Saturday, October 6, 2012

My Recent Favorite Obsession, Peanut Butter And Fruit On The Bottom Yogurt

In an effort to blog more this month, here is a short but sweet post.  I'm going to share something I can't get enough of right now.  Peanut butter and fruit and fruit spread on the bottom yogurt.

It all started when I saw this post at Oh She Glows.  When I first looked at it, I mistakenly thought it was peanut butter and fruit topped with yogurt.  Although it was something completely different, I couldn't get the idea out of my head (I've admitted before how much I love peanut butter).

So, I put some peanut butter in a bowl, topped it with an organic fruit spread, then put Wildwood Vanilla Soyogurt on top of both.  I stirred it all together and tasted it.  Amazing!  I didn't take a picture of the finished product, it tastes better than it looks.  :)  Since then, I've made it with various fruit spreads, and added thawed frozen fruit in (imagine a berry fruit spread with mixed berries).  If you are a peanut butter lover, you seriously need to try this if you haven't already.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Vegan Meet Up At The Red Herring And A Vegan Hot Dog Question

Last night, I went to a Vegan Meet Up at The Red Herring Restaurant.  The Red Herring is a hip, kinda funky, local vegetarian restaurant on campus.  They are open M-F during lunch,  Friday and Saturday nights for dinner (I read they have jazz on Saturday nights), and are occasionally open for special dinners throughout the week.  Since they are the only all vegetarian/vegan restaurant in town, our local Vegan Meet Up Group wanted to support them.

The theme last night was comfort food and it was totally comforting.  :)  For our entree, we could choose between a county fried chickpea and quinoa cutlet with brown gravy or a lentil loaf with tomato gravy.  The side choices were mac 'n' cheese, collard greens, or broccoli and cauliflower, I think.  I went with the country fried cutlet, mac 'n' cheese, and greens.  Everything was really good!  I cleaned my plate, which was impressive considering it was a lot of food.  I read they are serving dinner again next Thursday night, and I believe it is going to be enchiladas and jack fruit carnitas, which sounds awesome.  If you are local, or close, and able to, you should swing by The Red Herring sometime.

The meet ups are inevitably a lot of fun.  I got to meet new people last night, which is always nice, and visit with friends from the very first meet up I ever went to, over a year ago.

Sometime during our conversations, don't ask me how, we got on the subject of vegan hot dogs.  This led to a discussion about which vegan hot dog is the best.  My exposure is limited, so I didn't have a lot to offer.  One of the ladies at the table, is somewhat of a vegan hot dog connoisseur, but she hasn't met a vegan hot dog she doesn't like, so no strong opinion from her either.  Other than that, the opinions were mixed, with Tofurky hot dogs being a top contender.  Now, I want to get some and see what my grandkids think (and try them out for myself of course).  So my question to you is, which vegan hot dog do you like best?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

September Vegan Food Swap And Gardein In The Slow Cooker

I'm still here, and I'm sorry I haven't posted much recently.  In my last post I mentioned things were going to slow down a little, but so far they haven't.  I guess maybe I just need to get used to my new normal.  :)

I'll start this post with my delayed September Vegan Food  Swap reveal.  As you know, in August I joined a Vegan Food Swap hosted by Cat at The Verdant Life.  I am having so much fun sending and receiving vegan food items.  This month I was paired with a non blogger named Saniel.  Saniel sent me a box filled with goodies from Trader Joe's.

I love getting and trying new things.  The Nothing But Banana Flattened is a really fun take on dried bananas, they are literally flat, and definitely yummy.  The bag of almonds is actually filled with individual packs of raw almonds, which is really handy for grabbing on the go.  The Corn Pasta is a gluten free pasta, and a nice change up from traditional pasta.  Popcorn is one of my all time favorite snacks.  Last, but not least, the little individual packets of Artisana Nut Butters.  Last month, I got two individual Artisana raw cashew butters with berries and acai in them, which I loved.  This month, I got raw almond, raw cashew, and raw walnut butters.  I had never tried walnut butter before, but now that I have, it needs to be a staple in my kitchen.  :)  I'm hoping we have it locally and I've just missed it.  Otherwise, I'll have to figure out how to get my hands on some.  Thanks again Saniel for sending me the awesome goodies!  

This is a bad pic, but I wanted to share a recent success story I had with Gardein Beefless Tips in the slow cooker (this picture is before cooking, dark morning light and flash being funky).  I was actually a little leery about how Gardein would work in the slow cooker.  I was afraid it wouldn't hold up and might even disintegrate during the long cooking process.  Looking online didn't yield a lot of information, so I decided to just go for it and give it a try (worse case scenario, I'd have PB&J for dinner).  My fears were definitely unfounded.  If anything, I think the slow cooking process made them even more palatable for non vegan husband.  This dinner was so good!  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it again.  As a matter of fact, the night we had this for dinner, my mouth was still watering two hours later remembering it.

My camera was really not cooperating with me that day.  Here it is on top of some brown rice, before I devoured it and went back for seconds (I seriously ate way too much).  Here's the recipe:

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Beefless Tips (adapted from this recipe)
Serves 2 (very generously, probably 3-4 normal servings)
This could easily be doubled, not sure if cooking time would have to be adjusted

1 bag of Gardein Beefless Tips (I took them right out of the freezer, and put them in frozen)
1 T.Earth Balance (I used the coconut spread)
1 small onion or 1/2 of a large onion, cut in chunks
1 sweet potato, cut in chunks (my sweet potato was ginormous, so I only used a little over 1/2 of it, but assuming a normal size sweet potato, I would use a whole one)
1 can of coconut milk
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 t. grated fresh ginger
2 t. brown sugar (I think agave or molasses would be nice here too)
1 t. curry powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (this made for a nice amount of heat, but not over the top, it did make my nose run while eating it, so adjust accordingly)
1/2 t. ground coriander

Turn crockpot on and put earth balance in it while getting the other ingredients ready.  If it melts before you are ready to put everything else in great, if not, don't worry about it (mine wasn't all the way melted).  Put everything in the crockpot (I started with the Beefless Tips and pretty much just went down the line from the onion on) and give it a good stir to mix everything together.  Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

I'm confident this will be making many repeat appearances on my table.  Yum!

I hope everyone is getting a chance to enjoy some of the Vegan MoFo posts out there.  I haven't gotten to read as many as I would like, but I am enjoying reading the ones I can.  I didn't sign up to participate, but I'm planning on posting more this month than I did last month.  :)  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

No End To The Craziness

It's been crazy around here the last few weeks.  I've heard an expression before that goes something like 'I meet myself coming and going', and that is definitely how I've been feeling.  During the last few weeks, I'm ashamed to admit I've eaten more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than I can shake a stick at.  Luckily, last month I stocked up on peanut butter and got a couple of really good organic fruit spreads from bionature.   At least my PB&J's aren't the sugar filled variety I ate when I was a kid.  The Hickory Smoked flavored Tofurky and I have also become very close, to say the least.  :)

While I'm being honest, the reason for so many sandwiches lately is really due to lack of planning on my part.  When I'm not so busy, I can usually wing it most of the time and be fine, but when my schedule is hectic, I find  I need a plan.  If I'm walking in the door late, exhausted, with nothing planned for dinner, and I don't feel like going out to eat, my options are delivery (which means eating even later), trying to figure out what to make (not happening) or something easy like a sandwich (jackpot!).  I'm starting to use my slow cooker a little more for these busy days, and I'm trying to plan a little better.  I'm really hoping things will get back to normal soon though, or at least a little closer to normal.  :)

Here are a few things I did manage to squeak out recently:

Baked tofu over rice with mixed vegetables.  I topped this with a little sriracha.  The tofu was dry rubbed, before baking, with the Peruvian BBQ seasoning I got in my August vegan food swap.  The rub on the tofu was amazing.  I can't wait to make this again.

Vegan Linda was talking about making homemade tomato soup last month, and ever since reading about it I had been in the mood for tomato soup.  Her's had fresh tomatoes from her garden (I'm envious).  Mine more closely resembled the recipe in Vegan Diner.  I used canned organic crushed tomatoes with basil, garlic, fresh basil, organic vegetable broth, and cashews.  I took some leftovers to my daughter's house for lunch one day (and remembered to take a picture, I forgot to take one at home).  I had it with whole grain toast topped with vegan cream cheese and homemade vegan pesto.  My granddaughter Lexi loved it!  Lexi is still pretty young, and her r's aren't always real defined, depending on what word she is saying.  It was so cute to here her ask twice for "mo soup please".  She ate 3 bowls!  :)

Nothing elaborate here.  Gardein Crispy Chik'n Patty, Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs, Seapoint Farms Eat Your Greens Veggie Blend, cheesy quinoa, and honeydew.  I just mixed a little vegan cheese into the warm cooked quinoa to get the cheesy quinoa.

I steamed some Trader Joe's Vegetable Gyoza and made this Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce from Alton Brown.

Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chik'n finished off the meal.  I love this stuff!  :)  I served broccoli with this.

A day where I actually sort of planned and made lentils in the slow cooker.  I made the Honey Lentils out of Make It Fast, Cook It Slow and subbed agave for the honey (I used a little less than called for).  I forgot to plan for the rice, so I made couscous (gotta love how fast couscous can be done and on the table).  I had the Eat Your Greens Veggie Blend with this meal too.  This meal was a protein powerhouse.  :)  A heads up, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is not a vegan or vegetarian cookbook.  It does have some nice sounding recipes that are vegan, and some that could easily be veganized.  The author is also gluten free.  It's worth checking out from your local library if you're interested in using the slow cooker.  She also has a lot of recipes posted on her blog.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August Vegan Food Swap

Last month, I signed up for a Vegan Food Swap that is hosted by Cat from The Verdant Life.  I had been reading about bloggers doing these swaps for awhile now, so I was super excited to find one I could join.  August was my first month participating and it was a lot of fun.  I sent goodies to Steffi from Don't Fear The Vegan (I love the name of her blog, every time I see it I can't help but think of Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult), and I received goodies from a non blogger named Jannifer from Texas.  One of the really neat things about this vegan food swap is that you don't have to be a blogger to join.

Jannifer is lucky, she lives in the hometown of Whole Foods.  Since we don't have one nearby, it was awesome to receive goodies specific to them.  I love, love, love berries, and mixed berry to me means extra yumminess, so I was immediately excited to see the Mixed Berry Conserve.  As a matter of fact, the morning after I opened my food swap package, I put a little conserve on top of my oatmeal for breakfast.

That same night I mixed a little in with some frozen berries, and made a delicious sauce to top my Almond Dream ice cream.  Amazing!

Mexican night was in store (sorry no pictures) with the yummy Herdez Salsa she sent, along with the Whole Foods Organic Taco Seasoning.  She also sent me some Whole Foods Organic Peruvian Barbecue Seasoning which I haven't tried yet (I've just been so busy), but I am planning on using it soon.  I've been thinking it'd be really good on some baked tofu.

The Sahale Soledad Snacks she sent me had a nice blend of salty, spicy, and sweet.  It has almonds,  apple, flax seeds, dates, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper.  I dug into these almost as soon as I opened my box.  :)

She also sent me some Wizard's Vegan Worcestershire Sauce, which I'm eager to try.  I usually use Annie's brand, since it's easy for me to get where I live.  I don't know if there is much difference in taste, but Jannifer said she would be curious to hear what I think.  I will have to post after I try it.  I don't know if any of you have tried both.

Lastly, I got two individual squeeze packets of raw cashew butters from Artisana.  One was the Acai Berry and one was the Berry AntiOxidant.  I have got to see if I can find these someplace local.

Thanks again Jannifer!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Busy, Busy Week Means A Bunch Of Quick Dinners

I know I stated in my last post, I've been really busy recently, and that's putting it mildly!  Along with quick and easy breakfasts, my dinners have been pretty quick and easy, too.  It's times like these, I am extremely thankful for stuff I make and tuck away in my freezer.  I'm also thankful for vegan convenience foods, reliable cookbooks with easy recipes, and takeout.  :)

Occasionally I have to work on a Saturday, and last Saturday afternoon was one of them.  I actually suspected I might have to work into the evening, which I did.  My son Blake had been helping me with yard work that morning, and we were both hungry.  I knew I wanted to eat something a little filling, just in case, but it couldn't be too time consuming, and it needed to be non vegan friendly, since Blake isn't vegan (yet).  I decided on the Sloppy Joes out of Vegan Junk Food (I just got this cookbook, and ironically, purchased Alicia Simpson's new Low Cal Vegan Comfort Food at the same time, go figure).  The Sloppy Joes were good.  Blake loved them, which is always a plus.  Next time I make them, I will probably reduce the salt called for by half, because I thought they were a tad salty (Blake, however, thought they were perfect as is and didn't need adjusting).  I topped mine with a little Daiya shredded cheddar, and had a mix of broccoli and cauliflower, along with some Trader Joe's Crunchy Curls on the side.  :)  Despite the name of the cookbook, the Sloppy Joes were filled with lots of good things.  Vegan Junk Food does have it's share of special occasion treats and once in awhile type meals, though, for sure.  This cookbook appears to have a lot of things in it that will appeal to non vegans, so I am definitely glad to have it in my arsenal of cookbooks.

Takeout Vegetable Lo Mein from I Wok in Savoy.  I added some baked tofu that had been marinated in Island Soyaki sauce and a little sriracha for good measure.  The food at I Wok is good, and you can easily take it with you or eat in.  The owners are a really nice young couple.  Although I Wok is slightly farther from me than other places, I will definitely go there occasionally to help support this nice family.  Luckily, I have family members that live in Savoy, so finding a reason to be in the area won't be too hard.  :)

This dinner took advantage of some Italian Sausage Cutlets I had stashed away in the freezer.  The cutlets are from Vegan Diner.  I grilled them real quick and served them with a Caprese Salad I made using some of the Mozzarella Teese I got at Veggiefest, along with tomatoes and basil from the farmer's market.  I really, really like the Mozzarella Teese in a cold salad like this.  I've also had the mozzarella in a grilled sandwich, and although it was quite good, I think cold is where it really shines.  I have to be fair and say I haven't used it yet on a pizza or melted in an Italian pasta dish, but I am excited that there is a vegan mozzarella that is so good straight from the package.  My tomatoes were pretty big, which is why I cut them in half for the salad (I know it looks a little funny).  The potatoes were another recipe from Vegan Junk Food.  They were really saucy and delicious.  After I shot the picture, I drizzled some of the sauce over my cutlet.  :)

Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage in a Rudi's bun smothered with PPK Cashew Queso (I know I have this a lot), mustard, and diced red onion.  This time I had some baby tomatoes with smoked salt, and a broccoli/cauliflower blend topped with, you guessed it, Cashew Queso.  :)

A quick and easy noodle dish from Chloe's Kitchen.  These are the Peanutty Perfection Noodles.  I didn't have any green onions, so I added a little bit of sweet onion.  I also had part of a yellow pepper I wanted to finish off, so I threw it in.  Despite the fact that my rice noodles were a little overdone (I'm easily distracted sometimes), this dish was right up my peanut butter loving alley.  I sure hope things slow down this week.  :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Busy, Busy Week Means A Bunch Of Quick Breakfasts

I have been really busy this week!  Most days I've been up and running pretty early.  My breakfasts haven't been anything too elaborate, but they have been good.

One of my quick go to breakfasts, leftover quinoa (when I'm planning on using it for breakfast, I make it with plain water or non dairy milk) reheated with more almond milk, dried cherries, and sliced banana.

Super easy Carrot Cake and Zucchini Bread Oatmeal from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester.  This really does sort of taste like a marriage between carrot cake, zucchini bread, and oatmeal.  The next time I make this I will probably only use half the sweetener she calls for, it was a little sweet for me, although still amazing.  I love that she uses steel cut oats for her slow cooked oatmeal, and it is great to put it in the crock pot before you go to bed at night, and wake up to yummy oatmeal in the morning.  She has tons of oatmeal (and other) recipes on her blog that look delicious.  I can see using these recipes a lot when the weather gets colder.

Another couldn't be easier breakfast.  Nature's Path Chia Plus frozen waffles, heated in the toaster oven for a few minutes, then topped with homemade peach jam given to me by a friend.  These waffles are another thing I just tried for the first time this month, and they are really good.  They are also gluten free.

My most elaborate breakfast this week.  I did actually take the time to make a throw together tofu scramble one morning.  I had it with whole wheat toast and honeydew.

Something I've been eating for breakfast, snack, and even dessert lately, is Nature's Path Apple Crumble Love Crunch.  The story about how the original Love Crunch came to be is nice, it's on the back of the bag, plus they donate money and organic food to a food bank for every bag purchased.  I like the Dark Chocolate and Red Berries flavor (I think this might actually be the one they originally created, the dark chocolate and the apple are the two flavors that are vegan), but the Apple Crumble is the one that's really stolen my heart.  The apple is so good I almost have to hide the bag from myself when I buy it.  :)