Thursday, December 17, 2009

$127 Vegetable Soup

Why is it that you can't go to the grocery store for just one thing? Such was the case when I went in to buy only ingredients for this delicious veggie soup, but ended up spending $127. Well, this soup actually might be worth that much - it is that good! My friend made it for me when we went to his house for a party - they kindly always make me something I can eat (the "regular" people got shrimp gumbo - boy, did they miss out).

This soup is called "Mike's Vegetable Soup," and it comes from one of Paul Prudhomme's books, in case you are browsing in the library. I don't know which one, but it is an older one back from the days of lowfat cooking. If you can imagine that Paul Prudhomme was ever on a diet, I think the book said he lost 100 pounds using the recipes in this book. The spice list was so extensive that even I had to buy three that were not in my cabinet. But the soup was still easy to make. It has a wonderful smoky flavor, although no smoke flavoring was used. Also it has apple juice in it! It sounds weird, but I urge you to seek out the recipe. If you are interested but can't find it, I can e-mail you the recipe. By the way, those big orange chunks are not squash, but rutabaga - something I would never think to make soup with. Try it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An Oily Dilemma

Well, once again I can't get the photos out of my camera. It is so frustrating to have to constantly shut everything off and start over! So in the interest of time, here is a post without pictures.

I know I have mentioned a few times that my muffins/cupcakes have come out with oily bottoms. Well, today I made chocolate thumbprint cookies from VCON, and again, oily bottoms. Now I have made this recipe before, and did not have that problem. I think in the past I have used canola oil from Spectrum. Lately I have been using Trader Joe's. It sounds crazy, but I can't think of any other difference. Does anyone have this oily problem?

On another note, you know how those low carb people always try to make mashed potatoes with cauliflower? Well, I am not a low carb girl by any stretch, but I was trying to find a way to enjoy cauliflower. I just steamed it until very soft, and mashed it with some lemon juice and Earth Balance. It was really quite good! Although not a sub for mashed potatoes!

Hopefully, pictures next time!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Sweet Vegan Life

Have you noticed that so many vegan foods are sweet? Not necessarily sugary sweet, but inherently sweet. Like cashews, yams, tomatoes, soy milk, even beans. In a way, that's good, as we are hard-wired to seek out sweet tastes (think (human)mother's milk). But for those of us who were formerly omnis, it takes a bit of getting used to. I think that is why it is so hard for some of us to give up cheese. I crave fat and salt! Umami! And sometimes soy sauce doesn't cut it.

So, our meal last night was based on that craving. Panko breaded fried (baked) tofu with the Hurry Up Alfredo sauce from Vegan Yum Yum's new book. And my sweet potato had EB and Tabasco, and the broccoli had mayo-based ranch. Yay for fat and salt! How do you satisfy you umami cravings?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Pies

I made two pies for Thanksgiving. The first is a pumpkin pie from La Dolce Vegan. I must admit I did not care for it. I think because it was made largely with maple syrup as the sweetner. Normally I love maple syrup, but somehow it did not work. I compared the spices to a "traditional" pumpkin pie, and they were similar. The good news is that the texture was good. It was made with cornstarch as the thickener, and it worked well. I will try again with sugar and see if that makes the difference. Also, I topped the pie with melted chocolate when it came out of the oven. I think this would have been good if the pie was good.

The second pie was a cherry crumb. This was really good and easy. Pour cherry pie filling into an unbaked crust. Top with crumb mixture:

1/2 c flour
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 (or 1/2) t cinnamon
1/4 cup Earth Balance

(Mix all until crumb-like.)

Bake for about 45 minutes at 375 (I covered the crust edges for the first 20 minutes to keep them from burning).

Although I don't have a picture, I also made the Butternut Squash and Orange Soup from Nava's book. This was very nice - mild and comforting.

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving was joyful!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It has once again been too long since I have posted. I'm cooking and taking pictures, but haven't had time to post. Also, some of my offerings have not exactly been blogworthy! Thanks to all of you who publish so frequently and have such great looking food!

This was an attempt to replicate the meatloaf of my youth. I still cannot find a recipe I love. Not that I want it to be meat-like, but I don't want it to be mushy-beany, either! And no TVP. This one has my favorite tomato sauce (the plain 8 oz. can) topping and roasted potatoes (they were canned in my youth - and I still like those, too!)

I tried for a while to be gluten free again, which probably lasted for two meals. This is one - sliced avocado on corn tortillas with mayo and mustard. Yum!
This was a cornstarch - coated and fried tofu. Why doesn't it taste as good as at the Japanese restaurant?
There was something I wanted to tell you about this salad but I can't remember what!
Gobi Aloo from Urban Vegan's new book. Delish. Along with some plain old dal. Don't you love those split mung bean? So high in protein.
This was inspired by Urban Vegan's blog - I think it was halushki? It was a while ago. Anyway, sauteed cabbage and onions with noodles. I put mushrooms on mine, but it would have been better without.
Smiley face chocolate chip pancakes for the kiddos (big and little).

Why, yes, I am the only Detroit Lions fan in the whole world. We went to Detroit to see the game (vs. the Rams, who are the Carnivore's team). Of course the Lions lost (to the second most pitiful team in the NFL). But we had a good time. The kids were able to run on the field after the game. It was quite a thrill for me to actually walk on the Lion's field. Oh, for the glorius Barry Sanders days again!
My Thanksgiving will be omnivorous, so I will not have much to show you. I am planning on making the pumpkin pie from La Dolce Vegan - I'll let you know how it turns out. Maybe also the Butternut Squash and Orange soup from Nava's new (revamped) soup book.
Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Soup and more soup!

I finally managed to get the pictures out of my camera! Here are some things I have been cooking:

Don't you just love barley soup? It is such a perfect cold weather food. Although yesterday it was 70 degrees and sunny, the past few weeks have only been in the 40's and rainy. Even for Chicago that is cold! I just threw some cooked barley, frozen veggies, and veggie stock together. Of course with olive oil, which makes everything taste better!

I am excited to finally live near a Whole Foods! I saw someone talk about this "chicken" and grape salad on their blog. It was okay - if you are a fan of seitan, you would probably love it. I think I might try my own version with some chewy tofu instead. I did like the celery, grapes, and walnuts.

This is a sweet potato, quinoa, and wild rice burger, also from Whole Foods. Different and kind of sweet.

What's with the bowl of oatmeal? Can't remember if I've shared this before, but I like to stir cooked jasmine rice into my oatmeal. It is super flavorful and nutritious. With cranberries, walnuts, and cinnamon. Topped with vanilla Silk and a sprinkle of turbinado sugar. Yum! Another good thing for a cold day.

Have you read "Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat?" I really like this book. This is adapted from the Japanese power breakfast recipe:

Boil a few pieces of wakame in 3 cups water. Let sit overnight. Next day, heat and simmer some frozen veggies in the broth (mine had sugar snaps and water chestnuts in the mix). Add some cubed soft tofu and cooked rice. Dissolve some miso in a small amount of water and add to the soup. Pour in a bowl and add some chopped scallion greens and finely grated carrot. Delicious and filling. This keeps me satisfied until well into the afternoon. And my 10 year old likes it!

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Back!

Hey, everyone. Sorry I have been neglecting my blog. We moved all the way back in August, but I can't seem to get my act together!
We love our new house and neighborhood. There are lots of kids on our block so the girls are having fun with their new friends. All the neighbors are very nice so I have made some friends, too. But of course we all still miss the old ones! Chicago is a fun town and we are having a good time exploring. We are somewhat familiar with it as we lived here twenty years ago, but of course things change a lot in such a long time.
Despite having a gorgeous kitchen, I have not been doing a lot of interesting cooking. Plus there are still pictures stuck in my camera. But here are a few things:

Favorite chickpea soup from Diane Kochilas' Greek Vegetarian. It is just chickpeas (cooked from dried), onion, bay leaf, rosemary, salt, and lots of olive oil (the key to its deliciousness). With some homemade foccacia.
Don't these look like giant bagels? they are Crusty Sesame Rings from Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu (really good recipes in this oldie).

Stuffed Eggplant with Bechamel from the same book. Just as good without the feta cheese!

We won't see tomatoes like these till next summer.

Some nice sides: cream cheese stuffed celery, chunks of mango, and coleslaw with peanut dressing. I used the dressing from Trader Joe's, and did not care for it.

How's this for a gorgeous kitchen? Obviously before we moved all our junk in!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Freezer Full of Nothing

As you know, we are getting ready to move. So I have been trying to eat down my pantry and freezer, which are still both chock-full. How can they both be full and still there is nothing I want to eat? It's not like I buy food I don't like. I was hoping to save some money on groceries these last few weeks, but still I find myself shopping often. Well, partly because of summer fruit, and partly because I have been entertaining a lot, getting in those last visits with family and friends. And partly because none of us eat the same things. I guess my stockpile consists mostly of stuff that I like, which I tend not to make because then I still have to feed the rest of the crew and I am too lazy to cook just for myself. Sadly, then, we all miss out on the good stuff.

Anyway, here are a few of the things I've thrown together lately.

The quintessential New York breakfast of bagel, cream cheese and lox, veganized with Tofutti cream cheese and roasted red peppers. I must get in as many bagels as I can. No offense, midwesterners, but you just don't have the real thing there.

Peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate ganache, from VCTOTW. Yummy, but again, the bottoms are so greasy, as they have been with other cupcakes I've made from this book. Has anyone else experienced this? Maybe it is my canola oil, or something. I must try and refrigerate it - I remember reading that it gets semi-solid under refrigeration - sort of like hydrogenated shortening.

Cauliflower salad with creamy cilantro dressing, from Moosewood Daily Specials. I added the pickled red onions for an extra special touch.

Lemon Cornmeal Blueberry muffins. Wish I could remember what book I got these from. Shows you how befuddled my mind is lately with all this move stuff.

Key lime coconut cupcakes with lime glaze. I got these off some vegan website, before I started writing down where the recipes I copy came from. I brought these to a friend who just got back from Key West, so she could extend her vacation in her mind.

Greek potatoes from Veganomican. Yummy goodness, but not as good as my old recipe (but much easier).

Favorite chickenish baked tofu. Again.

Hain brown gray from a package. Didn't like this. It tasted like those Red Ox beef boullion cubes from my childhood, which I'm sure most of you have never heard of!

This is the Natural Stone Bridge near Lake George, NY. We went on our last vacation there, and we had not visited these caves in previous years. The girls loved the part about crystals and gems. They were kind of intimidated by the river. But I loved it - I was happy to finally do something outdoorsy on a visit to the Adirondacks. I will miss it greatly when we move. I bought two authentic Adirondack chairs to soothe myself. I have been lusting after them for years - so odd looking and yet so unexpectedly comfortable.

Here we are in front of the river.
Cute girls in giant Adirondack chair.
On our last afternoon there, we had lunch at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the beautiful lake. Not much to eat in Lake George for veggies, but they had a veggie burger that was actually listed as vegan on the menu (I would not have thought they knew that term up there). It was good, too - handmade with actual veggies and no yucky chewy TVP. And with perfect fries. A nice finish to a mediocre food week!
Well, the packers come on Monday. We are driving to Chicago when they are done. It's a two day drive, and then we have to wait for the moving truck to arrive the following week. So I will see you all when we get settled!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday, so I get to do fun stuff like post on my blog!

Here is a yummy soup from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special. This book is all about soups and salads from the famous restaurant. I would love to visit there someday - kind of like the vegatarian Mecca. The soup is Algerian Tomato Soup with Vermicelli. I was reading cookbooks and was attracted to this recipe by the unusual spice combination - coriander, cumin, curry powder, cinnamon, orange peel, and of course, onions and garlic. It was delicious and quick and easy, too.

This is Bryanna's cheddary spread from her website. It is very good, especially on Alvarado Street sprouted rye! I think the tahini flavor was a little strong - maybe I would go with cashew butter next time. It has silken tofu - I haven't used this in a while, and was pleasantly surprised at how very creamy it made the dip.

I have a gingerbread candle on my counter now - you are supposed to have good smells in your house when trying to sell it. So I have been craving gingerbread.This recipe for Giant Ginger Cookies was one my aunt made for me as a child. One of the few non-chocolate desserts I loved! Of course the orginal wasn't vegan, but here it is in a form we can all enjoy. As delicious as the original!
Giant Ginger Cookies
2 t ground flax seeds
1/4 c water
2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1 t ground cloves
1 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
3 t baking soda
6 tablespoons Earth Balance
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 c granulated sugar
1/4 c light molasses
extra granulated sugar for the cookie tops
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix ground flax seeds and water. Set aside until gelatinous (1/2 hour).
Sift flour with salt, cloves, ginger, cinnamon & soda.
Whip EB and canola oil until light and fluffy. Add sugar. Blend in flax mixture and molasses, then dry mixture, until well blended.
Shape dough into 1 1/2" balls. Dip in sugar. Place 3" apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with fingers and sprinkle tops with more sugar.
Bake 8-10 minutes. Let stand a minute before removing from sheets.
Makes 18-20.
Have a happy and safe 4th!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pasta Fagioli - No Chopping Required

This was a tasty, fast meal for a busy night that required almost zero effort (unless you consider opening cans effort).

1 can tomatoes with celery, onion, and garlic (not Italian style)
1 can cannelini (white kidney beans)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 t Italian seasoning
2 t vegetable broth powder
1 bay leaf
3/4 c small pasta shells
water to cover by about 2 inches
1 t nooch
4 c baby spinach

Dump tomatoes through water into the pot and bring to a boil - reduec heat and cook until pasta is cooked (the water amount is an estimate - you need enough to cook the pasta). Stir in nooch and spinach and cook a few minutes more, until spinach is wilted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tofu Failure and Kitchen Gadget

Isn't this fresh tofu from my local Asian store gorgeous?

I liked the idea of braising the tofu in a Thai-style coconut sauce, with basil, tomatoes, and scallions. I started out by sauteeing red onions, garlic and ginger in coconut oil. Good start, but then unfortunately I ruined it by adding too much stuff. First mistake was adding soy sauce. That is just wrong - much too strong. Should have just added salt. Then I put the tomatoes in too soon and overcooked them to mush. The kicker was when I added Thai Kitchen's Tom Yum soup seasoning. This was lurking in my fridge for who knows how long. I took a big sip of the sauce - blech, fish. I read the label after the fact and saw the shrimp on the list. What a waste of some beautiful tofu.

Favorite kitchen gadget - my immersion blender. I have long used this to puree soups without the mess of going back and forth between blender and pot. Then Vegetarian Times ran an article about gadgets that talked about using the attachments to make a mini-blender. It is perfect for when the regular blender is too big - chopping small amounts of garlic and onion, and making small amounts of sauces. I love sauces of all kinds, but to make them just for myself seems such a bother. But not with the mini blender! I used it to make this extremely simple sauce of roasted red pepper (one large piece from the jar), 1 T olive oil, 1 T mayo, salt & pepper.

The sauce was used for this Spicy Grilled Tempeh and Zucchini from Kathy Freston's 21 day cleanse. Waaaaaaaay too salty - I think the recipe called for 1 T in addition to the 1/4 of tamari. I even cut it back to 1 t, but it was still too salty. However, it was strongly flavored with chipotle, which is a good way to tame the tempeh. They also suggested an interesting slicing technique - slice on the diagonal, so the slices are wider. This worked a lot better than trying to slice the tempeh into thin pieces through the middle.

I love the soups from Dr. McDougall, and the hot and sour is my favorite. It is sort of smoky, I guess from the shiitakes. All the soups are relatively low in sodium (compared to mainstream prepared soups), and yet they taste really good. And of course, they are all vegan, and some are gluten free. Just add boiling water!

Happy Father's day to all the dads!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


When I was growing up, it was very unusual to have food originating in countries outside the US. Probably the most exotic thing we ate was spaghetti and meatballs! And that was a rare treat - pasta (or macaroni, as it was called) was certainly not a several night a week event.

We would occasionally have Hungarian goulash, and I always loved it. As I recall, it was made with ground beef, although I the recipes I checked for veganizing used cubed meat. I have never used vegetarian "crumbles" - it's one of those things I will buy occasionally and then throw out without using because I really hate meat substitutes. I saw a package on sale and decided to give it one more try. I am really glad I did! I don't know if it was the seasoning I used, but it had none of that yucky soy aftertaste that many imitation products have. And the recipe couldn't be easier for a busy day! It was quite delicious.

Hungarian Goulash

1 large red onion, cut in wedges
1/2 package crumbles
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 T mild paprika
1 T soy sauce
1/2 T worcestershire sauce
water to stew consistancy

Saute onion wedges until wilting and starting to brown. Add everything else and simmer for a while to blend flavors.

The salad in the background has Annie's Roasted Red Pepper Vinagrette, which is a dead ringer for the delicious dressing at my local pizza place.

The salad on the left has "real" ranch dressing, while the salad on the right has the vegan ranch from "The Grit Cookbook." I didn't love it, but maybe because I used lowfat mayo for the base instead of full fat Veganaise.

A big ole platter of "chiken fried" tofu. How I love this stuff, especially with gravy!

These are coffee chocolate chip muffins from Isa's new brunch book. I made these for my daughter's class (she was student of the week), so I left out the coffee. I should have added something to compensate, for they were a little flat. Maybe cinnamon? I love the chocolate-cinnamon combo.

Ummm, roasted beets! They were dressed with Citrus Mint Vinaigrette from Dreena's Vive le Vegan. Mint is a lovely complement for beets.

I am trying to use what's in my pantry and freezer in preparation of moving. So not much exciting cooking going on here. I promise not to post pictures of canned lentil soup!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Big News

Sorry for the long absence. The big news is that we are moving from New York to Chicago! I've been spending all my time painting and cleaning out clutter and trying to make my house look beautiful in order to sell it. And of course all the regular stuff must still be done (laundry, sports, homework, shopping, etc.). It is very hectic and stressful. Plus every time someone comes to look at the house it must be spotless - not an easy feat with three small kids!

With all that crazy stuff and me trying to diet, I have not had much exciting food to share. Mostly we eat stuff that can be made in 5 minutes - for me, that means rice cakes with hummus or peanut butter. Not exactly blog-worthy! I miss bread! Didn't even eat it that much before, but of course you want what you can't have. I'm surprised that I haven't missed sugar all that much - that is my biggest weakness and what I overeat the most. I have lost 7.5 lbs in 3 weeks. This is pretty good, as I'm not that overweight to begin with. I slip up sometimes on the weekend, but am good during the week.

So here are some new products and recipes I have tried.

This white bean hummus is to die for. It really has a lovely basil flavor.

Here it is on rice cakes - isn't it a pretty green? Love the pine nuts, too.

This is a black bean and yam burrito from "The Gluten Free Vegan," by Susan O'Brien. The tortilla is brown rice from Trader Joe's. The filling was good but I can't get used to the brown rice wraps. They taste okay but the texture is wrong. Too rubbery in the microwave and too crisp in the oven (and they got rubbery after being crisp).

"Salad bar salad" with seared tofu. I call it salad bar salad because when I worked in an office, that's what I had for lunch every day. Must include raisins and sunflower seeds! With my favorite dressing of mayo and ketchup.

Trader Joe's low-fat mayo is accidentally vegan.

I've been relying more than usual on prepared foods. This is a black bean and quinoa salad from my health food store. It was really good! I've never had luck with quinoa so I was really pleased with this.

More from the health food store - curried tofu and sushi salad. Lots of big onion wedges in that tofu - yum.

I did not care for these "crackers."

Last time I showed you the brown rice spaghetti that I didn't like. This penne was much, much better. Maybe because I rinsed it? Good thing there is a Trader Joe's in my new town!

Provencial Chickpea Soup from the New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. I love chickpeas so much and this soup had ground fennel, leeks, tomatoes, and orange zest. So delicious.

Well, I am learning a lot about gluten-free cooking. I must say I am glad I don't have celiac disease - I don't think I could do this forever. But it's good to take a break from eating the same stuff all the time, both taste-wise and for the body!