Thursday, July 31, 2008

Banana Nut Bread

I have made vegan banana nut bread before but used a different recipe this time. Not because the last one was bad; this one called for three bananas instead of 2, and I had 3 bananas ready for use. I substituted the brown sugar for sucanat and the allspice for pumpkin pie spice (it was the closest thing I had). I used whole wheat pastry flour and Earth Balance for the margarine. I added walnuts this time also. We are heading out of town tomorrow, up to Vancouver BC to visit friends. I am packing it because I always need something to munch on as soon as I get up and I think this will be perfect with coffee.

Chocolate Chip Cookies



These are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made, vegan or otherwise! I can't even believe how good they are. The website has a how-to video that does a nice job explaining some of the vegan ingredients that substitute common non-vegan ingredients in cookies. I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose and Sucanat instead of brown sugar. My chocolate chips were mini and I used chopped walnuts in the mix. I will be surprised if these cookies last more than a few days in my house!

Vegan Fajitas


I asked John what he wanted for dinner this week and Fajitas were number one, which is excellent because they are very easy! I followed this recipe, minus the corn and black beans (I completely forgot to add them), plus mushrooms. We loaded flour tortillas with the veggies, guacamole, and Frontera Salsa (currently addicted to!) And, an added bonus! There are TONS of leftover veggies that will make a delicious tofu scramble tomorrow morning.

Goldfish Crackers


Slightly tedious, but worth the effort. I found Annatto at Capella (used for the orange coloring) and substituted the white flour for wheat. I also used Safflower oil instead of Canola. John said they taste like pretzels?! The recipe was easy to follow, the rolling and cutting took about 2 hours and we now have a trillion goldfish crackers! The blog I found the recipe at suggests spending around $7 on a mini fish cutter. I took the top of a Jones Soda, bent it in the middle and saved my money. I think I will add more nutritional yeast next time, and maybe more cayenne pepper for a stronger flavor. All in all, sort of fun to make, really cute, and much healthier than the store brand!

Vegan Shoes and Vitamins

I bought my first pair of Vegan Sandals. They are Earth Shoes, which are supposed to be great for your back and posture because of their "negative heel." It took a day of breaking in, but they are very comfortable now. The website had many other styles that I love...thinking ahead to fall especially!


I am also taking a daily vitamin now. Not for any reason other than getting extra vitamins in my system. I know there is debate as to whether or not our bodies absorb the vitamins...anyway, I also want the extra folic acid it provides. I found this at Capella and it was around $11 for a 2 month supply.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pasta with Pistachio Pesto



This recipe came from the latest addition of the Cooking Light Magazine. It was supposed to have a spiral pasta called Fusilli, but because I did not have this pasta, or feel like searching for it, quinoa macaroni worked out perfectly! I used basil from my herb garden, roma tomatoes instead of grape, and sesame Parmesan for the cheese. It came together very quickly and had time to sit in the fridge to chill before dinner. On the side, I heated a tablespoon of Earth Balance Buttery Spread and 3 garlic cloves and spread the mix over Polenta bread from the Eugene City Bakery. This baked at 375 for about 10 minutes. Also, a tossed salad consisting of romaine lettuce, diced red pepper and green onion, slices of hearts of palm, and Annie's Goddess Dressing. John said it was one of my best meal combinations ever!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eggless Egg Salad Sandwiches


Sounds confusing, but tasted great! I pressed a pack of tofu, broke it up into pieces in a fry pan and sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic. While this was cooking, I diced approximately 1/4 cup of the following: carrot, celery, red onion, green onion, dill pickles. I also added a handful of sunflower seeds, a tablespoon of Bragg's Liquid Aminos and lemon juice, and sprinkles of the following seasonings: parsley, cumin, dill, pepper. After the tofu had cooled, I added it and about a cup of Vegenaise to the seasonings and mixed well. I purchased some Polenta bread from the Eugene City Bakery that is excellent for sandwiches, added lettuce and tomato and had a fantastic lunch!

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake


I have made this delicious breakfast treat in the past but never taken a picture of it! I love to take it to brunches or serve it to guests. No one would ever guess it is vegan (unless they know me, of course!) I also make a half batch for John and myself on special occasions. I use a recipe that calls for sour cream and eggs but substitute vegan ingredients and it comes out perfect every time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Breaded Zucchini, Baked Tofu, and Mashed Potatoes



In need of a quick meal, Trader Joe'sHigh Protein Organic Super Firm Tofu is the best I have found for baking. I marinated it in a mixture of smashed garlic, tamari, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, and some splashes of lime juice and olive oil. It sat in the fridge for about 45 minutes and then baked at 350. I should have taken it out at the 35-40 minute range but got busy and it stayed in a tad too long, making it tougher and crispier than anticipated. Awesome flavor though! On the side is basic mashed potatoes with Earth balance butter and Almond milk for creaminess. I would have made a cashew gravy but ran out of time. And the highlight, breaded zucchini. I substituted the egg for Orgran No-Egg, the all-purpose flour for spelt, and the parmesan cheese for sesame parmesan. I could live forever without french fries if I had these!

Shepherd's Pie


I made this a long time ago, and somehow forgot to post it. It was delicious and I remembered I had made it because I found the recipe and decided to make it again! My only change was Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids instead of soy sauce. I have never had "authentic" Shepherd's Pie so I can't really say it is as good as the original, but I can guess it is!

Snacks from The Kiva

I found some goodies at a store called The Kiva. They are a small grocer and wine merchant in the downtown area carrying gifts, books, produce, and much more. They have a great selection of various raw and/or vegan foods, household items, cosmetics, etc. A new Lara Bar flavor, Key Lime Pie, was my highlight. It was very tasty! I also bought a locally made vegan "Peanut Butter Cookie Bar" that was a slight disappointment. The peanut butter was really just peanuts. Great crust though.


And finally, orange flavored, vegan chapstick! I have been guiltily using up my Burt's Bees. I made a promise to John when I first decided to be a vegan that I would not waste anything I currently owned. Cosmetics are tricky because they last a long time! Slowly but surely, I am filtering the vegan products in!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Morning Glory Vegan Waffles


We love to eat breakfast at Morning Glory Cafe. A majority of their menu items are vegan and they always have great specials. Along with really good tofu scrambles, they also make an omelet out of potatoes, serve vegan crepes, and all sorts of other things that seem impossible to make both vegan and delicious. These are my left-over waffles served with fresh Marionberries and Blueberries, along with maple syrup and Earth Balance Buttery Spread.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anniversary Dinner

John and I recently celebrated two years of dating bliss. In honor of this anniversary, I made a special vegan dinner. I tried to make things that fit the theme of *sweet hearts* for the occasion.



We started with a "Heart Beet" salad (I am not clever enough to come up with this on my own! I took the entire meal from a different blog. She was also celebrating an anniversary!) It consisted of romaine lettuce, sliced beets and hearts of palm. For the dressing, Avocado Caesar. Not only was it the cutest salad ever, it was tangy and delicious. The dressing made a ton though, so I froze the left-overs. Not sure how it will thaw, but fingers are crossed!



For the main course we enjoyed Sweet Potato Stuffed Shells in garlic cream sauce. I followed the recipe carefully for the shells, minus the red pepper and curry sauce. Instead of a curry flavor, I sauteed several garlic cloves in olive oil. Next, whisked in soy milk, salt, veggie broth, and nutritional yeast. Finally, arrowroot to thicken it up. I poured the sauce over the shells before baking.



I have never cooked Rainbow Chard before but couldn't take my eyes off of it at the grocery store! It is the most colorful, cheerful veggie I have ever seen! To cook, I simply heated olive oil and sauteed a few cloves of garlic, then added the chard and covered until it had softened. I used both the leaves and the stems for a crunchy/soft texture combo.


Another veggie I had never prepared before: Thyme-Scented Fava Beans. The preparation took a little time, but was very easy. When the beans were ready, I let them marinate in olive oil and fresh thyme.



And, my favorite new side is....seared Artichoke Hearts. The recipe (minus the snow peas) sounds complicated but the time goes by quickly and is WELL worth the simple effort!

Okay, to conclude the meal I made a heart-shaped cheesecake with a chocolate crust; one of John's favorite desserts! I was very nervous while it baked because it appeared to be cooking on the sides, but never in the middle. I used a spring-form pan; that might have been my mistake! Next time, I will use a pie dish. Anyway, cut and served with blueberries, it was so fabulous. The perfect way to end a romantic dinner!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mini Vegan Quiches



















I set out to make mini soufflés but ran into complications with an ingredient, so I made mini quiches instead. I wanted to make the crust from scratch but had trouble finding a recipe that didn't call for "refrigerator dough." I settled on this crust recipe because the chili powder added a nice kick! (I put more than a 1/2 teaspoon in, and the kick was just right; I couldn't taste it in the first bite but then it "crept" up on me a few bites later!) I substituted the all-purpose flour for spelt and the butter and shortening for the Earth Balance Vegan brand (same amounts of each). For the egg in the crust and quiche, I used Orgran No Egg. Not crazy about the ham and chile theme of the recipe, I created my own addition. I sautéed spinach and Tofurky Italian Sausage in garlic, then added a sprinkle of sesame parmesan on top. Next time, I will use more No-egg mixture. The flavor was very "quiche-like" and although it didn't taste dry, it looked it. Also, the recipe commented that freezing the quiches for later use was a good idea. I froze half and agree! Next time we have company coming into town, I will definitely pre-make a few for a nice, quick breakfast treat.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

PF Chang's





As I said in an earlier post, both John and I dislike chain restaurants. But, we had a gift certificate and I have heard they are vegan friendly so we gave it a go! It was delicious and our server was extremely helpful in picking out tasty vegan options. For an appetizer, I ordered Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps. The lettuce was perfectly crisp and the flavor of the tofu rocked. For an entree I picked the Vegetarian Ma Po Tofu. Again, wonderful flavor, a little heat and perfectly steamed broccoli. I asked if they had anything vegan to add as dessert to the meal, but the answer was no! So I decided to add on a few sides: spinach stir fried with garlic and spicy green beans. The price was reasonable and we will definitely (eventually!) go back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Girlfriends, Shopping and Chocolate!

In terms of things I love to do, if vegan cooking were number one, shopping for second-hand clothing would be number 2. There are such great stores in Eugene that sell and buy...if you sell them clothes they either give you a small percentage of the value or, better yet, give you a larger percentage of store credit! I had the fortune today of eating lunch at the super fabulous, vegan friendly Laughing Planet Cafe. Next door is a cute, used clothing store that my friend Meredith and I browsed through after lunch. I found a few shirts. Then, the day just got better and better because my friend Jesse and I went to Moose and Squirrel where I found jeans, a skirt, and two shirts! As if it couldn't get any better, Jesse and I ended our day together at World Market where I found vegan CHOCOLATE!!!! Green and Black's Organic Dark Chocolate Ginger bar. Delicious! I nibbled on it in the car driving home, then put it in the freezer for later. Mmmm frozen chocolate.
And in closing, tonight John and I are going to bike over to PF Chang's for dinner. No cooking for me! It's a scorcher! I have not eaten their before. We like to stay clear of chain restaurants, but I hear they are very vegan accommodating and I have a gift certificate from a student. I will post my meal soon, if it is wonderful!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Antipasto Polenta and Baked Spaghetti




John gets up earlier than I do, gets coffee ready, and does his morning thing while I get my much needed beauty rest. Unfortunately, this morning, he woke me up to bad news. Someone had broken our drivers side back car window in an effort to steal a bag we had on the backseat. To their disappointment, it contained our disks for playing disk golf. Thankfully, they then threw the bag down in our driveway and left.
I was very angry and in an effort to manage my anger, I roasted some red peppers. While doing this, John contacted the insurance company and found out we are 100% covered and will not receive a rate hike as a result of the claim. Although still frustrated and annoyed, I set out to make something delicious out of my roasted red peppers. I settled on Antipasto Polenta. I started with a recipe, stuck to the procedures but strayed from the ingredients pretty quickly. Here are the ingredients I used instead:
4 cups Water
1 cup Polenta
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons Sun-Dried Tomatoes, (from a jar, including the oil)
2 Red Bell Peppers, roasted
4 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 cup ripped spinach
Using sun dried tomatoes from a jar, oil included, gives a great start for sautéing the garlic and onion. Add all three to a frying pan and cook until onions are translucent. Add the spinach and cook for about 5 minutes longer.

I prepared the polenta and continued the recipe as suggested. I loved the flavor, but it was difficult and time consuming to fry. The pieces kept falling apart and by the time we were able to flip them, they were a little over cooked. Not sure what I would do differently next time, but think it might have something to do with the oil from the sun dried tomatoes.

The baked spaghetti is a hodge-podge of leftover ingredients. I used whole wheat spaghetti from Garden Time Organics and a tomato sauce that consisted of a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato puree, thyme, oregano, and basil (all dried) salt and pepper, and a little baking soda to neutralize the acidity. The "meat" is Yves Meatless Ground cooked with a white onion and a few garlic cloves, then added to the tomato sauce and cooked for about 20 minutes. After layering the pasta and "meat" sauce, I shredded some leftover vegan mozzarella on top, baked for 20 minutes at 350 and sprinkled with some fresh parsley from my herb garden!
We loved the baked spaghetti. The Antipasto Polenta probably won't get a repeat due to its difficulty, messiness, but not due to the delicious flavor!

Herb Garden





Today was a gorgeous day outside and after making herb scones for breakfast, I had fresh herbs on my mind. I passed up an opportunity to go disk golfing with John and a friend, but we just played yesterday and I knew a bike ride was in store because John needed the car (we only have one car, so we share:-) I rode to Down to Earth because I assumed they would have a great selection. They are a friendly, local, home and garden shop. I am not sure why, but the selection seemed limited. I am going to check out the Farmer's Market on Tuesday for more, but was able to get a fantastic start for my herb garden today! As pictured, the hanging pot has Cilantro and next to it in the smaller pot are Chives! On my super cute, orange plant stand (yard sale!!!)is Parsley. And in the big pot is my all time favorite herb, Basil. The pot with just dirt is going to be Mint. It is the only herb I am starting from seed. The pot with the Basil is called an Eco Forms Grower pot. It is a "viable, all-natural alternative to plastic. Earth-friendly, made of renewable grain husks and natural binding agents and totally biodegradable." I was sold!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Breakfast Scramble and Herb Scones


I make many tofu scrambles, too many to add to the blog! But the one I made today was so deliciously blog worthy! I started by heating olive oil and adding 4 diced garlic cloves and a diced piece of ginger (I estimate it was about 2 inches in length). Next, in went a chopped onion, about a dozen chopped baby 'bello mushrooms, half a carrot (I washed it and then used the veggie peeler directly over the pan, to get very thin strips of carrot). Separately, I made scrambled tofu and sautéed some Tofurky Italian Sausage. When they were ready, I added them to the veggies. When we were about 10 minutes from eating, I added a few ripped leaves of spinach and a drizzle of Braggs Liquid Amino Acids and left it on a warm stove setting. On the side are Herb Scones. I did not have self-rising flour but found that you can add 1 1/2 teaspoons of Baking Powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt to regular flour and it serves the same purpose (I used Spelt). The measurements in the recipe needed some conversions; so here is my interpretation for a few: 1 1/8 cup flour, 1/4 cup Earth Balance Butter, approximately 1/2 cup Almond Milk. They did not rise as much as I thought they would but the flavor reminded me of smoked cheese! I will make these again because of how easy and satisfying they are.

Soul Food Feast


This idea was swiped from a blog that I get a lot of inspiration from. I have noticed that she isn't updating much lately, but I like to look through her past recipes for ideas. Anyway, it was the fourth of July a few days ago, and we didn't have plans until much later in the day. Eugene is fortunate this year to have the Track and Field Olympic trials going on at Hayward Field. We had planned to bike down and watch the 5000m run because Lauren, the wife of a guy in John's program, was competing. She did really well, although she did not qualify for the Olympics.
I really wanted to grill something but that would be tough considering we don't have a grill. We were offered one a few weeks ago but John turned it down. I am still a tad bitter! To compensate, I decided to take on a massive day of cooking Soul Food. I originally thought to invite a few people over because I knew we would have a lot of food but by the time I worked it out in my head, it was too late, people already had dinner plans. More leftovers for us.
The main course consisted of Zucchini Patties, Spicy Black Eyed Peas, Collard Greens, and Corn Bread. For dessert, Peach Cobbler and Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss.
The Zucchini Patties were very easily veganized. I used Spelt flour (instead of all-purpose), vegan Sesame Parmesan Cheese, Orgran No-Egg, Nasoya (instead of mayo), and Earth Balance (instead of butter). The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of zucchini; I used three medium (easily "shredded" in the food processor). I also added 1/4 cup of frozen corn (copied from Lauren!) Delicious. Next time, I will cook them on lower heat for a little bit longer. The outsides of mine got crispy, which was a GREAT thing, but the insides were still very soft.
I followed the recipe for the Spicy Black Eyed Peas almost exactly. I did mistakenly use a can of crushed tomatoes instead of whole. The two cans were sitting side by side on the counter, I grabbed, opened, and poured, all before I realized it was the wrong can! Instead of having chunks of tomatoes along with the black eyed peas, mine was covered in tomatoes sauce. Still tasted great! I resisted the recommendations to add more spices; I am not a fan of too much heat! But next time, I will work up to a spicier flavor.
Now, I did not search for a recipe for Collard Greens. I cook greens all the time, kale, spinach, mustard greens, etc. I de-veined the leaves, washed, ripped into appropriate pieces. Heated olive oil and garlic and in they went! The only problem is that Collard Greens need to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours!! I saved them for last because, as with the other greens I make, I assumed they would take less than 10 minutes. In summary, if you ever decided to make them with a meal, start them first! We ended up eating them, but they were definitely not as soft as they should be. AMAZING flavor though!
I am not a huge fan of corn bread, but didn't see the meal being complete without it. The recipe is in the comments section of this blog entry. BEST cornbread I have ever eaten...and that says a lot! The only change I made was substituting Safflower oil for the canola and Almond Milk for the soy.
And, to wrap the feast up, Peach Cobbler. I will make this recipe again and again with peaches, and blueberries, and apples, and who knows what else! Here are the adjustments I made to this fantastic recipe: 1 TB arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, 1/2 cup Almond Milk instead of soy, and for the shortening, I used Earth Balance Natural Shortening sticks. We added Vanilla Island Coconut Bliss to top it off.
I won't have the ambition to make this meal again for a while, but am happy I had initial success cooking vegan Soul Food!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Chilaquiles




John asked for Chilaquiles for breakfast today. I Googled a few recipes to see if it was possible, because of a) my skill level and b) the ingredients in our fridge. It did take a run to the grocery store, but I started the tofu scramble and John walked to my least favorite grocery store, Safeway. As it turns out, they were easy but I never did find a recipe that I liked! Either it didn't include the ingredients that I wanted or it had funky instructions. So, I pretty much made this up from memory of John ordering Chilaquiles at Morning Glory last time we ate there. They were delicious and we have leftovers for tomorrow!
I started by preparing scrambled tofu. This is the best recipe ever! I add Turmeric to mine to make it yellow and it looks exactly like scrambled eggs! While the tofu is cooking, in a large sauté pan, add a splash of olive oil and cook 1 large, roughly chopped onion. When translucent, add one 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes, 1 can rinsed black beans, and 1 can mild green chilies diced. Mix well, add 1 1/2 cups veggie stock, and lots of salt and pepper. This will take a while to cook down so, in the mean time, thinly slice 5 corn tortillas, spread them out on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees, until crisp. When the tomato mixture has cooked down, and is only slightly soupy (leave some liquid in because you want the tortillas to be able to absorb some of the liquid without making the mixture dry) add the crisp tortilla strips and mix together. Add the tofu scramble and a tablespoon dried cilantro. The tortillas are supposed to get soft and moist, not stay crispy. When it looks like the right consistency and everything is soft, pour a cup, or so, of salsa on top and sprinkle with a vegan cheese of choice. Bake at 300 for about 8 minutes, or until the cheese is melty (or at least as melty as vegan cheese ever gets!)
I used Frontera Salsa. John did not read the label when buying it, but it has "spices" as an ingredient. I have learned to never trust such a general ingredient....so we called them. Turns out, all their salsas are vegan!
I added Ezekiel English Muffins to the side and, of course, coffee!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

And the most common question is.....

"How do you know you are getting enough protein?" I feel most comfortable turning the question around and asking, "How do you know you are getting enough protein?" I scrutinize over my food choices, obsessing over each nutrition label before adding it to my cart, Googling every unknown ingredient. So, while looking through my newest addition of Cooking Light (I love this magazine. It is definitely not vegan, but many recipes can be made with vegan ingredients, or with substitutions). I found a "Daily Nutrition Guide" and thought it would be interesting to compare my daily stats with their suggestions.

I also have been re-reading Becoming Vegan to refresh myself so that I can more thoroughly explain my choices to those curious. One of the most powerful statements in the books is as follows:
"In fact, the amino acids in all animal protein are derived from plants, whether they originated from a cow that ate beans and grain, or a fish that ate a smaller fish that ate seaweed."
A few other stats from the book that impacted me: 1 cup of firm tofu = 40 grams of protein. (for comparison) 2 oz ground beef = 10.6 grams. 2 oz. chicken, roasted = 15.3 grams. 2 oz. salmon baked/broiled = 15.5 grams. 1 medium egg = 5.5 grams. 1/2 cup 2% milk = 4 grams. It is a great read for anyone, vegan or not. It contains many charts that give dietary stats on all foods.

Okay, so here is what I ate today and the closest nutritional information I could get! In parenthesis are the recommended amounts from the Cooking Light Chart, for comparison.

Breakfast (B): Good Friends cereal, Almond Milk, coffee, Silk Creamer.
Lunch (L): leftover Aloo Gobi
Dinner(D): Seitan and Mushroom Stroganoff w/Fancy Ribbons, Garlic sautéed Spinach.
Snacks(S): Cutie Vanilla Icecream sandwich, Apple Pie Lara Bar, almonds, Newman's Hint-O-Mint Sandwich Cookies.

Calories: B=240 L=240 D=457 S=570 TOTAL= 1507 (2000)
Protein: B=6g L=8g D=34.5g S=16g TOTAL= 64.5g (50g)
Fat: B=5.5g L=8g D=7.5 S=39g TOTAL= 60g (65g or less)
Saturated Fat: B=0 L=0.5g D=1 S=6g TOTAL= 7.5 g (20g or less)
Carbohydrates: B=45g L=38g D=59.5g S=85g TOTAL= 227.5g (304g)
Fiber: B=13g L=10g D=6g S=9g TOTAL= 38g (25g to 35g)
Cholesterol: B=0 L=0 D=0 S=0 TOTAL= 0 (300mg or less)
Iron: B=3 L=4 D=8 S=4 TOTAL= 19mg (18mg)
Sodium: B=320mg L=90mg D=1505 S=296mg TOTAL= 2211mg (2300mg or less)
Calcium: B=200 L=32 D=250 S=245 TOTAL= 727mg (1000mg)


So now, my question for you is.......Are YOU getting enough protein!?!??!

Aloo Gobi


One of the most challenging parts of being vegan is traveling. I worry constantly that I won't be able to find something to eat. I have been spoiled in Eugene, where almost every restaurant has at least something vegan, if not everything vegan! But that is definitely not the case everywhere. While traveling around Oregon with John's parents, I asked a waitress what could be prepared without dairy or meat. Her reply was a Salmon Caesar Salad....interesting. So I have learned a few "almost always guaranteed to have something I can eat" options. Thai restaurants generally can make things vegan by leaving out the fish sauce in many of their dishes. And, my personal favorite, Indian food! I order Aloo Gobi almost every time, so when I found this recipe I had to try it. John is not a huge fan of Aloo Gobi from a restaurant but said, "This really has the flavor I want." I also enjoyed it!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Chicken-Less Fettuccine Alfredo w/ Broccoli





















I have made this Alfredo sauce before; it is always a hit. This time, I added Chicken-Less Strips from Trader Joes. I sautéed the strips in olive oil and garlic. I used to really love the brand Quorn (pronounced corn). They make great chicken substitutes. But when I became vegan, I had to say goodbye; all Quorn products contain egg whites. I was sad until I found the Trader Joes brand. Great in all recipes that call for chicken. The noodles are also from Trader Joes (I have been shopping there more often lately, as you can see!) They boil very quickly and have a hearty, whole grain flavor. You can actually taste the grains and for me that is a good thing. Pastas with enriched flour make me feel weighed down. The dish is topped with steamed broccoli. All in all, it took about 20 minutes to prepare!

My version of Yumm Bowls


John and I used to order Original Yumm Bowls from Cafe Yumm at least weekly. We have moved, and granted, we are only a few blocks further west; I thought it might be nice to try to make them at home. The Yumm Sauce is vegan, delicious, and available for purchase. I did not have it on hand last night though, so I used Annie's Goddess Dressing. Close, but not exactly the same. But seriously, I have not felt like cooking lately, with my kitchen being a disaster of boxes and pots and pans all over the floor. Not to mention it has a total of 4, yes FOUR, single cabinets. Oops, this is Courtney's Vegan Journal, not Courtney's Venting Journal!

This meal was nutritious, super fast, and sent John back for seconds. Boil 2 cups of water, add one cup of brown rice. Fully cook. Add one can of rinsed black beans, stir in 1/2 cup Annie's Goddess Dressing and heat. Remove from heat. Top with salsa and avocados. I did not have it on hand, but next time will use fresh cilantro to sprinkle on top. (As posted earlier, a goal for the summer is to have a fresh herb garden. To update the status, I have lots of cute pots, a really cute plant stand found while yard-saling, a few packets of seeds...but no herbs yet :-)

"I Hate Moving" Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies


These brownies are for a couple of reasons:
1. I am tired of unpacking, so instead, I will bake.
2. It is hot as Hades, so turning the oven on might actually cool it off in here.
3. Increase the blood sugar rate, increase productivity. (spoken like a true MBA's girlfriend)
I followed the same recipe as the previous Cream Cheese Brownies (that apparently, per John, looked like a large steak in the picture?...anyway.) Instead of the cream cheese bit, I toasted a cup of hazelnuts and tossed half in the mixture and half on top. I caught John eating them today while talking on the phone!