Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poor, neglected blog: brunch, approaching veganism, and coconut creamer

Little things make my day.

This morning, I woke up to have coffee and steel cut oats with Sam before walking him to work at a local independent bookstore. Houston is having another beautiful, sunny day. I sat and read the style section of the New York Times for about an hour, and then came home to peruse foody blogs over my second cup of coffee. This is pretty much all I need to be happy. (says the yuppy who has the precious leisure time to enjoy these things... I know I'm spoiled.)

Anyway... reading other people's blogs makes me think, "Hey, maybe I should write on mine once in a while." I think part of the reason I stopped writing on it was because of the phenomenon where you can't have a conversation about something because your friends already read about it on your blog. However, I love hearing about my friends jobs, loves, and exciting news via their blogs. I guess I'm concluding that it will not hurt my relationships to share a good scrambled tofu recipe once in a while. I'll be posting more often these days.

For today: scrambled tofu, coconut coffee creamer, and vegan-ish-ness.

I love the idea of holidays being a big-honking-deal with family and fun and sunshine. As a kid, I always hoped that each holiday would turn out to be totally idyllic and Norman Rockwell-like. In a lot of ways, they ended up feeling like any other day. The thing that set them apart was the meal. Instead of a rushed dinner at the crowded kitchen table, my five siblings, my parents, and I would sit at the dining room table. Every holiday had its prescribed meal. I may not be all about my family's traditional Easter meal of baked ham, mashed potatoes, side vegetables, and a huge cherry cheesecake anymore, but I still love the tradition of sharing certain foods to celebrate together.

Sam and I live in Houston now, far away from our Midwestern families. Instead of marking our sort-of holiday with ham, I went for a delightful brunch. I had already checked Isa Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch out from the library and enjoyed sifting through the recipes and pictures. On Easter, I made scrambled tofu for the first time... and it was DELICIOUS! I'm not sure just how healthy it was, but it can't be as heart clogging as ham covered in honey and pineapple. I highly recommend the recipe; just follow the link!

We also tried a new addition to our coffee. I'm inching closer to a vegan version of vegetarianism. I've decided to only buy cheese if it's from a trusted vendor like Pola Artisan at my farmer's market. Milk has been a little more of a struggle- Sam loves to drink a huge glass all at once. Right now, we're trying Promised Land milk, but I'm still looking for a local option. Promised Land tastes great, but I'm not sure how to verify their ethical treatment of animals and the environment. Our vegan baby steps have included trying Earth Balance in cookies instead of butter (and using local farmer's market eggs) and SO Delicious coconut creamer in our coffee. I have to say that neither was better than the real deal. However, both are things that I can enjoy. Right now, I have the hazelnut creamer and it adds more flavor than I'd like. Maybe an unflavored flavor will be more appealing.

This is too long. My goodness.

I'll say goodbye for now and tell you more about my current semi-veganism lifestyle later. I'll also have to tell you about the lovely people I met through a Houston Vegan meet-up group. It was like a friend blind date, but I'm totally glad I went! Have a beautiful Sunday!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I've eaten this meal 3 times this week, and would gladly eat it thrice more.

I have adored The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson since the moment I spotted it at Half Price Books. Everything I've made from this book has been delicious and nourishing.

So, how is it that it took me all this time to have the thought, "Hmmmm... maybe I should google her name." I've been missing out! Cathe has her very own foodie blog! This site is definitely taking a place among my favored websites to browse:,,,, and CookingBooks.

The Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas certainly knocked my socks off. We've already made the recipe a couple of times and I'm sure it will turn into a household staple. Check it out and get all your veggies!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
By Cathe Olson
This delicious meal is high in protein, vitamin A, and iron.

2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion, diced
2 sweet potatoes, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 cups or 1 (15-ounce can) cooked black beans with a little cooking water
2 cups chopped greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups Enchilada Sauce (recipes follows)
8 large whole grain flour tortillas
8 ounces sour cream

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion and sauté 5 to 10 minutes or until soft. Add sweet potatoes. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until tender. Stir in beans and greens. Cover and heat about 5 minutes until greens are wilted. Add a little water if necessary to prevent scorching. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Cover bottom of 9 x 13-inch baking dish with about 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce. Place tortilla on flat surface. Scoop a line of filling across the width of tortilla. Spoon sour cream across filling. Roll enchilada up and place in pan, seam side down. Repeat until all filling has been used. Cover enchiladas with remaining sauce. Cover pan and bake 20 minutes.

Enchilada Sauce
By Cathe Olson
This may not be totally authentic but it is easy and it tastes great.

1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups tomato puree
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oil in medium pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until onion is golden brown. Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Saute— 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.

Let me say it again, you should buy this book.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

For those days when you need to fit as much relaxation as possible into one day

I have been incredibly tired lately. I recently accepted a new job (which I am THRILLED about) and have been working up a storm trying to get everything ready. Marathon training has also started in our little household. Today, I decided to take some time to relax. To me, that meant some kind of pastry, coffee, magazines, and NPR. I flipped through a favorite cookbook, picked a relatively easy recipe, and got to it. And let me tell you, this cake is more than I ever dreamed it would be. Everything about this cake/ breakfast treat/ muffin-pie/ beauty is perfect. You should try it. In addition to all the great taste, this cake is vegan and super easy to make. Enjoy!

(And if you don't already own The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook, you should also treat yourself to that. Don't worry, you don't have to have kids to make great food.)

Applesauce Cake
by Cathe Olson
This moist, spiced cake is easy to make and tastes great.
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Oil a 10-inch round cake pan or 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Beat oil, maple syrup, and vanilla together until smooth. Stir in applesauce, raisins, and walnuts. In separate bowl, sift remaining ingredients together. Dough will be stiff. Spread into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes, or until cake pulls away from edges of pan and knife inserted in center comes out dry. Cool on rack. Serve cake plain or with whipped tofu topping. It's also delicious frosted.

I have been too enamored with the farmer's market to look at this blog

The Bayou City Farmer's Market (Saturday mornings) and Rice University Farmer's Market (Tuesday afternoons) in Houston are amazing. Ever since the tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant began overflowing from the farmer's baskets and tables, I've been enamored with the flavors. We made grilled sandwiches on whole wheat bread with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella... eggplant rolls, pan-fried zucchini to add to delicious tomato sauce, a beautiful gratin of pan-fried zucchini, broiled eggplant, slices of fresh tomato, kalamata olives, minced garlic, basil leaves, and the ever-so-beautiful olive oil. This season is amazing.

This website is less amazing, but I feel the need to share a recent recipe with you. (unknown, possibly non-existent you.)

Check it out, next post.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

MMMMM Muffins!

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS!!!! (classic yumminess)
1 1/2 c. white flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 TBS melted butter
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
3 TBS lemon juice
1 c. blueberries
-Preheat to 350. Lightly grease muffin pan.
-Mix dry ingredients in one bowl: flour, soda, powder, salt.
-Met wet ingredients in one bowl: sugar, butter, milk, egg, juice
-Make a well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet. Stir gently until blended, gradually adding berries. Fill muffin tin.
-Bake 15-20 minutes. ENJOY!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Delightful somethings...

This is just like me. I said I would quickly post about filo. I never posted about filo. The left-over unused filo still sits in my fridge. While I have abandoned the blog world, I have had a delightful real life full of good food, ridiculous students, a glorious husband, and great news.

- Curried Squash Soup with Mushrooms (Moosewood)- Honestly, I'm not too crazy about this. I love Mollie K, but this taste combination just isn't for me.
- Roasted vegetables - My new favorite thing! Take some fresh brussel sprouts, chunks of potato, and chopped carrots. Toss them with a little olive oil and roast at 450 degrees for about 35 minutes. It takes no effort at all and the result is perfect. Roasting really brings out the flavor, the texture is great, and it makes wonderful packed lunch left-overs.
- Pesto with organic fusilli pasta- Again, easy. (You're probably noticing a theme here.) Jarred pesto isn't any more expensive than fresh basil, and it's ultra convenient.
- Oatmeal peanut butter cookies- classic.

The weather in Houston is crazy. Today was 70 degrees and sunny. It feels like summer all the time. I was out for a walk and decided to stop in at Half Priced Books. Of course, I immediately went to the cookbook section and scouted out the vegetarian label. At first glance, I saw the word "Moosewood" and grabbed it! Unfortunately, it was a Moosewood book about having your own kitchen garden. That would be nice, but I know I won't follow through with it any time this year. I looked through a few lack luster books before I found my hidden gem, The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook: Whole foods to nourish pregnant and breastfeeding women- and their families. Now THIS is exciting! I am not pregnant, or a mother, but I still love reading about nutrition needs and this book is a well organized dietetic guide. It gives all kinds of information and recipes for various phases of pregnancy and motherhood. Obviously, the recipes are still healthy for people who are not pregnant. I'll let you know when I try a few out. I'm excited to try Better Than Ginger Ale, Applesauce Cake, Garbanzo Crunchies, and Shepherd's Pie.

Maybe I will actually write about a recipe sometime this week. We shall see!

Side note: My husband got accepted into a grad program! Woohoo! We're very excited... VERY excited. It's a huge relief. Looks like we'll be moving back to the midwest in the fall. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bet You Can't Eat Just One

(AFTERWORD: After writing all of this, I realize that I just filled my best friend's blogging request! Consider this a part of Spreading the Love February. Check out Our Little Apartment for the details about this challenge to support local businesses and handmade goods. Mmmm. Local is delicious.)

OK. Guilt trip.

This is like the times when I said I would give up sweets for Lent... and then ate a brown on Ash Wednesday. For those of you who may be less familiar with Lent, that means I couldn't even make it one day without my sugar rush. I am ridiculous. Now that four people have shown virtual interest in my claim to be blogging again, I need to actually continue! (Elizabeth, I feel loved. Many thanks.) Later this week I'm going to post about my adventures with filo dough. For now, let's celebrate tired Tuesdays where too many calories are consumed and you are left happily satiated.

Today, we went to Star Pizza. If you live in Houston, you must check this place out.

It felt totally acceptable to go for a date on a Tuesday after a hard day's work, especially because we seem to be managing to save money lately! I worry about money just because it seems like such a big thing to worry about. The world is ending! I'm a yuppie living downtown in the fourth largest city in the world. I must be poor! Right? Right? ... I just always thought I'd be relatively low income. Then, I got married right out of college and thought that sealed the financial deal. Luckily, I'm just paranoid and our world is not going to end. No more worrying. Eat pizza!

This pizza is wonderful. We get the deep dish veggie pizza on whole wheat crust every time... and it's amazing, every time. I am very proud of my homemade pizza and I think it is wonderfully delicious. However, there is something magical about Star Pizza. Everything is fresh in both my homemade version and the restaurant pizza, but Star has some special pizazz that makes me smile. In addition, I get to sit peacefully in an adorable independent local restaurant and talk with my husband while waiting to be served. Some days, a girl just doesn't want to cook

So today, I celebrate the luxury of a healthy, luxurious, local pizza date.

Next post, filo. Filo and I have a love/hate relationship. You'll see.