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Friday, October 29, 2010

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

This is my favorite salad, and it goes with anything.  Use a couple of medium sized tomatoes and a whole cucumber, add some fresh mint, sea salt and cracked pepper, dress with whatever you like.  I used olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Toss and enjoy!

Rotten Pumpkin

Despite my best efforts to preserve "my bloody pumpkin", I'm afraid due to the heat and humidity he is in very bad shape. It's 2 days until Halloween and I hated to throw him away, so I filled him with creepy, crawly, rubber bugs! 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Left Over Baked Potato Salad

Potatoes have a bad rep, but the truth is, they are a low calorie, high nutrient food.  So unless you have them french fried in animal fat, they are pretty good for you.  We have a small baked potato once a week, I always throw a couple of extra ones in the oven to use in other recipes throughout the week.  Left over baked potato salad is one of my favorites.  It is easy and it makes a great side dish or you can eat it as a meal all by itself.

  • (2 small) left over baked potatoes  
  • 2 tsb of honey dijon mustard
  • juice from a whole lemon
  • 2 Tsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of dill
  • red, yellow or orange bell pepper
  • red onion
  • 2 slices of roasted red pepper
  • sea salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper
Cube potatoes with the skin on, cut up red onion, bell pepper,and roasted red pepper.  Pile all of the veggies in a bowl and make the dressing. Whisk together mustard, olive oil, lemon juice and dill, pour over veggies and toss gently.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Dry Ice Recipes - Cool Halloween Science

Gluten Free Halloween Recipes - Creepy Crawler Cupcakes

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Would you like a cup of tea?

Benefits of Tea

Numerous studies have demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of antioxidant polyphenols. Some studies have suggested that tea's polyphenols may reduce the risk of gastric, esophageal and skin cancers, if one consumes 4 to 6 cups daily. Another study showed that just 2 cups of tea may lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 46 percent in women. Other studies have found that polyphenols help prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels. One Japanese study found that green tea lowers death rates from heart disease.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Veggie Quesadilla

Simple and healthful, you can use any combo of veggies and cheese you like.  For this quesadilla I used, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, red onion, fresh cilantro and raw pepper jack cheese.  Try black beans, corn, green bell pepper, red onion and cheddar soy cheese, or you could try spinach and mozzarella.  Whatever you like. 

I used fat free flour tortillas and grated the pepper jack cheese for each side of the tortilla, this makes the quesadilla stick together (like a grilled cheese) put your sauteed veggies on one side and put it together like a sandwich.  Heat your pan with a little olive oil and when the pan smokes put in the quesadilla.  When the cheese is melted and the outside of the tortillas are brown and crisp it's ready to eat.  Top with vegan sour cream and fresh salsa.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Big Salad Sundays!

Unfortunately all the good we do during the week with trying to eat right and keep our calories in check is usually undone with just a few social engagements over the weekend.  We had two different outings this weekend, one with friends and another with Robs family, so I instituted "big salad Sunday".   I used a  ton of veggies, homemade croutons (see previous post, jalapeno croutons) and since I love cream dressings I made my own.  Here is the recipe for Zinfandel Salad Dressing and a few others you may like.

Zinfandel Salad Dressing

  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions

  • 1/4 cup red Zinfandel wine

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

  • In a food processor or blender, combine onions, wine, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Process until onions and garlic are pureed. Add mayonnaise and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until very cold, and whisk dressing just before serving.

    House Dressing

  • 3 cups vegan mayonnaise

  • 1/2 cup vegan sour cream (Tofutti's is my favorite)

  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • salt and pepper to

  • Mix together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Jalapeno Bread Croutons

    I recently went to my favorite bakery, I couldn't resist getting a loaf of Jalapeno bread, sooooo good.  I ended up with half a loaf that was about to go stale, so I decided to make some croutons.  They are fantastic.

    Super easy, cube bread and toss with olive oil, garlic salt, sea salt and cracked pepper.  Place in a shallow baking dish and bake at 400 degrees until dry and crisp.  Put oven on warm and dry out for a few more minutes.  Store in a dry place.

    Fall Comfort Foods

    Veggie Pot Pie

    3 stalks celery, chopped
    1/2 an onion, chopped
    3 carrots, chopped
    3 tbsp earth balance vegan margarine
    1/2 C flour
    2 cups of vegetable broth
    1 C plain silk soy milk
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp pepper
    3/4 C frozen peas
    3/4 C frozen edamame

    Saute celery, onions, and carrots in butter for 10 minutes.
    Add the flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute
    Add broth and milk to mixture while stirring constantly
    Cook over medium heat until bubbly then stir in the peas, edamame, salt, and pepper.

    Pour into a 2 qt casserole dish and top with crust.

    Bake at 375 F for 30-45 minutes

    * I use  frozen puff pastry, follow directions on the package.


    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Check this out!

    Made by local artisan Conchita McElwee,
    I am going to wear it to the opera Halloween weekend.

    The Witches of Colonial Plaza

    my first witch, she is twenty years old
    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE HALLOWEEN!!  That is why I have dedicated the entire month of October to fun foods and decorating ideas.  I have a tiny little apartment right now so all of my favorite decorations are being stored, but no matter what, I always have my witches with me.  I also added 2 new little darlings to my decor this year...ZOMBIE BABIES!

    *Send me some pics of your Halloween decor and I will post them on our blog!

    my table scape

    My bloody pumpkin

    Halloween tip # 4

    Keep your Jack-o-lanterns from going all mushy on you before the big day! 

    Just combine one part water and one part white vinegar in a spray bottle.  Shake well and then spray on any cut or exposed areas of the gourd including the entire inside.   This will kill away those pesky little bacteria that wreak havoc on our pumpkins.

    Hot Stuff

    In a recent study, people who ate a pepper derived substance daily(3 Tsp Chili powder, 4 jalapenos) burned twice as many calories as those who didn't.  Capsaicin, what makes the peppers have heat, then heats up the body which causes you to burn calories and use more fat as fuel.  GOOD TO KNOW!

    Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

    Ingredients (use vegan versions):

        2 cup bell peppers (red, green, or both)
        1 or 2 fresh jalepeno peppers
        6 cup sugar
        1 1/2 cup vinegar (5%)
        2 or 3 pouches liquid pectin
        few drops red or green food coloring (optional)


    Grind or chop the bell peppers and jalepenos.  When handling the jalepenos, USE GLOVES to avoid burns.  (I use a food processor.)

    Combine with vegan sugar and vinegar.  Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes.  Bring to a boil again for 2 minutes.  Add pectin and bring to a rolling boil.  Remove from heat and stir for 5 minutes.  Add coloring, if desired.  Pour into hot jelly jars and seal with lids.  Store in a cool dark place.  Jelly may take up to 3 to 4 weeks to set.

    Personal notes: I used red bell and jalepeno peppers when I added red food coloring and green bell and jalepenos when I added green food coloring.  One jalepeno is quite mild and 2 is moderate.  If you want hotter jelly, add 3 jalepenos.  I used 2 jalepenos in my jelly.

    I only used 2 pouches of pectin and the jelly I made set right away.

    Also, I have seen a jalepeno jelly recipe that used apple juice as a base but can't seem to find it.  I bet that would also be good.

    Red Pepper/Rosemary Vinegar

    Ingredients (use vegan versions):

        2 large hot chili peppers (dried)
        fresh rosemary 2-3 sprigs
        3 cloves fresh garlic
        white vinegar


    Preparation time: 10 mins.

    place the 3 cloves of peeled garlic in an empty glass bottle.

    add the 2 chili peppers

    add the sprigs of rosemary

    fill the bottle with the vinegar.  Put the top on the bottle and let sit for at least one week - a longer time will add to the flavor. I use unusual old bottles and a cork and give these as gifts.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Halloween Tip # 3

    Creepy Cocktails:

    Dracula's Kiss
     is a haunting cocktail for Halloween parties. The drink creates two layers: the bottom is red with grenadine and the top is black with cola. Add spiders to the drink or hang them on the glass for a ghoulish finishing touch. Both Smirnoff and Effen make great black cherry vodkas.


    • 1 oz black cherry vodka
    • 1/2 oz grenadine
    • cola
    • maraschino cherries for garnish


    1. Coat the bottom of a highball glass with grenadine.
    2. Add ice and vodka.
    3. Fill with cola.
    4. Garnish with cherries.


    No ghosts in this house, at least not tonight. The Ghostbuster is a fun, simple, neat cocktail that is full of wonderful flavors. The drops of Irish cream create a ghost-like figure in the middle of the glass. A great novelty for Halloween.

    Yield: 1 Drink


    • 1 oz peach schnapps
    • 1 oz melon liqueur
    • 3-5 drops of Irish cream liqueur


    1. Pour the peach schnapps and melon liqueur into a cocktail shaker with ice.
    2. Shake well.
    3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
    4. Add the Irish cream drop by drop into the center of the drink.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Beauty of Raw Foods

    I just have a few minutes today, because I have a physics test tomorrow, but I wanted to share my newest obsession.  I recently started incorporating a raw food meal once a is so awesome and easy!  This is a great recipe I found for sorbet, are you ready for it??

     Place frozen fruit in a food processor fitted with an S blade and process until smooth. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Serve immediately.

    That's it!  I have used frozen peaches and frozen mangos, I am going to do mixed berry next.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    The Best Hot Sauce

    I make at least 3 batches of this a week, we have it on "taco tuesdays", on tofu scramble, as a snack with chips, and any other ways we can imagine.  Its, fresh, healthy, and delicious. Oh and did I mention easy!

    • 2, 12 oz cans of whole tomatoes
    • 4 tsp of lemon or lime juice, use fresh if you have it
    • 2 tsp of a good fruity olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp of fajita seasoning
    • 1 Tsp of dehydrated onion flakes
    • 3 cloves of garlic or 1 tsp garlic salt
    • 1 tsp of sugar
    • a pinch of coarse sea salt or kosher salt
    • fresh cracked pepper to taste
    • 4-6 pickel jalapeno slices (use more if you like really spicy, or use fresh, your choice)
    • fresh cilantro
    Put all ingredients in a large food processor, including a few cilantro leaves, pulse until you get the desired texture, we like it smooth and thin, make it chunky if that's what you like.  If I am serving immediately I chop some more of the cilantro to toss on top.  Very fresh and healthy!

    * At my house we are divided on the heat of the hot sauce so I divide the ingredients into two separate batches, one with a few more jalapenos for extra heat.  I store in plastic containers, it will keep about a week.

    How tofu is made

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Jefferson Ghost Walk

    this is one of the lovely Victorians, it is called the Benefield House,
     it is not on the haunted tour.
    There is a great little town in East Texas about an hour from where I live, called Jefferson.  My favorite Aunt Ro lived there, and it is where I spent many happy memories as a child.  Whenever we went to visit I always felt like I was back in time It was a booming town in the 19th century and because of this it has incredible Victorian mansions.  Here is a little bit of the history.

    Jefferson, Texas is located on Big Cypress Bayou in the Cypress Valley of Northeast Texas. It is the County seat for Marion county. Named for Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War patriot who was known as the "Swamp Fox", Marion County was created in 1860. Jefferson was named for Thomas Jefferson, and was conceived as a port city by Allen Urquhart and Daniel Alley, who saw its potential as the head of navigation when they prepared a plan for the town site in 1841.
    waiting for us at The Benefield House
        In 1845, when obstructions were removed from Big Cypress Bayou, steamboats could reach Jefferson from New Orleans. After the arrival of the first steamboat, Jefferson became a boom town where many pioneers to Texas first set foot on Texas soil when they disembarked from the steamboats.
         Jefferson became a port of entry into the Republic of Texas and then the State of Texas. It was also a shipping port for those who wished to sell agricultural products, especially cotton. Cotton was brought to Jefferson from as far away as Dallas by ox wagon and then sold in Jefferson through receiving, forwarding, and commission merchants to markets in New Orleans and St. Louis.
    Pride House, one of the haunted Victorians
    Pride House
         During Jefferson's Golden Era as a steamboat port from 1845 until 1875, it became a cosmopolitan town like most port cities with a confluence of cultures and businesses. The architectural styles, which developed in Jefferson during this period of prosperity, resembled those of New Orleans. The homes were primarily of Greek revival design.
         When the log raft was removed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the year 1873, the water level in Big Cypress Bayou was reduced and navigation to Jefferson was threatened. Railroads were also extended during this period of time across Texas, which reduced Jefferson's commercial market area. The town ceased to be a prominent port city and commercial center. However, many of the mid-nineteenth century homes and buildings remain. 

    There is a wonderful haunted tour there called, The Jefferson Ghost Walk, I have been on the tour several times, and even though I have never seen a real live ghost, it is worth taking the tour for the history alone.  It has wonderful resturants and hotels, I highly recommend a resturant called The Bakery and a lovely B/B called The Benefield House.

    Fall Comfort Food

    Vegan Corn Chowder

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 cup celery, chopped

  • 1 cup carrots, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 2 cubes vegetable bouillon

  • 2 cups corn  

  • 2 cups soy milk

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and celery; cook until just slightly golden. Stir in carrots and garlic; cook until garlic is slightly golden. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in bouillon, and reduce heat to medium. When bouillon cubes have dissolved, add corn and the vegetables from the skillet. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add water, if necessary. Reduce heat to low, and pour in 1 cup soy milk. Stir soup well, then stir in remaining 1 cup soy milk. Quickly whisk in flour. Stir in parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until chowder thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes.
    * I will also add 1 small chopped potato, sometimes. 

    ReStyle: Spooky Halloween Decorations

    Love the chandelier!!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    The tasting rule.

    It is hard to stay healthy during the holiday season, from Halloween candy to all of those Christmas parties we get invited to.  I have managed so far, by following the "tasting rule".   This rule states that I can taste something, but cannot have a whole portion. I have found that denying myself results in binge eating. I become obsessed with what I can't have, so rather than not having it at all, I just have a little taste.  This seems to satisfy my cravings and relieve my compulsion for binging.  This rule mostly pertains to the sweet stuff for me, but it might be a good idea for some people at say the Thanksgiving table to instill the tasting rule.  Have a bite of those creamy buttery mashed potatoes, but have larger portions of the healthier choices on the table and if possible have a salad before the meal.  I promise if we our mindful of what we eat, and have a little taste of the things we know we should not have whole portions of; we can certainly get through the next few months together!

    Scary Halloween Pumpkins!!

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Halloween tip #2

    One of my favorite munchies during October and November are roasted pumpkin seeds, the smokey, salty flavor is great and they have just the right amount of crunch.

    Raw Pumpkin seeds from your jack-o-lantern    
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Sea salt
    cajun seasoning

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Scoop out all the seeds and "guts" from your pumpkin into a large bowl.   Run some water into the bowl and start squeezing and massaging the pulp to separate the seeds from the rest.  Scoop the seeds out and drain for a few minutes.   Pour a swirl of oil into a large cake pan or cookie sheet.  Pour in the seeds, sprinkle with sea salt and cajun seasoning, stir well. Make sure that the seeds are spread evenly across the pan, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the seeds are golden brown and crunchy.  Try not to eat them all by yourself!

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    Halloween tip #1

    I love Halloween, it has always been my favorite time of the year and my favorite holiday.  Before my husband and I went back to school, we lived in a fairly large home and our Halloween parties were legendary!  Let's share.  Send me some of your favorite recipes (they don't have to be vegetarian or vegan) and decorating tips.
    me, Jenny and Mindy

    Witch's Cauldron
    • 16 ounces mexican Velveeta cheese
    • 2 cans regular or vegetarian chili with beans
    • 1 cup salsa
    • 1 cup diced black olives
    • 1 round loaf black or pumpernickel bread
    • 3 sliced pickeled jalapenos for garnish
    • Tortilla chips (preferably black or blue)

    Melt together the cheese, chili, salsa, and olives until smooth over low heat and keep warm. Remove the center of the bread, leaving a thick shell. Tear up the center bread pieces for dipping. Pour the cheese mixture into the bread and garnish with jalapenos. Add a small ladle to the bread and serve with the bread cubes and tortilla chips.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Super Chunky Pasta Sauce

    This is a good and hearty pasta sauce, it's great in the winter or summer months, and it's super easy!

    • 1 12 oz can of whole tomatoes and basil or Italian style tomatoes 
    • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce

    • Bell peppers, any color

    • 1/2 medium eggplant, diced

    • 1 cup of shredded carrots

    • 1/2 of a small white onion, diced
    In a stock pot, start with about 2 Tsp of olive oil, add onion, carrots, bell pepper and eggplant, saute until tender.  Coarsely chop the whole tomatoes and basil in a food processor and add to the veggies in the stock pot, let it come up to a simmer and then add the spaghetti sauce.  Cook another 10 minutes and serve over your favorite pasta.  I use a brown rice pasta.