Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Praise of Chickpeas

Even though the temps are back up in the 90s this week, the recent cool weather flipped a switch in my brain, and all I can think about is fall! In the kitchen, that means I’m craving soups and stews. For lunch I made the Almost-Instant Chickpea Tomato Soup from Vegan on the Cheap. I could tell just from reading the recipe that it would taste great, and it did. And it took only ten minutes to make! No sautéing, just throw everything in the blender and then quickly heat it on the stovetop. Sometimes I find that vegan soups can be watery and lack the creamy texture I want, but that was not the case here. It was so velvety and rich.

Jackson liked it too, so I’m sure this will become a lunchtime favorite for us.

Yes, I take all my pictures by placing the food on Olivia's high chair tray. Whatever works!

For dinner, we had Curried Chickpea Patties from 1000 Vegan Recipes. Tony said, “So they’re like falafel?” But no, they were more like a burger. The wheat gluten gave them that chewy, “meaty” burger texture. I served them with curried Veganaise, as suggested, on ciabatta rolls. I was really pleased with this recipe, too. I would be happy to pay for either of today’s meals in a restaurant, seriously.

I laughed when I realized I’d gone through two cans of chickpeas in a day, but really, I wasn’t surprised. Is there anything this little bean can’t do? Sometimes I’ll roast them as a snack, sprinkled with a little nutritional yeast. If I don’t have time for that, Jackson loves to eat them straight out of the can. I could eat my weight in hummus, so I guess that’s where he gets it from. Go, chickpeas!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Waterfront Eats

To enjoy these last beautiful days of summer, we drove down to the Newburgh Waterfront, a row of restaurants situated along the Hudson River. They have patio seating overlooking the water, and there's a little walking path. We took a short stroll...

...and stopped for lunch at Havana 59, which specializes in "Cuban-American fusion." We grabbed a table out on the deck, and our considerate waitress brought an umbrella for our table so we could keep the babies in the shade. While we waited for our food, we watched geese playing in the water and boats leaving the dock.

I had the chipotle hummus wrap with sweet potato fries.

The hummus was a bit watery; I don't think they put any tahini in it. It did have a pleasant garlicky, slightly smoky flavor. The fries were awesome. I make sweet potato oven fries at home from time to time, but sweet taters just don't crisp up in the oven the way regular potatoes do. They still taste good, but sometimes I need the crunch that only a deep frier can provide!

Check it out -- Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe is giving away an Amy's Organics prize pack! I love me some Amy's!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sweet & Sour Tofu, Mango Oat Bars

I always mean it when I comment on other blogs that a recipe looks delicious and I need to try it. Sometimes it takes me awhile -– I’m also trying to get my money’s worth from my giant collection of cookbooks and work old favorites into regular rotation – but when I finally get around to it, it’s worth the wait.

Last night, we took the babies to see Yo Gabba Gabba Live! I wasn’t sure how the food situation would be at the venue -- plus, it’s a 1 1/2 hour drive. I decided that some “snacky snack snack snack snacks” were needed, and I turned to Averie and Mama Pea.

I typically make savory tofu, but Averie's Sweet & Sour Honey Lemon Tofu sounded yummy. I didn’t have mango chutney, so I used Goya mango jam combined with 1 tsp. dried ginger. The tofu smelled like a Ricola cough drop while it was marinating, ha ha!

And then -- these things always happen when you're trying to get everything together for a trip -- I forgot about the tofu and took the dog out, and when I got back, Tony was pulling a burnt mess out of the oven. Woops! I managed to salvage about half of it. It was quite tasty, but I didn't get a pic. The tofu was so chewy and sweet, it almost tasted like I was eating dates.

Next up was Mama Pea’s Blackberry Oat Bars. I did not have blackberry jam…so I used mango. Was I on a mission to use up that jar of mango jam, or what? I liked the shimmery golden-orange hue it gave the bars. Like little squares of amber.

Note encroaching toddler hand.

Jackson had to sample some before we hit the road.

By the way, Mama Pea’s recipe calls for brown sugar, which I didn’t have, but I know how to make my own: combine 1 cup white sugar and 1 Tbsp. molasses. You want to mush it with a fork for a few minutes to get the molasses to break down and really blend with the sugar. I love little tricks like this! Note -- your 1 cup of white sugar will magically transform into about 1 1/3 cups of brown sugar, so be sure to re-measure out what you need for your recipe.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pepperoni Pizza

Today I was excited to try another Vegan on the Cheap recipe: Big Stick Pepperoni or, as we referred to it, Disco Stick Pepperoni. And when you have pepperoni, you need to make a pizza.

The dough would have come together in minutes, except that I had a little problem with the tapioca flour. I never used it before, so I expected it to be like…flour. I tore open the package, and a cloud of white powder filled my kitchen. So I had to spend some time wiping down my countertops. For anyone who doesn’t know: tapioca flour is more like cornstarch. That is to say, it can be messy.

Aside from that little mishap, the pepperoni was super easy: mix ingredients together, roll up in pieces of foil, and steam in the oven for an hour. After letting it chill for a couple hours, I sliced it thinly and sautéed it to get it brown and crispy around the edges.

I also got pizza toppings ready: my “parmesan” and my instant red sauce that I use for both pizza and pasta. This makes enough for 1 medium pizza or about 2 servings of pasta.

All-Purpose Red Sauce
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. dried marjoram
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. sugar

Puree all in a blender or food processor – or, if you want it chunky, just stir it all together and use.

Here you see all my bowls of stuff, ready to go.

See, for some reason, I had to wait a little while to turn on the food processor and do the actual pureeing.

But it all worked out.

I haven’t eaten real pepperoni in over 25 years, but apparently, I used to be really into it, because it was the last meat product I gave up when I realized, as a 6-year-old, that meat was animals. I didn’t want to eat animals, so I stopped eating meat. Well, most meat. I hung onto pepperoni pizza for another year or so. And now I can have it again. Even my meat-eating husband said this was amazingly close to the real thing. It has tons of flavor. Tip - make sure to sauté it before using it on a pizza, if you want it slightly crispy, because it didn’t crisp up any more once it was in the oven.

Today is a big day – we’re taking Jackson and Olivia to see Yo Gabba Gabba Live, as our birthday present to Jackson. He's totally going to flip out! I can’t wait to see him get all excited and dance his little toddler heart out. What are your plans today? Have a good day – the weekend is almost here!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tofu Burritos

Today I tried another recipe from my new copy of Vegan on the Cheap -- Salsa Tofu Burritos. I love that the recipes in this book are not only money-saving (this dish cost me nothing, as I had all the ingredients sitting in my fridge), but time-saving. I put these together in 10 minutes. For good measure I covered them with leftover Cheezee Sauce from yesterday.

Sooooo good! I will be making these burritos often. They sorta reminded me of the Taco Bell Cheesarito. During my poor college student days when I lived on nothing but Taco Bell and Subway, the Cheesarito was an item that wasn’t listed on the menu, but I somehow learned of its existence, and ordered it on many a hung over Taco Bell run. It was basically just melted cheese and salsa in a soft tortilla.

Have you ever happened upon vegan versions of old fast food favorites? Or tried to create one yourself?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Leftovers and...New Cookbook!

This chilly fall weather we’re currently experiencing in New York is awesome, especially considering how in Austin, where I used to live, it’s 104 degrees right now. I miss many things about that city, but not the summer heat! I grew up in Michigan, where fall was the best time of the year… the leaves changing colors, the trips to the cider mill, Halloween. I say, bring on the fall!

To stay warm, I’ve been drinking hot tea all day. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Or both? I like the occasional iced coffee, and we drink tons of sweet iced tea. But on cool days, I gotta have a mug of chai or Earl Grey in my hands.

My lunch was thrown together…I needed to use up the cucumber-cashew tzatziki sauce I made the other day to dip my falafels in. So I turned it into a pasta sauce. It went perfectly with some penne and steamed broccoli.

After lunch, I checked the mail and I was delighted to find my copy of Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap that I won. Before I even finished looking through it, I was in the kitchen making some Cheezee Sauce. It couldn’t be easier…I measured everything into the saucepan and let it bubble away while I washed a few dishes, and within minutes, it was ready. It was delicious, warm and gooey… as you can see, I was scarfing it down straight off the stovetop.

I’ve been trying to put together meals from my pantry staples and not get carried away buying pricy little jars of gourmet ingredients to use in one specific recipe and then they sit in my fridge for months until they grow fur (uh, not that I’ve done that before, ha ha). So this is the perfect cookbook at the perfect time, and I’ll be posting some more reviews in the near future.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scone Challenge

The other night we were sitting around waiting for Mad Men to come on and wondering if Jackson planned on going to sleep anytime soon (yeah right), when Tony randomly said, “You know those vanilla bean scones I get at Starbucks? Could you make something like that?” How could I turn down a challenge to top Starbucks? (Not that I have anything against Starbucks, because they seem to encourage complicated drink orders and don’t laugh when I order a tall decaf soy hazelnut latte...iced.)

Thanks to the Basic Scones recipe in Vegan With A Vengeance, Tony was happily chomping on a scone in less than an hour. I’m not in the habit of keeping vanilla beans around…maybe I should, but they’re so expensive…so I came up with my own easy-peasy glaze.

Super Vanilla Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp. margarine, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Combine all, and drizzle over scones or...anything, really.

The scones were a hit. They weren’t dry and crumbly like the Starbucks ones, more like soft, lightly sweetened little biscuits. Who wants dry and crumbly, anyway?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rainy Day Falafel and Tabouli

On a rainy Sunday, it’s a given that I’ll spend some time in the kitchen, preparing little things for us to nibble on as we relax and enjoy the gloomy weather (and we do enjoy it, as long as we don’t have to go anywhere!) This time, I decided to make falafels and tabouli.

I followed the Momo’s Falafel recipe from The Garden of Vegan because it’s really fast. You just puree the chickpea mixture in the food processor, form it into patties, and sauté them until golden brown.

To go with the falafel, I prepared the vegan tzatziki sauce from Veganomicon. The cashews and cucumber gave it a smooth, creamy texture, and its strong garlicky, lemony taste is completely addictive.

Finally, I made a quinoa tabouli, simply because I had quinoa on hand and was out of bulgur.

Quinoa Tabouli
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
¼ tsp. salt
2 small tomatoes, chopped
½ cucumber, seeded and grated
½ carrot, grated
1 cup parsley, minced
2 Tbsp. flax oil
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt

Combine the quinoa, water and ¼ tsp. salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prep your veggies. When the quinoa is done, dump it into your serving bowl and fluff it with a fork. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, parsley, flax oil, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine. I don’t like to serve it when the quinoa is hot, so I stick in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mexican Food for the Birthday Boy

I can't believe my little baby Jackson is two years old! It's amazing how quickly he has gone from a sweet, tiny bundle who slept constantly, to a spirited little boy who is very clear about his opinions and wants to do everything himself! My wish for him is that he will always be this sure of who he is and not afraid to express it.

Jackson's favorite food in the world is chips and salsa (just like his daddy), so it was only fitting that we went to eat Mexican food yesterday. We were excited to try Mexican Radio, which has won all kinds of "Best of" awards and offers vegan options of practically everything on their menu.

We got completely lost on our way to Hudson,NY, about an hour away from us. The road was closed and the detour led us deep into the corn fields and back roads...then ended. We couldn't see a sign or anything telling us which way to go! It ended up taking us two hours to get there.

But, we were rewarded for all our navigating and backtracking with an awesome meal. We started with chips and salsa, of course. The salsa had just the right amount of heat and tasted fresh. It was hard to choose, but I eventually ordered the Triple Enchiladas Mole. This way, I got to try all three varieties of mole sauce. My meal consisted of: tofu enchilada with house mole, roasted veggie enchilada with mole verde, and spinach enchilada with raspberry-chipotle mole. They arrived drizzled with vegan crema, yum!

The house mole vaguely reminded me of an oatmeal cookie! I suppose because it was made with raisins and cinnamon. It had a definite sweetness. The mole verde was the spiciest of the bunch. And the raspberry-chipotle mole, combined with the extremely garlicky spinach, had almost an Indian flavor. I liked all three but I think the raspberry-chipotle was my favorite.

Jackson had beans and rice, and Tony the omnivore had some chicken enchiladas with red sauce, which he said were very good.

Baby Olivia is usually pretty chill in restaurants. She knows it won't be long until she gets to join in the eating.

After our meal, we walked up and down Warren St., the main street of Hudson. It's lined on both sides with art galleries, antique shops, little cafes, and old buildings. The Caroline Ramersdorfer sculptures in the John Davis Gallery were fascinating, and the necklaces in Ornamentum were so pretty, I couldn't tell if they were meant to be worn as jewelry or displayed as art.

I liked the multi-colored roof tiles on this old house.

This boarded-up church was sorta creepy.

This doormat caught my eye.

And this little guy made me smile.

I liked Hudson -- it's cute and arty, and now that we know how to get there without any corn fields being invoved, I'm sure we'll go back and check out some more galleries and shops. And I gotta get some more of those mole enchiladas for sure.

Hope you're having fun this weekend!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cashew Cheese and Lucky Me!

I’m in a great mood today. First I found out I won a copy of Robin Robertson’s Vegan On The Cheap. I’ve been following Two Vegan Boys’ cook-through of this book, and all the recipes sound so delicious. Plus, Tony and I have committed to building our savings over the next few months, and I’m sure this book will show me new tricks to save money on groceries. That will be awesome, because groceries are SO expensive here. I’m still in sticker shock over “east coast prices,” it’s crazy!

Second, I was honored with a Versatile Blogger Award from the lovely Jenny at vegan and so forth. My blog is just a baby, I’m still learning how to make my posts the way I want them -- I certainly didn’t expect to get any kind of award. Thank you so much, Jenny!

The rules for this award are:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award
2. Tell 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to 10 bloggers you’ve recently discovered and you think are fantastic!

7 things:
1. My favorite thing to do is travel. I love planning a trip and having it to look forward to. These days, with two little ones, we're limited to road trips, but that’s fine because we’re in a new part of the country (new to us) and there’s lots to explore. I’m pretty good at reading maps, following driving directions and orienting myself in a new city. I think delivering pizza in the days before Mapquest helped me develop these skills.
2. I’ve lived in Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and New York. And we are hoping to move again soon -- not sure where -- it’s always an adventure!
3. I enjoy doing yoga, going to art galleries, going to concerts, cooking of course, and sleeping! I am a big sleeper, I need my 8 hours to be totally functional!
4. I'm the world’s slowest reader. I like to read, but it takes me forever to finish anything. I used to feel embarrassed because I had not read all the “classics,” but now I don’t think it has affected my life too badly.
5. I absolutely love getting all dressed up and will look for any excuse to do so.
6. My favorite movie is The Philadelphia Story, followed by The Royal Tenenbaums. My taste ranges from arty French films to Will Ferrell movies.
7. I’m blessed with a strong immune system and am rarely sick. I’ve never broken a bone, and never spent the night in the hospital until I had Jackson. On the other hand, I bump into things constantly and my legs are usually covered in bruises. Sexy!

And now I have 10 awards to give out -- how do I choose? Here goes!
1. Shorty can burn!
2. Lima’s Vegan Kitchen
3. Seitanic Vegan Heathen
4. The Shenandoah Vegan
5. Blessed Vegan Life
6. That Pain in the Ass Vegan
7. Snacking Squirrel
8. Allotment 2 Kitchen
9. Wing-It Vegan
10. Feeding Tiny Vegans

That was fun!...Now, on to the food!

I have no desire to go back to eating real cheese, but man, sometimes I really miss eating cheese and crackers! I used to snack on Wheat Thins and cream cheese practically every day. Looking for a solution to my craving, I made a batch of Basic Nut Cheese (by the way, that has got to be the most unappealing name ever for a vegan dish) from The 30 Minute Vegan, using cashews that I soaked for 2 hours beforehand as suggested.

My results were mixed at first. It was WAY too watery. I would suggest adding the 1 ¼ cups of water called for in the recipe only if you want a very thin cheese sauce. I wanted a pate' to eat with crackers, so I ended up adding another full cup of cashews to get it to the thick, creamy consistency I was after. Then it was fine. It was actually better than fine. It tasted great and I couldn’t wait to eat some. For lunch I mixed it with leftover seitan taco meat from Taco Night, along with taco sauce, chopped tomato and avocado, to make some awesome cheesy nachos.

For dinner, the main event – cheese pizza! I scattered a few chopped kalamata olives on top and that’s all that was needed. This cheese is so flavorful and it has such a creamy texture…a little thicker than ricotta, for comparison. Yum! Tony liked it too; he said it was one of the best faux cheeses I’ve made.

Note -- the recipe suggests adding some fresh herbs to the cashew cheese for flavor. I didn’t have any, so I added 1 tsp. dried rosemary. It worked fine in both my dishes. I think next time I make this cheese specifically for a Mexican dish, I’ll add some chopped pickled jalapeno or maybe some cumin. For a pizza, oregano or basil would be nice.

Whew! This post wore me out, I think I might need 9 hours of sleep tonight. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Seitan Tacos and Mango Smoothie

Last night I wanted to run some errands and work out after Tony got home from work, so I needed to make a quick dinner that wouldn't keep me in the kitchen too long. Luckily I had a pound of steamed white seitan from Viva Vegan in the freezer, so I set that out to thaw and declared it Taco Night.

I cut the seitan into thin pieces and browned it in a pan with 1/2 onion.

Then I added 1/2 cup water and 2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (I used the spice blend from Vegan Comfort Food, but the packaged kind is fine too) and let it cook down until the liquid evaporated.

I chopped up some tomato and avocado, filled up the taco shells and doused everything with some taco sauce, and dinner was served.

This morning I made the discovery that coconut milk makes a typical smoothie like 100x better, so I would like to share this newfound knowledge with you.

Coco-Mango Smoothie
1 cup frozen mango pieces
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup soymilk
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
a few drops stevia to taste
Blend it all up!

It was hard but I did manage to share some with Jackson before gulping down the rest myself. Here he is enjoying it with his new Yo Gabba Gabba cup and bowl. If you have little ones, are they as OBSESSED with this show as he is? He would watch it all day if I let him. And then I wonder why I go around humming "There's a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

I bought a giant thing of russet potatoes last week, thinking that mashed potatoes would be a good post-wisdom-teeth food. I didn't really get around to eating them up. So I decided to make a shepherd's pie, with a nice mashed potato crust. I had never made one before but it was pretty simple, if a bit time-consuming. I went by the recipe in How It All Vegan (which I feel I should point out is on page 110, because it's not listed in the index, or at least I couldn't find it under Shepherd's Pie or Entrees).

I made the mashed potatoes first, in the morning. I also cooked some lentils. I didn't have green lentils like the recipe calls for, so I used brown. Later I came back and sauteed the veggies and assembled the pie and baked it. I was worried that the pie would be on the dry side, since there's no gravy. So, while it was baking, I made a batch of Sage Gravy from Vegan Comfort Food.

For me, the gravy really made the pie, but Tony preferred it without, so it's a matter of personal taste. I thought it turned out perfectly. It's comfort food but it's also healthy. Next time I make it, I'll add some cubed tofu, because the lack of protein made it hard to feel full. I also think it's a pain to cook the lentils first, especially when the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup. Next time I'll probably add 1/4 cup red lentils and 1/2 cup gravy to the veggie mixture, and let the lentils cook while the pie is baking. Red lentils cook up super fast because they are tiny, so I think that would work. Finally, the recipe calls for onion, carrots, spinach, celery and tomato, but you could throw in any vegetable under the sun and it would work, so it's a great way to clean out the crisper drawer in your fridge (or use up your garden bounty, for you lucky ones with gardens!)

Now I'm off to our local library for the first time to get a library card. They're supposed to have a great children's section, so I'm excited to get Jackson some new books to read, for free. Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I actually was a librarian, so I feel a little embarrassed that I've lived here for nine months and I'm just now visiting the library! Oh well, at least I'm doing it now. What are your plans for the day?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mujadara (Lentils and Rice)

I've eaten the Middle Eastern dish called mujadara (I've also seen it spelled majadra or megadarra) in a few restaurants. I like its comforting simplicity, but I find it a little on the bland side. When I make it at home, I spice it up. Here's my version, which is adapted from the Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions recipe in Veganomicon. This serves two hungry people.

1 large onion (any kind, today I used red)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves

Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the onion thinly and toss with olive oil on a big parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. You want the onion to caramelize, turning brown and slightly crispy.

While the onions are doing their thing, combine the rice and lentils in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Add the cinnamon stick, cumin, salt, allspice and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30-40 minutes or until it's nice and mushy. Remove from the heat and add the caramelized onions, stirring to combine. Serve.

I like to serve it topped with a few thin slices of pickled banana pepper, which I realize is probably not a traditional Middle Eastern topping, but it sure does taste good.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Banana Ice Cream

I've seen tons of blog posts raving about banana soft-serve ice cream and I had to try it for myself. As far as I can tell, it originated here on Choosing Raw. Or at least, that's the recipe I used. I threw a few frozen bananas in my food processor and made a quick chocolate sauce by simply blending cocoa powder with agave syrup and a pinch of salt. It's unbelievably easy. I also added a scoop of peanut butter to the bananas, because what's better than peanut butter and bananas? Elvis was really onto something there. Jackson knows what I'm talking about.

It's a rainy, gloomy day here but also a busy day, as we have to take my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to the airport. It's been so nice having them here to visit and help take care of the kids. Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes regarding my oral surgery! I'm still being careful not to drink out of straws so as to avoid the dreaded "dry socket" but I think I'm healing up nicely. It really wasn't a big deal and I should be back to my normal diet in a few more days. In the meantime, I've got a giant bag of frozen bananas, so I'm all set!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats

I know many of my fellow vegan bloggers love their oats and can really dress them up! But I admit, I'm usually a strict consumer of milk and cereal in the morning. My cereal shelf rivals Seinfeld's. However, my poor jaw isn't up to the task of crunching down a bowl of granola yet, so today I turned to oats. I was inspired by Katie and Averie's concoctions to make a hedonistic little breakfast of my own.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats
Combine 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water and a pinch of salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 2 minutes. While it's hot, stir in 1 Tbsp. peanut butter. Top with soymilk and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. Add a few drops of stevia to reach desired sweetness.

I used Peanut Butter & Co.'s White Chocolate Wonderful, which I guess technically made it Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats.

This peanut butter was a treat I picked up at Whole Foods. When I lived in Austin, I had a Whole Foods right down the street and it totally spoiled me. Now the nearest one is over an hour away. We make the drive every couple of months, and when we get there, I'm like a kid in a toy store! I'm pretty disciplined in my weekly grocery shopping -- my mom taught me at a young age to make a weekly menu, make your grocery list from the menu, and stick to it -- and going to Whole Foods or Trader Joes is an indulgence for me. Once this jar is gone, it's back to regular peanut butter, and that's fine. What are some foods that you consider special treats?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Samosa Mashed Potato Pancakes

I’m chewing again! Hooray! 48 hours after getting my wisdom teeth out, I can eat solid foods that are on the mushy side. That’s something, anyway.

My temporary liquid diet did provide the perfect opportunity to try the Nutiva HempShake I picked up on my last trip to Whole Foods. I blended it up with some soymilk and a frozen banana. It tasted fine. It wasn’t super chocolatey; I could definitely tell it was a “healthy” shake rather than a decadent chocolate milkshake. I’ve never tasted hemp seeds but I’m imagining they taste somewhat like pine nuts? Because that’s what I got from this shake. Mostly, I was impressed that it provided 7 grams of protein and nearly half of my daily fiber. It gave me a boost of energy after a day of subsisting on popsicles and ice cream (not that I was complaining about eating ice cream for breakfast.)

When I woke up this morning, I needed some REAL food. What I wanted was Indian buffet…but what my mouth could handle was something along the textural lines of baby food. The compromise: samosa mashed potato pancakes from Vegan Brunch! I’ve made these many times and I love the depth of flavor that all the Indian spices bring to the table. To me, that is the number one sign of a memorable recipe that should be made again and again – when you take that first bite and the flavor is so powerful and complex, you have to go back for more.

Today my boys are having a birthday outing to the city (Tony’s birthday was last week and Jackson turns two in a couple weeks), while I am going to enjoy some peaceful one-on-one time with my Miss Olivia. I hope you all are having a fun, relaxing weekend!

P.S., Robin Robertson is giving away not one but two copies of Vegan on the Cheap. Check it out!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BBQ Tempeh Sandwich

I got this BBQ Tempeh recipe from The 30 Minute Vegan. I can’t remember the last time I tried BBQ sauce before making this version. I always assumed I wouldn’t like it because it’s sweet. Well, this sauce is a little sweet, but it’s also smoky and delicious. It’s one of those “winners” that I return to every couple of weeks. My omnivore husband also loves it, to the point where he will make a special request for it.

In the past I’ve substituted tofu, but tofu just doesn’t suck up all that lovely sauce the way tempeh does. I like to serve the tempeh on a ciabatta roll with a little Veganaise, tomato and lettuce, and extra BBQ sauce for good measure. A pickle doesn’t hurt either.

Once we got the sandwiches assembled we must've been too excited to take pictures, because this was the only pic I got, fresh outta the oven.

And now it’s time to do some meditation exercises and psych myself up for this afternoon’s trip to the oral surgeon. Jackson says, “Don’t worry mama, I’ll still love you with four fewer teeth.” (Actually he's cheesing it up in hopes that I will let him have another pickle, but I imagine that's what he is thinking.)