Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wacky Week

Well, last week's eating plan got all out of whack and I only ended up cooking two of the planned meals, the Sloppy Joes and the Chipotle Black Bean Chili (below.)

Chipotle Black Bean Chili with Winter Squash photo 20150119_165143_zpsbld6yxrn.jpg

We had an out-of-town guest for a couple of days which resulted in some dining out. I couldn't capture a good pic of this dish from the Thai restaurant, but the leftovers the next day were so pretty!

Siam Tofu with Thai Chili Sauce leftovers photo 20150123_120411_zpsrniopp4k_1.jpg
Siam Chile Tofu

We also took advantage of some lovely live Sitar music one night at the Kale Cafe.

Live music at Kale Cafe photo 20150124_185231_zpszgxnhgma_1.jpg

The food was fantastic, as always. I can't tell you exactly what everything is because I just tell them to pick whatever they have and pile it on my plate. *grin* I know there are Jerk 'Shrooms and BBQ Seitan, and of course, Kale Salad.

Kale Cafe Dinner photo 20150124_185739_zpsfqjvsr0q_1.jpg

Chip at Kale Cafe photo 20150124_185747_zpsin9vqo4k_1.jpg

I also steamed a bunch of kale..

Steaming Kale photo IMG_20150122_112055_zpsqborqads_1.jpg

Including this gorgeous bag I found at my local Walmart for only $3.98! Say what you want about Walmart, I have to give them kudos for offering more healthy, organic options at very reasonable prices. For those of us on a budget and/or don't have a Whole Foods nearby, they are an invaluable resource. My favorite coffee creamer was only $1.98, a couple dollars cheaper than I've paid elsewhere.

Walmart finds photo 20150127_133927_zpsisvzxczw_1.jpg

(Oh, and Loki appreciates that they sell dog toys as well)

Loki's new toy photo IMG_20150127_135919_zpsukr712hu_1.jpg

I've been hearing a lot about cauliflower being the "new kale," and seeing lots of recipes popping up on Pinterest, etc. I've especially liked the ones involving roasting a whole cauliflower, so I decided to give it a shot. I found this recipe on a Paleo blog, and though I wouldn't normally cook with so much fat/oil, I wanted to try the recipe exactly as stated (well, minus the bacon grease, of course!) and I do believe that veggies do require a little bit of oil to prevent burning while roasting.

So I took this gorgeous head of broccoli, delivered to my door from Front Porch Pickings..

 Cauliflower, Raw photo 20150125_160734_zpsmhtpslwu_1.jpg

Marinated it..

Cauliflower, in Progress photo 20150125_161215_zpshqoopnuh_1.jpg

And popped it in the oven looking like this..

Cauliflower, in Progress2 photo 20150125_161626_zpsbcaat8mm_1.jpg

And about 40 minutes later I had this..

Cauliflower, Roasted photo IMG_20150125_171037_zpsp2uxq22n_1.jpg

Oh.My.Goodness. Not only did my house smell heavenly with all of those lovely spices wafting through, the cauliflower tasted so freaking fantastic, I could barely stop myself from devouring the whole thing! Again, not something I'd make very often given the fat content, but a definite once-in-a-while treat.

So far this week I've made chili for dinner one night, tacos for another, have been feeling a bit lazy and uninspired. Today I'll figure out the rest of the week and post once I have a plan.

Hope you're all having a great week so far, Happy Hump Day!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Menu Planning - Week of January 18

Well, this past week I followed my menu plan pretty closely, with a few changes using what I had on hand.

Three Sisters Squash photo IMG_20150114_163459_zpsutoz1qsy.jpg
Three Sisters Squash

The Verdict: Omni Hunny didn't try this dish, but I thought it was delicious! I tasted the stuffing before filling the squash, found it a little bland so I added another small Chipotle pepper. That did the trick! Since I used smaller squash than called for, I had a lot leftover which would make a good burrito filling!

I did make the Grandma's Minestre but honestly wasn't thrilled with the end result and didn't snap a picture. There was something I didn't care for, some spice or combination of ingredients that made the soup bitter. *shrug* Oh, well, they can't all be winners!

I didn't get around to making the Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup but cooked a couple of other interesting dishes instead!

This gorgeous Romanesco Cauliflower arrived in my produce delivery this week, so pretty I hated to eat it! I didn't want to boil or slow cook away the bright green color, so I decided to roast it with a little bit of olive oil, pink salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Romanesco Cauliflower photo IMG_20150116_085127_zpswd8fn1nc.jpg
Romanesco Cauliflower

Romanesco Cauliflower, Ready to Roast photo 20150116_124231_zpsyoppntpj.jpg

I served it over whole wheat pasta, scrumptious! I ate much more than I should was just too good!

Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower over Whole Wheat Pasta photo IMG_20150117_061736_zpseh8zdh6i.jpg

I enjoyed those roasted veggies so much, I decided to do the same with brussels sprouts the next day.

Brussels Sprouts, ready for roasting photo 20150117_145418_zpsnva16cub.jpg

On Friday night, Chip and I got dressed up and went out for happy hour at a new restaurant in town, The 31 Supper Club.  I rarely take selfies but I was so proud that I could wear this new skirt, one size smaller!

Selfie with Lucifer photo 20150116_165552_zps1jlpyum3.jpg
Selfie w/a Lucifer photobomb

We loved the atmosphere, felt like we had stepped back in time!

Chip at 31 Supper Club photo 20150116_183340_zpsudsbcw12.jpg

Happy Hour at 31 Supper Club photo 20150116_174134_zps6aqytbjf.jpg

The Golden Vegan Chickpea Stew is based upon this recipe, but I left out the tomatoes because the idea of them in curry didn't appeal to me, and the jalapeno because I forgot to buy one at the grocery store.

Golden Chickpea Curry with Roasted Cauliflower & Spinach photo 20150117_123616_zpsprf8c0by.jpg
Golden Vegan Chickpea Stew

The Verdict: Once again, Chip chose to forego this dish. He's not a fan of curry, which is fine because I certainly am! I'd make this again but wouldn't leave out the jalapeno as this wasn't quite spicy enough for my taste buds.

I had a bunch of apples that were going soft, so I decided to use them up in an Apple Crisp.

Apple Crisp photo IMG_20150113_104235_zpst3qz73rc.jpg
Apple Crisp

The Verdict: Served warm from the oven and topped with a scoop of vegan ice cream, this was absolutely delicious! We both scarfed down a generous portion and were happy to enjoy leftovers the next day or so. While this may not be good for the numbers on the scale, it satisfied my sweet tooth for a little while, worth every calorie!

Creole-Style Jambalaya photo IMG_20150118_123844_zpsuqrvoxaj.jpg
Creole-Style Jambalaya

The Verdict: The Creole-Style Jambalaya was really tasty, more like red beans & rice than a true Jambalaya. Chip said: "I liked it but I prefer my Jambalaya." (made with Zatarain's rice mix and Tofurky sausage)

Yesterday I was all set to make the Chipotle Corn Chowder and realized I didn't have any frozen corn! Too lazy to run to the grocery store, I scrounged the fridge and pantry and realized I had all the ingredients to make the Lentil-Vegetable Soup instead.

Lentil-Vegetable Soup photo 20150119_085725_zpsob3arsp_edit_1421676408021_zpspnj7bluo.jpg
Lentil-Vegetable Soup

The Verdict: While this soup doesn't take a very pretty picture, it tasted delicious! Just a little bit too thin for me, so I served over a scoop of brown rice. Perfect for a chilly Sunday evening. Since Chip doesn't like lentils (unless I disguise them very well), he ate something else.

This week's menu will, once again, be mostly from the Fresh from a Vegan Slow Cooker book. I'm adding one recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen because it looks so yummy and I have lasagna noodles begging to be used.

  • Barley Orzotto
  • Moroccan-Inspired Stuffed Winter Squash
  •  African-Inspired Peanut Stew
  • Slow and Spicy Sloppy Joes
  • Chipotle Black Bean Chili with Winter Squash
  • My Favorite Lasagna
 I'm going to try posting the recipe/reviews as I make them, time permitting, so I hope you'll check back often!

Have a wonderful day,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Happy New Year

Here I am, back to blogging, though I still don't have much to say..grin..I hope you'll bear with me and eventually I'll find some inspiration! I'm sure everyone had a great holiday season but, if you're like me, you're ready to get back to normal. Maybe you've made some resolutions and have started a new routine? Instead of actual resolutions, I tend to choose a word or phrase to focus on throughout the year. In 2014, that word was "self." Self-love. Self-acceptance. Self-esteem. Etc. etc. It worked really well for me as I did take better care of myself. I focused more on me. I walked more, ate better, and lost a few pounds (12, to be exact).

This year I've chosen a phrase:

Take Your Time

As a kid, I remember Mom offering that advice. Whether it was while working on a homework assignment or baking cookies, she encouraged me to slow down and pay attention to what I was doing. When I start to rush around, especially when cooking, I hear her voice reminding me that there's no hurry. Better to take your time and do it right, not risk mistakes. This has served me well, on so many levels. Turning 50 has reminded me that life is short, and I do literally need to take the time that I have left on this earth. Not take it for granted nor squander it away. Since I'm an empty-nester who doesn't work outside the home, I have a lot of time to myself. It's a luxury that not everyone has been granted, and I need to appreciate it more and spend it more wisely. So I'll be making a few changes this year, being more conscious of just how I use the 24 hours a day I'm given. I haven't worked out all the details yet, but I know there will be more beach walks, more healthy food, more writing, more crafts, more art, more books. Less worry and anxiety, less concern with the silly stuff that just doesn't matter. There will be fewer hours spent on Facebook. It sucks up so much of my time, I wish I could give it up completely but I would miss my friends there, and the connection to other vegans, sorely lacking in my "real" life.

 Health wise, I've given left Weight Watchers and am back to Sparkpeople. I haven't changed my "diet," still focusing mostly on low fat whole foods, with a little vino and chocolate here & there. I'm being more gentle with myself, though, since having a conversation with Laura who suggested that I've been sabotaging myself, being a bit too extreme. More about that another time, for now I'm just doing the best I can.

I'm still receiving my local produce delivery, am really enjoying it! On Friday afternoon, Front Porch Pickings sends me an email detailing the fruits & veggies that will be delivered the following Wednesday, and I have til noon on Monday to make revisions. This gives me a couple of days to plan my weekly menu which I'll once again be posting here. The weather here has been cool and grey, not great for beach visits but perfect for curling up on the couch with Netflix and a big bowl of soup! I'll be featuring several recipes from Robin Robertson's Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, one of my favorites. Without further ado, this week's menu, in no particular order:
We'll likely have one pizza or taco night and one dining out, lots of leftovers for lunches or to store in the freezer for those I-don't-wanna-cook-nights.

I hope your 2015 is off to a great start, looking forward to catching up with everyone here in Blogland.