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