Thursday, January 31, 2008

Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Yeah. You read that right. When Sleek spotted this recipe in V-con, we knew it was on. I love, love, love samosas. Of course, I don't get to eat them very often since we don't have an Indian restaurant within an hour of here. I was all over this recipe. It's quite easy too. The yellow color comes from tumeric. They also have mustard and corriander seeds, along with some sauteed onion, garlic, carrots and peas. These would just be out-of-control drizzled with a little tamarind sauce. I made the spinach and chickpea curry from VWaV to go with. YU-UM!

This evening, I made some simple veggie fried-rice and some broccoli and red peppers in a sweet-spicy sesame sauce. No recipes needed for these, I just wing it. I can't even tell you how good this fried rice is. Way better than what you would get at most Chinese restaurants. I only use 2 TBS of oil, so it isn't greasy at all. Plus, with long-grain brown rice and lots of veggies, it's actually healthy. I cook the rice in no-chicken broth instead of water. I think that extra bit of flavor really helps. After the rice is cooked and the veggies are softened, I just add the rice into the skillet with the veggies and add some soy sauce.

For the broccoli... I stir-fried it in just a smidge of oil, and when it was nearly done I added the red pepper. I had made up a simple sauce of brown sugar, water, soy sauce, garlic and Thai chili paste. I got the pan really hot, and poured the sauce over the veggies. I let it boil for just a couple of minutes, then took it off the heat. This is a really good meal if you're looking for a healthier alternative to Chinese take-out.

I listened to one of my all-time favorite albums this evening. Say Anything...Is a Real Boy. I probably hadn't listened to it for a year or so, but I feel like it may be in regular rotation once again. It is so good. It's really hard to describe, but I'd call it alternative rock with a punk-ish influence? The music itself is more complex than you'd find in your standard modern punk-pop, and the lyrics are intelligent and hilarious at times. Definitely a different sound. Sleek and I saw them in Pittsburgh about a year and a half ago. They rocked the house. They were touring with Dashboard Confessional, and I think Sleek and I were the oldest people there. Well, besides all the parents who took their adolescents and young teens to see the show. LOL

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spinach Pasta With Artichokes and Basil Cilantro Pesto

I kind of slacked on my cooking last week, so on Sunday evening I actually made a meal that had been planned for Wednesday. It is yet another recipe from V-con. It's actually supposed to be spinach linguine, but I couldn't find spinach linguine anywhere here in Mo-town. I did find some whole-wheat spinach spaghetti, so that's what I went with.

I was a very easy meal to put together. The pesto was fantastic even though I'm not really fond of cilantro. Along with the basil and cilantro, it has salt, lemon juice, olive oil and almonds. It was as good as the pesto I usually make with lots of parmesan cheese. I always scoffed at vegan pesto, but damn, it was really good.

The pasta required sauteeing a sliced red onion with some garlic until soft, then adding some white wine. After the pasta was finished cooking, I added it to the onion/garlic mixture along with some of the cooking water. Then I kind of tossed in the pesto, and finally added the canned artichoke hearts and heated it through. It was a really good pasta dish. I think it would be just as good with plain noodles too. It would be something different and really easy for a dinner party. It seems a little bit fancy too, so it would impress the guests.

Last night, since I had all the ingredients, I made the chickpea cutlets again! Yep, they're that good.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets With Mustard Caper Sauce

So, I had really been feeling the need for a new cookbook. I felt completely uninspired, and was having trouble coming up with new, fun, and healthy stuff to make. I went to every bookstore in town looking for Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Carrie makes lots of amazing-looking recipes from that book, so I really wanted it. Couldn't find it. Checked It doesn't even ship until mid-February! So, I bought Veganomicon. It's the new cookbook by Isa Moskowitz, the author of my much-used VWaV.

On Saturday evening, Sleek and I invited our friends, Olives and G2thelow, over for dinner. I decided to try the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon. I have heard people raving about these all over the freaking internet. Well, I wasn't disappointed. They were INSANE! I served them with a mustard caper sauce, which is also from the new cookbook. These will be a staple around here. I can promise you that. We had some twice-baked potatoes and roasted asparagus to go with them. Olives made a pan of brownies for dessert. I only ate three! After dinner, Olives and I went to see the movie Juno, which was an awesome movie.

Now, backtrack to Friday evening. I decided to try the baked bbq tofu, also from Veganomicon. Well, let me just tell you...I'll never buy bbq sauce in a bottle again. The recipe in V-con is very easy, with ingredients that I always have on hand. It was just so good. Much better than the pre-made stuff. I had my tofu on a big salad, topped with some garlic oven-fries and a southwest ranch dressing that I made by mixing a little bbq sauce with regular ranch dressing. It was off-the-hook!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Veggie Reuben Redux

I feel like I just haven't been cooking much lately. I guess I haven't, or I'd have more to post about! My dad came to visit on Monday, and offered to watch the kids while Sleek and I went out to do whatever. We decided to try the new Japanese steakhouse, Fujiyama. I'm not a huge fan of Japanese steakhouses, but I know Sleek really likes them. I was in the mood for some sushi, so I looked forward to trying it there. It was just okay. I ended up getting the vegetable meal from the grill. I think if you've eaten at one Japanese steakhouse, you might as well have eaten at every one. Nothing special, and highly overpriced. I don't care if I ever go to another one. The sushi is much better at Ogawa, a regular Japanese restaurant here in town.

The next night, my dad was feeling like ordering some Chinese food (he can't get decent Chinese where he lives), so that we did. I don't like to get Chinese very often because it tends to make me not feel very well. I kept it kind of light with broccoli and garlic sauce (no oil) and steamed rice. Much, much better without the oil.

Last night was veggie Reubens again. I can't believe it took me this long to make them again. They really are so good! I could probably make them once a week and never get tired of them. I'm making a serious effort to start eating healthier, so I've got a big bag of lettuce and veggies cut up and ready in the fridge. I've been trying to mainly eat fruit for breakfast and raw veggies for lunch. I do fine until about 2 p.m., then I feel like eating everything in the house!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Potato-Leek Soup, Panini, and More Chickpeas

This is just too weird. Last week, when I planned my menu for the week, I planned on potato-leek soup for Friday night. Imagine my surprise when I logged on to Carrie's blog mid-week (after we had made two similar meals on the same days) and saw that she had made a potato-leek soup! Actually, the first meal we made was exactly the same: sweet and savory lentils, mashed sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts. Three of the same meals in one week!

Anyway...On to the soup. I found this recipe on the Food TV website. I love, love, love potato soup, but I wanted to try something different from my usual. This one looked really easy and good. I made a few changes to it, though. Instead of chicken broth, butter, and heavy cream, I used no-chicken broth, Earth Balance and Silk soy creamer. It was fantastic, but honestly it wasn't too different from my regular potato soup. I'll definitely make this one again.

To go along with the soup, I decided to try my hand at panini (Apparently it's actually panino in singular form. I'm sticking with panini, though!) So, I made a spinach, roasted red-pepper and mozzarella panini. I tossed the spinach in just a little Italian dressing for some nice flavor. It was really, really tasty.

We had plenty of leftover soup to get us through Saturday without having to cook. This morning I made some really great omelets with the leftover black bean and veggie filling from the quesadillas. I topped them with a dollop of sour cream and some good salsa. Amazing! They were every bit as good as the Santa Fe Omelets that we sometimes get for brunch at our favorite local diner, Maxwell's.

This evening I kept it simple with the off-the-hook chickpea gravy that I've blogged about before. I had mine over brown rice, but made mashed potatoes for Sleek and the kids. I sauteed some onions and spinach to go with it. Yum!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I've still been battling this SAD. Damn, it's tough. I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I mean STRUGGLE. Then I struggle, all day, to not climb back in. I can get up and drink two large cups of coffee, then go lay down and be asleep in five minutes. I've been trying to just let myself do whatever my body feels like it needs because I know next month at this time, I'll be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I just don't really want to gain another ten pounds between now and then!

Anyway...This evening for dinner I decided to make some black bean and veggie quesadillas. I've been wanting an excuse to try out my new Le Creuset grill pan and panini press anyway. So, here's what I did: I chopped up an onion, half of a red pepper and a few cloves of garlic and sauteed them until soft. Then, I added some chopped, cooked broccoli that I had leftover from yesterday. I added about 3-4 cups of cooked black beans. I seasoned with some chili powder, paprika, cumin and cayenne. Salt and pepper to taste. I put a big spoonful of the veggie mixture between a couple whole-grain tortillas with some cheese. There ya go. Quesadillas.

I made some mexican-style rice to go with them. I cooked one cup of long-grain brown rice in two cups of "No-Chicken Broth." While that was cooking I sauteed half an onion and a few cloves of garlic. To that, I added a can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. When the rice was finished cooking, I dumped it into the tomato mixture. Super-easy, and unbelievably tasty.

I didn't post yesterday, but I made one of Sleek's favorites. It's such an easy dish. It's called "Halusky." (Mmmmm. The version described on that wiki entry sounds awesome!) Just cabbage and onion cooked in butter (or Earth Balance), and added to a bag of cooked egg noodles. (I use whole wheat noodles.) Add some salt and pepper, and there you have it. It is mighty good. I originally found the recipe in my trusty White Grass Cafe cookbook. I served it with a side of roasted asparagus with a really simple balsamic-soy sauce.

Today, I listened to an album that I haven't listened to forever. I played the hell out of it from 1999 to 2001, I swear. It's Ben Lee's Breathing Tornados. Great, great album. Sleek and I saw Ben Lee last summer, and he didn't play a damn song off of that album! I was highly disappointed. He is cute, though! ;)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thai Curry Noodles

Last night I made another of Carrie's recipes. This one was curry noodles. As you may have noticed in my last post, Carrie and I made the same meal. Well, guess what Carrie made last night? Yep. She made a Thai curry. A different one, though. But still. Ca-Razy!

Anyway, I pretty much followed Carrie's recipe, except I added more noodles. I'm one of those "the more noodles the better" type people. I also skipped the cilantro garnish since I'm not a huge fan of that herb. I also added a red pepper since I had one that needed used ASAP. OMG. They were so good. Pretty spicy, but just really, really good. I'll definitely be making them again, but not before I try a green curry!

Yesterday, while cooking, I kicked it old-school with Radiohead's The Bends. Can you believe it's been like 13 years since that album came out? Talk about timeless. I tell ya, seeing them do My Iron Lung live is like an out-of-body experience. Actually, just seeing them live is like an out-of-body experience. Doesn't really matter what they're playing. They're doing a US tour this summer, and I can't wait to see them yet again!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sweet and Savory Lentils by Carrie

Okay, this is the first time I've posted within minutes of eating. I just can't help it. Dinner was out-of-control good. I made Carrie's Sweet and Savory Lentils, which she blogged about way back when. I don't think I'll be making the honey-baked lentils anymore. These are WAY better. They will definitely be in regular rotation around here.

I also made some mashed sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts to go with them. Since my oven was in use for the lentils, I boiled the sweet potatoes. I'm very, very glad I did. They are a bit difficult to peel and cut, but it was so worth it! I boiled them with water, about 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2TBS Earth Balance, a good sprinkling of cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne, and a good pinch of salt. I boiled them, covered, for about 15 minutes. Then I took the lid off and let them simmer for about 15 more minutes, until the liquid got thick and syrup-y. I did end up draining off some of the liquid at the end. Then I mashed them up a bit. They are just so freaking good!

I made some brussel sprouts as well. I just sliced them up and sauteed them in some canola oil for a few minutes. I just used salt, pepper and some garlic powder to season them. They seemed especially good. I think I just needed to get some veggies in my body.

I wrote the other day about how I seem to be in a funk right now, and I went through the same thing a year ago. Well, today I discovered that I have every single symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I mean EVERY SINGLE ONE! It's so weird, my brain tells me that eating better and getting some physical activity would help, but it sure isn't what my body is telling me! Another crazy symptom I've been having is the desire to lay in bed and watch Lifetime movies. Now, I haven't really done it (well, I did watch one Lifetime movie yesterday), but the desire is there. One of the symptoms is intense craving for carbs. Hmmm. I guess that would explain the pack of hamburger buns that disappeared in the last two days. Plus the vanilla wafers. Plus the crackers.

The meal I made this evening actually gave me hope, though. Hope that if I make really tasty, healthy things, that's what my body will start wanting again. If not, at least I can count on being back to myself by the end of February!

OMG! Check out Carrie's blog and see what she made for dinner this evening. CRAZY!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Three Meals, One Post

Well, I haven't been blogging as regularly as I'd like. I've made three meals since my last post. Every January, I seem to get into a funk. Mild depression, I'd say. I feel like eating crap-loads of unhealthy foods. I feel like staying in bed all day. I find myself not taking very good care of myself. It happens every year, and usually ends sometime in February. I need physical activity and fresh air. Both are hard to come by with January weather around here. If it's not freezing cold and snowing, it seems like it's rainy. Yuck.

Anyway, I have been cooking up some nice, healthy food. That always helps, but when I polish off a box of vanilla wafers (the kids talked me into that one) in one day, a healthy meal doesn't really matter. ;) At least they're gone now!

On Wednesday evening, I made a great Italian Rice and Vegetable Soup. That was from my trusty White Grass Cafe cookbook. That book has never let me down when I need a good soup recipe. It's just canned tomatoes, veggie broth, garlic, brown rice, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and onion. Plus some thyme, oregano and basil. Really easy to make, and very tasty. I forgot to take a pic of it! You'll have to use your imaginations.

Thursday evening, I made Indian-Spiced Red Lentils. I copied that recipe from my mom's cookbook from America's Test Kitchen. I've heard so many people rave about that cookbook and say everything in it is just fantastic, but I was slightly disappointed in the lentils. They just didn't seem as flavorful as much of the other Indian foods I've made. Of course, it didn't contain the variety of spices that they did, either. It was really easy to make though. An onion sauteed with some garlic and fresh ginger, a little garam masala, water, coconut milk, tomatoes and lentils. I served it over jasmine rice. I would say it was good, but not great.

Tonight was pizza night again. The kids (yeah, right) need to have some pizza every few weeks, and honestly, it's so easy to make. This time, my dough was so stretchy and elastic. So easy to work with. I usually struggle with the stretching and shaping, usually having to patch a tear or two. Not this time! I had it stretched and perfectly round in less than a minute. It was definitely a nice surprise. It was really good, too. I can't seem to get it quite crisp enough on the bottom. I bake it at 500 degrees. I think if I preheated my baking stone, it would help crisp the bottom. Does anyone have any experience with that?

Anyway, I've been listening to Super Furry Animals (Ha! I just typed that as Supper Furry Animals!) Rings Around the World. What a fantastic album. I think all of y'all would like it. Also, today I listened to Chuck Ragan. Really good stuff. Sometimes folky, sometimes punk-ish, I love it. Then, I discovered that my little guy really likes Bad Religion. He was dancing around and pumping his fist like he was leading a mosh pit! It was great.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Beans n' Cornbread

I know it seems like I've been making lots of bean dishes in the last several days. And, well...I have. I'm trying to drop just a few pounds that I put on over the holidays. If I eat lots of lean protein, I just don't crave junk as much. Hence, the beans.

Last night I made a dish that I've been making, in some variation, for the last 15 years. I lived on this stuff in college. Black beans with tomatoes over brown rice. Sometimes I'll throw in some pintos too if I have them around. I start by sauteeing a chopped onion and several cloves of minced garlic. When the onion is soft, I'll add a semi-drained can of diced tomatoes. (Sometimes two if I'm making a lot.) Then I add the beans. This time I also added a small can of chopped green chiles. I think I'll definitely do that from now on. Next, I add the seasonings. I use a couple TBS of sugar, some chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Really you could add whatever you like. I like serve it over brown rice. Very tasty, and very filling too.

I like to have cornbread with my beans. (Who doesn't?) I used Jiffy brand cornbread mix for years, and several months ago I decided to read the ingredients. I noticed it contained lard, and I almost barfed. (I have no problem with people using lard for cooking. We don't eat land animals, though. That was the problem.) How that had escaped me for so long, I just don't know. I read the ingredient list on EVERYTHING. So, I needed to find a good recipe to make my own damn cornbread. Well, I think I picked a winner! Holy smokes, it was the best cornbread I've ever had. I even baked it in my cast-iron skillet. That's the old-fashioned way, you know. Anyway, I did reduce the amount of sugar that the recipe calls for. I used a scant half-cup. I do like my cornbread on the sweet side, but I don't like it to be like cake. So, I definitely recommend reducing the sugar.

My little guy was hanging out with me in the kitchen while I was cooking, and he said he wanted to listen to "the music I liked when I was a baby". So, it was Damien Rice's O. That album was the only thing that soothed him when he was a tiny baby.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Veggie Joes

Heh! Silly me. I thought I "invented" veggie joes last summer. When Sleek and I ate meat (just over 3 years ago, now), we frequently ate sloppy joes. I had been craving some joes last summer, when I also happened to be wondering what the hell to do with the mountain of veggies I had from the CSA. Veggie joes popped into my mind. I decided to just kind of wing it with the sauce, and amazingly they turned out awesome. I have since seen a version of veggie joes in every vegetarian cookbook I've looked at! Every time I make these, I get that Adam Sandler song stuck in my head for at least two days! OMG. Y'all must watch that. Adam Sandler and Chris Farley may be my favorite comedy duo ever.

So, here's what I do: Dice up some veggies. I like zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, onions and bell peppers. I saute them until just soft. Then I add various amounts of beans. (I don't really measure, but I'd say about 2 cups.) I usually use pinto beans, but yesterday all I had cooked were chickpeas. So, I lightly mashed the chickpeas and added them to the vegetables. Finally, I added about 1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice.

While that was all getting heated through, I made the sauce. If I had to guess on the measurements, it would go something like this: about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup to a cup of ketchup, 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of brown sugar, a couple TBS of yellow mustard, splash of vegan Worcestershire, several shakes of paprika (I just keep adding and tasting until I get it right), a dash of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Mix it all up and pour it into the veggies and heat it through.

This really is an easy dish to make, and it's just so good. Plus, it's just full of veggies, so it's good for you too!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dinner Party

Good news. My good friend, Olives, and her girls have moved back to Mo-town after being away for nearly a year. Not only do I have my friend back, but the kids have two of their "very best friends" back too. They were excited to invite them over for dinner on Friday night and finally exchange Christmas gifts. I made dinner simple and kid-friendly with some spaghetti pomodoro, which I have blogged about before. I also sauteed some broccoli, and Olives brought a loaf of bread from the new bakery in town. We had a good time.

Yesterday, we had a birthday party to go to, so for dinner I wanted to do something easy and healthy. So, I made the spinach and chickpea curry from VWaV. It is unbelievably easy, and so good.

Oh, I don't think I posted about my New Year's resolution...Well, besides the usual healthy eating, physical activity regimen that nearly everyone resigns themselves to, I've decided that I'll no longer use plastic grocery bags. I'm going to buy all reusable cloth bags. Plus, Olives got me a nice collapse-able shopping basket too. I can't wait to relieve myself of the "plastic bag burden". Yes, it actually weighs that heavily on my mind when I come home with a zillion plastic bags. Honestly, it's a relief for me to do this. I do reuse, and mostly recycle my plastic bags. That just doesn't seem good enough anymore, though. I envision them escaping from the recycling center and floating all around the globe for thousands of years to come. Not anymore!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Carrie's "No-Chicken Noodle Soup"

It is so good to be home. I haven't really been here since Christmas Eve, so it seems like forever. Next year, we're staying home for the holidays. I planned a week's worth of meals yesterday, and headed to the store. It is so nice to have my pantry and fridge stocked with good, healthy ingredients. I think I put on 10 lbs. in the last few months. Time to work on getting that off. It sucks when all your clothes start to feel a little tight!

Sleek and I had a nice time in Vegas. Like I said before, it's not really our type of place, but I'm down with laying around a nice hotel room anywhere. That's basically what I did, except for some fantastic partying on New Year's Eve. Sleek and I ate at the Indian restaurant in our hotel two different times. We also had a nice dinner at a really good seafood restaurant. I did learn that any time Red Bull invites you to an event, you really should go.

So, on to the cooking. A few (couple?) weeks ago, Carrie had blogged about a noodle soup she made. It looked so good, and I vowed that it would be my first post-holiday meal. I couldn't wait to make it. I followed her recipe, except I used the whole bag of noodles. My kids love noodles, so I thought it couldn't hurt. There were LOTS of noodles, but it was still really, really good. Maybe more like "No-Chicken and dumplings" than soup. I'll definitely make it again. It would be good with rice too.

I'm back on a Beirut kick, folks. Look out! I can't wait until Colin MacIntyre's new album comes out in early February.