Week 7: Chronicles from Feb 19, 2012

I don’t know if I have more energy or if I am just enjoying Somer’s motivation and enthusiasm, but I’ve been ramping up a bit on my actual food preparations. It also helps that I finally created a “plan” for my meals, even down to the breakfasts and lunches (though, I’m not a stickler for those – just helps keep the negotiations at bay when I’m already feeling stretched). It’s not thorough or complete, but it gets me moving in the right direction which is essential.

Also, in our house we’re apparently masochists, since on Wednesday of this week we will be starting (have started by the time this is published) a “Spending Fast,” meaning we will be paying for only that which is NECESSARY (a totally arbitrary designation, of course), but will be relying heavily on food storage and Bountiful Baskets. Maybe we think that if we’re restricting ourselves in one area, how hard is it to add another? It makes meal planning both harder and easier, so I guess we’ll see how it goes. Dinners might not be as exciting (if that’s even possible), but I’ll still keep track for my sake.

• Broccoli Salad (see recipe below), hummus & pita, sliced cucumbers
Normally I ignore lunches, but this may be one of my only wins for the week, so I can’t ignore it.
• For Mardi Gras week, I made Red Beans and Rice Soup
Vegan Biscuits from the Vegan Diner cookbook (from the library – do you know how much I love my library?). I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for part of the white flour and the puffed up beautifully.
I might even want to own this book someday. There is something about diner food that seems harder than other things to veganize, but she does it well. The soup, on the other hand, is not something I will make again. I found it flat and a little bitter, though my husband said that adding disgusting amounts of salt made it eatable.
• Fiesta salad (doesn’t that sound yummier than taco salad?); really, this was pretty amazing and good.
Lettuce, shredded carrots, diced red pepper, this quinoa & black bean recipe + 1/4 c. lime juice in lieu of my normal rice & beans – DELICIOUS!, salsa, vegan sour cream, homemade ranch, and crushed tortilla chips (the best effect is if you do it Nacho Libre style and crush them in your hand and blow them over the top)
• Mushroom Stroganoff from Meatless Monday that I found here.
Notes: I would use homemade almond milk next time, since even my unsweetened original milk tasted vaguely vanilla-y and sweetened. I also used just white mushrooms and it was good, and added 2-4 T. chopped cornichons. Onions instead of shallots would be great, also.
Somer’s Garbanzo bean salad, and added cucumbers and sliced green onions because I had them – garbanzos are always a hit with my kids
• Roasted Cheesy Cauliflower from Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition which I have from the library, recipe below. Both kids ate it, the littlest one ate almost nothing else from the meal, but loved this.
Yellow Squash Soup from Sara Moulton – we omitted the zucchini crisps since I have children and a house to clean, but did top with homemade “Parmesan” shake (see below); And I loved this, but gave me the worst heartburn of my life, which I can only attribute to pregnancy, not the recipe. I hope this kid has a full head of hair!
• Baked Sweet potatoes
• Leftover biscuits with jam
• LEFTOVER NIGHT – must be Thursday – leftover soup, sweet potatoes, and half a loaf of the Costco roasted garlic bread
• Groupon night – yes, we’ve started our spending fast, but had a groupon to use by next Thursday. Pizza without cheese is the true test of a good pizza, as cheese can hide many flaws. This pizza did not pass.
• Pasta salad – Am I the only one that ends up with partial bags of noodles in my cupboard? This is how I use them up! I love this “recipe” since it includes anything I have lying around. Cooked cold noodles, can of white beans, half a cucumber chopped, 3 sliced green onions, half a red pepper chopped, 2 stalks of celery chopped, some broccoli chopped (steam blanched if I have time), handful of frozen corn, chopped parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Trader Joe’s lemon pepper grinder, salt and pepper to taste.
Nava’s A Big Pot of Really Good Chili – Loved this. I used two hot peppers out of the freezer from our garden and it was spicy, which my husband loved. We also used a bottle of tomatoes from our garden and frozen corn from the farmers’ market. We topped it with avocado and vegan sour cream, the kids also got cheese.
• Vegan Cornbread from Everyday Happy Herbivore, which is in the book, but I didn’t love it so I’m not trying to find the recipe. I thought it was too sweet and a bit sticky, but then I’m not much for the applesauce:oil substitution so I shouldn’t be surprised.
• And since we didn’t love the cornbread, out came the tortilla chips – always good in a pinch!

Broccoli Salad – Total winner, at least in our house
• 1 head broccoli, florets and stem chopped into bite-sized pieces
• ¼-1/3 c. vegan “bacon” bits
• ½ medium red onion, diced
• ½ c. raisins
• 2 apples, medium diced
• 3 stalks celery, sliced
• ½ c. sunflower seeds, toasted sliced almonds, or pepitas (something nutty & crunchy)
• 1 c. vegan mayonnaise (I use regular Veganaise)
• 2 T. white or apple cider vinegar
• 2-3 T. agave nectar
• Salt & pepper, to taste

Combine broccoli, “bacon” bits, red onion, raisins, apples, celery, and seeds or nuts in a large bowl. In a separate bowl (or large measuring cup if you’re anti-dishwashing like me), whisk together vegan mayonnaise, vinegar, agave nectar, and salt and pepper. Combine dressing and vegetables, tossing to coat, seasoning additionally if necessary. Best fresh, but super-yummy on day two or three.

Tofu Sour Cream
• 1 12.3 oz package lite silken firm tofu (Mori-nu)
• 1 T. canola or olive oil
• 1 ½ T. lemon juice
• 2 t. apple cider vinegar
• 1 t. agave nectar
• 1/2 t. REAL salt
Place all ingredients in your blender or food processor. I used my beloved Vitamix (Somer and I may have Blendtec/Vitamix wars) and it took less than a minute to process. Process until very creamy and smooth. This may take longer in a food processor or regular blender. Refrigerate. Use like regular sour cream!
It stays fresh for approximately 5 days.

Roasted Cheezy Cauliflower
Modified slightly from the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
Olive oil
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 T nutritional yeast flakes
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with silicone baking mat.
Toss cauliflower with a slug or two of olive oil – just enough to lightly coat. Toss with salt and pepper. Place cauliflower on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
Remove from oven, toss with nutritional flakes, adjust seasonings, serve warm.

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