Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our Trip to Portland, Part II

Here is the most amazing open faced sandwich EVER! When we first got in from the airport, we went straight to my Juju's house. She uses a lot of dairy and meat in everything she cooks, so I offered to cook for her instead....but I really wanted to make something she would find satisfying and filling. I thought open faced sandwiches with sauteed and grilled veggies would probably do the trick, and these were one of the best meals I have ever made, although they were hard to eat. 

Below are photos of what was in the sandwich. We took white button mushrooms, two entire garlics, scallions, and white onions and caramelized all of them in a cast iron pan with olive oil. In a separate pan, we fried up eggplants. After they were fried, the eggplants went in baking dish with  roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes. We also pan fried a basil polenta. 
In a blender, we put 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup basil, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper and blended until it turned into this green puree (below). This topped the sandwiches with the olive tapenade you see above it. All of these things were stacked on top of a fresh baked olive boulle we got from this little organic co-op my grandmother frequents. 


After dinner we watched Avatar, which my Juju reported "blew her brain out." I know the first time I saw it I was pretty impressed too. :) Ha ha. At one point, a fly was bothering us so she manned all of us with our very own fly swatters. Of course Jay ended up killing it with his bare hands. 

Later that night, Jay was blown away when he spotted a pull up bar in Juju's kitchen. It is really really difficult for anyone to do a pull up but especially women because of our lack of upper body strength, so for him to see one in my grandmothers house was kind of a shock. 

Jay: "Juju, is that a pull up bar?" 
Juju:  "Oh! Well why of course! I love using that! Is that strange for me to have that?"
Jay: "Uh...I guess not. You usually just see those in guys dorm rooms next to a six pack...can you actually do a pull up?"
Juju: "Oh no, I just like to hang off of it like this and really stretch my back out"

She is definitely my kin.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Finally....Our trip to Portland Part I: Pizza Night

I finished my boards and PASSED (yay!), so all I have is one project to finish and I am DONE with school! For those of you who don't know, I have been working on my Masters in Nursing and because of a grant and a move I was attempting to finish the degree in one year even though it was a three year program...while working full time. :( It was a really stressful year and my hair is turning white...but my mom says that is genetics not stress. I'm not so sure.

Anyhow, in July we went to Portland, Oregon to visit family and had the BEST time!!! We also had lots of fantastic vegan treats!

My family has pizza night quite often, and so I had to make a vegan pizza for myself (and my sister who ponders veganism) but everyone ate this pizza. We rolled out this thin crust and put a little tomato sauce and tons of garlic on it and then baked it. While it was baking I pan fried asparagus, kalamata olives, onions, eggplant, garlic, and mushrooms in a pan. In another pan I fried Gardein Chk'n in olive oil with tons of garlic, lemon juice, and cayenne. When the pizza was done, we added the toppings and ate it! This was by far, the best pizza I have ever had! Here is another picture of it:

After that first pizza went so well, my fam agreed to a vegan pizza night with the help of my step-mom who is my ultimate supporter in veganism :) Unfortunately, I made the first pizza too spicy for her to eat because I didn't know she didn't have the iron stomach (sorry Vikki!) Anyhow, with this being my time to shine I had to impress. My sisters and I went to Whole Foods and picked up lots of yummies! 

You cannot get my dad out of the kitchen. He loves cooking and told me my mom (they are divorced now, but friendly) was the inspiration for his love of good food. She was my inspiration also! Anyhow, I could not get him away from the pizzas and at one point he attempted to pull some cheese out of the fridge...but I apprehended it. I had to show him that truly good food is not dependent on meat and cheese!

This was our first garlic-ky pizza. It had olive oil and garlic on the crust and then was baked. While baking we pan fried garlic, kalamata olives, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, and asparagus. It was very very yummy.

I do not know where I got the above inspiration, but this was a baked crust with a fig and olive spread topped with pan fried apples. It was really really great. My dad decided he needed whipped cream for his, but I reminded him that this was vegan pizza night, and so he used the coconut bliss ice cream I bought for him. This ice cream is really the best. It has only five ingredients, and this particular brand is chocolate peanut butter. It is made of coconut cream and holy god if you like coconut you will love this ice cream. Anyhow, as strange as it sounds, it was fantastic on this pizza.

These were the last two pizzas we made. Both had garlic and tomato sauce and the one on the left had garlic spinach, the right had artichoke hearts and asparagus. So yum!

This is Silo and Jay. Silo is a "navy cat" because he has seven toes on each paw and I guess the ships used to breed cats with this many toes so they would be superb mousers. Silo is a great mouser and a very active, male cat and so Jay and him got along very well...especially since they have that navy thing in common. Dad has never met Jay's parents and is convinced the Navy bred him in a test tube as some sort of super warrior and so maybe Silo and Jay have more in common than I know.
Anyhow, we had a wonderful, wonderful time in Portland. It is so beautiful and everyone is so friendly there! My next post will have pics of our trip to my Juju's house and the BEST OPEN FACED SANDWICH EVER so stay tuned!!! :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Be Right Back! :)

So....I have been terrible about posting lately! I just turned in my thesis a few weeks ago and have my boards in two weeks, and I am still working on my preceptorship while maintaining full time hours at work. When my boards are over, I will most definitely be posting a ton! I promise! I have eaten so many wonderful things and our trip to Portland yielded TONS of amazing food pictures and recipes, so stay tuned!
I can't wait to share our yummy new recipes with you! :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spicy Beet, Shallot, and Carmelized Onion Patties with Lemon-Tahini-Avocado Remoulade

OMG this was by far the most amazing thing I have ever made!!!! Alicia Silverstone's website, had a rendition of these a few weeks back, and they looked amazing. I did change the recipe she had quite a bit, but they were really really really good!

When I told Jay we were having beet patties he responded that he would just have some broccoli. Ha ha. He did not end up eating broccoli (hehe) and he confirmed that the beet dish was one of his favorite meals ever! He is even taking some of them to the squadron for his lunch! Oh GOD THEY WERE SO GOOD! I cannot rave enough about these. Here are some more photos of these wonderful goodies.

This was how I made them: I grated three beets (raw and peeled) into a large bowl and mixed an equivalent amount of already cooked brown rice in with them. I added sea salt, vegan Worcestershire, cayenne, paprika, and a ton of garlic. I sauteed a ton of garlic, shallots, and a vidalia onion until they were all carmelized (took about 15 minutes) in olive oil and then added those to the beet mixture.  I then added about 1 cup of tiny bread crumbs.  I then formed them into patties and fried them until almost burnt (very crispy) on each side. On top, I made a sort of avocado remoulade which consisted of lemon juice, avocado, cayenne, salt, tahini, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and soy sauce. The tangy fresh cool taste of the remoulade went so so so well with the crispy, warm, dense, deep flavors in the beet patty. I served them on a very vinegar-y salad.

:) Even if you don't like beets I think you would really like these patties, they were so so wonderful and actually very healthy (except for the whole frying part! You could always bake them!) An excellent way to get in a very healthy veggie!

Here is the link to the original recipe on the kind life:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mr. Caterpillar and Spicy Mint Lettuce Wraps

Last night I made these yummy lettuce wraps. They had onions, scallions, garlic, carrots, celery, and mushrooms diced very small and sauteed in olive oil, then add brown rice, sriacha sauce, soy sauce, and crushed fresh mint. We wrapped them in these big pieces of lettuce, and they were one of our MOST FAVORITE meals ever!!!!!!!

On another note, this lil caterpillar has been gorging himself on my herb garden. Today, after he ate almost all of my parsley, I decided to move him somewhere else in the yard....and after putting him on about five shrubs I decided I should just put him back where he liked to be, on my parsley.

And here is the parsley plant he ate.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Chocolate Covered Coconut Thai Fried Bananas

Today we are having a neighborhood block party and everyone is supposed to bring a dish. I have chosen to somewhat invent a dish with the extra bananas we had in the house. 

 To make these, I chopped up a banana into about five sections. I then rolled them in ener-g egg replacer, but you could use a mixture of pureed banana and soymilk too. They just need to get into something sticky. Then, after they had their sticky bath I rolled them in a mixture of coconut, coconut flour, crushed graham crackers, and a small amount of rolled oats. Then, I deep fried them in vegetable oil (but they would have been great fried in coconut oil too!). I put them on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil. In a sauce pan I mixed a bag of dark chocolate (milk free) with a little soymilk, and then dripped the chocolate all over the top of these nanners. Then, we chilled them in the fridge.

As I looked upon my yummies my Emergency Room Nurse kicked in and I thought it was a bad idea to have coconut in something that didn't look like it had coconut in it...since a lot of kids are allergic to it. So, I sprinkled it on the top of them while they chilled. :) Its a win-win situation because both Jay and I love coconut!

And these are those babies!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I have always had trouble cooking with wine, since I love using it but hate to waste an entire bottle when all I need is a few Tablespoons. :( Wine can only last about 7 days before it gets sweet and icky. SO...the other day I was lamenting over a great bottle of wine I had used to cook with that was now going bad on our counter, when I thought....I'll just freeze it into cubes! Then, whenever I want a little wine, I can pop out a few cubes and keep the rest waiting for me! I am sure this is not a novel idea...but you can do it with pretty much any liquid or sauce you want to use in the future. You can freeze pesto, homemade BBQ sauce, etc. I used our frozen wine cubes in this marinara I made.

Marinara is something so simple to make it is ridiculous to ever get it out of a jar. If you want to use your own tomatoes, just boil them and then immediately put them in an ice bath to get their little skins off...or you can used canned tomatoes. Either way, put the tomatoes (chopped or crushed up) into a saute pan with their juice and add whatever else you think is yummy. This batch of marinara had brown sugar, sea salt, red wine, fresh garlic, and a variety of herbs I chopped up out of my garden today. I think I picked basil, oregano, and rosemary. I also added olive oil to this batch. I let it simmer for about an hour while I made the flat bread to go with it.

The flat bread was a beer/brown sugar flat bread with olive oil, sea salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, green olives and kalamata olives on top. It was really really great:

This was pre-baking.

After its visit in the oven.

The flat bread recipe is below:

2 tsp of pizza yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup beer
2 Tbs brown sugar

Let the above ingredients sit in a bowl for about 10 minutes
Add 1 Tbs sea salt.
Slowly add in 4 cups of flour and 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Let this mixture sit for about 1 hour with a warm towel over the top, in a warm place.

After 1 hour, spread the dough out on a long cookie pan, and bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees. Pull the dough out, and spread your toppings on (we used green and kalamata olives, olive oil, nutritional yeast, corn meal, and a bunch of fresh herbs with a ton of garlic and sea salt). Cook for another 15 minutes.

We had a TON of leftover flat bread, so Jay used it to make himself a sandwich using a jalepeno sauce and white bean hummus with basil. :)

In other news, we took Lulu to get her nails trimmed yesterday and had a terrible experience that ended with me prying some old bats hands off my dog and Lulu victoriously not getting any of her nails trimmed. :( Here is Lulu after her total win:

...and the two of them. Gloaters.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garlic Vegan "Chili Cheese Fries"

It is entirely possible to eat really terrible food and still be a vegan. Studies show that vegans live 11 years longer (on average) than an omnivore (vegetarians live 7 years longer), and have radically lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. However, Oreos are vegan, and those are not healthy. Also in the "I can't believe it's vegan" section (link below) there are Krispy Kreme fruit pies, most of Duncan Hines products, Jello Pudding, most semi-sweet and dark chocolates, potato chips, french fries (except from McDonalds, where everything is fried in beef fat), etc. So, it is TOTALLY possible to be a fat, unhealthy vegan.

I am very sensitive to my diet. If I eat something with too much salt (like olives) or any wheat gluten in it I wake up with a puffy puffy face and 10 lbs of water weight. If I eat something really processed, I usually sleep 12+ hours that night. I just do not tolerate a lot of foods. This may have to do with food allergies. I also am type A blood, which I hear is the most "intolerant" blood type to most foods and also to any form of stress. Who knows. Anyhow, these are my version of "unhealthy but still healthy garlic chili cheese fries". They are baked and most of the ingredients are minimally processed. :)

You can use the potatoes in the frozen section and just bake them, but you can also cut your own potatoes and soak them in water for about 10 minutes prior to putting them in the oven. This makes them soft inside and crispy outside. These then had the "god cheese" Daiya vegan cheese made from the Cassava (wild yam) root mixed with yummy red beans. The red beans were cooked with a can of rotel tomatoes, sauteed onions/green peppers/garlic/green chilies, and olive oil. Then, on the very very top was a garlic sauce made from garlic and cilantro chopped up very fine and sauteed with olive oil. We obviously applied hot sauce very liberally. The Daiya cheese, when prepared like this, is literally indistinguishable from a random cheddar cheese. Yum. Totally quenched my craving for something unhealthy. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sage, lemon, walnut wild rice and the BEST guacamole I have ever made!

This was the BEST guacamole I have ever made! Usually I am stuck between Jay (who hates tomatoes and likes his guac very smooth) and myself (I like my guac with lots of chunks and lots of tomatoes!), but this was a pleaser for both of us! It was lots of lemon juice, garlic salt, a ton of tiny heirloom tomatoes, cilantro, lots of cumin, and cayenne. Oh yum. I cut apart some corn tortillas and fried them in coconut oil. ) :) Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap in the past, but it is now a staple in many health food enthusiasts diets. For me, when I add a little coconut oil to my smoothie in the AM I have a TON of energy and a huge increase in body temperature (which reflects metabolism).

Here is some research on coconut oil: (

*A single-blind randomized controlled trial on children with pneumonia at the Philippine Children's Medical Center found that coconut oil accelerated the normalization of respiratory rate and resolution of crackles.[23]
*A randomized double-blind clinical trial with women exhibiting obesity found that supplementation with coconut oil promoted a reduction in obesity without causing dyslipidemia.[24]

 Coconut oil also doesn't leave a coconut taste on foods when you fry with it, it is very "light" tasting and yummy! 

Wild rice is another EXCELLENT food to eat. Many many cultures consider wild rice to be a sacred food, and its nutritional importance is definitely backed up by research. It is also not technically a rice, it is a grass. It is high in protein and also the amino acid lysine.  It is also high in potassium, phosphorus, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium and niacin. It is also, in my opinion, the most tasty rice-type food! This wild rice was cooked with lemon, olive oil, sage, walnuts, baby portabellos and sea salt. I topped it off with some avocado :) 

This was this REALLY yummy salad I had for lunch today. It was two kinds of kale (one of them was purple! I had never seen this type of kale and I'm not sure what it is called :), and a ton of these wonderful heirloom tomatoes with tahini roasted sunflower seeds and almonds, a ton of nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, and apple cider vinegar. I eat some sort of rendition of this salad every day. Kale is VERY healthy for you, and if you don't feel like eating it raw you can make KALE CHIPS with it! I capitalize the KALE CHIPS because they are so wonderful! Just take the kale, toss it in olive oil and whatever else you like (I use oil, apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, and seasalt) and bake them until they are crispy.  They turn into little addictive chips and they are SO GOOD! Kale is a known as one of those "super anti-cancer" veggies because of its high amount of phytonutrients, along with brussel sprouts and cabbage. It also has potassium, beta-carotene, iron, maganese, LOTS of calcium, and vitamin C. 

Nutritional yeast is also VERY healthy. It is a yummy inactive yeast (so it won't cause candida). It is often used by vegans because it has this "cheesy" flavor. I am addicted to the stuff. Here is a breakdown of the nutritional facts for nutritional yeast, it is pretty incredible so if you are concerned with "mind blowing syndrome" I would not read the following: 
In ONLY ONE TBS of nutritional yeast there is:

Carbohydrates: 2% DV*
Fat: 1% DV
Sodium: 0mg
Protein: 8g (for me, that is about 20% of my Daily Value (DV))
Fiber: 16% DV
Calcium: 1% DV
Iron: 3% DV
Thiamin: 640% DV
Riboflavin: 565% DV
Niacin: 280% DV
Vitamin B6: 480% DV
Folic Acid: 60% DV
Vitamin B12: 133% DV
Biotin: 7% DV
Zinc: 21% DV
Selenium: 32% DV
Copper: 6% DV
Manganese: 5%

In fact, it has so many vitamins prisoners of war have actually used "home grown" nutritional yeast to prevent vitamin deficiency.

You may also wonder where I have been since I haven't posted in a while. I'm going to blame world of warcraft, although I am working on my thesis and also working full time in the ED. :) Here is my photo of what has happened to my computer since WOW came back into Jay's life: 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creamy Almond, Raisin, and Red Banana Quinoa Breakfast

So...I am currently at work and unable to upload pictures, but I wanted to tell you about my AMAZING breakfast I brought to work! Last night I made a big pot of a grain called Quinoa. I was introduced to this grain by my friend, Jessica, although I think it is more of a pseudograin than a true grain. The "grain" part is technically a seed...and a VERY healthy healthy seed!  Quinoa was the primary crop of the Incas prior to their colonization, and they held it in very high regards....they considered it to be a "God" grain, and this emphasis on spirtuality and the food made their conquerors they made them start growing wheat and maize instead. :(  It is much much better than corn or wheat, since it has a very high protein count for a grain (18% protein!) and it contains a balanced set of amino acids for human consumption, unlike wheat, rice, or corn. It has a ton of magnesium, iron, and fiber too!
Quinoa is so nutritious and complete it is currently "being considered as a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights!" It is also gluten free. Many people have allergies to wheat gluten but very few symptoms other than general fatigue or muscle aches...some people even find they get dark circles under their eyes when they eat wheat.
Anyhow, last night I made a big pot of quinoa (it is easier to make than a pot of rice...super super easy) and put it in a container in the fridge. Quinoa is a real can literally make it into so many different dishes...but this AM I decided I wanted something soothing and sweet. I heated up my quinoa with almond milk, then added red bananas, raisins, almonds, and sweet dark agave nectar. It was great! Tommorrow I am going to mix my quinoa with cashew cream, fresh berries, and agave nectar. Yum.
Quinoa is very versatile though. Sometimes I mix it with lemon, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, and green onions or chives, or you can do grape tomatoes, olives, cucumber, lemon, olive oil and red wine vinegar. :)
Update: Here is the picture of the quinoa! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We did not have a very good meal tonight, in my opinion. I attempted to make a "mushroom meatloaf" that was much tastier in my imagination than it was in reality. :( Boo. I will attempt to remake this, but maybe not with mushrooms, or at least as many. It was overkill on those shroomies and I love them, so that is saying something. :(

So, instead, I decided to post what I WISH we had for dinner. This was a meal we had a long time ago. Both of us LOVE tomato soup, so we had some fire roasted tomato soup with a walnut cream, fresh cilantro, and homemade bread crumbs sauteed in olive oil. We also had a mixed green salad with walnuts, apples, red onions, and an apple cider vinaigrette. Oh Yum. Much much better than a mushroom meatloaf!