Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On My Hearth: Two Bettys!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Yesterday I made not just one but two recipes from Betty Goes Vegan. First, the Tofurky Reuben (page 81). Before I go any further, let me just state for the record: I have never eaten a traditional Reuben. I don't like Thousand Island dressing nor even mayonnaise unless it's mixed in a salad or something where I can't taste it. So, I was going into this completely blind, not knowing what to expect from this sandwich.  I have seen Chip eat them and thought I'd experiment with the recipe first, see if it was worthy of making for him one day.

Tofurky Reuben photo 20140825_122841_zpsfdijsafd-1.jpg

All I can say is: Oh.my.goodness. This was a freakin' awesome sandwich! The textures and flavors were amazing, love the sauerkraut/"meat" combination and since I was able to control just how much dressing went onto the bread, I loved it! This was a huge portion, though, and I could definitely have shared it. I was stuffed and didn't need another morsel of food 'til dinnertime.

As planned, I made the Beefless Stew for dinner. The last time I prepared this dish, I cooked it on the stovetop as I didn't have a Dutch Oven. Well, since I had a little bit of birthday money left (thanks, Dad!), I decided to take myself shopping and buy one. Tuesday Morning had a nice Paula Deen version on clearance, less than half of the price on Amazon - sold! I got a workout lifting this thing, wowie! Finally got it home and started cooking.

Beefless Stew, in Progress photo 20140825_161748_zpsz5cpf8ij.jpg

Beefless Stew photo 20140826_140116_zpsrtdgfha2.jpg

The Verdict:
  • VeganGypsy says: Just as delicious as the first time around! However, the potatoes and carrots took a lot longer than 30 minutes to become tender! I'd say more like 60 - 90 minutes. Maybe it's my oven, or my chunks of veggies were too large, I don't know. Either way, allow extra time! 
  • OmniHunny says: This is very flavorful, babe! Very good! I'm avoiding the carrots, though, as I don't really like cooked carrots. 

So perhaps next time I'll cut the carrots smaller so they cook faster and are better disguised. *wink*

Tonight in addition to the Mexican Corn, Tomatillo, and Red Bean Stew, I'll also be cooking Cheezy Jalapeno Corn Bread from Betty Goes Vegan. I hope you'll pop back tomorrow for the results!

Have a nice evening,

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly Menu Planning

Good morning! It's a new week and a new year for me! I get a bit contemplative around my birthday, thinking about how I'm going to spend the next year of life on this planet. What changes will occur? What improvements will I make to myself and (hopefully) to the world around me?

I will continue my quest for better health/fitness and this includes weight loss. I still have about 30-ish pounds to go, which means if I lose 1/2 a pound a week I'll meet my goal by my next birthday. That sounds do-able, right? So, how am I going to accomplish that?

I still plan to follow Weight Watchers Simply Filling because I believe it's the healthiest "diet" out there and I need the accountability it provides. I prefer online to the meetings simply because, being a vegan, I don't have anything in common with the members and leaders I've met and I don't want or need to sit there and listen to lectures about meat, dairy and processed snack foods. No offense to those who gain (no pun intended) from the meetings, they just aren't my cup of tea.

Of course, I'm still vegan, focusing on low-fat, whole foods, minimally processed. However, you'll likely see a few more "faux" meats and a tiny bit of fat thrown in now & then. Honestly, as much as I believe in and trust Dr. McDougall, Barnard, etc., I was getting really bored eating only that way. I found myself "cheating" with veggie burgers, dogs, etc. and feeling badly about it. I missed the occasional almond milk ice "cream" treat or home made vegan dessert. Frankly, I (gladly) eschew so many unhealthy foods & habits, I think I can allow myself a bit of latitude here.

I plan to cook more and eat out less, easier to do now that we are living out of one house and not traveling as often. I think this should make a huge difference in my weight loss, we'll see. More exercise in the form of daily walks and maybe a bit of yoga thrown in. That's about it, for now at least.

Ok, so let's move on to the menu planning, shall we? This week I'll be focusing on two cookbooks I borrowed from the library:  Betty Goes Vegan and The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook. Both are filled with down-home comfort food, something Chip especially appreciates. Just for fun, I'm going to add some cute little "themes." I'm 50 years old, dammit, I can be as silly as I want to!

Man Crush Monday ("meaty" meals a man will love):  Beef-less Stew
Taco Tuesday (Mexican-inspired):  Mexican Corn, Tomatillo, and Red Bean Stew
Worldly Wednesday (dishes from far away lands): Vegan Frankfurters with German Hot Potato Salad
Throwback Thursday (retro recipe redux):  Chicken-Free Potpie
Fun Friday: Leftovers, dining out, whatever!
Soupy Saturday (no explanation needed):  Louisiana Vegetable Gumbo
Slow Cookin' Sunday (Crock-pot cookin'):  16 Bean, Leek & Kielbasa Soup 

So, there you go, my menu plan for the week. How about you? What's cookin' on our hearth this week? 

Have a great day,


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fabulous Fifty?

Since I last wrote, I've reached a new milestone. Last Wednesday I turned fifty years old. Yikes! That number sounds so strange to me, I can't believe I'm that old! I don't feel it, but am sure I probably look it most days. *wink* I only have a few pics to share from early in the day..

Birthday Sunrise Walk photo IMG_20140820_070904_zpsfubsmneu.jpg
Birthday Sunrise Walk

Brynna, Lindsey on the beach2 photo 20140820_140527_zpsuevk8eei.jpg
My girls on the beach

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Lindsey relaxin'

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Flowers from my step-daughter

The rest of the day was spent eating, opening gifts, more eating, a little wine drinking..you get the idea. It was fab-u-lous! Of course, being a Leo, I stretched the celebration out a little bit longer. I used some of my birthday money (thanks, Dad!)to have some more of my art work framed..

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Frame of Mind working their magic

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portrait of Kristyn from art school

We finished out the week with cocktails on the water...

strawberry daquiri photo 20140824_164651_zpse4wpcoq2.jpg
Strawberry Daquiri, yum!

And now, sadly, it's back to the grind! I'll be back bright & early tomorrow with the weekly menu plan.

Have a great evening!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Week in Review

Here's what was dished up in my kitchen this week, working from my weekly menu:

  • Yam and Black Bean Soup Once again, no photo as I wasn't pleased with the end result. It started out really good, liked the yam/black bean combo, but once the orange juice was added, it was ruined for me. Much too sweet! This was one of the rare occasions when Chip likes a recipe and I don't; he ate one bowl but when it came time for leftovers the next day, he said it was too spicy. I guess the spices got stronger as it sat overnight. Oh, well, they can't all be winners!
Well, when I prepared to make the stew, I realized that instead of "beef" tips in my freezer, I had "beef" strips. Oops! Plan B came together with the help of Gardein's website: Sizzling Szechuan Beefless Strips Pilaf:

Sizzling Schecuan Beefless Strips Rice Pilaf photo 20140811_163859_zpsoor5sbdh.jpg

I really enjoyed this dish, but I did have to use oil to saute the "beef," something I don't typically do. It was tasty, though, and a nice change of pace.
  • Shepherd's Pie (from leftovers) No stew means no leftovers

  • Crockpot Eggplant Chickpea Curry:  Since I knew that Chip doesn't care for curry, eggplant, or chickpeas, I made this primarily for myself, planning on lots of leftovers. Well, I found out that I do not like these foods in this combination, either. I literally took one bite and tossed the whole thing out! I hate to waste food, but no reason to eat something one doesn't enjoy. No time for a pic, straight from crock-pot to garbage disposal.

Senate Bean Soup photo 20140816_111717_zpsos3qqd4g.jpg

This soup had lots of potential, but whoa is it spicy/smoky! Coming from spice-loving me, you know this is saying something! 2 tablespoons of hot sauce is waaay too much for such a small portion of soup, and same w/the liquid smoke. I'd cut back on both if I were to make this again.

So, basically this week had more misses than hits. It's ok, this happens sometimes.

Today I didn't have an opportunity to cook as Chip surprised me with a little day trip, an early birthday celebration, to St Augustine! What a lovely day we had, starting with lunch at a new-to-us taco shop, Burrito Works.

Chip had the Tempeh Burrito..

Chip and the Tempeh Burrito photo 20140817_123321_zps8dw8gi2z.jpg

While I enjoyed the Tempeh Tacos, Baja Style.

Baja Style Tempeh Tacos photo 20140817_123042_zpsxxtq1hf8.jpg

We were both absolutely bowled over by how delicious the food was! This was quite possibly the best taco I have ever eaten!

After an afternoon of sightseeing and shopping, we headed home, but not before a quick stop at The Floridian for dessert-to-go: a Toasted Coconut Cupcake. Vegan, of course. My plan was to save this little beauty til we got home, but I must confess: we were barely on the highway before I started gobbling it up. Scrumptious, the frosting was rich but not too sweet and the cake managed to be light and fluffy, not an easy feat in vegan baking!

Toasted Coconut Cupcake photo 20140817_150708_zpsezapy2jh.jpg

Now I think I'll brew myself a cup of herbal tea and cuddle up with a new book. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Happy Blogiversary..

to me! It's been two years since I launched the Vegan Gypsy!

My celebration will include a nice long cooking session, followed by an evening beach walk. Oh, and maybe a bit of bubbly as well. ;)

Have a great day,

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Menu Planning

Before I jump into this week's menu, I'll take a moment to finish up last week's. Yesterday I made the Chickpea Rice Soup with Cabbage for lunch..

Chickpea Rice Soup with Cabbage photo 20140810_153510_zpsab07zaex.jpg

The Verdict: This was..eh. Nothing special. When I tasted the finished product, I thought it was too watery and not rich enough, so I poured in a little Creamy Portobello Soup, then added a can of diced tomatoes. Better, but still missing something. Extra fresh dill made a big difference, taking this soup from boring to..pretty good. I think if I were to cook it again I'd use a different bean; the chickpea just didn't seem right in this dish. For dinner I made a simple meal of Gardein Turk'y Cutlets, mashed potatoes, and green beans, a perfect Sunday supper.

Turk'y Cutlets, Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans photo 20140810_195105_zpsw2oouawt.jpg

Now, on to this week. Chip is working crazy hours again, actually had to be up at 1 o'clock this morning! Since I never know when he'll be home for meals, I'll be focusing on recipes that are either slow-cooked or can be easily re-heated. In no particular order, here's my plan for the week:

Yes, there are a lot of soups/stews because, as I've mentioned before, Chip is a soup lovin' kinda guy and I know he'll gobble these up without complaint! Well, except for the curry..I'll probably be on my own for that one.

I'm also going to be making a couple of desserts, at my hunny's request, but haven't planned them out yet.

I'll be headed to the grocery store as soon as they open,  am fortunate that I have most of this week's ingredients on hand! My wallet and I love when that happens. *smile*

Have a great day,



Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Week in Review

Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach photo 20140807_081425_zpsps0mmtkr.jpg
Pasta e Fabioli with Spinach from Appetite for Reduction

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Ready for Action!
Oil-Free Vegan Banana Bread photo 20140806_134951_zpsfrfhlhut.jpg
Oil-Free Vegan Banana Bread from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

Relaxing in the RV photo 20140808_084804_zpshk4kwl5m.jpg
Just Relaxing in the RV

Balsamic Roasted Eggplant Sandwich photo 20140808_125512_zpsk3ikrmif.jpg
Balsamic Roasted Eggplant Sandwich (sans dairy) from Jungle Organic in Indialantic, FL

Brynna's New Car photo 20140809_145659_zpsiprqdr7d.jpg
Brynna's New Wheels!

Satchel's Salad photo 20140809_155929_zpsltolfd5q.jpg
Satchel's Salad (sans cheese, of course)

Veggie Pizza (sans cheese) photo 20140809_161428_zpsa5icczdn.jpg
Veggie Pizza, Satchel's Pizza, Gainesville, FL

So, that's about it for me, how was your week?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On My Hearth: Summer Lovin' Curried Corn & Veggie Chowder

Last night I cooked the Summer Lovin' Curried Corn & Veggie Chowder from Appetite for Reduction.

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Since the author has not published this recipe on line, I will refrain from sharing it here, but a quick Google search will lead you to another blogger who posted it. Better yet, just buy the cookbook. It's so worth the eleven bucks ($9.99 Kindle version), I promise!

The Verdict:

Vegan Gypsy says: Perfection! I would never have thought to "curry up" a chowder, what a delightful surprise! The summer vegetables, at their peak right now, were so nicely joined by the curry flavoring. The only change I made to the recipe was using vegetable broth instead of oil for saut√©eing, making it a 1 PointsPlus® recipe if you're following Weight Watchers Simply Filling (as I am), 4 PointsPlus® if you're doing full tracking.  Because I thought the finished product was a bit thin, I followed Isa's suggestion and served it over cooked Jasmine rice. Brown rice would work as well and cut down on the PointsPlus® value.

OmniHunny says: This is very tasty! It does have some heat, though, so you might want to cut down on the red pepper flakes next time.  (So noted)

On tonight's menu: Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach.

Have a great day,

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On My Hearth: Black Bean, Zucchini, & Olive Tacos

Black Bean, Zucchini, & Olive Tacos photo 20140804_180722_zpswuxlvtpd.jpg

Last night I made the Black Bean, Zucchini & Olive Tacos from Appetite for Reduction. If you don't have the cookbook, I highly recommend you purchasing. In the meantime, a variation of the original recipe has been published here.

I made a couple of changes, eliminating the oil and cutting back on jalepeno, to make it my own. I didn't use the Garlic-Lemon yogurt suggested by Isa; instead I just added a dollop of dairy-free sour cream. Also, I used black olives instead of Kalamata because of the cost; my market only had a giant jar for $5.00 and I knew I'd never use them up!

    Black Bean, Zucchini, & Olive Tacos ingredients photo 20140804_174229_zpsi84vsuw9.jpg

                    Black Bean, Zucchini & Olive Tacos



  •  1  tablespoon  vegetable broth or water (plus more if needed)
  •  2   medium  zucchini -- diced small ( about 1lb)
  •  1   medium  jalapenos -- seeded and diced
  •  1/4 teaspoon  salt
  •  2 garlic cloves -- minced
  •  1/3 cup  pitted black olives -- chopped
  •  1/2 teaspoon  ground cumin
  •   1/2 teaspoon  ground coriander
  •  6  ounces  salsa verde
  •  1 1/2 cups  cooked black beans (or 1 16-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
  •  4  large whole wheat tortillas (I used Smart & Delicious 100-Calorie)
  •  1/2 cup  scallions -- finely chopped
  • sour cream for topping, optional

Black Bean, Zucchini, & Olive Tacos in Progress photo 20140804_175523_zpsfasndjnc.jpg


  1. Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet (I like cast iron) over medium-high heat. Pour in the vegetable broth and add the zucchini and jalapeno, sprinkle with the salt. The salt will help release the moisture from the zucchini. Saute for about 7 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.  Add the garlic, olives, cumin, and coriander, and saute for 2 minutes more.
  2.  Add the salsa verde and black beans and cook for 5 minutes. The salsa should reduce a bit so it's juicy but not soupy. 
  3.  Warm the tortillas, ladle the bean/veggie mixture into each, top with chopped scallion and sour cream if you'd like. Roll up and enjoy! 

                                   - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Makes 8 Servings if using small (6") tortillas, 4 of the large size. 

The Verdict: Super-yummy! I love the "green-ness" of this dish, from the jalapeno, zucchini, salsa & scallions. So pretty, and so delicious! You truly don't need the olive oil to saute, and substituting with water or vegetable broth saves a few calories, better spent on faux sour cream, in my opinion. There is a subtle heat in this recipe, might be more spicy if I'd used two jalepenos but since my peppers were so large, I erred on the side of caution.

Chip will be home for dinner tonight, plan to make the Summer Lovin' Curried Corn & Veggie Chowder. Hes not a big fan of curry but I think in this dish he'll enjoy it, we'll see!

Have a great day,

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Menu Planning: Featuring Recipes from The Post Punk Kitchen

This week I'm going to focus on low-fat recipes from Post Punk Kitchen. If you have Isa Chandra's Appetite for Reduction cookbook, you can follow along there, but some of the dishes can be found on her website under the Low Fat category.

Since our schedule is going to be up in the air this week, I'm listing the menu in no particular order:

We may be traveling down south to close on my house (crossing fingers) so if  that happens, the menu may change.

Have a great week,

Tales from the Road: Melbourne, Florida

Good morning, happy Monday! How was your weekend? I spent most of mine fighting a nasty cold. Actually, the symptoms started last week - headache, tiredness, but since I so rarely get sick I didn't pay much attention to them. I should have known something was up when I didn't feel like cooking! By Friday morning, I was feeling really rotten. I was supposed to join Chip in Melbourne, hang out in the motorhome while he worked and then squeeze in a bit of sightseeing. I was not feeling up to this, but dragged myself out of bed and on the road Friday afternoon. I mentioned my illness to Kristyn who suggested that I find the nearest health food store and grab some ColdCalm, a homeopathic remedy she swears by. So, that's just what I did, along with some Colloidal Silver which would also help any throat soreness.

Saturday morning Chip and I stopped by The Jungle Organic, a wonderful market and cafe in Indialantic, FL, just down the road from Melbourne. While there, I also bought a few other necessities and then we headed off to lunch. After reading reviews on TripAdvisor and Happy Cow, we decided on the top-rated restaurant in the area, The Bald Strawberry. They happened to have a separate bakery which we stumbled upon before finding the cafe. Chip was in his glory, deciding between a multitude of sweet treats!

He eventually decided on the "Winkie," a vegan version of the Twinkie..

and, as if that wasn't enough sugar, he also got a "Garbage Pail Kid" donut! Thank goodness, he was only able to take one bite before packing it up for later. What a bad boy, eating his dessert before lunch, right?! Please note: I took one tiny bite of the Winkie, found it much too sweet for my taste and wasn't tempted a bit to eat any more. I really don't have a huge sweet tooth, especially for this type of dessert. *shrug* Chip said both choices were absolutely wonderful, though; you'll have to take his word for it!

While waiting for our meal, we were enjoyed tunes from the old-school records and turntable, how fun!

All of the entrees here are served on gluten-free vegan waffles; from pizza to sandwiches, everything starts on on waffle base. I chose "The Big V," piles of veggies, black bean hummus and sliced  avocado, yum!

After lunch we hung out in the RV for a little while, then headed home. I rested, watched tv, went to bed early, and the next morning woke to find my cold...almost gone! I was so shocked, couldn't believe how well I was feeling. I've never used homeopathic meds before but now I'm a believer!

I still didn't feel like cooking, though..grin..so for dinner last night Chip and I just took sandwiches, fruit and drinks to to the beach for a picnic.

I'm feeling even better today but as of yet haven't made a meal plan. I'm leaning toward recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz' Appetite for Reduction cookbook, will pop back later with details.

Have a great day!