Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

This morning my husband accidentally woke the baby up early. And guess who had to get up with him? Anyways, I got to watch my favorite cooking show of all time, Good Eats. And the episode featured my favorite vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. I've seen the episode before, but kind of ignored it since I loved my sprout cut in half and pan fried. But today I paid attention and saw him make the most delicious looking dish ever. Shredded Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and pecans. I had all those ingredients in my fridge and couldn't decide what to make, this recipe was just what I needed! I made it vegan and added a few ingredients too. This dish would make a fantastic healthy side dish for the Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
3 ounce raw pecans, chopped
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 ounces dried cranberries
1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the brussel sprouts and remove any brown leafs. Cut off the tip of the steam. Cut the brussel sprouts into shreds (or use a food processor like Alton did).

In a skillet over medium-high heat, lightly toast the chopped pecans. It will only take a minute or two. The color won't change much but you will be able to smell the aroma. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the butter and brussels sprout shreds. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the sprouts soften.

Next add the cranberries and cook for one minute longer.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the olive oil and bread crumbs. Mix well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now dig into this delicious dish! Michael and I devoured the bowl. I even hoped Jack wouldn't eat his  portion (I gave him just the sprouts, never give a baby nuts as they are a choking risk).  But he devoured his too! I will need to make this again soon, it was just so good!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Samosa Casserole with Cilantro Gravy

This recipe is one of the freezer meals I made a few weeks ago. I wanted something filling and flavorful to enjoy after a long, hard day. I thought of freezing one of my Samosa Pizzas, but I didn't quite know how to store that. Then I though a casserole would be nice, very hearty from all the potatoes and it would freeze very well. And I had just bought a big bag of sweet potatoes, too.  So I essentially made a bigger batch of the potato filling from my pizza recipe, but used sweet potatoes instead. As for the gravy, I wanted something more the usual cilantro chutney. Something creamier, to really stand up to the sweet potatoes.Like how well hash browns go with saw-mill gravy. So I made up a cilantro version.

I made the casserole in disposable pan and covered it in foil. The gravy I made the day of, but you could freezer it as well. Just put it in a freezer bag.

This recipe makes one 8 X 10 pan, and 1 cup of gravy. 

Samosa Casserole with Cilantro Gravy
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp mango powder
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tbs ginger, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 cups frozen peas and carrots (or any other vegetable mixture you like)
2 cups baking mix (I used Bisquick)
2/3 cup water
2 tbs tamarind chutney
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup water
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
2 tbs flour

Add the peeled sweet potatoes to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil. Cook until they are soft.

While the potatoes boil, in a small pot add the vegan butter and melt over medium heat.

Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, coriander powder, and mango powder. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the garlic, ginger, and onions. Cook until the onions soften a little and it's very fragrant.

Turn off heat and set aside.

Once the potatoes are soft, drain well and return to the pot.

Add the frozen peas and carrots, and the spice/oil mixture. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the baking mix, water, and tamarind chutney. It should make a wet dough, like for dumplings. Set aside.

Spray a casserole pan with cooking spray.

Spread the potato filling evenly.

Tear off dumpling-size pieces of the dough and evenly distribute over the filling.

Cover with foil.

To make the gravy,  blend the cilantro and water in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside.

add the oil to small pot over medium heat.

Once the oil is heated, add the fennel, cumin seeds, chili powder, and garlic salt. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the flour and quickly whisk it into the oil. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the pureed cilantro and whisk in quickly.

Cook for 3-5 minutes, until it begins to thicken slightly.

Remove from the heat and pour into another container to cool

Now you can let it cool, then pop it in the freezer.  Or you can bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. To bake after being frozen, 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. To thaw the gravy, place it in warm water and heat in a pot on the stove once it's liquid again. You may need to add a bit more water on the stove to keep it from thickening too much.

I popped this in the oven after a long road trip to LA and back this weekend. It was totally what my whole family needed. Nutritious, tasty, and filling, Even the baby loved it. I hope your family loves it too!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pumpkin Date Muffins

Want to know what statement that makes a cook feel horrible? "I didn't know what to have for breakfast so I skipped it. And you forgot to make me a lunch so I just had ramen." Most days I do feed my husband good meals. I make him nice lunches most days and make sure there is something he can heat up for dinner (usually my leftover lunch). But some days Jack doesn't let that happen. Michael knows I am busy all day trying to care for the baby and working in the evenings. He isn't mad, and isn't the 'I expect dinner on the table at 6 sharp women!" kind of guy. But I love to cook and feed people, so hearing this was a dagger in the heart. I decided to make some freezer meals. This way there is always something to eat and it would save us money in the long run. I made 6 recipes total, so look out for the rest. Also, this recipe is also good for Baby-Led Weaning, the way we are introducing solids to Jack.

So, Michael never has to skip breakfast again. I decided to make muffins that he could eat in the car or at his desk. These muffins aren't your those fluffy cake-like store bought muffins. Do you know why Costco muffins taste so good? They aren't muffins, they are cake. You are eating giant cupcakes without frosting. Totally not the breakfast of champions!  My muffins are sweet but dense, and full of nutrition. A great way to start the day!

This recipes make 24 muffins or one 8 in by 12 in baking pan. 

Pumpkin Date Muffins
2 tbs flax seeds
4 tbs hot water
1 29 oz can of pumpkin puree
2 cups chopped dates
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 tbs vital wheat gluten (or flour works fine too)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray the pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small bowl, add the hot water and flax seeds. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, add the pumpkin puree and dates. Mix well.

Add the oats, vital wheat gluten, brown sugar, flax seed mixture, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix until combined. It should be thick and lumpy.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin. Fill it all the way to the top, these muffins don't rise much.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden.

Eat them hot, let them cool for later, or freeze them for the rest of the week! A tasty breakfast any time.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cold Soba Noodle Salad

I have no idea if I got this recipe from somewhere. Maybe I made it up! I don't recall, but it's similar to many other Asian noodle salads. But I've made it for years. It's light but satisfying. Especially on a hot summer day (though it's September and I really over this hot weather now). Very simple to make and tastes better the longer it sits, so make a big batch for leftovers.

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, a grain that looks like a seed. It's also gluten free so soba is great alternative to for those with a gluten allergy. Buckwheat is high in fiber and manganese, and is overall a very nutritious food. Soba noodles can be served cold like in this recipe, or hot like in a soup. I've tried them both ways, but I prefer cold.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad
1 bag (12.8 oz) of Soba noodles
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
Other options:
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup steam shelled edamame
 1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 tbs toasted nori

Cook the soba noodles according the directions on the package. When done, drain well and rinse with cold water immediately. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mixed together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes to make the dressing. Set aside.

Chop your veggies and add to a large bowl.

Add the soba noodles to the veggie bowl.

Add the dressing and mix together well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Top with some toasted nori and enjoy!

My favorite way to make this is adding all the optional ingredients, but that will have to wait until Jack's older. I left my basic because I was sharing with my little son. We have started to introduce solids through baby-led weaning. I didn't think he was quite ready for tofu or edamame yet.

Baby approved!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lactation Cookies For Everybody

Check out my other blog Vegan Babymama for the story behind why I made those cookies. And two things before I get to the recipe. First, I know it says cookies but I made bars. When you have a 4 month old baby, you don't have time to be scooping out dough and baking one batch at a time. So I spread all the dough out into a pan quickly and pop it in the oven on a cooking timer so the oven would shut off when it's done. That way I could nurse Jack and not worry about anything burning. But if you have the time, these do make wonderful cookies, so by all means scoop away. Second, these cookies are not just for nursing moms. They will not make you lactate if you aren't already. I'm referring the men who reading this, seriously? You don't have functioning mammary glands! They are normal ingredients and the cookies taste great. My husband as stolen a few cookies and loves them. But if you lactating, some of these ingredients are lactrogenic, meaning they have been known to increase your milk supply. The oatmeal, flax seed, brewer's yeast, walnuts, and whole wheat flour in this recipe are all lactrogenic.

This recipe is based on these two recipes I found on Pinterest: Lactation Cookie Bars and Lactation Cookies for Nursing Moms

Lactation Cookies
1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1.5 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 cup hot water
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 heaping tbs brewer's yeast
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (make sure they are dairy-free)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Pre-heat the oven to 350 and spray a baking pan with cooking spray. I used a 9 x 9 ceramic. 

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. 

In a small bowl, add the ground flax seed and hot water. Let it sit for 5 minutes. 

Add the flax seed mixture to the butter mixture. Mix well (though it will be very sloppy). 

Add the flour, rolled oats, brewer's yeast and baking soda the bowl. Mix well. 

Stir in the chocolate chips and salt. 

Stir in the coconut and walnuts, if using. 

Spread evenly into the baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Note to self: Take pic before you take a piece,
despite how amazing it smells.
These cookies really are for everyone. Don't let the title scare you away. They are high in fiber and contains good fats. Plus they are very tasty. I really suggest either the coconut or walnuts, or both! And this is a wonderful treat for nursing momma. You earned it, taking care of a baby is hard! 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Curry Vegetable Quinoa

One day I wanted fried rice, but I had no rice. But I had quinoa though. Then I realized I had no soy sauce. But I had a ton of Indian spices. So I looked up what I could make and came across a recipe from Manjula's Kitchen called Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf. It looked good so I decided to make my own version.

Curry Vegetable Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Dash of salt
1 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 piece of ginger, pealed and minced
1 small white onion
Kernels from 2 ears of corn 
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces 
3/4 cup tomato juice
1 jalapeno, minced
Dash of asafetida
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a small pot, add the quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed. 

While that cooks, heat the coconut oil in large skillet over medium heat. 

Add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, curry powder, and chili powder. Cook for a minute, just until it becomes fragrant. 

Add the ginger and onions. Cook until the onions are soft. 

Add the corn kernels, bell pepper, and broccoli. Cook until the veggies are tender. 

Once the quinoa is done, fluffy gently with a fork and let it sit for a minute. 

Add the quinoa to the skillet. 

Add the tomato juice, jalapeno, and asafetida. Stir well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with cilantro.

A flavorful Indian version of fried rice, with plenty of protein from the quinoa. No need for meat or egg!And don't be afraid to make a big batch of this, the flavors get even better the longer it sits.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Red Beans and Rice

One pot meals are genius invention. Whether you be busy with work, a fussy 3 month-old or both,  it's nice to still have a home-cooked meal. And even better when there is only one dish to clean!

I  came up with this one day while Jack was napping and I had a few spare moments to think about dinner. It's pretty much your standard red beans and rice dish, just with frozen kale instead of bell peppers.

Red Beans and Rice
1 lb bag of Kidney Beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
5 oz frozen kale (about half a bag)
2 cups uncooked brown rice
10 cups water or vegetable broth
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large white onion, chopped
1 tbs chili powder
1/2 tbs smoked paprika
1 tps thyme
1 tps oregano
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste

Combine all ingredients--except the salt, pepper, and Tabasco-- into a large pot.

Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer and cover.

Cook for an hour. The beans will be soft enough to eat but still a little firm. The rice should be fully cooked. There will be a little bit of liquid left, similar to a light sauce.

Season with the salt, pepper, and Tabasco as desired!

There is something so satisfying in a classic simple meal like red beans and rice :-)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lentils With Toasted Walnuts

The other day Jack was super clingy and only wanted to sleep on me. I didn't have anything better to do so I let him. However, as I reached for the remote, I dropped it out of my reach. It changed to the Cooking Channel with French Food At Home. I am not a big fan of this show because she makes stuff that is really not vegan friendly, but I was not about to reach for the remote and wake Jack up. But just my luck she was making vegetarian dishes, and some really good looking ones too!

The minute she said lentils with walnuts, I knew what I was making for dinner. I followed the basics of her recipe, but changed a few things. I left out the goat cheese obviously. I did not use walnut oil because I didn't have any on hand. I also used brown lentils, not the french ones she calls for because once again, I did not have any on hand. I also added celery for some added green color.

Lentils With Toasted Walnuts
1/4 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 cup brown lentils
1 and 1/2 cup water
1 tsp Herb de Provence
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 white onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes in the oven. They will be slightly brown and start giving off that nutty smell when ready. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the lentils, water, and Herb de Provence. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until the lentils are soft and the water is all absorbed.

While that cooks, heat the oil olive in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, cook until soft.

Add the garlic and cook for just a minute.

Add the vinegar and mix together well. Add more oil or vinegar as needed to make a very light and runny dressing (I needed a splash of each).

Once the lentils are cooked, turn off the heat. Pour the vinegar dressing over the lentils. Add the walnuts and toss together well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with some more raw walnuts and a few sprigs of thyme if you have it.

We had this a big piece of bread and added a few shakes of red pepper flakes. It's very rich and filling, a lovely hearty dinner!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sweet and Tangy Baked Beans

These baked beans are incredible. No joke. And they happened to already be vegan! My mom always made baked beans this way when I was growing up. When I had just plain beans out the can at my friends' houses, I would think why? why would you eat something so boring? Michael loves them too. I could make these everyday and he wouldn't complain. I could go on and on, but please make them for yourself and see. 

This recipe makes 6 serving.

Baked Beans
55 oz can vegetarian baked beans 
8 oz can crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp mustard powder 
Salt and Pepper, to taste as needed 

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Make sure you work in the mustard powder, painful to bite into a pocket of that stuff. 

Baked for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. 

It it cool slightly before serving and then enjoy! It's a great summertime treat, I took a big tray (made 3 times the amount) to a family picnic. I love it with a juicy Tofurky Brat

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chocolate Pie

Last year I did a post in honor of my grandmother's passing. Sadly, this post is for my grandpa. A few week ago he had a two strokes that he could not recover from and passed on. So needless to say these past few weeks have been very emotional. I am so happy to be bonding with my newborn son, but sad to lose my grandfather.

Like I said with my grandma's passing, the best way I can honor his memory is to live a long healthy life. And now I need to teach Jack how to live a long life too. I need to teach him about food and cooking so he can have every advantage for his health.

My grandpa loved chocolate pie. The kind you make with Jell-O pudding. When I was little I made him one, but I accidently burnt the milk. It tasted awful, no one else wanted to eat it. However, he happily ate it. Claimed it tasted like coffee. I don't know if it was his love for chocolate pie or his love for me, but it made me happy to see him eat it. I think that was how I discovered my love for cooking for others.

So in honor of my him, I decided to make a healthier vegan version of his favorite dessert.While the pudding mix itself is vegan, it requires milk--and it will not firm up with soymilk. So I had to go a different route. I essentially made my Chocolate Mousse recipe into a pie. Pretty easy, no baking required. And tons of protein and antioxidants.

 Chocolate Pie
1 block silken tofu
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1 graham cracker crust (find one without honey)

Drain the tofu, but do not squeeze or blot totally dry.

I used my NutriBullet, but a blender or food processor works. Blend the tofu until smooth.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir well. Repeat at 5 second intervals until it is all melted and smooth.

Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar to the tofu. Blend until all combined.

Pour the tofu mixture into the pie crust and smooth out the top.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to firm up.

My mom bought this stuff called PB2, which if you like peanut butter, tastes great on sprinkled on top. I have to admit, it took me a few days to want to eat the pie because it made me sad to realize my grandpa is really gone. But once I did, it made me smile. He would have loved it---very chocolatey and smooth. Once Jack can have solid food, I will make this for him and tell him all about his great grandparents.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taco Pasta

Yesterday evening while waiting for my son to wake up from his nap, I was browsing on Pinterest. I came across this pin for Taco Pasta. Noodles with a Mexican-style meat sauce. It looked so good and I hadn't had an actual home cooked dinner since my mom left a week ago. So I decided to quickly make a vegan version of it before Jack woke up.

I did not use a taco seasoning packet like in the original recipe. I never buy spice packets like that, too high in sodium and you never know what else in there exactly. Just make your own spice blend with your own fresh spices.

Taco Pasta
5 oz Penne 
Olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped fine 
1 clove if garlic, minced 
1 package of vegan ground beef (I used Tofurky Ground Beef Style
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano 
1/2 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp chili powder 
1 cup salsa (I used pico de gallo) 
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese ( I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1/2 cup vegan sour cream 
Vegan cheddar cheese, optional 

Cook the pasta according to the direction on the package. 

While that cooks, add a little olive oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat. 

Add the onions and sauté until soft. 

Add the garlic and the ground "beef". Cook until the "beef" is slightly browned. 

Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Cook until fragrant.

Turn the heat to low. Add the salsa, cream cheese, and sour cream. Mix well and cook until heated through. 

Once the pasta is ready, drain and return to the pot. 

Add the "meat" sauce to the pasta and stir together well. 

Serve it up and add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top if you wish.

Michael was really happy to have a home cooked meal and so was I. This was so filling and tasty after several says of frozen food and sandwiches. I love the tang from the sour cream.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Insanely Moist Carrot Cake

First off, I have some exciting news! I had my baby! Jack was born two weeks ago and he is perfect. Check out my other blog for his full birth story

My mom came for a month to help take care of us---for which I am insanely grateful. She left today and I wish she could come back already. She took care of all the cooking so I apologize for not having any new recipes lately. However, she made me an awesome treat for Easter that I wanted to share.

Carrot cake will always remind me of my grandmother. No one else in my family likes carrot cake but me, so she only made it when I was visiting. Sweet carrots, rich cream cheese frosting, and the smile on her face when I took the first bite. Such happy memories. Then my mom burst my bubble few years ago and told me she used a box mix. Oh well, I still cherish those memories. At least she would doctor it up with extra carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

So I asked my mom if she would make me a carrot cake for Easter. She also used a box mix but doctored it up. Now, no offense to late grandmother, but my mom's cake was AMAZING. Light but insanely moist. Just the right amount of sweetness with light creamy frosting. 

This recipe makes one sheet cake. Because this cake is vegan and does not have eggs, it will not rise significantly. As a result, I would not suggest making this into a layer cake. 

Carrot Cake
1 box carrot cake mix (check to make sure it is vegan)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 container of vegan cream cheese 
1 cup powder sugar 

Pre-heat the oven to temperature for a sheet cake as specified on the box. 

Spray a baking sheet pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together all the cake ingredients. Use the whole can of pineapple, juice included. 

Bake according the the directions on the box. However, since there are no eggs it may take a bit longer. Adjust the time as needed. Like a regular cake, a toothpick inserted in the middle should be clean when removed.

Once the cake is cooled, make the frosting. Mix together the cream cheese and powder sugar. It will just be a light frosting/glaze. 

Spread on the cake and let it set. 

It's so insanely moist, I love it. Maybe Jack will take after me and love carrot cake too. Maybe he can have happy memories eating it with his grandma too. And maybe you can bake up this treat and make memories of your own.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Homemade Applesauce

This recipe to accompany my last post, Vegan Potato Pancakes. Applesauce is soooo easy to make. And it tastes so much better fresh. I used Golden Delicious apples because they are my favorite, but any red apple will do. I also don't use that much sugar because I honestly don't think it needs it. Apples are sweet enough as it is, just a little bit more sugar makes it a treat.

This recipe makes 4 servings, but can be easily multiplied to make more.

6 red apples (I used Golden Delicious)
1 cup water
2 tbs of sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Peel the apples and cut the fruit off the core. Chop the apples. Don't worry too much about size and evenness at this point, just get them smaller.

Put the apple pieces and all remaining ingredients in a pot. 

Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer then cover.

Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until the apples are so tender you can't even stab them with a fork without them falling apart. 

Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

You can leave it this if you want it really chunky. For smoother sauce, pulse it in the blender for minute. I left a few chunks in mine.

Serve it as side dish, a snack, or even dessert!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Vegan Potato Pancakes

Potatoes pancakes just might one of the best foods on the planet. Salty and flaky on the outside, while soft and warm on the inside.  Do I even need to say anymore?

I grew up knowing them as Polish dish, but they are pretty much the same as Jewish latkes. That's why I decided to use a Manischewtiz Potato Pancake mix---along with some fresh potatoes. I also used olive oil, not vegetable oil for frying. 

And yes, fried white potatoes are not the healthiest thing ever, but they are a nice treat once and awhile. Just eat them in moderation and watch your portion sizes. And these are especially good with a side of homemade apple sauce (I'll post that recipe soon). 

This makes 6 servings (not gonna lie, we ate them all).

Vegan Potato Pancakes
1 box ( 3 oz) Potato Pancake Mix, with no eggs or dairy in it
1 large russet potato, shredded or riced (I riced mine)
1.5 tbs Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 tbs water, mixed together 
3/4 cup cold water
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine the mix, shredded or riced potato, egg replacer mixture and water. Mix together well. 

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Don't put too much oil, this is just shallow pan fry. 

Once the oil is hot, drop in a big spoonful (like up to 1/4 cup). It should naturally flatten and spread out. Repeat a few more times, without over crowding the pan. I fit four at a time in mine.

Fry until they are golden on the bottom, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side.

Remove from the oil and let them drain on a paper towel or wire rack.

Repeat until the batter is gone.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with some apple sauce and you have one tasty meal!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pilothouse and The Argonaut Cafe

A few weekends ago, Michael and I went on our babymoon in California's Gold Country. Check out my pregnancy blog for a full review of the trip and money saving travel tips. We had both been dying for a Gold Country trip for over a year now, so this was the perfect way for us to have some quality time before the baby comes. We ate at two restaurants that really impressed me, so I thought I would share.

Old Town Sacramento at night. 

We went on our babymoon starting the Saturday of Presidents' Day weekend, so we decided to save our fancy Valentine's Day dinner for that night. We both wanted a nice dinner in Old Town Sacramento, so I did some online research and found Pilothouse.


The restaurant is located inside the Delta King Hotel, a retired riverboat docked along the Sacramento River. I made reservations online, but we probably did not need them. We came later in the evening so we missed the rush, and the hostess told me that the day after Valentines Day is never that busy. She suggested that in the future we always make a reservation just in case.

The staff was very friendly, though our specific waiter was kinda slow (Michael's beer and our bread came about 15 minutes later). The atmosphere was very nice, the whole dinning room restored to it's 1930's charm. And the view of the river all lit up at night was lovely.

I ordered the beet salad (Michael just ate the cheese for me). It was sooo good. The beets were perfectly cooked and very juicy.

For my entree, I had to order the only vegan thing on the menu, Grilled Vegetable Tagine. I was a little annoyed at first there was only one choice, but it was tasted good so I have no complaints. Lovely crisp veggies served over rice, seasoned with a sweet but savory spice blend. I am sorry I don't have a photo of my entree, I know I took one and somehow it vanished off my phone....

Michael ordered the Saturday Night Steak Dinner Special---nothing besides his starter salad was vegan. He always wants steak for Valentines Day. I can't complain because I didn't have to cook it for once. He loved his organic and antibiotic free prime rib. And was in heaven with his buttery mashed potatoes. Meh, I will stick to my still delicious healthier food :-)

Aren't we cute all dressed up?
This place is expensive, but it was a lovely treat. We got to dress up and snuggle up next to each other. It would have been even better if I could have sampled the wine selection.....

On Monday while visiting the Marshall Gold Discovery Park, we had a lunch at this adorable little cafe across the street from the Visitor's Center. The Argonaut Cafe is an organic, farm-to-fork style restaurant. It's a tiny little building, and even at 2:30 PM when we entered, it was pretty busy.

The cafe is decorated like an old Gold Rush era store, mostly wood and metal. There are a lot of picnic tables out back with a great view of the American River.

The menu is basic cafe foods, like soups, sandwiches, salad, and a few desserts. I ordered the Fresh Veggie Sandwich (without the cheese) on Sourdough and Michael got the Organic Smoked Turkey on Sourdough. My sandwich was heavenly. Fresh, crispy veggies with a creamy hummus. And I love buttery California avocados. I was so happy to find fresh organic food in such a small town at reasonable price (both sandwiches were $8 each).  The soup of the day was vegan chili, but I didn't want to be too full and set off my acid reflux. It looked really good though, maybe next time.

We want to do a bigger Gold Country trip when Jack is old enough and I totally plan on coming to both these restaurants again. Though, Jack might stay the night with his Auntie who lives nearby when we go back to Pilothouse so momma can enjoy some wine in peace.

And see, it's not that hard to go on a vacation and eat vegan. Just do some research and be prepared that your food will be delicious, just not a mound of buttery mashed potatoes. Or who knows, maybe you will luck out and find an awesome organic cafe!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Coconut Noodle Soup

This is one of my simple go-to recipes when I want something easy and satisfying. My mom is coming to to help me before and after the baby comes, and I am so asking her to make me this for me. (and make freezer meals of this too). This soup is a mix between a milder Thai Tom Kha Kai and a simpler Japanese Ramen soup.

This recipe serves 4 entree sized portions.

Coconut  Noodle Soup
4 servings of ramen or soba noodles, cooked according to directions and set aside
Coconut oil
1 tbs minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 of a white onion, chopped
1 medium carrot or 8 baby carrots, chopped
1 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 block of firm tofu, drained and cut into bit-sized cubes
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
The juice of one lime
1-2 tbs soy sauce, depending on taste
1 can (12 oz) coconut milk
2 stalks lemongrass
1/4 tbs yellow Thai curry paste
Basil, cilantro, or chili oil for garnish

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a little bit of the coconut oil.

Add the ginger, garlic, and onions. Saute for 2 minutes.

Add carrots, bell peppers, and tofu. Saute until the carrots are soft.

Add the vegetable broth, lime juice, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil.

Reduce to a low simmer. Add the coconut milk, lemon grass stalks and Thai curry paste. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and add the cooked noodles.

Serve with a garnish of basil, cilantro, chili oil, or any combination of those. I normally do chili sauce and basil, but this time I left it plain.

As this cool, the noodles will absorb some of the broth and make the dish creamier. If you want it more broth, just add more water of vegetable broth during cooking.