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!

June 4, 2013

Low-Guilt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Please take heed that I titled these cookies "low guilt," not "NO guilt." So, yes, there is a small amount of guilt involved with the consuming of these cookies, but I just love eating cookies so much, I will accept an extra dimple or two on my butt as a token of my affection for this confection.

I do still love whipping up Dreena Burton's yummy Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies when I can, but my pocketbook does not often allow the purchase of maple syrup. Seriously, why is that stuff so expensive?!
So, I took the liberty of altering Isa Chandra's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen and tried to make it just a smidge healthier, albeit not totally guilt-free.

I replaced half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce, left out the milk entirely, subbed potato starch for tapioca starch (because it's cheaper), subbed whole wheat pastry flour for the dastardly white stuff, and added in an extra quarter cup of chocolate chips (because I flippin' love chocolate).
The verdict? Slightly less evil, but just evil enough to taste amazing. The family went nutso for these, and my husband was shocked that I'd removed an entire 1/3 cup of oil. He said he couldn't tell the difference at all between these and the wonderful Isa Chandra recipe I've been making for years.
Give these a try and let me know what you think!

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons potato starch (this sounds weird, but I promise it's cheap and easy to find)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (can sub white flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly oil two large cookie sheets. In lieu of oil or baking spray, a Silpat works well for these cookies if you have one.
  • Mix together the sugars, applesauce, oil, starch, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. 
  • Add flour, soda, and salt. Stir until well-incorporated and smooth, but take care not to overmix or your cookies will lose that crunchy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside magic that makes them so good.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Use a Small Cookie Scoop to scoop out your dough. Place 16 dough balls on each cookie sheet, and bake for 9 minutes. Watch the cookies closely during that last minute, to make sure they aren't getting too overdone.
  • They will be puffy when you pull them out of the oven, but as they cool, they will flatten and crisp to perfection.
  • Enjoy!

June 2, 2013

I Can Finally Eat Basil. Life is Good.

Look at those lovely, waxy leaves. They smell and taste as good as they look!
I have been waiting patiently for weeks and weeks to eat the fresh basil I planted in my garden. The crazy-deliciousness of fresh basil is just beyond compare. I've been regularly sniffing the leaves (I admit, I am a chronic leaf sniffer), my mouth watering, just hankerin' for the time I could snip off a few and put them on something - anything - edible, to throw it's flavor profile right out of the ballpark. Normally, my thoughts might hint toward spaghetti or whatever is saucy and of the Italian variety. But it's already blistering hot here in North Texas, so I'm trying to use the oven as little as possible.

Instead, I found some gorgeous tomatoes at Aldi, for super cheap. Big flavorful fatties in a four-pack, for a buck and some change. So, I sliced them up, spritzed them with a generous helping of balsamic vinegar, put a fresh basil leaf on each one, then topped them with a slice of cucumber and some black pepper. They were AMAZING! Light and full of the fresh flavors of summer. I am planning to serve these at every dinner party I throw from now until the end of time. Give it a try!

P.S. If you're not already growing your own basil, it's not too late!
Here's a great website with all the info you need to get growing.


May 19, 2013

Watermelon-Berry Summer Sipper

It's not even June yet, and we're already climbing up into the 90s here in the Lone Star State. We've gotten out the blow-up pool, strung up the hammock, and started hoarding ice cubes in preparation for another long, hot Texas summer.

Here in Texas, we like to say...

"It's hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch!"
"It's so hot the hens are layin' hard-boiled eggs!"
"It's so hot I used my seatbelt buckle as a brandin' iron!"
"It's hotter than a preacher's knee!"
"It's hotter than whoopie in woolens!"
"It's hotter than a burnin' stump!"

This explains why I'm inside my nice, cool house sippin' on my Watermelon-Strawberry Summer Sipper while the husband and kid splash in the pool. Don't judge me - I took some Sippers out to them too. But I'm stayin' right where I'm at, watching the flowers grow through my window panes, while the ceiling fan laps my bangs. Ahhhhhhhhh, summer in Texas...

Flesh of half a baby, seedless watermelon (volleyball-sized)
Half a peeled cucumber
8 to 10 large strawberries
8 to 12 large fresh mint leaves (you should grow this - it's so easy!)
Between 0 (if you're good) and 3 (if you have a kid) Tbsp sugar
About 8 to 10 ice cubes

  • Put all of the fresh stuff into your blender, then just top it off with as many ice cubes as you can fit.  
  • Whirl away!
  • Enjoy.



May 17, 2013

Tempeh Bacon "BLT" Sandwich

I was recently skulking around on the Happy Herbivore's Facebook Group, "Herbie Parents" (great group of really sweet, supportive folks!) and I read a post wherein a pregnant vegan gal admitted to the group that she is having desperate cravings for deli meat, and might there be a yummy vegan replacement? Follow-up comments suggested all sorts of brands and types of faux meats that might fit the bill, but I don't like how overly-processed all that stuff is, so I suggested the Tempeh Bacon "BLT" I found recently on the Prevention RD website. It is sweet and smoky, and tempeh is fairly easy to come by at any veg-friendly grocery store. Plus, the recipe is a cinch! Just mix the marinade, pan fry the "bacon," and build the sammie.

It's the perfect meal for a Friday night at home with the family. I say that because this is what we had for dinner tonight - that very sandwich you see in the photo was snarfed greedily by yours truly only mere seconds after snapping this picture. I paired it with a side of cut fresh fruit and cucumbers mixed with fresh chopped mint leaves (straight from my garden) and fresh-squeezed lime juice. It was so good! My husband said of the sandwich, "I could eat about three more of these." High compliment from the man of the house! And my daughter said, pulling the tempeh ever so slightly out of the sandwich and eyeballing it with curiosity, "What is this stuff? It tastes good." She's four, so... you know that's pretty high praise.

Here's the original recipe from Prevention RD:

"Tempeh 'Bacon':
5 oz tempeh
2 Tbsp maple syrup*
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
a dash of cayenne
To assemble:
6 slices of whole grain bread
1 tomato, sliced
6 large lettuce leaves
3 Tbsp light mayonnaise
  • Slice tempeh into about 6 oblong strips.
  • Combine maple syrup, olive oil, liquid smoke, soy sauce, cumin, pepper, and cayenne in a shallow dish. Soak tempeh in marinade for 2-3 minutes, turning to coat.
  • Turn a saute pan on medium-high and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add the tempeh to the pan in a single layer and cook 1-2 minutes on each side, or until browned.
  • Build three sandwiches with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 2 lettuce leaves, tomato slices, and about 2 slices of tempeh. Serve immediately. Yield: 3 servings.
  • Nutrition Information (per serving): 408 calories; 16 g. fat; 5 mg. cholesterol; 583 mg. sodium; 55 g. carbohydrate; 12 g. fiber; 16.7 g. protein
  • Result: Sweet and salty tempeh make this BLT a much more nutritious option. Healthy fats and lots of fiber make for a filling, heart-healthy sandwich. The tempeh bacon takes about 10 minutes to prepare and cook, so this meal comes together in a jiff! Enjoy!"

*I don't know about you guys, but I straight-up cannot afford maple syrup. For this recipe, I subbed some organic raw agave nectar that I got on a deep sale at Sprouts. OR, you can use use this recipe for Homemade Maple Syrup if you're really broke.  --Jen


May 10, 2013

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Welcome Vegan Potluckers!

As part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck blog tour this year, I am happy to be a part of the "Bread Course." At first I was going to make the huge loaves of bread that I put into my Thanksgiving meal a couple of years ago, but then I would be forced to butter and consume said loaves, which might not do flattering things to my arse. So, since avocados were on sale at three for a dollar last week, and I have a ton of them to eat, I thought to myself, "Tortillas! Yes, tortillas!" They are perfect for dipping into AwesomeSauce (we have seriously made a meal of this), or slathering with guacamole (again, a full meal of just this), or my favorite thing of all - a wrap consisting of guacamole, alfalfa sprouts, and halved cherry tomatoes. It doesn't sound like much, but it's seriously amazing. And, between you and me, you will BM like a soldier for the rest of the day after you eat it. Woo hoo!

4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (can sub all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups cold water

Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until mixed. Add oil and stir. Add water in 1/2 cup increments, stirring or mixing with hands after each addition. Knead gently in the bowl, for just a minute or so, until dough resembles photo above. Allow dough to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Pinch off a piece of dough no larger than the cup of your palm,
and roll it into a ball.
Lightly flour your rolling surface, as well as your rolling pin.
Roll out your dough ball, getting it as thin as possible.
Place rolled dough onto a hot ungreased cast iron griddle. 
Allow to lightly brown on both sides. 
I like to roll out my next dough ball while the first is cooking. 

Repeat until all your balls are rolled flat and cooked up right.