Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like..

What a BUSY month this has been. I had a major project that started and ended in about 2 1/2 weeks time (which is less than half the time I normally do a project) plus all the wrapping, baking, cards, Christmas concerts, teacher presents, gift bags for my daughter's school friends, etc...all you Mom's out there know exactly what I'm talking about. And today is busy getting everything ready for tonight's meal. My sil and I are doing an entire vegan spread to accompany the very un-vegan bird. Infact she will be here any minute so I'm going to have to cut this short.

Merry Christmas to everyone. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of our feast tonight to share with you all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Catching Up

I can't believe this is my first post for November! Time has been flying. My oldest started kindergarten this year so she goes 5 mornings a week so I'm busy driving her to school and helping out with school related activities, driving her to gymnastics, homework (yes homework already!) and trying to keep my youngest entertained at the library, colouring, reading (her favourite thing to do) oh and did I mention I work for myself? Yeah so I'm also working on a couple of big projects as well. So we've been busy. And my oldest had the flu this past week. Not fun but everyone is feeling healthy and happy once again.

So even thought I've been super busy I've still been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Here are a few random dinners we've had lately.




Teriyaki Udon Noodle Stirfry - Kids loved it and so did the adults!


Banana Soft Serve "Ice Cream" w/Enjoy Life Choc Chips - new fav. dessert


ED &BV'S Monkey Minestrone - One of my new favourites and so easy to make!


Vive's Banana Oat Bundles - perfect breakfast with some fresh fruit


Lentil Loaf with mashed potatoes, golden mushroom gravy and peas - The Vegan Table


The lentil loaf recipe was from The Vegan Table. I love this cookbook and almost everything I have made from it has been absolutely awesome but this lentil loaf really didn't work for me. The flavour was spot on but the texture was terrible. I actually couldn't even finish eating it. Maybe I used the wrong kind of lentils? I think I'll try it again with french lentils. The gravy I have made before - its the golden mushroom gravy from the same book and it is so delicious! We all love it and its the only gravy recipe I use now.

I also made the Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting from the Joy of Vegan Baking for my niece's birthday last weekend. They were a huge hit. Not too sweet and just the right amount of PB and chocolate. I will definitely make them again.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Climate Change

Check out this video clip that was on CNN.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quick Supper

Sorry its been so long since my last post I have been absolutely swamped with work and kids! I love working from home for myself but lately it feels like when I'm not with the kids or cooking or doing laundry, etc, I'm working. I guess its good that I have lots of work to do but I still haven't figured out a schedule for myself. I guess it will take some time to find out what works and what doesn't.

So since I've been so busy we have had to have some pretty quick suppers. And even thought supper has to come together quickly I don't want it to be nutritionally lacking. So I've tried to make a few things ahead of time and make extras. Here is one such supper.



Greeks Salad


Garlic Toast



Brown rice pasta with Lemony Cashew Pesto



The Lemony Cashew Pesto is from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. I liked it but the kids weren't too crazy about it. I ended up mixed some tomato sauce in with their and they seemed to like that a bit better. I think it was too much lemon for them. The garlic toast is from The Vegan Table and it is the BEST garlic toast I've ever had! We all love it and its a fight to see who gets the last piece. If you haven't tried this recipe yet go make it. I promise you will not be disappointed. Its a real crowd pleaser. The greek salad was you basic greek salad ingredients minus the feta cheese. I love anything with olives so I really enjoyed it. And if you were wondering about the dora cup in my salad picture thats my daughters dora sigg - not mine! Both my kids have siggs and they love them - they take them everywhere, including the dinner table!

Also just listened to Colleen's new podcast a few nights ago. Its called "The Favours we do Animals" and its great. One of her best I'd say. So if you have heard it yet go teh www.compassionatecooks.com or to itunes to get it.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thanksgiving - Part 3 - The Big Day

I know I promised I would post this on Monday but things got a little crazy over the holiday weekend and I needed a few days to catch up.

My plan for Thanksgiving this year was to come up with a compromise between the vegan and the omni's. There was a turkey served by my Mom but everything else on the menu was vegan. The verdict? Everyone loved it! Not to toot my own horn but it was possibly the best Thanksgiving dinner we have ever had. Because all the dished were vegan I did most of the cooking, althought I am very fortunate that my sister- in- law knows a thing or two about vegan cooking and brought a couple of dishes and helped me in the kitchen all night.

Below are some lovely pictures of all our Thanksgiving goodies with my personal rating out of 10.



Pear and Cranberry Salad with raspberry vinegrette and Candied Pecans
10/10


VCons Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad w/ Mustard Vinegrette
8/10


Golden Mushroom Gravy - The Vegan Table
10/10 - best gravy ever!


Mashed Potatoes (earth balance and almond milk)
9/10


Mashed Root veg w/ Fresh Herb Infusion - The Vegan Table
8/10


Homemade Cranberry Sauce
9/10



Peaches and Cream Corn
Can't rate corn from a bag!


Steamed Green Beans w/ earth balance and fresh chopped mint
8/10


Steamed broccoli w/garlic butter and cashews - The Vegan Table
10/10 - excellent broccoli recipe!



Roasted brussel sprouts with apples and onions - The Vegan Table
8/10



Pumpkin Cheese Pie - ED&BB
6/10



CranApple Maple Pie
9/10


Chocolate Pumpkin Pie - ED&BV
9/10



My plate at the Thanksgiving table



My plate with all the yummies!



I was a little nervous because I was making some of the dished for the first time but everything was delicious! In fact my brother didn't even eat turkey because his plate was so full of the veggies that he didn't have room for turkey and by the time he was finished he didn't have room in his tummy for any! If that isn't an endorsement for a wonderful vegan dinner I don't know what is. As you can see I had a huge plate of food and I was stuffed by the end - but not too full for dessert. I loved the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie (so did everyone else) but I wasn't fond of the Pumpkin Cheese Pie. Everyone else liked it but it wasn't my favourite and I don't think I'd make it again. The CranApple Maple pie was excellent - the filling part anyways. The pie crust was terrible and I actually scopped the filling out of the shell at the last minute and served as a compote with non dairy vanilla ice cream. I loved it and would definitely make it again.


So what would I change for next year? I want to make a vegan stuffing for next year and I'd like to do a phyllo dish as well. I also think I'd make Dreena's Festive Chickpea tart to serve. And maybe a corn bread and possible a stuffed squash. For the dessert I'd do the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie again for sure but I think I'd make do a crisp to go with it or maybe put that CranApple Maple compote into phyllo and bake it and serve with ice cream. Iloved how I decorated the table and everyone else thought it looked really nice too. It sounds silly but I think it added to the whole experience.

I'm already thinking about the Christmas dinner menu......










Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thanksgiving - Part 2

Another busy day is done! I am almost ready for the big day tomorrow. Still a little more laundry to do and a little bit of last minute tidying but food wise I'm right on schedule.

Today I tackled the desserts. We're having 3 different pies. I made the Pumpkin Cheese Pie and Chocolate Pumpkin Pie from ED&BV and the Cranapple Maple Pie from More Good Great Dairy-Free Desserts. For the Chocolate Pumpkin Pie I used the Cocoa Walnut Crust recipe from Extraveganza. Basically its just ground walnuts with cocoa powder and agave and oil. And for the Pumpkin Cheese Pie and the Cranapple Maple Pie I went with a traditional pastry crust. The pie fillings turned out great, especially the Cranapple filling - its the best fruit filling I have ever tried but I was seriously disappointed with the pie crust. I was going to use the one in The Joy of Vegan Baking but then I decided to try the one in More Good Great Dairy-Free Desserts. It is the worst pie crust I have ever tried. I am so disappointed but I don't have time (or money) to remake the 2 pies. At least I know for next time. I should have went with my instincts - I trust Colleen's recpes 100%, they haven't let me down yet! I'm sure everyone will still like the pies - the crust are terrible but the good news is that they are super thin so they won't have much impact.

I won't be blogging tomorrow cuz I already know I'll be way too busy but I'll be sure to post on Monday and let you all know how the big day went.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Thanksgiving - Part 1

I love the Fall. I love looking at the leaves changing colour, I love the warm fall days and crisp fall evenings and of course Thanksgiving is in the fall and Thanksgiving just happens to be one of my favourite holidays.

Now if you were to look out my window you would not think that its fall, it looks like winter. It snowed here yesterday and I had to bring out all of our winter coats! Its not just crisp out folks, its damn cold! But thats ok because it will make Thanksgiving all that more cozy right?!

In my family we spilt hosting the holidays and since Thanksgiving happens to be one of my favourites (its a tie between Thanksgiving and Christmas but really I think Thanksgiving wins) I host it at my house. Let the fun (and work!) begin.

Thanksgiving is Monday here but we are celebrating it with my family on Sunday. We are celebrating with my husbands family on the holiday Monday.

To kick off the festivities I decided to treat myself to a soy pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. Then it was a quick trip to get the groceries before I had to pick my oldest up from Kindergarten and then the girls both had haircuts. Then we headed home and I put a movie on for them while I got to work in the kitchen. I always have the same strategy for hosting big family dinners - prep everything I can ahead of time so I'm not stressed the day of. In fact I actually plan my dinner menu with this in mind. I try to pick things that I can make ahead of time and cook the day of with minimal effort. So today I started by cleaning out my fridge and organizing the kitchen. Then I washed and chopped all the veggies. I got as much laundry done as I could (there is still some left but tomorrow is another day) and I made double the supper tonight we can have leftovers tomorrow.

And now its time for me to get to bed. Today was a busy day and tomorrow will be too but it will all be worth it on Sunday when I'm actually enjoying myself with my family instead of being stuck in the kitchen the whole time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Busy Bee

Despite my good intentions, I've been a bad blogger lately. What can I say, school starting (my oldest started kindergarten this year) and this summer like weather has keep us busy. Truthfully as soon as I pick up my daughter from school we are outside enjoying the great weather. Which means I am only on the computer for work lately. Not that we haven't been eating. Mostly its been same old stuff I've blogged about in the past but we have a a couple of great new dishes that I will share with you all as soon as I get the pics off my camera.

Check back soon for some food pics!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vegan food...its catching on!

This past Saturday we had a big family dinner to celebrate my sister-in-laws birthday. And since it was my sil's special day we wanted to make her a supper full of all her favourites. My sister host all summer shindigs due to her huge backyard full of stuff to keep the kids happy but I am the chef/organizer for most of these summer parties cuz my sister is not exactly a shining star in the cooking department.

So I phoned my sil to ask her specifically what she wanted to eat for her party. I made the list and I could hardly believe it...it was almost all vegan! She wanted good old hamburgers and hotdogs (veggie burgers and veggie dogs were also offered for those who wanted them), Vcon's Quinoa, mango and black bean salad, marinated veggie salad (chopped veggies marinated in an italian-ish sort of dressing), guacamole (my speciality) with salsa and chips and for dessert she wanted angel food cake with berries and whipped cream (coconut whipped cream with berries for the vegan and dairy sensitive). Also on the menu was hummus - interesting thing about my family and hummus. We all love it - lot. My Dad buys a particular one from Planet Organic to bring to most family events - its from Sunflower Kitchens and they make some really awesome flavours. So my Dad usually brings a couple to our family parties. Except this time he brought 15 containers of it! A couple for the party and a couple for each family to take home to enjoy (I'm the oldest of 4) plus my Dad knows I consume an enormous quantity of hummus he bought me a couple of extra on top - thanks Dad!

Everyone enjoyed the party, and all the food was gone - the Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean salad was the first to go! And my Brother - who is perhaps the most devote carnivore on the planet - enjoyed all the vegan foods the most, he actually asked for the recipes.

Vegan food...its catching on!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Grilled Pineapple Salad

I can't believe how long its been since I last posted...I didn't even do a post in July! I wish I could tell you about all the wonderful, productive things I did on this hiatus but the truth is I was just really lazy, enjoying what little summer weather we've had here.

And it would seem that fall is at our doorstep - the leaves are changing already and there is a definite nip in the air in the mornings. I love the fall, its my favourite season but I'm not quite ready for it come just yet.

But in all seriousness, part of the reason I have been absent from my blog is because we've had some big changes around here. I no longer work one day a week - I'm now working for myself. I work as a designer (web and print work as well as some teaching and curriculum development) and ever since the girls have been born I have always wanted to work from home for myself. Well the opportunity presented itself recently and I decided that it was now or never. And that is a big part of why I haven't blogging - I've been busy setting up my home office and taking some time to wind down before I had to gear up again with a bunch of design projects.

But that doesn't mean we've been eating veggie dogs and burgers all summer long (although we certainly had our share of those, it is summer after all). We haven't had the greatest summer weather this year so I tried to make each tropical with our food - even if the weather didn't cooperate.

One dish that we really enjoyed was a grilled pineapple salad. Its super easy to make, you can serve it warm or at room temperature, and it last a few days in the fridge.



To make this salad you just skin and core 1 whole pineapple. Then cut into 1" slices. Then take 2 large red onions and cut into thick slices. Brush both the pineapple and red onion with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on the BBQ until pineapple is golden and has nice grill marks and the onion is soft. Remove from BBQ and cut pineapple into chunks and toss with red onion. Squeeze fresh lime over everything and voila - you have grilled pineapple salad.



We paired this salad with the Pad Thai from The Vegan Table and Seseame Green Beans, also from The Vegan Table. It was an awesome supper and the leftovers were great for lunch the next day. I think if you want to cut down on eating out (for your health and for your wallet's health) you need to make sure you have a great meal either planned or waiting at home. This meal definitely fit the bill.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Vegan Table

Wow its been a long time since my last post! So much for my plan to start posting on a regular basis. Summers busy, out enjoying the warmer weather, etc. But just because I've been out enjoying the warmer weather doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. Despite spending more time in the great outdoors I have also managed to find time to do a little shopping on amazon.ca (imagine that!). I ordered a few new cookbooks and the one I am most excited about is The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. 

Now some of you will be familiar with Colleen from her excellent podcast Vegetarian Food for Thought. I have recently (the last 4 months or so) become an avid listener and in fact I have a few episodes that I have listened to multiple times. As the only vegan in my family it can be a little lonely sometimes and I find Colleen's podcast to be a great source of inspiration for me...much like reading all your vegan /vegetarian blogs! If you haven't had a chance to listen to one of Colleen's podcast I highly recommend you give them a listen (you can subscribe to the podcast through itunes as well). You can find out more at www.compassionatecooks.com.

Ok on to the cookbook. In my last post I was raving about the recipes I tried from the Joy of Vegan Baking so when I saw The Vegan Table and all the great reviews people gave it I knew I had to get a copy. I was pretty sure I was going to like this book but I didn't think I'd love it this much! I don't eat a lot of soy so some of the tofu and temph recipes don't excite me to much but most of the recipes are soy free or you can make soy free. Below is a reviews of a couple of the recipes I have tried so far.

Pad Thai - I love Asian food and especially Thai food however I have never made an asian dish at home that I really loved...until now. Incredible easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients. My oldest daughter was very excited to see this dish at the table (she is a hugh noodle fan) and she was ready to eat it all just looking at it. I told her to take a little bit and if she liked it she could have as much as she liked. After she had her first bite I asked her how she liked it...."love it!" was her reply. I couldn't have said it better myself. My husband had 4 helpings so I'm guessing he loved it to. The recipe said it feeds 2 to 4 but we had this for dinner, lunch the next day and I had the rest for my lunch at work today. I give this recipe a 5/5.

Pan Seared Marinated Portabella Mushrooms - These are my "steak" and I eat these often on the grill in the summer so I was excited to have another mushroom marinate recipe to try. The results were very good. I had t use dried herbs cuz I didn't have any fresh ones on hand but they tasted fabulous. I would definitely make these to serve to an omnivore. I give this recipe a 4/5.

Seared Asparagus with Lime - Love, love, love asparagus and I noticed quite a few people had mentioned this recipe in their reviews on amazon so I made a note to try this one right away. Another really simple recipe with fresh ingredients. Very fast to make and taste fantastic. My new favourite way of eating asparagus. My husband is not a real veggie eater but he asked if I could make this recipe once a week. My oldest daughter had 3 helpings and she was very disappointed to see the serving plate empty (but very pround that she got the last spear!). I give this recipe a 5/5.

I have many more recipes marked to try and I promise to give you my reviews but trust me on this...go buy this book! You will not be disappointed. Overall the recipes are very simple with clear instructions and use fresh ingredients with minimal prep. One of the bet cookbooks I own vegan or otherwise. If you want to try a few of the recipes she has a couple posted on the Vegan Table website.

I hope to be back soon with some more recipe reviews. Hope everyone is having a great summer so far!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Joy of Vegan Baking

I admit it - I am a complete and total bookworm. I got my first library card at age 7 and I went to the library every single day . I still go to the library every week but I also buy more than my fair share of books (I am probably one of amazon.ca's best customers). So you can only imagine how many cookbooks I own. The problem with me and cookbooks is sometimes I buy them, I drool over all the pictures and then I don't use them.

Today I had some friends over for coffee/tea this morning and I wanted to bake a few treats to serve. I decided it was high time to dust off one of those cookbooks and try a few new recipes. The book I decided to give a whirl was the Joy of Vegan Baking. Boy am I ever glad I did! I have read nothing but great reviews from this book and I am a big fan of the podcast so I don't know what took me so long to try this book out. Below is a quick review of each recipe I tried.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins - I knew I had to make this recipe for sure. You can't go wrong with any muffin that has Chocolate Chips in it! Ok first the bad - they have a whole cup of white sugar in them and they are made with white flour however I'm sure you could cut down on the sugar and probably use a whole wheat pastry flour. Now the good - these muffins are awesome! So moist and super tasty! As soon as these babies came out of the oven I knew they were gonna be delicious and I was right ( I'm right 99.9% of the time...just ask my husband...lol). These were gobbled up right away and I'm happy/sad to report I have none left more my breakfast tomorrow. 

Lemon Blueberry Muffins - I want to make these ones for 2 reasons. First fresh blueberries are on sale right now so they were actually affordable to make (sometimes blueberries can cost as much as 7 dollars for a tiny package in my neck of the woods. I'm not prepared to spend $15 on blueberries to make muffins). The second reason is I thought the combination of blueberries and lemons was very spring/summer like. Ok so they have the same bad points as the Banana Chocolate Chip ones but they were absolutely sensational! They were going almost as fast as the Banana Chocolate Chip ones. In fact my youngest had two of these and she probably would have had more if I had let her.

Folks, 7 ladies (and one little lady) ate 24 muffins! Yes they are that good. So good I didn't even get a picture.

Apple Strudel - I have always wanted to try this recipe but I was a little intimidated by the phyllo. I have never worked with phyllo before but Colleen's instructions seemed pretty clear so I decided to give it a go. Easy as can be! You have to work fast with the phyllo but as long as your organized and have everything ready to go it is a simple procedure. I loved it! Taste just like apple pie in a light, flaky wrapping.  We had it for dessert last night and my husband polished off the leftovers tonight. In fact he ate almost the whole thing himself. I can see this is going to have to be a sometime treat the way it was gobbled up.

So there you have it. One strudel and 24 muffins later I highly recommend the Joy of Vegan Baking. And so do all my guest from this morning. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fun in the Sun

Sorry for the lack of posting but we haven't had the best spring around here so when the weathers been nice like it has been the last couple of days, I made damn sure I took advantage of it. And anyone who has seen me today knows it because I'm about 5 shades darker!

I always think things will slowdown in the summer with no school, gymnastics, library programs, etc. But the summer is always busier than the rest of the year (except maybe Christmas). There's always the yard work , the house is dirtier because everyone is tracking dirt in from outside, the kids manage to dirty at least 3 or 4 outfits a day, we take a lot of late night walks with the kids and dog, the kids go to bed later (partly because of the walks and partly because the sun sets so late) and yet you might think that because they get to bed so late that they would be tired and sleep till a reasonable hour in the morning. Nope, not my little ones. They are up at the crack of dawn ready to do it all over again!

So I'm going to try to post more regularly but be forewarned it might not be all food related. There is just too much other interesting and fun things going on in the summer. 

Hope your all enjoying summer too!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here's the Scoop

So if you've been reading my blog the last couple of months you've noticed that we eat alot of the So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream products. 

Those little ice cream sandwiches (as well as the ice cream) are pretty low in sugar, soy-free, and are just darn tasty. But they are also pretty expensive ($7.69 for a pint of ice cream or a box of the sandwiches in my neck of the woods) and we really can't afford to keep buying these all the time. So for my birthday I decided to treat myself to something I've been wanting for awhile.



This ice cream machine was pretty reasonably priced and I figured with what we were spending on the coconut milk ice cream at the store it would pay for itself in no time. I also ordered myself The Vegan Scoop from amazon. When I first pre-ordered the book I emailed the authored and asked if the recipes were all soy-based. I didn't receive an answer but when the book arrived it was indeed mostly soy-based. However the author suggest you try different milk combinations and thats just what I did. 

First recipe up was the Basic Chocolate Ice Cream recipe. I pretty much followed the recipe but where it called for soy creamer I used a can of low fat coconut milk and where it called for soy milk I used Chocolate Almond milk. 


Here is a picture of it churning away in the ice cream maker.


 
And below is the finished product. 



So how did it taste? It was fabulous! Even my husband, who swore he would never give up his dairy ice cream, loved it! It was really simple to make, fast in the ice cream maker (only took 30 minutes) and much cheaper than buying it from the store. The consistency was closer to soft serve ice cream right out of the maker but I'm sure if you popped it into the freezer it would firm right up. We ate all of the ice cream that night (hey it was hot out!). 

So if you've been thinking about getting The Vegan Scoop I highly recommend it. I'm excited to try out alot more flavours.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vegveeta


When I first saw the vegveeta post over at Dreena's blog I was very excited. We ate fairly healthy growing up but we had some pretty bad stuff too and velveeta melted with salsa was a favourite of ours growing up. I know its disgusting when I think of it now but I loved it. So when it was time to vote for which recipe people wanted most I certainly knew which item I was voting for (although they all looking delicious). I was so excited when the vegveeta won! I went to the store immediately to buy all the stuff I needed (hand most of it one hand except the tahini) and of course life got crazy busy and all thoughts of vegveeta left my head. Until last night. We decided to have nacho nest and I thought what better time to try the vegveeta. 

I had very high expectations for this recipe. Even though I haven't had the velveeta/salsa thing in a long time I seem to remember vividly what it taste like. And I so wanted to like this recipe. After I blended everything and went to put it in a pot to heat and thicken I was worried because it didn't smell that great. But I waited until it was bubbly and hot and had another whiff. Still smelt pretty off. Then I added the salsa. Still not smelling that great. So I had a little taste. I was awesome! It actually tasted like velveeta/salsa! I couldn't believe it! I've heard many people say things like," have a veggie dog, it taste just like a hotdog but its much better for you." I applaud all efforts for getting people to cut back or stop eating meat but your not going to fool anyone with a veggie dog. I think its products like that that give vegetarian cuisine a bad rap. Better to eat foods that are naturally vegan. And thats why I was a little worried about the vegveeta but its incredible! I poured some over my chickpeas and topped it with tomatoes and green onions. Some black olives and avocado would have been perfect but I was out and didn't feel like going to the store in the snow to get some (thats right its snowing here!) 

If you haven't made this yet you have to put it on your list of must makes. I wouldn't hesitate to serve this to any omnivore it taste that authentic. I'm going to make this for the next family gathering that we have. I think it will really knock people's socks off! 

What are you waiting for...go make this asap!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Birthday Eats

Some birthdays are a blowout and some are extra great. This birthday was an extra great one. This year my birthday coincided with my one day a week in the office which turned out great. The ladies I work with know that one of my favourite restaurants is the Blue Plate Diner so my boss took us all out there for lunch. I had the veg burger with the sweet potatoe fires (it was between that and the indian platter which they make vegan by taking off the chicken and adding in more curried chickpeas but it felt like a burger kind of day so veg burger it was) and we all shared an order of the vegan chocolate mousse. Everyone was blown away by how darn awesome it was...my boss loved it and he thinks he hates tofu. Then my husband and children took my out for supper that night and we had birthday cake at home. I don't usually eat out that much but it was nice to have a night off in the kitchen, even though I love to cook.

On Friday night my Husband took me out for a special birthday dinner - just the two of us , which rarely  happens! We went to one of our favourite italian restaurants. The chef was very accommodating and I had a great vegan dinner. We shared an order of bruschetta - best bruschetta ever! - and then the chef prepared an awesome salad with baby greens tomatoes, olives, artichokes and mixed peppers with a red wine vinaigrette. After so much eating out this week I felt like a lighter supper. The chef had a few vegan pasta dishes for me to choose from but the salad was perfect for that night. The meal was so great we didn't have room for dessert!

On Saturday my sister had a special birthday BBQ for me at her house. Everyone made an extra effort to be accommodating for this family dinner and it was much appreciated. That alone was a great gift. We started off with some guacamole, salsa and chips. 



And we also had some spicy hummus to dip the chips in. Everyone loves this particular hummus  - it never lasts too long at a family gathering. It has roasted jalapenos and coriander in it. The kids find it a little too spicy, probably because they don't dip so much as scoop it up by the heapfuls. Thats ok, more for us adults.



Below is my plate from the BBQ. I had a Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushroom burger with lettucce, tomatoe, red onion and avocado on it. The bread was a roasted garlic ciabatta. It was so good my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. I had also made Vcon's Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean Salad and my sister made an asian broccoli slaw salad. They was also some veggies and dip and a potatoe salad to round out the meal. It was delicious!



I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of my birthday cake! I made the Raspberry Blackout Cake with with Ganche-y Frosting from VwaV. It was really really good. Almost everyone had seconds, and a few had thirds! The only change I made in the recipe was I used almond milk everywhere it called for soy milk or creamer. If you haven't tried it yet I would definitely recommend it for any special occasion cake. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blue Plate Diner

As I mentioned in my last post part of my Mothers Day gift was supper out at a favourite restaurant of mine called the Blue Plate Diner. The Blue Plate Diner is a quaint little spot in downtown Edmonton that serves a little bit of everything. For every meat dish there is a vegetarian or vegan counterpart and that is a good because my whole family is not vegan...in fact they are not even vegetarian! As I read back through some of my past post I realized that it sounds like all 4 of us are vegan but that is not the case at all and I wanted to clear that up. I am the only true vegan of the family. My children are mostly vegetarian, especially the youngest, she hates meat but they both like the odd bit of fish. Both children follow a dairy free diet for heath reasons and neither likes eggs and I do all my baking vegan style so they eat no eggs at all. My husband is not a vegetarian and I serious doubt he ever will be. Thats ok with me. He has always been respectful and support of my choice to be vegan and so I support his right to make his own choice as well. As for our children we too will let them make their own choice and so far they are leaning towards vegan. My youngest hates meat and loves legumes while oldest is starting to get very passionate about animals and is starting to understand where meat comes from and she is not alright with that. My Husband encourages them to choose the vegan options most of the time because he knows it healthier for them.Not matter what they choose, all 3 of them are extraordinary and I love them very much! 

Back to the Blue Plate Diner it doesn't matter if your all vegan or vegetarian or omnivores...go check it out, you will not be disappointed. The menu is clearly marked if a item is vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free. Most Vegetarian options can be made vegan is you ask them to. Many of the ingredients are local and the service is awesome, very friendly and helpful staff. Portions are hearty, in fact I can't finish a meal most of the time and I'm a pretty good eater. Prices are reasonable, you won't have to wash dishes afterwards.

My personal favourite is the chickpea curry. Its served with saffron rice and grilled vegetables. But for my Mother's Day meal I decided to go for the Famous Veg Burger (made vegan by leaving off the cheese and mayo) with the sweet potatoe fries (best ever) and grilled vegetables. For dessert we all shared the Vegan Chocolate Mousse....hands down the best Vegan Chocolate Mousse I have ever had! 

So if you live in the Edmonton area go give the Blue Plate Diner a try, you won't be disappointed!

Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms

Calling all mushroom lovers!

If you love mushrooms and balsamic vinegar (and who doesn't?!) you'll love these grilled balsamic portobello mushrooms. 



Grilled Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms
4 portobello mushroom caps
 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1 teaspoon dried oregano
 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  salt and pepper to taste

  • Place the mushroom caps, smooth side up, in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so, turning twice. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Brush grate with oil. Place mushrooms on the grill, reserving marinade for basting. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until tender. Brush with marinade frequently. 

I paired these mushrooms with some potatoes with olive oil and herbs, steamed green beans and a salad with mixed baby greens, strawberries, pumpkin seeds and a pear guava vinaigrette. Theses mushrooms also make awesome burgers! I top mine with lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, vegenaise and sometimes avocado.


Of course you can't forget dessert! I indulged in a bowl of So Delicious Coconut Milk Coconut Ice Cream (say that really fast 3 times!) with fresh chopped mango over top. It was very tropical tasting! I am looking forward to trying to make my own coconut milk ice cream. I love this stuff but its really expensive. 

Udon Noodle Stirfry

Happy Mothers Day too all the moms out there. So far my Mothers Day has been pretty darn great. I got to sleep in (well I was still awake at he normal time but I stayed in bed a read for awhile, a real treat!) enjoyed a breakfast of toast with peanut butter made by my 5 year old and now I'm sipping a cup of tropical green tea and doing a post that I've been meaning to get up for a few days now.

Spring is such a busy time of the year and this year has been particularly busy. My niece on my husband's side of the family (he is the youngest by quite a bit so my nieces and nephews on my husband's side are quite a bit older than my children which works because we have lots of babysitters...not that we ever go out anywhere! ) is getting married at the end of the month and my oldest is a flower girl. So there's all the showers and dress fittings and rehearsals, etc. Plus I had to register my oldest for KINDERGARTEN this week! I can't believe she is going to kindergarten already. Its cliche but true...time goes by so quickly. And in addition to all of that there is all the outside work that needs to happen for the spring. I leave most of that to my husband (he fancies himself somewhat of an expert in lawn maintenance) but the flowers are all mine and I am so excited that I got all my pots planted this week. They are growing so fast already except for one that looks like he needs a little extra tlc. 

Needless to say we have needed some quick meals this week. I can honestly say that I love vegetables. So do my kids, there are very few that they don't like. My husband on the other hand is not a vegetable lover. Its his upbringing. To this day my mother in law still only makes microwaved peas or corn for vegetables or a tossed salad consisting of  iceberg lettuce, green onions and maybe a tomato slice or two. So I have a challenge when it comes to him and vegetables. But I have two surefire ways to get him to eat almost any veg. If I marinate them and grill them on the bbq or a stir fry. For this meal I opted for a stir fry. 



I had to clean out the fridge so we had a little bit of everything in here. In sesame oil I stir fried broccoli, finely chopped kale, red peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, onions and shredded cabbage. Just throw in some udon noodles and some ginger teriyaki sauce and you have a great supper. The everyone, including my husband, had seconds of this one. Normally I throw in some chickpeas too but we were all out. It was still filling and delicious. 

Part of my Mothers Day gift this year is dinner out at one of my favourite restaurants. I'll take pics tonight and report back tomorrow.

Have a great Sunday!


Monday, May 4, 2009

No Soy?

When I went to college I made many good friends that I have kept in contact with over the years. One friend in particular became very close to me and my husband. This friend has two young children the same age as my two little ones. This past weekend we were invited to a BBQ at their house for lunch. My friend was making hotdogs and hamburgers. So I supplied the veggie dogs and some vegetables and vegan brownies (I didn't tell them they were vegan and everyone loved them). My friend's wife was a vegetarian for many years and vegan for 2 of those years. At the BBQ she told the story of how she stopped being a vegetarian. Her naturopath told her she needed to cut out dairy and soy. Two weeks after she did that she started eating meat again. She said to me at the BBQ, " I mean if you can have dairy or soy what are you suppose to eat as a vegetarian?!" I have to admit, I was a little shocked! Is eating tofu or soy products a prerequisite of a vegetarian or vegan diet? I sure don't think so!

When I first went vegetarian about 10 years ago I ate alot of soy products - soy yogurts, soy "meats", etc and I felt terrible. I made the mistake that so many people make when first going vegetarian...I simply replaced all meats with soy substitutes. The only "whole grains" we had in the house was the occasional whole wheat bread, which I'm sure wasn't whole grain at all. No quinoa, no barley, no brown rice, no millet, no nothing. The only beans we had were canned brown beans and the odd kidney bean in a chili. No white beans, no black beans, no lentils, nada. So after being on a diet of refined carbs and soy products for awhile my health took a turn for the worst. I had no energy, I gained weight, my face broke out terribly, and my attitude left much to be desired. I was rather irritable and grumpy most of the time. And so my parents convinced me that I had to start eating meat again. Truthfully, feeling the way I did, it didn't take much convincing. But my desire to be vegetarian never really waivered and so on and off the veggie bandwagon I went, always with the same results. It was frustrating to me because I always felt like a vegetarian diet was optimal for your health but my health felt anything but optimal on a vegetarian diet. And so for a few years I was very disenchanted with vegetarianism.  Unitl 18 months ago. Thats when a health scare with my oldest child had me  on the internet doing research and re-evaulating my position on vegetarianism. As I was doing research on the internet I came across all these vegetarian blogs and 90% of them were vegan blogs. And I saw what most of the people were cooking. And most of it was/is soy free! Yes many vegans eat a soy free or very low soy diet. I decided to give vegetarianism another shot but this time I decided to go vegan and follow a very low soy diet. I eat mostly fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes and the very occasional soy product. I have never felt better, infact I honestly didn't know I could feel this good. 

Everyone I know says to me that they could never be a vegan because they love meat/dairy/eggs too much. I always tell them that I too thought I could never be vegan until I tried it. Feeling the way I do I could never go back to my old ways. 

So what do you eat when you can't eat soy and dairy.....so many things come to mind I don't know which to list first. How about Sweet Potatoe and Lentil Chili, a hummus wrap and a salad, Quinoa, Mango and Black Bean salad or Chickpea Tacos. The possibilities are endless. 

If anyone reading this blog is a new vegetarian/vegan or thinking of giving it a try and is worried about eating too much soy keep this this in mind - a healthy vegan diet is one that is based on whole foods like fruits, veg, whole grainds, legumes. It may also include soy but vegan and tofu are not synonymous.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Whats with the lack of posting?!

I really admire all you bloggers out there who post so frequently, some of you even daily. You guys truly are an inspiration to me! I don't have any friends who are vegans or even vegetarians for that matter so I love to read all my vegan blogs daily, it really gives me a feeling of community. All the times I tried to veg in the past failed largely because I had no support network. Thanks to all by blogger "friends" out there I have been vegetarian/vegan for 18 months and counting! You all have made a big difference in my life, weather you blog about your meals or your kids or just your lives in general. I wanted to take the time to say that because sometimes I think people don't always realize the impact the little things they do have on others. I'm trying to commit more time to blogging myself but it seems that lately life is just too busy to sit down and compose my thoughts for a blog posting (never mind food pictures!). However my birthday is coming up very soon and as a present to myself I have decided to carve out some much need blog time, hopefully daily. I think its the perfect gift for myself and I'm looking forward to spending more time here.

Thanks to anyone who actually reads my blog...I promise to post more frequently very soon!  

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Strawberry Mango Salad

Spring is technically here but not in my neck of the woods. Tonight they are talking about snow! I was enjoying the warmer temperatures but when they said it was going to snow I was depressed. So I decided to make a warm weather meal even though is cold as heck out.

Organic strawberries were on sale this week and so were mangos so I pick up a bunch of both. Strawberries and mangos are such a great combo in a fruit salad so I thought might as well try it on a spinach salad. Except I didn't have any spinach but I did have some organic mixed baby greens. Close enough. I added some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almond slivers. For a dressing I used Renee's Pear Guava Vinaigrette. This salad was fantastic and so quick and easy to put together. I think it will taste even better when the sun and warm weather returns. Below is a close up.
Dessert was a new soy free cheesecake recipe that I'm working on. Its not quite there yet but I hope to post more on it soon.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Perfect Vegan Brownie

Since going vegan I have baked many a treat with great success.  Cookies, squares, truffles, muffins...all these treats have had a vegan makeover and they all have tasted as good if not better than their butter/egg laden counterparts. However, there has been one treat that has eluded me...a rich, decadent, sinfully Chocolate Brownie. I have tried many a recipe but nothing has made the cut. Nothing until I tried this recipe. Finally my search has ended, these are the PERFECT vegan brownies. I am embarrassed to say I have no picture because we ate the whole pan in one sitting. Do not wait, go make these brownies asap, you will not be disappointed!

In fact I think I'll go make another batch right now.....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Summer Pasta

If you can believe it I am still not done spring cleaning. You are probably wondering how that is possible. Believe me, if you met my children, you'd understand. They are busy kids, they run non stop. From the time they get up till they finally fall asleep they are constantly in motion. The only time they slow down is when they are sick....I'll take busy kids over sick kids any day. Right now they are spending most of their time outside which means I am spending most of my time outside as well and that my friends is why my spring cleaning is not yet done...I'm too busy playing outside!

But I have also been playing inside the kitchen as well. Now that the nice weather is finally here its time to lighten up the meals so I've been trying a few new recipes out.

First up is one I saw on the vegetariantimes.com site. Its for a Italian-style Spaghetti Squash. Now you may argue that this is not really a spring/summer meal as really you could make it anytime of the year but since it is all vegetable based I think it makes a nice meal when your not in the mood for something too heavy. I took a picture but its terrible so here is the link to the recipe. Their picture is much nicer.

Ok next up is not really a recipe but just an idea I had in my head. Grilled vegetables are a summer favourite at our house so I thought I'd grill some veg up and toss it with pasta. Below is the results.



Like I said, no real recipe here. I just chopped some zucchini, asparagus, red onion, and cherry tomatoes up into bit size pieces (not the tomatoes, I left those whole as you can see) and I marinated them in Renee's Sun Dried Tomatoes and Black Olive dressing for a few hours. Then we grilled them on the BBQ and tossed with pasta. We also had some garlic toast with this. I was too rushed to make a salad but we had a good dose of veggies in this dish so I don't feel too guilty. You know what the best thing was about this meal....I finally took a good picture! Maybe I'm finally getting the hang of this food photography thing. Below is a close up.


And to end off a great dinner we had a great dessert. We have been going through alot of the Coconut Milk ice cream in this house. By the looks of our grocery bills way too much of it. The girls are in love with this ice cream as am I. Its just so darn good and how can you not like an ice cream that has 6 grams of fibre per serving!? The girls like the Cookie Dough one best while I'm partial to the Chocolate. But we don't just love the ice cream, we love all the other treats as well, including these...
This little ice cream sandwiches are ridiculously good. Unfortunately we are going to have to start controlling our ice cream urges a bit because we can not continue to spend all that money on ice cream. I have pre-ordered The Vegan Scoop on amazon.ca and although the recipes are all soy based (a no no over here) I'm sure we can adapt them to make use of coconut and almond milk. 

You know what goes good with ice cream....a warm brownie. And I have just found THE recipe for the perfect vegan brownie. I'll post more about it tomorrow.