Menu Planning

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Cookie Pie March 29, 2011

Filed under: Dessert — bhrastich @ 7:46 pm

Ok, first of all, I am not a pie fan. So this may skew my pie judgement. Second, this really isn’t all that pie-like. But besides that I wanted to post this after having an e-mail conversation with a foodie friend about how horrible store bought pies are. I know everybody is not as comfortable in the kitchen or even enjoy it as I do, but this recipe is for everybody, even the non-cookers! This is so easy and only requires some planning for time. And that is time for waiting, not cooking! With a simple ingredient list and hardly any dishes required, may I say it???? It truly is easy as PIE.

Cookie Pie

One graham cracker crust (regular size)

1 package of chocolate chip cookies (chips a’hoy work well, you’ll end up using 1/2 package)

1 regular size of cool whip, thawed (light or fat free work fine)

1 glass of milk to dip cookies in

Dip one cookie at a time and place on bottom of pie crust. I think 5 fit around the perimeter and 1 in the middle. Using 1/3 of cool whip, spread in a layer over cookies. Repeat dipped cookie and cool whip layers 2 more times. Refrigerate for 8 hours. Before serving crush a few cookies into crumbs and sprinkle on top.

This a great one to involve your kids in too! My 20 month old threw the cookies in the cup and my 3 1/2 year old got them out and set them in the pie crust. They also enjoyed drinking up the last of the leftover milk!

Source: Southern Living, Easy Weeknight Favorites.


Philly No-steak Sandwiches January 24, 2011

Filed under: Main Dish,Vegan — bhrastich @ 2:38 am
Tags: ,

I made these the same week that I made the African Peanut Stew. Man that was a good week. I’m pretty sure Kyle enjoyed these quite a bit for not having any meat in them. I didn’t think I would be able to really make a good vegan version of a Cheesesteak Sandwich, but really, I enjoyed this just as much, if not more than the original.


1 pkg of Tempeh

1/4c Balsamic Vinegar

1/2c Teriyaki Sauce

1/8c Worchestershire Sauce (vegan)

1 Green Pepper, sliced into long strips

1 Yellow Onion, sliced into long strips

1/2 package of mushrooms

6 Hoagie Style Buns

Vegan Mozzarella Slices

Vegan Mayo

Salt & Pepper

Cajun Seasoning

Olive Oil for sauteing

Bring a small skillet of water to a slight boil, submerge unsliced tempeh in water and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. While tempeh is cooking, combine balsamic vinegar, teriyaki sauce and worchestershire sauce in a shallow dish. Remove tempeh and place on a paper towel and pat dry. Thinly slice tempeh and marinade in sauce for about 20-30 minutes or until tempeh has absorbed a good amount of marinade.

While tempeh is marinading, slice peppers, onions and mushrooms.

When the tempeh is ready, heat oil in a large skillet and saute vegetables. Once soft, add tempeh and cook till heated thru. Add seasonings for taste.

Toast Hoagies, spread mayo on, then add tempeh and veggies. Add cheese on top and place under heat again.

The picture above had regular cheese and mayo on it. I’m having trouble getting to a store that sells vegan cheese and just am not loving spending 5 dollars on cheese. I also still have some regular mayo that we rarely use, so I’m trying to get thru that before I buy the veganaise. Again, pricey at about 6 dollars for a pint. But I will make the switch once we run out or it expires. I am trying to just not use the fake cheese and other substitutes since they really don’t provide any nutritional value and really are just substitutes, but this was just one of those meals that I really think needs it! Even if you aren’t vegan, I really recommend this one. Especially just to try tempeh. If you do, I think the mult-grain tempeh is beter tasting than the regular kind. Try it! You won’t regret it!


African Peanut Stew January 11, 2011

Filed under: Main Dish,Soup,Vegan — bhrastich @ 3:42 am

Oh me, oh my. This was a winner! I’m just sad that I had this on my menu for the past two weeks or so and I just now got ’round to making it. I seriously think I could eat this once a week, or maybe everyday for lunch. If your mouth doesn’t like a bunch of flavors at once, this may not be for you. I asked Kyle what his thoughts were on it and he said he couldn’t tell since he wasn’t sure if he tasted everything yet. Not only was this delicious, it was so incredibly easy.

The only thing hard for me is that sometimes I don’t think about making dinner so early in the day, so by the time I should have started it, it’s too late.  While I do menu plan for each week, I don’t necessarily plan a specific meal each day. This allows me to be flexible if I’m in the mood to do a more involved meal or an easy to throw together one or what we may be in the mood for taste wise. It works for us, but just sometimes I do forget if I need to prep eary- say marinade something or like this meal- takes a while to cook. This one I tell you, is worth the wait! It smells so good, I didn’t want to wait for it!

So here it is:

Spicy African Peanut Stew

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed (about 1 c. total)
  • 1 1/2 t. curry powder
  • 1/2-3/4 t. garam masala (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • stevia to taste (I used some florida crystals, about 3/4 of a t)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 T. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. red lentils, drained and rinsed (can substitute quinoa, if desired)
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, chopped peanuts, sour cream or plain yogurt (vegan, if desired)

Add all ingredients into crockpot, cook on high for 1 hour and turn to low for several hours. I used soy yogurt and peanuts, which were amazing on it for garnish. Had I had cilantro, I would have added it, but both Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee were out- bummer! I served this with naan bread that I toasted, sooooooo yummy!


Spinach and Chicken Pasta Salad December 21, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Main Dish,Salad,Vegan — bhrastich @ 12:43 am

Oh my, this is a favorite in our household. We don’t repeat recipes that often, but this one makes a somewhat regular appearance. This is more of a summer meal, but we love it so much we eat it year round. A couple years ago Pioneer Woman had a give away and to enter it you were supposed to leave your favorite recipe. So I went through a lot of the comments and cut and pasted them to try out. This is one of them. So I have no idea who this comes from. To the creator- many thanks!


1 lb bow tie pasta

10 oz fresh spinach

6 oz bag Craisins

2 15 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

1/2 bunch green onions, chopped

6 oz honey roasted peanuts

2 c. cooked chicken, chopped

Dressing: (you can halve it)

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 c bottled teriyaki sauce (I have found that I prefer a thicker version like LaChoy opposed to a thinner one Kikoman)

2/3 c. white wine vinegar

3 T sugar

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Cook pasta till al dente. Whisk dressing together in a large bowl while pasta is cooking and set aside. Once pasta is done, drain and add to dressing. Let marinate 2 hours or overnight. (I prefer overnight)

Add remaining ingredients to pasta and toss. Another option we do is mix everything except the spinach together and then place the spinach on the plate and top with the pasta. To veganize it, crumble some tempeh after broiling and marinate it in the dressing in a separate container and keep the chicken on the side.


Sweet Potato, Tomato and Chipotle Soup November 12, 2010

Filed under: Main Dish,Soup,Vegan — bhrastich @ 4:14 am
This was an interesting one. With some tweeking it could be more suitable for our family. From past experiences in using chipotles in recipes I knew that 2 would be too much and figured I would be safe with one. Well, one was still on the spicy side and there was no way the kids were going to be able to eat it. Granted, the pepper was on the larger side, so I would say a small chipotle could have made it family friendly or maybe a half with some of the adobo to give it the smokey flavor. Here’s a tip when using chiptles- I know a can is pretty cheap, but being the cheap-o that I am, I freeze all the extras. I would even recommend covering a baking sheet and laying each pepper on there to freeze individually and then throw them all in a ziplock. I also save the adobo sauce since some recipes I have call for it. And again, being a cheapie, I saved a huge amount of the little gerber baby food containers with lids and reused them when I made my own baby food. So I store all kinds of stuff like that in the freezer- like tomato paste which I never use a whole container of and any other freezer friendly sauces. And while I mentioned baby food. The consistancy of this soup was a little too much like baby food. My sweet potatoes were on the large side, so I think I would keep it to medium potatoes or just add more broth/water. It was very good served with some whole grain sourdough from Trader Joe’s! I thought it was a good recipe, just needing some tweeking for our family.

3 T olive oil

  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 14 oz tomatoes, diced
  • 4 c vegetable stock or water
  • ½ c maple syrup (I used 1/4 c and it was plenty sweet)
  • 2 chipotle
  • 2 t salt
Sauté the onions and garlic in oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add celery and carrots and cook about 5 minutes, until softened.

Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer until vegetables are soft, 30-40 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, purée until completely smooth, and serve with a sprinkle of parsley.


Peanut Apple Pretzel Drops

Filed under: Treats,Vegan — bhrastich @ 3:52 am

I finally checked out the vegan cookbooks at our library and found Vegan Cookies invade your cookie jar byMoskowitz and Romero. This duo has 2 other hit books that I can’t wait to check out, Veganomicon and Vegan Cupcakes take over the world. I also checked out The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone which was very interesting and had a lot of good information. It brought up a lot of interesting points that I’ll have to discuss some other time. On to these cookies….I have no idea why these popped out at me since as a kid there is no way I would have ever picked them out. I guess you can call them a grown up cookie. I think the pretzel is what intrigued me. They turned out great and probably won’t last around the house too long.

2 generous cups mini pretzels, crushed into small pieces

1 cup roasted, shelled peanut halves

4 oz dried apple rings

1 ¾ c flour

½ t baking powder

½ t baking soda

¼ t cinnamon

¼ t salt

½ c non-dairy milk

2 T ground flax seeds

½ c canola oil

1 c dark brown sugar, tightly packed

1/3 c sugar

1 ½ t vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine pretzel pieces and peanuts. Using either kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut apple rings into bite-sized pieces. Combine with the pretzels and peanuts.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the nondairy milk and flaxseeds.  Add the oil, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes until the lumps of brown sugar are dissolved and the mixture is very thick. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until the dry ingredients are moistened and a thick dough forms. Fold in the pretzel mixture and stir to completely coat everything with batter.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto the baking sheet. Bake 14-16 minutes until cookies are firm and edges are lightly browned. Move from the cookie sheet to wire racks to cool.


Vegetable Enchiladas

Filed under: Main Dish,Vegetarian — bhrastich @ 3:30 am

I seriously don’t know how many enchilada recipes I have collected through the years. And the funny thing is that I think this is the only one that uses an authentic enchilada sauce. The sauce is the key to this recipe. I had no idea that making my own enchilada sauce would be so easy. Never buy a can of the stuff again! This one was easy to veganize for me. I just filled my tortillas before adding the cheese to the mixture.

2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dishes

2 teaspoons ground cumin

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup tomato paste

1 can (14 ½ oz) reduced sodium vegetable broth

Coarse salt and ground pepper

3 cups grated pepper jack cheese (12 oz) (you really don’t need this much cheese and any type will do)

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained (I add an extra can)

1 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dried (If I have some fresh on hand I’ll throw some in)

1 box (10 oz) frozen corn kernels, thawed

6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

16 corn tortillas (6”)  (I use flour tortillas, the medium size)

Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and ¾ cup water; bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

 Make filling: In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, spinach, corn, scallion whites, and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8 inch square baking dishes (I usually end up with a 9×13 and another 8×8), set aside. Stack tortillas and wrap in damp paper towels, microwave on high for 1 minute. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes.

Dividing evenly, sprinkle enchiladas with remaining cup of cheese, and top with sauce. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; serve garnished with scallion greens.

From Everyday Food