Friday, February 25, 2011

The Vegan Diaries - Pt.1

Day 1-3

After watching the Vegan episode of Oprah a few weeks ago, I felt inspired to try to challenge myself.

One week of eating strictly a vegan diet.

Oprah's website had great ideas, as did a few of the blogs that I follow. My friend from Everyday Foodie tried it just over a week ago and had lots of neat ideas. I figured I knew enough to eat a healthy vegan diet for a week, plus I am on holidays so it is a great time to try a new diet challenge.

I started this challenge on Sunday at noon. I feel I need to mention that my 'last' non-vegan meal was a 6 piece chicken nugget meal from MacDonald's. It was so so good.

Day 1 was  fairly easy as I had an early lunch and wasn't hungry until supper. For my first vegan meal I invited a friend over and made Tortilla Pizzas, a recipe I made in my cooking class. I used vegan wraps, soy cheese, and plenty of veggies. I also made Sweet Potato Fries, which I learned in my 3rd cooking class.

I had an ice cream craving after, but I munched on grapes instead and curbed that craving.

Day 1 was easy.

Day 2 was way harder.

I made Angela's Apple Pie Oatmea for brunchl. It was delicious and it made enough for breakfast on Day 3 too.

Lunch on Day 2 was leftover Tortilla Pizza.

Supper was....not vegan. We had supper at the BFs family's house and I could not resist the yummy home made pizza his mom made. So I took one meal off. I plan on being vegan for 1 meal more now to make up for it.

Day 3 I was back on track.

A Green Monster for breakfast.

Supper was at my folks, and I made them a Mexican meal. Mine was vegan, and theirs was vegetarian (they got to have cheese).

 I made enchiladas, brown and wild rice, and home-made guacamole and chips.

The first 3 days of my vegan diet have been really hard. Some people find it easy, but staying away from cheese and ice cream has been really hard to me, and 3 days into this diet those food items have been on my mind. A lot.

I have many days left.

I have no clue how I will make it without cheating.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cooking Class - Day 3

Last Thursday was my 3rd and final cooking class.

But first. I need to brag a little. I got the prettiest flowers for Valentine's Day.

Ok enough bragging.

Cooking Class.  Final Day. Many delicious dishes were made and there were almost no incidences of multi-tasking when one should not be multi-tasking.

On the menu:

Greek Chicken, Guacamole, Sweet Potato Fries, and Greek Couscous Salad

It was a lot of food to eat at 8:30 at night but it was too delicious to stop eating. The best part is, it was all so easy to make, and so healthy for you.

Greek Chicken

You will need:

2-4 chicken thighs
lemon juice

In a container or plastic ziplock bag, combine above ingredients (no quantities were given, it is all just to taste) place in the fridge for as long as possible.

When ready, throw in a frying pan with oil at medium heat and cook 5 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear.

We made an appetizer while the chicken was marinating.


You will need:

1 ripe avocado
1/4c red onion, finely chopped
lemon juice

Roughly mash avocado with a fork

Toss in the rest of the ingredients (no quantities, just chop as much as you would like and then taste it to make sure you didn't ruin it). Stir until combined and serve with crackers, baked tortillas or chips.

The five of us shared this bowl which was highly disappointing because I could have eaten the entire bowl.


On we go.

Sweet Potato Fries

You will need:

1 yam or sweet potato
fresh rosmary
olive oil

You can see it was a 'wing it' kind of night as once again there are no quantities for the ingredients. I was surprised at how easy it was to figure out how much to use when you taste the food while you are prepping and cooking it.

Preheat the oven to 400

Wash and chop potatoes into thin sticks

Toss potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper with olive oil

Line a baking sheet with fresh rosemary.

Place potatoes on top

Cook for 20-40 minutes, flipping them 2-3 times.

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful. And Delicious.

Greek Couscous Salad

1/2c whole wheat couscous                                       1 tbsp  olive oil
1/2c water                                                                1 tbsp lemon juice
                                                                                 salt (to taste)
Coarsely chopped:                                                    pepper (to taste)
                                                                                1 clove garlic, crushed
red pepper
feta cheese

Boil water in a pot and stir in couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit until veggies are ready

Cut all veggies. Take lid off couscous and fluff with a fork. Allow to cool slightly

In a bowl, toss all ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

At around this time, I began running water to wash the dishes. I momentarily got distracted doing something else, when my friend yelled out my name and went running to the sink, which was about a quarter inch away from overflowing onto the floor. Oopsy.

Moving On.

Our little Thursday night meal was once again delicious.

Final Thoughts on Taking a Cooking Class

Taking a cooking class was a blast. It was so much fun to learn different recipes, have someone overseeing all of your multi-tasking fiascos, and eat awesome food late at night.

Our teacher was great, and while we were cooking the other women all talked about tips they had learned over the years as well, so it was nice learning from a multitude of chefs.

I learned to taste the food while I cooked it which I never did before and it really does make a difference in the end taste of the meal.

Cooking in cute aprons with one of your bestest friends makes the experience 100% better:)


I have decided to take on Oprah's Vegan Week Challenge. A few weeks ago Oprah and 300 plus of her Harpo staff went vegan for a week. This idea was so appealing to me, I decided to take on the challenge over my winter break this week.

Today is Day 1.

I really want the cappuccino ice cream I bought last week.

Wish me luck! First vegan post coming soon!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cooking Class - Day 2

It seems like life has spun a bit out of control these days with work, school, and general life upkeep. It's nice to sit down and get the chance to blog for the first time this week, and I have great recipes to share.

Last week was day two of my cooking class and it was scrumptious.

We made: Black Bean Chile-Cheese Enchiladas, Red Cabbage Salad with Pears and Walnuts, and Raw Chocolate Pie.

It was all absolutely delicious and so easy to make.

So here we go.

Black Bean Chile-Cheese Enchiladas

You will need:

1tsp olive oil
1 small onion
1 small can diced tomatoes
1/2 can tomato paste
1-2 dried Mexican chilies, halved, stemmed, and seeded

1 Poblano chili (or 1/4-1/2 jalepeno), seeds removed and finely chopped
1/4c chopped onion
1 clove of garlic
1/2c. feta cheese
1/4c. mozza, shredded
1 tsp chopped cilantro
2 tortillas
2c. chopped spinach
1/2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

We started by making the sauce first.

Heat oil in frying pan (do not try to multi-task or you will run the risk of your cooking instructor coming over and turning your burner off for you as your oil is smoking up the joint). Saute onion and garlic until soft (3min). Add dried chilis and saute 3 min more.

Stir in tomatoes and 1/2c. water. Season with salt and pepper and let simmer 10 min until chilies are soft.

Remove from heat, cool 5 min, then puree in blender or food processor until smooth.

To make the enchiladas: preheat the oven to 375. Heat oil (Medium heat) and saute onion and garlic 3 min.  Be very careful when dicing the chili.

Our instructor taught us to use a tea towel or oven mitt while cutting the chilis to protect our hands as she had an incident where she touched her eye while dicing one. She did not recommend us doingthe same.

So I used extra caution.

 Turn heat off and add chopped spinach and black beans.

Transfer to bowl and add feta cheese, cilantro, and chopped chili.

Spread 1/2 of the sauce over the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish.

Divide cheese/spinach mixture among tortillas and roll loosely.

Don't they look pretty? So colourful!

 Place tortillas in dish.

Top with remaining sauce and shredded mozza.

Bake 15-20 minutes until sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven and top with remaining cilantro!


We take a short break from this foodie post to point fingers and laugh at my new apron. My sweet gramma gave it to my brother last year for Christmas, and my brother 're-gifted' it to me a few weeks ago.

Grammas are the bestest.

Ok moving on.

Served with the enchiladas was a deliciously sweet and tasty salad.

Red Cabbage Salad with Pears and Walnuts

You need:

1 tsp vinegar (or raspberry wine vinegar)
1 tsp honey or maple syrup
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

1/4 head red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
1/2 pear thinly sliced
1/4c toasted walnuts

Shred the cabbage and slice the pear.

Toast nuts in oven for approx 5-7 minutes
Whisk together 1st 5 ingredients
Toss together cabbage, pear, nuts, and dressing

I absolutely love the colours in this salad. The addition of the pear and the substitution of cabbage for regular every-day lettuce made for such a unique side dish.

And now for more important things.


Raw Chocolate Pie

You need:

1/2 c dates
1/2c  nuts
1/4c coconut

1/2c soft tofu
3/4c dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2c warmed milk
1tsp best quality vanilla

In a blender or food processor, combine 1st 3 ingredients and process until almost smooth.

Remove and form it into a pie plate, pressing down firmly to ensure it stays together.

Melt chocolate in the microwave, 30 sec at a time (for about 1min). Stir until smooth.

In a food processor or blender, combine tofu, melted chocolate, warmed milk, and vanilla. Process until smooth. Poor over the crust and chill.

We added jam to the top for a bit of sweetness.

YUM!!! It was such a different crust, and our instructor said that the crust could also be used to make granole bars.

The little meal we made was delicious.

The enchiladas were divine. The black beans made them feel like a hearty meal despite this being a meatless dish. The salad balanced well with the enchiladas. And dessert was delish. Anything with chocolate in it is a winner to me.

Other than a few very minor mishaps, my friend and I did a much better job this week than we did last week. Except for the fact that our instructor got a message about an oven being left on after our last class. No clue who could have been distracted enough to do an irresponsible thing like that!!!

In other news, my Valentine's present to myself arrived today at noon!

If you are looking for very easy, hearty and delicious recipes to cook, The Pioneer Woman knows how to do it best. I obsessively check her blog multiple times a day and am never disappointed. Check it out if you have a minute!

Have a wonderful  weekend!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Superbowl Eats!

Last Sunday, our household joined the approximate 111million viewers who tuned in to Superbowl XLV and watched while the PACKERS won the Superbowl 31-25.

This is the first time that I have ever watched the Superbowl in full (well....almost in full), and I thought that watching 3 hours of football plus some of the pregame show would be much more entertaining if we invited a few friends over. My focus was the food and the BFs focus was of course the game. Did I mention that he cheered for the Steelers?

In the late afternoon we began the feasting festivities with a few appetizers.

This is by far the most healthy snack we had.

For the other appetizers I made my Aunt Tracey's Heart Attack in a Pot, and Jenna's Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This dip is spicy and succulent. Our noses ran the entire time we ate this dip. It was fabulous.

Here are the ingredients you need:

You will also need some chIcken breasts. Poach the chicken breasts first and then shred them with a fork. Put the shredded (cooked) chicken breasts into a pan.

Pour an entire bottle of Frank's Red Hot Sauce over the chicken, making sure all chicken pieces are covered.

To be clear, this was way too much hot sauce in my opinion. 1/2 to 3/4 of the bottle would have been fine.

In a medium sauce pan, mix the cream cheese and ranch dressing together over medium heat. Stir until there are no clumps, then pour over the chicken.

At this point you can sprinkle some celery on top; however, I decided that was much too healthy for Superbowl dip.

Bake for 15 minutes at 375.

When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle cheddar cheese on top, then bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese starts bubbling.

Let the dish cool for 10 minutes, then stir all ingredients together. I served the dip with Tortilla "Scoops".


Heart Attack in a Pot

Now here is the 'piece de resistance'. If you are on any kind of diet, are lactose intolerant, or have arteries that you value in any way, this dip is not for you.

If you aren't scared on.

Here is what you need:

To be clear, you need 1LB of Velveeta, 1LB of butter, and 2 cans of mushroom soup.

Put all ingredients in a slowcooker and allow to melt for a long time. Mine took about 2 hours to get to the desired consistency. Stir frequently.

The dip is indescribable. It is creamy, cheesy, but not too cheesy because of the mushroom soup. Served with french or sourdough bread it could eat like a meal. This is one of my BF's favourite snacks. And also favourite meals.

For the Main Course we had Smokin Stampeed ribs from Superstore, hot and spicy wings also from Superstore, and my BF made one of his specialties....potato goulash.

And for the Grand Finale we had an ice cream sundae bar for dessert. With chocolate chip cookies.

We had such a fun night! After the food we ate, we probably all need to run a few miles, but the girls and I ran our mouths off for a while instead:)