Sunday, October 27, 2013

If You Give a Girl a Food Processor. ..

During the week, I drool over all of these blogs with beautiful pictures of food and usually recipes for how to make it yourself. I cook more often than the average person, but I still choose lots of convenience foods during the week. Over the weekend, I have a little more time and freedom to cook for myself. The first item is something I found on a fun vegan blog.

Coconut Butter:

Check out the recipe here:
It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

My food processor took a little bit longer. I'm actually kind of a nerd, so I timed it. It took 12 minutes. I mixed the finished product with some pumpkin butter (for a sweeter taste) and spread it on my toast.  Yum!

The second was inspired by a fruit and veggie strip that I found at a natural foods store. I thought, "I can make that, and it will not cost $1.20 for a tiny little bar." I didn't end up making it into a dehydrated strip. It's more like a mashed potatoes/pie filling/baby food kind of consistency, but still plenty delicious.

Healthy Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potatoes
Spices (to taste):
Ground Cloves

Preheat your oven to 350 F. You could probably use a higher temperature if you're in a hurry, but I've found that slow food tastes better.

I'd recommend using slightly more apples than sweet potatoes for a sweeter taste. Also, sweeter apples (Fuji, Honeycrisp, etc.) would probably be better, but I used the red ones I got from my CSA share and added a little agave nectar. Maple syrup or brown sugar would be a nice sweetener to add to this dish, too. I was unfortunately, all out of maple. Also, if you're an omnivore or find a veg*n brand you like, bacon bits might make a nice garnish for this dish.

First, peel the sweet potatoes and cut, core, and peel the apples. I just cut the apples with my apple cutter so diving the apple into six bakeable slices is plenty of cutting if you're using a knife. Stick all of your peeled apple slices in a baking dish (preferably glass) and splash a little bit of water in the bottom. I chose to wrap my sweet potatoes in aluminum foil, but a baking dish would work, too, if you sliced them.

Set your timer for about 45 minutes and do a load of laundry or watch an hour-long TV show on DVD. (Hour-long shows usually only last about 40-45 minutes without all of the commercials.) Really you can anything you like. You could also make a nice dish to accompany this side dish and make a meal out of it. Seitan slices with curry sauce, green beans, and a side salad maybe? I just made this as a healthy snack/future side dish.

When your timer goes off, use a fork to see if your potatoes and apples are ready. If they squish easily, then they're ready. If not, add 5-10 more minutes and check again. Repeat this step as necessary *You might have to cook one longer than the other, so feel free to take one out while the other keeps cooking.*

When they're ready, squish all the apple slices and sweet potatoes. You'll want to add the apples and sweet potatoes to your blender a little bit at a time and stir regularly. And by "stir" I mean scoop all of the blended stuff on the bottom to the top layer. I added spices while blending. I just added a lot of spices at the beginning and did taste tests as I blended.

I used a regular old blender. It took a little longer than a fancy-pants Vitamix, but still works. Just give it some time. Also, I found that it is better to start on a lower setting and just work your way up slowly.

If you have an old blender, make sure that you stop the blender completely for about 20-30 seconds for every minute you spend blending because sometimes they overheat. I heard a horror story from a friend who blew out the motor on her blender, and it started smoking. So I'm just trying to make sure this doesn't happen to you.

I have a lot of leftovers, and I'm thinking of making some little sweet potato pies in my ramekins. Ramekins are those tiny little dishes that people make creme brulee and individual pot pies in. I'm adding this not because I think my readers are stupid, but because I had no idea what they were called before I bought them. I wanted to make tofu pot pies and I was at the store asking the clerk for "those little dishes that you make pot pies in", which isn't very descriptive to someone who cannot see the mental pictures of the item. Heck, there are plenty of different dishes you could use to make a pot pie!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Curried Cauliflower & Eggplant

Here are some quick and easy ways to fit more veggies into your diet. I don't usually eat either of these vegetables, but I'm trying to have more variety in my diet.

Orange Cauliflower from my 2nd to last CSA share:

I added some oil, curry spices (ginger, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, crushed red pepper, garlic), and a little bit of sweetener (agave nectar). I let it simmer and made sure the move the florets (little sections of cauliflower) around a little bit to get all of the sides cooked evenly. Apparently, orange cauliflower has more Vitamin A than other types. Score!

I always thought cauliflower was kind of bland, but this dish was anything but!

I did pretty much the same thing with the eggplant. I sauteed some onions in the dish first to give it some extra flavor. The eggplant was a different texture. It reminded me of stir-fried mushrooms.

It looks kind of gross*, but it tasted great!

I'd definitely make both of these dishes again. They could be nice side dishes or you could add some rice and tofu (or seitan) to make either one a good meal.

*I'd like to get a nicer camera to take prettier pictures of my food. If anyone has any recommendations for cheap, good cameras, let me know!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Homemade Miso Soup


Today, I have delicious miso soup for you. Now, I'd never made it from scratch before, but I bought a container of miso at the store. I figured I'd give it a whirl.


These ingredients are for a single serving.  You can double or triple the ingredients depending on how many people you are serving.

1-2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion or 1/4 of a large onion (diced)
2 carrots (also diced)
2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
sushi nori (seaweed)  torn into small pieces -*optional*
1 1/2 tbsp. miso (I used red miso.)
10-20 pieces of cubed tofu (I used the pre-cut kind.)

First, sauté your diced onions in the olive oil until they are translucent, then add your carrots and continue to sauté until the carrots are cooked.

Next, add the vegetable broth and tofu. Simmer for about 4 minutes, add miso and nori and simmer for 5-10 more minutes.  Then, woila!  Your miso soup is ready!

Can be a light lunch or add some sushi to make it a full meal.
This is my sushi that I made a while back. White rice, sweet potato tempura, avocado, and cucumber. It was delicious. I also made extra sweet potato tempura and my own little dipping sauce by mixing Sweet Chili Sauce with apricot preserves (on the left). It makes a sweet and spicy sauce that goes really well with the tempura.  On the right is Soy Ginger sauce.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Breakfast Idea from Happy Herbivore

I'm a big fan of Happy Herbivore's blog and website.  I recently checked out her meal plans to get some fresh ideas.  On the 3-day sample meal plan, I found an awesome recipe for Berry Berry Quinoa.  Now, I like quinoa (small grain with lots of protein, pronounced keen-wa), but I've always made it for dinner, and I never thought of making it as a breakfast dish.

In her recipe, Happy Herbivore uses two types of berries (preferably strawberries and blueberries), quinoa, cinnamon, and sweetener (maple syrup or agave nectar).  It's delicious!  In the picture below, I used red quinoa because I thought it would look good together with the berry colors, and I also used frozen blueberries.  I don't have permission to include her recipe, but it's in her free 3-day meal plan.  I also just bought a weekly meal plan to get some new ideas and because I loved the recipes from the free plan.  There're only $5 for a week-long meal plan, and they include a handy shopping list, so that you don't end up wasting money or time at the grocery store.  Also, you can cook all your meals for the week ahead of time if you prefer!

Happy Herbivore Meal Plans - If you'd like to try the Berry Berry Quinoa recipe (and others) go to this website and click on the free "3-day Sample Meal Plan".

I'm excited to try out my weekly meal plan and learn some new vegan, low-fat recipes this week!

***I also should probably mention that I paid for the meal plan, and my review is my personal opinion, not driven by anything else. (You can probably tell that because I don't have very many readers or followers of my blog.) Companies aren't exactly clamoring to get in on the action of my famous blog. That's okay because I don't blog for them. I write for me. :)***

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Weekday Quick Meal & Garden Pictures!

My weeks have been very busy lately, and I haven't quite been keeping up with my blog. I've been running, playing soccer, working on my garden, and just plain running around. This meal idea is actually from Tuesday night, and I'm just now getting around to posting it on Saturday. :) Hey, at least I'm posting it! It's very easy to make, fairly quick (about 20 minutes to make), and quite delicious.

This idea isn't entirely original, and it is partially stolen from a soup commercial and partially part of following the meal plan advocated by Alicia Silverstone in The Kind Diet. She says that at every meal, 1/2 your plate should be veggies, 1/4 whole grains, and 1/4 protein. I've been trying to include all three in each meal and making an effort to try new whole grains and to eat a variety of different foods.

So for this particular dinner, I cooked a can of Amy's Spicy Chili, some jasmine rice, and a bag of frozen Ranchero style vegetables. If you don't have Ranchero Style Vegetables, you can also just use a bag of mixed vegetables and add some spices (such as red pepper, cumin, and turmeric).

Tip: Start cooking your rice first because it will take the longest. (I used a rice cooker.) You then can wait about 8-15 before you need to start cooking your veggies and chili. Take that time to check your email, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, whatever needs to be done around the house, or just sit down and enjoy a glass of wine or something!

My carnivore husband loved this meal, especially the vegan chili! He did, however, add some shredded cheddar cheese to his chili and make his dish not entirely vegan. But if that's your thing, go for it. I'm sure it was just as tasty.

Also, I promised you guys that I would post some pictures of my garden plot. So I took some for you. These were taken at night because it's been getting dark so early lately. I plan to take a few better ones after I mulch tomorrow.

Cantaloupe: I got both my cantaloupe plants on sale from the garden store at the end of the season for super cheap. They were half dead, and I didn't expect much from them, but I managed to nurse them back to health and Look! A cute little baby cantaloupe! Maybe it'll be big enough to eat before the frost hits us...

Kale: I planted this about a week and a half ago, and it's really shot up since then. I've heard that kale actually tastes best after the first frost. So this is one of my fall plants that I'm really looking forward to.

Carrots!: I love carrots!  I actually planted about five rows and two different varieties, so I'll have plenty to spare and share with friends. ( 4 rows and 2 varieties of kale, too.) I'm excited for when these babies are ready to harvest!

Strawberries?: I planted 8 of these plants with the hopes to have some next year since I didn't get my garden plot until pretty much the end of the summer. But lookie here, I have another strawberry fruit. In October! I hope they do this well next summer.

Blueberries: I also bought 9 blueberry bushes and 1 raspberry bush to be harvested next summer. They're hanging in there. The leaves have been changing colors due to the fall weather, but I've been told that as long as there are green branches, I will have lots of blueberries next year!

If you have any ideas for any over winter plants that I can add to my garden, let me know in the comments.  I'm new to this gardening business, and I'm just figuring out how much work and fun it can be.