I’ve been trying to do better about menu planning and not hating dinner time so much. I still mostly hate dinner but sometimes, at least, I have a plan and that makes things easier. Sometimes.

So here’s what I’ve been eating lately.
Black bean and cheese layered enchiladas (made the sauce from scratch using tomato paste because I was out of tomatoes and tomato sauce)

Roasted acorn squash, carrots, peas and homemade tahini dressing over buckwheat noodles

Black bean and almond soup from Martha Stewart Living (not my photo) subbed spicy chile lime mixed nuts for the almonds

Caramelized Napa cabbage over egg noodles topped with sour cream and cheese

Frito Pie with veg chili

Rendang shallot and asparagus curry

Tofu lettuce wraps with asian peanut butter sauce

Spaghetti with vodka sauce

Moroccan spaghetti squash

And of course the usual stuff like lasagna or Brinner.

I started a FB group for vegetarians to help share ideas, products and meal lists. I really love it so far and hope that it continues in the future.

Tonight I am most likely going to throw some stuff at a pot and hope it works. I am trying to clear out the fridge and pantry before payday when I get to go shopping again. Also, tomorrow is Halloween and we’ll be out (even in the stupid horrible weather we are supposed to have) and Friday I am heading out of town for the weekend. I’m sure the boys will be in fast food meat nirvana with me not around

Vegetarian Chili Verde with Cornbread Dumplings

Yesterday was a crazy weird day. I got some unsettling news tied to my childhood, from back home, and it made me crave comfort food, comfort food in the form of chili verde which I have never made. I’m not sure why it was that specific thing I wanted so badly but it was, so I figured it out. I totally sandralee’d it. (yes)

Anyway. The end result was very tasty and maybe you might like to make some, in the future, when it isn’t still in the high 90’s? (Seriously, I am crazy why would I crave this sort of dish now? IT’S STILL EFFING HOT HERE)

Vegetarian Chili Verde
16 oz Veg Stock (I used homemade)
16 oz Water
2 small-med Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 15 oz can Northern Beans
2 Cloves Garlic
1ish? Leek (I use frozen from TJ’s and it’s already cut up so just tossed some in a bowl, defrosted and then sliced)
Pinch Cumin Seeds
Pinch Mustard Seeds (optional, I like the flavor but they aren’t necessary)
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper
Tomatillo Salsa Medium
Frozen spinach
Jiffy Cornbread Mix (one box)
One Egg
Half n Half
Green Onions
Chickpea flour (optional)
Olive Oil
Coconut Oil

Over medium high heat warm the olive oil and coconut oil together. Add your cumin seeds and mustard seeds (if using) and stir to coat with oil. Toast briefly. Add your leeks and turn the heat down to medium. Sauté for a couple of minutes before adding your potatoes. I sliced my potatoes thinly and then into half moons, but you could cube them if you’d prefer. Cook potatoes with the leeks and seeds for about 5 minutes stirring frequently before adding the garlic. I use a garlic press but minced is fine. Cook until the garlic is fragrant but not getting any sort of color, now add your salsa. I used about 3/4 of a 16oz jar. Scrape up any brown bits when adding the liquid. If your salsa is too thick to use as a deglazing step, the stock, which is next with finish it up. Add all the stock and stir well to combine. Drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the pot. Cook about a minute or so before adding the water. Stir again and add cumin, oregano, cayenne, black pepper and coriander to taste. Let the mixture come to a low boil and cook until the potatoes start to get tender. Add a handful of frozen spinach, stir and return the mixture to a low boil. Meanwhile mix your cornbread according to package directions using half n half in place of the milk and adding a couple of green onions to the mixture. Let the cornbread rest and check your soup for seasonings and thickness. Adjust if necessary.

If you want your soup to be thicker, you can add a slurry of chickpea flour and half n half. Just make sure you boil it for a minute after to cook off the raw flour taste, and get it to thicken. The chickpea flour gives an earthy flavor unlike regular flour. If you want your soup thinner, just add more water. (keep it mind you may need to adjust seasonings again if you do either of these things)

Once your potatoes just begin to get tender, reduce the heat to a simmer (no boil at all) and drop the cornbread on the top to form dumplings (I used an ice cream scoop) cover and set timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the lid and cook another 5 minutes.


If you want to make this vegan, just leave the cornbread dumpling/chickpea slurry out.

Vegetarian Cottage Pie That Even Meat Eaters Will Nosh

Sunday was St. Pat’s and even though I wasn’t going all out in the cooking dept like years past, I still had to at least make Cottage Pie (it’s only called Shepherd’s Pie if it contains lamb) and since I wanted to eat it too, I made it vegetarian.


Now, Sprog isn’t huge on veg cuisine but he does like Field Roast and will actually eat it on the regular without complaint so obviously that was my go-to for the “meat” portion of the dish. Normally I would use the Apple Sage version and since I thought I had some, I didn’t grab any when I went to Midtown for my weekly hippie shopping run but alas I only had Italian or Mexican. Obvs, I went with the Italian and was slightly concerned what it would do with the end result of the dish, but I am not one to be easily deterred in the kitchen. I already had a plan to add some “smoky” elements to the dish to make it more substantial and “meaty” for the boys, so I figured whatever I did there would just help mask the italian seasonings or at the very least tie them in a bit. I also was going to use a frozen vegetable medley that comes with a parmesan butter which would also help tie things together…in theory.

So let’s talk trickery and fooling the meat eaters, k?

Step 1:
Field Roast. Unwrap three links for this recipe and pulse them in the food processor so that they resemble ground beef when it gets crumbly and browned in a pan. Now brown it up in some olive oil.

Step 2:
Liquid Aminos: I got the kind in a spray bottle so I just sprayed 3 or 4 times as I was browning up the meat to replace any Worcestershire sauce. (you can go more or less depending on your preference)

Step 3:
Guinness: While not vegan (processed with the swim bladders of fish) there isn’t a trace left in the finished product so it depends on your strictness. Definitely adds a lovely richness to the finished product

Step 4:
Smoked Paprika: I LOVE this stuff. Like serious addicted levels of love and it’s fantastic added to the mashed potatoes on top. I also split the potatoes-2 reg and 2 sweet to add some extra veg into Sprog’s horrible teenager diet.

Step 5:
Add some heat: I added cayenne pepper to the “meat” mixture as well as black pepper and it really helps! No bland foods!

After we finished Willy looked at me with a bit of shock on his face when he realized we all ate from the same dish and it wasn’t actually meat. I LOVE THAT.

Recent tasty eats

I cook most days of the week, lunches and dinners (two dinners usually since I eat veg and the boys are meat eaters) and I’m totally OVER the whole sitch. I truly, truly hate walking up to my fridge or stove most days and I dread seeing the expectant look on my starving husband’s face the moment he walks in the door. In the interest of helping me out of my rut and maybe to like cooking, a little bit, again, we held a family meeting where the boys gave me suggestions of things they really like that maybe I haven’t made in a while and I put them on a list. I also tossed out ideas to see where on the scale of acceptable to the picky teenager they might fall.

On top of that, I resolved to cull through my pantry and additional food storage and use what I had lurking instead of continually going to the store for the easy things we’ve started grabbing. I added a weekly run to TJ’s for produce and small freezer items because although the drive isn’t quick, the prices are LOW and the produce is way better than either of the two stores closest to me which is annoying.

Once I get into a better rhythm I fully intend to start cooking from my store of cook books once a week and my pinned recipes once every two or three weeks. We’ll see how that plays out. Anyway, here are some things I’ve made recently that I really liked.

Jamie Oliver’s Caponata (thanks to Hillary for turning me onto this recipe it’s so awesome!)

Roasted Sweet Potato and Grain Spinach Salad I made my own tweaks to this (like subbing Meyer Lemon vinaigrette for the dressing) but I loved the sweet potatoes so much I have made them a couple more times as a side.

BBQ Lentils with broccoli slaw, sweet potato steak fries and some bread and butter pickles

Shoyu Ramen with grilled eggplant and baby bok choy

Lentil soup with avocado

Gruyere and homemade rosemary balsamic fig jam panini

Guac with crumbled feta

Over easy egg on balsamic shredded Brussels sprouts, quinoa and brown rice

What are your recent tasty eats?

the weekend in pictures

First a brief thank you for the support I received yesterday, here and on twitter, life goes on and all that but it’s nice to have all the same.

As an antidote to the morose of yesterday, here are some snaps from how we spent our weekend.

Friday we went to the restaurant were we had our first date and not only had a tasty dinner but also some giant slices of cake.

Saturday after the shit news we went to Chuy’s and had some medically necessary margaritas

And I don’t know about y’all but when I’m stressed, I shop so I threw #wys right out the window and went summer clothes shopping while day drunk
obviously Elizabeth’s uniform was fresh on my mind as I bought a navy blue shirt and orange shorts.

I also bought some new summer skirts, shortish ones (it’s already not getting below 75 at night, this summer is going to SUCK BALLS) and I wore one to breakfast that I forced the sleepy hubs to take me to the next day

For dinner that night I made homemade garlic croutons from some homemade bread to go on some spinach salad and lo, it was good

I also played around with the camera in the backyard again while the husband worked on the fence.
Sago fronds 4-1-12

Another day, another dandelion captured

Dragonfly 4-1-12

kinda sorta meal planning

During the week I cook nearly every night of the week. Even “Pizza night Monday” I am usually the one popping the frozen pizza in the oven for the boys (note the usually there honey, I know you do it on occasion as well). I have tried and usually have failed to meal plan more times than I can count…because on any given day I can’t tell you what I am going to be in the mood to eat and if I am not in the mood to eat something, I am not going to bother cooking it and I definitely am not going to eat it. The whole cooking two meals (one veg, one meat) every night has taken a lot of joy out of the kitchen for me and honestly I rarely am “in the mood” for anything lately.

This week has seen a sudden change. I am on day three of “planned” meals and when I say planned I totally mean that I plan something in the morning or maybe even the day before and see it through at dinner time. Ish. Pretty exciting stuff.

I moved pizza night to Sunday because the boys were deep in geek building new computers and I didn’t even feel close to wanting food.

Monday I made homemade marinara with some fire roasted tomatoes, boiled up some linguine, roasted some veg and followed it with some homemade strawberry shortcake (I added Meyer lemon zest and some juice to the berries as they macerated)
Homemade strawberry shortcake

Tuesday I was going to use the leftover roasted veg in an Asian stir-fry but during the day I changed my mind and decided I wanted soft tacos. So I made my own tortillas after seeing Elizabeth rave about a recipe on twitter and filled them with black beans, spinach, rice, corn and avocado. The boys had salsa chicken in theirs.
Homemade tortillas

Tonight, I’ll finally use that leftover veg in a stir-fry which I am going to put over the top of some Soba noodles with baby spinach for me and over some rice for the boys. I am either going to serve the boys potstickers or Bao, for their main, not sure which yet…probably will let them choose.

Thursday we’ll be having Tortellini with Field Roast sausage and Friday we’ll be having the chickpea salad melts on homemade bread. If Sprog is home on Friday, he’ll be having a ham and cheese melt.

For lunches so far this week I’ve had left over pasta on slices of homemade bread (with flax added) with cheese melted on the top and some fruit, but I finished the last of the pasta today, so we’ll see what the rest of the week brings as far as lunch.

Not exactly rocket science or high culinary art, but I like that I have been able to cook things from scratch and make easily doctored meals that have worked for all of us.

I am here to ruin your diet

I have a lot of Meyer Lemons in my house at the present time (courtesy of one Miss Elizabeth in the wilds of California) and this is fantastic because Sprog and I both LOVE anything lemon. It’s also a problem because I am baking AND EATING all sorts of lemon goodies before they go bad.

Yesterday I made these amazing cookies via Whisk Kid

Meyer Lemon cookies

and just subbed Meyer Lemon for the regular lemon called for in the recipe. I also cooked mine a slight bit under so they aren’t crispy so much as the perfect moist lemony sugar cookie. I can’t stop eating them and neither can Sprog. This means, of course, that I am just going to have to make another batch today. I think this is counterproductive to worrying about bathing suit season and the 80 degree weather we are already in, demanding I get on the shorts bandwagon as well, but LEMON COOKIES.

if only Mr. Darcy was here making the eggs*

Recently I came into possession of a large quantity of Meyer lemons from Elizabeth in California. They are gorgeous


but I have rather a lot of them and I don’t want any of them to go bad before I can use them so I thought I should make some marmalade. I figured it would use all of the fruit and probably rather a lot of it and hey it would be something I have never done before and I am all about doing complicated and probably crazy things.

I can (and have) canned before but it was for apple butter which was a relatively uncomplicated procedure with excellent results…so I’ve got the canning bit down at least but the rest…the whole pectin and jelling and all that rot? Not so much, as it turns out.

I chose two recipes because WHY NOT make it even MORE complicated on myself and went to work. Which I mean cutting 6 large lemons into teeny tiny slices and saving all the seeds and then soaking the whole lot in a bunch of water overnight.

I’ll be sharing the recipes on Food Lush this is mainly telling y’all about the experience.

So the next day we moved on to the actual jam making portion and well…this did not go as planned. In the end I dropped a jar as it was canning so the inner lid bent and that jar was sacrificed. I scorched the shit out of my fingers and generally wanted to give up on the whole damn thing BUT, I carried on and even went on to make the second batch which is made with actual bought pectin and everything.


I figured the seed pectin one would fail and the bought pectin one would win and it has turned out to be just the opposite, except for ONE FREAKING JAR of the seed pectin one. It’s still watery whereas all the rest set? I have no idea what that is about but since I have to cook down 8 jars of the other stuff AGAIN, I am just going to re-can that jar and the dropped jar (after I re-sterilize them of course) and see what happens.

I was the most excited for the bought pectin one because it’s SWEET! It has vanilla in it and the syrup tasted divine, I was essentially drinking the excess from a ladle over the pot…but the straight is good too, tart but not overly so because I added a hint of honey (RECIPE BREAKER) it reminds me a lot of the orange type you see in English teas so often.

If only bloggers lived here, I’d have you over for a brunch of blue soup, eggs, green gunge and marmalade.

*Thanks to Reading and Chickens for the Bridget Jones reference for my adventure

the first week of the new year

Let’s do a wrap up shall we?

~Scarf swap: Everyone should have received their matches and contact e-mails by now. If you haven’t, please let me know. Reminder posts will happen next week on Monday and Friday.

~Style Lush: Post this week was about some candlesticks I have and am not sure how to handle.

~Food Lush: Post this week was about re-creating my fave Starbucks drink “Dirty Chai” at home

~The Vanity Resolution: Is going strong, so strong in fact that I have started a flickr group (please feel free to join btw one person does not a group make) and put together a collage of this weeks looks

Week 1
Maybe I’ll get all fashion blogger-y at some point and actually take pics with my “real” camera and tripod, I might even add it as a separate section once we get my site overhaul done but for now, I am proud of myself for sticking with the whole posting and dressing thing every day. Of course you notice there are only 6 looks and that’s because it’s 6 freaking am right now, thank you allergies. *sigh*

~I made my bed yesterday!
I made my freaking bed!
Which I probably shouldn’t admit for being the big deal that it is, but our room is usually a disaster area. Mainly because our dogs like it that way. Here is something that i wouldn’t allow my poor husband to admit on facebook but our dogs are freaked the eff out about the bed being made and my side of the floor being completely cleaned. See they LOVE to sleep on our clothes, mommy and daddy nests we call it and if they don’t have that? They don’t know what to do with themselves, like it’s the end of the freaking world. I might have to go buy them kennel beds today just to calm them down, because I intend to keep the mess away and this year we are going to give my sinuses WOOD FLOORS, so they’ll need multiple baby beds anyway. Spoiled? Our little princesses? NEVER.

~I also went on with that whole “If I see something cute I want, just buy it when I see it” resolution the other day at Costco where I bought two awesome new sweaters because 1) the only two left in those colors and my size 2) we are supposed to be getting an arctic blast next week and I don’t have enough sweaters anyway and 3) I was severely pissed and holding my tongue is easier when I shop. Hello emotional buying.

~I also received my very first cashmere item EVER in the mail yesterday. OMG. Where have you been all my life?

~In the kitchen: I made the very best Red Lentil Soup I’ve ever had in my life and I could eat it every single day. I need to get some more spinach so I can make it again. I also made a Tortilla and Black Bean Pie last night and it was soooooo freaking good. Go make it, right now.

the weekend is over

and the weather is changing. I am so happy that we are finally getting morning and evening cooler temps; I have had enough of Houston this summer and am so tired of being cooped up all the time. Of course now we enter the fall allergy transition but whatever I have to suffer for the heat to start dissipating? I’ll do it. Of course I say that now, I’m sure I’ll be whinging later. Haha.

Anyway, I survived the weekend of people what annoy me with only minor anger…probably because I just avoided talking as much as I could and distanced myself as much as I could. *sigh*

I made awesome garam masala spiced sweet potatoes last night and mixed them with black beans and cheese for some “breakfast” tacos. Super yummy and filling. For Wills and Sprog I made eggs, herbed baby red potatoes, morningstar sausage (kid has no idea it wasn’t really meat) and cheese to go in their tortillas.

I also figured out headbands
and added 3 of them to the shop for sale (the peacock one is mine, I kinda had to keep it). I have one more headband in my mind, that I will create shortly and get added. I also need to create some more barrettes…hopefully in the next couple of days.

I was woken up again last night at 3:45 am and kept up until 7 am (when I went back to bed for a nap) but the disruption was enough to trigger a monster headache so I haven’t done much today other than the dishes and take lots of medication and coffee (medicinally of course).