Friday, November 26, 2010

A Good Activity for the Day After Thanksgiving

We had a lovely Thanksgiving - spent with the best of friends. We traveled up to Wisconsin to visit them. They used to be our neighbors when we lived in Milwaukee. Now they have an awesome home in the country on 30 acres. Beautiful scenery. I always feel at peace when I am there. Of course that might be from the many bottles of wine we drink! They are always so kind to fix me separate dishes when we visit. This time it was special mushroom gravy, and dressing made from a bunch of different whole grains. And the best Brussels sprouts I ever had. They had just lime and olive oil and salt and pepper, but so good! Here is the gigantic table for 23.

Today it was super cold in Chicagoland, but thankfully sunny after lots of gray days. We have had a pumpkin on the counter for a while that my daughter got on her Halloween pumpkin farm trip. We decided to make roast pumpkin seeds. My neighbor makes them and they are fabulous. I don't know what she puts in them besides butter. I used Earth Balance, salt, and sugar. They were so good!

What to do with the pumpkin? I have actually never cooked a real pumpkin. I cut it in big chunks, sprayed it with olive oil, and threw it in the oven.  My 6 year old enjoyed it straight with salt.

For me and my oldest daughter I made this curried pumpkin soup from Kim Barnouin's new book, Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Every Day Cookbook.  It has apples and wine, onions, etc. I added some garlic. Very delicious.

 Should I be concerned that I have the same hairstyle as my dogs? Shaggy and messy and in my eyes!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010


A copy of Clean Food in perfect condition for $7 at the half price book store!

Here is the bulk of my collection. Not counting the ones I have gotten rid of, or some that are on stray book shelves or my night table. The long shot:

And close ups so you can see what's on there. Maybe it's just me, but I love to see what's on people's book shelves.

AND, there are so many new vegan cookbooks coming out - if you search for "vegan cookbooks" on Amazon, you don't even get to the current ones until six pages in. Yes, it's an obsession, but it is 30 year's worth of collecting!

Speaking of obsessions, I so love Viva Vegan! Check out this delicioso meal:

Stuffed Plantains (I did not use the nuts or cheese), Yellow Rice with Garlic, Zesty Orange Mojo Baked Tofu, and Venezuelan Style Black Beans, with some spinach in garlic and olive oil. This meal was spectacular, all the more so because I have not been cooking anything worthwhile lately. It was worth every single pot and pan. You must make these recipes, especially the beans and tofu. I think I must go eat the leftovers right now!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two for Tuesday

As predicted, I have hardly cooked at all over the past 6 weeks. The little monsters have taken over our house and our lives.They are still not housebroken, but I think we are making progress. We have to watch them every second or they will go on the floor. We are teaching them to ring the bell to go out - sometimes they do, most times not! The good news is I have dropped 5 lbs. without trying, due to all the extra activity.


I also had what I refer to as my "lost weekend" (actually closer to a week). Lost because I was on so many pain killers that I slept day and night. I strained all the muscles in my neck and couldn't move at all. The doc said it was from stress! Amazing what stress can do to the body. Fortunately it was something temporary and not a heart attack or stroke. Thanks to the Carnivore for keeping things going while I was out of it, and to my girls for being so good and sharing all their favorite toys with me to make me feel better.

I missed Halloween but the girls and dogs went trick or treating. I am lucky that they lose interest pretty quickly in the candy. Most years I end up throwing most of it out!

Don't have much to share in the way of food. I did make a lentil soup with roasted veggies that was pretty good. It is from The Pink Ribbon Diet. This book is about a plant based diet with the addition of lots of olive oil, which the author has researched and found to be helpful for cancer survivors as well as people looking to lose weight. I was interested in this book because the recipes were created by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Nancy Verde Barr. She wrote a book years ago called They Called it Macaroni. Not vegan or even nearly vegetarian, but it is a picture of life of Italian American immigrants that really speaks to me. It reminds me of my grandparents and other beloved Italian friends. Anyway, I haven't tried any other recipes from the new book, but they are mostly vegetarian and many vegan. There are a few meat recipes thrown in for the masses, although the author does not eat meat.

I tried Vegan Dad's Tofu cutlets in lemon sauce for our tofu Tuesday. I added capers so it was pretty much a piccata sauce. Yummy. I made the regular tofu for the girls, and I scraped all the yummy bits out of the pan for myself!

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Additions and a Great Sandwich

Well, I think we will only be eating peanut butter sandwiches and spaghetti for a while, because of these cuties. My kids have been wanting a dog forever, and I've always resisted. But who could resist these faces? I feel like I have a newborn again. Both in good and bad ways! But we love them anyway.

This is the eggplant torta and refried beans from Viva Vegan. Eggplant marinated with tomato paste, olive oil, and spices, layered with summer tomatoes, avocado and red onion. Loved it! The beans were good, too - different because of the bay leaf. I have had this book for a while and never cooked from it. I have a bunch of recipes earmarked for when I someday have time to cook again!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Open Face Sammiches

This is what I did with my leftover baked tofu from "Tofu Tuesday," as we call it in our house. Just whipped up an easy gravy (EB, flour, nooch, tamari, Worcestershire, water, s & p). I like the contrast of the cold tofu against the hot gravy. It is reminiscent of a childhood favorite. Of course, back in the day, the bread was Wonder bread (!) and the protein was turkey, but I like this version much better!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"America's Hottest Diet"

"Lose 8 pounds this weekend and get healthy fast!"

This was the headline on one of those women's magazines at the grocery store checkout. You know, the ones that profile a different "hot" diet in every issue? Guess what the hottest diet is? A vegan diet! Ha!

I must admit I do have a fascination with diet books, even though most have lots of recipes for chicken. How do people eat so much chicken, anyway (I mean those people who are not opposed to eating chicken)?

I like the new book "The Carb Lovers Diet." The premise is to eat a "carbohydrate star" (bananas, beans, brown rice, rye bread) at every meal. That fills you up so you don't have hunger pangs. Of course, there is also calorie restriction. I was a little skeptical at the recipe that used a 1/2 cup of pasta (uncooked) to serve 2 people. But surprisingly, we were stuffed after this meal, because there were so many veggies and tofu (of course chicken in the original!) in it. And it tasted good. This book is full of good suggestions for meals that are low cal and filling. They are easy to convert to veggie/vegan.

Here is an example from the book: beans with pasta and pesto.

These sesame noodles are from the book "Eating Clean" by Tosca Reno. They were just delicious and really easy to make.

Now, why don't I lose weight?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eggplant and Apples

Here is a marinated eggplant dish from the book "My Bread." First the eggplant is roasted, then mixed with some simple seasonings, including plenty of olive oil. The surprise was cilantro - according to the author, it is a common Roman seasoning. It was delicious, and my 11 year old could not stop eating it!

Although it's always sad to see the end of summer fruit, the reward is fresh apples. This particular apple is called a Paula Red. They are only available about 3 weeks a year (happily while summer fruit is still available!) I used to drive about an hour to a farm by my old house to get them. Imagine my surprise when I saw them in the local grocery store! They are kind of like MacIntosh - sweet and tart, but with a better texture. In fact, I never liked Macs until I had one straight off the tree last year. It was a totally different experience from a supermarket market Mac! Be sure to try the Paula Red if you are lucky enough to find one.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

4 Pots, 3 Bowls, 3 Knives, 2 Cutting Boards, 1 Skillet, and the Food Processor!

That's what it took to prepare this meal! First the bread - I used Jim Lahey's recipe again from My Bread. This time I made the whole grain loaf, which is about 25% whole grain flour and 75% white flour. This loaf had much better flavor. You can see it still has excellent crust and large air holes. Of course it was not as light as the all white flour bread, but it tasted really good and the texture was excellent!

The rest of the meal came from Vegan Brunch. On the right is Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes. They were good - no bitter tempeh taste. But I prefer the ones made from tofu.

On the left is the guacamole potato salad - can't remember the exact name of the recipe. Wow! This was incredible. I remember reading on another blog that they didn't love this recipe, but I thought it was outstanding. The dressing was delicious, and the surprise hit is the addition of cucumber chunks. They really made the salad. The string beans were so fresh (out of the supermarket, no less!) that they didn't need any adornment. My kids like their veggies plain, and I have come to appreciate them this way as well. You can really taste the veggies when they are not covered in sauce (although I still really like broccoli in garlic oil!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Panzanella is the Italian way to use up stale bread. I have never tried it, but had my leftover bread from the last post to use up. You soak the bread in water to re-hydrate it. Then add tomatoes, onion, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt & pepper. Sounds like a good idea, but I didn't love it. Maybe because I didn't like the bread to begin with? Tonight I am trying the bread with some whole wheat and rye flour added in - we'll see if it's better.

First day of school! We start early in the mid-west.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two Tofu and Beet Dishes

I went to the farm stand for some tomatoes, and also got a gorgeous bunch of beets. We only had the jarred, pickled kind when I was a child. I don't know why - they are so easy to cook and they taste so good - sweet and earthy. My favorite way is to bake them - just wash, wrap in foil and throw in the oven for an hour or so (1 1/2 hours for large beets). The peels just slip off when cool.

There was a lady at the farm stand who told me that she had beet and hard boiled egg sandwiches (with lots of butter) as a girl, because her parents were from England. I never heard of that, but it sounded good, so I thought I'd veganize it. My "eggs" were tofu slices fried in Earth Balance. I had intended to sprinkle them with Indian black salt, but I couldn't find my stash. So I used the very un-English Goya Adobo, a mix of salt, turmeric, garlic and oregano. I added extra EB on the bread and raw onion slices along with the tofu and beets. It was quite delicious. I think the hot tofu and cold beet slices were an especially nice contrast.

The next dish is the tofu "salmon" from the Horizons cookbook. The tofu is marinated in olive oil, beet juice, and seasonings and then grilled. Fortunately it does not taste like salmon! It is tender and juicy. Plus it is pink! It's hard to see in the photo, but the tofu is sitting in a pool of dill sauce. This was mayo, EB, a splash of vinegar, dill, salt & pepper. I would have liked more sauce, but since it is almost all fat it is quite caloric.

The beets were pickled with balsamic cherry vinegar. We have a store here that sells all different flavors of olive oil and vinegar. You can taste before you buy! The fruit vinegars are delicious but not always right for salad. The cherry worked very nicely with the sweet beets.

You may have read about Jim Lahey's Sullivan St. bakery and his no-knead bread recipes. He has a book and I found it at the library. You mix the dough, leave it to ferment for 18 hours, and bake it in a covered pot (you can Google it for the recipe). The "oven within an oven" is supposed to simulate cooking in a brick oven, and produce an artisan quality crust and crumb. I really loved the crumb - I have not been able to produce this with other bread recipes. See how large the air holes are? The crust was also good, although not as crunchy as a bakery bread. I thought the flavor was kind of bland, considering the long fermentation. But I will definitely try some of the other recipes that use different flours. It really was so easy and had such great texture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Corny Dinner

'Tis the season - corn season, that is. Oddly, although my house is surrounded by cornfields, I have to drive 10 miles to the farm stand. Likewise, the farm stand is surrounded by cornfields, but the corn comes from a farm another 20 miles out!

Anywhoo, we had some cooked corn and some raw corn in this meal. The cooked is sliced polenta (from the tube!), sauteed in a little olive oil. Very simple, but quite delicious, with a crispy exterior and creamy interior. The raw corn is in the salad, with pickled jalapenos and a citrus dressing. With some New Mexico seasoned pinto beans and a simple guacamole, it was a quick and delicious meal. By the way, the Carnivore took one look and pulled some TGI Fridays chicken wings out of the freezer! And I have gout.

Corn Salad with Citrus Dressing

2 ears corn
pickled jalapenos to taste, chopped
3 T orange juice
2 T lime juice
2 T olive oil
1/2 t garlic salt

Remove kernels from ears of corn. Mix with jalapenos. Whisk dressing ingredients till emulsified and add to corn.

Pinto Beans

1/2 small onion, chopped
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can pintos
1/2 t ground cumin
1/4 t oregano
pure chile powder* to taste
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Sautee onion until soft. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add all other ingredients (add enough water to almost cover beans). Smash some of the beans against the side of the pot so the broth thicken. Simmer 20 minutes.

*This is not the kind from the supermarket, which has other spices added. It is simply ground chiles.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


What do you think of when you think of gout? I think of old kings from the 15th century who ate nothing but tons of meat and drank gallons of wine. I remember seeing some artwork once depicting just that scene, with the guy's bandaged leg propped up as he's stuffing his face.

So, how does a someone who's been a vegetarian for 30 years and who doesn't drink get gout? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Another Yummy Vegan Yum Yum Tofu Meal

Pineapple Baked Tofu with Seared Pineapple Rings. So good! The gravy was particularly delicious (made of the tofu marinade and coconut milk). Despite the pineapple, this was not a particularly sweet dish. I really enjoyed this one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No-Chop Black Bean Soup

Here's something to make when you don't feel like chopping veggies, but want something that tastes better than heated up canned beans.

No-Chop Black Bean Soup

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 c water
3/4 t ground cumin
3/4 t ground coriander
3/4 t ground red chilis
1/2 t smoked salt
1/4 t ground chipotle
1 bay leaf
juice of 1/2 lime

Put garlic and oil in a pan and heat a few minutes. Add all else and simmer 15 minutes. Smash some of the beans so the broth thickens.

It's Bacoonnnn!

Bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon, bacooonnnnnn!!!!! Well not, really, but I always loved that commercial. Not for the bacon part, but for the general exuberance of dogs.

This "bacon" was in spaghetti sauce. I like Fakin' Bacon, although it tends to fall apart easily. Has anyone used the Morning Star kind?

Bacon Spaghetti

5 slices bacon of your choice
olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
28 oz can tomatoes in puree (mine had large basil leaves in it, yum)
1 t sugar
crushed red pepper or Tobasco sauce to your taste (I like a lot!)
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper

Fry bacon in oil until crisp. Remove bacon and chop into large pieces. Use a fair amount of oil for best taste. Sautee onion until softened, 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and break up into small pieces (I smush them with my hands). Add sugar, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add bacon pieces. Simmer while you cook your pasta. Makes enough for one pound spaghetti. Sweet, spicy, smoky, delicious!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Taste Testing and Easy Tofu

This easy tofu is from Vegetarian Family Style - "Chinese BBQ Tofu." I loved it so much - with a big pile of American mashed potatoes! It is basically tofu sauteed in a mix of barbecue sauce and chili garlic sauce. Check out Debra's recipe!
These are the two BBQ sauces I had in my fridge. The Trader Joe's is very smoky, but has no high fructose corn syrup. The Sweet Baby Ray's was quite sweet, not smoky. It does have HFCS. But I prefer its flavor, and that is what I
used in the tofu

On the left is Sambal Olek, the one with the rooster on the jar. On the right is chili garlic sauce from my local Thai restaurant. Many years ago I used to eat in a Thai restaurant near where I worked downtown Chicago. It was called Dao. I don't think it's there anymore. Anyway, I really loved their Pad Thai. But what I was addicted to was the chili garlic sauce that they put on the table as a condiment. I used to spoon it onto my plate and eat it straight. Sweat would pour off my face. I couldn't taste the food. My digestive system would go haywire. But no matter, I could not get enough of the stuff. Years later, I found the stuff in the jar and was so excited. But it is not the same! It is much more salty, less sweet, and less vinegary. Maybe I could doctor it up to taste like my favorite? I don't know. But my local Thai restaurant was nice enough to give me some of theirs. I used it in the tofu and it was so delicious! Can not get any easier than this dinner.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baba Ghanoush Stew

As it happens when you have millions of cookbooks, when you crave something you can never remember where it came from. And truthfully, most things don't actually come from cookbook recipes anyway - they are compilations of 5 recipes for the same thing. So I was thinking of an eggplant stew with big chunks of eggplant in a tahini sauce. This is what I came up with, and it was quite delicious! Now I have a recipe!

On the side is Quinoa and Cauliflower with Cranberries and Pine Nuts from Vegan Express. I added peas for color, and used cilantro instead of the parsley called for. Very tasty, and I am no fan of quinoa. In fact, if you have no cauliflower, just make it with the peas instead for a super easy side dish. Kid-meter: the 10 year old ate part of it, but then went to the pantry for Cheerios. The little ones would not even touch anything. But I loved it!

Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

1 large eggplant

olive oil

½ a large onion, cut lengthwise into strips

5 cloves garlic, sliced

2 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

1 T tomato paste

1 c cooked chick peas

½ c water

½ t Aleppo pepper*

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 T tahini

1 t sugar

1/8 t allspice

salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

juice of half a lemon

Cut eggplant into 1 ½ “ chunks. Salt cubes and cover with cold water. Soak for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Sautee in batches in hot olive oil, until lightly browned. Set aside.

Saute onions in olive oil until wilted. Add sliced garlic and cook until onions and garlic are starting to brown. Add some salt as they are cooking. Add eggplant, tomatoes, tomato paste, chickpeas, water, and Aleppo pepper. Cook for 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook another 10 minutes. You may need to add some more water. Serves 3-4.

* Aleppo pepper is kind of like tiny dried chili pieces. It is mildly spicy. If you don’t have it, add half as much crushed red pepper.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Nostalgic Meal

On cold rainy days, nothing was better than tomato soup and tuna on toast. In summer, the tuna became macaroni and tuna salad, on a plate with lettuce, sliced tomato, slice hard boiled egg, all with french dressing. On this cold rainy day, we had the tomato soup with chickpea and macaroni salad. Perfect after playing softball in 50 degrees and rain!

Chickpea and Macaroni Salad

1/4 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked
1 can chickpeas, chopped in food processor
1/2 c mayo
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 T soy sauce
1 t celery salt
1/2 t garlic powder

Mix it all up! This made a rather wet salad - use less mayo for a drier salad. The next day it was perfect, as the mayo soaked in a bit.

The tomato soup was very simple - saute sliced garlic in a good amount of olive oil, add a can of crushed tomatoes, some veggie broth, some dried mint, sugar, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer a while. My 10 year old loved this!