Monday, October 27, 2008

Old Style Biscuits and Gravy

Straight out of grandma's kitchen. Thanks to The Garden of Vegan for the biscuit recipe.

For Gravy:
- 1 package of your favorite soy sausage. (I prefer Lightlife Smart Ground, Sausage Style)
- 3 cups plain soymilk
- 1/2 medium red onion, diced
-2 tbsp canola or olive oil
-1/4 cup flour
- 1 tbsp seasoned salt
-black pepper to taste

For Biscuits:
-2 cups flour
-3tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 cup margarine
-3/4 cup soymilk

How to:

To make biscuits:
1. Preheat oven to 475.
2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add margarine and incorporate into the flour.
3. Add soymilk, 1/4 cup at a time, and gently knead dough together.
4. Once kneaded, separate dough into balls or rectangles, whatever shape you want them to be.
5. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.

To make gravy:
1.In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.
2. Add onions and sautee until they start to get soft, no more than 5 minutes.
3. Add soy sausage and stir until crumbled.
4. Add flour to pan and stir until sausage and onions is well coated.
5. Add soymilk, 1 cup at a time. Heat until the gravy thickens up, stirring often.
6. Add seasoned salt and pepper. Taste and add more spices if you like.
7. Top biscuits with gravy and enjoy!

Like most of my other recipes, this one is flexible. I have heard of people adding mushrooms, garlic, or green peppers to the gravy to give it a twist. All three sound delicious!

"Cheesy" Tempeh and Noodle Casserole

-1 package (8-12oz) tempeh
-2 cups uncooked pasta noodles (bowties or shells are recommended)
-1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (make sure you check the label, a lot of these have anchovies in them)
-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
-1/4 cup margarine
-1/4 cup flour
-1 3/4 cups water
-2 tbsp soy sauce
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1 can diced tomatoes

How to:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large sauce pan, bring water to a boil. When boiling, place tempeh in the water. This helps it to absorb flavor later. Boil tempeh for about 7 minutes. Remove tempeh and boil pasta until al dente.
3. After tempeh is boiled, place it in a shallow dish with the Worcestershire sauce. Add garlic powder, salt, and black pepper as desired.
4. In a small sauce pan, melt margarine over medium heat. When margarine is melted, add flour and stir. Add the 1 and 3/4 cup water and stir well. Add spices (salt, garlic powder, and turmeric) and soy sauce.
5. Add nutritional yeast and stir until sauce is thick.
6. In a glass baking dish, crumble up the tempeh in the bottom of the dish.
7. Open and drain tomatoes. Pour them out evenly over the tempeh.
8. Add pasta over tomatoes. Top with nutritional yeast sauce.
9. Bake for about 30 minutes. If desired, you can add bread crumbs for a crunchier topping.

You can play around with this and add whatever you think you would like. Jon and I made this but added Italian cut green beans. We weren't crazy about them but it wasn't bad either. I might try this with potatoes or broccoli in the future. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Curried Potatoes and Lentils

This is borrowed from 150 Vegan Favorites. Super simple and really tasty. We added about doubt the spices (because that's how we roll), but play around with it yourself to find a level of spiciness that you're comfortable with. This recipe was even better the next day when I ate the leftovers for lunch. The longer you let the spices seep into the lentils and potatoes, the happier you'll be. Feel free to let these lentils sit on the stove on warm for an hour before eating.

-1 tbsp canola oil
-1 large onion, chopped
-3-4 cloves minced garlic
-1 large tomato, diced
-1tbsp curry powder
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp turmeric
-1 cup green lentils
-4 1/2 cups water
-2 cups diced potatoes
-1/2 tsp salt

How to:
1. In saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
2. Add onion and garlic. Sautee for about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in tomato, curry powder, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.
4. Stir in lentils and water and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.
5. Stir in potatoes and cook until potatoes and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
6. Stir in salt, let stand for at least 5-10 minutes before eating.

Banana Raspberry Pancakes

This is one of my favorites for a lazy Sunday morning at home. Fix it with some soy sausage or a fruit salad and you've got yourself a great breakfast that won't put you back to sleep.

-1 cup flour
-1 tbsp brown sugar
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-dash of cinnamon
-2/3 cup soymilk
-1 ripe banana
-1 tsp vanilla
-3/4 cup frozen raspberries

How to:
1. Mix dry ingredients in bowl (flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon)
2. In a small bowl mash the banana. Add soymilk and vanilla and mix well.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until batter is smooth. Stir in raspberries.
4. Coat a frying pan with cooking spray and heat on medium. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter onto the frying pan when hot.
5. When the pancake has bubbles around the edge and can be easily moved with a spatula, flip it over. Heat the other side for 1-2 minutes.
6. Repeat until all of the batter is gone.
7. Eat

For an extra fruity treat, try using half the amount of soymilk and substitute apple juice for the other half.

Happy breakfast!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Upcoming Recipes

Keep tuned in for:

-Banana Raspberry Pancakes
-Biscuits and Gravy
-Curried Potatoes and Lentils

Crazy Bad For You Peanut Butter Bon Bons

These bon bons are so bad and yet so, so, so good. This is another party favorite (like the Chili, see below). You'll see why, soon. Don't have them around the house unless you have someone else to help you eat them. You'll thank yourself later.

-2 cups peanut butter
-1/2 cup canola oil
-3 cups puffed rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
-1 lb (16oz) bag of powdered sugar
-3 11 oz bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips

How to:
-Melt the peanut butter and oil over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan, stirring frequently.
-In a large bowl, combine rice cereal and powdered sugar.
-Poor peanut butter mix over the rice cereal and powdered sugar and stir until well combined.
-Make into 1 inch balls and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
-In a sauce pan, melt the ch0colate chips. Drop the peanut butter balls into the chocolate liquid and cover them.
-With a fork, remove bon bons and place them on a cookie sheet with wax paper. Lay them out to dry until the chocolate coating is hard.
-Eat! But not too many!

Vegetarian Chili

So, Jon's birthday was this past weekend and I was inspired to share this party-favorite recipe with you. We make this Chili any time we are having a large crowd of people over, or we want to have food around for the entire week. The use of several types of beans and vegetables puts a great and tasty spin on classic chili. As with any soup, be creative and just throw whatever in. The recipe below is what I use.


-2 cans diced tomatoes
-1 can sweet corn
-1 medium red onion
-2 cloves garlic
-2 cans chili hot beans
-1 can pinto beans
-1 can black beans
-1 can northern white beans
-1 package Smart Ground
-2 packages chili seasoning
-2-3 cups water
-Hot sauce, salt, pepper, seasoned salt to taste

Optional other veggies: celery, lima beans, lentils, okra, whatever else.

How to:
-Spray a large soup pan with cooking spray. Sautee onions and garlic over medium high heat until onions start to get soft. If using celery or any other fresh vegetable, add it now.
-Add Smart Ground and mix with onions and garlic.
-Add chili seasoning and mix.
-Add all canned vegetables. Rinsing them is optional. Jon likes to just throw the juices and everything in. If you don't do this and rinse the veggies first, you'll need to add more water later. Stir until you have a big clumpy mess in the pot.
-Add water and spices and let chili simmer for at least an hour. The longer you let it simmer, the better.
-Let cool and eat.

We have gotten rave reviews from this chili. It's great because it makes such a large amount. Big enough to feed the starving hoards coming to party with you. Feel free to add (vegan) sour cream, tortilla chips or corn chips on the side. This chili is good enough to impress even the most stubborn of carc-eaters.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Creamy Potato Soup

This is a recipe that I adapted from my dad's potato soup that I hadn't eaten in YEARS since becoming vegan. It was a welcomed addition, especially with colder weather approaching. Like most soups, this is great to be flexible with, adding or subtracting ingredients as you feel necessary. I'll post what we used and leave it up to you to be moved to try something new.

-3 tbsp margarine
-1 diced up onion
-2 tablespoons minced garlic
-6 large potatoes (diced)
-3 cups PLAIN soymilk
-1 cup frozen peas
-1/2 cup chopped carrots
-1/3 cup fake bacon bits
-Seasoned salt, salt, pepper-to taste

How to:
-In soup pan, sautee onions and garlic with 1 tbsp butter.
-Add potatoes with about 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until the potatoes are tender.
-When potatoes are soft, add soy milk and mash as if you were making mashed potatoes.
-Add the rest of the butter
-Add peas, carrots, bacon bits and spices. Add water for your desired consistency (less water will make more of a chowder, more water, more of a soup).
-Let soup simmer, the longer the better.

I've heard of people adding all kinds of stuff to this recipe. Adding nutritional yeast will make it cheesy. Some people have added broccoli, tomatoes, squash, etc. If you try it, comment and let me know what you added and how it worked out.

Classic Italian Bruschetta

Truly a taste of Italy, Jon and I conjured up romance by making this dish on our first date. (Awwww). Great as a side dish or the main course, I hope it will bring as many good memories to you as it did for us. Or at least a good meal.

What you will need:
1. About 1/3 cup margarine (give or take)
2. Minced garlic (fresh or in a jar)
3. 1 loaf of Italian for French bread
4. 2 large tomatoes
5. 1 large sweet onion
6. 2 tablespoons olive oil
7. Oregano, Basil, Salt, and Pepper (to taste)
8. Vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)

How to do it:
1. Heat oven to Broil
2. Cut bread lengthwise and smear margarine on generously so that the top of the bread is covered evenly. Put bread in the oven for approximately 1 minute. You just want the margarine to melt and the bread to toast slightly. Take out of the oven and set aside.
3. Dice to tomatoes and onion.
4. In a large pan, heat olive oil. Add garlic (however much you like) and sauté. Be careful not to burn it!
5. Shortly after adding the garlic to the oil, add the onions. Stir and heat the onions until they are soft, but not soggy. Add the tomatoes and spices to taste. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes stirring often. Turn off heat when the tomatoes become softer. You don’t want them to be soggy or lose their skin.
6. Place the tomato/onion mixture on top of the bread. If you want, grate some mozzarella cheese on top as well. Replace back in the oven on Broil for another 2 minutes.
7. Remove, cut, and eat! Mmmm.

DIY Vegan Ice Cream Pie

This rivals Dairy Queen in terms of decadence and richness of flavor. Don't mess with this ice cream pie. Just eat it.

What you need to have:

-3 pints vegan butter pecan ice cream (I prefer Tofutti Better Pecan, but make your own decisions)
-1 box of those 100 calorie packs of Oreo Cookies
-1/3 cup margarine
-Magic Shell chocolate topping
-pie pan of sorts (glass or metal, doesn’t matter)

How you do it:

1. Take about 3 packages of the Oreo cookies and mash them all up. You can do this by hand or machine, whatever gets them all crumbly. The more crumbly, the better.
2. Mix the cookie crumbs with about 1/3 cup melted margarine.
3. Put the cookie mix on the bottom of the pie pan. This is acting as your piecrust, so pack it in there as tight as possible. If it doesn’t reach the edges, it’s OK. It will all still taste good. Believe me.
4. Semi-melt the ice cream so that it can be spread fairly easily with a spoon.
5. Spread a layer of ice cream onto the cookie crust. This takes maybe 1-1 1/2 tubs. Maybe 2. Play around with it.
6. Mash up the remaining Oreo cookie packages and sprinkle them over the ice cream.
7. Spread the remainder of the ice cream on top of the cookies.
8. Squirt Magic Shell over the top of the ice cream, so that the entire surface of the pie is covered. It helps to heat up the Magic Shell first because it will spread easier.
9. Place the pie in the freezer for about an hour before eating and only take it out when you are ready to eat it. Otherwise it will turn into a big, melty (but delicious) mess.
10. Slice it up like a regular pie, eat it, and tell Dairy Queen to kiss your ass because this is the best god damned ice cream cake you’ve ever eaten. Ever.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coming soon!

I know, I know. I haven't posted anything new for awhile. But believe me, it's hard always coming up with brand-new-never-before-seen recipes every week. BUT, I hope to add some new one's tonight.

Up and coming is:
1. A blog all about side dishes
2. Banana apple raspberry pancakes
3. Deadly chocolate peanut butter balls (not an original of mine, but worth mentioning)
4. Vegan ice cream pie
5. "Creamy" potato soup.

Keep checking up. Something is bound to hit you in your hungry bone.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Teriyaki Lettuce Wraps

This dish was inspired by a very similar dish I had at P.F. Changs. I was craving Chinese food the other night but wanted to put a spin on traditional stir fry. It's fresh tasting, fun to eat, and you can experiment by siding the dish with several sauces to add to the wrap.

1. 1 head of iceberg lettuce
2. 1 bag of frozen stirfry vegetables
3. 1 package Lightlife Chikin Strips (you can substitute tofu or just do a vegetable dish)
4. 1 cup white rice (uncooked) -Optional
5. 2 cups water
5. 1/4 cup of your favorite Tariyaki sauce
6. 1 tsp seasoned salt, 1 tsp pepper
7. Sauces (soy, peanut, sweet and sour, general tso's, bbq, whatever)-Optional

How to:
1. Put water in medium sized sauce pan. Add rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, let simmer for 15 minutes or until water is evaporated.

2. In a large frying pan, coat with cooking spray (if necessary) and heat pan to medium high. Add Chikin Strips when hot. Add seasoned salt and pepper to strips. Cook strips until they are browning.

3. When Chikin Strips are brown, add frozen vegetables. Cover frying pan and cook until the vegetables are hot all the way through. (Try a piece to make sure)

4. When vegetables are hot, drizzle Teriyaki sauce and stir until vegetables and Chikin Strips are all well, but lightly, coated. Reduce heat to low and let sit until ready to eat.

5. Take and rinse iceberg lettuce. Hold the top of the head and cut around the heart. This will make it easier to separate. Separate lettuce leafs until you have several that are about the size of your outstretched hand. These will be the wraps for your stir fry. (This is actually more difficult than I thought it would be, so don't be discouraged if you have a couple deformed wraps)

6. Now you're ready to put it all together. Place rice and stir fry in wraps. Drizzle on whatever other sauces you'd like to use. (When I made this, I had small bowls of sweet and sour, soy, and peanut sauces ready. All 3 were delicious.) Eat like you would a soft taco.

Tip: Take the stir fry, rice, wraps, and sauces, and have them all with you at your dining area. The wraps aren't very big and this will save you time and energy from having to get up to get seconds, thirds, and fourths.

This recipe makes A LOT of food. Makes a great entree for 2 very hungry people, or excellent as an appetizer for a larger dinner party. Hope you like!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chili Dogs!!

So Jon and I were watching PBS the other night and there was a food show that happened to be all about chili dogs. Having just worked all day and gone running, we were looking for a protein extravaganza and, thank you WFYI, we were inspired. I hope you will be, too.

What you need:
1. Veggie dogs. We prefer brats because they're bigger and can hold more of the good stuff.
2. Buns. The bread kind. Whatever you prefer will work.
3. 1 can of chili hot beans.
4. 1 package Lightlife Smart Ground (regular style)
5. Ingredients to make the nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce (explained in the post below)-this is optional.
6. Hot sauce, red pepper, salt-to taste

How to:
1. Prepare your veggie dogs however you might normally prepare hot dogs. We are lucky enough to be the proud owners of a George Foreman grill. You can boil them or brown them in a frying pan. Your call.
2. In a large sauce pan, add chili hot beans (keep the sauce in the can to add to the mixture), smart ground, and hot sauce, salt, and red pepper to taste. Make this as spicy as you want. Start out with a little spice and keep adding until you're satisfied.
3. In another smaller sauce pan, prepare nutritional yeast cheese sauce. Steps are spelled out in the post below.
4. When everything is warmed and thickened to your liking, follow the natural progression and slap all that good stuff on a bun.

I prefer to put so much chili and cheese sauce on the hot dog that not only can you not see it, you have the eat the whole thing with a fork. This meal is immensely satisfying and filling. Good enough to take to the ballpark.

Cajun Baked Tofu and Mac and "Cheese"

This is super easy and can be done fairly quickly. I'll do the recipe in 2 parts so you can distinguish what you need for what.

Cajun Baked Tofu

1. 1 block extra firm water-packed tofu
2. 1/2 cup of flour
3. 1 cup Cajun style fish breading (This is REALLY spicy, so if you don't want to feel the burn, so to speak, use less breading or more flour)
4. Spices: garlic powder, crushed red pepper, black pepper-to taste. These really just accent the rest of the breading, so use them as you see fit.

How to:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.Drain and cut tofu into 4 blocks.
3. Coat tofu slices with breading mixture.
4. Lay on greased cookie sheet or aluminum foil.
5. Bake. Check at 10 minutes for desired crispy-ness. We baked this for about 20 min altogether, checking every 5.
6. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before eating. Side with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Now for the Mac and "Cheese"

1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup flour
1 and 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
A pinch of turmeric
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
1/2 box of macaroni
2 cups frozen broccoli (optional)

How to:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and put in pasta.
2. In separate sauce pan, heat margarine until liquid.
3. Add flour to margarine and stir.
4. Add water
5. Add garlic powder, salt, soy sauce, and turmeric and stir.
6. Keep stirring until sauce begins to thicken.
7. Add nutritional yeast and continue stirring.
8. When macaroni is cooked al dente, place broccoli in water. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until broccoli is hot. Strain pasta and broccoli. Place back in pot.
9. Add nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce on top of pasta and stir. Viola!

This is an excellent "down home" meal that can satisfy your cravings for a southern-style meal. Makes the hot weather even hotter!

I have several meal ideas that I need to put up here. I promise (!) I'll do it tonight.

Upcoming meals include:

Red Chili Ravioli
Chili "Dogs"
Cajun baked tofu with Mac and "Cheese"

(Can you tell we've been feeling spicy lately?)

Stay Tuned!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lentil and Potato Soup

Whoa! Where has the time gone since my last post? I probably lost track because I haven't had to cook much this week due to me eating my delicious lentil soup leftovers. It's been nice. Here's what happened:

1 bag dry lentils (whatever color you want)
1 bag frozen Vegetable Soup Mix vegetables
About 5 or 6 small red potatoes
1/2 red onion
3 tbsp minced garlic
2 cans vegetable broth
Nutritional Yeast (optional)
Cooking spray or olive oil to coat pot

How to:
1. In soup pot, sautee garlic and onion. While they are cooking, chop potatoes.
2. Add frozen vegetables.
3. Add potatoes.
4. Add lentils
5. Add vegetable broth
6. Add water so that all the vegetables are covered.
7. Let boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour (the longer you let it cook, the more flavorful it will be).
8. While soup is simmering, add spices (oregano, salt, pepper, season salt, nutritional yeast). Taste, spice again. I never measure spice, I just start out low and keep adding. It works, believe me.
9. Let simmer longer.
10. Eat.

I LOVE making soups. They are perfect for just throwing whatever in a pot and making it taste good. Again, this recipe has tons of room for flexibility. Adding different veggies or spices can make this a completely different soup. AND the best part is that this makes A TON. About 8 large servings, so approximately enough to get 8 people full one night or get two people full several times over the course of a week.

Oh, and did you know. . .you can freeze soups? Just put them in a ziplock bag and stuff them in the freezer. So, if you're a single person, you can make this for yourself and keep some in the freezer.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Salad Shmalad

Who says a salad can't be filling? The salad I made tonight was incredibly tasty and again, had ingredients that cost less than $10. Made enough for me and Jon (the boyfriend) to eat a lot of, and still have leftovers for me to take for lunch tomorrow.

Here's what we did:

1. Baby Greens Salad Mix (About $3 at Kroger. I bought the organic kind but you can go cheaper)
2. Can of garbanzo beans (About $0.78)
3. Can of sweet yellow corn (About $0.50)
4. 1 raw tomato (About $0.75)
5. 1/4 raw onion (price unknown, I just had it at home)
6. Lightlife Chikin Strips (About $3, again you can go cheaper but still get protein by using some pan fried tofu or nuts)
7. Salad dressing. (We used what was already in the fridge)
8. Spices

How to:

1. Strain and rinse corn and garbanzo beans.
2. Chop tomato and onion
3. In a frying pan, lightly spray with cooking oil. Brown chikin strips while seasoning with whatever you want (we used black pepper, Grill Time chicken seasoning, red pepper, and salt).
4. Combine everything over greens and toss. Add dressing at your own discretion.

Duh that's how you make a salad.

But my point in posting this is as follows:

This salad was REALLY filling. A salad doesn't just need to be vegetables. Put your protein in there with it and get it all done in one dish. I'm tired of the whimpy vegan salad that you can hardly get to stay on a fork much less stay in your stomach for longer than 2 minutes. This salad leaves nothing to be desired. Finish off with some slices of whatever fruit you've got handy (mmm. . .doesn't watermelon sounds good?) and you've got yourself a gourmet meal straight from mother earth's kitchen!

Eating Vegan for Cheap 101

I think there are some important aspects to eating vegan cheaply that would be good to cover before this blog goes along much further. They are as follows:

1. Portion Control.
This goes for people who are vegan or not. What most American's don't realize, or don't care to realize, is that the amount of food we eat daily is usually WAY more that we need. A healthy portion of spaghetti should be a little larger than a tennis ball. Your average spaghetti dinner is usually 2-3 times that size. Vegans are no exception to this. In fact, a lot of vegans think that because we cut out stuff that is high in fat and cholesterol, that we have free reign to finish and entire box of pasta by ourselves. The truth is, we don't need to eat more to get our vitamins and nurtrients, we need to eat better.
But you might be thinking. . .'If I wanted a lecture I'd go to health class'. Ok, ok, so here's my point with all of this: When you eat smaller portions, not only do you eat smarter, your food lasts longer.

2. Use what you already have to guide what you should buy
Before you go grocery shopping, take a good look at what you've already got. Have an unused bag of lentils and some minced garlic? Buy an onion, some frozen or canned vegetables, a few potatoes, and some veggie broth and you've got yourself the makings of some delicious lentil soup that has the potential to last for days.

3. Plan your meals
This kind of goes along with the last one. Before you go grocery shopping, plan out what you would like to eat that week, over the next few days, whatever. This will keep you from overbuying, impulse buying, and also will keep you from having to take multiple trips to the store for one meal.

4. Stock up on fruits and veggies
Really this should be a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised by the number of vegans I've met that have a strange avoidance of raw fruits and vegetables. Buying lots of veggies is especially helpful in the summer and fall when lots of stuff is in season (meaning: inexpensive). I'm constantly eating fruit because it's healthy, filling, and usually not too bad on the wallet (depending on what you get).
Better yet, plant a garden! I haven't done this yet in my adult years (except for a small selection of herbs) but I fully plan on it next year. What's better than free food right in your back yard!? And the wonderful thing about summertime vegetable excess is that blanching and freezing or canning vegetables is relatively easy and can take you well into the winter months.

5. Don't be afraid to have a freezer full of food
If something is on sale and is able to be frozen, buy it. It will already be there when you want to use it later and you get more at a lower price. I am all about bargain hunting when it comes to groceries. Things that I regularly keep in my freezer: frozen veggies and fruit(cheap as hell and always there when you need them), tofu (water packed!), bread, and veggie burgers. In fact, tofu actually can have a better texture and absorb flavoring better if it has been frozen. So buy in bulk!

6. Keep the following staples around if you can: beans or lentils, onions, garlic, whole wheat bread, firm tofu, an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies, crushed red pepper, nutritional yeast, other spices rice, soymilk, some kind of pasta, and margarine/vegetable oil. You can make about 10 different meals out of these ingredients. If you're strapped for ideas but home and hungry, try throwing them together in whatever combo sounds good. It probably will be.

These are the guidelines that I use when I shop and cook, and it does me pretty well. Of course, these aren't set in stone but I think they're pretty wise nonetheless.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summertime Pasta and Black Bean Salad

Mmmm. . .last night's dinner was delicious! Inspiring! Easy! Completely thrown together! Here's what we did:

1. Pasta. We used rigatoni, you can use any other kind you want or have handy. About 1/2 a box small will do you for 2 people.
2. Frozen chopped broccoli, 1 12-oz pack.
3. 1 can black beans
4. 1 half red onion
5. About 2 tablespoons minced garlic (This comes in big jars, lasts forever, and goes well in about anything. Invest in some.)
6. 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
7. Salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper to taste.

How to:
1. Boil water. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
2. Sautee onion and garlic until onion is soft.
3. Add broccoli to onion and garlic.
4. When broccoli is cooked (i.e. no longer frozen and actually hot), add black beans. Cook beans for a few minutes, but stop before they get too mushy.
5. Drain pasta, add pasta to vegetable mix once beans have been cooked.
6. Add nutritional yeast and other assorted spices. Taste. Spice more. Repeat as needed.

As you can see, this pasta was super easy and really filling. It works as an entree or a side dish and saves well for leftovers the next day.

Also, there's tons of room for creativity. Have a can of sweet corn? Add it! Have half a tomato? Add it! Don't like broccoli? Drop it! Do whatever. You know what you like.

We ate this last night with some pan-fried spicy breaded tofu and bbq sauce, which will have to wait for another day.

I hope to maybe take some pictures and make this a Real Food Blog. Until then, use your imagination!

An Introduction

The idea for this blog came about as a result of an awesome dinner my boyfriend and I pulled out of nowhere last night. We were hungry, tired, and most of all, we don't have much money. So when Dinner Time rolled around, we didn't want to go hike up to the grocery store and spend money on more food items when we were convinced that we could make something good using the random ingredients we had at home. And we did make something good. In fact it was downright delicious. And so I thought. . .

"You know? Vegan cookbooks always use these fancy shmancy ingredients that you never have at home when you're really hungry and just want to make something now. I should start a blog about doing just that."

Well here it is.

This blog is going to be dedicated to good, tested, vegans meals, snacks, and desserts that are 100% fancy-pants-ingredient free. You will never have to run over to Whole Foods for a teaspoon of arrowroot powder, organic dried mango, pickled cactus or whatever else you can't find at your local corporate/traditional grocery store (with maybe the exception of nutritional yeast and soy products that the grocery store may or may not carry). All you foodies may be asking yourself. . .


Well, for several reasons.

1. I want to effectively demonstrate that vegan food can be healthy, inexpensive, and accessible. The nearest health food store to me is almost 30 minutes from my home. Therefore, I depend on traditional grocery stores (namely Kroger) for the foods that I eat. Not only by shopping there do I spend less money on food, but I also save on gas and lessen the amount that I use my car. I don't get to eat organic foods all the time, but neither do most of the people in my neighborhood.

2. And on that note. . .I want to demonstrate that veganism can work for anyone, privileged or not. It's hard for me to justify spending $5 on a kiwi at a health food store while the families in my working class neighborhood spend $5 to feed a family of four for a day. When people ask me whether or not my diet is expensive I can tell them, no, I shop where they shop and spend (similarly) what they spend on food. I want to be an attainable role-model, which includes living life on a humble budget (which also sadly means no organic dried mangoes on my salads).

3. Many of the cookbooks I have call for these ingredients that, unless I want to be a super sleuth, I can't find anywhere. While these ingredients may be accessible to someone on a coast, or in a larger city, Indianapolis isn't necessarily vegan friendly. Vegans don't starve here, but it's also not at easy as it is in other places. I want to make the recipes in this blog work for people who don't live in a major city but still want to eat vegan.

4. Lastly, returning to point 2, I live my life on a humble budget because I have little choice to do otherwise. Spending $20 for an ingredient to make 1 meal isn't a viable option for everyday living. The dinner my boyfriend and I made last night had ingredients that, altogether, cost less than $10 and made enough for me to have the leftovers for lunch today. I'm looking to assist other vegans that live on a tight budget but still want to eat delicious and healthy foods.

I hope this blog is somewhat useful. Please contact me with any questions or comments you may have. I'm eager to read them.

Here's to your health and satisfied hunger!