Thursday, March 20, 2014

Quick and Easy Vegan Fried Rice

Wow!  It is already March and I'm finally settling down to blog.  With 2 of my girls in a charter school this year that mostly has at-home-work, my days have been more filled than in the past.  That being said, I've been meaning to post one of my favorite easy and tasty meals that has become one of my favorite lunch (and/also supper) dishes to make.  I like fried rice and chow mein, but they aren't usually the healthiest coming from a restaurant, so I decided to make my own at-home version of vegan fried rice. My instructions are approximate because this dish can be made with various ingredients and amounts of ingredients.  You can tinker with it and modify it as needed.  This is a great way to use your left-over rice.

Vegan Fried Rice

2-3 cups of already cooked brown rice (or white rice)
Olive Oil
Garlic powder
Dried chopped onions (I use Kirkland brand)
Dried Thai chili or chili flakes of choice
Soy Sauce
Salt (if desired)
1 - 1 1/2 c. of chopped green cabbage
1 - 1 1/2 c. of chopped broccoli

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large non-stick saute pan.  Saute the broccoli for 4-5  minutes.  Then, add the chopped cabbage, 1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of chopped onions, a small sprinkle of salt, and the desired amount of dried chili.  Saute this for a few more minutes until the cabbage starts to become opaque.  Put the rice and about 1/4 cup of soy sauce in the pan.  Saute and stir every couple of minutes until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, but not overcooking the vegetables.   Serve and enjoy!  I like it best with some Sriracha as garnish. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Vegan Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

Not sure what to do with that leftover wild rice mix from dinner  couple of nights ago?  Here is  a super, easy soup that I whipped up for myself a few days ago when it was chilly out and I felt like a nice, hot bowl of soup for lunch.  I made it by just throwing ingredients together and not measuring, so you have to trust your instinct when replicating this recipe. 

First, I sautéed sliced baby Bella (crimini) mushrooms and chopped onions in olive oil in the bottom of the stock pot with garlic powder and dried minced onion pieces for just a few minutes until the mixture was starting to brown.  Then, I added about 4 cups of water and a generous sprinkling of seasoned salt to the stock pot, brought it up to a boil, and simmered this for 15 minutes. 

Next, add your already cooked brown rice/wild rice mix.  Then, you add in the type of "milk" that you prefer.  I used soy, but rice milk or almond milk would work just fine, too, but probably  not any vanilla flavored variety.  Bring this to a boil again and turn in on low to simmer.  Mix up flour and water until it is a smooth, thick paste and add it to the soup little by little while stirring the whole time.  Let it simmer for about 5 more minutes to see if it is the thickness that you want.  Adjust the broth by adding more of the flour mixture, as desired (or adding in more milk if you have overdone the thickening). 

Serve and enjoy! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Coconut-Lime Peanut Curry with a Vegan Make-over

I was searching for a curry recipe a few days ago to try out that used coconut milk and peanut butter and I found this really great recipe at Family Fresh Cooking.  It isn't vegan, though, so I made a few substitutions. 

  • Fish Sauce:  I have a vegan fish sauce that my hubby found for me at a local Asian market, which is definitely the way to buy any Asian food supplies you may need.  Just be sure to look out for MSG on your labels before buying.  If you don't have vegan fish sauce, I recommend just using soy sauce or tamari (even better for this substitution) in its place.
  • Sesame Oil:  An ingredient that I have on hand sometimes, but not always.  In this recipe, I just omitted this ingredient because it really wasn't necessary to add extra oil. 
  • Chicken:  I cubed up a Costco size package of firm tofu into very small cubes and sautéed that up in coconut oil until it was turning golden brown before adding the sauce.
  • Asparagus:  I didn't have any asparagus, but wanted to add a few veggies to this dish, too.  So when the sauce and tofu were simmering, right at the end I added baby Bella mushrooms and chopped up bok choy.  I also thought that either broccoli or fresh green beans would be tasty in this dish, too.
  • Thinning out the sauce:  I felt that this sauce was pretty thick and wouldn't go very far, either, to feed the whole family, so I thinned it out with some rice milk which worked wonderfully.  You could also use vegetable stock to do the same thing and just thin the sauce to your desired consistency. 
This made for a very tasty supper served with hot brown rice and I will definitely make it again!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mom, the Repair Woman

I anticipated many facets of motherhood and the many roles a mom fits into on a daily basis, but one job I never imagined I would participate in so often is that of Repair Woman.  Over the years, my kids have broken or had precious items fall apart on them quite consistently and they always come to me to see if it can be fixed.  Many times I have been able to repair broken items with my favorite tools: hot glue, Crazy glue, and needle & thread.  For the times when the repair is impossible, I put the item in a hidden cupboard and wait to get rid of it until it has been forgotten.  Recently, a bigger "oopsie" occurred than usual which resulted in Arianna's Bitty Baby having one of her legs detached (and she wasn't the one responsible for it, either).  This definitely was not an easy repair as it is quite difficult to put a needle through the hard plastic leg (by pressing it on a flat, hard surface each time), pull it through with pliers, thread it through the cloth part of the doll, and repeat, all the while trying to keep the loops semi-tight where the cloth and plastic meet.  Thankfully, Bitty did get her leg back and the great joy of my daughter after seeing her doll returned to a better state was worth the effort. 
The detached leg.

Needle technique, rough though it may be.

The finished product; not terribly pretty, but re-attached, nonetheless.

A happy girl.

Bitty's cast.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Bountiful Harvest . . . Although I Didn't Grow It Myself

You can see how big these pumpkins are when a 3 and 5 year old are sitting on them.

Each year, our girls want to stop and buy pumpkins at Bates Nut Farm which is not far from our house, but during the month of October, the road going to and from Bates has an insane amount of traffic.  They have fields of very large pumpkins called "Big Macs" and several years ago, we bought one for $10 which was a steal considering the pumpkin was about 75 lbs.  Over the past few years, however, the price has gone up to $1.00 a pound.  My hubby, however, was biding his time and decided to stop by the day after Halloween to see if there was a deal on these monster pumpkins.  As it turns out, the Big Macs were free for the taking if you could manage to wrangle it into your vehicle (minus the wheelbarrows that are out during October).  I ended up being the happy recipient of three Big Mac pumpkins, which is a lot of free food. 

One of the 3 Big Macs my hubby brought home.

I have heard many people over the years say that you can't eat the big pumpkins, but I can tell you from experience that is definitely not true.  The Big Macs are not super sweet, but they are in the squash family and have a lovely taste once they are baked and pureed.  The meat from this pumpkin can be used in everything from pumpkin soup to pumpkin muffins and pie.  Yum!
Part of the pumpkin after cutting up and baking much of it.

The beautiful pumpkin puree.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Last Minute Halloween Costume

Sully and Mike Wazowski from Monsters U.

Some years back, we were given a really great Sully costume from Monsters Inc. and a Mike Wazowski costume, as well.  The Sully costume continued in stellar form, but unfortunately, the Mike costume's big plastic eye got cracked and then just went downhill from there.  Since Monster's University came out the summer, the girls wanted to revive the monsters costumes.  So, we needed a new Mikey costume and we also wanted to make Sully look like he was from Monsters U.

In order to accomplish our quick, costume update, we went to JoAnn Fabrics and bought 2 green t-shirts ($3 on sale, each), flannel, and a blue visor.  For Sully's fraternity shirt, I just freehanded the letters with a pencil and went over them with yellow fabric paint.  For Mike, I cut out each piece of flannel in its proper shape and then glued each piece on in order with fabric glue (which dries in 24 hrs.)  I used sparkly, silver fabric paint for Mike's retainer.  Then, I drew the MU with an eye on the blue visor and painted that on, too.  And, voila, we had Sully and Mike for Halloween.  I think they made pretty cute monsters!