Monday, May 30, 2016

short circuit

I just wanted to pop in and say that my laptop stopped working yesterday and so right now I am usi.g my phone which is driving me insane. I don't know what's going to happen because I can't afford a new one,or expensive repairs on my old one.  When computer stuff happens, it really upsets me because I know so little. When I first tried to use it, the keyboard wouldn't work, so I was using the on-screen keyboard and later on that stopped working, and eventually it just wouldn't turn on. Saturday it was acting fine. This is just another thing that happened in a long line of upsetting events. Anyway, please forgive any typos, I've never blogged from my phone, and I have to say I hate it!! I have a friend who knows a guy who has a friend, and hopefully it can be fixed at little or no cost. As goofy as it sounds my cats and this blog are what makes e feel happy and alive, so hopefully the laptop just needs a little love. I'll give updates of course, it maybe next time from the library.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Don't Call it a Comeback

Since it's Caturday and all, I figured I would switch things up and show some cuteness in the beginning of my post. I don't know about anyone else, but I could certainly use a dose of cheer!
Scrappy and Yeti
I've been in a bit of a funk this week, so I made a carrot, orange juice with turmeric root and ginger. I find that this juice always gives me a little extra zip.
I'm trying candle, I'm trying! This is one of my favorite juices because it makes me feel good and it's one of the more inexpensive juices to make.
I don't know if anyone noticed, but I had gotten cauliflower at Trader Joe's. It's been awhile since I've bought cauliflower because for quite awhile it was too expensive for my blood. But leave it to Trader Joe's to make it affordable! Everyone knows there's only one way I prepare cauliflower, and that's to make it into General Tso's cauliflower! I know I've said it a million and one times, but it is seriously so delicious. It's easily my favorite recipe of 2015. And that's saying a lot, as I am definitely a commitment phobe, and I need the freedom to change my mind. But it has remained number one in my heart.  Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it. I can't recommend it enough.
I've made it both without and with the panko breadcrumbs, and to be honest I prefer it without the breadcrumbs. I just batter the florets it the flour/water mixture and bake, and then the final sauce step. I don't really like the extra texture from the crumbs. I served mine with some brown rice and sliced scallions and I was one happy gal. The sauce would make anything taste good, except for maybe asparagus!
This is another meal I would make for skeptical non vegans, especially people who are scared of plant meats, and scared of tofu and think all we eat is brown rice and wheatgrass. The cauliflower is crunchy and sticky/saucy on the outside, and soft on the inside.
Happy Saturday and of course Happy Caturday!

Friday, May 27, 2016

So Many Pictures, So Much Chatter, and Pupusas!

I did make it to Trader Joe's! I didn't get there as early as I would have liked, so it was a little busier than I was hoping, but somehow I survived!
Pizza dough, apple cider vinegar, bread, spinach, tomato paste and tofu
Frozen peaches, shredded cabbage, oranges, sweet potatoes and carrots
I totally forgot powdered ginger, powdered garlic, and chocolate chips and also more vegan ice cream sandwiches. I had a guy on the bus being weird and annoying, and then with all the activity in the store I got a little frazzled. I also looked for and asked about the new vegan marshmallows, and sadly they were all out. The employee that I asked told me a million times how delicious they are! I kind of figured they would be sold out because the interwebz went insane over these marshmallows! I might call them and ask them to reserve a bag for me when they get more. I don't know if they do that, but it's worth a try. It's like, I never knew how badly I needed vegan marshmallows till this happened!
I'm going to do my Trader Joe's budget challenge next week, maybe starting Tuesday or Wednesday. I just wanted to take a little break, although to be honest this haul wasn't much more than thirty five dollars.
booch, cauliflower, red onion, ginger, tahini sauce, and sriracha hummus!!!
I knew I had another picture of my haul! It wouldn't let me post it with the rest without messing everything up. Sorry! Have you had the sriracha hummus from Trader Joe's? I am seriously in love. And if I were the marrying type, I would totally marry it! I plan on making my own hummus this week, but I also had to try this. It was under two dollars, so that made the decision super easy!
I made a delicious sandwich with toasted bread, sriracha hummus, avocado and banana peppers.
Seriously amazing!
I also had another green juice with cucumber, apple, kale, chard, turmeric and ginger. Zesty and delicious!
For dinner, I did it! I made pupusas!! They were super easy to make, and seriously delicious. When I tasted the first pupusa, I had the same reaction as the first time I tasted a Banh Mi, complete wonderment! And wondering how I've lived a life without pupusas. I found making the little discs to be relaxing. I just put on some Young Turks and listened to my dream man Cenk rant while I made pupusas. I used this recipe for the dough and also the slaw, or curtido. From start to finish this recipe came together in under thirty minutes. I did cheat by using canned refried beans, so that cut back on time. I want to get some more jackfruit and make a shredded jackfruit filling. From my pupusa research, it seems these are most often filled with shredded meat(no) and cheese, or beans and cheese. And always served with the slaw, or curtido. The girl I watched on YouTube was kind of right, they are similar to Quesadillas, but fancier. I would so bring these to a picnic or potluck, they are delicious and I think something that isn't that common, so they would be a real show stopper.
After you fill the whole in the dough ball with your filling, you just kind of gently keep pressing down on the ball to make it a disc. Because of that procedure, the filling gets dispersed throughout the disc, so you get bites of filling and dough equally. The outside gets a little crisp, and the inside is soft. And the cool, vinegar-y slaw is perfect with it. I can see why every recipe I looked at stressed the importance of the curtido. I should have cut one in half to show the inside. I just ate the leftovers for breakfast. I will be making these again, so next time I'll use my head more. I was so freaking happy with the results I'm surprised I even took a picture at all! I half expected to have a fail, because I've never made these. As I was preparing them, I was thinking about my back up plan for dinner! Ha ha! I'm super glad I tried this recipe, I found a new food to love which is always a great thing!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Feeling Funky

It's been quite awhile since I've gone to my neighborhood grocery store. It's not that close to me really, about one and a half or two miles away, but if I'm feeling feisty, and don't need heavy items, I can go there and back without riding the bus. Although the bus experience in Seattle is a hundred million times more pleasant than it was in Erie, I still enjoy skipping the bus when possible. So, I got a few things yesterday, and will get the rest of what I need at Trader Joe's.
Brown rice, pinto beans, Ataulfo mangoes, and Swiss chard

HP sauce, Peruvian hot sauce, ice tea/lemonade apples, lemons and turmeric root
Chocolate pretzel bark, chocolate truffles, and Marzipan covered chocolate
Coconut sugar, pierogies,and oops HP made it again!
I made a green juice with kale, chard, apples, turmeric and cucumber when I got home. I was very glad to find fresh turmeric root again. I feel so much better when I add it to my juices.
Chunk is waiting not so patiently to play string!
I made some pierogies with garlic for dinner, and it was really tasty, but the pictures turned out bad, even for me. And I have posted some ugly pictures! I served them in a white bowl, and there wasn't a lot of color. And I was super hungry so I didn't have the patience to fuss around and make it pretty.
I'm off to Trader Joe's. Early bird avoids the crowds and all that. I have some recipes I'm going to try sometime this week. I was looking for things to do with corn flour besides tamales, and I discovered this thing called a Pupusa. It's a Salvadorian dish made with masa flour, and you fill it with beans and vegan cheese. I watched someone make them on YouTube and she said they reminded her of Quesadillas that took a super long time to make.(ha ha) Hopefully things will pick up, I've been in a bit of a funk again. I blame the grey skies.
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Random Wednesday

Chocolate, coconut milk, hazelnut creamer, ginger breakfast tea and kitties
I was in the neighborhood of Grocery Outlet yesterday so I stopped in to see what they had. They had the So delicious hazelnut coffee creamer for only ninety nine cents, so that was a huge score! The ginger breakfast tea is just okay. I like some of Stash's teas, and this one is okay, but it isn't even close to ginger-y enough to call itself ginger breakfast tea.
Green juice I've missed you so!
I also picked up some kale, apples, and potatoes at Safeway. I made this juice with said kale and apples. I'm thinking of boycotting Safeway for awhile. I played the last of my Monopoly tickets yesterday, and I didn't even win a can of peas! All those times I chose Safeway over other stores, and all that time I spent for nothing. The game is so dull and monotonous, I can't believe how duped I feel. Anyway, the juice soothed my worked over nerves.

For dinner I made tacos for Taco Tuesday. I used Beyond Chicken and cannellini beans for the filling, and topped the with thinly sliced jalapenos, green onion and avocado. It was really tasty, and I forgot how much I love the fresh taste of raw jalapeno.
I'm planning on doing another week of five dollar a day meals, this time shopping at Trader Joe's and Grocery Outlet. Maybe I'll do it next week. I was going to do the challenges back to back, but I just haven't felt like going to Trader Joe's. I also haven't felt like making a list, so as soon as I'm a little recharged, I'll start part two. I think it's going to be much easier to eat on a budget using these two stores.
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beige All Day

I decided to use my seventh day on five dollars a day as a day to use up stuff, and use pantry items too. As you can see by my meals, other than the juice I made with the rest of the pineapple and one lonely beet, my day was pretty damn beige. That is to be expected at the end of the week when you're on a really tight budget.
Tofu and rice with sriracha and sweet chili sauce
The picture is not crooked, I was!!

I had some Trader Joe's shredded potatoes in my freezer, half an onion, and some cooked lentils so I combined them together with some spices and threw it in the oven. It was edible. I think what makes hash browns so delicious is the copious amounts of butter/vegan butter/oil used in cooking them so when you try to make them oil free or low oil they just aren't the same. So that was my beige, depressing food day.
I just deleted over an hour's worth of words on this post. I'm trying to articulate my feelings about my budget challenge I finished, and no matter how I phrase anything it sounds angry, so that's not the message I want to spread!
I've spent my entire adult life on a strict food budget, but more often than that no food budget. Like I'm talking it was lucky that I worked in restaurants no food budget. So this wasn't really a challenge, so much as just another day. But I hope that in my own tiny way I helped to show that you can eat vegan food from a regular old grocery on a budget. And although things got beige at the end, I was able to have a decent amount of fresh fruit and vegetables.
I'm now going to go and sort my emotions and get to the bottom of this unexpected flash of emotion.
Afro and Kanye!
 Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cheat Day

Yesterday started out with delicious leftovers of lentil soup and breadsticks. Soup always tastes better the next day!
I added a little elbow macaroni to switch it up, and also because for whatever reason the last time I used elbow macaroni, I apparently just could not include those last fifteen noodles in whatever dish I made. So, into the pot they went.
As the day progressed, and I played more monopoly to no avail, I lost my desire to cook. I was not feeling well at all, and it was one of those rare times I wished I had a human around to cook something delicious for me, and check on how I'm feeling. So, I went off the rails again for dinner, and found a forgotten box of beast burgers in my freezer. It wasn't even that I was craving them, or junk food(other than chocolate) it was that I didn't want to cook, and my brain didn't want to find yet another use for lentils. So, I didn't spend any additional money on my meal, but it wasn't part of my haul.
I forgot how incredibly realistic these things look! It's almost too much. I feel like these are the burgers you bring when you know you're going to be around that dickish relative, friend, co-worker whatever who always makes dumb jokes about vegans eating twigs, berries and spirulina. Pull these out, and throw one on the grill, and in lieu of dropping the mic, drop this box. By the way, the Just Thousand is an amazing sauce for burgers! I was low on fixin's for this burger, but even with only banana peppers and a little sauce it was really tasty!
I spent most of the day curled up catching up on episodes of The Green Arrow. My favorite superhero. I have a fantasy where we team up and save animals all over. During the first season when he was a little more of a vigilante, he would always tell the people he caught"you have failed this city" before he would arrow them. In my fantasy we tell everyone"you have failed humanity" It's a nice fantasy, and I could never think of a hunkier partner, besides Cenk Uygur!
I will be back tomorrow with my round up of my budget week. I feel like I blabbed too much already today, and I also need to organize my thoughts a little more so I can at least try to make sense!
Happy Monday!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Stuff

I found this YouTube channel a few weeks ago, when I first started kicking up my workouts, and I love his style so much. He isn't yell-y, but he's also not trying to talk your ear off and be best friends while working out. If you want to work hard and sweat, I recommend his workouts. I saw this video this morning and it made me appreciate and want to support him even more. If you want/need to be inspired in any way, this video will do it. I just did one of his workouts this morning, and I was dripping by the end! This video is worth five minutes of your day, I promise.
Now on to more budget eats. For breakfast yesterday, I had my usual potato wedges and vegan ranch/Carolina gold BBQ combo for dipping.
It was a cool, rainy day here and so I did some cleaning, and played some Safeway Monopoly since I only have till the twenty fifth of this month to claim any prizes. I have to admit I am feeling a little less optimistic that I'm going to win, because I'm getting every ticket except for any that I need. But I have to finish playing now or I will always wonder. I doubt I will play next year, because it's pretty annoying to be honest.
Later in the day I made a smoothie with pineapple, raspberries, and the other half of the avocado from the night before. The avocado added the creaminess my last smoothie lacked.
Look at Chunk in the background scratching my bookshelf! Bad Boy!!
I have to admit I did go rouge a little on the budget plan. I needed chocolate bad yesterday, and I was in the mood to tinker in the kitchen, so I did make a pudding pie, but all the ingredients were in my pantry. I had almond milk in the fridge that really does need to be used, so I went from there. I just NEEDED chocolate if you know what I mean. I used this  recipe from Post Punk Kitchen. I actually had a crust from the holidays that I never used, so it was meant to be.
I sliced it about an hour early, so it's a little softer than usual, but it is soooooo incredible! I don't think I ever had pudding pie as a non vegan. But I do remember as a teenager my BFF Wendy and I would eat chocolate cream pie when we were depressed about boys which for me was always. I love this pie and it's super easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for it to firm up.
For dinner I made lentil soup to honor the grey, chilly day. Since I had already bent the rules with the pie, I went ahead and made breadsticks. I lightly followed this recipe, but I used a lot less oil. I used no oil in the dough, and I added some nutritional yeast and garlic powder to the dough. For the top I just mixed a little olive oil (evoo) garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. I smeared in on top before baking, and man were they good! I will be making these again for sure.
Just by using pantry ingredients and making these breadsticks, it just made the meal feel more fancy, and less budget-y.
I have to leave you with another adorable cuddle picture. I really can't stand the cuteness sometimes.
Stevie, Scrappy and Afro
I Hope everyone's Sunday is full of this much love, and this much total, unabashed relaxation!
Tomorrow I'll be back with a round-up of my budget week, and also the second part of my challenge!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Booze, Budgets, and Caturday!

Before I start with my regularly scheduled budget post, I thought I would share some good news for anyone who enjoyed a Bailey's and cream in their pregan days. Baily's has come out with a vegan version made with almond milk! I never cared for Bailey's myself, I don't like how at first it's all creamy and sweet, and then you can taste the burn from the liquor. But I know from my years trapped behind a bar that people love it, and I have heard vegans say they miss it.
I also ran to Target yesterday, and they were sold out of ALL of the Just dressings, and they had a new flavor of the Just Mayo, Truffle! I don't know if I like truffled things. I know I like chocolate truffles, but I have never been bougie enough to try anything with truffles. But it's so awesome that they're making MORE flavors!
Now on to more budget meals! Today is day five, and I'm feeling alive! I am the worst, I'm sorry but I do have a very cashew cheese-y side to me. Anyway, I started with the usual, oven fries for breakfast. Always satisfying, always delicious.
Reading and fries, the best way to start the day!
I had to return a library book, and get a few things at Target so by the time I walked to and fro, I was hungry again. I had a leftover lentil burger, which was even better the next day! I dipped it in spicy yellow mustard. Yum.
Joan likes to supervise the counter area.
I also made another juice, this one was beet, pineapple and carrot. Pretty good, even if it has a beet in it!
For dinner I was craving rice and tofu, so that's what I had! I also had it with half an avocado and some soy sauce and sriracha. Super simple and super tasty. Rice and avocado really like each other!
Chunk is very curious about sriracha. He got a little too close and sneezed like a million times!

So, I am feeling great, I certainly don't feel deprived. I mean, I feel deprived of snacks I guess, like chips or chocolate but I don't feel like I'm lacking any nutrients or anything. I walk to and from a lot of places, and have been keeping up with my more intense workouts, and my energy levels are fine. In fact, I think I feel better than normal, because I am eating super healthy. All in all this has been a walk in the park to be honest. The best advice I can give really anyone, but especially those on a budget is to learn how to cook. Teach yourself, have someone teach you, whatever however but learn. There is no way to eat healthy on a budget if you can't cook. This is  easier for me now than even a few years ago because I've learned some things along the way. Because of little things I've learned, I'm able to have more variety. That bag of lentils is becoming much more than soup!
It's Saturday, which means it's Caturday, and I have to leave you with this cute picture of Chunk. He is such a little attention seeker, I was going to take a picture of something else, and he just had to show me his belly, and if you notice one eye is open. He loves the camera!
Happy Caturday!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Vegan Burgers on a Budget

Tofu, cumin, lemon,avocados,and russets
And there went the last of my budget for the week! The cumin really killed me. I was just at Trader Joe's last week, I wish I wold have known I was so low on cumin! Yesterday was a rainy, chilly day and I just did not feel like taking two buses to get to a grocery where they sell spices in bulk. I always buy spices at Trader Joe's, in bulk, or at Grocery Outlet, so I almost forgot the ridiculous prices regular groceries charge for spices. This cumin normally would have been a little over eight dollars(!) which was my whole budget, but I lucked out and it was 50 percent off. And it isn't even organic, or fresh pressed or locally sourced or any other trends. Cumin is $1.99 all day every day at Trader Joe's. When I buy cumin in bulk, four dollars worth would fill that jar at least twice. Anyway, these are the foods I chose for the rest of the week. This is the first time in years I've bought non organic tofu, I actually just thought it was all organic now, but this brand is non GMO so I feel okay about that.
My breakfast yesterday was potato wedges and some tabbouleh salad.
For a snack/lunch I had the leftover lemony potatoes and more tabbouleh. I forgot to snap a picture, I kind of ate it over the sink, so it didn't really feel like a meal! Ha.
For dinner I made what turned out to be some ridiculously delicious veggie burgers! The main base of the burgers were lentils and bulgur wheat, and I added some BBQ sauce, onion, garlic and spices.  I didn't write down what I  added of course, because I was in full mad scientist mode!  I also blended the two leftover carrot hot dogs and added them as moisture and a binder, plus more flavor! I think these were some of the best veggie burgers I've made. I sauteed the patties first to get a little brown going, and then I finished them in the oven with a nice slather of BBQ sauce on top. These were almost like lentil loaf burgers or something.
Fresh out of the oven!
On a bun with  onion, banana pepper and lettuce. With oven fries.
I knew I was making veggie burgers, so I saved a leaf of Romaine to use. I finally used the Just 1000 for something other than as a dip for fries. It's really good as a "special sauce" for lentil burgers too! This was a really, really tasty dinner! Another meal that didn't feel like a budget meal!
I have some more fun lentil dishes coming, I plan on making Mujadara this weekend, and I'm sure lentil soup will appear at some point. One thing I'm really happy about is that doing this challenge has reminded me how much I love lentils. Lentils have fed me through very, very lean times. Lentils have been there for me more than family, so I'm glad that they're going to really shine in this challenge.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Going Strong and Cheap!

So, today is day three of my five dollar a day challenge, and I'm feeling pretty great! I don't feel deprived, or bored or hungry. I'm sure once my meals start consisting of leftovers the boredom will kick in! I know people who don't like leftovers at all. I like leftovers, but I like when it's like one serving of leftovers. Enough for a quick meal. Not when you're one person, and you cook a recipe that serves eight.
I did the oven fries with FYH ranch and Carolina gold BBQ sauce for breakfast again. I spiced my fries with curry, turmeric, garlic powder and smoked paprika. So good.
Later on I made a smoothie with raspberries, pineapple and beet greens.
Not the prettiest color, and a little less creamy with no mango or banana, but still totally edible.
While I was making dinner I made a juice with beets, and pineapple. Very basic, but very good. Pineapple is the best at muting the dirty, I'm sorry "earthy" taste of the dreaded beet.
For dinner I made Tabbouleh salad and served it with lemony garlic potatoes, and salad with hummus dressing. Full disclosure, the Romaine was in my crisper drawer on it's last breath, so I chose to use it. This is a saving money challenge so wasting food because of rules is just not going to happen.
This was a really satisfying dinner, and I certainly didn't feel like I was eating on any kind of budget.
The lemony garlic potatoes are from Veganomicon, and I have made them so many times I have the recipe memorized. I haven't even made them in almost a year, and the recipe still came right back to me. They're that good. I will say that I cut the amount of oil  a lot when I make them. The recipe calls for 1/3 of a cup, and I use like one tablespoon, last night I used only one teaspoon.
Love that color!
So tasty and satisfying!

I have a couple of leftover carrot hot dogs, so I think I'm going to mash them up and use them as a binder for the lentil burgers I'm making today. They'll do double duty, bind and add a great salty, smoky flavor!I think what I like most about this challenge is that it's forcing me to get creative, and I feel like  my brain is buzzing lately!
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What's Up Dog, and Midweek Munchies on a Budget!

I started my day yesterday with some potato wedges dipped in a combo of FYH vegan ranch, and Trader Joe's Carolina gold BBQ sauce. They taste really good  mixed together.
Before I went to pick up some more stuff, I had a bowl of raspberries. Man have I missed berries!
I went to Safeway to get some rice, and beans and whatever else I could find to fit my budget.

Bulgur wheat, lentils,onion burger buns, onion, garlic, russet potatoes, parsley, carrots and Basmati rice

I forgot to show the cucumber!

I was actually worried that I was going over my budget, and I'd have to put something back, but I was pleasantly surprised to be well under budget. I'm rounding this up to seventeen dollars, so I have now spent twenty seven dollars, leaving me with eight dollars to still play around with! The bulgur was more than what I should have spent, at four fifty or so, but I really, really need to make tabbouleh salad. And, the bulgur will be an excellent binder for lentil burgers, so it was worth it.
For dinner, I decided to try to make carrot hot dogs! These were super trendy at some point on the webz, and I always meant to try to make them, and I forgot. Carrots are inexpensive, even organic so what better time to experiment! For some reason, I feel more creative when I'm on a budget, or when I have to whip something up with limited ingredients. I just made up my own marinade for the carrots, and they turned out way better than I ever imagined!
Soaking up all that flavor!!
First, I steamed the carrots for about twenty minutes. They need to be softened in order to soak up the marinade.
1/4 sauce
1 1/2 T. vegan worcestershire sauce
1T. liquid smoke
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

I let the steamed carrots marinate for about three hours or so. I'm sure it's like tofu, the longer the better. To cook them, I just sauteed them in a non stick pan for a few minutes, added the leftover marinade and covered the pan with a lid until the sauce was absorbed, and the carrots were kind of caramelized. To be honest I was somewhat skeptical, because it's a carrot. I really wish I would have gotten sauerkraut to go on top! The carrots are soft, but firm, obviously they aren't "meaty", but the texture is very nice and the flavor!!! So, so good. I served mine on onion burger buns, because when you're on a budget, you make it work! I slathered yellow mustard and some banana peppers on one, and Dijon and banana peppers on the other. I really loved these. I will be making these again for sure.
Close up!

Full plate, with some potato wedges and a bite taken!
I felt really great after eating this meal. I felt full, but not at all weighed down or heavy. Just really satisfied. The carrot hot dog trend is one of the good ones! I bet these would be most excellent on a grill!
This is also my budget MidWeek munchies post! I guess I should have mentioned that up top, but better late than never!
Happy Wednesday!