Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recipe links because I'm too busy to post :)

Our Sweet Boys


Since my little guy was born 9 months ago and I am a breastfeeding mama again,  haven't been able to eat dairy products. It makes my little one scream in awful pain after a feeding and during which so, he gulps it down very uncomfortably. So, I have been eating an almost 100% vegan diet for about 7-8 months now with the exception of a taste of something here or there. It was kind of hard at first to transition but also a lot of fun because I love diving in to a new diet every now and again. I think a vegan-ish diet is best for me anyway ... before having kids, it's how I ate by choice. A couple months ago, my husband found out he has very high cholesterol and instead of getting on medication he is trying to lower it by diet. His doctor was a little skeptical at first but agreed to let him try. We will find out in a few weeks if his attempt is actually working. He has been trying to avoid saturated fats which is supposed to be the culprit of causing bad cholesterol but he is finding it hard to totally avoid them. Foods like red meat and dairy products are high in saturated fats and he has reduced it by a lot.

That said, I am finding it really hard to post recipes on this blog.... Not because of what I'm eating but because I find it hard to post here with a new baby around. It's not the most user friendly blog, in my opinion. It has to be really easy for me to do so, otherwise I won't do it. I have so many dishes I want to post, especially on our new "diets." A lot of my previous posts call for butter and or cream and cheese ... I am in the works to alternate or provide alternatives to those recipes but in the mean time, here are some delicious recipes that I have made recently that I think you might enjoy! I hope you are still out there and are enjoying food in a healthful way!

Love always!

Vegan Tortilla Soup by Oh She Glows

Peanut Sesame Noodles from Smitten Kitchen

Spicy Tofu with Peas by Williams-Sonoma

Sesame Quinoa with Tofu from My Recipes

That's a lot of tofu which I don't eat a whole lot of ... maybe only once a week.

Creamy Roasted Tomato, Onion and Garlic Coconut Soup  by Oh She Glows

Cashew Vegetable Korma by The PPK

These are all delicious!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bomb Veggie Sandwich

"Orbit" prepping a scrumptious salad!
At the ripe 'ol age of 16, I decided to go "vegetarian." I honestly didn't know much about it except that I loved fruits and vegetables and very nearly hated meat. During the precious, fruitful years of public school and eating that delightful public school lunch everyday, I wouldn't be surprised if most of my peers thought I was a total freak! I may have been the only kid in school who traded out hamburgers and salisbury stakes for canned (no less) spinach, salad, or those awful green beans. So, it just made sense to be a vegetarian. And, why not? 


My mom and dad were vegetarians living on a commune in Sacramento, Cali during my conception ... and when they returned home to the midwest, they continued their veggie-lovers addiction until I was about 4 years old. Since then, I can't remember a day that I didn't gripe about a single piece of meat on my plate. I usually picked it to death (as if that were possible) to find those few perfect bites (white meat only, please) ... and still, I was frowning. I frowned a lot! There were only a few types of meat that I liked ... salami, pepperoni, white chicken meat (boneless), and fish were at the top of my list. That's about it. However, being the daughter of a fisherman, gardener, and adventurer but inspite of growing up in a small, isolated town in the midwest, I have tried many different types of unusual meat. For example: I've eaten alligator, shark, snake, squirrel, deer, turtle, and frog legs, just to name a few. Now, you may say, "Pssssh, whatever ... I've eaten (blah, blah, blah - you fill in your long list here)." But, you must remember that I was really stretching myself there. So, there you have it. At least I tried it. Fish is just about the only meat that stuck to this day but (surprise) I am very particular with it. So, I suppose I should call myself a "pescatarian" but whatever.


Anyway, back to my story ... One of my best friends and I used to make these sandwiches that were to-die-for! They were revolutionary at the time because who would'a thought something so simple could be so delicious!?! Our ingredients of choice were any veggies good to be eaten raw like, lettuce, tomato, green pepper, onion, cucumber, avocado, cabbage, kale, carrots, etc. etc. You name it! ... AND ... (drum roll please) RAW GARLIC! Yes, raw garlic (which we bought by the shopping bag-full). 


Now, can you imagine a couple of confident yet dirty hippy teenagers strutting around the grocery store (who forced themselves to put on a pair of shoes just so they wouldn't get thrown out) packing their cart full to the brim with only fruits and veggies!?!?! HA! Unheard of around those parts but that's how it was. And to top it off, we always brought in our reusable grocery bags ... Let me tell you, no one did such a thing where we are from back in "them days." We pretty much got the stare of death like we were really doing something wrong ... It's oh, so wrong to be weird (different). Go figure.
Something so great is in something this simple .... 

So, home we did trot with canvas bags full of deliciousness (non-organic but that was totally unavailable). Those were the days. We never followed a recipe and I knew next to nothing about cooking and we rarely turned on the stove (except to make tea). Everything went into a bowl with some homemade vinaigrette or on a couple slices of whole grain bread for our "orgasmic" gourmet sandwiches!!! A meal for two royal hippy chicks. ;) This is where it all started - my love for food - and sharing it with friends. Food is good when it is closest to its natural state. I mean so good that you can get kind of high just eating it ... not to mention all the energy that can be produced from it!

One of the greatest gifts in life is food made from the heart. The kind that is made with love and then shared. We could not survive without it - especially love. Maybe this is why Jesus compares himself to bread saying, "I am the bread of life." John 6:48 His bread was made from the greatest love ever known to us. His love is so deep and rich, that nothing on earth could ever live up ... not even to its shadow. Jesus' bread is food for our soul. True soul food. The "chicken soup" to the soul but better (like, even better than non GMO tofu and organic kale!). Not to mention how he died for us... that is like some complex nutrition that gives eternal life! I'm actually being serious in a humorous way, I guess. Think about it. I say I love food and rightfully so because in a way, it gives me life, right? But without His love there is no life at all. You can thank Jesus for that! I do.

Bomb Veggie Sandwich
Try it if you dare but please share!
Serves 2

4 Slices of whole-grain bread
Vegenaise or mayo
Mustard - dijon or brown
2-3 Garlic cloves, minced
Lettuce leaves
Tomato, sliced
Cucumber, sliced
Avocado, sliced
Red onion, sliced

1. Spread the mayo on two slices of the bread and mustard on the remaining two. 
2. Spread the raw minced garlic over the mayo. 
3. Layer remaining ingredients to your taste and make it a sandwich! 

Savor and thank your Savior by remembering Jesus who gave you life. With love and peace! 

*PLEASE PARDON ANY AND ALL "THEM" GRAMMER ERRORS UP ABOVE :-) hehehe ... THANKS BE TO YOU!* 

Cooking Brown Rice ~ unconventionally

I love brown rice ... but I despise cooking it. I find it daunting and irritating that I can never remember how many cups of water per cup of rice to use or the amount of cooking time. I usually find myself wasting precious time looking up the correct conversions when the rice should be cooking already! And to top it off, when I do have the right measurements, and the timer is set, it somehow turns out too sticky, hard, or burnt. SIGH. I just want a bowl of rice!

After realizing there could be another way of cooking perfect brown rice, I decided to search the web. Lo and behold, I found exactly what I needed!!! Check it out here: Pinch My Salt and Saveur.

This is what I call a brilliant, unconventional method of cooking brown rice! I love it! This is the only way I cook brown rice now. I like the suggestion from Pinch My Salt to reduce the amount of water vs. the Saveur recipe. It totally works!!


Perfect Brown Rice      
brown rice
water (use about four cups of water for every one cup of rice)
salt 
Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. 
Bring water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.  When water boils, add the rice, stir it once.  
Turn heat to medium and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
After 30 minutes, remove from heat and pour the rice into a strainer over the sink.  
Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot.  
Immediately cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes (if your pot lid isn’t extremely tight, place a dish towel over pot then place the lid on top of the towel for a tighter seal). 
After ten minutes, uncover rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt to taste.

Enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette




We have a beautiful variety of kales growing in our garden that are just mature enough to harvest. Yesterday, I picked my first bunch and felt the urge to eat them my favorite way ... macerated in a balsamic vinaigrette but I didn't have any on hand so I used a homemade honey mustard (which is a favorite of mine but not quite what I was craving.)

Then, my Dad called this morning ironically asking for my favorite way to eat kale (we are on the same page here with our growing kales) so I decided I had better hop to it and mix up a batch of balsamic vinaigrette and share. Since I didn't have anything written up, I made a small batch, recorded it on paper, and ate a massive bowl of kale and vinaigrette in the process! So glad I did because oh how wonderful those flavors combine - especially right now in the early garden season. My desire for fresh foods is in a wild frenzy with the warmer weather but my taste buds and cravings are extra heightened due to being seven months pregnant. You could feed me stuff like this all day long!

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Add ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake, shake, shake!

If you want to make a kale salad, this is the way I like it -- Chop up the following and add to a large bowl: 1 bunch of mixed kale, 1/2 bunch of radishes, 1/2 small onion, 1/4 head of any cabbage, handful of sugar snap peas. Pour some of the vinaigrette over the salad until lightly coated. Let sit for 20 minutes or for a few hours. When ready to serve, put desired amount into your eating bowl and top with avocado and cucumber. Eat slowly and chew well.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vegan Thai Coconut Soup with Veggies

Several years ago, my mom gifted me a vegan cookbook which turned out to be one of my most used cookbooks. Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson has become a go-to source for many of our favorite, easy meals at home and potlucks.  All the recipes, even the "ethnic" dishes call for ingredients that are easy to come by.  I also love the fact that almost all the recipes are not labor intensive and have few ingredients ... yet they taste great.  Just a perfect companion for me in the kitchen.  I highly recommend the book ... you can get it here and view Robin's website and blog here, if you like. 

Here, I added bean thread noodles, optional

This Thai-Style Coconut Soup tastes close to authentic yet it's vegan and there's no need to run to the asian market. It's easy. Unfortunately, my boys H-A-T-E mushrooms and aren't fans of coconut ... which is a disappointment but all the more for me :).

Browned tofu with soysauce

This soup is great with my homemade spring rolls (another recipe I've been meaning to post) but if served as a main course, I like to add in a nest of bean thread noodles for a more hearty consistency.  It's up to you.

Thinly sliced mushrooms, red onion and shaved carrot

Vegan Thai Coconut Soup with Veggies 
Adapted from Vegan Planet cookbook by Robin Robertson

Serves 4 or double for a larger batch

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 lb. tofu
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 shallots very finely minced 
2 cups white or baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
2 cups packed baby spinach
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon asian chili paste (optional)
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
Juice and zest of one lime
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Handful of chopped cilantro, for garnish

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thin
1 large carrot, peeled and shaved
Thinly sliced Napa cabbage or bok choy
Handful of bean thread noodles and/or ️Bean sprouts (add last with the spinach)

1.  Place shallots and ginger in a food processor and process until finely minced. If a food processor is unavailable or too big to get out for such a small request, be sure to get the shallots and ginger finely minced using your chopping knife until it is almost a paste.   

2.  Drain tofu and slice, lengthwise into five pieces.  Lay tofu on a kitchen towel lined with paper towel and fold over top to cover the tofu completely. Place a cutting board, weighted with a few cans of food, on top of the tofu and let sit for 15-20 minutes, while you slice the veggies. This will help remove excess moisture. Cut tofu into 1/4-inch dice.  Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a cast iron skillet over med-hi heat and stir in tofu. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon tamari and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

3.  Add remaining oil to a large stock pot and place over medium heat. Sauté shallots and ginger; stirring for about 3 minutes. When tender, add the mushrooms and any other hearty vegetables you desire (except spinach), and sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, remaining tamari, sugar, and chili paste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  Add the coconut, tofu, lime juice and zest, and lemon juice and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add spinach and bean thread noodles, cover and let sit 5-10 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with cilantro. 

Best if served immediately and eaten the day of but it can be reheated the next day, if needed. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tuna Patties

Tuna Patties w/ Sweet Chili Sauce

Our favorite tuna patties come from Simply Recipes Salmon Patties. Instead of using salmon in the recipe, I subbed tuna because it was all we had at the time and I had all the other ingredients. It turned out delicious and now it is the only way I make tuna patties! 

Our family is growing, not only with another baby on the way but with the boys' appetites, so I now have to double the original recipe. This allows at least some leftovers (which will change in time) and satisfies everyone as long as I serve a salad or steamed vegetable and seasoned rice on the side. 


Besides switching the meat variety, I only altered this recipe slightly. Below is how I like to make our tuna patties. It was fun to experiment using salmon one time and tuna another but we ended up liking the tuna version better! 

Tuna Patties
Serves 5-6 or 12 patties

4 7-oz. cans Solid White Albacore Tuna packed in water, drained
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 FROZEN hamburger or hot dog bun, shredded (gluten-free if preferred) 
1 handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried dill (or 2 Tbs. fresh, chopped)
2 Tbs. All-purpose flour (or rice flour) 
2 eggs
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt 
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil spray 

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, except the oil. 

2. Form into 12-13 oversized golf balls, flattened into 1/2" thick patties. 

3. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat and spray generously with olive oil. Brown each patty on one side. Carefully lift each patty and spray the pan with more oil, then flip and brown.

Serve with sweet chili sauce and a side salad or steamed vegetable, and seasoned rice. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Veggie Quiche


Often times, the foods I make at home are the result of a dislike of something I tried at a restaurant or bought from the grocery. This quiche is one example. I'm not saying I haven't had amazing quiche from a restaurant (have I?) but many times that I've ordered it, it is just so-so and I begin thinking that I could probably make it better. The recipe searching begins by the time I get home and have time to do some research. I'll find recipes in the internet and any cookbooks on hand and begin experimenting according to my taste. This doesn't always go so well but in general, if I stick to it over time, I will come up with something delicious that usually becomes a favorite and frequent meal!


I've been making quiche now for several years and have always used heavy whipping cream but Chad and I both agree that it started feeling too heavy and rich (is that possible?) so I tried using half and half and it turned out so great!!! So much better in our opinion but you can decide which you like best. 





When Donna, my sister-in-law, Jaime's, mother asked me for this recipe ... I sort of drew a blank. I don't actually use a recipe anymore, I just go with it. So, I thought I should add this to my favorite list here since we make it so often. I'm not saying this is the best quiche you will ever eat but it's a darn good one and the best part about making homemade is you know exactly what you're eating. I hope yours turns out great!




**** Recipe dedicated to Jaime, my sister~in~law who always requests 
a quiche or two when we are in town - love you lots! *****


Veggie Quiche
Makes 2 pies


What you'll need:


2 frozen pie shells; 9" deep dish and gluten-free if you prefer 
1 Tbs. Olive oil 
4 cups of diced veggies, (example: onion, zucchini, mushrooms, fresh spinach, or potatoes)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 cup crumbled feta
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups swiss cheese, shredded
8 eggs
2 cups half and half (or heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch scallions, green parts sliced


Directions:


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove frozen pie shells from plastic bag and set on a rack away from the oven to thaw while assembling the rest of the ingredients.


Step 2: Chop any vegetables you are using except spinach.  Heat oil in a skillet over med high heat and sauté onions first until soft and brown on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add remaining veggies (except spinach) and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Add spinach last and stir until wilted, just a minute or two. If you decide to use spinach, grab several large handfulls and lightly saute in a little water, until wilted. Strain the vegetables in a mesh colander and let cool.  


Step 3: Shred the mozzarella and Swiss cheeses and set aside. Beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl and add cream, salt, nutmeg and pepper and set aside. 


This is how I assemble the quiche....


1. In a large bowl, combine the veggies and three cheeses and toss until evenly distributed. Divide the cheese and veggie mixture evenly between the two pie crusts and spread it out but let it mound a little in the middle so it's not too close to the edge. 


2. Beat the egg mixture again for a few seconds to be sure the seasonings have not fallen to the bottom of the bowl. Pour half the egg mix into one pie and the other half into the other making sure it doesn't reach the embers edge of the crust ... otherwise, it will spill over in the oven while baking.


3. Using a fork, gently move the veggies and cheeses around to "stir" in the egg. Top with scallions and bake 40-60 minutes. Check on the quiche after 20 and 30 minutes to be sure it isn't burning. The quiche is done when the pies are puffed up and evenly golden and the center of the pie bounces back when carefully pressed with your fingers. If it sinks slightly in the middle or looks watery or a little gooey, keep baking for another 5-10 minutes or so until done. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. 

Slice and serve warm for Sunday brunch with a hot cup of joe. 

Refrigerate any leftovers. To reheat, simply use a toaster oven or microwave.

Freezing option: slice pie like a pizza and either wrap each piece individually or the whole pie with saran wrapt in foil. Freeze. If the whole pie is frozen, keep it in the metal pie tin and place in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes. Check the middle to see if it is cold and if it is, bake longer.