Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Best Veggie Burger ever...for real...

Well let me preface this by saying it's also by far the spiciest veggie burger ever and next time I will make this way less spicy.

Here we go! It is from Appetite for Reduction, a low-fat vegan cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. My version wasn't exactly low fat because I basically fried the burgers in olive oil instead of sauteing in cooking spray, but I don't mind a little olive oil fat. And like I said, they are very very spicy. Next time I will make a couple chipotle-less burgers for Lucy, and reduce the chipotles to 1/8 of a cup for us. The flavor is wonderful, rich and hearty and smoky...but it will set your mouth on fire! These burgers just beg to be topped with cold crisp lettuce, tomato and onion and some cool creamy avocado. Yum! Oh, and she's super specific about using canned lentils but I couldn't find any. I cooked dried, and used 1 1/4 cup and it worked just fine.

Chipotle Lentil Burgers (also now deemed Hotter than Hades but Supremely Delicious Burgers)

(makes 6 burgers)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into medium dice
1/2 pound zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (stems and leaves)
1 (15 ounce) can cooked lentils, drained and rinsed (1 1/4 cups)
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chipotles, seeds removed, with adobe sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons red vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

First, we're going to saute some veggies. Preheat a large, heave-bottomed nonstick pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-hugh heat. Saute the onion for about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, garlic, cilantro, and a pinch of salt, and saute for 7 to 10 minutes, until the zucchini is soft.

Transfer the zucchini mixture to a food processor. Add all the other ingredients except for 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Did you hear me? Reserve 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs! Pulse until mostly smooth, but there should still be a little texture. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Preheat the pan (the same one you already used to saute in is fine) over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs to the burger mixture and use a fork to thoroughly combine.

Divide the burger mixture into six equal pieces. An easy way to do this is divide it in half, then divide each half into three basically equal portions. You can do that right in the mixing bowl if it's large enough.

Spray the pan with non stick cooking spray. Form the burger portions into patties and cook for about 12 minutes, flipping the burgers often, until they are nicely browned on both sides. Use cooking spray as necessary. Do three at a time for best results.

They taste great served immediately but they're also excellent at room temperature, so don't be afraid to stuff one into a sandwich and take it for lunch.

130 calories, 1.5 g fat, 23 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 7 g fiber, 510 mg sodium, 3 PointsPlus

Spicy Black Bean Chili in the slowcooker

Spicy Black Bean Chili from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slowcooker

1 Tbs olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used green because that's what I had on hand)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs chili powder
One 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cups slow-cooked or two 15.5 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
one 4-oz can diced green chilies, drained
salt and pepper

1. heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cover and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder and cook another 30 seconds

2. transfer it all to a 4-6 qt. slow cooker. Add tomatoes, beans, water and chilies. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Rich said this was good, I haven't tried it yet.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Running Update and a Winning Recipe

I haven't blogged about running in awhile (Jess @21days, is it awhile or a while? I can never remember that rule.), but I have actually been running consistently for a few months. A bit of background: I was planning to run the Little Rock Marathon as my first full last March, but slacked in training and downgraded to the half. I didn't train very well for that, but ran it and ended up with a lot of foot pain/possible stress fracture afterwards. I took a couple months off, realized that spring marathons are not for me and decided to shoot for a fall. I just registered for the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, OK in November. Rich and I also realized that it wasn't going to happen for both of us to train for a marathon together. He is going to do the half in Tulsa, so I can focus on training for the full. With Lucy, it just isn't feasible for us to both be running hours a week. After Route 66, we'll switch focus and he can train for a full if he wants to and I'll sacrifice running for baby-duty and stick to shorter runs.

I've been running 3-4 days a week, and hitting the long runs on Saturday. Last week was a 10 miler, and it went great. This is a step-down week so I only have 7 on the calendar for the weekend. The foot is feeling good, and I'm optimistic that my first full is really going to happen!!

Now for the recipe:

White Bean and Hominy Slow Cooker Chili- Rich voted this one a winner!

1 Tbs Olive Oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs chili powder

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional, I omitted)

1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 15.5 oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed

1 16 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cook about 30 seconds longer.

2. Transfer the mixture to a 4-6 qt slow cooker. Add jalapeno, tomatoes, beans, hominy, water, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

3. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recent Recipes: Cookies, cupcakes and more

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
These are fantastic! I didn't have tapioca flour, so I substituted cornstarch and it turned out fine. This makes 16 good sized cookies. They taste like typical chocolate chip cookies, a little crispy on the outside but chewy overall. Yum!

½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
¼ cup almond or nondairy milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven 350° F. Lightly grease two large cookie sheets.

2. Combine sugars, oil, nondairy milk, and tapioca flour in a mixing bowl. Use a strong fork and mix really well, about 2 minutes, until it looks like smooth caramel. There’s a chemical reaction when sugar and oil collides, so blend well. Mix in vanilla.

3. Add 1 cup flour, the baking soda, and the salt. Mix well. Mix in rest of flour. Fold in chocolate chips. The dough will be a little stiff.

4. For 3-inch cookies, roll dough into balls the size of ping pong balls. Flatten to about 2 ½ inches on a cookie sheet. They will spread a little when baked. Then bake for about 8 minutes—no more than 9—until a bit brown around the edges. Bake 8 cookies at a time. (Don’t double up the cookie sheets in the oven.) Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I used creamy instead of crunchy PB and didn't frost them. They were fantastic fresh, but got dry after the first day. So moral of the story: eat them all really fast...shouldn't be a problem because they're delicious. I can't find the link to the recipe online, and don't have the cookbook with me, but let me know if you want the recipe. I'll be happy to add it, but really you should just order this book. There are tons of great looking cupcake recipes!

Chickpea Fritters
These were a hit with everyone. Rich ate a few, Lucy had one and I liked them too. They need some sort of sauce for dipping, maybe an herb mayo or garlic aioli....or just plain ketchup. Whatever you like!
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (two 15 oz. cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup green onions, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 t. minced rosemary leaves
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • oil for shallow frying
  • sea salt for finishing
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and buzz until you have a fairly uniform mixture, but before it is completely pureed. We want some texture left. You should be able to form it into a ball that holds its shape. It should be neither crumbly nor a batter. Add liquid or breadcrumbs as necessary to find the right moisture level. If you don't mind tasting raw egg, taste a bit and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  2. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over a medium-high flame. Take a golf-ball sized piece of dough, press it in your hands into a flattened 3-inch patty and place in the skillet. Repeat with as many as will fit comfortably. Fry on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. Remove to paper towels and finish with a little bit of sea salt.
Vegan (and soy free) Macaroni and "Cheese"
Rich liked this. I was shocked and happy!! It doesn't exactly taste like cheese, but it is waaaaaay better for you and actually tastes good and is rich and creamy. It uses nutritional yeast, which not only tastes yummy but is also very rich in B vitamins.

1/2 cup flour
1 cup nutritional yeast
3/4-1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 1/2 cups non-dairy milk like almond, rice, hemp, coconut
3 Tablespoons vegan butter spread, such as Earth Balance (check to make sure it is the soy-free kind if you're dealing with a soy allergy)
12 oz. pasta of choice (we used bowties)

Cook your pasta in salted water until it’s al dente, then drain. In your large pasta pot, whisk together all remaining ingredients. Turn the heat onto medium and whisk frequently to keep things smooth. When you have a thick sauce, toss the pasta back in, and use a large wooden spoon to fold it all together. When the pasta’s thoroughly coated and the sauce is the as thick as you like it, take the pot off the heat, and you’re done! Makes 4 to 6 servings. Easy Cheesy!

Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits

I loved this but Rich was not a fan at all. Apparently he doesn't like leeks and thinks he might like the dish if made without leeks, so I might try it again but leek-less. Don't let the name fool you, basically this is a veggie pot pie. I would double the biscuits next time. It is a thick and hearty stew that would be perfect on a cool night.

2 yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, washed well and sliced thinly
1 small onion, cut into medium size dice
1 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 (15 oz) can navy beans, drained and rinsed (about 1/2 can)

3/4 cup plain soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated vegan shortening (I got this at Whole Foods)

PREHEAT THE oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to boil. Once boiling, let cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain immediately so that they do not overcook. While they are boiling, you can prep the rest of the veggies and start preparing the biscuits -- the potatoes should definitely be done by the time you are.
Now prepare everything for the biscuits. You are not going to make them yet, but it's good to have everything ready when it comes time to top the stew. Add the vinegar to the soy milk in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium size mixing bowl.

Now leave that alone and start the stew:
Mix the cornstarch into the vegetable stock until dissolved.
Preheat an oven-safe skillet (if you don't have that, just transfer contents to casserole dish), preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Saute in the oil the leeks, onions, and carrots until very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Keep the heat moderate so they won't burn.
Add the garlic, thyme, freshly ground black pepper and salt, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cooked potatoes and frozen peas, then pour in the vegetable stock mixture. Raise the heat just a bit; it will take a few minutes but the liquid will start simmering. Once it does, lower the heat again. Let it simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, but no longer than that. If you need more time for the biscuits, then turn off the heat under the stew.

Back to the biscuits:
Add the shortening to the flour in small slivers and work it into the dough with a fork or with your fingers until large crumbs form. You don't want to cream it in; there should be clumps. Drizzle in the soy milk and mix with a fork until everything is moistened (some dry parts are okay).
Wash and dry your hands, then lightly flour them and get them dirty again. Gently knead the dough about ten times right in the bowl, just so that it is holding together and not very sticky. If it seems sticky, as in sticking to your fingers, then gently work in a little more flour. Set that aside and check on your stew.
The stew should be simmering and slightly thickened. Mix in the beans. Now, let's add the biscuits. Pull of chunks of dough that are about slightly larger than golf balls. Gently roll them into balls and flatten a bit; they do not have to be perfectly round. Add them to the top of the stew, placed an inch or so apart.
Transfer the whole megillah to the preheated oven. If you are worried about spillover, place on a rimmed baking sheet, but we've never had that problem. Bake for about 15 minutes. The biscuits should be just slightly browned and firm to the touch.
Remove from the oven and use a large serving spoon to place some of hte stew and a biscuit in each shallow, individual bowl. Sprinkle with a little chopped, fresh thyme.
Serve at last! Especially yummy when you break up your biscuit and mix it in a bit with your stew.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweet Hugs

All the back to school buzz this week has already gotten me thinking about the fact that before I know it, Lucy will be starting school. I know it's still 4 years away, but at the rate the past 15 months have gone it will be here in the blink of an eye.

I am so thankful to have 2 weekdays and all weekends off work to spend with her. Our Mondays and Wednesdays are pretty uneventful typically, but it is great to be able to be with her. We get up, run, eat breakfast, then I usually put her on my back while I try to get some cleaning or unpacking done. She gets in moods pretty often where she doesn't want on my back, but she doesn't want to play in the floor by herself either. I was standing at the sink Monday trying to do something and she's pulling on my shorts whining and crying. I knelt down, more frustrated than anything and wanting to yell "WHAT do you want????" but as soon as I got down on her level she reached her arms out and hugged me, snuggled in and tried to climb in my lap. All she wanted was a hug. She loves to be hugged and held (well, by her select chosen handful of people she deems worthy of holding her) A LOT, and it's not always convenient but in those moments I remind myself that soon it will feel like I woke up and overnight she's starting school and not there wanting hugs in the middle of a Monday. There's nothing I could be doing that is more important than holding her.

And on a funny note about her hugging. She's been hugging and loving on the dogs for months, and has just recently started giving me hugs and still really doesn't hug other people much. So basically she loves me, but not quite as much as she loves Fiona :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Boobies, Milkies, Nursies: In Honor of World Breasfeeding Week

Disclaimer: this post is all about boobs and breastfeeding, and there may even be pictures....if that bores or offends you, feel free to move on.

So I'm a week late, last week was World Breastfeeding Week but better late than never. Let me begin by saying that the pre-mommy me had very different views on breastfeeding. I saw it as strictly a nutrional thing, good to do for the first 6 months, maybe a year to give your baby the best start. However, you should try not to breastfeed in public, and if you absolutely must, PLEASE cover up. And if you're "baby" is older than a year then there's no reason you should ever nurse in public.

But now I'm....

Our breastfeeding journey is one of the most rewarding parts of motherhood for me. It was rocky at first, with the constant nursing (which is normal by the way) then the dairy/soy intolerances that took months of trial and error to figure out what I could and couldn't eat. Now it's much better and I've just adjusted to life with almost no dairy or soy products. It wasn't easy, but it is worth it for us. I was never very fond of nursing in public, but there were times it had to be done. When she was little, my boobs dwarfed her head so it was hard to be discrete, and nursing covers were way more trouble than they were worth. It was hot under there, you can't see to help the baby latch and I needed a hand to hold my boob and a hand to hold her head. It was an awkward mess and the covers got ditched very very early on. Then I mastered the nursing tank under a real shirt combo. The flaps on the tank open and you pull down the top of your regular shirt, so everything is covered. But again, you're messing with special shirts and bras and hooks and clasps and really it's a PITA. After a few months I was able to get comfortable just lifting my shirt and bra up from the bottom, once she was able to do theAlign Left work and latch herself on. Then the only thing that showed was a little bit of tummy. Not ideal, but it works. about 9 months after finally figuring out the fine art of NIPing (nursing in public) Miss Lucy went and changed the game by getting easily distracted. This meant she would nurse a few seconds, pop off to look around, repeat. This made for very indiscrete and ineffective nursing, so that pretty much ended our NIP. Now that she's eating a lot of solids and drinking other things like water and almondmilk, we don't nurse nearly as often as we used to. Now on workdays it's basically in the morning, when I get home from work and at bedtime (and in the middle of the night if it's my night on monitor-duty). On my days off it's a different story and she might nurse several more times a day, even though most of those are quick "check-ins" to reconnect or settle down.

I've been asked how long I plan to breastfeed her, and people probably think I'm being evasive when I say I don't know, but I truly don't know. I won't ever force her to wean. I'll let her wean on her own terms, although after she turns two, I'm planning to switch from offering to a "don't offer, but don't refuse" method. Maybe she'll wean when I'm pregnant again and my milk supply decreases, but maybe she won't. I can't say the thought of nursing a toddler and a newborn makes me jump for joy but I'll certainly do it if that's where we are when the time comes.

For more info: is a great resource on all things breastfeeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations are for exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no other liquids or solid foods) for the first 6 months, and that breastfeeding should at least continue for a year and can continue for as long as is mutually desired by mother and child.

The World Health Organization agrees, but extends the recommended minimum to 2 years instead of one.

And here's the Surgeon General's recent Call to Action on Breastfeeding.

Ok, getting on the soap box a bit. My biggest hope is that if any of you have friends or family members who are breastfeeding, or extended breastfeeding past the first 6-12 months, that you'll be supportive and encouraging and proud of the job that mom is doing. Breastfeeding is not easy, it can be isolating and nervewracking but having a core support system is critical. Know that while breastfeeding, especially for longer than a few months isn't "the norm" it is not strange or weird. It is natural and loving, and is not selfish. Rather it is a selfless gift given to a child. If a newborn is nursing around the clock, don't suggest that he is starving and needs formula. Know that breastfeeding, while natural, is not necessarily easy and problem-free. That doesn't mean it isn't worth it. If mom is crying because she's tired and sore and wants to give in, encourage her that the first few weeks are the hardest but that she's doing a great job. Once she gets more comfortable taking the baby out in public, don't suggest that she feed her baby in a bathroom or use a cover. Don't suggest that she's selfish for being the only one able to feed the baby, don't say that she's spoiling the baby, or that it'll never wean, or ask questions like "When are you going to stop THAT?" or "You're STILL breastfeeding?" Know that nursing is more than nutrition, it's comfort and that comfort nursing is a huge part of the nursing relationship. It's like a nutritional hug :) It's ok to be uncomfortable with it. I certainly was. It's normal to be uncomfortable with things we don't understand or are unfamiliar with. But take the time, if you're so inclined, to educate yourself a bit and understand more about the benefits and specifics of breastfeeding. I have been very lucky to have supportive family and friends, but I know many others aren't that lucky.

If this is socially accepted:

Then there's no reason why this shouldn't be (except for the hideous naked bed..the sheet was in the wash ;))

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blueberry Barbecue Salmon, Crispy Asparagus Sticks and Peach Muffins

I am breaking in the new kitchen! And speaking of breaking, Little Rock broke the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the city at 114 yesterday. So what's a girl to do when it's 114 out? Fire up the oven and griddle. Obviously.

Grilled Blueberry Barbecue Salmon click for recipe and pics. The recipe calls for the salmon to be cooked on the grill, but we don't have a grill yet so I used my electric griddle.

We got it as a wedding gift or Christmas gift a few years ago, and Ifinally took it out of the box yesterday. It worked great, and hopefully we'll find many more uses for it. The only problem was the smell. Note: cook outside or next to a vent when cooking salmon. The sauce is sweet and tangy and delicious. I've added a little fish back into my diet, so this one is a keeper to add to the salmon-rotation.

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Sticks. I had high hopes that these would convert Richard to the ranks of asparagus eaters, but no dice. Mom, Dad and I all really liked them though. I would add a bit more seasoning to the breadcrumbs, because the coating was a little bland. Great alternative to our standby of roasted asparagus. This would be a good way to introduce asparagus to kids as well, although Lucy was having none of it. So for now, I guess I'll continue cooking asparagus for myself and maybe one day they'll see the light of green deliciousness.

Peach Muffins from the trusty Yum! We had some fresh peaches and this recipe was calling my name. I used half whole wheat and half all purpose flour, and added an extra 1/2 cup milk (almond) per the allrecipes reviewers' suggestions. They turned out great.