Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 28: Kenyan Peanut Soup

After Matthew and I got married we returned to Brigham Young University - Hawaii (the only true BYU) where I had previously been working on my bachelors degree in International Cultural Studies (ICS). At BYUH, every semester they have an event called FoodFest.....the real reason why I went to BYUH. Being a very international campus, with more than 70 countries represented, there were many cultural clubs that played a vital roll on campus. One of their rolls, and ways of fundraising, was FoodFest. Each club made food from their respective countries and sold it. The whole community turned out for the event. One year the African Club presented Kenyan Peanut Soup. Ahhhh. It was an instant hit! I saved some for the next day so I could make some of my own. This is the result. We went back the next semester and the club had a different dish, I can't even remember what it was. All I remember was how heart broken I was and how I had to come home and make a pot of it just to comfort myself. I'm okay now.

Kenyan Peanut Soup
vegetable broth
1 head cabbage
garlic powder
chopped peanuts
green onions

Chop the head of cabbage and saute in a large pot. Add the thai peanut sauce and enough vegetable broth to make it a creamy soup consistency. Add salt and garlic powder to taste. Top with chopped peanuts and green onions

Day 27: Mushroom & Spinach Crepes

We had crepes a lot as kids, filled will all sorts of goodies. I remember making them at a booth for "french day" at our school. I looked so cool up there with my baray on, flipping these scrumptious delicacies. I'm sure the rest of the 8th graders thought I was cool too.

When I think of crepes, I think of thanksgiving. Every year we made crepes and stuffed them with leftovers from Thanksgiving and ate crepes till just before Christmas (the recipe will follow). This seems fitting since I am so thankful for them! But, back in those days we made the full fat crepes: cream, eggs, everything. Boy were they good.....but boy were they bad!

After searching the web I have found MANY variations, all of which had ingredients that I can't get on my little rock. Finally I discovered this even uses coconut that I have! Like regular crepes, the technique takes a little getting used to. For these I found it best not to flip with the spatula but to loosen the crepe from the pan and show off your mad cooking skills by flipping it in the pan with a flip of the wrist. You can do it! It takes a little practice but you'll look like a pro!

As for taste I give this recipe pretty high marks. They're as good as I remember them!

Vegan Crepes
1 c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c "milk"
3/4 c water
3 tb coconut milk
3 tb sugar

1 pkg mushrooms
1/2 onion chopped
vegan cheese
fresh spinach
vegetable broth

Blend everything for the batter in a food processor or whisk in a bowl. Let sit for about 30 minutes! This is key! Pour and swirl in the pan to coat the bottom several times to fill in all the bubble holes. Let cook till the edges are browning. Loosen the edges and bottom with a rubber spatula. Now flip it....flip it good.

In a pan, saute the onion and shrooms. Fill your crepe with the shrooms and a handfull of fresh spinach. In a sauce pan melt the cheese and make it creamy with the vegetable broth. Pour over the crepe and serve.

Day 26: Curry

The first time I had curry I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was made by a friend from India....he knows what he's talking about! It was sooo good! After that I always stuck with yellow curry because I thought it was the best and most authentic. I then went to a thai restaurant (ya, THAT thai restaurant) on a night I was feeling particularly adventurous. It was torturous, being a creature of habit, to try a different kind of curry. But, after one bight I found I love torture. This curry seemed even better than the first. Dr. Seuss was right yet again "try it and you may, try it and you may I say."

Massaman Curry
1 pkg or can massaman curry (maesri is a good brand. Make sure it says massaman!)
2 sweet potatoes cubed (or any kind of potato is good)
2 carrots cubed
1 can coconut milk

Throw everything together in a slow cooker or a large pot. Cook till the potatoes and carrots are tender. Serve over rice. You can add as little or as much curry paste as you like. Top with cilantro and chopped peanuts to serve.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 25: Swedish Meatballs

My husband and I always joke about how when people go vegan, the first thing they do is rush to find a way to "make meat" or cheese, all the things they want to give up. Kind of like how people spend thousands of dollars on the finest woods and stone in their homes to mimic the outdoors. If ya like it that much then go outside. But when it comes to being vegan, we realize the health benefits out weigh our cravings. But for us, this substitute was a must.

My husband spent two years in Sweden serving an LDS mission. While there he had Swedish meatballs....a lot! He likes them so much we had them at our wedding reception. So, it was obvious his beloved meatballs were not something he was willing to give up. Thus, I had to come up with this recipe, pronto.

Swedish "Meat"balls
vegan "meat"
vegan cheese
vegetable broth
2-3 red potatoes per person
lingonberry sauce or cranberry sauce

Roll your "meat" into meatballs and saute in oil in a pan till they are golden brown. Boil the red potatoes. Thin down your cheese with vegetable broth till it's a gravy consistence. Serve the sauce over the meatballs and potatos with a side of cranberry sauce. This dish must be eaten continental style. It just tastes better that way. Like how Chinese food MUST be eaten with chopsticks!. Try a bite of the meatball, potato, and cranberry sauce all at once....that's what I'm talkin bout!

Special: Thai Peanut Sauce

This is one of the easiest sauces to make and because it's a little out of the ordinary people think that your a world traveler and a culinary expert. This calls for 4 ingredients -ya, that's it! And all you have to do is put them all in your trusty rice cooker and stir. You can even make this ahead and freeze it to use in other stuff. I use this for lots of things: Phad Thai, Kenyan Peanut Soup, Thai Peanut Pasta, and as a dipping sauce. There is so much you can do with this so make a bunch.

Thai Peanut Sauce
creamy peanut butter
1 can coconut milk
Tony's seasoning
garlic powder

Like I said, put everything together in your rice cooker and stir till its creamy. The end.

Day 24: Phad Thai

There are two really great places I can recommend for some phenomenal Phad Thai. One is in St. George Utah at Benja's Thai and Sushi...mmmmmm. Probably one of my top restaurants! The other is in the food court at Ala Moana mall in Waikiki. Benjas is a bit more expensive due to the atmosphere but if you count airfare, hotel, and car rental you're really saving yourself.

I could eat phad thai all day....actually, I've never tried, I'll have to put that on my list of things to do. It really is a delightful thing! There is such a mixture of flavors...hmmm, I'm making myself hungry. I better just skip to the recipe before I hurt myself.

Phad Thai
thai peanut sauce
phad thai rice noodles ( I prefer the flat ones)
peanuts crushed
chopped cilantro
bean sprouts
green onions
lime wedges

Cook the thai noodles par the instructions on the packet. Toss with the thai peanut sauce and top with crushed peanuts, cilantro, green onion and bean sprouts. Serve with a lime wedge to squeeze over.

Day 23: Fondue

I love learning the history of food and I found this one particularly interesting. The saying goes that if you lose your food in the fondue pot then, as a consolation, you can kiss the person to your left. Be careful who you sit by! If this makes you a bit hesitant you better read up on your "fondue etiquette" just to be safe. You may even want to have a lesson for your guests before hand. Matthew often tells me that his first experience with fondue was on a date at one of the fondue restaurants where he spent over $100 on dinner. I don't know who the girl was but I'd love to ask her how she did it! This recipe won't cost you near as much and you'll probably still get a kiss at the end of the night.

Easy Fondue
vegan cheese
vegetable broth
1 loaf of bread cubed
fresh broccoli steamed
fresh cauliflower steamed
cooked carrot
steamed mushrooms

In your adorable rice cooker, place your vegan cheese, adding the vegetable broth a little at a time till it is a creamy consistency. You can serve the fondue from the rice cooker right at the table. On a platter, serve all the other items cut into bite size portions.

Day 22: Sushi with Edamame

When I was young we were blessed to have many foreign exchange students live in our home, most of them being from Japan. This was a great cultural experience for us kids as we learned to love the culture, the people, and the food through their influence.

This was all cool until, as a 3rd grader, I went to school with sushi in my lunch box. In theory this sounded cool. In practice it was not. You should have seen the faces I got. I was shamed for the rest of my elementary career. Of course, it didn't help that my mom kept insisting that it was cool and did it on a regular basis.

Jump forward to the present. I still love sushi and as an adult I'm glad I can wear this out in the open. I'm even part of an elite sushi club. Yes, it's true. I'm in a club of four women that eat sushi together in Salt Lake City Utah. Now, you may ask, sushi, in Salt lake? Yes, in fact, some of the best sushi I have had was in a town called logan in northern utah. If you are ever on a sushi eating tour call me and I'll give you details.

On one of our club excursions we met at the restaurant and ordered edamames for an appetizer. Come to find out, this was the first time one of our members had had them. Thinking they were snap peas she ate the whole thing, pod and all. I would not recommend this. After the meal, when she realized the rest of us has been putting the pods in a separate bowl, she laughed and confessed she had secretly been spitting them in her napkin the whole time to which she displayed a napkin full of pods.

This recipe can be as spicy or mild as you wish, just add the chili sauce a little at a time. I used to make it with imitation crap but now I substitute garbanzo beans and I like it just as much. I even got a little kid who is a picky eater to like this. His eyes were watering the whole time because of the heat but he kept coming back for more. I'm sure you will too.

cooked rice
seaweed paper/nori
1/2 c garbanzo beans
Vietnamese chili sauce
1/2 avocado
1/2 cucumber sliced length wise
wax paper
sesame seeds

Cook the rice and let it cool out of the fridge. If it cools in the fridge it will go hard. In a blender, add the garbanzo beans, a spoonful of veganaise, and chili sauce (add a little at a time). Slice your cucumber and avocado length wise. Place a sheet of nori on the wax paper and wet your hands (this will help keep the rice from sticking to you). Take a handful of rice and form it into a ball the size of a baseball. Keep working with it till it holds together well. This brings out the gluten so it will stick to your nori. Now put it on your seaweed and spread it around pressing it into your nori till the whole sheet is covered. Now flip the sheet over so the rice is on the bottom. On one long end of the sheet, layer the garbanzo bean mixture, sliced avocado, and cucumber. With 2 hands start to roll the sushi. Roll with the wax paper (make sure you don't roll it in) this will help keep it tight. To seal it, wet the nori at the end and squeeze it together. Now roll it in sesame seeds. To cut, use a very sharp knife. Cut the tube in half and then put the two halves together. Keep doing this until they are 1/4-1/2 an inch thick. Stack on a serving plate and serve with wasabi and soy sauce.

Steam or blanch your edamames and sprinkle with sea salt. Remember not to eat the pod!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Table for Four

This week we're going to focus on meals for a party. Matthew and I love to have other couples over for dinner.....all though, it doesn't always turn out well. Usually we have these big ideas and plan - what we think are crazy fun theme dinner parties and then we just end up having his parents over and playing dominoes.

Since we've moved to Samoa it's only gotten worse. We've found that while pologies or white kids like most Samoan food, most Samoan adults do not like pologie food. So we end up feeding our food to the kids who will eat ANYTHING....literally! They made a sandwich from pita bread, hummus, grape jelly, cucumbers, and kimchee. Now, I'm adventurous...but not that adventurous.

We've had some really fun theme parties though, mostly for Matthew's birthdays. One year was quinoa, which I've already mentioned. A few others included 'organic', 'salad bar', and 'squash'. Complete with poetry, artwork, and recipes to support the theme.

This weeks menu has flavors from around the world that are perfect for a romantic dinner for 2 or a party of 4 or more. So invite some friends over and show off your mad cooking skills. Don't worry, I'll give you all the credit.

Week Four
Monday: Sushi with Edamame
Tuesday: Fondue
Wednesday: Phad Thai
Thursday: Swedish Meatballs
Friday: Curry
Saturday: Mushroom Spinach Crepes
Sunday: Peanut Soup
Bonus: Thai Dessert Rice

Can you name all the places those come from? Go on, give it a try. Post a comment if you know. Matthew and I always like to try new foods. For example, for our second anniversary we went to "china town" in Las Vegas, which we had heard great things about. Turns out it was a strip mall that had a Chinese arch way at the entrance and a bunch of Chinese shops. For lunch we had heard about this great place where we could go for some killer dim sum. Honestly, I thought dim sum was some sort of soup....I know now. Dim sum is where people who don't speak English rush past you with carts full of things that you don't recognize but that they want you to eat.

The waitress so kindly seated us right next to the fish tank where a 10 lb guppy sat and stared at us the entire meal, pleading with us through his eye "please don't eat me." Finally, one of the whirling carts spoke broken English..."pork?" (we were asking ourselves the same question). Sure, we know what pork is, so we nodded our heads. "Shrimp?" We kept nodding. He then said something that we didn't recognize but we nodded anyway. He left us staring at our plates wondering if we had heard him right.

This was pre-vegan days so we started with the pork. It was a dumpling, which we recognized so quickly gobbled that down. Then we came to the shrimp....heads and all. Matthew handed me the plate and said, " make this look familiar" so I sat there, in that busy restaurant beheading, tailing, and "de-turding" ruffly 20 deep fried shrimp to the horror of the onlookers next to us. We then turned our attention to the third plate, looked back at each other, confirmed we had had enough adventure for one day and called for our check. I think now that I know what to expect I might like it a bit more but we'll have to wait to see if I'm right for some time far down the road. Hopefully these ingredients won't be as terrifying or foreign to you.

Grocery List
brown rice
nori/seaweed paper
garbanzo beans
Vietnamese chili sauce
red potatoes
artisan bread
1 pkg masaman curry
2-3 carrots
lingonberry sauce or cranberry sauce
phad thai noodles
bean sprouts
green cabbage
2 cans coconut milk
peanut butter
tony's seasoning
1 bottle fruit juice ( ex: mango, apricot)
vegetable broth
soy free vegan cheese

Bonus: Whole Wheat Freezer Bread/ Pita Dough

When we moved to Amerikan Samoa we found it difficult to find whole wheat bread. Wheat bread is a staple in our diets - I can't start the day without my toast, well, yes I can....but is it worth it?
We tried going without but found that though man can not live by bread alone, a life isn't a life without it. I was able to find a place that had wheat flour and I started making our own. Word soon leaked out and my neighbor suggested that I make it for the upcoming farmers market. I did and it was a hit. I sold out in less then an hour. But that was just the beginning. People in our village started requesting it. Since I made it once a week anyway I just thought I would make a few extra loafs and call it good.
Well, news travels fast on the coconut express and soon I was spending all day making bread. One friend in the village even asked if we were running a bakery. Luckily we found a place that sold the flour bulk but then, one day, it was gone....all of it. You couldn't find wheat flour on the island - and if they did have it they wouldn't sell it. Ya, the stores wouldn't sell wheat flour. It was like powdered gold. We haven't been able to get it since so we are back to our original, if you're reading this, consider this our message in a bottle. Don't send help, send wheat flour.

Freezer Bread / Pita Pockets
3 tb yeast
3/4 c warm water
1 tb sugar
6 c warm water
3/4 c oil
3 tb salt
1 c sugar
about 12 c whole wheat flour

In a bowl mix yeast, 3/4 c warm water and 1 tb sugar and set aside to activate the yeast. Next, in a large bowl or in a mixer pour in 6 c warm water, oil, salt, and sugar. Dump in 8 cups of flour. Now, add the rest of the flour 1 c at a time till it is doughy and sticky but doesn't stick to you. Knead for 10 minutes. Now place in an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
Once it has risen, punch it down and divide into 10 equal loaves. Now, this is the moment of decision. What to do with the dough.
If you are making bread then place the dough in separate oiled loaf pans or on a cookie rack to make artisan bread. Let rise for another hour then bake on 350 for about 30 minutes or till it passes the thump test.
If you want to make pita pockets out of it, or some of it, then roll out each loaf in 3-5 rounds. Pre heat the oven to 500 degrees and place a cookie sheet in the oven upside down to heat up. Place your rounds (as many as will fit at one time) on the cookie sheet and spray around them with a water bottle. close the oven and let them puff up. The steam from the water helps them puff. Keep a constant eye on them. They will be done in less then 5 minutes.
If you want to freeze the dough then do this after the first rise. Place in a large Ziploc freezer bag. When you want to use it, pull it out and let it defrost on the counter. Once it is pliable, roll it into a pita or form into a loaf, let rise (it won't rise as much but it will still rise a bit) and bake as usual. Note, we turn the oven on for 5 minutes on 'warm,' then stick the dough in to rise. Be sure to turn the oven off though before the dough goes in.

Day 21: Pita Sandwiches

Anyone who knows me knows I AM NOT a baker! This comes from despising exact measurements. This is why I failed math....1/4 is close to 1/3.....1,that's just 1 away from 2, that's close...what's the difference? I also can't stand following recipes exactly. It cramps my creative flowage. For most recipes I just read the recipe, get a general idea what it's supposed to taste like and then I let the buds lead. I go to the fridge and see what I have that would work and wait like everyone else to see what comes out at the end. I guess you could say I like surprises. This is why I'm a cook, not a baker.

Baking requires the letter of the law....I'm more of a spirit of the law kind of gal, if you know what I mean. This of course, has gotten me in trouble from time to time. For example, we were having the LDS missionaries over for dinner. One had previously mentioned that he loved Utah scones (ya, they're actually called that. To the rest of the world scones are more of a biscuit thing...I guess Utah's just a little more than one way). Having been a missionary myself, I knew what it meant to have some comfort food every once in a while so I decided to make some. Well, after adding a pinch of this and a dash of that they were flat gobs of goo....this signaled they needed more flour, which made them hard rocks of goo. I thought they would soften as they cooked in the oil, so into the pan they went where 4 "scones" quickly soaked up ruffly a 1/2 quart of oil. The missionaries had just arrive so I had no choice but to serve them. One bite and oil came squirting out. The missionaries insisted they were delicious but I quickly took them back to the kitchen vowing to never bake again!

This is why Matthew is the baker at our house. Matthew is THE baker man - I love to watch him in the kitchen! rar! He makes these great pita pockets from a no-fail recipe for wheat bread. We've had some amazing meals with these pockets. This is just one to wet your whistle.

Pita Sandwiches
1 pita per person
1 can garbanzo beans
sliced cucumber
1 carrot
sunflower seeds
green onion
cherry tomatoes
Homemade hummus or veganaise

Slice in half, toast, and open your pitas, Lather the inside with hummus (yum, you could stop right there). Now, in a food processor place everything but the sprouts and cherry tomatoes. Pulse once or twice just to chop everything but leave it chunky. Slice the tomatoes in half. Fill your pocket with the mixture and slip in a few tomato halves and sprouts. Can you just feel the raw goodness?

Day 20: Cous Cous Salad

Several years ago I lived just down the street from my fantastic sister-in-law. Those were good times! We were at their house on a regular basis (a little too regular they thought). We had adventures at the park, carved my brother-in-laws head on a pumpkin, and put up their Christmas tree for Halloween. I know he won't admit it but even my brother-in-law felt magic in the air.

I want to apologize to my sister-in-law in advance for her "honorable mention" on this blog but our adventures in the kitchen never fail to bring a smile to my face. If there were to be a cooking show like Tool Time, my sister would be Tim. I say that with all the love in my heart! I really look up to her in SO many things!

One evening we went to their home for dinner and I brought warm cous cous as a substitute for rice. The family, having tried some of my other concoctions and not being fans, took a little coaxing. After the first bite they loved it. My sister asked what it was. I told her it was cous cous and she gave me a confused look. I told her she could get it at any health food store.

To my surprise, the next day I got a call from my sister. She had gone to the health food store, I think for the first time. She had bought cous cous, cooked it up, and it was terrible - nothing like mine. I asked her what spices she put in it, "spices, what spices? You didn't say anything about spices." Which was true. This reminded me of the time when I was telling her how to make gravy. I said, " you start out by making a rue." To which she replied, " rue, isn't that Kangas baby? You're just making these words up right?"

I adore my sister-in-law, and in her defense I have recently heard that she makes scrumptious homemade rolls. I can't wait for her to teach me and for many more memory making moments in the kitchen...which will be posted soon. For now, Here comes the cous cous

Cous Cous Salad
1-2 c cous cous
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 green chili
lemon or lime juice

In your loyal rice cooker cook your cous cous in double the amount of water (2 water to 1 cous cous). Drain, wash, and drain your black beans. The beans need to be clean with no juice or they will turn your cous cous black. Drain your corn. Mix cous cous, beans, and corn in a bowl. In the food processor or blender, add your cilantro, green chili, EVOO, and lemon juice. Puree and place everything in the fridge. Let everything cool. Just before serving, drizzle the salad with the dressing. This is a great refreshing meal.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 19: Spicy Mac & Cheese

I have four adorable nieces! They are the cutest quartet of little girls - hands down. They all have such distinct personalities and they come up with funny stuff on a daily basis. My brother, who spent two years in South Korea on a LDS mission insisted that one of their first solid foods was Kimchee. When I first heard this I thought it was child abuse. Giving a little kid something that spicy; but, I find that I have to eat my words. All of them have loved it and they are some of the best eaters I've ever seen. They aren't picky at all and even enjoy other spicy foods.

Momma's "Little" Helper

When my brother came home from Korea he introduced us to "power lunch." Apparently this was a staple in his diet. His recipe consisted of boxed mac & cheese (or what we refer to as yellow death), mayo, hot dogs, and Korean red pepper paste...a real authentic Korean dish. Honestly, the taste wasn't too bad but I could feel my arteries clogging with every bite.

This recipe replaces all the fat and oils with protien and grains. Korean red pepper paste is really quite good for you. It's great for your heart and blood flow. So, here is a healthy alternative to hot dogs and yellow death.

Spicy Mac & Cheese

1 box pasta (I like shell noodles but to each his own)
vegan cheese
Korean Red Pepper Paste

Cook and drain your pasta. Stir in your vegan cheese, a spoonful of veganaise and a little red pepper paste. Add the red pepper paste gradually, you wont need very much, this stuff packs a punch! For a gourmet flair, sprinkle with bread crumbs and put under the broiler till the breadcrumbs are toasted.

Day 18: Spaghetti Pie

I got this recipe from my husband's-mom's-granddaughter's-father's-wife. She is a great cook! Her kids won't even eat store bought bread because she makes all their bread from fresh ground wheat....I know, I can't take it either. I went with my mother-in-law to help watch her kids while she was at the hospital having her fourth. She already had all their meals ready, day planned out, and schedule typed up for us....just wait, it gets worse. All of her kids were well behaved, polite, and not only ate but loved their vegetables. I don't know what she's got going on...all I know is this delicious recipe is the result of her sick and twisted world.

Spaghetti Pie
1 lb cooked spaghetti noodles
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 pkg onion soup mix
This is a great way to use up left over pasta but be sure to use a whole pound of pasta or really cut back on the seasoning packet. Mix everything in a bowl and pour into a 9x13 baking pan. Cover with foil or the top will dry out. Bake till a knife comes out clean.

Day 17: Polenta with Peppers and Mushroom Sauce

The first time I had polenta was at Max's Diner in Palo Alto California. This was a bit more up scale from the Max's I was used to. There is also another Max's in San Ramon that was just a few blocks from our house. We loved eating there because for dessert we always got the chocolate coconut macaroon that was as big as your head, AND because after dinner, instead of dinner mints they gave you Bazooka bubble gum. At our house, gum was strictly forbidden. My mother hated the smell of gum and thought it wasn't lady like. Of course, we all had our own stash that we would sneak, using only half a piece at a time to make it last (don't tell mom). But, on the occasion that we went to Max's it was usually with out-of-town friends so mom couldn't say anything as we sat there and basked in the rubbery goodness of Bazooka.
This Max's was a little different. No bubble gum, no 60's music. Here I had to act like a lady, no blowing bubbles, no pulling my dress over my head (which I haven't done in years mother, so just drop it already) and no flirting with the waiter (I think I preferred the other diner...he was probably gay anyway). But, there was something on this menu that made it all worth while - the polenta with peppers and mushroom sauce. If this can make me sit up and behave, it's definitely worth a try!

1 c corn meal
3 c water
(ya, that's it....don't you just love it already!)

Peppers & Mushroom Sauce
2-3 bell peppers of different colors
1 onion
1 can mushrooms

In a pot, bring 2 c of water to a boil. In a separate bowl whisk together 1 c water and 1 c corn meal. Now, slowly add the corn meal to the boiling water stirring constantly! Reduce heat to medium and cook till it thickens stirring constantly! Now place in a oiled 9x13 pan or loaf pan. Place in the fridge till it becomes firm (I make mine the day before and let it sit over night, but a few hours should be sufficient). When ready to serve slice your polenta into squares and cook in oil in a pan on the stove till golden on each side

Now saute your sliced peppers and onion (this would be a great time to use up leftovers from your pepper sandwiches). In a food processor puree your mushrooms,vegan cheese, and broth. Cook in a sauce pan till it starts to thicken. Layer your polenta, peppers, and drizzle with sauce.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Special: Hummus Off!

Here in Amerikan Samoa they're not exactly inclined to the vegan diet. In fact, when we first moved here we had a hard time even finding beans. We asked around and one lady said, "oh ya, I had a whole box of those but I just threw them away." I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. We came to the conclusion that perhaps they just don't know what to do with them.

I was very excited when I was asked to give a presentation on how to cook and utilize beans. It came off as a success! In fact I had several people just sitting around my table eating my samples up as fast as i could get them on the table. This little brother was particularly attentive to my hummus.

My dear friend Penny was a bit surprised when I told her about it. "Hummus just sounds so angry, like, 'your such a hummus' or 'your going to tell someone to hummus off.''' I guess anything related to beans is the equivalent to a swear word in Samoan.

Basic Hummus
1 can garbanzo beans/bulk home-cooked
1 lemon
garlic powder
Drain the can of garbanzo beans but save the liquid. (We prefer to buy bulk/bagged and cook them up ourselves - it is easy and so much more affordable plus you can control the salt content). Place everything in a food processor or blender. Add lemon juice, salt and garlic powder to taste. Blend till creamy, adding the bean liquid a little at a time.

Hummus is very versatile. The possibilities for mix-in's are endless. Try bell peppers or cucumber, sun dried tomatoes or olives. You'll pay $3-$5 at a grocery store for a few ounces but you can make it at home for less then $1.......your, hummus off. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 16: Open Face Sandwiches

On the north shore of Hawaii there is a little surf town called Haleiwa. It's a great little tourist town with shops, restaurants, and a great dive shop. There is also a health food store that has a fantastic restaurant in the back. The people are friendly and the food is delicious. The menu consists of lively dishes, most of which are the "chefs" own concoctions. The chef, a friendly surfer bum, who only has a job to support his surfing habit; willingly talks with patrons as he cooks in the small 10 ft x 5 ft kitchen.

While there we had some superb open face vegan sandwiches and I was hooked! I like them on a bagel because of the chewiness but Matthew prefers something a bit more crispy....I suppose its his endearment to Swedish cracker bread coming out. But, however you like it, this is a great way to get in your raw veggies and enjoy them in the process.

Open Face Sandwiches
wheat bagels sliced and toasted
1 cucumber sliced
1 carrot shredded
veganaise or hummus
sunflower seeds
2 green onions chopped
shredded cabbage
1 tomato sliced

Toast the bagel and spread with veganaise or hummus. Layer with carrots, sprouts, cucumber, tomato, cabbage, sunflower seeds and green onion. This is messy. Some of the toppings will fall off but be sure to eat all your veggies!

Day 15: Spaghetti with "Meat"Sauce & Garlic Bread

There are some days that you just need something quick, easy, and satisfying. I find that those days usually land on Mondays. Who knows what it is about Mondays that strikes fear into young and old alike? I remember, as a kid, praying I would get sick on Sunday night so I wouldn't have to go to school on Monday.....nothing too serious, just a minor cough and slight temperature.
At our house dad was the spaghetti king. My dad had four dishes that he specialized in: spaghetti, mashed potatoes, ramaki, and granola. That's about it. But, when he cooked them he sure knew what he was doing.

There was one thing about my dad's spaghetti though. My father.....we'll, he has a bit of a sweet tooth and it carried over into everything he made (except the mashed potatoes, thank heaven). My dad always made sweet spaghetti sauce. It tasted alright and it was what we were raised on so we were non the wiser. But, I remember the first time I had plain bottled spaghetti sauce. I was shocked. It tasted so different. I was away at college so I called my dad and asked what brand he used, thinking I had the wrong one. He informed me that I had the right brand, he just always put brown sugar in it to make it sweet. Well, I was converted to salty spaghetti sauce and I've never looked back.....sorry dad.

I often crave spaghetti. I don't know if there are others that crave carbs like I do. My husband can go weeks and never think of a carb but if I go more then a few days I start to get cranky. And spaghetti, besides being quick, easy, and satisfying, is also comforting after a long Monday back at the grind stone.

Spaghetti with "Meat" Sauce
1-2 lbs spaghetti
1-2 jars spaghetti sauce

Garlic Bread
1 french bread loaf
2 slices of bread per person
1 clove garlic or powdered
extra virgin olive oil

Alright, if you don't know how to cook spaghetti then you need more help then I thought. Please contact me personally and I will take you through it step by step. Otherwise, get to cookin your pasta. When the pasta is finished, drain the water and pour in your sauce. Once your sauce is incorporated add your "meat." Gently toss a few times and serve. Be sure you make enough for leftovers. We are going to use them in our Spaghetti Pie and this will speed up the process.

Slice your loaf of french bread and rub with the clove of garlic. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and broil till the top is golden brown. If using garlic powder, drizzle with olive oil first and then sprinkle with garlic.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week Three

Wow, three weeks. That means we've already had 14 agonizing recipes that are completely vegan. You've been so brave to withstand this kind of torture! But, are you prepared for week three?

Week Three
Monday: Spaghetti with "Meat" Sauce
Tuesday: Open Face Sandwiches
Wednesday: Polenta with Peppers and Mushroom Sauce
Thursday: Spaghetti Pie
Friday: Spicy Macaroni and Cheese
Saturday: Cous Cous Salad
Sunday: Pita Sandwiches
Bonus: Whole Wheat Freezer Bread/Pita Pockets

Grocery List
2 lbs vegan spaghetti
2 jars spaghetti sauce
1 pkg wheat bagels
1 cucumber
2-3 carrots
2 cans or 1 lb garbanzo beans
olive oil
1 lemon
sunflower seeds
1 bunch green onion
1 head green cabbage
1 can black beans
1 can corn
2-3 green chilies
3 bell peppers
1 box corn meal
1 onion
1 can mushrooms
1 pkg onion soup mix
macaroni noodles
cous cous
cherry tomatoes
2 pkg or bulk active yeast
1 pkg brown sugar
canola oil
wheat flour

Day 14: Pepper Sandwiches

I'll admit, as a kid I had very odd tastes. When we'd go to McDonald's there was no happy meal for me! I ordered the fillet o'fish or a salad. When asked where I wanted to eat it was Sweet Tomatoes (a salad bar) or Long John Silvers. Forget Chucky cheese. That rat always freaked me out anyway, (what does a rat have to do with pizza anyway?) Yes, I suppose I was destined to be a vegan from the start.

With this information, It will come as no surprise that one of my favorite sandwiches as a child was this pepper sandwich. My grandmother introduced me to these when I was young and I have adored them ever since. I find the sesame oil to be key. I've tried other oils in this and they just never turn out as good. I warn you, these are a bit messy - not first date material. But I suppose that was another reason I enjoyed them so much as a kid.

Pepper Sandwiches
1 bell pepper per person (try different colors. It makes it a really beautiful dish)
1 onion sliced
sesame oil

In a pan, saute the sliced bell peppers and onion in the sesame oil. At the very last, just before serving, put the rolls in the pan and cover with the lid. This will crisp the bottom and make them warm and soft. Be careful not to leave them in to long or they will go soggy. Serve the peppers on the rolls. Try adding different vegan salad dressings.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Special: Meat Crumbles

As you know, the other night was nachooooo night. The taste buds were prepared and waiting for dinner all day and, as any woman knows, and any man should know about women....when you have a craving, you must obey. So, I pulled out all the fixings and, to my lentils. Yes, I know, how could this be? I was shocked and confused. I couldn't bring myself to have nachos with no "meatyness." And, with my taste buds already salivating for nachos there was no telling them no.

I was just about to send my husband out in a cyclone warning, torrential rain storm to retrieve said lentils from the only store on the island that sells them, but then genius struck. I had read about vegan meat crumbles in my research and decided to give it a go. I pulled out the left over leftover meatloaf that I was saving for meatloaf sandwiches, put some oil in a sauce pan and when the oil was hot I crumbled it in. It crumbled so very well. I added some taco seasoning, put them on the nachos and presented them to Matthew. They tasted just like meaty, honest to goodness nachos. My taste buds were very pleased! So, yet again, the best recipes come serendipitously! I am excited to try these in other dishes that call for ground beef or the like. I'll keep ya posted. Here is the recipe in case some people skip to the end.

"Meat" Crumbles
leftover meatloaf
seasonings (e.g. taco, gravy, etc.)

Heat up oil on the stove in a sauce pan. When the oil is hot crumble in the meatloaf. Be very careful, the oil will spit! Coat with the oil and cook till brown and crumbly. Serve as you would ground beef. It's AMAZING on Nachooos!

Special: Pizza Seasoning Blend

This MAKES any pizza! Sprinkle it on any pizza to add some incredible flavor. I got this recipe from a dear friend in hawaii. Knowing that I like to cook, one day she asked if I wanted some herbs. Since the price of herbs in hawaii is quite expensive I was glad to accept. A few days later she brought two grocery bags full of assorted herbs to my door. With wide eyes I asked if she was sure she could spare so much. "I bought online and instead of buying what I thought were ounces, I accidentally bought by the pound." So instead of buying 5 ounces of oregano she got 5 lbs. This incredible blend was one of her delicious ways of making the most of her order. I, for one, am grateful for her tasty mistake!

Pizza Seasoning Blend
2 tb onion flakes
2 tb dried bell pepper
1 tb basil
1 tb garlic powder
1 tb oregano
1 tb rosemary
1/2 tb anise seed

Put everything together in a food processor and pulse a few times. You can make up a bunch of this and store it in a Ziploc in your fridge.

Day 13: Pizza

How could it be junk food week without pizza? Pizza is the ultimate junk food. You ask any little kid what their favorite food is and what will they say? And the one day a week at school that a kid, who usually brings a sack lunch, buys lunch?... Pizza day! And you can bet he knows what day it is. You ask him what he learned at school today and he has no clue, but he knows what day is pizza day!

Pizza day at our house was every friday. Pizza and a movie. We kept little cesars in business! Now that I'm married I make our pizza for pizza night. We prefer "califonia style" with a thin crispy crust. I've also found this supurb pizza seasoning that makes any pizza! Here are two pizza recipes. The first is a delicious vegetable pizza. I actually served this to carnivore friends that came for dinner and they ate all the vegan pizza before they started on the meat pizzas that were made just for them. These are really versatile. I like to have pre-made crusts in the freezer to pull out and make up quick!

The Second recipe I've actually stolen and veganized it. I realize that doing this to a recipe which came from a Texan is a sin but it was so good I had to have it again. While on my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I served in Graham Texas. This town is truly unique. On the main square there is a pizza joint that is in the old city jail. I could just picture barny fife there in the good old day. The place is called The Last Pizza Show. If you're ever in Graham (first of all, why would you ever be there?) you've got to check this place out. The owners still come out and talk to you. If you sit at the bar they'll chat with you as they make the pizza. This is where I was introduced to Hamburger Pizza. I'm sure you're saying, ya, whats the big deal. We'll this pizza is made with Mustard as the sauce.

Here is one of my dirty little secrets. I ADORE mustard. I'll take it any way I can get it. This comes from a mutated gene from my grandmother who, no joke, at one time had over 30 different kinds of mustard in her fridge at one time. Did you even know there were that many different kinds of mustard?

Anyway, back to the pizza. For this meat lovers pizza the sauce is made from regular yellow mustard. Try it and see if it's not FANTASTIC!

Vegetable Pizza
1 pizza crust (this recipe makes two crusts)
1 tomato sliced
vegan cheese
pizza seasoning
bottled spagetti sauce

Layer your pizza crust with sauce, spinach, tomatoes, seasoning, and cheese. Add whatever you like, be creative! Try peppers and artichoke hearts, mushrooms and olives....I better stop. I find drizzling the cheese on last helps hold everything on. Bake at 350 till spinach is wilted.

Hamburger Pizza
1 pizza crust
1 1/2 c meat crumbles
yellow mustard
vegan cheese
pizza seasoning

Layer mustard, "meat," seasoning, and cheese. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Day 12: Burgers & Fries

This recipe was actually given to me by a carnivore. My Samoan auntie is the one who got us thinking of going vegan, so we have her to thank for all of this. She told us to watch "foods that kill" on youtube, and what Auntie says, you do! She served this recipe to her family and they really liked it. These freeze very well! I always have some in the freezer for a quick meal. And, like the rest of my recipes, is a great way to use up left overs.

1 can stewed tomatoes blended
1 carrot shredded
1/2 onion chopped
any left over veggies
enough oats to make it hold together

5-6 potatoes
cooking oil
Tony's Seasoning (optional)

In a big bowl mix all your ingredients for your burgers. Add oats till you can form it into a patty. You can also add leftover rice or beans. Form into patties and place on a well oiled cookie sheet. Bake on 350 till they are brown, turning once. Be sure to cook them before you freeze them.

Cut potatoes length ways to make fries. Coat with oil, salt, pepper, and seasonings. Place on a cookie sheet and broil, turning frequently till they are brown on all sides.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 11: Nachooooooos

Back in my carnivore days, nachos had to be one of my favorite indulgences. Whenever we went out for Mexican, I didn't even need to look at a menu, I already knew what would satisfy my desires. But, as a vegan this poses a real problem: the meat, the cheese, and the sour cream (ohhh the sour cream).

After much searching I've found a substitute better than the original! This is also a superb way to use up leftovers from Beloved Taco Night (if there are any).

1 bag tortilla chips
taco flavored lentils
taco flavored meat crumbles
refried beans
nacho cheese sauce
fresh salsa
chopped lettuce
extra cilantro
extra green peppers sliced
guacamole (optional)

On a cookie sheet or 9x13 pan place the tortilla chips then layer the refried beans, lentils, and cheese sauce. Broil on a low rack till everything is heated through and the chips are really crispy. Top with fresh salsa, lettuce, cilantro, peppers and guacamole. If you're using leftovers this will make up in less then 10 minutes!

Special: Vegan Soy Free Cheese Updated

Alright carnivore, stop right there - move along - there is nothing to see here. Just go back to your happy little life with your cheese and your sour cream and pretend that everything is okay...keep moving. This post is for vegans ONLY! Ya, it's a private club. Now beat it.

If you're vegan you understand. Vegan cheese is an "acquired" taste. If you're not committed, don't even try. I've heard that there are some great new vegan cheeses that have come on the market back in the states but being out here in never never land with the lost boys I haven't had the pleasure of experimenting for myself. As for now, I am stuck with what the local corner market can supply; but, after much research I've developed something that seems to work. In my research I have come across two types of cheese -
1. tofu/soy
2. non tofu/soy (usually made with nutritional yeast and cornstarch)
I try to avoid soy whenever possible.....hormonal reasons, don't ask........I said don't ask alright? sheesh....Anyway, since soy is not an option we had to try something else.

Well, I tried the cornstarch variety and while it tasted ok my brain couldn't quite swallow it. So, mine is more of a rice cheese.

Now, this is not my first attempt at cheese making. When Matthew and I were first married we were gifted some Kefir grains. We Loved Kefir....that is until I neglected the poor dears and we got a sour batch. Well, not wanting it to go to waste, I came up with the brilliant idea of making cheese out of it. I researched it online and found I was well on my way to a perfectly delight cheesy substance. I watched it like a hawk for days, if only I had given it this kind of attention when the grains were still good. Finally, I summoned Matthew into the kitchen to try my first of what I hoped to be many batches of Kefir cheese. I sliced off a delicate morsel of a ball that was the consistency of soft cream cheese. We both took a bite and realized.....I had made alcoholic cheese. It fizzled like rootbeer and smelled like a drunk on new years eve. Okay, so not my best.

So Kefir didn't work, that's alright. I then got into sprouting and heard that you could make cheese out of rejuvilac left over from soaking wheat. Now what could go wrong with wheat? It's not to speak, no way to kill it. This one was sure to work. After several days of anticipation I called Matthew into the kitchen again to taste my new cheese. I guess the memory of the last experience was still a little too fresh in his mind, or maybe it was the mold that was growing on the outside of the cheese; whatever, it was, I was able to convince him that mold was part of the cheese making blue cheese, this was just a sign of my success. Unfortunately, he wouldn't agree to be the guinea pig this time so we agreed to try it together. We then concluded that no, this was not the right kind of mold.

As I'm re-reading this I realize this is not the best intro to get you to try my vegan cheese but look at it this way, with all this experience behind me I now know what NOT to do. That's got to count for something. So, try it if you dare. I tried it on the vegan pizza for an upcoming post and it is heavenly! So, if nothing else, try it on the pizza.

Vegan Cheese
1/4 c cashews
2 potatoes
4-5 carrots
1 onion
1-2 c celery
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C nurtitional yeast
1 c water

In a pressure cooker cook potatoes, carrots, celery, water, and onion  for 10 minutes. When finished add all the ingredients to a blender to make it creamy. Use while its hot. You can also use it cold as a cheese spread.

Add ins: for nacho cheese add bottled salsa and a hit of Tabasco
or, add broccoli and vegetable stock and serve over potatoes

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 10: Meatloaf Sandwiches

At our house, meatloaf was usually an after thought. If we had leftovers that needed to be used up and meat in the house we'd put them together and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. But on one occasion we killed more than that.

My grandmother, whom I adore, is a bit of an insomniac. As a child this came in handy because whenever there was a problem in the middle of the night, boogy men and the like, she was always right there. But on one evening we were all wishing grandma would have gotten some sleep. One night, while watching insomniac tv she came across a "miracle herb" that would turn any meatloaf into a feast for a king. Being completely dazzled because of her lack of sleep she ordered it on the spot.

She spoke of her purchase for days and promised that when it came we were having meatloaf. Well, you can imagine our excitement to be having meatloaf that wasn't some concoction thought up by Mr. Wizard! We rushed home from school every day with eagerness to see if the miracle had arrived, and one had!

My grandmother, brother, and I anxiously entered the kitchen, scrubbed up and put on our gowns as we prepared for this delicate operation of preparing meatloaf. We mixed the seasonings par the instructions, gently folded in the ground beef and, as if putting a babe to sleep, slipped it into the oven with loving care.

As it baked we seemed like new mothers, checking in on it every few seconds, dashing to it to make sure no one opened the oven and when it was finally done, pulling it out and looking lovingly at what we had so pleasantly created.

The family gathered round the table, the blessing was said, and grandma did the honors of serving each their long awaited slice of loaf. We also waited as she took the first bite. Then we all commenced. After one bite we all looked at each other in disgust. My brother was the first to speak, "tastes like road kill." Not exactly the response my grandmother was hoping for but, being in agreement, she went to the kitchen to find a last minute substitute. I actually don't think we have had meatloaf since.

Now that I'm the head chef in our kitchen I realize how great it is to have meatloaf around. And, how delicious leftovers are. We had these meatloaf sandwiches last night and Matthew insisted that they were some of the best sandwiches he'd ever had. So pull out your left over - leftover meatloaf, slice it up, grill it up and eat it up.

Meatloaf Sandwiches
leftover meatloaf
leaf lettuce
1 tomato sliced
red onion sliced
chili sauce or ketchup

Slice your meatloaf about 1/2 an inch thick. Heat it up in a pan with some oil till its brown on both sides. Place on a roll with a leaf of lettuce, sliced tomato, onion, sprouts, mustard, veginase, and chili sauce. And there you have a FANTASTIC meatloaf sandwich, completely roadkill free!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 9: Tacos

As a teenager I moved to Utah from California. It may as well have been a different planet! We moved from a 4 bedroom townhouse to a house with 4 acers. I was in culture shock to say the least. This was only compounded one day when we invited a friend over for dinner.

"What ya havin," he asked.
"What are Tacos?"

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at him to see if he was joking....he wasn't, and rightly so! You don't joke when it comes to Tacos!

But, I ask you, how on earth, in a civilized society, can someone not know about Tacos? I'm sorry for bringing this traumatic story up but I promise it has a purpose. This story is sad and upsetting to the mojority of us. Thus proving that Tacos are a staple, a basic, a necessity! And that inner basic need for tacos is no different for vegans. Thus, The Taco


1lb lentils
1 pkg taco seasoing
refried beans
1/2 bunch of lettuce
2 large tomatoes
1/2 an onion
1 bunch cilantro
2-3 green chilies
1 lime
garlic powder or fresh
taco shells

Pull out that trusty, loveable little rice cooker and cook up some lentils. Add water, lentils and taco seasoning. Now, in a food processor add tomatoes, onion, cilantro, chilies, the juice of 1 lime, and a pinch of salt. Pulse to make fresh salsa. Wash and chop lettuce. Heat your refried beans and taco shells. We serve everything family style and make our own but you can pre-make them for a more elegant approach.

Day 8: Lego my legume - Lentil Sloppy Jo's

“Aaaaaah...the lentil. The humble, earthy, slightly frumpy, a bit dowdy, no-I'm-not-looking-for-a-date-I'm-staying-home-and-washing-my-Birkenstocks lentil. And brown, so very broooooowwwwwwn is the lentil. But! With a little love, a few spices, and a bit of simmering the humble lentil becomes something entirely different.” (beanplate blog)

I LOVE THE LENTIL. I don’t know what it is about this simple little….thing. I mean, what is it? A bean, a grain, a veggie….what?
Well, for those out there who don't like beans, the lentil is only a cousin of the bean family. Kind of like a family reunion. You know your all somehow related, you even look like some of them but the line is still a bit blurry. Though they are distant cousins, eating the lentil feels like coming home! Lentils are just great! They’re versatile, inexpensive and they get the job done!

This recipe is for Lentil Sloppy Joe’s. Now, before you gawk at it, give it a try. It really does taste good, and the nutritional benefits are fantastic! In one cup of dry lentils (which is way more than I can eat....) there are 230 calories, 1 g of fat and 18 g of protein! Gram for gram that’s more protein v. fat than a beef steak! So try enjoying this old favorite with a healthy twist.

Sloppy Joe's
1 cup lentils
2 cup water
1 minced onion
1 minced green pepper
1 pkg sloppy joe seasoning
1 small can tomato paste (or a can of sloppy joe sauce)

In your lovable rice cooker cook the lentils till tender, but not mushy. Sautee onion, green pepper till soft, and add to the lentils. Add dry ingredients and tomato paste.

Serve on whole wheat rolls. Makes excellent leftovers and freezes very well!!! I make a bunch and freeze it to pull out for a quick meal. You can also use leftover lentils from lentil tacos for this.

For more fun than a lentil should supply check this out!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hi, I'm Weak Too!

This next weeks recipes are for those that think they have no will power or are too weak to become vegan. With food this good it takes no will power at all. Like I said, being vegan is enjoyable, it's not a tortuous exercise of will power unless you make it so. I would hate to be a vegan too if it meant eating tofu and gnawing on a raw carrot every day. So, welcome carnivores, brace yourselves strict vegans, I give you this weeks menu.

Week Two
Monday: Sloppy Joe's
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: Meatloaf Sandwiches
Thursday: Nachos
Friday: Burgers & Fries
Saturday: Pizza
Sunday: Pepper Sandwiches
Bonus : Cheese

Now, before all my vegan friends have a conniption, I promise all these meals are vegan. And, I promise all the carnivores out there that you'll enjoy these meals! My favorite carnivore has tested and approved of them. So, belly up to the bar, grab your knife, and fork over your spare ribs. Now, prepare for a week of sumptuous indulgence.

Grocery List
1 pkg taco shells or tortillas
lentils - and lots of em'
2 cans refried beans or homemade
1 bunch leaf lettuce
4 large tomatoes
3 onions
1 bunch cilantro
fresh green chilies
1 sloppy joe season packet
1 can tomato paste (or 1 can sloppy joe sauce)
2 dozen rolls
1 bell pepper per person (different colors are great)
sprouts (or sprout your own. It's much more affordable)
chili sauce (I prefer, that's the name of the brand)
sesame oil
1 bag tortilla chips
spaghetti sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1-2 carrots
corn starch
5-6 russet potatoes
1/2 lb almonds, cashews, or sunflower seeds

This weeks theme - pizza hut gets co-oped by Mike Tyson (didn't know Mike was a vegan, did ya?)

Day 7: My Momma's Meatloaf

At my house as a child we had what was lovingly referred to as "clean out the fridge" meatloaf. When the fridge was over-run with leftovers my mother would blend them all up in the food processor, add a pound of ground beef and whatever spices she thought it could handle, say a prayer as she put it in the oven, and bake it. My mother is a genius in the kitchen and often her concoctions turned out to be fabulous. But, because it depended on the leftovers, her meatloaf was NEVER the same twice. I believe our favorite was leftover macaroni and cheese, onion soup, and homemade rolls as the breadcrumbs. Others were less then desirable (which might be a contributing factor to why I am now vegan....I'll have to explore that later) but being my mothers daughter, I do find myself in concoction mode on a regular basis - my husband may say a little too regular. This recipe is owed to my "creative" mother.

leftover Hawaiian Chili
leftover rice
2 c plain lentils
1-2 c cooked barley
2 large cans mushrooms drained (fresh is always best)
1 pkg onion soup mix
garlic powder (to taste)
salt (to taste)

In a blender or food processor blend up your leftover hawaiian chili till smooth. Now blend the rice, barley, lentils, and mushrooms. Add to the chili. Add onion soup mix, garlic powder and salt. Mix that together. Now mix in enough oats so you can form it into a small meatball and it holds together (tender but not falling apart). Fill a greased bread pan and bake on 350 for about 40 minutes or till you can insert a knife and it comes out clean. Let it sit out of the oven for a few minutes to firm up. Serve with chili sauce or gravy. If you have more "meat" left over they make great meatballs!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 6: Pai Le Fala aka Veggie Pot Pies

In a lot of the shops here in Amerikan Samoa they have "half moon pies." One day, on one of our excursions one caught my eye and called my name, "Jessica.....Jessica.....Eat me." I picked it up with full intention to obey but as I looked at the wrapper it said, "chicken." At first I thought it was a challenge to provoke me to drastic action but then I realized it was a reference to the content. I put it back and came home with a strong determination to devour a distant cousin.

I looked up the recipe on the web and came up with the heading, "half moon pie/pai fala." Well, being the studious student of the language that I am, I took pai fala to mean half moon pie. Actually fala means pineapple. Once perfected I invited my samoan friends to have what I thought was pai fala. I served up veggie pot pies. I received several disgusted looks as they bit in and realized this was not pineapple filled. Yet another failed leap over the language barrier. So, in an effort to redeem myself, these are called Pai "le" fala. In samoan "le" means "the" but it can also mean "not" (are ya seein my struggles?) So, here are pies that are not filled with pineapple.

Pai le fala/Half Moon Pie/Veggie Pot Pie

Dough (Makes 5 pies)

3 C Flour (your choice)
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 C oil
1 C "milk"


Veggies from Oodle Soup


1-2 tb oil
1-2 spoonfuls of flour

In one big bowl mix all the ingredients for the dough. Get your hands in there. Mix it all together till it makes a big round ball.

In a sauce pan make a rue (put in the oil and flour to make a paste) then add the broth a little at a time to make a gravy. Season it till its the way you want it.

Divide the dough into five balls. Roll out each into flat circles. Spoon the cooked veggies onto half. Its hard to tell how much to put in because to much will make it explode and to little is just not fare! Use your best judgement. Now spoon the gravy over. Once the filling is in place, fold the other half over the top and crimp the edges with a fork till its just like that bad hair year you had back in the 80's. You'll also want to prick the tops to let out steam. bake on a cookie sheet at 350 for 30-45 minutes or till they are golden brown.

Note on dough:

This dough is also AMAZING as a thin crust pizza (recipe to follow) just roll it out, place on a cookie sheet or pizza stone and bake till it starts to turn golden. Then add toppings and bake again. You can make the crusts in advance and put them in your freezer for a quick pizza.

Note on filling:

Don't limit yourself to veggie pot pie, this dough is your oyster, so to speak. Fill it as you will. Try pizza pockets or even a sweet filling like raspberry preserves or blueberry pie. Matthew's favorite was a "Mulberry preserve" filled pie.

Day 5: Oodle Soup/ Vegetable Broth

My Brothers and Sisters, I stand before you today to make a declaration. In this solumn time I want to proclaim how truly disgusting and revolting it is to see noodles in soup. With the exception of ramen noodles (bless the man who invented those!) noodles in soup should NOT be tolerated! A squishy mouth full of dough does not enhance, enlighten, or ennoble any broth. It never has and it never will.

Not wanting to be solely a pointer outer of negativenesses, I also bring to the table a solution. I give you Oodle soup.

At home this soup was called "cockie-leeky" soup but on a youth conference campout, I was made to kill the cock so my days of eating chicken were over. I guess we could call it leeky soup but aren't all broth soups on the leeky side? Yes. Oodle soup it must be.

Oodle Soup/Vegetable Broth

1 onion
5-10 cubed potatoes
4-5 cut carrots
4-5 ribs of celery chopped
1 stalk Leeks chopped
garlic powder

Chop everything and put it in a big pot or slow cooker. Cover with water and simmer till the carrots are soft. You may have to add water as you go. Add salt and garlic powder to taste. Easy Peasy.

Be sure to make a big pot of this because we'll use the left overs in our next dish. The broth freezes well and comes in handy. It can be used any time a recipe calls for broth. No more store- bought broth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 4: Hawaiian Chili & Rice

Anyone who has lived in Hawaii, or even been there on a visit can tell you about Zippies Chili and Rice. It's legendary. Whenever we go back, the first place we stop, after the luggage carousel, is Zippies. And true to Hawaiian style, one serving usually satisfies both of us...depending on the in-flight meal. It's one of those things that if you're in Hawaii you've got to try - like surfing and Motsimotos (try the shaved ice with the won't regret it). But, If you're not planning a trip to the rainbow state any time soon, this recipe will satisfy for now. Or, if you've been there it might make you more anxious to go back.

Hawaiian Chili and Rice

1 can refried beans or homemade
1 lb black beans
1 lb kidney beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 onion chopped
1 can corn
garlic powder
brown sugar to taste

First, soak the black beans and the kidney beans over night. This will help cut down on the "end result" that beans can have. If that's not an option then just put them together in a pot with water and cook. Once the beans are cooked add the stewed tomatoes, chopped onion, refried beans, and lentils. (remember those left over beans and lentils from the bean burritos? throw em' in!) Now add the salt and brown sugar till it tastes slightly sweet. At the very last add the can of corn. This way the corn will stay crisp. Serve over rice. (this is a great way to use up the plain rice left over from the fried rice).

Now, grab a bowl, head out to the backyard with your slippas and some island music. You can thank me later for saving you on your grocery bill AND your travel expenses.

Special: Frijolation aka Refried Beans

Growing up I loved refried beans. I even ate them for breakfast one time, along with a bowl of froot loops (not recommended. The results were not pleasant). They were always my go to when I needed a quick protein. Then, I found out what was in longer my favorite. Pig lard is not exactly my favorite food group if you know what I mean. Then, brilliance struck the 20th century again and vegetarian refried beans were introduced. I was again a happy woman.

I then served as a missionary in Texas for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint.
While I was there I had dinner in a home where the little mexican grandma was actually still in the kitchen making fresh, homemade beans. Do you have any idea how AMAZING homemade refried beans are? Neither did I till I was blessed with this life changing event that...well...changed my life! They were to die for. This recipe was the result of that memorable event......Ladies and Gentlemen....I give you, FRIJOLATION

Refried Beans

1 lb pinto beans
garlic powder
Tony's Seasonings
(yep, that's it)

A lot of people complain of the um...end result shall we say of eating beans. There is a trick to resolve this issue. By letting the beans soak over night they will cook in less time and a lot of the oligosaccharides (ya, I can't say it either) which causes the gas washes out. Rinse the beans a few times before cooking to make sure the oligoosearcadeness is gone and then cook till soft. Once the beans are cooked and slightly cooled add them to the food processor. Save the water from cooking and add a little at a time till the beans blend to the right consistency. Add 1-2 tsp of garlic powder and Tony's till it tastes how you like it. Whala. These freeze REALLY well! No more refried beans that look like the can they came out of!

Day 3: The Bean Burrito

Ahhh....The bean burrito, savior of many a starving college student. Less than a buck, cooks in under a minute, AND you can eat it on the go. Where can you go wrong? Well, for starters, how about the calorie count? I'm very sorry to be Johnny rain cloud but truth cannot be silenced. I won't go into the details about the evil temptings of the burrito but, to be a ray of hope, I offer a healthier solution. By eliminating the oils and fat from the cheese, AND beans (pig lard) you can turn a vegans nightmare into a vegans dream, that, even carnivore's will love. Here's some proof. Even my Samoan friends came back for thirds!

Now, The Bean Burrito contains one very important ingredient....Beans. If, in your shopping, you grabbed the vegetarian can of refried beans then please read on. If you bought bulk pinto beans then click here for FRIJOLATION! (i.e. how to make homemade refried beans)

Bean Burritos

12 flour tortillas
1 lb brown lentils
refried beans
1 Taco seasoning packet

In a rice cooker cook the lentils with double the amount of water to lentils, then add the packet of taco seasoning. You may have to add more water as you go along and you may have to go for 2 cycles till they are soft. On each tortilla spread the refried beans then the cooked lentils. wrap up burrito style and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven on 350 till heated through. You can also heat these up in a pan on the stove.

These are great served with chips and fresh salsa! Finger food works great with kids, no pesky forks to wrestle with, and they freeze exceptionally well. So you can pull them out, nook em (if your still into that - Matthew has even forbidden use of the toaster due to some sort of ionnisticatinng emitting waves) and easy even a college student can do it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 2: Fried Rice

I must admit, I stole this recipe from my husband. When it comes to fried rice he is THE MAN! This is one of his signature meals. A man who is good looking and can cook....well, need I say more? I am blessed!

There are many great things about fried rice (not the least of all is that my husband makes it) One is how easy it is to throw together. It also is a great way to use up left overs and get in some healthy veggies. So, Without further ado, I hand you oveCheck Spellingr to the master chef himself.....

Given that intro I'm a bit goes:

Fried Rice

Rice that is already cooked - brown is best. It is more chewy and nutritious
1 bag frozen veggies
Fresh veggies
Olive/vegetable/canola/peanut oil - whatever kind you have but e.v.o.o. is best
Bragg liquid aminos - it's like soy sauce only healthier

Pull out a large saucepan or wok, add frozen and fresh veggies and oil. Then begin a light saute. You are not deep frying here, so add only enough oil to keep the veggies from sticking to the pan. Once warmed through add cooked rice and liquid aminos (to taste).

...And, you're done! We like to wrap it up in seaweed/nori paper thingees

ADDITIONS: If budget allows add: diced onion, shredded cabbage and carrot, sweet corn, snap peas, garlic (if your wife can handle the smell which may or may not happen to linger on your person for a few days). Soy beans also taste great in this and will add to the protein content of the meal.

Wow, thanks love....I don't mean to "bragg" but he does windows too! For a little clarification since my hubby is so in on the health world lingo... E.V.O.O is Extra Virgin Olive probably got that but I'm a bit slow.

Day 1: Cookin Quinoa (pronounced keen-whaaaaa)

My first bout with Quinoa was more then frustrating. I got the kind that needs pre-washing and these little suckers get everywhere! I finished washing them, put them in my beloved little rice cooker, turn around and they were everywhere. I don't know if my animal magnetism just drew them to me or if I was just having a really bad day with static cling but as I cleaned up the kitchen I found them on the counter, in the sink, and in my hair(don't ask).

I was fully prepared to bid quinoa adue but then I found the pre washed! I dumped it in the cooker added water and that was it. Another big save by moder technology. After that we were hooked. We enjoyed it so much we had a quinoa party ( ya, we're geeks....what of it?) Everyone brought a quiona dish. Some friends even brought inkan warrior quinoa balls (prof there are people geekier then we are) But what is quinoa? This link should clear up the matter

This salad is one of the simplest, best tasting salads I know. It works great as a side dish or its own meal. Fantastic at a pot luck and nobody even has to know it's vegan.

Quinoa Salad

1-2 C Pre washed Quinoa
1/2 red onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
juice of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Place Quinoa in your rice cooker with double the amount of water (1 c quinoa = 2 c water) let the quinoa cook through a cycle. While thats cooking chop your onion, and pepper. one the Quinoa is done fluff with a fork. Add onion, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Cover and let cool in the fridge. Serve with a slice of fresh home made wheat bread (recipe to follow)

That's it, your basic recipe for Quinoa let your imagination run with it, like olives? add olives. Like garbanzos? knock yourself out!

Welcome Weak Wone

I grew up (some may be arguing with me already) in a very carnivorous family. Roast on Sunday, eggs for breakfast. Basically, it wasn't a meal if there wasn't meat in it. As a Samoan friend told me recently, "no meat, no eat."

My long road to veganism I'm sure will unfold over the next weeks and months. As For now, my husband Matthew and I are vegans, living in Amerikan Samoa of all places and we have found some pretty creative ways to minimize the meat. These recipes are a result of the creative juices that have flowed.

There are 3 things in this world that I love - food, family, and my rice varying order. Having lived in many studio apartments I have come to love my husband, from being in very close courters with him, and, I adore my rice cooker. Also, when I take the time to cook I hate to see my efforts go to waste so many of the recipes are remakes.

As for the "weak" one. I must admit, sometimes I see a cheese pizza or I hear about my moms baked Salmon and I realize the flesh is weak (hmm....take that one how you will). My hope is that these recipes will be "adapted to the weak and weakest off all."
With that said, here is week 1 -


Monday: Cookin Quinoa
Tuesday: Fried Rice
Wednesday: Bean Burritos
Thursday: Hawaiian Chili & Rice
Friday: Oodle soup
Saturday: Pai "le fala"
Sunday: My Momma's Meatloaf

Obviously, mix and match, use them as you will. These are just suggestions. Be creative! As you'll see, I can't stand using recipes! I love cookbooks but usually I read a recipe, get the general idea and then run with it. I'll try to be as specific as possible for my loved ones that are cullinarily impaired.

Grocery List

Quinoa (if you can, always buy in bulk.)
1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
red onion
4 bell pepper (at least 1 of a different color)
Brown Rice
1 bag of frozen veggies
soy sauce or liquid aminos
Flour tortillas
brown Lentils
2 can vegetarian refried beans or bulk pinto beans
2 pkg taco seasoning
bulk black beans
bulk kidney beans
1 can corn
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 onions
5 lb bag of potatoes
1 lb bag of carrots
1 stalk celery
1 stalk Leeks (optional)
Whole Wheat Flour
Baking Powder
garlic powder
Vegetable oil
Non sweet "Milk"

Okay, I know that seems like a lot but I would bet you already have a lot of these things in your cupboard already. If there is something you don't like or you're allergic to feel free to substitute or leave it out. Now, these recipes usually are for 2-4 people. I often try to make at least enough for another meal when I cook so I can freeze or use it up in something else.