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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Spicy Peanut Noodles

Quick! Favorite ice cream flavor! Go!

If I were to ask J Man, he would say “white” (a real gourmet, that kid:). Matty B’s answer would be “anything not soy or coconut milk based” (do you see what I live with?) and Miss Rae (if she could verbalize that succinctly) would probably say “anything dark enough to stain all clothing and furniture within a 5 mile radius.”

Me? It’s chocolate peanut butter all the way. And the very best kind is Baskin Robbins because it has this amazing ribbon of peanut butter that winds its way through and it’s slightly salty which is a perfect counterbalance to the sweet chocolate…and unfortunately, I have yet to find a good dairy free option. But the peanut butter, oh the peanut butter…

I’m convinced that peanut butter is the perfect food. In all reality, it should probably have its own spot on the food pyramid. My birthday is in about a month. The perfect gift for me (other than a ticket to this)? A peanut butter sampler. Nothing would thrill my soul more than a variety of jars of pb (or any nut butter for that matter!). Mom, are you listening?

Today’s recipe features this nectar of the gods in a savory way and it’s super easy too!

Everyday Vegan Girl

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Spicy Peanut Noodles!

Set your water boiling for your pasta and combine the ingredients for your sauce.

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I’m betting you have most of this in your kitchen right now. Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)? Check. Garlic? Surely. Peanut butter? You’d better believe it!

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Fresh basil is a must.

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Whisk all the sauce ingredients. It will look kind of lumpy and gloppy. That’s ok. The hot pasta will smooth it all out.

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You could use any pasta, but I always go for whole wheat. I’ve done this with penne too, which is a lot easier for little fingers to pick up.

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We love to top this with additional chopped peanuts, or you could throw in some tofu to bulk it up.

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Either way, it totally satisfies my pb cravings. Although there may have been a few spoon dips from the jar for dessert…

Spicy Peanut Noodles
Serves 4

Ingredients
8 oz. pasta (your choice)
2 TBS peanut butter
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS Braggs Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp chili garlic sauce (more if you want it spicier)
2 TBS chopped basil
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
chopped peanuts, optional

Instructions
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Combine remaining ingredients and whisk until somewhat smooth. Add cooked pasta, top with chopped peanuts if desired and serve!

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Whole Foods Fail:(

I love Whole Foods. If given the option of a shopping spree at Whole Foods or a shopping spree at, say, Ann Taylor (a store I love), it’s Whole Foods all the way. I love that they have 14 varieties of peanut butter. I love the tofu on the hot bar. I even love the crazy man who stands outside and asks you to sign his petition against those who wear fur. Is this guy at your WF? Just mine? Ah, that’s Portland for ya.

So, when I found myself at WF with my friend, Glenda, I was thrilled that she was just as happy as I was to wander aimlessly. And then we spied the following…

Superfood Porridge Cacao Coconut Reishi? I had no idea what it was, but I knew I had to have it! Cacao? Good! Coconut? Good! Sign me up!

I got 8 oz. worth. Half to try hot. Half to try cold. My glee was barely contained.

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I tried it hot this morning. You just mix equal parts porridge mix and water.

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It would be an understatement to say that I was grossly disappointed, and the key word is ‘gross’. Seriously, this stuff made me gag. I was shocked and dismayed. Here’s why: I like almost every food imaginable. Even meat. (which I don’t eat anymore). It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, it was that I chose a healthier lifestyle. I adore almost every fruit and vegetable. Millet? Mmmm! Barley? Oh yes! Farro? Sign me up.

This stuff made my stomach turn. It tasted at best, like old baby formula and at worst, like baby spit up (or, at least how I would imagine that to taste…and yes, my babies drank formula. But you know what, they’re super smart, and I recycle, so that makes up for it, right?)

Needless to say, I was so sad.

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I stuck it in the fridge, in hopes that the awful flavor would evaporate and I could try it cold instead, but I’m not holding my breath.

And then I busted into something delightful to get the horrible taste out of my mouth…

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And in an instant, Whole Foods was forgiven:)

What I Ate Wednesday, II

It’s WIAW!

This, my friends, is the ultimate bowl of oatmeal. You can’t see everything, so I’ll elaborate. Steel cut oats topped with banana, blueberries, walnuts, almonds, flaked coconut, flax and a spoonful of Peanut Butter and Co. “The Bees Knees”. I can’t even describe how happy this breakfast made me. Add a cup of decaf with soy creamer and I was over the top:)

Okay, so I had all of this packed into a rubbermaid container for lunch and it looked fairly small, and then when I dumped it on the plate at work, I was shocked how it grew! This is a combo of brown rice, quinoa, green beans, broccoli, tenderbits (loma linda), and stuft mama’s broccoli slaw. Topped with a little Bragg’s amino acid and it was so good – like healthy fried rice. And that broccoli slaw? So easy and delicious that I’m buying a bag every week. This is one time that I’m glad Matty B doesn’t like vegetables because I don’t want to share!

Finally, dinner was two fajitas with Trader Joes Beefless Strips, sauteed onions, mushrooms and red pepper, avocado, tomato and black beans. I stirred a little BBQ sauce into the onions and mushrooms at the end and it was the perfect touch! With fajitas as loaded as these, you don’t even miss the cheese or sour cream.

Snackage occurred in the form of salt and pepper pistachios and a handful of carob chips. I didn’t take pictures, because honestly, it felt lame:) It’s one thing to exhibit my meals, quite another to take a photo of a pile of pistachio shells.

To anyone who might be considering even a partial vegan diet, I hope my meals can be some inspiration. Your diet does NOT have to be boring! And with a few tweaks, my family ate almost identical meals, so I’m not cooking three different menus.

Are you vegan? If so, is there anything you miss from a “normal” diet? If you’re not vegan, is there anything that you don’t think you could live without? As I’ve mentioned before, my biggest issue is yogurt. I’m a die hard greek yogurt fan and soy yogurt just isn’t the same!

;

I made jam! And I survived!

There are some things in life that seem pretty scary, but when you get down to it, are super simple.  For instance…

Diving.  Was it the thought of water shooting up my nose?  Was it a fear of falling?  Not sure what my phobia was with diving, but it was really intimidating to me and I wouldn’t do it, and didn’t until probably 10 years ago, and then I realized how super easy it was.

Driving.  Was I a fearful child/teen?  Apparently, because I vividly remember being petrified to drive a car.  And truth be told, I didn’t actually get my drivers license until I was 18.  Not because I tried and failed, but because I was too terrified to be in charge of a giant hunk of steel hurtling down the freeway at breakneck speeds.  I remember my dad taking me out on backroads to practice and I literally got blisters on my hands from holding the steering wheel so tightly.  I’m not exaggerating.  But then I practiced, and I realized how super easy it was.  (Although I’ll continue to admit that I’m no good at it.  Ask my friend Erin.  When we went out to dinner last week, she said (as we’re on the freeway), “Holley, you’re going, like, 45.”  Oops)

And my latest fear?  Jam.  Yes, you heard me right.  Jam.  I guess I should open it up to “canning” in general but the giant black canner, and the special lids with the rings and the sterilizing and what if the jam doesn’t set up and the mess in the kitchen and…absolutely scared to death.

But remember all those blackberries we picked?

We’ve had them in oatmeal.  We’ve had them in yogurt.  We’ve eaten them by the fistful.  We still had blackberries to eat and this thrifty girl wasn’t going to see them go to waste.

So, it was time to face my fear.  It was time to stand up to the canner.  It was woman v. jam and I was determined to win.

And if I do say so myself, it was no contest.  I dominated the jam!  It truly wasn’t that hard and while it’s work, for sure, it wasn’t complicated.

I must, however, give a “shout out” (what?  I’m from the 80’s) to my sous chef, Matty B.  While jam isn’t scary, like most initially intimidating things in life, it’s good to have a great partner:)

And the fans in the bleachers?  What do they think?

Touchdown!

Miss Rae is not only a fan of jam, but apparently a fan of football.  Her daddy is so proud:)

Copious amounts of blackberry jam have been consumed.  Jam that I made.  From blackberries that we picked.  And other than the sugar content (yikes!), there’s nothing scary about that!

Blackberry Jam (from the back of the Ball Canning Lids box:)

1 quart crushed blackberries

6 1/2 cups sugar (this hurts my heart)

1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine blackberries and sugar in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Stir in liquid pectin.  Return to a rolling boil.  Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Skim foam if necessary.  Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

c

 

 

 

 

In a perfect world…

In a perfect world, creme brûlée would be vegan. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I can veganize a dessert based heavily on eggs and heavy cream. Flax egg creme brûlée? I don’t think so…

In a perfect world, yoga pants would be perfectly acceptable professional attire, and while I’m dreaming, flip flops too. I’ve gotten very comfortable in my summer dress code and in exactly 7 days, I’m back to heels…

In a perfect world, we’d have a garden. And a hot tub:) but a garden for Matty B to grow zucchini and green beans and basil and tomatoes, yes, tomatoes!

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So we have a townhouse and it’s really quite lovely, but with one major downfall: no yard to call our “own”. We make due. We go to the park. A lot. Multiple times a day. But still, no garden.

So a “topsy turvy” was purchased and after waiting feverishly all summer, we have tomatoes!

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Ok, we have six tomatoes, but this was so exciting to me! I wasn’t the only one excited…

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Ever since Grandpa let Miss Rae squish the tomatoes on his plant in Walla Walla, she’s been itching to get at mine! This opportunity was a dream come true! And of course J Man had to get in on the fun!

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Armed with my six juicy tomatoes, and eyeing the fresh basil a friend had passed on, the answer was obvious- bruschetta!

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The following isn’t as much of a recipe as it is a method, and oh, it was good!

Bruschetta
6 tomatoes
1 giant handful fresh basil
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1-2 TBS olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop all ingredients and combine!

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Because I was feeing very Martha Stewart, I had just pulled a loaf of bread out of the oven…

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This is that no brainer, no knead bread from the NY Times. It’s all I’m capable of. Don’t judge.

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Needless, to say, this was dinner.

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Well, this x7. I drizzled a little balsamic on top. Oh people.

In a perfect world, this is what I eat all day, every day…

Mini crush on Mama Pea

Truth: If I had the option of meeting Jennifer Aniston or Mama Pea of Peas and Thank You I’d probably choose Mama Pea. This is saying a lot because I’m probably one of the biggest “Friends” fans you’ll ever meet. (Favorite episode ever? When Ross tries to learn the bagpipes for Monica and Chandler’s wedding…hilarious!)

Here’s the reason: What would Jennifer Aniston and I talk about? How I wanted her haircut in 1994? Why a “Friends” reunion is necessary? It would be awkward. However, if I could hang out with Mama Pea, I’m certain we could talk for hours, if only about food…and maybe, just maybe, she would bring me some of these…

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These are cookie dough balls. To be specific they are peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough balls and I love love them.

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It appears that I’m not the only one.

These are super easy to make, vegan and oh so yummy.

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Gather your ingredients. Easy.

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Mix up the peanut butter and sugars. Simple.

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Invite a 3 year old to run the hand mixer. This all of a sudden became complicated. Especially when his sister wants to “help”…

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Instead, give her the measuring cup of peanut butter to clean out. Success. Crisis averted. The girl loves her pb!

The best part about vegan cooking? No salmonella…

 

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Needless to say, beaters were licked.

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Flour is added along with the Best. Part. Ever….chocolate chips! Note: a minor meltdown was brewing over the desire to sample said chocolate chips, but we made it through. Phew.

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Form them into balls (apparently this part is super exciting to Miss Rae:), bake and enjoy! Or, be like Matty B and eat approximately 3 cookies worth of dough when he thinks I’m not looking. But I’m a mom AND a teacher. I know everything.

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I think they liked them:)

Side note: Matty B is super picky about his baked goods being over done. According to him, these were burnt. Burnt? What?

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Help me, people, please! Would you comment, just a quick “yes” or “no” (yes, they’re burnt, no they aren’t) so this debate can be settled once and for all!

If you must know…

If you must know, I don’t floss every day.  5 out of 7 days, yes.  The other two days, my gums are terrible.  My grandpa’s a dentist.  Don’t tell him.

And sometimes, SOMETIMES, I don’t push my shopping cart into the little shopping cart corrals in the parking lot.  In my defense, I’ve just suffered through 45 minutes of grocery shopping with two “helpful” toddlers and buckling them back into the car, loading all the groceries into the back and frantically searching for my phone/keys/etc. is about all I can take. So I leave the cart in the empty parking space next to me.  Sorry, Fred Meyer.

I’ve been known to cut people off on the freeway.  Not because I’m being mean, but just because I’m a subpar driver.  I said it, Matty B.  Gloat all  you want.

And occasionally, just occasionally, I’m not a very good vegan.  For instance, yesterday’s final hurrah of the summer – Lovejoy Bakery.

So it’s been our tradition during the past few summers to try a new coffee shop or bakery every Friday, since I typically take Friday’s off when school isn’t in session.  While we’ve been to Lovejoy before, it’s right down the street from a fun kids fountain and with weather in Portland being super hot, it seemed like the perfect “final Friday” of the summer experience!

Apparently, everyone else in Portland had the same idea because it was packed!  We got into the super long line and decided that Matty B would wait and order for all of us, and I would take the kids outside to find a table.  I scoped out the bakery case and they had one vegan option:  a berry scone.  I told Matty B to get me the scone and the kids and I headed out.

They waited somewhat patiently.

When Matty returned, the kids were thrilled to gobble up their cinnamon twist!

 

And then came the bad news.  By the time Matty B got back up to the counter, all the vegan scones were GONE!  No!!!!

So, he got me another scone.  A non vegan scone.  It was a cookies and cream scone.

And I ate it.  And I loved it.

Do I look like I feel at all guilty?  Not in the least.  So this post speaks perfectly to the premise behind my blog:  “versatile”vegan.  I’m not going to rule my life by eggs or butter.  Could I have forgone the scone and watched my family enjoy their baked treats without me.  For sure.  But why?  I’m not a girl who likes to sit on the sidelines of life!

As planned, we headed over to Jamison Square and had a splashing good time!

So, I may not be a perfect vegan.  But it was a perfect day:)