Monthly Archives: December 2008

Psst! Hey you!

I haven’t been around in a while, I know, but I’ll be back soon with a great holiday post and some yummy recipes and pictures to go along with them. Hang in there!!

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Baby, it’s cold outside. Therefore, I’m making salads.

003Holy mother of god(zilla), it got cold this week in Illinois. Not only are we looking into ousting our governor, but it snowed like crazy. On Sunday night I told my kids, “Hey it’s like 50 degrees so you guys can take the bus tomorrow.” When I woke up, it was about 8 below so I ended up driving them to school.

I got a little bummed, but not much. You see, I like winter and I love snow. I love to wear extra clothes and I love to bundle up in cute scarves. I like Christmastime also, in spite of being a confirmed atheist. Why? I just like that the scenery changes for a few months. Suddenly, people have beautiful colored lights on their rooftops and reindeer in their front yards. I think the music sucks hard but other than that, I can totally dig on some Christmas.

So, here I was, cold and wondering what I could make to eat. All this summery stuff was on sale at Trader Joe’s for some reason and I bought it all. Then, I remembered a delicious cucumber soup that I had last week at a friend’s house and so I decided to go with summery food, in honor of winter.  I made that cucumber soup, an avocado salad, and a wonderful corn edamame salad as a side dish.

Cucumber soup:

two large seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

one pineapple, peeled and cored, then cut up

one jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup of fresh ginger, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Throw it all in a blenderor food processor. Blend until thoroughly chopped. Done. You can serve this to your raw/vegan friends and they’ll freaking love it like I did.

Corn edamame salad (adapted from Veganomicon p. 82):

One bag frozen corn, cooked then chilled

One to two cups cooked and chilled edamame (depending on how much you want in your salad. I love the stuff so I used two cups)

3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

Place edamame, corn and sesame seeds in large bowl. In smaller bowl, whisk soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. Mix in with corn mixture. Done!

Avocado salad:

2 avocados, chopped

1 cup candied pecans (I candied mine with brown sugar and Earth Balance.)

1 stalk celery, diced

1 cup dried cranberries

2 apples, peeled and diced (I used one granny smith and one gala)

one or two green onions, chopped

small bunch of mint, if you want

Place your avocado and apple in a small bowl with about 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. This will keep them from browning too much in one day, but by the next day, your avocados will probably still be brown. Whatever. Anyways, when your done with that, place the avocado and apples in a bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix carefully so you don’t mush up your avocados.

Serve a nice large spoonful on top of a small bed of spring mix salad or just plain old romaine hearts if you want, then drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Not too much dressing, the salad is already pretty sugary.

I’ll leave you with this picture of my kids pretending to enjoy a gift of pretzels they recieved from my husband’s crazy mother. Someday, I’ll write about four or five pages of the craziness of this woman,  just so you can read and understand why I constantly make fun of her.

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Cashew and Chestnut “Roast”

0021Mmmmm….

Cashew and chestnut roast? Really??

Heck yes, says I.

This was somewhat of a pain in the ass to make but you know what? It was well worth it. I just had to do a whole lot of pureeing before I could assemble the damn loaf, and my two-year-old is scared to death of anything that makes a loud obnoxious noise so… you know… there was lot of pausing to comfort and console.

I took this recipe from The Compassionate Cook and made it my own, which is usually what I do with everything I cook because so many recipes have onions in them and I hate onions, dammit. Well, mostly I hate onions. I can eat Vidalia and Cipollinis if they’re cooked until they’re mush but that’s about it. Please enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

2 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced (or more, if you’re me)

1 tsp dried, crushed rosemary

1 tsp dried thyme

1 1/4 cup ground cashews

1 cup carrot puree (you know, boil til soft, then puree. Or mash. That would work also.)

3/4 cup bread crumbs (Trader Joe’s has organic bread crumbs! I found that out last night! Woot! However, if ya wanna go gluten free, make your own bread crumbs with a couple of dried up old heels from a loaf of gluten-free bread)

3/4 cup vegetable stock or broth

3 tbsp whole wheat flour (again, if you’re a gluten-free gal or guy, use chickpea flour here)

4 tbsp water

1 cup chestnut puree (Trader Joe’s has these already steamed and peeled! Again, woot!)

1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat the oil in a fry pan, then toss in your garlic. Only cook for about 2 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant, otherwise it will burn and become bitter. While the garlic is cooking, place into a large bowl the cashews, carrots, bread crumbs, half of the salt, and veggie broth. Mix well, then add in the garlic and olive oil.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the flour with the water until a smooth paste forms. Use a little more water if necessary. Add to the cashew mixture. Mix well.

Mix the other half of the salt with the chestnut puree.

Spoon half the cashew mixture in the bottom of your loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Make what looks like a shallow grave. Spoon the chestnut mixture into the shallow grave, being careful the chestnuts do not touch the sides of your pan. Place the rest of the cashew mixture on top and press down lightly so you can’t see the chestnut stuff. You want this to look like a nice uniform loaf. (Another name for this roast would be Chestnut Surprise.)  Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven and whether you are using a glass or metal pan. You’re not an idiot, right? Just make sure it’s brown on top, the let it cool for about 15 minutes.

**Two side notes: 1) I’ve actually made this without the chestnut stuff inside back in the day when I couldn’t find chestnuts to save my life. You basically skip the layering step, so instead of a surprise inside, you get nothing. Plus, the loaf is a tad bit smaller but so what, really. Still delicious!  2) If you want to, you can chop one medium-sized onion,  toss it in the oil until soft, THEN add the garlic and proceed.

While it’s cooling, make this yummy gravy! You will need:

2 cups of vegetable stock or broth

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp thyme

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup of water

In a sauce pan, whisk together first 6 ingredients over high heat. When it begins to boil, pour in starch/ water mixture. Let come back to a boil, then boil for about one minute, or until thickened. Done!

I served mine with mashed potatoes and corn. It looks like a meatloaf so you can even make sandwiches the next day for lunch if you want to.

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Holiday Food Round-up

005Hello to all! Thanks for sticking around in spite of my not updating nearly as often as I should. This is some of what I made for my t-day(we don’t dare call it Thanksgiving at my house, as no one is thankful for a goddam thing).

Apple Sausage Cranberry Stuffing (Vegan)

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup apple cider

1/2 cup margarine

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 bag Pepperidge Farm seasoned bread crumbs, not cubes (while the crumbs ARE vegan, they still have high fructose corn syrup and something or other hydrogenated, so feel free to make a pound of bread crumbs out of your own uber healthy bread and add your own seasonings. I for one don’t think it’s going to kill me to eat that stuff every so often.)

1 package Gimme Lean ground sausage style

olive oil for sauteeing

1 apple, peeled, cored, chopped

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried sage

1 1/2 cups veggie broth

salt and pepper to taste, of course

First up- place the cranberries in 1/4 cup of the apple cider to soak for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Next, sautee the onions along with the ‘sausage’ and some olive oil. Maybe a couple tablespoons. Yeah, that sounds good. Be sure to crumble the heck out of the ‘sausage’ because it has a tendency to stick together into one fine lumpy mess. The onions should be nice and soft and the ‘meat’ should have some brown parts, this may take up to fifteen minutes. In a very large bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the sausage/onion mixture. Add apples, cranberries and their liquid, thyme, and sage. Salt and pepper to taste.

In a small sauce pan, add margarine,1 1/2 cups broth, remaining 1/4 cup cider and heat until margarine is melted. Pour into stuffing mixture and combine thoroughly.(If your stuffing seems a bit dry at this point, drizzle more broth over the top until it’s as moist as you like it.)

Place in casserole dish, put in 350 oven for about 30 minutes, covered with foil. If you like it browned, leave off the foil. Yay you! You just made wonderfully sweet AND savory stuffing that even your meat eaters won’t complain about. If they do, they can go to McDonald’s. Who gives a damn.

Best Mashed Potatoes Ever:

I don’t have a picture of the best mashed potatoes ever, but here’s the general gist: You boil five pounds of peeled and chopped yukon gold potatoes until they are soft. Mash them up. They don’t have to be too mashed since you’re going to take your hand-held mixer and whip them in a minute.

While your potatoes are boiling, put in a fry pan about 1/4 cup olive oil and as many minced up cloves of garlic as you want. I use about five or six, depending on size. We love garlic in my house, so there you go. Let the garlic become a little softened, but not too brown or it will taste bitter and gross.

Okay, now grab your mixer. Add about one cup of veggie broth to the potatoes and  mix well. Throw in a little margarine for extra creaminess. Now add in the olive oil and garlic. Mix well. Heaven!!

031 Here we have my favorite sweet potatoes with a candied pecan crust. I baked about 12 medium sized sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. I let them cool, then scooped out the guts and put them into a large bowl. I mixed in 1/4 cup margarine plus 1/4 cup brown sugar. I used my hand-held mixer again for a nice smooth texture. I spread them smoothly into a casserole dish. Then I threw a cup of pecan pieces into a fry pan with 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup margarine. I mixed it well, then let the whole mixture come to a boil. I let it boil for about a minute. Then I spread it out over the top of the sweet potatoes. It became a hard shell within minutes. Throw it in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes.

It was really awesome and I’m not just saying that because I made It and I think every thing I make is amazing. Just look at it. Exactly.

On a more personal note, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Natalie, who is going through a rough patch with her two-year-old. Girl, I am there.  Here’s how my day usually goes: I get Olivia out of her crib while she screams for whatever toy or book (or binky) she couldn’t carry in her arms to the changing table because her arms are already full of the toys  and books she demanded to have in the crib with her last night. She cries while I change her into regular clothes. She cries to sit on my lap for her first two hours while I replay the same dvr shows over and over again. She refuses breakfast of any kind. She whines about wanting a snack, even though she has not eaten breakfast.The second I sit down to check my email, she’s right at my side making this sound-’ uh uh uh’ denoting her trying to get into my lap. I tell her no. She cries. Everything in our house has to be put on top of the refrigerator or locked in a bedroom because she has figured out how to push a chair against the counters to get what she wants. She grabs for everything and anything. All of it gets pulled onto the floor. Every five minutes I hear “mommy?”  I am always telling her no about everything and she is always crying about it. She’s already destroyed about ten of my tree ornaments. I’m not sure why I bothered with a tree. You can guess how the rest of the day goes, right? I am at my wits end.

If anyone has ever questioned their very wise decision to not have children, please come to my house. I dare you. Teenagers AND a toddler?? And  ALL girls?? Oh, snap. You’ll leave here absolutely hating children of all ages. Here’s a picture of what happens in my house when you decide for the first time in months to go to the bathroom alone and you take too long.

002I got a package in the mail. I took out the contents of the box and placed the box on my table thinking it was too large for her to try and grab and take down. Mistake number one.

This took forever to clean up because they were all under my couch and stuff.

Anyways, there you go. Don’t have kids unless you want this mess every day.

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