Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Vegan MoFo was a lot of fun, wasn't it? I think I managed to post every single day except for one, very early in the month -- can you believe it? Maybe this exercise will encourage me to keep posting more often?!!?!! Who knows?

Know what else I learned from Vegan MoFo? Dan and I eat mostly vegan food, naturally. I've never really even thought about it, but honestly, we don't eat much dairy or eggs. I do bake with butter and eggs on occasion, and we do love our pizza, breakfast burritos, and occasional poached eggs, but we also love tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, and all manner of fruits and veggies! It's been fun returning to some of my vegan baking roots this past month, and I may continue to do so in the future; however, I gotta confess . . . I'm gonna make pizza this weekend! Mmmmmmmm! :)

To wrap up Vegan MoFo, I made what we fondly call "Asian Noodley Soup" --

I make several variations on this theme, this one being one of my favorites. Bean thread noodles were smothered in a lemongrass-ginger broth, tofu, bok choy, red bell pepper, and tons of shiitake mushrooms! Yum! Dan said tonight that this type of meal is one of his favorite things that I make -- wow! High praise!

Hope you enjoyed Vegan MoFo, too!

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Chicken" and Stars

Flashback to 1997/1998 . . . my dorm buddies at the University of Minnesota and I had a thing for Campbell's "Chicken and Stars" soup . . . so much so, that I think one friend had at least ten cans stashed in her dorm room at one point! (No such thing as a "Chicken and Stars" emergency for us!) I remember slurping that soup fondly, late at night, maybe while studying, maybe while just staying up WAY too late, given I usually had a 9 AM class! :) Ah, college. Remember when?

Fast-forward to 2010 . . . I no longer eat chicken at all, and truthfully, I can't remember the last time I've had canned soup. (We do buy the boxed soups occasionally in a pinch, but canned soup is a whole 'nother species, if you ask me! Why? Don't know.) BUT, during Liz's and my "Blogger Ethnic Market Tour" a few weeks ago, I picked up a package of star-shaped pasta at El Burrito Mercado, and I've had Chicken and Stars on the brain ever since!

Tonight was the night! I didn't really use a recipe for this one, just threw a few things in the pot, and made some soup!

1. Sweat 1 cup finely chopped onion, 1 cup finely diced celery, 1 cup finely diced carrot, a few cloves garlic, minced, about 1 tsp salt, and pepper to taste, in about a tablespoon of olive oil.

2. Add 2 quarts of good-quality vegetable broth; bring to a boil.

(I used a combination of some homemade broth, a quart of low-sodium organic broth, and water, simmered with a billion cloves of garlic, some extra thyme, and a little paprika.)

3. When the soup comes to a boil, add 1 package (7 ounces) small soup pasta,

4. and 1 cup finely diced seitan.

5. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes, covered, stirring at least every 5 minutes, (you don't want your starts to stick to the bottom of the pot!), or until the pasta is done. Finish with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, and a few tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley!

While my "Chicken" and Stars is much different than how I remember it, that's probably a good thing! :) Next time, I'll probably use more garlic and less lemon juice, (I actually used the juice from a whole lemon -- I adjusted the directions in this post accordingly!), but this first stab at recreating my "classic" hit the spot tonight!

What weird food were you into as a teenager/young adult? In addition to Chicken and Stars, I confess to eating so much "Easy Mac" that, to this day, I can't look at a box of it without gagging, and also totally OD-ed on Nutrigrain bars. Never really got into ramen, though! Weird.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

labor of love

First . . . today's grocery haul:

local whole-wheat baguette
local, organic hemp bagels

locally-roasted, organic, fair-trade coffee


local poultry seasoning
kava kava root

bean thread noodles
tomato paste

organic broccoli
organic celery
organic romaine
organic cucumber
organic avocado
organic limes
organic ginger root
organic garlic
local, organic bok choy
organic dino kale
organic cilantro
organic parsley
local, organic cremini mushrooms
organic shiitake mushrooms
organic red onions
organic yellow onions
local jalapeno
organic red bell pepper
local, organic carrots
local, organic parsnips
local, organic turnips
organic pink lady apples

organic tempeh


So, what are my plans for all of this food? Well, for starters, our dinner tonight really was a labor of love -- Dan requested French onion soup, and the recipe I found called for homemade vegetable broth, so I worked on this meal all afternoon. Make the broth, caramelize the onions, finish the soup, toast the bread, shred the cheese . . . voila!

Oh. My. Goodness! This was some damn tasty soup. My ONLY complaint was that my cheese topping toasted before it fully melted . . . next time, I'll follow Anna Thomas's directions to melt the cheese first, then stick it under the broiler. I used her recipe for "Vegetarian Onion Soup Gratin," from Love Soup. I didn't follow her methods exactly, but I followed the ingredients pretty much exactly. Yum yum delicious!

On the side, we had a gorgeous salad . . .

Spinach, cucumber, tomato, and avocado, topped with a little s&p, olive oil, and fig balsamic! Mmmm.

And for dessert, homemade chocolate chip cookies!

I didn't put anything "funky" (i.e., oats, nuts, dried fruit, etc.) in these guys this time, which means Dan is a VERY happy camper. Plain CCCs are his favorite!

Happy Sunday! Hope you had a great weekend!

another giant catch-up post!

I set myself up with a bunch of prepared posts last Sunday night, chronicling my vegan Thanksgiving adventures, as you've been reading. It was nice to not have to worry about blogging while getting ready for the holiday weekend, (we went out of town,) but due to my long "absence" from blogging, I have a lot of backlogged photos to write about!

First things first . . . I did THREE cooking projects with my preschoolers last week! We made:
1. roasted pumpkin seeds

2. applesauce (in the Crock Pot!)

3. English-muffin pizzas

Next . . . here's the dish we took to Thanksgiving dinner:

I made Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberries, from Real Simple. This dish was indeed really very simple to prepare, and was well-received by all at my family's Thanksgiving dinner! Dan and I came home with NO leftovers, since our hosts, (my uncle and his wife,) wanted to keep the leftovers! Always the mark of a good dish, right?

Last . . . Dan, my parents, and I did some walking and shopping in downtown Wauwatosa, (where I grew up,) on Friday morning, and I picked up some AWESOME foodstuffs, from two great local establishments.

Our first stop was The Spice House:

This is it? Really?

The "original" location of The Spice House, (not even listed on their website,) this Wauwatosa store looks like a total hole-in-the-wall, but upon entering, you are greeted by that "spice store" aroma, and shelves and shelves packed, floor-to-ceiling, with every whole and ground spice you can think of, plus some unique blends!

I needed whole coriander and peppercorns, and also asked a staff person for her recommendation on a blend that would go well with roasted potatoes and other vegetables. She recommended their "Fox Point Seasoning" --

"Fox Point" is a blend of shallot, chive, garlic, onion, green peppercorns, and a little salt. I can't wait to try this one out! I made sure I planned on roasted potatoes with one of our meals this week -- produce first, right? :)

The second foodie stop we made was at Oro di Olivia, a store specializing in high-quality, imported olive oils and balsamic vinegars!

Upon entering the store, we started testing, tasting, and trying any oils or vinegars that caught our attention!

I remember trying so many different varieties, (coconut white balsamic, dark chocolate balsamic, pomegranate balsamic, espresso balsamic, mushroom and rosemary olive oil, blood orange olive oil, persian lime olive oil, strawberry balsamic, just to name a FEW,) but we settled on the following purchases . . .

We picked up a bottle of fig balsamic vinegar, and a bottle of HONEY GINGER WHITE BALSAMIC VINEGAR. Both of these I swear to you I could drink straight from the bottle, but I'm going to show restraint! I'm excited to try the fig on cooked greens this week, and the honey ginger on a simple green salad. Oh . . . and what's that golden-hued magic in the jar in the front of the picture? That is some harissa-infused olive oil, which our friends Anna and Langdon picked up the next day, and offered to share with us. I was swooningly-impressed by the flavor of this oil, but couldn't see us getting through a whole bottle; I'm stoked to try some drizzled over steamed veggies or a simple veggie-bean soup sometime soon! Thanks for sharing, you guys!


Thanks for reading all of that! I am mostly caught up with all of the food-related happenings in our house, but I have things simmering and cooking away as I type, so stay tuned for more!

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving, and a nice time with friends/family!

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 8: PIE


I grew up in a household that made pies. From scratch. Often. I am a food snob, yes, but I am a pie snob in the WORST WAY. Truthfully, I won't eat pie if it's not homemade! I do occasionally buy a pre-made whole-wheat pie crust from the co-op, but really, I prefer to make my own, and fillings are ALWAYS homemade.

Pie is my favorite dessert, and pumpkin pie is one of my top choices. Sometimes I make pumpkin pie in July just because I can! :) And Tofu Pumpkin Pie is the bestest pumpkin pie EVER!

I don't know why I love tofu pumpkin pie more than traditional pumpkin pie . . . maybe since it is less rich, the pumpkin and spice flavors shine through better? Anyhow, I pretty much only make tofu pumpkin pies these days, to the great delight of my eaters! (Example? Dan HATES pumpkin pie. But he likes and eats tofu pumpkin pie! He can't figure out why, except that it tastes more "cinnamon-y.") I pretty much follow the VegWeb recipe I linked above, except that I just use pumpkin pie spice in place of all of the other spices. Nom nom nom nom nom!

One very important tip I offer: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE resist all urges to cut into the pie while it is still warm. If you disturb the pie before cooling, you will have pumpkin pie soup. Still tasty, but not what you're goin' for, eh?

Appropriately, my "Very Vegan Thanksgiving" ends with pie. Yummy, yummy pie.

Only two days of MoFo left!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 7: Stuffing


I'm not going to get into the stuffing/dressing debate, because I grew up with wheat bread-based "stuffing," as opposed to cornbread-based "dressing." I guess I shouldn't judge "dressing" until I've tried it, but the idea of soggy cornbread . . . I'm just not sold that it's a good idea! Someone prove me wrong, maybe?

Anyhow, I've never cared much for stuffing -- although I did have a psychotic love of chicken-flavored "Stove Top" as a child. Stuffing tends to be one of those side dishes that sways one direction or the other -- mushy and gluey, or dry and tasteless. I also REALLY don't care for sage. So, let's just say, me and stuffing don't have the best track record, 'kay?

Well, courtesy of Real Simple, stuffing and I have made amends -- their recipe for Caramelized Onion and Herb Stuffing was, hands down, my second-favorite thing on my Thanksgiving plate this year! (Nothing can beat out the sweet potatoes!)

Other than the time it took to caramelize the onions, this side dish was a snap to prepare, (the day before!), with only a few ingredients, and NO SAGE! Bless you, Real Simple! (My vegan substitutions were as follows: veggie broth for the chicken broth, extra veggie broth whipped with EnerG for the eggs, and Earth Balance in place of the butter.) After careful thought over the recipe, I don't think I would EVER make this recipe using eggs, even though we do eat eggs on occasion -- I think the egginess would overpower the subtle flavors of the caramelized onions and fresh herbs. Stuffing still needs some kind of "thickener," though, so I would strongly encourage egg replacer in this one!

How do you feel about stuffing -- love it, or skip over it? What ingredients do you like in your stuffing?

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 6: Corn Pudding


Corn Souffle? Scalloped Corn? Corn Casserole? Corn Pudding? I don't care what you call it . . . put some on my plate!

I've had a difficult time finding a recipe that re-creates the corn casseroles of my childhood, but my heavily modified version of "Southwestern Corn Pudding" from VCON comes mighty close, people! Essentially, I removed the southwestern-type ingredients from the original recipe, (red bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, and cayenne,) and increased the corn to five cups. I also top my casserole with panko, because, well, aren't casseroles better with a crunchy topping? I wasn't blissfully happy with this year's casserole, (my home-frozen Farmer's Market corn was so sweet, I shouldn't have used the full 2 tbsp maple syrup called for in the original recipe, and I also over-baked my casserole a little bit,) but, given Dan really liked this one, (and I quote, "even though it's sweet, I love it!") I think we'll call it a success!

I seem to be the only person I know that eats corn casserole at Thanksgiving. Anyone else out there include this in your family's tradition?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 5: Simple Steamed Green Beans


Let's start this one with an apology . . . I'm sorry to all you lovers of "green bean casserole" out there, but that's REALLY not my thing. I can't think of a single green vegetable that I don't prefer lightly steamed or sauteed, dressed simply with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Besides, isn't there enough heavy, complicated food at Thanksgiving dinner already?

I read in a Moosewood cookbook somewhere the suggestion to salt veggies before steaming them, and weirdly, this works SO well! I don't exactly know why, but from now on, I'll add my pinch of salt to the veggies IN the steaming pot, instead of after they come out! I loved the fresh, crispy, GREEN-ness of these veggies -- a beautiful, healthy addition to our dinner! (I washed and prepped the beans the day before, and also toasted the almonds, so this was another dish I barely had to do anything to the day of!)

Do you like green bean casserole? Or do you prefer cooked greens of another sort? Or brussels sprouts? Do tell!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 4: SWEET POTATOES


Sweet potato casserole is, in my opinion, tied with pie for the title of "most important part of Thanksgiving dinner." We had a running joke growing up that every year, Grandma would bemoan how this year's new recipe wasn't as good as last year's, or the year before's, and we all shut up, ate our sweet potatoes, and thought they always tasted exactly the same! Sweet, sugary, buttery, and delicious!

Nowadays, I still want my sweet potato casserole on the sweet side, but not cloyingly so, and there must be pecans involved in some form. Like Grandma, I tried a new recipe this year, but unlike her, was delighted with the results! Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole from Cooking Light was a winner, indeed!

I replaced the butter with Earth Balance, and substituted 1/4 cup of coconut milk whipped with a tablespoon of Ener-G for the eggs, and was totally happy with this casserole! I love the subtle hint of citrus from the orange juice concentrate, and dig the depth the warm spices bring. I will be eating huge bowls of this for breakfast this week, I think! P.S. I made the entire thing the day before our meal, parked it in the fridge, and baked it off right before dinner. I find getting as much of the prep done ahead of time for big meals is a lifesaver, don't you?

Does your family eat sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving? Weigh in -- nuts? Marshmallows? Sweet? Savory?


Travel safe tonight or tomorrow if you are travelling!

Tofutti winners -- update

To those who won my Tofutti contest . . . I didn't forget about you! Your coupons are on their way today. :)

"Sullycreek," please email me your address so I can send you your coupon for a free Tofutti product! If I don't hear from you by Friday, November 26th, I'll have to give the coupon to someone else! Please contact me! Thanks!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 3: Double Cranberry Chutney


As a small child, I prefered the type of cranberry jelly that slides out of a can, shaped just like the can. I liked HUGE slices on my Thanksgiving plate, shocked that I could eat dessert with my meal (for once!)

Nowadays, I prefer my cranberry more on the tart side, homemade from fresh cranberries, and definitely more on the chunky and saucy side. I first made this Double Cranberry Chutney a few years ago, and was totally hooked -- I don't think I'll ever need another cranberry chutney recipe!

The only change I make to the original recipe is substituting cranberry juice cocktail for the port wine, just 'cause I don't cook with alcohol. Keep in mind this recipe makes a VAT of chutney, (like, a quart, at least,) so if you're serving a small number of people, or not looking forward to leftovers, the recipe is quite easy to cut in half. I love this stuff smeared on toast, muffins, scones, whatever, though, so I look forward to a lot of leftovers!

How do you like your cranberries?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 2: The Main Dish


As a vegetarian, Thanksgiving has always been about the side dishes for me -- but when preparing a full-on veg Thanksgiving, I feel compelled to make some sort of "main dish" or "entree" portion of the meal. While I would be happy gorging myself on sides, others might miss something "meaty."

What to make? I have tried stuffed squash and pot-pie type entrees in the past, both of which I've found too filling, taking up way too much precious "side dish" space in my tummy! (Oh yeah . . . and don't forget about "pie space!") I thought about making some sort of seitan roast this year, but even though Dan looooooooves all things mock meat, I've never been a seitan fan. What to do? Chickpea Cutlets to the rescue!

Pictured with the cutlets is a side of garlic-mashed potatoes, (no recipe necessary at my house -- just boil up a bunch of potatoes with many cloves of garlic, and mash with Earth Balance, salt, pepper, and homemade, unsweetened almond milk until creamy,) and my now go-to standby, Mushroom Gravy. While mashed potatoes aren't traditionally on my family's Thanksgiving table, they are a MUST for Dan, and as far as I'm concerned, it's another avenue for gravy, right? Yum!

I would make the Chickpea Cutlets again in a heartbeat -- the base is easy enough to whip up ahead of time, (and I've even pre-stretched the cutlets and stored them in the fridge between sheets of parchment,) and fry up in no time. I easily kept this double-batch warm under a foil tent while I finished mashing the potatoes and tying up other odds and ends. Dan's brother, Ryan, joined us for dinner, and this was one of the things Ryan went back for -- and when really hungry, Dan can take down two to three cutlets in one sitting.

What have been your winning veg Thanksgiving entrees?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving Part 1: The Meal


Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. Why? It's all about the food!

I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, and want to enjoy all of my favorites -- sweet potato casserole, corn souffle, green beans, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie, the works! I prefer the meal to be high-quality, moderate in calories, but very familiar -- no curry in my sweet potatoes, no chiles in my green beans, etc.

Since Dan and I will be travelling over the actual holiday, I decided to fix us a ginormous pre-Thanksgiving dinner tonight; and in honor of Vegan MoFo, I prepared a fully vegan meal! Every day this week, I will feature one of the dishes I made, link to recipes, give my review, and mention any adjustments/changes I made in order to veganize.

Happy Vegan Thanksgiving to all!

compelled to cook


We are having absolutely horrible weather in the Cities today, (there is a sheet of ice over absolutely everything! scary walking and driving,) so, even though I am planning a huge Thanksgiving feast for dinner tonight, I felt compelled to cook something wonderful for lunch. Really, I just needed an excuse to turn the oven on! (We don't seem to have heat today . . . damn radiators.) :(

Anyhow, I had ingredients on hand for scrambled tofu, but I made a complete change in my plans, used much of the same produce, and came out with an Indian feast instead!

I cheated in a big way, and dug into the frozen samosas, frozen naan, and jarred mint chutney I bought at Little India last weekend. I did manage to whip up some tomato, potato, and spinach dal, though! A simple pot of Basmati rice rounded out the meal.

Mmmmmmmmmm carbs!


Tonight's dinner post will feature my "Very Vegan Thanksgiving" menu, with posts following this week with a review of each recipe I chose. Stay tuned for some delicious eats!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

giant whopper of a catch-up post


So, I've actually been cooking all week, even though I've mostly been posting about our Blogger Ethnic Market Tour! Consequently, I have a TON of stuff to catch you up on. Here we go . . . !

Rewind to Tuesday . . .
I made "Brooklyn Pad Thai" from Vegan with a Vengeance for dinner! While I deem this recipe more of a "weekend" meal due to all of the prep, it's a nice treat on a weeknight every once in a while. I find prepping ALL of the ingredients ahead of time extremely beneficial when making this recipe:

And here's the finished product, avec broccoli (because almost everything's better with broccoli, right?)

After devouring our plates of pad Thai, we had dragonfruit for dessert!

I think of dragonfruit as more of an experience, rather than something super-tasty that I look forward to, since it is so mild (ahem, bland,) tasting. We sprinkle ours with a little sugar and give it a drizzle of lime juice to amp it up:

It's so dang cool looking, though, I can't help but enjoy it!

Thursday was a late-start work day for me, (comp time due to training in the evening,) so I spent the morning cooking away . . .

First, I made Melody's Salsa:

This is some goooooooooood stuff! I followed her recipe nearly as written, (using way less salt, since I am trying to keep our salt intake down, and 4 seeded jalapenos for the chile requirement,) and both Dan and I love it! Jarred salsa no more, in our house! I like that Melody's recipe makes a vat, (since a jar of salsa disappears nearly as it's opened in our house,) and although I'd probably cut down on the amount of cumin next time, (I find cumin overpowering sometimes,) I love the complex, spicy, smoky flavor. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Melody!

Salsa is handy for topping "tacos-to-go" --

Tacos are kind of a hard thing to pack in a lunch, but I've discovered a way that works -- pack all of the filling in one container, and the tortillas or chips in a bag/wrap-n-mat, and assemble on site. Yum! Don't forget the homemade guacamole!

We were kind of dredging the bottom of the barrel for breakfast this morning, (out of milk, so no cereal, out of bread, so no toast,) so I improvised, and horchata oatmeal was born!

Oh, nummy nummy nummy, this was good stuff! Sweet, creamy, nutty, and fantastic! I just made regular oatmeal with horchata instead of milk or water, and topped with sliced, toasted almonds. Yum!

After meeting Courtney for coffee this morning, I went to Kowalski's and the Wedge. Had kind of a long list this week . . .

local ciabatta
organic, 100% whole-wheat sandwich bread

local sliced raw almonds
locally-roasted, organic, fair-trade coffee
organic fruit-sweetened dried cranberries

CHEESE: (yes, not vegan -- some is for work, some for grilled cheese sandwiches this week)
local part-skim mozzarella (the kids want to make pizzas!)
sliced muenster

vegan apricot thumbprint cookie (not pictured . . . consumed at the co-op to avoid fainting from hunger during my walk home!)

organic cranberry juice cocktail concentrate
local, organic orange juice concentrate

Lyle's golden syrup
3 bottles of club soda
cashew-carrot ginger soup
organic low-sodium vegetable broth
Yogi kava tea
organic firm silken tofu
organic pizza sauce
organic no-salt-added diced tomatoes
organic lite coconut milk

local honeycrisp apples
aurora apples
Granny Smith apples
organic lemons
organic green beans
organic spinach
organic parsley
local, organic white button mushrooms
local, organic cremini mushrooms
organic shiitake mushrooms
organic green onions
organic sweet potatoes
local, hydroponic tomatoes
local oyster mushrooms
organic navel oranges
organic yellow onions
local, organic Yukon gold potatoes
local, organic fresh chives
local, organic fresh thyme

organic spelt English muffins
Earth Balance buttery sticks
Yves veggie pepperoni


Why such a long list this week? Well . . . tune in tomorrow for a series of posts titled "A Very Vegan Thanksgiving!" Gotta get back to those caramelized onions now!

free Tofutti winners!


Well . . . lucky for those five people who entered the contest, because I have five coupons! Everyone won something!

The first three people chosen by random.org won a coupon for a FREE Tofutti product:
1. Courtney
2. sullycreek
3. mama

And the last two people chosen won a coupon for $1 off a Tofutti product!
4. HayMarket8
5. frugalveganmom

Timestamp: 2010-11-20 14:44:39 UTC

Folks, please email me (there's a link on my profile page) with your mailing address, and I'll send out the coupons!

Thanks for reading! I'll have more cooking-related stuff to report later today!