Finding a Place for My New Focus

please stand byIs it really May already? I hope you’ve all had a great year so far. We’ve had some gorgeous weather here in Louisville. It actually feels like we’ve had a real spring for once. Usually, we go directly from cold and dreary to hot and sticky, but we’ve had lots of sunshine and low humidity.

I’m not really sure why I decided to post today, other than to give an honest update. As you can see, I haven’t posted in a while, and I’m just not sure what direction I want to take this blog. I’m still very much interested in vegan food and news, but our meals at home have been more about convenience and saving money than trying exciting new recipes. My focus nowadays is on budgeting, saving, paying off student loans as quickly as possible and early retirement — and just trying to live a much more simplified life. I do think that food has a place in all of that since it’s a big part of our budget, but it’s not at the forefront of my mind like it once was.

I’ve played around with the idea of starting a new blog that is devoted to my new focus, and including food-related posts here and there. I do miss writing and I’m excited by the idea of sharing ideas with a larger community of people. But we’ll see. I hope that if I do decide to hop over to a new space, you’ll follow me there.

Again, I hope you’re all doing well!!!

 

Baked Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

grilledcheeseYou guys. I discovered a tip for making grilled cheese that will blow your mind.

Are you ready?

You can bake it in the oven. And … it turns out better than cooking it in a skillet!

A week or so ago, I had whipped up a pot of tomato soup and wanted grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it. I typically use my cast iron skillet to make each sandwich one by one, but I was looking for a way to make multiple sandwiches at once (we have a big appetite). Apparently, other people have wondered the same thing and I found a recipe online for baked grilled cheese sandwiches.

All you have to do is preheat your oven to 450 degrees. From there, butter one side of your bread (I use Earth Balance), throw your cheese in the middle (Daiya slices work perfectly), and bake on one side for 6 minutes, then flip to the other side and bake for 4 to 6 minutes. And, voila! You can make as many as your sheet pan will hold at one time.

It’s the little things …

Catching Up: The Winter Blahs, I Has ‘Em

My little kitchen will have to do for now.

My little kitchen will have to do for now.

So, wow, it’s nearing the end of January and the last blog post I made was right before Thanksgiving.

And I never posted pictures.

Sadly, it’s because I never took pictures. For all the excitement I had leading up to Thanksgiving, the day just kind of fell flat. The food turned out well, but by the time it came to eat, I wasn’t feeling very well. I ended up going to bed around 7pm.

All in all, this has been a tough winter for us. It was the first Christmas without my mother in law, and it really hit my husband hard. As for me, the older I get, the more the cold, dreary days of winter seem to get to me.

My job has been going well, but keeping me very busy. My yoga teaching has been going well, too. I’m hoping to expand on it to teach more classes and private lessons. As for our plans to buy a house, my husband and I have decided to wait a bit longer for that. We want to focus on paying our student loans off as soon as possible and put them behind us. We also are considering a move to a different city. I’ve lived in Louisville my entire life, but I’d like to give another city a chance. (I’m very inspired by Luminous Vegans’ cross-country move.) I need to stay at my current job a few more years, but it would be pointless to buy a house now.

All that being said, I’ve let this blog fall to the back burner and I hate that. I’m not going to promise frequent posts, but I promise to get back to blogging more often. I’ve got a few ideas for new posts and just need to get back into the swing of things and create a blogging schedule.

Anyway, I hope you all are well and are having a wonderful 2014 so far. I apologize for the personal, no-so-food-related post, but stay tuned for more foodstuff. Stay warm!!

Vegan Thanksgiving 4.0: The Menu

thanksgivingI’ve been excited about Thanksgiving for months. I can’t wait to turn on some music, pour myself a drink (or two) and start cooking.

Every year I keep thinking that I’ll change up the menu, but when the time comes, I always go back to traditional dishes. And that’s what I’m doing this year, though I hope to tweak things a bit to make them even better than last year’s dinner.

Here’s what we have planned this year:

Carrot and Apple Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Balls
Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash
Cranberry Relish (a new dish this year)
Shallot Gravy
Celebration Loaf (store-bought)
Rolls (store-bought)
Pecan Pie
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I plan to post pictures of our meal this weekend. I hope you all are well. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and be safe in your travels!

New Cookbook: ‘Isa Does It’

You guys. It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. Without boring you with too many details, work has been kicking my butt (in a good way) and my yoga teaching has been going well, too. Oh, and we got a new cat. By accident. We found this little guy hiding under the hood of our car while it was pouring rain, hence his name, “Honda.” Having a kitten has been quite an adjustment, especially with two older cats. Three cats are my limit. No, really.

Honda

But as far as food, we’ve been cooking up lots of great vegan meals lately. Isa Chandra Moskowitz of “Veganomicon” fame, and several other awesome cookbooks, has just come out with a new cookbook, “Isa Does It,” as well as a series of videos that showcase a few of the recipes from the book. So far, we’ve made the Nirvana Enchilada Casserole, Meat Beany Chili and Corn Muffins, and the New England Glam Chowder. All have been amazing and super, super easy to make, which seems to be the theme of the new cookbook.

IsaDoesIt

As much as I love “Veganomicon,” some of the recipes require lots of ingredients and lots of time. In “Isa Does It,” Isa focuses on simple recipes that pack a lot of flavor, which is exactly what we’ve been looking for lately. Since starting my job over the summer, I’ll admit to ordering takeout way more than we should. For that reason, it’s been nice to get back into the kitchen to make some new dishes. This week, in fact, we plan on making a curry peanut kale bowl and a thai chili recipe from the book. I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out.

I hope you all are well!!

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Avocado Bowl with Chimichurri

Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

I was looking for a new dinner recipe when I came across this dish in last month’s issue of Vegetarian Times. Visually, the dish is stunning, and I loved the idea of the simple flavors, but I wasn’t sure how it would translate to my palate. I mean, the dish is basically cooked quinoa, oven-roasted sweet potatoes, avocado and chimichurri sauce. Other than a little salt and pepper, there isn’t any other seasoning to the quinoa and potatoes.

But my first bite put me at ease. The flavor and texture combinations of the sweet potato, avocado and quinoa are out of this world. And the chimichurri added a wonderful brightness and crunch to the dish with the parlsey, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika. (Ironic, since it’s known for being served with meat dishes in South American cuisine.)

All in all, a wonderful dish that I highly recommend, especially for a weeknight meal since it comes together very quickly.

Enjoy!

Recipe Revisited: Broccoli Quiche

Broccoli Quiche

I have a hard time coming up with lunch ideas, because 1) I don’t want to spend most of our weekly food budget on lunch, 2) but I still want it to be healthy, and 3) I want the prep to be quick and easy. Sometimes I come across a lunch idea that fits all three criteria and this quiche is one of them.

The last time I made this recipe, I blogged about it on here. And then I somehow forgot about it, which is a bad habit of mine. Anyway, the first time I made it, I made the crust from scratch, which is kind of a pain when you have a kitchen with hardly no counter space. So, this time around, I picked up a pre-made pie crust, which was a bit more expensive, but worth it, in my opinion.

All you have to do is cook the onion, garlic, spices and broccoli, blend your tofu and cashews, mix it all together, and bake. Let it chill overnight. And it tastes great served cold, so you don’t have to worry about using your workplace’s nasty microwave.

The recipe comes from “Vegan Brunch,” and you can find it here.

Breakfast for Dinner: Tofu Scramble, Hashbrown Waffles, Sliced Tomato and Gravy (of course)

breakfast scramble

I had to pull an all-nighter for work this past weekend, so I was pretty worthless on Sunday — as in, wake up-shower-put-your-pajamas-back-on kind of worthless. I missed breakfast because I was too busy sleeping, so when dinner came around, I decided to make up for it. And, boy, did I ever.

While perusing Pinterest, I found a “recipe” for waffle hashbrowns. Basically, you place a layer of frozen tater tots onto a greased waffle iron and press down until you form a fully cooked “waffle.” It’s brilliant, really. I immediately got it in my head to layer the waffle with sliced homegrown tomato, tofu scramble, and, of course, gravy (and hot sauce). The result is pure comfort food. After the first bite, my husband and I nodded at each other, mouths full, in full agreement that this is definitely a keeper.

For the tofu scramble, I always use Isa’s recipe from “Vegan Brunch,” which you can find here.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Bourbon Pie

Chocolate Bourbon Pie

I live in Louisville, Kentucky, which is home to the original Derby Pie, a rich tart-like pie with walnuts, chocolate chips and, of course, bourbon. As you might expect, in its original form, it’s not vegan at all.

While reading the latest issue of VegNews, my husband came across a recipe for a Chocolate Bourbon Pie from Chef Chloe Coscarelli. It’s a veganized version of the trademarked classic. I left the house to go to yoga and came back to smell this pie baking in the oven. I love my husband very much.

He said the pie came together easily, especially with the help of a ready-made piecrust. It bakes for a total of 55 minutes, but, thankfully, you don’t have to wait for it to cool to eat it; it’s best served warm.

Ahimsa and the Link to Veganism

Jainism-Ahimsa-Hand-iconHave you ever noticed that a lot of yogis are either vegetarian or vegan? This actually isn’t a coincidence. Sure, yoga and vegetarianism/veganism complement each other well in that they both are great for your health. But for those yogis who closely follow the Ashtanga teachings, there is actually a reason for their leading a meat-free lifestyle.

While pursuing my yoga teacher certification I studied the eight limbs of yoga. These are included in Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutra.”

The first of the eight limbs, Yama, includes five guidelines or practices for how we should conduct our lives. The first of which is Ahimsa, which is Sanskrit for “nonviolence.”

While many yogis view the nonviolence part as human to human, many others take it to mean nonviolence against all beings. I became vegan well before I started practicing yoga, but, for my own practice, I take it to mean nonviolence against all beings. I just don’t know how you can separate the two. But the great thing about yoga is that there is no right or wrong; it’s all what you want for your own practice.

As a side note: This is my first in what I hope to be many yoga-related posts. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that veganism and yoga complement each other, so it’s a way for me to provide more content on the blog, in addition to the food-stuff, which I hope to have more of soon with my next grocery trip. I also plan to change the site design a bit to reflect both the vegan and yoga aspects.

I hope you all are well!