Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Artichokes and Brussel Sprouts

Yes, this week I am doing a raw food diet, and I went two whole days eating only fruits, veggies and nuts.  However, tonight I still stuck with the fruits and veggies-only theme, but decided to heat them up.  So technically this was not a raw-food meal, but it still consisted of only produce.

And it was amazing.

1 -- Boil the artichokes for about fifteen minutes.

2 -- Slice the brussel sprouts in half and blanch in boiling water for two minutes.

3 -- Slice half an onion and add to a bowl with the brussel sprouts and handful of red grapes.

4 -- Add to the veggies 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 pinch of dried thyme, 1 pinch of dried oregano.  Mix well.

5 -- Roast the vegetables on a baking sheet for 20 minutes at 450 degrees. 

Voila.  In less than half an hour we had an amazing dinner of simply veggies (and grapes).  My husband even got into this one enthusiastically.  He says that artichokes are like the lobsters of vegetables.  Okay!  Sounds good to me!

And don't worry, tomorrow I'm still eating salads and fresh fruit.

Fruits and Veggies For Life!

I have mixed feelings about the whole raw food movement.  Every time I try it I just end up getting massive headaches and feeling like the grumpiest person in the world.  I know, I know, this is what is SUPPOSED to happen.  I've read all the articles.  They all encourage me that I just have to get over this hump and then I'll feel energized and light and fresh and amazing!  Okay, so I kind of believe that, but I also believe in eating good food, and after two days of eating the entire produce aisle I'm ready to hit the cookbooks again. 

This week I decided to try out the raw food diet again.  I wasn't going to go all crazy and make all these fancy raw recipes like I did last time with marinated mushrooms and cabbage and such nonsense.  That was a little too much for me.  And also, I might actually incorporate some cooked vegetables, gasp!  The idea is to do two meals raw and one meal still veggies and fruit, but cooked or steamed.  In other words, I'm keeping it simple and am not going to kill myself if I want to cook a vegetable instead of chomping on it like a goat. 

Here we go:  grapefruit, apples, grapes and bananas for breakfast; cashews and almonds for snacks; gigantic salads for lunch and dinner.  The salads could be any variation of the following vegetables:

Baby lettuce-herb mix
Romaine lettuce
Baby spinach
Roma tomatoes
Mini heirloom tomatoes
Bell peppers
Green cabbage
Hot house cucumber

As you can see, there are many options of salads to be made from this garden of goodness!  It's not like I even have to have the same salad for lunch and dinner.  Talk about mixing things up, I know.

For dressings, I concocted the following mixtures:

Lemon-Soy Dressing
1 freshly squeezed lemon
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil

Lemon-Avocado Dressing
1 freshly squeezed lemon
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Braggs liquid aminos
Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy

So far I'm feeling very satisfied and full after each meal, but I AM suffering from the headaches and grouchiness.  Alas, I shall carry on.

Apples at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Vermont, 11-4-11

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Squash...Butternut and Spaghetti

First of all,  I had an untouched butternut squash that never made it to Thanksgiving dinner.  Second of all, it's now Sunday, and we need to finish up the leftovers.  

I used this recipe from the Follow Your Heart cookbook to make the homemade butternut squash soup.  

Butternut Squash Soup

3 pounds butternut squash
4 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups mushroom stock (see recipe below)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cut squash into four to six large pieces. Remove the seeds and peel off the skin. Cut squash into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed 3- to 4-quart soup pot, melt the margarine. Add the onion and sauté for five minutes over low heat, stirring frequently until onion is barely translucent. Add the squash pieces and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Add mushroom stock and bring the soup to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until squash is very tender.

Puree soup in a food processor or blender. Return soup to pot and reheat slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve, garnished with parsley.

Makes four to six servings.

Mushroom Stock
8 cups water
2 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 pounds mushrooms, minced (use food processor)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sea salt

In a large stock pot, combine water, onions, mushrooms, lemon juice, and salt.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 1 1/4 hours, partially covered.  Allow to cool.  Strain through a fine sieve.  Store, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. 

Finally, we finished up the last of Thanksgiving dinner:  mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash, and Grandma's relish and gluten-free patties.  I should mention at this point that this food is W's favorite food ever.  Not only has he been eating it every day since Thanksgiving last Thursday, but tonight he happily piled his plate high with the last of everything and scraped it all clean!  We didn't have any more gravy (much to his chagrin) so he drizzled the butternut squash soup over everything and then I didn't hear him speak for about ten minutes while he chowed down.  

Also, I am very proud of my butternut squash soup -- totally from scratch, stock and all!  Very delicious.  Thank you, Follow Your Heart!

Tom Yum Soup

I found this soup packet a couple months ago at the Asian market by my office.  If you just don't add the suggested seafood and fish sauce, it's totally vegan!  Talk about "yum" indeed!

All I did was add the packet of sauce to boiling water and threw in some cubes of tofu and several sliced cremini mushrooms.  In addition, I made a pot of Cal Rose rice because we should all know by now that I love me some rice with my soup.  And, yes, I got to enjoy this all to myself because The Husband insisted on eating his leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  Whatever, meat-eater. 

Vegan Thanksgiving

We hosted Thanksgiving this year, so I had the perfect excuse to make all these delicious holiday foods -- vegan style!

There were some non-vegan entrees for the non-vegans, but here is the veggie-goodness I made for Thanksgiving dinner:

Green bean casserole
Spaghetti Squash
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Whole Wheat, Whole Grain homemade bread

And the veggie-goodness Grandma made:
Cranberry relish
Gluten-free, vegan patties and gravy
Stuffing with carrots and celery

Plus some veggie-goodness that Aunt M made:
Salad with vegenaise dressing

Some items aren't pictured because we were all starving by the time all the food was ready and I barely had a second to take these photos!

Spaghetti Squash, a tradition in my family

Fluffy, mashed potatoes made with soy milk and Earth Balance

Chopped salad with vegenaise dressing

Whole Grain, Whole Wheat bread freshly made in the bread maker


The best green bean casserole ever

Finally it was time to eat, and everything was amazing!  I (and I think everyone else) especially loved the green bean casserole, but I'm just saying...

FYI, here is the recipe for the green bean casserole from www.fatfreevegan.com.  I've made it three times since last Thanksgiving, and it never fails.  It's amazing; so creamy and mushroomy and delicious.

2 quarts water
1 tablespoon table salt (Alanna says it's essential)
1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
10 ounces mushrooms (I used a combination of regular button mushrooms and shiitake)
3 cloves garlic, minced
generous pinch cayenne pepper (had to add it for the New Orleanians)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup vegetable broth (I used Imagine's No-Chicken)
1 tablespoon dry sherry (Alanna's brilliant addition)
3/4 cup soy creamer (or try full-fat unsweetened soymilk)
1 1/2 slices whole grain bread
1 tablespoon Earth Balance margarine (the best tasting margarine in the world and no trans-fat)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/16 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 3-ounce can of French fried onions
Bring the water to boil in a large pot. While its heating, cut up the beans. Add the salt and beans to the boiling water. Cover and cook for 6 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, and then spray for a minute with cold water to stop the cooking. Let them drain in the colander, shaking every now and then to get off all the water.
Trim and discard the mushroom stems and chop the mushrooms into pieces. Spray a non-stick pan with canola oil and heat it. Add the mushrooms, garlic, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are very soft and exude their juices. Whisk the flour into the vegetable broth and add to the mushrooms along with the sherry. Simmer, stirring, until mixture thickens. Add the soy creamer and simmer until thick, about 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and stir in the beans.
Put the bread, margarine, salt, and pepper into a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Pour into a bowl and add the onions. Stir to combine.

To assemble:
Put the green beans into an oiled casserole dish and top with the onion mixture. Bake at 425 F for about 15 minutes. If you are not serving this right away, refrigerate the topping separately; bring to room temperature before sprinkling the topping on the casserole and baking for about 20 minutes or until hot throughout.
Servings: 8

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vegan Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies

These are so good, I had to put the pictures up and write about them immediately...while I'm still eating them...fresh out of the oven and with Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice Coffee!  I'm also watching the Friends Thanksgiving episode where they all play football.  Can I BE any happier right now?

This is all sorts of pumpkin goodness.  I brought some to W while he was working in the garage and he had to take a break to come inside and enjoy more with me, they're so good! 

Here is the recipe from food.com:


    1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
    2. 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
    4. 1 teaspoon baking powder
    5. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    6. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    7. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    8. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
    10. 1 cup granulated sugar
    11. 1/2 cup brown sugar
    12. 1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened
    13. 2 cups Libby's canned pumpkin
    14. 1 tablespoon applesauce
    15. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease baking sheets.
  3. COMBINE flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove and salt in medium bowl.
  4. Beat sugar and vegan margarine or butter in large mixer bowl until well blended.
  5. Beat in pumpkin, applesauce and vanilla extract until smooth.
  6. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.
  8. BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm.
  9. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes;
  10. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. (I started eating them after about 5 minutes, I just couldn't help myself!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Cheesy" Pasta Casserole

There was some leftover pasta salad from the American party yesterday and since LS (who made it) had to leave before the end of the party, I took it upon myself to take home the leftovers!  Thanks LS!  This morning, an idea came to me of something I could try with the leftover pasta salad, and I actually have Ace to thank for that.  He commented on one of my blog posts awhile ago about a pasta salad I made and said he's made a pasta casserole with leftover pasta salad.  I wanted to try this!

I googled "Cheesy Pasta Casserole" and clicked on the first link.  This is the recipe upon which I based my own vegan version:  Cheryl's Spinach Cheesy Pasta Casserole

It looked like a pretty good recipe, so I replaced the cheese with Daiya vegan cheese and the eggs with Ener G, egg replacer.  Otherwise, I pretty much followed the recipe and it turned out to be really, really good.  I broiled it for about four minutes at the end of the baking period to make it nice and crispy on top and, hello... yum. 

Some other things I added to make it my own:  1/4 cup chopped onions and 3 garlic cloves, crushed.  I'm coming to realize that I use onions and garlic in most recipes.  They add such delicious flavor!

I'd say if you want to try this recipe, make it your own.  Follow the basic guidelines, but add whatever you want!  The pasta salad had carrots and olives in it, as well as some other veggies, and it added perfectly to the whole casserole!  The Husband agreed wholeheartedly that this was an amazing dish, and he was even more excited he would have leftovers for lunch the whole week. 

Fourth of July Celebration in November

One of my good friends just became a citizen of this country, so I threw her an American themed party to celebrate her accomplishment.  She was sworn in on October 25, and shortly after, received her American passport.  This is super exciting and I am so happy for her!  Equally excited L and B were gracious enough to open their home for the party and it was a beautiful, sunny day in Southern California.  If we didn't know any better it could have been the 4th of July!

The meal wasn't all vegan since another friend, LS, and I were the only vegans, but between the salads the two of us made and some delicious fruit from G, there were plenty veg options.

I made a potato salad from The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook.  I've made this salad several times before and it's a delicious classic.  Follow along! ...

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
4 baby pickles, chopped

1/2 cup Vegenaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy milk
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasonings
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper to taste

"Place the potatoes in a pot with water to cover.  Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat until just tender, about [15] minutes.  (Don't let them get too soft.)

"Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the dressing in a bowl.  Set aside."  Mix in onions and carrots.

"When the potatoes are done, remove from heat and drain."  Let cool completely.

When the potatoes are cooled, pour the dressing with the carrots and onions over the potatoes and mix well.  Refrigerate over night to allow flavors to set.  If serving at a 4th of July party, stick in a couple flag toothpicks! 

Potato salad at a bbq is always a hit, and I must admit, this one didn't fail!

LS brought a Southwest corn and black bean salad which was AMAZING, and also a delicious pasta salad. 

Yum!  Lot's of vegan salads! 

In addition, G provided the fruit salad and fresh blackberries and grapes!  So perfect for this American feast!

Oh, and I just have to add this picture of the olives...

Welcome to the America, G!  Congratulations on your huge accomplisment!

Vegan Sushi

I love Japanese food.  Whenever I suggest going to sushi or Japanese food, everyone looks at me like I've lost my mind.  "What can you eat there?!"  They ask incredulously.  Well, there is actually a lot of options for me at Japanese restaurants.  For one, there's rice.  Need I say more?  For another, you can always ask the sushi chef to make any kind of veggie roll you want.  I usually get a cucumber roll and an avocado roll, or I'll mix it up and get cucumber AND avocado together in one roll!  Not only that, most Japanese places have several vegetarian rolls listed on their menu now!  There are so many choices!

The other night on a work trip with W, we found a sushi place in Scotts Valley called Rumble Fish.  I was eagerly anticipating my usual cucumber and avocado goodness, but when I looked at the menu they had something called "Vegan Roll."  I mean, I had to get it -- it said VEGAN in the name of the sushi roll!  Right? 

Basically it was the cucumber, avocado roll with shitake mushrooms added.  Yum.  It was exactly what I wanted after a day of traveling.  4 stars for Rumble Fish.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Polish Night

I was visiting Mom and Dad last week and they mentioned that they just had perogies for dinner a few nights earlier.  "Perogies!"  I exclaimed enviously.  I have been looking EVERYWHERE in North County SD for these Eastern European potato-pasta delights.  There German market we went to for our German-theme day didn't even have them.  My father explained that perogies aren't German, they're Polish.


Well, wherever they're from, they're delicious and I've been wanting to eat them for months.

Apparently Mom and Dad's local grocery story caters to a Polish community in Boston, because the store had at least eight different perogi options in their freezer section.  It was like a beam of light shone down from heaven accompanied by a chorus of angels.  I didn't care that I had seven hours of airplane travel the next day -- I was taking some with me!

A couple days later we had Polish Day, and my craving for perogies was finally satisfied.

The perogies were pretty easy; I just followed the directions on the package.

For the sauerkraut, I followed the same recipe I used on German Day, but added some Tofurkey sausage and all topped witha  dollop of Tofutti Sour Cream.

All I can say is that it was everything I dreamd it would be and more.  The soft, potato-pilled perogies practically melted in my mouth with the sauerkraut and sour cream... mmm delicious.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Linguini with Tomatoes and Artichokes

I love when The Husband willingly takes over in the kitchen and makes dinner!  He makes an amazing pasta sauce -- which I just recently found out is a recipe passed down from his father -- and tonight was no exception.  He made Linguini with a red sauce that was full of all sorts of veggie goodness.  I mean, look at this thing.  In the title of this post I just called it Linguini with tomatoes and artichokes, because they were the main components, but there was also some sauteed onions and garlic, and of course the marinara base.  Talk about YUM!  Who needs to go out for Italian food when the Italian Husband can make it better than any restaurant ever could!

My contribution to this meal was salad (not pictured.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Travel Dinner

After another long drive to my next work assignment, I was craving more hot soup and some fresh produce.  After googling “Panera” and “health food stores” in this tiny upstate New York town and not finding one match, I decided to just check out the grocery store.  This was actually a really nice grocery store for a small town and they had a huge natural health food section.  My hotel room had a microwave in it so I devised my own soup dinner using two different McDougal’s soups.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these soups.  They are all organic and made from ingredients I actually recognize.   They’re also perfect for airport travel because you can take them on the plane and just ask the flight attendant to fill it up with hot water. 

Anyway, back at the hotel, I mixed these two soups together into one big delicious bowl o’ soup.  It could have used maybe a drop of soy sauce and sriracha, but in a pinch it worked out fine. 

I also purchased a pint of organic grape tomatoes, an Empire Apple, and a single serving packet of peanut butter.  My dad had sent me with a packet of popcorn, so I was pretty much set for the evening!  Not bad for this travel dinner. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Delicious Stuffed Red Peppers

I was lucky enough to be able to visit my parents this past week while I was traveling for work.  On Monday, I got in after a long day of work and driving and was happy to see a huge pot of homemade broccoli potato soup on the stove.  Yum!  Soup was exactly what I wanted!  I had just been through an early winter storm and was so happy to just be home with Mom and Dad and Mom’s soup.

The next day, I offered to make dinner.  Mom couldn’t have been more excited to take me up on that offer.  I surveyed what was available in her fridge and pantry and decided to make stuffed peppers.  Mom also requested “triangle tofu,”  referring to a recipe I made several months ago that called for tofu cut into triangles and then dry-fried with a chili-lime sauce.

I found an amazing recipe from the Vegetarian Times website for stuffed peppers and followed it pretty closely.  The only thing I did differently was use garbanzo beans instead of black beans and vegan cheese instead of real cheese!  It was so good!  Seriously, these are the best stuffed peppers I’ve ever had, I can’t believe it!  While they were baking I prepared the chili lime sauce and started to dry-fry the tofu.  Click here for my original post on this tofu recipe. 

Go to this website for the stuffed pepper recipe from Vegetarian Times.  Some people have commented on that website that they’ve used the leftover stuffing for other things like casseroles or quesadillas and it all sounds like great ideas!  This is a really good recipe and I recommend you to try it ASAP!   Mom and Dad will heartily agree.  Also, I think they were just excited to have their daughter home and willing to cook for them!  I don’t mind; I love cooking for my friends and family!