Friday, October 30, 2009


Happy Herbivore is having another giveaway on her awesome blog, and I have still not won anything. This time she is giving away Riceworks gourmet brown rice chips, which are totally vegan. Cool beans. I dig me some tasty chips, and these look really good.

*Crossing fingers*

I hope I win!

Off to make some pumpkin bread.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Fun

Last night we had our ritual carving of the pumpkins. Things have certainly changed over the years. Todd and I used to carve triangle eyes and a nose and some sharp teeth and it was great. Now they want complicated things...Drew had a skull, Garrett ended up with a bat, and Grace wanted a puppy. We were short on time (and artistic ability) so she ended up with a scary face. It is always a fun time when we do this, as you can see by the photo that Todd took. For some reason, Drew lost his shirt in the process.

The reason I am posting this hear is because this year, for the first time, I decided to roast the pumpkin seeds. You can find recipes for this anywhere on line, but since you're here right now, I'll tell you what I did.

First, I dug through all the slimy guts and picked out as many seeds as I could. I rinsed them, getting all of the pulp off them. I then put them on a large cookie sheet and let them dry overnight. Today, I tossed them with some olive oil, salt, garlic powder and onion powder. I didn't measure, just threw some in. Any spices could be used here; some cayenne pepper if you are so inclined, or maybe some cumin would be lovely. Put them back on the cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for about an hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Wa-la. You're done. You are snacking away on the salty goodness. They were nice and crunchy and kind of addictive. I will definitely do that again sometime.

Speaking of pumpkin, I found a recipe for Maple Pumpkin Bread in this month's Vegetarian Times. I love cooking anything with pumpkin, but add some pure maple syrup, and I'm in heaven. I think I will make the bread tomorrow, if I get the time.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eat your Veggies!

As soon as it becomes cooler outside, I no longer want a crunchy, cold, raw salad. I want to get my veggies from a nice warm soup. I used to be in Weight Watchers years ago, and they had a recipe for a vegetable soup that was zero points. That's how this recipe started out, but I have changed so many things about it that I can now call this my own. It's easy, especially because I use a bag of frozen veggies. But still very delicious, extremely nutritious, beautiful, versatile, and hot. Also good for the cold I can feel coming on! Measurements are estimates, as I usually don't measure and I do it differently all the time. This time I threw in some kale and mushrooms, and that was a great idea.

Vegetable Barley Soup

2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil works well too)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
6 cups water or vegetable broth (I used a no-chicken broth base)
1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
5-6 white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup Quick Barley (just a guess)
chopped kale
dried herbs of choice (I used basil and parsley)

Saute the onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, add the veggies, mushrooms, herbs, and barley. Simmer for a while -until veggies are tender and barley is cooked. Add as much kale as you would like and mix it in. Simmer a while longer until kale is wilted.

I am now wishing I would have made a double batch because it was so tasty.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Chai Love

I ran across this recipe for chocolate chai cookies on Vegan Joy. Holy cow! I was making them last night when in the middle of it, I realized that I was out of black tea. All I had was about five boxes of green tea or herbal teas. So in my pajama pants and my flour-covered t-shirt, I ran to the store to purchase some. One of my students was working there. "You're buying tea for cookies?" he asked. I explained what kind of cookies I was making. I told him that I make the best cookies ever, and they are always soft. Guaranteed. He told me to bring him one today, so I did. He liked it.

I absolutely love chai tea spices, and they are perfect in these cookies. Grace helped me make them (of course) and she enjoyed rolling the dough into balls and rolling the balls in the sugar. The molasses makes for a nice touch. I think I will add these cookies to the list of things I will be making for Christmas. The only thing about Christmas that I am looking forward to is the cooking. I can't wait to make gingerbread men with my kids again. I should start planning the delicious foods that I am going to bring with me to the parties right now, since there are very few vegan options for me. It would be SO sweet if I could host Christmas this year and make it totally vegan, but I'm afraid nobody would come. Or if they did, all they would eat would be these awesome cookies.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Broccoli Soup

Definitely soup weather these days. We had another wet and cold one today. All day I was planning on making chicken noodle soup for the omnis and a cheeze soup from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I added some steamed broccoli to it, because almost everything needs broccoli. It was pretty good, nice and creamy, and I ate two bowls of it. Grace ate some, too, because she loves broccoli. I wish all my kids ate like Grace.

As for the bowl, it's the only bowl I eat soup with. It's supposed to be an asparagus. I got it for my wedding from an old man I worked with at the time, John. It came in a pair, but the other one broke a long time ago. When I got it, it had some powdery broccoli cheese soup in it. John was a funny old guy, genuinely nice. He had a million and one stories to tell, and I think most were exaggerated, if not completely fabricated. He would pop up and say things like, "Did you know I had coffee with Robert Kennedy the night before he was shot?" As the story went on, you would find out that he had coffee with a LARGE group of people that included Robert Kennedy, and it was probably a month before he died. He was also on a cruise during the Perfect Storm. He traveled a lot and told stories of haunted hotels he had stayed at. He loved musicals and showtoons.

So anyway, it was good soup and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Cheez Please Soup (from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak)

1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup vegetable broth or water

Put these things in a pot and boil. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring a couple of times, until vegetables are tender.

In a bowl, mix the following and add to the cooked veggies:

12 ounces firm silken tofu
1/2 -1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Puree all of this in a blender until really smooth. I added a few pieces of steamed brocoli to the puree, and put a few large chunks in as well. Put pureed mixture in a soup pot, add 1 cup soy milk or water. Heat and serve!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tofu and Kale Heaven

I can't believe I pulled together an awesome meal today. I have been dragging so badly...we have had cool, dark, dreary, rainy, wet, sloppy, depressing weather for what seems like weeks around here. I have been so tired...and this afternoon after work I had to write an article that was long and boring and took forever. In the mean time, I was determined I was having this for supper tonight.

This is easily my favorite way to make tofu these days. I have eaten an entire block of it before...and Grace just helped me do it again. I found the recipe in my usual place - "somewhere online." This tofu takes time to prepare, so it's good to plan ahead. I am not good at doing this, so when I make it, I usually eat around 8 p.m. It's SOOOOOOO worth it, though. I also made the garlicky kale with tahini dressing from VWaV. This recipe introduced me to kale, which I now love, and tahini dressing, which makes me moan in ecstasy. I also made a butternut squash that was perfection, but I had already eaten it before this stuff was finished. I was hungry!

Indian Baked Tofu

For this recipe you need to press the tofu. I use one package, or 14 oz. of firm tofu. I press it by slicing it in half width-wise and placing a cloth napkin over it on my cutting board. I then place my hardcover illustrated edition of The DaVinci Code over it (the only purpose this book serves) and let it sit for about a half-hour. This way the tofu will soak up the marinade better. After that I combine the following ingredients in a zip-lock plastic bag:

3 tbsp olive oil (organic extra virgin cold pressed, of course)
1 tbsp lemon juice (or juice of half a lemon)
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
pinch of turmeric
1/2 tsp salt

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes, place in bag and toss around really well. Place in refrigerator 30-45 minutes, turning once in the middle. Bake in a baking dish or on a baking sheet for about a half hour, or until it is chewy and tough on the outside. Mix it up every now and then. You can then broil for a few more minutes to get it crispy, if you wish. This is not a really spicy recipe, so feel free to add more curry if you want.

When I first became a vegetarian, I was afraid to try cooking with tofu. I had no idea what to do with it. I didn't learn about pressing it for a while, so sometimes it didn't soak up the flavors well, or else it was rubbery. I remember for a while just frying it in olive oil and putting a mixture of ketchup, mustard, vinegar and brown sugar over it. After many trials and errors, I have learned the secrets of great tofu, although I still have some failures once in a while. There are so many things a person can do with tofu that it's mind-boggling, and so much fun to try.

Oh, yeah - VEGAN MOFO!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More Cookies

While getting groceries yesterday, Drew threw some cookies in the cart, those ones that you simply place on a cookies sheet and bake. He followed me around the house with them today, hounding me until I finally made them for him. Naturally, they contain eggs, so Grace could not have any. She was screaming, crying, sitting on the counter, touching the chocolate chip cookies lovingly, trying to "just smell them." I wanted to make the pumpkin oatmeal cookies for us, but she was insisting on chocolate chip.

Now, I think the best vegan chocolate chip cookies in the world come from VWaV. However, the recipe calls for one cup of Earth Balance. I am way too stingy with my precious vegan margarine to part with that much. Also, that's a lot of fat. Instead I pulled out Vegan Planet, which I rarely go to. In fact, the only recipe I make regularly from that big fat book is the Ultimate Veggie Burgers. Absolutely the best veggie burgers I have ever made. But I digress...

I got her to calm down quickly by helping me bake the cookies. She loves to pour things in the bowl and stir. She sat on the counter and I sang Cloud Cult songs to her as we baked and jammed out to the music.

The cookies were pretty good, even though I over baked the first batch. I used flax meal for the egg replacer. Once again, mommy saved the day by allowing her to eat what her brothers were eating.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Vegan Mofo Survey

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?

Plain soy milk or almond milk. Hemp milk is also quite delicious in cereal, but very sweet (and expensive) so that's for once in a while.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?

I am going to make apple crisp for a family get-together tomorrow. I have some pumpkin left over so possibly pumpkin oatmeal cookies from Vegan With a Vengeance. And I am going to make a broccoli frittata whenever Carissa gets her butt over here for a visit.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?


4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?

Oh, man. Which one? I know! The pistachio rosewater cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. YIKES! They ended up in the garbage.

5. Favorite pickled item?


6. How do you organize your recipes?

They are written on recipe cards and put in alphabetical order in a recipe box my hubby made for me. Or else printed out on a paper and stuffed alongside said recipe box.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?

I recycle what I can and throw away everything else.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?

avocados, chickpeas, broccoli (I'm going to assume there is fruit on the island)

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?

Hmmm....I just remembered picking strawberries with my cousin, and then he made some homemade jam with them.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?

I don't eat it much, but one time I bought some chocolate ice cream made with Coconut milk and it was freaking awesome!

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?

Food Processor.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?


13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?

As far as the vegan ones, probably the whole, natural foods one I got from someone. I can't remember what it's called and my friend has it right now.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?


15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

I don't serve much to omni friends, but I like to share baking and salads, and the artichoke spinach dip was a huge success.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

tofu - I love tempeh but am ashamed to say I have still not tried seitan.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

Supper, in the evening.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?

Cereal boxes and crap I am trying to keep away from the kids.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.

strawberries, bananas, flax meal - my smoothie staples.

20. What’s on your grocery list?

A lot. I am going shopping today.

21. Favorite grocery store?

The Good Food Store. But I can't afford to get everything there, so I get a lot at a store in Iowa that has great produce at a great price. I try not to shop at Wal-Mart...but it happens.

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.

Beef Stroganoff

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?

Vegan Dad, Happy Herbivore, Yeah, that "Vegan" Shit

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?

I have a terrible weakness for Oreos. I wish they weren't vegan. Otherwise, I prefer my own vegan cookies.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?

Yesterday I splurged and bought the LARGE size Vegenaise for 6.99. For me, that is a big deal. But I have two kids constantly begging for chickpea salad sandwiches. And the small version was $5.00.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sweets and Comfort

I am not doing a great job of posting every day. Oh, well. That's life. I am, however, eating every day. Last weekend I had to bring a pan of bars to my husband's grandpa's 80th birthday party. Since I knew damn well I would have nothing else to eat while there, I made mine vegan. I used a recipe I found on the Post Punk Kitchen website for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Just so you know, I only use 1 cup of sugar in them instead of the 1 1/2 cups called for. Instead of shortening I use canola oil (or appleasauce if I feel like being healthy). Instead of soy yogurt, I add about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to some soy milk. The cookies always turn out so cake-like and moist that I like to make bars out of them. They are the perfect bar, and I have received so many compliments from people who can't believe they are vegan. And they are AMAZING. So AMAZING that I probably gained a few pounds that day. I love to make things with pumpkin. And chocolate. Which reminds me, I still have some pumpkin in the refrigerator that I need to use up.

Last night I was in a casserole mood. It's cold and snowy here already. I remembered a creamy baked risotto that I made last year at some time and really loved. I dug through my recipes and found this one, hastily scrawled on a recipe card, no title or anything. It didn't make a lot of sense to me, especially at the end where it said 2 tbsp chives et. al. WTF does that mean? And it called for parmesan cheese. I don't know what I used last year (probably nooch), but I added some of the Buffalo Mostarella cheeze I made last week because I need to use it up. It turned out really creamy, comforting, and delicious.

Creamy Mushroom Spinach Risotto

2 cups brown rice
5 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp vegan margarine
3 cups (or so) mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup vegan parmesan, or nutritional yeast flakes
2 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste
dried herbs of choice (I used basil and oregano)

Toss everything into a baking dish except the spinach and herbs. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes, stirring ocassionally, until rice has absorbed all the water. Remove from oven and stir in the spinach until it's all wilty. Add the herbs as you please and enjoy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So Cheezy!

One of the vegan ingredients I could never live without is nutritional yeast. I recently bought The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Jo Stepaniak. Man, I wish I would have had this book a long time ago. I decided to make an attempt at one of the block cheezes and made the Buffalo Mostarella. I cooked it yesterday, put it in a loaf pan and let it cool overnight. Today I took it out of its mold, sliced some of it and took a picture for this blog. Unfortunately, Grace was playing with my camera today, and somehow, there are no pictures on the card anymore.

Anyway, you will have to take my word for it. This tastes nothing like mozzarella cheese, but it is very yummy. It doesn't slice easily, and it's still kind of mushy, but that's okay too. I made a grilled cheeze with it for lunch, and it was delish.

Funny side note - I am doing a series of stories for the paper about farming in the area. First was crops, then dairy, and I am now working on the hog story. Of all people to go interview these farmers...I feel bad for the dairy farmers who are hemmorhaging money, but inside I am cheering when they say things like, "Dairy consumption has decreased over the last year..." I wish that while interviewing them, I could ask things like, "So how much pus really is allowed into each gallon of milk?" and "Did you know that the animal protein in milk is actually bad for your bones?"

Wait until I get to the beef story- I'd like to bring up the fact that red meat is the leading cause of colon cancer. But, of course, I won't. I will bite my tongue.

Back to the cheeze...I am going to put some on a pizza this week. I have some whole wheat flat bread that is going to be the crust. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Frozen Pizza and Birthday Cake

This weekend was a bit crazy getting ready for Grace's 4th birthday party. I spent a lot of time on Saturday grocery shopping with the kids, which can either be a complete nightmare or a lot of fun. Then I had to bake a couple of cakes for the party we had on Sunday.

I really prefer to make things from scratch these days, but somehow I ended up buying two box mixes. Because of Grace's egg allergy, I used the box Egg Replacer from Ener G. I haven't used that very often, and never with a cake mix. While cutting and serving the cake at the party, it totally fell apart. On the positive side, it was quite delicious. However, from now on I am going to go homemade vegan. Nobody will ever know anyway...

The fam had pizza for supper Saturday and I ate my go-to pizza for when I am too lazy or don't have enough time for a real pizza. I discovered that Kashi has a frozen pizza that is made without cheese, and it's oh, so yummy. It's called Sicilian Veggie, and it has kale (!) eggplant, roasted red peppers, carmelized onions and so forth. As healthy as pizza is going to get, really.

I also discovered that while signing up for Vegan MoFo, I gave the moderator the wrong web address. I made a correction, but who knows if she will see it or make the change. Oh, well. I don't really mind. I'm a little embarassed to be included with such amazing blogs anyway.

Not sure what is on the menu for the week...I really need to make some sweet potato black bean burritos soon, though. Anyone want to come over for horror movies and vegan food?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Faking It

I have no problem eating fake meat. It's much better to eat something that slightly resembles meat in texture and flavor than to actually eat a dead animal. I don't, however, eat a ton of pre-packaged veggie burgers, faux chicken, or veggie dogs. They are very heavily processed, and not the healthiest foods to eat.

Today is Grace's 4th birthday, and she requested chicken nuggets for supper. I was going to go to the store to buy her some, but she fell asleep on the couch and refused to wake up. I got hungry and found this recipe on VegWeb. Thank goodness I had those chickpeas in the freezer, huh?

I did cook Grace some popcorn shrimp that she likes, but my chicken-nugget-type-things were done first, and she devoured two or three of them. And they were yummy. Nothing like a chicken nugget, of course, but that is totally fine with me. They had a wonderful flavor to them. However, there were a few things I did not like:

-I fried them in oil, and that was not very healthy
-After eating several of them, I became sick to my stomach from all the oil
-I also burned my arm on splattering oil
-They became a bit chewy after sitting for a few minutes.

Not exactly a replacement for chicken, but a very nice chickpea patty or croquette. The thing is, right now I feel so gross that I may never make them again. Perhaps I will try baking them. I think I better make a cup of tea to help ease my stomach...

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Today was really cold, and it was dark and wet and dreary all day. While I was working, I was fantasizing about what I was going to bake when I got home. I knew I would be blogging about it, because today is the first day of Vegan MoFo. I have a major weakness for cookies, so when I got home I asked Grace what kind of cookie I should make. She answered, "White ones." I looked up vegan sugar cookie recipes (I have never made them before!), and I came across a recipe from Vegetarian Times for Snickerdoodles that I thought looked even better. I cranked up the oven to help warm up the house, and set to baking.

I don't know why I am bothering with a food blog, I really don't. I have no great photography skills, no fancy camera equipment or great place to take professional, appetizing pictures of my food. But whatever. A picture of Grace, fresh out of the bathtub, eating the cookie will have to suffice.

These cookies are really tasty! Vegan cookies are so soft and perfect, just like a good cookie should be.


1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch (seriously!)
1 tsp. baking powder
4 oz. or 1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
1 tsp. vanilla


1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

(Mix together on a large plate.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder. Beat margarine in a separate bowl until soft. Add sugar and beat until fluffy (mine never got fluffy). Beat in soy milk and vanilla extract for 30 seconds or until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat 30 seconds until smooth. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Place on baking sheet and flatten a little. Bake 10-12 minutes. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.