New plan for recipes

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I draw what I eat (usually), and write some commentary about it and the recipes. However, that makes it really hard to separate the recipes out. So, the plan is to reorganize! In the meantime it is a muddle… I made Mujadara yesterday for the first time. I don’t make as many Middle Eastern recipes. This recipe was simple enough, but it takes a full hour and a half to make. You pre-cook lentils, and then take time to really caramelize the onions, and the rice cooks in that mixture afterwards.

It turned out well- my caveats: probably used the wrong lentils. Ours were green, not brown. I felt like it used a lot of oil. I think I would cut that back from 1/4 cup. That was the only thing that wasn’t very healthy about the dish. I skipped the crispy onion part since I already used 2 onions, which is 2 onions too many for one of the kids.

Lastly, I finally got the vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream after much hype about it. I had visited our local B&J shop at least twice, and they didn’t have it, kept checking Fred Meyers with no luck. Finally, I tried Target since I heard they had it. I hate going to Target because I end up spending too much money buying stuff I don’t need. I made this special trip to buy the ice cream (along with some kid clothes). It was very disappointing to see that they didn’t have it there.

In this case, I decided to ask the stock person (on the advice of another local vegan). He said it was actually in the back. I waited for probably around 15 minutes while he went into some deep freeze area and came back with 4 options. All of them cost $4.99, much more than their dairy counterparts. I got two of them to try out.

This ice cream is made with almond milk, and I really like the coffee caramel fudge one. Maybe it’s elusiveness added extra pleasure. After my daughter tried it she exclaimed, “that’s it, I am going vegan”.

benandjerrys


My Biggest Supporter

momatbeach

Sorry for the silence lately. There has actually been a lot happening, and much to write about.  There have been two big reasons for the silence.

One: I have a lot of work to do! For my design firm I have some great clients and am doing book illustrations, t-shirt designs, logos, a website and more.

Two: I just haven’t been really feeling like I have anyone reading this website.

Except… for my mother. And this post is for her.

My mom probably inspired me the most to be an artist. Since a young age, she has always given me opportunities and encouraged me. She frames my artwork, printed thank you notes that I drew, and enrolled me in art classes. She is a very creative person in her own right in so many ways: knitting, stamping, watercolor, gardening, and cooking.

She has been very supportive of my vegan lifestyle, even if she is not vegan herself. She enjoys trying new foods like tempeh, cashew cheese, and tofu and has given me some great recipes to try. She is queen of the kitchen gadgets and among other items, wanted a Vitamix before it was even on my radar. Now, it is my favorite and most-used kitchen appliance. Recently she got a spiralizer and has been making zoodles (zucchini noodles), and all sorts of interesting things. I am sure it is only a matter of time before I get one. We share recipes- successes and mistakes.

I am fortunate to have a very veg-friendly family in general. Our relatives have been great about making sure we have something to eat at all the gatherings, and choosing restaurants that have veg options too. When I visit my sister, she gets non-dairy milk and plans veg meals. Last Thanksgiving, my family even decided to have a turkey-less meal, which was so incredibly wonderful. I didn’t ask them to do this, but it was so appreciated. My mom substitutes out the chicken broth, and makes us meals.

My mom has always been encouraging of my endeavors, and I know she is my #1 supporter of everything, including this blog. It keeps me motivated to write, when I know people are reading it..

Thank you for being such a great mom, who accepts change, new adventures, and compassion. Love you!! Hope to try even more kitchen appliances and recipes with you for many more years (Instant Pot is next on my list, and cauliflower rice)!

Here is a vegan version of my mom’s delicious General Tso’s cauliflower recipe breaded in panko. It has been approved by my dad and picky kids alike.

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February 17: Back to work!

I had a great long weekend filled with good friends, food and a lot of wine. I am trying to catch up- but there is my actual work to do as well and catching up with family as well. Here is today’s food diary. I made some favorites: Lunchbox cookies (somehow only made one dozen!!) which lasted only one day, and Vegan shepherd’s pie made with mushrooms. The recipe is in the comments, but you the little video is so well-done and makes this look even easier than it is. It was once again so good that we decided not to bake it and just ate the whipped mashed potatoes with the delicious “gravy” filling on top. All of us had leftover vegan meatloaf from the Engine 2 Diet book.

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New favorite vegan cookie

cookies

My first favorite cookie has been de-throned! I’m in love with this new recipe.

Last night, looking through the internet for a different recipe to try, I was a little shocked by some of the amounts of oil. One recipe asked for 3/4 cup oil. My other recipe uses 1/2 cup coconut oil. I have been hearing mixed reviews on coconut oil lately, more about that later!

What attracted me to Fork’s Over Knives Lunchbox Chocolate Chip Cookies was two things. One, the recipe is by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, vegan cookbook goddess. Second, it uses almond butter and flax seeds to add more protein and Omega oils.

I was getting ready to haul out my trusty mixer but the recipe says, mix with a fork. And doesn’t ask for multiple bowls for wet and dry ingredients. Less cleaning adds even more bonus points.

Here is my own version of this recipe since I was missing a lot of specific ingredients. Like almond butter, oat flour and sorghum flour. Try mine, or go for the original!

What I really love about these cookies is they have texture. I am not into the cakey type cookies, and those flax seeds and oats make these a hearty cookie. Mine were pretty sticky, but otherwise worked great. I couldn’t stop eating the raw cookie dough. Which is one of the biggest perks of making vegan cookies: no raw eggs.

My husband wasn’t a fan of my photo, but he definitely liked the taste. And it passes picky girl’s criteria which is a very, very high certification.

Amy’s Lunchbox Cookies

Makes 24 cookies, ready in 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ⅓ cup almond butter (I used peanut butter)
  • ½ cup dry sweetener (I used brown sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups oat flour (I ground up oats in Vitamix- I think it is the same thing?)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sorghum flour, or whole wheat pastry flour (flour)
  • ½ cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips (dark chocolate chips)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats.

2. In a large bowl, use a strong fork to beat together the applesauce, almond butter, dry sweetener, and flaxseeds. Once relatively smooth, mix in the vanilla.

3. Add in the oat flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well.

4. Add the sorghum flour and chocolate chips and mix well.

5. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets in about 1½-tablespoon scoops, about 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookies a bit, so that they resemble thick discs (they won’t spread much at all during baking).

6. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The longer you bake them, the crispier they will be.

7. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

 


Feb 3: Kind of random

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I don’t have much to say about today’s meals. We are running out of vegetables, so I roasted what we had: small potatoes and sweet potatoes with some olive oil and sea salt for lunch. It was really tasty though! That rounded bread is from Grand Central bakery– Como bread… and I could live on that alone. I take great pride in scrounging together meals when I have basically nothing in the fridge. It is like a “Chopped” cooking challenge when they get those mystery boxes with odd ingredients. I almost had enough coconut milk to make another curry but not quite. Kids had noodles with daiya cheese and mixed veg, along with some Quorn “chicken” nuggets for protein. The Quorn is fungi, not soy-based, and the cheese is potato-based. Sadly Quorn uses egg whites and milk, so they aren’t vegan.

On a completely different note, we have been putting stuff from our garage outside our house with a free sign and it gets carted away within an hour usually. It is amazing. Dusty old BBQ grill with bag of charcoal that got wet- gone. Tall cheap IKEA bookcase- gone. Top of an IKEA chair that could possibly be returned, but that would mean having to go to IKEA- gone! Definitely beats hauling it somewhere or haggling over $10 with some stranger from Craigslist who conveniently forgot that you said CASH ONLY.

If you enjoy this veg blog, I would love to have you join the @eatlessmeat4all Facebook page!


February 2, 2016: Taco Tuesday and lots of fruit

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Day two of the food drawings, and nothing makes you more aware of what you are going to eat than knowing you have to draw it. To see it visually represented has impact, and I am working on a way to share the sketches if others want to make their own visual food diary.

I ate a lot today, and much of it was not that easy to draw- rice, quinoa, I will need to work on that! Also a lot of fruit today. My favorite is “apple” bananas. Not sure about their technical name, but I ate so many in Hawaii and love them. Found them at our local Asian grocery… last time we bought tiny bananas there we had a terrible fruit fly infestation! Hoping these won’t have that issue.

I have posted my egg recipe before. Other than that, I didn’t use any recipes today. For lunch, a simple bowl with things I had in the fridge: rice from last night, beans, spinach, salsa and roasted corn. So good! For dinner, we had tacos, which was similar to having a bowl but served in a shell without rice. I added avocado for the kids, and a friend brought us delicious quinoa with vegetables. Quinoa is a seed, not a grain, and very healthy.

Today someone commented on the amount of soy we eat (mostly me). I’m going to try to keep that more balanced. I can use rice milk in cereal for example. Almond milk is good, but we don’t buy it often since it is an extremely water-intensive product.

One other note, we have pastel-colored Fiesta ware which is why many of the mugs/plates/bowls look the way they do. Not great for photographing food!


February 1, 2016- New food sketches

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Although I enjoy the process of sketching, I am trying this new style. We have plans to expand the food idea so others can use it too.

Not only do I like to keep track of what I eat, it gives people unfamiliar with a plant-based diet an idea of what we eat. Also, I am doing a lot more illustration and art lately so this fits in well. Today I got out the paints and will be painting all my canvases (and in some cases re-painting).

For lunch today I had yesterday night’s soup, Lemony Cauliflower Carrot soup. It was not as good as I hoped (may be done with NY Times recipes), which was disappointing since I spent $7 on miso paste for this! Oh well, I will make use of it. It won’t be making it into the regular rotation, and Miss Picky wouldn’t eat it. Last night we had it with Roasted Portobello mushroom sandwiches, which were very good.

For an after-breakfast snack I had some of the avocado pudding. I liked this recipe okay, but didn’t have enough peanut butter to make that flavor come through. Next time I am going to try a recipe without banana. Everyone loved it except Ms. Picky who could detect the banana with her sensitive palette.

The only thing I actually made today was the Thai Red Curry with vegetables for dinner. I had the curry paste on hand, and used some green beans instead of yellow bell pepper. Everyone loved this, and I will make this one again for sure.

Lastly, some snack bars and chocolate samples we got from the Veg Fest Challenge.  And, tonight I wasn’t sure whether I wanted coffee or wine, strangely I can usually go either way.


Vegan Pizzas!

Is there anyone who doesn’t love pizza? With all the different crusts and toppings, there is something for everyone. However, one of the main components is usually cheese.

Vegans, lactose-intolerant, and those who just want a lower-fat option finally have some great options.

In Portland we are lucky enough to have a vegan option in many of our traditional pizza places. Most of them use a soy-based cheese. I saw a neighborhood place just added this delicious sounding combo: Arugula/Pumpkin Seed pesto, Meyer Lemon, and Cashew “Ricotta”.

Since we were having guests over, I wanted to make a pizza that was delicious enough to make the missing cheese portion irrelevant.

Last week, I ordered pizza from Hot Lips Pizza, who has three different options. One of them had a squash base with vegetables and hazelnuts. It was quite good, and I thought I could try to make that myself.

Apparently, I am not the only fan. Minimalist Baker is also located in Portland, and has her own recipe based on the Hot Lips Pizza.

Photo: Minimalist Baker
Photo: Minimalist Baker

Just to cover my bases and have two options, I also made a recipe from Forks over Knives that looked tasty to me! It uses creamed spinach and tofu as a base.

Photo: Forks over Knives
Photo: Forks over Knives

I tried making my pizzas with both store-bought Boboli crust, and a fresh pizza dough (purchased from the store). The fresh pizza dough was actually the much better option- only about $3.25 and locally made, it was much better and cheaper.

Both pizzas were pretty easy to make. The butternut one required roasting the squash first, and cooking some of the veg.

For our omnivore guests, the spinach pizza was actually the favorite option. The kids were not a fan of the butternut pizza. I’m going to try making some different options, maybe with a nut-based cheese, and experimenting with toppings on these pizzas. You’ll have to trust me… my pizzas looked exactly like these photos. (-;

 

 

 


Jan 12: Egg sandwich and roasted cauliflower

I made my own version an egg sandwich based on an egg benedict recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ Vegan Brunch cookbook.

Amy’s Egg-free Sandwich
1 pound firm tofu
1 tbsp Bragg’s amino (or soy sauce)
1/2 tsp mustard
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp salt (did not have black salt which would be preferable)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking

1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gently press some of the water out of the tofu. Lay the tofu on its narrow side and slice into three pieces lengthwise. So basically you will have three slices that are large, flat rectangles.

2. Marinate the tofu for about an hour or overnight

3. Preheat a cast-iron pan over medium heat, add a thin layer of olive oil (or margarine) and cook on each side till nicely browned, about 15 minutes.

For dinner, I made a whole roasted cauliflower and used this recipe. It smelled divine. I just didn’t care for the almond sauce which turned out way too garlicky. I might just roast a cauliflower another time, or try a different recipe.

JAN12


January 11: The Seitan O’ Greatness

Every once in a while I make seitan.  My husband likes the taste, and it sounds vaguely demonic. My favorite recipe is this one that is baked and tastes like a pepperoni log. So easy to make and packed with protein from vital wheat gluten and B12 from nutritional yeast. It is especially good in a sandwich with all the fixings!

I finished off the last of the Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Butter. It is pretty delicious, but I want to research the palm oil in it. I really try to avoid products with palm oil as it is present in so many products and is a major cause of deforestation. Earth Balance is a leader in having higher standards for responsible, sustainable palm oil. I hope so, because I would hate to give up their delicious butter spread!

JAN11