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So it’s been a while since my last post.  A year….a very busy year filled with so many changes that those who know me understand how busy I have been.  We’ve turned our lives upside down, moved, put the kids in school (teenagers now, no more homeschooling for me) and could not be happier than we are at this very moment.  We have beautiful beaches, friendly people and great schools.

I have still not entered Vegan Land and at this point that is probably not going to happen any time soon.  I just am not ready to give up seafood.

I can say that I am healthier, happier, and feel great since all land meat has exited my diet.  I will not go back because 40 points came off of my cholesterol numbers and that’s a pretty big deal.

I eat lots of vegan meals, vegetarian meals, and pescatarian meals (my seafood).  Grill King still lights up the grill only now the meat sizes are smaller and it is not as often.  If I come across some fantastic vegan recipes and they taste wonderful, I will share them here.

Meanwhile, I am off to another journey because turning 45 has brought about some interesting happenings.  Feel free to check me out at www.waytoohot.me

Until then eat healthy, stay happy and Enjoy, Leslie



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Several years ago, my mom, sister and I decided we would make a point to get together at least once a year for a mom daughter weekend.  Well the first year, the three of us went to Walt Disney World.  We had tons of fun and the most memorable part was oogling (a word?) over the french waiters at the French Cafe in Disneys Epcot.  Both the food and the sights were fabulous.

The second year, we went to New York City.  My Aunt Sallie went with us.  The four of us had a ball.  Four small town girls in the big city made for so much fun.  The food was killer, the sights amazing, and the electricity that you feel through out your entire body in such a city is just magical.  We found this little french cafe (seems a trend is coming) where we had the most amazing breakfasts in the mornings.  The croissants and the french toast were truly mouthwatering.  We saw two broadway plays.  We picked these two because they were both classics and had been running on Broadway for many years.  We watched the Phantom of the Opera which just mesmerized us.  Then we watched CATS.

Now I realize there are tons of CATS fans out there, but I have to let the cat out of the bag and say that the four of us hated it.  Remember this is just our opinion and everyone is allowed to have one of those.  I mean sitting there listening to people dressed as cats taking turns singing did not appeal to us at all.  We kept looking at each other and saying “are they serious?”  There was a lady in front of us who mentioned that this was her 10th time seeing CATS and that she loved it.  My thought was that she didn’t get out very much or really needed to go see something like Phantom of the Opera so that she would know how bad this really was.  We were laughing and giggling all the way through it and went it was finally over we scrambled out of there laughing at the fact that we actually sat through the whole thing.

After our New York City trip, life started happening.  Mostly kids started happening and for some reason we completely forgot about our mother daughter sometimes Aunts trips.  My son turns 14 this year.  That’s how long it’s been.  So this year we decided to do it again and keep it somewhat close to home.  No kids, no husbands, just us.

I suggested we go to Winter  Park, Fl.  My sister lives in North Florida.  We live in South Florida.  It was a nice middle spot.  Hubby, the kids and I had happened upon Winter Park about a year ago when we were visiting Mickey Mouse.  A friend had mentioned the farmers market that they have there on Saturdays.  We went and I was thoroughly delighted by the city itself.

At the last minute, we invited my Aunts to go with us.  My Aunt Eleanor and her daughter (my 1st cousin) Stefanie ended up going.  We had a fantastic Mother, Daughter, Aunt, Cousin weekend.  Winter Park is such a delight.  It’s this hidden jewel in the middle of the State that you may never think to visit.  The farmers market on Saturday morning happens just off Park Ave and is absolutely incredible.  Tons a vegetables, fruits, plants and so much more.  I bought vanilla beans  to make my own vanilla.  There are all kinds of homemade breads, pastries, and juices.  We ate breakfast there.

The whole area around Park Ave is shops and cafes where you can eat inside or out on the sidewalks.  There are benches to sit on and a park.  Trees line the cobblestone streets and it is so friendly, welcoming and quaint.  It is a remarkable place for a girls weekend.  A place to relax, window shop, and eat great food.  It is a very dog friendly place so feel free to bring the pooch.  We happened upon a Thai Restaurant for dinner one night.  I was thrilled to see all the little “V’s” next to dishes letting me know I could eat it with no guilt.  I had a green curry sauce with vegetables and tofu served with brown jasmine rice.  It was to-die-for-good.  The place was called the Orchid and all dishes are served with an orchid on the plate. It was my first time having tofu and I was pleasantly surprised.  I guess I need to experiment cooking with that stuff and I have definitely got to learn to make green curry sauce.  I had forgotten how much I like Thai food.  It’s not something that is abundant around my neck of the woods.  Of all the cafes that we hit, I was able to find something to eat in all of them.  Winter Park is vegetarian/vegan friendly.  Our last morning there, we ate breakfast at a French Bistro.  It was very yummy. The whole French thing makes me think that we need to go to France.  Maybe our trend is leading us somewhere.

Though I am far from being a total vegan, I have to brag about the fact that I have now not had land meat in over 6 months.  I would classify myself as 80% of the time Vegan, 20% of the time Pescetarian Vegetarian ( yea, I’m still loving my seafood.)

Park Ave. Winter Park, FL

My sister Carisa, Mom, and Me

So if you are looking for a weekend place with either friends, family or for romance, Winter Park is the place to go.  We will be going back and will probably make it a yearly thing.

Once home, Grill King informs me that he ate meat all weekend and gained 4 pounds.  I guess the minute my car pulled out of the drive, he went into hunting mode, slapped on some leather and furs, some warrior paint, grabbed his weapons and headed for the local meat market.  The grill smoked all weekend, he beat his chest and the children must have cowered under their beds hoping it wasn’t Hansel and Gretel all over again.

As much as I ate in Winter Park, I didn’t gain a pound.  I was thrilled with that.  I’ve lost a total of only 4 pounds since I started this thing.  Good, but not good enough.  I am about to get very serious because I want 5 more pounds GONE!!!  Time to kick up the exercising.  Meanwhile, if you have a free weekend, go to Winter Park and Enjoy!

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Today is my birthday and birthdays are always nice.  I get cards, calls, and texts and this reminds me how lucky I am to have the friends and family that I do.  It’s hard not to be in a good mood on your birthday because everyone is so nice to you.  When I was younger there was always lots of gifts and a birthday party to celebrate the occasion.  I have many pictures of me, my cousins and friends sitting around a table with a big birthday cake.

Birthdays are different now.  While we always do something to celebrate, it is not like it was when I was young.  This birthday was a little funky for me because I seriously can not believe my age.  It’s not like I need a cane or a walker or anything but I did turn 44 today.  I am trying to figure out how that happened.  So is my mother.  She can’t believe she has a daughter that’s 44.  I mean one day I’m 6 and at the beach with my parents, the next day I am 21 and partying in New Orleans and the next day I’m 44, my back hurts and tiny letters are starting to look blurry.  What’s up with that?  I think I am in need of a trip to New Orleans.

We had to drive to the coast today so breakfast was a quick one.  My daughter had an art class and we ran a few errands and then we went out for a birthday lunch.  I had some fried green tomatoes and a salad with macadamia nut encrusted tilapia (remember I am still eating seafood).  It comes with a key lime dressing that is outstanding.  Then I celebrated my birthday with a piece of key lime pie.  Yes, I do realize what that pie probably had in it, but it is my birthday and I have done extremely well on my road to veganland.  I do not stray often and have only stumbled off the yellow brick road a handful of times.  Most of these time were by accident.  None of these stumbles though include a land carcass of any kind.  I refuse to enter the world of guilt today because once again, it is my birthday.  I figure at 44, I can do whatever I want.  Here’s the scary part…next year I will have made it to the top of the hill that starts sliding down towards 50.  My one friend today told me that 44 was the new 22.  I liked that because other than the hurting back and the blurry letters, I feel 22.  Grill King, because he’s my husband and doesn’t want to lose an eye or any other body part, agrees that I am like a 22 year old.

If I would have had time this morning, I would have made waffles for everyone.  We are a breakfast loving family.  I truly believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  We are going to have the waffles this weekend and it will be my late birthday breakfast.  I have now mastered the vegan waffle and it is oh so good!

After making several batches of vegan waffles in the last 6 months, I have come up with the holy grail.  Not that my other waffles were bad, they just didn’t make you want to sing hallelujah.  When my kids and Grill King ate these, they did not believe they were vegan.  The secret I believe is the self rising flour and brown sugar.  These waffles give you a “gotta have another one” kind of feeling.

2 cups of self rising flour

1 1/2 cups almond milk

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp of regular sugar

2 Tbsp ground flax

3 Tbsp oil (I used canola)

1 tsp vanilla

real maple syrup

Mix all the dry ingredients together and mash to get out any lumps that might be in the brown sugar.  Then add the milk, oil, and vanilla.  Mix well.  Pour in your waffle maker.  I have the Calphalon non-stick no-peeking waffle maker.  It is fantastic and cooks 4 waffles at a time.  I bought it at Bed Bath and Beyond and used one of their 20% off coupons.  Can’t beat that!  Before I got this wonderful waffle maker, I was using a one waffle at a time maker that was shaped like Mickey Mouse.  Cute for the kids at the time but not real practical if you want to eat as a family or finish before lunch.  Anyway, this recipe makes 8 waffles.  So pour on the maple syrup, add the fruit of your choice and enjoy!


Super Yummy Vegan Waffles

I was so stuffed after my late lunch that dinner was not going to be an option this evening.  I knew that I would not be eating another thing so if someone got hungry, they were on their own.  The kids opted for a bowl of cereal and I started wondering where Grill King made off to.  Then I smelled it…the grill was smoking.  I heard the call of the wild and he walks in with a grin on his face.  There were feathers in his hair and a chicken wing hanging from his mouth.  The hunter had ventured off my yellow brick road into the disgusting realm of beaks and chicken parts.  He was celebrating my birthday in his own way.  I waited for him to start beating his chest but since today was my day he refrained from this vulgar gesture.   I guess he didn’t want to sleep outside.  He hasn’t had meat in several days.  Better the chicken wings than the dogs.

If you want some really good vegan waffles, try these.  They really are good.  Until next time, Enjoy!

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I have now been tiptoeing towards veganism for about 5 months.  While I haven’t made it all the way to veganland as the road is not an easy one, most of my meals are completely vegan.  I have not touched anything that once roamed the land since August 24th, 2011.  Basically if it once had a hoof, a beak, or was a varmint of any kind, it no longer has to worry about me being on the food chain.  However, if it’s rabid, drooling and chasing me, then it may end up with a bullet in the head but I still won’t eat it.  Just making a point that if they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone.   I love animals and I love observing wildlife.  I just don’t want to end up with any teeth marks in my butt.  Been there, done that, not fun.

I cut out eggs a couple of months ago.  Not an easy thing to do but I have somehow managed to cook everything I need without that added ingredient.  I do miss eggs, even more than meat.

I am now cutting out 95% of my dairy.  I guess this is my next step which I believe is step five on my journey.  Notice I say 95%.  That’s because a few mornings a week, I like to have a cup of coffee.  In that coffee, I place flavored creamer and whip cream.  It’s just my thing and I’m not ready to stop.  I am eagerly searching for alternatives but so far none have tasted near as good.  If you know any, let me know.  I would really like a tasty alternative.  I will not be touching any other dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc…  This will be a really hard one.  I will probably make a few mistakes by forgetting to look at the ingredients of something.  The truth is I have really cut back on this stuff because my cooking at home is completely vegan.  It’s when I go out that I tend to stray over to the dark side.  As I am writing this, I am sipping my coffee (just being honest here).  I just sprayed some whip cream on top.  I am trying to feel the guilt but honestly, there is none.  It’s just too darn good.

I am still eating seafood.  It’s not something I have everyday.  I probably get it about once a week or once every two weeks.  I am still not sure I can ever give this up.  I may end up being a vegan most of the time and a pescatarian vegetarian when I can get a hold of some fresh seafood.  Two of my favorite cities are Savannah and New Orleans.  You cannot visit these cities without eating the glorious seafood available.  Plus, I live in Florida.  Have you seen what surrounds this state?  Florida has some of the best seafood restaurants in the world.

I was having a conversation with some people last night and it’s funny because I always get asked the same thing.  “What do you eat?”  Sometimes I consider answering them  with a detailed way of cooking tree bark.  The vision in their head is that I only eat fruits, vegetables and maybe some roots, leaves and tree bark of course.  I tell them how creative one can become when your diet is limited.  I tell them about my spinach bean patties, couscous, quinoa, soups, homemade breads, coconut “ice cream”and all the different things I now can do with vegetables.  I tell them about all the neat vegetables I have tried that I had never eaten before and all the neat ways to cook them.  Usually their eyes glaze over and I figure after mentioning the spinach bean patties that replaces my meat, I lost them.  Some though stay interested and actually visit my blog.  Others get a few recipes and give something healthy a shot even if they do serve it beside a cooked carcass.  Others ask, “Why would you eat like that?”  My answer is always the same, “For my health.”  If they ask about my story, I tell them.  I have not yet tried cooking seitan and tofu.  I guess I need to venture out a little more.

So far I have lots of favorites about eating vegan.  I thought when I started this journey that I was going to have to give up so much stuff.  Now while I have given up tons, there are so many little things that surprisingly I still get to eat.  When I am having a chocolate craving its ok because that’s allowed.  I just don’t reach for the nearest snickers bar.  Instead I grab some crescent rolls and sprinkle ghirardelli chocolate chips on them.  Then wrap them up and bake.  Ghirardelli chocolate chips are “accidentally vegan.”  My kids like these too.  It’s like eating a chocolate croissant.  I always have these chips in the pantry for desperate times.  Grabbing a few and throwing them in my mouth works too.

Chocolate Crescent Rolls

Another favorite is that I don’t have to give up cinnamon toast.  I was thinking because of the butter that this was a goner.  Little did I know that a wonderful thing called Earth Balance existed right under my nose and it is the perfect butter alternative as the flavor is spot on.  Take some bread, spread on the “butter”, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, bake.  It’s that easy.

Cinnamon Toast

I’ve always been a big fruit eater and I serve fruit with most meals, even dinner sometimes.  We are lucky in that the little spot of land on which we dwell provides us with some fabulous fruit and I can eat it all with no guilt.  My own yard provides me with coconuts, oranges, tangerines, guavas, grapefruit, limes, key limes, lemons, mangoes, avocados, bananas, and loquats.  They all arrive different times of the year.

Some of my tangerines. Very sweet and yummy.

Other favorite things about eating vegan:

-It drives my family crazy.  They now have to think before I come over, “Will Leslie eat this?”

-I feel better.  This is one super bonus and I am not making it up.  I actually do feel better.

-I get to rag on my husband/grill king and he has to laugh.  Also, his meat consumption has greatly reduced.

-My kids are eating more vegetables and liking them.

-So Delicious Non-Dairy Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert “ice cream’.  Try the peanut butter chocolate swirl.  YUM!

-I can always lick the bowl.  No matter what I am fixing, I can lick the batter from the bowl and not have to worry about it.

-I started making homemade bread and it is both easy and scrumptious.

-Discovering new places I can eat at without the stress.

I was recently visiting the East Coast of Florida and happened to go into a restaurant called Little Moir’s Food Shack.  WOW is all I can say.  The Food Shack is a seafood place located in Jupiter Florida.  I need to become these peoples spoke person because their food truly bowled me over with it’s flavors and it’s menu.  Everything is homemade and fresh.  Some of the menu changes depending on what’s in season.  What caught my eye at first was on the menu it said that all their salad dressings were homemade and dairy free.  There were several items on the menu for a both a vegetarian and a vegan.  Embracing my pescatarian (seafood eater) status, I ordered a sweet potato encrusted fish and for the first time got brave enough to ask if the fish was dipped in egg or milk first.  No milk but they did use egg, however, they said they would do mine without the egg.  I nearly kissed the waiter.  Since their stuff is fresh, they can pretty much leave anything out of a dish.  They were so accommodating and didn’t even blink an eye at my request. This place was packed and when I tasted the food it was easy to see why.  I will go there again on my next trip across the state.  They have earned a forever customer.  If you live near or will be visiting Jupiter go to this place.  You will not be disappointed.  Just be prepared to have your palette wowed!!!  Enjoy.

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I mentioned in an earlier post about a great gift I got for Christmas.  I wasn’t able to blog about it at the time because my kitchen was lacking the necessary equipment.  Nothing new there.  I made the trip to Williams Sonoma (I LOVE that store) and managed  to only buy what I went in there for.  I walked out with a very heavy pizza/baking stone.  I was grinning from ear to ear.

The gift I got for Christmas was a book on making bread.  It’s called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  A friend gave it to me.  She has her own blog at www.pickmeyard.wordpress.com.  Anyway, we were discussing bread one day before Christmas and I mentioned how most store bought breads contained things like dairy and eggs.  Two of the things I was trying to remove from my life.  She told me she had been making her own bread and how easy it was.  My first thought was…yeah right.

Turns out she was right!  I now bake my own bread every week.  I make enough dough for about 4 one pound loves.  The dough just gets stored in the refrigerator until it is baking time.  My loaves are usually a little bigger so really I only get about 3 from the mixture.  As soon as the last is eaten, I make another batch.  It is soooo good and super easy.

The first loaf I made was gone in 12 minutes.  It never cooled.  Grill King, myself and the kids scarfed it down very quickly.  We resembled buzzards after a carcass on the side of the road.  Not a pretty picture but I dare you to make this bread and not eat the whole first loaf.  Some of it was dipped in olive oil, while the rest was slathered with Earth Balance “butter”.  Between bites, Grill King mumbled, “If we weren’t already married, I would marry you just for this bread.”  Magical words that every wife longs to here.  That statement though, should tell you how good it is.  He was eating BREAD folks, not a steak, wing, leg, etc..  It was a first for my carnivore to have his eyes glaze over while eating something that did not once roam the earth.  Miracles do indeed happen.

There are so many things you can do with this bread.  I have some dough in the refrigerator right now.  With my next loaf, I plan to experiment.  I’m thinking olives or sun dried tomatoes and some seasonings.  The book itself has tons of recipes.  Basically, all you need is flour, yeast, warm water and salt.   You can go from there in whatever direction you wish.

Four little ingredients will provide you with mouth watering bread that is hard and crunchy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside.  Imagine sitting at a little mom and pop place and they hand you a basket with a loaf of fresh bread.  You reach inside.   It’s still warm and you break a piece off.  It has that perfect sound of crunch while you break it apart and then you see how soft the inside is as you watch  the steam escape.  Your mouth waters and you don’t know whether to just bite it, dip it in something or slather something on it.  It is so good, you must have another.

You’re wanting bread, aren’t you?  Well, this is how it has been at my house for the last few weeks.  Throw in a glass of wine, close your eyes and picture yourself in Tuscany or Paris or where ever you imagine great bread and wine comes from.  It’s like a little vacation and we could all use one of those.  This one will save you money.  Just throw in some imagination, a little peace and quiet and your all set.  Enjoy!

Rising Dough

Fresh Homemade Bread

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So in searching my cookbooks I found a recipe for chickpea cutlets. Thank you Veganomicon and authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero!  My thought was:  perfect, this will be our “meat ” for the evening.  Grill King laughed at the thought of something called chickpea cutlets taking the place of chicken, ribs, or steak.  I had to agree, anything with the word cutlets sounds like a meat dish.  But I was determined to have a complete vegan meal no matter what.  Therefore, I hid the butter! After I mixed together the ingredients for the chickpea cutlets, threw together a salad and cooked some quinoa (I have a really big bag of this stuff – COSTCO), Grill King did the honors of cooking the cutlets.  I placed this meal on the table and called everyone in.  My daughters reaction to seeing the cutlets – “I thought we were having a vegan meal, this is fish, you can’t have fish.”  Ah Hah!  Maybe chickpea cutlets can replace meat.  Although to be honest with all of you, I have not yet given up fish or seafood  (this will be a really hard road for me and I’m not sure I’m willing to travel it at this point.)  Does an oyster have a mama or a face?  Tiptoeing remember?  However land meat/things with hooves or beaks are in the past.  They’re out-a-here!  for me anyway.  So we ate our “vegan meat”and even my pickiest eater ate the chickpea cutlets.  Both kids liked the meal and Grill King stated that I am welcome to make these cutlets anytime.  See, miracles do happen and everyone in my family had a completely meatless meal that they enjoyed and that was also veganified (a word?…probably not).   Sounds good though.

My Chickpea Cutlets - Recipe Courtesy of Veganomicon

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