Saturday, December 07, 2013

weekend mishmash and dollar store challenge round up #2

I made these green beans and mushrooms using a recipe from Betty Goes Vegan - retro-licious.
I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, Today, I'm sharing a few shots showing what I've been doing and eating lately. As a cookbook author who is continually coming up with new recipes, I find it relaxing to try other people's creations. Pictured above are green beans with mushrooms that I made using a recipe from Betty Goes Vegan. These were seriously delicious and easy to throw together. Anything with toasted nuts grabs my attention and this dish is punctuated with toasted almonds.

Mini Pumpkin Pies, before baking
Speaking of Thanksgiving, I made mini pumpkin pies for the kids' table at my family's gathering using the recipe from my new cookbook, Pies and Tarts with Heart: Expert Pie-Building Techniques for 60+ Sweet and Savory Vegan Pies . Except that the kids sat with the adults this year. I forgot to take a photo of the pies after they were baked.


I ordered Isa Moskowitz' new cookbook, Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week. As you'd expect, it's gorgeous and is jam-packed with inventive recipes. Just as impressive is Isa's food writing – fresher than a Whole Foods' produce display. Seriously, Isa is part chef, part comedienne and part Herman Melville. Pictured is the Orange Chicky Stir Fry. I used soy curls instead of the homemade chicky seitan [because I was very tired], and also used broccoli instead of the called-for green beans and red peppers because that was what I had on hand. The sauce was delish and versatile; next time I make it, I'll add a sprinkle of cinnamon because that's how my local-yokel Chinese vegetarian place serves up this dish.

I know I've been sharing frugal dollar store recipes, but I saw these at Wegman's last week and decided to splurge. I only tried the crab cakes so far and they were just okay – certainly not worth the money. Plus, I realized, too late, that I could have probably found the same thing at my friendly local Asian grocery for far less money.

Vegan distressed manicure [Or should I say "distressed vegan"...?]
My life does not totally revolve around food. Here's a fun distressed manicure I did, following this tutorial. It's all vegan nail polishes except for some the green polish that I had left over from years ago [Nail polish lasts forever. If it gets thick, just add a few drops of nail polish thinner]. Here's a list of vegan nail polishes.

Punkin came to visit me last week, then went home to his new foster family!
Remember Punkin, the Art Museum kitty I trapped? My dear friend Leslie, whom I've known since age 13, decided to foster him. He's a real sweetheart and total love bug; here he is visiting me on his way home to his new foster family. [If you're interested in adopting him, please contact me.] Turns out Punkin was just one of a colony of 11 cats. At this point, all have been trapped and neutered, with assistance from Green Street Rescue. Pam from Saved Whiskers Rescue did most of the work. The two smaller white cats were also trapped I told you about were also socialized and adopted by a local woman who learned about the cats via my Facebook page. Three of the cats turned out to be super aggressive and truly feral so they were released back last week. I saw one of them and he sure seems happy to be back outside. Pam is still caring for the rest and is trying to socialize them. Don't you just love happy endings?

Dollar Store Challenge Round-Up

I'm still using up my $25 Vegan Dollar Store Challenge haul. I used the chickpeas, noodles, frozen peas and frozen broccoli to make this recipe from Susan at FatFreeVegan. The recipe itself was solid. I made some substitutions for her called-for vegetables, because when cooking frugal, you use what you have. I've found that the quality on most of the dollar store food I purchased was excellent. The frozen peas, for example, were probably the best frozen peas I've ever tasted and the canned beans were as good as canned beans can be. But I was extremely disappointed with the frozen broccoli – it was littered with tough, chewy stems, and these noodles turned to mush even after though I followed the instructions. Not fun for an al dente girl like me. Do try Susan's recipe though, but with better quality veggies and pasta.


When I snagged the can of applesauce, I knew I'd use it for baking. As a cookbook author who is continually coming up with new recipes, I find it relaxing to try other people's creations – so I ended up using it in this Vegan Applesauce Cake recipe. This recipe calls for 2 cups of applesauce and a 15 oz can only yields 1 1/2 cups but I just went with the flow and used what I had. I made the loaf version. Also knowing that applesauce is a great oil substitute, I cut down the amount of oil to only 1/3 cup. It was a fun use. If you do make this recipe, put a cookie sheet under your loaf pan. I didn't and the batter rose above the pan and flowed like lava on to the bottom of my oven. Needless to say, I had to clean it the next day. Ugh. If I made this again, I would add more flour. It was a bit too moist.


I used the rest of the canned pumpkin and some CSA share spinach to make my West-African Inspired Soup. This is a simple, delicious recipe that I made often, and I like that you can noodle with it and somehow always end up with a soup that tastes creamy, exotic and I daresay, expensive. This time, I substituted the rest of the canned pumpkin for the sweet potato. [I used some in my Pineapple-Pumpkin Muffins.] I also didn't have any fresh poblano or bell peppers on hand, but I did have some frozen Thai chilis, so I tossed in a few and doubled the red pepper flakes. 

I finished off the rice cakes with some peanut butter. I tool the Clif Bar to work one day as a snack and have been using the rest of the soy milk in my morning cappuccino. Here's the current tally; all I'm left with now is a can of tomato sauce and a can of black beans:
  • Forrel [brown] Rice Cakes
  • 12 oz bag Pagasa Eggless Noodles
  • 12 oz Barilla Vegetable Rotini
  • 2 15.5 oz cans Goya Chickpeas
  • 1 15.5 oz can Goya Black Beans
  • 1 15.5 oz can Goya Kidney Beans 
  • 1 pound bag Rosa dried pinto beans 
  • 13.5 can Popeye spinach 
  • 15 oz can unsweetened pumpkin
  • 15 oz can unsweetened applesauce
  • 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 14 oz bag frozen pepper stir fry 
  • 16 oz bag frozen broccoli cuts
  • 10 oz bag frozen peas 
  • 16 oz bag California blend [frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots]
  • 2.75 oz bag sweet potato chips
  • 8.8 oz bag Biscoff speculoos cookies
  • 15 oz can unsweetened pineapple
  • 15 oz can Libby's beets
  • 11.5 can V8
  • 1 Peanut Butter Crunch Clif Bar
  • 2 x 1 quart WestSoy organic low-fat soy milk

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3 comments:

Joey said...

Lots of great ideas in there. I'm a bit of a sucker for buying new ready-made vegan stuff, then getting it home and finding out it wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped. I bet the pie and beans would be just as lovely as they look though!

Andrea said...

So many things to comment on. I'm definitely going to look up Isa's broccoli recipe.

Prosoph Obic said...

I was also disappointed by Sophie's Kitchen "seafood" products, especially by the shrimp. The varieties I tried -calamari, filets, and shrimp, I think - all had an off/weird flavor possibly similar to white pepper or some other spice that was overdone.