Friday, October 30, 2009

Michael Scofield Cheesecake

Ryan and I reached a pivotal milestone in our lives...

We finished Prison Break.

It has been with us almost every night for many months...and I'm sad to let it go. We even waited about a week after we finished the four seasons to watch the 2 hour movie, The Final Break. I couldn't bring myself to watch it because 1) I was so emotionally exhausted after the finale, and 2) I knew as soon as we watched it, that would be it. I didn't think I would cry during the movie because I had cried enough during the finale, and because I already knew months ago what was going to happen. (I can't help it; I always look at spoiler sites.) Well...I was choking sobbing. I kept apologizing to Ryan because I was crying so loud. I was gasping for breath I was crying so hard. Good grief. Obviously, I needed for this to end so I can move on with my life.

Our movie watching party in bed was complete with a homemade cheesecake.

In food processor, I crumbled Barbara's Bakery Snackimals oatmeal animal cookies and Health Valley graham crackers. I added enough melted Earth Balance and agave nectar to press the crust into the springform pan. (I love springform pans. They're one of my favorite kitchen-y things.) This made a really easy, great crust.

Beat together 2 8 oz. packages of vegan cream cheese, 2 cups of sour cream, and 1 cup organic sugar. Add 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 TBS of egg replacer, and 1/2 cup water and continue mixing until creamy. Pour into sprayed pan. Cook at 300 degrees for about an hour and a half. Let it sit in fridge all day or overnight.

For sauce, I mixed fresh chopped strawberries, strawberry fruit spread, and a little organic sugar in a pan and let it sit. I poured it on the cheesecake and let it sit in the fridge long before I removed it from the pan.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pasta, Four Ways

Isn't it pretty and bright? And it was delicious, too.

The top spaghetti was mixed with basil walnut pesto and peas. The next one was a nutritional yeast and nut based cheese sauce. The next one was just marinara with seitan, olives, and tomatoes. Finally, the last one just had olive oil and spices with broccoli. I added strips of stir-fried squash, bell peppers, and more broccoli to separate the different kinds.

Plus, Dash is much more willing to eat his veggies if they are "on the side."

This is one of my favorite places to look at beautiful dishes of food.
They're always so well presented and photographed. I wish I could LIVE in their house.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Seen and Heard Lately

Seen, Heard, and Eaten Lately

My nephew Pierson couldn't have drawn on a more perfect black bean goatee.
The kid loves beans.

my niece, Winnie...look at that little face

the Chicago Diner cheesecake my sister brought with her from Whole Foods in St. Louis Thank you, again!

In not so cute puppy news...they are like completely different dogs when they are soaking wet from their bath. I told the kids it's just like in Harry the Dirty Dog. (Harry gets so dirty they don't recognize him; they think he's another dog.) If I didn't know any better, I would never assume these were ours.

Here we are excited about our 15 pounds of Daiya cheese we got in the mail. I seriously cannot keep Sissy from making these crazy faces in pictures sometimes. She and Dash are experts in absurd faces.

We also had to try Allison's Gourmet Fudge...since we were paying for the freezer pack with shipping anyway. It was yummy. I probably wouldn't order it again just because it tastes like fudge I can make. What I WOULD order again (so if anyone needs a Christmas idea, hint, hint) is Allison's Gourmet Almond Toffee. Mmm.

THIS is what we saw on the road in front of our house.
I'm surprised Dash didn't want to scoop it up and bring it inside.

THIS was the first day in awhile that didn't require coats or umbrellas. I insisted that we go outside and soak in the goodness...and again, today I sit here, looking at the pouring rain outside my window.

Tornado planned this activity all on his own. He told us we were going to go on a nature walk and find leaves, pine needles, etc. to make pictures. All I had to do was bring out the glue, crayons, and paper, and they stayed outside, busy with this for quite awhile.

We were excited to get our 2 sets of popsicle molds in the mail. We only had 5 individual molds before, and that was clearly not enough. Now it's easier to make bigger batches at once. These are BPA free and a lot better than our old ones, as far as removing them from the mold. However, it still takes a bit of effort to remove them. I think the silicone kind can be removed without running it under water...if anyone needs another Christmas gift idea, hint hint...

I've been looking at this thing for weeks. Dash brought it in and said he wanted to add it to his cicada shell collection. Do we have a cicada collection? Oh, probably around here somewhere.

At a b-day party for a classmate, Dash got to have Mom and Dad to himself for a few hours. It was at Johnston's Pumpkin Farm near Greenbrier, and they had so many great activities planned for the kids, including a hayride and pumpkin story.

Dash, with his veggie dog...We brought our own "weiners" since they were going to be roasting hot dogs over a fire. And interestingly, there was a man who asked if he could have one. This was...well, let's just say, not someone we pictured eating a veggie dog. However, he had experienced a pretty bad heart attack a few months earlier and was trying to eat better. I was proud of him! He said it wasn't bad. :)

Look at these fun Organic Ladies we bought at the store.
They weren't the greatest tasting apples we've ever had, but they sure were cute.

This post has been edited/shortened from its original posting on my other blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Few Meals

Just a few meals we've eaten this week:
This dish is dedicated to my Momma. When we were young and she would have to leave for work on a summer day or whenever we were going to be alone, this was a dish she often left for us in the fridge. (Probably often in this same casserole dish I've inherited.) We just had to stick it in the oven. Pasta, peas, sauce, and cheese melted on top. It's just as good now.

Oatmeal with almonds, flax, agave, and berries. I'm REALLY trying to eat more oatmeal. As opposed to...ahem...Panda Puff's or something like that. (When I do eat Panda Puffs, I try to, at least, add some almond slices.) And breakfasts these days have been eaten on the car, on the run (for the kids, usually apple slices, toast, granola bar, or bag of nuts).

I made these Blueberry Banana Muffins from a recipe I got out of either How it All Vegan or Veganomicon...I can't remember which. I was scribbling some recipes down quickly, while in the library parking lot before I left those books in the drop-off. Those are both great books, though. I just need to purchase them. I'm pretty certain it was my fault they didn't turn out they way I'm sure they were intended. I think I was missing a liquid ingredient because the batter was really dry. They seemed more like scones than muffins.

Regardless, they were eaten, and the key to this story is: I don't know why I don't make muffins more often. They're always a sure-fire hit around here.
See? I can barely read my own writing. I always think I'm going to be able to read my writing when I write fast, and I always think I'm going to remember what I meant by an abbreviation...I never learn.
I attempted this recipe for the Mac 'n Cheese Bites that I've really been wanting to try from Vegan Mom. Here is the recipe. Hers look a lot prettier than mine.

I started making it then realized I was out of key ingredients. I tried to "make do." I was out of soymilk, onions, and Earth Balance. Pretty substantial ingredients. I should have just waited. I used water, tahini, and cream cheese. Haha. I was also out of cooking spray so I just oiled the muffin tins with my Spectrum Organic Shortening. It actually turned out really tasty, despite the fact they were stuck to the pain without the Earth Balance and spray. (I made 12 "muffins" and 12 "loafs," and there was nothing left. They were scraping at the pans to get everything they could because they all liked them so much.)

I look forward to trying this recipe again as it was intended, with all the proper ingredients.

I think they're a great idea, regardless.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers & Roasted Chickpeas

Vegan MoFo (Vegan Month of Food) is almost up...the other night I made stuffed bell peppers, using peppers from dad's garden.

I stuffed them with a mixture of quinoa, onions, leftover taco crumbles, corn, tomatoes, avocadoes, spices, and salsa.

Here they are after I added the whole wheat bread crumbs and Daiya cheese. Tornado gobbled up 2 bell peppers himself and asked if he could take one in his lunch the next day, which he did. Dash and Sissy ate a modified meal this night...bowls of quinoa, tofu, cheese, baby carrots, and also avocado and tomato for Sissy.

I just wasn't into the idea of stuffed bell peppers, and I didn't feel particularly hungry.

I just ate some of the roasted garbanzo beans I'd made from using up the pot 'o beans I had from the day before. In a bowl, I drizzled them with olive oil and salt. On half of them, I also sprinkled Simply Organic spicy steak seasoning. I baked them at 350 for about 45 minutes, I think. I turned them halfway through. Yum. These didn't last very long around here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fondue Night, "Fudge Babies" and "Quick and Easy Tastes Like PB Cookies"

Daddy was a little late getting home last night so we ate dessert first!
I told the kids we were going to make cookies, and they went upstairs to get their aprons and chef hats. The boys came down in their sailor hats. Sissy had my old Martha Washington cap (from my 6th grade Constitution play). They said they couldn't find the others', but they didn't seem to care at all. Tornado and Sissy put on their Lowe's Build and Grow aprons.

We had two cooking stations going on, for two different kinds of cookies.

We made these "Quick and Easy Tastes Like PB Cookies" that I saw on Rawdorable's blog.

It's basically just almond butter (we had to throw in a little cashew butter because we didn't have enough almond), nuts, flax, and agave. I'm telling you, my kids gobbled these up as quickly as they would any cookie with sugar and margarine. Daddy loved them, too (although I had to finally hide some away for him before the little cookie monsters ate them all). He said these were his ideal kind of dessert.
I had to use my tiny food processor to make the "flour" because I was already using my other one. Next time, I will try to pulverize the nuts even more.

I am definitely going to be trying out more of Rawdorable's cookie ideas. Look at these fun Play-Dough cookies. This is a different post about how she made them.I got this idea from Chocolate-Covered Katie, a very fun blog. You can check out her recipe she created; it's just walnuts, dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder. Look, chocolate is very important to me, and I'm not usually quite so satisfied by any raw type of dessert. However, this tastes GOOD (although I only ate a couple myself - "I" don't need as much "healthy fat" as the kids do). And you don't even have to cook them.

Dates are seriously amazing. I only started using them this past year. Before that...they FREAKED me out. I thought they looked like little roaches or something. It was Ryan always telling me how good they are - and reading about all of these healthy, raw recipes - that helped me get over it and try them. Now, I don't think they're "freaky" at all. They sweeten your recipe without sugar and help it all stick together.

We shaped them like cookies because I thought it might entice the kids more to call them "cookies." We barely had any dough left, by the time it came to shape them. I definitely need to tripe/quadruple this recipe, too.

Dash said, "Mine don't look as good as yours!"
"That's okay!"

How about mixing the two?

Or how about a little Fudge Baby Sandwich?
Daddy's idea was to make fondue and eat it on our bed (tablecloth thrown on top of the covers!), while we watched a show about dinosaurs he had recorded. My little pajama-wearing Brachiosauruses were thrilled.

We dipped toast chunks, olives, grape tomatoes, bell peppers, baby carrots, fava beans (givin' them another chance...and no, not because they are apparently a "natural viagra," according to Cary...I just needed to finish up the bag.), baked tofu, kielbasas, and broccoli. I used the Swiss Fondue recipe out of Jo Stepaniak's Ultimate Cheese Cookbook.

This is one of the cookbooks I use the very most.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Larabar "Blizzards" & Tortilla Picante

This post is in honor of my brilliant husband.

I can't even tell you how smart and creative I think he is. (supportive, unselfish...etc.) First of all, I think he's a genius, when it comes to his job (and all things technological). I could never do what he does; my brain just does not work that way.

Then, besides that, he is an elementary teacher at heart, and I feel like I'm married to this little computer of ideas. And if I have an idea, I talk it over with him, and he perfects it. He learns how something works, and he can tell you all about it five years later. He always lets the kids go with him to do errands, even though it would be much simpler if he went on his own. He gathers the kids around him at night for a nightly devotion and prayer.

Those are just a few things I love about him. I know he's going to roll his eyes at all of this because he knows he's not perfect, and I'm not saying he's perfect.

He can be impossible at moments, let's be honest. :)
Then, besides all of that...he makes me healthier, too. I could so easily be a "junk-food" vegetarian because that's sort of what my natural palate leans toward...but besides the fact I choose to do better on my own, he encourages all of us to eat more vegetables, etc. He tells ME that I need to start preparing more raw food again because he really felt good when I was doing that. He stopped eating meat (around 7 years ago) as a (huge) gesture to me, but along the way, he has developed his own feelings about the subject.

I love that he is sensitive and compassionate about the same things I care about. We argued when we were engaged about whether or not we would take our future kids to McDonald's. Now, when I'm not even in the room, I sometimes catch him talking to the kids about why we don't eat animals. And I see him with Dash, talking gently about why it's important to be kind to the little snail or rolly-polly or whatever he is holding. All of that warms my heart tremendously. I realize how much I lucked out in the husband-picking department. He's about as perfect for me, as I imagine they come.

He is always concocting these great ideas for meals. The other day, when he was driving home, he told me he was thinking about blending icecream with Larabars. So this weekend, that is what we did with some vanilla Soy Delicious. Here is our version of a Concrete or Blizzard.
We made different flavors. First, Cherry Pie. Then Banana Bread flavor mixed with Chocolate Coconut. And finally, Apple Pie. The ingredients of a Larabar are dates, nuts, and then whatever extra flavor is added, like bananas or cocoa powder and coconut.
I pinched the Larabars into pieces for the food processor, then blended them a little before adding the icecream, then blending it some more.

Here is another dish that Ryan created...about 11 years ago.

I was working 3 jobs at the time, and when I came home late, he had supper ready for me.

He did that a lot.

He named this dish Tortilla Picante, and we still enjoy it often today. First, you cut corn tortillas into strips, and cook them with olive oil in a skillet. They will get crispy. Put them aside. In a large pan, add chopped avocados, mashed silken tofu, olives, garlic, salt and plenty of salsa. (We always used Picante Sauce back then before I stopped eating it, which is how it got its name, of course.) Then, add the corn tortilla chips back in, until they are chewy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Antics From My Middle Child & Magical Loaf Studio

My 4 year old son is so lovely. I mean, he really is.

He's a cute, little fella.

He can just astound us with his sense of curiosity, the sweet ways he shows us love, and his ability to decipher the marvelousness of God's creations.

He likes to give Ghetti rides in his big Tonka truck. Creative and sweet. So, yeah, he does amazing things...

and sometimes by amazing, I mean ARE YOU CRAZY?!

Today I saw him acting funny with a straw in the kitchen. I went on with my business. A little bit later I realized he was in the downstairs bathroom with the door closed. I entered. (Of course. You always enter a closed-door room that Dash is in.) He had filled the sink up with water, and the straw was in his mouth in the water. I'm sure he had been blowing bubbles, and I'm sure he was also drinking the water. Because his excuse was, "But I was really, really thirsty."

Today for lunch I made my husband proud by making a "meatloaf"ish meal. He always asks for one. And I've been meaning to try out The Magical Loaf Studio. I saw it on Vegan Lunch Box. It worked great.

You just have to pick your protein, carb, liquid, nuts, veggies, binder, and spices.

I used lentils, wheat germ, whole wheat bread crumbs, vegetable broth, walnuts & almonds, carrots & onions & a bit of spinach, ground flaxseed, oregano, Italian seasoning, ketchup, cumin, and salt.

It was so easy, and it was so good! You should definitely try it.

We also had steamed broccoli because, like I've said, it's just an easy vegetable all the kids will eat.
I also experimented with scalloped potatoes. I had already peeled the potatoes when I realized my nutritional yeast was missing. I have no idea where it is; maybe it's at my parents'.

So I couldn't use this recipe I planned to use from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I looked at it for ideas, and I also looked at this one from Tofu-N-Sproutz. I ended up slicing the potatoes and cooking them (careful not to overcook them since they're also being baked). Between the layers of potatoes I spread a mixture of unsweetened almond milk, Tofutti Sour Supreme (the non-hydrogenated version of their sour cream), flour, cornstarch, garlic, onion powder, salt, lemon juice, and cashew butter.

I can't tell you the amounts; I've mentioned before I get very distracted using recipes. I topped it with some Orgran Rice Crumbs and Daiya cheese.

Speaking of friend Carrie told me she saw Daiya being used/talked about on the ellen degeneres show (because Ellen is vegan) the other day. Here is the recipe for vegan tacos her personal chef made.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hearts of Palm and Hemp Salad Dressing

Nothing too original for supper last night...just made a salad (and garlic toast again; doesn't garlic toast make any meal great?), but Ryan, Tornado, and I LOVE salads (if made properly). (We're working on Dash and Sissy, and they're getting better.)

Ingredients: baby romaine, romaine hearts, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, onions, cannelini beans, Tofurky kielbasas cooked and cut into chunks (our favorite analog), and West Soy baked garlic and herb tofu (our favorite kind of tofu).

We also tried adding two new products, and they were both hits...

The first one was hearts of palm.

I'd never really tried them before, until I recently had lunch with my little sister Tracy at Cafe Bossa Nova in Little Rock. It has Brazilian cuisine with vegan options. I always feel better about "vegan options" at a restaurant if the item is actually called "vegan ____" and the waiter seems comfortable with the word. I ordered the black bean soup and the salada de palmito, which is imported Brazilian hearts of palm, red onions, and tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic vinegar, olive oil and oregano dressing. I realized I need to start using this vegetable, which is packed with iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and copper. It's also low-carb, not that I care about that sort of thing, but you may.

Tornado loved them so much he asked that I put them in his lunch the next day.

In regard to Dash and Sissy and salads...well, they had altered versions of our salad. Sissy had broccoli, tomatoes, avocado, tofu, kielbasa, beans, a tiny bit of the lettuce/spinach, and the dressing. Dash had broccoli, tofu, kielbasa, beans, a tiny bit of lettuce/spinach, and the dressing.

We know what they will refuse to eat, and we try pick our battles. Dash is the pickiest, and we're just happy that he WILL eat baby carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. If he won't eat zucchini, squash, or brussel sprouts, then fine. He will eat small amounts of lettuce and spinach on a sandwich. He HAS gotten better about trying a lot of things we ask (very nicely) him to try, so we feel proud of him for that. Which, I think, proves that you just have to keep surrounding them with healthy foods, talking about how good it is for them, and offering it to them.

We also used this new (I guess it's new? They were giving out samples when I was at Whole Foods today.) Hemp Oil Sweet & Sassy dressing. It was just as good as any dressing, to me personally, and the only ingredients are organic cold-pressed unrefined hemp seed oil, organic raw agave nectar, organic raw apple cider vinegar, organic celery seed, and Celtic sea salt. The benefits of hemp oil (over 90% unsaturated) are Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids and GLA (which is gamma linolenic acid). I don't perfectly understand everything there is to know about EFA's, but I do know that oils are supposed to be in a ratio of 3:1 (in regard to omega 6 and 3), and hempseed is. Here is an article talking about the health benefits of hemp products.