Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seeing Red...Hungarian Red

I've never really eaten Hungarian food before.  Not because I don't want to, but because I rarely come across anything that is Hungarian...or at least I'm not aware of it if I do.   So, when I came across the recipe in Appetite for Reduction for "Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas," I decided that it was time to expand my horizons.

That and I kept hearing Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal saying "Paprikash" in that strange accent while they were shopping in a Sharper Image-esque store during "When Harry Met Sally."

Anyone remember that scene?

It really doesn't take much to encourage me to try a new food, obviously.

Anyways, I set out on my Hungarian kitchen pilgrimage and decided to go all out and follow Isa's directions, because, let's all be real here, she knows what she's doing when it comes to Vegan food.  And she recommended pairing the Paprikas with "Scarlet Barley."

If you've been keeping track with my blog, I rarely endeavor to make more than one dish/meal.   Mostly because this stresses me out and ups the likelihood that I spill or overseason or burn or *insert anything that could go wrong in a kitchen*.

There were a few issues with the barley, mostly including the grating of beets.  For those of you who have never done this feat, be forewarned that if you are near the scene of a crime when you are grating said beets, you will need quite a significant and reliable alibi, because I honestly looked like I had slaughtered a cow afterwards.

And I stained my white shirt.

Why I chose to wear a white shirt whilst grating beets is a whole other issue, but don't do it.

Anyways, the Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas was pretty simple.  We used normal Paprika since I could not find smoked paprika and therefore threw in a little Liquid Smoke.  I also think we had a bad batch of mushrooms because the end result had a strange flavor.  

All in all, this was...interesting.  I'm not a huge dill person, so the superfluous usage of this herb may have been to blame, but I also felt like this dish needed something creamy.  Like sour cream?  Never EVER felt that way about anything before, so that was strange.  I think this may be an acquired taste, but it sure was colorful!

If any of you have a stellar Hungarian recipe that I need to try, please let me know, I'd love to dabble a bit more.

Here's the recipe for the "Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas" from Appetite for Reduction:

1 small onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
1 (16 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1. Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in liquid until lightly browned, about 7 minutes (since we're on E2 still, we used broth or water). Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, pepper and salt, cook until lots of moisture has been released, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the wine, broth, smoked paprika, and thyme. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a low boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Lower the heat and add the beans. Cook to heat through, about 5 more minutes. Use a strong fork to lightly mash some of the beans, to thicken the sauce. Taste for salt and serve.

And here's the recipe for "Scarlet Barley" also from AFR:


2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 beet, grated
Juice of half of lemon
Fresh dill for garnish (optional)



1. Preheat a pot over medium heat. Saute the garlic in a liquid for about 1 minute (since we're on E2 still, we use broth or water). Add several pinches of pepper and the bay leaf. Add the barley and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir and lower the heat to low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. When most of the broth has absorbed, mix in the grated beet. Cook for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you need to add a little more liquid, feel free to so the barley doesn’t stick to the pan. It will soak in while continuing to cook, don’t worry.
3. After about 45 minutes of cooking, turn off the heat and mix in the lemon juice. Taste for salt and season as desired. Cover and let sit for another 10 minutes.
4. Remove bay leave and serve. Garnish with fresh dill.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Love Letter to Veganism and this Blog

In sticking with my once a month blog posts...I figured I'd better get after my January post before it's too late.

I'm kidding.  Sort of.

These past few months have been crazy.   Crazy at work, crazy at home, crazy in general.  And if my sanity has any say in it...the craziness HAS TO STOP.

So, I'm going to blog more.   Because I love doing it.

What I don't love is feeling guilty when I've lapsed in posting...because then it starts to feel like an obligation.  And in a world filled with unending obligations, I just can't take one more.

But we're nearing the 1 year anniversary of this blog and my decision to eat a primarily vegan diet.   I'd like to give you a run down on some of the highlights of this year:

-I've cooked at least 90% of all the meals I've consumed over the past year. From scratch.
-As a general rule, I do not purchase any processed food, but cook and bake what I can, do without what I can't.
-I've cooked with things I've never heard of prior to this endeavor: quinoa, yuca, nutritional yeast, tomatillos, liquid smoke, whole wheat pastry flour, red lentils...the list goes on and on.
-I've tried different cuisines that I'd never been exposed to prior to this endeavor: ethiopian, hungarian, lebanese...etc. etc.
-My clothes are a little looser
-My skin is a little clearer
-I have had ZERO instances of acid reflux or indigestion.  This is HUGE because I used to take prescription medicine for this ailment.
-I sleep better AND have more energy
-I feel so connected and aware of the food I'm putting in my body because I am the one that purchases and prepares almost everything.
-My relationship with Matt has been strengthened because he was willing to put up with so many failures and to cook with me.  We look forward to cooking together and trying new things.  And we're also both confident that we are treating our bodies in a way that is healthy while also making our environmental impact on the earth a little smaller.

I just can't say enough good things about this experience.

It's true that I take a "break" from being a vegan around once a week, but even this has been impacted by the lifestyle change.  If I eat meat or dairy, I am aware of the impact this decision has on my body, on the earth, and on the animal.   I'm much less likely to overeat or mindlessly eat nowadays.

Life is good.  And it might be a little sappy to write this blog post, but I credit much of my good mood and happiness to choosing to live a primarily plant-strong life.

In order to fully re-enter into blogging regularly, I've got to let the dishes I made in the past go and start fresh.  So with that being said, here is a farewell photo montage to some of the dishes I made and did not blog about in 2011.

Pad Thai Salad from "Appetite for Reduction"

Sweet Potato Lasanga from "Engine 2"

Fruit Pie with Date Nut Crust "Engine 2"

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie "Veganomicon"

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa-Stir-Fry "Veganomicon"

As you can see, even with terrible photography skills, the food is delicious and so much more than salads. 

Maybe 2012 is the year YOU want to try eating vegan.

Maybe... ;)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Not a Crazy Vegan Visits BOMBAY WRAPS!

Well hello there.  Hehe, this is awkward.   I...uh...don't know what to say...

I'M SORRY, OK!  Life has been hectic.  WORK has been hectic.   My dog eats his own poop...

I know, he looks so innocent.  But you better believe his schnoz has not come even near my feet for the past few weeks.  I know where that's been...

Anyways, I've been cooking and actually have seen my skillz kick it up a few notches.  Just in time for my one year blog-o-versary and my New Year's Resolution which will be to cook at least one thing a week without a recipe.   This is scary to me.   Like, I'm sweating just thinking about it...

So let's call a spade a spade and move on.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an event to mark the 1-year anniversary of Bombay Wraps existence in Chicago.   I had never visited this place and was a little hesitant because the idea of "fast food Indian" sounded a little scary.   But, I decided to go anyways because they were giving out free beer.

I'm in.

And so was Matt.

We showed up and lo and behold SUZY SINGH was there.

Don't know who she is?   Let me refresh your memory:

 *Image Credit: Google Image Search*

She was like, the third runner up for the most recent Master Chef season. 

This was a big deal to me.  I never really get into those cooking shows, but for some reason, this most recent season got me HOOKED.  I was obsessed with this show.   Now, I won't claim that Suzy was my favorite...she actually took on the role of the villain in my opinion, BUT, I still appreciated her spunk and entertainment quality.

So, imagine my surprise when she was literally standing RIGHT THERE when I walked in...

Anyways, she was there because she is collaborating with Bombay Wraps on their breakfasts and desserts.   She also says that she's been trying to come up with an Indian food truck and thinks that Bombay Wraps has the most potential and authentic flavor for Indian street food.

So, Suzy (we're on a first name basis here) walked us through the menu.   Unfortunately, I could only eat a few items (I got to drink all the Goose Island beer pairings I wanted to...teehee), but those that I could were FANTASTIC.   The appetizer Samosas were delicious and the different sauces you could put on them were especially great (I think one of them was the cilantro chutney.  Me+cilantro=truluv4eva).   I also parked in front of the sweet potato fries and was a-ok until I was able to taste a wrap.

And the wraps were great.

I had the Potato Tava wrap which was filled with sauteed potatoes, pickled onions, and cilantro chutney.   The filling was great, but the Roti was SO delicious.   I feel that the Roti bread is what really set this place apart from other Indian restaurants and other fast food restaurants.  You sense that this is high quality and when we asked if they had Roti we could purchase to take with us they said that they only make it to order.  That's a sure sign of quality right there.

Even though I couldn't taste as much as the other people at the tasting, the owners and their family and the staff were soooo accomodating.   No weird "why are you vegan" questions.  The owner's brother-in-law actually went in the back and brought out a soup he had been working on and let me taste it.  The soup was SO good.  I encouraged them to put that on the menu as well, especially in winter.

All in all, I highly recommend this place.   It's great for a fast lunch that is still high quality.   As a vegan, there is really only Subway and Taco Bell when you're on the run.  This option is great because it's different, it's apparently authentic, and you don't feel like your vegan item is an after-thought.   I really hope to see Bombay Wraps develop into a chain because I mean, we have Mexican fast food, Chinese fast food, American fast food.  This is just so logical it's silly.

Anyways, I encourage vegans and non-vegans alike to give this place a try.  Great food, great service. great location right in the loop of Chicago.

Oh, and maybe you'll run into Ms. Singh

(That's Matt asking her if Gordon Ramsey is as much of a jerk as he seems to be...I'm glad he doesn't hold back in awkward situations...)

Happy ventures into holiday town, ya'll (that is the most inauthentic sentence I've ever typed).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Piece o' Pie Peace Offering

So, I wasn't technically participating in Vegan MoFo (a month of blogging about vegan food everyday)....this is partially because I don't really get it, and am not entirely sure I'm invited.  Oh, that and I've been way uninspired and busy.

So, with the new month of November and the fact that we are nearing my one year anniversary of blog-existence, I thought I'd recommit myself to this blog.

Because I love it.  And you.  Any of you that are reading this.

And as a peace offering, I've decided to post about a brilliant recipe I came across.   It is a fat-free crustless vegan pumpkin pie.

Alright alright, get off the floor.  I know there are some doubters out there that may be saying "fat-free+crust-free+dairy-free+egg-free=joy-free," but you are so so wrong.

This pie was awesome.  And it came in the nic (is it nic, or nick?  Like is Nick a person?) of time because I was starting to feel left out as we neared Thanksgiving.

Is it just me, or is Thanksgiving the least exciting holiday when you're a kid, but then quite possibly the MOST exciting as an adult?   I mean, it's a holiday that doesn't have all the stress of present shopping and decorations and high expectations like others (I'm looing at YOU, Christmas).   Instead, it's a day where you can relax, eat, cook, spend time with family, drink wine (or margaritas, which is what I plan on doing since I'll be in Florida...).   It's just such a pleasant and enjoyable holiday.

Anyways, make this pie if you are hoping to be able to watch your caloric intake on the big day.   Or if you want to balance out how much stuffing you end up inhaling.  Stuffing is my Thanksgiving drug of choice by far...

This recipe for Crustless Pumpkin Pie is from "Happy Herbivore."


  • ½ cup mori-nu tofu, extra firm
  • cups non-dairy milk
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups canned pure pumpkin
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9” shallow glass pie dish, set aside. In a blender or food processor, blend tofu, non-dairy milk, cornstarch and vanilla until smooth, stopping to scrape sides periodically. Add remaining ingredients and blend for about a minute more, until the mixture is uniform and well combined. Pour the mixture into the pie dish and bake for 1 hour. Allow the pie to cool on the counter, away from the hot oven, until room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dog Soup?

So, it's been awhile.   I know, ok?   We've had some stressful times in our lives these past few weeks.

1) Bought new bedroom furniture which = stressful argument while putting said furniture together.
2) The weather has changed.  I hate being cold.  It's been cold a few times.  Therefore I hated "it."
3) I discovered an obsession with the hit series "Friday Night Lights."   It got so bad that I re-started my Netflix membership...for the 4th time.
4) Oh yea, and we added this mongrel to our family:

That's Otis.

He's been living with us for just over 3 weeks.

He's a bassador (basset hound/labrador) and he's 7.

He's perfect.

But he's also a HUGE responsibility.

Before we get into all that, let me set the stage:

Me: Hey, I want to get a dog (this convo happened at least 50 times over the course of this past year).
Matt: You travel too much.  And dogs are expensive.

Fast forward to a Friday 3 weeks ago.

Matt: How do you feel about going to get a dog (very non-chalantly)?
Me: Umm...(insert panic as I haven't had the chance to prepare for this life-altering decision)
Matt: We can just go and look at the dogs, just to see.
Me: Umm...ok.

3 hours later, we walk out with....

And I proceed to have a prolonged panic attack as to what this all means.  Then Matt panics.  Then I panic again.

But he's here to stay!

And we love him.

I'm so SO glad we adopted him because he's brought so much joy to our lives already.   Beyond how much fun he is, he's forced us to be more responsible and also to spend more conscious time together.  Now, instead of watching 6 episodes of Friday Night Lights on an evening, I only watch 4 because we take Otis for a long walk each night.   Now, instead of blogging regularly, I brush Otis' skankified teeth.

It's a good life.

Anyways, I've still been cooking.  And I've actually been taking pictures too.  Matt and I are still going strong on our plant-based oil free diet.  Matt's lost about 25 pounds...I went to the doctor and had lost 3 since my last visit.  That's...great.  But it's not about poundage!  It's about feeling good and eating healthy, so I'm actually ok with that.

Just so you know I'm not blowing smoke, here's a recipe that I've cooked probably 4 times in the past month because it's easy, SO healthy, HUGE, and delicious.

Savory Lentils and Greens Soup from Engine 2 Diet:

2 medium onions, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 cups lentils
5 cups vegetable broth
5 cups water
Ground pepper to taste
2 large heads of leafy greens, chopped into bite-sized pieces. Use kale, spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard or Chinese cabbage.

In a large soup pot, add onion, celery, garlic, and carrots and stir –fry over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the lentils, broth, water, and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the greens and simmer for another 10minutesor. For especially the green and fresh-looking greens, boil or steam the greens first, then add them to the soup pot just before serving.    We added hot sauce to the finished product to give it a little extra flavor.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Vegan McGriddle...Yes it can be done.

I've mentioned before that Matt hates sweet breakfast food, so this past week I decided to throw the poor kid a bone.   I set out on a quest to find a savory breakfast food, hopefully in sandwich form, because I know that's what he likes.

In earlier days, Matt would eat a McMuffin sandwich from a chain that will not be mentioned (despite the Mc in everything) almost everyday.  He lived for those dry nasty things.  I on the other hand, would get a McGriddle because it would give me a little sweetness to go with my savory.

But we needed to compomise.

I saw a recipe in Happy Herbivore for Breakfast sandwiches and although I was HIGHLY suspect of the vegan egg part, I thought I'd give it a try.

And you know what, by golly these were delicious!  

(Man do I suck at taking pictures)

The egg "omelet" part, although I'm pretty sure I do not want to eat it on it's own, held up and had a similar consistency to that egg jello that they put in the McMuffins.

But the real star of the show was the "sausage."   This stuff was FAB.  We put it on everything last bars (ok not serious on the last one, but I did eat a piece of sausage while simultaneously eating a granola's been a rough week, ok?).   The Liquid Smoke definitely hinted at the sausage flavor I remember, but the use of *gasp* MAPLE made all the difference!!!

I know, right?  I'm the queen of hating maple.

Except in this instance (and when making desserts/sweet breakfasts).

It just really worked out well.

Slap a sausage patty and some of that omelet together inside an english muffing (we left out the vegan cheese...didn't want to ruin a good thing), and that's quite a breakfast.  Matt has requested that these become a regular feature in his breakfast life from here on out.

We'll see...

Here's the recipe for the "Nomelet" from Happy Herbivore:


1 12.3-oz. package Mori Nu extra firm silken tofu (although other silken tofu works too, I would imagine)
1/2 tsp. granulated onion powder
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic powder
3/4 tsp. turmeric
2 tbsp. chickpea flour (I used brown rice flour)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. non-dairy milk
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease a shallow 9-inch pie dish and set aside (I used a large casserole dish since I was baking the whole thing at once).
-Blend all ingredients except salt and pepper together until smooth and creamy.
-Add salt and pepper to taste and then reblend.
-Divide batter in half, pouring one half into the pie dish and setting the rest aside for a later use (I put all of it into the casserole dish).
-Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
-Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
-Slice up the omelet into equal squares (I got about 8 total) and set aside for the sandwiches.

I can't find an online recipe for the sausage but from memory it was a tube of Gimme Lean breakfast sausage that I mashed up with 1 cup of cooked quinoa and then added 2 tablspoons of maple syrup and I think 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke.  I formed them into patties and then sauteed them sans oil on a skillet until the browned.  These were DELICIOUS!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Not All Fun and Games, Folks...

I've been working on a grant proposal (news flash, I actually do have a day job), and throughout this whole lengthy ordeal, I have CONSTANTLY been working to stay on message and reflect back upon the mission and goals of the institution I work for.   I have spent probably 30 hours working on this grant and hearing myself and others say words like "outcome," "message," "theme," or "I'm going to pee my pants if we don't take a break."

Not funny?  I'm not even sure I know what funny is anymore...

Anyways, all of this talk of message and theme has creeped into other areas of my life as well.   For example:
-I get frustrated when Snooki does not stay on message with her character on Jersey Shore
-I wonder what Matt's "goals" are when he leaves his dirty peanut butter spoons in the sink
-And I realize I've strayed from my message on this here blog.

Well, not really.

I'm still blogging about vegan cooking and what not, but as of late, I may or may not be editing out some of the disasters because I have been having more successes as of late (I'm giving myself a big ol' pat on the back over here).  But I have a sneaking suspicion that you fine readers only stop by to see me suffer (we all do it...I only read parenting blogs to remind myself why I'm not ready to have children), so I needn't neglect you of the pleasure anymore.

So here's a round up of a few failures:

This was supposed to be a wrap with veggies and rice.   It turned into a depressing salad with no flavor that made a mess of my office.

Here's Matt making the most bland/soggiest stir fry of our lives.   He wanted me to point out that he was a childhood model (including a childhood HAND model).   Unfortunately, if you look closely on his middle finger, you can see that his modeling career has been cut short (get it?) due to an accident when he was a Carnie is Australia (not even joking..I know...).

Not really sure what happened here.  Pretty sure we each almost chipped a tooth on this Mexican inspired casserole...

These were supposed to be "burgers."  Need I say more?  Yes, well, here is the finished product:

By the time I ate these for lunch, it was definitely just rice on bread.   What a disaster.

And finally, the ultimate disaster:

An attempt at Shells and Cheese that went HORRIBLY wrong.  It tasted like maple syrup and there wasn't even a DROP in there.  I actually got a little ill after eating this and think I may be swearing off nutritional yeast for awhile (BLASPHEMY, I KNOW!).

All of the above has encouraged this:

...only in larger glasses.

I kid, I kid.  Engine 2 says NO alcohol.  I cheat on the weekends though.  Teehee.

Anyways, I'm not going to post the recipes of these disasters because a) no one wants to recreate them; b) I don't want to make anyone look bad; and c) it's very likely I royally screwed something up and the recipe author should not be held accountable for that!

So, there you have it kids.   Things aren't all casseroles and pies in my kitchen.  In fact, what really happens is I make something disgusting, Matt and I force ourselves to eat it, then decide to store it like we do ALL leftovers and then it sits in the refrigerator.  Fermenting.  Waiting to attack when an unsuspecting victim thinks to check inside the tupperware.  And then BAM.  I'm dry heaving as I scrape it into the trash.

Thus is life.