Friday, February 26, 2010

Simplicity Now!

You haven't heard from me in a few days  because I have been gutting my home, attempting to rid our life of all this clutter and excess. I sometimes complain about not being able to buy certain things (a new couch, most recently) but the truth is we have so much that it has become overwhelming. Phil and I have been having these conversations for a few years now. It first began when we found out we were pregnant and how we had so much "stuff" we had no room to put the baby. We took several car loads of things to Goodwill but it was only a dent in what was years of collecting. Let me back up and say: I am a pack rat.  I like bargains and free stuff and deals and to hunt for interesting things to buy. I blame my father (in the nicest way). We grew up frequenting the flea market and thrift stores and everyone in my family loves a good deal. It's fun, I can't deny it. But it has gotten to the point that we are beginning to have 2 and 3 of things and that makes me feel awful (and crowded). It is mentally fatiguing to be surrounded by objects (and believe me I use to find it comforting). When others have so little, I am starting to feel like a hoarder. Also it's wasteful because I don't need all this stuff. I am making a concerted effort to sell, donate and give away a boatload of possessions. If I haven't used it in the last year or so then it needs to go. If I have more than one of it, then it needs to go. If it would benefit someone else more, then it needs to go. I have sold several things already through Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace and I am continuing to go through closets and our den and reduce, reduce, reduce. I just came to this realization about all the money, time and energy that is wasted on "things." Everything I buy, I then have to keep up with (cleaning, storing and eventually donating/selling/giving away). It feels so self indulgent to want and, convince my self I need, items that usually don't make me feel any better, that I don't really need and that I end up getting rid of in a short amount of time. With all the money wasted, I could tithe more, give to charity, save or put towards really useful things that we really do need in life. I think that this will be very freeing! I  already feel freed just in the decision. I want my happiness to be from God and not items.(Romans 12:2 - Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind). What I think will be more challenging than getting rid of it all, will be breaking the habit of collecting it in the first place. I have a hard time saying no to free or really cheap. I will have to break the habit of shopping as recreation. We are bombarded in this world with buying the latest and greatest technology, keeping up with fashion trends, finding happiness in purchases, all with the notion that we "deserve" it. I need to reevaluate what it is to need or simply want something. I think of all the resources I waste by buying new and it is upsetting. Then, if there is something I decide we need or even when it comes to buying things for E (toys, clothes, etc) I will look secondhand first (Goodwill, Craigslist, etc). I have a lot more work to do but I am excited and freed by the process. 

"My mind races with all my longings, but cant keep up with what I got." c. oberst

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on cholesterol lowering drugs for the rest of their lives." - Dean Ornish, MD

Vanilla Cupcakes

I had planned on running several errands today, including getting tags for our "new to us" car. I got ready, got my coat on, went to warm it up and realized Phil took the keys to it today and we haven't gotten a spare made yet. Stuck! Oh well, I decided to make cupcakes while E played. Whenever i don't have anything really yummy to make fore dinner (i was also going to grocery shop today), I make a great dessert because then....who cares about dinner! I am going to put the recipe on here for the pudding that was in the middle of these cupcakes, but truth be told, I would skip that part next time I make these**. Apart from wanting to avoid, what to me was,  added time and extra work, I didn't think the pudding was all that great. So if nothing else, this is a great vanilla cupcake recipe.

Chocolate Pudding:
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons agave
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup plain soy creamer
  • 2 heaping T ground flax seed blended with 1/2 c plain almond milk, let sit 
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 3 ounces vegan chocolate chips
Place all ingredients into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk together until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain over a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, discard contents still in strainer. Stir in:

  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 t earth balance margarine
Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer pudding to a refrigerator until chilled, about 4 hour.

Cupcakes (makes 18-20):
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix ingredients in a stand alone mixer. Add:
  • 2/3 c earth balance, softened
and mix until margarine is  fully incorporated. Then add:
  • 2 heaping tablespoons ground flax seed blended with 1/2 c rice milk
  • 1 cup rice milk, warmed mixed with 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Periodically scraping down the sides of the mixer.
Preheat oven to 325 and bake 15-20 minutes, til lightly golden. Let cool in pan slightly then remove from pan and let cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack.
If using the pudding: Use a sharp paring knife  to cut out the middle of the cupcake (1 inch circle - make sure you don't cut all the way through the cupcake) and spoon pudding in, replace cut out cupcake and frost.
I used the butter cream frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

** I may not have loved the pudding, but E sure did! Great dairy-free snack!

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Phyllo dough creation

    I have a lot of phyllo dough on hand and have been trying to get the hang of it. Tonight I came up with an easy dessert idea!
    Using 4 sheets of phyllo dough, lay down one at a time on a baking sheet and spray each with cooking spray, layering one on top of the other. I didn't measure so this is a guesstimation:
    2 t vegan cream cheese
    1-2 t powdered sugar
    1T almond milk
    heat in saucepan over med low heat til mixed together.
    Using  a basting pastry brush, brush cream cheese mixture over the top layer of phyllo dough. Then cut up 1/2 -1 banana in thin slices and layer on top of cream cheese, sprinkle chocolate chips (i used 1/4 c or so, but as many as you like) and roll up dough to form a cylinder. Brush with melted earth balance. Bake 350 for  15-20 min til golden and flaky. Top with powdered sugar.

    the perfect waffles...

    ...according to my husband that made them (who wanted to name them: uncle phil's fun time jamboree waffle party USA). and they were very good! He likes when we veganize things and they taste just like the original. Since they are his creation and not mine...he used white flour and more sugar than I would...but what do you do? They were really yummy and I didn't have to do a thing!!

    2 c flour-sifted
    4 t baking powder
    2 T ground flax seed whipped with 1/2 c almond milk -whipped with a hand mixer until well mixed, let sit til it thickens up
    1 1/2 c soy creamer mixed with 4 T powdered sugar and 1 t vanilla extract
    1/2 -3/4 c almond milk
    1 T canola oil

    Preheat waffle iron highest setting. Whip soy creamer mixture together til foamy. Mix sifted flour together with baking powder into large mixing bowl. Add flax mixture and soy creamer mixture to to the flour. Add oil and milk and mix all ingredients together until just mixed (all flour is combined but not overmixed).
    * It should be thicker than heavy creamer but thinner than pudding. It should pour easily.
    Spray waffle iron with cooking spray with each new waffle.  Pour batter in, cook 2-3 minutes, depending on how hot your iron gets. Should be lightly golden all over!!

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    it's not what you think

    I came across this article while reading news this morning. While nothing about fast food is shocking to me, it was an interesting little article that just skims the surface of the so-called "foods" we eat in this country. Whether you eat meat or don't, it's as important to know what you are eating. What may appear seemingly harmless on the outside, in the case of pre-prepared foods (fast foods, frozen meals,etc), is often times a long list of unidentifiable (and at times shocking) ingredients. 
    It reminds me of hearing Michael Pollan on  Oprah the other day. He is a meat-eater but was encouraging quality over quantity when it came to what we were putting in our bodies ("Vote with your fork"). And although you may be paying  more on the front end,  he points out that it's better than paying the doctor or the health insurance company later. You are ensuring your health. I can understand how a menu of all $1 items is alluring, more bang for your buck. I am all about bargains and deals, but this is your health and everything you put into it has an either negative or positive effect. One or two may not do you in, but a lifetime of weekly trips to get Mcdonald's will take its toll.
    The bottom line is: know what you are eating, because it's not always what you think.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    in case you wondered

    we ate this for dinner tonight! it was really good but next time i would cut the eggplant a bit thinner and broil a bit longer . other than that...mmmm, yum!

    a 31 year old reminisces

    there will never be anything quite like receiving or making a mixed tape. even a mixed cd isn't the same. the precision it would take..lining up the tape just so..the stopping, rewinding, recording... deciding the lineup and what you wanted to say with the mix. oh, to be 19 again!!
    i am thinking of warmer weather, driving down the road with the windows down, bare feet, watermelon and what the sound track will be...
    i am sure these songs will make the cut:



    It's been a rough few days (completely unrelated to my family). Stress, frustration and guilt....I wanted to walk mindlessly around various stores, browse things I can't buy and forget it all (hey when a spa day isn't an option, getting out of the house by yourself is the next best thing). But first I stopped by Starbucks -because that's what we have here in the boro- and got my very favorite drink, the only drink I ever get there, a soy cappuccino!!! But I was really excited when I remembered that I could also try the new cookies Starbucks is now carrying...which are vegan. They are Lucy's and gluten, peanut, milk and egg free! I tried the cinnamon thin cookies and they were really good. They were crispy, which I love.
    They were a $1.50 and granted they weren't but maybe 6 cookies in there! But quality over quantity. I give them a thumbs up! It's nice to have another option out there.
    Remember if you want more healthier, vegan options available to you -support the mainstream companies that are willing to offer them.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010


    Crepes seemed a bit intimidating to me when I first thought about making them. My mother had given me her crepe pan and the recipes I tried (at the time made with eggs, butter and milk) never seemed to work out. Crepes were ripping or not spreading on the pan. They didn't taste very good and I didn't get the pan back out for like 5 yrs.
    Flash forward to a couple years ago. I was beginning to eat less dairy and didn't eat eggs at all. I got the crepe pan out at the request of my husband and gave it another shot. I found a tried and true and flexible recipe and also realized I prefer to use a medium size skillet instead of the crepe pan. I have more success and a lot less waste.

    The original recipe was from The Vegetarian Times magazine.
    3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
    1 cup soy or rice milk
    4 T cornstarch
    1 small banana, peeled and mashed

    I double the flour and "milk" and use 5-6 T cornstarch and omit the banana (usually).
    Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Heat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray over  medium heat (make sure it is good and heated up or you will have a few that don't turn our-rip apart, etc)
    Pour in the batter, lift and til the pan to cover evenly and thinly (evenly and thinly-very important!) Cook until the top is slightly dry.

    The great thing about this recipe is it's flexible. Depending on what you are making you can:
    • add cinnamon,  nutmeg, or any other spice/herb that works
    • add vanilla, almond extract, etc
    • once cooked spread margarine, jelly, agave, maple syrup, or nut butter, etc
    • it's a great breakfast or dessert, especially for kids (rolled up)
    • saute some spinach, mushrooms, spices together- place a large spoonful in the center of a cooked crepe, fold in opposing sides one at a time and place seem down on a oiled, heated skillet. brown on both sides!! you can also mash potatoes and mix with sauteed spinach, seasonings and place in center...
    • spread margarine on crepe and then shake some powdered sugar over it
    • you can make a banana burrito out of it
    • layer crepes, in between layers you can put vegan whipped cream, top with whip cream, maple syrup, berries or make a sweetened vegan cream cheese (vegan cream cheese, sugar, salt, plain soy creamer, vanilla - several recipes available online) and spread that between the layers
    The possibilities are endless and it take no time at all to make. Also depending on what you put on your crepe, they are low fat (and full of fiber)!!

    They can't always be winners

    I was hopeful to post about a couple of dishes I made yesterday but they were BIG disappointments. After I made them and tasted them I thought this is probably the kind of food non-veggies have tried when they decided a vegetarian diet was boring and that they couldn't live without dairy or meat. Luckily, I have enjoyed 99%  of the veg foods I have tried.
    I had attempted a low fat veggie potpie modifying a recipe I found in a magazine. I was excited about it since the topping was made from phylo dough and I had never been able to use it successfully. While the topping worked out, the inside was too liquidy and the taste: average. I had also made a spinach artichoke dip. I was only able to find one recipe that didn't use tofu in it and I had to be creative with it since I didn't have the exact ingredients. It was one of those dishes that you think, "Well this is ok," and you take a few more bites, by the 6th or 7th bite it's apparent that this is not good. Like the flavor was really one dimensional and Wasted ingredients. Wasted time. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Some easy ideas

    Here are a few cheap, relatively easy ideas when you need a quick side or lunch or snack during the day. Vegan  foods do not need to be exhausting and expensive to make! You can do a lot with beans, fresh vegetables, garlic, oil, salt and pepper.
    1. Red Bean Salad - 1 can red beans, drained and rinsed, 1 t agave nectar dissolved in 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar, 2 chopped green onions, salt and pepper to taste - mix and serve room temp or cold
    2. Tomato and Cucumber Salad - chop tomato and cucumber, add minced garlic (we used dried), salt and pepper to taste
    3. Rice Salad - Great way to use up leftover rice (basmati or jasmine are best) cook or rewarm rice, top with any of the following: chopped lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, white onion, julienned carrots, sesame seeds, etc and then combine in a blender: 3 T peanuts, 3 T lime juice, 2 T rice wine vinegar, 1 inch piece ginger-grated, 2 T soy sauce, 1 T agave nectar, 1 T fresh mint and 2 T water...pour over rice and veg! In the summer, we eat this about once a week when there are lots of tomatoes and cucumbers available from our garden.
    4. Raw Spaghetti - we got this recipe from the Hallelujah Acres website. It is perfect in summer!! Julienne one cucumber (spaghetti) and put in a bowl. Combine in a blender: 2 cloves garlic, 2 T olive oil, 1/4 c fresh basil and oregano, 1 t salt and 4-5 chopped tomatoes. Pour sauce over cucumbers and top with chopped olives
    5. Texas caviar - 1 can hominy -drained, 1 can black eyed peas -drained, 1 bunch cilantro -chopped, 8 oz jar picante sauce, green onions -chopped, 3 T lime juice, 2 med tomatoes -chopped, 2 garlic cloves -minced. Mix and eat with tortilla chips.
    6. Lentils - cook 1 c lentils in 4-6 c water for about 25 minutes or until soft. drain and toss with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. this also works with sauteed spinach or kale!
    7. Easy fries - cut baking potatoes in half or thirds lengthwise and then cut into thick slices. put into a steamer pot and steam til just soft enough to poke with a fork (not mushy). let cool an completely, lay out on a baking sheet  and add olive oil and seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika, garlic or onion powder - whatever spices you want) , stir around a bit, cook at 425 for 20 minutes or so then broil on high til golden (5-10 min), turning once (time varies) *if you slice potatoes thin enough on the front end you can skip the steaming part.
    8. Asian Kale - boil some water in a large pot. separate kale from thick spine and tear up in smaller pieces and put into boiling water for about 3-5 minutes. Drain and season with soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds and pieces of nori (optional, but full of minerals).
    9. Any of these ideas
    10. Basically with a well stocked spice cabinet, dry or canned beans, some rice and pasta, frozen (comes in handy) and fresh vegetables and salt and can come up with lots of cheap, healthy foods that taste great.

      Monday, February 15, 2010

      Broccoli Soup

      With snow currently on the ground, I know spring feels far off but I am realizing that the cold weather will soon be on its way out. Therefore, I am taking advantage of freezing temperatures by making lots and lots of hot chocolate* and tons of stews,casseroles and soups.

      I've never made broccoli soup before and found a recipe that was easy to modify. I not only veganized it but reduced the fat significantly. I used fresh  broccoli instead of the frozen it called for, reduced the butter from 1/2 a stick down to 1 T margarine, 2 bouillon cubes from 3, omitted the cheese and added some more spices and herbs. I considered using veggie cheese to replace the cheese it called for but decided instead to keep this relatively soy free (I am suppose to keep soy intake to a minimum due to the medication I am on).

      1 head fresh broccoli, florets and stalks chopped
      2 unchicken bouillon cubes
      3 c water
      1 T earth balance margarine
      1 1/2 onion, diced
      1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
      2 T nutritional yeast
      2 c rice milk
      1/2 t garlic powder
      1/2 t dry minced garlic
      pepper to taste
      1/4  liquid smoke
      1 t vegan Worcestershire sauce
      1/4 t basil
      1/4 t thyme

      In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute the onion in margarine til soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the bouillon, water and broccoli. Cook about 5 minuted, stirring occasionally, til broccoli begins to soften. While broccoli is cooking, in a separate bowl stir together nutritional yeast, flour and rice milk, mixing thoroughly. Once broccoli is cooked and bouillon dissolved, add flour/rice milk mixture to the pot and stir often until thickened. Once thickened, turn the heat down to medium-low and add minced garlic, garlic powder, pepper, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, basil and thyme. Stir all the ingredients together.

      *2 servings hot chocolate (changed up the kind life hot chocolate recipe just a bit):  1 1/2 c almond milk, 1/2 c soy creamer, 2 T vegan chocolate chips, 2 t cocoa powder, 2 t maple syrup and 1/4 t vanilla -put it all in a saucepan over med heat, and stir till chips melt and everything is mixed together =yum yum

      Sunday, February 14, 2010

      Valentine's Dinner

      P got it in his head that he wanted to make homemade pasta today. He veganized a recipe from Food Network (just for me)!! We had already decided to make Portobello Cannelloni with Sun-Dried Tomato White Sauce from La Dolce Vegan and steamed asparagus on the side. It is one of our favorite dishes and perfect for Valentine's Day!

      1 c white flour
      1 c wheat flour
      1 heaping T ground flax seed  mix thoroughly with 1/4-1/3 c water, set aside to thicken (we mixed with a hand mixer)
      3/4 c warm water
      1 pinch salt

      Mix flours and salt together. Make a well in the center of the flour and add flax mix and begin to knead it together, adding a little warm water at a time until you have a firm dough (knead do not mix). Allow dough to rest 30 minutes. From here you can roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into desired shape.  Boil for about 3 minutes.

      Cabbage Stew

      The original recipe called for a pound of meat. I thought that would be too much for this soup/stew, and I try not to go overboard with the meat analogs. So I reduced it by a little over half. I also reduced the amount of bouillon it called for, from 4 down to 2. I didn't want it to be too salty! Lastly, I substituted fire roasted tomatoes for the regular canned tomatoes. Everything else stayed the same.  This recipe was very easy to make and quick! Though I haven't tried, you could probably throw it all into a crock pot and cook overnight or while you are at work.

      -7 oz meatless ground round (i used Yves)-you could omit if avoiding soy
      -1/2 t garlic salt
      -1/4 t garlic powder
      -1/4 t pepper
      -2 chopped celery stalks
      -16 oz can red kidney beans, undrained (make sure they don't contain high fructose corn syrup)
      -1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
      -1 can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes with liquid, 28 oz
      -1 can water
      -2 unbeef bouillon cubes (Kroger carries them)
      -chopped parsley, optional

      In a large pot, or dutch oven, brown the "ground round" over medium heat in 1 t olive oil. Add a T of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) and bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Top with chopped parsley.*

      *Before you skip on the parsley, consider this:
      parsley is used as a blood purifier, aids in digestion, dissolves cholesterol from the veins, is used for bad breath, boosts the immune system, and is a diuretic among a whole host of other benefits. Parsley is a leafy, green vegetable, very nutrient dense and an important addition to a whole foods diet.

      While P and I were cooking in the kitchen, E "did the dishes."

      Wednesday, February 10, 2010

      my one obscure/blurred youtube moment

      I posted earlier today about the show I saw last night. My friend Chris found this video on youtube from the show. Though no one but me would know, you can see my blurred self at 2:14. Far right on the screen. Again, what a great show!!


      I don't know if this recipe is for everyone, but I really like it. I really love southern (ie: not sweet) cornbread and could not for the life of me find a recipe for vegan cornbread that wasn't sweet. I took the recipe I got from my mom and changed it up. I used vinegar and rice milk for the buttermilk and substituted the egg with ground flax seed.

      1 c cornmeal
      1 c whole wheat pastry flour
      1 t baking soda
      1 t baking powder
      1/4 t salt
      3/4 c rice milk mixed with 1 t apple cider vinegar, set aside
      1 heaping T ground flax seed blended well ( i use a mini chopper) with 1/4 c rice milk and set aside to thicken

      Preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven 425
      Mix together dry ingredients in one bowl and then add wet ingredients. Mix well. Pour into heated skillet and bake til golden brown about 16 minutes.

      I also ate some of this for breakfast, reheated with earth balance butter and maple syrup. It was delicious!

      Snack Ideas for kids

      I try to make to make the distinction between a snack and a treat when it comes to my 2 year old. This is not always easy, especially since he loves chocolate, and sweets in general. I do keep store bought fruit bars and/or granola bars on hand. This way i can throw them in my purse when we are leaving the house or so I always  have something on hand, in case I don't have time to put something else together.

      Here are some of the snacks that he eats regularly and most are simple and easy to put together.

      • Banana Burrito -take a whole wheat tortilla and spread a thin layer of nut butter (cashew or peanut are especially great), then drizzle either agave nectar or maple syrup over it (approx 1-2 t), you can (optionally) sprinkle ground flax seed or, depending on you child, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc. Then lay a banana to one side and roll it up like a burrito and cut in half.
      • Cucumbers and dip -E loves cucumber and usually doesn't want the dip but an easy recipe for a dairy free ranch dip is: 1/2 c each rice milk/nayonaisse, 1 t each onion and garlic powder, 2-3 T red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
      • Homemade trail mix - we mix together: pumpkin seeds, raisins, carob chips or chocolate chips, chopped pecans and walnuts, any other dried fruit we have on hand and sunflower seeds
      • Smoothies
      • Hummus and either veggies or baked pita chips- this can be homemade or store bought hummus
      • Soy yogurt and add ins - mix in ideas: ground flax seed, raisins, granola, cereal or any nut or seeds. we also like to cut up fruit and mix it in!
      • Crackers and vegan cream cheese -  we like the Back to Nature brand crackers, make sure to check the label.
      • Kale Chips -this is a great way to get more greens into your childs (and your) diet. Separate the kale from the thick spine and tear it into chip size pieces. Set on a baking sheet and spray with oil and salt to taste. Then bake it at 325 for about 10 minutes or until crispy and crunchy (Keep an eye that they don't burn)
      • Fruit and Oat bars - i got this recipe from my friend Kathrine. You can find the recipe here. You can freeze these also!
      • Chips and salsa or bean dip
      • Granola
      • Edamame
      • Tomato and Cucumber salad - E loves this in the summer. I just cut up 1 tomato and 1 cucumber and sprinkle with a little salt. We have this with dinner sometimes and he always he eats it first!
      • Veggie Dogs in a blanket - make your favorite biscuit recipe. Cut up 2-3 veggie dogs in equal size pieces (about 2-3 per dog). The roll out bicuit dough, cut into 2x4 in pieces, wrap veggie dog in cut out dough and bake on an oiled baking sheet til lightly golden
      • Fruit Salad - whatever is in season: apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, etc
      • Crocodile Crunch -this can be messy but's really good and fun to watch your child eat!! It's also really healthy.
      • Our newest creation -  not sure what to call this. i gave this to E when we were low in things to snack on but he loved it. cut up and apple or banana in bite size pieces. Put into a bowl with raisins and 1 T peanut butter and mix!


      I saw Joseph Arthur at the Bluebird Cafe last night! It was a really good show and I was sad i forgot my camera. But here is a video i found online of Mercedes,which is one of my favorite songs of his.

      On a side note, we saw Reese Witherspoon at a table across the room.

      Monday, February 8, 2010

      Veggie Chili

      There a million and one ways to make chili. This is just my take on it!  It's full of veggies and a good amount of broth..I like my chili  a little soupy and less like a stew.

      2 carrots, diced
      2 celery. diced
      6 oz portabello mushrooms, chopped
      1 med onion, chopped
      1 can kidney beans, undrained
      1/2 can chickpeas, drained
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      20 oz crushed tomatoes, a little less than a large can
      2 cups "beef" broth
      1 t salt
      1/4 t celery seed
      1 1/2 T chili powder
      1/2 t cumin
      1/4 t paprika
      1/2 c cilantro, chopped
      1 T red wine vinegar

      Heat a large pot on medium high, saute onions til translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add carrots, celery and garlic and saute for about 3 more minutes (add a little water if veg starts to stick). Once softened, then add mushrooms and saute a couple more minutes. Add broth, crushed tomatoes,  3 C water, beans, and seasonings. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Add cilantro, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

      I think I will make some cornbread to go with this!

      Saturday, February 6, 2010

      chickenless parmesan

      I use to find recipes and then go get all the ingredients. I was spending a lot of money, especially on specialty items and a lot went to waste. Now I see what I have and then find a recipe that works (sometimes I have to be creative with ingredients, lots of substitutions). This is another recipe from the volunteers cookbook. It was for chicken parmesan. Since I eat neither chicken nor parmesan, this took a little effort to come up with all the ingredients (without a trip to the grocery store) and still remain true to the original recipe.

      I have been a vegetarian since I was 14 or 15, so I don't think I have ever actually eaten chicken Parmesan...???

      1/2 t garlic powder
      1/2 t paprika
      1/4 t thyme
      1/2 c vegan parmesan cheese (i used the recipe from La Dolce Vegan-nutritional yeast, salt and sesame seeds)
      2/3 c dry bread crumbs (i toasted a thick piece of bread, processed it in a mini chopper with a pinch of salt and italian seasonings)
      1 pkg. Gardein Seasoned Bites -cut to similar size of cubed tofu
      1 pkg cubed firm tofu
      1 heaping T ground flax seed mixed in a mini chopper/blender with 1/4 c rice milk, then let sit to thicken
      1 c spaghetti sauce (i didn't have any on hand so i mixed 8 oz crushed tomatoes, 1/4 t salt, pepper, to taste, 1/4 t italian seasonings, minced garlic to taste)

      Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 8x8 glass pan with cooking spray.

      Mix together garlic powder, paprika, thyme, parmesan, and bread crumbs in a medium size bowl.  Set aside. Brown gardein bites and cubed tofu in 1 t olive oil. Once browned, toss with the flax seed/milk mixture that's been thickening. Mix til coated. Then pour into medium bowl of dry ingredients and cover. Place in baking dish, cover with spaghetti sauce and cook for 30-35 minutes.
      I think this would be really good with a large salad and some sauteed green beans (oil, garlic and salt)!

      Friday, February 5, 2010

      a quick side dish

      • a head of broccoli, cut it up medium (you could substitute asparagus stalks)
      • 2T olive oil
      • approx 1/4 c nutritional yeast
      • approx 1 T each onion powder and garlic powder
      • salt to taste

      Put all ingredients in a large ziploc bag, shake til vegetable is thoroughly coated. Spread on a cooking pan. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes. I like some of the vegetables to be dark in places, carmelized a bit.

      I got this recipe from some website about 1 yr ago and didn't write it down, just memorized it. It's sooooo good!

      winging it

      i just threw together a dairy free mac and cheese to go with our lunch (leftovers from the night before).

      i mixed together in a saucepan over medium low heat:

      1 t earth balance butter
      2 t soy cream cheese
      3 T milk
      1 t brown mustard

      then i grated 1/4 c or so of vegan gourmet cheddar cheese, mixed til melted and incorporated. added
      1-2 t nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. mixed together and added approximately 2 c cooked noodles and coated them with sauce. mmmm! elias loves it!!

      Oatmeal cookies

      P is leaving Sunday for Indianapolis for the week.  He's not overly excited about it since it's training for work, though he is excited about checking out the downtown. Anyway, his very favorite thing is sweets and real sweets (butter, sugar, fat). So I made him some oatmeal cookies to take with him...lots of sugar and shortening. Sweeter than I like, but he will love it!

      I changed the original recipe a bit. I reduced the shortening by 1/4 c, substituted maple syrup for a bit of the brown sugar, rice milk instead of milk, and flax seed in place of the 1 egg it called for. I omitted the chopped nuts, also.

      1/2 c vegetable shortening (i use spectrum brand which is organic, trans fat free and non-hydrogenated)
      1/4 c maple syrup
      1 c light brown sugar
      2 T ground flax seed
      1/3 c plain rice milk
      1 1/2 t vanilla extract
      3 c uncooked oats
      1 c spelt flour
      1/2 t baking soda
      1/2 t salt
      1/4 t cinnamon
      1 c raisins

      Heat oven to 375. Grease cookie sheet or use a silpat to prevent the cookies from sticking. Combine shortening, maple syrup, brown sugar, flax seed, rice milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed (stand mixer or hand held). In a separate bowl, mix together oats, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
      Add creamed mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir in raisins (and 1 c chopped nuts, optional), Drop by tablespoon , 2 inches apart, on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

      Thursday, February 4, 2010

      i get by with a little help from my friends

      i update this blog regularly. if you want to get notices when i do, please click on the "follow me" button to the right. i am eventually going to do a couple book giveaways  (cooking and health related) sometime in the future also, so make sure you follow to find out when that is...


      I am continuing to thumb through the volunteer cookbook. Last night I was laying in bed reading different recipes to P and we were alternatingly laughing or saying "gross." There was one recipe in particular where you make a sweet, gelled salad that included 1 cup sugar, gelatin, lemon juice and apsaragus tips!

      I decided tonight that I would try a bread recipe, rolls in particular. The recipe was pretty basic, I just made a few adjustments. I changed the self rising flour to spelt flour, salt and baking powder. I also used plain rice milk and apple cider vinegar in place of the buttermillk. The recipe suggested either rolling them into a round shapeor cutting them into biscuits shapes. I decided to try something different a little different as you will see below.

      2 c spelt flour
      2 t baking powder
      1/2 t salt
      2 T natural cane sugar (still sugar but without the bleaching which often uses animal bone - seriously)
      1/4 c cooking oil
      2/3 c plain rice milk and 1 t apple cider vinegar
      1/3 c warm water and 1 pkg dry yeast, mixed and allowed to sit a few minutes til bubbly

      Preheat the oven to 400. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the oil, rice milk mixture and yeast. Stir together, mixing well. Cover and let rise until double in size (about 30 minutes). Then (what i did) clear a space on the counter, sprinkle with about 1/4-1/2 c more flour and roll dough in it (dough is a bit sticky after rising). Separate the dough into 8 sections and each section into 3 little round balls. Spray a muffin tin and set one ball into the center of the muffin tine and then lay the other two on top (side by side). Continue with the 7 other sections, separating into 3 balls and laying them as you did the first. Let them sit and rise for about 10 more minutes. Then bake for about 10 minutes, or when the rolls begin to brown.

      The shape wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but pretty close. They are hearty but not dense. We had them for breakfast with butter and jelly. I think if I were to make them again I would use a little more salt, maybe another 1/2 t.

      Wednesday, February 3, 2010

      The SteelDrivers

      I love music and search it out constantly. My beautiful friend Belinda introduced me to the SteelDrivers, a bluegrass band from Nashville. The lead singer has a great voice and I hope to see them play when they are back in Nashville!

      Tuesday, February 2, 2010

      Thanks Gladys

      I have held onto the "Blount Memorial Volunteer Specialties Cookbook" for years now. It was a cookbook put together by a group of volunteers for the hospital in my hometown, one of whom was my Grandfather. I have never used it and never planned to (it's pretty meat, egg and gelled salad heavy). But it's special because my Grandpa contributed several recipes to it and anyway...I whipped it out tonight on a whim, hoping I could modify one of the dessert recipes and make up something to snack on!!
      P had mentioned a few weeks ago how he wanted to make a dessert using our cast iron skillet. So I found an apple cake recipe that was made to be baked in one.  I reduced the oil by 1/4 c, used spelt instead of white flour, upped the baking soda, almond milk with vinegar in place of buttermilk and flax seed for the egg.You may be saying to yourself, "A cup of agave nectar! That's expensive!" All  I can say is so is diabetes just go with it.

      1 1/2 c spelt flour
      3 t baking soda
      1 t salt
      1 c agave nectar (pretty sure maple syrup would work as well)
      1/2 c canola oil
      1/2 c original almond milk mixed with 1 t apple cider vinegar, set aside
      1 T ground flax seed
      1 t vanilla extract
      3 small granny smith apples, peeled and chopped

      Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into greased, preheated iron skillet. bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

      This dessert was amazing! Crispy edges. Sweet. Rich tasting. Yeah me!

      Monday, February 1, 2010

      Smoothie Recipe to build on

      This is something that we have a couple times a week, maybe more when the weather is warmer. We have it for breakfast or as a snack. I took a recipe for a smoothie called The Elvis from a cookbook I once owned and I changed it up a bit.

      The basic recipe is
      1 1/2 c rice milk
      1 frozen banana
      1 T peanut butter
      1 T maple syrup
      Blend til smooth in a blender

      I never measure so when I make it, it is a little different every time. The first three ingredients stay the same, though I may use more or less of each.  I usually use agave nectar in place of the maple syrup and then I add one or more of the following things:
      • large handful of fresh spinach
      • 1-2 T ground flax seed
      • 1T flax oil
      • 1-2 t spirulina
      • frozen fruit (blueberries, strawberries, etc)
      • liquid acidophilus, dairy-free

      The spinach is undetectable, except for the color of your smoothie. It adds loads of vitamins and minerals (vitamin A and C, calcium) and antioxidants. You could substitute kale or any other dark leafy green. It's a great way to sneak vegetables into the foods of picky eaters.

      Flax adds omega 3s and fiber. It is beneficial for the heart and possesses anti-cancer properties.

      Spirulina contains tons of protein, all the essential amino acids, several B vitamins along with other vitamins and minerals,  If you are considering adding it make sure you research it more because some people with certain conditions shouldn't use it.

      Acidophilus is great for the immune system, replaces the good bacteria in the gut lost during antibiotic use, and beneficial for digestive issues.

      Spaghetti Bake

      I haven't actually left the house in 4 days. We've been snowed in since Friday morning and, although the snow is melting,  I am watching a friend's daughter today. So...we have little to no food. I had a sad looking green pepper (edible but needing to be used up), mushrooms, a mostly full jar of spaghetti sauce and some noodles. I decided to use it all up by making a spaghetti bake. After looking around on the internet and not finding a recipe that:
      a. I had all the ingredients for
      b. that sounded good

      I decided to wing it. My goals were to feed the family and use up all the odds and ends we had in the fridge before grocery shopping again.

      Here's how it all went down:

      1 green pepper, chopped
      8 oz sliced mushrooms
      16 oz bag frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
      2 small shredded carrots (why not, doesn't affect the flavor, adds color and nutrients and I had them)
      2 c cooked noodles
      1 jar prepared spaghetti sauce
      14 oz crushed tomatoes
      1-1/2 c soy cheese ( I shredded some Vegan Gourmet cheddar cheese)
      3 T nutritional yeast
      1/4 c ground almonds (you can leave out but adds lots of protein, vitamin E and manganese - and a little creaminess when ground up)
      1 T soy sour cream (If I had had more, I would have put it in to add creaminess - but I only had 1 T)
      3/4 t salt
      2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
      1/2 t italian seasonings
      1/4 t garlic powder and onion powder , each

      Preheat the oven to 350

      I used a dutch oven to saute and then bake the spaghetti (less dishes). Preheat dutch oven over medium heat, use cooking spray to reduce the fat. Saute the pepper for 3 or so minutes to soften. Then add mushrooms and shredded carrots (if veg starts to stick, add a little water to the pan). Add salt, pepper, italian seasonings and minced garlic.Saute until veg is softened.

      Then add thawed spinach.  Mix well to distribute all ingredients. Turn the temp down to medium low and add shredded soy cheese. Stir and mix until cheese melts and incorporates into the dish.

      Then add nutritional yeast, ground almonds, soy sour cream. Mix together. Add cooked noodles and mix again.  Once everything is mixed together, pat it down in the dutch oven and smooth it over. Or transfer it to a casserole dish and do the same.

      I had planned on taking a picture of this to post...but....spaghetti bake is not the prettiest dish!!