Monday, November 26, 2012

Our (Mostly) Vegan Thanksgiving

Since South Florida is still "home" to us, we decided to spend the holiday weekend down there.  The college kids met us in Ormond Beach and we caravaned south on Wednesday afternoon.  Fortunately Kristyn was able to do the holiday shopping, cleaning and prep work, allowing us to swoop in and help with the last minute details.

Our Thanksgiving guest list included a mixture of vegans/vegetarians and omnivores, so we decided to appease everyone with a "mostly vegan" Thanksgiving feast.  From family favorites such as Mom's Ambrosia Salad to Lindsey's famous pies, we veganized as best we could.  Vegan marshmallows, Earth balance spread, and egg substitutes came to the rescue, making the task nearly effortless.  We did have a real roasted turkey alongside the Tofurky, made Cuban style by Jesus.  It smelled awesome but I'm happy to report that I stuck to the faux bird which, when topped with gravy, satisfied my meaty craving quite nicely. 

Below are a few photos from our celebration, hope you all had a lovely holiday!

Kristyn crafting the place cards

with a little help from sisters and friends

the end result, aren't they lovely?

Brynna manning the mashed potatoes

Lindsey making the pies
ooh, can we have dessert first??

Kristyn discovered that a bit of egg replacer makes vegan marshmallows less sticky and easier to work with!

Table set and ready for guests!
Most of the feast, served buffet style. Thank goodness for Crock-pots!
Presley taking an after-dinner nap..ahhh....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On My Hearth: Vegetable Barley Casserole

You know that old adage about man making plans, and God laughing? Well, the Big Guy is having a big old chuckle at my expense right now! Due to job scheduling complications, we have not begun packing up the Ormond house, and may not be doing so after all.  At least, not in the immediate future. At this point all I know is that we are in Ormond today, will be down south for the holiday weekend, and then back up here through the first week of December. How's that for planning? I can hear a chorus of angels giggling. The good news: I don't have to give up my Gypsy title just yet. 

Here's a Weight Watchers recipe I made the other day, using ingredients I had on hand, thinking that I was gonna have to clean out the fridge and pantry for our Big Move. Ha!

I recently discovered barley, can't believe I haven't been eating this yummy stuff all of my life! It adds a nice texture to this casserole but of course you could substitute brown rice if you prefer.  I only had plain diced tomatoes, would definitely recommend the one w/chilies as I think the dish needed that extra little kick.  Otherwise, I was very pleased with this healthy, hearty meal!


                        Vegetable-Barley Casserole
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  2                tsp  canola oil
(I used olive oil)
  1              small  onion -- chopped
  1              clove  garlic -- minced
  2               cups  frozen corn kernels -- thawed and drained
  3               cups  swiss chard -- thick stems removed, coarsely chopped
(I used spinach)
  14 1/2            oz  canned diced tomatoes -- with chilies, well-drained
  2               cups  cooked barley -- quick-cooking recommended
     1/4           tsp  cumin seeds
     1/4           tsp  dried oregano -- crushed
     1/2           tsp  table salt
     1/4           tsp  black pepper -- freshly ground
  2              spray  cooking spray -- (s)
     1/2           cup  shreddedcheddar cheese, lowfat -- sharp-variety recommended
(I used Daiya vegan cheese)
Heat oil in very large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, corn and Swiss chard; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and Swiss chard is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, barley, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper; heat through.


Coat a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon barley mixture into prepared dish in an even layer; sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese melts and mixture is hot, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing into six pieces. 

Yields 1 piece per serving, 4 PointsPlus each.

  "This Tex-Mex casserole is jam-packed with tasty, fiber-rich ingredients. We used Swiss Chard but spinach, kale or turnip greens are all great options."
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NOTES : Add some canned black beans to make this dish even heartier (could affect PointsPlus values).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Homeward Bound

Sorry for my lack of posting, have been busy dealing with some upcoming life changes. 

Due to the location of Chip's upcoming job projects, it looks like we'll be moving home base back to South Florida, abandoning the Ormond Beach house for now.  We plan to pack up and ready the house for rental, hopefully have a tenant in here by the new year.  I have mixed emotions as I really love this town, but am also looking forward to spending with my daughter, friends, and, of course, my cats.  South Florida will always be home to me, it's where I've lived for 47 years. It's where the majority of my memories were made.  It's a good move, but not without it's bittersweet moments.

Never fear, though, this gypsy isn't hanging up her compass just yet. There will still be travel, just perhaps not as much work-related.  I'm really not sure what the future holds, am trying to breathe deeply and trust the Universe. Easier said than done at times, right?

In other news, I've decided to re-commit to my fitness goals, before the holiday eating frenzy begins. Weight gain need not be a Yuletide tradition, nor weight loss an inevitable New Years Resolution. My goals are going to take much longer than 3 months, but there's no reason to put it off a minute longer. Anybody with me?

I'll be back later to post some recipes and reviews. Hope your weekend is off to a wonderful start!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Moroccan Slow Cooker Stew

When I decided to participate in the Virtual Vegan Potluck, I worked my fingers to the bone scanning websites and sorting through my massive cookbook collection in order to find the perfect soup recipe for the event. I wanted something spicy & savory, with seasonal ingredients.  Oh, and of course it had to be healthy, vegan, and perhaps even low-calorie.  After hours of searching and sampling, I came up with an old standby, a Weight Watchers recipe I've been making for years. This is the best soup I myself have ever made, and quite possibly the best I've ever tasted. Seriously, it is that good. The fact that it's high fiber, low-fat, and diet-friendly..perfection! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

While I find it perfect on it's own, with just a side of corn muffin or bread, you can appease heartier appetites by serving over couscous or quinoa. A dollop of vegan sour cream or yogurt & a sprinkle of cilantro adds nice flavor as well.

                        Moroccan Slow Cooker Stew

--------  ------------  --------------------------------
                  cooking spray
  1              small  onion -- chopped
  1              clove  garlic -- minced
  3             pounds  butternut squash -- peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  1                cup  baby carrots
  1                cup  canned crushed tomatoes
     1/2           cup  vegetable broth
     1/4           tsp  ground cinnamon
     1/2           tsp  cumin seeds
     1/2           tsp  red pepper flakes
  15                oz  canned chickpeas -- drained and rinsed
     1/2           tsp  table salt

Coat a small pot with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté for 5 minutes.

Place squash in a 3-quart or larger slow cooker (crockpot). Add onion and garlic, carrots, tomatoes, broth, cinnamon, cumin and red pepper flakes. Cover and turn on to low heat; simmer for 6 hours.

Add chickpeas and salt. Stir, cover and heat for 5 minutes.

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NOTES : *Partially cooking a hard-shell squash makes it easier to peel. Pierce the gourd in several places with a fork, microwave on HIGH for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on size, and then peel.

Yields 6 Servings; approx 1- 1/3 cups per serving. 5 Weight Watchers
PointsPlus for those who are counting.

To visit the wonderful blog that precedes mine in the Potluck, Live.Learn.Love.Eat, click here.

To visit the amazing blog that follows mine in the Potluck, Cocina de Nihacc, click here.

To start at the beginning of the Potluck, click here.

Many thanks to Vegan Bloggers Unite for hosting this potluck. It's been a lot of fun and a wonderful way to discover other vegan bloggers. I can't wait to continue exploring and cooking!