Wednesday, October 17, 2012

VeganMoFo VI: Bleeding Hearts Valentine

Ah, Valentine's.  Roses.  Chocolates.  Jewelry.  All the things that make me puke.  I know I sound bitter, but I was never into that stuff even when I was in a relationship.  Haha.  I just find actual mental connection with a person more romantic than a card and some candy hearts.  So, this is the V-day I always wanted to throw with my friends but never got around to it.

Vegetables w/ Sanctuary Dip
Pickled Beet Tofu w/ Dill and Seaweed Caviar
Scarlet Barley and 40 Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli from Appetite for Reduction

Pink and Black Balloons, Broken Hearts

My Bloody Valentine, War of the Roses, Black Sheep

Since You've Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson, Irreplaceable by Beyonce, Not About Love by Fiona Apple

we got the beet, we got the beet, we got the beet
For the tofu, I just did this basic thing.  But I marinated the tofu (in four chunks) in pickled beet juice.  Then, I sliced it up.  I was lazy and have come to realize that boiling the tofu in salted water does pretty much I just sprinkled both sides liberally with black salt.  I also used fresh dill.  It was pretty good!  And it looked all fancy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

VeganMoFo VI: When Party Time Met Excellent

I'm back!  No, I did not give up on MoFo.  I just am horrible at time management.  Since I failed miserably at posting during breakfast week, there will be bonus posts throughout the rest of MoFo.  Today...I'm jumping in with my PARTAY theme.  Let's begin with the last and first party of the year: New Year's Eve!

Pear and Ginger Mimosas
Black Eyed Pea Dip (veganized suggestions below)

Hats, Streamers, Silver and Black

When Harry Met Sally, Ghostbusters II, and 200 Cigarettes

Auld Lang Syne, 1999 by Prince, and Next Year by Foo Fighters

i put my hand upon them chips, then i dip, you dip, we dip
The black eyed pea dip is super easy to veganize and customize.  I didn't have pickled jalapenos and forgot to buy hot sauce so I just threw in a fresh serrano and added some cayenne.  I think I'd add a level of smoky to this next time.  Either liquid smoke or smoked paprika.  Either way, this was seriously good and those peas give a girl good luck!

liquid boobies?
For the pear and ginger mimosas, I used pear juice and crystallized ginger cubes.  However, I suggest getting pear nectar for the pear to really shine through.  That last little bite of ginger is the absolute best, though!

Tomorrow, I'll be throwing a little "love" your way with some truly insane Valentine's ideas.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

VeganMoFo VI: Chilaquiles Me Softly

For today's breakfast, I decided to head down south to Mexico and make chilaquiles.  Chilaquiles are amazing.  They are basically tortilla strips or chips cooked in salsa and topped with awesome things.  Super savory dish and fantabulous!

I don't consider myself a food snob in the least, but I'll be damned if anybody is putting tofu in my chilaquiles!  As far as I'm concerned, adding tofu (or eggs) just makes the dish migas.  Migas are good and all, but there is something absolutely sensational about eating tortilla chips for breakfast!  Woo!

chilaquiles w/ refried black beans, avocado, and sour cream
For the recipe, I just went right on over to Serious Eats.  They have this bomb looking vegan chilaquiles recipe.  There is even a simplified version that calls for premade salsa verde.  SO GOOD!  I love that it was easy, and this makes a ridiculous amount of food.  It says four servings, but I'm pretty sure it can feed at least six.

My favorite part about breakfast week is that I realize how much other cultures just eat whatever they eat for lunch.  Americans are very weird in how much we have ideas of what constitutes breakfasts.  I think of more sweet things than savory, so I like trying more savory things as my first meal of the day.

Tomorrow, I'll be doing that Caribbean post I talked about.  I also plan to catch up on blogs and comments.  What I've learned about this MoFo is that it's way harder to keep up when you work and go to school.  However, I am determined to make 31 posts, even if I have to post three times a day.

MoFo onwaaaaaard!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

VeganMoFo VI: It's Breakfast...It's Breakfast Time

So today marks the first day of me enjoying breakfasts from around the world.  If you don't know, breakfast is kinda my thang.  It's an obsession.  I think if lunch and dinner were completely stopped tomorrow, I'd die happy.  Nothing compares to breakfast.  Any time of day or night.

I decided to start off my adventures in France.  Mostly because I love the simplified nature of it.  From what I read, breakfast isn't so much of a big deal over there.  In 'Merica, we tend to have plates of grease, sweets, and starches.  Over there, a simple pastry or baguette, some jam and/or butter, and some coffee.

Today's breakfast has all the sophisticated simplicity of a French meal, complete with the pig mug.  Oh, and I kinda hate coffee most of the I was drinking English breakfast.  Word to yo motha...

food styling at its finest.  haha.
Okay.  So, because this meal is so simple I also wanted to tell you folks about the best vegan burrito I ever did had.'s a breakfast burrito!  My work recently started carrying Sweet Earth Foods burritos.  When I saw that they were all vegetarian, I was stoked.  However, when I saw that there was a vegan breakfast burrito, I freaked the fork out!  I'm talking...I bought one a day for about three or four days.  And I kept telling coworkers and customers about them.

I tried all the vegan flavors!  There's Kyoto (edamame, adzuki, shiitakes), curry tiger (lentils, curried seitan, potatoes), anasazi (anasazi beans, chipotle seitan, butternut squash), and the Big Sur breakfast burrito (tofu, seitan, potatoes).  These things are really good.  Nobody is paying me to say this either.  I bought those suckers with my own money.  Yada yada yada...

you can't yada yada this burrito
Tomorrow, I'll geek out about a local bakery and visit the Caribbean.  Plus...PANCAKES!

VeganMoFo VI: Lazy Taco Night

Howdy folks!  Today is gonna be a three post day so that I can play catch up.  This here is the last of my budget-friendly exploits.  Friday was one of those soul-draining days at work, so I wanted something very simple.  I had planned for a nice taco night, but by the time it got around, I could not even open a can of beans and make some rice.  I was so tired.

I will tell you that if you want to have some banging tacos and expend about zero in energy points, then get thee to a Trader Joe's and spend $0.79 on their taco seasoning packet!  It is spicy and delicious.  It works perfectly with unseasoned tvp or whatever unseasoned protein you want to throw in there.

salad with a side of taco
What I Had:
Trader Joe's goddess dressing

What I Bought (prices based on amount used):
taco seasoning-$0.26
taco shells-$0.33


Now, for the final shopping list tally.  I haven't really been keeping track, so this is the entire shopping list I compiled before MoFo started with the prices I paid.  So, this final total is based on the amount purchased, not the amount used.

organic cabbage-$1.18
organic cornmenal-$0.32
organic kale-$2.11
taco seasoning-$0.79
taco shells-$1.99
almond milk-free
organic parsley-$1.52
organic carrot-$0.26

TOTAL SHOPPING COSTS: 16.85 or 2.81 a day!

Slightly over budget, but I still have a ton of produce and food left over.  I done good!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

VeganMoFo VI: Darn Tootin'

The best way to eat on a budget is to think of ingredients that serve a double purpose.  For instance, I bought a head of cabbage knowing full well that I'd use half for one meal and the other for...haluski!

I first got into haluski when I saw Guy Fieri talking about it on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  It looked super easy and pretty good.  You can see my original recipe-ish thing here.  However, haluski is so damn simple that you really don't need a recipe.  Just follow these steps.

1. Boil some pasta.  Drain.  Set aside.
2. Add oil to a skillet.
3. Add onions, garlic, vegan bacon*, cabbage, and kale.
4. Add a small bit of water or broth to steam and soften the cabbage.
5. Mix in pasta until heated through.  Add salt and pepper.

there is waaay more cabbage than this picture reveals
What I Had:
Tofurky sausages
hickory liquid smoke
soy sauce
red onion

What I Bought (price based on amount used):
pasta-$0.39 (bulk bin, baby!)

TOTAL MEAL PRICE (Serves 4): $2.04 or $0.51 each!

*I never actually use store bought vegan bacon.  I usually flavor seitan with a little soy and liquid smoke.  I also highly recommend the bacon crumbles from 500 Vegan Recipes.

Also, kale is not really traditional in haluski.  I like the added punch of color.  Plus, having an orgy of cruciferous vegetables really makes this a bowl of farts.  So, so vegan.

VeganMoFo VI: Twofer Thursday!

Can you believe it?  We're only four days in and I already missed an entry.  Mondays and Wednesdays are my long, 16-hour days.  I just didn't plan that well.  To make up for it, I'm gonna bombard you with two blogs today.

First up, a very simple salad.  One thing people tend to forget about cheap eating is that produce is pretty economical.  The amount you can buy for the same amount of pre-made food is astounding.  I am always amazed at what $20 of fresh fruits and veggies looks like compared to $20 worth of frozen dinners.

just a little romaine, cuke, tomato, and avocado
What I Had:
Trader Joe's goddess dressing

What I Bought (price based on amount used):
romaine lettuce-$0.40


Honestly, the real star of the show was the reed avocado I used.  We sell them at my job right now and they were on special last month.  I paid 99 cents for an avocado the size of a softball!  I never realized there were different types of avocado before moving to California.  What I can tell you is that reeds are huge and silky smooth.  Those bad boys are straight buttery and perfectly sliceable.  The best avocados that I've ever tried. You'll never go back to haas.  Check it:

one sexy mofo
Pardon me for not wiping the salad guts off my cutting board before photographing that there creator of mouthgasms.  I got too excited!  Reeds are the best!  THE BEST!  There really is nothing more to say.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

VeganMoFo VI: Couponing for the Soul

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday is that the absolute best thing you can do when it comes to budget eating is know what's going on in your pantry.  Because I never know when bills will win out for the month, my pantry always has a few staples.  Despite the fact that I haven't done much cooking this year, I have a wide array of spices, flours, oils and vinegars.  I always keep a 20 lb container of all purpose flour on hand and a variety of dried beans.

Whenever I think of cheap eats, I think of soul food.  No matter what culture you come from, I guarantee the soul food is the cheapest of the cheap.  Soul food feeds the belly and the soul.  So much of the history comes out of hard ass living.  My soul food is the food of southern blacks.

Not much of a story here.  I made some cabbage, black eyed peas, and cornbread.  Because most soul food is of the beige persuasion, I added some carrots to the cabbage and some parsley to the beans.  Instant freshness and color!  But now onto the real goodness...  This meal was so freaking cheap because of some coupon action.
sweet and cakey cornbread
What I Had:
olive oil
crushed red pepper
red onion
creole seasoning
all purpose flour
black eyed peas

What I Bought (price based on amount used):
organic cabbage-$0.59
organic carrot-$0.26
organic parsley-$0.38
organic cornmeal-$0.32
almond milk-FREE!!!

this definitely lets my soul glow
TOTAL MEAL COST (SERVES 4): $2.74 or $0.69 each!

So usually I'd tell you to skip out on organic except where it really matters, but I forgot some ingredients from the cheap-o supermarket and had to get some stuff from work.  I work at a health food store and almost all of our produce is organic, so the prices are based on what I paid with my discount.

However, the true story is how I got 2 shelf stable Almond Breezes for free.  This customer came in the other day with free coupons for a variety of products.  I was really nice to her, so she gave me some coupons.  I ended up getting BioKleen laundry detergent, Glutino breakfast bars, and Ezekiel bread for free. Plus, the Almond Breeze was on sale and it came out to BOGO free with a $1 off coupon.  However, my employee discount made it so I got everything for free PLUS I got $1.17 back in change!  FORK YEAH!

Never underestimate the power of the coupons.  Also, check your local dollar store.  The one by my place has those huge tubs of ORGANIC salad greens for a single dollar.  Aww yeah!

Monday, October 1, 2012

VeganMoFo VI: Top Shelf Ramen

Welcome to MoFo day one!  The first six days of this blog are going to be dedicated to eating on a budget.  I am swimming in receipts right now from shopping over the weekend, but the goal is to keep my food tab under $12.  I'll have little cost break downs and all that goodness.

There are only two rules for this: I can use whatever I have in my pantry already AND I have to up the cheap game.

So, I decided to start out with the brokest of broke ass meals...ramen.  This, especially, hits home for me because I used to live off of these things.  All I'm doing is adding a little love to it, in order to make a 20 cent soup into something my mom would be proud of.

The basics: As far as I know, Nissin Oriental flavor is the only accidentally vegan ramen if we're talking crusty grocery store packs.  I never use those flavor packets, though, because they have a ridic amount of sodium.  Instead I make my own broth.  It's a combo of sesame oil, garlic, ginger, crushed pepper, soy sauce, and vegetable base.

Ginger, garlic, pepper time!
The rest of the ramen comes together with stuff in my kitchen.  Here's a breakdown of what I used for my meal.

What I Had:
vegetable broth base
soy sauce
crushed red pepper
sesame oil
frozen mixed veggies

What I Bought (price based on amount used):


This ain't yo mama's ramen
I said hot damn!  Veganism is soooo expensive, y'all!  Those suckas have no idea, do they?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to Blog. Back to Reality.

Howdy folks!  It's been an extremely long time since my last post, and I figured I'd give you an explanation before MoFo madness kicks off tomorrow.

2012 has been an interesting year for me.  Some really great stuff has happened.  I got a job after struggling with unemployment since I moved to California.  I also maintained a 4.0 at my school.  I am more connected now to a community than I have been for the 3.5 years I've lived in this valley.

Unfortunately, I've also been struggling with apathy and depression.  A few days after my previous post, I had to euthanize my dog, Gizmo.  I was dealing with the grief of losing my dog while trying to work and go to school full time.  I was also trying to make sure my other dog, Emma, didn't take it too hard.  In the midst of that, Era called me one day to say our niece had died in a car accident.  She was only 18, so it really hit all of us in a big way.

With everything that's been happening, I just could not dedicate time to blogging or much time to the internet at all.  However, I've missed it.  And I've missed you.  So, I just wanted to say that I'm so glad to be back.  I'll be participating in MoFo and hoping to catch up on all of your blogs.

This year, I'm going back to basics.  I'm doing theme weeks instead of days, which makes it easier for me.  Here's the tentative schedule for October:

October 1-6: $2 a Day (eating on a budget)
October 7-13: Breakfasts Around the World (all breakfast, all the time)
October 14-20: 7 Days of Parties (detailed party menus and plans)
October 21-27: My Vegan Timeline (revisiting my favorite vegan cookbooks)
October 28-31: Halloween (holiday creations)

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Game Day Texas Chili

So, in my last post I told you about the chili I had made.  Well, we liked it so much that I made it again the next week.  It's super good.  The spice can be tailored to your liking. makes a ridick amount of food.  Great for having people over or great for freezing half.  Onto the good stuff...

This chili involves two extra things: ancho chile paste and chipotle puree.  However, you can always just add ancho chile powder and chipotle chile powder.  Don't ask me about measurements because I have no idea.  I like using the paste and puree because it adds a greater depth of flavor.

chili dog, son!
Texas Chili
(Serves 8-10)
gluten free

Perfect for Frito pie or chili dogs, this chili is seriously versatile.  Make the chile paste and puree first to streamline the process (unless you plan to just use chile powders).  Adjust the heat by adding or subtracting jalapenos (or leaving the seeds in) and changing the amount of red pepper flakes or cayenne.  As is, this has a nice kick.

2 cups TVP
2 cups boiling water
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Chipotle Puree (recipe below)
⅓ cup Ancho Chile Paste (recipe below)
2 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ disk Mexican hot chocolate, grated
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt, or to taste
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth

In a medium bowl, re-hydrate the TVP in the boiling water. Cover and set aside.

In a large stock pot, heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion and jalapenos until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the Chipotle Puree, Ancho Chile Paste, cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne, Mexican chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add in the crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, and TVP. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, cheese, red onions, and maybe even some guacamole.

Sweet and Spicy Variation: Up the Mexican hot chocolate to ½ disk.

spinach artichoke dip from last year's super bowl.  recipe coming later...
Chipotle Puree
Gluten free depending on brand
Soy free

1 can chipotles in adobo, any size

Take any sized can chipotles in adobo and blend until smooth.  Easy!  Spoon it into ice trays in 1 Tbsp increments and freeze for longer storage.

Ancho Chile Paste
Soy free
Gluten free

I use this in place of chile powder.  It has waaay more flavor.  Note: do not eat this with a spoon!  It's more comparable to tomato paste, because it's something that is used to flavor and the chile component is pretty concentrated and mildly bitter.

2 oz dried ancho chiles, seeded and stems removed
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp Mexican oregano, crumbled
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp sugar
½ cup vegetable broth

Torch the dried chiles in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Empty the chiles into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes.

Drain the chiles and place them in a blender or food processor along with the garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, sugar, and vegetable broth. Blend until completely smooth.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menudo Remix and Frito Pie

EDIT: I just cut a lot of blogs from my reader, but only if they hadn't posted since 2010.  If you are one of the aforementioned slackers and plan on reviving your blog, just comment and I'll add you again.  Muahahaha.

Howdy all!  This winter break has reached the point of excruciating!  Classes don't start again until the 30th so I have been doing a lot of cooking, focusing on Texas classics lately.  For the new year, I had a hankering for menudo and decided to tackle the dreaded chile paste again.  This time...SUCCESS!  This is the best menudo yet!  I am so stoked.  If you haven't tried menudo yet, you are seriously missing out.  Onto the recipes...

this menudo is from MoFo 2010...same basic recipe, though
Vegan Menudo
(Serves 6)
gluten free
soy free option: Replace TVP with 15 oz can of rinsed and drained pinto beans.

1 cup TVP pieces (not granules) rehydrated in 1 cup of boiling water
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
½ Tbsp Mexican oregano, crumbled
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fine sea salt
6 cups beef-flavored or regular vegetable broth
⅓ cup Ancho Chile Paste (recipe below)
15 oz can hominy , drained and rinsed
minced red, white, or green onion
lime or lemon wedges

Heat the oil in a large saucepan medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

While the onion and carrot are cooking, get the spice mix ready. Mince the garlic and set aside. Mix the oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, and salt together.

When the vegetables are softened, add the garlic and spice mix to the pot. Cook for about a minute before adding the broth, chile paste, hominy, and TVP to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes. Garnish with onion, fresh cilantro, and lime or lemon wedges.

Ancho Chile Paste
soy free
gluten free

This can be made with any dried chile you like, though I favor ancho for its deep, bitter flavor and mild spice.  You can store this in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week.  If storing in the freezer, I suggest doubling the recipe and freezing in 1 Tbsp cubes.

2 oz dried ancho chiles, seeded and stems removed
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp Mexican oregano, crumbled
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp sugar
½ cup vegetable broth

Toast the dried chiles in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Empty the chiles into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes.

Drain the chiles and place them in a blender or food processor along with the garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, sugar, and vegetable broth. Blend until completely smooth.

The chile paste is great mixed into soups instead of chile powder!  It's also fantastic in chile or used in sausages instead of tomato paste.

Now I leave you with this picture of Frito pie.  I came up with a most excellent recipe for Texas chili yesterday.  Really good stuff.

frito pie with Isa's cashew queso, onion, and pickled jalapenos
I hope everybody has a Happy MLK Jr Day!!!