01 December 2010

Viva Vegan!

I love getting cookbooks from the library. It seems impossible to judge the merits of a good cookbook online or in the few minutes you have to flip through it at the book store. I think the only time I buy cookbooks now is from Half Price Books because how can you go wrong with a $5 cookbook? I was excited to get Terry Hope Romero's "Viva Vegan!: 200 Authentic and Fabulous Recipes for Latin Food Lovers" as it has gotten great reviews from a number of veggie and non-veggie sources alike. I was maybe half way through the second chapter of this book (Salsas and Condimentos) when I shut the book, put it down, and decided I just needed to buy it.

When I'm only checking out a cookbook, I usually write the page numbers for the recipes I like on the back of the rental due receipt. When I finally decided this was a book I just needed to own, I had already written down about 20 numbers!

The recipes are all vegan (duh!), but are easily adaptable to vegetarian palettes as well. Latin food has been friend to the vegetarian for a long time with it's dishes rich with beans and veggies. Who even misses the meat when you have Cuban Black Bean Soup, Fried Sweet Plantains, Arepas, Creamy Corn-Crusted Seitan Pot Pie, and Dulce Batata?

The book also includes some simple seitan recipes (can you ever have enough) and is conscious of what products are and are not readily available in your local supermarket. I'm lucky to live in Texas so I have easy access to things like plantains, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, yucca, and more. I cannot wait to make so many things from this book!

13 November 2010

Use Your Noodle!

I was never a fan of noodle dishes when I ate at Chinese restaurants. Why would I get lo mein when I could have sweet and sour chicken? I am also not the biggest fan of soup so would avoid those dishes like the plague. Now that I no longer delight in chicken, it was time to give serious thought to noodles. Right off the bat I love the look of udon noodles, like thicker, soft spaghetti. Second, the brand I bought was fully cooked and came in two packages so I didn't need to cook more than what I needed for myself. (I'm kicking myself right now because I can't find the picture of the package!) The finished product of this lightly fried dish was heaven and I was so happy to have some leftover for lunch the next day. It re-heated very well in the microwave.

I've adapted this recipe from "The Kind Diet" with my changes in green. [side note: the following pictures reflect the recipe as written with a few additions. I did not limit the paprika as I suggest you do]

Fried Udon Noodles
(serves 2)

1 8-oz package udon noodles
2 T olive oil
2 c sliced green cabbage
1 c half-moon onion slices
2 t finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 T sweet paprika (1 T or 2 t paprika, depending on your taste)
1 T low-sodium Tamari
salt & pepper to taste
chopped parsley to garnish

1. Cook udon noodles as per package directions and set aside. (This is where I used the Tamari. I think I will heat them in water first instead so they don't fry as long, then add the Tamari to the cabbage when I add the onions).

2. Heat 1 T oil in large skillet or wok over medium heat. (I'm so excited, I just got a wok at IKEA for $4!!! I can't wait to use it next time). Add cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 15 minutes. Add a teaspoon or so of water to the pan if the cabbage begins to stick or burn.

3. Heat the remaining oil over medium-high in a separate pan. Add onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook until onions are translucent, again add a teaspoon of water if the onions start to stick. (This may be hard to tell when the onions are ready. The paprika really coats those suckers! I would give it about 5-8 minutes). 

3. Add onion mixture to the cabbage and stir to combine. Add drained noodles and toss together until heated through. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!

I really shouldn't have put this in a red bowl, but you get the idea. It was so delicious!! This is a great recipe for Meatless Monday or a quick dinner.

06 November 2010

Vegan MOFO

So, it's Vegan MOFO (Month of Food) and bloggers all around the world are participating. As a vegan flirt and lazy food blogger (really, I think I would post more if I had the internet at home, but it's a real pain in the tukus to upload, transfer, download, load, etc. etc. etc.). Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yea, so for the above reasons I am not participating. I am trying to eat more vegan meals this month and so far so good. I promise to post some of my delicious creations very soon!

One of my favorite bloggers, An Opera Singer in the Kitchen is participating and she posted a really cool survey that I am totally stealing. I changed some of the questions to reflect a vegetarian lifestyle and not just vegan. Thanks!!!

1. What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegetarian, but don’t?
Steak. I thought I would miss it more than anything but it's the weird things I miss, like hot dogs.

2. What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?
Anything with veggies! I only liked green beans, carrots, and ice berg lettuce. Period. Now, I eat all kinds of interesting things like asperegus (in small quantities), avocados, cabbage, radishes, parsnips, etc.
3. What vegan dish or food you feel like you should like, but don’t?
Vegan cheese, except Daiya but that's only good for pizzas or quesadillas or where ever it can be melted. This is one of the reasons I am not vegan.
4. What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?

Water or pomegranet cranberry juice

5. What dish are you famous for making or bringing to gatherings?

I don't know! I think I'm just famous for bringing something homemade.

6. Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?

Oh, I'm sure there are a lot I just can't think of. I am still nervous about a few veggies like beets and Brussel sprouts. I don't like nuts in desert (though the vegan brownies at Spiral Diner are amazing!)
7. What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?

Fudge. Or at least that's what I'm guilty of eating right now!

8. What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?

Pizza. I love homemade pizza!
9. What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get the good stuff?

10. Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?

I try not to keep a lot of snacks around but it's usually a piece of candy or something. Thankfully, I can easily eat just a few spoonfuls of ice cream or gelato, or just a couple pieces of fudge.
11. What are your favorite vegan/veggie pizza toppings?

Field Roast Italian Sausage. I am also in love with marinated artichoke hearts on pizza. yum!
12. What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?

Green Beans and apples.
13. What is the best salad dressing?

It changes. I eat a lot less Ranch dressing now that I'm vegetarian which is weird. Maybe it's just that I've grown up. I usually do a simple Balsamic with oil, or French dressing, or homemade Mustard Shallot dressing.
14. What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?

American Cheese! Honey is a close second.
15. What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?

Okay, I think I can answer one of the above questions better now. I am not a soup fan. Growing up soup always meant you were sick. Now, I like it every once and a while and I always keep some on hand, but I never really go for it. That being said, Whole Foods makes an amazing Roast Garlic Potato soup that I really like with crostini.

16. What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?

Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing.
17. What is your favorite kind of cookie?

Chocolate Chocolate Chip (vegan)

18. What is your most-loved weeknight meal?

Tempeh Piccatta (converted from "The Kind Diet")
19. What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?

It's just me so none! Though, I'm nervous about my birthday this year. Where can I go that my parents will also enjoy??
20. Favorite non-dairy milk?

So Delicious Coconut Milk Unsweetend. It is yummy in oatmeal, eggs, deserts, anything. I'm still having a problem drinking it straight, but what are you gonna do?
21. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?

Disaster? Failure? I know none of these things! (Although, as much as I love to make curry, I don't like that my apartment smells like it for days afterward)
22. Favorite pickled item?

Pickles! I'm also on the hunt for an inexpensive Kimchi.
23. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?

Apples, eggs, and black bread
24. Fondest food memory from your childhood?

I loved watching my Dad cook. He and my mother had completely different styles. He never used a recipe and rarely measured anything. The whole house would smell great while he was concocting something new.
25. Favorite vegan ice cream?

I like gelato. So Delicious Coconut Water gelato in Lemonaid is wonderful!
26. Most loved kitchen appliance?

Is it lame to pick my rubber spatula? It's perfect for flipping and mixing and stirring. I heart it.
27. Spice/herb you would die without?

Shallots. I am obsessed.
28. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

Strawberry Rhubarb
29. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

Enchilada's with seitan and peppers. My best friend couldn't believe they were vegetarian!
30. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

Tempeh. I'll change my answer to seitan when I learn how to make it from scratch!

31. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

I love breakfast. I only really cook it on my days off so it's a real treat. I also love to make nibbly bits for parties.
32. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.

Frozen veggies and fruit, puff pastry, Quorn Turk'y Roast
33. What’s on your grocery list?

Food grade lavender blossoms. I think I'll have to special order them and it bums me out.
34. Favorite grocery store?

Whole Foods or Central Market
35. Name a recipe you’d love to make vegetarian, but haven’t yet.

City Chicken- a pan fried veal dish my Dad makes
36. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it everyday).
Some days I feel like that's all I read! I like An Opera Singer in the Kitchen, C'est la Vegan, and Kirsten's Kitchen
37. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?

Vegan chocolate chips are awesome. Also, Oreo's are now vegan!

38. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?

I bought this crazy salt that I still haven't used. It's a really pretty lavender colour and smells divine! I think I'll use it in my next egg dish. I also finally bought liquid smoke and my Boca burgers thank me!

03 November 2010

It's Pronounced Nj-okie

Is there something better than gnocchi on the planet? Okay, that may be a totally false statement but it doesn't detract for the fact that I love these little Italian potato dumplings. I've always wanted to make them at home but they seemed labor intensive, not to mention space intensive. Lucky me to discover you can by pre-made gnocchi at better food stores. These came from Central Market and were chosen for the soul reason that there were more ingredients I recognized and the Nutritional label was a bit better (in terms of salt, fat, etc).

They were also super simple to make, though if you are trying gnocchi for the first time it could be tricky. It's hard to tell when these suckers are ready! I topped mine with some sauteed garlic and homemade pesto. So yummy!

What to do with leftovers? I combined them with a bit more olive oil, cheese (Italian blend) and topped with breadcrumbs to bake at about 350 for about 10 minutes or until the cheese was melted and the bread crumbs crisp. Pretty yummy. I would have loved a bit more sauce in the baked version and will probably make a light, vegan white sauce next time. If only I had white wine on hand that night...

02 October 2010

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas is the largest state fair in the country. It's so grand and unique in nature that Oprah filmed an entire episode there. The Fair is also home to a fried food contest that brings the most innovative and often delicious treats to visitors. Past winners have included fried butter, fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, fired short ribs, and fried peanut butter and jelly and banana sandwiches. This years treats (and tricks) were no different:
** Here I am sampling some fried green beans while the local news looks on. These are probably my favorite thing at the fair. Mostly because I can lie to myself that it's healthful (there's veggies in there yo!), but also because there are only so many treats for a vegetarian to enjoy. They are yummy and totally worth it!

** The food pavilion features food from around the world and so delicious! The carnivorous crew members indulged in turkey legs and fried short ribs, but we were on a more serious mission: Fried Beer. The winner of Most Original, it was hiding somewhere in the pavilion and we had to find it. While waiting in line, a fellow fair goer asked us if we wanted her fried beer. She said is was disgusting, put the basket in our hands, and walked away. She didn't even want any tickets for it! Of course, we couldn't take her word for it. Let me just say that if I never have to see, hear, or taste fried beer again it will be too soon. Imagine a salty ravioli filled with Shiner Bock, now imagine biting into said ravioli only to discover the beer is still in liquid state and now running down your shirt. Oh, and it's hot.

On a positive note, the Fried Green Tomatoes were great and they came with a zesty chipotle ranch dipping sauce!

** Deep Fried Oreos are so good. It's like when you hold an Oreo in milk for just the right length of time so it's soft but not soggy, then you batter and fry it. I also tried the fried chocolate (new this year) which was good but I think they were running out so I only got a small chunk. Still, that chunk had a nice cherry in it (fruit! healthy right?).

** The fried grilled cheese sandwich that debuted last year was back again. I was not impressed last year, it tasted like hot oil and no cheese. The best part was the side of tomato soup for dipping. This year, things were looking up for the sandwich though the soup was still the best part. I'm guessing this once again has something to do with being there on opening day before the fryers become disgusting.

** Word-of-the-day Jennie loved the fried Frito pie so much she was clamoring for seconds. I have to say, when I ate meat Frito pie was one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I must have eaten it at least once a month. I kinda wish this had come out last year so I could have tried it but I don't think it lessened anything for me not to. This won Best Taste at this years fair.

** I was kind of bummed when I heard about the Green Goblin. It's a pepper (pablano/habenero?) stuffed with shredded chicken, rice, cheese, and avocado. Why did they have to ruin it with chicken?!

**Fried Moonpie. Like the Oreo but with marshmallow. Pretty good, of course by this time I was fighting a nasty headache from all the sugar, oil, and beer I'd ingested.

** In an attempt to supplement my Fair beer diet, I also tried some fried Texas caviar (black-eyed peas) tossed with seasoning (including Old Bay). They come in regular and spicy, though as a lover of all things spicy I cannot imagine eating that one. The regular was so flavorful and spicy I'm pretty sure the hotter version would kill me.

** Of course, before you leave the Fair you need a little something for the ride home or to comfort you until you can come back again. Might I suggest some cotton candy or salt water taffy (my personal fav)?

I'm sure I forgot something deep fried and wondrous, but I can't remember anymore. It's a good thing I started the day with a small salad, just to keep me grounded. I also never want to see anything fried for a really long time.

25 September 2010

Mock Chicken Salad

I've kind of been obsessed with mock-chicken salad for a while now. It was one of my favorite sandwiches back when I ate meat but for some reason I haven't tried making it now. Whole Foods makes a nice one, but it tastes a lot like soy which is kind of a turn off. I think I have finally figured it out! Let me know what you think.

Mock-Chicken Salad

2 pcs Quorn Naked Chik'n Breast, diced
2-2 1/2 slices of extra firm tofu, 3/4" thick
1/4 c celery, small dice
1/2 carrot, small dice
1/4 sm onion, small dice
1/4 t celery seed
1/2 t tarragon (flakes or a small bunch diced)
3 T Veganaise
salt & pepper to taste

Cut 2-3 slices of extra firm tofu about 3/4" thick. Loosely wrap in paper towel and press for about 20-30 minutes. You want most of the moisture gone but still a bit damp.

In the mean time, chop your veggies and defrost your Quorn Chik'n Breasts. Next, combine all ingredients except Veganaise, salt & pepper in a medium bowl. Slowly mix in 1 T of Vegainaise at a time until you reach the desired consistency. I prefer my salad a bit on the dry side. No one likes a soggy sandwich! Salt & pepper to taste.

You can always slather some more mayo on toast when you make up your sandwiches. I like to sprinkle it with a bit of Cajun seasoning as well (I skip the added salt in the recipe).


28 August 2010

If it ain't twisted...

... It's not a burger!

Ever since Twisted Root opened near downtown Dallas I have been a fan. Even before "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" hit the scene, the line at lunch often ran down the block. So, what's the big fuss over a burger joint?

Twisted Root is run by 3 professionally trained chefs using the best local and seasonal ingredients in all their products. When it's in season, you can find Elk, Bison, Venison, and Ostrich on the menu. Their veggie burger is spicy and house made with balck beans and corn. The sesoned curly fries are amazing, that is until you try the fried green beans and onion strings!

After placing your order, you are given a laminated card with a celebrities name on it (last time I was Brittany Spears). When your order is ready, Chef Quincy Hart calls out your name using impressions and sound effects. He is a hoot!
On my last visit, I ordered the veggie burger on a whole wheat bun (vegan!) topped with sauteed onions, lettuce, cheddar, and guacamole. All of the sauces are made in house, and I recommend Granddad's Famous BBQ Sauce. I also love the chipotle ketchup and dijon horseradish mustard. To go with my fairly healthy option, I split the Fried Ride with my two buddies. This basket of sides, more like a tray, contains servings of fried pickles, green beans, onion strings, curly fries, and sweet potato chips served with buttermilk and southwestern Ranch dressing. Total coronary but worth it!

To wash it all down we each had an Amaretto-Oreo Adult milkshake- yum! All in all, it wasn't a very balanced meal and sure, that much fried food isn't really good for you. However, I think it's important not to deny your self what you want (as long as you aren't hurting anyone) and some times a few onion rings are just what the doctor ordered!

25 August 2010

When You're On The Go!

I have been super lazy about cooking recently. I think it was the heat, or at least that's what I'm blaming! I am excited about some awesome products I've recently discovered. I wonder if it's like this for all people transitioning into a vegetarian diet, but I've become obsessed with the array of easy, meat free, processed foods available to me. The whole point was to eat more organically and naturally, and now I can't stop thinking about Quorn breaded chik'n breasts.

Quorn is a UK brand of meat and soy free products (though not vegan as some contain eggs). It is made from mycoprotein which is a type of fungus like mushrooms or truffles. So far, this product is the closest in taste and texture to chicken that I've had. That is not to say it actually tastes like chicken, it doesn't, but the texture is more enjoyable than other products on the market. It is low in fat and cholesterol, and high in protein. Yum! I've tried the Chik'n Nuggets, Naked Chicken, and Garlic & Herb Chik'n Cutlets. All are delicious and easy to incorporate into any meal. I've made mock chicken salad with the naked chicken and it's a great sub in your recipes. I cannot wait to try the meatballs, turkey roast, and stuffed chik'n breasts. (Watch out Mom & Dad! This is what I'm bringing to Thanksgiving dinner). Now, if only they had coupons...

I am also obsessed with Newman's Own Organics Ginger O's. My sister turned me on to these and I've tried to be "good" and not buy them but my resolve wore out. These cookies (hell, the whole line or Newman's Own) is delicious and the profits after taxes go to charity. I love that they use organic ingredients, are free from trans fats, and taste delicious. You can have your cookie and eat it too! You can find coupons for Newman's Own here.

The other night, I tried WestSoy Seitan strips in a Szechuan style stir fry. As of now, the company website only lists their soy milk products so I'm not listing it here. It's weird and I don't know why they would ignore the other half of their catalog. Oh well... The stir fry was awesome! I was inspired by the scechuan style string beans I had from my favorite Chinese take out place. The sauce is spicy and delicious. Here's what I did to the best of my memory:

Brown the seitan strips in a bit of peanut oil, then set aside on a paper towel to drain. In a small pot, par boil green beans and chopped carrots. Add a bit more oil to the pan and add sliced onion, garlic clove, and orange pepper until tender. Add vegetable stock, hot sauce, tamari (or low sodium soy sauce), red pepper flakes, and a touch of flour to thicken. When reduced by half, add the green beans, carrots, and seitan. Saute until coated and serve with rice or quinoa.

Super yum and easy!

Which brings me to my last obsession: Tamari. I first heard about it in "The Kind Diet" and have been loyal ever since. Tamari is a richer, more complex, gluten free Japanese shoyu. My favorite brand is San-J which is available at most major groceries, Whole Foods, and Asian markets. It has a depth of dimension or umami (thanks Iron Chef!). Trust me when I tell you, you will never want soy sauce again!

15 August 2010

How much?!?

This is a pretty cool article from Wisegeek.com on what 200 calories looks like. They use common foods, including some junk food, to show exactly what your getting. I would love to see another post demonstrating what your daily fat, protein, and fiber intake looks like. Check it out and tell me what you think!

(Special thanks to Alejandra from Always Order Desert for turning me on to this site)

30 July 2010

There is an interesting article on the Huffington Post about vegetarians vs omnivores. The author called for comments in the pro or con vein, then compiled the best ones together. It's pretty interesting. What I find the most fascinating, and this recently happened to me...again, is the loud, defensive, and almost militant stance people have on another's diet. Why do you care what I eat? It continues to amaze me how some people feel vegetarianism and veganism are personal attacks on themselves. I would understand if you are a rancher, etc., but Joe Schmoe off the street?

"I've never met a vegetarian that wasn't taking some sort of supplement"

Do you really think the average American is eating healthfully? How many fresh fruits and veggies do you consume in a day? Even better, how many portions/individual serving size of fruits and vegetables do you eat in a day? Until recently, I would have said one unless we're counting potatoes. Almost everyone could benefit from a multivitamin regardless of if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or meat lover.

The only thing I really miss so far about eating meat is the convenience of it. I can go anywhere and eat anything. Most of my cookbooks focus on meat proteins. However, I know that with time and research comes experience and ease.

"You need to eat meat!!"

Uh, not really. There are several cultures that do not eat meat and many more where meat is limited. They're doing just fine. Did you know the average vegetarian lives anywhere from 2-7 years longer than an omnivore? Vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease and many cancers. A balanced diet, regardless of if you eat meat or not, will provide you with the nutrients your body needs. For vegetarians, that means being conscious of B12 and Omega-3 in our diets but both can be found naturally (B12: dairy, eggs, nutritional yeast, and fortified foods; Omega-3: flax seed, nuts, soy products, and leafy greens).

"No happy meat eater will become fully vegetarian"

That's just the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I did. Will it last? Who knows! I haven't eaten pork in over 15 years and it never kept me down. I guess the worst thing I did was learn about my food, where it came from, what was in it, how they made it, and how it got to my house. For now I'm happy, feel great, have lost some weight, and love the new to me thought of "what's for dinner?"

29 July 2010

Walking Food Tour

Wow, it's been a while since I wrote about food! I wanted to blame my holiday, but I wasn't gone that long. What may be worse, this isn't really a post either. I just got back from eating my way across Pennsylvania (okay, just a small portion of the Northeast) and New York City. I'm blogging about it and what else I did to amuse myself on my other blog here. I hope you check it out.

I will write in more detail about my amazing vegetarian New York experience as we get there in the narrative. Enjoy!

30 June 2010

Egg Salad & Curry...

... But not in that order.

My sister sent my this recipe for No Egg Egg Salad that she was addicted to during her month long vegan experiment. According to her, you can eat this for days and it is delicious. I decided to try my hand as I've been missing sandwiches something fierce. Cucumbers and cream cheese is delicious but not necessarily the most nutritious. It is important to note that not all silken tofu is created equally. I had no idea there was both soft and firm style so of course I bought the wrong kind. I basically made soup. The firm silken tofu is not refrigerated and is in a small cardboard box. Let me know if you try this and how it was!

No Egg Egg Salad
1 cucumber diced small
1 carrot diced small
1/2 package Mori-nu silken tofu, extra firm, diced a little larger
1/4-1/2 c Veganaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
caraway seeds to taste
salt and pepper

mix together and enjoy!


Last night I decided to finally make the couscous I bought ages ago, but what to put with it? I haven't made curry in a while and I really wanted to get a bunch of veggies on the plate. I forgot to take pictures, but will try to get a good one of the leftovers. This is super easy, rustic, and easy to adapt to whatever fresh vegs you have. I will say, I like my curry hot to desi hot so you may need to adjust some of the ratios.

Couscous with Vegetable Curry
Serves 2

For the couscous:
1 c couscous (I get it in the bulk foods section)
1 c water
1c vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

For the vegetables:
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c onions, large dice
1 clove garlic, diced
1 medium white potato, cubed
1 carrot, chopped
½ c green beans (or 1/3 12 oz can)
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 T tomato paste
½ c water or vegetable broth
½ t curry powder (get a quality one)
½ t hot paprika
½ t red pepper flakes
¼ t ground coriander
1 t Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pot, bring the water and broth to a boil. Gradually stir in the couscous to avoid clumping. Reduce to a simmer and cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit about 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Bring water to a boil in a small sauce pot. Add potato and par boil, about 4-6 minutes. If using fresh green beans add them as well.

Meanwhile, in a medium to large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until just soft. Add the carrots and cook until they begin to get tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and add the potatoes and the rest of the veggies. Toss in red pepper flakes. Let cook about 5-7 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Add spices, Worcestershire, tomato paste, and ½ of the water/broth. Bring to a simmer. If there is not enough broth, add the rest of the water/broth. Cook until the liquid begins to reduce and thicken up, about 5-7 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork and pile into a bowl or deep plate. Top with veggies and enjoy!


Is any one word more horror inducing than "risotto"? It evokes a painful and languorous process that sucks the soul from the living. In reality, it is a simple and delicious way to cook starch's. Sure, this cannot be done in 15 minutes, but the small amount of time you do spend is sure to produce fantastic results! Once mastered, the options are limitless.

Risotto is a cooking style where the rice (or other starch) is slowly cooked in liquid while stirring. The stirring releases the starch from the rice and thickens the sauce. When you're done, you are left with a creamy treat that will satisfy any craving.

Last night I made the most amazing risotto, my best one yet! I was inspired to try something new while watching "Chuck's Day Off" on the Cooking Channel. He made a risotto with potatoes and I thought, "Genius!"
[As always, I rarely measure anything, preferring to "eyeball it" and simply knowing how much 1c or 1T looks like. Please keep this in mind.]

Potato Risotto w/Beans
serves 3-4 as a side, 1-2 as main

1 medium white potato, cubed
1/2 c arborio rice
4-5 c vegetable broth
2 T olive oil, extra virgin
2 T vegan butter
1/4 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 c spinach, chiffonade
1/4 c green beans, cut in 2-3 bits
Vegan Parmesan (4-5 shakes)
1 T soft silken tofu
salt & pepper

In a small sauce pan, par boil the potato until just soft, about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Then, cook green beans until almost soft, about 2 minutes. Set aside. In same pan, bring broth up to a boil, then reduce to barely a simmer. The idea is to get it hot but not to cook it.

In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add rice and stir until opaque, about 2 minutes. Add potato and stir.

Now, to risotto: Turn up heat to high/medium high. Ladle in about 1/2 c of broth to the rice (this is 1-2 full ladles) and stir. The liquid should come to a slow boil then simmer as you stir. Once the liquid is absorbed, add another ladle. You must stir frequently or risk the rice sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan. If you must divert your attention, add a second ladle of liquid.

When you have about 1 c left of broth, add the green beans. Keep adding liquid until it is all absorbed.
[This is a great time to taste the rice. Is it hard or crunchy? If so, keep adding liquid until fully cooked.]

When your rice is cooked, add the tofu, butter, Parmesan, and spinach. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir together well. Serve!

For the crispy shallots:
In a small frying pan, heat 2 T oil. Cut about 3 slices from the shallot. Toss in whole wheat flour and add to frying pan. Give them about 1 minute per side. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to drain. Garnish!

Risotto should be served immediately and does not reheat well. My favorite thing to do with leftovers is make risotto cakes. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Roll riotto into a ball, about 2", then roll in whole wheat flour and breadcrumbs. Fry and serve. You can also bake these, but I haven't tried that yet.
I hope you enjoy. Recipe cards are available, just leave me a comment and I'll email it to you. Let me know how your risotto turns out. Have you ever made it before? What's your favorite kind?

Take Action!

* So Delicious is donating $1 (up to $5000) to the Farm Sanctuary. for every UPC mailed in between now and September 30th. Farm Sanctuary does great work rescuing farm animals from cruel and inhospitable environments to instead live their lives on a peaceful farm in upstate New York or California. See kids, it's just like your parents told you- Daisy did go live on a farm! You can mail your UPC's to:

Farm Sanctuary Donation
Turtle Mountain, LLC
POB 21938
Eugene, OR 97402

* The Huffington Post offers some tips for those who "hate" cooking. You can also check out my beginner cooks larder (that's pantry for the rest of us) on The Art of Throwing Stones. You can also find my fledgling food writing there by clicking on "cooking" or "food".

* Dangers of soy. And more evidence from Scientific American

* Very exciting news: The USDA has approved new rules for the National Organic Program (NOP) called The Access to Pasture rule. It states:
"The Access to Pasture rule specifies that organic milk and meat products come from organically‐raised animals that are actively grazing on pasture. "

Basically, it requires organic livestock to have access to pasture throughout the grazing season and that that intake must account for at least 30% of the animals diet. Of course, organic livestock must still refrain from using GMO's, antibiotics/vaccinations, synthetic parasiticides, 100% organic feed with no animal by-products.

So, how is this different from what is currently labled "organic"? I had to look that up myself, and found a great side-by-side chart from the USDA website. Many of the changes have to do with verbage and further definition/inclusion of verbage (a crop is more than just the plant but also now includes the pasture, cover crop, catch crop, or any part of the plant used for food to either humans or animals or to feed the soil).

The point is, to be labled organic is now a more defined and policed process which protects the integrity of the product and the brand. Also, all those cows making your milk and chickens laying your eggs are now entitled to more time running around outside in pastures and enjoying their lives to the fullest!

19 June 2010

It's Not the Devil's Playground

**** (4 stars)

I just finished reading (and copying) recipes from "Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook" written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Both ladies are also the minds behind the Post Punk Kitchen and their previous best seller "Vegan Vengeance".

What I love about this cookbook is the author's relatable and funny writing style (yes, they did come up with the name for this book from repeat watching's of "Army of Darkness". Come one, that's just cool). The recipes run the gamut from simple homemade seitan (I'm still convinced I would need more counter space than my barely 2x3') to stuffed peppers to BBQ. Everything sounds delicious and the colour photos included read like food porn 101.

My only complaint with the book is that some recipes are way too long. If it can't fit on one page, there's something wrong. Besides that it's off putting, it makes it hard to photocopy which is kind of what you do when your rent from the library.

[side note: I totally rented this from the Library! So excited! I hope to one day own it, but in truth, shoes were calling my name instead.]

I am not vegan, but I love the creativity of the food and am always interested in expanding my culinary repertoire- who isn't?! This book is a nice primer for those who are considering veganism, vegetarians looking for more, and the curious (definitely omnivore friendly).

What are your favorite cook books?

11 June 2010

Take Action!

~ A recipe note: My sister tried to make my vegan chocolate chip cookies last night and they were a disaster. While going over the recipe with her we found two things she did differently from me. Here's what we discovered in case you have your own troubles with cookies (and who wants that?): She used two Earth Balance sticks of butter while I used the tub butter and "eyeballed" 1/2 cup in a measuring cup. Using two sticks (the Earth Balance ones appear smaller than other margarine or butters) was too much and her cookies were flat as a pancake. Also, when creaming the butter, I did everything by hand while she used a mixer. I can't imagine that had much to do with her cookies flattening, but thought I would share as well. In the end, your mixture should look crumbly (kinda like apple crumble pie crust) and not smooth like packaged cookie dough. It will smooth out from the heat in your hands when you roll them into balls.

Have you tried any recipes listed here? Successes? Failures??

~ I just learned about Preserve Products through The Kind Life website and have fallen in love! I can't wait to get paid and buy a bunch of Tupperware and travel ware from them. All of their products are made from 100% recycled plastic and paper. You can even send your old (preserve) toothbrushes back to be recycled. Kinda gross, but also kinda cool. The pricing is pretty great. Has anyone tried any of their products before?

~ The UN is now advising a vegan diet for the world. The reason is simple: By 2050 there will be an estimated 9.1 billion people on this planet (WOW) and a diet high in meat and dairy will no longer be sustainable. We can help now by eating more veggies (organic of course!) and less meat in our diets. Besides, it just feels better!

~ I just signed this Petition asking for the end of arsenic laced animal feed. Who wants to ingest that?!

~ I started eating better in an attempt to get healthier and avoid the gym. Part of what inspired me was my sister (the vegetarian- vegan for June!) and my friend shine (vegan for April and now mostly vegan). I never thought I would be put on this list, but the other day I had a conversation with a friend who revealed she too had recently started thinking about the way she eats and how to make changes. She said speaking to me about how easy it has been and seeing my success has motivated her. To date, she has lost 12 lbs and looks amazing just by becoming veggie friendly. It really made me feel good to hear that someone is listening and that change happens everyday. Do any of you have any success stories?

07 June 2010

Meat Free Monday Reviews!

Happy Meatless Monday! Today I thought I would give you a couple reviews of some fast (read: frozen) meals I've tried recently. I've kept it reletavely simple today for food- an apple for breakfast (I was kinds hurting this morning, so this was all I could handle), some edemame with tamari (the uber-good soy sauce) and leftover spinach pizza from my favorite Italian place, and So Delicious Coconut Milk yogurt in chocolate for a snack. Dinner is "baked" gnocci with pesto (recipe to follow) and maybe some salad.

I'm trying not to eat so much processed/frozen dinners, prefering to save the processing for when I really need it like packaged tempeh, seitan, and Tofurky deli slices. However, while cruising the aisles at Central Market the other day when the word "NEW!" caught my eye. Morningstar Farms (my favorite breakfast sausages by the way) now have TV dinners- Sweet & Sour Chik'n and Lasagna. I am a huge sweet & sour fan so I decided to try it. The sauce is good, as are the chik'n bites, but there are not enough of them. The box promised chunks of pineapple, carrots, and peppers. I think mine had three small pieces of pineapple (Okay by me. I don't really like pineapple) and was over running with carrots and peppers. Mostly, what I had was peppers and rice with carrots and a bit of chik'n. Maybe it's because I haven't had a TV dinner in a while, but I also thought it was a bit salty. Overall, I'd give it 3 stars- Perfect for a quick meal when you're out of time, but not good enough to make it into regular rotation. This is also good for anyone just starting out on a more veggie friendly path.
My favorite new discovery is the Naan pizza by Tandoor Chef. So far, I've only found them at Whole Foods but they are to die! Your choices are Margharita, Roasted Eggplant , Cilantro Pesto, and Spinach & Paneer (which I had). I am in love with paneer, a soft Indian cheese, but have never found a good "instant" version. I don't know how one pizza would feed two people because I would have cut someone if they tried to take the other half! It is delicious and flavorful and I want one right now. I can't wait to try out the other versions (Minus the eggplant. I'm just not there yet). 5 stars! Everyone will enjoy.

What are you eating this Meatless Monday?

02 June 2010

Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare

It's hard for me to type anything about food right now, as I am getting over some sort of stomach bug, but let's give it ago anyway!

Last weekend, my sister and I checked out Kalachandjis Temple & Restaurant. Open for over 27 years, it claims to be Dallas' longest running vegetarian restaurant. This beautiful Hare Krishna temple is located in an "eclectic" neighborhood in East Dallas. Truth is, if you are not an "East Village" (as I've dubbed it) regular or resident, the area can be kind of scary- think bars on windows, broken cars, roaming pit bulls- but that shouldn't stop you from trying any of the amazing hidden gems located here. Trust me, I'm a local.

Kalachandjis has been on our radar ever since I moved to the area and decided to give in an support (read: eat) vegetarian with my sister. The irony is not lost on me that we finally made the trip once I embraced a more veggie lifestyle.

Most of the menu is vegan and gluten free, though some options do contain dairy and they are clearly marked. They also refrain from using onions or garlic (I'm not sure why) but somehow that doesn't stop the flavor. The menu changes daily based on what is fresh and looking good, so be sure to check out their website for up to the minute information. They are also a donation based restaurant, so you can pay what you think is fair. This seems to be a bit tricky though as our bill was brought to us filled out ($21.90 for all you can eat for 2), I guess you just leave more or less as you see fit.

The food is served buffet style, then you can carry your trays outside to a beautiful courtyard or sit inside in the relative cool. When we were there there was: lemon tahini soup, steamed carrots, spicy peas in tomato sauce, potatoes and green beans, papadam, spinach pakora, tofu salad, collard greens, cheese quiche (I would use quiche lightly, but it was heaven!), fresh bread (cinnamon raisin!), salad bar with fresh dressings, and your choice of desert. We sampled the vanilla rice pudding (orgasmic) and the carob and walnut cake. Put the two together and you've got a winning combination. I'm sure there was more to choose from, but I forget already.

I can't wait to go back, and I hope others will join me in this strange and beautiful restaurant!

30 May 2010

Coconut What? part trois

While at Central Market I found a huge display with O.N.E. Coconut Water on sale for something like 5 for $6. Considering my foray into coconut water previously, I decided to just grab a couple flavors to try out. How could I pass up such a great deal?!

What a difference a brand makes! I love ONE! The consistency is much more like water and less syrupy. I tried the passion fruit and mango flavours, with the passion fruit being my favorite. Because the price was better/lower than the VitaCoconut, I will probably keep picking up a few of these delicious and nutritious beverages.

The other really cool thing about O.N.E. (check them out on twitter and Facebook), is they support several non-profits in the Amazons and 100% of the profits from their "bottled" water is donated to charities chosen by the consumer. Super cool!

I'm super excited for this evening. My sister is in town for the holiday weekend and we are going to explore some vegetarian restaurant we've never been to in Dallas. At the top of the list is Kalachandjis Krishna Palace and Restaurant. We've been talking about going there forever and it's so close to my house. Kalachandjis serves mostly vegan cuisine inspired by the middle east. The menu changes daily based on what's fresh and lunch and dinner service are paid for by donations only. The suggested donation for lunch is $7.95 and dinner is $10.95. Of course, if you enjoy your experience (or eat a lot) you can pay more. If you're a bit strapped for cash, you can pay a bit less. I love it! I can't wait to tell you all about our experience.

28 May 2010

Recipe: Lavender Pound Cake

I love Philosophy products. They smell great and are economical (a 16 oz body wash/shampoo/bubble bath is $16 and lasts forever). I've had this scent in my shower for a couple years now and it's maybe half way gone. It's sweet without making my teeth hurt, and feminine yet not juvenile. Every time I use it, I stare at the recipe on the label (all the food related scents have one) and dream about the day when I might tackle baking. Well, no more!

The recipe calls for dried lavender blossoms, but I have no idea where you would find those. Maybe a fancy baking/sweet shop would have them and I'm sure you can order them online, but they are just not available at my local Whole Foods or Central Market. What I was delighted to find where the leaves and stems of the flower. They are not available year round. I would have thought autumn would be a better to find them, but whatever. I picked up a bundle and off I went. Below is the recipe as it appears on the bottle with my adjustments in green.

Lavender Pound Cake

2 c flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

1/2 t baking powder

2 sticks butter, softened (I used Earth Balance margarine sticks. I prefer the soy free blend but it seems to only be available in tub form and I learned my lesson last time- super messy)

1 c sugar

1 1/4 t lavender blossoms, dried (I used about 3 t fresh leaves which I baked in the oven for a couple minutes then chopped)

4 eggs (next time I'm going totally vegan and using egg replacer or silken tofu)

1/2 t lemon zest

1/2 c milk (soy milk)

Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease an 8x4x2 1/2 pan (basically a loaf pan. I used parchment paper because I saw Martha Stewart do it once and the cake comes right out)

Sift flour and baking powder, set aside.

Cream butter. Add lavender, sugar, and zest. Beat until light in colour and texture. Add eggs one at a time and mix well.

Add 1/2 flour and mix. Add milk. Fold in remaining flour. Pour into loaf pan.

Bake about 1 hour then cool on a wire rack.

To go with it, I made some simple icing:
1 c confectioners sugar slowly mixed into 2 T warm milk (soy milk). Drizzle over top and let cool.

It was so delicious! Watch out this holiday season because everyone is getting one!

Let me know how if turns out if you make it!

22 May 2010

Take Action!

* Vegetarian Times magazine has released their nominations in the 2010 Foodie Awards. Click the link to vote for your favorite veggie friendly treats and staples.

* Vegetarian Times is a great magazine for veggies and friends alike. Their website has some awesome info, including a veggie storage guide and Ingredient Substitute guide. I also recently checked out an issue of VegNews, a vegan (somewhat vegetarian friendly) magazine. What can I say? They caught me with a pic of Ginnifer Goodwin, and I loves me some "Big Love". There were some cute recipes and product recommendations in both. Definitely worth a look.

* In the latest issue of Veg News, there was a short article talking about the dangers of soy. In it, they quote Dr. Neal Barnard (author, researcher, and physician) who says that soy is healthy for both men and woman and may even help reduce the risks of fibroids and osteoporosts. You can read more on The Huffington Post.

* Check out Soy Happy for a complete list of Ballparks offering vegetarian and vegan fare. (Good job Rangers!)

* I was super excited to hear that Nestle has vowed to stop using rain forest-destroying palm oil in their products. The company says it will avoid "high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation." The production of palm oil for commercial use has lead to the destruction not only of the rain forest but also to the animals (elephants, orangutans, etc) and peoples who live there. If you can, try to avoid products that use palm oil and opt for friendlier options instead.
* Here are some of my new favorite foodie sites and recent winners of my Veggie Superstar Award. Show 'em some love:
Heather Eats Almond Butter (mostly vegetarian with great recipes)
Homesick Texan (not a veggie site, but she makes plenty of Texas style veggies!)
Kristen's Kitchen (vegan blog)
Look 2 Beauty: A Vegan Blog
An Opera Singer in the Kitchen (great vegan blog with awseom pics and recipes)

18 May 2010

Another Meatless Monday: Now with movies!

How was your Meat Free Monday? I may have partaken a bit too much in the ol' Irish cure on Sunday to have a really good one (seems my bronchitis is back), but I still managed to eat pretty well and surprisingly easy. As my daily diet becomes more and more vegetarian I have to worry less and less about what I'll make on Monday. It's the other days of the week that are still giving me trouble! Thankfully, I've got a couple new cookbooks I'm reading and hope to share my insights with you soon. Breakfast was a bit lame with some So Delicious Coconut Milk yogurt and a bag of pretzels. Lunch was much better- Boca burger on whole wheat toast with shredded cabbage, onions, and BBQ; served with pickles and some sauteed green beans. I love green beans!
Last night was my 3rd film 101 class/movie club. Every month we meet up to watch a classic or neo-classic film picked by me. The goal is to educate and entertain my friends one some great films that everyone should see. Previously we watched "Raging Bull" and "All About Eve". Tonight, I threw out all the stops and screened my favorite film of all time "Vivre sa Vie" by Jean-Luc Godard. You can read all about our movie nights here or by clicking on 'WWQTW' in the tags section of The Art of Throwing Stones.

What was even more exciting was that all the food we brought to nosh was vegetarian. We didn't even plan it that way! I (attempted) to make Goat Cheese with Sun dried Tomato Profiteroles from Giada on the Food Network. They were delicious, but somehow my profiteroles did rise the way they should. Instead, they came out looking more like biscuits (hence the picture above is from The Food Network's site) but still tasted great! Also at our spread was a veggie tray with homemade dip, pita chips with hummus or spinach artichoke dip, salad and bread sticks from Olive Garden (genius! I hope people forget to make things more often if it means OG salad- surely the best thing on the menu), and Oreo cheesecake cups. Didn't help my healthy eating much, but at least I didn't have to worry about what I was going to eat. Setting these movie nights on Meatless Monday is certainly a risk, but all my friends have been really supportive.

On a separate note:

**An Opera Singer in the Kitchen is having a great giveaway right now. Check out her site for how to enter to win a really cool Sunbeam mixer plus Naturally Nora products to use it on! She also has a lot of really cool vegan recipes that I can't wait to try. Definitely one of my new favorite food blogs! ***

16 May 2010

Coconut What? Part Deux

Somehow I developed a gnarly cough and head cold again. (I blame a seriously cold and over crowded theatre. Thanks "Robin Hood"! The only cure as I see it is to go shopping for pre-made food and things chocked full of Vitamin C. Oh, the super strength cough medicine my doc gave me last time is also helping.

In a fit of coughing rage, I decided ice cream was the best way to go. Who doesn't like ice cream when you're feeling sick? What else works to counteract the fire that seems to emanate from your face? But, I don't want dairy. That has never helped a cough.

Enter onto the scene: Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. The whole line of coconut milk ice cream is free from dairy/lactose, gluten, soy, cholesterol, trans fats, and certified vegan and Kosher.

The flavor of coconut is not over whelming; giving the ice cream a subtle sweetness and hint of the exotic. I tried the Cookies and Cream flavour and while it does not taste just like the dairy "real thing", it hit all the points I needed in a cold dessert: soothing to my throat and completely yummy. It is sweetened with agave nectar so I found it to be sweeter than dairy ice cream (even though it has less sugar), however this helped stop me from eating the whole pint in one sitting. Way to keep me within the recommended serving!

I can't wait to try some of their other flavours, especially the mango and lemonade coconut water sorbet. Purely Decadent offers another great alternative to dairy and soy-based desserts. I just wish they would fortify more of their foods with Calcium. It's present in the coconut yogurts I crave, but not in the frozen desserts.

Check out their website where you can find coupons and more info!

15 May 2010

Take Action!

* Genetic engineering (GMOs, etc) is excluded from organic produce, except in the case of vaccines. These vaccines can be given to livestock and have them still labeled as organic. To petition for change and learn more, click here.

* Daiya and Peta are joining forces to sponsor a really cool contest: Just tell them what you would make with Daiya and how you would share it with friends and you could win 10 lbs of Daiya cheese! That's a lot of cheese! Click on "contest" above to enter, but act fast- the contest ends June 1st.

* Eating Well and Organic Valley are sponsoring a holiday cookie contest as well. Submit your favorite, healthier cookie recipe and you could win a $2000 Baker's Dream shopping spree and a years supply of Organic Valley products. Check out the guidelines and enter here.

* I've heard a lot about the dangers of soy. An excess of soy in the diet can cause growth problems in children, thyroid issues, infertility, and certain cancers (like breast cancer). That's a pretty hefty list and it doesn't include everything that has been linked to soy. What's more, soy is in so many products today either as a filler or as the main source of protein. So, how much is too much and what should you do? The average recommended use I found online, called for soy no more than 3 times a week. That's not very much when you take into account soy milk in your cereal, veggie burgers for lunch, or tempeh/tofu for dinner. It is super important that you check in with your doctor regularly and before you start any type of new diet. Also, experiment with other milk, dairy, and meat substitutes. I love coconut milk and have been putting it in my oatmeal all week. It's naturally sweet and delicious. Sub seitan (wheat gluten) in recipes that call for tempeh or tofu. Daiya cheese is soy free and melts great. What have you heard or experienced about soy?
For further reading check out this article in Scientific American.

13 May 2010

"C" is Still for Cookie

Upon eating many of these cookies yesterday, my father called me up and proclaimed the 12th of each month Cookie Day. He then put in a future (and somewhat crazy) order for cookies once a month.

I have NEVER been a baker, that was always my sisters department. I couldn't be bothered with measuring cups and spoons, hand mixers, stand-up mixers (I so wish I had the counter space or the check book to get one of these), flour everywhere, etc. I liked cooking savory dishes, the kind where you might skim the recipe then forget to add half the ingredients. It's more forgiving than baking. However, since I'm trying to eat well and limit processed foods to things I actually need (like veggie sausages) I knew I would have to give in to baking eventually. What's most shocking is I'm not that bad at it!

The following is my recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies. I've made them a couple different ways and the variations will be listed in green. They are great for gifts, parties, or guilty pleasure treats! Printable recipe cards available on request

1c + 2T Pre-Sifted Flour (I like wheat, but any healthy grain flour is okay- no pastry flour)
1/2t Baking Soda
1/2t Baking Powder (optional for chewier cookies)
1/2t Salt (optional)
1/2c Vegan Butter (I like Earth Balance. It's got a great buttery taste and no trans fats)
1/3c White Sugar
1/3c Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1t Vanilla Extract
1T EVOO + 1/2t water (you can substitute any healthy oil here)
6 oz Vegan Chocolate Chips

* Add 1/2 c of your favorite crushed nuts like pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc

* For Chocolate Chocolate Chip (my favorite), add 1T Cocoa or Carob powder (Do not use Hot Cocoa mix!)

Pre-heat oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt together. If you don't have a flour sifter, use two spoons like you were tossing a salad.
In another medium sized bowl, cream butter and sugar mixture together. Add vanilla, oil, and water and mix well. Combine wet and dry ingredients together. Add chocolate chips, nuts, etc, and mix well. This is a fairly dry batter so don't fret, it's normal!

Using your hands, shape cookies into balls anywhere from ping pong size or smaller (approximately 1T-1t size). Place on cookie sheets allowing at least 1 1/2 inch room between cookies. Bake 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown around edges.


10 May 2010

Meat Free Monday!

I've been paying for bread like a sucker! Did you know Whole Foods has a frequent bread card? (Worst name for a card ever). They do, and after you buy 5 loaves of their 365 or Whole Foods brand bread you get the 6th for free. For free!!!! I'm almost positive I've purchased at least 3 loaves there already and I got nothing to show for it except a possibly cleaner colon (I don't mean that to be gross, just you know, whole grains guys!).

It's been a pretty successful Meatless Monday so far. Last night I made Oatmeal (Steel Cut Oatmeal!- sounds gnarly) for the first time ever. Seriously. I'm not sure why, but oatmeal always skeeved me out and I never ate it as a child. I love cream of wheat though, how ironic. Anyway, it was another impulse buy while at Whole Foods (I really should be banned) and a recommendation from the "Becoming Vegetarian" handbook. What's great is you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge til you're ready to use. Another tip: be sure to set your timer or at the very least check what time it is when you start cooking. I'm a genius and totally forgot to do this until I had already stirred the oats a couple times. I ended up over cooking them just slightly for re-heating but they were perfect last night around 1 AM. I also used a 3:1 ratio of water to coconut milk instead of all water or all milk. Now, all I need is something called blackstrap molasses and I'm good to go!

Lunch was supposed to be a salad made at home but of course I went to Whole Foods to get bread (and join the bread gang) and ended up buying some prepared foods too. I had some delicious roast garlic and tomato soup, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, Asian cabbage slaw, and French lentils. I have no idea what made them French, but there were carrots.

If I'm lucky, dinner tonight will be pizza with olive oil, roasted red and yellow peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, goat cheese, and mozzarella. Yum!

What did you do for Meatless Monday?

(I seriously need a better camera phone)

09 May 2010

Happy 3 Month Anniversary!

Three months ago I embarked on my new foodie outlook on life and eating. I started simply by participating in Meat Free Monday and planning out vegetarian dishes I could make. When all of your cooking references are based on meat protein, it's a big kick to the head when you try to think differently. I had no idea what I was doing!

Fast forward almost two months and this website was born. My new goal: To eliminate as much meat as possible from my diet. It wouldn't hurt if I could drop a couple of pounds and start feeling better all around either! Being the lazy person that I am, I wanted to see what changes in my diet could do for the over all look of my body (and mind) without changing my activity level (screw you fitness!). I think it may be time to re-address my loathing of fitness.

Friday, I spent $50 at Half Price Books buying vegetarian cook books. It is time to get serious! By the end of next month (April) I want my house to be free of meat. This, however, is a two fold problem. On the one hand, I have the most beautiful, organic, local, free-range/grass fed chicken and beef in my fridge. To throw it out would be a crime and I can't give it away- it's too nice! On the other hand, I can't bring myself to cook them. I keep thinking, if this is the last meat I'll buy for home I want to do something really special with it. I don't want my last memories to be of burnt chicken and tough steak. It should be magickal and a proper tribute.

Part of what's prompted the foray into a totally vegetarian diet was the support of my friends and even my family (who have unwittingly been guinea pigs to vegan and vegetarian delights). My good friend shine recently challenged herself to live vegan for the month of April. Her cold turkey approach scared me but I wished her luck. At the end of her 30 days, she'd lost substantial weight, her skin looked better than ever (in all fairness, it always looked nice), and she felt pretty good. After falling off the bandwagon hard (oh cheese, why do you hate us so?), she's back on the vegan train. I know that if she can do it, so can I. I also know it's a lot easier to change your life with cheerleaders in your corner (especially ones with recipes to swap).

Though I don't think I've attained my side goal of losing a few pounds, my body does feel better in general. My mind, not as much. Maybe I need more B12?? For now, I'm reading my book store spoils and ready for the next step: discovering even more delicious foods that everyone and anyone will enjoy!

08 May 2010

Take Action!

* Wednesday I went to my first Meet Up for the Dallas Vegetarians. I have never done anything like this before but it sounded like fun. Plus I had my "stranger danger" buddy shine with me, so what could go wrong? We went to the Bavarian Grill , a German restaurant in Plano. They have a completely separate vegetarian menu (and another one showing what dishes are pork free). I had the vegetable strudel filled with leeks, white and red cabbage, carrots, onions, and mushrooms (though those were not mentioned on the menu). It came with Bavarian potatoes which I learned is code for baked cheese (kinda gross) and creamed spinach (which is listed on the online menu, but not on the printed menu in the restaurant). I HATE creamed spinach, and would have loved the opportunity to sub sauerkraut. Our waitress was a bit off, I felt like she hated us, and not very helpful on substitutions. Also, all I really wanted was the German mixed salad (tomatoes in vinaigrette, cucumbers with dill, green beans with onions, shredded carrots and beets) but it turned out not to be vegetarian and they wouldn't do substitutions (the green beans were cooked in beef broth). Uh, why was it on the veggie menu then? I'll still go back to Bavarian Grill, but may take the opportunity to eat schnitzel instead. As for the Meet Up group, they were very interesting and I would go to another dinner if it was somewhere I was interested in and if my danger buddy could go too!

* New study shows eating charred red meat can increase your risk of bladder cancer.

* Eat Green DFW blogs about sustainable food in North Texas. This week, they shared some delicious recipes to keep in mind when you're at your local farmers market. I haven't been about to get down to the new market at Mockingbird Station yet, but am looking forward to it. I'll probably wait until more produce is available next month.

* Daiya is now available in all Whole Foods! It is delicious and melts wonderfully.

* There's a bill being argued right now that would make it next to impossible to require GMO and non-GMO labels on food. Seriously? Don't you want to know what's in your food? At the least, don't you want to be able to choose what kind of food you eat? What bugs me the most about this bill is that it effects those who use non-GMO ingredients and already label their food that way. Personally, I only buy soy products that say non-GMO and would be pissed if I were no longer allowed to differentiate between the two. Please click on the above link to learn more and sign a petition to stop this blatant infringement on the rights of farmers and manufacturers.