Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Tonight's dinner is not vegan nor is it particularly healthy (well, maybe the soup was). A little while back my sister-in law posted a recipe on her blog for roasted tomato soup. Apparently it was a meal that my brother had made one evening. It's funny that him and I enjoy cooking, since my mother hates it so much. But regardless- we both cook and I am now borrowing a recipe.

I woke up feeling like death today - the weather has changed here FINALLY, which I love! However, every year when the temperature drops drastically I get sick. It's a trade-off. Today seemed like the perfect day to make grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Roasted Tomato soup (Dr. B-S's changes in Italics)
4 large Tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 large Garlic Cloves, chopped finely
3 tsp Olive Oil
1 quart Vegetable Stock
Handful of Fresh Basil
2 Tbsp cream cheese
Pinch curry powder Herbs de Provence

Roast veggies 45 minutes on 425. Add stock and cream cheeseto pan, use immersion blender to blend and make into soup. Add spices and you're done. Yum.

Now, when it comes to grilled cheese- I like to embellish. I love brie, caramelized onions and granny smith apples. However, I did not have any of those things on hand - as I don't really keep much dairy in the house. Husband Dave did have some sliced cheddar, so I used that. I like fruit, so I used some jam. Jam is by far my favorite thing in my fridge, and I have many, many varieties to suit my every fancy. The jam of the day? Candy apple. Oh yeah.

Grilled cheese:
4 slices sourdough bread
2 tsp candy-apple jam
2 slices cheddar
2 Tbsp goat cheese
1 Tbsp smart balance

Melt smart balance on griddle. Assemble the sandwiches, bread + jam + slice cheddar + goat cheese + bread. I served it with some of my Uncle's pickles. I still feel like poop, but at least I am full.

Monday, September 27, 2010

BBQ flavored white beans and sausage and spinach... and raw chunky cheesecake

Today I stayed at home to write.... I spent all day sitting and typing up my reference section and expanding on my results. How fun! At 5 I decided to do some yoga so that I would feel as if I had moved a little today. I always feel guilty going to yoga class and hearing them talk about our "home practice." I don't have a home practice. But it was kind of nice, just doing what I wanted to do for an hour. Anyway- when the husband came home he was wet and tired and hungry. I whipped up one of my favorites from Nava Atlas' Vegan Express (I've been on a kick lately). This is a meal I've made a few times, it is so simple and unbelievably filling.

BBQ-flavored white beans with and spinach
1.5 Tbsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 cans white beans, drained1 14 oz. package tofurkey sausage (I like the Italian variety best)
1 cup BBQ sauce (I usually make my own, but not today)
As much baby spinach as you can fit into the pan.

Warm EVOO, saute onion and garlic - add sausage until nice and browned. Add beans and BBQ sauce - then spinach. Cover the pan until spinach wilts, then stir it all up and serve. So easy!

The whole:

The product:

After dinner I decided I would try making a Raw Vegan Cheesecake that I had seen On Love Veggies and Yoga. I had everything to make it and started soaking my cashews the night before.
Here is my crust:

I was a little bummed that my cheap-o food processor could not make the filling smooth. However, it still tasted okay. It is in the freezer now - so I will know how the final product tastes tomorrow. My blender has broken, and I think it may be time to upgrade to a bug girl Vitamix... and tonight's cashew filling has me convinced.... but to spend the actual money? That is stressful! We shall see.

The chunky cheesecake for now:

Back to "writing"! Yay!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Asheville and Bean and Corn Lasagna

I spent the weekend in Asheville North Carolina for a girl's weekend. If you've never been to Asheville, you have got to check it out. It is a vegetarian wonderland. Not only is half of every menu vegetarian, but there are even Vegan options as well. We dropped by LAB - where I had a seitan philly cheesteak sub. Then we swung by French Broad Chocolates - for some wine and vegan truffles (including a fig and port truffle rolled in sliced almonds. To. Die. For.) Breakfast was at Mayfel's - the cutest little restaurant- complete with a hostess and a potty attitude. I did have eggs and not tofu (though I could have had a tofu scramble). I had the "karma" benedict - a split BISCUIT (the best I've ever had, seriously. And I am a biscuit connoisseur) topped with a slice of ripened tomato, spinach, veggie sausage and poached egg with hollandaise. This was accompanied by cheddar jalapeno grits. It was truly the most amazing breakfast ever. Great company and great food. Now I am completely exhausted. I wanted to throw something together that would last me a week for leftovers and ready-made lunches.

I flagged this recipe awhile ago after I saw it here, on This is Vegan. It turned out great - though lacking in spice. I had left my sriracha at lab - so I was without heat. The full recipe can be found here.

Here it is hot out of the oven.

And the final dish.... garnished with cilantro and a side salad.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jerk-Spiced Seitan and gingered-coconut rice

This weekend I met a girl who didn't eat vegetables. No veggies, no fruit. She said she couldn't get them down. I was not involved in the conversation, so I didn't want to react and admit I had been eavesdropping... but seriously? No vegetables or fruit? I know one other person who does not eat fruit/veggies, and she was explaining her "diet" to a couple of us. Someone asked "you really just don't like them?" She answered a blase ""no." My question was: "aren't you concerned about your health one bit?" But I think a lot of people can find their answers in a pill. These ladies probably take a multivitamin and think they're doing just dandy. It's no wonder people are so confused as to why I chose to alter my diet to lower cholesterol rather than take medication. But, hey - even Bill Clinton is trying a plant-based diet to fight cardiovascular disease! As I served myself dinner tonight, picking around to get the most peppers, I really couldn't imagine a life without veggies.

This brings us to dinner tonight. I was surprised I hadn't posted this dish yet, since I love it so much and it turns out absolutely delicious each time I make it. It's another favorite from Vegan Express - by Nava Atlas. I flipped past it at first, but after seeing it looking so awesome on This is Vegan, I decided to make it myself and was not disappointed.

Tonight I served it with gingered coconut rice and chile-spiced asparagus. The rice is a recipe from another Nava Atlas cookbook, The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet.

Jerked Seitan:

Jerk sauce:
1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp H2O
1/2 cup fruit juice (I like V8 fruit juice. Mmmmmm)
2 Tbsp molasses (it says you can use maple syrup, but why?)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 Tbsp lime juice (I only have lemon)
1 tsp Jamaican jerk seasoning (I use a whole Tbsp)

The goods:
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 onion - quartered and sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 pound seitan (the cubed variety works better than strips)

First step: dissolve cornstarch in H20, add the remainder of ingredients and set aside. Saute onions and peppers in olive oil until nice and browned. Set aside. (Because I use my cast-iron skillet, I deglaze here with a Tbsp or 2 of wine. Who can argue when you are cooking with wine?)

Add seitan to the pan and brown on all sides. Add the sauce, thicken it until it is reduced by about 50% and smells great. Add onions and peppers - and serve at once.

Gingered coconut rice:
16 oz can of coconut milk (it says to use light, but light SUCKS. Full fat is the only way to go)
1.5 cups rice (I use short grain brown rice)
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 tsp grated ginger
1-2 tsp curry powder

Mix together H2O and coconut milk and bring to simmer. Stir in remaining ingredients, put lid on pan and simmer. Simmer for about 35-45 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. The book says the recipe serves 6, but that is a lot of rice per person.

For the asparagus, I toss it in about a tsp of olive oil, chili powder and a little cayenne and roast at 400 for about 5 minutes, and voila! You're done. A dinner chock full of veggies and other goodness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gardein Chicken Picatta

I picked up some Gardein chicken breasts at the store the other day because they were on sale. I was trying to think of something to do with them- and went through my flagged recipes. THIS recipe for gardein chicken and mushroom picatta popped up- on Little House of Veggies.
I didn't have any potatoes- so I just made the chicken and picatta sauce. OH man, it was GREAT. AND the best part is that the chicken breast was only 120 calories for 2 pieces! Hooray! The picatta sauce was double the calories, but so worth it! I had morel mushrooms on hand- so I used them and they were wonderful. I paired it with some wild rice and swiss chard sauteed in olive oil and soy sauce.

This crappy picture does not do the awesome-ness of the dish justice, so head over to the original site to check it out in all of it's glory.

Revisions, revisions

Imagine this: you wake up in the morning, ready to get to work and start writing. The first thing waiting for you is a paper filled with red ink. The 15th version of the same discussion. It's been 3 months. That's all you have been doing. Revising the parts with the red ink... and then getting more red ink in return. 3 months. The same words, the same paper, saying things in 15 different ways until finally you get the "okay, go." Kind of depressing, right? It gets easy to feel as if your life is devoid of all purpose. I finally got the "okay, go" last week- so we'll see how this goes.

Meanwhile - my last paper was completed LAST SEPTEMBER. Why oh why can't it just be submitted already? I need to graduate.

A peak into my reality:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My morning Smoothie

1/2 frozen banana, frozen strawberries, baby spinach, almond milk, greek yogurt, splenda.

Yes- I have started introducing some dairy back into my diet. I feel like I am missing out on a lot of protein.

I also haven't been cooking much lately- my mother and aunt were in town, and work has been annoying.... and the evening classes at the gym are shortening my days further. I'm going to try to move back to my crazy 6:00 am workout schedule. The husband is up then anyway- and then I get to come home at 5. Which is always welcome.

When I do cook, I've been repeating recipes. Grilled eggplant-olive pizza, jamaican rice and beans, taquitos... I've just been boring. However, I did have bookclub last night - we read Eat, Pray, Love. I'm not sure how much I am enjoying it - especially since I'm not very spiritual. But- the first part is about this woman's trip to Italy to gorge herself on food and wine. It's a good part. I hosted last night and put together a quick Italian spread (of course I took no pictures!) Pistachio gelato, Italian cookies, antipasto (grilled eggplant, mozzarella, cocktail onions, sun-dried tomato tapenade), tortellini with pesto and a baguette with carmelized fig and onion spread. Everyone was blown away- and in reality it took me 20 minutes to throw it all together!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

BBQ Tofu

Once upon a time I saw THIS post on This is Vegan. The memphis BBQ tofu was a recipe belonging to Vegan Dad. A lot of links in a short time, I know! Well, I've made this dish COUNTLESS times, and the BBQ sauce is just the best. Of course, I had to make it without the Jack, as I drank it all long ago. Jack really shouldn't be used for cooking, use something else that is whiskey-related. Jack is for drinking. Only.

Regardless, I make the BBQ sauce ahead of time, press the tofu (sliced into slabs) under my cast-iron skillet, then apply a rub to the tofu when it is nice and dry. For a rub I usually throw whatever I have in my spice cabinet on the tofu. Today it was - herbs de provence, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika and salt and pepper... heavy on the cayenne. I saute the tofu one side in light olive oil until all nice and fragrant, then flip it, and apply some BBQ sauce. Tonight it turned out AMAZING.

On the side, like Mary at this is vegan, I made Nava Atlas' warm potato salad and black bean salad from Vegan Express. The recipe is basically: red skinned potatoes (microwaved until done), scallions, red pepper, lemon juice, artichoke hearts and black beans. I left out the artichokes - and added a spoonful of Veganaise.

Adding to my little BBQ was some left-over baked beans I had in the freezer*, and a chopped salad (greens, red pepper, scallions, avocado, and homemade raspberry vinaigrette).

The dish below is Dave's portion, I dug into mine too quickly to remember to snap a picture. It was great! I realize the picture looks a little gooey - which reminded me of THIS.

As we all know, tonight is Jersey Shore night, so I am going to read my book until it is time for the Situation. As a side note- I did a REAL handstand in yoga today! I win!

* These beans were actually made special for me by a friend of my husband's family. She made a batch without meat, and one with meat. It was so nice I almost cried. See, my husband and I have been together for three years and no one has EVER made anything special for me. I usually just sit there and watch everyone eat steak. I bring tempeh, and they just sit there calling it "air" and laughing, while simultaneously popping Lipitor with their free hands. When my husband asks ahead if there is any food I can have, they always make sure to say "we have a cheese ball!" As we all know, there is no better Chrsitmas dinner than a nice cheese ball. This Christmas they did roll the cheese ball in chipped beef, but that's a whole different story.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food processor day!

I still have been having trouble with a lack of appetite this week. I don't want to eat- and when I do eat, I start to feel nauseous. I met with my advisor today- and it went pretty well* (see footnote) - so who knows why I feel all jittery all the time. Well, like I've said, one thing that can always whet me appetite is PASTA. I raided my cookbooks, and found a great pesto recipe in Williams Sonoma "Cooking from the Farmer's Market Cookbook" - which I received as a wedding gift from my labmate (and friend). I didn't have everything so I made a version based on what I had (I threw this together, so I am just estimating portion sizes here):

Pesto sauce:
all of the basil leaves left in my garden (about 2 cups)
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup silken tofu
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
Handful raw cashews
Olive oil (maybe 3 Tbsp?)
Salt and Pepper

Blend it all in a food processor and pour over pasta. Even Dave said it was "pretty good. Haven't you made this green shit before?" This answer was "no, no I haven't."

What goes best with pasta? BREAD and WINE of course! Italian cooking is just the best. While I was out in my yard picking the basil, I noticed a ton of ripened FIGS on my fig tree! They ripen quickly, and if you don't pick them a damn army of ants finds and devours them, so you have to be on top of your game when harvesting. Behold: my bounty.

What do you do with figs? Make Carmelized fig spread of course! This is a recipe from my friend who made it countless times last year. It is so good and tastes great slathered on rosemary olive-oil bread.

Carmelized fig spread, originally from the Guilded Fork:

8 fresh figs, stemmed and halved
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thinly
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat broiler. Cut figs in half, spread on baking sheet, inside part up. Top with sugar (I only used 2 tsp) and broil 4 minutes. Next slice onion, broil 4 minutes as well. Blend all ingredients together and enjoy with wine and pasta.

The wine? I was looking for something under $5 (classy!) and found:

First smell: black currant and ALCOHOL. First taste: cherry, licorice, and more alcohol. Seriously, it was very strong. Who's arguing?

And finally, the finished product:

Since the food processor was already good and warmed up, I figured I would make some balls- since I had been thinking of chocolate all day. Today I blended:

some cashews
4 dates
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp agave,
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp peanut butter.

They are currently setting in the freezer, a sneak peek:

And now that it is almost time for bed, my eyes can finally see the computer screen!

*It most likely went well because at 8:20 this morning I had an eye exam, because I was OUT of contacts. For whatever reason, they DILATE your pupils during an eye exam down here. That means that you must avoid bright light, reading and computer screens for the next 4-6 hours. I could not see ANYTHING. Then it dawned on me: wait, what do I do at work??? Sit under a florescent LIGHT, READ papers, and stare at a COMPUTER SCREEN!!! Well, I decided that the extreme discomfort of the dilation was worth it- because I didn't go into work for the day! I couldn't read, so I watched True Blood for 3 hours before our meeting. When I arrived, I announced that I could "barely see" and would be wearing sunglasses. These also helped because I was able to roll my eyes freely when he said something ridiculous to me. Ah, how nice it was to express my annoyance through eye rolls. And he seemed generally concerned about my vision. SUCKER.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Hello, friends. I (and husband Dave) just returned from a back-packing trip - my first ever. It was great fun, and a wonderful workout interspersed with the rewards of breathtaking views. On this trip I subsisted on trail mix (granola, peanut m&m's, goji berries, raisins, and nuts), CLIF bars, and some ramen. It was a glorious weekend - and I can barely move any part of my body right now!

However, I always love to get out of town- even if it is for a long weekend. I usually come back to school with new ideas, and a resolve to graduate so that I can enjoy trips more often (because I will make enough money to stay in hotels!)
A few pics from the trip:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hesitant cooking

This last week has been a stressful week. I generally handle stress pretty well- as I am pretty accustomed to it through all these years of grad school. Stress rarely affects my eating (usually I eat MORE) - unless I am on the "break-up diet," a tried and true way to lose a ton of weight and attract a new mate FAST! You know that diet, right? When the very thought of food makes you nauseous? This last week has been like that. I am have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach like something just terrible is about to happen, then never actually does. Weirdly enough, when I went into work yesterday - I found I 3 inch screw placed on my desk - strange? Whatever, only one experiment left to go then it's time to graduate.

Anyway- one thing I can always get down - regardless of hunger- is pasta. Though I do love it, I seldom make it! I've made this recipe before "rustic pasta" from the Kind Diet- and didn't like it. Mainly because everything in that book turns out VERY salty. I found salt a very aversive taste (perhaps an evolutionary defense mechanism against my genetic predisposition for heart disease). However - I felt this pasta had potential- and it came out much better this time with a few tweaks.

Rustic Pasta (serves 4-6)

1/4 pound pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce (I cut this to about 2 tsp)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 head green cabbage, sliced (napa works better and cooks faster)
5-6 Tbsp marinara ( I used a whole can of diced tomatoes - which made a huge difference in taste)

Cook pasta. Heat oil, add onions, saute for 7 min, add garlic, saute for 3 minutes more. Add celery, saute 3 minutes more. Stir in soy sauce, gar powder, salt and cabbage, saute 4 minutes. Add tomatoes (or sauce) and cook. Much better this time, but still salty!

I served this with some tomato/basil flavored baked tofu for some protein! It was a good only meal of the day!