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vegan comfort food

September 18, 2011

For the past three days, the only expressions I have seen out of BL are pouting,

scowling,

and indignation.  And so to reward myself for not even googling Toddler Boarding Schools, I’ve been whipping up some amazing comfort food.  And I haven’t even been gaining weight!

Mmmmm, veggie dogs (almost) Chicago style with a simple salad.  That’s right, two hot dogs.  I did say it was comfort food!  The salad is Organic Girl Super Greens with tomato, cucumber, lemon juice, and about a teaspoon of olive oil.

This was tonights monstrosity.  It was so amazing.  That’s a mini BLT salad, an equally mini sweet potato that was too cute at the farmer’s market this morning not to buy, and the most amazing wrap I’ve ever had.  If you read my post yesterday, you’ll remember I’m crazy for hummus on my grilled sandwiches.  Well, imagine my delight when I found this recipe in my Peas and Thank you Cookbook! Looking at that picture makes me want to make the whole thing again, even though I can still hardly breathe for how filling it was.

And of course, you can’t talk comfort food with out bringing up some thick, creamy soup.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the actual soup once it was finished, but you’ll have to believe me that these ingredients make a gorgeous soup.  This made the perfect amount for me to have it for dinner and the rest for lunch, so it will only serve 2 (or 1 over 2 days) so increase the amounts as necessary.  It’s possibly the best soup I’ve had since the winter! (If I do say so myself)

Here’s what you need:

1 half of an acorn squash

dash sea salt

1 T extra virgin olive oil

around 8 fingerling potatoes of various colors

2 cloves of garlic

1 T chopped chives

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup water

Here’s what you do:

Pre-heat your oven to 400, spray the cut side of your acorn squash with olive oil in a can (or brush it on from a bottle) poke some holes in the shell of it, and place it cut side down on a square of aluminum foil either directly on the rack, or on a baking sheet.  Roast for around 20 minutes, flip it over, and roast for 10 more minutes, then let it begin to cool so you can peel it later.

In a big ol’ soup pot, heat around 1/4-1/2 tsp of sea salt for 30 seconds, add the olive oil and heat for a minute more, then add the garlic, chives, and potatoes and let cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring if they start to stick.

Meanwhile, peel the roasted acorn squash.  I found it was easiest to do this by cutting it into crescent moons, then slicing the skin off one moon at a time.  I wish I had pictures to better explain that, but alas, I don’t.

Chop the acorn squash and add it to the vegetables for a minute or so, then add the broth and water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are soft.

Blend the whole thing with a hand blender, or in a regular blender in batches (hold the lid on with a towel if you do this, because hot things tend to make blenders explode- not to scare you)

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cold weather means hot food- let’s do this

September 16, 2011

I like fall weather, but I LOVE fall food.  Squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, yum!  I also love hot food.  I could never be a raw foodist or whatever they are called, I just love my food to be nice and hot too much.  My husband is looking to try a raw food diet when he comes home, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to join him with it (especially because any change in diet results in him losing a ton of weight and getting in amazing shape while I stay… exactly the same.  Even with running 5 times a week.  And it gets annoying.)

Anyway, my favorite  hot food is definitely grilled cheese.  You would think that going vegan would hamper that, but it doesn’t have to! It turns out my favorite part of a grilled cheese was the hot toasty-ness of it all, so I’ve been going nuts inventing delicious grilled sandwiches.  The one pictured above was inspired by a sandwich my cousin had told me about a couple of years ago.

I took two slices of whole wheat bread, sprayed each side with a tiny bit of Olive Oil in a can (I know, it’s like getting garlic in a jar, but it’s so easy and convenient, and makes it easy to not use way too much oil).  I spread one slice with hummus, then layered on very thinly sliced apple, thinly sliced sweet potato (I microwaved the sweet potato for about 3 minutes first so it would be cooked, but still a tiny bit hard), a whole lot of raw spinach, and then a sprinkle of Daiya cheddar “cheese” (which wasn’t necessary, so if you’re anti-fake cheese, just skip it).  I grilled it over medium-low heat in a cast iron with a lid on it, to help heat the sandwich all the way through.  And the results are above!  So wonderful.  Other additions that are tasty: red onion, red pepper, steamed kale or chard, sunflower seeds, pepperjack Daiya, or tomatoes.

I also really like hot salads, with cold lettuce.

Sounds weird, I know, but something about the juxtaposition is just so perfect to me.  Last night I roasted some butternut squash cubes, purple potatoes, and carrots in the oven and then threw them on some romaine with a garlic vinaigrette.  The salad above is my beyond favorite treat: a BLT salad.  I use Smartlife fake bacon baked in in my toaster oven, and then add fresh tomato, romaine lettuce, mushrooms (or cucumbers or carrots, whatever other veggies are in the house) and top it all with homemade vegan ranch.

This is really simple to make and tastes fabulous.  You put in equal parts non-dairy buttermilk (1t vinegar to 1/2 cup non dairy milk) and vegan mayonnaise (Mark Bittman has a really good recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, or you can buy it in bigger grocery stores) then season it all with A LOT of ground black pepper, garlic if you like, and chopped chives.

So that’s hot lunches, but what about hot breakfast!

Here’s our pan of Baked Oatmeal Squares, halfway through being devoured.  I got the recipe from my favorite new cookbook, Peas and Thank You.  Luckily, she also has amazing recipes on her blog, and this is one of them!

Does it get better than an entirely pink breakfast?  I think not.

BL agrees.  Her little top is part of a set of jammies I made her, and it was so simple, I’ll definitely need to do a post about it.

Now for one more hot meal: Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

I usually make this with soy fake meat, but I’m trying to keep my processed fake meat consumption to 3 times a week (I could never cut it out entirely, yes it’s processed, but sometimes I need something quick) so I made this with seasoned lentils.  I’m sure there are better ways I could have done this, but here is what I came up with:

Here’s what you need:

about 1/2 cup dry lentils, cooked until done

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1/2 a small onion, diced

1 ear of corn chopped off the cob (or about 1/2 cup frozen?)

2 cloves garlic

1T paprika, or ground red chiles, or a combo

1/2 t ground corriander

dash of cloves

1/4 t cumin

2 small golden potatoes, and 1 white sweet potato cooked and prepared into mashed potatoes with veggie broth

Here’s what you do:

When your lentils are almost done cooking, start heating a small amount of olive in a cast iron skillet, and preheat your oven to 350.

Add the onion and garlic and brown for a minute or two, then add the carrots and corn (and any other veggies you’ve decided to add) for a couple of minutes more.

Next add the cooked lentils and the spices (add veggie broth or olive oil as necessary to get a consistency you like).  Stir until the seasonings are distributed.

Spread the prepared mashed potatoes on top, and pop into the oven for about 20-30 minutes.  Sprinkle some vegan cheese on top in the last 7 minutes if you’d like (I did this mainly for looks)

what a busy summer!

August 3, 2011

I never thought our summer would be this busy!  I did take on quite a few projects, so I shouldn’t be surprised.  I was hoping this blog would be an everyday thing, but now that summer is in full swing, it just hasn’t happened!  I’m going to try harder though.  Although if it’s between swimmin’ and bloggin’… who could say no to this bathing beauty?!
Between being the new VP of our town’s moms club, having a booth at the market, trying to keep the house livable and the yard one step above squalor, getting in some exercise, and making sure BL gets plenty of time to just play instead of being strapped into a car or a stroller all the time, I have been on my way towards getting worn out!  Luckily, a very wise woman whose husband just got back from a deployment told me to “Stay busy, BUT NOT TOO BUSY”  and I literally have to say that to myself once a day.  It’s my new mantra.  There has been a lot of awesomeness in my busy-ness, though.  As the VP in my moms club, I get to organize all of our charitable endeavors!  We donated an entire shopping cart full of school supplies to the our School Supply Assistance ProgramThe number of students who qualify for this program in our town is staggering- it’s about 50%!  I’m so happy that we were able to donate so much.  Next month we’ll be having a “baby shower” for the Pregnancy center!  They give infant clothes, diapers, soap, towels and so forth to mothers who can’t afford it.  There are so many amazing programs in town, and I hope we’ll be able to help them all!

We’ll also be sending care packages of baked goods to our hometown troops who are in Iraq (my husband included!) I think that’s going to be an amazing show of love and support, and it’s the project I’m most excited for.

And in the meantime, a girl’s gotta eat!

I used this whole wheat pizza dough from one of my favorite new blogs How Sweet it is.  She’s far from vegan, but her “food porn” as my friend calls it, is amazing.  I really like her workouts, too, I’ve been trying to fit this one in three times a week.

Back to my pizza!

Here’s what you need:

1/2 recipe whole wheat pizza dough

3 or 4 small portobella mushroom caps, washed and sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2T capers

2T fresh chives, chopped

2T fresh basil, chopped

Olive Oil

Here’s what you do:

I made the WW pizza dough above, and once it was all done rising, I divided it in half, and rolled out one half into a circle on my pizza stone.  I baked it at 400, sans toppings for about 8 minutes.

While the crust is baking, saute your mushrooms in a skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil, to get the water out so you won’t have soggy pizza

After the crust has baked for the first 8 minutes, take it out and brush it with olive oil, and top with the garlic, sauteed mushrooms, capers, basil, and chives.  If you’re in to cheese, parmesan or feta would both be tres tasty on this.

Bake for about 5 more minutes to get everything hot, then enjoy!

And here’s a glimpse of what I did with the rest of the dough, which I will write about laterI also have these images to leave you with

BL and I ventured into the world of fresh pasta, and it is a magical place!

1,000 uses for cucumbers

July 15, 2011

Not quite that many uses, but with the cucumber abundance in my garden, I’ve been going through a cucumber a day, and not getting bored!I’ve already written about grilling cukes, which my oldest brother introduced me to here.  I think I’ll be doing that again this weekend, and trying out a different dressing for it.  Although, I really do love some rice vinegar, we’ll see.

Another favorite cucumber use: luxurious water!

A few slices in your ice water tastes like a super expensive spa day, for free!  I think I love it more than lemon in my water, and that’s saying something.  And a few slices will last all day, as long as you’re constantly refilling.  It’s been a great use for my reusable starbucks cups.

And of course, I can’t leave out a simple salad.  I’ve got baby lettuce, chives, cucumbers, basil, tomatoes and broccoli (the last two haven’t shown up yet) going on in my garden, so I got to have a salad almost entirely from my backyard!  BL is really into grilled carrots lately, so two nights ago I grilled some carrots and a potato and made a fabulous dinner.  I love hot veggies on a cold salad, it’s unexpected and super tasty.  The salad is my baby lettuce, chives and cukes, with cherry tomatoes and grilled carrots.  To grill the carrots, I just put about a tsp of olive oil in a square of foil, toss in the carrots, and one more tsp of olive oil on top, and close it up.  I did the same for the potato (which I grilled whole, like a baked potato in the oven) but I used less oil with the potato, and also sprinkled some sea salt on top.  The veggies grilled for 15-20 minutes with the gas grill on low.  I cooked the potato next to the flame, and the carrots over the flame, which is why they’re blackened on the bottom.  The carrots actually caramelized a little bit, super yum.  And I rounded the whole thing out with some brown rice with sea salt, one of my favorite comfort foods.

I took BL out to paint the town red last night, two years old isn’t too young for that, right?  Our local toy store was having a sidewalk sale preview, so we had dinner in town at my favorite restaurant, then moseyed over to the toy store.  We did dinner right, with wine (just for me) an appetizer, and we even got dessert!  At the toy store I got Christmas presents for BL, my niece and nephew, and a friend with a small baby all for $27!  After our scores, we wandered over to the playground where BL ran out all her chocolate cupcake energy.

BL didn’t have this much ketchup on her face when the evening started, but she kept snacking all night, so every time I cleaned her up, more appeared, until I finally gave up.  It was the kind of night that reminds me why I love living in my town, but that also reminds me how very much I miss my husband.  We’re 1/3 of the way towards his homecoming, though!

To keep me busy, I’ve gone felt food crazy!

 

 

 

 

 

Smoothies and snack bags

July 12, 2011

I’ve been dreaming about an amazing smoothie I had in my hometown last month, and so I had to make one for myself.  I was also hoping BL, who hasn’t been big on fruit lately, would have some if I told her it was yogurt, but she wouldn’t even try a bite.  Oh well, more for me!

The smoothie I was basing my recipe on had apples, apple juice, banana, cinnamon, and oats in it.  I haven’t been in the mood for apples lately, but I had a ton of strawberries I had bought with hopes of BL snacking on them (which she refused to do) so I used them instead.

Here’s what you need:

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 1/2 bananas

~10 strawberries

~1/2 tsp cinnamon

~1/4 cup apple juice (or more, or less, to get the consistency you want)

Here’s what you do:

Put the oats in your blender, and blend them until they are powdery

Add the rest of the ingredients

And blend!  Add apple juice if it’s too thick.  It makes about two glassfuls (depending on your glasses, of course)  and what it really needs is some cashew whipped cream on top, but I’ve been too stingy to try making it.  Cashews are pricey!

I’ve been whipping up reusable snack bags galore for the farmer’s market!  BL has a green flowery one that she loves.  Last week we did a “Boy Week” since boys are very under-represented at our market.  Here are some of the boy snack bags:

I also made some grillin’ aprons.  I LOVE this “Be a man” fabric.  I want to make something for my husband out of it, because until very recently, he was sporting a mustache that was almost as manly as the one on the fabric.

We’re having a “Picnic” theme this week, so I’ve been making picnic-y snack bags and attire.  I love this fruity fabric.  It’s seersucker!

Farmer’s Market!

July 3, 2011

I love fresh local produce!  It’s my favorite part of summer in the midwest.  I have a super cool friend who has been sharing her CSA box with me when she goes out of town, so I’ve got to cook with a great variety of veggies lately.  Not all of the dishes were spectacular, like this quinoa stuffed zucchini:

It looks tasty, but it was weirdly bland.  Here is the recipe.  I think with some kind of pasta sauce on top it could be very tasty.

I also had beets (non-can beets, anyway) for the first time ever!  They were fun to make.  I wrapped each one in a little piece of foil, and baked them for about 40 minutes at 400.

Then when they were cool enough to touch, I peeled them with my fingers and popped them in a skillet with a little olive oil and fried them a tad.  The peeling was interesting, it made dinner preparation look like a murder scene.

One of my favorite side dishes is oven roasted cabbage.  Just slice the cabbage into ~1 inch slices, brush each side with olive oil and roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, flipping half-way through.  And keep a close eye on it, if it overcooks, it’s impossible to chew.

 

And of course, I also (attempt) to sell things at the Farmer’s Market!  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have very different taste in little girls clothes than almost the entire town, as I’ve only sold one skirt this summer.  And I’ve made over a dozen.

There are other things people kind of dig, like the reusable snack bags, and yoga pants.  But between what I buy at the market and what I sell, I usually break even (although, not when I think about buying materials… I definitely don’t have a head for business!)

Anyway, I do like to sew, and I like the things I make (even though that seems to be the kiss of death for my merchandise! It’s the stuff I make that I DON’T love that usually sells!)  And I also love being at farmer’s markets!

And we do have a cute booth, do we not?!

Pumpkin bread!

June 27, 2011

It’s been cool and rainy here in the midwest, so I decided to fix up a fall favorite, pumpkin bread!  The recipe I was making last fall involved almost two cups of vanilla yogurt and oodles of sugar, so I was in search of an updated recipe.  I found this fabulous recipe!  I was really happy with it, but I did make a few alterations, because I didn’t want to use refined sugar and I didn’t have 100% of the ingredients.

The recipe calls for 1-1/2 cups of brown sugar, and instead I used 1 cup of evaporated cane juice, and 1/2 cup of minimally refined organic sugar (I find that straight evaporated cane juice can just be too molasses-y for my and BL’s tastes).  It also calls for 1 cup of oat bran, which I replaced with 1 cup of rolled oats.  I also baked it in my bundt pan rather than two loaves, but because I have only 1 loaf pan, no other reason.

If you use a bundt pan, I highly recommend you flour it after you butter it, it makes the cake come out SO much easier.

In the bundt pan, it took just over an hour at 350 to be done.

Mmmmmm!  I’m crazy for oats lately.  Don’t they look so tasty in that bread?!  I cut the loaf in half, and BL and I devoured one half, and I put the other half in the freezer to keep for the tea party I’m having this month.

She likes it!

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