What We Eat: Thanksgiving Menu

November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I’ll save the sentimental gratitudes for later–right now, we’re talking food.  After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is really about, right (I kid.  But, seriously.)?  Here is our menu for today.  I included a lunch menu this year.  Why?  Well, because most of us don’t eat our holiday meal until 4pm or so.  It isn’t exactly wise to fast all day just to gorge yourself on one meal, yet, we don’t want to be slaving away all day in the kitchen to make two holiday meals either.  What I’ve done is created an easy meal that can be cooking up while you’re getting the real deal going.  I stuck my cheesecake in the oven, got the cranberry sauce going on the stove, and cooked up lunch while I was waiting.  It’s filling enough that you won’t be tempted to overeat at dinner, yet light enough that you won’t still be full when the next meal is ready.


Red Lentil Stew with peas

Oven Roasted “B” Potatoes

Apple cider


Celebration Field Roast

Cranberry Wild Rice Stuffing with Pepitas

Curried Puree of Sweet Potato

Cranberry Sauce

Vegetable Medley (peas, broccoli, carrots, corn)

Dinner Rolls

Sparkling Pear Juice

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake

Menu: September 21-26, 2010

September 21, 2010

Taking it easy this week…dinners only, lunches are unplanned.  I’m lending a couple of cookbooks to an acquaintance who’s going vegan, and working on my own cookbook, so I’m not really in the mood to follow recipes.  Plus, I’ve quite the backstock of ingredients that I need to clean out of my refrigerator!  So here is this week’s simple menu:

Tuesday: Vegetable Korma over basmati rice, with homemade naan

Wednesday: Vegetable Pot Pies

Thursday: Veggie Quinoa Burgers, potato salad, steamed carrots

Friday: Vegetable Chow Mein with Seitan

Saturday: Paninis, Butternut Squash Soup, and roasted Beet-Carrot Salad

Sunday: Vegan Mac n Cheez, Chili

Menu- September 12-18

September 12, 2010

Since you may be wondering: I stocked up with $20 of veggies the farmer’s market for last week’s menu and managed to get away with a $90 total grocery bill!  Including the groceries we already had at home, that means $90 fed three hungry vegans for an entire week.  That comes to just about $4.5 per meal, or $1.50 per person per meal.  We still have bunches of stuff left over, too, since one farmer gave us no less than 10 cups of kale for our $2, and we got some free veggies from a friend of ours who gardens.

Here’s our menu for this week. You may notice a couple of repeats from the last menu:  that’s because we had a few scheduling issues come up, and had to rearrange some meals.  A couple of my recipes got shoved to this menu instead.  This week I’m taking it easy.  We’re going to be busy so I tried to make lunches easy.

Sunday, September 12

Lunch: Boca Nuggets and homemade Dill-Spiced Cottage Fries

Dinner: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (made using a recipe from 1000 Vegan Recipes) -also making a raw portion

Monday, September 13

Lunch: leftover Lentil Pasties (from last week) and Cabbage Saute

Dinner: Yellow dal with Spinach over rice (1000 Vegan Recipes p263)

Tuesday, September 14

Lunch: Quinoa Burgers with Grilled Mushrooms and steamed green beans

Dinner: Chickpea Cutlets (from Veganomicon), coleslaw, steamed carrots

Wednesday, September 15

Lunch: Boca Chikn Nuggets, leftover cottage fries from Sunday, peas

Dinner: Breakfast for Dinner!  Mushroom Frittata (Vegan With a Vengeance), Oven Roasted Potatoes, fruit smoothies

Thursday, September 16

Lunch: Chickpea Broccoli Casserole (Vegan With a Vengeance) and fresh fruit

Dinner: Summer Rolls with Dipping Sauce (VWAV p84), Rice Noodle nests (Wok cookbook), Thai Green Soup (VWAV)

Friday, September 17

Lunch: Smoothies and sandwiches, fresh veggies and Goddess Dressing

Dinner: Seitan and mushroom stroganoff

Saturday, September 18

Lunch: Sicilian rotini with mint-almond pesto

Dinner: Argentinean Vegetable Stew (1000 Vegan Recipes p254) with homemade bread bowls

What We Eat: September 6-11

September 6, 2010

I’d love to start using more recipes…I have a huge library of cookbooks, but my rebellious nature leads me to ignore them often and make things up as I go.  My creativity has run short, though, and those books should get some use!  Here is our menu for this week, incorporating some more ambitious recipes than last week, as well as some homemade basics.

September 6

Lunch: @ the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (we may starve!  we’ll see)

Dinner: Smorgasbord (lots of leftovers from last week!  probably dinner salad)

September 7

Lunch: Vegetable Stir Fry over Soba Noodles

Dinner: Green Bean and Artichoke Bake (from 1000 Vegan Recipes)

-also making vegan parmesan from 1000 Vegan Recipes p.193

September 8

Lunch: Coconut Jasmine Rice with Edamame (1000 Vegan Recipes p.273)

Dinner: Raw Chili (own recipe) with Kale Chips (own) and Cornbread (Veganomicon p.113)

September 9

Lunch: Chickpea Cutlets (Veganomicon) and steamed vegetables

Dinner: Miso Soup and leftover cornbread

-also making rhubarb coffee cake (own recipe)

September 10

Lunch: Raw zucchini noodles and fresh tomato sauce (sauce 1000 Vegan Recipes p. 548)

Dinner: Lentil Walnut Pasties (1000 Vegan Recipes p.136) with Apple-Pear Chutney (p. 563) and oven roasted potatoes

September 11

Lunch: @ Chapati in Northfield, MN

Dinner: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna (1000 Vegan recipes p.216)

A Sample Menu Page

September 6, 2010

This week I started a new notebook for menu-planning.  I have a one page summary which I post on the refrigerator, but then put in-depth plans for each day in the notebook (this is a trick I picked up from working in a commercial kitchen…it’s tremendously helpful).  In the in-depth page I can make notes of which page and cookbook recipes can be found, to-do notes for things I need to make ahead, and reminders of appointments and other things that might interfere with meal times.  When I am finished with the menu I draw up a master grocery list for the week–this helps avoid my frequent problem of buying one pepper when I need three, or forgetting something at the farmer’s market and having to wait until the next week.

I’ll post the in-depth entry for one day this week to give you an idea of what my notebook looks like:

September 7


  • Lunch: Stir Fry
  • Dinner: Green Bean Hotdish


Vegetable Stir Fry over Soba Noodles

-sauce using lime juice and tamari, fresh chopped cilantro garnish

-julienne carrots, green onions, green bell pepper, peas, tofu, broccoli, water chestnuts, spinach


Green Bean and Artichoke Bake

-use recipe from 1000 Vegan Recipes

-topping using Parmiaso, p.193 of 1000 Vegan Recipes

To Do

Bake cornbread for tomorrow (Joy of Vegan Baking recipe)

Bake apples from orchard (apple chips?)

Also Today

First day of school

Schedule dentist appointment

Menu Planning

September 6, 2010

Being a very on-the-fly type girl, I have long scoffed at menu-planners.  I, like many women, have cravings for certain foods sometimes, and if I feel like having spaghetti and stir fry is on the menu I am not a happy camper.  I also hate the feeling of having an elaborate meal planned, only to find I’ve barely time to make a bowl of cereal much less a spinach-leek risotto.  Planning ahead, it seemed, was not for me.

Well, menu-planners, the time has come for me to apologize.  In an effort to cut down on my exorbitant grocery bills I finally decided to sit down and try a menu, just for part of a week.  It worked beautifully and I am now trying it a second week.  It’s so fun, in fact, that I had to control the temptation to plan out my whole month.

Since it was just a trial menu, I took the first one easy, and thus a little junkier than usual.  Here’s what I came up with:


Smorgasbord (we had leftovers from our weekend trip, and were not all home at the same time to eat)


Lunch: Asian Noodle Bowl with Tofu

Dinner: Lentil Soup with Wild Rice Dinner Rolls


Lunch: Sandwich bar, chips, and fresh fruit

Dinner: Pasta Bake


Lunch: Boca chik’n nuggets, sauteed broccoli, baked beans

Dinner: Chef salad and leftover dinner rolls from Wednesday (rotini for the little one, since she’s not yet a lettuce muncher)


Lunch: Sloppy Joes, steamed carrots, leftover dinner salad

Dinner: Homemade Vegetable Pizza (at last minute this ended up being take-out, because we had a friend stop over)


I posted this menu on the fridge along with short lists of dessert, snack, and breakfast suggestions.  Breakfast is usually a free-for-all in our house (since one day my daughter decides to eat two bananas, a glass of orange juice and a waffle, the next she just wants yogurt), but I did end up making Peanut Butter Banana Stuffed French Toast one day (from the book 1000 Vegan Recipes… and it was incredible).  We stuck to the menu very well and found that we ate less.  I found it very helpful to have a list of set snack options staring me in the face every time I entered the kitchen…it kept me from scarfing ice cream before dinner or having a dinner roll as a “snack”.  I was able to ration ingredients better when I knew I would use them again later in the week, instead of using a whole can of olives on one meal and having to return to the grocery store again and again.  And amazingly, when I knew what meal was coming up, it cut down on cravings.  There wasn’t a single time this week when I felt like making something other than what was on the menu.

Overall I think I saved about $90 on groceries this week.  I haven’t kept track before so it’s hard to say, but I think food spending is typically about $200 a week.  This week I spent $110, which is for three people.  Not horrible, but I do plan to try and get it below $100.  We spent an extra $25 on chips and salsa and some beer when our friend stopped over.

In case this information helps anyone else trying to eat vegan on a budget, I will try to start posting our weekly meal plans, along with the resulting grocery bill.  If you’re reading this and want to check on our other menu plans, see the “What We Eat” tag.

Wild Rice, Wild Mushrooms!

May 13, 2010

I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Morel mushrooms this week, and spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to use them.  I felt as if it would be wasting my first Morel experience to just batter and deep fry them like so many people do.  I looked up some recipes, like this one, this one, and this whole page of ’em, and finally decided to just use those recipes as inspiration for my own.  Here’s what I came up with:

Wild Rice Pilaf featuring Morel Mushrooms

6-8 fresh Morel mushrooms (see prep tips below)

Earth Balance and olive oil for frying

1 yellow onion, diced

1/2 cup green peas

3 cloves garlic

2 stems fresh tarragon

1 bay leaf

1 cup wild rice (see prep tips below)

1/3 block Silken tofu (approx. 4 oz)

3 Tb plain soy creamer

1 tsp brown rice vinegar

spices to taste:  curry powder, black pepper, sea salt, sage, paprika, red pepper flakes, powdered garlic

To prepare mushrooms: Fill a bowl with warm water and stir in some table salt until it dissolves (sea salt typically doesn’t work as well as table salt).  Slice each mushroom in half lengthwise, remove any creatures you see living in the hollow inside, and place the mushrooms in the salt water.  Leave overnight or at least 1 hour.  Drain through mesh strainer and place on paper towels or lint-free kitchen towels to dry.  Slice into bite-size pieces, or leave mushrooms whole if they are small enough.

To prepare wild rice:  In a Corningware or other such oven-safe casserole dish, place 1 cup wild rice.  Cover with 2 cups water.  Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of Earth Balance.  Cover, place in 375 degree oven and bake 40 minutes or until all water has been absorbed and rice is fully cooked.  Fluff with fork.

To prepare pilaf: Drizzle olive oil in pan and warm.  Mince garlic and place in frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent.  Add 2 Tbs Earth Balance and allow to melt.  Stir in rice vinegar.  Add mushrooms and bay leaf.  Saute 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and add peas and wild rice.  Stir in spices as desired (I used approximately 1/2 tsp curry powder, and pinches of paprika, red pepper flake, black pepper, and garlic powder).  Reduce to medium-low (for reference, I put my stove on the 4 mark, 9 is the highest) and saute 10-12 minutes until mushrooms are fragrant and soft.

To prepare sauce:

Heat soy creamer over medium heat and add tofu.  Heat 2 minutes, then use an immersion blender to puree the tofu into oblivion.  Add fresh tarragon, paprika, and black pepper.  Stir into pilaf.

To serve as pictured:

On a salad plate, place a 2″ biscuit form.  Use a teaspoon to fill the biscuit form with pilaf, and press firmly to completely fill.  Let sit 2 minutes.  Gently tug on the form, pulling straight up, to create a cylindrical form.  Arrange a stem of fresh tarragon and a Morel mushroom nearby.  Drizzle any leftover sauce on top of the pilaf stack.


One Pan Wonders: French Onion Pinwheels

April 5, 2010

Today I’m going to start a new feature called One Pan Wonders.  This category will highlight recipes that require–you guessed it–only one bowl, pot or pan.

French Onion Pinwheels

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package and unrolled

4 green onions, thinly sliced (just the green parts)

2 oz fresh green spinach, chopped (a small chop is best)

4 oz Tofutti cream cheese (French Onion flavor)

Oil for spraying

Pre-heat oven to 375.  Unroll puff pastry on a cutting board or lightly floured countertop.  Spread cream cheese over the entire piece of dough, spreading evenly.  Mix onions and spinach together, and spread over top of dough.  Roll up dough (lengthwise if you want many pinwheels, widthwise if you want big pinwheels).  Use a serrated knife to slice to desired thickness.  Lay pinwheels flat on a lightly greased cookie sheet and spray lightly with olive or vegetable oil.  Bake 15 minutes, flip, and cook another 5-10 minutes until golden.

Breakfast Bites

March 25, 2010

Craving a Danish but just don’t have the energy to make frosting and cream cheese filling?  These dandy little treats will satisfy without taking all morning.  Best part?  They only take one pan!

Breakfast Bites

1 package refrigerated crescent roll dough

1/4 cup apricot preserves (I used Bonne Maman)

sprinklings of cinnamon sugar, cardamom, and ginger

3 Tb unsweetened dried coconut

slivered almonds, optional

Butter-flavored spray or vegetable oil spray

Preheat oven to 375 and lightly spray a cookie sheet.  Separate crescent roll dough into the preformed triangles.  Roll each triangle into a ball and mush it, then flatten it into a disk shape about 1/4″ thick (thinner is fine).  Spread fruit preserves over each disk.  Sprinkle with cardamom (go easy!), ginger, and cinnamon-sugar.  Sprinkle coconut (and slivered almonds, if using) on top.  Bake until golden and puffy.  Serve warm with tea, milk, or coffee!

1000 Vegan Recipes: Cherry Hazelnut Scones

March 9, 2010

This evening I made Cherry Hazelnut Scones, meaning I’ve now done about 12 of the 1000 recipes in the book.  These scones are awesome.  I’m not typically one for scones unless they are un-sconelike (you know, the ones with chocolate in them), but cherries and hazelnuts make for a pretty tasty combination.

All I changed about the recipe was adding a tablespoon more soymilk than required (the dough seemed too dry to hold together), and using evaporated cane juice in place of regular sugar.  Otherwise, everything in the recipe worked as it should, and it produced great results!