Saturday, February 28, 2009

a day of food

I think all I've done today is cook, eat, wash dishes, and procure more food. (I had to walk over to the co-op to pick up a few things . . . most importantly, more dish soap!) Here's what I've been up to:

I started the morning by making some spinach and tomato dal:
We'll have this for lunch tomorrow, over brown rice.

Then I made brunch:
Hashbrowns, grapefruit, and ends-of-veggies tofu scramble. I'm really getting the hang of this "using stuff up" business. :)

I also made some soup:
A simple chickpea and orzo soup, (again with the leftover veggies!) with a little lemon and rosemary for interestingness. I'll send half of this home with Dan tomorrow -- leftovers are awesome!

And then I baked a couple of things. First, muffins:
I made blueberry-lime muffins, and sprinkled them with unsweetened coconut before baking. Heavenly! Oliver thought so, too . . . he ate TWO of the tops off these muffins when I was at the grocery store! Damn cat.

Second, cookies:
Whole-wheat pastry flour, dark-brown sugar, and flax eggs made for a darker chocolate chip cookie than I'd like, but these are still delicious! Dan's been begging for chocolate chip cookies . . . an easy request to oblige.

And, for the finale, tonight's dinner:
Sushi and edamame! I had some black sesame seeds sitting around, and decided to mix them in with the rice. Made for fun, almost polka-dotted sushi goodness. Yum.

Off to relax, now . . . Dan's done the last of the dishes AND scrubbed the stovetop, so all I have to do for the rest of the night is watch movies and read! Woo!

oh, for the love of chocolate . . .


The February 2009 Daring Baker's challenge is hosted by Wendy of a charmed life, and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.

They chose a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

I label myself an "alternative" Daring Baker, since I choose to bake vegan most of the time, but I just couldn't figure out how to replace the eggs in a recipe so dependent on them! This month, I caved, and made only a dairy-free chocolate valentino:


Since the original recipe called for a POUND of high-quality bittersweet chocolate, and my budget gets tighter and tighter by the minute these days, I chose to make a quarter-recipe, using my silicone muffin pan to make four "mini-cakes." These four morsels of rich, chocolately goodness were quickly devoured by Dan and myself -- Dan was a big fan, and was so puzzled that the cakes were "cakey," without containing any actual flour. Maybe I'll enlist his help next time, so he can see the true magic that stiffly-whipped egg whites can produce?

Admittedly, I skipped the ice cream portion of the challenge this month. It's February in Minnesota, people -- I'm already freezing, without ingesting any actual frozen substances! (Let's hope I still get credit for completing the challenge!)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

oblong pizza

Dan and I enjoyed a celebratory dinner of homemade pizza and salad this evening, since he is officially certified to teach English as a foreign language! Woo Dan! Since I don't have a pizza peel and use a large cutting board to scoot pizza in and out of the oven, I have to make a sort of ovalish pizza -- the largest pizza I can make that will still fit on my cutting board! Oddly-shaped or not, this was quite delicious.

I was rather proud of myself with this one, too -- this was a pizza largely composed of leftovers! I always have some sort of bread dough going in the fridge these days, (this time, a multigrain made with a blend of gold 'n' white, whole-wheat bread, rye, oat, and barley flours -- using up odds and ends,) and I topped the pizza with a little of this and a little of that . . . leftover jarred marinara, leftover mozzarella and artichokes from the dip I made last weekend, leftover red onion from falafel toppings, leftover basil from tomato soup-making, olives and sun-dried tomatoes which always seem to be in my fridge, a healthy shower of parmesan, and the last few remaining eggplant pickles from New Year's Eve! I also used a few mushrooms, which were actually "new." A winning combination both in taste and lack of waste!

The best part? Leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

31-day yoga challenge

Tina over at Carrots 'N' Cake has challenged herself to do at least 20 minutes of structured yoga per day for the entire month of March, and I am going to join her! (And several other folks, too!) Any other takers? Head over to Tina's blog and leave her a comment.

I need to get my butt moving, stretch out my back better, and tone up my flabby self before tank tops and shorts season, folks. :) Let's do it! (What a challenge this will be!)

I propose to reward myself with TWO new yoga DVDs AND a new pair of yoga pants if I complete the challenge. I also promise to post my progress every day!

Wish me luck! The challenge starts Sunday!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

78 cents richer!

I went to the grocery store with $19 cash and a very short list this evening, and walked out with the following:


(I'm especially proud of the 78 cents leftover -- woooo laundry quarters! I would have walked out with 88 cents if the cashier had remembered to give me ten cents off for bringing my own bag! Rats.)

local, organic, in-pod edamame

organic nori
organic diced tomatoes

organic cucumber
organic bananas
organic avocado
local, organic white button mushrooms
local, organic red potato
local hydroponic romaine


You know the budget's tight when bananas become an "impulse buy." :)

What kinds of corners have you had to cut lately?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

banishing the Sunday night blues

It's awfully tough to have the Sunday night blues when you're making cupcakes:
Yes, I realize I've been on a "buttercream 'n' sprinkles" kick lately. In my defense, one of my coworkers does have a birthday this week. :)

weekend meals & the staples!

First, here's a look at our meals from Saturday and Sunday:

Saturday Brunch:
Waffles and homemade vegetarian sausages! I topped my waffles with sliced banana and maple syrup . . . mmmmm. I think I may be experiencing technical difficulties with my waffle iron, however -- it's not browning the waffles AT ALL. Hm. Maybe it's just time for a new waffle iron?

Prepping Saturday Dinner:
I made burger buns . . . knobby burger buns! This lead to Dan and I having a very silly conversation about "my buns." "I wanted flat buns, but I made knobby buns." "Flat buns are better than knobby buns." "I didn't squash my buns enough." "Maybe next time I'll slash my buns so they stay flat." Etc. You get the idea. :)

(The "buns" conversation, coupled with singing classic alternative and indie rock songs in the style of Henrietta Pussycat, lead to a very goofy evening.)

While I had the oven on, I made a batch of blueberry-streusel muffins:
So good. If I wasn't already planning on baking in a little while, I'd totally be mowing one of these right now!

Saturday Dinner:
I made Melody's All-American Burgers. Not usually a veggie burger lover myself, I have to admit . . . these are A-MAZ-ING!!!!! Seriously, if you like veggie burgers even a little bit, you HAVE to make these. Like all homemade burgers, they tend to be softer than the commercially-made ones, but that's okay . . . SO GOOD. (My only complaint was that her directions to use a 1/2 cup of mix made HUGE burgers . . . I'll probably use 1/3 cup going forward.) Dan almost ate two, until I distracted him with a blueberry muffin. :) (I wanted leftovers!)

Sunday Lunch:
Seitan and Dumplings again . . . it's that good.

Sunday Dinner:
Falafel and a Minneola! I love bulk falafel mix . . . 1/3 cup mix, 1/4 cup water, stir, let sit for 15 minutes, panfry, voila! Dinner in what feels like moments. (And a single serving for solo diners!)

AND NOW . . . The Staples.

I had multiple requests for my list of staples that I keep in my house, so I thought I'd just post them here, instead of sending out a mass email. Please note that I generally buy organic, fair-trade, and/or local as much as I can. Some items are specifically labelled organic, but much of what is on this list actually is!

Here's a list of stuff I generally have on hand at all times:

FLOURS: whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pastry, "gold and white," coarse cornmeal/polenta, hi-lysene corn flour, rye, chickpea

SWEETENERS: organic natural granulated sugar, organic brown sugar, organic powdered sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, golden syrup, organic corn syrup

MISCELLANEOUS BAKING: vital wheat gluten, kosher salt, egg replacer, cocoa powder, cornstarch, nonfat dry milk, baking powder, baking soda, extracts (vanilla, almond, peppermint, lemon,) muffin liners, arrowroot, cream of tartar

GRAINS: rolled oats, Bob's Red Mill 10-Grain hot cereal, panko breadcrumbs, long-grain brown rice, short-grain brown rice, sushi rice, wild rice, Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, whole-wheat couscous, whole-wheat pastas, quinoa, spelt, pearl barley

MISCELLANEOUS DRY BULK: TVP, miscellaneous dry beans, red lentils, green lentils, brown lentils

OILS: extra-virgin olive, canola, safflower, toasted sesame, peanut

VINEGARS: balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider, white, rice

CONDIMENTS: BBQ sauce, Vegenaise, salsa, sriracha, ketchup, tamari, Crystal hot sauce, jam, apple butter, dijon mustard, wasabi, Bragg's liquid aminos

FREEZER: ground flax seeds, fresh breadcrumbs, active dry yeast, cooked beans in 2-cup portions, chipotle chiles in adobo

MISCELLANEOUS FRIDGE: miso, red curry paste, chili paste, capers, olives, tomato paste, tamarind paste, sundried tomatoes, vegetarian worcestershire, homemade vegetable broth powder, ghee, pasta sauce, parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast flakes, seeds and nuts (white and black sesame, almonds (whole and sliced,) walnuts,) chocolate chips, unsweetened flake coconut

PRODUCE: garlic, onions

DRIED HERBS: parsley, mint, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, tarragon

WHOLE SEEDS: caraway, poppy, celery, anise, cardamom, brown mustard, cumin, fennel

GROUND SPICES: file powder, coriander, cumin, cardamom, mace, pumpkin pie blend, garlic, onion, tumeric, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, sweet paprika, cloves, curry powder, dry mustard, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, sumac

WHOLE SPICES: black pepper, chili flakes, whole Indian chilis, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, star anise


I'm curious to see what you guys think of my list -- am I crazy for keeping so much stuff around? Am I missing essentials, in your opinion? Let the great staple debate begin.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

meal planning 101

I received the following comment from Shawn on yesterday's post, and thought I'd follow up:

I totally need you to teach me how to shop and plan meals. Your cooking is stunning, and you apparently don't have to go shopping every day in order to have the cooking supplies.

It's a skill.

I'm jealous.

I guess meal planning is a skill! Here are some of my general rules of thumb:

~ I shop at my neighborhood co-op, where I am a member. The store is smaller than a regular supermarket, carries just about everything I need, and I know it like the back of my hand, so grocery shopping goes very quickly. I prefer to shop on weeknights when the store is less crowded. This means I have to head to the grocery store straight from work, which takes a little pre-planning, and isn't always what I want to do every single week, but that's how I do it. If you follow my blog regularly, you'll know I usually shop on Thursdays, so I have everything I need on hand for weekend meals.

~ I start planning meals up to a week in advance. I usually flip through cookbooks and my recipe collections on Monday night. By Tuesday night, I've decided what meals (and what side dishes) I want to make for the weekend. Tuesday night, I write the grocery list -- I incorporate the running list of staples that need to be replenished, (which I have going on listpaper on my fridge,) plus produce and anything out of the ordinary that I'd need for meals. This gives me a little time to make any last-minute changes before shopping day!

~ This may sound strange, but "write grocery list" is an item on my to-do list for Tuesdays, so I don't forget to do it! I also do silly things like write "take seitan out of freezer" if I need to remember to thaw something a day ahead of time.

~ I tend to do a lot of prep for meals in advance -- probably not more than a day, but it still helps a lot. For example, on Thursday night, I started bread dough for pita and burger buns, chopped and washed lettuce for salads throughout the week, and made the dip for Friday night's dinner, (save for heating it through before eating.) This afternoon, I made a batch of blueberry muffins for breakfasts/snacks for Dan and I during the week, started the veggie burger mix to chill, and I also made the burger buns for tonight's dinner. I may chop the veggies needed for tomorrow's lunch in a little bit.

~ My favorite thing about pre-prepping meals is that, by the time you get to cooking/eating, there aren't nearly as many dishes to wash when you're done. Weird, but for some reason, the last thing I want to do after finishing a great meal is wash a mountain of dishes!

~ I really do the bulk of my cooking on the weekends, and live off leftovers throughout the week. This might be more difficult when cooking for a family, but things like bread, soups, muffins, cookies, etc. all keep well! Casseroles can also be assembled ahead of time and either set to hang in the fridge for 24 hours, or in the freezer if you're going to wait longer. When I make lasagna, for example, I'll often buy enough ingredients for two pans, and stick one in the freezer for several weeks later.

~ I have a very small kitchen, and am taller than my refrigerator, but I still manage to keep lots and lots of staples on hand. (All of my bulk flours/baking supplies actually live in my front hall closet with my pots and pans.) I also always keep black beans and chickpeas cooked and portioned in 2-cup containers in my freezer. Want a list of staples? I'll email one to ya!

Anybody else have any other helpful ideas?

snacky dinner!

I made a half-recipe of Spinach and Artichoke Dip . . .
. . . and a big tray of dippers . . .
. . . for dinner last night! Dan was skeptical at first, (worried he wouldn't get enough to eat,) but it appears as though he may have been satiated:
(I promise I didn't eat half that pan of dip! Dan hadn't eaten since 10 AM, though, so he was a hungry monster!)

I've made this dip many times in the past . . . it is FANTASTIC, and hands-down the best spinach-artichoke dip I've ever had. (I double the amount of spinach called for in the linked recipe.) Although probably not the healthiest option, this was a fun Friday night dinner treat!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

keepin' track

It's never fun when you go to the grocery store and have to add up as you go along . . . but I managed to come out of the store UNDER budget tonight! (I have roughly $2.50 left in my budget for the month, but Dan will help out picking up a few things for next week; lucky me!) Here's the under-budget loot:


local, organic, coarse cornmeal/polenta
locally-roasted, organic, fair-trade coffee

local, organic, Neufchatel
local part-skim mozzarella

local, organic blueberries
local, organic spinach

local, organic garlic powder
local, orgnanic onion powder

canola oil
artichoke heart quarters
organic dijon mustard
organic extra-virgin olive oil
2 rolls Seventh Generation TP

organic celery
organic bananas
organic lemon
organic Minneolas
organic parsley
local, organic, white button mushrooms
organic sugar snap peas
local hydroponic lettuce
organic slicing tomatoes
organic d'anjou pears
organic carrots
organic cherry tomatoes

organic superfirm tofu
Earth Balance buttery sticks
local light sour cream

I did have to make a few budget-friendly choices, (such as conventional vs. organic canola oil, waiting to stock up on a couple of staples, etc.,) but I was able to pick up everything on my list, save for one non-necessary personal care item. Woot!

And as an added bonus, a whopping 35% of my purchase was local this week! Not bad for February in MN, eh? (I aim for 25% local on average.)


I have been feeling like I've had a less-than-healthy week in terms of my food consumption, (and treat consumption!), so I decided to make a change for the better this evening:
Lettuce, cucumber, artichoke hearts, the last leftover falafel patty, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. YUMMERS. I'm feeling healthier already!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I love apricots.

Dan makes fun of me for how I say the word "apricot" -- "Ay-pricot," as opposed to "ah-pricot." Well, whatever -- they're tasty no matter how you pronounce it!

Although I do love me some apple and peanut butter oatmeal, my hands-down favorite hot cereal combination is dried apricots and sliced almonds:
Bob's Red Mill 10-Grain Hot Cereal, made with almond milk, the aforementioned goodies, a squirt of agave, and a teensie pinch of salt.

What's your favorite hot cereal combination?

Monday, February 16, 2009

soup 'n' sandwich

Have I convinced you to buy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day yet? I hope so!

Needed bread to make grilled cheese . . .
and Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic. Thank you, Vegetarian Times! This is the easiest, tastiest tomato soup I've ever made. I added the optional pinch of red pepper flakes, (VERY nice, wouldn't consider making the soup without it,) and also added the leftover heavy cream from fondue earlier in the weekend. Dan had at least two bowls, maybe three -- I lost count!

What is your favorite soup and sandwich combo?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

classics and fantastic treats!

While I may have been feeling a little bit uninspired when planning meals for the weekend, "classics" are still tasty and healthy!

Dinner Friday night:
A regular repeat at my house, Thai coconut soup with tofu and mushrooms, garnished with plenty of green onions and cilantro. (Jasmine rice hiding underneath.) The soup was not nearly spicy enough this time around . . . I wonder if my curry paste is getting old? Hm.

Saturday brunch:
Another classic, this weekend with two-potato hashbrowns instead of our regular Yukon golds. I asked Dan if he was getting sick of this brunch; he replied, "nope." It's healthy, easy, and keeps both of us happy -- what's not to like?

Valentine's Day Dinner:
Falafel in homemade pita (Artisan Bread, as usual,) with a giant, delicious salad on the side. Dan helped a ton with this meal, which was very nice -- he made the tahini sauce, cooked the falafel, and made half the pita. I was glad for his help, even though we trip over each other in my tiny kitchen. All I did was make the salad and chop the veggies to go in our falafel! An easy night for me. :)

AND NOW . . . on to the treats:

Valentine's Day Dessert:
Chocolate Fondue!! I used this recipe, courtesy of Eating Well, which was a cinch to prepare (measure ingredients, microwave, stir, voila!) and incredibly delicious. The recipe serves two, although it still made too much chocolate for the two of us after our filling falafel. A keeper recipe for sure, though -- look at all of that delicious fruit! And dark chocolate IS a good source of antioxidants, after all! A heart-healthy treat for a heart-holiday! ;-)

Last, a heart-themed baking project:
I made the sugar cookies from Joy of Vegan Baking, and made a pink vegan buttercream to top them off -- 1/4 cup Earth Balance, 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon almond extract, red food coloring, and 3 tablespoons almond milk. This made enough frosting to generously cover the 24 cookies the recipe yielded, plus enough leftover for copious bowl-licking. I used to loathe almond extract as a child . . . I'm so glad my tastebuds have grown up!


We're off to brunch with Dan's family this afternoon, so there won't be much more cooking left this weekend. Hope you all had an enjoyable, treat-filled holiday weekend!

What special Valentine's Day meal or treat did you make?

Saturday, February 14, 2009


The nice folks at POM Wonderful contacted me last week and offered to send me free samples of their pomegranate juice. Woo! Who doesn't love free samples? I signed right up!

I've been making "mocktails" (equal parts POM and sparkling water) with my samples:
Delicious, not-too-sweet, and a super-source of antioxidants! (I guess 100% pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than any other beverage out there!?!) POM also lowers bad cholesterol and does other wonderful things for the heart. A timely treat, given the holiday, eh?? :)

I must be honest . . . I'm not really a juice drinker. POM is a delicious indulgenece, (sweet-tart, with great pomegranate flavor,) and I love it mixed with sparkling water, (most juice at full-strength is WAY too sweet/intense for me,) and if I was a juice drinker, I'd be all over this! I can see picking up a bottle for special occasions, but I don't think POM will become part of my daily routine.

BUT . . . if you are a juice-drinker, (or want to lower your cholesterol!) give POM a try!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the loot

I noticed something funny while I was grocery shopping tonight -- the produce department's specials for this week included strawberries, blood oranges, red cabbage, red kale, red potatoes, and red chard! A holiday-themed week, for sure!

Anyhow, here's the loot:


organic "Gold & White" flour
local, organic, fair-trade coffee
"Fantastic Foods" falafel mix

local sharp cheddar

kava kava root

kalamata olives
artichoke hearts
LaCroix sparkling water
Panda black licorice bar
organic, fire-roasted, crushed tomatoes
organic, lite coconut milk

local hydroponic lettuce
organic cucumber
organic bananas
organic kumquats
organic grapefruit
organic lemon
organic limes
organic tangelos
organic dino kale
organic cilantro
local, organic mushrooms
organic red onion
organic shallot
organic green onions
organic grape tomatoes
organic strawberries

organic firm tofu
local, organic heavy whipping cream


After tonight, I have less than $100 in my grocery budget for the rest of the month! Ouch! How did I let that happen? I guess I'll have to get creative over the next two weeks . . . once I use up all of the delicious food I have on hand, that is!

mid-week date night!

I realize I haven't been blogging much lately -- grocery recap on Thursdays, cooking recap on Sundays, and that's been about it. Yikes! Am I that boring?

Not really . . . I've just been stressed out (work, mostly,) and have been enjoying a lot of herbal tea and reading a lot to decompress. Nothing terribly exciting on the food front to report!

BUT . . . Dan and I did manage a mid-week date night last night! It was a lot of fun, and just the break I needed from my usual routine of work, eating leftovers for dinner, and on Wednesdays, rushing off to choir practice. I hopped on the bus after work and met Dan at Galactic Pizza, which in my opinion, has some of the BEST pizza in the Twin Cities. We had Caesar salad, the "Hipster," and then split a brownie, too. After we ate, hung out, and talked for a little while, Dan dropped me off at choir practice on his way to band practice. A nice, simple, mid-week respite from boring routine!!

P.S. A funny thing from dinner -- Dan ordered a "really large water" when we first sat down. Our waiter brought Dan a pitcher with a straw. It was really silly. :)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

more about bread

I received the following comment from my buddy Stephen, who's been "stalking" me on the 'net long before we were coworkers . . .

Holy Smokes! What a beautiful crust on your bread! Wild Starter? SAF? You must tell more... Gas or electric oven etc. Right on Catherine!

So, per Stephen's request, more on my bread . . .

I have been loyal to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day since I picked up a copy between Christmas and New Year's. I slightly modified their recipe for "Light Whole Wheat" bread, using half whole-wheat flour and half "gold and white" flour. (Well, almost half and half. Here come a lot of halves . . . get ready for it. I made a half-recipe of dough, which makes two loaves. The ingredients in the half-dough included 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread flour, 1 1/2 cups "gold and white" flour, (I'll explain in a minute,) 3/4 tablespoon active dry yeast (eyeballed,) 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 1/2 cups warm water.)

I started the dough this morning, allowing it to sit at room temperature for two hours, per recipe instructions. I then parked the dough in the fridge for the rest of the afternoon, until I had time to bake a loaf. The other half of the dough is still in my fridge.

I used the active dry yeast available in bulk at my co-op.

"Gold and white" flour is flour milled from whole wheat that has had the bran removed, but the germ is still in tact. It looks like AP flour with occasional flecks of brown in it. I buy this all the time, and use it as my general "all-purpose" flour.

I have a crappy, tiny, apartment gas oven that bakes hotter in the back than in the front. I use a rectangular baking stone for my bread. I don't even have a peel . . . I use my largest Epicurean cutting board.

The bread was baked with a pan of steam.

'Nuff info for ya, Stephen??? :)

P.S. I don't know what "SAF" means, dude.

I like good food!

Dinner Friday Night:
Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower, from Real Simple. (Green cauliflower, you ask? Nah . . . broccoli. I guess Dan doesn't like cauliflower??) The dish was relatively easy to prepare (much simpler than a traditional bechamel-based baked mac and cheese,) delicious, nutritious with broccoli and whole-wheat pasta, and even reheated well! If you decide to make this, beware . . . it's a LOT of food. We had this Friday night, for lunch again on Saturday, and there were still two helpings left! (One I sent home with Dan, one for a work lunch for me this week.) P.S. More beet 'n' goat cheese topped salad on the side. MMMMMMMMMMMM.

Saturday breakfast:
Not brunch, mind you, breakfast! We had things to do, so we had an earlyish start Saturday morning. I varied our brunch this week a little bit by roasting Yukon Golds and sweet potatoes, (I had a sweet potato that needed to be cooked STAT!), instead of our usual hashbrowns.

Dinner Saturday night:
I finally cracked Vegan Planet, (I swear I've owned this cookbook for three years and have never cooked from it,) and made the "Very Veggie Chili," adding a package of Boca "Meatless Crumbles." (I rarely buy "fake meat" products, but I must admit, a package of soy crumbles really makes a chili, in my opinion.) We topped the chili with shredded sharp cheddar, sliced avocado, and light sour cream. Corn muffin, (from Veganomicon,) coleslaw, and homemade pickle on the side!

Lunch Sunday:
"Tempeh and Red Bean Jambalaya with Chipotle Chiles," again from Vegan Planet, served over brown rice, with a side of coleslaw. This was good, but not stellar. I wonder if this is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits? It was spicy, smoky, and tomato-ey, but that was about it. I was hoping for more complexity . . . alas!

Last, a couple of weekend baking projects:

Lemon Shortbread:
I based these off a recipe I found in an old issue of Cooking Light, but I didn't really follow the recipe completely. Regardless, the shortbread are lemony, crunchy, slightly sweet, buttery (even though I used Earth Balance,) and vegan, to boot! Yum.

More Artisan Bread:
I may never buy bread again. (Just lots of flour.)

I can't tell you how many sinks full of dishes I've washed this weekend, but it was totally worth it! I like good food!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

new month, new grocery budget!

I'm so excited that it's a new month and I get to start working off a new grocery budget! I had many, many staples to restock on, as well as a few bulkier items to pick up, so I am ever so grateful Courtney was able to meet me at the store and drive me (and all my sh*t) home! THANK YOU, COURTNEY!!!!

Anyhow, here's the loot:


organic red lentils
organic chickpeas
local, organic kidney beans
organic long-grain brown rice
local, organic coffee
organic, fair-trade chocolate chips
organic sugar

local sharp cheddar

DELI: (I didn't have any leftovers for dinner tonight -- needed something quick, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow!)
tempeh tarragon salad
wild and crazy rice salad
Greek orzo salad

Boca ground crumbles

local, organic chili powder
local file powder

kosher salt
organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
organic diced tomatoes
Republic of Tea "Botswana Blossom"
Republic of Tea "Get Relaxed"
organic, whole-wheat spaghettini
organic, whole-wheat elbows
organic, whole-wheat rigatoni
Seventh Generation TP
Seventh Generation kleenex
Seventh Generation paper towel

three "Preserve" toothbrushes

organic broccoli
organic bananas
organic avocado
organic grapefruit
organic Minneolas
organic green cabbage
organic eggplant
organic garlic
organic dino kale
organic Italian parsley
organic red onion
organic yellow onions
organic green bell pepper
organic red bell pepper
local, organic yellow potatoes
local hydroponic romaine
two dried chipotle peppers
organic sweet potatoes
organic beet

organic plain soy yogurt
Earth Balance buttery sticks
organic 3-grain tempeh
local, organic, low-fat sour cream
local, organic jumbo eggs


As always, I have big plans for the lot -- and a few new recipes to try out! Love the weekends for so many reasons . . . especially because I have so much time to COOK!

"Can you share?"

I have a funny story from work:

The kids I teach are obsessed with fruit.

Well, not just any fruit . . . MY fruit. Every single time I pull a piece of fruit out of my lunchbag, they all start saying, "can you share? CAN YOU SHARE?"

Sometimes I do! Then I only get a couple of slices of my apple, pear, orange, whatever, but my little friends gobble the rest up and beg for more.

I hate disappointing them when I want to eat my fruit "all by my big self," but really, I can't keep up with all ten of them plus myself! (I'd be in financial ruin, just buying fruit!)

Tuesday was a big day -- I took a whole mango to work. I got a few slices, yes, but I think a couple of them could have eaten the entire thing themselves. :) I keep sharing because I like that they like fruit.

P.S. They are also obsessed with mixed nuts. But only mixed nuts that I bring in. Kids are weird!

Monday, February 02, 2009

made-up soup, muffins

I had been planning on a mock chicken (i.e., seitan), noodle soup for one of our meals this past weekend, and never got around to it. I thought I'd make the soup tonight, but by the time I got home from work, seitan just wasn't sounding good to me for some reason! Lentil soup sounded MUCH better . . . so I stuck the seitan back in the freezer, dug out some lentils, and began experimenting. Results:



Yield: approximately 3 1/2 quarts

1 cup pearl barley
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 very large carrot, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon each dried basil, thyme, marjoram, and oregano
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon powdered dried garlic (I would have used real garlic, but I was out! The horror!)
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup dark green French lentils
1/4 cup tomato paste
8 cups vegetable broth

1. Bring at least 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the barley, and boil for about fifteen minutes, or until the barley is tender but still chewy. Drain and reserve the barley.
2. Heat the oil at medium heat in a 4-quart or larger soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook about 5 minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften.
3. Add the remaining ingredients except for the barley, and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer 35 minutes.
4. Stir in the barley and simmer 10 more minutes. Serve with a slice of crusty bread.

This soup is good. Very good, to be precise! I forget how much I like barley. :)


I also made muffins tonight! I majorly modified this recipe of Diann's, to make Multigrain Banana Walnut Muffins!


Substitutions . . .
Bob's Red Mill 10-Grain Hot cereal (uncooked) instead of the millet
oat flour instead of the whole-wheat pastry flour
banana instead of the pumpkin
1/3 cup maple syrup instead of the 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1/4 cup sucanat
walnuts instead of the chocolate chips

Verdict? This version of these muffins has AMAZING flavor . . . but the texture is a little gooey/gummy. My guess is the oat flour, since my waffles acted the same way over the weekend, and I used oat flour in them, too. Does anyone out there have much more experience than I using oat flour? Is this expected?

Don't worry . . . I'll still eat them all, gooey or not! :)

weekend eats, crap news.

Meals this past weekend were pretty simple -- leftovers, cupboard staples, beans and rice, etc. While tasty and healthy, they weren't very "bloggable!" I did get a few photos, though:

Breakfast Saturday morning:
I decided to make the overnight waffles from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe. I didn't have any eggs on hand, so decided to use a flax egg. I also made several substitutions in the wholegrain flour department . . . I think my many substitutions ruined the waffles a little bit. They were still very tasty, but didn't brown at all (even after TEN MINUTES in the waffle iron!) and didn't rise very much. Grr. Now I know for next time. Homemade veggie breakfast sausage links on the side. (I can't believe I had everything on hand to make these -- AND, they used up the leftover tofu I had sitting around!)

Dinner Saturday night:
Spaghetti with jarred marinara and parmesan, and a salad topped with beets, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. I think this is one of my top three favorite salads of all time! The other two would be greens with apples, fennel, walnuts, and bleu cheese, and insalata caprese, of course. :) (I think I like salads with cheese!) What are your favorite salad combinations?


And . . . the crap news. I did my income taxes yesterday, and I have to PAY IN. (I didn't even make that much money at my second job!! Grr.) So much for my looking forward to a tax return! BOOOOO HISSSSSSSS.