Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Menu Planning



 

 I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed here, trying to clean/organize/decorate/reclaim the South Florida house amidst the pre-holiday rush and life's usual "messes." I thought a bit of structure might be helpful, so I am controlling what I can: my menu.

This week I'll be serving these dishes:

Monday: Happy Herbivore's "Cheater" Pad Thai 
Tuesday: Taco Night with Instant Mexican Rice and Mashed Pinto Beans
Wednesday: Shepherds Vegetable Pie
Thursday: Out to Dinner (happy hour with friends)
Friday: Tunsian Sweet Potato Stew
Saturday:  Leftovers
Sunday:  Out to Dinner (Miami Book Fair)

 Please stop by again for recipes and reviews.

Back to the cleaning..have a wonderful day!

Michele

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tales from Home: Settling into South Florida

This weekend we did as much as we could to ease our way back into South Florida life, a mixture of work & play. We enjoyed a Friday night happy hour & dinner with Dad and Kathye..

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Then on Saturday Chip did some home repairs and yard work. We haven't been home long enough to stay on top of things, so the weeds were overgrown and the patio screens torn. There's still much to do but he made some definite progress!

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then we attended a very important animal rights event, March Against Cruelty to Animals...


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and then on Sunday we stopped by the Camelot Days Ren Fest, sorry no pics as we didn't stay long enough. It was hot and sticky in our pirate costumes, the food lines were so long and there were no vegan options, so we left and had a late lunch at our favorite Irish restaurant/pub, The Field. They have a yummy veggie burger as well as a nice beer selection.

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Overall, a very nice weekend. How was yours?

Michele~

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Stuffed Shells Florentine


Hello, and welcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck! This is my third time participating and I am honored to have been one of the lucky winners last time around.  By now you've probably whet your appetite with the yummy appetizers and first courses, I hope I can keep your taste buds flowing with my entree, Stuffed Shells Florentine.

I know, it's Autumn and everything's all about pumpkin & spice, mashed potatoes & stuffing and all of the wonderful components of a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  I love all of that, and normally I'd be jumping right in there with everyone, planning & shopping and cooking for the Big Day.  However, this year things are different.  Due to circumstances and distance, we have decided not to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner at our house, but instead will be driving to Gainesville to dine at Kristyn's home.  I'm really excited about this and know that she and Jesus will be wonderful hosts and along with her sisters will create a fantastic meal! I also must confess: after 25+ years of hosting almost every holiday, I'm ready to turn over the baton for this one!

So, what this means I can skip over the Tofurky Day planning and zip right over to Yule! As I've mentioned before, I'm hopelessly enamored with all things Italian.  It's my favorite way to cook, and eat, and this is never more obvious than on Christmas Eve. Our family's longstanding tradition has been cooking up a big Italian meal on that night, preparing enough food to feed extended family, friends, co-workers, whomever may want to stop by for a glass of vino and a plate of pasta.  My "signature dish," the one I'm known for, the most requested for not only holidays but birthdays & other celebrations: Stuffed Shells Florentine.  Served right after antipasto and  before the salad (to help digestion, they say), with a hunk of good Italian bread to soak up the sauce....delizioso!

Now, since going vegan I have been experimenting with a dairy-free version of this recipe, trying many different recipes calling for various vegan cheeses, both commercially-produced and homemade, in attempt to replicate the gooey cheesy goodness of the original.  After much trial & error, I believe I may have come up with the perfect mix, but in order to be 100% sure, I had to get input from a professional, a real Italian: my ex-husband/friend Glenn.

So, last Sunday I dropped Chip off at Glenn's house to watch football, went back home and started cooking.  With my favorite Italian music booming in the background, I got down to business.

I boiled & drained, mixed and filled...

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Sauced and Baked...

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Until, finally, they were ready! I packed a bag with salad, dressing, bread, veggie Parmesan, and a tray of shells, hopped in my car and headed back to Glenn's house to serve.

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 As I watched nervously, he sat, he sniffed, he sprinkled on the Parm..and then, he tasted..

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And at last, the moment I had been waiting & hoping for..the smile broke across his face and his eyes closed in enjoyment. Ahh...he gave his hearty seal of approval.  Whew! I did it! What a relief to know that I can continue to enjoy this family tradition for years to come, and no animals have to suffer for our tummies or taste buds.  And now, I share the recipe with you!

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Stuffed Shells Florentine

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Package (12oz) Jumbo Shells
  • 14 to 16 ounces firm regular tofu, drained
  • 8 ounces non-dairy mozzarella-style cheese (I use almond "cheese" such as this one from Lisanatti)
  • 1/2 cup grated vegan parmesan cheese (such as this one from Go Veggie), plus more for topping
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning (or a mix of fresh basil & parsley if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamari
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
  • 1 jar (32oz) pasta sauce of your choice (plus more for serving)

Directions

  1. Prepare pasta as directed on package, cooking til tender but still slightly firm (al dente); drain. Rinse with cold water, drain and when cool enough to handle, arrange in single layer to fill.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together cheeses, spices, olive oil & spinach. Using a teaspoon, fill cooked shells with cheese mixture, about a tablespoon per shell. Because some shells inevitably break, you'll probably have between 30 - 40 shells. 
  3. Cover bottom of roasting pan with a layer of the sauce. Arrange filled shells in single layer in the pan. If desired, top with extra mozzarella and Parmesan. Pour remaining sauce over shells, cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until hot. Remove foil, bake another 15 minutes or so until cheese is melted and bubbly.
 Makes 6 to 8 generous servings.

For more scrumptious main dishes, make sure you visit the awesome blogger that precedes mine, Veghotpot, and the fabulous one after, Yum for Tum.  You don't want to miss a single delicious bite!

Buon Appetito!

Michele


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On My Hearth: Quickie Curry

I've been so busy the past 24 hours, unpacking & cleaning, organizing and settling back into my home here. Whew! There is still so much to do but I got a lot accomplished yesterday, even managed a quick grocery store run just to buy the necessities - bread, veggies, and a few ingredients for  last night's dinner.

At my friend Susan's recommendation, I picked up a bottle of Red Curry sauce from Trader Joe's last week, decided to throw together a quick curry dinner last night.  Rice + veggies + curry sauce + fried tofu & and little coconut milk..

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Stir-fried together..

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Equals a very tasty dinner! I was quite pleased with the sauce but Chip said it had a "weird" flavor, I think it was a bit too heavy on the ginger for his taste. We both gobbled it up and have enough left over for my lunch today. Yum!

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More household projects on the horizon, better get moving. 

Have a wonderful day,

Michele


Monday, November 4, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

"...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with." 
~ Dorothy, Wizard of Oz

It's taken a couple of days, but I think I've finally recovered from the vacation-from-hell, as we are now calling it.  We spent Halloween regrouping and preparing for the trick or treaters...

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A quick but sweet visit from Lindsey & Taylor (and Lucy, too!) certainly helped with the transition..

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On Sunday morning we picked up a rental car, and with Lindsey's help (and Loki's supervision), we packed the kitties into their crates, loaded up the cars and headed south. 

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I'm thrilled to report that we made it home without incident, and in plenty of time to unpack and enjoy a lovely dinner on the beach.  Ahh...it's good to be home.

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We'll be in South Florida for a couple of months at least, much as I prefer my lifestyle in Central Florida, there are some perks to being here as well. Whether it be north or south, there truly is no place like home.

Have a wonderful day,

Michele~