Snow Days

December 10, 2013

Oh last Friday…Also known as:

soup and bread

That random day where I had the genius idea to throw every leftover veggie and container of cooked rice into the crock pot as a surprise, leave for work in the drizzle and come home in a cold wet down pour to  an “extra two points” from the Hubs because our house smelled like a delicious warm bowl of soup that was ready to eat.   And when I say that, I mean, with huge hunks of fresh baguette smeared in earth balance, duh.

That, my friends – is the magic of a crock pot.

This soup was seriously delicious, it absolutely hit the spot.  We had been craving a veggie soup since the explosion of food that is otherwise known as Thanksgiving week.   I normally use two big cans of diced tomatoes, but this time around I switched out one of those cans for a can of crushed tomatoes.  The switch added a little more tomatoey depth (technical term folks, use it) to the soup and with that change plus the leftover rice from the night before, the soup really thickened up into almost a stew, especially with the meaty cremini mushrooms thrown in.   More magic?  I was feeling pretty lazy when I threw the soup together in morning, so the mushrooms only got cut in half, the celery, squash and zucc were chopped REALLY thick, tore up the green beans with an “eh…that looks about even” form of measurement and didn’t even bother to take knife to the baby carrots – in they go!.  A can of corn with its liquid and a few bay leaves, a healthy dose of cumin, garlic powder and black pepper and I was done.   Honestly – no recipe.  Just went with what I had and it turned out perfect.   We froze a bunch for another cold night and had the leftovers for our snow day on Sunday and it tasted just as good. There’s just something about soup that makes you want to curl up in thick cozy socks and be warm and comfortable, especially after a cold wintry day.

the front

We have another snow day today and so I’m hanging out at home.  While the adult in me is really frustrated that I can’t get into work and get some things done (when did THAT happen?), I’m trying really hard to embrace the extra day I’ve been given to get some other things done too.  I have a few things I can do to work from home, so I am grateful for that – and I now have a few more hours in the day to get some presents wrapped, the rest of the decorations up, an early workout in and some more cookies baked.  I’ve got my best gal friends on speed dial (text?) to keep me company and a mug with my name on it.  Plus, it really is hard to waste so much energy being frustrated, when something is so beautiful and we are safe and warm enough to enjoy it. 

winter wonderland

And another perfect day for another perfect bowl of soup.  I’m thinking this recipe:

http://www.dailygarnish.com/recipes?recipe_id=6000059

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and safe and dry!

coz

And happy 🙂

xo

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The Pinnacle

November 20, 2013

Ya’ll,  I have reach the pinnacle of vegan cooking.

pizza 2

Homemade Vegan Pizza.  Worth eating.  I know.

pizza 1

Forgive the awful cell phone pictures, but this was just too good not to share.  Honest to goodness Mom & Pop pizza  feel and taste to it.  I’ve made this pizza twice now.  I followed the recipe for this pizza dough both times.  The first I did a nice over night dough rise (and made my own sauce, per her instructions).  The second time, I threw it together on a Sunday afternoon and used up the last of some store bought pizza sauce we had in the fridge.   I added some slices of Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese and kept my fingers crossed that the cheese would melt a bit (a common Vegan cheese problem).

The words “wait…which one is mine” and “aw man, yours looks better” were heard in my kitchen that night.  Glorious glorious words.    I think the secret was putting the cheese in the oven when it was 500 degrees 🙂  But seriously, that dough?  Magical.  I’ve already turned a few people onto it, while becoming a total addict myself.   There is literally nothing I have made and/or adapted from Smitten Kitchen that has not tasted amazing.  I forsee many.many.MANY nights of pizza in my future.

xo

Homemade Ramen Bowls

October 13, 2013

Its a point of pride for me that I can come up with tasty and fun meals that are vegetarian or vegan and keep the masses happy.  But there are definitely times when we look at our weekly menu and 1.  NOTHING sounds appealing and 2.  We notice “sandwiches” make it on the list 3 different times.  Chances are, when we get to this point, we wind up with more frozen pizzas and less money in our pockets.  Not to mention a significant dip in that “healthy”  aspect.  Oops.

This weekend in an attempt to fix that – I decided to try my hand at something fun and pretty easy to do.  Homemade ramen bowls!

Complete with Sake (which was...not our thing)

Complete with Sake (which was…not our thing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it was Saturday and I had some time, I decided to go all out on these, I took a cue from Post Punk Kitchen and made my own broth by simmering some chopped onion, ginger, garlic and carrots in water.   To finish it off, I strained the liquid out and whisked in some Miso, Mirin and Liquid Aminos before cooking up the noodles in the broth.   I found packages of ramen Noodles (I think my package called them Chinese Noodles) in my grocery store that weren’t the 99 cent instant ramen lunches, but I imagine in a pinch just buying the instant ramen noodle packs would work and you could leave out the spice packet (Bonus to making your own broth?  Saying goodbye to that unbelievably salty seasoning…).

I topped our ramen bowls with marinated and grilled sliced Portobellas and baby Bok Choy, bean sprouts, green onions and cubed tofu for me.  I didn’t bother heating up my tofu, just cubed it up and let it warm up a bit in my bowl of soup.  I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t mind the taste of tofu, cooked or uncooked and have been known to eat it straight out of the container… 🙂

Ramen 2

We topped off the meal with a glass of sake, which as I mentioned in the above image, really not our thing.  Maybe it was the bottle I picked up, but we both ended up switching out for a beer about halfway through the meal.   There was also a side of vegan spring rolls that I picked up from the frozen section, although most of my appetite was dedicated to the bowl in front of me.

A tasty way to break out of a dining rut and pretty easy to boot! It could be made even easier on a weeknight, since the noodles cook so quickly to just whip up some veggie broth (I use the bouillon cubes to control sodium) and quick cook up the veggies.  I also read that the  broth freezes pretty well, so there’s that option too.

Now…something else new to try?

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

xo

This weekend

August 6, 2013

I’ve been feeling pretty bummy lately, so this weekend I made a concentrated effort to let myself enjoy things and to do things that I know make me happy to help move that along.   It was a low key weekend, as far as weekends go – but it was a productive one and a fun one.   We ran errands, did some projects around the house, went for a Chinese food dinner date, had some simple summertime good eats and…

drill

played with power tools.

On Sunday we hosted my in laws for an impromptu afternoon hangout.  They brought steamed shrimp, corn on the cob and greek salad fixings, so B and I supplied the pre dinner munchies:

veggie tray

dip tray

Since it was going to be a relatively lite dinner, I opted for some sliced baguette with homemade bruschetta and herbed olive oil, with some cut veggies and homemade hummus (for us) and veggie dip (for them).  Served alongside some grapes, crackers and olives, it was delish.    Its been a recent goal of ours to rely less and less on prepackaged foods, so I love making our own dips and spreads like this when we’re able to, its nice to know what goes into our food and usually ends up being cheaper and tastes better too!

tempeh

I also did a simple marinated tempeh with olive oil, lemon juice and cracked pepper to grill up for dinner while everyone else enjoyed the shrimp!  Simple and delicious, the epitome of summer time meals for us.  A ton of food, but we never really felt like we had eaten too much.

rice salad

This weekend I also whipped together this easy rice salad when we couldn’t figure out what to eat on Friday night.  Neither of us were feeling anything too heavy and I had veggies to use up, but neither of us wanted to snack the whole night either.  So I threw together some brown rice, chopped up the last of the red onion and cucumber, tossed it with some leftover chickpeas, fresh mint from our planter, LOTS of lemon juice and pepper.  It was simple, refreshing and lite.  Another perfect summer time meal.  The great thing about this salad, is that it made enough for leftovers and keeps pretty well in the fridge, so I’ve been throwing it on my salads for lunches too.

Hope everyone else is enjoying their summer time flavors as much as we are! Clearly, I have a thing for fresh veggies and lemon juice this year…

xo

Soup Success!

February 26, 2013

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It’s no secret that I love my crockpot and last night’s soup did nothing to change my mind. However, it is a little more prep than normal involved. I came up with this idea after a serious hankering for some root veggies roasted with a healthy dose of Smoked Spanish Paprika. Normally I’d be perfectly content to toss the veggies with some pasta and call it a day. The problem, was that last night my husband needed a fuss free dinner and a clean kitchen. So a crockpot meal was in order. Besides, roasted veggies is a weekend meal in my book, since otherwise it would mean eating dinner at 10. Not really, but it would still make for a late night meal.

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Instead of giving up on the idea, I went ahead with roasting the veggies on Sunday night, including 2 sweet potatoes, 3 large carrots, 1/2 medium celery root (peeled), 3 cloves of garlic, 1 small/medium onion, tossed in olive oil and smoked paprika.  The next morning I threw them all into a crockpot with about 5 cups of water and half a veggie bouillon cube and let it cook away on low for the day.  You wouldn’t need the crockpot either, you could absolutely roast the veggies and simmer in some veggie broth directly afterwards.  For us, the crockpot was the way to go and when we got home, it smelled great as was, but didn’t look altogether appetizing and I already had my mind set on a bisque of sorts, so I used my immersion blender to whiz it up, adding in more water bits at a time (and a splash of almond milk, although I don’t think it needed it) until I got the right consistency.  Alternatively, you could’ve thrown it into a blender in smaller batches and pureed it that way.   The immersion blender is fast and easy and requires less transporting of the soup, which in my book = less mess and a happy husband.

To top of the soup I added in some more paprika (plus a garnish for my soup, I can’t help it, the stuff is addicting!), a touch of cinnamon and a splash of Rye (Bourbon would do the same thing).   We served it with a side of homemade molasses cornbread, where I replaced the sugar (we have none in the house right now) with molasses.  It had the perfect amount of sweet, without being overly so.  Slathered with some earthbalance, it was a proud moment for me when I got the “this is pretty good” nod from B.   Baking without sugar in the house has been an adventure to say the least, but its just not something we’re looking to add to the grocery list right now unless we have a reason to.  Saving money can be so fun :-p  Actually, this non-sugar thing has been a fun experiment, to see what it is we really need in order to satisfy our “sweet cravings”, which happen few and far between to begin with.  I have to say that the molasses served its purpose well and may be a future replacement for most cornbread options from hereon out in our house!

Life can be stressful sometimes, especially on a Monday after a sleepless weekend, but bowls of soup like this are a nice way escape it for a while.  🙂

If you try it let me know and enjoy!

xo

Caesar salads

February 12, 2013

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We’re big fans of Caesar salads at our house and since discovering Alicia Silverstones Caesar dressing from The Kind Life, it’s been on constant rotation. The thing that is fun for me, is deciding what to put on top of the salad. Since meat and seafood are out, I tend to lean towards some marinated portabellas as our topping of choice. This past summer I tried out some roasted cauliflower (delicious) and last week, in an attempt to clear our fridge of leftovers, I grabbed the final stalks of asparagus and cooked them up in our grill pan with lots of fresh ground pepper. As a side, they would’ve been tasty, but wanting. As a salad topper, they were delicious and added a fun new twist. So you can imagine how happy I was, when I offered up bellas or asparagus as toppings for Caesar salad to my husband, who responded with a “yes”. So tonight, it’s Caesar salad with bellas and asparagus. Y.u.m. Anyone else choose fun things for salad toppings besides me?

Staying healthy

February 5, 2013

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Working hard at trying to feel more accomplished during the day. Not to mention keep a serious check on my health. This week is all about keeping track of how I’m eating and moving. Im trying to stay active during the day, that way if I dont get in a workout, I don’t feel too guilty. Also on tap is making sure I’m only eating when I’m hungry. Last week I’d eat when I was supposed to, not necessarily when I felt hungry, which left me feeling heavy and forever full. Very unpleasant. My current reading material (Michael Pollan) also has me truly reinvigorated about my eating habits. Last night I was in bed early, but tonight I got in a full set of lifting and an insanely delicious dinner of roasted veggies like asparagus, tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes and carrots, seasoned with some peri peri and the most amazing Spanish smoked paprika ever, tossed with some petite peas, whole wheat pasta and some olive oil. Absolutely addicting.

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How are you staying healthy this winter? Xo