Friday, December 14, 2012

Hankering for a new cookbook? Like Happy Herbivore?

If you answered yes to those two questions then head on over to Almost Skinny Vegan Recipes and enter her awesomely generous giveaway for your choice of three Happy Herbivore cookbooks.  The best part?  The giveaway is open to international entries and as you probably well know that is a damn rare thing indeed.

Check out Claire's interview with Lindsay to get to know the Happy Herbivore herself a little better.
Oh and almost forgot to add to get your entries in by Dec 25th!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hold the Beef Stew and Meal Plan Monday (10/12/2012)

This is really working for me.  Not just the meal planning but the cleaning out the saved recipe pile.  My first bit of advice for that, if you come on a recipe that you really want, copy and paste that business because a good chunk of my bookmarked links no longer work.  Yes I know some of them are a couple years old and what do I expect but anyway, moving on.

Notes from last week:
Green Bean Casserole was a huge hit with the family.  I sped up this recipe by basically making a green bean and mushroom gravy (skipped the sherry because we just don't have any at the mo) and made our own fried onions by just frying onions with vegan margarine and breadcrumbs.  I use this method a lot you'll come to see.  I skip the baking step of a casserole and opt for a gravy or stew as it's pretty much done off the stove and it saves us a bit of time and money to not bake it.
The Mac & Kale was done in the same was as above, just skipped the baking.  I almost never bake mac & cheese dishes.  I did change the linked recipe a bit by using sunflower seeds rather than cashews (don't have any) and no mustard as we only have English mustard at the moment which I felt would be too strong for the lighter flavors of the sauce.  Again, family gobbled it up.
I'll finish up with my streamlined stew.  I started with this recipe and adapted for my ingredients and time.  The family really really liked this.  It is a fabulous stew and I would encourage anyone to try it out in either method.  I'll probably make it again in the coming weeks and only change it by adding dumplings.
"Beef" and Pepper Stew
(heavily inspired by Jenn's recipe here)
1/4 c vegan margarine or vegetable oil
1/4 c all purpose flour
8 c veg broth (or water with appropriate number of stock cubes)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 c soy chunks
1 heaped Tb marmite
1 tsp mustard
3 Tb vegetable oil (I often use canola/rapeseed or sunflower)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch ground nutmeg
1 med onion, chopped
2 sweet bell peppers (anything but green in best here)
2 sm-med potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 (14oz?) can diced tomatoes (or whole and squish 'em up)
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c corn starch mixed with 1/4 c water (optional)

In a med/lg pot melt margarine, stir in flour until fully incorporated. Whisk in stock a couple cups at a time to avoid clumps.  Add bay leaves and thyme and leave this to heat over med heat and carry on with the rest of the stew.  Turn it down if it begins to simmer before it is needed.

In stock pot/soup pot combine soy chunks and about 2 cups water (this may vary depending on the brand of chunks you use, no worries though, this is stew after all) with marmite and mustard, heat over med/high heat.  Once chunks are hydrated and any extra water has cooked off add oil, garlic and spices and mix.  Saute this mixture for about 5 mins to cook the garlic and heat all the spices well.

Add veggies to the chunks.  If there are any stuck on bits at the bottom of the pot the juice from the canned tomatoes should help loosen these up.  Cook until onions are translucent and potatoes begin to become tender.  Pour in heated stock (carefully of course).  Stir well.  Season as desired with salt and pepper.  Bring up to simmer and continue cooking until veggies are tender.  At this point if your stew is not thick enough, combine cornstarch and water in a cup and add to pot stirring well.  This should thicken things up in a few minutes. 

I know it doesn't look like it but I actually had my meal plan ready on Sunday but it's taken me this long to get this post out.  My only excuse is usual life maintenance + teething toddler = not much time left to sit at computer.  Seriously, the poor Noodle will chew her hand off if I don't watch her.  

Monday - Moroccan Lentil Soup
Tuesday - Sweet & Sour Stirfry with veggies & kidney beans
Wednesday - Boston Baked Beans & Brown Bread
Thursday - Cheesy Broccoli Bean Bake
Friday - Pudla with Besi Bele Bath
Saturday - Pasta with Lentil Balls
Sunday - Tom Yum Curry (have an open jar of this paste in my fridge to use) with rice & soy chunks

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Meal Plan Monday (week of 3/12/2012)

This past week we stayed pretty true to our meal plan as far as food but as usual I switched up the days.

Not a lot of pics but some notes:
Shepherd's Pie - should have made two, we like leftovers for lunches.  I usually don't even actually make a "pie" so much as a stew of the filling ingredients and some nice mash to go with it.  Time and energy saver and just as satisfying in my opinion.
Bacon Cheese Burger - This was the second time I've made this burger recipe.  It's nice and moist while still being firm and it doesn't use vital wheat gluten which I just don't have on hand and no hope of getting any time soon.  I, as you can see, opted to make some rolls.  It turned out I had the time and it just makes the whole thing more burgery.  Super yum, especially the coconut bacon.  I've made this before but it's been a while.  The Noodle really likes her "crunchy bits."  The fries are swede fries as we had one of these to use.
Spicy Roast Potatoes and Lentil pea curry - I had methi (fenugreek) seeds rather than leaves that's why this was only inspired by the recipes above.  Both were really good.  Actually the lentils and peas were especially tasty but then I've always loved my green peas and lentil dal type foods are usually nice and cozy comforting on these cold days.  I had the lentils already cooked and in the fridge so this came together pretty quickly and mostly while holding Miss Noodlepants.
Chickpea Veggie Quiche - This was nice and I will be putting this into regular rotation.  I ended up making two smaller ones with red pepper, onion, kale, and peas.  More kale and onion on the side.  Noodle ate the kale and picked out the peas from the quiche.  I found this to be fairly quiche like but lacking in the heaviness and overly richness that I remember egg quiches having (not that I had that many before going veg).  I will be making this again with a couple adjustments, the biggest one is doubling the filling batter but that was my mistake for splitting the recipe between two crusts to begin with.

Cincinnati Chili with Vermont Common Crackers - no crackers so those are still on the list of things to make one day.  I thought it might be a bit ambitious.  Made the chili flavor profile but with more veggies and over pasta.  Yum!

The Noodle and I managed to snag a cold from our excursions out into the outside world hence things are a little late this week.  It took me several days to work through food plans between lots of Noodle cuddles, Lex's parents coming to visit (this happened yesterday actually, not stressful just need to keep on the tidying because of our small home), realizing we need to get a new (used) car suddenly, the week just seemed too quick and busy.  But in the end we did make it and I do have a meal plan . .

This week we have fresh mushrooms & kale to use as well as plenty of frozen green bean.  Lex also just snagged some cheap salad greens so let's plug that into the equation. . .

Monday - Steamed potatoes, Green Bean Casserole
Tuesday - Baked Beans, Linda McCartney Sausages, & steamed potatoes
Wednesday - Spanish Purple Pepper "Beef" Stew
Thursday - Fried Buffalo Seitan sandwiches (seasoning inspiration) with Hot Wing Sauce
Friday - Loaded Fried Rice
Saturday - Mac & Kale
Sunday - Potato Bruschetta Cakes & Lentil Oatmeal Sausages

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - errr Tuesday

Ha! you thought this blog was dead didn't you? OK it was for a while but I never stopped thinking about writing. I'm just absolutely rubbish at carving out time for myself especially these days. Why so much so now you ask? Because I now chase around a toddler for a big chunk of my day. A toddler who loves to try and "press buttons" and "use 'puter" so needless to say I don't really use the computer much with her up and about. I do miss the community aspect of all these lovely foodie blogs. I get so many ideas from reading other's kitchen experiments, successes and failures (although we're all a bit reluctant to share those most of the time). Anyway to jump right back into it I'd like to continue to fill out this blog with practical advice and real world recipes (that are accessible in a cash, time and skill way). To help me make more time for my blog I'm going to use this partly as a tool for our family by way of meal planning.

Meal planning is a great way to keep to a budget and to cut back on decision making in the middle of your hectic week. Ok my weeks aren't really that hectic as a stay at home mom but as anyone with children will agree you are busy busy busy all the time even if you're just busy playing. Meal planning is also a good way to focus on using certain ingredients and making sure you're eating an interesting and varied diet.

Some of my rules of meal planning (or questions I ask myself) are:
-do I have particular perishables that need using? If so slot those in early in the week. -is it a skint week? If so focus on using more of what's already in the house.
-what ingredients are cheap or on sale that we can use?
-try to keep meals flexible so if you need to change out an ingredient or two you can or switch days around without throwing the entire plan out the window.
-One meal a week from my ridiculous collection of bookmarked recipes from other blogs This last point is particularly important in our house as we frequently check the reduced produce areas of the supermarket and score super cheap veggie. Sometimes these need to be used straight away so if we stay flexible in regards to ingredients then we can use those cheap ingredients and save money.

So without further rambling my meal plan for this week (I try to do this on Sunday so I shall try to do a Meal Plan Monday post):
Monday: Shepherd's Pie
Tuesday: Double Bacon Cheese Burger (but probably eaten one at a time without buns) with salad WednesdaySpicy Roast Potatoes and Lentil pea curry (inspired by this)
Thursday: Black bean spicy stir fry (we have a sauce packet in the cupboard and this can take any veg you find)
Friday: Chickpea Veggie Quiche
SaturdayCincinnati Chili with Vermont Common Crackers (wish me luck here because I have no kitchen equipment save a rolling pin these days)
Sunday: Tacos (using tvp/soy mince, lentil refried style beans, tomatoes, fresh greens)

 So that's this week. I'll see about adding a recap on the success of the previous week with next week's meal plan.