Saturday, March 31, 2018

Potato Queso and Tofu Ranch

I picked up some Red Robin seasoning blend somewhere on clearance and decided I needed to use it on some oven fries. The only problem is that I really wanted some vegan ranch to go with them and I have none. But I did have a block of extra firm tofu from before the potato diet. So, I blended about half of the block with a small amount of water, lemon juice and some dried herbs like dill and parsley. I also added some garlic and onion power and a little nooch. I've tried to make ranch in the past and it's never really ended well for me. But this was pretty great in both flavor and texture. And of course I didn't write down what I did!!
These were my delicious oven fries with my ranch and also some Carolina gold BBQ sauce from Trader Joe's. This dinner was so satisfying and delicious!! It tasted junky when it was really healthy. And as an added benefit this ranch is full of protein!
I also made a batch of potato queso because tonight when I get home from work I'm going to try totchos for the first time! You would think with all of the potatoes I eat I would have had them by now. I'm super excited to try them, an will be dreaming of them all night at work!
What a horrible picture! After I made it yesterday I forgot to take a picture and I guess the morning light isn't really as nice as I would have liked. Anyway this is really tasty and I promise it doesn't taste like vegetables!

                                                                 Easy Potato Queso 
  • 2 C. Peeled Cubed Potato
  • 1/2 Carrot Chopped
  • 1/2 Roasted Jalapeno
  • 1/4 C. Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 T. Tahini
  • 1/2  Tsp. Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 C. plus 1 T. Salsa
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C. Cooking Water
Boil your potato and carrot until very soft, about twenty five minutes. Reserve about one cup of the cooking water and drain. Once drained, throw in your blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Start with one fourth cup of the water and a more as needed to get the consistency you want. When I don't use salsa I usually need one half cup of water, with salsa it's more like one fourth.
Try not to eat it all with a spoon!
This is the very bare bones recipe. You can add more or less jalapeno, sometimes I add some fresh diced once it's blended, or also green onion. It's really great with chips, or on burritos which is one of my favorite ways to have this. I really love it and make it at least once a week, even when I'm not on potato island!
I also have made it with one can of fire roasted chilis. the small can. I think those are just as good, I just roasted a jalapeno. Since I have no recycling at my apartment it's just an easy swap to cut down on waste.
Everyone loves the ugly pink/salmon sweater, but Kanye loves it the most of all. Her favorite is when housekeeping has come in and straightened and fluffed it. It really makes a difference!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Juicing With No Juicer and Smoky Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce

Today is day three of my two week potato diet. I feel great and so far I've had some delicious food! I still have some ideas floating around in my head too. I think my intense need to not get bored with food but also stick to my plan have opened the doors of creativity.
I've also been having green juices and smoothies. I'm trying to flood my body with nutrients so I am at my best mentally and physically.
This juice has the usual spinach, orange and carrot but I also added some fresh parsley which mae it taste so fresh and zippy! It tasted like spring in a glass!
I wanted to mention that I don't have a juicer. I had one many moons ago and I remember that it was a huge pain to clean and honestly it made me not want to use it very often because of the mess. I just use my blender and a mesh strainer. Here is my very complicated set up!
I gently push down on the pulp in the strainer to get as much juice as possible. The strainer is super easy to rinse and wash. I'm sure juice purists or raw foodists would say you have to have some kind of fancy contraption to extract the right nutrients at the right temperature or whatever, but for me this works fine.
I made this smoky sweet potato cheese sauce yesterday that turned out amazing! Better than I expected. I actually wrote own what I did just in case it worked.

                                                    Smoky Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce
  • 1 Med. Lg. Sweet Potato Peeled and chunked
  • 1 Small Russet Potato Peeled and chunked
  • 1/2 Onion Chopped 
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 C. Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Liquid Smoke
  • 1/2 Tsp. Smoke Paprika
  • 1 C. Cooking water from Potatoes
  • 2 Heaping T. Tahini
Wrap your onions and garlic cloves in foil and roast in the oven at 350 fahrenheit for about forty five minutes. When these are close to being done you can boil your potatoes. You want to boil them until very soft. I went about twenty five minutes. Before you drain the potatoes reserve some of the cooking water. I used one cup, but reserve a little extra just in case you need more. Throw the drained potatoes, the roasted onion and garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, tahini and 3/4 C. of the cooking water in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth and as thick or thin as you desire.
I used my sauce to make Au gratin potatoes. It was creamy an cheese-y an made with all potatoes! The cheese sauce is rich and smoky. The next time I make it, I might make it thicker so it's more of a cheese spread. And when I make the potatoes again, I might make the dish even richer by adding some daiya or FYH smoked Gouda between the layers.
Roxy and Joan like to "help" me when I cook. When I get to the point where I really don't need the help, I let them down easy by finding some birds for cats videos on YouTube to distract them!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

What I Ate Wednesday

This was my breakfast which I enjoyed in bed. This very green smoothie had spinach, maca powder, frozen pineapple and strawberries.
Later on while I was cleaning I whipped up this delicious green juice which has orange, spinach, ginger and carrot.Very zippy and sweet. It really tasted like ginger and orange, you only know it has greens is from the color.

For dinner last night I made lemon-y potatoes with some twists. I sliced some red potatoes in half and coated them with a mixture of lemon juice, some Italian salad dressing, a tiny bit of sweet hot mustard, garlic and salt and pepper. I covered them in foil and let them slow roast in the oven for about an hour. I tossed some fresh parsley into the potatoes after they were out of the oven. The potatoes were bursting with flavor and had a firm but soft texture that I love.
Two of the reasons my bed is never fully made. Roxy and Joan both really enjoy laying in the folds and creases.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Potato Madness

Frozen pineapple,Russet potatoes, oranges,red potatoes,tater tots,carrots, shredded hash browns, spinach,Carolina gold BBQ sauce, olive tapenade,lemon,bananas,taco seasoning, frozen strawberries, salsa,coconut milk
You probably notice an awful lot of potatoes even for me! It's that time of year again when I've decided to do another potato diet. I will be drinking smoothies and juice and potatoes only.  I've told myself I'll go two weeks and see how I feel. I'm doing this for several reasons. Some of those reasons are wanting to drop a few pounds, budget, and also I just feel good when I eat potatoes only. Or almost only. I've been thinking about this for awhile and decided to just do it. I've been feeling a bit depressed lately so I am looking forward to that surge of energy.I also have been feeling really uninspired in the kitchen. I don't do a lot of actual cooking on the days I work, but I love to cook on my days off and lately I just have been making the same things over and over. My digestion is always on point when I do a potato diet too. Since I eat dinner so late at night, and sometimes it's processed food some days I feel a little out of sorts, even with probiotics.  I'm also hoping this will kick start my creativity. I already have several ideas swimming around my dust brain and today is only day one! Spring always makes me want to cleanse and grow and change in some way so hopefully this is just a start of many changes!
Today is my Saturday so I've been having tea in bed while I read the interwebz and blog. Kanye's stare is subtly reminding me it's time for treats!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Old and New

I tried these at work last night. Pretty tasty, although they definitely are not what I would call spicy. But they have a great chip like texture. I have no idea why I took the picture above the break room sink! I had a rough one and by the time I took this pic I was pretty frazzled.
Having those cooked lentils has really made my life easier and healthier! I've been throwing them in simple quesadillas with nooch and vegan shreds and throwing them in my pasta and marinara.
As I mentioned yesterday the store I work at is doing a reset on the frozen section. They've reorganized and decided what they will continue to sell and what they aren't going to have. The bad news is these Jolly Llama treats are out, but the good news is they are only one dollar a box!! I've had the salted caramel before and they are AHMAZING, and I tried a raspberry pop last night and almost cried it's so delicious! They're like a soft serve push up pop. Or something like that. Creamy and fruity! They're only seventy calories a pop too! Raspberry puree is the first ingredient, and the other ingredients include cane sugar, rice syrup solids, water, citric acid, xanthan gum, and vitamin C. I don't know how they got them so creamy, you would swear they have coconut or some kind of plant milk in them. We also have blackberry pops for one dollar. I feel like a crazy food hoarder but I think I have to get them. I usually don't have these because they aren't really in my food budget, so this may be my last chance to have them for awhile. Anyway I highly recommend these pops if you can find them.
Here's another picture of Kanye being adorable. She loves this ribbon that came on who know's what.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Budget Vegan

I've learned that while meal planning and prepping doesn't really work for me, I can batch cook certain things like beans and then use them throughout the week. I tend to eat a lot of brown rice pasta with marinara because it's a simple meal for after work. So I made a big batch of lentils that I can throw in with the pasta and sauce. I also plan on using some for lentil quesadillas for lunch. I used to eat some kind of bean or legume everyday, but lately I have definitely slipped. So knowing that I have lentils already cooked I have no excuses. And Trader Joe's tomato basil marinara is a really great inexpensive sauce. It's under two dollars and you can make several batches of pasta with one jar. This meal was probably a little over one dollar and it was filling and delicious. Not to mention super quick since the lentils were already cooked!
Speaking of amazing deals, the store where I work did a a reset on the frozen section. That means they reorganized what they will be carrying and are getting rid of what they won't be carrying. This vegan ice cream which I have never heard of, and also had no idea we even had this in the store was one dollar!! I tasted it when I got home and oh my. I have to see if we have more today because this stuff is divine. It tastes like a non vegan lemon meringue pie yogurt I used to love. It's definitely random but if you see this anywhere try  it!!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sharing is Caring

One of the guys that stocks the shelves and faces everything overnight mentioned to me that he considers himself a mac and cheese expert, but has never ha vegan mac and cheese. He also has a daughter who is a vegetarian so he was actually curious about vegan mac and cheese. I decided to make some for him. I made my usual coconut milk cheese sauce and added vegan shreds at the end. It turned out super creamy and rich. I had to have some with my potatoes before work. I mean someone has to test it right?
I'm happy to report that he tried some before I left last night and he loved it! He said " I don't know what vegan food tastes like but this is good" I really believe we can open minds through food. I hear a lot of fear in people's voices when they think about going vegan. They're fearful of giving up those flavors and textures and in a lot of way feelings that they've enjoyed their whole life. So if we show that vegan food can be rich and fatty and all of those things it takes some of the fear out. And vegan or not we all just want food that tastes good!
This was my super beige dinner. I had a really draining night at work. It was one of those super toxic days. In addition to some cashier drama that was draining me, one of my male coworkers started grilling me on not being married. It seems as if you are less weird if you're single but have a partner, or are single but divorced. If you are truly a single, never been married woman there is something wrong with you, and you should be put in a museum or at the very least turned over to science to be studied. People laugh at me but this is why I take most of my breaks in the very back bathroom. I get ten measly minutes away from customers and I have to answer for being never married? The most frustrating thing is that single men don't get the grilling. Or in all fairness maybe they do, since I'm not a man I guess I shouldn't speak for them. Either way it really kind of upset me. Whew, thanks for letting me vent.
Onto brighter and non toxic things. Can you see Kanye inside the table? I couldn't get any closer or they would have moved. They've decided it's cool to have the door open and they can duke it out from on top and inside. Etta is just loving life in the packing paper.
And here is Kanye being adorable. As usual she really amped up the cuteness for the camera. She heard through the catvine that kitty bellies are all the rage!

Friday, March 23, 2018

A Few of My Favorite Things

I made another batch of potato queso. I made some basic brown rice and pinto bean burritos and smothered them with this sauce. It was totally worth the gluten cheat! I usually use canned fire roasted green chiles but in the interest of less waste I used a fresh jalapeno. I just boiled half of the jalapeno with the potato and carrot, and added the other half fresh and minced after I  blended it all.
I've made many potato cheese sauces. I think it was about two years ago when I first saw the idea on BuzzFeed. I've made potato cheese sauces with and without cashews or other nuts, I've used more and less veg and so on and so forth. I feel like I'm pretty close to making the perfect for me sauce. I'm going to try roasting the jalapeno next time to see what that brings to the mix. I think the flavor will be better than just boiling the jalapeno. There are a million recipes online, and when I roast the jalapeno then I feel it will be time to add mine to the mix. I can tell you a few things I've learned along the way. The most important is tahini. I don't know what it is, but tahini is the glue that holds this sauce together. Without it it just tastes like some veg and spices blended together. There's something about the tahini's bitterness an creaminess that makes this sauce become cheese! The second is use only potatoes, and either one small or half of one large carrot. No more than that and no onion. The carrot is only to provide color, not flavor. If you add too much carrot and onion, your sauce will taste too vegetable-y. And if you use tahini which you most definitely should, you don't need to use nuts which makes this a very inexpensive sauce to make. It really is that classic nacho cheese sauce texture.
I made the most basic of burritos with brown rice, pinto beans and some vegan shreds, and I made them the belle of the ball by smothering them in this sauce. I baked them for maybe fiftenn minutes to get the shreds to melt.
Although it isn't summer yet, I've been celebrating spring with these lime floes bars from Trader Joe's. If you like limeade, you will love these. They are tart and refreshing. When I was a kid and my mom would have me make lemon or limeade from concentrate, I would always sneak a spoonful of the concentrate before mixing so these are right up my alley! These are especially great after a hot day. Expect to see these a lot during the summer!
Joan saw me coming in for a picture so she posed extra cute! She and Kanye both will turn the cute on high volume when they see me going in for a picture. Such little tofurky hams!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Kitchen Therapy

I love eggplant dishes at restaurants or when other people prepare it. I think I've cooked eggplant successfully maybe once or twice in my life. I've tried baking it, frying it, frying and baking it, smothering it in sauce an vegan cheese and baking it. It just never turns out. It's always too greasy if I fry/saute it, and baking never works out. It seems like no matter how long I bake it, it never gets soft. I haven't bought an eggplant in at least one year, maybe more. My last meal in Seattle is actually the last time I've had eggplant!
I was craving eggplant, and thought of making it the way I make cauliflower wings meaning battering it and baking it first, and then smothering it in delicious sauce and baking it again. I used oat flour for my batter because that's what I had, but I think a regular gluten free flour mix or if you aren't gluten free a regular flour would work much better. Oat flour is a bit dense. Maybe even rice flour for more of a tempura batter? Either way even with the batter being a bit dense the dish still was delicious!
After baking it on a baking sheet for about thirty five minutes, I coated it in a hoisin, gochujang soyaki sauce, added a few cubes of tofu an baked it in a casserole dish for thirty minutes while I cooked some brown rice. The eggplant was cooked, and because I baked it and use no oil it wasn't greasy.  It felt really great to make a successful eggplant dish. And it reminded me to take a breath, maybe walk away for a bit and then try again, maybe with a different approach. I kind of needed to be reminded of that in my life outside of the kitchen. It's really great when therapy results in a delicious meal!
I had yesterday and today off so I had breakfast in bed with Afro. This smoothie had spinach, banana, frozen pineapple and a few raspberries. 
This also went down while I was reading the interwebz yesterday morning. I guess we all were feeling a little lazy! Notice that a lot of the cuddle action happens on the pink/light salmon sweater that has unfortunately become a part of my bed!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hauls and GoodPops!

Brown rice spaghetti,potatoes,green lentils,tofu, spinach,lime floes,flour tortillas,green tea,bananas,tahini,lemons,frozen pineapple,vegan shreds,brown rice spirals,marinara sauce,avocado, apple,eggplant,orange, carrots
 Trader Joe's is like that friend you can always count on. I love that their prices are always their prices, and you don't have to have a card or a number or pay a membership to get any extra deals. I guess that's why so many of us put up with the crowds to shop there! I always know I can get my staples and stick to my budget.
I bought flour tortillas again. I'm being so bad but man nothing beats a flour tortilla! I've said it a million times but it's so true. When people ask me if I struggled or struggle with being vegan my answer is always a definite NO. I feel like a whole new world opened up to me food wise. Gluten free is where my struggle lies. I love all things gluten and gluten free breads are either not vegan, or super expensive for something that isn't really that tasty. And I am not talented enough to make a gluten free tortilla roll into a burrito without cracking! So gluten free is a struggle for me and sometimes I cave in. I'm craving a burrito smothered in potato queso!!
This is my treat of the week.  I have been searching for these since I saw them on goodpop's website. I figured I'd have to get them at Natural Grocer's, but believe it or not we have them at the store I work at. I was super surprised! I had to get them. I love that the store where I work is getting so many more vegan products. The demand is growing!! 
Don't worry, I didn't let Joan have any because chocolate. But she is just like my sweet Dylan in that she loves all things coconut. These bars are coconut cream based so she was super interested. I kept moving the bar away from her and she is stretching her neck hard to get a sniff! These bars are great. A creamy vanilla base with bits of chocolate cookie throughout. What's not to love? The bars are vegan and gluten free and organic!! I highly recommend!!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Probiotic Woman

Someone bought this at work last night and I immediately knew I had to try it! I'm excited to report that it is delicious! Really great watermelon flavor, not too sweet and not too vinegar-y. It's my new favorite booch. And I'm excited because it doesn't seem to be a seasonal flavor so that means it will be around for awhile! We almost sold out of it last night so if it's that popular everywhere I'm sure it will be a regular flavor. If you like booch and watermelon I highly recommend this one!
I also decided to try this Farmhouse Culture gut shots. I have heard great things, and I like their sauerkraut and Kimchi so it seems like a safe bet. Although I love pickles I was never really into drinking the juice so I'm a little scared to take a glug but I think it will be good.
As if marinated tofu isn't good enough, drizzling the whole dish in a super quick spicy peanut sauce makes it even better! I made the peanut sauce right in the jar. It was a great way to get and use up every last bit of peanut butter. This hit the spot last night after work and it was so easy to make!
Kanye being the cutest cuddler ever, and a total glamour shot of Afro in her floofiest glory! No matter what kind of mood I'm in, it's impossible not to smile several times a day with these girls around.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Yesterday this sweet lady came through my line and she had all these jars of artichoke pesto that were from our clearance rack and were one dollar! I was intrigued because it said vegan front and center! Jarred pesto almost always has cheese and I rarely see artichoke pesto. I asked her if she noticed anymore jars and she said she had grabbed them all. But she left one behind so I could buy it. I was dreaming of artichoke pesto pasta all night!
Once I got home from work and fed the crew, I just boiled some brown rice pasta and stirred in some of the pesto and some nooch of course. So incredibly easy.
Not the prettiest, but man is it delicious! It's not too oily, full of artichokes and doesn't have a strong taste of preservatives. I would definitely buy this again. 
Not all clearance items at grocery stores are damaged or near expiration. The trucks that deliver the food and other products deliver to various stores, so sometimes a store will get a product that they don't normally carry so they just throw it on clearance to get rid of it. That was the case with this pesto. I also got a stick of crystal rock deodorant a month or so ago for one dollar for the same reason. I can't say I'm a grocery store expert because I only work at one store, but I would guess it's the same at a lot of stores. Budget tip of the day!
So I've posted a few picture of Joan cuddling with Roxy and Etta which is so unusual for her. Yesterday morning things were back to normal. Opposite corner from any cuddling!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Not So Freaky Friday

I thought this was pretty funny. I got a flyer inviting me to the open house of the Scientology center here in SLC. Apparently they have a new center. I'm surprised there would be a Scientology center here in SLC. I'm just so used to everything being Mormon. I've always wondered if Scientology is as weird and creepy as everyone says. I've experienced a few religions in my day and they've all had some creepy people and habits or rituals.
After wondering about Scientology in Utah, and in general I made myself a greenish juice. I just use ginger, carrot, oranges and spinach. The picture is a little blurry, I was having a bit of the Monday blues since Friday is my Monday.
I made some kitchari for lunch. One of the many things I love about kitchari for breakfast/lunch is that I can let it simmer while I'm working out/doing yoga. Then it's ready when I'm done. Since my body refuses to adapt to my late night schedule and I'm kind of slow and sluggish multi tasking is a real plus!
For dinner I had this very sloppily thrown together sushi bowl. My avocado had a few brown spots so it wasn't the perfect avocado, but it still tasted delicious. I felt pretty spotty last night myself. I use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce or tamari. I eat a lot of dishes that use soy sauce or tamari and that can be a lot of extra sodium so I decided to get in the habit of using coconut aminos since it is so much lower in sodium. Sometimes when I have sushi bowls my eyes are a little puffy in the morning from the sodium. I did notice this morning that I have no puffiness. It's funny how sometimes tiny little swap outs make a huge difference!
This made me do a double take this morning! At first I thought it was Etta and Kanye, and when I realized it was Joan I had to get a picture! Etta is always open to cuddling but Joan is more of a loner. She will sometimes begrudgingly accept cuddles, but never seeks them out.
Happy Caturday!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Look at Me Eating Local

I've used Gluten Free Heaven brownie mix a few times and really enjoyed it. And I always feel like I get a few extra hipster points for eating local. The company is in a town called Pleasant Grove Utah which is under an hour away from SLC. I've only seen it at the store I work at though. Anyway they know their gluten free stuff!
I made a pizza with Carolina BBQ sauce as the base, with white beans, vegan shreds, red onion and sliced baby sweet peppers. I made some coleslaw on the side because coleslaw and BBQ right?
The mix is super easy to make and work with. It comes with a yeast packet which you mix with some warm plant milk. You then just add the wet to the dry, and knead for a few minutes, let the dough rise for thirty and then roll it out on your pan. The dough is a little sticky even after resting/rising but because there is no gluten it's much easier to clean. Taste wise I would say it's pretty dang similar to Bob's Red Mill. The crust holds up well, even to a lot of toppings which I always pile on more than I should.
Yesterday was a cool, rainy day so that of course meant lots of snuggling. Afro's favorite ottoman is her sister Etta!