Thursday, November 29, 2007

Menu Planning

I've really got to menu plan better. I've been kinda flying by the seat of my pants, going with a general plan of main dishes, and that's all I've been fixing. Which is ok when it's a casserole type dish, but not ok when it's not. I just realized that I haven't bought much in the way of fresh, frozen or canned produce in quite a while. *sigh* I need to work on side dishes a lot more than I am. Granted, lately we're eating T-day leftovers and such so we're getting veggies in, but still. I really need to work on it better, especially since a Christmas gift will make me.

For Christmas I'm going to be doing Meal on Wheels for my MiL, making 2-3 meals a week for her of the heat&eat variety and basically they're going to be leftovers from our own meals. I found out she's pretty much eating Lean Cuisines or salads for dinners every night, and I am still pretty much cooking for 4 or 6 even though there's only the 2 of us, and I'm eating less. I'm going to start planning ahead and making things that will freeze and reheat well and take them too her weekly, that way she'll have a few meals that are at least less sodium and such. And since she's so WW nervous, I'll have to make them healthy too. I think that's one reason she's eating the things she does, she's worried she'll gain too much weight, not just because she's only cooking for 1. Let's hope she likes it. We're kinda doing a test run this weekend. I'm taking a casserole that is made, we'll bake it there while hubby puts together a desk for her - she's still unpacking from her move into her new place. We had thought about doing 1 meal a week, but if I do the MoW thing, she'll get more meals, and I honestly don't know that we can do a complete meal every weekend (she lives 30 minutes from us and spending time with her...well I hate to say it but we can only spend so much time with her before we get a bit stressed out). I hope it works, and I hope I can keep it up.

Friday, November 23, 2007


originally uploaded by dibranchia.
The Brie turned out so pretty! I was supposed to make the bread, braid it and form it around the container of the brie and then place the brie in the center. But: #1 I was making the bread ahead of time and the warmth of the bread wouldn't have been warm enough to warm the cheese as the recipe wanted and #2 I made half the recipe. I ended up braiding the bread (as I posted earlier) and served the brie on the side. I wanted to something to make it look a bit more festive so I made a quick what I call a chutney, but I guess it really is more of a sauce. It originally came from B. Smith. I saw it on a show of hers as I was flipping through channels years ago, not even sure if it was her own show or if she was on another show. Anyway, it's really easy to make, and I love taking the leftovers and having them with cream cheese on bagels the next day. :)

Cranberry-Apricot Sauce

1 bag Fresh cranberries
1 cup dried Apricots, diced
1 1/2 cups sugar (I've used as little as 3/4 cup with no problems, and even used 1/2 Splenda also)
3/4 cup Orange juice
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced
(this year I also added 1 Tbsp orange liqueur)

Combine everything but ginger in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring and cooking until sugar dissolves and berries pop. Stir in ginger. Chill.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


originally uploaded by dibranchia.
Today's been a baking day and I'm taking just a brief break while something finishes up.

I've made the pie, but my crust slipped a bit and it looks like some of the praline slipped between the crust and the pie plate so it might be a bit hard to get the pie out tomorrow. Oh well, not a big thing. A pie in pieces has less calories, right?

I made the bread but I just ended up mixing the rosemary and black pepper and making half a loaf instead of two separate since there's just the 3 of us. That and the fact that John will need a sandwich for Friday's lunch and he finished up the bread we had and the way the recipe was written had me wrap it around a Brie container. I decided to make it Challah style that way it's more of a loaf and it's easier to make sandwiches (for turkey ones for me too!). I think it'll make wonderful sandwiches!) I just made one long braid and then turned it and then sealed it at the end. I thought the directions on the original was kinda weird. They had you actually cutting off the ends to join them and also at the end. Why wouldn't one just mush them together and turn them under? Odd. Either way, can't wait to try it tomorrow.

I also roasted the garlic for tomorrow. (Yum, pumpkin pie smell and roasted garlic smell...ugh!)

And now I'm steaming a white fruitcake for John. He doesn't know I'm making that for him yet. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007


originally uploaded by dibranchia.
May I present to you, Mediterranean-Style Baked Lima Beans from Veganomicon. After my first failed attempt, we were still looking forward to it. Tonight was the night. I started it late, like after 5 pm (got sucked into the new Phoenix Wright - hubby finally finished with it). But boy was it worth it! Hubby ended up eating 2 bowls full, and I mean full! We just ate it with some toasted pita bread. I would have eaten more, but I had already "shot up" with my Byetta and eaten some crackers and that kinda dampens my appetite some too. Either way, I am soooo looking forward to the leftovers. I must admit I was a bit worried about the mint in the recipe, and let me tell you, it sooo works. Yummy! And this comes from someone who doesn't even like lima beans.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

User Error

I had a recipe failure last night, but it was due to my error, not the recipe. So, I finally got a chance to make the Mediterranean-Style Baked Lima Beans out of Vcon. I've wanted to make them since I saw them in the cookbook and I never had the time (Mil moved out of her house and into a condo and I've had some liver/migraines thrown in for good measure). I just wasn't thinking as I prepared it since I was tired. I knew that the 30 minutes listed wasn't enough for the dried (soaked for a whole week) lima beans to be cooked (It did say in the directions that they should be soft, but still slightly gritty in the center and they were still rock hard), but I threw them into a tomato-based sauce anyway thinking they would soften up. I KNOW that any uncooked bean thrown into a tomato-based sauce will never soften up. *sigh* I will have to throw them in the trash and start over. At least it was a "relatively" cheap recipe to have to throw away. I'll have to make it again. And now I've got pots to wash and nothing to show for it. I've already re-bought what I needed and I'll try again later.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pumpkin Spice Cupcake

originally uploaded by dibranchia.
I was craving a frosted, sprinkled cupcake. How sad is it that I made a dozen cupcakes just so I could have 1 cupcake? (I also made a batch of frosting for it too.) This is the Golden Cupcakes and Fluffy Buttercream from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with the only change being I used Silk's Pumpkin Spice instead of plain soymilk in both the cupcake and the frosting. Yummy. Hubby ate three of the cupcakes unadorned, I wanted the frosting, and HAD to have the sprinkles. After that 1 I'm fine. Good thing, because I really don't need more than that. :) I don't plan to frost all the cupcakes, I can freeze the frosting and just pull it out when I need it (I might actually divide it up before freezing into smaller containers anyway, since hubby's not an icing person anyway, that way I'll have frosting ready for the next time it hits.

I've made both of these recipes before, for my Mil's birthday. That time I added rosewater to both the cake and frosting and they turned out wonderful. This time I tried the cupcakes with oil instead of the margarine. They turned out a bit...flatter kinda. It's a bit harder to explain it. They are still peaked in the center, but they are a bit runnier so as they rose they didn't quite hold the cup shape as well for the ones that I overfilled a touch. Not a big deal, and it won't keep me from doing the oil version if I'm out of margarine at some point.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Chickpea Cutlets

Yep, from "Veganomicon"too. I used some of the chickpeas that I soaked for hubby's hummus. (The rest of them were made into Dreena Burton's Tamari Roasted Chickpeas from her new "Eat, Drink & Be Vegan" Book) They are quite tasty, and I got hubby to at least nibble on the edge of mine. I didn't take a picture, mainly because the night I made them I wasn't feeling so great, so I didn't actually make a sauce to go with them. I ate them with some BBQ sauce. They were great that way, btw. They smell a bit like stuffing, but that's probably also because I didn't have any plain bread to use as breadcrumbs, all I had was some potato dill bread that I had made for hubby's lunches. Either way it was still darn tasty! I doubled the recipe, made it in the food processor and froze 6 patties. I ate two that night. When I go to actually eat them, I'll fix one of the sauces from the book and I'll try to take a picture.

And those roasted chickpeas....they smell divine!

I was looking forward to making buckwheat crepes this weekend, but the recipe called for a blender, and since mine just died, I wasn't sure if I should chance it yet or not. I decided to wait for right now and I went with my normal egg version that I can use my hand mixer on. I ended up only eating like 3 and my heart just wasn't in it even though they were fine. Hubby loved them though. I am not sure if it was my brain over-riding or if it's because of my Topamax making things taste odd now.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Time to Make the Donuts...

originally uploaded by dibranchia.
So, I did what any normal person would do, I baked from my new cookbook, Veganomicon. I baked Jelly Donut Cupcakes. Yeah...way to chose healthy foods there. *sigh* Oh well, these were quite tasty. See that depression there in the middle? Covered over by the powdered sugar is strawberry jam. Yum! These baked well in the silicone cupcake liners too. Yay! And I still haven't finished devouring the book. I'm taking it pretty slow, but that's ok. I've got quite a few Post-It Note Tape Flags sticking out of the sides marking recipes that I want to try.

I spent the rest of the time playing some Phoenix Wright (#2 hubby just got # 3 and is playing it) and I was finally able to get 3 hours sleep after hubby woke up. It's better than nothing. I can pretty much say that I won't be worth much today. :(