Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Merry Sandwich


I had a wonderful Christmas, and looking over the pictures I couldn't help but feel blessed. I got to spend Christmas with a man that I love and two kids who make me smile and laugh every day. I can't think of anything that you could put under a tree that would even give me even a fraction of the joy that these people do, they, themselves, are a wonderful gift....but this is a vegetarian food blog right? So back to the vegetarian food...

I cook a big dinner on Christmas eve day, that way I can spend the entire Christmas day enjoying my family, playing games, watching my kids faces light up, and not worry about putting something in the oven or burning something on the stove top. We had acorn squash soup, cooked and served inside an acorn squash, cauliflower gratin, roasted potatoes (such a simple recipe and oh so tasty, I'll have to get around to posting that soon), biscuits, and gravy. Everything was delicious if I may say so, I will definitely be serving cauliflower again in the near future, I had forgotten how much I liked it....maybe in a stew or curry...hmmm. For Christmas breakfast we had cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, and leftover biscuits and gravy. Lunch was tacos, though they didn't take long to make, and weren't fancy or fussy they were enjoyed by all.

...But you're here for the sandwich right?...ok...I'll get on with it then. This sandwich was oh soooo tasty, but don't take my word for it, you should really make it yourself. It also looked so festive I highly suspect it will show up in our house next December. I think it would even make a great appetizer on a smaller scale to serve at parties, I can almost guarantee you it would go over well with carnivores too.

The sandwich is simply ciabatta bread smeared with garlic aioli, roasted red pepper dressing, and stuffed with chopped hearts of romaine. So good...give it a try...just make sure you have breath mints handy.

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Roma Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich


I have been craving a tomato sandwich ever since I saw this post over at Veg Obsession. I try not to make special shopping trips, so the sandwich had to be postponed until today....well worth the wait. I simply toasted two slices of whole wheat bread, and spread both slices with roasted red pepper and shallot dressing, and one slice with vegenaise (optional). For the filling I diced one roma tomato and tossed it with half a clove of chopped garlic, and a pinch of salt. Please don't be fooled by the cell phone picture, this was actually really tasty. I served it along side a wilted spinach salad. I can't wait to try this in the summer, I bet it will be killer with some freshly picked tomatoes and a little basil. I could also see this being really good on ciabatta bread with a little garlic butter spread on there before toasting....mmmmm

Friday, December 10, 2010

Black Bean Burgers with Green Chili Gravy, Avocado, and Cilantro

This was my lunch today. It was simply a couple of black bean burgers that I had in the freezer, topped with green chili gravy, some sliced avocado and cilantro....because I love cilantro deeply. Those of you on my facebook fan page know that I made a big pot of this last night. Or rather as close to the recipe as I could get with the ingredients I had on hand. I had no fresh tomatoes, so I used canned, and because I didn't want to waste I used the whole can. This made the sauce a little tomato heavy, but still very very tasty. Also, I didn't have to add any salt this way. I will be making it again when I have fresh tomatoes.

I'm using the leftovers (ha! if there are any) later this week for enchiladas. This sauce would also be excellent on polenta rancheros, or burritos. I also have a work in progress idea for a pizza involving this sauce. I know I won't be buying enchilada sauce in a can again any time soon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Shallot Dressing/Sauce

I made this yesterday long before dinner time so that when the kids woke up from nap all I had to do was throw dinner together and throw it in the oven....big mistake...it was sooo good. I spread some on a slice of bread to make sure I got the flavors right, then I had another slice....and another...never adjusting the recipe one bit, just some good old fashioned stuffing my face with a savory sauce that was meant to be for dinner.

Now when my husband came home with a jar of roasted red peppers I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but when I saw portabella mushroom caps in the store I was inspired. I cleaned and degilled the mushroom caps then stuck them in a bag with a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of oil, a little salt, and one tsp of sugar. I let this mixture marinate until dinner. If I'd had, a clove of garlic I would have crushed and tossed that in there as well. When dinner time rolled around I put the mushroom caps in a baking dish and stuffed them with quinoa that I had cooked in veggie broth, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I baked this covered (to keep the quinoa from drying out) at 350 for about 45 minutes. Then I pulled them out and served them with the red pepper sauce over the top. I have a horrifically bad photo of this somewhere on my cell phone, I'll see if I can't get a better one when I make this again*. I'll follow with more serving suggestions after the recipe.

What you need
3 cloves shallots peeled and thinly sliced
oil for sauteing
dash of salt
2/3 cups roasted red pepper strips (don't drain, but try not to get a lot of liquid in the mix)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
2 tbs coconut milk...or more for a creamier sauce

Heat the oil in a pan over medium low heat, add the shallots and salt and cook until transparent. You could probably caramelize these with tasty results, however I did not this time around.

Put the shallots and the rest of the ingredients in your food processor and process until smooth. Adjust to suit tastes.

This recipe doesn't make a lot of sauce, it was enough to cover our mushrooms (ehem...and a little extra), but if you are thinking of using it on a larger scale...say over a pasta dish, you may have to double the recipe.

Serving suggestions

Try this on a sandwich (tomato and mozzarella maybe? Yum!)
On toasted bread (rubbed with garlic?)
Add more coconut milk to make it into a cream sauce and add to pasta
Over stuffed portabella mushrooms
On top of salad
As a dressing for pasta salad
A dip for raw veggies
Smeared onto puff pastry with some cream cheese and crushed garlic, then rolled up for a pesto pinwheel style appetizer
pour over grilled veggies


*I will be making this again

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lentil "Stew", Chickpea Tagine, and Roasted Potatoes tossed with Chermoula...








....i.e. things I don't have a proper recipe for. This lentil "stew" was really more like potatoes, lentils, and noodles with a little bit of broth. It was really tasty no matter what you call it. I cooked one diced onion with three red potatoes, some salt, a bay leaf, a few cloves of chopped garlic, and a generous amount of red pepper flakes. It smelled fantastic, and I could have eaten it as was....but it wouldn't have been a very complete meal....not that that always stops me.










Yummy right? Next I added some rinsed lentils and stock and boiled it for about ten minutes before adding the macaroni noodles. I cooked it for about 9 minutes more and served it with whole wheat rosemary garlic bread. If I had some baby spinach I would have tossed it in at the end. I added extra red pepper flakes to mine and my husbands bowl. Everyone really liked it.

This lovely meal is a chickpea and carrot tagine that I made to suit what I had on hand. I added some frozen spinach to the mix for an extra veg, and I doubled the chickpeas and spices.
The potatoes were simply roasted and then tossed with chermoula. I liked both dishes, but felt they didn't go super well together. The next day I tossed the chermoula with rice and it was a much happier pairing. Don't get me wrong, the potatoes were fantastic, I just think they would have been better paired with something else. I am thinking it would make for a lovely lunch if I added some chickpeas and turned it into sort of a potato salad and stuffed the whole mess into a pita.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pasta Salad With a Kick, Another Eggless Cookie, and Night Feast


A few weeks ago my daughter came up to me and asked if we could have a "night feast". Of course my first question was "What is night feast?" She explained that it was a picnic held by the light of the tree. I thought that sounded like a fabulous idea. She then informed me that hot cocoa and cookies were essential to night feast......she always comes up with the best ideas.

I made these egg free candy cane cookies and they were fabulous! I skipped on the white chocolate as I couldn't find any allergen free, and we frosted them with home made mint frosting. The cookies themselves were very tasty, which I find is not always the case in novelty cookies. I've made these twice now and enjoyed them both each time. The first time I shaped them into the letter C as I am working on the alphabet with my youngest.....learning with food is always fun.

Back to night feast, we held our first annual night feast on the first day of Advent. We ate peanut free Chex Mix, cookies, hot cocoa, and pasta salad. I really liked the dressing on this pasta salad, I don't think the noodles were really necessary. Next time I will turn it into a chickpea salad.

Honey Mustard Wasabi Pasta Salad

1 cup honey mustard dressing (look for one without high fructose corn syrup, and obviously an egg free one)
1 clove crushed garlic
1-2 tsp prepared wasabi
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups cooked noodles

Whisk together the first four ingredients and add extra wasabi to taste. Stir in the chickpeas and noodles. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Enjoy. I can't wait to try this recipe out again during the summer.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Creamy Cabbage and Mixed Veg Curry

This was very tasty (note the spoon, poised and ready to attack). I wish I had a better picture for you, but I was hungry, we all were. I served this over rice and everyone gobbled it up.* The hubster and I love cabbage, I realize that there are a great many people with the opposite opinion. As always though, I urge you..if you don't like a vegetable....make it into curry. :) I haven't found a vegetable yet that I didn't like in curry. This dish is also creamy due to the coconut milk in it, and for me that makes it a comfort food. I've made it in the crock pot before and the smell of it cooking on a cold night drives me nuts.

What you need
1 TBS oil

1/2 tsp turmric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne

3 potatoes scrubbed and diced

1 tsp minced ginger
3 cloves chopped garlic

1 bag shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
1 cup mixed peas (or mixed frozen veggies, I prefer all peas)
1 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup of water

1 can of coconut milk
dash....or two of nutmeg

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the next six ingredients and cook for one or two minutes until fragrant, stirring to avoid burning.

Add the potatoes and cook for five minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook another five minutes.

Add the cabbage, veggies, chickpeas, and 1/4 cup water. Lower heat to medium low and cook covered for 15 minutes. Stir and cook another 15 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and nutmeg and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Taste and add more salt and cayenne as desired. Serve over rice.



*To be fair, my daughter only gobbled up her portion after throwing herself on the ground, covering her eyes and exclaiming that (horror of all horrors) there were cooked carrots in her dish........she doesn't like cooked carrots (obviously). We discussed the proper and improper (ehem...tantrum) way of dealing with foods we don't like. After picking out all of the carrots and trying a bite she declared the curried cabbage very tasty.
Why even mention it? Because, while my kids do eat a variety of foods, there are also foods they don't like, and I respect that. Can my daughter still get a very balanced diet without cooked carrots? Certainly! Now if she starts avoiding an entire food group I'll reevaluate our tactics. For now, the try a bite rule works very well. Also, I've heard it said before, "but your kids eat everything"....oh so far from the truth! My kids try everything, when it is healthy and they like it, I encourage them to eat more of it. It also encourages me to keep putting the healthy foods on the table that they actually like.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cranberry Chutney in the Crock Pot/Slow Cooker




I used organic produce for this. I am only specifying because choosing organic makes me better than you.......HA......I'm totally kidding.......please don't leave me*. Organic fruits and veg are sometimes smaller than their conventional counterparts. The two organic apples I used would probably be equal to one standard granny smith apple, and I only used about 7oz of cranberries, if memory serves most cranberries are sold in 12oz bags. You could always use half a bag, or double the recipe......which I intend to do later this week. :)

This recipe works very well in a small dip style crock pot, but you can use anything. Watch your cook time, it will cook down and become an ugly tasty mess, but you don't want it to burn.


I used

7oz cranberries
2 apples washed and diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/16 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup water

Mix everything together in the crock pot and cook on low. All of the cranberries should burst and the dried fruit should plump. You can add more water if you need too. I cooked this for about two hours on low and then removed the lid for another hour of cooking. All crocks cook differently though, so I am hesitant to say exact cooking times.

You should totally make this. The chutney smelled wonderful cooking, and it's much better than a scented candle because you get to eat it afterwards......
you shouldn't eat scented candles.....
they taste a lot like wax......
and 409.....
this is totally better.
Also it's yummy on sandwiches. My husband thought so too, so you don't have to take the word of a girl who licks scented candles. You could even try it on top of an unmeatloaf!





*Sometimes I think I may have no social life because I'm a jerk, then I remember how awesome I am and realize that surely this isn't the case.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Treats and Tricks



I can't believe I haven't posted these yet! We went to a fall festival a couple weekends ago, and when we got home we had a family fun night. I made these French bread pizzas. Simply pesto, roma tomatoes and cheese. Great because you can make extras and freeze them for later. Great for lunch the next day too.
Pesto free version for my little man. Butter and garlic replace the pesto, and I chopped up the tomatoes for easier chomping.

These are cheesy pumpkin rice pumpkins. Bell peppers for the stems. I
believe I got the idea for these from Family Fun magazine.


These are (less convincing) pumpkin wraps. Wraps made with sun dried tomato wraps and garnished with parsley. Also an idea from Family Fun.


What is any party without pie? Egg free key lime pie. This was very tasty, I can't even believe I'm typing a blog right now and not in the kitchen making more.

Now for the trick portion.........


This..........

is the candy my kids brought home. Yikes!! I get kind of jittery just looking at it. I helped the kids pick out a couple pieces of candy to keep and they left the rest out overnight. It was replaced in the morning with a new microscope for my little girl and a new game for my little boy.....a game that had a piece missing....and has been discontinued so they can't send me a new one....sigh. Luckily the other pieces were exciting enough that they are now being used as action figures.

Well there you have it. We had a lot of fun eating and crafting. I am going to try to get my Thanksgiving pictures and recipes up before Christmas, but at this rate who knows! Hope you all are enjoying the holidays!

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Cream" of Broccoli Soup


This soup was plain but tasty, and very similar to a lot of other green soups I make for the kiddos. they gobbled it up and asked for more. It makes a very nice compliment to a sandwich on a cold day. It's souper simple (hehe sorry), and requires few ingredients. It gets most of it's creamy texture from potatoes. You can use 1/2 cup of any sort of milk I suppose, whatever tickles your fancy or doesn't happen to turn members of your family into an anaphylaxis mess. :)


4 cups cooked broccoli florets
4 baked potatoes with skins removed.
1/2 cup milk (I used rice)
Veggie stock to desired consistency
Salt, pepper, seasoning salt to taste

Put the broccoli, potatoes and milk into your food processor and blend, add stock and blend until desired consistency. Pour the whole mess into a pot and heat through on the stove, adding salt, pepper, and seasoning salt to taste. I added a good bit of salt to ours. I added cheese and sour cream to the tops of the kiddos bowls, and I think they also had toast with theirs. This was even better the next day as leftovers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Make Ahead Soy Free Taquitos

Here is the finished product, golden brown and a sprinkling of salt..mmmmm...I know what I'll be having for dinner tonight.




Here are the taquitos out of the oven and ready to be frozen. My kids each ate two just like this and had no complaints....I wouldn't necessarily recommend that though. My four year old has also been known to eat paint.


This recipe is really simple 3 ingredients (four if you choose to add cheese or rice cheese) and I'm giving you a vegetarian and vegan option for the taquitos. I made half with cheese for the kids, and half without for myself. I've made taquitos on this blog before, I really enjoy having taquitos in the fridge to make for lunch or a super quick dinner alongside a mashed up avocado and some diced fruit. For these I use the same process, but the ingredients are even simpler. All you need are corn tortillas, vegetarian black beans, and hot sauce. For the vegetarian option you can add cheese.

All I did was mix together refried black beans (make sure yours are vegetarian as well as soy free) and hot sauce to taste. I laid the corn tortillas on a baking sheet and made a thin line of beans down the center. I was going to take a picture of this stage, but it looked a lot like poo on a tortilla and I was feeling too nauseous and immature to take a picture of that. If you want cheese on these you need to sprinkle the cheese FIRST then add the beans. I baked this (do not roll them up yet) for about 5 minutes at 350. The tortillas should be softened and easy to roll without tearing at this point. If not stick the whole mess back in the oven for a couple more minutes. Roll from one end to the other and place flap side down on the cookie sheet. Pop them back in the oven for another 7 minutes or so. I was making these to freeze so I didn't want them cooked to a golden brown. I just cooked them long enough that the tortilla became crispy and maintained it's rolled up shape when moved about. When I'm ready to eat these I will either pan fry them, or brush them with oil and bake them until they are golden brown. I have even been known to stick a bunch into a casserole dish, cover them with enchilada sauce and call it dinner.

The kids as it turns out were very hungry as these came out of the oven, their little pleas for "kitos" were just too much to stand and I gave them some as is. They gobbled them up and asked for more. These are a favorite in our house, and a great example of how to make your own convenience foods.

As a side note...I've tried making taquitos the recommended way, by heating all the tortillas first then filling and rolling them and it has never worked for me. If you have mad tortilla making skills (I bet you do you lucky duck) do whatever works for you. This is just the way that I have found that works for me.

Do you make and freeze any foods? What's in your freezer?

P.S. Please be sure to check ALL ingredients you are using if you are on a soy free diet for allergy or intolerance reasons.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Menu

If I were a good blogger, I might already have an abundance of side dish recipes tested and pictures taken......but I haven't done that. In fact I have nothing for you but a link and a list. Maybe that will help to get your creative juices going though.

This is my first year blogging through the holiday season and I'm quite excited. Not only am I thrilled to share with you our favorites, but I can't wait to see what you all are cooking up in your kitchens!

I've done many different things over the years on Thanksgiving since becoming a vegetarian. One year I made acorn squash ravioli in a gorgonzola cheese sauce, grilled zucchini, and onion bread....this was of course the Thanksgiving before we had children and I had time to do things like shower on a regular basis, and make my own ravioli. One year we had an Indian feast, and a few of the years we have dinned at friends houses and I have brought a side dish. I toyed with the idea of making Persian food this Thanksgiving, but as the day has drawn closer I am once again leaning toward a "traditional" menu, and this had better be my last leaning because the day draws near.

So what might the main dish at this vegetarian Thanksgiving be? Well, in my humble opinion, the celebration roast from Field Roast Grain Meat Co. is the only way to go. It's tasty, soy free, complex in flavor, and goes perfectly with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. I would love to hear if you try it out, especially if you happen to be a carnivore. Let me know what you think.

The rest of our menu

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Cranberry Chutney
Balsamic and Brown Sugar Baked Carrots
Broccoli Soup
Struessel Topped Sweet Potatoes
Sourdough, Caramelized Veggie, and Cornbread Stuffing
Sourdough Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Cran-Raspberry Pie


What does your Thanksgiving menu look like?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mujadara in a Pita with Spicy Eggplant Sauce


I saw mujadara over at The Vegan Mouse, and my first thought was why have I never made this?? Lentils.......onions....rice??? This is cheap, this is easy, this is flavorful........it will help if you like the flavor of onions, and I really really do. You will find recipes for mujadara all over the web, I chose a simple one that involved only rice, lentils, salt, pepper, cumin, and onions...I added a bay leaf while it all cooked up, but other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely....I wish I could find that recipe now. It is bookmarked on my other computer. I will add it when I get the chance.

Mujadara is very tasty on it's own, but I wanted a little zing to make it into a pita sandwich the next day for lunch. I thinly sliced an eggplant and pan fried it in about 1tbs of oil over medium heat, along with one onion also thinly sliced and 1/2 tsp of salt. I cooked the eggplant for ten minutes, then flipped and cooked for ten more minutes. Then I added a jar of tomato paste mixed with one cup of water (make sure you lower the heat before you add this as it will splatter a good bit). I simmered this covered for about 20 minutes until the eggplant cooked into a mush (mmmmmmm eggplant mush). I removed it from the heat and added about 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream, more salt, and a generous amount of cayenne. I actually think this sauce would be quite good on it's own as a dip for pita bread, or over rice. I was inspired by a Persian eggplant dish that I have been wanting to make for a while. However I was missing some key ingredients, so this was my compromise. You can use 1/2 cup of coconut milk to replace the heavy whipping cream.

In short this dish will be making the rotation, it is warm and comforting and I imagine it would be quite good in the summer months with some sort of cucumber yogurt sauce. Most of the onions are on the side, which appealed to my daughter, and it's super cheap which appeals to all of us. I heart lentils, how about you?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Very Veggie Burrito




Burrito leftovers pictured in a bowl the next day for lunch. This was my lunch two days in a row. The burrito bowl, the lower cal, gluten free version of the ginormous burrito. Both have a proper time and place.




If you currently live in California this is not the post for you. Why don't you just wander on down to the corner taco truck and get yourself a big ol' burrito wrapped in tin foil and go eat it on the beach. Just don't tell me about it because I will more than likely have a mental breakdown. Really I'm jealous. I've done my fair share of complaining about the Mexican food I've eaten since moving here (instant mashed potatoes on a flour tortilla with some American cheese anyone?). This week I decided to quit my complaining and make my own dang burrito. So that's what I did. And now I'm here writing this post to encourage the other wandering Californians that I know are out there to go do the same. This was not quite the same as what I'd get at my favorite places back home, but it's a suitable replacement when the other option (eating out) happens to include frozen spinach and processed blocks of orange cheese (you all know what I'm talking about).

All the prep work (making the refried beans, Spanish rice, and grilling veggies) was done ahead of time. Thus I was able to throw this together in a jiffy. This burrito is vegan, and can easily be adapted to suit personal tastes, for instance........I like hot sauce, and onions............a lot. You may not........I believe we can still be friends.

First a layer of mashed up avocado, some fresh diced onion and some cilantro

grilled peppers and onions on top of that




Some homemade Spanish rice



Homemade refried black beans, I know...they look gross...that's ok though because they taste great. You can use some other sort of refried beans if you like, I just really like how flavorful these are.


A little hot sauce.

Wrap that baby up.


You may have to struggle a little to pick the burrito up......that's only natural. There is a reason these things come wrapped in foil, at home I like to eat them with a fork.




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Corn Chowder Topped with Biscuits


Corn chowder makes the rotation quite often in our house. It's creamy rich flavor is perfect for a rainy evening, and topped with a biscuit it makes for excellent comfort food in my humble opinion. On top of that the majority of the ingredients are pantry staples so it's a great go to meal when there is "nothing to eat".

What you need
1 tbs oil
2 potatoes scrubbed and diced
1 bag of frozen corn (10 oz)
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups stock (such as corn)
2 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs water
1 cup of milk
1 tsp creole seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup of milk
salt and pepper to taste

your favorite biscuits, I used half whole wheat, half white wheat drop biscuits that I made with the kids. You will note that while they are not very pretty, they were made with little hands, lots of love, and lots of pride. My daughter loves to be a part of the dinner process.

What to do

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the potatoes and 1/4 tsp salt, cook for five minutes. Stir and cook five more minutes.

The potatoes should be tender and almost cooked through. Test one.

Add the bag of corn, and the stock.

Mix together the cornstarch and the water in a bowl and add. Stir well.

Bring chowder to a boil. Boil for about 8 minutes. The potatoes should be done, and the soup should have thickened.

Remove from heat and add the milk, creole seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste.

Serve topped with biscuits.

You can find my recipe for smokey corn chowder with sweet potatoes and baby spinach here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Egg Free Holiday Baking: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are good, these are really, really good. I am eating one right now as I type. I've called upon all of the one handed typing skills I perfected while nursing and blogging, and now I am utilizing them for another very important purpose........cookie eating and blogging.


I used this recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies and only played with it a little. Instead of chocolate mint chips (which are divine by the way) I used a chopped up mint Theo bar. The Theo bar was a little less minty than mint U.F.O.s (which is of course the name of the mint chocolate chips that you can buy at Trader Joe's) would have been, but still fantastic. The only other addition I made was about a tbs of applesauce for a moister dough.

My daughter and I made these together and we had so much fun. As you can see from the picture, I barely had time to get my camera out before the cookies started disappearing right off the pan. They are very chocolaty, and very tasty, I doubt anyone would guess they were vegan. More importantly though, I think they would be enjoyed by anyone who tried them...........except for chocolate haters........but, you know, there's something wrong with those people anyway. ;)

Aioli Spread Or Dip and Serving Suggestions


Pictured here on sourdough bread next to some baby carrots and a glass of 100% cranberry juice mixed with seltzer water....and I know what you are thinking, why would I trust the tastes of someone who drinks 100% cranberry juice...you probably shouldn't for the most part. However in this case you would be missing out. Over the years I've made this with many types of mayonnaise, real, vegan, canola, olive oil, and some are better than others. My current fave is grape seed vegenaise as it is not too sweet, if the flavor of your mayo is off that will greatly affect the end product. I would not suggest using anything light as it often has a sweet aftertaste, beyond that use what tastes good to you. The only unfortunate thing about this recipe is that I have not yet figured out how to make it soy free so that little man can enjoy it, almost all mayonnaise type spreads use soy in them. I have some ideas though and I will get back to you on those.

Aioli is traditionally a blend of garlic, olive oil, eggs, and lemon juice, and it is fantastic. Mostly in america you will find that the process is shortened by using mayonnaise, this makes it super simple to veganize. Here is my version, it isn't really revolutionary, you will probably find similar recipes elsewhere on the interwebs, but if you have never tried it you simply must! It takes three ingredients to make this....are you ready?? It's super simple, why not give it a go?

1 cup mayonnaise (of your preference)
5-8 cloves of garlic peeled and pressed (I think I used 7 this time....we REALLY like garlic)
2 tsp lemon juice

Stir everything together and chill.

This is fantastic spread thinly over GOOD sourdough bread. It also works very well as a dip for veggies, and pretzels. My husbands favorite pasta salad is simply pasta tossed with aioli, and he will tell you it is one of the dishes that made him decide he wanted to marry me (yes, we both love garlic that much).

This is also the spread that I use on my famous summer wraps and for some of my favorite sandwiches. For the summer wraps I spread it onto a large tortilla (usually spinach) add roma tomatoes, spinach, and thinly sliced basil leaves, so simple....soooooo tasty. Sometimes shredded cucumber and carrots work their way into the mix. Or a hunk of aged parmesean cheese. For a fantastic portabella veggie burger experience cook a portabella mushroom burger according to directions and instead of placing on a bun slather some ciabatta bread with aioli and add spinach and roma tomatoes. Another super simple, but tasty favorite of mine is an aioli and avocado sandwich......which is just what it sounds like....aioli and slices of avocado...yum!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Holiday Baking Egg Free:Egg Free Chocolate Chip Cookies





Who needs a holiday to eat chocolate chip cookies? Certainly not me. Tuesday is fine enough of an excuse for me to get to baking. However, I'm trying to compile a list of egg free, nut free recipes that we will be using over the holiday season. Hopefully this will be of use to some other weary eyed cookie craving mother perhaps thrown (as I was) by diagnosis of food allergies in the family. Or possibly someone who has given up on eggs (So many good reasons to do that, but that's another post) but is determined not to give up on baking.

After my last adventure in egg free baking I thought maybe (since you know I'm bad enough at conventional baking) it might be a good idea to look at this adventure more like a guided tour and look up some recipes. I found this recipe for egg free chocolate chip cookies and I followed it very closely.
I have to admit it was kind of scary because....well...look at the batter. At this point I was thinking, "These things will never hold together." However, I think by this point we have established that I am no knowledgeable authority on baking, so I continued. I packed the batter into a 2tbs measuring spoon and dropped them onto a baking sheet.

Again I followed the recipe and took them out of the oven before they looked done. They were a hit. Of course the texture is different than the average chocolate chip cookie, so don't expect them to taste like grandmas....unless...you know...your grandma is a vegan. It was nice to have freshly baked treats in the house again.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Broccoli Two Ways....and then some


Happy broccoli season everyone!!!! Are you excited? Yes? No? Not so much? Well we are!

My kids love broccoli. I have been known to hide it until the end of the meal to ensure that the rest of their food gets eaten. Sayings such as "finish your pizza or you won't get any broccoli" have actually been uttered in my house. Because my kids love it so much I serve it often.


Most of the time I serve it simply, steamed and tossed with garlic ginger butter and a pinch of salt. Everything is done to taste, nothing revolutionary. However there are so many food combinations that I would not have thought of if I had not seen someone else do it so I am passing this onto you. I've even had broccoli haters enjoy broccoli in this manner.

The second Broccoli dish is again done to taste, and again very simple (simple suits me well right now). I toss cooked or raw broccoli with teriyaki sesame dressing and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Yum! I love the crunch of the almonds and the salty teriyaki dressing.

Then of course there is always the traditional broccoli with a dip. Might I suggest Avocado Dip? Then there is broccoli soup, casserole, grilled broccoli, broccoli with pasta, broccoli stuffed in twice baked potatoes, broccoli stir-fry, broccoli tempura.......oh I could go on and on.

Do you have a favorite Broccoli dish? Do your kids have a favorite vegetable?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Easy Vegan Spanish Rice




Hello, miss me? I missed you, truly, wholly, and completely. I am feeling...meh....ok, but ok is a marked improvement from miserable so I'll take it. What did I do when I started feeling better you may ask? Clean the bathrooms? Wash the windows? Do the laundry? Of course not! I made muffins, I will post that recipe soon.

For now though, I wanted to share with you a super easy recipe for Spanish rice that is a favorite among the wee members of our household. There is a recipe for Spanish rice that has been passed down through the generations in our family.........and this is not it (sorry Dad). That recipe involves el pato, and I believe lard.....and it has a little kick to it. My daughter doesn't like kicks. So this is what I have been making. To my knowledge a lot of Spanish rice recipes use oil and are vegan, and I've never come across a recipe that is too difficult, so while this could probably also be called "pretty much like every other Spanish rice you have ever had" I thought "Easy Vegan Spanish Rice" had a much nicer ring to it....don't you? You can use brown rice, I have in the past. The cook time will be longer, but it will still be just as tasty. My wonderful husband has been doing more than his share this past week, including the grocery shopping. I used what we had in the cupboard, white rice, cooking times will reflect that.


2 tbs oil
1 diced onion
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 cup uncooked rice
5 cloves garlic that have been peeled and finely chopped
1 14.5oz can of petite diced tomatoes
1 can worth of veg stock, or corn stock*
garlic salt and salt to taste

Heat the oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, chili powder, oregano, salt, and cook for about two minutes.

Add the rice and chopped garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. The Onion should be tender and the rice should start to become a golden color. Stir to keep the garlic from burning.

Lower the heat to medium low and stir in the tomatoes and stock. Stir to prevent tomatoes from burning.

Bring to a light simmer and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until all of the liquid is gone.

Remove from heat and add salt and garlic salt to taste.

I've also been known to add bell pepper, corn, cayenne for heat, spinach and jalapeno. This is quite lovely when served with refried beans and grilled veggies (bell peppers, onion, mushroom etc). Pile it all into a tortilla for a fantastic burrito that is full of flavor and dairy free.


*When I buy stock I like to buy it in boxes. You'll not find (to my knowledge) corn stock in the stores, but I keep some in my freezer. Simply pour stock into the empty tomato tin and voila one can worth of veg stock. :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hello out there

Oh what a week. If there were a title to this week it would be, "week of acquiring various illnesses and injuries predominately seen in middle aged men". It's a long title, but highly appropriate. Due to the nature of my week I have had to take a short break from blogging. I miss you guys, and I hope to be up to 100% soon. I can't wait to get back to cooking and blogging and reading.

I really miss reading your posts. However I tore my rotator cuff and it hurts when I laugh. So I have had to abstain from all things humorous in nature, and I find some of you hilarious. It is especially sad for me personally because I love to laugh. I have had to develop this sort of throaty wheezy laugh as to not hurt myself further, Not only does it annoy me, but it frightens small children.

So don't worry (you were worried right?) I'll be on here again soon enough. I miss you, thank you so much for following along. I promised real life mommy stuff and here it is.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday: Snack Time!

Happy Monday everyone! I think this post applies to everyone, because who doesn't like snacking right? Well if you like to snack, I know you will get just as lost as I always do on this site. Check it out.

Fix Me A Snack


Don't leave without checking out Yogurt 101!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thai Inspired Soup






I am working once again on very little sleep. I called in this morning to see if I could take a personal day and the girl who answered the phone clearly didn't know what she was talking about.

"Hello"

"Hi, Mommy"

"Hi, I was just calling in because my kids kept me up all night, and seeing as I've worked nonstop for the past four years I was wondering if it was ok if I took the day off to get some rest"

"Mommy do you know what sound a bagpipe makes? It goes...beeeeeeeeeeaaawwaaaarrrrraaaaaaaaaaaahhh. It's pretty much my favorite sound"


this is where I started suspecting that she may have no authority to give me the day off

"Do you have a manager I could speak too"

"Bagpipe starts with B...buh buh Beee"

*crickets*
At this point I noticed the girl in question was talking into a plastic banana instead of a phone, clearly this conversation was going nowhere
.

We reached a compromise though. I get to wear my pj's all day, and we are going to have canned soup and sandwiches for dinner because they require minimal effort. Also there will be much time cuddling on the couch with a story book. This job has it's perks.

What does that have to do with this soup....nothing. Thanks for putting up with it. I guess what I'm saying is if you notice extra typos, grammatical errors and confusing steps, it's only because my editor** has taken a leave of absence due to lack of sleep. :)

Here's that recipe you have all been waiting for.....right? It's a mild flavored soup that is full of summery ingredients like corn, yellow pepper, lemon and cilantro. It has almost no heat, you can surely up the amount of curry paste if you want a spicy soup. This recipe makes a lot, but I think it tastes even better the next day. It's excellent over cilantro rice. There are a lot of ingredients in here, don't be alarmed, you may be surprised just how many you have on han
d.




served over cilantro rice. Yum!


1tbs oil
6 cloves of pressed garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tbs vegetarian oyster sauce*
1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
3 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs Thai green curry paste
1 yellow bell pepper sliced into strips
1 potato scrubbed and diced
8oz extra firm organic pre-diced tofu...It will be packed in water, drain it thoroughly
1 cup frozen corn
4 cups of veggie stock
1 can of coconut milk
1 handful of baby spinach
1 handful of cilantro chopped
2 Meyer lemons
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the next six ingredients (from garlic to curry paste) and stir.

Add the pepper, tofu, and potato. Cook for five minutes. Then flip and cook for five more minutes. The potatoes should be tender.

Add the corn and veggie stock. Bring it to a boil.

Boil until the potatoes are done.

Lower the heat and add the coconut milk, spinach, cilantro and the juice of the two lemons. Heat through and add salt to taste.

Serve over cilantro rice if desired. I made this recipe and switched the white rice for brown, so the cooking times and proportions were different, but the flavors were still the same. It was fantastic, use whatever type of stock you desire. I think I may have also doubled the garlic....I do that.

*This is vegetarian oyster sauce, I believe I have also seen it called mushroom stirfry sauce. I'm not thrilled with all of the ingredients. Definitely a sometimes food. It adds a depth of flavor to Thai dishes that I have not been able to duplicate without using it. Find it Asian grocery stores.



** Editor, being my brain....she isn't really that great of an editor to begin with, but she's better than nothing.

Sorry about the funky font sizes, I was having trouble editing this. All the computer's fault I'm sure. In no way has to do with my lack of sleep. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Marinated Bean and Potato Tacos and a Choose Your Own Adventure






Remember the "choose your own adventure" series? I loved those things as a kid, a book you can read again and again! What more would any eight year old girl want (I don't know friends maybe).


Anyhoo, this is a super simple recipe so I thought I'd turn it into a behind the scenes peek at what goes on in my kitchen when I am cooking and running on very little sleep. I fully intend to get seven hours tonight. With luck there will be no broken night lights, 2 am "frow ups", or 5am "I just decided I really like the sun and I want to sing about it.....loudly". It does make the recipe a little more confusing, however it is like I said a super simple recipe and I totally have faith in you.


What you need

2 cloves of garlic finely minced
12 oz jar of Mango Peach Salsa
2 baked potatoes cooled and diced
1 can of beans drained and rinsed. I suggest pinto beans, I did not have them and used butter beans. I think pinto would have worked better.
hot sauce and salt to taste.

tortilla shells

Add the salsa to a large mixing bowl one tablespoon at a time (no not really) until you realize you want to use the whole dang jar and dump that in.

Take a moment to look at how pretty the salsa jar is. Isn't it lovely? It vaguely reminds you of the cover of a book you once read.....you liked that book.
At this point you can either

1.) add the garlic, diced potatoes and beans to the bowl.
or
2.)contemplate the jar some more.....yes you could recycle it, but you could also get crafty with it...it's the perfect size for a candle isn't it?

If you chose 1 continue on with the recipe. If you chose 2 scroll to the bottom.

Carefully stir in the potatoes and beans and add hot sauce and salt to taste. Cover and put the bowl in the fridge.

Leave it there for about a half hour, while it is marinating you can fry or bake up some tortilla shells.

While your tortilla shells are frying (let's just say you fried them ok) your phone will beep.
You....

3.) Dutifully remain in the kitchen and dice taco fixings next to the stove where you can keep a watchful eye on your tortillas.
4.) Go check , and update, and otherwise get lost on facebook.

Those who chose 3 may proceed.....4....scroll to the bottom.

When your tortillas are done salt them and let them cool. Pull the taco filling out of the fridge and fill your tortillas with the marinated potato mixture, lettuce, bell pepper, cilantro, cheese, rice cheese or whatever else you like to put on tacos. As is this recipe is vegan (double check your ingredients). However I don't know enough about protein combinations to tell you whether or not it is a complete meal....perhaps someone out there can enlighten me?

After all of the tortillas are done, and your tacos are filled, take a picture for your blog. Because there is nooooo way you could have possibly done that while you were facebooking or waiting for the tortillas to cook.

Eat, enjoy, and be thankful that even in your current scatterbrained state there are still recipes that are pretty darn fool proof.




2.) Grab everything out of your craft closet (you have been wanting to organize it anyway). You are looking for candle wax or other things that might help you re purpose this jar. The end result being that your tacos will not be ready until eight o' clock at night.



4.) While on facyspace you lose track of time. Your taco shells are burnt and they won't open properly so you won't be able to get a lot of filling into them. You will say a quick prayer of thanks that your husband actually likes burnt food, and when no one is looking you will eat extra taco filling out of the bowl with a spoon........don't be ashamed, we've all done it.




Well I hope that all made sense, I'm about to go to bed as we speak. These tacos were tasty, and super easy to make. They will definitely be a go to meal in our house. I recommend the mango peach salsa, because a regular tomato salsa won't have as much flavor to it. Also I really like the sweet and spicy combo....could you tell?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Indian Spiced Potatoes and Peas






This is a lovely side dish, not really spicy hot, but very tasty. You may add cayenne or hot pepper if you desire a spicy dish. And yes I totally pan fried these potatoes....in oil...then I wrapped the whole lovely mess in rice paper...and I fried it some more. So clearly this is not an every day food. Really tasty, and full of healthy veg, but I am willing to wager it's not low calorie. I am ok with that. I would have loved to add some more protein to this and have made it into a full meal. Chickpeas would be nice, or perhaps some diced firm tofu? Let me know if you try it out.

What you need

2 tbs oil
2 sweet potatoes (washed, peeled, diced)
1 regular potato (washed, peeled, diced)
1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt

4 cloves of pressed garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 cup frozen peas

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced potatoes and 1/4 tsp of salt. Cook for five minutes on medium.

Add the rest of the spices and salt (from turmeric to salt) stir them in, and cook for another five minutes. At this point my potatoes were fully cooked, if yours are not then cook them a bit longer.

Add the garlic, ginger, and frozen peas. Cook for five minutes more, stirring and lowering heat if necessary to avoid burning the garlic.



I've divided the ingredients up into groups by when you add them. Let me know if this makes it easier or more confusing. I love the feedback, and I am also in total shock that people are actually following my recipes. :) It makes me super happy, but also makes me want to make it a little easier on you, the reader.....because I love you the reader. :)

Here are the potatoes and peas being used as an appetizer of sorts, rolled in rice paper, fried, and served with a dipping sauce. The sauce is a mixture of yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt, and cilantro leaves. Not very pretty, but very tasty.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday:Holidays with food allergies and dietary restrictions

October is coming up, and I was kind of in a dilly of a pickle. What to do about Halloween? There is going to be candy EVERYWHERE. It doesn't matter if we trick or treat or not, they give out candy in stores, at harvest festivals, even some library functions. Should we hide from now until January second? Do I let my children participate, and then snatch their candy away after the festivities?

If you have been reading my blog for some time (or if you know me), then you will know the reason for this conundrum is due to our collective allergies. When you take away soy, nuts, eggs and food dye, you end up with very few options at most holiday parties. Throw in the fact that one child can have nuts and soy while the other can not and you see where my problem lies. I am sure this is a problem for other parents out there so I thought I would share what I am going to do with you.

There are a few things I am passionate about, giving my kids food home cooked meals, eating together, and despite the differences in the way we may eat and live I want them to be kids! So we are not hiding out, nor am I devising a stick like weapon to bat away the onslaught of sugary allergen infested treats! I got this wonderful idea from a mother at story time, who does not to my knowledge have a blog, but deserves the credit for this. After trick or treating her children leave their candy out overnight and in the morning it has been replaced by a toy! Excellent idea right? The kids are happy, they get to participate in fun, and they don't feel deprived of their sweets. Problem solved!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lentils In a Creamy Spicy Tomato Sauce


I am a lean (kind of) mean (not on purpose of course) meal freezing machine!


Little man had a stomach bug that totally caught me off guard. All he wanted was to be held and cuddled 24-7, and while I in no way mind doing so it made me aware of the fact that we are getting low on freezer meals. Anyhoo, you may see a little less of me in the next few weeks as I build up my reserves. In the mean time, we are also still working on squirrelling away money to put into savings. And what is cheaper than lentils?? Right? Well I served this dish over rice, and you could use any type of beans you like in place of lentils.

This meal is the perfect example of why I like to have lots of spices on hand. This is really a quite ordinary dish...garlic, tomato sauce, beans, not very exciting at all. By using some spices that I always have readily available, garam masala, cumin, paprika, it turns into a scrumptious dish that the whole family enjoys.

What you need:

2 tbs butter (or olive oil)
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp chili powder
dash or two of cayenne
5 cloves of pressed garlic
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 can coconut milk
Salt to taste
2-4 cups of cooked beans (I used lentils, kidney beans might work well in this too)
If you want to go with canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse them well.I used a lot of beans, I was going for a high protein high fiber meal. Add the beans to your liking and tastes.


Melt the butter (or heat the oil) over medium heat and add the spices (garam masala, paprika, cumin, ginger, chili powder, and cayenne). Cook about a minute and a half until fragrant.

Add the garlic and cook one minute more.

Add the tomato paste and stir. Lower the heat if necessary, tomato products are quick to burn (if memory serves me this is because of their high sugar content, anyone know for sure?)

Slowly stir in the tomato sauce and the coconut milk.

Add salt to taste and heat through.

Add the beans and cook until heated through once more.

Adjust to suit tastes (more cayenne, salt etc) and serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro.

Although this lovely dish looks kind of like dog food it was quite tasty, and we all enjoyed it very much. I hope you do as well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Rice and Chickpeas

When I saw Astra put squash into a slow cooker my world was changed. Just because squash and pumpkins start showing up in the produce section in no way means that the weather has started to cool down here. In fact this next week we are looking at a lot of 90 degree plus days. This is one of the many reasons I love my crock pot, it gives me the ability to enjoy the foods I love without turning my house into an oven. Thank you Astra.

This recipe was pretty tasty, I think next time I will replace the 1/4 cup of yogurt with coconut milk and add a can of diced tomatoes....I don't know why it just sounds good. I will let you know how those modifications turn out. I served this along side some curried potato patties. I will hopefully get around to posting that recipe soon. What you see in the middle bowl is simply a mixture of plain yogurt thinned out with vinegar, and a smidgen of sugar.



This recipe makes four servings

2 acorn squash washed, halved and degooped (pull out all of the seeds and etc)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
5 tsp hot curry paste (like Pataks) divided
1/4 cup plain yogurt
4 cloves pressed garlic
1 small box of raisins (1.5 oz)
1tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp salt...or more to taste

Using 1tsp of the curry paste rub the insides of the acorns and sprinkle with salt.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients and distribute this filling evenly between the four halved squashes.

Cook on low, until squash is fully cooked. It took me about six hours, but will vary depending on the size of your squash and the crock pot you use. I had to stack my squash, they seemed to cook well regardless.

My daughter even pitched in on this meal by making dessert. Chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels. She was so proud to present them at the end of the meal.




Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy


I was going to call this "easy as box mac and cheese".....but I over think things....I'm not sure if it really is as easy as box...It takes about the same amount of time as the box mac and cheese.However, instead of waiting around for the water to boil and the noodles to cook you need to be grating cheese. So really it's only "takes the same amount of time as box mac and cheese", not quite the same ring to it.....

I told you I over think things.

It worked out well though, because I got to use rhyming words. I like rhyming words, they make me giggle.


Anyhoo, this is the only mac and cheese my kids will eat, and I have to thank my friend Stefanie for giving me the idea. She served something very similar for Easter one year and when she told me how simple it was (1lb noodles, 1lb cheese, butter, garlic salt, and pepper) I had to try it out. Of course I added a 16oz bag of frozen organic veggies, and sometimes I add other things*.

What you need:

1lb dried noodles
4 cups of shredded cheese (shred mine while I'm waiting for the water to boil)
16oz frozen organic veggies of any kind. (I have used broccoli, peas, mixed veggies, and even a bag of stir fry veggies.)
3tbs butter
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Here's the tricky part. Depending on the type of noodles you use and the type of veggies you use your cooking times/when you add the veggies will vary. I am calculating this for the cook times on the organic penne I bought, and the pea/carrot/corn mixture I bought. Please do your own math to adjust for different types of noodles and veggies. The penne had a 12 minute cook time and the veggies had a 6 minute cook time, so I just dumped the veggies in half way through. Twelve minutes might be too long for regular elbow macaroni noodles.

Boil the water and shred the cheese.

Add the noodles and cook for six minutes.

Add the veggies and boil for six more minutes.

Drain and return to pot.

Add the butter one tbs at a time and stir in the cheese a little at a time so it melts and doesn't turn into one big clump o' cheese.

Add garlic salt and pepper to taste.


My kids love this. I've even given it to their veggie hating friends with success. My kids won't eat box mac and cheese, so when I'm tired this is a great go to meal. It's easy, fast, cheap, and I usually have everything on hand. Make sure to use garlic salt instead of plain old salt, I believe that's what gives it flavor and turns it from noodles and melted cheese into a real dish.



*Variations include "chili mac", where I stir in leftover chili after I add the cheese, and "baked bean mac"....you get the picture.
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