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.