Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Our Sweet Boys

Since my little guy was born 9 months ago and I am a breastfeeding mama, I haven't been able to eat dairy products. It makes him scream in awful pain after a feeding and during wich so, he gulps it down very uncomfortably. So, I have been eating an almost vegan diet for about 7-8 months now! It's been so fun but was kind of hard at first to transition over to not putting that cheese or half and half in my food but I don't despise my little guy for it. 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 for some reason. 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. Obviously! 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. I hope you find something you like!

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 new 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 sandwich. 
4. Savor!!! 

And remember Jesus who gave you life to enjoy this. Peace and love be with you always!


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)
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.


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 a keeper!  Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson has become a go-to source for many of our favorite, easy meals at home and for 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.

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 handfull of asian rice noodles or bean thread for 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

1/2 lb. tofu
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 shallots finely minced in a food processor
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 grated
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

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

1.  Drain tofu and slice, lengthwise into five pieces.  Lay tofu in a lent free kitchen towel and fold towel over the top to cover the tofu.  Place a cutting board, weighted with a few cans of food, on top of the tofu and let sit for 20-30 minutes. 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, to brown tofu evenly. Remove from heat and set aside.

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

3. 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. Tastes best eaten day of but can be reheated next day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tuna Patties

Tuna Patties w/ Sweet Chili Sauce

Our favorite tuna patties come from Simply Recipes Salmon Patties recipe only I substituted salmon for tuna. It is surprisingly good especially served with sweet chili sauce. Since our family is growing, not only with another baby on the way but with the boys appetites, I've had to double the original recipe. This allows at least some leftovers (which will change in time) and everyone to be satisfied so long as I serve them with a side salad or steamed vegetable.

Besides switching the meat variety, I only altered this slightly. Below is how I like to make these but if you want to try the original recipe, go for it! Experiment using salmon one time and tuna another and go with what you like best. We tried using salmon but decided on tuna as a winner. 

Tuna Patties
Original recipe comes from Simply Recipes Salmon 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 whole wheat hamburger or hot dog bun, shredded
1 handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried dill (or 2 Tbs. fresh, chopped)
2 Tbs. 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. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Veggie Quiche

Many foods I make are a result of a dislike of something I tried at a restaurant or bought from the grocery. Quiche is one example. I'm not saying I haven't had amazing quiche from a restaurant but many times that I've ordered it, it is so so. I come home thinking, "I could make that way better." Then the searching begins. I go to 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 sometimes becomes a regular at our table!

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 is what I used here.
1 cup crumbled Feta 
4 cups of diced veggies, (example: onion, zucchini, mushrooms, tons of fresh spinach, or potatoes)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 cups swiss cheese, shredded
8 eggs
2 cups half and half (or heavy cream)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch scallions, green parts sliced


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 and saute in a tad of oil in a skillet, until soft (including onions). Remember, potatoes cook longer than anything else so start them first, if using. If you decide to use spinach, grab several large handfulls and lightly saute in a little water, until wilted. Strain spinach in a mesh colander, let cool and squeeze any excess liquid out. Squeeze the daylights out of it! Strain the other vegetables in a mesh colander and let cool.

Step 3: Shred the cheese and set aside.

This is how I assemble a quiche....

1. Add 1/2 cup of feta to the bottom of each pie. Next, add the vegetables and then the other two cheeses. Spred it all out a little but let it mound in the middle so it's not too close to the crusts edge. 

2. Beat the eggs in a medium mixing bowl along with the milk, salt, nutmeg, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Pour half the egg mixture into one pie and the other half into the other pie making sure it doesn't come too close to the edge ... otherwise, it will spill over in the oven while baking.

3. Top with green scallions and place in the oven for 40-60 minutes. Check on it at 40 minutes. 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 to the touch, or is a little gooey, keep it in for another 10-20 minutes. Remove from oven when done and let cool 5-8 minutes. Slice and serve warm.

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 wrap. Freeze. If the whole pie is frozen, keep it in the metal pie tin and place in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes.