Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 45: Palasami - luau- lupulu - call it what you will, I call it delish!

As a kid we had a Tongan version of this dish called Lupulu. You just mention that word at our house and people start to drool. We got the recipe from my Auntie Meleami. This is the same auntie that taught us to say "hello, how are you, go eat cockroaches" in Tongan un- beknownst to us. This recipe always helps us forgive her.
The samoan version - palasami or luau - is about the same, minus the tomato. I guess Tongans just like more veggies...or is it a fruit? Anyway - this is a great, authentic recipe that is so satisfying. We have it every sunday and if we don't I crave it the rest of the week. I don't know what we'll do when we leave samoa....I guess I'll have to make it in my coconut bra.

1 bunch red swiss chard
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 onion chopped
1 can coconut milk or fresh is best!
1 coconut per 2 people
cooked brown rice

Here is a quick tutorial on how to prep your coconut:

Notice that all this is done with the back of the knife with the blade towards you! BE CAREFUL! if it doesn't crack in one whack just keep hittin' it, it takes me a few hits. I guess I'm not as strong as this manly samoan. Once you've got your coconut cleaned out it should look like this

Which ones the nut? :)

Now, pour your tomatoes into a strainer and let sit for about an hour to drain. Cut the stems from the swiss chard and ruffly chop the greens. In a bowl mix the swiss chard, onion,salt,tomato and a can of coconut milk. Divide into your coconut bowls and cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 for about 1 hour to 1 hour and a half. If you want to make homemade coconut milk you can put the coconut meat through your juicer if it can handle it or check out this link.

Make your brown rice into rice balls by kneading it in your hands till in sticks together in balls the size of a tennis ball. Serve with the lupulu.

This dish really is best eaten with your hands. Take a pinch of rice between your thumb
and first two fingers. Then take a pinch of the lupul with the rice and eat together. Great dish and easy clean-up!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day 44: Chop Suey

As you can see, Amerikan Samoa is right at the cross roads of the pacific. In such a location, it would be hard not to have influences from around the world. The first time I had this dish it was called pancit which is a noodle dish from the Philippines. The chop suey I'm used to has a thick noodle, not rice noodles, but this dish is still fantastic and a great way to get in some added veggies. Any veggie will pretty much work but I wouldn't serve this to a Samoan in it's vegan version or you might have an angry guest wondering why "there wasn't even any chop in it"

Samoan Chop Suey
1 pkg rice noodles
chopped green cabbage
chopped carrot
chopped onion
chopped celery
about 1/4 c soy sauce
vegetable broth
green onion

In a large pan saute the onion and garlic in oil till fragrant. You know it's fragrant when your husband comes into the kitchen asking what you're cooking and if its ready. Now add the noodles, soy sauce , and vegetable broth. Cook everything till the noodles are soft and the liquid is gone. You may need to add more broth as you go. Top with green onion and serve.

Day 43: Hawaiian Haystacks

Alright, before we even get started I want to make something very clear - Hawaiian Haystacks are not Hawaiian! I lived in Hawaii for several years and never once did I have Hawaiian Haystacks. The first time I had them was at my sister-in-laws house when I was dating my husband....actually, we're still dating ;) Her family is hooked on this delicious dish and since she has an aspiring vegan in her family, this one is dedicated to her.

Vegan Hawaiian Haystacks
1-2 c vegan cheese
1 tsp sage
2-4 c cooked brown rice
1 bullion cube (vegan chicken if you can get it, if not veggie is fine)
1 can pineapple drained and chopped
1 c water
chopped celery
chopped green onion
crunchy asian noodles
any other fixins that appeal to ya'll

In a sauce pan, warm the vegan cheese, sage, bullion and water to make a sauce the consistence of cream of chicken soup. Now layer the cooked rice, pineapple, celery, other fixins (this is a good time to clean out the fridge!) Now pour on the sauce and top with crunchy asian noodles and green onion. Mmmmm, it's a sight to make a wahine proud!

Note: We found that using a curry sauce instead sends this out of this world! Yum! Which do you think is best?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week 7 = Heaven

I want to apologize for the delay this week. I've been in my test kitchen (that is under construction by the way) and I have been testing a few recipes to share with ya'll. While not yet in a state of perfection, I'm hoping ya'll can help with the tweaking. I promise this week is worth waiting for, after all, it is "the food of the gods"

Week 7 = Heaven....the food of the gods
Monday: Hawaiian Haystacks
Tuesday: Chop Suie
Wednesday: Palasami in a Coconut
Thursday: Hawaiian Meatballs
Friday: Mango Mushroom Burgers
Saturday: Musubies
Sunday: Poke or Oka

Bonus: Poni Popo
Special : Mango Salsa

After living in Polynesia for several years, I am well aware of the fact that vegan Polynesian food is an oxymoron but since I love both Polynesia and being vegan I thought I would blend the two together.

Grocery List
brown rice
2 cans pineapple rings
1 thingy celery
crunchy Asian noodles
1 bunch green onions
1 pkg long rice noodles
soy sauce or liquid amino's
frozen veggies
fresh carrots
1 bunch red swiss chard
1 coconut per 2 people
3 cans coconut milk
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 onions
1 shitaki mushroom per person
1 fresh mango if available
1 jar teriyaki sauce
burger buns
1 pkg nori/seaweed
vital wheat gluten
vegan cheese
vegan meat
1 block firm tofu
a dozen rolls
tapioca starch
chili flakes
1 cucumber
brown sugar

You're Vegan?!?

Lately we've got a lot of questions from family and friends asking why we went vegan. Honestly, the one thing that has been keeping us from going vegan before is the social aspect that food plays in our lives. Like others who strive for a healthy lifestyle, we find that our diet opens us up to mocking. Why is it that living a healthy life is something that society ridicules you for? Why is the SAD (standard American diet), the norm and a diet that is good for your bodies on the fringe? If you can't tell by now, our family (like most I suppose) is the kind that lives to eat which makes food the center of attention and since food is an emotional thing it can be a touchy subject.

Many ask if we're going to stay vegan once our food options improve and expand when we go home. To answer this I say HECK YA! I tried to explain it to my persistent mother this way....we did this for religious reasons but we don't live it religiously. As Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we follow a health code referred to as "the word of wisdom." In a family home evening we read, studied and decided we were going to try and live it to the best of our understanding; and to test the promise - to paraphrase - to run and not be tired, to walk and not faint and gain knowledge.
Without going too much into detail, Matthew and I can both say that as we have been conscientiously living the word of wisdom as we understand it we have seen these promises fulfilled. We have been so blessed since we have made these changes but like we said, we're not religious about it. If meat is on the same table as the tofu we're not gonna freak out or if there's a dollop of sour cream instead of non dairy raw cream substitute were not going to go haywire. Food is a social thing and we like being social but we've found that even in Samoa we can be social and vegan and if we can do it here we can do it anywhere!

We're not trying to convince anyone to turn vegan. We know that changing your diet is a hard thing. Believe us, we have! This clip even shows that some people would rather die than change their diet. But we feel great and are so happy with the changes we have made.

Great things come from being vegan. It was actually our carnivore auntie that made us watch this video that first got us thinking about changing our diet. Or check out The China Study. There are a lot of studies and experts out there to back us up but we feel we went to the best expert on the subject. With that said, we're not sticklers, everything we eat we try to do with "prudence and thanksgiving" we are grateful for how blessed we have been since we have made these changes and though you may not make the same changes, we hope that you will share in our joy and support us in what we are doing to improve our lives.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 42: Stuffed Zucchini

I'm sure you've all heard the joke: On a mans first day at church in a new town one brother came up and introduced himself. The two men had a nice chat and as the conversation ended the one brother said to the other, "be sure you lock your car." The new brother thought this was an odd comment, this was a church for goodness sake, why would he need to lock his car. But, as he left the church and went to his car he found the reason, his car was full of zucchinis

Ya, lame joke. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that one, especially at harvest time! But it makes the point...sort of.

Zucchinis are so great and one plant can usually produce a lot! They can be served salty, sweet, sliced, diced or shredded. They are like the tofu of the veggie world. They'll go with pretty much everything and you usually have enough to go with everything. So enjoy this zucchini recipe, there will be plenty more to come.

Stuffed Zucchini
1 large zucchini
vegan stuffing
chopped mushrooms
chopped cabbage
vegan cheese sauce
vegetable broth

Carefully slice the zucchini in half length wise. Core out the middle. Mix the cheese sauce and broth till creamy. Mix together the stuffing, mushrooms, and cabbage. Spoon in the stuffing mixture to both sides of the zucchini till it's overflowing. Squish the two halves back together, wrap in foil and bake in the oven on 350 till you can insert a knife easily. Separate and let bake another 10-15 minutes. Drizzle with cheese sauce.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bonus: Vegan Stuffing

Who doesn't love stuffing? Even though the name can be a bit insulting considering the one time a year that people go for stuffing is the same day people gorge themselves on all sorts of indulgences followed by a new years resolution, which is consistently the result of trying to counter that one day of feasting. How about we take a tip from the south and call it "dressing?" Sounds much more in line with the healthy eater.

This dressing is just how I like it. Not too moist but not too dry. Feel free to twist and tweak this recipe however you like and be sure to make a bunch, you'll want to use this a lot!

Vegan "Dressing"
1 loaf firm bread cubed
3 tb EVOO
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 chopped onion
2 c chopped celery
3 c vegetable broth
1/4 c fresh parsley

Toast the bread cubes in the oven. While those are toasting, saute the garlic, onion, and celery in Olive oil. In a large pot mix the toasted bread cubes, saute mixture and parsley. Add the broth till the bread sticks together but isn't mushy. Bake in a 9 x 13 for about 30 minutes turning occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Day 41: Bubbles & Squeak

I loved bubbles and squeak as a kid but honestly I thought it was something my grandma came up with. She came up with a lot of "creative"recipes and very "unique" names to go with them. I was shocked to find that it is indeed a real dish. Proof: bubbles and squeak. This dish actually has a few different names depending on where you are. In Ireland it's called Calcannon and in Scotland it's called Rumbledthumbs....I think that's what I'm going to call it now for dramatic effect!

As usual, grandma makes it a little different but the basic ingredients are the same. Granny is also a big fan of Paula Dene, which means she includes a stick of butter in this. I use a few table spoons of EVOO instead. Matthew loves this with a side of coleslaw. The sweet and salty really go well together.

Rumbledthumbs, formally known as Bubbles & Squeak
1 potato per person
1 head green cabbage
1 onion
vegetable broth

Clean each potato well and cube. Boil till soft then drain. Add EVOO, vegetable broth, and salt to make mashed potatoes. Ruffly chop the cabbage and onion in large chunks. Mix the mashed potatoes and cabbage in a 9 x 13 pan and drizzle with olive oil over the top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour and listen to it bubble and squeak.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 40: New England Ratatouille

The first year my husband had Christmas with my family was a bit different for him. At his house they would all run down and open presents early in the morning. My family has a rule of one present an hour so that Christmas would last throughout the day. Matthew's family acts out the nativity on Christmas eve; we watch how the Grinch stole Christmas. Matthew has hamburgers, chips and salsa; we have New England clam chowder.

My grandmother's New England clam chowder is legendary! And after Matthew's first Christmas with my family it was legendary for more than one reason. My mom made a huge batch. She started early in the morning so it could all meld together. By the evening, when it was time for dinner, there was a thick layer of foam on top of the soup. Mom insisted it was just the cream separating and stirred it all in. (Does this explain why I make alcoholic cheese?) Everyone had a bowl, overlooking the slight carbonation. The next day we were all sick. Puking on Christmas is no fun! We traced it to what we believe was a bad batch of clams. Thank goodness there are no clams in this recipe (another great plus of going vegan).

Now, there are two kinds of clam chowder: New England and Manhattan. New England clam chowder is a cream based and is what most people think of when they think clam chowder. Manhattan clam chowder is a tomato based soup. Leave it to those Manhattians...always have to be different.

The ratatouille that I've already posted is of the Manhattan variety so to speak, even though it originated in I confusing you? This ratatouille has a creamy base, thus the New England part. This recipe has nothing to do with clams so we should be safe.

New England Ratatouille

Basic ratatouille recipe
(don't you just love leftovers!)

Dilute the cheese sauce with a little water then add to the Ratatouille. Let simmer and serve. I like a baguette cut on the angel and toasted with this. This is such comfort food its a shame its healthy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 39: Cheesy Broccoli Casserole

This recipe is for my mother-in-law Pam. She loves broccoli and cauliflower and all those yummy things. Whenever we have a party she always brings the relish tray with all sorts of yummy rawness, and lots of extra broccoli and cauliflower. She has great taste. She also is great at meals on the fly, which this is. So, I dedicate this to her. Love you Pam!

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
leftover cheesy broccoli soup
cauliflower (optional)
cooked rice
bread crumbs

Blend everything in a bowl and place in a 9 x 13 pan. Cover with bread crumbs and Bake in the oven on 350 till bubbly - about 45 minutes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 38: Angel Hair with Mushroom and Artichoke Hearts

I LOVE this recipe. There is a fantastic restaurant in St. George called The Pizza & Pasta Factory that has a killer chicken Alfredo. This is an affordable knock-off of that since theirs is about $13 a plate and I can feed the whole family for about $8. It's super easy and super yum!

Angel Hair with Mushroom & Artichoke Hearts
1 lb cooked angel hair pasta
1 can or pkg mushrooms
1 jar artichoke hearts
vegetable broth
garlic powder
1-2 tb vinegar

In a large sauce pan heat the cheese and enough broth to make it a creamy Alfredo sauce. Add salt, garlic, and vinegar to taste. It should have a nice tang to it and taste like Alfredo. Add the pasta, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts and toss together. Heat everything together till warmed through.

Day 37: Goulash

At our house we always had goulash over egg noodles. They just seemed to be a perfect fit. After Matthew and I had been married for a few years we were at my mother-in-laws house and Matthew suggested I cook dinner. I immediately gave him a look that could kill, but Matthew being the dear that he is just smiled and left me and my mother-in-law in the kitchen to do our thing.

My mother-in-law is an incredible cook. And honestly I'm quite intimidated by her mad cooking skills. In fact, the first time I cooked for Matthew was for our engagement party; I was making potato salad and Matthew came into the kitchen and said, "here, let me show you how my mom makes it." He quickly learned the error of his ways, smiled and left the kitchen.

Being left alone in the kitchen to make dinner with my mother-in-law put me on my toes. She made this killer goulash and put it over mashed potatoes. It was like she made it out of thin air (I hope it has the same calorie count). The kitchen was spotless by the time dinner was done. The food was filling and elegant and it left me even more intimidated than before to cook with mom. Fears aside, it would be a crime for me to deny you of this delectable recipe - done up vegan style.

Vegan Goulash

leftover mushroom bisque
sauteed mushrooms
garlic powder
cooked noodles or mashed potatoes (ex: eggless egg noodles, penni pasta, macaroni)

In a deep sauce pan cover the noodles with the mushroom and mushroom bisque. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve with the vegan meat crumbles over the top.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 36: Baked Potato with Cheesy Broccolie

My Samoan auntie was telling me about a time when she was cooking for a pologie (white kid) guest. She had spent quite a bit of time in the states and knowing that this guest was from Idaho, wanted to have a potato bar. Knowing that she was going to have quite a few other guests besides, and knowing that they were going to be large Samoan men she made a lot!

The time came for dinner and the special guest was elated! He dove in! I believe she said he had two potatoes fully loaded with cheese, sour cream (I love that stuff)...the works! She was so happy to see her guest enjoying himself. Then she looked at the other guest. No one else even finished their potato...or had any toppings on them. Apparently, they had never had a potato bar before and: 1- didn't know what to do, and 2- didn't quite care for pologie food. Matthew and I got a kick out of her story....and started craving potato bar!

Baked Potato with Cheesy Broccoli
1 potato per person
cheesy broccoli soup

Wash each potato well and stab it with a knife or fork a few times. Wrap individually in tin foil and bake in the oven on 350 for about an hour or till a knife or fork goes in easily. Top with heated broccoli cheese soup and a sprinkling of chives.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week 6:

My mother always cooks for a crowd. I'm not too sure why. Maybe it was because she used to be a caterer. Maybe it's because I have an older brother named bubba and he always had other teenage friends coming over and we all know how much teenage boys can eat. Maybe its because she always like to be ready for a party.

Whatever the reason, my mother's mad cooking skills meant we ALWAYS had leftovers. I don't know if she even knows how to make a meal for just two.

I love leftovers. They are my artistic pallet if you will. They spark my imagination.....some would say my meals are a little to imaginationish. I prefer the term adventurous. With that said, here is week six's menu. Don't be frightened. It's all pretty normal.

Week 6
Monday:Baked Potato with Broccoli and Cheese
Tuesday: Gulosh
Wednesday: Angel Hair Pasta with Mushrooms and Artichoke Hearts
Thursday: Broccoli Cheese Casserole
Friday: New England Ratatouille
Saturday:Bubbles and Squeek
Sunday: Stuffed Zucchini
Bonus: Vegan Stuffing

This week we're using up leftovers, so that saves at the store.

Grocery List
2 russet potatoes per person
3 cans or pkg mushrooms
1 pkg pasta (ex:eggless egg noodles, pennie)
angel hair pasta
1 jar artichoke hearts
1 head cabbage
bread crumbs (or your favorite stuffing)
1 large zucchini
1 thingy of celery
1 onion
white vinegar
vegetable broth

Day 35: Ratatouille

Matthew and I were living in Kirkland, Washington the summer I turned 25. After a delightful day, Matthew took me to see Ratatouille in the theater. Knowing that we would want healthy snacks that they would not have at the theater we stopped at the store to find some contraband. Since it was my birthday, Matthew decided to spring for some frozen shrimp cocktail (pre-vegan days) after all, this is a food show we're talking about!

Since it was frozen it took 1/2 an hour sitting on the hood of our car till it defrosted but we were still on time for the movie. Once inside the theater we opened our gastronomical feast, at which point shrimp smell filled the theater. I don't want to imagine what the people around us thought as that smelled wafted past. But, the shrimp were delicious, the cocktail sauce superb and the movie entertaining. It was a great birthday.

When we got home I called my grandmother and asked her what ratatouille was. Of course my grandmother knows EVERYTHING! She never ceases to amaze me! She told me what it was and gave me the history and the recipe right off the top of her head!

Now, have you ever looked at an eggplant and thought "what do ya do with this?" - Actually, I can think of plenty of things to do with an eggplant, but lets stick to the point at hand. I think ratatouille (now lovingly referred to as rat-patootie) is the best thing you can ever do with an eggplant!

1 eggplant cubed
2-3 carrots shredded
1 can stewed tomatoes
any veggies on sale or leftover
1 onion chopped

In your slow cooker add all these delicious veggies and enough water to cover. Let simmer on low for most of the day. Stir occasionally and add water as needed. It should be a thick stew when finished.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 34: Mushroom Bisque

In northern Utah there is a chain of restaurants called Zuppas. Anyone in Utah who likes to eat healthy will know that name. They offer some fantastic soups, salads, and sandwiches. I haven't been back since I turned vegan so I'm not too sure what kind of variety they would offer to the non-carnivore but many of their dishes still linger in my mind. On one occasion, my father-in-law, a meat-and-potata kind of guy, left his comfort zone and tried this mushroom bisque - after which he found a new comfort zone.

His adventurous spirit inspired me and I partook as well. While he may not have the best taste in clothes, he has great taste in daughters-in-law and in soup.

Since there is no Zuppas in St. George or anywhere close to Amerikan Samoa, I was forced to develop my own recipe. I had some dehydrated mushrooms on hand when I made it the first time, as well as sour cream (I love that stuff). I put the two together and w-h-a-l-a, even dad liked it, (except for the mushrooms that I didn't puree that were like erasers, but that's besides the point).

Being vegan, that delightful thing called sour cream obviously poses a problem. In this recipe I pulled out the trusty old vegan cheese and it worked like a dream. So, here ya go - not zuppas-vegan mushroom bisque

Mushroom Bisque
1 c vegan cheese
1 c vegetable broth
1 c rehydrated mushrooms

Easy Peasy- put everything in your blender till creamy. Add more or less vegetable broth till its your desired consistency. Heat in a sauce pan and serve.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 33: Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

I'm not really a fan of tomato soup. If you've read my blog about black bean soup you'll know why. I guess it's not in my DNA. When my husband and I were dating he and his parents came over to my house for dinner. My mother had made her famous Shepard's pie (recipe to follow). My husband loves Shepard's pie.......made with tomato soup. At our house this was sin - of the worst kind. He even insulted my mother by asking for ketchup to put on it (they still have the same relationship).

Since then Matthew has learned that you don't even eat tomato soup on it's own, let alone put it in something! This was law set in stone, until one day he brought home some tomato soup with roasted red peppers. He said it was just for him, that he wanted some comfort food. Well, if anyone understands comfort food I do so I said nothing, I even tried it - then I was hooked! It was soo good! It didn't have that "hit ya in the back of the throat" tang every time you swallowed like regular tomato soup did. And it was so sweet and creamy.

While I still declare that Shepard's pie should NOT be made with tomato soup. This tomato soup has won me over.

Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup
3 red bell peppers
2 tb EVOO
1 clove chopped garlic
3 - 14oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 c unflavored "milk"
2 tb vinegar (red wine is best)
sugar to taste

Put the red peppers under the broiler, turning till broiled on all sides. Let cool, then core and cut. In a large pot saute the chopped peppers and garlic in the EVOO. Add the tomatoes, milk, broth, salt and vinegar. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour everything into the blender or food processor. Use a dish towel instead of the lid or IT WILL EXPLODE! Bend till creamy. Return to the stove to cook for a few minutes. Add salt and sugar to taste.

Day 32: Butter Bean Soup

Oh, beans, beans, they truly are the magical fruit.....but not for the reasons you're thinking! I love beans! They are so versatile, so nutritious, and so delicious! I'm positive you could put beans in just about anything.....I know some are cringing at the thought.

I've had some pretty amazing beany experiences! The people of Thailand have a scrumptious bean dessert...hmm....remind me to post that one. I've had beans in ice cream and shaved ice at Motsimotos. I've had beans pretty much every way you can have them....ya, I'm a fan.

My mom makes this "white chili" that is really good, but I sound like a rebel vegan if I call it "butter" bean soup. Truly these are rebel beans! Butter beans are actually Lima beans only under a different name (they must be liberal beans to try that sort of trick). I'm sure they changed their name to get more fans. I'd much rather eat a bean called a butter bean than a Lima bean....wouldn't you? And while we're on names; Lima (pronounced ly-ma) is actually incorrect. They are actually named after Lima Peru (pronounced lee-ma) where they were first discovered by the Spanish sailors, (hmmm, who discovered it before them?) thus we should call them Lema beans........ya...lets stick with butter.

Butter Bean Soup
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1/4 inch thick fresh ginger
2 c vegetable broth
1 can white great northern beans
1 can butter beans
1 tomato diced

Saute the chopped onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil in a large pot. Once the onions are transparent add the broth and all the beans. Simmer for 10 -15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and tomato.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 31: Black Bean Soup

It's funny how once you leave home your tastes change. I'm totally convinced that as I drove that long stretch of road away from home to college my tastebuds actually mutated and started liking different things. Perhaps my liberal education liberated my tastebuds as if I could get more liberal in the kitchen than my mom and grandma....but that's beside the point.

As I said before, at our house we ate strange things like sweet spaghettie and tacos! But, we never had anything with cooked tomatoes. We weren't exactly prohibited, we just never had it. Even tomato soup was looked down upon. It actually wasn't until I was married that I had a tomato based soup. And I liked it. I'm such a rebel, I know.

After my first daring experience, which was this soup, I confronted my mother about what a deprived child I was. How could she do this to her children? Her reply, "ya, I don't like cooked tomatoes." That was it. I was a bit taken back by her brutal honesty. I can think of a lot of things that we didn't like as kids but were "invited" to quietly gunk down. We even had this rule in our house....the "no thank you" rule. This meant that we had to try everything at least once (twice if he was really cute) and if we didn't like it we could say "no thank you." I fully intend on torturing my children with this, and, as payback - Mother, I know your reading this, and I invite you to a no thank you helping! :)

Black Bean Soup

1 lb black beans cooked
2 carrots cubbed
2 potatoes cubbed
1 can corn
1 onion chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 box spanish rice

Place everything but the corn, lime, avacado, and cilantro in your slow cooker and add enough water to fill it. Let simmer till carrots soften. Before serving add the corn, just to warm. Top with lime, avocado and cilantro. Enjoy mom!

Day 30: Spit Pea Soup

My husband lovingly refers to this as "split duke soup" thanks for the witty fifth grade humor. This is probably because my mom says it is baby poop green. I don't know what she's feeding her babies but I've never seen poop that color. With that said - I like it. This is one of my favorite soups. It's so comforting and creamy and so easy to make. I suppose with that intro I better not go into a description and should just skip to the recipe.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb split peas
(who won't love that?)

Pour the split peas into your slow cooker. Cover with water and add a sprinkle of salt. Turn it on and let 'er rip.....perhaps the wrong phrase....excuse me. Keep an eye on it and stir it throughout the day. We serve it with homemade toast and a splash of tabasco.

Day 29: Cheesy Broccoli Soup

When my husband and I were first married we were asked by his sister if we could come and watch her two kids for a few days while she and her lovely husband went on vacation. Being newlyweds we gladly accepted and looked forward to our opportunity to play house. When we first arrived we set some ground rules:

1- always let us know where you are and where you're going to be
2- help us make the meals
3-have lots of fun while your parents are gone.

Pretty easy to follow we thought, until we proposed rule number two and my niece started to cry. Realizing that cooking was not her passion, I asked what her favorite thing to eat was. She said cheesy broccoli soup. I was pleasantly pleased with her adult taste so I suggested we make that for her night to cook.

I had been told by her mother that she wouldn't eat meat. I was perfectly pleased with that but then I was informed on what else she didn't eat. I gulped, this was going to be harder than I thought. I then thought that if she could taste something and like it she might be more willing to expand her repertoire.

While my niece was at school I went to the store and gathered the ingredients for her soup. Instead of using milk for the base I thought we could use tofu. As I contemplated this in the produce section of the supper market I knew it wouldn't fly with my niece so I concocted a plan. I was going to make the white sauce before she got home so all she had to do was add the broccoli, cheese, and it was done. What she didn't know wouldn't hurt her and she would love cooking all the more thinking it was so easy.
Well, my plan worked. She groaned as she entered the kitchen but perked up as she learned what she was required to do. At dinner she enjoyed the soup so much she had several helpings! I considered myself a parenting genius and congratulated my future children for having such an amazing mother.

Well, we had a great rest of the week. The children were heavenly, the fun was top drawer and we went away thinking parenting was going to be a breeze.

Several days went by and I received a call from my sister-in-law asking for my great recipe for cheesy broccoli soup. My niece had been raving about it and wanted it again. I hesitantly told my sister what was in it, "uh-oh" she said.
After this ensued a long battle of mid night raids, missing monkeys and long talks about someone named "Princess Lola."
Thus, no more tofu. It has been changed to vegan cheese which we have found even more delightful and less controversial.
Cheesy Broccoli Soup
vegan cheese
1 pkg frozen or 1 head broccoli
vegetable broth
garlic powder
In a pan stir the vegan cheese and vegetable broth together till creamy. Add the broccoli till heated through. Add salt and garlic powder to taste.

Week 5: Sumptuous Soups

Here in Amerikan Samoa it is actually our summer, which is actually not that different from our winter, except for in the summer we have cyclone season - lucky us. We actually just experienced cyclone Wilma....I know, my first, and hopefully only cyclone and it has a ferocious name like Wilma! I'm really embarrassed to even mention her if it weren't for the fact that for three days she brought winter. It was rainy, windy, and actually cool. I was enjoying it. I put on my one pair of sweat pants, and one sweater and I actually wore socks. We stayed inside and watched movies, ate soup and pretended we were having winter. Since we haven't had winter for several years now this was quite a treat. Thus the inspiration for this weeks menu....maybe if I say it differently it will be scarrier...Wil-MAAA....willlllmaaaaa!!!

Week 5
Monday: Cheesy Broccoli Soup
Tuesday: Split Pea Soup
Wednesday: Black Bean Soup
Thursday: Butter Bean Soup
Friday: Tomato with Red Pepper SoupCheck Spelling
Saturday: Mushroom Bisque
Sunday: Rat-ta-toui

All of these can be made as slow cooker meals. Just throw everything into a pot and let it cook all day. Oh the sumptuous smells that will waft through the house beckoning young and old alike to come and better make extras for un-invited guests.

Shopping list
vegetable broth
1 pkg or head broccoli
1 lb split peas
1 lb black beans
4 onions
3 cans crushed tomatoes
1 can corn
1 box spanish or cajun rice (I like zatarans)
4 carrots
2-3 russet potatoes
1 lb small white beans
1 lb barley pearls
1 eggplant
any other veggies that are on sale
1 pkg dehydrated mushrooms

One thing I love about soup is that a little goes a long way, both to fill you up and to feed a crowd. It's so comforting and just right for a cold summers night.

Bonus: Thai Dessert Rice

I adore this recipe for two reasons:
1- I get to pull out my adorable rice cooker
2- It practically makes itself
okay, make it 3
3-it is sooo yummy!

This recipe is SO simple and SO yummy you'll be having it all the time! I have no idea how authentic it is but I had it at a thai resturant once, so that's got to count for something.

Thai Dessert Rice
1 c white rice (white works best for's dessert, endulge)
3 c fruit juice (ex: apple, pinapple, peach from canned peaches)
1/2 can coconut milk
1 mango cubbed

In your FANTASTIC rice cooker, cook your rice with the fruit juice. When it is finished it should be extra sticky. Serve a scoop of rice drizzled with coconut milk and topped with fresh mango.