Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New blog

Kayleigh is now 16 years old and off doing her own thing.  I missed blogging though so I've started my own at ponderinghappiness.blogspot.com.

I still talk about food but also exercise and general health.  I've been unemployed 6 months so I also post motivation kind of things.  Unfortunately I have way too many friends out of work right now (several of us from the same company) so I figured we could all use a little positive attitude!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Closing comments for now

Hello everyone. We've been uninspired lately for any posts as you can see. I'm getting tired of deleting spam comments so I am turning them off for now until we have a new post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Enchilada Casserole

If you've read some of our earliest blog posts, you know that Kay has always been in the kitchen with me. When she was a baby, I'd put her bouncy chair on the kitchen table and she watched. When she was about 4, she started making cornbread. Then when she was about 8 she was helping with the cutting, sauteing, and kneading. But she is now 12 years old and it is a whole new phase which involves a lot of complaining and eye rolling and stomping around the house. That is why I was so happy yesterday when she came up to me with one of her old cookbooks and asked if she could make dinner! That is why I'm posting this, even though we don't have a picture. This is a truly momentous occasion!

Actually, this casserole wasn't very attractive anyway. It did taste really good though. Not at all like what I expected. It is out of Kay's favorite cookbook "Kids Can Cook: Vegetarian Recipes" which we've mentioned before. We've had nothing but success out of this book. I will warn you though, this recipe ended up taking about an hour and a half to prepare.

Since I don't have a picture of the food, I'll post a picture of Kay so you can get a taste of the atmosphere around our house lately.

That is Kay with her aunt. We had just got back from the park. She was mad because she was thirsty but I didn't take a water bottle with and her uncle was talking and not unlocking the apartment door so she could get a drink. Oh the stress that is her life!

Enchilada Casserole
(This is half a recipe. The original made 8 servings.)

First make the chili gravy:
3 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 cups water

In a large pot, saute the onion in the oil over low heat. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the dry ingredients and stir into the onions. Slowly add the water to the pot, stirring with a whisk to remove all the lumps. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Casserole assembly:
Chili gravy
8 flour tortillas
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed
cheddar cheese (or melty cheese sauce)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour half the chili gravy into the bottom of an 8x10 dish. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray it with a light layer of oil. Cook each tortilla on each side about 30 seconds.

Spread a big spoonful of beans in the tortilla and roll it up. Place it on the gravy in the dish. Continue with all remaining tortillas. Pour the remaining gravy over the enchiladas.

Top the casserole with cheese of your choice.

Bake for 40 minutes. To serve, cut into squares.

Melty Cheese Sauce:
In a small sauce pan, mix together:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk in:
1 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard.

Cook and stir until the sauce thickens.

Kay: (She's at school now. I'll see if she has time to post later. I know one thing she will say is that the onions should have been cut smaller! She seemed to like it though and for once didn't complain about dinner.)

Dana (Mom): We usually don't add salt to our recipes but both the cheese sauce and the gravy needed it. We make a lot of different kinds of enchiladas but this was really different. The beans, tortillas, and sauce all blended together. The cheese sauce is your typically nutritional yeast fake cheese. If you don't like nutritional yeast (which I happen to love) then you won't like this! Kay and Bill had regular cheese on their part. We did it all in the same pan without any problem.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Franks and Beans

This is one of those recipes that we used to have when I was growing up but then I just kind of forgot about it. A couple years ago, my dad was over helping with one of our endless home improvement projects and I needed to throw something together for lunch. This has become one of his favorites which is why we had it last month for his birthday as well as a couple weeks ago when we visited my brother's family at their new apartment.

Kay and Grandpa on his birthday

It is very versatile because we have found that most non-vegetarians will eat vegetarian hot dogs without batting an eye if you just don't say anything. The first time I tested this was 2 years ago at Kay's birthday party. No one had any idea. Then a few months later we had a family get-together. My niece is usually a very picky eater (maybe not always but at least when I try to feed her!) but it seemed crazy to get regular hot dogs for just her so my mom and I decided to give her the veggie hot dogs. I worried a little when she didn't want a bun, ketchup or mustard. She ate it completely plain though and didn't seem to mind at all. (I have to say, they've come a very long way since I first tried them 19 years ago. Those things were disgusting!)

Kay and her cousin playing Wii

Therefore this makes a really good meal when you have a mixture of people. It is also really easy. That first time I literally just threw things together!

Franks and Beans
1 cup onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil
15 oz can of vegetarian baked beans
15 oz can of kidney beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons mustard
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
6 hot dogs, cut into bite-sized chunks

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Saute the onions over medium-low heat until browned. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and simmer for 15 minutes or until heated through and the flavors are blended. Stir every now and then so it doesn't stick.

Kay: I like mostly the hot dogs but my dad likes mostly the just the beans so it works out good.

Dana: This recipe can get unhealthy really fast depending on the ingredients you use. Make sure you check the salt content in all items and get salt free beans if you can.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I am so happy that school has started again and we are back to a more regular schedule. Kay started at a new school this year and it starts much earlier than her last one so that has been a bit of a shock to our systems. I think we are all finally starting to adjust though.

During the summer, I work in the office two days a week and my parents spend the day with Kay. On their second to last day, which also happened to be my dad's birthday, they took Kay and two friends bowling, out to lunch and to a ceramic painting store. Then for dinner we made one of my dad's favorite meals (upcoming post) with these cupcakes for dessert. They were a huge success. My parents liked them so much, my mom made them again a couple weeks later.

They are very peanut buttery. We may have even eaten them for breakfast. The recipe is out of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (fantastic book!). I reduced the sugar quite a bit, omitted the salt, and used rice milk just because we prefer that in baked goods. Normally I would have substituted part of the all-purpose flour with some spelt or white whole wheat but this time I left it alone (it was for a birthday after all!) We used natural, organic, crunchy peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

3/4 cups rice milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Mix the milk and vinegar and set aside to curdle (this creates non-dairy buttermilk).

In a large mixing bowl, cream the peanut butter, oil, sugar, molasses, vanilla, and flaxseeds until well combined. Add the milk mixture and mix until well combined.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full (we use an ice cream scoop). Bake 23-26 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling racks.

Top with ganache and chopped peanuts. Place in refrigerator to set the ganache.

Quick Melty Ganache

3 tablespoons soy milk
1/3 cups chocolate chips

Heat the soy milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just about to simmer. Remove from heat, add chocolate chips and stir until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Kay: comments to come after school.

Mom (Dana): When I was typing this, I kept putting Peanut Butter Pancakes instead of Cupcakes which has given me a whole new idea!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

Last night I was going to make either potato enchiladas or black bean and potato tacos (which I haven't posted yet but plan to) but we have both of those so often. It was much warmer yesterday and I didn't want to turn on the oven so I came up with something similar but in a quesadilla instead.

Bill had two races in Chicago today (see Flickr for pictures) and we must have walked 5 miles! I was so happy to have these leftovers at home!

Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

2 pounds potatoes (about 4)
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 can chopped chilies
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Cut the potato into chunks. Boil until soft and then mash along with the vegetable broth. When the potatoes are relatively smooth, add the chilies, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Stir in the black beans.

Warm a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan and cover half of it with the potato mixture. Fold the tortilla in half. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side until nicely browned.

Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Kay: I thought these were a little spicy. I didn't see the salsa so I ate mine plain.

Dana (Mom): This made a lot of filling. I'm going to try freezing some of it to see how it holds up. You can use any kind of bean that you like or have on hand. If I had extra spinach in my refrigerator, I probably would have chopped that up and added it as well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I didn't get very good pictures but that is the pesto peaking out under the peas.

We finally had our first CSA pickup last Friday. Actually, with how cold and rainy it has been, I'm shocked anything has grown. We received Swiss chard, shelling peas, fava beans, arugula, and basil. Kay and I cooked the fava beans which were such a pain but then we sat down and ate all of them within 5 minutes! I'm not sure what we'll do with the arugula since none of use care for it. The other ingredients were all incorporated into our dinner on Monday.

We grow our own basil so whenever I get a bunch from the CSA, I make pesto. Kay and I don't really like peas but I remembered a salad recipe from Ina Garten that used pasta, peas and pesto so I decided to turn that into a warm meal. Shockingly, Kay loved it. I think it had something to do with the huge amount of garlic I put in the pesto. I cut all the ingredients in half, based on the amount of basil I had but forgot to half the garlic!


1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
8 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cups basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor and chopped for 30 seconds. Add the basil, salt and pepper and chop for 30 seconds more. Leave the processor running and drizzle in the oil until all ingredients are pureed and well blended.

This will freeze very well.

Kay: I don't really care for peas but they tasted good mixed with the pesto. The fava beans were awesome. We gobbled them up in one minute!

Mom (Dana): For our dinner, I blanched the peas for about 1 minute and then mixed the peas, some cooked pasta, and some of the pesto. Bill and Kay added Parmesan. As you can see, we also had pea pods with almonds and onions and Swiss chard and potatoes.