Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy holidays from The Food Slut!

Seasons greetings!

Things have been hectic and bizarre around here lately. It looks like we will be moving to upstate New York very soon (Brad will go ahead in a couple week, and the kids and I will follow likely in March). This has all come on very suddenly, and was completely unexpected, but we are excited about it!

I promise to resume blogging very soon. Between finals, the holidays and a dozen other things, I just haven't had time. If/when we move, though, I will be able to stay home with my kids and my kitchen, which means more cooking and more blogging. Hooray!

I wish you all a very happy holiday season!

The Food Slut & Family


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of November 30

So, we ended up not cooking a post-Thanksgiving feast after all. Our friends invited us and our girls over on Friday because their daughter was having a dinner party. It was ridiculously cute, let me tell you. The table was set with a shimmery pink tablecloth, and there were all kinds of cute, shiny things hanging from the chandelier and the windows. The girls all dressed up in fancy clothes, and the table was set with fancy dishes and silverware. They had sparkling grape juice in wine glasses, and the cutest appetizer of mini pb&j rounds set atop shot glasses filled with cold milk. How cute is that? Dinner was penne pasta with cheese sauce, and there were miniature pink-frosted chocolate cakes for dessert. The girls had an absolute ball, and we adults ate Thanksgiving leftovers, drank wine and played Spades on the patio. Talk about a wonderful evening with friends!

Then on Saturday they came over to our house, with all of the remaining Thanksgiving leftovers in tow, and we ate leftovers, watched the Iron Bowl (can I tell you how much I fucking hate Nick Saban????) and then played Scene It before calling it a night.

All that is to say that I haven't cooked anything since Wednesday, when I made Thai tofu and veggie pizza with peanut sauce. The nice thing about that is that our grocery bill has been basically nonexistent. But I'm ready to cook. It's time plan a weekly menu.

Sunday - Veggieburgers with grilled onions and mushrooms, tater tots

Monday - last week for our Monday night class! Hooray! We will probably eat out before class.

Tuesday - Pioneer Woman's Farfalle with Zucchini, french bread

Wednesday - Black bean tamale pie, salad

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Spicy white bean, sweet potato and kale stew, french bread

Saturday - Leftovers

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of November 23

Sunday - burritos

Monday - bean and veggie soup/stew/chili, rice

Tuesday - leftovers

Wednesday - Thai tofu & veggie pizza with peanut sauce, and make-your-own-pizza for the kids

Thursday - Thanksgiving! I don't get to cook this year, which I'm both happy and sad about at the same time.

Friday - Zuppa Toscana, french bread

Saturday - South Indian Spicy Mushroom Curry, rice, spicy onion & carrot pickle

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thai Green Curry Tofu with Jasmine Rice

I haven't had green curry since we were in Japan, which was...good grief, it's been more than 11 months since we left Japan!! Thai Erawan, just off Blue Street in Yokosuka, had the best green curry that I absolutely adored. I bought a tub of green curry paste at Whole Foods earlier this year, as well as a tub of red. I was less than pleased with the red curry paste, so I haven't been really motivated to try the green yet. I found a little packet of green curry paste at World Market last week, and tried it tonight.

It was good! Spicy as hell, but delicious! And look how pretty!


Thai Green Curry Tofu

1 oz green curry paste
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 to 1 cup vegetable stock
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
1 small summer squash, cut in 1-inch chunks
1/2 medium eggplant, cut in 1-inch chunks
1/2 block tofu, drained and pressed, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 large yellow onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut in 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
Hot, cooked jasmine rice

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry paste and saute for 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and vegetable stock, whisking to combine thoroughly. Add sweet potato, summer squash, eggplant, tofu and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until sweet potato is just tender. Add bell pepper and broccoli. Cover and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes longer, until broccoli is crisp-tender but not soft.

Serve over hot jasmine rice.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of November 15

Sunday - dinner with friends

Monday - class night

Tuesday - Green curry tofu and veggies with jasmine rice

Wednesday - Navy bean soup with cornbread

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Zuppa Toscana with french bread

Saturday - leftovers

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cooking day

I cooked so much today! It's been awhile since I've spent this much time in the kitchen, and it was really fun!

First I made a batch of French bread, although I took the shortcut route and prepared the dough in my seldom used bread maker. I think it's the first time I've used it in about three years, but it really came in handy today on the dough cycle, to be able to just put everything in and let it go to work. I took the dough out mid-afternoon, shaped it into 4 small balls instead of one long loaf, and then baked them on some stoneware. We shared one for a snack, spread with Earth Balance and Marmite (yum!), then had another with some leftover minestrone soup that I made last night (sorry, no pictures of either bread or soup).

While the dough was mixing up in the bread maker, I made some vegan vanilla ice cream using a recipe from A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise. This was my first time making vegan ice cream, and it turned out really well! I made the Fancy Pants Vanilla, and modified it very slightly, using almond milk instead of soy milk (I still used soy creamer), and corn starch instead of arrowroot. I ran it through our cheapo ice cream maker for about 30 minutes, then put it in a container in the freezer to firm up more. I'm really excited to try some other recipes from that blog! I think I see a lot of ice cream in our future...

The last thing I made today was apple crisp. I used the recipe that I grew up with, my Grandma's recipe, that has a crumbly strudel-type topping instead of the oat topping most people seem to use. The only thing I changed was subbing Earth Balance margarine for the butter, and I don't know how well that worked. While the apple crisp tasted delicious tonight, for some reason that apples cooked down into mush, and the topping never fully crisped up. I think that real butter may be the key to the perfect crispy, crumbly topping, so if you're not vegan, then by all means stick to the original recipe. I did pop this directly under the broiler for several minutes at the end of the cooking time, which helped somewhat. Regardless, though, this was delicious, even if it was more applesaucy than chunky. I served it topped with several miniature scoops of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. So satisfying!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions

Ok, this is my first time cooking this dish, but it is automatically jumping up to the top of my list of favorite recipes. It's amazing! As I mentioned in my last blog, we had this dish at Roman's, a great restaurant here in town, and we flipped out over how delicious it was, so I was excited when I saw a recipe for it in the Vegan Planet cookbook I bought last weekend. This is the first recipe I've made from Vegan Planet, and if it's an indicator of things to come, I'm delighted! What a great recipe! It was so easy to make. It takes awhile, between letting the lentils simmer, and then letting the rice cook with the lentils afterwards, but there's hardly any active prep time, and it's well worth the wait. I don't want to step on Robin's toes by posting the recipe, but I'll give you the basic idea, and then recommend that you run out to your nearest bookstore forthwith and get yourself a copy of this great cookbook!


To make this dish, your first pre-cook some lentils, and while they're cooking, saute up some diced onion (it calls for shallots, but I used an onion since I was too lazy to go to the store). Remove half the onions and set them aside, then to the rest of the onions, add in lentils, spices, rice and water, then let it simmer away until the rice is cooked. While that's cooking, you cook the reserved onions in some olive oil until they're dark brown, caramelized and crispy. The dish is served topped with the crispy onions.

Seriously, there are not enough good things I can say about this dish! It's immensely satisfying, and was even better than what we had at the restaurant. Delicious! My picture doesn't do it justice, but I hope you can get the idea. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to have much, much more crispy onions on top. We couldn't get enough of them!

My girls weren't too interested in this dish, so I boiled up extra lentils and some plain jasmine rice, and they had that for dinner. Meg ate two big plates of plain lentils and rice, and would have eaten more if we'd let her. I bought a pound of jasmine rice last week, and they've already eaten almost all of it! They can't get enough of hot, unadorned jasmine rice in a bowl. That's my girls!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gnocchi with Thyme Vinaigrette and Lemon Cashew Cream

I came across this recipe from VeganYumYum earlier this year, and was immediately attracted to the idea of a vinaigrette and cream on pasta. I used prepackaged gnocchi, so it was a very quick meal to throw together.

I made my mom's spinach salad to go with it, omitting the eggs, subbing vegetarian bacon, and toasted pecans instead of slivered almonds. Delicious!


Overall, the gnocchi was good, but the combination of the lemon in the cashew cream, and the vinegar in the vinaigrette was just a little too much for me. Next time I think I'll just go with something like a mushroom wine sauce. But the thyme vinaigrette is absolutely delicious, and I think it would be fantastic on salad, or for dipping crusty french bread. Definitely a keeper! I want to give a big THANK YOU to VeganYumYum for a great recipe! I can't remember for sure, but I think this might be the first recipe I've made from that blog, but I've been reading it for a long time. Go check it out if you're not familiar with it. It's a well-written blog with stunning pictures. Keep up the good work!

Weekly Menu - week of November 9th

Yesterday I splurged on two new vegan cookbooks: Vegan With a Vengeance, and Vegan Planet. I already have Veganomicon, so I guess I'm a little out of order just getting VWAV now, but I couldn't resist any longer. I initially walked into the bookstore looking for Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but alas, it was nowhere to be found. I've had a raging sweet tooth lately, so I'd love to get my hands on that book at some point. These two books are awesome, though! So many great recipes that I can't wait to try! Hooray!

One recipe in particular that I'm dying to try is from Vegan Planet: a lentils and rice dish with crispy shallots on top. We had this at a local mediterranean restaurant several weeks ago, and absolutely loved it, so I was excited to see it in Vegan Planet.

Here is my menu plan for the week:

Sunday - Gnocchi with herb sauce, spinach salad, french bread

Monday - night class, so we will forage (as much as I love this class, I will be so glad when it's over. I hate having class in the evening!)

Tuesday - Middle Eastern lentils and rice with caramelized shallots

Wednesday - Minestrone soup, french bread

Thursday - Leftovers, apple crisp

Friday - Dinner out with Brad's family before he goes to his drill weekend

Saturday - Mac & "cheese", broccoli

Vegan Reuben Burger

I've been craving a Reuben sandwich lately, and today we decided to try our hand at a vegetarian version. Surprisingly, rye bread was nowhere to be found at the grocery store. I guess it's an exotic ethnic food around here (picture me rolling my eyes)? So we used individual ciabatta rolls instead. I made some vegan Thousand Island dressing with Vegenaise, ketchup, sweet pickle relish, white wine vinegar, and threw in some caraway seed to try to make up for the absence of rye bread. It worked!

We used vegan Boca Burgers, topped them with sauerkraut and the dressing, and Brad had swiss cheese on his while I kept mine vegan.


It was good! The sauerkraut, caraway and Thousand Island dressing are, for me, what makes up the essence of a Reuben, so I was happy. I actually took my Boca Burger off midway through and gave it to the dogs, and just ate what amounts to a Sauerkraut and Thousand Island sandwich, and enjoyed it even more that way. Next time I might roast up some veggies like eggplant and zucchini, and put them on in place of the Boca Burger. I bet it would be good!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Stir-Fried Vegetables and Tofu with Jasmine Rice

Brad and I are taking a History class together for fun this semester -- The World Since 1960. It's an absolutely fascinating class, and our professor is a phenomenal lecturer. I swear, each class session is as entertaining and interesting as going to movies, and we look forward to Tuesday and Thursday mornings with happy anticipation. So far we've covered the history of intelligence gathering, the arms race, Vietnam, Israel and the Middle East, China, and today we started on Western Europe. I love this class! In discussing China, we've been reading Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Chen, the story of her arrest and imprisonment during the Cultural Revolution. I highly recommend it if you have a chance to read it. The subject matter is sobering, but in reading it last weekend, she mentioned a bowl of rice with steaming vegetables piled on top, and something about that stuck with me, and inspired tonight's dinner: Stir-fried Vegetables and Tofu with Jasmine Rice.

This is one of those recipes that's hardly worth typing out. Cook a pot of jasmine rice. Toast some sesame seeds in a hot, dry skillet, and set aside. Stir-fry green beans, onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms and tofu with ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Fill a bowl with rice. Pile veggies and tofu on top. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds. Devour.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Food


It's election day! Did you vote? I voted this afternoon, and only had to stand in line for about 20 minutes. I cast my vote for Obama, and I'd like to say that I did so happily, but knowing that Louisiana is almost certainly going to McCain didn't do a lot to make me feel that my vote actually mattered. I think it's high time we did away with the electoral college. Who's with me? I've never lived in a swing state, so I've yet to feel that my vote really mattered in the grand scheme of things, but at least I voted!

We're prepared to camp out in front of the TV tonight, half working on homework, and half watching the election results come in. And of course we need sustenance for that! We had yummy, peanutty noodles based on this recipe from use real butter. This is an easy, fresh and filling meal that's deeply satisfying. It doesn't even really require a recipe. I just soaked some rice noodles in hot water, filled a plate with shredded carrots, cucumber matchsticks, bean sprouts, baby spinach, tofu and cilantro, and whisked together a batch of peanut sauce. All that remains when it's time to eat is to put some noodles in a bowl, pile on all the veggies and tofu we wanted, and top it all with peanut sauce and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper. Toss it all together, and there's your dinner! We ate ours cold, but I'm sure it would be equally as good heated through. I plan on taking some to work tomorrow for lunch. Yum!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of November 2nd

Ok. So I didn't actually cook last week. Granted, there were only two nights that I was even going to be able to cook due to our schedule, but I think we just ended up eating veggie burgers or cereal those days (I honestly don't remember), but I seriously AM determined to do some cooking this week!

I did make some cute cookies on Thursday for a Halloween baking swap at work. Check them out! Unfortunately, though, I didn't get to eat any because they weren't vegetarian. They're just made from a chocolate cake mix, eggs, peanut butter and water. I bought the cheapo, local, generic cake mix, which I was really excited to see did not contain dairy, only soy. Hooray, right? WRONG. Upon closer look, after the cookies were in the oven, I discovered that the cake mix contained vegetable shortening, "including one or more of the following: beef fat, lard, tallow". Ugh!

But they sure were cute, weren't they?


And as long as we're on the topic of cookies, I just have to share some really neat cookies that Lydia, my 10 year old, decorated at our friends' house. Aren't the adorable? I love how she did the eyes! She made them with frosting and black confetti sprinkles. Clever!


These pumpkins look like Veggietales!





And now for my menu for this week!

Sunday - veggie burgers

Monday - we have class, so we'll eat on campus (either vegetarian sushi or a veggie burger)

Tuesday - Cold noodle salad with peanut sauce

Wednesday - Margarita night with girls from work (fun!)

Thursday - Stir-fried sesame veggies with jasmine rice

Friday - Gnocchi with herb sauce, french bread, spinach salad

Saturday - not sure yet if we're going to the game, watching it at home, or going out to watch it somewhere

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of October 26

Dude, I have been so out of it lately, it's not even funny. Busy and sick and stressed and exhausted. UGH! But I've dropped one class, I've cut back my hours at work, and I've removed myself from a very big source of stress, frustration and "hate headaches", so I feel much better now. Whew!

I have been a very, very bad vegan lately, I'm sad to say, and I'm slow and sluggish as a result. I haven't eaten meat, but I have eaten a lot of cheese and eggs, and I'm not proud of it. I have long maintained that the hardest thing about being vegan is the time and effort that it takes. There are so few convenience foods that are vegan, and as sick and as busy as I've been, I just haven't had the time to do the necessary planning. Now that things have settled down somewhat, though, I'm more committed than ever.

Sunday - leftovers

Monday - something simple before class, like a pb&j

Tuesday - chickpea salad, spinach, french bread

Wednesday - Thai tofu & veggie pizza (no cheese)

Thursday - going over to friends' house

Friday - Halloween! Going over to friends' house again

Saturday - football game

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies have been in my mom's cookie line-up for years, and deservedly so. They have an unexpected cake- or bread-like consistency, leading my brother and his college roommates to debate whether they were cookies, cake or bread. The recipe surprisingly doesn't call for eggs, and everything on the ingredient list is nonperishable, so it's easy to keep the ingredients on hand for whenever you feel like making them. Mom used to send them to me in care packages at college, and my floormates went nuts over them.

I made these tonight because we have some friends coming over to watch the LSU-Florida game. Brad made a big batch of his killer chili, which we're going to serve over Fritos. That's a great dish for Fall, and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies just seemed to make sense with the cooler weather theme.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter flavor Crisco
2 c sugar
1 15-oz can pumpkin
4 c flour
2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
2 tsp vanilla
2 c chocolate chips
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients together. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of Oct 5

Sunday - grilled chimichangas with refried beans, onion, salsa and Cholula Sauce

Monday - veggie burgers with avocado and sprouts, french fries

Tuesday - crispy Chinese noodles with eggplant and peanuts, bok choy

Wednesday - goulash, french bread, salad

Thursday - Thai tofu & veggie pizza with peanut sauce

Friday - red beans and rice, french bread, salad

Saturday - undecided, but probably leftovers

Friday, October 3, 2008


No food to blog about tonight, since we ate a very late lunch. At work we had Izzo's fabulous burritos catered in, but they were all pre-wrapped, and they all had beef or chicken in them. Doh! So I called Brad, and on his way home from class, he swung by Izzo's, got us a couple vegan burritos, and we ate lunch together at my office at 2:00. What a sweetie!

Tonight we are taking the kids to see LSU Theater's production of High School Musical. Should be fun! Brad is dreading it, but the kids and I are looking forward to it. I'll admit, I hated the movie the first time I watched it with the kids, but it has totally grown on me, and I love the songs now.

To keep the Vegan MOFO theme going, though, I wanted to share some of the stranger comments I've received since going vegan.

"What are you...a PETA freak?"
- bank teller

"Shame on you!"
- my boss (I KNOW!)

"You can still eat chicken/fish/pork/seafood, right?"
- many, many, many people

"Wow, you're the first actual vegetarian I've met in real life!"
- a colleague

"I've heard of vegetarian before. What does it mean?"
- grocery store cashier

"SOY milk?? What's a soy?"
- woman at the grocery store

"What kind of foods does a veejun eat?"
- various people

"You don't eat meat or dairy? What DO you eat?"
- even more people

Hey, at least people are becoming somewhat informed from my answers, right? I'll admit to having some of the same attitudes about it in the past, so I can't really judge. Turnabout is fair play, right?

More veejun food to come later this weekend! ; )

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Musurir Dal

Ok. So this has been a long, difficult, stressful day. I can't even begin to tell you how much I hate being gone all day long, and then fighting horrible traffic home for over an hour. YUCK. But this dinner was perfect for a night like tonight, when I'm worn out, sleepy and frazzled. It came together in a snap, with minimal effort, and was great comfort food when it was time to sit down and eat. So hooray for Musurir Dal!

I found the recipe here, and modified it slightly to work with the ingredients I had on hand.


We ate this with leftover naan and onion pickle from last night. The Musurir Dal, while delicious, tasted nothing like I expected it would from reading the recipe. For lack of a better description, it kind of tastes like a spiced up split pea soup. Wild.

And now, I'm signing off so I can veg on the couch and wait for the Vice Presidential debates to come on. I fucking hate Sarah Palin, to the point that I can hardly stand to listen to her talk, but I don't want to miss these debates, either.

Oh, and please excuse the awful photo today. Like I's been a long day.


Musurir Dal
Onion Fragrant Red Lentils

3 cups water water
1 cup red lentils
1/4 t turmeric
1/2 t salt
1/2 tsp agave nectar
2 T vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 t garam masala
2 T fresh lime or lemon juice
1 T finely chopped fresh cilantro/coriander

Bring water to boil in a pan over medium heat. Add lentils. Add turmeric and simmer, covered until lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. They should break easily when pressed between thumb and index finger. Add salt and agave nectar. Set aside, and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Fry bay leaves and red pepper until the pepper darkens. Add cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Add the onion and fry until richly browned but not burnt, 15 to 18 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in jalapeno. Add to the lentils. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in garam masala, lime juice and cilantro.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vegan MOFO: Aloo Palak with Naan

Ok, so I haven't officially signed up to participate in Vegan MOFO because I'm afraid they may reject me since I'm not 100% vegan 100% of the time. But I'm going to participate on my own, if not part of the official group. So here is my first post for this Vegan Month of Food. Even if this blog event doesn't sway everyone to go vegan or vegetarian, my hope is that it will at least encourage people to cut back on the amount of meat they eat on a regular basis. That's how Brad and I got started on this adventure. A few years ago, we decided to try the so-called Flexatarian mode of eating, which just means we made it a point to prepare meat-free meals several times each week (in fact, I think we may have started out with just one or two days, to tell you the truth). That went so well that we decided to eat vegetarian at home when we moved here, and only eat meat when we were out. Admittedly, we fudged a few times and had some pork chops, hot wings, and a few other meatful meals, but overall I'm proud of us for sticking to it as much as we did.

Through that process, and all the information I came across while looking for vegetarian and vegan recipes online and in books, I was blown away by all the evidence that pointed to a vegan diet as the healthiest way one can eat. Wow! I really never knew nor expected that! I also was shocked to learn so much about the global ramifications of a meat-eating diet, the way animals-for-food are raised and treated. Given that, and given that I have led a fairly unhealthy lifestyle up until now, and given that I need to lose a LOT of weight (and by "a lot", I mean more than 100 pounds), it just made sense, and I decided to go primarily vegan back in mid-June. Since then, I have lost 30 pounds, and feel better than I ever have before! I do still eat dairy on occasion, I'll freely admit, but I stay vegan a good 95% of the time, if not more. Looking back and seeing how I have progressed to this point, though, I imagine it won't be long before I'm completely dairy-free. But I'm content to take it one step at a time. Even one year ago, I never in a million years would have seen myself where I am now. I was one of those who said vehemently that "I could never give up meat", or "I would die without cheese", and yet here I am. And I'm so glad I've made the choice to do so!

Now, let's talk about tonight's dinner! It was so delicious! I did heavily modify the Aloo Palak recipe that I found here, and I combined several naan recipes I found around the internet in order to come up with what you see here. I'm immensely pleased with the naan -- it's the best I've had homemade to date -- and the Aloo Palak was incredibly satisfying and delicious...although with all the changes I made to it, I don't know if you can even call it Aloo Palak anymore. I'll just call it "good". I also made another batch of the Spicy Onion and Carrot Pickle we had last night, albeit minus the cilantro, since we were out. Great dinner!


Here are the recipes:

Aloo Palak

2 large potatoes
2 Tsbp olive oil
1 tsp olive oil
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 bags baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 cup soy milk (or more or less, as desired)

Scrub potatoes, poke several times with a fork, and microwave 10 minutes on high (or you can bake them, but nuking is faster). When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins, and cut into large chunks, about 1" square.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add potato chunks. Cook and gently stir until lightly browned. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil. Add jalapeno, ginger, chili powder, cumin and turmeric. Cook and stir several minutes, until jalapeno begins to soften. Add spinach. Cook and stir until spinach begins to break down. Puree using an immersion blender, if desired. Gradually stir in soy milk, until desired consistency is reached. It should be fairly thick, not runny, but not solid, either. Just go with what looks good to you.

Add potatoes and gently stir into the spinach mixture until heated through. Serve with naan.



1 1/2 cups warm water
2 pkgs yeast
1 Tbsp agave nectar
5 Tbsp soy milk
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 to 5 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
additional olive oil

Sprinkle yeast over warm water, stir to dissolve, and set aside for 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy. Stir in the agave nectar, soy milk and olive oil. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 4 cups of the flour, the salt and baking soda; stir together. With the mixer on low, and using the paddle attachment, add yeast mixture to the flour mixture. When flour is thoroughly incorporated, switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Add additional flour as needed to form a very soft dough. It should still be soft and fairly sticky, but should form a smooth ball. Continue to knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes. Shape dough into a ball, and place smooth side down in a greased bowl, turning to coat (the smooth side will be up at that point). Cover with a clean dishcloth and let rise 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

Place a pizza stone in the oven, and heat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes, to heat the stone thoroughly. After 30 minutes, turn the broiler on high.

Punch down the dough, and knead 20-30 times. Pull off a baseball sized chunk of the dough, roll to a little thinner than 1/2-inch. Lightly wet your hands with water, and pat the dough between your hands to moisten slightly. Drape the dough onto the pizza stone, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Brush lightly with olive oil, flip over, and bake 1 to 2 minutes longer, until golden brown. The naan should still be somewhat soft. Remove from the oven, and brush lightly with a little more olive oil if desired. Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: 6 to 8 naan.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Punjabi Chana, and Spicy Onion and Carrot Pickle


I don't remember how I came across this recipe for Punjabi Chana on the VeganMania! website, but I'm sure glad that I did! I have a bit of a love affair going on with chickpeas these days, so this recipe immediately jumped out at me. The ingredients, aside from spices, are minimal, so it was a very inexpensive meal. I already had all of the spices, onion and garlic on hand, so all I had to buy were chickpeas. Seriously, does it get any better than that? Actually, it does! Not only is it inexpensive, it's also really simple to make!

I know I say this a lot, because we love spicy food, but I should probably warn you that this dish IS very spicy. If you're not into food so hot it makes your tongue burn and your eyes water, you'll probably want to cut back on the cayenne pepper, or even omit it. We, however, loved it!

I also mixed up a quick batch of Spicy Onion and Carrot Pickle to go along with the Punjabi Chana (scroll down for the recipe). The pickled veggies are spicy, sweet and tangy all at the same time, and are a great, fresh contrast to the strong flavor of the Chana. I found the recipe here, and modified it a little by adding Sriracha hot sauce to make it spicy, some carrots to add some crunch, and a little fresh cilantro for some extra zip. Yum!

And it's all vegan! Woohoo!


Punjabi Chana
(simple and spicy Indian chickpea dish)

2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups cooked chickpeas (two cans, drained and rinsed)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cups water (or more)
salt to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat, and add the mustard seeds. When they have finished popping, add the garlic, ginger and onion and sauté until tender.

Add the remaining ingredients except for the salt and allow to simmer over medium low heat until most of the water has been absorbed and the chickpeas are uncommonly soft and rich in texture. Salt this dish liberally.

Serve over rice.



Spicy Onion and Carrot Pickle

1 red onion, sliced
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
6 Tbsp white vinegar
6 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tsp salt

Rinse the onion slices in cold water, then pat dry.

In a microwave safe small mixing bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, hot sauce and salt. Whisk together, and microwave 1 minute to help sugar dissolve. Combine onions, carrots, cilantro and vinegar mixture in a mixing bowl (I put mine in a gallon size Ziploc bag). Toss to combine. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of Sept 28

Here's my plan for this week! There are a bunch of Indian recipes I've been dying to try. Can't wait!

Sunday - dinner out with Brad's mom

Monday - we have class until 9:30pm, so we will just grab something on the way

Tuesday - Punjabi Chana, rice, salad

Wednesday - Aloo Palak, naan

Thursday - Musurir Dal, rice, salad

Friday - potatoes in spicy peanut and sesame paste, peanut rice, salad

Saturday - date night!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of Sept 21

This is a little late, but here it is, nonetheless.

Sunday - leftovers

Monday - dinner out (we have class until 9:30pm)

Tuesday - baked ziti

Wednesday - leftover baked ziti

Thursday - ziti with marinara sauce

Friday - veggie burgers and fries

Saturday - at the football game!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lentil Orzo Salad

Another new recipe!

You know, sometimes I wonder if maybe there's something wrong with me, that I have such a strong aversion to repeating recipes. Yeah, there are a few go-to recipes that I come back to, but they're few and far between, and outside of those, I really prefer to try something new than go with something tried and true. What's up with that? My friend Susan (hey, lady!) told me several years ago about a friend of hers who had been in a competition with her sister and mother, to see who could go the longest without repeating a recipe (dinner only, I think, but I'm not sure). I believe that she said the sister won, by going something like two years without any repeats. A woman after my own heart! I have a ridiculously long list of new recipes I want to try, and more are added every day. I find them on blogs, Tastespotting, in cookbooks and from friends. Given that, it almost seems silly to repeat recipes very often, because how else will I work my way through that list?

So here's one from the list! It's a salad made of lentils and orzo, with some fresh veggies and a delightfully perky curry-spiked vinaigrette. This was good enough that we ate it two nights in a row, even! It was delicious with a little french bread on the side.


Lentil Orzo Salad

4 cups cooked lentils, drained (do not overcook; you want them to hold their shape)
4 cups cooked orzo, drained and rinsed with cold water
1 medium red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar (can substitute 2 Tbsp sugar)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine lentils, orzo, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix gently. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over lentil mixture and toss gently to combine. Chill before serving, if desired, or serve at room temperature.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baked Ziti with Basil Bread Crumbs

This recipe is a spin-off of the Pumpkin Baked Ziti I made when my mom was here in August. Brad's not a pumpkin fan, as I've mentioned before, so I wanted to tweak that recipe into something he would enjoy. It was creamy, delicious, and thoroughly satisfying. Yum!

For the ricotta cheese, I used the almond-tofu ricotta recipe from Veganomicon (I've said it before, and I'll say it again: go get yourself a copy of that cookbook! It's the best!), and I made fresh bread crumbs from a loaf of Italian bread. Brad stirred some crumbled feta cheese into his serving, but I ate it as-is.


I don't think I've blogged about this yet, but I'm extremely happy to announce that, since switching to a primarily vegan diet in mid-June, I've lost 26 pounds! And Brad has lost 10 pounds since he got back from Japan last month, and became a full-time vegetarian! That's without altering our lifestyle at all, aside from no longer eating meat. I'm thrilled about that! I still have a long way to go to meet my long-term weight, health and lifestyle goals, but I'll get there. I'm off to a good start! I feel fantastic, and so much lighter (no wonder!). I've been hauling a heavy tote bag to class with all my books and notebooks in it, and on a whim the other evening, I weighed it to see how much it weighed compared to how much I've lost. It came in at 15 pounds -- a little over half of what I've lost -- and was an excellent tangible way to see how much I'm no longer hauling around every day. No wonder I feel better!

Baked Ziti with Basil Bread Crumbs

1 pound ziti
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 cups vegan ricotta cheese
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook ziti per package instructions.

While pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and basil; cook and stir until onions are deeply browned and caramelized. Set aside.

Drain pasta. In a large mixing bowl, combine pasta, onion mixture, ricotta, tomato sauce and tomatoes, mixing thoroughly. Pour into prepared baking dish; set aside.

With a paper towel, wipe out the skillet used for the onions. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat, then add basil and oregano. When the herbs begin to sizzle, add the bread crumbs and walnuts, tossing to coat with oil. Cook and stir several minutes, until the mixture begins to brown. Spread evenly over the pasta mixture.

Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tomato-Feta Chicken Tofu with Couscous

This has been one of my go-to recipes for over ten years. I found this recipe in a magazine when I was pregnant with Lydia, and it's been a menu staple ever since! There are only 5 ingredients, and it cooks up in minutes. You can't beat that!

It's one of Brad's favorite things that I cook, so I wanted to try to vegetarianize it for him. Instead of browning chicken breasts in a skillet, I grilled tofu on the Foreman Grill. I also used plain couscous instead of the parmesan variety, and I left the feta cheese off of my serving, but Brad happily smothered his with it. I can't blame him. I love (and miss) feta cheese!

The verdict? It was good. I do prefer chicken to tofu when it's cooked this way, but the tofu was still a fine substitution, and one I was glad to make. And I missed the feta, but there was still plenty of flavor in the tomatoes, so it was still good without it. I'll count this one a success!


Tomato-Feta Chicken with Couscous

4 chicken breasts
1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 box parmesan couscous
1 bag fresh spinach
1 pack tomato-basil feta cheese

Pan-fry the chicken breasts in a little olive oil till nicely browned on both sides, then add the can of diced tomatoes (juice and all). Cover and simmer till the chicken is done.

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous and steam the spinach.

To serve, make a bed of spinach on each plate, then top with a piece of chicken and spoon some tomatoes and sauce over top; serve the couscous on the side. Sprinkle a little tomato-basil feta cheese over all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pineapple Habanero Salsa


This is the fabulous salsa I made for yesterday's football game. It's super spicy, so consider yourself warned! The only habanero peppers they had at the store yesterday were itsy, bitsy, tiny ones, each about the size of a dime, so I used three. Yowza! Those three tiny peppers packed a wallop! I really love the salty-sweet-tangy-spicy nature of this salsa.

I mentioned in yesterday's blog that I would like to try roasting the pineapple next time. I bet it would taste great!

Pineapple Habanero Salsa

1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
Reserved pineapple juice
1 small red or green bell pepper, diced
3 medium green onions, thinly sliced
1 habanero pepper, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp agave nectar (can substitute honey, molasses or sugar), to taste

Mix all ingredients, including reserved pineapple juices, in medium bowl. Cover and let stand at least one hour at room temperature. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

Weekly Menu - week of September 14

Sunday - leftover football food ; )

Monday - dinner out, since I added a night class to my schedule and will be gone from 7am to 10pm Mondays. I must be out of my mind!

Tuesday - Grilled tofu, spinach, tomato, and couscous

Wednesday - Baked ziti, salad, french bread

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Lentil-orzo salad, flat bread

Saturday - Peanutty Noodles

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Football Food!

Because the weather is crummy, and we don't have a babysitter, and it's not supposed to be the most exciting game, we decided to stay home and watch today's LSU game vs. North Texas at home today. We're having some friends over to watch the game here, and are making yummy football food to munch on. Should be fun!

I made a few tried and true recipes: Pineapple Habanero Salsa, Monterey Nacho Snack Mix, and a BBQ Chicken Pizza (minus the chicken).

The salsa was inspired by a salsa of the same name that we had in Hawaii the last time we were there. It was almost painfully spicy (just the way I like it), and sweet and tangy. This recipe calls for fresh pineapple, but some time I'd like to try roasting the pineapple first, which I think would add a nice smoky depth to the salsa. We loaned our propane tank to the in-laws after our power came back on last Sunday, so maybe next time!

The Monterey Nacho Snack Mix is something I've made at least a half dozen times over the past several years. I found the recipe on awhile back, and have tweaked it somewhat to make it much spicier. I use about 10 times as much Tabasco Sauce as the original recipe calls for, as well as several tablespoons of crushed red pepper.

I've blogged about BBQ Chicken Pizza before. It's one of my favorite ways to eat pizza, and is good with chicken, seitan, or grilled tofu, or just minus all of those, as I made it today. Red onion, cilantro and BBQ sauce are the key ingredients that make this recipe awesome, so adding a meat or meat alternative is just extra. I love this pizza!

I also made a plain cheese pizza for the kids, because come on...who doesn't love a cheese pizza?

Hooray for football food!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Black beans and rice

Tonight's dinner is so easy, it's almost embarrassing. I'm glad for it, too, because I was gone 12 hours today for class, and was hungry when I got home! This dinner utilized leftover pico de gallo from last night, which was an awesome, easy way to flavor the beans. Brad roasted a couple sweet potatoes for me before I got home, so I diced one up and added it to my beans and rice. Awesome, instant nutritional boost, and it tasted great!


Give this recipe a try if you find yourself with leftover pico de gallo, and are pressed for time. It's delicious!

Black Beans & Rice

1 tsp olive oil
1 to 2 cups pico de gallo
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
cooked rice, hot
1 cooked sweet potato, diced (optional)
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add pico de gallo, beans, chili powder and cumin. Cook and stir until heated through. Serve over rice. Top with sweet potato and season with Tabasco sauce, if desired. Dig in!

Monday, September 8, 2008

A first

If you ask me which foods I don't like, my answer is always squash and sweet potatoes. I've always been a very open-minded eater, even since childhood, but a love of squash and sweet potatoes has eluded me. I've made some progress over the years, and in adulthood I learned to love zucchini, summer squash, pumpkin, and tempura slices of kabocha, but that's about it. Every year at Thanksgiving, I give sweet potatoes another try, but I have never enjoyed them. It's frustrating, because sweet potatoes are packed with good-for-you stuff, and are super cheap, and easy to prepare.

Now, though, I am really determined to learn to love sweet potatoes. My parents love them just roasted in the oven, eaten piping hot with either butter and salt, or butter and brown sugar. I figure either of those ways is too "in your face" for hater like me, so I figured I would try to factor them in supporting roles in dishes. Today I bought one and roasted it in the oven, planning to cube it and add it to my burrito. I got sidetracked with the other dinner prep, however, and forgot about it until we had already finished eating. Woops. I turned to some friends online, one of whom gave me a list of ideas for cooked sweet potatoes. I opted for a slight variation on one of her ideas, and pureed the sweet potato with my immersion blender, stirred in some maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice, then quickly toasted some chopped pecans, and stirred them in.


And you know what? It was actually really good! This is a huge first for me: enjoying a sweet potato! It wasn't exactly healthy, what with the maple syrup, but's a start!

Pinto bean burritos


What a satisfying dinner tonight! I have really been missing fresh foods, so tonight's dinner was particularly enjoyable. I'm so glad to have power again! Earlier today I mixed up a quick batch of pico de gallo, and for lunch I had a flour tortilla wrapped around a big ol' scoop of pico de gallo.

The burritos this evening were simple...just some canned pinto beans, drained, rinsed, and heated with a little chili powder and cumin; corn browned with chili powder; as well as sauteed onions, pico de gallo, and avocado, all wrapped up in a big flour tortilla.


On the side, I had one of my favorite treats: an avocado half, lightly sprinkled with salt, and filled with a bunch of fresh pico de gallo. Just dig in with a spoon, and eat it up. Delicious!


Weekly Menu - week of September 7th

This menu will use up a lot of the canned beans we stored up prior to the hurricane. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but it's surprisingly difficult to find shelf stable vegan food. I hadn't realized how much we factor fresh and refrigerated foods into our menu, but living without power for a week really made that clear. I am so sick of processed foods right now, and can't wait to start drinking my fresh fruit and veggie smoothies for breakfast again, and have fresh veggies with dinner!

We have a bad habit of not using foods we buy ahead of time in bulk, and then we end up tossing them because they've gone bad, which is essentially the same as just throwing our money in the trash can. When we moved here, we were determined to not stockpile food in our pantry, fridge or freezer. Over time, though, our fridge and freezer gradually began to accumulate more and more stuff, and while it wasn't that much food on an absolute level, it was still more than we wanted to amass. Thankfully we were able to eat 90% of it before our power went out, including some stuffed bell peppers that I made and froze several months ago, but it really sucked to have to throw food away when the power went out. We're that much more determined now to not let it happen again. Our plan now is to only buy groceries for a couple days at a time. Yes, we'll have to go to the store more often, but it's on our way home from work and class, so we won't have to make additional trips out of the house, and small shopping trips are so much faster than big ones, plus there will be less likelihood of things spoiling in the fridge before we get around to cooking them. We'll see how it goes!

Here's our planned menu for the week. As I said, it heavily features beans. ; )

Sunday - veggie kebabs, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, chips (bbq with the in-laws)

Monday - pinto bean burritos, pico de gallo

Tuesday - black beans and rice, pico de gallo

Wednesday - baked beans, bread, salad

Thursday - black-eyed peas, sweet potato, kale and rice casserole

Friday - leftovers, most likely

Saturday - tailgating before the football game!

I'm back!

I'm back! This past week has been challenging, to put it mildly, as we were without power for 6 days. In the brutal heat and humidity of Louisiana, it's not easy to live without air conditioning, not to mention we couldn't run our garbage disposal, do laundry, vacuum the carpets (our dogs shed like crazy), get online, watch the news, or a million other things we take for granted. It was an awful, awful week, and I'm so thankful that we finally have power back! I know there are other hurricanes looming out there, and they may hit us, but I'm not going to worry about that until I have more solid information. It's not worth stressing over. Let it be said, though, that if this does happen again, we're seriously considering transferring to UW, putting about 70% of our stuff in storage, throwing the other 30% in a U-Haul, and moving to Seattle. So we'll see.

We obviously didn't do a lot of cooking this past week, and with many stores still being out of power, I'm not sure how much we'll do this week. About half the area is still without power, so while ours is back on, it's going to be awhile yet before things get back to normal. Please don't give up on me in the meantime! I know posting has been sparse this past month, but that won't always be the case!

We stocked up on beans, beans and more beans before the storm, so we're going to work our way through those for awhile. Tonight the plan is black bean burritos with fresh pico de gallo. Thank goodness our local produce stand is open! Once I get a better handle on the grocery store situation, I'm going to put together a weekly menu. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 1, 2008


We are in the path of Gustav, so in the event power goes out and I can't blog, you'll understand why. Hopefully it will blow by and things will be back to normal before too long, but we are well prepared in case it's worse than that. We have plenty of water, nonperishables, flashlights and lanterns, so we aren't too concerned about how we'll fare. If things are too bad in the aftermath, at that point we'll pack up and head to some friends' house, but our hope is that we can just stay here at home.

And can I mention how difficult it is to find vegan nonperishable food??? Yikes! Our pantry is stocked with bread, canned beans, cereal, rice milk, peanut butter, apples and oranges. Not the most exciting stockpile of food, but it'll do what it needs to do, and it's stuff we will use in the long run anyway.

I'll be back when everything is back to normal!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thai Tofu & Veggie Pizza with Peanut Sauce

Spicy Thai pizza with peanut sauce was one of my favorite pizzas back in college. Zeek's Pizza in Seattle makes a fantastic one, though it was difficult to find enough people interested in splitting one to make it worthwhile to order, so I didn't get to indulge very often. Zeek's also makes an awesome BBQ chicken pizza, so I was happy to settle for that instead.

A friend online mentioned last week that she was going to make a Thai pizza like this, and I immediately added it to this week's menu. I made my very simple pizza dough, patted it out on my pizza stone, and glazed it with a little olive oil. I loaded it up with bean sprouts, shredded carrot, coarsely chopped red onion, soy sauce basted grilled tofu cut into chunks, little broccoli florets, and loads of fresh cilantro. I put mozzarella cheese on Brad's half, but left it off mine. Pizza is something I'm usually willing to splurge on, and veer out of my mostly vegan diet for, but I really don't need it for this pizza. I also whipped up a quick batch of peanut sauce, which we drizzled over the pizza after it came out of the oven, as well as a dish of it on the side for dipping. I also garnished the pizza with chopped peanuts and crushed red pepper.


The verdict? Delicious! I love homemade pizza, and I love unusual pizza, so this satisfies both. I honestly didn't even miss the cheese.


I'd also like to give a shout out to my sweet husband Brad, who decided while he was in Japan that he wanted to become a vegetarian, too! Hooray for Brad! He's not at all interested in going vegan, which I can understand, but I'm proud of him, and excited for both of us, that he's an "all the way" vegetarian now! He's been completely meat-free for a week and a half now, and said that he feels better than he has in ages. Way to go, Brad!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of August 24th

Sunday - dinner out

Monday - Lentil tacos

Tuesday - Grilled burritos made with leftover taco fixings

Wednesday - Thai tofu, vegetable and peanut sauce pizza

Thursday - Chickpea Salad

Friday - leftovers, most likely


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hooray for hummus!

I was so disappointed after last night's hummus disaster, so imagine my delight when I went the the lunch room today, and saw that a huge spread of Greek food had been catered in for lunch!! There were lamb gyros, chicken shwarma, rice pilaf, tzatziki sauce, hummus, pita bread, and Greek salad. Oh, baby!

The food wasn't a big hit with my co-workers, but hey, all the better, because more food for me, bitches! Yeah! I had a huge plate of salad, a scoop of hummus, and a round of the most fabulously chewy pita bread. There were literally stacks of leftovers, so I was able to bring home an entire tray of hummus (leaving another tray and a half behind), about a dozen rounds of pita bread, and a big bowl of salad, which we happily dined on this evening.

Look at all that hummus!


Hooray for leftovers! And hooray for hummus!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Greek-ish Salad

Well, dinner tonight was a bust. Brad came home today (woohoo!), and had requested hummus, pita bread, and Greek salad. I make a kick-ass hummus, so I was happy to oblige, but it was an utter failure. I first realized that I didn't have garlic, so I tried to just substitute garlic powder instead. Bad, bad idea, I know. I hate garlic powder and think it makes everything taste awful, but I did it anyway. Then I decided to healthy it up a little by using liquid from the canned garbanzo beans instead of olive oil. Again, bad, bad idea. It's just not the same. And then I used too much of the liquid, and the hummus was terribly runny, so I tried to thicken it up by adding some chickpea flour. It did thicken it up, but it gave it this dry, beany, floury flavor. ICK.

So it was decided that I would run to the store and pick up some garlic and more garbanzo beans. Before I left, though, I figured that instead of letting the icky hummus go completely to waste, we could feed it to the dogs. So we put some scoops of it into the dogs' food bowls, along with their Puppy Chow. Yeah. Even the dogs wouldn't eat it. Talk about a recipe bomb!

I came back from the store and began mixing up the hummus, and only then did it occur to me that I had used the last of our tahini in the first disastrous batch of hummus. UGH! I tried to make it work anyway, by using just a spoonful of peanut butter (someone swore years ago that it's the only way to make fantastic hummus), and a drizzle of sesame oil, but sucked.

Needless to say, we did NOT have hummus with dinner tonight. Instead I made a big salad of lettuce, grape tomatoes, green bell pepper, olives and garbanzo beans, tossed with red wine vinegar, olive oil and dill. Brad had feta in his, too. It was good, and very filling with some pita bread on the side, but we did really miss the hummus.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of August 17th

Sunday - leftovers

Monday - spaghetti, sauce, salad

Tuesday - spaghetti pie, salad

Wednesday - hummus, Greek salad, pita bread

Thursday - lentil tacos or taco salad

Friday - burritos with leftover taco fixings

Saturday - dinner out

Friday, August 15, 2008

My very most favoritest dinner

I've lost count of how many times I've made this Black-Eyed Pea Salad since I first discovered the recipe 2 months ago. It's become my go-to recipe, something I can easily throw together when we need a quick meal. I love this salad! It has evolved somewhat since I first made it, and now I use 2 cans of garbanzo beans and about a cup of edamame instead of black-eyed peas. I like it a lot better this way, since the garbanzo beans and edamame have more of a bite to them.

I made this salad tonight, since Lydia is having a sleepover with her friend, and I wanted something yummy enough to tempt me away from their pizza. ; )

You can see my original post about it here.



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pumpkin Peanut Soup

This is one of those recipes I've wanted to try for ages, but haven't had a chance to. Brad doesn't care for pumpkin, and he despises peanut butter, so this soup is definitely not something he's interested in eating. But since he's still in Japan, and I happened to have the ingredients on hand, I jumped at the chance to finally try it. It totally hit the spot, and was easy to throw together. After tasting it, I know Brad would hate it, but this will go on the list of things to make in the future when he's out of town. Gotta love a husband who travels, right? ; )


I think this would look really pretty garnished with some cilantro and chopped peanuts, but hey, I made it work with what I had in the pantry!

Pumpkin Peanut Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15-oz can pumpkin
1 14-oz can light coconut milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallots. Cook and stir for several minutes, or until onion is softened and translucent. Add garlic and thyme, and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in vegetable broth and pumpkin. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Add coconut milk and peanut butter. If desired, process in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return to stove to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle individual servings with cayenne pepper, if desired.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of August 10th

Sunday - dinner out at Cheeburger Cheeburger for Lydia's dinner

Monday - chickpea salad, garlic bread

Tuesday - leftovers

Wednesday - spaghetti, marinara sauce, salad

Thursday - lentil tacos

Friday - burritos

Saturday - leftovers

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onion and Sage Bread Crumb Topping


Yet another fabulous Veganomicon recipe! This is another that I've been wanting to try for a long time, but that Brad would never go for. He doesn't like pumpkin in any capacity, so I've put it off until now, knowing that my mom would be all for it. It was awesome to have my mom's help in the kitchen. She's the one who taught me to cook when I was younger, and is a foodie just like me. I loved cooking with her tonight!

And this's to die for. As with my previous Veganomicon posts, I'm not going to share the recipe with you. I know others have, but I just don't think it's cool to do so. I strongly urge you to go pick up a copy of this cookbook. It's not let me down yet!

This recipe was my first time making a vegan ricotta substitute, which turned out beautifully. I honestly can't believe that tofu, cashews, olive oil, lemon juice and some seasoning can taste like ricotta. What a find! The ricotta is mixed with pumpkin, caramelized onions, and spices, then tossed together with the cooked pasta. On top are some gorgeous toasted bread crumbs and walnuts.

Good golly, this recipe is amazing!


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of August 3

Here's our plan for the week. We're eating out a bunch because my mom is visiting, and we're trying to see all the family while she's here.

Sunday - dinner out

Monday - Pumpkin pasta, salad, french bread

Tuesday - Spinach and potato enchiladas, spanish rice

Wednesday - dinner out

Thursday - dinner out

Friday - Pineapple quinoa stir-fry

Saturday - probably dinner out again

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Creamy Asian Pear and Tempeh Salad with Wasabi Dressing

Brad left for Japan this morning, which is very sad for me, but my mom is visiting, which means I have the opportunity to try out a bunch of recipes that I've been interested in, but that didn't appeal to Brad. Gotta take lemons and make 'em into lemonade, right? I'm so excited that my mom is here, and am looking forward to spending the next 10 days with her. Hooray!

The first recipe on the list was Creamy Asian Pear and Tempeh Salad with Wasabi Dressing, from Veganomicon. I won't give out the whole recipe, since I don't want to step on their toes, and because I think everyone out there should go pick up a copy of this awesome book. But I will tell you that the salad contains tempeh, pear (no Asian pears to be found today, so we just used a Bosc) , green onions, and a spicy Vegenaise-based dressing. Oh, baby!


I served mine on some absolutely delicious sprouted soy wheat bread, toasted, with baby greens. That, with an apple and some blueberries, made a delicious lunch.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chipotle Barbecue Bean and Corn Salad

I was so inspired by this recipe on Food Blogga last night, that I had to switch up my menu and make it for tonight's dinner. I mean, look at Food Blogga's pictures! I was drooling from the first glance. So I stopped at the store on the way home, picked up all the ingredients, and made it almost as soon as I walked in the door from work. I wanted to make sure it had time to chill for a bit before dinner, as the recipe states that it tastes best after a few hours.

It's so delicious! Tangy, smokey and spicy. I love it! We've really been enjoying the Black-eyed Pea Salad lately (which I've now taken to making with garbanzo beans and edamame instead of black-eyed peas), so I'm thrilled to have another chilled bean salad to add to my repertoire.

I made a few minor adaptations to the recipe: I used 1 whole red onion instead of 2 green onions, because I'm a red onion fanatic; I omitted the red bell pepper, because bell peppers are crazy expensive these days; and I added some diced avocado. Oh, and I just realized that I omitted the oregano because I was in a hurry, and just didn't notice it. Woops.

This is great just eaten plain with a fork as a main dish, or scooped up with chips as a dip, or served as a side dish. You really can't go wrong with this. And it's vegan! Woohoo!

Thank you, thank you, Food Blogga, for an amazing recipe! It's guaranteed to become a favorite in our home.


Chipotle Barbecue Bean and Corn Salad
Makes 4-6 servings

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed from the cob
1 (14.5 oz) can of black beans, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can of red kidney beans, rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can of chick peas, rinsed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano

To make the sauce, whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl, and set aside.

To make the salad, heat olive in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and corn kernels. Saute until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add to a large bowl. Add rinsed beans, and sauce; stir until well combined. Gently stir in the fresh herbs. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, though it tastes better if allowed to rest for a couple of hours.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lentil Haystacks

We first had lentil haystacks several weeks ago, and we were instantly smitten. They're delicious, filling, fresh, and almost ridiculously inexpensive. I figured we would start to eat them all the time, but given my reluctance to repeat recipes very often, we haven't had them again until tonight. And, as with so many other things, I'm kicking myself for not having them sooner. These haystacks rock!

I love that they can be customized to each person's liking. Meg had just rice and lentils. Lydia had rice, lentils, cheese and olives. Brad had rice, lentils, cheese, salsa, onions and sour cream. I had rice, lentils, vegan monterey jack cheese, salsa, onions, olives and cilantro. Fabulous!


If you're trying to feed your family (or just yourself) on a budget, or if you're just trying to trim your grocery budget, definitely give this recipe a try!

Lentil Haystacks

1 cup dry lentils
4 cups water
4 cups hot, cooked rice (brown or white)
assorted toppings, such as cheese, red onions, sour cream, jalapenos, sliced or shredded vegetables, salsa, olives, capers, salad dressing, etc.

Combine the lentils and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Serve lentils over rice, and top with desired toppings.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekly Menu - week of July 27

Sunday - dinner out

Monday - Coconut Milk Dal, flat bread

Tuesday - Lentil haystacks

Wednesday - Chickpea and spinach stew

Thursday -Greek salad, hummus, pita bread

Friday - leftovers

Saturday - undecided (my mom will be here and I want to get her input first)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cheesy Scrambled Eggs

The kids wanted to cook breakfast this morning, so Lydia browsed through her many cookbooks for kids, and settled on Cheesy Scrambled Eggs with fun-shaped toast.


The kids did this all by themselves, and I'm very proud of them. Lydia still needs to focus more and pay better attention to the recipe instructions, but she's definitely showing improvement!

They spread their toast with some mayhaw jelly that Brad's cousin Emily gave us for Christmas. I've only ever seen it around here, but if you can find it in your area, it's delicious! It has a nice, mild, mellow flavor, and the best I can compare it to is the pomegranate jelly my mom used to make when we lived in Spain. There were several pomegranate trees on base, growing wild, and we could pick a bunch of 10-gallon pickle buckets' full for free. Imagine how much that would cost at the store. Yikes! Anyway, the mayhaw jelly has a similar flavor to pomegranate jelly, and is so good on toast.

I had more leftover Thai Tofu Wraps from last night, since the eggs obviously weren't vegan, but the girls loved them!

Here's Miss Meg, proudly sporting her Monkeywoman t-shirt from Mary. Please forgive the bedhead, since this was Saturday breakfast, and we're being lazy this morning.


And Lydia gives the breakfast a thumbs up!


Cheesy Scrambled Eggs

3 eggs
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp margarine
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
bacon bits, if desired (we used Bacos)

Whisk together the eggs and milk. Melt margarine in a skillet over medium heat. When the margarine is melted and bubbling, add the eggs. Leave them alone for 1 minute, then stir gently until the eggs are scrambled and set. Remove from heat, add the cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted. Add bacon bits, if desired, and serve immediately.

Friday, July 25, 2008

At last!

Finally! A real blog post! With pictures AND a recipe! Hooray!


Tonight we had super yummy, crunchy, crispy, fresh, spicy, zest wraps stuffed with fresh veggies, grilled tofu, and a drizzle of peanut sauce. Oh, baby! I can't even begin to tell you how much these hit the spot. They were exactly what I've been craving! They're also fairly quick to throw together, which is a nice because Brad is taking off in a few minutes to go do his monthly Navy Reserve drill period in New Orleans, so we were able to maximize our time together before he goes.

These are great for a light meal, but if you're craving something heartier, you can also stuff the wraps with jasmine rice and chopped peanuts. Deeeelicious!


Thai Tofu Wraps with Peanut Sauce

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 leaves green cabbage
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Very hot water
Large flour tortillas

Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally, then slice into sticks, about 3/4" x 1/2" x 3". Set aside. Heat a grill pan or Foreman Grill. Brush lightly with vegetable oil, then place the tofu on the grill and drizzle with soy sauce. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side (no need to flip if it's on the Foreman Grill), or until it firms up somewhat and has pretty grill marks. Set aside.

Toss together the cabbage, bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber, vinegar, sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Gradually whisk in hot water until it reaches a good consistency for drizzling. Set aside.

Now it's time to assemble the wraps. Heat tortillas in the microwave until soft and pliable. Place a handful of vegetable mixture on the tortilla, top with 3 strips of tofu, and drizzle with peanut sauce. Carefully wrap up and place seam-side down on a plate until ready to serve.

These can be served warm, chilled, or room temperature.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dinner recap

Well folks, I am once again boring. Last night I made the super yummy Black-eyed Pea Salad, which is quick becoming a standard for us, except this time I used garbanzo beans and edamame instead of black-eyed peas. It was delicious, satisfying and sooo easy. I didn't get any pictures because I was sick yesterday, and it's something I've made bunches of times already.

Tonight we're having leftovers from work. This is decidedly not a vegan meal, but it just seemed the responsible thing to do, since it's free. It was really yummy, spicy, creamy pasta with chicken (which I picked out of my serving) and garlic bread. Look at it! So delicious!


And now, I have to say that I'm really torn. I love to cook, and I love cooking and eating vegan food. It's important to me for so many different reason, all of which I've detailed before. But I'm torn, because nearly every single day there are scads of leftovers at work. If I don't bring them home, they get dumped in the garbage. I'm not talked about just the meager pickings left after everyone has eaten; I'm talking about entire untouched pans of food. Last week I brought home a massive pan of lasagna. Today I brought home more pasta than would fit in a 9x13 pan, and at least 4 baguettes' worth of garlic bread. It seems downright wrong to let that food be thrown away. The problem is that almost none of it is vegan. So what do I do? One of the biggest reasons I'm vegan is because of the global ramifications of a non-vegan diet. It's such a gross misuse of resources. But what's worse? To let days' worth of food be throw in the garbage because it's not vegan, or to go ahead and eat it and not take up any more resources in buying other food? I am really, really torn. I love to cook, and I want to adhere to a vegan diet, but it seems stupid to spend money on groceries every week, when I could feed our family almost completely on leftovers from work.

So what to do? Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I'm just not sure what do about this. :sigh:

In other news, I registered for my Fall semester classes last night, and I am SO excited to get started! Classes start in about 4 weeks, and I'm dying to dive into them. I'm taking all upper-level classes this semester, which should be a lot more fulfilling. Yippee!

I'll leave you with a picture of something I made last week, but forgot to blog about. These are spinach and mushroom enchiladas, which I was not terribly pleased with. They were good, but not great. I also made spanish rice with green sauce, and refried beans from scratch. Overall a very satisfying meal, although I'll tweak the enchiladas quite a bit next time.


Monday, July 21, 2008

So much for cooking

Well, I was all set to dive back into the kitchen this evening, but the leftovers from today's lunch at work were just too tempting to resist. We had a huge burrito bar catered in, complete with steak, chicken, tortillas, black beans, refried beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, spanish rice, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, tortillas, salsa, chips and queso dip. At lunch, I made myself a huge taco salad, then I brought home a little of everything for tonight's dinner. I made a big bowl of rice and just piled the toppings on. Yum!

So hopefully tomorrow I'll be back in the kitchen for reals. I doubt there will be something so vegan-friendly at work tomorrow. ; )