Friday, August 24, 2012

Crazy Days!

Wow! It's been a crazy week so far! We had more storms come through (it is monsoon season). Wednesday was a BIG one! It poured for most of the day which resulted in flooding in several parts of the valley and our power was out for most of the day. It worked out well that I'm reading a good book (Stephen King's "11/22/63") so I didn't miss having the internet or TV (that much). It would have been nice to know what was going on as it happened but I got caught up after our power was back on.

I didn't stick to my meal planning too well this week. Last week we ended up having leftovers for dinner several nights plus an extra meal that wasn't planned. So by the end of the week I still had planned meals that hadn't been made. On our store run James and I just picked up some odds and ends and now I'm just throwing meals together with things I have on hand.

With trying to eat better I've also been trying to watch our spending. Before if I didn't feel like cooking I would have James stop and get something on his way home from work either at a fast food place or the grocery store. I think I would call him at least a couple of times a week. I'm sure it added up to be a lot more expensive than cooking at home.

 Now I'm trying to go to the store only 1 day a week along with not calling him to pick up food. I'm not sure if or how much we're saving (he uses his tips to buy dinner) but I know it's a lot better for our health!

A bowl of Texas Hash. James' favorite meal.

"It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." - Tom Brokaw

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Baked Tofu and Pasta

Last nights dinner was really simple. I roasted some garlic, mashed it, tossed it with some fettuccine and Earth Balance Spread then served it with baked tofu, sauteed cabbage and onions. 

James loaded his pasta with Parmesan cheese. When I asked him how he liked it and if there was too much garlic in the pasta he said "There's garlic in here?" 

 All he could taste was the Earth Balance and the Parmesan. I guess worrying that 2 bulbs (yes two whole bulbs went into the pasta) were too many was done in vain.   

Yesterday afternoon I also spent some time baking. I still had the leftover chocolate fondue from a few nights ago that I needed to do something with. I thought about my options.... we could reheat it and do fondue again but I would have to go to the store to get more dip-able things and we would still have leftovers of the chocolate or I could do some type of baked good.

I went with cookies. When I looked at the chocolate it looked pretty solid so I thought I could just chip it apart and do a chocolate chunk cookie but when I stuck a knife into it it was almost the constancy of pudding. By this time I already had the dough for my cookies mixed. I figured it was too late to turn back now and dumped the 'pudding' into the cookie dough. 

After it was all mixed the texture had me a bit worried so I added some more flour. I tasted the batter (because I don't cook with dairy or eggs it's perfectly safe to do so).
It tasted pretty good but I was still worried about it. I did a test batch to see if they held up and if they didn't I could try to fix the dough.

As the timer went off I peaked into the oven, afraid of what I might find. To my surprise they looked ok. They weren't the prettiest shade of brown but I figured if they tasted good I could hide it by dusting them with powdered sugar.

Before I threw another batch into the oven I waited for the first to cool a bit so I could try one. I gently scooped one off on the cookie sheet. Holding my breath I folded the cookie in two and pulled apart the two halves. I was shocked at how pillowy it looked. I took a tasted just like chocolate cake! I was so excited!! I think it is one of the best cookies I've every made. 

It went from me just trying to find a way to use our leftover fondue to me quickly trying to remember exactly how I made both the fondue and the cookies and writing it down so I can recreate them.  I will definitely want these again.

So I made the rest, dusted them with powdered sugar and waited for James to come home. I couldn't wait for him to try them! I was very good and didn't have another one until after dinner.

"Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails."- Max Eastman

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Enchilada Casserole

Last Tuesday when I made out my menu for the week and went grocery shopping I hadn't planned on making this meal. The corn tortillas were to be made into bowls for a couple days worth of taco salads. Since I am trying to be healthy (for the most part) I didn't want to fry them so I planned to bake them.

 Unfortunately that didn't work out to well. They ended up really chewy and not very tasty. So now I had a bunch of corn tortillas that would need to be used and I was afraid if I didn't use them right away I would forget about them and they would go bad (It's happened before). 

Enchiladas sounded like the best idea to me. I looked to see what I had on hand that I wasn't planning on putting in another dish. I had 2 cans of black beans, onion, green bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic. I drained and rinsed the black beans, chopped up everything else, threw it all into a bowl together and added some seasoning.

I also made an enchilada sauce from scratch and then I was ready to assemble the dish. Usually I roll them but it kind of seem counter productive because when I serve them I can never find where one ends and the other begins. They end up not being true rolls because inevitably I scoop into one and end up with one and a half instead of just one or two. So I decided to skip the work of rolling each one. 

Not rolling them made it really simple. In a casserole dish I scooped in some enchilada sauce, laid down some corn tortillas, scooped in some filling, added more sauce and repeated. Then I baked it at 350 for 45 min. When it was finished it wasn't very pretty but it sure tasted good :)


"Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein

Friday, August 17, 2012

Taco Salad

For the last week I have been craving taco salad. So I made one. 

I made a taco shell bowl by taking a corn tortilla brushing it with oil, stuffing it into a ramekin and baking it for about 8 min. It wasn't very tasty but it was cute!

The 'meat' was a taco seasoned brown rice and onions.

For the salad I used romaine and iceberg lettuce. Drizzled it with a homemade French Dressing added the 'meat' and topped it with diced onions, tomatoes, Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds and (not pictured) Tofutti Sour Supreme. James, of course, added real cheese and sour cream to his.

It was exactly what I was wanting. 

On the menu tonight enchilada casserole. (to use up the abundance of corn tortillas I have)

"Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks." - Johann Gottfried Von Herder 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Noodles and Noodles

Meals the last couple days have been Buckwheat Soba Noodles with veggies and Black Bean "Meat" balls with sauce and fettuccine. Last night I also made a chocolate fondue for dessert that we dipped fresh pineapple, strawberries and pretzels in. I took some photos of us dipping into the fondue but none of them turned out.

I'm very excited about the week of meals I have planned. So excited that last night after I got home from the grocery store I told James that I wanted to make everything right now and taste it all. :)  He, of course just laughed at me.

"When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier."- Roy E. Disney

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meatless Monday

It's Monday again :) James and I decided last week that Mondays will be our date night. It will be the one night a week that we will either get take out or go out to dinner. It will also be a way to support restaurants that offer meatless options on Mondays (or everyday).

Last Monday we went to Capriotti's and brought sandwich's home to enjoy for another movie night. I got the "Veggie Turkey" off of their Vegetarian menu without cheese or mayo but loaded with all of the veggies they offer plus seasoning. I was in the mood for a deli sandwich and it didn't disappoint. I think next time I get this sandwich though I will ask for about half of the "meat" that they put on it. It was good but I want to taste the veggies more than the "meat".

Along side of my sandwich I tried Lay's new Simply Natural potato chips. They are kind of in between Baked Lay's and Regular Lay's. I'll have to be very careful with these! Potato chips are a huge weakness for me and because these aren't as salty as regular potato chips I could very easily eat the entire bag.  

"As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma." - Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fried Rice

One of my husbands favorite foods is rice. I think if I didn't cook for him he would pretty much live on fried eggs and white rice. Or his favorite dish Texas Hash.

Before I met James I really didn't eat much rice but I've grown accustomed to cooking with it since James loves it so much.

One of my new favorite dishes is my version of Fried Rice. It's a healthy take on the fried rice you'd get at any Chinese restaurant, but it tastes way better. 

I think the secret to making it taste sooo good is using Bragg's Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce. It gives the dish a great flavor plus you get the added health benefits of all those amino acids.  (my own personal opinion I was not paid to say this)

For James I fried up some beaten eggs and sliced them up so he could stir them in with his fried rice.

Today I'm sitting down to plan out another week of meals. I think this just might be the start of good habit.

 "God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just goes on trying other things." - Pablo Picasso

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kitchen Mishaps

This week has been full of kitchen mishaps! I made one dish that was such an utter failure my dog wouldn't even eat it. There was the BBQ Tempeh that was not a success and then yesterday afternoon I started a pot of split pea soup and almost ruined it to the point where it would have been unsalvageable. Luckily I caught it in time.

Our dog Andy

Who knows why I've been wanting soup lately.  It started with the rain and my Miso Soup,  but now in 114-120 degree weather I shouldn't want it. I think the most likely reason is that I'm ready for it to be fall. And nothing says fall to me more than a hearty bowl of soup.

So yesterday I started to crave split pea soup. It wasn't on my menu for the week but with the two previous kitchen mishaps I didn't have as many leftovers I was planning. Leftovers are usually my lunch so I was needing something to fill the void.  I had everything I would need for the soup in my kitchen so I didn't think there would be any problem if I went ahead a made the soup.

I got to it, and started turning my bag of dried split peas into soup. Things were going fine and the soup needed to simmer for a couple of hours.  I went upstairs to my office and started to write yesterdays blog post. The whole time I was thinking my soup was happily simmering away on the stove. I even checked on it twice, granted it was after 15 min.  and then 30 min. after that, but everything looked fine. Then I got busy and didn't check on it again until it was time to add some seasoning and things. Here I had left the heat on too high and all the liquid had evaporated and the bottom was burning.

I quickly added some water and transferred it to another pot (and turned down the heat). I was able to save it but I'm still kicking myself. It was a silly mistake that I should have caught earlier.  I was especially kicking myself when I had to scrub the bottom of the burned pot. 

 I am laughing at myself now though! :)

Split pea soup. It was yummy and it hit the spot!

Well, I'm thinking next week will be better and I will make nothing but extraordinary food!! (note the hint of sarcasm in that sentence) 

"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained." - John Powell


Friday, August 10, 2012

BBQ Tempeh

Yesterday I made a BBQ Tempeh in my slow cooker. This is the second time I've tried Tempeh and the verdict is....I'm not a fan.

Although my BBQ Tempeh was better than the first dish I tried, which was Tempeh steamed and then seared in some peanut oil and tossed into a pasta dish, I don't see myself cooking with Tempeh again.

On a positive note, beans would have been perfect in place of the Tempeh in this dish. I'm looking forward to fiddling with this recipe and making it really tasty!

 A couple of nights ago I made scalloped potatoes from "Veganomicon" which were a big hit with both James and I. I really am enjoying meal planning and getting to try all the recipes I've been longing to try. FUN. FUN!

 "Skill is the unified force of experience, intellect and passion in their operation." - John Ruskin

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meatless Mondays

Happy Meatless Monday everyone!

I love that there is a movement out there that is encouraging a meatless life (even if it's just one day a week). You can check it out at

In support of Meatless Mondays last Monday James and I got take out from a restaurant in our neighborhood that offers a discount on meatless meals every Monday.....

The Mac Shack 

 I got a dish they call "The Veggie" James got "The Farm House" (which does have ham in it)
I love the cartoon they have on their paper bags :) You can also see in the back ground the books I used this last week to help plan my menus.

I think  The Mac Shack is becoming one of my favorite places to eat when I don't feel like cooking. "The Veggie" is my go-to dish but I think next time I will try creating my own dish from their build your own section.

We enjoyed this meal while we had a movie night and followed it with a big bowl of popcorn.

 Nights like this are some of my favorite memories I have with my husband. *Sigh* :)

 “Woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.” - Honore de Balzac


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Black-Eyed Pea Croquettes

Last night for dinner I tried my first recipe out of Alicia Silverstone's book "The Kind Diet". I've owned this book for over a year now, and I love it. I'm currently reading it again for the 2nd time. It's filled with great information and I'm reminded about all the reasons why I want to eat a plant-based diet. 

You're probably wondering why, if I love it so much, haven't I ever made anything out of it. Well, I have one big problem when I buy cookbooks. I buy them and I immediately sit down and read them, making a mental note of all the recipes I want to try. My problem comes when I go to the grocery store. I very rarely make a list for things other than the staples we use like salt, pepper, dog food, soy milk, TP ....ect. When I need vegetables to make my meals what goes on the list is.... "Veggies".  I'll buy whatever looks good or has a great sale price. Ending up with sort of a mishmash of things. When it comes time to make dinner I just throw things together...stir fries, scrambles, pastas, stews or soups. 

When I get the urge I might sit down and look at some recipes to make for dinner and I'll find I'm missing a key ingredient for just about everything I want to try. I found this especially true after switching to eating a plant-based diet because I'm still learning how and what to put together. 

This bring us to last week when I actually made out a meal plan for this week. I took some time and picked out a few recipes I wanted to try, went to the store and actually purchased the specific things I would need to make them. Amazing! *patting myself on back*

   Dinner was Black-Eyed Pea Croquettes with Dijon Glaze and a side salad. As I was making the croquettes I noticed that it was kinda smelling like falafel. Which makes sense because they are both made out of beans. After tasting the croquettes I found that I liked them a whole lot better than falafel and they had a very satisfying crunch. James on the other hand likes falafel better.

I did have a problem preparing them. I only have a small food processor so I had to blend them in 2 batches and then I mixed the two together in a bowl. I don't think I blended them long enough so some of them fell apart a little while cooking. I didn't mind though because the ones that fell apart were crispier. Yum! It definitely hit the spot last night.

 "Each person's task in life is to become an increasingly better person." - Leo Tolstoy . 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tofu Scramble

Since I first started eating a plant-based diet I have made quite a few tofu scrambles, and I have really fallen in love with them. So it's not surprising that I made one for breakfast this morning with a side of breakfast potatoes. Usually I put the potatoes in the scramble but today I wanted them on the side. For seasoning I used salt, pepper, garlic powder and turmeric (to make it look like scrambled eggs).
 For dinner the past two nights was Samosa inspired mashed potatoes, Jasmine rice with coconut spread(YUM!) and a side of romaine lettuce (plain, just to get some greens in). I really need to work on creating more balanced meals. This one was very heavy on the starch. 

" If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

More Rain and Pizza

The beginning  of this week started with thunderstorms again! I swear James and I turn into little kids when it starts raining. If one of us notices it we'll run to the other and yell "It's raining!" and we'll both run to a window or outside. I know the reason for this is that I can count on one hand the times it's rained at our house in the last year. We both come from areas where we saw a lot more rain than we do now. He's from Southern California and I grew up it Southeast Alaska where it rains all the time. I honestly thought I would never, ever miss rain but after living in Las Vegas for 10 years it's official.....I miss it.

We also take the time to notice the rain because if we don't we might not know it was ever here.
View from my office window.... *Rain*

Out of the same window an hour later...Rain? What rain?

With enjoying all the rain the last couple of days, last night I decided to be lazy and we had frozen pizza. I had Amy's no cheese pizza (I cant' get enough of this pizza) and James had a three cheese pizza from some company I didn't pay attention to.

Dinner tonight will be much more inspired. I'm planning on spending several hours in the kitchen :)

 "You've got to find yourself first. Everything else'll follow." - Charles De Lint