ice cream shops in the parks!!! So, expect a Disney review coming up here in a few weeks!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Deconstructed Guacamole Sandwich

I'm sure this isn't a new idea, but for anyone who hasn't thought of it, I thought I'd share. My step-dad keeps telling me about this guacamole sandwich he had in Miami. Every time he mentions it I think, "Hmmm, that's a good idea". I'm always up for guacamole, but I don't always want tortilla chips or raw veggies to dip in it. So, yesterday, when contemplating what to have for lunch I finally decided to throw together that guacamole sandwich.

I'm pretty sure that the sandwich my step-dad had was actual guacamole dip on a sandwich, but I decided to save some work and make a deconstructed version of guac to go in my sandwich. Since I already have onions and tomatoes sliced in the fridge all I really had to do was slice open an avocado, and rip off some cilantro tops. I stacked it all up on some sprouted whole wheat bread, squeezed half a lime over the top, topped it with another slice of bread, and it was lunch.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Second Call for Tartar Sauce

Blackened Tofu Sandwiches

The last time I made this Blackened Tofu dish I had the idea to make it into a sandwich on a toasted bun with tartar sauce. Being that I had tartar sauce* left over from the "crab" cakes, last night I did just that. I cooked up the tofu, toasted some sprouted grain buns, then dressed them up with romaine, tomato, onion, and loads of tartar sauce. Served up with some red skinned potato wedges, it was a "seafood" meal that would satisfy any seafood lover.

*The tartar sauce really develops in flavor after sitting in the refrigerator for a few days. I suggest making it a day or two ahead of time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Crab" Cakes

This started out as a plan to make Chickpea Sensation Patties from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. However, I came upon this post from Vegan Dad, and decided to change my plan and make these instead. We've had the Chickpea Sensation Patties several times, so it seemed appropriate to take another, Vegan Dad's meals are almost always kid friendly and my kids almost always like them.

Now, I know, in Vegan Dad's post he says these weren't an attempt to replicate crab cakes, but as soon as I read the recipe I thought "crab cakes", and naturally my mind went straight to tartar sauce. It also seemed that I could sell these to Rob a lot easier if I called them "crab" cakes instead of chickpea cakes!

These were out of this world, and the addition of homemade tartar sauce put them over the top. My only complaint is that I could only get 8 decent sized patties from the recipe, and Stella ate 3 of them. So, aside from my toddler, the rest of us were left wanting more. Next time I will definitely double this recipe.

For anyone who's curious, the tartar sauce was just Vegenaise, sweet pickle relish, small diced onions, and lemon juice. I didn't measure the ingredients, I just mixed and added to taste.

And finally, I'll leave you with a shot of our Valentine's dinner................

Orange Sesame Tofu, sauteed sugar snap peas, cilantro lime rice, and mixed salad with cumin lime vinaigrette.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Griddle Sandwiches

On the rare occasion that we ate at McDonald's before our vegetarian/vegan days, I loved their McGriddler sandwiches for breakfast. The sweet maple-y favor of the pancake paired with the savory spice of the sausage was a fantastic combo. So, in an attempt to provide an interesting breakfast for my kindergartner, I made a veganized version of the McGriddler. Just as tasty, and quite a bit healthier to boot!! There's really no recipe to share with this one. I made Isa's pancake recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance (obviously making them "silver dollar" sized). I made a big batch of these in advance and froze them for quick weekday breakfasts. Add one vegan breakfast patty (I have no brand loyalty here, so buy what you like), plus a side of maple syrup for dipping, and it's a quick, tasty breakfast in minutes.

I realize this isn't the healthiest breakfast to send my kid off to school on, but in my opinion, it's better than an empty stomach. She's not a breakfast eater (she prefers to be awake for quite sometime before she'll actually eat), but she will eat this with no reservations. She does like tofu scramblers, but I just don't have the time for that in the morning. It's a struggle to get her to eat cereal, and any sort of "health" food muffin is left on the plate only slightly nibbled. So, short of waking her up at 5 a.m. so she has a few hours before breakfast, this is what she's been getting a few days a week. If there are any other parents with picky breakfast eaters out there, I'd love to here what your kids are eating for breakfast........maybe some sort of breakfast "cookie" any ideas??

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Curried Butternut Squash-Sweet Potato Soup

Hi to everyone still hanging around here!! It's been so long since I've updated I wouldn't blame you at all if you've given up on me!! I do have several things to post about, I'm just having trouble finding the time to actually sit down, transfer pictures from camera to computer, then transfer to blogger, and finally write something interesting about them.

I just made this soup last night, so I guess I'll start with this. It comes from a recipe my mother in law sent over from Ireland, but I did change it slightly, which I hope added to the yumminess. The original recipe did not call for roasting of the squash and potatoes, but I opted to take the extra time and roast them first to intensify their flavors. I just love the taste of roasted butternut squash.

This recipe makes a HUGE batch of soup, and is very filling, so there will be tons of left over soup to freeze. I froze several single serving containers for Rob to take to lunch, and a few double batches to have on hand for quick dinners. Unfortunately the girls weren't big fans and ended up eating Light Life Smart Deli "Ham" sandwiches.

Curried Butternut Squash-Sweet Potato Soup

1 Tbs spoon Olive Oil (plus more for drizzling squash before roasting)

1 butternut squash (weighing a little less than 1 pound)

2 large sweet potatoes (again, a little less than 1 lb)

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbs curry powder

4 cups quality vegetable stock

9 oz plain soy creamer

torn basil leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 425. Peel and dice butternut squash, place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat and roast about 25 minutes, until tender. In the meantime, roast sweet potatoes in their skins on same baking sheet. Remove from oven and cool until you can handle the potatoes.

Heat remaining Tbs olive oil over medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add curry powder and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add sweet potatoes, squash and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes. Using a hand held blender or food processor, puree soup. Stir in soy cream and heat through. Ladle into serving bowls and top with basil leaves.

I served this soup with a big salad and some home made bread. I'm working on a good whole wheat sandwich bread, but I haven't quite perfected it yet. My girls eat a lot of bread and I hate to give them store bought bread. There are only a few brands that I can buy that haven't been processed on a line with peanuts, and some of those brands don't have the best ingredients in it. So, I've set out on a quest to make my own. I've gotten quite good at specialty breads (thanks to Vegan Dad), but my kids really like their sandwiches on that chewy, airy and not at all crumbly store bought stuff. As of now it's not completely whole wheat because I can't find any whole wheat bread flour. Right now we stand at about 2 parts whole wheat flour to one part unbleached bread flour, but as soon as I find some whole wheat bread flour I hope to have a recipe for 100% whole wheat sandwich bread.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some of our Favorite Juices

Wow, we've had such a strange week....last week we were hit by a major ice storm, which resulted in school being closed for an entire week. Rob was even home from work for 2 days because of the storm. We had a fantastic time playing in the snow, playing Wii, and spending some great quality family time together. We did eat, and I have some photos to post later to prove it, but for now I'll leave you with some of our favorite juice recipes.

Fresh juice is a fantastic way to start your day. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are loaded with concentrated vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, bringing you a fantastic burst of energy for the morning. It's best to drink your juice at least 30 minutes before eating your breakfast so that digestion of your breakfast doesn't interfere with the absorption of vitamins from the juice. And, it's always best to drink the juice immediately after it is prepared.


4 carrots

1 apple (any type)

1 pear (any type)

1/2 inch piece ginger

Run all ingredients through juicer according to manufacturers directions and enjoy immediately.

Super Greens Juice

1 cup tightly packed kale

4 stalks celery

1 1/2 apples (any type)

1 inch piece ginger

1/2 lemon (zest and pith removed)

Juice according to manufacturers directions and enjoy immediately.

Carrot-Apple-Beet Juice

1/2 beet

1 apple (any type)

4-5 carrots

1/2 inch piece ginger

Juice according to juicer directions and enjoy immediately.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Drink Your Greens

I realized recently that I haven't posted any juice recipes. Partly because I haven't really made up any of my own, and partly because I drink my juice each morning about 7:30 a.m. and I'm just too lazy to get the camera. This morning the camera was already on the counter, so here is the first of my juice posts. This morning we had "Green Pineapple Juice". This is one of my very favorite juices. It's health in a glass!! I got this recipe from my yoga teacher during teacher training, and couldn't wait until I had a juicer of my own so I could make it!!

Green Pineapple Juice

1/2 ripe pineapple (peel can be left on if pineapple is organic)
4 leaves collard greens
1/4 inch piece of ginger
handful of spinach

Place ingredients in juicer following manufacturers directions, juice, and enjoy!!

Lentils and Rice Two Ways

This first version of Lentils and Rice is a dish we've had before and liked very much, Savory French Lentils (from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan). On this particular night the lentils were served with a brown and wild rice combo, steamed kale, and roasted butternut squash. Hearty, delicious, and satisfying on a cold winter night. These are the kind of meals that I love the most.

The second version is Curried Lentils from Vegan Planet. The curry was served over brown basmati rice with a spinach salad drizzled with Miso Ginger Dressing. Again, another delicious, warming wintertime meal.

The dressing is made by combining about 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, 1 tsp of mellow white miso, about 1 Tbs sushi vinegar, and a little less than 1/4 cup mild oil.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Something Old, Some Things New

My friend Shannon requested that I start posting some repeats so that she can be refreshed about some of my older dishes. So, the first of my repeat posts are these Tomato Basil Lasagna Spirals from Vegan Planet. I can't believe it took me until now to repeat this dish. They really are delicious!! This time I made my own pesto subbing sunflower seeds for the pine nuts, and of course omitting the pamesan. These are so good that even the omnivores wouldn't miss the meat from their lasagna. I've decided that these are the next dish I'm making for any pot lucks that may come up.........or maybe I'll just have a dinner party of my own!!!

Also, in the repeat department, we had Lentil Tacos. These appear pretty frequently on our menu, at least once a month, sometimes twice a month. The girls really, really love these tacos (Rob and I do too). They are perfect for a weeknight when I have to teach. I just prepare the lentils ahead of time and when I get home all I have to do is heat the shells, whip up some guacamole, reheat the lentils and voilĂ , dinner is served.

Now on to something new. The mess of a dish pictured above is the Old Fashioned Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Absolutely delicious. The steam from the crockpot cooks the drop biscuits so moist and tender. This is comfort food at it's best.

I was short on garbanzo beans so I used half garbanzos and half black eyed peas. Plus, I didn't have any frozen peas so I subbed corn instead. This was so good I was craving it when I woke up the next day, so I finished off the leftovers for breakfast!!!

And the last new dish of this post......Channa Masala. This recipe came from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook, but there are plenty of recipes to be found all over the internet. Again, incredibly simple and absolutely delicious. I made it quite mild so the girls would eat it, and eat it they did. Mairin finished hers and asked for a second helping, and Stella made good work of hers as well. Along with the chickpeas I served the ever popular naan bread from Manjula's Kitchen. Everyone here loves this naan so much I have to double the recipe!! This time I subbed coconut milk yogurt instead of soy yogurt and the results were fantastic. I think the consistency of coconut milk yogurt is more comparable to dairy yogurt.

And finally, is it just me, or are the rest of you finding it very difficult to be inspired in the dead of winter? There's nothing local at the grocery store, there's no CSA bounty, nothing growing in the garden. All of that equals uninspired resorting to cookbooks for me. I feel like I haven't created my own dish in months. I have my CSA application hanging on the refrigerator waiting for me, but May is sooooo far off. I guess the cookbooks will be getting some good use for the next few months!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Asian Inspired

We've had a few Asian inspired dishes since the start of the New Year.......actually, thinking back on it, this first dish may have been our New Year's Eve Meal. First up we had Spicy Mushroom Lettuce Wraps. This was inspired by the Spicy Tofu Wraps in the current issue of Vegetarian Times. , but I decided to skip the tofu and go for mushrooms instead. I just subbed one 8oz package of button mushrooms, chopped very fine for the tofu, omitted the water chestnuts, and subbed 1/2 tsp chile paste for the chile sauce and otherwise kept the recipe the same I love lettuce wraps when we go out, so I had high hopes for these. "Did they meet your expectations?", you ask. The answer to that is a resounding yes. These were fantastic, probably even better than most of the lettuce wraps I've had in restaurants. We enjoyed the wraps with a side of soba noodles, and some deep fried tofu with chile dipping sauce.

Next, we had this Sweet and Sour Noodles and Vegetable dish from The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. I got this book for Christmas, it's not all vegan, but there are several vegan dishes to choose from, or dishes that are easily veganizable. Despite some of the outdated, or misleading information (that it is necessary to combine pulses and grains for complete protein, or that you have to be extra careful with vegan children.....which I find hilarious since my vegan children eat a wider variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains than most of their omnivorous counterparts), this is a very good book as far as organization and ease of use. The recipes are rated using a star system depending on their level of difficulty, which I like for finding quick and easy meals on weeknights. Also, this book has beautiful pictures, which is always a plus in cookbooks.

The Sweet and Sour noodles were fantastic. Rob liked this dish very much, but thought it could use more noodles. The recipe called for egg noodles, which I subbed out for wide rice noodles, but unfortunately didn't have many of.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Let's Get it Started........

Ha Ha...........a little Black Eyed Peas/New Years humor to start the year off!! Of course, we started the year with black eyed peas and cabbage. As a kid we had just that...a heaping scoop of black eyed peas (that I'm almost certain had been cooked with some kind of meat in them), alongside another heaping scoop of braised cabbage, and some cornbread on the side just to round things out. For the last 5 years we've moved the Christmas celebration to my house which I've enjoyed immensely, so starting last year we moved our New Year's Day meal to my house as well. Not being one who likes to break a tradition, I do like to put a new spin on them, you know, give them my own (vegan) signature. And hey, a tradition meant to bring good luck.....who in their right mind would mess with that? Even if half of my family hates black eyed peas and cabbage, I'm not about to risk a whole year of bad luck to please their palates on this one day.

We started 2008 with Hoppin' John, purple cabbage, and cornbread. It was a success, so I was sure I could please even the black eyed pea haters this year as well. I'd planned on Hoppin' John again, but came across a recipe for New Years Day Soup in the newest issue of Vegetarian Times, and decided to give that a try instead. I'm glad I did, it was fantastic. The flavor combo was great, and their was just enough heat for Rob to forget he was eating black eyed peas. My only advice is to make the soup a day in advance and just re-heat it for your New Year's Day meal (it was even better on January 2). Alongside our soup we had braised cabbage, and cornbread. Tradition indeed!!

Now, just a little note on my lack of blogging of late. Long and short..........I've been busy. With Mairin home from school, and Rob home from work a lot we've just been spending a lot of good quality time together and eating a lot of easy repeats. And, with the lack of CSA goodies, I've been very uninspired. (I also guess I should mention that after a long wait I finally got a Wii, and I've been totally consumed by video games since Christmas) I do have few things waiting on my attention that I'll be blogging about soon, plus some new dishes to prepare over the course of this week. So, hopefully I'll be back with more regular posts now that the busy holiday season has passed.

I also got a juicer for Christmas, so I've been busy concocting juice recipes. Juicing is awesome!! I'm totally addicted to my daily juice now. There's something so pleasing about cramming all of those nutrients into one glass and ingesting them all!! I mean seriously, it's 8:15 a.m. and I've already had 5 carrots, 2 oranges and a 1/2 inch piece of ginger........not possible by any other means than juicing. Plus, there's some green juice in my future today as well!!