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Archive for November, 2011

When you have two kids and the two kids have activities, sometimes you don’t make it home as early as you would like.  On this particular evening I was really considering ordering a pizza.  I know this is a Vegan NO NO.  Cheese is so NOT allowed.  So, while I am tiptoeing my way down the yellow brick road,  I have not yet made it all the way to Oz/Veganland.  I have stopped eating land meats and eggs.  Dairy is still hanging with me, although I do replace it whenever I can.  I knew that I would probably regret the cheese thing even though it was going to be a veggie pizza so I decided to come home and figure something out.  I AM SO GLAD I DID!!!

Being in the mood for pizza, I opened up a can of crescent rolls (luckily for me some of these are “accidently vegan”).  Who knew?  I grabbed a pan, layered it with tin foil, sprayed it, and went to work.  I ended up with another experiment that went exactly right and tasted so yummy that I can now have pizza anytime I want.  Guilt Free!

Roll the crescent rolls out on the pan.  Do not pull apart.  You end up with a rectangle of dough.

Grab about 3 big handfuls of fresh spinach and place in a bowl.

Take about 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil and pour over the spinach.

Massage the oil into the spinach until the spinach is wilty (a word?) and has soaked up all the oil.

Spread/sprinkle the spinach all over your dough/crescent roll.

Sprinkle the whole thing with italian seasoning.

Chop up  onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms and fresh tomato.  Sprinkle on top of the spinach.

(any other ingredients you have lying around and happen to like on pizza would be great)

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Depending on your oven, you may want to up it to 400 degrees.

Just make sure the dough is thoroughly cooked and slightly crusty around the edges.

Slice with a pizza cutter and Enjoy!

So if you are in a hurry and want something yummy and healthy (well, as healthy as one can get with canned crescent rolls), go for it.  This dish was Grill King and Kid approved.

Quick, Simple & Delicious Vegan Pizza

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First of all, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Yes, I caved but no it wasn’t with meat!!!  I just had my very first meatless Thanksgiving.  Not an easy task.  My mouth was watering over the turkey and the ham.  I mean, I haven’t had land meat in three months – no hooves, beaks, varmints, etc.  I thought I was over it and then today I wanted a bite of turkey really bad.  I somehow managed to hold strong and I did it without causing harm to another person.  I sat there watching my family including Grill King chow down on meat.  Absolutely no compassion!  Not eating turkey and ham on Thanksgiving was a huge feat when one is looking at a plate of meat like the one below.

Ham and Turkey aka Hooves and Beaks

This year Thanksgiving was at my house.  Everyone brought something.  I was in charge of Sweet Potato Casserole, Corn Casserole, Pineapple Au Gratin, and a couple of snacks/appetizers.  Since I am still eating some dairy, I didn’t get stressed about anything.  There was no meat or eggs in anything I fixed.

I completely Veganified my Sweet Potato Casserole which is always good but is usually filled with butter, eggs and milk.  It turned out absolutely fantastic.  One of those experiments that went exactly right!  So good in fact that I must share:

First, keep in mind that I was cooking for a crowd, so you can easily divide this recipe in half.

 

6 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 cup agave

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp ground flax

Mix all together and place in baking dish.

 

Topping:

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted earth balance or non dairy “butter” of your choice

Mix all the topping ingredients together until big lumps are out of flour and sugar.  Sprinkle on top of sweet potato mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Delicious!

 

Sweet Potato Casserole - Completely Vegan

Now for the I Caved part.  My Aunt Sallie makes the best homemade chocolate cream pies I have ever had.  I have been eating these pies for as long as I can remember.  They are usually only around at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Since I had recently stopped eating eggs, which I really miss by the way, I asked if eggs were in her chocolate cream pie.  She said yes but that she was absolutely sure that all the egg went into the the other half of the pie and not my piece.  So since my Aunt Sallie is a very intelligent person (she not only is a college grad with a business degree but also a CPA), I took her word for it and had some chocolate cream pie.  I am almost positive that all the egg was in the other half of the pie. I didn’t taste any in mine.

I will mention something very nice that my mother did.  For the first time ever, she fixed her green beans without meat.  This of course was done for yours truly.  So, not only was the sweet potato casserole all vegan, so was the green beans.  Hey, two dishes are better than none.  Maybe next year, I’ll get them to veganify a couple of more dishes.  It could happen.

 

 

 

 

 

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One thing that is really a lot of fun is the tasting test that I go through a few times a week since I’ve been tiptoeing towards veganism.  Mostly it’s fun unless I have to go ewwww as I run to hang my head over the porcelain god.  That’s the price of experimenting with food.  Sometimes you love it and other times you’re ready to hurl that stuff back up.  This recent vegan experiment was one that was so tasty, I sucked down a second helping.   I had seen a similar recipe but when one’s kitchen is lacking, one can feel free to substitute, change and add.  This time I got lucky.   I will be making this again.   No ewwww and no porcelain god needed.

If you are not familiar with quinoa, may I suggest that you go to the store now and buy some.  Quinoa is a complete protein which is a major bonus for your health and for your body if you are not partaking in the eating ritual of hooves, beaks & feathers, varmints, etc.  Quinoa is 100% whole grain and packs 6 grams of protein in one serving.  This is information you can throw out to those who ask, “how do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?”  

This quinoa recipe was also consumed by my husband/Grill King and the kids.  All ate and all enjoyed.  It’s nice when I fix something completely vegan and the whole family says yum.  I ate my quinoa pilaf along side a fresh salad and it was very filling.  Grill King on the other hand has been running around here without meat for the last few days and was starting to give the dogs a funny look.  He went to the grocery store and somehow a package of chicken wings ended up in my refrigerator.  He swore they just jumped in the cart.  Lets just say that as I was cooking the quinoa pilaf, our grill was smoking.  On Grill Kings plate, next to the very healthy quinoa and salad, was some artery clogging beaks & feathers.  I haven’t seen him go after chicken wings like that in a while.  I guess he got his fix and will put up with my cooking and experiments for a few more days.  In a couple of days though, I may to have my daughter lock Kiwi (our parakeet) in her room….just to be on the safe side (beaks & feathers).

Quinoa Pilaf Recipe

1 cup quinoa

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 cups of vegetable broth

1 tbsp dried basil

salt and pepper (as much or as little as you want)

2 – 3 cups of loosely packed fresh spinach

In a skillet, warm the olive oil.  Then add the onion and saute till it’s soft.  Stir in the tomato, basil and the vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes.  Pour all of this into a slow cooker/crock pot.  Then add the quinoa and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir really well.  Cook on low for about 2 hours.  Check periodically, stir, and add a little vegetable broth or water if it starts getting dry. When the quinoa is fully cooked, add the spinach.  Stir it in until the spinach in completely coated and starting to wilt.  Replace the lid and cook all for another 10 – 15 minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl and immediately enjoy.  A healthy, yummy, complete meal all in one dish.  Gotta love that!

Quinoa Pilaf with Tomatoes, Onion & Spinach

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Curry has a flavor all its own.  There is no mistaking it for something else.  Either you love curry or you don’t.  There is no in between.  No gray areas here.  Grill King loves curry.  I don’t.  I will not apologize for this and I am sorry for all those fantastic recipes that I will miss out on.  I can handle it in small quantities when mixed with something else.  I’ve had it in some Thai recipes that I have enjoyed.  By itself though, as the main spice, pretty much makes me want to hurl.  Don’t hold this against me.  Still though, since I had all the ingredients to make this interesting dish, I went for it.

I’ve seen this done a few different ways but decided to come up with my own.  I thought I would give myself another shot at liking curry.

1 head of cauliflower (remove stems, break florets into small bite size pieces)

2 tsp curry

2 tbsp olive, almond, or grapeseed oil

1 tsp salt

a sprinkle of pepper

1 small apple chopped

1/2 to a 1 cup grapes (your preference) cut in half

1/2 to 3/4 cup roasted cashews (again, your preference – roast these on a cookie sheet at about 400 degrees for just a few minutes.  Watch them so they do not burn.  Then set aside.)

Toss cauliflower with the oil.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the seasonings (curry, salt and pepper) and toss some more.  Add the other 1/2 of the seasonings and continue to toss until all florets are completely covered.  Roast in oven at 400 degrees on a flat cookie sheet until cauliflower is golden brown and cooked (about 15-20 minutes, but watch it so as not to burn).  Once cooled, throw it in a serving bowl and toss with the roasted cashews, chopped apples and slice grapes.  Serve immediately if you want it warm or chill for about an hour.  Either way works.  Serve with the dish of your choice and enjoy!

Curry-Roasted Cauliflower with Cashews, Grapes & Apples

Now for the honest part – Grill King (my curry loving husband) really enjoyed this dish.  I did not.  It looked good and I loved picking out and eating the cashews, grapes and apples.  Now if I mixed a bite of cashews, grapes and apples with a very small bite of cauliflower….I could chew and swallow without saying ewww.  The cauliflower by itself though did not appeal to my non-curry liking palette.  I guess I am still not a curry fan, but hey, at least I tried.  I’ll give myself another shot at liking curry as soon as the bile stops rising in my throat.  Now for those of you who are curry lovers, GO FOR IT!  I hear the dish is yummy!

 

 

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I know I’ve blogged about both oatmeal and hummus before but how often does one find them together.  Basically, I’ve grown addicted to them both.  Here’s the thing, you can add almost anything you want (within reason) to each of them and have a new and wonderful tasting dish.

Items I’ve added to my oatmeal include blueberries, bananas, nuts of all kinds, brown sugar, agave, dried cranberries, cinnamon, vanilla and more.  It always has a different flavor and so far I haven’t messed it up or said EWWW!  A triumph for one tiptoeing towards veganism.  So for those of you who haven’t eaten oatmeal since you were a kid…..give it a shot.  Healthy and yummy all in one dish, plus it’s a great way to start your day.  My oatmeal always starts off with half water and half almond milk then takes off in many different directions.

Oatmeal with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Brown Sugar.

I am also finding hummus fun to make and will never again buy it from a store.  It is just so much better fresh and homemade.  I like experimenting by adding different ingredients.  Throw anything thing in there from nuts to almost any kind a vegetable. For a party you can make several kinds of dips with just hummus.  Just this past weekend I made some hummus that would make you pinch your granny (a southern thing).  It was that good.

1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed

2 tbsp tahini

4 cloves of garlic minced (this will definitely keep the vampires away)

juice from one lemon, feel free to scrape in some of the pulp

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp soy sauce

cumin and salt to taste ( about 1/4 tsp of each)

1/4 cup water

1 cup of portobello mushrooms with roasted red peppers (this stuff comes in a jar and I buy it at COSTCO.  It can be eaten       on crackers, salads, or whatever.  My new favorite use for it is in hummus.  If you don’t have this than just throw some portobello mushrooms in there with roasted peppers and add a tad more olive oil.)

Throw all of this in a food processor and turn that baby on.  A minute or two later and you have yourself one healthy snack or spread.  It makes a great spread for a veggie sandwich.

Portobello Mushroom and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.

The great thing about both of these is that not only does Grill King like and eat them, but so do my kids.  Well at least one of them.  My picky eater remains that…a picky eater.

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Home Sweet Home…most the time anyway.  I’ve been on a trip with the family for the past three weeks.  Two adults, two kids, two dogs and one parakeet all piled together in a motorhome with one small bathroom make for some interesting times….especially when yours truly is tiptoeing towards veganism and attempting to drag the others behind.  First stop was Orlando and eating out.  I posted that one already.  The next stops consisted of Hilton Head/Savannah, the mountains of Western North Carolina (with my mother..posted that one too), New Orleans, Florida’s Panhandle, Tallahassee (so the kids could trick-or-treat with their cousins) and then home.

All I can say is Thank God that the only thing I could not eat was land meat.  I thoroughly embraced my current status of Pescatarian Ovo Lacto Vegetarian (vegetarian who eats fish and other seafoods, eggs and dairy products).  Matter of fact I embraced it so much that I gained my 3 lost pounds back (not a good thing).  I blame this part on my mother and her cooking.  I support this with the fact that my mother herself gained 4 pounds on that little trip.  She recently informed me that she was on the butter and biscuit diet. I believe this to be true as we had butter and biscuits with pretty much every meal.  There is even a new sign at the cabin that now says, “Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, Look who’s here!”   I will say no more on that subject.  The sign pretty much covers it.

As for Hilton Head, Savannah, and New Orleans, let me just say that if you are eating things from the water (pescatarian), GO TO THESE CITIES NOW!!!  Run, Drive, Fly…Whatever it takes…Just Go!  Fish, oysters, shrimp and grits, crawfish, crab…..and rich sauces.  These cities are filled with mouth watering extravaganzas for every palette.  The only thing I had to avoid was the gumbo (usually there is sausage in gumbo.)

Let me just say that “Grill King” was in hog heaven (literally…he ate the gumbo).  Grill King ate his way through things like fried chicken, sausage, hamburger and chicken wings…just to name a few.  His regrets that came in the evenings were mostly forgotten by mornings as he once again enjoyed the day by stuffing hooves and beaks in his mouth (not really but it sounds good).  I will say though that Grill King ate more seafood than land meat.  I think I’m rubbing off on him.  It’s starting to look like he is doing a little tiptoeing of his own towards veganism or at least to the healthier side.   Take a look at this bucket of steamed oysters he ate (now even I can’t blame him for this one and he had a little help from my son):

Bucket of Steamed Oysters

I think there is a controversy when it comes to oysters.  Do oysters have a mama or a face?  I’ll save this one for another time. Maybe after some serious researching on my part.

I have now taken my next step on my journey.  I gave up eggs a few days ago.  I love hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs,scrambled eggs and fried eggs.  So, why this might seem like an easy step to some, it is not for me, especially when my family decides to partake in eggs for breakfast and I have to figure out something for myself.  I’m sure that my mouth will soon be watering for eggs and I’ll be ready to rip a strangers arm off just for a bite of theirs (I went through this stage with meat.)  Note to self:  avoid restaurants during morning hours!  And how I am going to pass up my moms deviled eggs at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I do not know.  It will be a challenge.  OMG !!!  I just realized all the eggs I put in my sweet potato casserole (the best in the world by the way).  I make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Hmmmm…maybe I should have given up something else.  Well, I guess I’ll start trying to veganify (a word?) my recipe.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

So I am officially now a Pescatarian Lacto Vegetarian (a vegetarian who eats fish and other seafoods and dairy products.)  Although I have seriously cut back on dairy.  Me and almond milk have become close buddies and I recently (because of my sister) ate my last piece of pizza with cheese.  Goodbye cheese.

My advice to others:  for the next 2-3 weeks Do Not come near me with eggs in your hand, on your plate, or on your breath.  I make no promises about my reactions to being put in such a position.  Have you seen Twilight and how vampires react to the smell of blood?  That’s all I’m saying!  The only meat that still puts me in the  “I’m going to rip your hand off and eat what’s in it” mood is the smell of bacon.  There is nothing in this world like the taste of really good crispy bacon.  I swear I can now smell in from several blocks away (look out neighbors.)

I thought I would share a few photos from my trip (I already shared one from the mountains in my previous post).  Enjoy these and thanks for checking in:

This is Oji. He makes incredible sweetgrass baskets and sells them on the street in Savannah. He has been doing so for many years and has been referred to as the ambassador of Savannah. I now have the honor of owning one of his baskets.

A really neat sight on the river in Savannah.

Saint Louis Cathedral - New Orleans

Saint Louis Cemetery #1 - New Orleans

Bourbon Street - New Orleans

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