Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lentil Mushroom Burgers and Bunny Fries

Oh, blogland, I have so many things I want to talk to you about! I've had some fantastic BLT's lately (more on that later, but really you just need vegan bacon and mayo and I'm sure you can figure it out). I've made some crazy-good cookies, probably the best cookies I've ever made. I promise I'll share soon, but a girl can (should) only eat so many cookies and I've been recipe-testing. I've also made some fantastic protein shakes which I'll get around to posting in a bit too. Hubby and I have been going on lots of walks and playing catch in the backyard (back-strip-of-dirt?), which has been pretty awesome. It's kinda hot today though. Anyway, I've got to get ready for church, so I'll get down to it. My dinner was pretty awesome, so I'm sharing!

No, these fries aren't made of bunnies - they're carrots (obviously?). I really love carrot fries, probably more than sweet potato fries, I really wanted some for dinner, and since Easter is coming up, I thought the name fit. And I made a new (onion/garlicless) veggie burger. So yummy! I really love homemade veggie burgers and often, though I've gotten out of the habit lately, make a batch to eat throughout the week. This recipe is a bit on the moister side, so if you want you can add some breadcrumbs, more flax, or less tomato paste. They taste really great though and can also be made into a veggie loaf super easily. Without further ado, the recipes:

Lentil Mushroom Burgers/Loaf:
Makes 8 patties or 8 slices lentil loaf

  • 1 cup dry lentils, simmered in 2 cups of water until water evaporates
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • salt, pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons sunflower seeds (maybe more next time?)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup milled flaxseed
  • Cook your lentils. Cook your chopped mushrooms in a large pot or skillet with a little salt and pepper on low heat until they release their moisture and turn a little darker in color.
  • Add the rest of your ingredients and mix really well.
  • Form into patties (about 1/2 cup each) or scoop into a loaf pan.
  • Spray a skillet (the same one you just used works) or swirl a little oil in the bottom. Cook your patties on medium heat, being careful not to break them. You can just smoosh them back together if they fall apart though. It might be a good idea to add a little extra flax, some breadcrumbs, or use less tomato paste if you're making patties. They were a little too wet to work with. Come to think of it, if you coated each patty in panko breadcrumbs before cooking, that would be amazing.
  • If you're making a loaf, smoosh down the top of your mixture so it's smooth, and pop into a 350 degree (Fahrenheit) oven for, I don't know, about 40 minutes. You want the top to be a little dry and browned.
  • Go make your bunny fries and enjoy!
Bunny Fries:
Serves 1 but you can multiply to make as much as you want!

  • 3 medium carrots, cut into fry shapes
  • 1 teaspoon olive or canola oil (may not need more oil, even if you use more carrots, not sure)
  • Toss your carrot fries in the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until browned in places, turning once.
  • It's important that these get browned! That's what makes them sweet and delicious, more like a fry and less like a carrot!
  • You'll probably want more, just so you know.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Silk Review

Sorry for the phone pic! It was late and the camera was charging!

So.... Silk Soymilk has a "New Great Taste" for their organic unsweetened soymilk. Is it new? Yes. Is it great? I personally don't think so. I was bummed when I first saw this in the store last night, but, since I was making cookies I went ahead and got it to try -- Silk Unsweetened is (was) my favorite "milk" to have with cookies. So thick and creamy, slightly sweet taste from the beans, yummy soy aftertaste (no, that's just me? ok). Well, this new awesome stuff is just ok, in my opinion. It's not bad, it's really not. It's just not what I wanted. I want the old stuff back!

On a more positive note, there is a new cookie recipe coming soon -- cake batter funfetti cookies from scratch, to be exact. Omagah, so good! I just need to perfect the recipe before I share. The current incarnation is extremely tasty but a little chewy around the edges for me. And good news -- Sam likes them! Yay! He can't eat nuts, really hates the taste of flax, and doesn't like things to taste "healthy" at all, so I've not been able to find a vegan cookie recipe in the last two years that he'll eat. Victory! Plus, who doesn't looove sprinkles?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Old Bay Seasoning

With my new venture into onion/garlic free cooking, I've definitely hit a few roadblocks. But, today I have good news! Old Bay Seasoning doesn't have garlic or onion powder! They do have some other flavors, but their Original and 30% Less Sodium Original mixes don't include these pesky things!

A couple of days ago, I wanted a sandwich for lunch and didn't have a ton of ingredients in the kitchen. (By the way, Lightlife makes a vegan lunch "meat" without garlic or onions -- their Smart Deli Ham is g/o free! The turkey is not, though). I did have Vegenaise and great northern beans at home, my preferred bean for "chicken" salad type sandwich stuff. I didn't know what I was going to season it with, though. I couldn't cut up onion for the mix or use garlic or onion powder, so for a minute I wasn't sure what I would do.

Then I remembered that I have a pretty huge tin of Old Bay Seasoning in the pantry (does a teeny tiny upper corner cabinet count as a pantry if that's what I use it for?). Anyway, I don't know what made me check, because I kind of assumed it had the no-no's in it, but I did and here's what the ingredients say: celery salt (salt, celery seed), spices (including red pepper and black pepper), and paprika. So, initially seems okay but I a bit skeptical of the "spices" label. I went ahead and made my sandwich, which was super savory tasting, but didn't seem to taste like garlic or onions. You can really taste that celery seed!

The "recipe" is just 
  • 1/2 can (or about 3/4 cup) great northern beans, rinsed
  •  1 tablespoon vegenaise
  • few shakes of Old Bay - about 1/2 tsp
  • and a few turns of fresh pepper 
Then just smoosh the beans a little, pop some bread in the toaster, spread the beans on, and slice up a tomato if you feel like it. Super yummy and a complete protein, too!
So, after lunch, to make sure,  I emailed McCormick and this is what they said:
"Dear Ms. Bisset:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate your interest in our Old Bay 30% Less Sodium Seasoning and welcome the opportunity to be of assistance to you.
At this time there is no garlic or onion products in our Old Bay 30% Less Sodium Seasoning.

If we can be of further assistance, please call us at 1-800-632-5847. If you wish to respond to this note by e-mail, please include your name and e-mail address.

We hope to have the continued pleasure of serving you.
Consumer Affairs Specialist
Ref # 1801177"
Woohoo!!! Now I have a savory replacement that will hopefully work for soup! I already have a vegetable soup that includes quite a bit of this stuff. Last time I made it, it had an onion in it, but hopefully this would be enough of a kick on it's own.

Check out that spice!

This is actually the regular stuff, but I prefer the 30% Less Sodium kind because I find the Original a bit too salty for me. It's still super awesome though!

Mmmmm, sandwich.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mac and Cheese, St. Patty's Day Style!

May you always have...
Walls for the winds
A roof for the rain  
Tea beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire.

And green vegan macaroni and cheese for St. Patrick's Day, if that's what you desire!

So, I talked about my new mac and cheese the other day, and here it is! You can make this sauce as is, or, like I did today, you can make it green! This would be a perfect dinner to have with kids for St. Patrick's Day! Or lunch by yourself at your office. Or at home, like me! This cheesy sauce is also great on nachos!

 You can take it to go for lunch -- or just pack individual jars for easy prep.

Alrighty, down to the nitty gritty.....

The original recipe for this sauce comes from Bold Vegan. I was looking for a new cheesy sauce, since my other one, from Fat Free Vegan, includes onion and garlic powder. It really is delicious though, so try i if you can! Anyhoo, this one from Bold Vegan originally included onion, too but I think it's super tasty this way. I've made a couple of changes to make it to my taste -- a bit thicker and more healthy.

  • 1.5 cups potato, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 0.5 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons oat flour, to thicken
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 0.5 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 big handfuls (about 4 cups) fresh spinach, if you want it green!
  •  Add your water, potatoes, and carrots to a pot, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  • When they're done, add the whole bit to a blender (including the water). Add the rest of the ingredients (except the spinach) and blend until super creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • If you want it green, add the spinach and blend until smooth -- I did this in 2 steps: one handful, blend, 2nd handful, blend. 
  • You really can't taste the spinach, which makes it great for kids! If you're sensitive to how vegetables taste, you may notice a bit of "green" but it's really good, I promise! The spinach will make it a bit more thin, so you can decrease the water or increase the oat flour if you want. I used about 3/4 cup of sauce for 2 cups of cooked pasta.

And here it is without the spinach. Perfect, cheesy color! (The little specks you can see are because my blender is on the fritz, it's normally completely smooth)

Enjoy your St. Patrick's Day celebrations everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kitty Pics and a Bedtime Snack

Today has been a pretty fun one. We got out of the house this afternoon and played frisbee in the park with one of our dogs, Osgood (pics to come of him!) Then we went to the store, had dinner, and played catch. It was pretty awesome. I also took some pictures of our kitties. It's been about a year since they were born under our house. I can't believe how time has flown!

Paschal, hangin' out, bein' hansome. Doesn't he have the sweetest face? Don't let that fool you though, he's a ninja. A super cuddly nija, but still.....

Little Cat, surveying the picture-taking.

March, checking to see what Paschal's up to.....

And March trying to escape the picture-taking.

My bedtime snack -- Bengal Spice tea and cinnamon walnut 2 (in this case, 4) ingredient oatmeal cookies! So super yummy and healthy!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yummy Tea and an Update

Hey there, lovelies! Just wanted to share what's going on in my kitchen lately. Not much if I can hep it! I found out a couple of weeks ago that I can't eat garlic or onions anymore!!! AAARGHMPH! Seriously, every soup I make has onion for a base, every quick food from the store I can eat, every meal from restaurants I'm used to.... all... include... garlic or onions (can you even get food without garlic and onions at a restaurant?). I'll live, I'm just having a pity party first.

So, how did this come about? Well, my hubby has always (not always, but for quite a while) been able to tell when I eat a lot of garlic or onions. Apparently, they make me smell weird. Like, my skin. Isn't that weird? Anyway, the weird-smelling-skin issue has gotten worse over the last year to where I smelled weird if I had any garlic or onions, even a teeny bit, cooked or not, in powder form or not. So needless to say, I'd cut back pretty drastically on my consumption even before recently, bu then I started noticing uncomfortable, squiggly feelings in my tummy when I'd eat them. Well, the squiggly feelings have gotten worse, so now I'm giving up pretty much all of my store-bought convenience foods: egg rolls, hummus, marinara, dressings, refried beans, baked beans, vegetable stock, not to mention the afore-mentioned homemade soup. Oh sure, I'll find new recipes, I'll figure out how to make soup that doesn't taste super bland (I'm looking at you, last week's carrot soup!), and hopefully I'll find new convenience foods (or just learn to make more of my own!). For now though, I'm pretty bummed.

Check out that steam!
One thing that has made my culinary life a wee bit happier lately is a new (to me) flavor of tea! I love tea. I mean, really love it. It's great when you want a bit of something warm and you're watching your figure (watching it do what, praytell?). It's good cold, instead of soda. It's good sweetened or not, caffeinated or not, black, or red, or white, or green, fruity, or floral, or spicy. Pretty much, tea is great. And it doesn't include garlic or onions. My new kind of best friend. The flavor I've been loving lately is Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice. It's labeled as a caffeine free chai, but it's better than any chai I've ever had, and I like me some chai. It's crazy-sweet without any sweetener! And you can infuse it approximately a zillion times and still get some yummy flavor. And it tastes like cinnamon. So yum. I would have never found it if I hadn't gone into the store when I was already stressed out and made an impulse buy. Thank you, impulse buy, thank you.

Anyway, super long post, huh? Without even a recipe?! Well, you have many onion/garlic-free recipes to look forward to, including my new favorite cheese sauce (so good)! I actually hadn't posted my former favorite cheese sauce yet, which I will still do, since I have some old pictures and it's crazy-delicious for peeps who can still have the good stuff. The new cheese is good stuff too, just not onion/garlic stuff. Anyway... kinda finding it strange to end after such a long, rambling post so.... the end.