Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another "made up" recipe - Vegetable Pot Pies with Braised Radishes on Sprouted Rice & Quinoa

I love when I get things right. ;)  Pot pies.  Mmmmm.

So I experiment in the kitchen a LOT.  I designate 3-4pm (sometime around there) quitting time for work and hang out preparing food while the kids do their homework on the bar or kitchenette table.  It's actually been an amazing change for our family, because I'm connected to them completely while they're all doing their homework AND I'm making time for cooking (which I LOVE), and our family is getting a wholesome dinner.  BUT, again, I experiment a lot, which means I fail, often.  Here's one of my success stories. =)

Last night I made pot pies.  My kids love pot pies, as do my husband and I.  I stopped buying the boxed, 'ick', ones many years ago, and knew that the moment I stopped buying them, I better figure out a way to make them because my kids weren't going to just forget about pot pie night.  So here's how it goes...

I first of start by cutting up all the veggies I want for the filling.  Our filling looking like this:

4 organic carrots (sliced into rounds)
2 organic white potatoes cubed
1/3 of an organic white onion chopped
1 stalk of organic celery chopped (I include the leafy part...the whole stalk is great)
3/4 c. organic frozen peas (can't wait for my garden peas this year!!!)

I sauteed the onion and celery in some olive oil until see through and tender, then added the following ingredients:

3 TB garbanzo flour
Fresh ground black pepper

Stirred it up, cooked it for about 1 minute, then added:

1 1/2 c. coconut milk

I brought the coconut milk to a boil, the sauce was a bit thicker at this point, then added the potatoes and carrots.  I also added some salt, parsley, a little bit of garlic powder and some red pepper flakes (we like a little kick to everything we eat).

I let this simmer on the stove for about an hour (although you don't need to, it just helps the flavors infuse a little more), then add the peas and it's ready to fill the pies.  (Click on photos to enlarge)

While the sauce is simmering you can prepare your pie crust.  I found an amazing recipe for a vegan pie crust online.  I used this just for the bottom crust, as it's almost like a "graham cracker crust" in texture: Vegan Pie Crust

Here's the crumb like crust pressed into the bottom of the dish as well as a couple filled cups:

But then used a more traditional pie crust for the top, which is the same as any pie crust, just use vegan margarine.

 I just cut large pieces and pushed it down into the cup.  There are little gaps which are great for the pie to breathe.

I baked them for 45 minutes at 375.  I didn't need to cover them.

I served our sprouted rice and quinoa mix alongside and served on top of the side, these veggies (I changed the recipe a tad by using vegetable stock and vegan butter) :  Braised Radishes 
The sauce in that recipe was just enough flavor to make the rice/quinoa mixture so very good!!!   I did add a little fresh pepper and sea salt, however.

There you go!  Another great home cooked meal, took very little prep time as most of the items were just sitting on the stove or in the oven cooking.  Enjoy!!! xo

Read your labels - Casein

I have been working very hard lately to ensure that any product purchased and coming into this home is vegan, organic, and natural.  While this is a great goal to have, I'm also human, and do make mistakes.  I always look for healthier alternatives when making my "splurge" foods, buying vegan butter, vegan cheese, etc, but it was brought to my attention that even my cheese has casein in it.  So I went through and checked all my cheeses and learned some more...

Here are some cheeses that, by looking at the label you would think are "vegan" (and don't get me wrong, they are 100x better than regular cheese, no lactose, gmo-free, gluten free, free of saturated fat and preservatives), but two of these cheeses are still not vegan.  And the reason why, they contain casein.  Casein is a white, tasteless, odorless protein precipitated from milk. It is the basis of cheese and is used to make plastics, adhesives, and paints, among other foods.  In other words, it comes from those same dairy cows I spoke of the other day, the ones who live 1/5 of their normal lives, because their bodies are so used and abused, to provide humans with milk, while their calves never get any.

So the Daiya cheese is one I typically use (even says casein free on the front, click to enlarge pic) but I saw these "amazing" alternatives right next to the daiya and HAD to try them...Almond cheeze that has garlic and herb flavoring (which sounded so great while I was hungry and grocery shopping - we're all guilty of this, I know...buying splurge foods when we're hungry), and Rice cheeze...cheddar rice cheeze...hmmm, well it sounded good while I was hungry.  Anyway, click on the images and you can see the ingredients.  Doh!

So, here's to being human and making mistakes.  I read something the other day that said, rather than focus on the 1% of things you're doing wrong, celebrate the 99% you're doing right.  In this case, those words sang true and I'm going to just walk away knowing that I'm a little more educated than before.

Peace. =)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mmmm, Smoothies ~ Strawberry Lime

You know what I love best about the lifestyle I live?!  My kids get excited and think that the smoothie I made them this morning is a treat!  As though I just fed them ice cream for breakfast.  How awesome is that?!?!

We make juices most days but when I don't have to work first thing I have a bit more time to put together a smoothie (not a typical smoothie because I do juice some of the items before blending them).

This mornings "juice-smoothie" was made like this:

I first juiced:

• 2lbs of strawberries (I typically smoothie them but I decided to juice them today and the juice was  so good, and creamy and there was very little pulp/waste)
• 1 fuji apple
•1/2 lime

I then put that juice in the blender and blended it with:

• 2 frozen bananas
• mint (to taste - I put about 1/4 c in)
• 1/2 c. coconut milk (unsweetened, plain)
• ice (the coconut milk and ice are to make it the consistency you desire...start with less and add more if you need to)

Here is a pic of the pretty concoction:

So yummy and definitely a keeper! =) xo

Benefits of the ingredients:

Strawberries - fiber, antioxidants, anti inflammatory, helps the eyes, a LOT of vitamin C, and bone health

Bananas - fiber, lowers blood pressure, bone health, helps promote nutrient absorption, helps gut (prevents ulcers), cancer prevention, vitamin b6

Lime - helps with weight loss, helps eyes, prevents/shortens colds, helps prevent constipation and digestive disorders

Mint - helps prevent/cure nausea, headache, asthma, respiratory disorders, pimples, oral care and cancer

New "made up" recipe - Rolled Vegan Lasagna

Bare with me for one brief paragraph that explains a few facts that everyone should know, ... then try out the fabulous recipe that follows...  =)
Since going vegan, my biggest and most difficult struggle was giving up cheese.  After doing some research, the desire was gone.  If cheese enters my mind, I now think of cows that are genetically manipulated, artificially inseminated, and often drugged to force them to produce about four and a half times as much milk as they naturally would to feed their calves.  Not natural at all, or ethical, in my opinion.   30-50% of milk cows also suffer from mastitis, and as a nursing mother who has experienced that pain and agony, I would NEVER wish that on even my worst enemy.  Cows can live 25 years, but a dairy cows life span is approximately 4-5 years because their bodies are abused so heavily.  Once 'used up', for lack of a better term, they then become poor quality beef.  Nothing about their sacrifice makes sense to me.  But, all that said, I still want lasagna. =) And what is lasagna without the creamy filling (often made of ricotta)?!?!   (All of this info is all over the web...these specific facts were taken from peta).

I saw a recipe recently for "lasagna rolls" and decided I HAD to try it.  It wasn't a vegan, or vegetarian recipe so I did some altering, but still kept true to the "roll" idea (which is absolutely great because I HATE waiting for day two for the lasagna to actually hold together well...this recipe gives you day two lasagna instantly - flavor and all).

First, I made some home made tomato sauce.  My go-to for home made sauce (it's easier, tastier and so much cheaper than pre-made) is organic canned tomato sauce, organic diced tomatoes, and organic tomato paste.  Last nights batch was made of (mind you, this is a double batch):

2 15oz cans of organic tomato sauce
1 8oz can of organic tomato paste
2 diced organic tomatoes
1/2 of an organic onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of minced garlic
I then seasoned with an italian seasoning mix, along with some fresh ground black pepper and Mediterranean sea salt (one of my faves of the sea salts - Himalayan is another fave, very sweet and would have been great with this recipe).

I cooked up a full box of classic lasagna noodles (again, this is doubled) and after they were drained, I hung them over the pot to allow them to dry a bit.  Doing this helps with rolling as they'll stick together better (and then you won't water down your filling).

For the filling (I made a double batch as one was chopped mushroom, one was chopped spinach),
I combined the following ingredients:

1 pkg Organic Firm Tofu
1 pkg Organic Silken Tofu
1/4-1/2 c. fresh chopped parsley or basil, or mix of both
2-3 c. fresh chopped vegetables (spinach, mushroom, zucchini, squash, so many possibilities)
2 cloves minced garlic
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
1 TB of nutritional yeast (if desired, adds the parmesan flavor to the mix, but I didn't add it last night)

I mixed all the ingredients together by hand.

I put some of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.  Now we're ready for the rolls...

I took a noodle and lay it out flat on the cutting board.  I placed a couple spoonfuls of the filling on the noodle, spreading it thin, leaving some of the end of the exposed to have that portion stick to the noodle to hold it together. 

I placed the rolled noodles seam side down in the pan.

I then topped the noodles with the remaining sauce and then sprinkled a little bit of mozzerella cheese over the top (vegan cheeses are getting better all the time.  They melt and have wonderful flavors) and covered with foil.

I baked for 45-60 minutes at 350 (until bubbly).  I served ours along side some roasted brussel sprouts and a simple green salad with balsamic.  So tasty and a hit with the whole family!!!

Here's a pic of the rolls prior to cooking:

Enjoy!!!! xo

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Music is the strongest form of magic"

Maybe it's strange that I'd use a quote of a singer/artist like Marilyn Manson to intro a blathering blog about my two junior high children's music accomplishments,... but is it not the truth?  (and yes, I do listen to Marilyn Manson,... so why not use one of his quotes?!?) ;)

I spent more moments today welling up from the beauty of the sounds both my children made, than I did worrying about "life".  Absolutely magical, to say the least.

Nicholas and Madison both took part in an ensemble event that takes place annually.  Students play a piece as a solo, duet, quartet, etc. along with or without an accompanist.  Nicholas and Madison both selected music with the guidance of their band teacher and played in front of a "judge" who was an expert of their specific instrument.  Both did an amazing job and both blew me away with not only their performance, but their courage, their maturity and their complete commitment to this opportunity.  

The video below has snippets of each of their performances.  They did so, so well.  Watch how the woman listening to Madison responds when she hears that Madison first picked up a flute in October! =)  And we expected some tough criticism for Nicholas' performance (the song was seemingly more advanced than his normal music and the judge had a great poker face with previous players), but the saxophone "judge" thought he did a wonderful job.  Both received constructive criticism telling them to play more loud (and proud - my words, not the judges). =)  I'm so proud of them.  Oh, and the final snippets are from Nicholas' quartet that he's been part of for two years...Nicholas is the main sax (alto) you hear playing throughout.  Recognize that song!?!?


"Music is a safe kind of high."  ~ Jimi Hendrix

I encourage all parents to support all related arts.  Please get your children involved.  The benefits outweigh those first few months of squeaky reeds and loud horns (or paint and charcoal all over the house, if that's the art they choose).  I PROMISE! ;)