Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Yeah, It's Been A While...

Yeah, it's been a while...

Many reasons...

This first trimester has been very difficult (I'm currently 14 weeks).  I have never felt this nauseous and this tired with my other two.  I'm almost out of it, and I hope I can pick things up again on a more regular basis around here.

Plus, I have spent the last two weeks in Italy.  My husband and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year and we took a tour around Italy to celebrate.  What an experience!  I don't think I have ever eaten so much pasta, gelato, and pizza in 14 days straight in my entire life!  And I grew up in an Italian household!  I wanted to try every gelato flavor, every type of pasta, and every pizza at every place we stopped at.  It was all delicious!  Thank God my nausea began to die down in the beginning of the trip, and I was able to have more of an appetite.

Being in Europe was like being on another planet for me.  I've never left the country before.  Communicating with the Italians from the "old country" took some time, not knowing the language very well (I only know the Italian American version...very little of it, too).  But by the end of the trip, I felt like an expert!  It's amazing the difference in accent, language, and culture between the Italians from Italy and the Italian American culture I grew up with.  I didn't even feel like I was a real Italian being over there!  Very interesting!

Gaining 6 hours on the way there, and loosing 6 hours on the way back, I think, was the worst of the trip.  Being tired all the time as it is, that just threw me off.  When we got there, I had to wait a whole day before I could go to bed...we flew there through the night...and on the way home, we were up for 22 hours before I could go to bed.  Not fun!  And then, my hubby took a cold home with him.   Nice!

So, I think visiting Europe will not become much of a regular thing for us...I've always loved road trips cross country!!

Anyways, thank you for bearing with me!  :)  I hope that my past posts have been a help to you.  There will be more soon!

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Version of Scrambled Tofu In A Burrito With Non-dairy Cheese Sauce

 I would like to share one of my versions of tofu scramble.  I do have another version, but decided to experiment with what I had in the fridge because I NEED to go food shopping.  I sauteed some frozen chopped spinach and frozen broccoli with a medium russet potato for the filling along with extra-firm tofu and seasonings.  It came out real good!  We stuffed some tortillas, to make some burritos, with the scramble along with the non-dairy cheese sauce made with nutritional yeast.  I then placed them on my griddle to toast them a little so they would hold together for the kids to be able to handle to eat.  Delicious!

Here's my recipe...following is the "cheese" sauce recipe...

Jamie's Tofu Scramble

You can access the printable version of this recipe HERE.

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 medium russet potato, chopped

1/2 cup frozen broccoli, chopped

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach

1 - 14 ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and crumbled by hand

salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric to taste

Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium low.  Once oil is heated, saute the chopped potato keeping an eye it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan by stirring it around every so often.  

When potato is tender, stir in the spinach, broccoli, and tofu and heat through.  

Add in the seasonings to taste.  

Sauté until heated through and seasonings are blended well.  The turmeric is used for the coloring as well as the flavor to give it that scrambled egg look.

After I "scrambled" the tofu and veggies, I made burritos!  I browned both sides of the burritos on my griddle.

Then I turned them over...

Here's the recipe for the "cheese" sauce.  This recipe is one of my mother's creations.  I grew up on this recipe.  We used it for the tofu scramble as well as Mexican Night when we would make burritos, nachos and "cheese," tacos, or tostados.  We would also pour it over our baked potato, too, with some steamed broccoli.  YUM!

Mom's Non-Dairy Cheese Sauce

You can access the printable version of this recipe HERE.

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (you can find this yeast at your local health food store, or at Bulkfoods.com)

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour (whole wheat flour can be used, too, but the sauce becomes slightly grainy)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups water

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon brown mustard

Combine the yeast, flour, and salt in a medium sauce pan.

Add the water...

...and oil and combine well.  

Cook on medium heat, stirring often, until sauce thickens.  And last, mix in the mustard and heat through until simmering and bubbly. 

PS...I'm 10 weeks pregnant and I feel GREAT...yeah, okay...And that is the reason why my posts have been slowing down, but I wasn't ready to broadcast the good news yet.  So, please, bear with me!  Morning sickness is more like all-day sickness and I am soooooooooo tired.  YAY!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ravioli's Made with Wonton Wrappers

Today was productive!  Tried some new things, too.  I made a new recipe for lunch taken from another really cool blog and then decided to experiment for dinner...

....see below for recipe...

For breakfast, we had steel cut oats with some maple syrup.  I think steel cut oats are way better because of the chewy texture.  I never made it for the kids before, but they ate it right up.  I found online, that you can make steel cut oats in the rice cooker.  So, I tried it.  Definitely worked!  You can't just set it up and walk away though.  At least not toward the end of cooking.  Once the oats start to get tender, you may want to stir it a bit and watch it until it all gets creamy because it seemed like it was going to start sticking to the bottom if I didn't stir it.  It didn't seem to take as long as cooking in the pot, so it was definitely worth the try.

To make in the rice cooker, do 1 part oats to 3 parts water...I made 1 cup of oats and added 3 cups of water...enough for my son, my daughter, and I.

For lunch, I tried a new recipe from the blog Weelicious.  The blog is full of great recipes for the entire family with a focus on babies and toddlers.  We all know it's a struggle to get kids to eat!  This blog is a help!  The recipe I tried today was Italian Parmesan Corncakes.  I didn't make them as pretty as the Weelicious picture, but they were tasty!  The kids really enjoyed them.  I used Galaxy Foods Rice Parmesan Cheese and Silk Organic Original Soy Milk.  Check out the rest of the blog when you get a chance.  You might find some good recipes that are helpful to get your kids to eat!

And last, for dinner, my experiment!  This is probably a disgrace to my Italian heritage, but I made raviolis out of wonton wrappers.  I took ideas from other recipes I had found online and did my own thing.   It worked!  And it was delicious!  By using the wrappers, I cut out the step of making the dough to save some time. 

So, here's what I did...

Wonton Raviolis  

For the wonton wrappers, I used Nasoya's wonton wrappers.  They are not vegan because they have eggs in them.  The package contains 48.  With the ricotta recipe below, I was able to make all 48 and have about 2 tablespoons of ricotta left over.

I started out by making the ricotta for the filling.  I made it vegan with extra-firm tofu.  The recipe I followed for the ricotta is from one of my favorite blogs I like to follow, All American Vegetarian.  The link to the recipe itself is Lasagna 2 Ways.  Just scroll down to the section for the ricotta, and follow the instructions there.  It is definitely a good ricotta recipe!

Follow the recipe from the link above...you'll need your food processor or your hands!

...then I set it aside...

Lay out each wrapper on a dry surface and scoop 1 teaspoon of ricotta on to the wrapper.

Then wet the edges with a little bit of water, fold the wrappers from corner to corner, and seal the edges.

As I made them I set them aside in a bake pan with a little bit of corn meal to keep them from sticking together.

In a large pot, filled a little over half way with water, bring water to a boil.  One at a time, carefully place raviolis in the pot.  Boil the raviolis until they are tender, about 2 to 5 minutes.

When done cooking, with a slotted spoon to drain water, scoop raviolis out of the pot and serve immediately in dishes.  I have learned that if you put them in a serving bowl with some tomato sauce, they still stick together.  They were hard to get out of the bowl to serve unless I was really careful.

We topped it with a favorite tomato sauce recipe and some Galaxy Foods Rice Parmesan.

 The texture of the cooked wonton wasn't exactly the same as an authentic ravioli, but it served its purpose and was still yummy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strawberries and Yogurt...Some "Meatloaf", Too

Yeah, it's been a while...I haven't been on top of my game, especially with blogging.  I haven't really tried a whole lot of new stuff either.  I kind of go through phases with new recipes.  I make something new every night and then I loose my momentum.  Please bare with me  :)  I may have been slowing down, but am not stopping.

So, today, I'll just blog what I have eaten.  It may give you some ideas to try some new stuff.

For breakfast, I had a very refreshing bowl of a half cup of Stonyfield French Vanilla Low-fat Yogurt.  My fave!...with about a cup of chopped ruby red strawberries and 2 tablespoons of my mother's Great Granola.  YUM!

Strawberries have been one of my favorite fruits these days.  I can't get enough of them!  

Lunch was leftovers...

Dinner was a new recipe I found on Happy Herbivore's  blog.  I have been searching for a really good veggie meat loaf recipe.  I thought I found one on VegWeb.com, but I think I found a better one.  Easy, tasty, and quick!  The longest part is the baking.  Since I didn't change anything, here's the link to the recipe.  You would need a package of Gimme Lean Beef-style ground "meat" to make it.  Gimme Lean can be pricey though.  When it's on sale, I grab a package or two for a quick meal when I can't make my imitation meat from scratch.

The recipe suggests baking for 1 hour and 30 minutes, but the recipe says it could be baked less and to check it, depending on your oven.  I could have baked it for a maximum of 1 hour and 15.  It was moist, but the edges got a tad crispy.  Still tasty though!  We topped it with a mushroom gravy recipe from VegWeb.com.  Another favorite of mine.

I can't wait to try it tomorrow, leftover.  I'm sure it makes a great sandwich!

We had the loaf with a side of baked potato...another fave of mine sine I was a kid...with a little bit of Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette...better than using butter, or even vegan butter...I love baked potato with dressing rather than butter.  Even when we eat out, I may ask for baked potato with some dressing on the side instead of fries to cut back on calories...and it's better for you!

I also used my new steamer today, my brother gave me for my birthday.  Great invention!  I steamed some carrots until they just began to soften and still had a bit of a crisp.  I set the timer and walked away!  The way I like it!  I do like the simplicity of the 1800's BUT I do appreciate the technology of today, no doubt!  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Crock Pot Vegetable Stew

Here's a  quick crock pot recipe!  I got it from the cookbook Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  The original title of the recipe is "Crock Pot Mediterranean Vegetable Stew."  My version of it is a "throw it all in the crock pot and turn it on" type recipe, which is why I like it.  I feel that if you're going to use the crock pot, why would you want to saute and do prepping before the food gets thrown in?  I don't have time...anyways, this recipe I modified and made it quicker.  I omitted some things as well.  For example; it called for a fennel bulb, but those can be expensive...even though they are delicious!  So, here's my version...

Jamie's Crock Pot Vegetable Stew

You can access a printable version of this recipe HERE.

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 large carrot, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 pound white potato, chopped (that's about 3 medium potatoes)

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 - 14.5 ounce canned diced tomatoes, undrained OR 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 - 15.5 ounce canned chick peas, drained and rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Throw it all in the crock pot and set crock pot for 6 to 8 hours.  Done!

 We like to throw some pasta in, too.  I might use ditalini or some type of pasta that size.  I'll measure a cup of dry pasta and cook and drain it.  Then when stew is done, I throw it in.  But the pasta is definitely not necessary!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Easy Zucchini Bread

I needed to make some more snacks for the family.  I'm really trying to avoid buying snacks when I could make them.  Muffins, cookies, and quick breads are all good snacks for the kids through out the day or for the hubby to take to work.  So, I took the zucchini bread recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and veganized it.  There were a few recipes online, but they seemed similar to what I had in front of me, or had ingredients I didn't have.  Here's a simple version and pretty tasty!  It's moist, but it's not as moist as I'd like it to be.  Using oil instead of apple sauce would make it more moist if you want to give that a shot.  I used only apple sauce because I like to cut back on the fat. Try it out and let me know what you think!  ðŸ˜‰

Better Homes and Gardens Zucchini Bread...Veganized

You can find a printable version of this recipe HERE.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar ( a bit much, but most of the recipes, in the little time I had to search out, seemed to have just as much)

1 cup grated zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)

1/2 cup apple sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients:  both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground nutmeg.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, grated zucchini, and apple sauce.

Combine the zucchini mixture with the dry mixture.

Pour batter into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.

Let cool before slicing.  
We love zucchini bread with a little bit of cream cheese.  Yum!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pad Thai

I was on my favorite site, VegWeb, and I came across a Pad Thai recipe that I thought looked amazing.  I've been wanting to try making Pad Thai for the longest time, but never had the right ingredients.  When I saw this recipe, I was really excited!  It was such a simple version that any average Joe would have the ingredients around the house...except for the rice noodles.  I don't think that's an average ingredient...or maybe it is?  I'm Italian, so I always have pasta, but not Asian noodles,  especially, because they are a bit more expensive.  Well, I had the rice noodles this time!  I bought them a short while back to save for a special recipe.  I made the Pad Thai tonight, and, oh, was it good!!!  It definitely passed the hubby and kid test!

I made my version of the Pad Thai recipe that I found, which I will share with you.  If you would like to see the original, click here.  I had to cut this recipe in half, except for the tofu, because 1 pound of any pasta or noodles is too much for my family to eat.  We would have tons of leftovers.

The key to making this, if you are using a wok, which I did, is you want to make sure you have every ingredient ready to go to throw in the wok when it's time to cook it.  I've made the mistake, many times, of not having an ingredient ready and either burning what was in the wok or splattering oil.  Not fun!

Pad Thai (the Jamie version)

You can get the printable version HERE.

1/2 pound uncooked rice noodles, soaked in hot water for 1/2 hour and drained

14 oz extra firm tofu, pressed, and cubed (I use Woodstock Farms)

1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup canola oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup sugar (I use Florida Crystals organic sugar)

1 Tablespoon ketchup (yes ketchup!)

1 teaspoon paprika

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

16 ounces of frozen Asian vegetable mix OR approximately 2 cups of your favorite stir-fry vegetables (carrots, broccoli, string beans, green pepper, etc.)

Heat up 1/4 cup of canola oil in your wok on medium low.  Be sure the tofu is ready before you heat your wok up because it heats up fast!  When oil is heated, throw in the cubed tofu and saute until golden.  This makes the tofu chewy.  

Once tofu is done to your liking, drain from the oil and set aside.  I placed it on a large dish lined with some napkins to drain out any extra oil.

Once tofu is removed from your wok, with the extra oil left from the sautéing, saute your veggies until heated, if they were frozen, or tender yet still with a crunch, if they are fresh...I don't like them too soft...when they are done, remove from the wok, and set aside.

While veggies are sautéing, in a small mixing bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup, and paprika, and set aside.  

After the veggies have cooked, and have been removed from your wok, heat 1/8 cup of canola oil in the wok on medium low and saute the soaked and drained rice noodles, coating them well.  Once they are coated in the oil, add the soy sauce mixture and the garlic into the wok with the rice noodles.  Keep the sauce at a simmer, and continue to mix the noodles and the sauce frequently. 

You'll begin to notice the noodles soften a bit more as they absorb the sauce.

Once noodles are cooked and the liquid is almost completely absorbed into the noodles, add back in the  tofu and the veggies, and heat through.

Once heated through, eat up, and enjoy!