Saturday, March 31, 2012

I'm already eying the hubby's leftovers

Oh yes, dinner was THAT good. But, I'll get to that momentarily.

We had quite the active day today. Seeing as we knew we would be out in the sun all day, I believe it hit 91 degrees here today, we started out with a hearty breakfast. I had made a bean and rice dinner the other night and still had left overs so I cooked up some mushrooms, green onion, the beans and rice, some tofu and extra seasoning, as well as salsa and threw it in a burrito. Quite tasty! I love just throwing stuff together. Whatever I've got on hand. Makes for a quick meal.

The morning got a bit of a late start. Certainly not on purpose but that's just what happens sometimes, I guess. We headed out earlyish to get to the Air and Space Museum. With it being hot today and all we wanted to get there early and it takes us about 20 or so minutes to get there. With a little one there is a lot to load in a car, I'm sure some of you understand! We got to the museum only to find the front tire of our Jeep Liberty Jogging stroller was completely flat. Not only was it flat but it was unrepairable once we removed the giant thorn (GIANT). Okay, so plan B. At that moment a very nice man came up with, coincidentally, the same stroller and pumped up our tire (oh yes, he was a bit more prepared than we were). But, sadly, it deflated just as we got the little one in the stroller. Plan C? Hmmm...well, try to find a Walmart (that is where the man told us he found a tire tube the size we needed). None near where we were! Of course! So, we drove back into town and hit the Walmart near our house. Luckily during this time the little one napped in the car. Okay, so tube purchased, pump too, now back to the museum. The upside was that earlier in the day I had tried to get in touch with my dad to see if he would want to join us but couldn't get a hold of him. As we were fumbling with the tire I finally got in touch with him and, luckily, the time it would take us to get back gave him enough time to meet us. Yay! I knew he would enjoy the military vehicles on display, today only.

Day saved! J had a nap and the tire was fixed, meaning the stroller was able to move properly. If any of you have jogging/running strollers you know that front tire is essential.

While there we had a great time! J is walking now (she wasn't the last time we went) and was so excited to walk everywhere. Now we just need to get her to stop eating rocks! We had lunch there at the museum (thanks, dad!) and they are kind enough to have a really good black bean burger. After that is was more site seeing. I think my dad liked chatting with the other army guys.

With such the long day, seeing as the double trip made it longer and all we didn't get home til about 5:30. We did make a stop at Target on the way. Found a can of mustard greens...A CAN? Gross! Fresh is so much better! Anyway. By the time we made it home it was just too late to make the chili I had planned. My chili takes a long time. But, it is so darn good! Well, what's for dinner? We don't have much time before it's the little one's bed time and we are both exhausted!

I decided on spaghetti squash. I threw it in the microwave (if you try this please poke several holes in it first, unless you want a new microwave!) for about 12 minutes. For a sauce I sauteed some mushrooms and garlic and added in some crushed tomatoes. I added some thyme and oregano and a little salt. I let that cook for about 15 minutes then added some sliced black olives and kale cut into small pieces. Once the kale wilted a bit dinner was done! Wow!! I ate two helpings. The hubby only ate one. See? That's why I'm eyeing his left overs. You don't think he'd notice, right? :)

I decided to add kale because I've been thinking about it all day! Kale is my new bacon!!! Who said that? Woah...I DID! I love kale!

Today was a great day, I must say. Food was good. Company was great. J is now fast asleep and will hopefully get good rest through the night! Happy moma right here! I think I'll make some popcorn so I can avoid stealing from the hubby. Did you know popcorn is full of antioxidants? Crazy huh? But, true story. We can talk about that later. The hubby is starring at me, he's ready to watch a movie.

Cheers and happy eating!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Seems like I'll be eating lots of chickpeas this week. Menu!

I grocery shopped without picking up any fake meats. Makes me a happy camper. I realize I don't use them often but even a few days a week is just too much for me. I'd rather not use them at all but I know there will be a time and place.

As of right now my grocery shopping is done, except locating truffle oil, so my weekend is free for the fun stuff! I think it's off to the zoo, new elephant exhibit, and possible our air and space museum to see some military vehicles. I'm thinking J will love the zoo! I think she just won't be too sure with the museum. The weather should be nice for outdoor outings as well. In AZ it gets awfully hot in the summer so unless we are up and out at 5am it's best to do indoor activities.

Back to the menu for the week!

Sunday April 1, 2012:
Not foolin' with this Yellow sweet potato chickpea pie with basil. A side of asparagus and that sounds like a great dinner! I'm using Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family and very excited!!

Monday April 2, 2012:
We are having a non-vegan friend over for dinner so I thought I'd keep it fairly simple as to not scare him away. I'll be making pasta with a tomato, artichoke, basil sauce. Garlic bread on the side.

Tuesday April 3, 2012:
It's big ole' salad Tuesday night. I love putting chickpeas and kidney beans on top. I think I'll make a carrot, beet and jicama salad to go on the side. We have plenty of beets from CSA.

Wednesday April 4, 2012:
Falafel with pita. Hummus and Indian Spiced Rice. I'm going to try LTEV falafel (I used a recipe from another book I did not like so *fingers crossed* although her other recipes have been divine!). I'll serve a tahini sauce as well. Wow, tahini (just the sesame paste) was difficult to find in my local market

Thursday April 5, 2012:
Jerk chickpeas, again out of LTEV, oh yes it's the week for this fantastic book! Rice or quinoa for a side and green beans. I blanch and shock mine then saute with garlic.

Friday April 6, 2012:
No cook Friday night! Left overs it is.

Saturday April 7, 2012:
Winter Vegetable Chickpea pot pie. Again, LTEV and again with the chickpeas. They are just so good!

Not much original stuff made by me this week. I'm still working on recipes though. I do believe writing a cookbook is going to take a long time. And, I think I may need some guidance. I will forge ahead though because I love to cook. Unfortunately, I did not learn vegan cooking in culinary school. But, I know the basics so I'm working hard! I'm so excited about the prospect of writing a book!!

Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

15 Vegan Superfoods You Should Be Eating Right Now

I have to say, I only eat a few of these on a regular basis. I've just recently started using chia seeds but would like to use them more. I've also used flax in my smoothies. Mushrooms, at the start of my plant strong lifestyle, I hated but now I buy them every week! I'll be adding them to my pasta sauce for tomorrow nights dinner. They add a great flavor and are very hearty. I haven't eaten kiwi in a long time but I bet J would love them. I'll have to check out the organic stand at our market and see what they've got.

Do you eat these super foods?  Perhaps add a few in here and there.

15 Vegan Superfoods You Should Be Eating Right Now

Cheers and happy eating!

I have strayed from my ways. And, watch this movie!

A while back I posted about my experience with processed foods. My experience with MSG and all the terms that hide in your food but are essentially MSG. I don't do well with any of it and in all actuality nobody does. No one should be eating the processed things they do. But, food manufactures continue to market things as healthy and good. They make it look appealing and we, as a society, continue to buy it. What we don't know is it's addictive like a cigarette, alcohol, drugs.

I just watched Hungry For Change and I must say it was a great movie. Like Forks Over Knives it is an eye opening movie I think everyone should see. They specifically mention the 50 items that are essentially MSG hidden in your food. I've been waiting so long for that to be told. They speak of the dangers of sugars, especially in our kids foods. My BK (Bonus Kid) sat down and watched the part about sugar and got a little upset wondering if all he eats is unhealthy. Basically, yes (the prepackaged items anyway). I think what may have bothered him is that he is learning that what he eats and majority of what his friends eat is unhealthy. He was surprised. I remember being a teenager when I thought I could live on ramen, Cheetos, candy and whatever else too. His favorites are Funyuns, Dr. Pepper, and Beef sticks. All we try to do for him is make him aware of what is healthy and what is not. Although we do not provide any of these items in the house, as a teenager, he does have his own money and continues to buy things all on his own. I'm hoping this movie will shed a little light for him if nothing else. I do know he is an active kid, as I was as a teenager as well. That's a plus. Maybe he'll eat more greens! I could only hope.

As for my 1 year old, I'm hoping because she is starting out with health on her side she will grow up knowing this is how we eat. I'm hoping peer pressure doesn't overcome. We shall see. As for now the kid loves healthy food! Well, except avocados. Baffles me!

What I've realized, now that I've been eating plant strong/vegan for 3 months, is I've forgotten my roots. My NO MSG roots! I've been so caught up in trying to make new things I've never known of before and trying to please everyone in the house. I've been making pre-packaged items more than I should! I've used the crutch of fake meats, when we have BK, to satisfy his appetite. Last night I made Chickpea Cutlets. The recipe called for Vital Wheat Gluten. As soon as I ate some of it my stomach churned in a knot. Not sure if it was the Wheat Gluten but I'm thinking that must be it. Is that a processed item? Is it bad for you? I have no idea. That's where I'm at. A lot of these things are so new to me I have yet to do the research. I just add it to my menu and feed it to my family. J wouldn't even touch it. BK ate some and the hubby found the texture weird. They weren't BAD just different. I'd love to do something with chickpeas in that fashion again but without the wheat gluten. I'm thinking, possibly, chia seeds. They make a lovely gelatinous substance that's great for binding and they are natural.

So, watch the movie, it's eye opening. And read your labels! The amount of sugars, MSG, aspartame, processed foods we eat is horrendous! It's only making us sick, fat, and killing us!

I will be doing my research and will have to find ways to feed the teenager without the crutch. Or if he must have that crutch I'd prefer that than meat or dairy so I'll be making two meals the nights we have him. I will do that for my stomach! For the hubby's stomach and to teach the little one that eating healthy is GREAT! Maybe BK will jump on this wagon?! He did eat the BBQ collard roll ups I made. Yep, I got the kid to eat collards. :)

Cheers and happy eating!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Veggies with more veggies...SALAD!

What do you need when making a very large salad? You got it, a very large bowl! A very large cutting board (one of my favorite things), a very large knife, and ingredients! Lots and lots of ingredients.

Not pictured: carrots. I forgot about them but they were added! No worries, carrots, you were not forgotten for long.

Some key kitchen items I like to have on had for salad making are:
Very large cutting board (I've mentioned this.)
Large mixing bowl
Trash bowl (I'm too lazy to bring the trash to me)
Nice sharp knife
Vegetable peeler
Can opener (I added garbanzo beans to my salad)
Salad spinner (mine is small so I spin in batches)
Storage bowl with lid (it's got to be big!)

Now, you're set!

I used carrots, because eventually I remembered, from CSA. Why do I love the CSA? Because all items need homes no matter how ugly they may be. Grocery stores tend to sell only the pretty ones.

You're beautiful to me, carrot!

The problem with such a big salad, mixing it without making a mess. I'd like to say I did it perfectly but it's really not the truth and I'd hate to lie to my readers. The bowl was overflowing with goodness. My cats found falling salad pieces quite amusing.

Since I make my salads when the baby is either asleep or at school I must throw it into a container that will fit the size. Besides, a chilled salad is a good one. Luckily, I have one very large storage bowl. Now, if I ever have that in use on Tuesdays well...I guess I'll have several small bowls filling up the fridge. It's okay, it's all good!

Another kitchen essential would be large wooden salad bowls to enjoy a large salad from. I will keep an eye out for those. For now, I used large tupperware containers because it's easy to mix the dressing in, I don't want to make another mess, and it's easy to see what all you're eating. I added chopped marinated artichokes, black olives, cracked salt and pepper. My dressing of choice is balsamic vinegar. Not a dressing just the vinegar, straight. Mmmm! With some fresh bread also bought from the CSA dinner was so very good!

Cheers and happy eating!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vodka sauce? ...okay!

The hubby loves a nice creamy vodka sauce from time to time. He has often said thought that it's extremely unhealthy. It does tend to contain a ton of fats and a lot of dairy so I would have to agree with him (doesn't happen often :) ).

I was looking through one of my cookbooks for inspiration on what to make for dinner when I came across a vodka sauce. What? A healthy vodka sauce with no cream/dairy? Okay, why not?

This sauce was made with garlic and red pepper flakes sauteed in some vegetable stock (in place of oil) to start. Then I added some tomatoes (I do use canned tomatoes) a little vodka some thyme and oregano. I let that cook down for awhile then added the secret ingredient to make it creamy...slice almonds! I have a fancy dancy kitchen gadget, immersion blender, that I used straight in the cooking pot to get it all creamy smooth. I added fresh basil and wow, it was tasty! The hubby liked it very much but did mention some of the richness from all the fat missing from the sauce was gone. But, he liked in nonetheless. I loved it too. My one year old, J, couldn't get enough (the vodka cooks down). I served with whole wheat penne, so good!

I also made a minestrone soup to go with. Lots of veggies, beans, tomatoes and flavor. Dinner was excellent if I do say so myself.

If you're going to have a night of Italian goodness be sure to have fresh basil on hand. I do love that stuff! I think I may add it to Tuesday nights salad. That reminds me...I should be making salad right now and not blogging! Sheesh! I'm telling you, a cooks work is never done.

Very colorful!

Cheers and happy eating!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cholent (stew)

Last night I decided to make a recipe based on the picture in the cookbook. Yes, I do look at those photos and they appeal to me. Or sometimes they don't. The stew is called Cholent. This is a traditionally a Jewish stew served for Passover. We don't observe Jewish holidays so I figured it would be just fine to make this anytime.

I found this recipe in my favorite named cookbook, Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

I started with some veggies which I cut on my huge cutting board. This is one of my prized possession in the kitchen. I don't think I could ever go back to a normal size of cutting board. I found it at a restaurant supple store for a very reasonable price. I highly recommend a big cutting board!

I sauteed these items in a little vegetable broth and added 3 cloves of garlic. Once that sauteed for a little bit I added some lentils. I keep lentils on hand all the time. They are versatile, quick and tasty.

As the veggies and lentils cook they begin to leave behind some yummy flavors at the bottom of the pan. To get this flavor up and into what will be the stew it's good to deglaze the pan. I use red wine to deglaze. Just scrap up the goodness off the bottom of the pan after pouring in the wine. So good! Smells great too!

Okay, so now the "weird" part. This stew calls for TVP, textured vegetable protein. Don't be scared, I promise it's good. But, I have to be honest with you, it looks a little like dog food. TVP is a defatted soy flour product; a by product of extracting soy bean oil. This product has an equivalent amount of protein as meat which is great for us vegans! It soaks in all the flavor of whatever you are cooking, kind of like tofu.'s good!

At this point I added vegetable stock and tomatoes and a few other seasoning. I let it cook for about 45 minutes, until the lentils were soft.

I made biscuits (very very good!) to go with the store and that was dinner! Hearty, delicious, easy to make.

I actually just had this stew for lunch as a leftover. Wow! The flavors were even better! Such a great stew. I will definitely make this one again!!

Cheers and happy eating!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Smoothie goodness!

I made a smoothie for a mid-morning/early afternoon lunch. The hubby specifically requested one so why not, I love smoothies too! It used to be something I did every morning before heading out to work but lately, with our work schedules being different, that hasn't been happening. Perhaps I should figure out a way, they are so tasty!

Here is how I made my smoothie yesterday.
This is enough for a large smoothie for one person or medium size for two.

1 cup of a mixture of frozen banana and frozen mango (mostly banana)
1 1/2 - 2 cups frozen berry mixture (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry)
1 cup collard greens
1-2 tbl flaxseed oil
1/2 scoop of VegaLite protein powder
Enough water to get things moving. Add as needed for desired thickness

Place it all in a blender and blend to smoothness.
The banana and mango are great to offset the bitterness the collards have. You could use kale instead of collards. The VegaLite protein powder is all plant based and I get it from my doctors office. The flavor I have is vanilla so any vanilla protein powder would work as well. Very yummy!

Cheers and happy eating!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What is one to do on No Cook Friday Night?

I was so famished by the time the hubby came home from work last night. J had her snack and was happily walking/playing around. But, me, I had no snack and was ready to eat a bag of kale! I love me some kale! Try it! No, seriously! It's SO good!

Seeing as it's a no cook night and really I didn't even want to cook up leftovers with the week I had I wasn't finding anything to be pleasing. So, it was an order in night. We ordered 3 falafel sandwiches from a local restaurant and had an extra side of falafel to go with. Since that's just a whole lot of beans I decided I'd make up some veg to go with.

Kale anyone?

Sauteeing a little kale in vegetable stock with an addition of garlic!

Then I added some squash since we had it on hand. Isn't Friday for whatever we've got in the fridge? Yep!

I did blanch the squash first for a few minutes then threw it in with the kale. A little garlic powder for extra garlicky goodness and pepper and bam...veg!

I ate several portions because I was THAT hungry! And it was so good!

I love not cooking on Fridays!

Cheers and happy eating!

Friday, March 23, 2012

What I'll be eating. 3/25/12-3/31/12

I got a head start on my menu for next week. I even started the one for the week after. I guess I was particularly productive on Wednesday. So rare!

Here it is! I hope you enjoy!

Sunday 3/25/12:
Cholent (this is a traditional Jewish meal that I found looked tasty!) Found in the best named cookbook, EVER! Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Monday 3/26/12:
Penne Vodka with minestrone soup. The hubby loves Vodka sauce! I wasn't sure I would be able to make in vegan but alas I found a recipe in the above mentioned book that uses sliced almonds, ground, to make it creamy.

Tuesday 3/27/12:
Big ole' salad night! I think I'll add hearts of palm (yum!) and artichokes hearts! It's a heart kind of night. Chickpeas too...they make my heart happy!

Wednesday 3/28/12:
Chickpea cutlet sandwiches with tater tots/or sweet potato fries and sauteed garlicky green beans.

Thursday 3/29/12:
Black beans and rice burritos. With chips and salsa. I shopped Trader Joe's today and forgot the roasted corn! I'll have to pick it up this weekend, it's a great addition to this meal!

Friday 3/30/12:
I'm actually going to throw my spaghetti squash in the microwave (that's not cooking, right?) and make a quick marinara with mushrooms and olives. No Cook Friday Night...simple simple meal (bonus: using up what I already have!)

Saturday 3/31/12:
Chili!! Cornbread!! My recipe is not yet mastered for chili, although close, I've got to tweek a bit more.

Cheers and happy eating!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are you reading?

Hi there blog readers! Since I'm so new to this blogging thing I'd like some feedback from you all.

I'm very interested in getting my blog out to the masses, to get more followers. Let me know what you think about getting this out there? Is it easy to navigate my page? To become a follower of my blog? How's the layout?

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Please feel free to share!


I love black beans!

They are so versatile, so yummy, so pretty (oh yes, they can make a dish quite lovely!). The whole house of health seems to like them very much.

Black beans also hold, in each tiny little bean, a bunch of great healthy benefits for you!

Your digestive tract will be so happy with you if you eat your black beans! with all the fiber and protein packed in it helps things move through, swimmingly. This will keep your digestive tract from working too hard, who wants to work too hard, right?

With all that great fiber and protein in your bean you help your system regulate your blood sugar. That's great! You don't go through extreme highs and lows that could leave you feeling down right icky!

I like black beans because they help lower cholesterol. They have an abundance of soluble fiber which is precisely what does that. Yay! Lower cholesterol means less chance of heart disease. We like that!

For pregnant women, any of you out there?, these little beans are high in folate and B6 which is great for that growing fetus.

And for then men out there. This bean is high in Molybdenum which is known to reduce impotence. Fun stuff!!

Who doesn't love black beans now? I know, I know, if you are used to eating them on a regular basis you may experience some flatulence, right? Just rinse them before cooking, it helps tremendously. Little food tip for you. It also rinses off any extra salt that may have been added during processing.

In my house I have black beans and quinoa on hand on any given day. I wondered what in the world could I make that would satisfy the family? I looked in one of my new cookbooks, Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family and found a recipe for Black bean, quinoa, and sweet potato croquettes. What is a croquette, you ask? Well, it's often a mass of veggies, meat, fish coated with egg or breadcrumbs and deep fried. Doesn't sound so healthy but this recipe gave us the healthy version.

The picture does not show this meal justice!

Along with these croquettes I made a Pumpkin Seed Chipotle Cream (wow, so good!!) and spread that on top. Since I fried them in a little oil and they are not soft they started to fall apart a bit so the spread made them look somewhat fancy again. I also made a fennel beet salad because we had an abundance of both from the CSA. That was super good too! I sauteed the fennel in some oil and baked the beets as I always do, wrapped in foil with oil and salt. I then cut up the beets and mixed them with the fennel along with a little oil, balsamic vinegar and salt. Quite tasty! I had an extra beet so we ate that just by itself. That was J's favorite part.

So, thought for today. I highly recommend you eat your black beans. And I highly recommend that cookbook above! She has great ideas. I aspire to be able to do the same some day. There is still so much testing to do. What comes with testing, besides the food...dishes! Lot's of dishes! A cooks work is never done.

Cheers and happy eating!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie is one of those comfort foods most people have had more than once in their lifetime. I however have not. It's not something my mom made much while growing up. I would assume this is because her family did not make it. We had many other comfort foods that one day I will perfect the vegan way and add to my future cookbook! One of my dad's favorites was a meatball soup my mom and sister made. I loved it too! I will try my best to recreate and have my dad taste. He will be the true judge!

The hubby loves Shepherd's Pie so I thought I'd take a crack at it. I looked up several different recipes and kind of put one together I thought might be good. The only item I missed was peas but he was happy because I added corn. Next time there will be peas!

So here's the recipe, version 1:

The good stuff list:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup red wine (Sangiovese from Trader Joe's is perfect and inexpensive!)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup dried shitake mushrooms
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
2 pounds baby bella mushrooms, sliced or quartered, whichever you prefer
Salt and pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
5 medium garlic cloves or more if you are a garlic lover, finely chopped or pressed
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can corn, drained
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 Tablespoon worcestersire sauce (vegan)
2/3 cup soy or other plant based milk
2 Tablespoons non dairy butter

In a medium bowl whisk together the broth, wine, and tomato paste until smooth. Stir in dried mushrooms and set aside to reconstitute, at least 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms before using, reserving liquid

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with salted water by about 2 inches. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat a large saute pan with one turn of oil around the pan on high heat. Turn down heat to medium, medium-high and add 1 lb of mushrooms. Add 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of salt to allow the juices to flow from the mushrooms. Do not over crowd your pan. Cook until brown and limp. Remove from pan and place into a bowl, set aside. Add more oil, turn of the pan, and the other 1 lb of mushrooms with salt. You can add the reconstituted mushrooms as well. Cut them up if they are not bite sized.

Once the mushrooms have been removed from the pan add a little more oil, turn of the pan (usually about 1 tbl). Add the onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add carrots and herbs and season well with salt and pepper. Add kidney beans and corn. Cook until browned and softened, 6 minutes.

Add the wine mixture to the pan and deglaze by stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Let cook until simmering and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the worcestersire sauce then stir in the reserved mushrooms and any of their liquid and simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in pan.

When the potatoes are ready drain well. Return to pan and mash until uniformly smooth. Fold in 2 tbl non-dairy butter and milk adding more if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, garlic is good to season with as well. If necessary, keep warm over low heat.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Taste the filling to ensure you like the seasoning (this is where I added other seasonings like garlic, basil, a little more salt and pepper). The hubby likes extra worcestersire sauce so I add a little to the mashed potatoes and more to the filling. Place the filling in a 11X7 pan and dot with the potatoes and spread to edges of pan to cover completely. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Turn your oven to broil and move the pan to the top to get a nice browning on the top, about 2 minutes. Watch this step as to not burn the potatoes.

Things I will try next time to spruce it up a bit:
I will probably omit about 8 oz of mushrooms or omit the dried ones all together. I will add peas as well as corn. The hubby suggested we try artichokes in the filling for a little added heartiness. I will definitely work on this recipe a little more. I liked it but was hoping it would have a little more boldness to it. It is quite tasty though, as is. Be sure to taste the filling to add seasoning as you see fit. I tend to eyeball my seasoning so I don't have exact measurements. Next time I make it I will measure out what I add.

Shepherd's Pie

Cheers and happy eating!

Menu for the week of 3/18/12-3/24/12

The menu for the week! I'm using two new cookbooks to work from too!

Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

Veganomicon has GREAT writing! It adds humor to your cooking but not in a bad way. The Let Them Eat Vegan is great because it gives you alternatives to some of the ingredients if you don't have it. And she does not use fake meats or much processed foods!

Sunday 3/18/12:
Beans and Greens Soup. Since we went from 80 degrees to rain and cold in one day I decided on soup.

Monday 3/19/12:
Black Bean, Quinoa, and Sweet Potato Croquettes with chipotle dressing. A side of beet and fennel salad.

Tuesday 3/20/12:
Salad night! The hubby still requests a big ole' salad for Tuesday nights.

Wednesday 3/21/12:
Black Eyed Pea Collard BBQ Rolls. Side of roasted red potatoes. Hopefully the BK will enjoy these!!

Thursday 3/22/12:
Portobello Burgers with sweet potato fries. We'll make a regular burger for BK since we still have them on hand. We do have to remember how long it takes to cook those though. I'll make green beans for a tasty side!

Friday 3/23/12:
No cook Friday night! This, lately, has been leftovers in the house. Going out gets expensive and we'd like to send the kids to college some day!

Saturday 3/24/12:
Mac Oh Geez! Side of brocolli! I'm hoping this no nutritional yeast mac and cheese is tasty. We are not huge fans of nutritional yeast.

Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A truly tasty burger!

I'm not a huge mushroom fan. Never have been. I believe I get it from my dad, we both agree that although they add great flavor to a dish eating them is quite gross. I think it's a texture thing. Do you have any weird texture/food dislikes? I don't like cake, imagine that!

But, I was looking through my new cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family and found a recipe for grilled portobella mushrooms. Why not give it a try, right?

I marinated them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar with garlic, salt and pepper for about an hour. The hubby grilled it up about 4-7 minutes per side. To add to it I threw some fennel, sliced, in the oven with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I added a little salt and pepper too. The fennel roasted for about 40 minutes. I also threw some red onion on the grill. Portobella mushroom burger with roasted fennel, grilled onions, and veganaise. Wow, it was fantastic!! I made sweet potatoes fries on the side which J absolutely loves and dandelion greens.

As for the dandelion greens, the hubby loved them. I, however, hated them. But, they are almost the best green out there for you so I ate them as fast as I could. Gross! If you like bitter go right ahead and give them a try.

Here's some research about how good they are in case you want to give them a try.

**According to the USDA Bulletin #8, "Composition of Foods" (Haytowitz and Matthews 1984), dandelions rank in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value. Minnich, in "Gardening for Better Nutrition" ranks them, out of all vegetables, including grains, seeds and greens, as tied for 9th best. According to these data, dandelions are nature's richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created, and the third richest source of Vitamin A of all foods, after cod-liver oil and beef liver! They also are particularly rich in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and are a good source of protein.

Great huh? Now you just have to get them done. I did it! Come on, you can too!! Lot's of luck!

Portobella burger

Cheers and happy eating!

CSA Loot of the week

This time of year it seems we will be getting a lot of carrots. Thankfully, we all like carrots!

CSA loot lost count of week

This week came with fennel (taller than my 1 yr old), carrots, beets, snap peas, red cabbage, potatoes, collards, and romaine lettuce. We bought a loaf of bread as well. Their bread is so good!!

I had already made a salad so I may use the romaine for the nachos I will be making. Maybe add more to the salad if needed as well. J likes beets so I can roast them up, yum!! Or perhaps a roasted beet and fennel salad.

Cheers and happy eating!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This one went fast!

Dinner with the BK can be tough at times as with any teenager. I remember being picky when I was young, heck sometimes I'm still picky! I never liked my mom's homemade mac & cheese I had to have the stuff in the box that Kraft made. Wow, how healthy was that? I'm sure you remember the days of eating cold raw hotdogs, fried bologna, ramen, and candy like there was no tomorrow. Those were the days I guess. I didn't have to worry about clogged arteries, migraines (I had them but had no idea what they were from), good health, and the waist line!

I try to please everyone in the house with good food. Sometimes it proves to be a bit of a challenge. Will I start making things that taste like those you can find in boxes and cans? No. I don't cook with processed ingredients and MSG as they do. I firmly believe that helps add the flavors you find in things like Hamburger Helper and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Not only does it give flavor it gives you ailments I wish more would realize are connected. You are what you eat!

I will, however, for BK's sake make things that I think he'll enjoy that mimic those of convenience. Last week I made Sloppy Joe's. I have yet to master Sloppy Joe's made with lentils but I will eventually do so. For now, I find fake meats with the fewest amounts of processed materials. I used those along with fresh veggies and a sauce I used to make for my meat version of Sloppy Joe's. Now, I'm not an advocate of the fake meats as I've said before but when you have a teenager who for his whole life ate a certain way it is difficult to up root his entire food selection. He does eat some items I make that have no fake meats. He ate my chili last weekend! I was very happy!! I'm almost done with that recipe, by the way (it will go in my book!). So, back to dinner. We had Sloppy Joe's, green beans sauteed in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and garlic. I always blanch and shock my veggies first then saute them. The hubby loves them! BK eats some, even J munches them. We had potato salad because this past weekend we did a birthday party for my little girl (blog to come) and I really wanted to master the recipe so we ate a lot the week before. :) I also made tater tots. My vice. I love eating them on the sandwich. J loves them as well!! I bake them with a bit of seasoning and they are good to go!

Pretty simple meal and it was quite a success! The boys said it's their favorite Sloppy Joe's so far. I will, however, master the lentil version!!

Sloppy Joe's

Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's forbidden

Lately on Tuesdays we've been having one big 'ole salad for dinner! But, I've also used this night to make up things we've gotten from our CSA loot and/or make whatever is in the fridge. I do love to experiment. Why not do so on Tuesdays when we have a salad to back it up if my experiment is a major fail, right?

This Tuesday was no different. I had a bunch of collard greens in the fridge just waiting for their time to be enjoyed so I made them, vegan style. So many recipes call for ham bone. I really hoped they would turn out just as good without, not that I would really know though. I cooked them up with onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and veggie stock. They cooked for about 40 minutes. The aroma in the house was fantastic! Makes you want to eat everything from the tiles on the floor to the popcorn on the ceiling! Yum! As another side I made forbidden black rice. I admit I only bought forbidden rice because anything that is forbidden is good, right? I made the rice with onion, garlic, red and yellow bell peppers. I then added Northern White Beans.

Salad night

And, dinner was served. The salad was tasty as always. I enjoy using balsamic vinegar as my dressing and pepperoncini for garnish. The collards are a bit of an acquired taste but they were good. I just think if you're not used to the taste it might take a little butter and salt to coax your taste buds. J wasn't sure at first but eventually ate them just fine. I had two helpings so they weren't bad at all! The rice had a great nutty flavor that we both enjoyed. I will definitely make them again. As for J, she just about jumped out of her highchair to get more. She LOVED it! Loved it!

I love experimenting. I love trying new things. And if I mess up I have salad which, in my book, is always a winner!

Cheers and happy eating!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Udon noodle goodness!

In many parts of the world it's still winter. It's cold, rainy, snowy, all those things and more. But, here in lovely Arizona we are experiencing spring like temperatures. Most days we've been in the 70's with some 80's. This week it dropped a bit but we'll be right back in the 70's in no time. I do love AZ weather. The summers get quite hot but luckily I work indoors and swim often when outdoors. That can keep a mom cool. Last summer we started J in swim lessons and she'll be right back at it this year. She loved the pool last year!

With spring and summer just around the corner it's time to start thinking about quick summery type meals. Things that aren't too heavy and don't take much effort. With all the heat of summer who wants to exert a lot of effort, right? I know I don't!

I made an Udon Noodle Salad the other night. Light, refreshing, simple, yummy!

Udon noodles salad

I used a recipe from this cookbook (one of my favorites, you should check it out if you haven't!)
The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook: 125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Jump-Start Weight Loss and Help You Feel Great

I was able to find udon noodles at my favorite Asian food market, Kimpo but I'm sure you can find them anywhere really. This recipe called for bell peppers, cucumber, green onion, sugar snap peas (it actually called for snow peas but I had sugar snap), and carrots. The dressing was rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, agave nectar, and chili paste. Very simple dressing. It was very crisp, a sort of "clean" meal. It felt as such anyway.

I did make a side of miso soup which can be time consuming. There are a lot of components to making it but you could easily find a starter at places like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. I just happened to have all the ingredients to make my own.

I also cut some tofu into slices and baked them. I marinated in some soy sauce (Bragg's Amino Acids), hoison sauce, chili paste, ginger and garlic. I eyeballed that and let them sit for about 30 minutes before baking. They were very good. Huge hit with my nearly 1 year old, J.

Cheers and happy eating!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Shameless self promotion.

I'd like to get my blog out there if possible. I really enjoy writing it and I love when people feel inspired by what I have to say. I love sharing health amongst everyone! Brings me joy.

I've nominated myself to get my blog out there. Please go to the website and "like" my blog. You can find it by searching alphabetically, A House Full of Health.

Feel free to share on your networking sites. Thanks so much!!

Chocolate Pudding

I haven't been much of a baker in my lifetime more of a cook. I've always felt that with cooking I could be more creative whereas with baking if I don't follow the "rules" precisely it doesn't come out very well.

Of course, in my case I don't always follow the recipes anyway. I don't follow the "rules." I guess I have issues when things come from a box, maybe I read the directions differently than from a book. Who knows, I just can't seem to get it right. One night I was making brownies for my family when I forgot to add water. Do you know what happens when you don't add water? Yes, you get a brick ala chocolate! Luckily my BK was there to say, hey! what the heck are you doing? We had quite a time trying to add water after it had all been mixed. What an adventure.

Lately, I've been trying my hand at vegan desserts. I haven't baked much but I've made some great desserts. Last night I made a chocolate pudding. Wow, so darn good!!

Here's how I made it.

1 1/2 cups silken tofu, crumbled.
1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 to 1 tbl agave nectar (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend several minutes until smooth and creamy. Chill until ready to serve.

For the one I made last night I firs added 1/4 cup maple syrup then tasted it, I ended up adding 1/2 cup. The agave nectar is dependent on your taste for sweet. I added about a tablespoon of it (I eye balled it).
My version ended up tasting very close to the real one you would buy in the store.

Cheers and happy eating!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

This weeks menu. 3/4/12-3/10/12

Here we go with this weeks menu! Enjoy!!

Sunday 3/4/12:
Chili with cornbread. Yep, trying out my chili again with some changes from last time. Last time I made it, it was good but lacked depth that meat used to give it. I will get it right one day!!

Monday 3/5/12:
Udon Noodle Salad with baked tofu. This recipe, out of The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook: 125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Jump-Start Weight Loss and Help You Feel Great sounds and looks fantastic!

Tuesday 3/6/12:
It's salad night! Salad and whatever else we find lying around or that we want to make from our CSA basket. I tell you, making salad on CSA pickup day makes things so much easier.

Wednesday 3/7/12:
Sloppy Joe's with tater tots and vegetables (what we get from CSA). The other night I put out a variety veg tray that was a hit so I think I may do that again.

Thursday 3/8/12:
I actually didn't write anything down. Oops! I may look for something simple from Trader Joe's. It's going to be a busy week.

Friday 3/9/12:
Leftovers or's No Cook Friday Night!

Saturday 3/10/12:
It's our little girls first birthday party. We'll be having black bean burgers, veggie burgers, quinoa salad, potato salad, veggie tray, cake, chocolate mousse. And, whatever others feel like bringing. Yum!!

Cheers and happy eating!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

4th Ave adventures for CSA pickup

It seems to always be an adventure when venturing down to 4th ave. Whether it be the people watching, the countless different styles of food, or the, make you feel alive, nightlife. I don't get down to 4th ave much anymore but I do try when I can. It's nice to know that CSA pickup is right off 4th near a little cafe, which is awesome by the way, called Epic. I get my 4th ave fix when I take baby J down to pick up our loot! We love doing this together so if naps are in order we get to go instead of the hubby.

This week was a little adventure for us for sure. To start my car is kind of on the smaller size. Well, let me preface with the fact that my other car is even smaller so I'm quite grateful for car #2. Car #1, my car actually that my hubby is driving since I can't (my accident left my left arm in pain so driving a stick shift is difficult), is a VW Beetle so yes, that's SMALL. Car #2, my hubby's car that I currently drive, is a Toyota Rav4 so it could be smaller for sure. But, for me this car is still just too small for all an 11 month old comes with.

So, I realize upon getting ready that my car is full of a jogging stroller (in the back hatch) which is good for zoo trips and the like, a stroller that fits the car seat (in the back seat) which is great for daycare pickup, and a small folding stroller great for small trips such as CSA pick up. This stroller was in the front seat. So, one stroller in the back hatch, one standing in the back and the other in the front. Too funny, I think! Once I have J in the car in her backwards facing car seat which seems quite large and then fit myself in the front the car is packed!

The drive down was fairly uneventful seeing as J fell asleep. She does make cute noise though while sleep. :) Getting down to the area that CSA pickup is I always find parking hard to come by. The signs are confusing to me because the way I logically see them the hubby says isn't the way to follow them. So, do I park here or did permit parking started here? Or do I park here where it says END or not park in front? I don't know! So, to make it easier I just park on 4th near Epic Cafe.

After parking I waited for the baby to wake, I never wake a sleeping baby, and play on my phone. Listen to music, people watch. It's all fun! When we decide it's time to go get our yummy loot I get her smaller folding stroller out of the front seat, load her in with bear in toe (and a blanket for a chilly day) and start to head North. This is when I hear a loud screeching noise that did not sound good. So we turn to find a guy on a motorcycle just lost his bike as it slid down 4th with him lying in wait way behind. Wow! That's crazy. The guy at the shop next to Epic came out and said he sees at least one of those a day. The tracks for the trolly merge from the driving lane to the center lane at that point so I'm sure the poor guys wheel caught and BAM he was down! He got up and it took 3 men to pick up his quite fancy looking bike. I'm sure the guy was sore the next day!!

Well that was excitement for the day so we continue on. Once we get there it seems it was baby central. Lot's of folks with babies, one small infant screaming it's head off! Oh well, I too have a baby. She, however, is gazing around at all the neat things to see. We grab our loot and head over to the bread section. Of course they only take cash or check neither of which I have with me because the stroller is too small to hold my purse as well as the CSA bags of food. :) We head back to the car where I grab cash and once again head back in for bread. Since it was the hubby's birthday I figured he'd enjoy a loaf. Especially an extra sour loaf.

I did notice a dad and daughter sitting at one of the outside cafe tables at Epic enjoying a bowl of soup. It was sweet to see! One day that may be the hubby and J. So adorable.

I must say it's always a pleasure to visit 4th ave. I do love our little adventures. Who knows what next week has in store for us.

Anyway, we got carrots, beets, collard greens, fennel, romaine lettuce, garlic and red cabbage this week in our CSA basket. The romaine went right into the salad.

CSA week 2 round 2

Cheers and happy eating!