Sunday, February 28, 2016

Veggie Burgers!

Super simple today... The hubs is out of town on business as of this morning. This doesn't happen often, but when it does, I pull out the list of meals that I love and he does not love at all. Over the next couple of weeks, there will inevitably be pizza, pasta, burgers, mac & cheese and hot dogs. (I grew up in the middle of Ohio in the 80's - don't judge me).

My challenge for myself is to NOT buy the pre-packaged, cartoon character versions of all this stuff this time though. Instead, I'm going to make my own pizza dough and use better ingredients on it. I'm also going to try a new vegan mac and cheese recipe, with meatless sausage, I think. I'm getting to old and I need to treat my body better than ever before in order to train for this race properly this year, so I know that any healthier version I can find will be a big step in the right direction.

Tonight, I had my beloved cheeseburger and fries. But I did veggie burgers, soy "cheese," and sweet potato fries. This meal with no animal product was easy and delicious tonight! I need to somehow convince the hubs that a veggie patty isn't scary, and can taste good. I just need to make sure I don't burn the stupid patties next time...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cauliflower "Cream" Sauce Pasta

I'll admit that I gave up on my resolution last week. I was sick and tired of making crappy meals that we didn't really like, and we didn't really want to eat. So last week, I didn't attempt to make a vegan dish. Instead, we went out and celebrated Valentine's Day with a beer and a cheeseburger. Epic fail for someone trying to embrace any kind of vegan lifestyle...

I had four days worth of undesirable, mushy vegan enchiladas in the fridge, and I was taking them to work with me for lunches last week. On the final day of trying to get rid of this stuff, I found myself in the kitchen at work with a vegetarian, a gluten-free/dairy-free health nut and a true, honest-to-god vegan. As I sat there, complaining about my poor vegan cooking skills, they all chimed in with some words of wisdom, and advice on cookbooks, restaurants, grocery stores and products to try. I'd already read some reviews on a couple of the cookbooks, and after their pep talk, I decided to buy, "Thug Kitchen." I'd heard about this book in several circles already, and even had it sitting in my Amazon shopping cart, ready to buy. For some reason, I just hadn't had the courage to pull the trigger on it yet.

Yesterday, I picked out two new recipes from this book and I made Carrot Cake Cookies to eat for dessert after our Cauliflower "Cream" Pasta Sauce over Veggie Noodles. I really couldn't have been happier. The use of our ridiculously powerful new blender and a mix of better spices and flavors really turned out some good dishes. I did spend a LONG time shredding carrots as small as possible so that the hubs would actually eat the cookies, but it all turned out delicious.

Today, I am simmering a two-potato vindaloo on the stove, and it already smells amazing. I thought it would be good to spice things up for lunch this week, to make up for last week...

Sunday, February 7, 2016


I have to admit that I've never been excited for a Suberbowl Game, ever. I've never had a team that I cared enough about in the NFL to really draw me into the hype. Honestly, Superbowl Sunday has always been more about party food, beer and commercials.

But living in Denver these last few years has produced some love for the Broncos, and I'm pretty excited to watch them in the big game today!! Although I'll still be keeping a close eye on the commercials today, too... So far, there are already a couple good ones.  :)


Vegan Enchiladas with Cashew Cheese Sauce

I keep hearing all this hype about cashew cheese sauces to be used as vegan substitutes for all kinds of dishes. So we decided to pull up an easy, quick version of a cashew cheese "queso," and once again we were really surprised by how good it was! We were missing what I think was probably a key ingredient, Nutritional Yeast...  So I feel sure that it wasn't even as good as it was supposed to have been, if that had been properly added. We will definitely get some for next time we try this recipe though, it was a keeper.

What could go better with a cashew vegan "queso" than some bean and veggie enchiladas? We thought this would be an easy winner, but the dish turned out having NO texture at all. It made it very difficult to eat more than one small enchilada at a time, so we ended our evening with a couple bowls of cereal as well. Not exactly a winner this week, even though one of the components was awesome!

Vegan Pad Thai

With a successful trip to Natural Grocers, the hubs and I found a package of vegan breaded "shrimp" that we thought would go pretty good into a Pad Thai. And we were beyond pleasantly surprised with how this meal turned out. The shrimp substitute was tasty, and had texture that we're usually looking for in these vegan dishes. This is definitely something we'd make again!

Vegan Lasagna

About 5 years ago, I read the "Skinny Bitch" books, and purchased a cook book to go along with it. Their big idea is that eating animal product is just not good for your body, skin, hair, health, etc, etc, etc. And it was this book that opened my eyes to how bad cow's milk is for us adults to be drinking, and from that time, we have always been on soy, almond or coconut milk.

A couple weeks ago, I pulled out their cook book for some new vegan ideas, and came across their "East Coast Lasagna." It was made with veggie crumbles and a substitute for ricotta cheese that was made with tofu. The idea of this was a pretty good one, but it was (once again) lacking in flavor. It would have been better if we'd gotten into the spice cabinet a little more, and one day we'll actually learn this lesson...

Over-all not too bad, but not the best. I'm starting to notice a trend here though...

Steaks in the New Cast Iron Skillet

Ok, so I understand that we're on the path to learn about vegan foods, but I grew up in the mid-west. My grandparents owned cows for the slaughter, and my parents had a freezer full of different cuts of beef in our basement. I probably ate amazing beef at least once a week as I was growing up, and although this isn't an excuse, I really do still have cravings for the stuff.

For Christmas this year, we were gifted a brand new cast iron skillet, but hadn't used it yet. So a couple weekends ago, I decided to break out the new toy and cook bacon wrapped filets, lobster tails and perfect baked potatoes. We felt like we were spoiling ourselves a little bit, but the meal was amazing and I was fairly stunned by the caliber of food we could come up with at home!

I also tried to create a bernaise sauce from scratch, but was unsuccessful. It ended up being more like a tarragon seasoned melted butter, but it still tasted great and put that cherry on top of the meal.