Sunday, May 22, 2011

Potato Goodness

Why did I used to hate potatoes? I mean, I grew up eating them all the time, and then there were about ten years that I absolutely hated them unless they were in the form of french fries. (Which I still love, by the way, and if there's nothing else on the menu, I'm getting fries.) But potatoes in any form are SO GOOD!

Lately, I've been making at least one meal a week based around potatoes. They are so yummy and budget-friendly! I just bought a five-pound bag of potatoes for 69 cents! Okay, maybe it was something like 69 cents a pound, but still! That's a load of potatoes for under five bucks!


Tonight I made good, old-fashioned scalloped potatoes. I checked out the Veganomicon cookbook from the library, which I'm now going to have to purchase, because the recipes are amazing. Take for instance, this vegan version of a classic dish. W was super excited about this meal. It seems we both grew up eating a lot of scalloped potatoes, so this was a throw back to the eighties. Thank you Moms for instilling the love of potatoes in us. (I'm sorry I strayed away from them for awhile.)

"Herb-Scalloped Potatoes" from Veganomicon

3 average-size potatoes, scrubbed, sliced into 1/8 inch-thick disks
3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (I used plain rice milk)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (I didn't have this, so I used Italian seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Several pinches of ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.

Layer the potatoes in the pan, allowing them to slightly overlap. Lay them across the short way first.

Pour most of the vegetable broth over the potatoes, reserving about 3 tablespoons (no need to be exact.)

Pour the soy (rice) milk and drizzle the olive oil over potatoes, making sure to coat each one.

Scatter the minced garlic over everything, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the nutritional yeast over all the potatoes. Drizzle the remaining vegetable broth slowly; just get it moist. Then sprinkle with the last tablespoons of nutritional yeast, the herbs and the salt.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.


And the verdict is....

"Mmmmm! This is sooo flavorful!"

"We should totally make this for a dinner party."

"These are the best potatoes we've ever made."

"I'm going to eat them for lunch for the rest of the week... if they last that long. You HAVE to keep that recipe."

There you have it. An amazing good ole-fashioned dinner. Potato Goodness.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grilled Tofu-stuffed Peppers and Grilled Tofu "Fish"

I came up with this meal at the last minute tonight when my husband decided - much to my chagrin - that he wanted to grill chicken. Hmmm...

So I assessed what kind of veggie goodness I had in the fridge and made an amazing grilled tofu dinner for myself! (The more for me, the merrier!)

First up was the stuffed pepper. When I've made this kind of thing before, I've always just stuffed the pepper with some kind of rice or cous cous mixture. This time, I remembered the jalepeno poppers we made a couple weeks ago and took notes from that.

I hollowed out the green pepper and stuffed it with this mixture:
1/2 block of extra firm tofu, crumbled
1/4 cup Daiya chedder cheese
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup sliced green olives with pimentos
1 tsp crushed red pepper

I blended it all together in my handy Tupperware Chop N Prep (seriously, I should get a commission for promoting that product so much. I love it.)

Once the mixture was stuffed into the green pepper, I dribbled a little soy sauce on top so that it soaked through. Finally, I placed a lemon on top of it all, and grilled for 45 minutes.

As for the other half of the tofu block, I sliced it in half, length-wise.

In a shallow dish, I marinated the slices in a little sauce I just created:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1/2 tablespoon lemon-pepper seasoning

I kept flipping the tofu every few minutes so the tofu got nice and soaked in the marinade. Finally, I let it sit for about 15 minutes and put some lemon slices on top.

To grill, I put the tofu slices in the middle of a generous piece of tin foil. I dripped the marinade over the tofu, wrapped it all up, and grilled it for 15 minutes.

Final product = DELICIOUS! The stuffed pepper was surprisingly creamy and flavorful (you never know with tofu, sometimes it's bland, but this mixture did not disappoint.) And the tofu "fish" was lemony and peppery and amazing. Yum. I chowed down the entire thing, except for two bites that I let W have. Did he wish he had shared in my vegan-grilled-goodness? Yes, yes he did.

Okay, so I know there's all this uproar about soy beans and how bad they are for you now or something, but I don't really care. It's not like I just ate a whole block of cheese or an entire chicken, did I? No. I'll stick with my tofu, thankyouverymuch.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Office Trip, Day 3: Canada

Wake up early... get to the that apple I bought from Pikes Place Market yesterday...also hastily make a rice cake-peanut-butter-apple sauce breakfast thingie...

Breakfasts are the worst when I'm traveling. Normally, when I'm home, I eat a piece of toast, a bowl of cereal with rice milk, and some kind of fresh fruit. On the road, not so much. Has anyone ever noticed that popular breakfast items at any food place are completely non-vegan? Eggs and bacon. That's what people want for breakfast, and that's what McDonald's, Starbucks, or Denny's will give them.

Here is my recipe for the vegan traveler's breakfast (you'll have to leave extra room in your suitcase to bring everything.)

Lundberg Rice Cakes
Trader Joe's Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter
Trader Joe's Oragnic Apple Sauce Cups in wild berry flavor

Take a rice cake from the package. Next, spread peanut butter on rice cake with the plastic knife you packed. Finally, open organic apple sauce cup from Trader Joe's and spoon some of it on the peanut butter covered rice cake.

To eat:
Very carefully take bites of delicious, healthy breakfast rice cake -- it's extremely messy, but worth it. Also, finish off that cup of applesauce!

There you have it! A delightfully healthy breakfast that's simple and easy, and you can pack to go with you anywhere!

Office Trip, Day 2: Seattle

Today was a little trickier. As in, where the rest of the group wants to eat, that is where I must eat. Vegan food or not.

I've heard there's really good vegan restaurants in this city, but I guess I'll have to come back to find those.

This is what I've managed to find on this day in Seattle:

We had a working lunch at Steelhead Cafe, right next to Pikes Market. The menu actually showed quite a bit of vegetable options, but I zoned in on the chili. It said it was vegetarian chili, and I made it vegan by asking for the sour cream and cheese to be left off. Yum! It was delicious and perfect on this rainy day in Seattle.

It had all sorts of veggie goodness in it including hominy, yum, and shitake mushrooms, which I thought was a little random, but whatever. You take what you can get.

At Pikes Place Market, I tasted all the fresh fruit samples and just had to buy a Lady Alice apple, which is some kind of created "breed" of apple that is absolutely amazing. All the fresh produce in the market called out to me teasingly. I wanted all of it. Can I please live in Seattle just so I can shop at Pikes Place EVERY DAY?

For dinner we at at Sky City Restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. The menu did not look promising for me at all. Hmmmm.... Even the salad had cheese on it! I mean, why must cheese be on everything in this country? Even raw vegetables?!

I asked the server if the carrot-ginger soup was made with a chicken or cream base. Yes and yes. Wow, there is literally nothing I can eat here, unless I get that salad without the blue-cheese crumbles... yum, a bunch of lettuce with apple slices. How appealing. By the way, have I mentioned that I absolutely hate fruit in salad? Gross.

The server came over again and kindly suggested something that was not on the menu -- fettucini primavera, or pasta with veggies and marinara sauce. He even assured me that the pasta was not made with eggs, and the veggies were not fried in butter. Hallelujah. This will do just fine, thankyouverymuch. I wouldn't choose to eat at this restaurant if I were you, but if you do, choose this option for something vegan. Not worth the jacked-up price, but it was pretty tasty for pasta.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Office Trip, Day 1, Sushi

Here I am on the road again. This time I'm traveling with the rest of my office. We are on a convention in Canada, but we stopped in Seattle for a day to have our own office retreat.

So as we know, it's always a little tricky to eat vegan on the road. Quadruple that trickiness when traveling in a big group of non-vegans. This has been an interesting trip for food so far...

First up is Japanese. As soon as we got out of the airport in Seattle area, we found Miyabi. They had a huge menu, so I knew I'd be able to find something. Luckily they even had a huge selection of vegetarian rolls on their sushi menu! Hooray! I ordered all of them! Veggie tempura, miso something... tofu something... classic avocado and cucumber... good, good, good, and good. I was stuffed!
I also found out the miso soup did not have fish sauce in it, so I ordered me up one of those as fast as possible. Mmmmm soup.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tostada Night!

Not taco night, but tostada night in our household. We've just been making all our go-to favorites this week. Potatoes, pasta, and now tostadas!

You don't really need a specific recipe for this delicious, Mexican-themed dinner. Just follow these helpful tips if you're looking for a quick and easy meal during the week:

1 package of tostada shells (they're flat!)
1 can of vegetarian refried beans
Chopped tomatoes
Sliced black olives
Sliced jalapeno's and pickled carrots
Chopped lettuce
Daiya chedder cheese
Tapa Tio (I mean, do I even have to mention this one at this point?)

Pile all the ingredients on top of the tostada shells and dig in.

Mmmmmm, they are so good. I just stuffed them straight in my mouth, but W tried to be all proper and eat them with a fork or something. Whatever! Tostadas are meant to be messy!

Sun dried Tomato and Basil Pesto Pasta

My basil plant has been growing out of control, so I had to figure out something to do with all the fresh basil. Hello fresh pesto! I found a good recipe in my trust Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped pine nuts
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1/4 teaspoon salt
Black Pepper

I used my amazing Tupperware chop n prep to blend and mix and chop everything together until it was nice and smooth. I guess you could use a food processor; at least that's what the cookbook says to use, but the chop n prep works better in my opinion.

Now for the pasta: I used tri-color swirly things from Trader Joe's and mixed finely chopped sun dried tomatoes with half of the basil pesto. When the pasta was ready, I stirred in the sun dried and basil pesto until the pasta was evenly coated with all the deliciousness. Yum!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ten-minute Meal

Wednesday nights are bowling nights for us, and since I've been spoiled by vegan-cheese pizzas lately, I kinda refuse to eat the bland no-cheese pizza slices I have occasionally ordered at the bowling alley. Therefore, I have to eat something at home before bowling league, or else I'm starving and stuck with nothing to eat except french-fries. As delicious as that is sometimes, we all know it's healthier to avoid the fried stuff as much as possible, right?

I have approximately 45 minutes between the time I get home and when we have to leave for the bowling alley, so what was I going to make in a hurry that was still satisfying and healthy?

Here it is! This is my last minute, ten minute meal:

-In a pan, saute onions in some olive oil.
-Add a couple spoonfuls of fresh salsa, frozen corn and spinach.
-Add half a cup of vegan chicken strips.
-Sprinkle some seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper on top of everything and stir.
-Saute for about 5 minutes.

Chase away the husband who comes into the kitchen and says,"mmmmm, that smells so good!" because he is still going to eat that nasty cheese pizza at the bowling alley later and doesn't get any of your vegan food if he's going to be that way.


Eat and Enjoy!

end note: obviously I didn't have time to take a picture of this meal, so just take my word for it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Taco Bell Love

I do not condone eating at any fast food restaurant ever... EXCEPT my beloved Taco Bell. The Bell and I go way back. Way back to when I had my tenth birthday party at a Taco Bell in New Jersey. Back in the 80's these Mexican-themed fast food joints were hard to find on the East Coast, so when we found one anywhere within 50 miles of where we lived, we celebrated big time. As in, tenth birthday big time.

A little more than twenty years have passed since that birthday, and my love for Taco Bell still reigns. I know, I know... it wouldn't exactly be classified as THE MOST HEALTHY thing in the world to eat, but in a pinch, Taco Bell will do just fine. It's a lifesaver when I'm traveling and need to eat something fast in the car in between business events.

I was always afraid that the rumors might be true and their beans would in fact not be vegetarian... but, alas, I just confirmed yesterday that their beans and tortillas are completely animal free and VEGAN! Hurrah! Also, their sauce packets are vegan (Phew! because I collect those things like they're going out of style) and their Mexican rice and gaucamole is even vegan! So, you could get a 7 layer burrito with no cheese or sour cream and be worry free.

To celebrate, I took my husband out for dinner at the local TB just down the street. (Oh how easy they are to come by now...) And we loaded up on Taco Bell goodness for under ten bucks! What!

I was debating the 7 layer like I just mentioned above, but I stuck with my 99 cent fresco bean burrito and tostado, fresco style. Yum.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Meatless Monday

This great bistro and gardens is very close to our house, which makes it convenient to participate in their delicious Meatless Monday event. (Every Monday, btw.)

Last night we went and sampled.

Most items on the menu can be made vegan, and that's what we did.

Here's some samples from their menu,

but we specifically got the veggie ceviche, shepherds pie, and Spicy Tempeh and Broccoli Stir-fry.

"mmmm that is GOOD."
"tastes like real ceviche, but also kinda like chips and salsa. it's still good though."

"mashed potato and tempeh goodness."
"spicy. i like it."

"that's the best thing ever!"
"tastes better than meat."
"nutty, spicy, goodness."

Also, there was this crazy chocolate-stuffed date thing for dessert which was absolutely amazing and totally vegan. (This picture is a stock photo, but imagine that the real thing looked like this except with dark chocolate in the middle, not that white stuff.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Golden Curry “Tomokazu”

I found this recipe from Mr Meaner over at and it was the best curry I have ever made at home. So much better than those Thai coconut milk curries.

You can click here for the original post on that website but let me share my own success story.

As we all know, I love love love Asian food, so if I can make an amazing Asian dish at home, even better. The best thing about this recipe is that you can find all the ingredients at your local grocery store. I usually shop at Henry's or Sprouts, and they actually didn't have ANY of the ingredients, so the Albertson's right down the street from my house actually came through for me this time.

It's so easy to make. This is what you need:

S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix (hot)
Pack of Extra Firm Tofu
Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce
Lee Kum Kee Black Bean and Garlic sauce
Frozen peas

First, make the rice in a rice cooker or whatever. I used short grain (cal rose) rice.

Next, break the Golden Curry block into pieces. It's separated into five little blocks, and I used three mixed with three cups of hot water in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Make sure to stir constantly until the curry pieces are completely dissolved.

Then, add the good stuff! 2 tablespoons each of the Chili Garlic Sauce and Black Bean and Garlic Sauce. This is the best part of the whole dish...but that's just me.

Throw in a cup of peas and the tofu (cut into 1/2 inch squares).

Cook at first on medium heat so it's bubbling a little bit, and then let simmer for about 10 minutes.

The rice should be ready right about now, so put some on the bottom of a big bowl...

...and ladle the curry on top of it. Add some steamed broccoli and you have this great Asian curry! I think it's supposed to be Japanese, but it tastes more like Indian curry... but not really. I don't know, it's hard to explain. You'll just have to try it yourself. It's a really easy meal to make after work during the week, so go to the grocery store ASAP and get these ingredients!

Thank you quarry girl and Mr Meaner for this recipe!

Potatoes are not evil!

Remember when everyone was on that no-carb, high protein kick? Apparently that's coming back by the way (Princess Kate and her sister Pippa are on something called the Dukane diet?), but that's not the point of this story. The point is that, even though potatoes are a starch, they are NOT BAD FOR YOU! They are a vegetable! How could that be bad for you?! Back during Atkins' hay-day, I used to proclaim I was on a HIGH carb diet. I mean, I practically live on rice, potatoes and corn, and I'm a pretty normal, healthy weight. Thankyouverymuch. Atkins can stuff it.

Anyway, the last two weekends I've scrapped the idea of trying make pancakes and have turned to the more savory style breakfast -- "eggs" and potatoes. The eggs of course are scrambled tofu and the potatoes are just amazing and delicious.

Ok people, this breakfast is super easy to make and you don't need to follow a cookbook. However, here are some suggestions I do have for you:

-After cutting the potatoes (I used red ones) soak them in water and rinse them well.
-Add oil,onions, garlic and jalapeno's to the potatoes and cook in a skillet for about 20 minutes. I use an electric skillet and it works great!

-For the tofu scramble I use extra firm.
-Throw in a bunch a spices like tumeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, and black pepper.
-Add some sprinkles of nutritional yeast.
-Lightly fry some onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a pan first and then add the tofu mixutre.
-Cook for about 10-15 minutes.
-Add a handful of fresh spinach in the last 2 minutes.

et voila! bon apetit!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dos de Mayo

We decided to start Cinco De Mayo early this week. Arriba! It's only the dos de mayo, but bring on the homemade vegan Mexican food, not to mention the Mexican Fiesta music channel on cable! Que caliente!

Tonight's menu included jalapeno poppers, bean dip, guacamole, and salsa! All homemade and all vegan! AMAZING! Since I'm posting about our authentic Mexican fiesta early, you have two days to gather the ingredients and have your own Cinco De Mayo dinner -- vegan style. The bean dip, salsa, and guac are pretty easy to make on your own. You can't really mess them up. Here's what I did for the jalapeno poppers. My husband proclaimed that these were the best poppers he's ever had in his life. No joke. And he's talking about those things stuffed with real cheese. Personally, I've never had a real jalepeno popper in my life, but apparently these are way better. I'll have to take his word for it. All I know is they were spicy, gooey, and amazing.

Make them now.

Cheese mixture
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
1/4 cup DAIYA chedder cheese shreds

I also made another cheese mixture of tofu, pimentos, nutritional yeast and Daiya cheese. We kinda mixed the two together, but that cream cheese mixture by itself will work just fine too.

Bread Coating
1 cup Panko Vegan bread crumbs
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons Egg replacer powder
6 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 400

Split peppers half way through length-wise. Scoop out seeds. Be careful not to break the jalapeno completely in half.

Mix the bread crumbs, oil and nutritional yeast together.

Mix the batter.

Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture. Roll the peppers in the batter and bread crumbs.

Place onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they look gooey and roasted and yummy.

Oh my goodness, you will think you've died and gone to heaven they are so good. But that's just me...

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Remember how much I loved that vegan cheesey pizza I had at that place in Thousand Oaks a couple weeks ago? Well, I loved it so much I wanted to make it at home. Forget trying to make the pizza dough and all that -- I somehow lack talent in creating anything with dough or batter... more on that later.

So I just bought pre-made "pizza parlor" bread things at Sprouts. The package says "Five pizzas in five minutes!" This means, all we have to do is put on the toppings and pop it in the oven for five or so minutes. I know it might be cheating a little bit, but have I mentioned that if I try to make anything that includes dough or batter, it just never comes out right? I'll have to tell my pancake and waffle story sometime. Also, we tried to make pizzas the old-fashioned way with dough made from scratch and everything, and it just was one big doughy-unbaked-mess. What a waste.

Anyway, here it is, our amazing little personal pizzas. They were so good, we made them two days in a row, and the second time we grilled them on the grill! Crispy, cheesy goodness! Of course we used Daiya cheese, because that stuff is amazing.

On our pizza's, we used fresh marinara sauce, vegan pepperoni, and all sorts of veggies. My personal favorites are green olives, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts.

When we sat down to eat on our little patio, W acutely commented that he felt like we was in Tuscany! Ahhhhh.

Veggie Grilled Goodness!

Mom and Dad were here last week, and Mom specially requested that we grill.


Oh we grilled alright. We grilled artichokes, peppers of every color, mushrooms, garlic, onions, olives, tofurky sausage, corn, asparagus... anything else? Oh yeah, there's a couple orange slices in there too!

Before we skewered the veggies, I marinated them in some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

In addition, I made my "famous" cous cous salad and that amazing lime/coriander rice from the rice and chili recipe. It was a grilled-night to remember! And Mom was pleased, I do believe.

Vegan Feta Cheese

Say what?! I didn't even know there was such a thing as vegan feta cheese, let alone the fact that I can actually make it myself! I was so excited when I saw this recipe in my faithful cookbook -- "Skinny B**** in the Kitch." Feta cheese was one of my most favorite cheeses ever, back when I ate dairy and stuff. Despite being lactose intolerant, Feta was one of the few cheeses that didn't affect me.

This worked perfectly with my mediterranean-themed dinner, and I recommend that everyone try this recipe immediately. Thank you yet again, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnounin (Skinny B authors).

For three cups of vegan feta cheese:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
14-16 ounces firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and red pepper. Add the tofu and toss gently. Let marinate for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Use immediately.

Okay, so it doesn't taste EXACTLY like real feta, but it's pretty darn close, I have to admit. And I love it.