August 16, 2014

So, Basically I'm a Genius

I discovered something wonderful. 

If you put this...

and this...

together like this...

it totally tastes like this!

You're welcome.

August 14, 2014

Apricot Coconut Oatmeal Clusters

You know how some people do some stuff to relief stress in their lives? Like, my husband loves to read boring philosophy books and write songs on his guitar. That's just how the guy unwinds. My neighbor is a gardener and a fairly hardcore churchgoer - that's what blows his hair back. You know what I mean? We all have that thing that we love to do, and it makes us feel really good, and without it we get really, really wound up. For me, it's baking. I mean, seriously, I freakin' love to bake! But I'm... well... what's the PC term for it... I'm - uh - differently weighted... I'm gravitationally challenged... You get me? I'm fat, people! I'm a fat herbivore. Yes, they do exist! And I don't have a problem with being fat. My husband thinks I'm sexy, so it really doesn't bother me too much, with the exception of the fact that I am forever destroying the poor underwires in my bras and my knees are begging for mercy 24/7. There's also the desire to live long enough to meet my grandchildren and to enjoy the twilight years of retirement, kickin' back on the shore outside my imaginary lake house. So! To that end, I am always trying to create baked goods that are at least moderately healthy, but definitely succulent. But not SO succulent that I eat forty at a sitting. To that end, I introduce my latest home-bakery creation, the Apricot Coconut Oatmeal Cluster. It was meant to be a cookie, but it came out more like a clustery thing, so there ya go. There's no oil or butter in it, and minimal sugar (compared to my standard baked fare), plus it's jam-packed with fiber, so it's a win-win! Give these li'l cuties a try. You'll love 'em and you don't even have to feel guilty about eating them.

1 ripe banana, mashed with a fork
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup liquid sweetener (I used agave, but maple syrup'd work)
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1/2 to 1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes*
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a large cookie sheet with baking spray, or use parchment paper or a SilPat.
  • Mix the banana, applesauce, sugar, liquid sweetener, milk and vanilla together in a large bowl. 
  • On top of the wet mixture, gently add the dry ingredients, but do not stir until you have everything added.
  • Stir gently until just mixed.
  • Gently fold in the apricots and coconut flakes. 
  • *Side Note: I used organic unsweetened coconut flakes, which is what you see in the picture, not standard shredded coconut. But I think you could just about use anything in these clusters and it would taste nice. For example, you could eliminate the cinnamon and nutmeg and throw in some dark chocolate chips in place of the coconut. Or some nuts! Feel free to play around with the recipe and share your results in the comments.
  • Drop by rounded teaspoon onto cookie sheet (I used a small cookie scoop).
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy with an ice cold glass of almond milk or a cup of hot Earl Grey tea. Delicious!

August 11, 2014

Catching You Up + Cauliflower Puree

Before I type anything else, I have this to say...

Robin Williams - with your kind eyes, your super fast wit and your hilariously spastic comedic delivery - you were the star of my youth ("Nanu, nanu!"), the lead in the film that defined my love of poetry and books ("Carpe diem, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.") and just an all-around amazing performer whom this world will miss very much. Your legacy will live on in the smiles and laughter of many generations to come. Truly, I hope you have found peace.

In other news, my mom is still recovering from the stroke she had back in December, the ginormous stroke that took her speech, her ability to read and write, her ability to really do anything at all, and prompted me write the former post declaring that my blogging days were over.
But I'm sure you knew, somewhere deep down inside, that you wouldn't get rid of me that easily. You did, right?!
I am happy to report that, although my mother still hasn't fully regained her ability to speak, nor the gifts of reading and writing, she is fully autonomous in every other way, and is even cooking and sewing again.

In more other news, I was watching a documentary about the Galapagos today while I was cooking dinner (which I chose for the sole purpose of thinking it would be innocuous if my kid walked in) and my five-year-old just happened to wander into the room right when the narrator started talking about illegal and reprehensible shark-finning. Lila flipped! She said, "They cut the fins off of that shark! And it was awake, Mom!" She was so unbelievably pissed about it, she said, "Mom, I want to start my own TV show and tell people about how we should treat animals." So, now I give you the very first episode of "Live Action TV with Lila." Enjoy!
P.S. The chocolate smeared on her face is the subject of an upcoming, and very delicious, post. As we say in the TV biz, stay tuned!

In more other other news...
I recently had a lovely staph infection in two places - on my face and my boobs. Yep! That's me - ol' staph  knockers. [drops mic and walks away]...
Don't ask me how this happened. I have been under a lot of stress lately and I think my immune system just said, "Aw, screw this. I'm goin' on vacation." Anyhoo, I took an antibiotic to clear that mess up, and another antibiotic for an ear infection. And yet another for a stomach problem that I'm pretty sure was caused by the first two antibiotics. So, you guessed it, I am now the poster child for systemic candidiasis. If you don't know what that is, look it up. It sucks.
Medicine won't fix my candidiasis, which I know for certain because I was given three months worth of candida-killing pills and all they did was make it worse. I am now achy, chronically-fatigued, grouchy, overwhelmingly sleepy 24/7, bloated and crazy with allergies and acne. Candidiasis blows chunks, and I have given up on medicine. To that end, I ordered a book from Amazon called The Candida Cure and I am now on the Candida Diet, which eschews gluten, potatoes, mushrooms, wine, all forms of sugar (even "natural" ones), anything fermented (good-bye kombucha, I'll miss you!) NSAID pain relievers, corticosteroids, and even tofu! But if it works, it will be well worth the effort. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Tonight I made my first Candida Diet dinner, consisting of a salad with veggies and a delicious cauliflower puree.

I am obsessed with the show Master Chef and I am always drooling over those purees they make. Parsnip puree, sweet potato puree, cauliflower puree. You name it, they've cooked it up and pureed it. And it always looks amazing! So, I thought I would give it a try in place of mashed potatoes. And, you know what? It was delicious!

Here's the recipe:

1 head of cauliflower (rinsed and cut into pieces)
1/2 cup vegetable broth or no-chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance works best for me)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Place the cauliflower and the broth into a medium-size stock pot.
  • Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. 
  • Turn down the heat to medium-low and allow the cauliflower to steam in the broth. It takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and add the butter.
  • Place everything into a food processor and whirl it around until smooth and creamy.
  • Salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Enjoy!

"Bye! Until next day!"
-- Lila, from Live Action TV with Lila

December 10, 2013

Time to Say Good-bye...

Hello everyone. I hate to be Debbie Downer, especially at this magical time of year, but there are some pretty serious events happening here at the ol' homestead. Primarily, my mom had a massive stroke, which has disabled her greatly. When she first went to the ER last Sunday, she couldn't speak, couldn't stay awake, and couldn't physically do anything except turn her head from side to side on occasion and look to see who was in her room. A little over a week later, I am happy to report that she has added at least two dozen new words and phrases to her vocabulary, such as "what's happenin'," "cool" and "good," as well as a couple of colorful cuss words when she gets frustrated. She can also move around without help, go to the restroom and feed herself. She's at a fantastic live-in rehab facility in Central Texas and she's making wonderful progress every day. But until she's better, which the doctors estimate will take at least a full year if not longer, I've got my hands too full to experiment with recipes. I'm just going with dishes that are both easy and warm. That's really all I care about right now. In addition, I've got my fabulous job at the church to keep me busy. So, I'm thinking it's time to put this blog to bed. I will leave it up, of course, so you can reference the recipes anytime you like. Thanks for reading my blog, thanks for your support and words of encouragement, and thanks for just being your awesome selves! I've had so much fun doing this. Happy holidays to all of you! 

Please pray for my mom, and keep on cookin'!

November 29, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! I am still so full, I'm skipping breakfast this morning...
Well, maybe just one piece of pie.
We had 5 - seriously, FIVE - pies yesterday (for a family of four, we kind of overdid it), so I will be uttering the words, "Well, maybe just one piece of pie" for at least two weeks.

The diet starts in January! Hardy-har-har.

Anyway, I wanted to share something both hilarious and wonderful with you. I am very blessed to work in a darling little Methodist church as a secretary, and I love my job with all my heart. Everything that comes into the church has to pass my desk before going anywhere else as I am, first and foremost, a filter.
Earlier this week, a lovely woman representing a local private school came to the church office and offered me a handful of cards, all handmade and created by children, to give to recipients of Meals on Wheels.
The senior pastor, my husband, and I had a great time looking through all of the cards, all of which were very sweet and creative (and a few of which were unintentionally hilarious - one of them was addressed, "Dear Elderly...").

While looking through the cards, we started to notice a trend among them. Drawings of turkeys begging not to be eaten. I thought to myself, "Hey, the kids get it!" At least to a degree. I would imagine that the majority of them still ate turkey yesterday, but there's at least a tiny little spark inside of them that lights up in response to the mass killing and eating of literally 46 million turkeys in a single day. Here are a few of my favorites:

This final card has nothing whatsoever to do with turkeys, but I cracked up for a half an hour over it and wanted to share.

November 15, 2013

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Welcome Vegan Potluckers!

As part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck blog tour this year, I am happy to be a part of the "Dessert Course." Last year, I was a "bread course" gal (click HERE to see last year's entry), but this year I'm goin' whole hog sugar rush with some decadent double chocolate chip cookies. DIABETICS BEWARE!

1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract 
1 1/2 cups pastry flour or all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • In a small bowl, mix the ground flax with milk and set aside for about 10 minutes, then stir again.
  • Cream together the sugar and oil, until smooth and silky. Add vanilla and mix.
  • Add dry ingredients (but not the chocolate chips) to wet, but do not stir until all dry ingredients are in the bowl. Mix well, but do not overmix. Just mix gently until everything is moist and well-incorporated.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Place by rounded tablespoonful, two inches apart, on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crispy on the top and around the edges, but still moist in the middle. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack before eating or storing.
  • These are fabulous with an ice cold cup of almond milk!

November 2, 2013

Chocolate Quinoa Pudding

It may sound weird or gross, and it may look weird or gross (my husband turned up his nose at it when he saw it sitting in the pot on the stove), but trust me and try it. It's really good! It's kind of like rice pudding or a sticky tapioca pudding, with a real kick of chocolate flavor. The same husband who wrinkled his face up at the sight of the pudding ate an entire cup of it and admitted that it was good. My daughter enjoyed it too!

I just happened to get lucky yesterday and find cheap, organic quinoa at the salvage store. $1.59 for a 12-ounce bag! Can you believe it?? Needless to say, I bought more than one bag. Now I have quinoa coming out of my wazoo, but - hey - I sure don't mind!

2 cups almond milk
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup sugar (optional, if you don't mind it not-so-sweet)
1/2 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Unsweetened, shredded coconut (for garnish)

  • Heat almond milk, quinoa, and sugar in a medium saucepan until boiling, stirring often. 
  • Reduce heat and allow to simmer until quinoa is soft and much of the liquid is cooked off. 
  • Stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Once chips are melted and well-incorporated, give the mixture one more stir then place a lid on the pot. Allow it to rest for five to ten minutes before spooning into bowls and topping with a sprinkle of coconut.
  • Enjoy!

October 26, 2013

Easy Sausage and Three-Bean Soup

We're running a quite low on both money and groceries right now, so I took a trip to the salvage grocery store to stock up on vegan meat and cheese analogs at a price I can actually afford. And, boy oh boy, did I score some fun finds! In addition to vegan cheddar at 99 cents a pack, and the plant-based version of roasted ham slices at 50 cents a pack, I also snagged a two pound bag of guacamole (complete with tomatillos and cilantro) for 6 bucks! I ended up freezing four huge bags of the stuff. AND my favorite find of all was the Food For Lovers Vegan Queso at (get this!) 3-for-a-dollar. Wha??? I've always wanted to try this stuff, but like most vegan analogs it's too expensive for me to just buy one for experimentation purposes. But now that I know how good they are, I might actually blow the dough for a jar every now and then.

So, here's how I made the fabulously delicious impromptu soup you see in the photo. It's perfect for the Autumn weather we're having in Texas right now.

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 package Tofurky Italian Sausages, thickly sliced and lightly browned
4 cups vegetable broth

Add the following spices to taste: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, turmeric (just a pinch), chili powder, salt and pepper

  • Lightly brown your sausage slices over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan with just a spritz of oil. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, place your broth, beans, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer just for 20 minutes or so, allowing your spices to mingle and cook into the beans. 
  • Add your sausage and allow to simmer another 10 minutes. You can let this simmer for an hour or more, if you want to, to allow the flavors to deepen, but if you're in a hurry, go ahead and serve it up!
  • Ladle your soup into a bowl and, if you've got it, top with vegan queso and guacamole. Your mouth will thank you!
  • If you can't swing the queso and guac, I highly recommend the substitution of a fresh, hot baguette slathered in vegan butter.

October 20, 2013

Mexican Shepherd's Pie

I was recently lamenting in the Herbie Parents Facebook Group that my daughter is getting sick of all my usual dishes. She told me last week that she never wants to eat tofu scramble "EVER again.!" In her defense I do make it a lot, like a lot-lot. I can't help it! Isa Chandra's recipe over a stovetop-heated corn tortilla with a bunch of fresh guacamole on top is the greatest breakfast known to mankind.
Anyhoo, the point is that I requested new recipe ideas in Herbie Parents and I got a lot of great suggestions in return, including a recipe called "Katie's Mexican Tamale Pies," from the Chocolate-Covered Katie blog.
I am far too lazy to make teeny pies out of anything that isn't sugary sweet and/or doused with chocolate, but I definitely liked the looks of this recipe. So, I took the basic idea of the recipe, tinkered with it and added a a few new things, then casseroled the whole thing and topped the finished product with guacamole.
The verdict from my five-year-old? Total success! She loved it. I hope you will too. Special thanks goes out to my peeps in Herbie Parents for this one!!

1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 small package frozen corn (about 2 cups)
1 12-ounce package LightLife Smart Ground
2 tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup vegetable broth, or water
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 2/3 cups water

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the beans, tomatoes, corn, SmartGround, taco seasoning and broth into a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until corn is thawed and all ingredients are well-seasoned. Taste, taste, taste to make sure it's perfect. 
  • While your filling is warming up, go ahead and prep your polenta topping. 
  • Mix the cornmeal, salt, garlic powder and water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until boiling. Then, reduce the heat the low and allow the mixture to simmer until thickened, still stirring frequently.
  • Spray a medium-sized casserole dish with a light coating of oil. Place your bean filling into it, then top with the polenta, spreading it evenly over the top.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to sit for five or ten minutes, until bubbling stops around the edges.
  • I highly recommend that you whip up some homemade guacamole while your casserole is cooling. It tastes A-M-A-Z-I-N-G on the top!
  • The next time I make this, I will probably throw in some onions and fresh cilantro, or maybe some fresh homemade pico de gallo. I think any or all would be fantastic additions! I just didn't have any on hand tonight.
  • Enjoy!

P.S. I know Mexican Shepherd's Pie is a dorky name, but I couldn't think of anything else to call this dish. It looks remarkably like a shepherd's pie when you cut into it! Check this out...

October 5, 2013

Celebrating the Return of Autumn

Today marks the end of another long, hot summer here in Texas. I love this state with all my heart, and I've lived here my entire life, but summer in Texas is life in the belly of the dragon. It's miserable. And then that first breeze of Autumn comes, and I just come alive like you can't imagine.

Somewhere around mid-to-late August the whole family gets depressed....

It looks a little something like this...
We are sick of being stuck indoors, sick of the heat, sick of the sun and all the sun-scorched trees and wilted flowers, and truly TRULY super-sick of gargantuan mosquitoes chewing on us every time we step outdoors. We just want a break!

And then September rolls around, school starts, and you begin to think, "We're almost there. We're almost there. Just hang on!" And you just barely get through September with your sanity.

Then October comes... Oh, October! HOW I LOVE YOU!

The mosquitoes start to dwindle, the leaves change to gorgeous colors, the rain comes by and by, and best of all, you get a sweet, cool breeze that just begs you to open up the windows and let it in for coffee. It chats with you while you clip coupons and make breakfast. And making breakfast is so great, because you can finally use the stovetop again without fear of a heat stroke.

Have I mentioned that October is my favorite month of the entire year?! I truly come alive in October.

So, today is the day I've been waiting for all year. This morning (when I inexplicably awoke at 5:30 AM) it was still hot. But, around 8:30 AM a stiff breeze swept over the city and blew in the sweetest, coolest air I think I've ever felt in my life. I burst out giggling with joy and called to the whole family to join me on the back porch. Now my windows are all open. They haven't been opened since last April! And I am so serenely happy.

So, how do I celebrate a wonderful day like this, the return of Autumn?

With Isa Chandra's Tofu Scramble and some homemade guacamole on stove-top tortillas, of course. Then I chased my huge breakfast with some of Dreena Burton's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies. My belly is happy. SO happy!

The Tardis cookie jar is full once again. Life is good!
The best thing about October, though, is Halloween. And, if you're into it (I'm a total fangirl) the start of the new season of The Walking Dead! I can't wait!!

Autumn wreaths, the use of my kitchen again (baking!), Trunk or Treat, cool weather, lower energy bills, and an endless supply of cheesy horror films on cable. It's like heaven.

What's your favorite thing about Autumn, and how do you like to celebrate it?

September 30, 2013

What's For Lunch?

Hello strangers! I've been away a while, and I apologize for not keeping up the housekeeping around here. But I have a great excuse...  I got a job! I am now the Administrative Assistant (which is just a fancy way of saying "secretary") for a darling little Methodist church here in Fort Worth. It's only part-time, but you know the Bankrupt Vegan will take whatever work she can get! So, that's been keeping me busy for the past three months. And I really, really love the job - it is truly tailor made for me. The only caveat is that I have literally gained more than twenty pounds since I started the job. Bad, bad, bad... My tight clothes make me feel like a hot sausage about to pop, and there's a huge mirror on the wall right next to my office. Can anyone say, "juicy booty?" Yep, that's what I've got, and I don't mean that in a good way.

Not only have I been eating a lot of delivery and take out for lunch at work, but I'm always desperately starving in the afternoon when I get off work. And, hey, Taco Bell is on the way home! And the bean burritos are vegan when ordered fresco-style. Ugh...

So, now (meaning today) I've started taking healthy lunches to work. Here's what I had for lunch today....

Quinoa Tabbouleh, Walnuts, Organic Raisins, a LARA BAR,
and (not pictured) popcorn with Earth Balance and nooch.

So, my question for you guys is this: If you're a brown-bagger, what do you take for lunch every day? Or what do you pack for your kids' school lunches? I need ideas! And I seriously need to lose weight. So, keep that in mind when making your recommendations. I don't mind make-ahead and hot meals. There's a kitchen at the church where I can heat things up. Thank you, in advance!

P.S. Now that I'm all settled in to my new job, I will start posting new recipes really soon!