Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kabobs and more kabobs!

Despite the fact that it is snowing outside, I am continuing on with my spring themed meals.  It is okay to pretend it's not snowing outside because it REALLY IS spring.  Tonight we had tofu kabobs in a marinade that I really just threw together last minute this morning.  I thought about searching around for a new recipe but decided to go with my tried and true non-recipe recipe.  We had the kabobs with some rice and a simple green salad, and for dessert... fruit kabobs!  The ones I am posting a picture of are mine, the kids made their own so there was a lot of grape-grape-grape and watermelon-watermelon-watermelon versions ;)  I am going to continue ignoring the snow and am planning on taking the kids on a hike/picnic tomorrow for our last day of spring break.  Think of me tomorrow and pray I'm not knee-deep in slush with a baby on my back!!



Tofu Kabobs
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1 inch grated ginger
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp honey
small squeeze of lemon
pepper
1 block tofu
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped green pepper
cherry tomatoes
1/2 chopped zucchini

*Combine all ingredients and pour over cubed (pressed and dry-fried) tofu
*Keep in a covered container all day in the fridge
*After placing all tofu and veggies on a kabob-stick, brush remaining marinade over the veggies
*BBQ on medium-low, turning often.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What was supposed to be burgers with spicy guacamole...

We are pretending it's spring here.  It's after March 20th, it's warm(ish), the birds are chirping... so let's just ignore the feet upon feet upon feet of snow left on the ground.  That might depress me if I weren't pretending that it's spring!  With spring comes bbq'ing and we love to bbq in this house.  Tonight I was going to try this bean burger with spicy guacamole recipe that I found in the Eating Well magazine that I love so much.  I made the burgers early this afternoon and then right before supper I got out the ingredients to make the spicy guacamole, and they weren't ripe enough!  I was so disappointed!  The burgers were good but they were missing that bite that I love so much.  We had them with bbq'd potatoes and asparagus and now we are off for a walk to get some dairy queen... because it's spring, right??



Pinto Bean Burgers
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quinoa
olive oil
1/2 a chopped red onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
3 tbsp cornmeal + more for dipping
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

*Cook quinoa in water according to package instructions.  Cool.
*Saute onion, and garlic in olive oil.  Add mashed pinto beans, paprika, and cumin.  Stir well.
*Place in a large bowl along with quinoa, cilantro, salt, pepper and 3 tbsp cornmeal
*Form into patties and roll in remaining cornmeal.
*Place in fridge for 30 minutes to firm.
*Heat olive oil in frying pan on low/medium and cook burgers for 5-6 minutes per side.
*This is where I placed them back in the fridge for the rest of the afternoon and bbq'd them to warm at dinner time.

Menu planning for the week(ish)

Wednesday: Bean burgers with guacamole, bbq potatoes and asparagus
Thursday: Tofu and veggie kabobs, rice, green salad
Friday: Calzones and raw veggies
Saturday: Game night!  Appetizers:Pitas, Chips, Dips, Salsa, raw veggies
Sunday: Chickpea potpie, steamed carrots and broccoli
Monday: Spaghetti with lentil sauce, roasted veggies and spinach salad

I am also working on a baby food making post for my friend Kim :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Non-cream Cream of Potato Soup

Does the name give it away?  Even though it is spring break the kids have some fun filled day with friends planned so we still had our slow cooker Tuesday.  I had planned on it being a cooler day and having a super fatty comforting potato soup.  As it turned out the weather was beautiful and I really didn't feel like something as heavy as that.  So we had an almond milk potato soup.. and it was so good you would never know that it wasn't made with butter, milk, or cream.  The perfect vegan dish :)  I, of course, ruined that with some cheesy bread sticks but at least the soup was vegan.  Ha!  We also had a plain green salad with walnuts and sunflower seeds, one of the kids favourite side dishes.


Cream of Potato Soup

Olive Oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped shallot
3 cloves minced garlic
6-7 coarsely chopped potatoes (skin on)
2 cubes vegetarian "chicken-style" bouillon
1 sprig rosemary
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
 1/2 tsp celery salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup almond milk

*Saute onion, shallot and garlic in olive oil until soft
*Pour into slow cooker along with potatoes, bouillon, rosemary, sage, s&p and enough water to cover
*Cook on low for 7-8 hours
*Add almond milk and blend using immersion blender

Cheesy Bread Sticks
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/8 cup ground flax
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
fresh parsley and oregano
shredded cheddar cheese

*Combine flour, bran, flax, wheat gluten and salt in a large bowl
*Pour together water, yeast, honey and oil and let sit for 8-10 minutes
*Combine both mixtures, knead for 6-7 minutes, and let rest for 10 minutes
*Roll out into a rectangle, cover and let rise for 30 minutes
*Place on a baking sheet and brush with more olive oil, and spices
*Bake at 425 for 10 minutes
*Top with cheese and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes.
*Cut into strips and enjoy ;)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Sweet Potato Fries

It is spring break for the two oldest kids and we are celebrating all week with some of their favourite meals!  Their first choice was a definite grilled cheese sandwich and fries and we were running quite low on our freezer stash of bread so we spent the afternoon baking.  In my opinion quinoa whole wheat bread is one of the easiest breads to make, plus the kids love it and it freezes really well.  We had sweet potato fries and broccoli on the side but our little Monday friend still hasn't loved any of our pre-dancing meals.  There is always next week, right?


Whole Wheat and Quinoa Bread
7 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
  4tbsp yeast
2 tbsp honey
6 tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup oat bran
7-8 cups whole wheat flour

*Add room temperature butter, quinoa, and oats to milk in a large bowl.  Mix well and let sit for 45 minutes.
*Add remaining ingredients except flour and mix well.
*Add flour a little at a time until it is difficult to stir.
*Remove from bowl, and knead while adding flour for 8-10 minutes.
*Cover and let rise in a warm place for at least an hour.
*Liberally grease 5 loaf pans.
*Divide dough into 5 pieces and place in loaf pans.  Let rise again for at least 1 hour.
*Bake at 400 for 45-55 minutes.
*Allow to cool for at least 15-20 minutes before cutting!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

My son must ask me at least 5 times every time we eat this dish, "Are you sure there is squash in here, it tastes just like lasagna".  This meal is pretty simple to put together if the spaghetti squash is done and if you have some frozen chunky pasta sauce out.  We had it with a green salad with tofu croutons and some roasted red peppers.  I even blended some up for the baby and she loved it!  While we all enjoyed the lasagna, the most popular part of the meal was definitely the tofu croutons.  They were the first thing gone from every one's plate and seconds and thirds were had by all.



Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

1 large spaghetti squash
2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
2 cups ricotta cheese
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp Italian seasoning
5 oz fresh spinach
salt and pepper

*Cut squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds 
*Bake at 400 for 40-45 minutes face down
*Using a fork scrape the squash lengthwise down the squash so it comes out in long strings like spaghetti
*Spread 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish
*Layer 1/3 of the squash, 1/4 sauce, 1/3 mozzarella and parmesan on top
*Repeat once more
*Saute garlic and spinach until soft, approx 2-3 minutes
*In a large bowl combine ricotta, spinach, and seasonings
*Pour on top of squash mixture
*Top with remaining squash, sauce and cheese
*Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes

Tofu Croutons

1 package of firm tofu, drained, pressed and dry fried
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil

*Combine all ingredients in plastic container.
*Shake and coat well
*Place in refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours
*Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Breakfast for Supper!

What could be more fun than breakfast for supper?  This is always a huge hit in our house and the kids are always asking for it.  Saturdays are usually a pretty lazy day here, particularly now that skating is done and swimming hasn't started yet ;)  Tonight we had VeganDad's breakfast sausages, pancakes, hashbrowns, and a smoothie!  I tried making extra pancakes to freeze for quick breakfasts during the week but the kids would have none of that.  I think my oldest daughter had 6 pancakes (not even a record) and my son ate the last 5.  I have major worries about my future grocery bills!



Vegan Dad's Breakfast Sausages
1 cup white kidney beans
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp braggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 minced clove garlic
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp sage
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne
pepper

*Pulse beans in food processor several times
*Pour beans into large bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Mix well.
*Prepare 25ish pieces of tin foil.  Divide mixture into 25 small balls and wrap individually like a tootsie roll.
*Steam in bamboo steamer for 30 minutes
*Fry in small amount of olive oil if you like your sausages crispy.

Berry Smoothie

 1 cup frozen berries
2 tbsp ground flax
1 scoop protein powder
1 very ripe avocado
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup raspberry juice

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Top Five: Favourite Foods!

I love food.  I know it must come to a shock to you all, I mean, a food blogger who loves food?  But really, I love food.  I thought for today to celebrate pizza Friday, I would share with you all my top five favourite foods.  Not meals, just food.

Lemons!

We use lemons for all kinds of things in our house.  Lemonade, marinades, different rice dishes, cleaning!  We always have a large bowl of lemons on top of our fridge.  Lemons are very very high in vitamin C and low in calories and fat. Expect quite a few lemonade (with vodka!) recipes come summer/bbq season.


Carrots

I have always loved carrots, and have passed on that love to all of my kids.  We go through an embarrassing number of them a week.  Carrots are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, fibre, potassium, and a whole lot more.  I like them best raw but they are often found in many of the meals we have in our home.


Garlic

I have a motto: "if the recipe calls for garlic, double it. If it doesn't, add it in any way."  If we are at any time out of garlic, it pretty much means we need an emergency grocery shopping run.  Garlic is a good source of vitamin C (this was new to me!), vitamin B6 and selenium.




Quinoa
Quinoa is my ultimate super grain.  You can use it in breads, salads, pilafs, breakfast cereals, burgers, and I'm sure I'm missing many more things.  Not only is it delicious but it is also CHEAP and SUPER EASY to make.  It is low in fat and calories but high in iron and magnesium.  AND did you know it is a complete protein?  I really love my quinoa.



Lentils

This should come as a surprise to no one.  Lentils are (in my humble opinion) the most versatile, delicious, and easy legume.  They are high in folate, fibre, magnesium, iron, protein (18 grams in 1 cup!), and vitamin B1.  You can find some of my favourite lentil recipes here

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

I combined some of my favourite things for tonight's meal: lentils, potatoes, carrots and apples.  Thursdays are usually a casserole type of day because I can make the meal in the morning when baby is napping and the other kids are out.  Then when we get home from hockey in the afternoon I am just putting it in the oven and not having to worry about much else.  I LOVE shepherd's pie, it is definitely one of my personal faves although probably not up there on the rest of the family's lists.  I served it with a carrot and apple salad (with edamame and walnuts!) and some steamed green beans.  Nobody complained - I think they all enjoyed the meal - but no one enjoyed it as much as I did. <3



Lentil Shepherd's Pie

1 1/2 cups dried green lentils
1 onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
3 sliced carrots
2 chopped celery
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp braggs
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp chopped sage
handful of chopped parsley
1 can corn
6 chopped potatoes (skin on)
butter and milk

*Cook lentils according to package instructions
*Fill large pot with potatoes and enough water to cover them.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until easily pierced with a fork.
*While lentils and potatoes are cooking, saute onion and garlic in a large skillet.
*Add carrots and celery and cook until soft.
*Add worcestershire, braggs, ketchup, and spices
*Add cooked lentils and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Let simmer until reduced.
*Mash potatoes with butter and milk.
*Pour lentil mixture into a casserole dish, cover with canned corn, then potatoes
*Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spinach-Chickpea Burgers

Burger Wednesdays are quickly becoming my favourite day to cook.  I can't wait for the weather to change so that we are able to bbq more often!  It seems like that will be a long time in the future though, since we are still buried under many (many) feet of snow.  I got this recipe from (SURPRISE!) Veggie Burgers Every Which Way and have made a few small adjustments for personal taste and also because I didn't want to use any eggs.  I served the burgers with rice stuffed red peppers and a few raw vegetables.


Spinach-Chickpea Burgers

Olive oil
2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
2 cloves of minced garlic
11 oz spinach
2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chickpea flour

*Heat olive oil in pan, add cumin, garlic, and spinach.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.
*Squeeze out as much liquid as possible and let cool.  Chop finely.
*Combine 1 1/2 cans of chickpeas, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and pulse several times.
*In a large bowl, combine spinach, and all chickpeas.  Fold in Chickpea flour.
I didn't have chickpea flour so I blended up some dried chickpeas.  Aside from scaring the baby it worked super well!
*Shape into 10 patties and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side in a little oil in a frying pan.
*Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cheesy White Chili with Cauliflower

For the last few weeks whenever I ask my husband what he'd like on the menu, he asked for this particular recipe.  It did not sound appealing to me in the least but I figured I should probably just make it already.  I was pleasantly surprised by the result, everyone ate it without complaint, even our 9 month old!  I got the recipe from (the usual) 125 best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes, and just made a few minor adjustments.  We had it with a simple green salad and some delicious garlic french bread.


Cheesy White Chili with Cauliflower
Olive oil
2 finely chopped onions
5 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
4 cups cooked white kidney beans, divided
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups cauliflower, cooked for 4 minutes in boiling water
2 minced jalapeno peppers
1 diced green pepper
3 cups shredded Monteray Jack cheese
1/2 block of cubed cream cheese
1 can chopped green chilies

*Mash 1/2 of the beans in a large bowl
*Heat oil over medium heat, add onion and garlic, and cook until softened
*Add spices and cook for 1 more minute
*Transfer to slow cooker and add beans and vegetable stock
*Cook on low for 8-10 hours
*Stir in cauliflower, peppers, cheeses and chilies and cook on high for 30 more minutes

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Planning

One of my favourite moments of every week is when I am sitting at my laptop with a pile of cookbooks, 8 (million) links open, music playing, planning my menu.  Nerdy?  YES and super proud of it!  So tonight as we had a repeat recipe (spaghetti and lentil balls) I thought I'd just share what we are having for the next week or so. 

Tuesday: Cheesy White Chili with Cauliflower
Wednesday: Spinach and Chickpea burgers with raw veggies
Thursday: Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Friday: Pizza!
Saturday: Pancakes, VeganDad's breakfast sausages, and smoothies
Sunday: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Monday: Grilled Cheese (on quinoa bread) with sweet potato fries
Tuesday: Cream of Potato soup

The question I am asked the most lately is how I find the time to cook.  It's right up there with how do I get my protein.  The answer is pretty simple... I really enjoy cooking.  I find time to cook where other people might find time to do laundry (I keep running out of time to do that...) or read a book.  I also try to involve the kids in it as much as I can or at least do it during their most independent times.  I rarely spend time in the kitchen during what I like to call the witching hour; I don't need to torture myself that way.  I also pre-plan everything and stock up on things that I find essential during the week.  Right now our deep freeze is stocked with chunky pasta sauce, lentil balls, vegetable stock, school snacks, different sauces, and cooked beans.  That way if my day isn't going exactly according to plan I can pull something out of the freezer and already be half done with dinner.

Here is a couple of pictures of different things we have made for the deep freeze this week.  Pasta sauce, vegetable stock, barbeque sauce, and lentil balls.  Next up, whole wheat quinoa bread!




Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring?!

You wouldn't know it by looking out our window but today is the first day of spring!  So even though it is raining and we have mountains of snow, we decided to celebrate by bbq-ing.  A few weeks ago my friend, Heather (my hero remember?), gave me a terrific recipe for baked beans and pointed me in the direction of Vegan Dad's pinto bean sausages.   I couldn't wait to try both recipes and thought today would be the perfect day for it.  I served them with bbq'd corn on the cob and asparagus.  Our favourite neighbourhood friend was visiting for the afternoon and he LOVES to bake so we decided to make a Pear Apple crisp for dessert (with ice cream of course)!

Baked Beans

1 lb dry beans (I used a mix)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 cup ketchup
approx 3 cups hot water
1 med onion
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 to 1/6 cup molasses

*Rinse and soak beans overnight well covered in water with a dash of baking soda.
*In the morning cover with new water and bake at 350 for 1 hour.
*Mix remaining ingredients except water into a paste and add to beans
*Add water and cover and bake at 300 for 3 hours or until beans are soft
*Uncover for last 1/2 hour

VeganDad's Sausages

1 cup cooked pinto beans
1 3/4 cups cold vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seed
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 serving of your favourite homemade bbq sauce

*Prepare steamer because this goes a lot faster than you'd think
*Get 12 pieces of tin foil ready to wrap sausages in
*Pulse pinto beans several times in food processor (or mash well)
*Mix together with remaining ingredients
*Divide into 12 pieces and place each into the prepared tin foil
*Wrap each pieced like a tootsie roll and place in steamer (I used 2 layers of bamboo steamers)
*Steam for 40 minutes
*Brush with bbq sauce and grill as you like



Pear Apple Crisp

4 good sized pears, peeled and cut
4 good sized apples, peeled and cut
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
juice from one lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup melted butter

*In a large bowl, toss together pears, apples, first helping of flour, first helping of sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon
*Pour into an 8 inch square glass baking dish
*In a small bowl, mix together oats, remaining sugar and flour, and nutmeg
*Drizzle butter over oat mixture and mix well
*Sprinkle over fruit mixture
*Bake at 350 for 1 hour

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Switching up my menu plan?

I'm as shocked as you are!  Don't worry...I'm still going to be making the spaghetti and lentil balls but probably not until Monday when I have a chance to make a giant pot of sauce.  Life got in the way of that today so I had to make something a little less time consuming.  I first had this casserole at a baby group that I go to, I couldn't believe that I actually liked it (I'm not a fan of cottage cheese).  I've modified the recipe since then but the bones of it are the same.  I also added Veganomicon's chicken cutlets (done as nuggets) and an arugula salad.  Very filling and delicious <3




Cheesy Vegetable Pasta Bake


1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 chopped red pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 onion
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I like to add a little more!)
1/2 cup milk
 2 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 box whole wheat fusilli pasta
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs


*Saute vegetables in olive oil until soft
*Cook pasta according to package instructions
*In a large bowl, combine cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, milk, salt, basil, and hot sauce
*Add vegetables and pasta and turn into large casserole dish
*Mix together butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of dish
*Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes


Chickpea Nuggets

2 cups cooked chickpeas
4 tablespoons olive oil
  1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
 1/2 cup "chicken" broth
4 tablespoons braggs
4 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
 
*Pulse together in a food processor chickpeas and oil
*In a large bowl combine all ingredients and knead for several minutes
*Form into nugget (or cutlet) shape and pan fry in olive oil for 5-7 minutes per side

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Top Five: Five Favourite Cookbooks!


This was the first vegetarian cookbook I picked up after I had children.  I had been interested in cooking before but having children made healthy eating that much more important to me.  I must have tried every recipe in this book several times.  Many times the food didn't turn out but I have to say that it was mostly chef error.  This cookbook has been well loved and well used in our home.  The pages are dirty and some pages are torn and I still love it.  Favourites:  Tortilla chip soup and the hummus!


Simple suppers... that is all I should have to say.  There are some days I just want to make us peanut butter sandwiches and call it a day but I just can't do it.  The recipes in this cookbook are easy, quick and the perfect thing for lazy days.  Favourites: Pasta with Broccoli, Edamame & Walnuts and the Blueberry Lemon sauce.


I think I have posted enough recipes from this cookbook already for you to know why I love it.  I have yet to try something that hasn't worked out.  I can't wait until the weather here changes and we can enjoy these burgers on the barbeque!  Favourites:  Easy Bean Burgers and Baked Quinoa Burges


I remember seeing this book at McNally's and not being sure if I should spend the money or not.  I put the book on hold at the library and waited (and waited and waited..) until it was finally my turn.  I don't think I waited 3 days before I went out and bought it.  It really is the ultimate vegan cookbook!  Favourites: Broccoli and Potato soup and the Banana bread!



This cookbook is the most decorated one I have and by decorated I mean its covered in post it notes.  I have them sticking out from every recipe that I have wanted to try and most of my favourites.  It is sometimes hard to find vegetarian recipes that are family friendly.  A lot of them are too fancy for my kids tastes or have too many processed foods in them.  One of the things I like best about this book is the Making it a Meal feature which gives you ideas for what to serve with it.  Favourites:  Veggie Pot Pie and Quick Cinnamon-Raisin Bread.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We all know that I love themes, so it should come as no surprise that I made a themed meal for St. Patrick's day!  It took me awhile to find a recipe for Irish stew that didn't have a flavoured soy fake meat product as the main ingredient.  I try to feed my children as little processed food as possible.  Do they eat it occasionally?  Of course, but I try to avoid it as often as I can.  I finally found this one with tvp and lentils which automatically made it the perfect recipe for me.  I made a few modifications but just for personal taste preference.  I remember when I first became a vegetarian (my reasons made for a GREAT story, lol) I survived on pb&j on rice cakes, and a friend used to sing the praises of tvp.  Being a teenager I never wanted to try it... it was toooo weird, but now... YUM!  We love it.  I couldn't find the chunks that this recipe called for so I just used flakes, they worked out just fine.  I served it with some homemade Irish soda bread which took a lot longer to cook than the recipe said it would.  The best part about this recipe was how easy it was, perfect meal for a dreary, wet day!

 Irish Stew

chopped onions 
1/4 cup unbleached flour 
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup sliced carrots  
1/2 cup chopped parsnips
1 cup chopped turnips
1 cup diced celery
1 cup split red lentils 
1/2 cup fresh parsley 
1/4 cup soy sauce 
1 bay leaf 
2 teaspoons marmite 
1 teaspoon sugar 
1/4 teaspoon thyme 
1/4 teaspoon rosemary 
1/4 teaspoon marjoram 
 salt and pepper  
1 cup textured vegetable protein

*Saute onions in oil for 5 minutes
*Add flour and stir quickly
*Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30(ish) minutes

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lentil Burgers

I spend a lot of time looking at recipes.  I mean, A LOT of time.  When I'm holding a sleeping baby, nursing a hungry baby, or just having a minute to myself I am usually looking through different cookbooks/blogs/websites.  I found myself doing that this morning when I had already started my lentil burgers for tonight's meal.  I like to start the burgers right after my two older kids have gotten on the school bus, and then I just put them in the oven about 20 minutes before supper.  The littlest kids are usually happiest at that time of day so its my most uninterrupted time in the kitchen.  The burgers were almost ready and I was just giving the bread crumbs a bit of time to soak up the extra moisture when I found this recipe on the savvy vegetarian site.  Sunflower seeds?  in a burger?  I went into the pantry and realized I had some leftover from the granola bars I made a few weeks ago so I threw them in last minute.  It was a great idea, these burgers were absolutely delicious.  I served the burgers with a wild rice and quinoa pilaf and some raw carrots and red pepper.

Lentil Burgers

3 cups cooked lentils, divided
1 1/2 cups ground rolled oats
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp ground flax seed
1 cup ground sunflower seeds
1 diced onion
3 cloves minced garlic
3 finely diced carrots
1 finely diced red pepper
3 stalks finely diced celery
2 tbsp curry paste
3 tsp cumin
3 tsp mustard
1/2-3/4 cup chopped parsley

*Place half the lentils in a food processor and pulse several times
*Mix together all the lentils, oats, bread crumbs, flax, sunflower seeds, spices.
*Fold in veggies and parsley
*Let sit for 10 minutes (and find new recipe, haha) and cook in lightly oiled frying pan for 5-6 minutes on each side
*Cook at 375 for 15-20 minutes

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

South American Black Bean Soup

Its finally seeming a little spring like here, even though everything is still buried under many feet of snow.  It was a beautiful day for opening the windows and eating a delicious bowl of soup.  I took this recipe from the same slow cooker cookbook that I take most of my Tuesday meals from 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes.  I served it with a small green salad and some pita "chips" that took less than 10 minutes to make.  The kids were upset that they hadn't thought of dipping their chips in the soup (the REASON for the chips, lol) until after they finished.  This soup could have used a little more spice but the kids may not have liked it then.
South American Black Bean Soup

Olive Oil
2 chopped onions
3 chopped celery stalks
2 chopped carrots
3 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped jalapeno
1 tsp thyme
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can tomato paste
6 cups vegetable stock
4 cups cooked black beans
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
chopped cilantro

*Saute onions, carrots, and celery and cook, until softened, about 5 minutes.
*Add garlic, jalapeno, thyme, cumin, oregano, salt, peppercorns and cayenne and cook for 1 minute.
*Add tomato paste and stir to combine.
*Transfer to stoneware and add stock and beans and stir to combine.
*Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
*Stir in lime juice.
*In the cookbook it says to puree the soup in batches.  I skipped this step today!
*Top with chopped cilantro

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Focaccia Bread Recipe Mix-up!

To say my children were crazy today would be an understatement.  I tried to get them settled in some quiet activity so that I could start my focaccia bread but it just wasn't working out.  Finally I had a moment and tried to decide between several different recipes.  I chose this one but was also looking a lot at this one here.  Somewhere along the line I started accidentally going between the two and didn't notice until I was almost done.  Oops!  It turned out wonderfully but it could have gone very very badly.  I'm going to blame my children for distracting me... even though I'm sure I had a little to do with it.  I made the bread to go along with a red pepper soup that we all really enjoy and a green salad.  Yesterday my friend Heather pointed out this 1 ingredient "ice cream" recipe that we ended up having for dessert.  She is my new hero.
Bell Pepper Soup
olive oil
2 chopped onions
3 cloves minced garlic
6 chopped red pepper
2 chopped green pepper
2 grated potatoes
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp basil
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
4 cups vegetable broth

*Saute onion, and garlic for 5 minutes
*Add peppers, potatoes, and spices and saute on low for 45-50 minutes
*Use immersion blender on low
*Add stock and bring to a boil
*Simmer for 5-10 minutes

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

1 package dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2 1/4 cups tepid water
 2 tbsp olive oil
7  cups all purpose flour
5 tbsp vital wheat gluten
4 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Fresh grated romano cheese

*In a small bowl mix together yeast and warm water, let sit for 10 minutes
*In a large bowl combine tepid water and olive oil.  Add yeast mixture
*Sift in flour, wheat gluten and salt.  Fold in half of the rosemary.
*Knead for 10 minutes
*Cover with damp cloth and let rise for 90 minutes in a well oiled bowl
*Place on parchment paper and press down into 2 ovals (1/2 inch deep).  I used a rolling pin on top of the parchment paper.  Cover with damp cloth for 30 more minutes
*Cover with remaining rosemary and cheese
*Heat up baking stone in 450 oven.  Place bread on stone and bake for 10 minutes.
*Lower heat to 375 and bake 15 more minutes

Banana "Ice Cream"

5 chopped very ripe frozen bananas

*Place in food processor and mix for 6ish minutes on high
the end

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lentil Loaf

Today we are celebrating my brother's 29th birthday with some pie and ice cream!  Wish I could say I made the pie but sadly there was no time for that today.  We did however enjoy a lentil loaf with mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed vegetables.  Last spring while very pregnant and nesting I made at least 5 lentil loaves to freeze for my babymoon, so I had a lot of time to perfect my non-recipe.  I think this is the final version.

Lentil Loaf

*Topping
1 can tomato paste
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped red pepper
3 stalks chopped celery
3 cups cooked lentils
1 cup cooked brown rice
3 tbsp cornmeal
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 tbsp topping mixture from above
2 tbsp ground flax
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp basil
2 tsp ground mustard
salt and pepper

*Mix together the topping ingredients first in a small bowl
*Saute onion and garlic in oil for 5 minutes
*Add peppers, and celery and saute a few more minutes
*Mash lentils or pulse a few times in a food processor
*In large bowl combine onion mixture, lentils, rice, and remaining ingredients until just mixed.
 *Pour mixture into greased loaf pan and cover the top with tomato paste topping
*Bake at 375 (covered) for 45 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for 15 more minutes.
*Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes so it firms up

And now I'm off to enjoy some more delicious food with some good friends at Elephant and Castle <3

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Two posts in one day!

Sunday: Lentil loaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, and steamed veggies
Monday: Red Pepper Soup and Foccacia Bread
Tuesday: South American Black Bean Soup, and a green salad
Wednesday: Lentil Burgers, wild rice, and raw veggies
Thursday: Irish Stew, and soda bread *Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Friday: Pizza!!
Saturday: Spaghetti and Lentil Balls, red and green pepper salad dessert-Maple Spiced Poach Pears
Sunday: Baked Beans and Homemade veggie Sausages, bbq'd corn and asparagus First Day of Spring so we are bbq'ing!

The kids did most of the planning for me this week.  I like when they help because I know they'll be eating it all happily when they've picked it!  Looking forward to it all :)

Blueberry Stuffed French Toast

A few weeks ago my friend Noel posted a link to this website.  I must have spent an hour reading different things on it.  Near the end I found this stuffed blueberry french toast that I was sure the kids would love.  And I was right, I think my husband had 3 servings.  I made a few small modifications to the recipe, and served it with a fruit salad and yam/potato shredded hash browns. 

Blueberry Stuffed French Toast
1 loaf of french bread
6 large beaten eggs
  1 pkg. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh blueberries

*Rip the bread into 1" chunks, cut cream cheese into small chunks
*Spread half the bread in a 9x13 inch casserole dish
*Place half the cream cheese and half the blueberries on top.  Repeat with remaining bread, cheese, and blueberries
*Melt butter and let cool before mixing with milk and syrup.  Pour over bread mixture.
*Bake at 350 for 1 hour


I know that this is not technically food related, but today we got a new dining room table!  It has 3 extra leaves that make it extend to 11' long.  I cannot wait to have guests over and not have them eating on the couch!!  The best part?  We got it for $250 brand new from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Top Five

We have pizza every Friday.  Same dough recipe, same cheese pizza.  That wouldn't make for a very good blog post... different angles of the same recipe.  Haha.  So I'm going to do something a little different on Fridays.  Let me know if you have any top five ideas for upcoming weeks.

My Top Five Kichen Must-Haves!

*At least one really good knife
My sister got me this (beautiful) henckels chef knife a few years ago for Christmas.  Despite the fact that my husband dented it *grumblegrumble*, the knife still works wonderfully.  I use it many times a day, and now that I think about it I should probably buy another.  (*hinthint* sister)

*A food processor 
I use my food processor for shredding cheese, dicing veggies, blending soups, making baby food, and much more.  I've recently had to replace my original because I used it so much it burnt out.  I recommend getting one with as large a capacity as you can find.  It's worth the extra money, trust me.

*An apron
Maybe it's just me, but when I'm in the kitchen I make a HUGE mess.  All over the counter, on the floor, and almost always on myself.  The kitchen can be easily cleaned but I really can't be changing my clothes after every time I prepare a meal.  I have a couple of aprons, but I recently ordered this one from my friend Jenn at Aprons by Jeek on Etsy.  I have been checking the mailbox everyday waiting for it to come! 


*A rasp
I didn't know what I was missing until I got my rasp.  I tried my best to zest and grind spices with a hand grater, and it didn't work so well.  They are relatively cheap to pick up at any superstore, zellers, etc.  I think mine was less than $5 and I use it everyday.

*Dishwasher
I lived without one for many years (and many children) but now I don't think I could ever live without a dishwasher.  Silly?  Maybe.  But with 4 kids running around the house (and almost always in the kitchen) I'm not sure I'd be very sane if I had to wash all the dishes we go through.  It is even more environmentally friendly to use your dishwasher if it is an energy star appliance and if you only run it when it's full.  It's also good to open the dishwasher door to let it dry instead of using the dry cycle.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tofu Sloppy Joes!

Thursday is our swimming and hockey day, so we are always eating on the run.  Sloppy Joes are easy, quick, and the kids LOVE them.  Well, they love anything with tofu but this seemed to go over extra well.  We've tried a few recipes in the past so today I decided to just see what I could come up with.  I served it with a green salad and just because my son asked extra sweetly, we had strawberries with whip cream.


Tofu Sloppy Joes

1 package of extra firm tofu
1 chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped green pepper
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped jalapeno
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp mustard
1 tsp cumin 
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp soya sauce
salt and pepper

*Pulse tofu in food processor until crumbled.
*Saute onion, and garlic in oil until soft.  Add peppers and saute 5 more minutes.
*Add remaining ingredients and simmer until reduced.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Walnuts in a burger? Yes, please!

I tried another recipe from my Veggie Burgers Every Which Way cookbook tonight; Quinoa, Red Bean and Walnut burgers.  I was a little wary of what the combination would taste like, but like Joey (from Friends) said , "Quinoa... good, red beans.. good, walnuts.... good."  I really hope I'm not the only one who gets that reference.  Its one of my favourite TV moments, ever.  I served the burgers with some potato "chips" and some raw veggies.  Last night I tried out my yogurt maker so it seemed appropriate to make a cucumber dip with some homemade yogurt.


Quinoa, Red Bean, and Walnut Burgers

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 small potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 bunch thinly sliced green onion
1 cup chopped parsley
4 tbsp grated ginger
3 cups cooked red beans
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
juice from one lemon
*cook quinoa according to package instructions
*Steam or boil potatoes until tender, mash with fork
*Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in skillet, add green onion, parsley, garlic, and ginger.  Stir gently for 1-2 minutes, remove from heat
*Mash together cooked quinoa, potato, green onion mixture, beans, walnuts and bread crumbs.  Add salt and lemon juice and shape into 12 patties
*Cook on non-stick grill for 5-6 minutes per side

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An early post = an early bedtime?

I sure hope so!  Tuesdays are definitely the busiest day of our week, and my well-used slow cooker really saves my sanity.  This is a recipe that I haven't used it awhile but that I think will be reintroduced into our regular meal rotation.  I originally got it from the Savvy Vegetarian website and have made a few little changes for what we enjoy here.  Lima beans are one of the tastiest beans, but they also take a little more work to cook.  If you don't have the patience, or time, its sometimes easier to buy them canned (just make sure you rinse well!)  This website is one of my favourites for food information (health and cooking) but I'd make sure to cook the lima beans for at least double what it says here.  They have a much nicer texture that way.  I served this soup with some homemade naan bread and a broccoli and red pepper salad.
Lima Bean Soup
2 cups dried lima beans 
3 large carrots, diced
1 inch chopped garlic
3 celery sticks, chopped in 1/4 inch slices
1 small cauliflower, cut in large pieces
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 carton vegetable stock
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander 
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp garam marsala
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

*Prepare lima beans according to package instructions
*Prepare the veggies and add to the crockpot with lima beans and vegetable stock
*Add the bay leaves, ginger, and thyme
*Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 6 - 8 hours
*Add spices, parsley, salt and pepper to taste
*Stir gently, cover and cook for another 15 minutes

Monday, March 7, 2011

Black Bean Enchiladas

Every Monday my two oldest daughters go to a jigging class in the evening with my cousin's daughter.  They come here straight from work/daycare and join us for dinner.  It's been a bit of a challenge finding something that everyone likes and can eat quickly.  The enchiladas today went over quite well, although my 3 year old said hers was "too spicy on her tongue" and needed some more milk.  I made some guacamole and caesar salad to go along with it, and we ate a few of the leftover ice cream sandwiches for dessert ;)


Black Bean Enchiladas
10 whole wheat tortilla wraps
1 chopped onion
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 can (4 oz) chopped chilies
2 grated carrots
2 cans of black beans
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch (or two) red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
1 cup cottage cheese
 1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated monterey jack cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 batch enchilada sauce (you can also use a canned version)

*Saute onion, garlic, carrots and canned chilies for 5 minutes
*Add black beans, spices, and stock and simmer for 30-35 minutes
*Mix together cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt and pepper
*Mix together monterey jack and cheddar cheese
*Layer bean mixture, cottage cheese mixture and shredded cheese in each of the wraps
*Place seam side down in a 9x13 inch casserole dish
*Pour enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and top with some more shredded cheese
*Bake at 325 for 45 minutes

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stuffed Shells and Ice Cream Sandwiches

This is one of my oldest daughter's favourite dishes.  She had 2 helpings and asked for more but I suggested she keep the last little bit for her lunch tomorrow.  I think I may have to start doubling this recipe soon!  I like this one because I can put it all together early in the afternoon and then just throw it in the oven before supper. 

This afternoon we had a little neighbour friend over who loves to bake.  He asks to make something every time he is here and today we decided on walnut chocolate chip cookies.  To make it more dessert-like we turned the cookies into (delicious) ice cream sandwiches!

Stuffed Pasta Shells
1 package of pasta shells (or manicotti, cannelloni, etc.)
1 large tub of ricotta cheese
olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
4 cups chopped spinach
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (to taste)

*Cook pasta according to package directions
*Saute garlic in olive oil, add chopped spinach and stir for 3-4 minutes
*Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl and add remaining ingredients (minus sauce)
*Line bottom of 9x13 casserole dish with sauce
*Stuff shells and place in dish.  Top with remaining sauce and cheese.
*Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes