Thursday, November 30, 2006

Freezer Food, A Repeat, & A GRRRReat Cause!

You can always tell when I'm putting off trekking to the grocery store as I start pulling things out of the freezer. Don't get me wrong, shopping for food is honestly the only kind of shopping I love to do, it's just that I always try and hold off to slim down the vast amount of pantry and freezer items we always seem to accumulate.

For this reason, last night's dinner was a simple, tasty, but not something I'd eat very often creation:frozen peas 'n corn heated in the micro then added a little EB, sea salt, Parma, and black pepper aside some Morningstar Farms Strips that we had in the freezer for-ev-er. I just sauteed those in a little olive oil with a touch of vegan worsteshire and then threw in a handful of hempseed which coated it rather nicely. It was good, even if the strips are a little salty for my taste. The Cap'n loved the strips and can barely believe that they're not meat in any way. I'm inclined to agree that they are freaky to eat as they taste convincingly like a real meat product. I don't buy them anymore, but it's nice to finally have them out of the freezer.

Had a craving for some soba noodles the other day and, lucky for me, even when our fridge is getting rather bare we almost always have carrots, cucumbers, green onions, and some ginger or ginger dressing on hand.I also try and always have some edamame in the freezer. Combine this all together for a repeat that's so worth repeating. In my original post of this food favorite, I artfully combined the ingredients as one would likely see them in a fine dining establishment. Here, this is how we always eat it, in all it's messy, yummy glory. hehe ;) oh, and yes....that IS some crystallized ginger chopped and sprinkled on the top. Once i but this stuff in bulk you're likely to see it everywhere until it's gone. I cannot get enough of this stuff!

This morning breakfast was on both our minds and I knew we were down to the wire but a bag of frozen spinach and some tofu lingered in the freezer for a really awesome tofu scramble this morning.I just sauteed an onion in olive oil, then combined the thawed, pressed tofu with nutritional yeast, garlic, thyme, a touch of basil, tamari, and some turmeric, salt and pepper to add to the onion in the skillet. when it was ready to serve i just mixed in the spinach which i'd heated in the micro. With a side of vegan rye toast and some EB, this was a perfect way to start a day that seemed to begin with no food in the house! I am missing fruit right now tho , really looking forward to stocking up on some fresh produce. yum!

lastly, I'd like to introduce you all to some friends of mine who are having a big fundraiser this weekend in the Orlando area.
Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the four R's: Rescue, Raise, Rehabilitate, and Release.
When we lived in Orlando, I spent three of the best years of my life becomming a wildlife rehabilitator.It is truly the most life altering experience of my life and I am a changed person forever for having volunteered and then worked there. I still go back twice every year to help out with the fundraisers (I'm the crazy one who commandeers the kids to make fun crafts out of things we'd normally throw away. so much fun!).
This Saturday, Christmas with the Critters will be held on site, free to the public, so that people can come and check out just how central Florida's wildlife is cared for there.There will be food, kid's activities, raffles, and lots and lots of educational embassadors for everyone to meet (these are the refuge's permanent residents who have either come to them due to illness or injury and, therefore, cannot be rereleased back into their natrual environs or were confiscated or tossed out as pets....for the record? wild animals NEVER make good pets, no matter how cute, cuddly, or adorable!).It's truly a remarkable place to visit and learn from and the fundrasiers are always a ton of fun. Should you know anyone in the Orlando area with kids or who would love to learn more, check out their website here. Also, I must also tell you that, sadly, the refuge is in a serious time crunch to find a new home!Zema, the resident cougar...playin'...typical! hehe

They've been existing for years on the same tiny property but it's not enough. What they need is real acreage for better enclosures and release sites. If land and money are not accumulated within the next year, the refuge will be forced to close its doors and end its truly altruistic service forever. Not only will the animals who have spent the better part of their lives there have to move to new homes far and wide, but injured and orphaned wildlife will have no place to go in the area, an area that is continuously growing and pushing them out. The educational presentations that the refuge has, for years, brought to the public as well as the countless tours given to schools and kids of all ages will come to an end as well.
Makai, the resident wolf hybrid. He was found running around a neighborhood as a pup trying to round up a pack. Such a gentle and timid creature. He's very skittish but so sweet once he decides to trust you...something he never fully does.)

There are no words to describe how this prospect breaks my heart or how it will devestate a truly beautiful vision cultivated over the last twenty years. So, again, if you know anyone or know anyone who knows anyone, or even know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who can help in any way (be it money or land or any kind of donation) please pass this along. Even if you can just take a minute this holiday season to check out their site and donate even a little, it would mean the world, for all those little bits really do add up!

Please check them out and spread the word....for the love of the animals!!!! thanks! You can find most of these pics, info, and more on their myspace. check 'em out!

Babbette and Mocha, resident White-tailed and Asian Fallow Deer

Columbo, resident great-horned owl who lost an eye to a bb gun.

Whizzer, resident red-shouldered hawk, who lost his eye and one foot's talons.

Winnie, resident bald-eagle with a permanently injured wing.

Pookie, resident bobcat and sunshine of your every day. RIP, Pook! we miss you like crazy! (pookie recently passed away after many, many more happy years than he would have ever seen out in the wild. a mixed blessing for our dear, sweet pook).

Casper, the friendly goat! also a permanent resident. Casper was orphaned, tho none of us can imagine how that is even possible. sweetest lil guy around!

two of the resident barred owls, tho i can rarely tell them apart...unless one is trying to swoop down and attack me and take off an ear...then i know it's the male. hehe never turn your back on a barred owl...lesson learned! :)

Calhoun, and Kokomu, resident goat and emu. they're pals and share an enclosure..but what they really wanna know got any grapes?

and here's a squirrel who just happened by...even the local wildlife knows how good they have it here!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Feelin Saucy

In an effort to clean out the fridge of all the extra veggies lurking from dishes i'd yet to make I stumbled upon a GREAT sauce on vegweb. they call it Creamy Garlic Sauce, and, while i'm head over heals for this sauce? i wouldn't call anything that relies on 1tsp of garlic powder for its garlic flavor Creamy Garlic Anything. It's rich and flavorful and creamy alright, and I've a few ideas for some tweaks to make it more my own, but if you're looking for a sauce that's all garlic? this is not it. ;) tho, i'm sure roasting a bunch and blending it in would take care of that!

Here it is over quinoa smothered in roasted cauliflower 'n carrots 'n a leek we had lying around along with some sauteed broccoli (this is my favorite way to cook broccoli, thank you Marlo! I'll share it below).On the side, I decided, for a quick cold salad, to toss a lingering zucchini in the saladaccio and shred it. To it I just added the remaining Almond Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from VwaV's Revolutinary Spanish Omelet and a few leaves of fresh basil, sliced up thin. Oh my, I think I found what this sauce is PERFECT FOR! even tonight when I finished it off while deciding what to have for dinner the flavors were perfect together and it was cold and refreshing.
even our kitty, CJ was totally into it. hehe

The sauce/quinoa/veggies dish was sooo good, too. I ate it for a few meals. Tonight, tho, I realized I had just a bit of quinoa left, a little bit of broccoli, and some sauce. What to do?
I grabbed a garlic/herb wrap from our beach trip, heated up the quinoa/broccoli and added some canned, rinsed adzuki beans (heated) then chopped up some roasted red pepper and a couple sundried tomatoes. then the sauce and a good sprinkling of hempseed before carefully wrapping it up and devouring it like the amazing and mouth-watering quickie dinner that it was. I didn't know if everything would jive flavorwise, but I'd no need to worry. It was scrumptious and very filling.

I just love the evolution of a recipe from one dish to others. Does it show? ;)

want yummy broccoli to have some extra flavor and tired of steaming? years ago my now infamous friend Marlo clued me in on just how to make your broccoli sing. ya take the florets and saute them in some olive oil that you've first sauteed some garlic in (the more, the better), it begins to toast but not burn and you can smell a real nuttiness impart from the broccoli. next, add a little sea salt, oregano, and basil, then a Tbs or two of water, cover, reduce heat, and allow to steam until bright green and tender to your liking (only takes 5-10 min or so). So good.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm so thankful.....

that all of you are so wonderful even when i'm a baaaad blogger who is rarely able to comment on your blogs (thanks, blogger!) and almost never responds to your comments on mine. I want to, I just keep telling myself I'll make the time....and then I don't. See? Bad, bad blogger.

So, because I'm so thankful, I'm hoping to change that today. I did go back a bit and try and respond to everyone in the last posts. (so if you had a question at all you can finally find the answer there. ;) I am so appreciative to have stumbled into this amazing community of truly inspiring and like-minded people. You are all my own personal superheroes, and I'm so glad to share my vegan journey with you. that's a little peek at what Thanksgiving was like for this vegan:Got up yesterday and made VwaV's Revolutionarly Spanish Omelet with Almond Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. I LOOOOOVE the way this cooks up like an omelet and the saffron is a great flavor that I have not had in so long! I think i may tweak the sauce a little bit next time. I'm not even sure how yet, but I think it may have been a little more lemon-y than I was in the mood for? not sure. It was reeeally good as is, I'm just catering to my own tastes. It was a huge hit with the omni family just as it was. They even kept some to have today! A huge success! ;) granted, i reeeeally need to invest in a smaller iron skillet. it was quite the a.m. workout to try and flip that baby all in one piece!

honestly, I'm so blessed to have my family really interested in my vegan lifestyle on both mine and my husband's sides. yesterday, as my family lives in VA, we dined with his. they were sweet and clued me in early on what would be safe for me to eat. I brought along the omelet, some leftover roasted brussel sprouts, green goddess potatoes, the rest of the carrot cake and some stuffed mushrooms and tempeh pate with rye crisps as appetizers for everyone. i'm now needing to email that tempeh pate recipe to the fam as they simply cannot go another day without it. how great is that?! hehe.

here's my plate. this vegan did NOT go hungry spanish omelet with red pepper sauce, roasted garlicky brussel sprouts, fresh cranberry relish (my mom-n-law makes this every year and it is the BEST THING EVER, all citrusy and fresh and just barely sweet and tart enough. mmmmmmmmmm i'll have to see if she'll share with us her recipe), green goddess potatoes, and some fresh green beans made with new potatoes and 'shrooms (my aunt-n-law made this version special this year, no butter or hambone to be found. yum!). and of course....i had more cake. ;)
hope everyone in the states had a wonderful thxgiving yesterday spent with friends and family and fabulous vegan food!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Vegan Feast 06

Last night was an amazing success. It's so funny to me how much I planned to make only to realize that, for seven people, it would be ENTIRELY too much food if I didn't shave down the menu a bit. It was hard to decide what to include. I so wanted to wow everyone with things I knew to be sure hits. I was going to make up a really cute menu but found that my printer would not cooperate and settled on the above....which I totally left back by the computer never to be seen by our guests. :)

Everything went over really well. We all were having so much fun that I almost forgot to snap a few pictures of the food here and there....almost.

We began our feast by munching on some Seitan Nuggets with Agave Mustard.
As usual, these were gone in a flash, and I barely got a pic before they were all gobbled up! Not the healthiest item on the menu by any means, but soooooo tasty and a nice treat.

Of course I had to offer up my Tempeh Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms as another appetizer.
They truly are the best thing ever. I just make the Tempeh Sausage Crumbles from VwaV and then add a Tbs of Vegannaise, a Tbs of Toffuti Better Than Sour Cream, and a ton of nutritional yeast to bind it all together to a great consistancy. I stuff the shrooms and in a 425 oven they go for about 15-25 minutes. I love that I now have a wonderful stuffed mushroom recipe reminiscent of what I grew up with but containing no meat or dairy. Rocks! I didn't cook all that I stuffed last night but saved a couple for grandma at dinner tomorrow who is always up for trying something yummy and vegan. Can't wait to share those with her!

The final appetizer was the Tempeh Pate from the Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook.
I got my hands on some really wonderful dill so this was extra good this time around. I love their general preparation of tempeh and it really lends itself nicely to making a pate. We spread it on some whole grain crackers. yum!

Our feast's main course consisted of my now infamous Vegan Caesar with Brussel Sprouts 'n Sundried Tomatoes,
Green Goddess Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash and Raw Zucchini with Lemon Artichoke Pesto, Hempseed, & Walnuts,
Exquisite Broccoli Bisque (from the Nutritional Yeast Cookbook),
and my friend Marlo's AMAZING tempeh dish, Oh My Goddess Tempeh (recipe follows).
I was originally bummed when I went to two local grocery stores to find that, between them, they had but one single teeny, round spaghetti squash, but when I opted to shred some zucchini and mix it (raw) with the warm spaghetti squash before adding the pesto I hit on something really fresh tasting and wonderful. I will certainly do that again!

Other glitches were things like, no matter that I heated the potatoes in the microwave twice before serving, they still managed to end up on everyone's plates just cooler than room temperature....and only noticed it when we all sat down and I finally made it on my plate to them. Everyone ooh'd and aaah'd over them anyway so they either weren't so bad not piping hot or I just have reeeeeally wonderful friends. I'm thinking it's a bit of both :).

Also found that the soup, while crazy good, was just maybe too much food as it's truly a tasty meal on it's own. It's made from cooking broccoli, potatoes, onion with tarragon and veg broth, then blending with soy milk, nutritional yeast, and almond butter. very rich, creamy, thick and such a wonderful flavor. the almond butter is really unexpected and yummy. move over broccoli cheese! we've got this one covered! ;)

For dessert....I had planned to make a couple so people could sample but ended up just making one reeeeeally good one, VwaV's Ginger Macadamia Coconut Carrot Cake.
One word: wow.

A couple other words tho: what's up with that recipe? It says in the book to serve it with coconut icing but then there is no recipe for the icing anywhere. Am I nuts or is that true? I ended up making a simple vegan cream cheese frosting that works really well but was bummed that I didn't have something new to try. I could have searched around, but I was in a time crunch.

Either way, this cake is dense full of flavor and texture and out of this world yummy. I highly recommend it to all those who love carrot cake.

And here I share with you the tempeh recipe that will surely knock your socks off. It was truly perfect. Thank you so much to Marlo who came over and graced my kitchen with her culinary prowess and provided us with an entree that just plain wowed us. I was going to make the Revolutionary Spanish Omelet from VwaV but now am going to do that to bring to dinner with the fam tomorrow (thanks again Marlo, for helping out a crazy hurried vegan in the kitchen :). Without further ado....and in her words....

Marlo's Oh My Goddess Tempeh

1. Open a dry bottle of white wine, your choice. Pour yourself a generous
glass as you prepare meal below.
2. Take frozen tempeh and cut into strips (1” x 4”). Place in once inch of softly boiling mushroom stock. Simmer on medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Throw in a splash of olive oil and shake tempeh around to coat. Brown gently, and throw in a couple of healthy splashes of lemon juice.
3. Once juice has absorbed, and tempeh has browned, take out of pan; set to
the side for later. This may be extremely dangerous. While only a step in this dish, the tempeh is, in fact, scandalously delicious at this point. I had to make a second batch because I couldn’t resist munching on it as I made the rest of the recipe.
4. In the same pan (less clean up, yeah!) add some more olive oil, along
with whatever fresh green herbs you have that need to be used up. (I had parsley and rosemary; I feel like the rosemary is particularly crucial.)
5. Sauté herbs, then add sliced crimini or baby bella shrooms.

6. Don’t burn your hands as your reach in to taste that perfectly browned shroom.
7. Add a pinch of flour or arrowroot powder as a thickener for the sauce.

8. Slowly mix in generous amounts of white wine and lemon juice.

9. Add freshly cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.

10. When sauce has thickened, pour over tempeh.

11. Serve with favorite green veg. ( I did Bry’s garlicy Brussels sprouts.)

12. Go back for seconds.

SO GOOD! I should stress here that if you are fortunate enough to have access to fresh tempeh in your area? always buy that rather than the aseptic packaged variety. The flavor is a thousand times better. And when you're feasting on as much tempeh as we do and did (did you catch that? we had tempeh three ways!) you'll savor every bite of the fresh stuff. Miss Marlo brought hers from home where the resident tempeh guru is much beloved by everyone across the land...myself included. So thank you, Tempeh Jose, your tempeh rocks!

While all the food was incredibly good, if I do say so myself (and i do!), having our friends around enjoying it all together is the most amazing thing in my life I have to be thankful for. They are all truly the best friends a girl could ask for and I can't wait to make this an annual tradition!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I need to fully wake up as there is sooo much to do this morning. Tonight is my very first Vegan Feast. This is my new tradition. Friends are coming over and we're dining on vegan fare while everyone is home for the upcoming holiday. This will also give me all kinds of leftovers to schlep along to the family Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday. Can't wait to share the menu with you......later!

But for now, I thought I'd share some highlights from our last trip to the beach. the wind was cold but the sky was so blue and clear and the sun warmed us up in a hurry. I truly cannot get enough of that amazing stretch of the universe. 's my own little heaven.
so, the food! I basically never get around to planning ahead when we travel and end up whipping up as much stuff as I can out of the fridge to ensure we don't come home to spoiled groceries. Upon our arrival at the beach, we dined on the patties that I'd made that morning from the stuffed squash I just posted about. I bascially just tossed the stuffing in the food processor with about a cup of brown rice and a handful of pecans. then formed patties and froze. at the beach, I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil and served on a toasted bun with avacado, tomato, and green onion, and some homemade agave mustard (my obvious new favorite condiment ;). I had totally forgotten to buy greens at the store so that's why this sandwhich is devoid of the usual lettuce. We munched on some Cape Cod Salt and Vinegar chips along with it. YUM! what a great meal to settle us in!
When at the beach, we typically wake up as early as we can to walk on the beach. This means that my usual 'get up and eat breakfast' routine is out the door and we eat after we've run around a bit and worked up a good appetite. I opted for some leftover Alfreda Sauce on whole wheat pasta with some edamame and roasted cauliflower I'd brought. Again, this sauce does not disappoint. the flavor is really unlike anything else I've made. so good!

Sat. day we hit a favorite state park, Washington Oaks State Gardens. the hiking trails are so beautiful and peaceful. I'm such a Florida girl, I cannot get enough of the ecology of this state. And I, apparently, can never take too many pictures of the sun shining on the water whether it be the ocean or the inlet.

For an early dinner, I wanted to roast some veggies (zucchini, summer squash, red onions, baby bellas) with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but the unit we rent is a housekeeping unit and I'm beginning to think that whomever has to do the bulk of the real cleaning? Is seriously slacking on the job. there was sprayed on oven off that had never been wiped out all over the oven. I was not about to just roast things uncovered so, unfortunatlely, I had to use aluminum foil and they ended up steamed. not how i usually like my squash, shrooms, or onions, but put on a wrap with mashed roasted cauliflower that I'd incorporated a tad of agave mustard and some asian marinated then baked tofu (I baked that at home before we left. whew!)? With a an apple on the side, it was reeeeally tasty!
We had company coming Sat night so I broke out the stuffed mushrooms that I'd packed in this cool little container that my mom gave to me on her last visit down (thanks, mom!). they're a great size with this cool little vent and I may be the only person who looked at them and immediately saw a little (albeit weirdly shaped) fox type animal with a bum leg rather than what they actually are. hehe. we also snacked on some tortilla chips and salsa verde, and the stuffed squash I'd brought along that we all devoured. oh, and vino...lots of really good vino.
A new yummy snack is from the desert pepper somethingorother. i love their salsa verde, but a friend brought along this and it was wonderful on tortilla chips with fresh avacado.

Tonight's my big vegan feast so i'm off to make dessert and clean the house. can't wait to share it with my guests and all of you! happy Tuesday! :)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Quick Last Post and then We're Off!

So, last night I knew iI wanted to cook the Delicata squash I'd just bought. I'd never made them before but was excited to try something new (and so pretty, they are!). I followed a suggestion online and, after baking and slicing, dotted them with a mixture of 3T. EB, 2tsp. chili powder, and 2T. lime juice.

I opted just to bake them in the oven along with another new recipe that I found on vegweb and then tweaked just a tad to accomodate what I had here at home. I subbed one can of black-eyed peas for one of the cannelini beans, added some leeks and more carrot, and replaced the vegan luncheon meat (i really am not a fan of that stuff) with the basic tempeh recipe from the Native Foods Cookbook that I crumbled up and threw in instead. Hey, wait! That makes this one okay to be mine and share, no? hehe. I'll have to come up with a name for it and post the recipe and how to, because it is extremely good! It has a stuffing-like quality in flavor and a really hearty texture. the salad we had was just some leftover boston lettuce with cucumber, tomato, and avacado, and our favorite easy ginger dressing, Makoto.
For our trip, I got even smarter and brushed the two remaining squash halves with the chili/lime mixture, then stuffed 'em with the casserole. With soup or a salad, that should make for a great meal after running around on the beach in the evening when it gets really cool.

I'm even considering mixing up the remaining casserole in the food processor and adding a bit of bread crumbs, then making patties to cook up later. I think the flavor and texture would lend themselves quite nicley to that kind of preparation. Now I'm off to cook up as much stuff as I can pack with us! Have a great weekend!