Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Shopping

Yesterday was Black Friday.  Did you get up early to take advantage of sales, or stay far away from the stores? We avoided the shops on Friday, knowing the parking lot and checkout lines would be crazy.  But we did do a little shopping today.  

Why does Blogger have this habit of turning some of my pictures sideways, like the one above? I can't figure out how to flip it back the way it should be. Thanks Blogger, but I want landscape, not portrait.

Anyway, my personal jeans, red flats, purple tights, blue nail polish, blue belt, and some new eyeshadow. I feel a bit weird buying for myself at this time of year.  However, since my birthday is coming up, I did treat myself to a few items.

When I got home, I checked the mail and found this...

As if the day didn't already feel like Christmas, I received my copy of The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet that I won from Kimmy, of the Vegan Conversion Challenge blog.  Thank you so much, Kimmy! The burger recipes look awesome and I can't wait to try them out.

For dinner we heated up some leftovers.  Then, while Tony got a fire going, I made some Eggless Eggnog (from How It All Vegan).

I have to say I like this recipe better than any of the store-bought vegan eggnogs I've tried.  It takes only a minute to throw together, and I sweeten it with stevia, so I don't feel bad about drinking a lot of empty calories.

Jackson doesn't care about calories, he just loves some tasty eggnog. Even more yummy because he helped me make it! 

Have a lovely evening! We're going to.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving '11

I have so many things to be thankful for this year. I'm thankful that my health problems, which started back in August, finally appear to be mostly cleared up. This means I'm enjoying spending time in the kitchen again.  If I don't feel like cooking, I don't feel like me -- so I'm incredibly thankful that I had the good health and energy to prepare today's feast. I love to take care of my family by cooking for them.

Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving in New York. This year we are back in Texas. Who knows what big changes will come over the course of the next year? I've always found it challenging to deal with uncertainty -- I want to know what's going to happen next. But I have to be thankful for the experiences that help us learn and grow and for the surprises that life brings, because they are what keeps it so interesting.

And of course I am thankful for family and friends, near and far. And that definitely includes y'all. Happy Thanksgiving!

This year we had tofurkey (homemade -- the recipe is from How It All Vegan) with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, roasted brussels sprouts, and pumpkin garlic knots. I made the knots last year using Angela's recipe, and they were such a hit that I had to make them again. For dessert, a vegan cheesecake (from 1000 Vegan Recipes) topped with strawberries that I cooked down to a syrupy consistency. Everything was so good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Up Goes the Tree

Since we did our Thanksgiving traveling last week, visiting family in Oklahoma, we are looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend at home. To make things feel a little more festive, we decided to go ahead and put up our Christmas decorations.

This is Olivia's second Christmas and, for the first time, she's big enough to help put up the tree.

However, she was a little more interested in the decorations. Like her mama, she is all about the sparkly.

Jackson has learned to wink, it cracks me up. He is such a cheese ball.

Somehow, all the trimmings eventually ended up on the tree.

I still haven't decided which is my favorite soup recipe from Appetite for Reduction -- the Arabian Lentil & Rice, or the Smoky Split Pea.  Rather than force myself to choose between them, I'm making both soups this week. Here is the Arabian Lentil & Rice. I love the strong lemon and cumin flavors.  Sorry for the shadowy pic -- it gets dark early now.

 I've started keeping bars in my diaper bag at all times, for when the kids get snacky in the car. I picked up these seasonal Clif Bars -- Peppermint Stick, Iced Gingerbread, and Spiced Pumpkin Pie. I don't really want to share the Peppermint Stick with them, but I do.

I also picked up some time-saving frozen falafel balls and Cedar's stuffed grape leaves. The only thing I made for this meal was the hummus.  The grape leaves are awesome! They're filled with rice that has been seasoned with dill and lemon juice.  I've also had the kind that are flavored with tomato sauce and cinnamon, and I'm not a fan. Lemon and dill is where it's at!  Have you ever made your own stuffed grape leaves? I am thinking about giving it a try.

Next day for lunch, we had a few more falafels and stuffed grape leaves to finish off, so I made a couple more finger foods to go along with them. I put my oven on double duty, baking a tray of Alexia sweet potato puffs and roasting a head of broccoli.  The sweet potato puffs are amazing! They're basically tater tots made from yams -- is that the best idea or what? The only thing is, what do you dip them in? I don't really like the combination of sweet potato and ketchup, so I was just eating them plain. Maybe some kind of Veganise-based dip? I am open to suggestions. :)

Today, while out with the kids, I picked up a popcorn tofu po'boy from Wheatsville. This sandwich is so huge, it provided lunch for all three of us, along with some ginger tempeh pasta salad on the side.

And now, I'm off to make a vegan cheesecake! Since it's just our little family at Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, we can make whatever we want. Tony doesn't do pumpkin pie, so cheesecake it is.

I know I have so much to be thankful for, tomorrow and every day. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lunch at Spiral Diner

We spent last week in Oklahoma visiting Tony's family.  We had a great time. I love me some Oklahoma! I lived there for ten years, and I can honestly say that the best people in the world are from Oklahoma. I even married one of them!

As a bonus, on our drive up there, we stopped in Fort Worth to eat lunch at Spiral Diner.

Jackson and Olivia are all about dipping their food, so we decided to order a couple of appetizers for them to share. The Chip & Dip Party included salsa, guacamole, and cashew-based queso.

We also ordered them some hummus. It was a huge bowl of hummus! Even for a family of hummus fiends, we had to have most of it boxed up to take with us.

Olivia loves her chips and dips!

Jackson saw a picture of an ice cream cone on the menu, and started asking for ice cream. We were on vacation, so why not have ice cream at lunch?  He loved his strawberry "I-Scream," as they call it.

I had the Veggie Wrap, chock full of greens, carrot, cucumber, peas, olives and raisins, dressed with some amazing ranch dressing. I was happy to be able to get a big serving of veggies while on the road. The wrap came with a side of pesto pasta salad, which was delicious. I love pesto.

Tony had the Sketti & Meatballs. It looked so good, covered in marinara sauce, pesto, and pine nuts. But, he complained that the spaghetti was overcooked. Mushy pasta is never a good thing. He did like the soy meatballs a lot.

I want to say thank you to the bloggers who have presented me with a Liebster award. Liebster is apparently the German word for "dearest" or "beloved." So, Christine at Christine's Chatter, Bethany at Bananas for Smoothies, and Cheryl at A Midlife Vegan+ -- thank you so much, ladies, I am honored!

Friday, November 18, 2011

So Delicious Review

Recently...OK, not so recently...back in July (sorry!)...So Delicious was awesome enough to send me some coupons to try out a variety of their dairy-free products.
The coconut milk creamer is rich and non-curdling in tea or coffee. It can also be used in cooking -- for example, to make a pasta sauce a little more decadent and creamy.


If you didn't know (I didn't), So Delicious coconut milk is nothing like the cans of thick coconut milk that you would use to make a curry. It's thin like a dairy or soymilk. It comes in original, unsweetened, and vanilla flavors. And it doesn't really taste like coconut at all, if you're worried about that.  I enjoyed it on my chia oats.


The only thing that stops me from buying it regularly is that one serving contains 25% of your daily saturated fat. So if you're using it on your morning cereal, and then you have some in your coffee, and then you have milk and cookies later, or whatever, you might be ingesting more saturated fat than you planned to. But I do buy it on occasion, just to switch things up from our usual soymilk.

We tried three different types of ice cream sandwich "Minis" -- vanilla (made with coconut milk), lowfat vanilla (made with soymilk), and lowfat neapolitan (made with soymilk).  They were all fabulous. A perfect little treat on a hot day -- which we had far too many of, back when we were sampling these products.

Next we tried the coconut milk yogurt.

We loved the chocolate flavor. It could be eaten as a dessert. I've bought it several times since I originally tried it.  I also sampled the mango flavor, but it had a tartness I didn't care for.

Next up, cultured coconut milk. I guess it's similar to a kefir drink. The live cultures are supposed to be beneficial.  We had the strawberry flavor -- there's also chocolate and vanilla.  It has a thick, smoothie-like texture that Jackson and Olivia love. I have bought this from time to time and it never lasts long, because they want to drink it all up.

Finally, coconut milk ice cream.  I love mint chocolate chip. I'm not sure why I bought the sugar-free variety, but there you go. 

Now this product, I would say, should be eaten as a very rare treat, as one serving contains 45% of your daily saturated fat. It's super rich, and pretty yummy.

I'm so very grateful to So Delicious for their generosity.  Do you like their products? Have you tried their holiday beverages yet? The nog has been calling to me, and then today at Natural Grocers I noticed there is also a mint chocolate drink. Yum!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Molly Monkey's Visit

This week, Jackson brought his friend Molly Monkey home to stay with us. Molly has been making the rounds among Jackson's classmates, and now it's our turn to play host to her. As with any houseguest, the first thing we did was make sure we had her favorite foods on hand.

We planned some outings to entertain our guest. A trip to the park...

Weeee! Be brave, Molly.

Jackson has never shown interest in a stuffed animal before in his life, but I can tell Molly is different.  He hasn't put her down.

In addition to bananas, one evening I made a risotto with roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts.  I was inspired by Carla who posted this delicious dinner back during Vegan MoFo.  You can roast the veggies in the same time it makes to cook the risotto and have dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

Another night, I made tofu bacon, recipe courtesy of the Vegan Cookbook Aficionado.  I skipped the freezing and thawing of the tofu. Instead I pressed it in my Tofu XPress and used a serrated knife to cut thin slices.  It turned out great! Crispy, salty and smoky.  (It's also quite greasy when you take it out of the pan, but you can transfer it directly onto some paper towels and that will soak up a lot of the oil.)  It was fabulous on a rye bread BLT.

One evening when it was just me and the kiddos, I had a craving for stuffed mushrooms. These are Melissa's Stuffed Mushrooms from La Dolce Vegan.  Garlicky and amazing!

And here's my attempt to replicate Sabra's Supremely Spicy hummus at home. That stuff is like crack for me.  In a small bowl, I combined minced roasted red pepper, chili pepper flakes, and some olive oil. I let it sit for awhile to combine the flavors, then spooned it over some basic hummus. It wasn't quite as spicy as I wanted, so I sprinkled more chili pepper flakes on top after I took this picture. Not quite as good as Sabra's, but it'll definitely do in a pinch.  Yum!

Thanks for visiting, Molly!

And thank you for visiting me here. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween!

My brave firefighter and loyal firehouse dalmation had a blast last night, traipsing up and down our street (all two blocks of it) and filling their pumpkins with candy.

Hope your Halloween was spooky and amazing!