Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Vegan Wine Tasting

What a stupendous weekend I had! Got together with all the people I love best, to celebrate one of my favorite times of the year, My Birthday! Okay I know that sounds a bit conceded, it's not really the birthday part that I love, its more the getting together with all the people I care about and taking time out to celebrate gaining another year's worth of knowledge and experience with this thing I call my life. AHHHH- and so the Birthday week begins!

Also celebrating his 6th birthday on Sunday, was my man Bailey Bear. 6?!?! How did this happen? He'll always be a pup to me, and anyway getting older seems to suit him well. Below is a picture of the Birthday Boy and the Un-Birthday Boy celebrating yesterday on the front porch.

They got a very special meal and for dessert, leftover watermelon rinds. Can't seem to figure out why, but they sure do love 'em.

Also yesterday I tried a new vegan wine. Orleans Hill, the maker of Our Daily Red, makes a variety of other vegan, organic wines. Yesterday I tried their Syrah. Being honest with myself, I must say, I thoroughly enjoy almost all wines. This one was not my favorite, but it was still pretty good and a good organic vegan substitute to your regular wine shop choices. I actually got this one at the grocery store, I was surprised/elated to see vegan wines there!! It almost had a sort of dark chocolate, coffeeish taste to it. It was nice to sip on a lazy hot summer Sunday, watching two tired beagle boys napping on the front porch.

Destination Birthday Week Population = Me

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dog Morning

Just a quick thought for the day....

Is there a better feeling than waking up in bed next to your dog??

I had the best start to my morning today, I woke up without the help of my alarm, my windows were wide open -letting the sunshine pour in, the birds were chirping, the fan was oscillating a cool breeze and I look over, turn my head, and my face is bombarded by a wet snout. It brought a smile to my face. Bailey loves to share my pillow.

Bailey is without a doubt, the lazier of the two dogs, he has his breakfast and then heads right back to catch some morning zzzzs. Grady has boundless energy and loves to be walking, running, playing, sniffing.... right when his eyes pop open. For brothers, they are probably about as different as can be.

There is something so endearing about curling up with your dogs. Thankfully mine love them a good snuggle.

What a great way to start what promises to be a boring Wednesday, Thanks guys! xoxox

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fresh Rolls

Fresh rolls are one of my all time favorite things in the world because you can literally put ANYTHING in them! The rice paper wraps can be a bit tricky to deal with at first, but after the second or third wrap you'll get into a rhythm. They are a little tedious, but VERY easy. It usually takes me around 45 mins to 1 hr to make a plate of 7-8 fresh rolls, but they are SOOO worth it.

Spicy Peanut Fresh Rolls with Chili Peanut Dipping Sauce

1 pkg rice paper wrappers

1 pkg maifun rice noodles

1 teaspoon Thai garlic chili sauce

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons liquid aminos (or soy if you prefer)

1 pkg baked tofu cut into thick matchsticks (I use tofu lin)

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into thick matchsticks

1 package shredded carrots

1/2 head of lettuce finely shredded

Boil water and prepare rice noodles according to package directions. I usually use 1/2 the package when I'm preparing these for 2 people. After noodles are cooked, drain water and stir in peanut butter, chili sauce and liquid aminos. You may need to add more liquid aminos to thin out the peanut butter. After all is mixed set noodles aside.

Fill small saucepan with water. Bring heat to high until water just starts to come to a boil. Pour water into a shallow bowl. Take a rice paper wrapper out of the package and dip into the water for a minute. (the hotter the water, the quicker they soften) Remove wrap from water and lay onto a plate. If you find that the wraps are taking too long to soften up, or they aren't softening up, add some more hot water to the bowl. Careful not to burn your fingers!
To begin filling, place some peanut noodles on the wrap length wise, leaving a half inch margin at one end of the wrap ( so the wrap can be easily rolled). Place three matchsticks of tofu, three matchsticks cucumber, followed by some shredded lettuce and shredded carrots. Fold the sides over onto the ends of the mixture and roll the rice paper as pictured.

Repeat until all ingredients are used. I make half the package of noodles and it usually yields about 7-8 fresh rolls. These are so satisfying on a hot summer day, when you dont feel like cooking. Minus the boiling water, they really don't require any real stove or oven action. A definite plus when its 90 degrees.

I also make a peanut dipping sauce to serve with them when they're finished.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 teaspoons Thai chili sauce

2 tablespoons liquid aminos

2 tablespoons water

Mix all together until a smooth "sauce" consistency is achieved, you may need to add more water to thin it out.

Man ...Thai people really know how to eat!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Seedling Cafe

Soo I have to say I think I make some pretty effing good sandwiches. But .. when I don't feel like making one ( or I don't have the time) there's a place down the street from me that makes my favorite take out sandwich of all time. Yes ... all time.

The Seedling Cafe in Nashua, NH is my favorite place for wraps. They have a ton of vegetarian options, most can be made vegan if you ask. ANNND they support local farmers and use organic and locally grown ingredients whenever possible. How can you beat it?!

I was just there the other day. My favorite sandwich is my own creation....

Spinach wrap, olives, onions, pickles, lettuce and sprouts with hummus and honey mustard .. yummmm.

I want one now!

PS -I have to get better with this whole taking pictures of food before you eat it. It's just so hard for me!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash! I know I know, wrong time of the year, but I just made this again the other day. (We were going through a cold front in New Hampshire) -I wanted to share a quick blog about it. With the warmer weather comming, I probably won't get to make it again for a bit. There's nothing worse than using your oven on a hot summer day.

Up until November of last year, I was a spaghetti squash virgin. Sooo many people were telling me to try it, but I just couldn't imagine the taste of the squash with marinara sauce - google search spaghetti squash here I come!

The recipe below is a vegan adaptation of a recipe from Emeril Lagassee....

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

1 med. sized spaghetti squash

1 cup frozen peas (fresh would work too, but NOT canned )

2 1/2 tablespoon earth balance ( or any veg butter of your choice)

1 tablespoon dried basil

1/2 tablespoon dried parsley

1/4 tablespoon fresh sage finely minced

1 teaspoon salt or more to taste

lots of fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon canola oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees F

Cut the Spaghetti squash in half length wise, and place cut sides down in baking dish. Fill baking dish with enough water to cover a 1/2 an inch up the sides of the spaghetti squash. Cover with foil or lid and bake for 45 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. While squash is cooking, heat oil in med sized skillet. Once pan is warmed add peas and saute until bright green and remove from heat. Remove foil or lid from baking dish and bake squash for an additional 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your squash. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes so its easier to handle. Using a wooden spoon remove the seeds and throw away. Drag a fork from top to bottom of squash to produce "spaghetti" strands. Repeat until the squash is empty.

Place the strands into a large skillet and add the peas. Heat the skillet and add the earth balance, coating the peas and strands. Finally add the basil, parsley and sage and toss to spread evenly.

Serve hot, (vegan feta cheese is also really good on top)

Serves 2-3 people depending on the size of your squash

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as me!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Soul Of A Dog

I recently finished a book that was given to me, and I often find that when books are picked out for me it gives me some of my best reads. It certainly wasn't something I would have picked up for myself. My Aunt Kathy, who is very dear to me, said she had spotted it at a local book store, thought of me, and sent it my way. The book was called The Soul of a Dog by Jon Katz. I truly can't remember the last time I finished a book so quickly! (Granted I was traveling and I had a solid 4 hours to dedicate to reading) But still! I finished this book in less than 24 hours.

I was very deeply moved by the author's chronicles of the animals he has come to know and love on his farm. And more than that he poses a very good and deep question.... Do animals have souls? ( I think my aunt knows my answer to this question, thus why she sent me the book) Each of the chapters narrates his stories of one of the animals on his farm. (a chicken, a dog, a cat...ETC ) ... It's not just about dogs! Each story chronicled his understanding of the soul of an animal through the events and peculiarities of each of one of their lives.

It brought up a lot of interesting questions and feelings for me. Do animals really have souls? I guess that's a tough question. In short, in my mind they must, for one simple fact... How can you have a personality without a soul? I just don't believe its possible, and I don't think that any animal owner can deny the fact that each of their pets has a personality. But in the same sense I often wonder to what end... I mean do mice have souls? Do ants? Fleas?

It reminded me of my decision to try veganism almost 5 years ago. One of the hugely deciding factors for doing so, was that I couldn't differentiate between a cow and my dog curled up on the couch that I love so much. Meaning that I thought hey, I wouldn't eat a dog, why would I eat a cow, or a pig or a lamb ? And I was shocked when I came to that realization, that I hadn't come to it sooner. I guess everyone has their own reasons and their own AHH HAA moment. I wonder if in order to really fully embrace a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle you almost have to beleive that animals have a soul in some sense of the word?

You HAVE to read this book! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and despite the somber note of this blog entry, the book was quite uplifting and inspiring.

..... Thanks Aunt Kath :)

Happy Reading <3

Monday, June 7, 2010

Muy Bueno Veggie Tacos

Okay so I know I can't be the only one who gets periodic cravings for tacos. This weekend I had an intense one. So I whipped up these bad boys.

Muy Bueno Veggie Tacos

1 Green Bell Pepper thinly sliced
1 Sm Onion thinly sliced
1 Can Vegetarian re fried beans
1 container Guacamole or fresh prepared
1 head Shredded lettuce
1 Jar salsa
1 Pkg Tortillas
1 pkg Spanish style yellow rice ( make sure you read the ingredients a lot use Chicken stock)
1 tblspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon Chili power (or more to your taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tblspoon Vegetable oil

Prepare rice according to package directions. Heat oil in large skillet. Once pan is thoroughly heated add onions and peppers. Saute for a few minutes, then add the Tabasco, chili powder and cumin and continue to saute until onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan heat re fried beans ( I like to add a few spices to heat them up a bit) Once they are heated set aside.

To assemble take a tortilla, add a layer of the beans, followed by a layer of the guacamole and salsa, add a few spoon fulls of rice, and the onion and pepper mixture, top off with the shredded lettuce. Fold in the edges and you're ready to eat! Great to serve with a fresh pitcher of frozen margaritas


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vegan Coleslaw

What a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend we had! Beautiful weather, good food, and good friends. What more can you ask for?

I went to a cookout this past Sunday at my parent's house, and I was at a total loss as to what to bring to share with everyone. I didn't want to bring something that no one was going to eat, and yet I wanted to contribute something to the cookout. Coleslaw was the first thing that ran into my mind. I guess you either hate it or love it, but I put together a recipe that one of my uncles couldn't even tell was vegan!!

Summertime Vegan Coleslaw
1 pkg shredded coleslaw cabbage
1/2 package of shredded carrots ( or more to your taste)
1/2 jar (6-8 Oz) of vegan mayo ( I use veganese)
1 1/4 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 Tablespoons Lemon or lime juice ( lime would add more of a tang)
1 Tablespoon honey
lots of fresh pepper
pinch of hot red pepper flakes ( optional- if you want to spice it up a bit)
salt to taste

Mix all except cabbage and carrots together in a small bowl. Mix the cabbage and carrots together in a large mixing bowl, add the sauce and toss until well mixed. Serve extra cold. Makes enough for 5-6 People

I also brought some cream "cheese" filled celery sticks. I just cut up the celery into 3 inch sticks and filled the middles with some herb and chive tofutti "cream cheese". I added a sprinkle of paprika and voila!