Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On My Hearth: Szechwan Eggplant

Asian Eggplants (Neon) photo IMG_20140616_100447_zpskh3tofos.jpg

 During a visit to our local health food market last week, I came upon these gorgeous Asian Eggplants. I had no plan for them, but they were too pretty to leave behind! I thought about making a (vegan) Eggplant Parmesan but then Kristyn reminded me how much we enjoy the eggplant dish at our favorite Chinese restaurant. Hmm..how can I make a healthier, oil-free version? Well, Mary McDougall to the rescue! This recipe from the October 2008 McDougall newsletter was quick & easy, and I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. (As I don't like to copy and publish other cooks' creations verbatim, please visit the site for the recipe.)

Szechwan Eggplant Ingredients photo 20140616_172939_zpsmllbjeos.jpg

I served the eggplant over brown rice with steamed broccoli on the side, oh-so-delicious! I will definitely be adding this to my favorites, can't wait to cook this one for Kristyn!

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After dinner I took a nice long walk on the beach, what a perfect evening.

06.16.14 Evening Walk photo 20140616_195046_zpsed3pmui6.jpg

Chip has started a new job project that requires him to be working at night, so I'll be on my own again for dinner. I am not sure what I'll eat, but have a head of cauliflower in the fridge that's begging to be used.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad!

In spite of Dad's crazy work schedule and travel, he was able to drive over to celebrate Father's Day as well as his birthday with us.  I was so excited to cook for he and his lovely lady, especially since this was the first official "dinner party" in our new home!

When planning the menu, I kept in mind that neither Dad nor Kathye are vegans, but they're certainly not opposed to it either. I decided to stick with an Italian menu because everybody likes that, right?


Tossed Salad

I'm sorry that I neglected to take photos of anything, was so busy prepping and cooking and then once it was on the table it got devoured pretty quickly! I'd say that's a testament to how good it was. 

I did, however, take pics of the most important element: the birthday cake!

Dad loves German Chocolate but I've never tried a vegan version so I was a bit nervous. I had nothing to worry about, though, as it turned out perfect! The cake itself was moist and yet fluffy, frosting was rich and just sweet enough. Dad thoroughly enjoyed it, and at my request took the leftovers home with him. I don't need that sort've temptation around the house! 

German Chocolate Cake in Progress photo 20140614_163512_zps42qdzwqg.jpg

Dad's Birthday Cake photo 20140615_193610_zpstqmbjswo.jpg

After that indulgent dinner, I'm back to my normal eating/exercising today. Lots of veggies & grains, and a long beach walk is in my afternoon plan.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

On My Hearth: Slowcooker Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili

It's not officially summer but it sure feels like it here in the Sunshine State! I've settled into a bit of a routine, taking my walks before sunrise to avoid the heat, by 9 am it's brutal out there! I love waking up early and enjoying the beach before anyone else arrives; just me and the birds. 

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06.09.14 Morning Walk photo 20140609_054950_zps6otx4d4t.jpg

After walking I come home, have coffee with my hunny, and do my chores. Breakfast is roasted potatoes and a pile of kale..

Breakfast photo 20140607_091955_zpsauu5lcgo.jpg

Lunch is often oven fries with a salad or leftovers from the night before. Yesterday's taters were accompanied by a few slices of roasted squash, extra from the dinner I was preparing (see below).

Baked Fries & Butternut Squash photo 20140610_124746_zpsax2q3kew.jpg

Then comes errands if needed, and a return to the beach in the afternoon, around 3-ish, when the breeze is picking up. I'll take another little stroll or just sit and read or people-watch. To keep hydrated, I whipped up my first batch of Sassy Water, have you all tried it yet? I don't follow the diet, but find the beverage very refreshing!

Sassy Water photo IMG_20140611_071656_zps56feazx1.jpg

Once again, I find myself cooking cool weather recipes despite the warm weather outside. What's up with that? I guess no matter what the temps outside, I am attracted to the same types of food: hot, spicy & comforting! Slowcooker dishes are my favorite since I can do all of the prep work in the morning while the house is cool and the sun is shining brightly through my kitchen window.

Last night I combined a couple of recipes I found around the 'net and, using what I had on hand, came up with this delicious chili.

Slowcooker Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili photo 20140611_082246_zpsuqulnobo.jpg


Slowcooker Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons dark chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 (14.5) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 12 ounces butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth


NOTE: Sauteing the vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker creates a layer of flavor. Do not skip this step.
  1. Heat a little vegetable broth or water in a saute pan, or spray lightly with cooking spray. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Saute for a few minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Add the garlic and bell pepper, stir and saute another couple of minutes.
  2. Add the spices and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from heat.
  3. Add the vegetables and the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for six hours.
  4. Top with non-dairy cheddar shreds, sour cream and/or diced avocado (not included in nutritional analysis)
Serving Size: Makes 8 one-cup servings.
Nutritional Info:

  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 145.9
  • Total Fat: 0.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 365.5 mg
  • Total Carbs: 29.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 8.9 g
  • Protein: 6.6 g

I think I'm settling into this new beachside lifestyle, am ridiculously happy and feel incredibly blessed.

Have a wonderful day,

Saturday, June 7, 2014

On My Hearth: Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew

I know I promised you guys a veganized "Hamburger" Cabbage Casserole dish but after reading a zillion different recipes, I decided that I probably wouldn't like it. Sorry! I still had half a head of cabbage to use up, though, and wanted to take advantage of my Crock-Pot, so back to the proverbial drawing board. Fat Free Vegan Kitchen to the rescue! I know, it's June and not soup season in this hemisphere, but this is the best way to get my veggie-averse hunny to eat and enjoy his vegetables, so..I cranked up the a/c and ladled it up!

Please go to Susan's site for the recipe, I followed her instructions exactly. Note: this makes a TON of soup so if you don't have a large Crock-pot, you'll want to halve the ingredients.

Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew photo 20140607_112533_zpscfp2n4gp.jpg

In other news, we finally got a washer & dryer for the new house! Woo-hoo! After 2 months of schlepping laundry around, I'm insanely excited about this. I spent two days washing/drying/folding, didn't mind one bit.

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This morning I got up early and hit the beach...

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Ormond Beach sans morning surfers, a rarity

I didn't want to mess up my fresh pedicure w/sneakers so I took a chance and went barefoot. So glad I saw this guy before he had the chance to ruin my day!That would've been a huge ouch!

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Stomolophus meleagris (Cannonball Jellyfish).

This afternoon we're headed out to see our favorite local band at a biker event. I don't want to be tempted by the inevitable junk food there so I'm putting the soup back in the Crock-pot on warm, will be a nice welcome home this evening.

Have a great day!

Friday, June 6, 2014

On My Hearth: Crock-Pot Vegetarian Sausage Orzo Soup

 Yesterday I came upon two boxes of orzo in my pantry, obviously purchased for a recipe but for the life of me I couldn't remember which one! A quick google search led me to this quick & easy recipe, Crock-Pot Vegetarian Sausage Orzo Soup. I modified it slightly, using what I had on hand and adding zucchini for even more veggie goodness. It was absolutely delicious, perfect as a main dish for me and alongside leftover pasta for my hunny.

Crock-Pot Vegetarian Sausage Orzo Soup photo 20140605_181237_zpswt6ch8uz.jpg  


Crock-Pot Vegetarian Sausage Orzo Soup


(Adapted from Taste of Home by The Economical Eater)


  • 2 vegetarian sausage links, chopped (I used Tofurky Italian Sausages)
  • 1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo


  1. Place all ingredients, except for orzo, in a crock-pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, adding more water or vegetable broth to reach desired consistency.
  2. About ten minutes before serving, cook orzo in boiling salted water according to directions on the package. Add orzo to soup, stir, and taste for seasoning (adjust as necessary).
  3. This soup is great on it's own as a main meal, served alongside salad and bread perhaps, or as a hearty first course.

Makes 6 generous servings

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Today I'll be using my Crock-pot again, making a "Hamburger" Cabbage Casserole. I've never tried this before, wish me luck!

Have a great day,