Polenta and grilled veggies


Look at that picture? Is your mouth watering? It should be. If it’s not, you might have dry mouth, which could be a result of numerous things. Are you taking any new medications. Have you recently partaken in MJ, do you have candida? Anyway, your mouth SHOULD be watering over this picture because it’s delicious. And you want to make it. Now. Not now, if it’s like 4 in the morning, but now as in ,your next meal that you grocery shop for. I told you guys last time about my love of pasta and some sort of sauce. Well, this is pretty similar. And amazing. Have I told you guys yet that this is delicious and you should make it? Well, here is the recipe to do just that.

Polenta and grilled veggies.

1 pkg quick polenta
3 yellow squash, quartered and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 bell peppers, any color, sliced and deseeded. I used yellow and orange.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Some type of sauce. I used my leftover roasted red pepper sauce from my last post, but just regular tomato would be great, or pesto, or whatever, just a sauce.

1. Cook polenta according to directions on package.
2. Combine vegetables, garlic, spices, vinegar and olive oil in a 9X12 pan to coat and marinate.
3. Place veggies on a grill to cook until tender. If you don’t have a grill, you can roast in the oven at 400 degrees for this step.
4. While veggies are cooking and after polenta is cooked on stove top according to package, drain some of the veggie marinade, leaving dish coated in veggie oil and minced garlic. evenly spread cooked polenta and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until firm. Remove from oven.
5. Remove veggies from grill. Cut polenta into small squares. Assemble dinner by placing polenta on plate with a tablespoon or more of desired sauce and lots of veggies.

Enjoy. It’s so good.

On another note, I thought I would discuss things I go through rather quickly, and you should too. 1st. Olive oil. It’s perfect. It’s delicious. It’s wonderful to roast, grill, or saute vegetables. It’s also a phenomenal dipping sauce. Find a good extra virgin olive oil and stock up. I go through it so fast I should own stock. 2nd. Garlic. If you aren’t already peeling and chopping your own garlic, you should be. Anecdotal story. I used to previously buy pre-minced garlic. After I read Kitchen Confidential, and Anthony Bourdain told me if I wasn’t peeling and chopping my own garlic, I didn’t deserve it, I started buying it by the bulbs. I loved chopping my own garlic, but I hated peeling it. It was such a pain. I knew I had to be doing something wrong, and sure enough I was. I had mentioned to my friend, the one who dared me to go vegan, that I hated peeling garlic and she asked if I was crushing it first, and I said no. She said it’s much easier to peel once you hit it with something hard, so I tried it, and she was not a liar. And I haven’t looked back since. I use on average 3-4 cloves of garlic a day and what I smack it with always changes. It could be my metal or glass measuring cups, it could be the heel of my hand against my big knife, it could even be my wine or olive oil bottle. It doesn’t matter. But smacking the hell out of garlic and then chopping it into fine submission is incredibly satisfying. Almost as good as de glazing a pan, or very close to it.

Also, this dinner makes amazing leftovers. I threw a piece of polenta on the grill with a few slices of tomato and it was so, so good.


Howdy y’all!


This may come as quite a shock, but I am still alive. It’s been a tumultuous past two months, and I moved to Texas. Texas! What? How can one be vegan in Texas? In the interest of full disclosure, I am sure many can be vegan in Texas, but I haven’t been. I have been vegetarian. I went back on the cheese, and am having a hard time giving it up again. I told you this would be a haphazard journey. Anyway, Texas is interesting, and muggy, and buggy. I have been cooking up a storm, but to keep the integrity of my blog’s title, I will only post the vegan recipes I make. Last nights was Roasted Red Pepper Marinara with Penne. And it was good. I love pasta with a tomato sauce. It’s one of my comfort foods. It was always the dinner I requested as a kid for my birthday. I make it a lot, and love when I can try something different. This is really tasty, and has a really good flavor compared to other marinaras. My camera was doing weird stuff last night, so I couldn’t get a picture before all the delicious liquid started oozing on my plate, so it’s not as pretty as it could have been, but it was tasty.

Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce with Penne

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups coarsely chopped roasted red peppers (you can be lazy and buy bottled, or you can be amazing, and roast your own. I’ll tell you how)
1 tbsp dried basil
3/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups hot cooked penne (about 3 cups uncooked)

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in large sauce pan or dutch oven, over medium/high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until tender. Add bell peppers and the remaining ingredients, omitting the penne and last tbsp olive oil. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add last tbsp olive oil. Now here is where you can decide if you want this really chunky, or saucy. I wanted saucy, so I put about 3/4s of the sauce in a blender and then combined it all. You can leave it whole, mashed it up, or blend the whole thing. Your choice. Serve over penne and enjoy.

How to roast red peppers

2 red peppers, stems removed, and washed.

You can either do this in the oven, or on  your grill. I do it on the grill because I live in freaking Texas and it’s hot as hell here, and I don’t want to heat up my house anymore than necessary. So turn on your grill, or oven, to around 425 degrees. Place peppers directly on grate. Turn occasionally until the outside is all black and charred looking. Place peppers in a paper bag and allow to cool. Then peel all the burnt skin off of the peppers and discard the skin. What you have left is delicious roasted red peppers. Mmmm.

Roasted Artichokes and “The Sauce”


Now, I want to warn you, when you make the things in this blog post, especially “The Sauce” you are going to experience some confusing feelings. You will be overjoyed, you might shed a tear or two, and well, frankly, you are going to find yourself so madly and deeply in love with me, that you will either question your own sexuality, or you will do everything in your power to woo me. Don’t worry, these feelings are natural. Not only are they natural, they are to be expected. This sauce really is just that good. So here is the link to “The Sauce” http://lifehacker.com/5838665/chef-anthony-thomas-roasted-garlic-and-spaghetti-sauce I am not a huge fan of their writing, to be blunt, but I am willing to look past the insinuations that they are real chefs and I am not because this sauce really is just that good. This sauce takes some preparation. You can’t just make it an hour before you want to eat. She is an old fashioned gal that needs some courting, so prepare her the night before. Put on some sensual music, open a bottle of nice red wine, and share it with her. Stir her slowly and evenly. Make sure you have bought some type of delicious bread so that you can taste her in all of her different phases. Don’t worry, she likes it. Then when you are done cooking her, and following all the instructions, and have gotten her all hot and bothered, put her in the fridge overnight to cool off and let all of her flavors meld together. Trust me on this. She may not look like anything other than plain old spaghetti sauce, but she is exceptional and only grows more luscious and wonderful over time. Sigh, was that as good for you as it was for me? It was so good I ate three helpings, which required a late night gym session to punish myself.

Now on to my dish. I am a member of a local CSA and this last week I got some artichokes in my box. I love artichokes. One of my favorite ways that I used to prepare them, pre-vegan, was boiling, then grilling and dipping in a mustard/thyme butter that I made. Obviously I am not going to do that. Not only was it pouring rain today, I also didn’t want to use vegan butter on it. So I boiled, then roasted them with obscene amounts of garlic and olive oil, and they were delicious.

Roasted Artichokes with Garlic

2 artichokes
2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I used 4)
olive oil

Prepare the artichokes by cutting off the stem and about 1 inch off the top, then you peel off the first row or two of petals until the petals are a nice green, and not dried out looking. Then trim all the pointy tips off of the petals with kitchen sheers.

Place into a big pot of boiling water, and cover with something heavy so they stay down like good artichokes are supposed to. Reduce temp to low, and allow to softly boil for 20-30 minutes. For me it’s always closer to 30. Drain artichokes and allow them to cool to the touch.

Take a knife and slice them down the middle, cutting them into halves. Now comes the tricky part. When you open your artichoke, you are going to see what looks like the Lorax’s mustache has grown in there, right in the middle. Scrape out all the hair, being careful not to remove the tender part right underneath it. That’s the heart, and it’s a keeper. It took me a knife, a spoon, and a fork to get out all the hair, and I still had a little left over.

Set your halves on a pan, cut side up. Sprinkle with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Then roast in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 10-15 minutes or until it starts to brown and garlic softens. The olive oil and garlic make a perfect sauce, so you don’t even have to dip them. Just eat the meaty parts off the petals, scraping them with your teeth and enjoy. And don’t forget to eat your heart out. It’s the best part.

Sweet potato and kale soup


So, I told you that you would be with me on this vegan journey through my successes and failures, right? Well…this is a failure. Not so much a failure, as it’s inedible, I will definitely still eat it, but a failure as in it’s not as good as the original. Sometimes tweaking a recipe to make it my own really works, and I am proud of what I have done and proud that I was able to take something good, and make it even better. This was not the case. Now, the original recipe truly is amazing, and I want to share it with you, and then I am going to tell you how I failed. So this http://joythebaker.com/2010/11/kale-and-sweet-potato-soup/ is the original recipe, and damn it’s good. So good. Plus I love her blog. It’s fun to read, kind of like how I hope mine is. The original is so good, I am not quite sure why I decided to mess with it, but I did.

So, I essentially followed that recipe, except instead of a quart and a half of vegetable broth, I thought…oooh, I will add some beer! Beer makes everything better, right? WRONG! It doesn’t make this soup better. So I did one bottle of a blonde ale, and then the rest of the liquid was veggie broth. Like I said, it is still really good, just not as good. But the beer isn’t what completely ruined it. I blame that on the quinoa. What did I just say? Quinoa ruined something? No! Surely you jest. No, I don’t jest, and stop calling me Shirley. I love quinoa and think of it as an almost perfect grain. I have swapped it for rice in many, many things and it works fantastically, but not in soup. Nope, not in soup. It just has a weird texture that makes the soup a little harder to eat. Look at the picture, the quinoa just looks like it doesn’t belong. But rice does. Still tasty, but not as pleasing of a texture as the rice has. So, here is my failure. It wasn’t a total loss. I still ate it, and I will continue to eat it for lunch for a few days until it’s gone because I don’t waste food. But you have to try the original recipe. It is amazing. So good. The flavors are so delicious and it’s a perfect cool weather soup.

Long time no see


So life has been insanely busy. I am still getting headaches, but not after exercise now, so I have been a gym rat of late. My baby brother also got home after having been gone for two years in Brazil, and my twins turned four. So the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of fun and adventure. I have still been cooking, and made two things that I took pictures of. One was great, the other was ok. And I will try and post those tomorrow. But for now, I want to ask you a serious question. Have you ever roasted cabbage? And if the answer is no, I say WHY THE F NOT? Yes, I am shouting. Everyone needs to roast cabbage. I don’t have any pictures of my roasted cabbage because I tried a bite straight off the pan, and then ate the rest way too fast to even think about taking a picture. It’s sweet, delicious, crunchy, amazing. Need I say more? Buy a damn cabbage and roast it. Your taste buds will thank me. I basically just sliced it. Drizzled it in olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and then cooked at 350 for around 35 minutes. If you actually need better directions because I am not good enough for you and you prefer some Martha Stewart, go here http://www.marthastewart.com/315062/roasted-cabbage-wedges, sure you can thank Martha, but I told you about it, so I should get some thanks too.

“Beef” stew with beer and paprika


You might be noticing a trend. I am a sucker for soup. I love it. It’s so comforting. It’s so easy. It’s so delicious. I just love soup. One of my favorite stews before turning vegan was this Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika from Pioneer Woman. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/01/beef-stew-with-beer-and-paprika/ I made it with beef or venison and it was always delicious. I was craving it like crazy the other day, but obviously, as a vegan, I had to modify the ingredients. I also knew I was going to be gone most of the day, so I did it all in the crock pot. Super easy. I swapped out the beef for a 10 bean mix I got from the local grocery store’s bulk bins. It still had all the delicious flavor I wanted, and none of the beef or animal products. If you don’t have a crock pot, you can easily follow the recipe I post, but follow The Pioneer Woman’s instructions.

“Beef” Stew with Beer and Paprika

3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups 10 bean mix, or any other meat sub
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bottle or can of beer, 12 oz
4 cups veggie stock
2 cups water
1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce if you can’t find any
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
4 carrots, washed and sliced
4 new potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
1 cup peas
1 cup corn

Take all ingredients, except corn and peas and toss them in the crock pot, stir and cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 10 minutes before you want to eat, add in the peas and corn. That’s it. That’s all she wrote.

I put some homemade garlicky croutons on the top of mine, but is also great with a side salad and some crusty bread. It has a really delicious and hearty flavor. It’s much thicker with the beans than it is with the beef because they break apart and thicken the stew as it cooks, so you can always add more liquid if you want. I added a little more beer the next day when I reheated it. But water or veggie stock would do just fine.

Udon Noodle Soup


So, I actually feel like writing a blog right now, but who knows if I will get distracted before I finish. A little about me. I suffer from cluster headaches. They hit me once or twice a year, and I get horrible anxiety, insomnia, and one horrible migraine, every day for about 6 weeks. Which totally sucks, except this time around, I am being blessed with 2 migraines a day. YAY! Go me. So exciting. So…any who, I drank two cups of coffee this morning, on account of the insomnia, and then I got a migraine, and took my migraine meds, which have caffeine, so I am in the middle of a caffeine apocalypse right now. Good times. At least my headaches gone, until it wakes me up at midnight tonight.

Back to the recipe. I made Udon Noodle Soup the other day, and didn’t feel like posting about it, but now I do. It’s like chicken noodle soup, but vegan. It’s so delicious and super comforting. I love it.

Udon Noodle Soup

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 cups veggie broth
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp maggi
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup extra firm tofu, cubed
1/2 cup peas
6 oz udon noodles

Heat olive oil in large pot, add onions and garlic. Cook until crisp tender, add cabbage, celery, and carrots and cook until carrots and celery are crisp tender, and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the veggie broth, water, salt and pepper to taste, ginger, maggi (if you have it, just add a tiny more soy sauce if you don’t), soy sauce and simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes until veggies are soft, making sure to scrape all the browned delicious bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Add peas, tofu, and udon noodles and simmer until udon noodles are soft, about 10 minutes. That’s it. Super delicious. Enjoy!

Yay! I didn’t get too distracted. Now off to go run a marathon, or clean my house, or the world!