Thursday, December 04, 2008


I have been thinking about this recipe that I found in a Laptop Lunchbox newsletter last year
for some time now. It really looked good, and I even considered making it as an entree for the Thanksgiving meal, like they suggested. I really like the individual dishes, though, and I have some picky family members that don't necessarily like their foods to be combined, so I decided againt it. I didn't forget it, however, and this year, I bought portobello mushrooms with my Thanksgiving supplies so that I could do it both ways, using my leftovers to make a totally new dish.
This turned out really well. The girl even ate some, although she said she wasn't very hungry. But she even put the cranberry sauce on top and ate without complaining! The boy liked it all except for the mushroom, but he ate the sweet potatoes and the stuffing and the cranberry sauce.
I also made pumpkin soup with the pumpkin I had leftover from the pumpkin cheesecake. That wasn't quite as successful. I thought it was all right, although it could have used a bit more spice. The kids, on the other hand, cried. They haven't done that in a while, and I thought it was more than a bit of an overreaction, but it clearly was not a success at any rate. I am going to perservere, though, because they need to learn to like soups. I am wearing them down in other areas (excuse me, educating their palates), it is time for soups. They are such a great way to get in extra vegetable nutrition. Plus, it's cold outside and soup is warming.
I just need to prepare myself for the whining and complaining! They will get used to it eventually, I am sure.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving meal

I love having people over for meals. I rarely have my family over, because they are suspicious of my food. I am slowly winning them over though. And they are big into food that someone else cooks, especially at Thanksgiving time, so I was able to get them over to my new house today for a big meal. My dad did make a turkey out on the grill, though. But that is a small concession to make, I suppose. I didn't eat any of it, and they were happy to have it.

Here's a picture of the meal, except for the garlic roasted brussels sprouts, the turkey and the double-layer pumpkin cheesecake:

The potatoes were mashed with Earth balance and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, the sweet potato casserole was based on this recipe from Fat-Free Vegan, and I got the cranberry orange sauce recipe on Rachael Ray's website, although I added a bit of Grand Marnier to mine at the end. The stuffing recipe is the same one I make every year, although this year I left the raisins out in the hope that it would be more appealing to my mom that way. She did try it, but still thought it was weird; hey, at least she tried. Oh, and I also made the dill dip in the same post with the stuffing, but that was pretty well demolished by the time I took my picture.

Here's a picture of my plate, with all the yummy stuff:

So, by switching my dessert (from the pecan pie of last year), I managed to go completely vegan this year. I thought about making some kind of replacement for the turkey, but there was really plenty of food; I didn't miss it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Almost Vegan Pastitsio

This meal took a little longer to make than many things I do, but it was worth it. It was very good, and both of the kids had seconds! I based this on a recipe in the Weight Watcher's Take-Out Tonight cookbook.

Almost Vegan Pastitsio

I have been eyeing this traditional Greek dish on restaurant menus for a while now, wishing I could try it. With a ground beef filling and a milk-based bechamel, that was not going to happen, so instead I searched out a recipe to veganize. The nutmeg in the sauce disguises the soy taste wonderfully. I know there are egg substitutes that would work in this, but I am not really familiar with them, so I just used the eggs. Feel free to suggest vegan alternatives in the comments.

3 cups soy milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 TBSP parmesan substitute (we used Parma!)
salt and ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3/4 pound ground meat substitute, like Boca crumbles
1 pound plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (although I used more--probably 4 or 5)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and pepper

1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti or elbow macaroni
2 TBSP parmesan substitute

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Meanshile, combind the milk, cornstarch and eggs in a large saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. This took me a while, but I think I turned the fire down too low--I was warming, not cooking--so make sure the heat isn't too low. When thickened, remove from heat and add the Parmesan sub, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Place a lid on the pot and set aside while you make the filling.

At this point, you'll want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 7 by 11 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.

For the filling, heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onion until softened. Add the remaining filling ingredients and cook until heated through, and the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates. Stir often.

To assemble the casserole, start with half of the pasta, then top with all of the filling and the other half of the pasta. Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and sprinkle with the last 2 tablespoons of Parma. Bake until golden, 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving, to set the casserole.

I was going to roast brussels sprouts with this, but the kids aren't fans, so I ended up skipping them, and we had green beans instead. Lima beans stewed with some olive oil and oregano would have been good, too.

A couple of quick meals

I read a lot of vegan blogs with fantastic gourmet recipes. I love to see people showing that great meals do not need to center around a hunk of rotting flesh, or baby animal milk. People do some truly amazing things. But in general, that is not me.

I just want to get dinner on the table most nights. I want my food to have nutrition and flavor, but I am not passionate about making it just right or gourmet, or taking a long time. There are so many things I want to do in life, and cooking is definitely one of them, but only one. I want to get good food made in the smallest amount of time that is necessary. Sometimes that is not such a small time, but some nights it has to be fast, or we can't do it. Here are some examples of fast meals we have done lately.

First, I described my recipe for fast vegan fried rice awhile back, but here is a picture:

Doesn't that look healthy and delicious? The kids even like it. The boy had seconds and the girl ate hers without too much convincing (although she did try to convince me that she wasn't that hungry, a holdover from a virus she had the week before--she didn't complain about the taste, though). Every time I make rice these days, I make some extra so that we can have this later in the week. It is super fast, nutritious and we all like it.

Here is an even faster way to use up leftover rice:

For this one, I used fried tofu I got from the international foods market, along with a canned Thai soup and frozen green beans. I had to add some sriracha hot sauce to mine, but my friend said it was very good.

So, there you have it: some fast to the table, but still flavorful vegan meals. I hope this gives someone some good ideas for quick family meals that don't sacrifice flavor or your food convictions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Backwards Dinner

The kids are at their dad's for the night, so I had dessert first. I was really excited this weekend to see the coconut milk ice cream at Whole Foods this weekend. I was looking forward to it all day at work, so I decided to dive in as soon as I got ome tonight. Oh my goodness, was it good! So creamy, no soy taste, just about perfect. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole pint, but I am looking forward to being able to have it again, so I was able to take only one serving and put it back in the freezer.

Why do I get to eat dessert first, when I won't let my kids do the same? Because I knew I was making urban vegan's delicious 30 minute Polish meal. I didn't get a picture, but it was awesome! I added cried cranberries to the carrots, and used baby carrots rather than slicing whole carrots, but other than that I pretty much followed the recipe as is. Oh, and the first time I tried to toast some walnuts to throw in the carrots, I accidentally turned off the wrong burner, so they burned, while I lost cooking time for the carrots. It all turned out very good, though, and I caught it before it got too bad. I had to throw out that batch of walnuts, but I didn't ruin the pan or start a fire or anything.

I tell you, having my own house is so good for me--the kids weren't here, but I cooked a real meal and washed dishes, two things I used to avoid when the kids were gone. I ate out a lot, or made sandwiches and left the dishes for the next night. So, healthy delicious eating, saving money, cleaner home. All in all, a definitely good thing!


Yesterday I cooked twice. I worked from home, so I decided to cook lunch, too, and freeze some of the leftovers. I made the Red Lentil and Cauliflower Curry from Veganomican. I had made it before, but just from what I had on hand when I went searching in the cookbook. This time I actually planned ahead to make it and went to the store to buy all the ingredients for it. It was good last time, but this time it was even better. The parsnip was good--I had only had parsnips once before and I don't think that was a good recipe. I remember thinking it was weirdly textured and bland, but it really worked in this recipe. I got an Anaheim chili, which isn't quite as hot as the jalapeno or serrano recommended, because I think the kids may eat some when I thaw out the remainder. I have to warn you, though, they are still plenty hot enough to set your eye on fire if you touch it without washing your hands. I learned that the hard way well after I was done eating, while I was on a work phone meeting. People are asking me questions, and I am trying not to scream while frantically searching for the nearest washcloth to help rinse my eye out, with impaired sight since I couldn't open the one eye. Not something I recommend. Be careful with chilis!
I had it with some garlic naan from Trader Joe's. Doesn't it look delectable?

And for dinner, I made my friend Andrea's favorite dinner (well, her favorite dinner that I cook, anyway): Curried Stir-Fried Noodles with Vegetables. No picture of this one, but I can assure you it was very good, as usual.

See all these fresh veggies? I feel so healthy! And full.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Flurry of Cooking

I have actually cooked dinner four nights in a row! I have plans for the rest of the week, too.

Moving has, once again, made it hard to get into a routine. On top of moving there is the new school year, which always comes as a shock to me. Why, I don’t know, since we have been doing this for 6 years now, but I am always thrown by the new schedule. And on top of that, we are in a new school this year, so the routines are even more different. Not to mention the whole unpacking thing, and (sniff, sniff), the lack of a dishwasher at the new house (sob, wail!).

But, this week I got it together finally. I have done some cooking, of course, but this week, I made a menu, and a grocery list, and went and got everything I needed. And I have been cooking every night, and even doing dishes and making lunches. Go me! Here is my menu:

Sunday: Tempeh Shepherdess Pie, from Veganomicon, which was fantastic. We had friends over for this one, and everyone loved it. It was a bit more time-consuming than I would like for a weeknight meal, but it was perfect for having friends over on the weekend.

Monday: Curry Cashew Casserole, from urban vegan, also very good, but not quite spicy enough for me. No matter, I had some good Thai garlic chili sauce, and it made the dish perfect. The kids actually ate this fairly well, too.

Tuesday: Meatballs in Applesauce, rice, broccoli, from Cooking for the Rushed (although this recipe called for ground beef, I just subbed some meatless meatballs from Trader Joe’s), which is a popular kid meal

Wednesday: this was my non-vegan night, with Curry Salmon Noodle bake, peas, which was a HUGE hit with the kids

Thursday: Sloppy lentils on whole wheat buns, baked fries, bell pepper strips

Friday: Fried rice, egg rolls and shu mai (appetizers from Trader Joe’s). Oh, and we may have some candy, which will likely not be vegan.

Saturday the kids will be at their dad’s, so I am not sure what I will be doing, although I do have food. I may be helping friends move, though, so I may do something with them. Sunday I have a play to go to. We go to the 2:00 show, so we often eat out after that.

Monday: Macaroni and Cheese and peas

Tuesday: some kind of sandwich or snacky food for me, while the kids are at their dad’s house

Wednesday: payday! We may go out to celebrate surviving the first month with the big house payment. And then we may need to do a quick grocery store trip to replenish supplies.

The house is continuing to force me to cook at home, which is good for my bank account and my health. Also, my eating pleasure--it may not be modest, but I have to say that I make good food!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

I am buying a house! I have been spending a lot of time looking at houses, and gathering paperwork, so I haven't been posting much. Now I am going to have to spend a bunch of time packing, purging, doing even more paperwork, getting inspections and all that, so I will probably not have a lot of time to post for a while now.

After I move though, I am doing something kind of exciting--Once A Month Cooking, or freezer cooking, or whatever you want to call it. I will need to cut costs when we move, so I am going to do some cooking ahead to make sure that I have food available when I come home for dinner every night. I have done this before, but that was back when I ate meat, so this will be a bit different. I am already thinking about what kind of recipes I can do, and making a few plans, so I can dive in after I move (and buy a small deep freezer). I like making dinner with fresh food, but this does save a lot of time and money, when I know what we will be eating every night. I can still cook sometimes, but I will have a nice backup for busy days. I will post my plan when I get it figured out.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

BLAT sandwich

Next time, I need to add some sprouts, so it is a BLAST sandwich, which sounds more appetizing. Anyway, it has hearty whole grain bread, veggie bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado, with a thin layer of vegennaise. Not pictured: yummy sweet potato fries as a side dish.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


I was going to go out for the expensive brunch I have been eating most Sunday's lately. It isn't ridiculously expensive--it's downright cheap when you think of all you get, including many vegan goodies--but it's certainly more expensive than I could make at home. And, it's fun to break out my cookbooks and make food the way I like, and feed my friends and family.

I didn't make anything new today, unless you count the smoothies, which are slightly different every time I make them. This time they had orange juice, bananas, frozen mixed berries, frozen mangoes, frozen raspberries and a fresh peach. I had forgotten how much I like fruit smoothies--the main point of this offering was to make sure there was at least one thing the children would consume without complaining! I served them in ice cream sundae dishes to make them even more fun.

We also had blue flannel hash from Veganomicon, and the asparagus and sun-dried tomato frittata from Vegan with a Vengeance. I've made both of these recipes before, so I wasn't surprised that they turned out awesome. We had a little bit of veggie bacon brought by my friend, some banana bread with carob chips made by another friend (given to me after she spent the day watching my daughter, which is probably a bit backwards, not that I am complaining!), and some grapes to round out the meal. We had some good conversation about books while we ate, and everyone had a great time. We are definitely going to do this again.

Here is an aerial view of our brunch, picture by my friend Andrea:

Here is my plate of yummy brunch goodness. See how the stem on the grapes looks like a big preying mantis? (No actual bugs were harmed during the making of this brunch ;-))

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


The crazy end of school is over. I went to Jefferson City with the 4th grade, I volunteered at the kindergarten birthday party, I assisted in the frantic search for library books, I got a certification of my own, and I generally was so busy we collapsed in exhaustion at the end of every day. I did take some food pictures, but I don't have them with me, so I will have to post them later.

What I do have this week is an actual menu plan! I am feeling pretty proud of myself on this one. I have even brought my lunch to work every day so far this week. Here it is, my not terribly inpired, but still, complete, plan.

Sunday: soy cheese pizza, fruit

Monday: lunch--leftover pizza, strawberries, dark chocolate
dinner--BBQ at my dad's; I brought a Boca burger, and he had steamed broccoli and corn on the cob

Tuesday: lunch--not vegan; Trader Joe's Thai tuna curry with a boxed pilaf mix with lots of different whole grains, orange, apple
dinner--garbanzo beans and spinach cooked in Trader Joe's curry simmer sauce with some plain soy milk, brown basmati rice simmered with Bombay saffron rice spice from World Market, fruit juice (orange peach mango, I think)

Wednesday: lunch--leftover curry, apple, orange
dinner--macaroni and cheeze, steamed broccoli and cauliflower

Thursday: lunch--leftover mac and chz, or frozen pad thai from Trader Joe's, strawberries, pear, leftover veggies
dinner--veggie and tofu fried rice, oranges

Friday: lunch--I may go out this day, I think, or leftovers
dinner--okay, I only planned until Thursday, you caught me...

Thursday is payday, so I just decided to get that far and then make new plans. The end of school is expensive! We may go out on Friday and then head to the Farmer's Market on Saturday.

After this weekend, the kids go to their dad's house for 2 weeks. I will need an easy plan for that time, to guard against eating out for every meal, which is really expensive! Also, not so healthy. So, I need a plan with healthy stuff that is easy to make. Maybe some cooking ahead? I am going to think on this for a bit and see what I can come up with. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cupcake party!

I got a copy of Vegan Cupcakes take over the World something like a year ago. I wanted to make all of the cupcakes right away, but I have really gotten out of the habit of baking. So, I showed the book to some friends, and they were enthusiastic, too. We picked out some recipes, and made vague plans to have a cupcake party.

This weekend, we finally did it.

I invited two friends over, and they came with their two children each. S invited 2 friends, also. So, we had 11 people in my small kitchen. Well, we mostly kicked the 4 boys 7 and under out to play, but at one point we did have all three adults and all 4 girls crowded around the table. I was in charge of reading the recipes, washing measuring cups, and fetching spoons, forks, and various other implements to mix, measure and taste.

We started with the sexy low fat vanilla cupcakes with fresh berries. The girls made these under my supervision, and then we kicked them out, too. I think I may have underestimated my ability to handle chaos, but it really wasn't that bad once we got things calmed down for a bit.

We made gingerbread cupcakes with lemony cream cheese frosting, and chocolate cherry creme cupcakes with vegan buttercream frosting. This all took a lot more time than I thought it would, but it was so much fun! Most everyone had three cupcakes, one as we finished each batch. This isn't quite as unhealthy as it sounds, since we used whole wheat pastry flour instead of the all-purpose white flour, and at least there wasn't any high fructose corn syrup in anything. But mostly, it was so fun and delicious, we didn't care about the calories or sugar or fat!

My favorite was the vanilla with fresh berries, Tracy's was the gingerbread, and Andrea's was the chocolate cherry cream. This is not surprising, as those are the recipes we each picked. But they were all amazing, and we are definitely doing this again! I have my eye on the orange pudding filled cupcakes. We are thinking about an adult cupcake party with black forest cupcakes (the choc cherry cream made with cherry brandy) and maragarita cupcakes. I feel very in this cupcake trend, which no doubt means it is pretty much past the height of trendiness. No matter, I love the cupcakes!

Monday, March 31, 2008

A picture and a menu

First I have to say, Oh my goodness, but Whole Foods is expensive! Partly it's me stocking up on several things, and partly it's the rising cost of food these days, partly it's their great selection of vegetarian products, partly it's the awesome prepared foods they have. Lots of partlys adding up to a big bill. But, it should be worth it in healthy, delicious food this week.

First a picture from a while back:

This is the gnocchi I made after my kids spent a day at my parents' house eating nothing but junk. It's gnocchi with lots of tomato sauce and spinach. On top, and lurking in the background of the picture, is Parma! vegan parmesan. We had to buy this, because it has raw organic walnuts, red star nutritional yeat, celtic sea salt, and love. With an ingredient list like that, how could we pass it up?

Now the menu:

Tonight: Carribean Beans and Quinoa--so incredibly good! The girl even liked it. I am so glad that she is finally more open to more complex flavors.

Tuesday: I am making a Rachael Ray Curry in a Hurry recipe with the new Trader Joe's chickenless strips. Plus rice, and some kind of vegetable (maybe salad, or broccoli).

Wednesday: Fried rice. I threw some together on Friday, and it was so good, I am making it again. I heated up some coconut oil, pressed some tofu (just between my hands), diced it and fried until golden. Then, I added some onion and garlic, and when the kitchen started smelling really good, I added some frozen spinach and peas, and two cups of cooked brown rice. After I mixed all that together, I poured about a third of a jar of Trader Joe's Chinese 5 Spice Chef Sauce on top, and heated it all up until the flavors were blended and it was all hot. I couldn't believe how good it turned out, for something just thrown together!

Thursday: West African Peanut Stew

Friday, the girl is going to sing at the Cardinals game with her choir! I have no idea what we will eat, but I am sure we will have fun.

That's as far as my planning has gone, but I am going to do more planning next week. We eat so much better when I know what we are going to have (not counting that serendipitous fried rice).

Friday, March 21, 2008

You learn something new every day...

Like, my last post? I posted that on Wednesday, March 19. But I started it on March 6, like the publish date says. I did not know that Blogger could pretend like that...

Anyway, a camping update:

Not totally vegan this time, so I'll skim over the first night, when we had salmon and sugar snap peas cooked in a foil packet with teriyaki sauce.

The second night, I went with the best kid-pleaser, beanie weenies, made with soy hotdogs. My friend made new potatoes, carrots and onion roasted in foil, and the kids devoured grapes with the beans.

The third night, it rained, so we had Taco Bell. Oh, for a larger town nearby with a Qdoba!

Breakfasts were largely fruit and whole wheat bagels with tofutti cream cheese, and lunches consisted of a lot of general snacking. I brought a bunch of guacamole this time, and whole wheat tortillas, and the boy ate some leftover hot dogs. Oh, and we had leftover beanie weenies. Hmm, we weren't very organized this time.

We did get some beautiful hiking in before the rains hit. We went down on a Saturday and stayed until Tuesday, so we were practically alone on the campground after Sunday morning. Monday night, when it was raining, we were the only camper there. We saw a lot of wildlife, though--probably 6 or 7 deer, some of them fairly close up. We saw a beaver on our way back from town on Monday, which was pretty cool. We played a lot of Trivial Pursuit and got a lot of reading done.

Wednesday night we had friends over and I made Curried Stir-Fried Noodles with Vegetables. Andrea requested it last time she came for dinner, but I didn't have all the ingredients, so I got it all when I went to the store to buy some supplements after returning from the campground.

Last night we went to my parents' house for pizza, and I got to feed S something other than plain cheese pizza. She eats too much plain food, so we are experimenting with more complex flavors. We had pineapple pizza, and it was a big success! We used rice milk cheese, and it was very good, melty and delicious.

Now the kids are at their dad's so I expect some eating out this weekend, but I am going to try to make some healthy stuff this weekend to prepare for next week.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Update on my plan, new week

I just found this post hanging out on my blogger dashboard. I am not sure what I was planning to do with it when I saved it and walked away, but I am just posting it as is and I will come back with something more updated later. Something with more camping thoughts, as we did that again this past weekend....

I did pretty good on my plan from last week. Monday through Friday was just what I planned. I did go out on Tuesday, but that was my tentative plan anyway. My friend made a delicious veggie chili on Friday with all kinds of good veggies in it--much healthier than I usually make mine. I just do a basic bean chili with tomato sauce and salsa, but not much else in the way of veggies (well, onions and garlic, but that's a given). She had carrots and eggplant and zucchini and all kinds of good stuff in there. Very good!

The weekend was all right. Saturday we just had Tofurkey Italian Sausages (hallelujah, the girl likes them! They have flavor, and she eats them!) and hashbrowns, because I didn't feel like going all out and making falafels and tahini sauce and all that, when I was pretty sure the kids wouldn't eat them, or not much. Sunday, we went out for Vietnamese food. The girl was so picky and rude about it, I decided no more eating out for her for some time. She will learn to like more foods at home, or no eating out. I am tired of buying her chicken fingers and french fries.

This week, we have only been home two nights so far. Tuesday, we had a Match crab and cabbage stirfry with some kind of pineapple teriyaki sauce and sliced carrots. Yum! The kids ate theirs with only minimal complaining. I am wearing them down, ha ha.

Last night we had friends over and made pizza. No arguing for a change, everyone was joyful.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Menu plan

I went to the store with an actual plan and a list! I feel so organized when I do that.

Here is what we are having, starting with last night:

Monday: Beanie Weenies, steamed broccoli

Tuesday: waffling here, I may go out, or make falafels (kids are at their dad's)

Wednesday: Peanut noodles, steamed sugar snap peas, blood oranges

Thursday: Creamy chickpea and tahini casserole, salad, some veggie the kids will eat

Friday: eating at a friend's house

Saturday: Falafel, if I don't make them tonight, or I may do a grocery store run that day

Okay, it's not a great plan, but it's pretty good. It's better than no plan. I am trying to actually make some more of the recipes I have bookmarked on my computer, rather than marking them and forgetting about them.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Last night, when we had guests over for dinner, this was baja tempeh tacos in blue corn tortillas, with red cargo rice and black beans with adobo sauce on the side. For lunch today, I threw the whole thing in a bowl, minus the tortilla. It was delicious both ways, which isn't a shock, because I got the recipes from Veganomican, which hasn't let me down yet. The marinated tempeh was amazing, and the slaw and lime crema were the perfect complements. I loved the recipe for the black beans with adobo sauce, because the beans were nice and bland, and the sauce was nice and spicy, with lots of flavor. Since the recipe called for adding the sauce at the table, it was the perfect dish to share with people with a wide variety of tolerance for hot, spicy food. I garnished with fresh radishes, avocado and orange tomatoes, although there weren't any tomatoes left to garnish my leftovers. The radishes came fresh, still attached to the greens; I find they are so much better than the blandly hot radishes that come in bags from the big food processors. I would have thought that bland and spicy don't go together, but those just taste hot without any flavor to go with it to me. This was a very successful meal with guests, and something we will definitely be having again!