Sunday, November 10, 2013

More On Breakfast and recent lunches

Jason posting.  I've been making this on weekend morning recently and I wanted to post it.

It's really nothing new.  It's pretty much just Isa Chandra Moskowitz' Potato Spinach Squares from Vegan Brunch, but because I am constantly starving I added a bunch more schtuff to it like - oh - a ton more onions, a bajillion mushrooms, and an entire pound of Tofu.

Portion size, whaaaaat?  I live in Pittsburgh, okay?

Its really easy.  Since its essentially her recipe I wont post it exactly.  All you really do it chop up a bunch of potatoes, a gigantic red onion, a bunch of cloves of garlic, and a ton of mushrooms.  Boil the potatoes until they are soft, defenseless and cowering, then imprison them in a strainer in the confines of your sink.

While the potatoes are boiling (ignore their screams for help), saute the onions, garlic, and mushrooms.

Transfer the potatoes to a big mixing bowl and mash them up with a fork, add the onion/garlic/mushroom mixture, some nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and pepper and oregano.  Crumble in a package of extra firm tofu (mix, mix, mix) and then thaw out a package of frozen greens (I like mustard greens) and add them to the mix.

Once all mixed, spread into a baking pan and then top with smoked or sweet paprika (what ever strikes your fancy).

Throw that bad boy into the oven that I forgot to mention was being preheated to 400 degrees and bake for a half an hour.


As per usual, my pictures dont always look as appetizing as it was.  Deal with it.  It was awesome.

Other than that, we've starting cooking using dried beans, they take longer (like hours and hours longer) but they are cheaper and I believe they taste better.

Oh!  the other day instead of using the usual Quinoa in our lunches, I mixed the beans with Pearl Barley and it was so delicious.  Definitely going to start experimenting more with Pearl Barley.  It has a very hearty, almost chewy texture kind of like pasta.  I could definitely see this being a good gluten free substitute for pasta.  Maybe I'll try that this week.

One good lunch we've discovered is just chickpeas, black beans, Quinoa (or Barley), assorted veggies (I use frozen) - cook it all up, mix it together, smother it in BBQ sauce (I always stand in the grocery isle swearing as I read the ingredients on the back of a billion different BBQ sauce brands searching desperately for the one that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup in it - or at the very least just forgot to add it to the list). It's so easy, and so good.

Another variation is the same ingredients only instead of BBQ sauce, make an easy gluten free gravy and pour that over it all.

(Note:  Gluten Free gravy is as easy as this:  Bring 2 cups veggie broth to a simmer, crumble in some pinches of thyme with your fingers, salt and pepper.  Slowly pour in half a cup of brown rice flour whisking constantly.  Whisk until it thickens.  BOOM.)

At this very moment I have a whole potato boiling in a pot of water on the stove because I mean to try making Gluten Free vegan sausages and I read somewhere that you can maybe possibly sub a potato for the Vital Wheat Gluten and it will serve as a good binder because of the starch.

I'll post the results.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Happy October 6th!

Greetings Internet.

It's Gina. I have not posted in a long while. I was busy doing things like decorate for the fall season, watching bad horror movies, losing hours of my life to Pinterest, you know, the usual. I would like to say that I am not one of the people who get swept up in fall and scream incessantly about all things pumpkin themed on every social media site that exists but that would be a lie. I do love myself some pumpkin everything however this year I have tried to keep my internet mouth shut about it because between all the political posts on Facebook that annoy the shit out of me and probably everyone else (Does ANYONE check Snopes before they repost ridiculous shit like "OMG the gov is going to come and eat breakfast with our family every morning and force us to do their laundry and slap us in the face two times every day under Obamacare!!???!!!) AND the fall/Halloween/pumpkin everything posts, I just don't want to add to it. I haven't even HAD a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks yet. Take that! I bought some gluten free, dairy free, pumpkin spiced creamer for my coffee and I am set. I also hope at some point today to force my husband to go to a craft store with me and buy large black construction paper and then force him to draw ghosts and stuff on it which I will then cut out and tape to our windows so it looks like shadows at night. But enough about me, let's talk about food.

I bring to you today several exciting recipes. These are super spaced apart timewise because I haven't posted in forever and pretty much just looked through all my pictures to see what wasn't posted. So here is a delicious meal we made sometime in July.

We subscribe to Vegetarian Times magazine and this is a recipe we found in there and wanted to try. It turned out really well and it was our first time making quesadillas. As with any of these recipes, we veganized it.

Ready to cook! 

Grilled Tomatillo Sauce 

Just a little chipotle sauce to make this meal even better.

Tofutti Sour Cream! 

Jason could not contain his enthusiasm and reduced himself to shame eating. 

The next one I want to share is a recipe I found on Pinterest called Flaky Spinach Pie. Can you guess what this dish involves??? What's that? A spinach and cheese filling between a flaky pie-like crust? You're so smart!  It was my first time working with phyllo dough and I must admit, I was pretty nervous about it. I watched a thousand You Tube tutorials on how to work with phyllo dough and then just decided to jump in. It wasn't too hard, definitely a bit time consuming but the end result was pretty wonderful.

Hello Phyllo. 

This was my "egg" mixture to brush onto EVERY SINGLE LAYER OF PHYLLO

  Once I had layered one million sheets of phyllo I then added the spinach, cheese, etc. mixture. 

Oh yeah, this is what I used instead of eggs FYI. 

This was how it looked before I put it in the oven. I thought I may have overdid it on the egg mixture on the last layer. Meh. 

Ta Da!

Crispy, gooey, and wonderful. 

Next we have the always fun Vegan Fourth of July. I think Jason and I stayed home and cooked ourselves dinner for some reason. I don't remember because it's October and who waits that long to post about Fourth of July? So all I really have recipe wise to share with you is the potato salad. I LOVE this potato salad and everytime I make it for a party it goes very quickly. It was a bit challenging to find a recipe with no eggs to veganize and I found this one and never looked for another recipe again. It's super easy, too. 

Once you have the potatoes cooked you just chop em up and then mix all of the above together, refrigerate and you are done, my friend. 

Tofurky braut, potato salad and baked beans.

For desert I took my Aunt's famed "Dirt" recipe and made it vegan. I then blacked out and ate all of this.  Hint : It's easier to make something chocolatey for a dessert when it mostly consists of food processed Oreos, which just happen to be vegan. The pudding however is tough. Almond milk does NOT solidify it well. It was still awesome though. 

Looking at these pictures makes me want to make this all over again. 

Last weekend Jason and I were out doing something (I draw a blank on what it was) and decided that we were going to go grab breakfast afterwards. We decided we would go to First Watch in Robinson (about 10 minutes from our house) since it's relatively healthy and has some options for vegetarians and vegans. It was packed when we got there and we were like F that noise and for those unfamiliar with where this location is, there is an enormous Market District Giant Eagle right by it. So we walked over to Market District thinking we could find something to eat there because they have all these mini restaurants inside. No dice on the vegan front. We got REALLY hangry. (hungry+angry) and almost ran screaming down the aisles of the Market District while knocking over everything in sight. I decided I would take matters into my own hands since everywhere to eat ever sucks. (That's how I felt at that moment anyway.) Jason was not keen on my ideas right away. I grabbed an everything bagel for myself and then had to force Jason (ALMOST kicking and screaming) to pick a bagel for himself. Jason tends to become extremely indecisive when he is weak with hunger and he could not decide if he even wanted a bagel. I had glorious plans unfolding in my mind though. I grabbed some hickory smoked tempeh and we headed home. 
I made the tempeh, toasted the bagels, added some vegenaise, arugula, cheddar daiya and hummus. What resulted in this desperate plan derived from intense hunger was a magnificent and rather simple breakfast sandwich that we devoured and soon after became our normal selves again. 

Early this week I found a new blog I really enjoy called Vegan Yack Attack and for dinner one night this week we tried out a recipe on there called Three in One Artichoke Arugula Soup and it was simply divine.
It was a cheap recipe and it only took about 15 minutes to get ready and cook.

This morning I made Mexican Tofu Frittata because we had pretty much all the ingredients in our house already and I love a good frittata. What I really liked about this recipe is that you food process the tofu, cheese(I used cheddar and moz daiya) and spices together and then mix it in with the onions, pepper, and black beans after it's processed so it's nice and smooth and a lot more like an egg mixture.

Awesome breakfast and full of protein!

In closing, I apologize for not posting forever. I will try to do better. It is now time to leave you with a picture of a cat and then I will continue to read The Shining and drink COFFEE (pumpkin flavored ;) )

Max finished his dinner. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Grilled cheese.

Take a second and just think about those two words in combination and try to tell me you don't already feel nice and cozy and comfortable.

It's probably the one meal that you can make yourself but still feel like your Mom made it for you while you're eating it.

Believe it or not, food historians say its actually quite ancient in concept.  In the form of cooked bread and cheese.  Wikipedia claims here that the modern version of this amazing comfort food surfaced in America in the 1920's.  I like to imagine that this was a huge hit amongst all the flappers.

During the Great Depression, a sandwich called the Cheese Dream originated - it's description is pretty much exactly a grilled cheese sandwich, though the article describes how sometimes things like sliced tomatoes and ham were added.

I dont know about ham, but Im totally a sliced tomato on my grilled cheese kind of guy.

Anyway, you can probably see where this is going - but what you didn't see was this.

Today, the spirit of Andy Warhol appeared in my kitchen while Gina was on her way home from work and said:

"Jaaaaaaaaaason..." In a really droning, ghost-like voice.

I was already starting to make tomato soup so I was kind of annoyed but I turned around and was all:  "What Andy Warhol?  What do you want now?"

"Jaaaaaaaaasonnnn...  You are doing it wrooooong..."

I huffed, my irritation rising in tides.  "Seriously Andy?  Just because you painted that Cambell's Soup thing you think we all have to buy canned soup?"

Andy Warhol shook his ghostly mop of hair.  "Nooooooo."  he intoned.  "You forgot..."  He was beginning to fade now, back into the ether.

"Forgot what!"  I cried, upset with myself now for my earlier irritation.  What secret of life could Andy Warhol be trying to tell me!  "Forgot what, Andy, WHAT!"  I cried.

And as his spirit dissipated three words driffted up to the ceiling, scattering to the corners of the walls, and flying out the window forever:

"The grilled cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese....."

Of course!  I'd heard before that Andy Warhol loved tomato soup and grilled cheese.

So here's what I did:

Jason's Tomato Soup

It may not be Cambell's but it turned out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself:

What you'll need:

6 cups of water
4 cubes of veggie buillon (or whatever your brand says to use for 6 cups of water)
1 12 oz can of tomato paste
1 teaspoon each of:
-garlic powder (full disclosure, in my love for garlic I probably used a lot more than this, but if you're not that into it just use a teaspoon-ish.)
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon or more of yellow mustard (like what you would put on a hot dog, not mustard seeds or powder)
salt and pepper to taste

Whatchoo do:

- Bring the water to a simmer in a stock pot and then add the buillon and tomato paste and stir until its all disolved.

-Add the spices and let it simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes.

- Add the nutritional yeast, stir it in then add the mustard.

-salt and pepper to taste and let it simmer for another 7 to 10 minutes.

Gluten Free Vegan Un-Grilled Cheeze Sandwiches with Mushrooms and Onions

Un-Grilled, you say, Yes, I answer.  I did not grill the sandwiches in the post about grilled cheese.  Deal with it, though, daiya really only melts in the toaster oven so you have to make do.  I think I mentioned in the last post that we are avoiding grains for a bit, thus the gluten free bread below. 

What you'll need:

4 slices of gluten free bread.  (We used the Udi's brand.  When you take the slices out you will immediately become outraged at how small they are.  I have no idea why being gluten free also means they are like the size of a pack of playing cards a slice.  Seriously.)

1 package of mushrooms, sliced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Daiya, or whatever vegan cheese you have (who am I to say you don't make your own artisanal vegan cheeses?)

Whatchoo do:

 -  heat the olive oil in a pan, then add the onions and saute for 6 minutes.

- add the mushrooms and saute for about 7 to 8 minutes.

- Thaw your unbelievably small pieces of gluten free bread. Morsels, really, and then cover with Daiya and then cover with the hot onion/mushroom mixture.

- Toaster oven for like 10 minutes.

- Serve with the soup and find yourself in Comfort Heaven.

Monday, September 16, 2013

No Grains!

Quick post since it's been a week or two.

Since last post, we went to see a naturopathic doctor who recommended to us that we try to cut back on the grains.  This has been tough since that eliminates breads, pastas, rice, seitan, most veggie burgers and fake sausages amongst a host of other things I cant think of until I want to eat them.

The discovery that Quinoa is not really a grain was awesome.

We've been making meals like the one we had tonight, for dinner, fairly often.

I totally invented it so I'll give a run down and feel free to change it however you want - I ain't no chef, I'm an insurance contractor.

Jason's Indianish Dinner 

I was craving indian food (again) so I made this for dinner.

What you'll need:
1 cup of dry Quinoa and 2 cups of water to cook it with.
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic chopped very small
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 package of white button mushrooms sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 small or medium carrots chopped
2 large tomatoes cubed
Probably about 5 cups of chopped kale
2 15 ounce cans of chickpeas
(feel free to adjust the levels of the below spices.  Like I said, a chef I am not, so I kinda just put in what felt right to me.)
 1 tsp of Garam Masala
1 1/2 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of ground coriander
generous pinch of dried parsley, oregano and basil
1 tsp curry powder
 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2 to 1 tsp of powdered ginger
1/2  to 1 cup or more of white wine (booze it up)
1 1/2 cups of water
veggie buillon

What I did:

-1.  In a small pot add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa, bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let it cook for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

1.  Preheat a large pan or a stock pot with olive oil and then saute the garlic at medium heat for almost a minute, until it begins to brown.
2.  Add the onion, celery, and carrots and saute for 5 minutes.
3.  Add the mushroom and saute for 6 minutes.
4.  Add the dry spices and saute for a minute or so
5. deglaze with the white wine and then let it come to a simmer
6.  Add the tomatoes and mix well, cover and let cook for about 4 minutes stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom about 5 minutes.
 7.  Uncover and add the water, bring it back to a simmer and add the buillon to dissolve
8.  Once simmering again add the kale by handfuls until its all submerged and wilting nicely. 
9.  Cover and cook for 7 minutes at a simmer.


I thought it turned out pretty cook.

The Dr. told us to try to eat high protein meals.  Beans for breakfast. Snack on nuts and seeds.

Breakfast has typically been blackbeans and chickpeas with quinoa and green vegetables (broccoli, sometimes even arugula)

I started making an avocado sauce to go over the morning meal thats pretty good.

2 ripe avocodos
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons of lime juice
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of water

Food process it all until smooth.

That's all I got time for!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Tomato/Mushroom filling and Tofu Ricotta

My computers doing weird things - sorry if anything screws up in this post.

Quick post - the other night they had a sale on locally grown produce at Shop n' Save and I picked up the means to make a really great casserole which we had Friday night.

I meant to post this last night but wrote half of it, and am finishing it up now because I never got around to actually posting it.

The recipe we based this on can be found here, but in the end our version was not much like it except for the use of eggplant and zucchini.

I'll give you a rundown of our version:

Jason and Gina's Version of That Recipe

What you'll need:

1 large eggplant (sliced thin, horizontally)
1 large zucchini (sliced thin, horizontally)
4 large tomatoes (chopped into small cubes)
1 small red onion chopped
1 shallot chopped (honestly, if you dont have a shallot or dont feel like buying one, using just onions is fine)
about 8 sliced mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup of red wine
1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil
2 tablespoons of olive oil (and then more to coat the sliced eggplant and zucchini)
about a teaspoon and a half of dried oregano
about a teaspoon and a half of dried parsley
salt and pepper
about 1/2 cup, maybe more of panko bread crumbs

1 recipe of tofu ricotta (Vegan with a Vengeance pg 133 which is pretty much just 1 block of tofu, a few cloves of garlic chopped small, salt/pep, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and fresh basil with some olive oil and you smash it all together) - or if you're not vegan use for real ricotta or feta.

Whatchoo do:

1.  Sigh with blissful content at the fact that it's Friday.  Preheat the oven to 425.  Use 2 baking trays and line them with the sliced eggplant and zucchini.  You'll want to brush the sliced eggplant and zucchini with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.  Put these into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside until you're ready to assemble the casserole.

2.  In the meantime, preheat a pot or sauce pan and then heat up the olive oil.  Once hot, saute the onion and shallot for 3 minutes.

 Then add the garlic and saute for a minute.  Then add the mushrooms, basil, oregano and parsley and some salt and pepper and saute for 6-8 minutes, until the mushrooms release their mushroomy goodness and become soft and delicious looking.

 Add the red wine and bring it to a boil then immediately add the tomatoes.  Bring them to a boil and then simmer for another minute or so.

 3. Use a shallow casserole dish and line it with a layer of eggplant, then a layer of the tomato goodness, then a layer of ricotta.  Then add a layer of zucchini, a layer of the tomato/mushroom stuff, and ricotta.  Then a layer of eggplant again - and so on, you get the idea.  Once done layering, top with the bread crumbs.

4.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Feed.

It turned out slightly soupy or stewey, thus the use of a bowl - but it was delicious.

I think a good variation on this would be to chop kalamata olives and artichokes and add those on top of the bread crumb layer.  Next time.

I also think this would make a good spread for a sandwich - something I intend to try today, for lunch.

I'm up ungodly early today because we are helping Gina's sister attain a couch to take back to college with her because we are awesome.

Have a good weekend!  Here is a picture from last week of Gina holding a tray of chickpea patties.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In which we make everything...

So...  You know how over the course of this blog we've documented how as a result of moving to the suburbs and into a township where the Subway doesn't even carry the veggie patty we subsequently began to cook for ourselves?

Well, recently we've been way too quick to order that no cheese pizza (damn you Doughboys for being so incredible!), or just go to Loving Hut when Gina is working in Robinson - which is pretty freaking often.

As a result, we poor.

The straw that broke the camel's back, (in a totally cruelty free way), was when I decided that I really needed to buy this piano:

My friend's Aunt was selling it for steal!  (Plus, it's super sweet. Gina loves to hear me play the theme songs to old video games which, to her infinite luck, I still remember how to play.  And play often.)

What happened was, the day of the piano's arrival was dawning and we came to the startling realization that we had maybe had one too many bowls of Pho at Loving Hut.  One too many slices of that insanely satisfying Doughboy's pie (I swear to God they bake crack into the crust you need it so much after you've tasted it.)  In short, we were in over our heads.

So, like the modern minded people we are we started texting solutions back and forth (we were at work) and what we finally came up with was this:

1) A drastic cut to the restaurant scene.
2) No more buying of things we can make ourselves unless on a very special occasion:
      (a) Tofurkey products (lunch meat, brats, actual tofurkeys)
      (b) breads (!!!!)
      (c) fake meats like Boca Burgers, seitan cutlets, etc...
3) a couple weeks of No-Internet-Purchasing (I'm referring to you, iTunes - you unworldly temptation after a beer or two...)

I tried to add a number (4) in which Gina sews me new jeans and I cobble new shoes for us but she drew the line.

This past friday night, as a result, we began simplifying.

We finally broke out that breadmaker we got as a wedding gift and Gina made two loaves of delicious bread.  A Rosemary('s baby) Bread, and an Oatmeal Bread.

Here's Rosemary Bread piping hot, coming out of the machine and still in the bread pan:

And here's she is in all her glory - and the bread too:

I dont have any pics of the Oatmeal bread.  Gina made it while I was hiking on Saturday (more on that later).

We then made chickpea cutlets from the Veganomicon, and veggie patties.  I forgot to photograph the cutlets, but you've seen those before.  The veggie patties turned out way better than I thought they would.  They were also from the veganomicon, but I baked them instead of frying them and they turned out really wonderfully firm.  Here they are in the oven, baking:

And here they are finished:

I thought they turned out really good.  Other one's we've tried turned out really mushy, but these were really firm.

We then put our stash of patties and cutlets into the freezer like so:

Once there, they became fast, inseparable friends with that bag of mustard greens, the box of leftover filo dough, and that blue topped tupperware container in which rest like 2 leftover pierogies.  We hear them all murmuring to one another in the dead of the night in a language that we do not understand.  It's unsettling.

Anyway, we've been living on them ever since.

As I mentioned, Saturday I got up bright an early, met up with a co-worker, and traveled to OHIO to hike at a lake called Mosquito Lake.

And let me tell you, never has a lake been more aptly named.

It was scenic as hell though.  Here's some nature for you:

It was a really nice hike, lots of mosquitoes though.  We had a good time.

Tonight for dinner we had Pasta e Fagioli (said:  Pasta Fazoooooool) and because I am just not the kinda guy who documents his every action in iPhone photos, I forgot to take a picture of it.  Wait up - I'll snap one right now, of the leftovers in the fridge:

Sorry.  It looked way better when it was in a bowl.

People in my family who see this will notice two things almost immediately.  (1) that I used the wrong type of pasta, and (2) that I used the wrong type of bean.

My family makes a very different version of Pasta e Fagioli, I've learned, than - like - the rest of the world.  Ours is elbow macaroni, kidney beans, and a marinara slightly different than our families spaghetti sauce recipe (yeah, I still cant make it as good as my Mom's.)

Historically, Pasta e Fagioli (which literally translates to pasta and beans) was peasant food (which is why Gina and I will now be living on this forever in addition to our chickpea cutlets and veggie patties).  And, most strikingly different than the way we make it is that if you order this in most Italian restaurants around here what you get it pretty much a soup.

I just did some extensive, exhausting research (wikipedia) and actually discovered that the consistency of the dish can vary in thickness.  It's not actually classified as a soup (at least in wikipedia).

Whatever, its awesome.

The version we made tonight - because I sure as hell wasn't buying anything else until we get paid - consisted of Quinoa Pasta Rotelli left over from before we were poor (we can just add that one right up there on the list of things never to enter the kitchen of our house before we moved in) and Cannellini beans (they're close to kidney beans, right?)

I thought it turned out pretty good.

More to come on all this.