Monthly Archives: October 2011

Wet Sprints, Food Spreadsheets, and a Hubby Who Knows My Hormones Better Than I Do

FOOD

I woke earlier than everyone as usual, made some coffee, and relaxed while watching an episode of The Vampire Diaries (yep…love that show).  The rest of the house stirred just as I finished my show.

Food today though, was all about the leftovers!  I had the pasta with bechamel, asparagus, and shiitake bacon for breakfast.  I figured that would be a killer pre-run meal.

I wasn’t terribly hungry at lunchtime, and ended up with some popcorn while I was out running errands.

For dinner, I ate the leftover corn and potato chowder.  With me leaving town in a couple of days, I want to be sure none of my leftovers are fermenting in the fridge (I love D…but he won’t clean it out while I’m gone, and I’ll be stuck cleaning it out when I get back).

My evening snack was the last piece of pie!  Which went over very well last night, by the way.  As did the homemade frozen custard I made in my new KitchenAid ice cream maker!

FITNESS

Today ended up being a very unintended sprint.  It was COLD today.  I mean…high 40′s, low 50′s kind of cold.  It was 80 early in the week, and cold and wet today…with…possibility of SNOW.  In southern VA.  Ugh.

I knew I had to be at a friend’s house at noon, so I got dressed for my run at 1030, thinking it would be plenty of time for a 3-4 mi run and a quick shower.  No problem, right?

Wrong.

I wore a long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of pants, and while it was misting out, I figured it wasn’t bad and I could totally run in that.  I made it about a half mile from home when the heavens opened up and started drenching me in freezing cold rain.

I sprinted home.  So…while I didn’t get my run in today, I did get an unintended sprint in!  I walked in the door to a very surprised hubby, and then he laughed at me when he saw me soaked to the bone with cold water pouring off my baseball hat.

Jerk.

LIFE

After my failed and wet run and shower, it was off to S’s house to pick up her pups.  Jack is spending the night with us while S goes out-of-town for work and her hubby is already gone until tomorrow night.  Jack and Sammie are like little Yin and Yang’s.  Jack is a black lab/pit mix, and Sammie is a yellow lab.  They’re funny together.

it's like they're enjoying a very in-depth conversation. All they're missing is their respective cups of coffee.

After running some errands (getting the van detailed and picking up some cleaning and pet supplies), I came home.  D and the kids had been cleaning while I was away, and I decided it was time to tackle the pantry and fridge.

Yesterday I was a little obsessed with budgeting.  I think this happens to me around the same time every year.  We just wrapped up 2012 budgeting at work, and it makes me want to rework my home budget.  So…D and I sat down for a few hours yesterday and reworked everything to increase savings and decrease expenses.  I’m totally excited too!  It’s all programmed into Mint.com so my iPad, iPhone, and email can nag the crap out of me when I’m getting close to overspending or undersaving for my specific goals.

Anyway…after looking at my spending habits, I noticed that I spent nearly double in Oct on my groceries than in previous months.  It was totally crazy, so I figured the only way to be smart about my meal planning and grocery shopping was to take full inventory of what I had in the house already.

So…I emptied my pantry.  All 5 shelves (it’s actually 6, but the top shelf is where I keep my Tupperware).  After spreading it ALL on the floor, throwing away the expired and stale things, and putting a box together of food to donate to the food pantry, I grabbed my laptop and made a spreadsheet of everything I have.  I then put it all away in an organized way, and cleared out tons of space.

my pantry all laid out on my kitchen floor. The red bag is my spice bag. Cataloged those too!

Then I did the same thing to my fridge.

Some things I found:

5 cans of green chilies, 2 open jars of grape jelly, 3 open containers of ketchup, 5 containers of lime juice, 6 cans of the same soup, 3 jars of apple cider vinegar, 3 jars of coconut oil, 6 boxes of spaghetti noodles, 9 cans of coconut milk, and dozens of expired salad dressings.

What I learned:

Don’t shop when I “think” I know what I need, and don’t let my kids open anything until I check to see that we don’t already have an open version floating around somewhere.

Oh, and to top it all off, my husband walks into the kitchen as I’m sitting on the floor sorting mustards and produce and scrubbing the inside of the fridge, tells me how great everything looks, and then asks me if my period is starting soon.  So apparently the only reason I’d tear apart the kitchen and scrub and catalog everything is if it’s hormonally related.  Jerk.  I’m thinking I’m doing him a favor by organizing before I leave, and us a favor when it come to the meal planning while I’m gone…but I had to think about it for a second since the answer to his question is yes.

Jerk.  :)

I Missed a Few Days, but Not a Few Recipes! MoFo Tribute Week Concludes :)

It’s been one heck of a hectic week and that equals a bad MoFo blogger.  Not to worry though, I’m making up for it today in spades!

I promised a recipe each day to showcase some of the blogger’s whose creations made it to my belly.  And while I missed cooking yesterday – I’ve doubled up today, so I’m still hitting my goals of 5 recipes!  It’s not really cheating, right??

Completely by accident, it turns out that every recipe I selected is from The Vegan Version!  I’m grateful to the MoFo blogroll for introducing me to this blog.

On Wednesday, I made a black bean and corn pie.  The flavor was very good, though mine didn’t quite set.  That being said, diving into that filling with a bag of tortilla chips sounds like a good idea for leftovers!  I could even see this dish on a Taco Tuesday in the future!

heading into the oven..

...and coming out! I let it set while I took a shower...

my post-run meal. It was glopy, but still good.

I took the day off today in anticipation of the 10 days I’ll be in the DC area working 12 hr night shifts.  And to stay home with a sick monkey.  That gave me some time to play in my kitchen.

Lunch today was pasta with bechamel, shiitake bacon, and asparagus.  I used quinoa elbow noodles as my base, and So Delicious Coconut creamer.  This dish was great, but I have to say…the star is the shiitake bacon.  HOLY CRAP.  I had NO idea that this was even possible, and I’m hooked.  I’m going to put this in tofu scrambles, on sandwiches, and in every dish I can think of.

my chosen pasta

lunch is served!

For fun, I made a quick apple pie.  Very cheater, but my family won’t care when I bust it out after dinner!  I’ve had a box of frozen vegan pie crusts in my freezer for months.  I pulled out two rolls and let them thaw.  I had only one can of pie filling (and was too lazy to make any from scratch), so I made a mini pie.  In rectangular form.  It’ll be enough to feed the 5 of us before bed!

this was yummy, and worked well considering I don't have a pie scooper thingy....

Dinner is soup and sandwiches.  For the soup, I made a corn and potato chowder in the crock.  Can’t resist a good crock recipe…or a good soup recipe!  So this was a double whammy of yummy!  I did use my immersion blender and smoothed it out just a little.  With a fresh drop biscuit and some Earth Balance Coconut Spread, it was killer.

everyone loved it...I have almost NO leftovers :(

So yeah, it was a good food day!

I Am NA-CHO Mama!!!

FOOD

I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  I yelled this just before dinner, and my eldest looked at me with a pained face to tell me that yes, I AM her mother….until she saw my pan of goodies for dinner.  Then she giggled.

It is, of course Taco Tuesday, and today’s version is nachos!

My MoFo inspired dish today came courtesy of Just the Food’s TVP Tacos.  I will admit to throwing in a few additions, however.  I couldn’t resist – not because the recipe wasn’t fabulous as is…but because my friend AC (who’s chillin in the Bahamas on a cruise this week) got me a Mexican Spice kit from Penzy’s up in Richmond for my birthday!  So…I put the TVP mixture in a skillet, added a ton of spices from this kit, half a can of refried beans, some taco sauce, and simmered until creamy – only 4-5 minutes or so.

I'm going to need my own spice room soon! I LOVE that!

Then it was layering time!

Cover a pizza pan with foil, put a single layer of tortilla chips, and top with some vegan shredded cheese (I use Daiya).  Broil for just a few minutes, or until the cheeze melts.  Take out of the over, and top with taco filling, black olives, this vegan queso, and pickled jalapenos!  Had I more time and not so hungry, I may have made some homemade guac and put that and some vegan sour cream on it.  Alas…I didn’t and I was, so I served as-is!

these got demolished!

So maybe not the epitome of a healthy meal, but it was still fun.  I love me some nachos!

 

LIFE

On a totally separate note…I know this month is supposed to be about MoFo, but I miss my regular blogging format.  So while I think I can manage one more week of focusing on the food…my world is so much more than that, and I miss writing about it all.

Today was an all day conference with 1500 other people I work with.  It was actually pretty cool, especially getting to see so many people I don’t get to on a regular basis.  Getting there, was a whole different story….

I totally didn’t sleep last night.  I over ate on the cauliflower mashers, and just couldn’t sleep.  I woke up this morning, made breakfast and lunches, got ready for work, and bolted out the door.  I was supposed to meet LE early at the conference to talk finance stuff, but I barely made it on time and he was late (we live in the same area and traffic was abnormally horrific).  Close to lunch, we had an impromptu meeting and got the things we needed to discuss done, thank goodness!

As usual, I packed my own lunch.  Anytime there’s a catered event, I worry I’ll starve.  I brought a BAS with some homemade salad dressing (okay, gotta brag on this one…it’s just olive oil, lemon juice, and a spice blend from the infamous Christmas spice kit from my Dad, and it totally rocked), my sunflower-based cheeze I made over the weekend, some Mary’s Gone Crackers, and a So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt.  And a banana.  And a pear.  Clearly…I’m not starving.

My plan was a 430 spin class.  I’m quite inspired after Sunday’s ride.  My butt isn’t even killing me, so I figured I was totally good to go!  Unfortunately, I didn’t make it in time, and I’m frankly so exhausted, that I wasn’t overly upset by that.

My eldest is organizing and running her art school’s very first fashion show in December.  Not only does she have to organize the space, lighting, music, designers, program, etc…she’s also making pieces for it as well.  Along with that is finding models (usually fellow students) and styling (hair, makeup, accessories, etc).  It’s her junior year independent project, and is an art/fashion and business class all in one.  Today, I took her fabric shopping.  She has a very elaborate dress design, and has to get cracking on it.  All I can say…is whomever thought that making clothes was cheaper than buying them clearly never went fabric shopping just before Halloween when NOTHING is on sale.  Oh well, couture can’t always be cheap I guess :)

All things considered, it wasn’t a horrible Monday.

Crissie’s MoFo Tribute Week…Oh…and My Kid Had a PAID Gig!!!

Vegan MoFo Tribute Week!!!

This is the final week of Vegan MoFo, and in tribute, I’m dedicating at least one dish per day to other MoFoers.  I will make a recipe each day of a blogger that I have read this MoFo season!

I do have to say, it was ridiculously difficult to narrow it down to just a handful.  I have acquired hundreds of new recipes, and I can’t wait to make them all!  As I’ve been reading the over 600+ bloggers who’ve participated this year, my e-Cookbook has grown exponentially.  Personally…I would love to see the organizers of MoFo create a yearly cookbook, compiling the wonderful creations of my fellow vegan home cooks.  Maybe we could donate the proceeds to charity.

One of the foods I really loved (but certainly didn’t love my waist) was a good vat of mashed potatoes.  My mom made them with butter, milk, and a little mayo or sour cream, and they were heavenly.  I’ve made a few vegan batches over the years, but they were certainly far from healthy.  I have attempted a few cauliflower mashers too, but could never quite get that “mashed potato feel”.

Well…then I read a recipe last week that made me think it was possible to achieve that mashed potato decadence with a head of cauliflower, and into my e-cookbook it went.  When making my meal planning spreadsheet yesterday, this was first on my list.

So dinner tonight was grilled portabello mushrooms, baked sweet potatoes, and The Vegan Adventures of Meggie and Ben’s Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes“!  I began by steaming in my micro steamer a head of cauliflower for 15 minutes.  Then I put them in a bowl with 1/4 cup Earth Balance and 1/4 cup vegan sour cream.  I put the hand-held mixer to it and mashed.  I don’t have a regular food processor and the hand-held didn’t get that “whipped” texture….so I dumped it all into my Vitamix.  Magic!  They LOOKED just like mashed potatoes!  I put it back into the bowl and stirred in the seasoning, and tasted.  They TASTED just like mashed potatoes.  Even my daughter was drooling.  So make them…you won’t be sorry.

don't let the serving on the plate fool you. After dinner...I ate the rest of the mashers. From the bowl.

Part of my meal planning this week actually included my lunches too.  I don’t normally do that.  Typically, I plan for dinners only, knowing there will be plenty of leftovers for lunches.  This week though, I wanted to do all raw lunches, so I busted out my stack of raw books and got cracking.

First on the list was a sunflower based “cheeze” from Ani’s Raw Food Essentials.  I made it over the weekend, and packed it for a snack today with a big bowl of cut up veggies.  I can’t believe how good it was!

just a few simple ingredients into the Vitamix

awesome snack while on a conf call....

I also made a raw soup for lunch.  As it happened, my awesome snack filled me up, and my soup ended up being an afternoon snack.  This time, it was Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen’s Thailand Tom Kha Gai soup.

Overall I liked it very much, but it was a bit too oily and didn’t have enough salt.  Easy enough to fix next time.

raw soup with chunks of tomato, broccoli, and avocado. I let the soup toppings sit in the mason jar with the broth all day, making them nicely tender, but not mushy

Weekend Wrap Up

The coolest thing was probably my 16 yr old daughter having her first paid art gig.  I’ve mentioned before that she goes to a special school for the arts and is incredibly talented (though a pain at times!).  Anyway…she answered a flyer looking for face painters for a community day, and signed up.  I was proud of her for taking the initiative.  It turns out she was being hired by a congressman who was throwing a community appreciation day.  Oh…and A didn’t even realize she’d be paid until the day before!  She was also the only high-school artist, all the others were university students.  She had a great time…even had a parent ask for her contact info because she wants to hire A for her daughter’s next birthday party.  Woo hoo…first paycheck!!

My run Saturday morning felt great, and if I wasn’t on a time schedule, I would have probably gone twice as far.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to “have my body back” and work out without pain.  Today’s run was great too, though I ran into my friend AT during my warm up and spent nearly as much chatting as I did warming up!

Sunday it was off to my first spin class in MONTHS.  I’ve missed my bike, and wanted to do a group ride this weekend.  I was also afraid since it would be my first time since my injury in July.  I figured a stationary ride was a MUCH better idea.  I took the younger two with me, and we went to one of the YMCA’s that isn’t close to us (limited class availability on Sunday’s), and lured them with the promise to swim after.

I showed up, checked the kids into the Interactive Zone, and headed to the spin class…planning to sit in the back corner so I could slack off if I started to hurt.  Yeah.  Didn’t happen.  I was the ONLY student, and she kicked my tail.  The first 10 minutes were awful, but once I was warmed up, it was fabulous.  I can’t wait to hit up a class tomorrow after work!

Breakfast in Bed MoFo Style and a Kitchen Sink Stewp

It’s been a heck of a week….

Kid 3 started running a fever on Monday morning, and couldn’t go back to school until Thursday.  Kid 1 threw up and got sick Wednesday at school, and had to come home early.  Kid 2 started feeling sick Thursday morning, and has spent the past 2 days home.  So…not a ton of cooking going on, and definitely a quarantine type situation at our house!

Wednesday was my birthday, and my husband made me breakfast!  This is pretty remarkable since 1-he doesn’t cook, and 2-cooking vegan food scares the crap out of him.  Nonetheless, he made me not only breakfast, but a really good breakfast!  So technically…my husband participated indirectly in Vegan MoFo month!

He made me Cinnamon Apple French Toast, recipe courtesy of Vegetarian Times.  And coffee.  Of course.  And I ate in bed!

It was still a work day, and as far as that goes, it wasn’t awful.  I spent half of it working from home, and tag teamed with D so I could hit some important afternoon meetings in person.

We had plans to go out to dinner, but with Kid 3 coming home sick, we scrapped that.  My birthday dinner was Chinese take out.  Kinda sad, I know.

On a redeeming side though, D bought me 3 vegan cupcakes from the Carolina Cupcakery (remember how much vegan cooking scares him??  That’s NOTHING compared to his fear of vegan baking!).  One Chocolate, one Vanilla, and one Key Lime!  They were all very good (and 3 days later, I’m still eating them).  Key Lime was my fav.

Thursday’s at our house is what we call Fend for Yourself Thursday’s.  R has gymnastics at 7, which totally cuts into our ability to eat as a family.  It usually ends up that whomever takes R to gymnastics, takes her to eat after (subway, pizza, etc).  Everyone else figures out what they’re going to eat based on what leftovers are lying around.

I threw together another crock pot creation, I’m calling the Kitchen Sink Stewp.  There used to be a small restaurant in Milwaukee (Hales Corners actually) called Stewps that D and I would hit up at least once a month (I’ve heard they’ve closed down).  Every day they would offer a selection of 3-4 stewps…not soups, but not stews either…sort of a combo.  You’d order a pint or quart of the stewp you wanted, and then they added either rice, noodles, or spaetzel to the container before filling it up.  That, plus a hunk of the bread of your choice (Italian, Sourdough, or Whole Grain), and you’d have a rockin lunch or dinner.  This recipe is my homage to them.  And honestly…it was a way to continue cleaning out my cupboards, fridge, and freezer.

There are a LOT of options with this, and I suggest using your largest crock for it.  I used my 6 qt and it was almost bubbling over.

Crissie’s Kitchen Sink Stewp

Ingredients

*2 cans diced tomatoes, not drained

*6-7 cups of any combination of veggies you have (I used frozen peas, frozen corn, diced carrots, cubed sweet potatoes, and cubed butternut squash)

*1/2 cup uncooked grain, I used quinoa

*1/2 cup red or green lentils, I used red

*1 can beans, rinsed and drained.  I used chickpeas.

*1 chopped onion

*1/4 cup vegan worsteshire sauce (not sure it did anything to the taste…but I only have it for bloody mary’s and figured it was time to add it to something else!)

*4 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

*5 cups veggie broth

*1 1/2 tsp sea salt

*1 tbsp seasoning (I used the last of some Italian Seasonings I had)

Directions

*throw it all into the crock, and cook on low 6-8 hours.  You’ll end up with a creamy and thick stewp…and enough to freeze or can.

served with a piece of leftover french bread, with Earth Balance Coconut spread to dip in the stewp!

Random Birthday Pictures!

me opening my Penzy's Spices giftcard from my parents!

I finally got an ice cream maker! And as an attachment to my KitchenAid!!

my cupcakes!!!

Taco Tuesday With a Twist and a Funny Birthday Breakfast

I know you’re dying to know what the twist is.  The twist…is that it’s NOT a taco!  I mean…it could be, but today it wasn’t.  My husband actually had the nerve to complain that he was sick of Taco Tuesday’s…so today I made it Chimichanga Tuesday.  It works with the general idea, he’s thrilled, and I got to clean out my pantry.

Today’s taco filling creation was a much bigger success than I was anticipating…but it also made enough to feed a small country.  Like maybe Luxemburg or something.

Without further ado…here it is.

Crissie’s Sweet Potato Chimichanga of Awesomeness

*Ingredients:

4 peeled sweet potatoes, cubed

4 cloves minced garlic

1/2 chopped onion

1 can refried beans (or be fancy, and make your own)

1 jar taco sauce (you could use tomato sauce in a pinch)

3 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups water

1 container (8 oz) vegan cream cheese

Tortillas

* Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and meanwhile boil the sweet potatoes until soft and drain.

Sautee the onions and garlic until soft.  Add the potatoes, spices, and water back to the pot and mash.  I use a hand-held mixer personally because I’m inherently lazy.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Place a big glob into the center of a tortilla and wrap into a burrito.  You can add some vegan cheese here if you’d like, though I didn’t.

Place on a baking sheet, brush or spray a little oil on them, and bake for 30 minutes.  Eat with vegan sour cream, hot sauce, lettuce, onion, tomato, or whatever else you love.

oven bound!

They freeze very well and heat up easily in the microwave.  I will warn you – this recipe makes a TON, and I ended up freezing half the stuffing to use later.  After making 10 chimi’s, I got incredibly bored and hot standing in my kitchen, so I cheated and froze the rest for a future date.

So to explain my funny birthday breakfast.  Not to worry – my birthday isn’t actually until tomorrow, but there was a wee bit of a celebration at work today.

Every Tuesday is a VP workgroup.  All of the heads of my main facility meet, and we talk about everything that’s going on.  Since it’s usually my first Tuesday meeting (we meet from 930-12), I always bring food and a bottle of water with me.

My standard favorite breakfast – especially on Tuesday’s  – is a green smoothie.  Whenever I bring anything to eat or drink to this meeting, I get pretty well interrogated (my smoothie was likened to a sick person’s suction at one point) about what “hippie” food I’m eating.  It’s all good-natured though, and I like to think I’m introducing my colleagues to good food.  Anyway…TJ brought in a birthday breakfast for me today.  He announced to the crowd that he tried to find all healthy and wholesome foods like I normally have, and brought in some whole grain bagels and juice.  He then proceeds to tell everyone that he looked high and low for my “green thing” or “liquid spinach”, but couldn’t find anything, so he grabbed the closest green beverage and brought me THIS!

I was almost dared to drink it, which was funny.  My son did though, after his chimi tonight :)

On a side note, I made a batch of homemade vanilla soymilk this morning.  I soaked the beans overnight, rubbed them in my hands to get the skins off this morning, and then popped them into my soy milk maker.  I followed this recipe, and it rocked.

So enjoy…and make every Tuesday a reason to eat tacos!

Why Crockpots are a Girls Best Friend

So first of all….apologies for not having a picture of tonight’s awesome meal. The family tore into it before I could snap pics!

It’s been a rough day. R woke up with a fever today, so I stayed home with her. I’m used to waking up sneezing each morning lately, but today turned into something extra for me. By 9 am, I was so stuffy and drippy that I considered buying stock in Kleenex. I didn’t know so much snot could come from one body in such a short amount of time.

This led me to a newfound appreciation for crockpots. Now, I LOVE my crocks. I’ll often have many going at the same time, and for a busy person, its a life saver. In fact, I’m a pretty die hard kitchen appliance junkie, and even considered doing all countertop appliance cooking as a theme for MoFo! As it happens, today’s meal was already planned to be a crockpot meal and I had everything in the cooker before I started feeling like death warmed over.

As I lay down on the couch watching the Penguins of Madagascar with my little own, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that…for all intensive purposes…dinner was ‘done’ at 7am!

So what was tonight’s marvelous meal? One of D’s big favorites….red beans and rice! And it couldn’t be simpler, really.

Crissie’s Crocking Red Beans

1 bag red beans, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp crushed red pepper or cayenne
4 cups veggie broth or water
2 bay leaves
1 package vegan sausages (optional)
1 tsp salt
Dash of liquid smoke (optional)

Put your soaked beans into the crock insert. I use it to soak the beans in order to reduce dirty dishes. Be sure to drain and rinse well.
Add the onion, garlic, fennel, pepper, bay leaves, and liquid smoke to the crock. Cook on low for 8 hrs.
In the last half hour before serving, add sliced sausage and salt. Serve over rice, and with cornbread (which I did NOT make tonight, so no recipe). The rice I made in my rice cooker. No fuss. D dished it up to everyone while I cuddled my Kleenex box.

On a personal note…I don’t usually use any sausages. Just the beans and rice are great, but since falling in love with Tofurkey kielbasa over the weekend, I thought it would be fun. The fennel adds that smokey ‘sausagy’ flavor I remember from New Orleans version.

You may be tempted to add more water….don’t. Otherwise you get a soupy base rather than a gravy base. If you feel it needs more liquid, do it towards the end to not water it down. If you DO end up with it too soupy, mix 1 tbsp of cornstarch with 3 tbsp water and add when you add the sausage and salt.

As a general rule…always add the salt at the end. Cooking raw beans with salt often makes the beans tough.

This meal keeps brilliantly in the freezer for the next time your nose is falling off and the idea of cooking is at the bottom of your list.

Baked Pumpkin Stew and a MoFo Camping Wrap-Up

It’s nice to be back home in my kitchen.  Don’t get my wrong…I had a great weekend, but I usually spend most of my Sunday’s cooking, so I was happy to be home.

Today’s dinner is a Mexican flavored baked pumpkin stew.  I first made this recipe 3 years ago, when it was in the October edition of Vegetarian Times.  I’ve made it a handful of times over the years, and have been thinking about it now that the weather has turned.

I typically use a buttercup squash and always skip the cheese.  I suppose I could use Daiya, but when I first started making this, Daiya wasn’t on the market, so I’ve always made it cheese-less and I don’t feel it’s lacking because of it.

my buttercup squash

stir frying veggies and spices

ready for the oven!

ready to scoop out and eat!

I’ve successfully made this in a crock pot too for potlucks.  Just put about 1/4 cup of water in bottom before cooking, and cook on low for 8 hours.

For the Poblano-Cucumber Salsa (trust me..don’t skip this part…it makes the meal), I roasted my peppers in my toaster over on the broil setting.  I turned them a few times, and within 7-10 minutes, I had nicely blackened and blistered peppers!

toaster oven poblanos

finished salsa. I'll be eating this on everything all week!

Served with a loaf of fresh bread right out of the bread machine and a grilled Portobello, we had a great Sunday dinner!

a simple bread...nothing fancy tonight

bread with some Earth Balance Coconut spread, grilled balsamic mushroom, and pumpkin stew. I'm stuffed!

Camping Wrap-Up

We had a great time this weekend.  Aside from my husband hurting his back very badly (just by sleeping there), it was wonderful.  Here are some pictures of our fun!

our rustic cabin in the woods

playing cribbage with D. Yep...I beat him.

Sammie snuggling up on M at bedtime

playing Boochie Ball with the kids

playing Yahtzee with R. Yep, she beat me.

family hike/geocaching adventure

my honey grilling!

Yeah….it’s been a great weekend :)

All About Tin Foil MoFo Camping Cooking!

The past 24 hrs have been fun in a different way for me. I mentioned in previous posts that my family and I were renting a rustic cabin at a state park here in VA. Since I’ve never been camping before, my checklist for knowing what to bring came from http://www.rei.com! Here’s how our last 24 hrs have gone…including one awesome dinner!

I arrived at the cabin with the youngest two and the dog around 5pm, and we unloaded the van and settled in to wait for D and A (A doesn’t get home from high school until after 6pm…I wanted to get to the cabin while it was still daylight).

There were traffic issues that caused a delay for hubby and daughter to arrive, so our original plan to grill Friday night was ditched…I ended up eating popcorn and drinking red wine instead. They had taco bell. D was quite disappointed.

We stayed up fairly late playing games. I beat D at a game of cribbage, R beat me at Yahtzee, and M and D spent a long time teaching me to play poker. The card part of the game isn’t hard, but the betting has me very confused still. Perhaps it was the wine.

This morning I was up by 7, fed Sammie, took her for a long walk through the woods, went back to the cabin, and made coffee. R woke up not long after, and we hung out for another hour and a half before the rest of the family stirred.

I had breakfast (So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt and a banana), made a more elaborate one for them (pancakes, etc), and while they were feasting, I went for a trail run. It was a beautiful morning, and my trail took me through hills and down to the ocean. Can’t complain about that.

After a shower and some relaxing (more cribbage and reading), we went on a full family hike and geocaching adventure. Sammie helped pull me up a ton of hills…unfortunately back down them too!

D finally got to grill for lunch, and I had a Tofurkey kielbasa with BBQ sauce. I hadn’t had it before and it was fantastic.

Dinner, though, was my favorite. Baked potatoes wrapped in foil and placed in the coals for an hour, corn on the cob slathered in Earth Balance, wrapped in tin foil, a foil packet stuffed full of sweet potatoes, red onions, garlic, and spices, roasted to perfection, and more kielbasa.

When I’m back home tomorrow, you’ll have to suffer through a litany of pictures…until then, this is all I’ve got for ya ;)

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Camping MoFo Prep

I am going camping!

Why is this a big deal??  Because my idea of roughing it is a hotel with no bar.  I don’t typically do things that gets nature on me, and the past few months I have been attempting to re-think that position.

So this weekend – to celebrate-ish my birthday (my bday is next Wed), my family and I have rented a rustic cabin near the ocean in a local state park.  Yes it’s a cabin and not a tent.  Baby steps.

I have been planning for WEEKS.  This is what my list has become, and what I’ve just shoved into the van…

Coffee & filters, tea, dish soap, sponge, salt & pepper, cooking spray, soap, towels, snacks (pretty much all the snacks I took on my business trip, plus 6 or so more bags of necessary stuff), soda, beer, wine, water, pancake mix, charcoal, lighter fluid, matches, games (we have bocce ball, ladder ball, disc golf, poker chips, cards, cribbage, Sorry, Monopoly, lawn darts), dog food and bowls, batteries, lanterns, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, lanterns, toilet paper, dog poo bags, flashlights, Tofurkey keilbasa sausages, buns, bbq sauce, ketchup, mustard, bread, lunch sammich stuff, potatoes, corn on the cob, Earth Balance buttery spread, vegan sour cream, tin foil, hummus, veggies, fruit, oatmeal, chairs, fan, iPad, phone, Kindle, and chargers.

We’re going to be gone 2 days.  Think I overpacked??