Monthly Archives: January 2012

Spiced Oatmeal Cran Cookies

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My kids have been begging me to make cookies for their lunches because all the cool kids get sent to school with things like oreos, fruit snacks, gogurt, and other things of that nature. But I am cheap, and trying to eat healthy, so I don’t buy those things. I also have been avoiding making cookies, because the last time I baked chocolate chip for them, they were not vegan, and I ate one. And felt guilty. I finally caved today, not about not eating vegan, just about making cookies, and made some vegan spiced oatmeal cran cookies. My house smells so freaking good. Do I think it will make my kids as cool as the kids that bring the other stuff? Probably not, but who cares about cool anyways? I certainly don’t, and don’t want to raise my kids to care that much either. So vegan oatmeal it is! Oh, I also made myself a warm mug of Simple Spiced Steamerthat I stole from Joy the Baker. http://joythebaker.com/2012/01/spiced-almond-steamer/ So good.

Vegan Spiced Oatmeal Cran Cookies

3/4 cup vegan margarine
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup coconut milk, or other milk substitute
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3 cups rolled oats, or quick cook…not instant!
1 cup dried cranberries

Combine margarine and sugars and cream until smooth. Add vanilla and “milk,” mix well.

Add flour, baking soda, and spices to margarine and mix until combined, then add oats and cranberries.

Spoon 1 1/2 in balls onto baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, my oven needed about 12.

Remove from pan and cool on baking rack, then enjoy!

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Quinoa with black beans and corn

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What should I make for dinner tonight? I had just gotten home from the gym, the kids need to do their homework, I need to do my homework, and I am not feeling great. I needed something that looked easy, would be filling and that the kids would like. This recipe has corn, my kids love corn! And they ended up loving this recipe. I pinned this recipe a few days ago and just so happened to have everything I needed to make it. Except the cilantro. It was pretty darn tasty. If I were to do it again, I would most likely saute in some jalapenos to give it more heat, and definitely go to the store to get some cilantro.

Side note: What is quinoa? Quinoa is an ancient grain, it’s not a cereal grain though. It’s also related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds, who knew? We eat the seeds. It is packed full of protein and fiber, so it’s super filling and a great addition to anyone’s diet, especially a vegan or vegetarian. It is really tasty and has an almost nutty tasty and great texture and is really great in salads or as a replacement for rice. How do you say quinoa? I have been trying to teach my mom how to say it for a few weeks now. It’s Keen- Wa or Ki-Nwa. Some day she’ll get it. Someday.

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin (I must remember to buy more cumin, I go through this stuff like crazy)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained or about 3 cups of cooked black beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (I really wish I had some)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned.

Mix quinoa into the saucepan and mix around a beat to slightly toast the quinoa. Add in the veggie broth and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in the frozen corn and simmer until corn is all thawed and heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro and heat the beans through.

I ended up putting some fresh tomatoes on the top, as well as some cholula, I love cholula. I also served it with some tortilla chips, and ended up eating it as sort of a dip/main course and it was rather tasty. Scarlett even told me it was a really good dinner, and she is my pickiest by far and a self proclaimed “spicy vegetarian,” which she says means she doesn’t eat spicy food.

In other news, I now have my pie plate back, thanks to this blog. And I also wanted to send out a heartfelt apology to my pie server. She isn’t a trollop and wasn’t whoring around on the pie plate, she was just hiding out in the dishwasher like the good, clean, and pure girl she is.

Thai Peanut Noodles, the Haphazard Way

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For dinner tonight I made thai peanut noodles, or at least my version of them. Man were they good. The thing I love about this dish is it’s rather easy, and a great way to get in a bunch of different veggies. I will try and type out the recipe, but most of the measurements are just guesstimates. That is what is wonderful about this dish, you can wing it, and it almost always turns out delicious.

Thai Peanut Noodles

2 block of tofu, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
about 10 stalks of asparagus, bottoms cut off and chopped into inch long pieces
4 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
(These are the veggies I used tonight, you really could do just about anything. Carrots, celery, green beans, edamame, broccoli, whatever you have.)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2-3 tsp maggi, divided (maggi is a seasoning you can find in chinese markets, or in the asian food section of some grocery stores, you don’t have to use it if you don’t have it)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp peanut butter
a few tbsp of water, if needed (to make a more liquidy sauce, this all depends on what types of veggies you use)
a few tbsp of thai sweet chili sauce (this is really up to your discretion, I used about 2)
1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp ground ginger, or if you have fresh, use that
salt and pepper to taste
Noodles or rice to serve veggies and sauce over, I used udon noodles

Heat one tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet, add the cut tofu, some salt and pepper and 1 tsp of maggi. Cook until golden brown on all sides. Start chopping your veggies and cooking what ever starch you are going to serve your veggies and sauce over. Set aside tofu for later.

Add one tbsp olive oil to the skillet. Add onions and sweet potatoes, and a little salt (salt helps break onions down and releases their water so you can start a sauce) Cook for about 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook until onions are translucent and potatoes are slightly tender. Add in pepper and asparagus. Cook until potato is all the way tender, but not mush. Add in mushrooms and tofu and start building your sauce. I always add the peanut butter first, and let it melt down, then I start to add the liquids, making sure the coconut milk goes in last. Cook until it is all heated through and blended. Then serve over whatever starch you are serving it with.

I like to put a little sriracha, which roughly translates into condiment of the gods, on top, and some crushed red pepper flakes. You can make this as hot or mild as you want.

This made a ton of food, so I have my lunch already for tomorrow. And probably dinner for tomorrow too. This reheats really well too. Bonus, kids love peanut butter, so they usually love this dish.

Aren’t you starving?

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I get asked this all the time when I tell people I am vegan, or they find out I am. And the answer is, no. I am not. “Well, what do you eat?” is undoubtedly the next question out of their mouths. “Just salads?” No. I don’t eat just salads. I eat, a lot. Which is also probably why the scale is not moving in leaps and bounds, but it’s still moving slowly and steadily.

The trick to going vegan and not being starving, and also not cheating, is to have tons of foods around. For example, I made a HUGE pot of bean soup last Friday. And when I say huge, I mean huge. I took this recipe http://www.thefirstmess.com/2012/01/16/favourite-lentil-soup/ and switched it a little bit. I did it all in the crock pot and used the 10 bean soup mix from the bulk bins at Sunflower Market. I also pretty much doubled the recipe and dropped or added ingredients as I saw fit. I didn’t have smoked paprika, so I used normal paprika and added some liquid smoke. It made tons of food, so I basically have my lunch, and even breakfast option for a week. It’s really good with pita chips on top, and maybe a spoonful of hummus. It’s really good for you, packed with protein and fiber, and keeps you full for a long time.

Another thing that helps you “survive” being a vegan is to find your favorite snack or comfort food, and discover a vegan substitute for it. My favorite snack was a piece of crusty bread that I broiled, with some cheese and a slice of tomato.  I still do the bread, I just find a vegan version. My current favorite is the roasted garlic bread from Costco. 4.99 for a package of two delicious loaves. And for my cheese substitute, I found this wonderful stuff called heart of palms tapenade, also purchased at costco. It’s most definitely not cheese, so don’t go fooling yourself. But it’s a pretty damn good substitute if you are looking for something that tastes rich and creamy and delicious. Now if only I could find something that filled my craving for eggs, because I certainly miss them.

So no, I am never starving. Nor do I just eat salads. Actually, I rarely just eat salads. You find what works for you, and always be prepared with easy foods to either reheat or prep so you aren’t tempted to run through the McDonalds drive through and just get fries, because those are certainly not vegan, at least from McDonalds.

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*Disclaimer: I am not a food photographer, nor will I ever be one. My current camera refuses to upload pictures to my computer, so until I get a new one, it’s instagram baby! Also, since I am not claiming to be a photographer, I will only be posting pictures of the end result. First of all, because I don’t think you are a child that needs hand holding through every single step. Second of all, because it takes forever for pages to load when you have a picture of everything.

It’s National Pie Day and my very first recipe post. Fantastic! I love pie. My favorite pie is strawberry rhubarb with cherry coming in at a very close second. In my opinion, pie is best served with fresh whip cream, but vegans don’t eat whip cream. Not sure what I will sub for whip cream, but I don’t like cold ice cream anywhere near my hot pie. Today though, I thought I should do a vegan pot pie because when one is trying to lose weight, and is the only adult in the house, it’s best not to make dessert pies. I found one pinned on pinterest and thought I would try it out. (Let’s give a quick shout out to pinterest. Could the internet be any better?)

It sounded really delicious, and with a few tweaks, I made it my own.

Vegan Pot Pie

1 pastry crust (either homemade, or store bought. Let’s pretend I am super awesome and made homemade vegan, when in reality, I bought a vegan one from the grocery store)
2 blocks of extra firm tofu
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided (you will never catch me typing out evoo, except this once. It’s stupid)
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 gloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp nutritional yeast (not to be confused with normal yeast, that you bake with. This comes in flakes usually, and is also called brewers yeast.)
2 tbsp soy sauce (恭喜发财)
1 1/4 vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup fresh or frozen white corn
1-2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut tofu into 1/3 inch pieces. Place between to paper towels or clean towels and press until excess water is gone. I normally put a heavy cookbook on top and cut the rest of my veggies while waiting for the tofu. I happened to use The Barbecue Bible as my heavy cookbook. How very.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pan, add tofu and cook until golden brown on all sides, if you are very thorough, most sides if you are lazy like me. Remove tofu from pan, and set aside for later use.

Heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in pan. Add onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. Saute until the onion is translucent.

Add potato to pan and cook until potato is tender, but not mushy.

Add flour, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce to the pan and mix in with the veggies.

Add the vegetable broth and stir until all combined and sauce starts thickening slightly, making sure to scrape up all the delicious little brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add in the tofu, peas, corn, sage, and thyme and stir until combined. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.

Pour veggie mixture into a pie plate. Or if you are me, search for your pie plate, remember that your friend still has it from Thanksgiving, say your favorite expletive, and use something else that will work. Mine ended up being a 9 inch circular cake pan.

Top with your pastry crust and make the edges as beautiful or as boring as you want. I went with the old pinch technique. Cut some lines in the middle.

Place your pie in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. I checked mine around 25 and it was ready, so I took it out. Then let sit for 5 minutes. I served mine with a side salad with balsamic. The kids had a hearty helping of ketchup on top of their pie.

The end result is rather delicious, albeit slightly messy. That was most likely because I used a cake pan, not a pie pan, so it’s harder to dish out. Oh…and my pie server seems to be whoring around since her husband, the pie plate, has been on an extended vacation. Trollop. I had to use a big knife. The veggies are tender, but still had texture so they weren’t mush in your mouth. The sauce was really delicious and fulfilled all my wishes and cravings for an excellent sub for a traditional meat pot pie. I may have even gone back to the pan and had a few forkfuls of the filling that had not been scooped out properly with my big knife. The other wonderful thing is, you could do any veggie combination your heart desires. Add in some parsnips, sweet potatoes, zucchini, even chopped greens. Whatever you want to add, or anything that might be getting close to spoiling.

All in all, it was a good dinner. And a delicious nod to National Pie Day.

Stay tuned for my next blog post. What’s on the agenda? Buying pretty plates and bowls, looking for a camera, and possibly introducing you all to this wonderful thing called cashew cream. It has blown my vegan mind.

Happy Pie Day

Greetings and Salutations

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So, I have a blog! How exciting. This blog is mainly for me to keep track of my hits and misses when it comes to my adventures in cooking vegan. Most of the recipes will be vegan, all will be vegetarian. I may occasionally post desserts that I make for my family and friends that have obscene amounts of butter and eggs, mainly because I am vegan, but I am not making everyone around me be vegan as well.

How did I decide to become vegan? The easiest way to answer would be to say it was a dare, or a challenge. I had a friend e-mail me asking if I was interested in going vegan with her for 30 days. This was right before Thanksgiving, so I said no way! Not right not. I need turkey, and mashed potatoes, and gravy. I told her I would be happy to join her in this adventure the Monday after Thanksgiving to ensure all leftovers had departed from my house, and that I would be vegan up until a few days before Christmas. I thought it was going to be horrifically difficult, but I was determined. And I did it. I didn’t cheat at all during that time. I felt fantastic. I lost 7 lbs. My skin was glowing. I was seriously loving it. And then Christmas happened. Oh Christmas. With it’s delights of ham and funeral potatoes, sausage and chili rellenos for breakfast, which is a family tradition. I ate, and ate, and then ate some more. And then managed to waddle home and go to bed at about 7:45 pm feeling bloated and defeated, while my older two were still awake and playing with their toys. The next morning I woke up and felt utterly disgusting. Never again, I vowed. Never again. I hadn’t realized how awful I had felt while eating things like meat and dairy. And maybe it was because I just overdid it, but maybe it was also because my body works better when I am vegan.

So I dove right back in and did fantastic until I did a little weekend trip to Texas. I had to eat BBQ. It was my first time in Texas, how could I not? And I went back to feeling awful and disgusting and full of self loathing. Why do I do this to myself? So here I am, four days after my trip to Texas, having eaten vegan since I have been home, but still feeling slightly heavy and weighed down by the animal fats trying to work their way out of my body. And once again I am determined to do this. And I tell myself, never again! So I started a blog to keep myself accountable, and to let others in on my little journey that I hope will turn into a lifelong sojourn of good health and great food. I strive to show others that being vegan doesn’t mean eating bad food.  If it were so, I could never be vegan. I love to cook, and more importantly, I love to eat. Enjoy.