Friday, November 21, 2008

Vegetarian Chili; Vegan Chili; Creamy Chocolate Pudding

It's been a week since I've added anything here, but, I've been working, reading, catching up on email, and, cooking, so I've been a tad busy. One of the things I'd like to do here is to tell you about some of my menus, especially the ones that don't require using a recipe...for the most part, anyway.

For instance, one night not too long ago, I had a MorningStar All-American Griller, with vegetarian smoked provolone, mustard, and relish on it. Along with it I had a baked potato(I LOVE POTATOES, btw.), and some kind of veggie, probably spinach, because I've discovered that frozen spinach is pretty darned good. Sure beats that stuff in a can, and is cheaper than the fresh stuff to boot! Actually, I think that canned and/or frozen veggies are the bomb, and from articles I've read, here and there along the way, they can be better for you, because they're harvested close to the factories that do the canning and freezing, and haven't had to travel cross country for a day or so. In other words, when they're processed, they are fresher than most of the produce in the grocery store, and therefore have more of the nutrients in them. So, from here on in, I make absolutely NO apologies for using either canned or frozen goods.

One of my other meals was a non-dairy mac and cheese that was to die for, trust me. I'm not vegan, don't know if I've already told you that or not, but I can't handle dairy products: they produce unwanted and yucky gastric problems. Thank the good Lord for soy products, as well as for goat's milk and sheep's milk, lol. Anyway, I digress(I inherited that trait from my beloved Nanny. She used to call it "Going 'round Robin Hood's barn," altho I never knew why). I poured some Silk(wonderful stuff, btw)plain soymilk in a small saucepan, added a little margarine, and crumbled up some herbed goat cheese in it, along with some of the smoked provolone, a little veggie Parmesan, some minced garlic, and black pepper. Then I cooked some pasta shells, and let the cheeses and milk get good and hot, and fairly thick. Drained the pasta, and mixed the sauce and pasta together in a bowl. It was awesome, and I was absolutely delighted with it. Made a total pig of myself, in fact.

Another night I pulled a container of spinach soup out of the freezer, some that I had made last month, I think, and froze for nights I didn't feel like cooking. I don't remember now how I made it, or even if I used someone else's recipe or just threw in what I thought would work, but it was pretty good stuff, no matter what. The main issue I had with it was that it was a very dark green, very thick, and looked like...I kid you not...swamp slime, sigh. Anyway, the night I pulled it out, there was still some of the mac and cheese left, so I decided to throw the two together. I also added some vegetable broth to the soup, to thin it out a bit. Long story short, the mac and cheese and soup went together very nicely, altho all the broth did was make the swamp slime look "only" like swamp algae, lol. I got past the visual aspect of it, tho, and along with some hot, buttered biscuits(Pioneer Baking Mix, if you need to know, 'cause I make yucky biscuits on my own), it was a good meal.

I love chili, and have since I was in high school, which is the earliest I remember my Mom ever making it. Sadly, chili does NOT like me, not at all, so basically, I stopped eating it in my mid-to-late 20's. Talk about major gastric distress, sigh! But not too long ago I got an urge for chili that was almost overwhelming, so I decided to try vegetarian chili. After all, there are only a couple zillion recipes for it, right? So, I found one that looked pretty easy, and off I went to make a pot of chili. Here's the recipe:

Vegetarian Chili
2C black beans 2 C pinto beans 2C red kidney beans
365 Organic Diced Tomatoes, 4 C
36oz. V-8 Vegetable Juice, Low Sodium 4TBS. chili powder

1C fresh sweet corn 3TBS. olive oil
1C raw onions, chopped 3tsp. garlic

Saute onions and garlic in pot w/olive oil. Throw in liquids and everything else. Simmer 10 minutes. 14-1C servings
___(_ Submitted by SparkPeople user GINGERLJM)

So, I couldn't follow this exactly, as I had no V-8 juice and wasn't about to call a cab to go to Kroger for it, either. And, I can't eat corn, it's another no-no for my gastric system...and like chili, I love corn, too. Oh, well! Anyway, I subbed a can of tomato sauce and some water for the juice. Long story short, I didn't care for this recipe very much, altho it was ok, and I ate a bowlful, along with a grilled smoked provone sammich. It made a huge potful, and next day I gave it to my omnivore neighbor, telling her to add some meat to it. She brought the pot back the next day and told me she thought it was good. I was pleased. But one thing I learned from making this, is that I sure missed the meat in it!!! Soooooooo, here we go again, lol.

Vegan Chili

2 regular cans Ranch Style Pinto Beans
1 can diced tomatoes 1(6 oz.)can tomato paste 1C water
1/2C each chopped onions and green bell peppers
2tsp. chopped garlic 2TBS. chili powder

Put all ingredients in a 2qt. pan. Stir together and let simmer on med-low heat for about 20 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally.
( again, user CHELLEBELLE104)

So, one thing you'll learn about me is that I almost never, ever follow a recipe exactly, for one reason or another, which I won't go into now. Anyway, I had to cook some dried pinto beans before I could do anything else. After they were done, I spooned out two cupsful of them, and put them, along with a 19oz. can of white cannellini beans and everything else, in a large pot. I also added two cooked MorningStar "Morning Grillers," fake sausage, in other words, crumbled, and a good teaspoonful of cumin, and let it all simmer for close to an hour...I like my beans really, really, really soft. You may not, and that's perfectly ok with me. Honest. It really is. I also left out the tomato paste. This batch of chili was awesome, it was wonderful, it was great, and I didn't give even one spoonful away, lol. I ate it again a couple evenings later, and what's left is now in the freezer. Really good stuff, and I was sooooo pleased, and will make it again, for sure.

I'm a chocoholic, but it HAS to be dark chocolate, not that wimpy milk chocolate stuff, altho that will do in an emergency. One of my very favorite things in the world is Tofutti brand "Chocolate Cookie Crunch" non-dairy dessert: fake ice cream. It's to die for. So is their "Vanilla Almond Bark," but right now, we're talkin' chocolate, ok? Anyway, I found a recipe for a recipe for a vegan Creamy Chocolate Pudding, on the VegCooking blog, and this is Amy's recipe, not mine. And for once, I didn't play around with it, I followed it to the letter...with an addition that I'll tell you about in a little bit.

Creamy Chocolate Pudding
Combine in blender:
1pkg. silken tofu
2/3C sugar
1/2C unsweetened cocoa
2tsp. vanilla extract
Blend until creamy and thick, pour into bowl, and chill.

Well, I decided I wanted a chocolate pie from this. I put off making it until after I'd gone to Kroger and picked up a package of graham crackers...and I know you can see where this is going, right? Yup, I made a graham cracker crust from a recipe on the box. The recipe was for a crumb topping, and had a little too much melted margarine in it, and then I baked it a little too long, but other than that, it was excellent(I don't recommend the store brand grahams for this, btw, as I found out that they don't quite have the flavor that the name brand ones do. Just my opinon, yours may differ...but it was still really good). After the crust cooled, I poured the pudding into it, and put it in the 'fridge for several hours. OMG! I'm telling you, in no uncertain terms, that Amy sure knows her pudding, she truly does. So, if by any chance she ever happens to read this, which I doubt very much, but hey, it could happen, right?, thank you, Amy. This chocoholic is just delighted with your recipe and will make it over and over and over. And again, I didn't give away so much as a spoonful. Next time I'll buy some CoolWhip to go on it, lol.

One of my dear cyber-sisters, she of "A Dollop of Cream" blog right here on, Sherrie, sent me a link to the blog "Happy Herbivore." Reading it was interesting, because the owner does pantry challenges, and MoFo challenges, and came up with some interesting recipes, no kidding. But, it gave me an idea: Why didn't Sherrie and I do a challenge, too? So, we are. We've decided on two different kinds, the pantry challenge, and then an Iron Chef challenge, which I'll talk about in a minute. The first one is the pantry challenge. Sherrie will most likely write about hers on her blog, so I'm only going to talk about mine. I blind-picked two cans from my shelves, and came up with...ready for this?!?!?...diced tomatoes and rutabagas!! What a combo, eh? Took me a couple days, but I've come up with two recipes, one for each can. One is a "Sweet/Sour Unstuffed Cabbage" from, I think, the last issue of Family Circle, and the other one is my own, but not to difficult at all: Potato and Rutabaga Salad. I think it'll work. I'll post both recipes another time, as I'm about typed out for now.

The other challenge we decided on, the Iron Chef, involves a secret ingredient, and as many recipes as possible from the one ingredient. For our first one, her husband is going to decide what we'll be using, and he'll have both our lists of NO WAY, no peanuts, milk, or meat for mine. If he chooses meat anyway, I can figure out a substitute, no doubt, but would prefer not to do that. If we do another one, I'll ask my friend/co-worker, Pam, to pick one for us. That way it's a surprise to both of us. Or, we could pick for each other, too, I guess.

I've set a challenge for myself, too, a personal one that is going to tougher than it sounds, I think...which is why it's a challenge. Duh, right? I read a lot of magazines, I love magazines, I don't know what I'd do without them. But almost never do I utilitze them to the fullest, so, from now on, I'm going to challenge myself to do at least ONE recipe and ONE craft each month from Family Circle and from Woman's Day. One of my favorite magazines is Martha Stewart "Living," but I don't think I'm quite up to her recipes or her crafts...maybe. I may or may not use "Living" for my challenge, we'll see. Anyway, the recipe I'm doing for the pantry challenge is from Family Circle, so I've met 1/4 of my personal challenge for this month, lol. There are a couple crafts I've picked out, too. One is simply to pot a small pine tree to bring in the house...I can do that...from Family Circle(I'm pretty sure, anyway), and the other is paper stars, from Woman's Day. As for a recipe from the Woman's Day, I didn't really see too much I thought I'd like, so, here's my idea. If you read Woman's Day, you know that some issues have a menus for a month feature, in the back of the mag. So, I've checked off some of the menus I thought looked good, and will choose one to make in a vegetarian way. For instance, instead of marinated pork, I'll make marinated and baked tofu slices. That sort of thing. Seems like that would count as a recipe, right?

Until next time, happy cooking and good eating to you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

BBQ Tempeh w/Bell hope for it, sigh!

But. Will I try it again? Yes, most definitely, but the next time I'll leave out the tamari. I did learn something, tho: If the recipe calls for tamari, use tamari and not soy sauce, lol. Last night I did some checking up, and it seems that tamari isn't as salty as soy sauce, so that was one thing wrong, plus I just feel like the recipe calls for too much tamari anyway. That's just my opinion, yours may differ. Anyway, here's the recipe, and it originally came from the "Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook," which is just about at the top of my Christmas list this year, along with "Vegan with A Vengeance."

BBQ Tempeh with Bell Peppers

1/2 C tamari 2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar 4 tsp. lemon juice 2 tsp. honey
8 oz. of tempeh 1C sliced onion 2 red or green peppers, cut in strips

1/4 C tomato paste 1-2 Tbs. molasses 1-2Tbs. packed brown sugar
2tsp. prepared mustard 2tsp. apple cider vinegar 1tsp. ea. minced garlic, and chili powder. Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Mix tamari, rice vinegar, lemon juice and honey in a bowl.
2. Put tempeh in, covering with the marinade. Cover, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, turning every once in a while. Drain tempeh, reserve marinade, and cube the tempeh.
3. Spray large, non-stick skillet with non-stick cooking spray, and heat over medium heat until hot. Add onions, bell peppers, and tempeh, and cook, stirring, until veggies are just tender, about 5 minutes(my idea of tender and the cookbook's idea of tender are two different ideas, btw. I'm from the North, and I like my veggies very tender, thank you!!).
4. Add marinade, tomato paste, molasses, sugar, mustard, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, and 3/4C or water to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cook, uncovered, until mixture thickens, mashing tempeh with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

I had it with mashed potatoes and...gasp...canned French style green beans. The potatoes and the beans were great, lol. Anyway, the next time I try this, and I do have some more tempeh in my 'fridge, I'm going to also use a...gasp again...bottled bbq sauce. That just might make a difference, eh?

If you do try it, or if you've made it before, feel free to let me know your feelings about it. I suppose it's quite possible that I'm the only vegetarian in the United States that doesn't really care for tempeh, sigh. But then, I also don't like basil, horseradish, okra, or black-eyed peas, either!!!! So, until next time, have a good meal, ok?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Ramblin'

Hi, there,
Glad you could drop by and visit for a while. Right now I'm just going to ramble a little bit, give you a little background information about me, JB. As of now, I'm 61 years old, livin' alone and lovin' it, working for a local Waffle House as a server, and Mom to an almost 40-year old son, who lives in Florida. My location is a little town in Georgia, about ten or so miles from Atlanta. It's a very sleepy little town, nothing going on except traffic. There's a K-Mart, Burger King, Taco Bell, Cap'n D's, a couple places to get tires fixed, a couple or more filling stations, a Publix, Kroger, Dollar General, and a fantastic Dollar Tree that I call "my Macy's." Of course there are more stores, and there's even a bowling alley, but I've never graced the doors of that: I don't like to bowl, and I don't bowl well.

What do I like? Well, I love fooling around on the computer, I love to read, I do a little crafting here and there, and I love to eat, as well as to read about food: Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Vegetarian Times, vegetarian/vegan cookbooks, and all the vegetarian/vegan blogs I can find.

And, there are lots and lots and lots of the vegetarian/vegan blogs, so mine is just a drop in a huge, wonderful bucket, and nothing here is original. I don't think, that is. The recipes I post here are all from sources that I'll give full credit to. I'm also going to list menus here, the ones that I have eaten or plan to eat. Most of what will be posted here will be quite simple, no great long ingredient lists, no weird foods or food combinations...well, I'd better clarify that to say that I don't think there's any weird foods or combinations here, lol. You might disagree, I realize that fully. YOU may think tofu is weird, whereas I don't. Or tempeh?!?! Ok, tempeh is a little weird, I admit, but I'm working on finding recipes that use it and taste good. For instance, tonight I'm going to have BBQ Tempeh, that I made a couple weeks ago and then froze the leftovers for a night when I didn't want to tonight...but I'm going to have to tinker with it. The recipe I used called for too much tamari, so I've got to change that somehow. I'll work on it, lol. But the menu itself is easy: baked potato, green beans, and the BBQ. If you wanted to, you could put the BBQ over rice, noodles, or just buns, any kind you like. I think I'm going to put some soy-based Parmesan cheese in it, too, and add some more water, to dilute the tamari flavor somewhat. I'll let you know if it worked or not.

That's all I'm going to say for now, I'll be back some other time, and then get serious about posting...I hope, lol. I think there's a place here where you can comment if you wish, and, if you wish, feel free!!!!
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