Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Dinner Menu

Bat Brains with Pumpkin Pasta
Vampire Blood drinks
Chocolate cupcakes

I was trying to be creative for Halloween. Last year it was eyeball tacos with bloody maggots. the "eyeballs" were veggie meatballs with sour cream (obviously now it would be vegan sour cream) dollops and black sliced olives to resemble eyes. And the "bloody maggots" was Spanish rice. I want to continue to do something different every year though. This year I veganized Rachel Ray's Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage recipe and used the Italian Meatballs recipe from www.vegweb.com (any recipe or store bought vegan meatballs will work).

I also found a great recipe for Vampire Blook drinks on the Food Network website.

Bat Brains with Pumpkin Pasta
Veggie meatballs, cooked according to recipe/package directions
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
1/2 cup soy or rice milk
1/2 container (about 19 oz) of silken tofu
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cracked and chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 to 6 sprigs sage leaves, cut into chiffonade, about 2 tablespoons
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable stock, canned or paper container
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
Coarse salt and black pepper

Directions

Boil water and add penne pasta. Cook to al dente (firm but not uncooked basically).


In a blender combine the soy (rice) milk and tofu. Blend until smooth.

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add the garlic and onion. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender.

Add bay leaf, sage, and wine to the pan. Reduce wine by half, about 2 minutes. Add stock and pumpkin and stir to combine, stirring sauce until it comes to a bubble. Reduce heat and stir in tofu mixture. Season the sauce with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce.

Remove the bay leaf from sauce and add in the drained pasta. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute.

You can either mix in the veggie meatballs (aka bat brains) to give them more of a smashed/combined look or add them on top of the pasta when you serve it. I did a little of both.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shelly's Honkin Huge Burritos

As you are very aware it's hard to find vegan lunch spots. I've been lucky with downtown Portland, OR though. The lunch truck and lunch cart craze is everywhere here and there are a few great vegan lunch spots. The closest to me, and therefore the one I frequest the most, is Shelly's Honkin Huge Burritos at Pioneer Square in Portland, OR. You can't really say that Shelly is part of the craze though since she's been at it since 1991.

Her burittos are vegetarian (beans, cheese, fresh made salsa, etc.) but she can make them vegan. I've never had the "honkin huge" sized burrito...a small is more than enough for me (and I eat a lot lol). She has a great selection of hot and mild sauces also if you want to customize a bit.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cheap Vegan Cookbooks

I read cookbooks like most people read novels. I'm not a great cook by any means but I keep hoping that somehow I'll absorb all this knowledge from the books I read and be a great chef. Our family use to have a monthly trip to Barnes & Noble and shop the store. The kids would head off to their sections, my husband and I would grab a coffee and head to our areas. By the end of the night we would have $50 or so in books. I realized how much we had spent and accumulated when we moved from California to Washington. Instead of those monthly trips I now take the kids and head to the library. Camas, Washington has a beautiful library with a fireplace to read by. They also have the inter-library exchange where I can request books from other libraries in the area. Occasionally when I find a great book I suggest it to them as one to purchase also.

My current read is Raw Family Signature Dishes by Victoria Boutenko. I will be planning some meals from her book in the next couple weeks depending on what I find on sale.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Seitan O'Greatness

If you have ever made seitan and hated it, this is COMPLETELY different from the boiled stuff. My first time making seitan I couldn't eat it. I literally gagged. But every blog out there kept raving about Seitan O'Greatness so I thought I'd try it.

My opinion....wow! Even my meat-eater husband gave it a "not bad" which means a lot coming from him. My kids loved it (it was gone in a couple hours). The first time I made it I rolled it into two logs so they came out the diameter of pepperoni. It had a little kick to it like pepperoni also so it would be great on pizza.

If you have doubts as to whether or not you will like it just make the regular batch the first time. I plan to make it again soon but will be baking three batches at once. I figure since it takes 90 minutes to bake I might as well make enough to last a couple weeks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Vegan Lunch Ideas for Kids

Technically you do not have to be a kid to enjoy these.

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly roll ups using flour tortillas
  • Smashed pinto bean and salsa roll ups
  • Mini bagels with vegan cream cheese and dried currents (my favorite is cranberries or cherries)
  • Vegan lunchables (slices of Seitan O'Greatness) with vegan cheese and crackers
  • Orzo pasta with chopped veggies and Italian dressing
  • Hummus with pita bread chips and carrots
  • Pinwheel sandwiches with vegan lunchmeat and cheese and flattened bread (crusts cut off)
  • Sweet potato fries with veggie nuggets (my son's favorite)

If you have some great lunch ideas for kids please comment!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grocery Budget

So, how much do I spend on groceries? Well, first let me explain my wake up call. We are a family of 5 and were spending nearly $800 a month on groceries. When I say groceries I include everything...food for our two dogs and two turtles, laundry soap, toothpaste, hair products, etc. That was crazy. I think most of the overspending was impulse buying at Costco but either way it was too much. I started couponing but slowly realized most coupons are for processed unhealthy foods. I want to save money but I also want to eat healthy...most of the time.

Our monthly spending now on groceries is around $400. Which is not bad considering my husband and fourteen year old son are meat eaters. My six year old is vegetarian (90% of the time) and our eleven month old baby is vegetarian. To accommodate everyone I make vegan meals and then cook some type of meat for my husband and fourteen year old.

There is some effort involved in saving money on groceries and still eating healthy. I work full-time and have an hour commute each day to work and back so I don't have a whole lot of time to spend making everything from scratch or running around to five different stores. I do pay attention to sales ads though and shop according to what is on sale. One favorite store of mine is Grocery Outlet. They have great prices on vegan chorizo, spreads, side dishes and tempeh. I also buy items like vital wheat gluten and polenta from the bulk bins at places like Fred Meyer. I also like to bake and make homemade cookies, muffins, rolls, etc. on the weekend.

Since this is October 1st and my first post for the Vegan Mo Fo III, all month I will continue to share what works for me. Hopefully someone out there finds it useful :)