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2015, a Recipe Odyssey: March Edition

So I mentioned in this post that I was going to try a monthly meal plan for March, sticking within my budget of $25/week for food. How did it go?

  • Week 1: I spent $19.47 on groceries.
  • Week 2: I spent $24.09 on groceries. Cutting it close! All necessites for my week’s plan.
  • Week 3: I spent $20.30 on groceries. Roughly $10 0f that was absolute necessities for my planned menu, and I got some extra goodies! (okay, it was mostly bell peppers and avocados.) I ended up not doing all the planned meals because I had lots more leftovers than previous weeks, plus I was sick.
  • Week 4: I spent $26.60 on groceries. This included what I needed for the little bit of overlap for the last couple days of March.
  • But I did end up using the rest of my money buying a couple staple/pantry items that I’ll use next month too.

Keep in mind, we do have loads of bulk stuff stored in buckets from More Prosperous (or simply more reckless?) Times of the Past, and we have a separate line item for bulk food (and I spent all but pennies of that $50 this month aside from the above), so the above is strictly fresh veggies and staples like oil and sugar.

Speaking of oil and sugar, I bought a regular bottle of veggie oil and a 4lb bag of sugar for Week 1. As of the end of week 3, the oil had been long gone and another bottle half-used, and the sugar is all but gone. I find this disturbing.

Here’s what I made! Grouped by source.

From More Peas, Thank You:

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1. Corn Chowda with Cornbread Croutons – GooGoo has been pestering me to make a potato soup for weeks now. I finally make one, and will she eat it? No. Sigh. She did like the cornbread croutons and the side of broccoli, though.

 From The Veg Feasting Cookbook:

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2. Carrots in the Raw – This salad was very easy, requiring few ingredients, and went great with the burgers we had for lunch. I left out the raisins and just added some extra pumpkin seeds instead, because fruit in a vegetable salad is just weird to me. The following day we had the leftovers on top of lettuce. Yum.

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3. Cumin Carrot Soup – This became steadily more disgusting the more of it that I ate. Mr Pine Nut thought it was good, but I heartily disagreed. I couldn’t taste cumin at all; even though I reduced the pepper it was way too peppery; worst of all the texture was just gross. Will never make again.

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4. Turkish Lentil Soup – SO good. I was a little concerned, because the cinnamon smelled really strong while it was cooking, but as far as taste went, I didn’t even notice it. The flavours were all blended perfectly with nothing overpowering anything else. I was pleased, and would definitely make this again. Way better than the vomitous carrot sludge.

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5. Spicy Yellow Dal – I didn’t have toor dal, but the book suggested subbing yellow split peas, so I used green split peas. It took a lot more than 2 cups of water to cook the peas, but this was overall quite a simple dish to assemble and it was very tasty. It was at the edge of my heat tolerance level, but very good. We ate it with rice and steamed broccoli.

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6. Mexican Black Bean Salad – This was fairly simple to throw together, and it was a meal for Mr Pine Nut and I (with the addition of lettuce, and some bread on the side). It had a good flavour, but the recipe called for no salt. I added a tiny bit, but more wouldn’t have hurt. I’m not sure I’ll make it again, but it was fine.

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7. Cabbage Curry – This was SO easy, and very tasty! I added the garbanzo beans to make it a meal, but the flavour was great and the heat level perfect (that is, not very hot. :-)) It’s a dry curry, and you could really use any veggie (or combination thereof) instead of the cabbage – cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, &c.

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8. Cream of Veg Soup – This was just okay. Mr Pine Nut and Lou Who loved it; GooGoo wouldn’t touch it, and I didn’t finish mine. It was better than cumin-carrot soup, but I found it just too salty even though I’d diluted it considerably.

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9. Chickpea Mash Stew – I really liked this, despite it being totally different from how I envisioned it would be. Lou Who loved it too!

10. Super Noodle Soup – Very basic. The special thing about it seemed to me just that all the veggies get cut up very tiny (1/8″ dice), and I had to add a lot of extra salt and some garlic powder because it just didn’t have much flavour without. It was good, but I don’t think I’ll rush to make it again.

11. Pulao Rice – This was pretty easy. I used brown rice so I changed the water proportion and cooking time, but it came out very nice and I liked it. I wasn’t super fond of the whole idea of having to pick out all the whole cloves, cardamom pods, and other such things though.

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12. Chickpea Curry – I was prepping my ingredients for this and it calls for a 4-oz piece of ginger, thinly sliced. I only have (frozen) grated ginger, so I got it out and the frozen glob I had weighed exactly four ounces. The problem is that four ounces of grated ginger is like… a CUP’S worth. So I called out into the twitterverse and got confirmation that for the amount of curry, that seemed like an awful lot. So I decided to do 2 ounces instead. The end result was a curry with a good flavour… under an intense heat. I burned my entire digestive tract raw and had steam coming out my ears from eating it. So yeah, I doubt I’ll be making this again.

13. Saffron Rice – I made this to go with the abovementioned curry as per the book’s suggestion. It was okay. I wasn’t overly thrilled with it.

From the interwebs:

14. Parmesan Muffins – A friend made these and raved about them, so I decided to try them, because I need to get more savoury muffins into my culinary repertoire. They were excellent! I used flax instead of eggs (so 2T ground flax and 6T warm water), and I was too tired/lazy to make my favourite almond parmesan so I just used some Daiya mozzarella shreds I had in my freezer. And I left out the sugar.

15. Brownie Coco-Nut-Butter Cups – !!!!!!! YUM !!!!!! So, I made these for a potluck and forgot to take them with me. Oops. What a tragedy. 😉

From Vegan Simplicity:

16. Vegan Red Beans and Rice – This was good, but not great, which seems to be (so far) my reaction to most of Mark Anthony’s recipes. I bought this cookbook when he came and did a presentation/cooking class at our church and really haven’t used it much yet, so I definitely want to give it more of a chance before passing judgement. At any rate, this called for 3/4 cup of vegan margarine. O_O It also didn’t *look* super appetising.

17. Sri Lankan Style Mixed-Bean Soup – No picture; it looked sludgy and not super appealing, kind of pooplike, so like the red beans above the visual appeal was nil. But it tasted pretty good.

From Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day:

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18. Green Monster Bread (made into bagels/rolls) – I used rye flour and caraway seeds in with this and like it a lot! It seems a tad on the sweet side, so I think I’d reduce the sugar next time, but aside from that this was a definite “something I’d make again”. Way to sneak some kale into my girls’ diets (and mine).

Ten Talents (1978 edition):

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19. Carrot Salad – I thought the combo of carrot/pecan/cocoanut seemed a bit odd, but decided to try it anyway, and it was really good! Also very simple. I served it on a bed of lettuce/cabbage just to give it more variety but I would totally make it again.

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

20. Cornmeal Poppyseed Biscotti – I hate lemon poppyseed bread. That being said, these were really good! I was surprised. I don’t know that they’ll be something I’ll make really often, but I brought some home from a potluck and know I’ll eat them. 🙂

21. Rocky Roads – I’ve had these before but haven’t made them before, and my suspicion that I’d like them better without the almond extract was completely correct. They are addictive, amazing, and I think the dough would be the perfect chocolate cookie base for a whole bunch of mix-ins. I’d like to try it plain too.

Everyday Vegan Eats:

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22. Chickpeas and Dumplings – A bit too salty but it was really yummy anyway!

23. Black Bean Feijoada – Really, really good!

[ETA: 24. Macaroni Salad – I made this on a whim the last day of March, and it was GOOD]

Cookbooks [or other sources] represented in March: 8

Did I meet my goal? Barely! I was worried the last week or so that I wouldn’t hit 20, but I did.

See you next month, with April’s recipe report!

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Categories: bread, challenges, cookies, dairy-free, dessert, lunch, salads, side dish, soup, vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

2015, a Recipe Odyssey: January Edition

So, I’ve unofficially decided on a personal challenge this year, which is far more fun than a New Year’s resolution. Early this month, I cracked open Veganomicon, looking for a use for some tofu I had in my fridge, and ended up with a pot of barbecue sauce simmering on the stove – and I made some tofu-cashew ricotta that was DELISH.  So I decided to attempt to try roughly 5 new recipes every week. I’ve been bouncing around a lot of cookbooks this month; I may try to be more focused next month. Or not! Spontaneity is the name of the game!

Here’s what I made! Grouped by source.

From Veganomicon:

1. Basic Barbecue Sauce – I’m honestly not sure why I made this, aside from the fact that I just happened to have all the needed ingredients, because I’m not a huge fan of BBQ sauce. It just sounded fun for some reason! We ate a little bit of it with some leftover something or other and I froze the rest until I can think what to make with it. It’s good.

2. Cashew-Tofu Ricotta – YUM.

3. Messy Rice – Good, but I thought a little more salt would have been nice. Also, I let it sit too long before eating, so it got a tiny bit too dry.

4. Chickpea-Quinoa Pilaf – I thought this was pretty fab fresh. Mr Pine Nut dismissed it as “kinda brown and monotaste”. The leftovers weren’t appealing to me, but I think I’d make it again!

5. Pumpkin Cranberry Scones – VERY good. Will opt for the longer bake time next time, because these were more muffins than scones with the shorter time.

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[6-13 REDACTED UNTIL PERMISSION GRANTED]

From the interwebs:

14. Carrot Cake Muffins – I got some cocoanut flour for a Christmas present and so I found this recipe to try. The flavour was really quite good, especially considering that there was no salt, but the texture was weird.

15. Kamut-Wheat Pizza Crust – I remembered that Vegan Richa did a pizza series for MoFo one year, and I wanted to use the abovementioned barbecue sauce on a pizza AND branch out and try a new pizza crust. So I decided on this one. It was very tasty; I managed to gum up my grain mill with the cashews because I’m brilliant that way. (I was trying to grind the wheat, kamut, and cashews together, because I ain’t got cashew flour. Don’t try this at home.) Anyway, I don’t think I’ll make it again unless I come into possession of pre-ground cashew flour, but I did really like it!

And in case you were interested, I topped the pizza with the BBQ sauce, chickpeas, minced chives and green onions, and Daiya. It was great!

From Vegan Brunch:

16. Toasted Cocoanut-Mango Muffins – SOOOO YUMMMMM. I want to try it with dried pineapple next, and I also must try the chocolate chip version sometime very soon.

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17. English Muffins – These tasted good, but I think my next try will be better. The only other time I tried making English muffins resulted in some indigestible leaden discs, so this definitely was better than that, but I think there’s some skill to be gained from practise. Figuring out exactly how long to pan-fry, how to be sure they’re baked through – it’ll come with time. They were good and went fast!

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18. Cocoa Raspberry Muffins – I subbed chopped frozen strawberries for the raspberries because that’s what I had. These were tender and delish, not too sweet (unless you ask Mr Pine Nut, who thinks everything is too sweet 😉 ) I’d like to try these with cherries next! They were good the next day also, and then I refrigerated them and they were still good. Can’t say that for some muffins.

19. Bakery-Style Muffins – I did use a little whole wheat flour and reduced the sugar a smidge, but these were decadent and delightful. I may or may not have eaten six.

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20. NYC Coffee Cake – This was astonishingly delicious. I don’t think I’ll ever make another coffee cake again. No, really.

From Isa Does It:

21. Creamy Potato-Leek Soup – I liked this, but wasn’t over the moon about it.

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22. Jumbo Oatmeal Raisin Cookies – I’m lousy at math, but I did figure out the following: I did a double batch and consumed 30% of the dough before the cookies were done baking. These were WAY easy and the dough was amazing. The cookies were really great as well.

23. Carrot Cake Pancakes – These were really good!

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24. Creamy Sundried Tomato Penne – Also very pleased with this. It looks kinda complicated, but it actually was really easy and came together quite fast. I used some cauliflower as well because I had some along with broccoli that was dying in the refrigerator.

From Appetite for Reduction:

25. Arabian Lentil Soup – Many other PPKers were raving about this soup, and so I made it. It was very good; not to die for, but it was very simple and I’d make it again.

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From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar:

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26. Key Lime Shortbread Rounds – SO good. The dough was grand, and the baked cookies were no less exceptional, even considering I didn’t have quite enough lime zest as was called for.

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27. Sweet Chocolate Pretzels – these were just okay to me. They weren’t bad, but I wasn’t thrilled with them either for the amount of work they were. The dough was tasty though! Tastier than the final cookie. And the end result did look charmingly pooplike, if you’re into that kind of thing.

From Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

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28. S’mores Cupcakes – So, one of my gripes about this book is how many of the recipes call for non-dairy yogurt. I have some yogurt at the moment, so I was all “lemme make some cupcakes!” And as I was paging through I realised that actually a lot of them don’t actually call for yogurt. So… I guess it seems one way when I have no yogurt vs. when I do. ANYWAY, these are really good. The cupcakes really do taste like graham crackers. I was too lazy to make a chocolate ganache, would would have been easier to eat and more chocolatey than the chocolate chips, but hey, it looks pretty! Would definitely make again.

Cookbooks [or other sources] represented in January: 8

Did I meet my goal? Yes, plus 8. Yay!

See you next month, with February’s recipe report!

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Categories: brunch, challenges, cookies, dessert, soup, vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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