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Archive for October, 2010

I ate Vegan meals for one month.

I “fell off the wagon” on one day, when I was craving red meat.  I came home and cooked hamburgers, then proceeded to scarf two down.  My husband started looking concerned when I was considering the third hamburger patty.  Since then, I’ve mentioned the red meat-craving episode to my doctor (when I happened to be there for bronchitis), and he recommended taking iron pills when that happened.

After that month, I continued well on the Vegan path.  I’ve been watching more cooking shows and looking at cookbooks.  Cooking shows have been the best for me, because it’s more visual, and you can see how the food is prepared.  I’ve gotten the most ideas from Chinese Food Made Easy and Healthy Appetite with Elie Krieger, both on the Cooking Channel.

After that month, I started craving fried fish and chicken.  I didn’t want to eat beans and hummus any more.  I would go to Long John Silvers, get a piece of fish for me and a piece for my husband, along with shrimp and hush puppies for him, come home, and then eat both pieces of fish!  A couple of days later, I got 2 pieces for me and one for my husband (plus his shrimp and hush puppies), got home, and ate all 3 pieces of fish!  I was going to go broke eating at Long John Silvers!  Another day, I stopped at Jack in the Box and got their chicken strips.  They were so good!

So, right now I’m in a wonder zone.  I’m wondering if I will continue with only Vegan meals, if I will go back to eating meat and dairy all the time, or if I will only eat meat on occasion.

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I’m on the lookout for vegan recipes, so that I get a variety of different foods (and thus a variety of vitamins and minerals), to help me eat healthier vegan choices, and so that I don’t eat the same thing every day.

Here are some cookbooks I’ve requested from my local library:

1. Vegan on the Cheap : Great recipes and simple strategies that save you time and money by Robin Robertson

2. Greens Glorious Greens! : More than 140 ways to prepare all those great-tasting, super-healthy, beautiful leafy greens by Johnna Albi

I picked the greens book, because I know very little about leafy greens (including identifying them in the produce section) and I want to know how to cook them.

3. Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food : 65 everyday meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner with over 150 great-tasting, down-home recipes by Alicia Simpson

4. The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes : Amazing cookies, cakes, muffins, pies, brownies and breads by Kris Holechek

I picked the baking book, because I want to make my own bread, vegan style.

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I have a confession to make about my FlyLady work.  I did great during the summer time, but once work and grad school started up, I started slacking.  I don’t swish and swipe my bathroom every day.  I don’t shine my sink every night.

My wonderful husband has been helping me out so much.  He takes care of the laundry, dishes, and lots of cleaning.  He’s been helping more and more with meals.  He’s helped me with ironing, and he makes the bed more than I do!

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On the left:  Sheet music from the 2005 Pride & Prejudice movie.

On the right:  Sheet music from the 1995 Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility movies

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I don’t use celery often, so I buy one stalk, chop it, and freeze it in several freezer bags.  When a recipe calls for celery, I pull out a bag and I’m ready to go!

I weighed the bags to make sure they were the same weight.

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To separate food in my Bento lunches, I like to use silicone baking cups.  I got them at my local grocery store, in the aisle with cooking utensils.  I have jumbo and regular sizes, but you can also get minis.  Wilton (at craft stores) puts out fun shaped ones.

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When I eat veggie burgers and spaghetti with veggie pasta sauce, my sweet husband will be eating yummy cheeseburgers and spaghetti with meatballs.  Together, we made up a large batch for the freezer.  Both recipes are from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook.

In the left bowl, for hamburgers, we have 3 pounds of ground beef and 3 eggs.  On the right, for meatballs, we have 1 pound each of maple breakfast sausage and ground beef, as well as 2 eggs.

Breadcrumbs…

Parsley, mustard…

More spices…

After mixing, divide the hamburgers into 6 patties per pound.  I made balls of the meat mixture and then flattened them into patties once they were in freezer bags.

I used a cookie scoop to divide out the meatballs into 48 meatballs (this picture shows 46, but I took meat from other meatballs to make 2 more).  After using the cookie scoop, I made each meatball round by rolling them in my hands.

Here they are in the zip baggies, meatballs on the left and hamburgers on the right.

To cook them, take out the number that you want and defrost in the fridge or microwave.  Pre-heat your frying pan (or grill) very hot and turn it down to medium when you put in the meat (with some EVOO).  Cook the burgers about 3 minutes per side, and the meatballs until they are no longer pink inside (10 min. or less).

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Pizza Toppings

Here are some pizzas we have made with the par-baked crusts:

Turkey Pepperoni and Cheese

Maple Breakfast Sausage and Cheese

Sausage, Mushroom, and Cheese

Black Bean, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, and Cheese (Vegetarian)

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Bento Veggie Cutters

They were so tiny when I opened up the package!

I sliced carrots into strips and used the cutter on them.  Next time, I’ll try slicing rounds and then use the cutter.

So cute!  I can’t wait to have fun with flower-shaped veggies in my next Bento lunch.  I’ll probably start using a larger variety of veggies.  I’ll definitely try the cutters with cucumbers.

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How to Par-Bake Pizza Crusts

This is the beginning of when I par-baked (partially baked) 17 pizza crusts.  In this picture, you can see the dough right after kneading, before I put it in a bowl to rise.  The recipe is from Owl Haven’s Family Feasts for $75 a Week.

The dough REALLY rose!  This is a big bowl!

I divided the dough and rolled out a piece to determine if I had too much dough per crust.  I had to keep dividing the dough until I got the size and thickness I wanted.  I needed my crusts to fit in gallon zip lock backs.  I also wanted a really thin crust.  I ended up making 17 crusts.

I was able to fit two crusts on a cookie sheet.  I put them on parchment paper and cooked them for 3 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  I would have one cookie sheet in the oven and the other one ready to go.  While crusts cooked, I would roll out 2 more during that three minutes.

Here are the par-baked crusts piling up on cooling racks.  I definitely needed more cooling racks!

I cut up the parchment paper I had used on the baking sheets and separated crusts with it in freezer bags.

To cook a pizza, take a crust out of the freezer, add toppings, and cook for 10 minutes at 400.

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This meal consisted of leftover black beans (with onions) and brown rice.  I also had raw carrots.  If they look a little funny, it’s because I had just tried out my new flower veggie cutter with them.

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How to Make Pizza Pockets

Here is another meal from before I began eating Vegan meals.  These are pizza pockets.  You can see how much I used meat and dairy in my cooking.

Ingredients:

  • pizza dough (I used Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Dough)
  • breakfast sausage
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • pasta sauce

This is Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Dough.

I unrolled the dough and stretched out on some wax paper.

I used a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 6 rectangles.

I browned some breakfast sausage and onions on the stove, and then added pasta sauce to it.  Next, I spooned 1/6 of the mixture onto each dough rectangle.

I sprinkled each one with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Here’s a close-up.

Fold up the bottom edge to cover the filling.

Fold over the sides.

Flip it over so the seam is on the underside.

Here they are, ready to go in the oven.

Out of the oven.

They were quite good.  You could easily eat 2 in one meal.  I bet they would have frozen well, but they didn’t last long!

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