Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

I promised to post my butternut squash recipe yesterday. I did not want to let you all down. I am sure you were all hanging on the edge of your seats for a soup recipes.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 med butternut squash
2 1/2 cups of water (or veggie broth)
2/3 cup of (chopped) onion
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of ground pepper
2 teaspoons of oregano
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Peel and chop the squash into 1 inch chunks. In a pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the squash to the water and cook until the squash is tender, around 25 minutes. In a sauce pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onion, pepper, cinnamon, and oregano. Cook on a low temperature until the onions are tender and translucent. Once the onion and squash are cooked, pour the onion into a blender with a ladle full of the squash (and water) and puree. Repeat this process until all the chunks of squash are pureed and the squash has a thick creamy texture. There should be no chunks remaining. The mixture can be reheated or served cool. Make sure that as you blend, now to put to much food in the blender at the same time or it will explode and burn.

The last two days have been a nice break from the long hours of my recent work week. I need the money so the 58 hours are a needed pain but it has not be easy. I really hope that I can get my real estate license soon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My first dinner party!

Last night I hosted my first dinner party. It was a lot of fun. In my awkward host-ness I forgot to take pictures of the actually people and only got pictures of the food. I guess my word that people were there will have to be enough. Originally it was only dinner for four (Kristie, Ashley, Ryan, and myself) then at the last minute it became five (Rachael) and it was all the more enjoyable.

As I was the only vegan, menu plans started several days ago, apparently there would be some very picky eaters. Embracing the culinary challenge, I decided to go with some past favorites that have come though time and time again while taking a few risks and trying a few new things. I wanted to make something that most of them had never tried before and impress them with how good and flavorful vegan food can be. Salad and pasta was not on the menu.

I went with butternut squash soup, roasted brussel sprouts, kale chips, fruit salad, chicken fried seitan, ranch dressing, and a mango cheesecake for dessert. The kale chips were over salted but that was purely my fault. Otherwise most of the items were a hit. Brussel sprouts and seitan were both a risk. Most people flinch at the idea of brussel sprout since what they had as children were boiled mushed ovals of sogginess. Not mine! Mine are crisp and crunchy and give that great nutty flavor. Seitan was a risk becuase, well, it is kind of crazy. People hear the name or see the jar of wheat gluten in the cupboard and you can see their eyebrows of skepticism. I was confident enough with both of these dishes to serve them to a room full of sideways glaces and concerned faces.

Mango Cheesecake

1 graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade)
2 ripe mangoes
2 1/2 tubs of Tofutti Cream Cheese
4 units of egg replacer
1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Puree the peeled mangoes in a blender until liquid. You can add the 1/2 cup of water, lemon juice, and maple syrup to the mango to help liquefy it. In a sauce pan, pour mango puree, brown sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and allow the sugar to dissolve, stir frequently so the mango does not burn. In a food processor, add the tofutti cream cheese, egg replacer, and sugar. Puree until smooth and well mixed. Add in the mango mixture and puree until well mixed. The mixture should be richly sweet with a nice mango flavor. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake in the oven for 30 mins. The top should begin to become golden brown and bubble a bit. Chill for 3 hours and serve.

I picked up two dragon fruits to use on the fruit salad. After digging the fruit out, I used the shell of the dragon fruit as a bowl for the fruit salad which consisted of pineapple, dragon fruit, mango, banana, and kiwi. It came out really cool looking.

I will post the recipe for the butternut squash soup tomorrow (along with the picture). I also may post my roasted brussel sprout recipe, even though it is incredibly simple.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yard work can be fun

Not much new to report. Tato is visiting me again while Jamie is with her family. I really enjoy having him here. This will be a long week for me at work so the posts may be lacking. I need the money so I will be grateful I worked so many hours when I get paid.
The other day I made a decent lunch. Red Quinoa with veggies and pistachios. It was mild in flavor but a nice light lunch. Sometimes it is nice to have a break from the heavy flavors that I generally use.
The house is coming along well. One of the things I am really excited for is landscaping. There is not much I can do right now, weather, money and time are all limiting. However, the yard has been cleaned up and it looks great! I think at some point I am going to post some before and after type photos of the house. Might be fun?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When disaster strikes

I have been vegan since I was 18 and vegetarian since I was around 14. I have been cooking since I was about 5 or 6. It was something I always enjoyed. From pancakes with my mum to anything I could get my hands on. I began seriously cooking when I was about 18. There were weekly soups and lots of experimentation with what I now use as staples in my daily cooking life.

For whatever reason, baking is something that I have always struggled with. Until about 2 years ago, I could not make a cake if my life depended on it. Even now, I have my days when I struggle. There have been more failures then I care to admit when it comes to the oven.

Several weeks ago, I was given a donut baking pan. Super excited, I have been making donuts like a mad man. It has been a crazy time, each attempt coming out better then the last, until today.

Blueberry Donuts. No recipe here, at least not today. I will master this but these blueberries were out to get me today. I could not get the donuts to hold together. I even struggled with the frosting. Generally, with such a blunder, I get discouraged and throw things away, until today.

When disaster strikes, use a spoon!

I tossed the broken donuts into a plastic container, added the icing and the extra berries. Grabbing a spoon turned this potential mess into a new delicious dessert.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great sunday

After only spending half a day at work today, I headed for feeling a bit under the weather to be pleasantly surprised by an outstanding day! Apparently, this is the type of day I can have if I am not at work.

Ashley came over in the afternoon and we got some tickets to a comedian she wants to see that is coming to Atlanta. We will be picking them up tomorrow. Then we went around and looked at random HUD houses because I still have the key and abandon houses are fun. It really made me appreciate all the work I put into my house. It was an interesting reminder of all my well spend effort. I am really beginning to enjoy my house, for awhile it felt like a job.

After an exciting afternoon my good friend Shazia came over to see the house. We made dinner, pesto fetichini with steamed veggies in a nutritional yeast sauce. It was a nice time and it is always good to see an old friend. We had some great discussion about language and math theory. Good times.
This is what $1.99 can get you at a Buford Highway Farmers Market.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bar B Que Tofu and a package

I have been slowly unpacking the kitchen and beginning to cook. Just some of the basics, nothing to dramatic. Here is an extremely simply recipe for a great Bar B Que Tofu dish that only take a few minutes and it very low maintenance.

Bar B Que Tofu

1/2 pound of firm tofu
1/2 cup of Bar B Que sauce
1 teaspoon of water
1 teaspoon of hot sauce (optional)

Cut the tofu into rectangular slices about 1/4 of and inch wide. They should be fairly thin. At the same time, heat a non-stick skillet to low - med heat. If you drop a few sprinkles of water on the pan it should sizzle. Once the pan is hot, gently lay the tofu down on the pan. In several minutes, it should begin to brown, go ahead and flip it. You may want to flip it several times. Once both sides are browning, add the hot sauce and Bar B Que sauce and flip again so that each piece of the tofu is coated. When the Bar B Que sauce begins to scorch, add the water and cook until the water evaporates. Serve.

I have also made some nice mashed potatoes, spinach, jalapeno fried rice (a recipe for another time) and a few other random things.

It seems that a number of people that I have been spending time with have had very little exposure to some vegan staples. Tofu for example. I have introduced three people to tofu in the last couple of weeks. The Bar B Que Tofu recipe was used as an introduction to tofu for Ashley who thought that is was going to taste spongy. As an eleven year vegan, it is beginning to shock me that there are still people that have not had tofu. I guess I need to get out more.

My mum is awesome! I got a huge box in the mail the other day. Super excited, I opened in to discover a nice setup for one of the bathrooms in my house! I could not even get though all the items in the bid before I was crying. I was so happy. It made me feel like my mum was really proud of me and my house that I have worked so hard for.

My house has been (and will continue to be) a long road. I bought a foreclosure that was pretty beat up (tree in the roof, no H VAC, destroyed wood panel walls, destroyed kitchen etc.), $42000 later, I live here. Lots of big decisions that very few people can imagine having to make on a regular basis. It was tough and it makes me very happy to think that the people that matter the most are proud of me. Thanks mum!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Donut recipe and atheist holiday

It was another nice evening off. There was some timidness about being in such a large house, alone. It has actually had many perks. Quiet nights of basketball and donut making.

I used the recipe at Urban Housewife as inspiration. I changed a few things around so I will post some changes.


1 egg worth of vegan egg substitute (powdered replacer works best)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup soymilk
4 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pre-heat the oven at 350 degrees.

In a sauce pan, melt the margarine and stir in the soymilk, vinegar and vanilla. In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together thoroughly. When the liquid mixture is warm (not hot), pour it into the dry mixture and stir until well mixed.

Pour the batter into your donut baking pan (greased and floured). This recipe should make 6 donuts, only fill the pan about 2/3 of the way to the top to avoid overflow.

Bake for about 14-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Let donuts rest in the pan on a baking rack for 30 minutes. Once cooled, gently remove the donuts and frost as appeals.

As a long time atheist, I do not get many gifts around the holidays. I have fought it since I was about 13 years old. Priscilla, has always been very respectful of my feelings about the holiday and has always given me a "seasonal gift". When I went to my mailbox today, there was a package. The atheist Christmas gift! Thank you Priscilla! I love the pot holder and used it for my donuts.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tramp it up!

Super fun morning! It has been years but I took it to the trampoline! I bounced like Tigger and was killing it! I forgot how much of a workout it is but it was well worth the effort. It is so much fun. I even got in a few sweet trick jumps.

Do not act like you are not impressed.

I only fell once....on camera.

My trampoline partner was far more daring and athletic than me. Cartwheels and all.

Just proves that even as I get older, I am still far to awesome not to have fun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spring Rolls and Miso Soup

Too long between posts, I know. It has been very chaotic right now with the moving in and finishing the house construction. Big busy things.

Jamie's birthday was the 12th and she spend the weekend in Florida. Tato spend the weekend with me! He was very skittish around the house but settled in after a day or two. Finicky kitty.

Monday night Jamie came to get him and I made us some dinner. I have been toying with the idea of spring rolls for months now. It has weighed heavy on my mind but seemed daunting and easy to mess up. I read a few blog posts that explained it as very easy. Their rolls looks gorgeous and packed full of nice foods. Easy and simple? Not quite. I tried my hand at them and although they were tasty they were not as aesthetically pleasing as I had hope. I guess practice make perfect.

In mine I used some tofu, mushrooms, carrots, cilantro, lime, basil, and red cabbage. As I said, they were yummy but I will hold off again on posting a recipe until I have gotten a little better. It made for a nice meal along with some mild miso soup and peanut dipping sauce. Overall it was a success.
Miso soup is a nice easy soup to make. It is tasty and filling and extremely low maintenance. Jamie picked some miso paste up and made some herself. Hers looks better than mine!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I have been working more then I can even explain this week. It is nice to have the hours and the job security but since I have moved into the house, I am broke. It is kind of a kick in the face. I need to get back on my feet and it may be another month or so.

For the last several month I have been looking for a donut baking sheet. I finally had to special order one. Ashley (the negotiator) and I, were walking around town and happened to stop into the cooking store that ordered my pan. They had it. Since I am broke, I did not buy it and was very upset. I really wanted to make some donuts and thought it might lighten my stress. We walked away. Apparently, Ashley noticed that I was upset about it and after I went home, she bought me the pan! What a great person! I made my first donuts today! It was kind of a trial run and I am glad I did not make a ton of them. I want to change the recipe. As many of you know, I am fairly heavy handed with my flavors and this recipe simply did not have enough kick for me. I will change it up and post it soon. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update and Calzone

I am in the middle of a long week at work. Work has become increasingly stressful recently and everyone there seems to be feeling it. I hope it passes. The house is coming along well. The contracted work is almost complete. Which will allow me to finally finish unpacking and cleaning. It will be nice when the dust has finally settled (and has been swept up).

Tato is visiting me for the weekend. He is going crazy with the contractors in the house but he had a fun night of exploring. Then, I woke up with him curled up with me in bed. He is a good guy.

As I said in my previous post, food has not been exciting recently. However, the other day I did throw together a nice calzone and smoothie. It was a nice break from the quick and easy veggie burgers that I had been eating for days prior.

I got word from the Real Estate Commission and it seems that they will need even more information now. Such a waiting game.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I had a visitor!

It has been a busy time getting moved in an unpacked. The cupboards are kind of a mess so it has been difficult to feel like I want to put the kitchen away. Of course, this also means that cooking has been on the back burner, so to speak.

My front door is being installed today. Great stuff! I like it, it lets in light while maintaining privacy. I do not get a day off until Sunday. I presume that is the punishment for taking a weekend to move. I guess it will be plug along as I get through the week.

Sunday night while Jamie and I were putting the curtains and lights together, I had a visitor! I was so happy, even thought the poor guy got sick that night from some food I gave him. He will be with me Wed night through Sun night while Jamie is away for her birthday. I am looking forward to him sitting on my lap while I write a blog.

Tato found a giant cricket!
Tato annoyed that I was taking his picture!

Tato sleeping in my new rocking chair!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I moved into my new house!

I moved into my home this weekend. It is not entirely completed but close enough that I can call it home. It is huge. I did not even realize how big until I got my things inside. Some of the major changes I made to the house were wood floors, new roof, new HVAC, new carpet (downstairs), new counter tops, new bathrooms. I still need to paint and clean but here are some of the photos. There are several bedrooms not pictured. I will have more photos up as the cleaning and unpacking unfolds. Enjoy, I know I am!

I feel this is a good time to give massive thanks to all the people who have helped me out this weekend with the house. Knowa, Brenton, and Jenifer all helped me move in. Huge thanks! In fact, due to a bad cut on my finger and issues with the last minute appliances, they did most of the moving. Ashley was a huge help in cleaning as well. She really helped me get the kitchen looking semi livable. Jamie was a great help in getting things up and decorated. This is where she shines. I could not have done it this weekend without all of them.

I should also take a second to mention my first house warming gift. Vegan caramel apple pie! This was so good! The crust was nice and the filling held up really well. Something I can not seem to get right.

Looking forward.