Sunday, February 27, 2011

Like A Vegan

Starving for the very first time. No way I will be starving! I have spent this whole weekend focused on the task at hand. I have researched, prepped and prepared for my one week Like A Vegan Challenge inspired by the Oprah Vegan Challenge I saw on TV a few weeks ago. You can check out the article here. I know I am total sucker, but this show really inspired me to do something different about my diet. It inspired me to become a more conscious shopper and know where the meat I buy is coming from. It also is going to give me some what of a break from eating the same things and is going to force me to use different ingredients, HEALTHY ingredients, learn some new recipes, and try different products. I am so bored with the normal food I am always eating and I need a change. I hope I can last one week meat and dairy free. It is going to be a challenge for me and hopefully it will change me for the better.

Grocery shopping was interesting. It took me about an hour to check out products but researching items ahead of time and getting tips from friends was key!

Right now my refrigerator is stocked with vegetables & fruits, tofu, almond milk, Earth balance butter (a natural buttery spread), Vegenaise (mayo substitute), vegan cheese which I am little nervous to try, hummus, Ezekiel Bread which is a flourless 7 sprouted grain bread, and Tofutti non dairy ice cream sandwiches to fill that sweet tooth. In my pantry I have tons of canned beans, lentils, quinoa, brown rice, quinoa linguine pasta, Ezekial Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal, nuts and dried fruit. I have most of my meals planned out, recipes within arms reach, and what I have noticed is you can almost make any recipe vegan with just substituting items. I also have a couple vegan restaurants to try in the San Diego area which I am excited to check out.

Day 1: Monday February 28, 2011

Breakfast - a toasted piece of Ezekiel Bread with avocado

Snacks – fruits, nuts, veggies

Lunch – Tofu Spring Rolls made with rice paper and filled with veggies and peanut dipping sauce.

Dinner – Lentil Vegetable Soup

I have never made Lentil Soup before and Lentils are extremely healthy. I made a huge pot which will probably last me till mid week. Perfect for some lunches and I can always freeze it too.

It is so delicious and healthy.

Lentil Vegetable Soup


1 pound French green lentils

2 large onions chopped

4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1/4 cup good olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks)

3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)

3 quarts vegetable stock

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons red wine



In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot on medium heat, sauté the onions, leeks, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the stock, tomato paste, wine and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Serve hot and enjoy.

Click here for the Vegan Start Up Kit and get healthy like a vegan.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Short & Sweet Pomegranate

I LOVE this place! Why have I never been and why have I never had Russian food before? Pomegranate Russian-Georgian Restaurant is located on El Cajon Boulevard and this eclectic light-a-match-off-the-wall (which is how they lit the candle on our table) restaurant is comfort food at its best. The writing on the walls of the restaurant say so and I'm here to attest to it. The decor alone will give you something to talk about but the food will have you dreaming about it for days. Amazing!Everyone that works in this restaurant is Russian. I found our waiter a little harsh and overly confident about the food at first but after tasting the dishes we ordered I decided that he had every right to be that way. The prices are not cheap but the ingredients used are of great quality. Plan to do lots of sharing and tasting with this kind of food and I promise you it's worth the price! Oh and its cash or check only and they have an ATM. Hysterical right? Who writes a check for dinner and what restaurant has an ATM inside of it? Awesome.
There was only two of us at dinner so I plan to go back with more people so I can try more of the highly recommended items on the menu. I will blog about Pomegranate again because I know many more amazing dishes are awaiting my taste buds. I wanted to get a little something up on this restaurant since its fresh on my mind and deep in my heart but it will be short and sweet. I can't stop thinking about it this place! Good thing its only a few blocks from my house!!!
We started with the Vareniki which is a potato cheese dumpling. They are served with sour creme, crispy caramelized onions on top and in some sort of rich buttery broth. They were like velvet and so good.We also had the Georgian Eggplant Salad. When it came out I can't say I was excited about eating it. It was covered with raw red onions. I dug in, took one bite and couldn't stop. It is one large thick slice of grilled eggplant served warm, lathered with a garlic and walnut sauce and topped with sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions and garnished with fresh herbs. It was so amazing and almost tasted Mediterranean. I would absolutely order it again.
For the main course we had the Zharkoyie. Its a Russian stew of braised beef, onions, carrots, dried fruit, and spices. It is served with an herb potato salad and kasha (rice) on the side. Now this is the ultimate hot meal to get on a cold night. The flavors were amazing and the beef was tender!As the night went on our waiter softened up and we spent about a hour speaking to him and the owner. Very nice guys. Oh and I need to tell you about the guy who sits outside the front of the restaurant grilling up Shashlik. He is basically the Captain of Pomegranate and if you see him you will know why I call him the Captain. I loved this guy! Actually I kind felt like I was aboard a ship and was taken away to Russia for a night. It was a great journey and such a trip! I can't wait to go back.
Pomegranate Russian-Georgian Restaurant
2312 el cajon blvd. san diego ca. 92104

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Fastest Way To Win Someones Heart

Another Valentines Day is approaching and some of you might be excited about it and some of you may not be so excited. I used to think this holiday was one that would make or break any relationship I was in. The day was so important to me. Today I feel differently. When I think of Valentines Day today I think of the over priced prefixed menus at restaurants and the reservations that have to be made weeks in advance. The over priced roses that die the next day, the Russell Stover heart shaped boxes filled with chocolate, and teddy bears. I hate teddy bears. I mean all this crap is supposed to tell me how much you love me? How can one pick a gift that will possibly display their absolute love and devotion for someone? That gift is priceless. V-day causes stress on relationships and really just leaves people being disappointed. Showing your love for someone should be expressed every day of the year not just one day of the year right? One day should not make or break a relationship. I bet there are more fights on Valentines day and less love making...just saying!

I know what you are thinking. Cupid aimed for my heart but missed right? Believe it or not I like Valentines Day but the significance of this holiday has changed to me this year. Its just not the most important day to celebrate your relationship with the one you love. Everyday is.

My mother’s birthday is on Valentines Day so growing up I always shared Valentines Day with her and my boyfriends. This year I am all hers and I am happy about it. Valentines Day has always been my mom’s day whether I am single or not.Celebrate this Valentines Day with the one you love the most but this year go to dinner the night before when you can actually choose any affordable item on the menu, when there will be parking, less crowds, and less women dressed in red. Buy your Valentine flowers & heart shaped boxes with chocolates on any other day of the year to show your love. I promise it will mean more to them then getting flowers on Valentines Day when it’s predictable and expected. I think one of the most thoughtful gestures is to cook for someone. Don't they say the fastest way to someones heart is through the belly? So this Valentines Day stay in with a nice bottle of wine and cook for the one you love. Valentines Day should be simple and with that in mind I think a simple Spaghetti with Meatballs recipe is appropriate.I promise this kind gesture will express much love, appreciation and devotion to the one you love the most. Also this spaghetti & meatballs is pretty tasty!

Simple Spaghetti with Meatballs

Simple Tomato Sauce:

½ cup olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

Salt & pepper

2 32 ounce cans crushed tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

2 dried bay leaves

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt & pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 5-10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick.

Remove bay leaves and add tomato sauce to a food processor in small amounts at a time. Process until smooth.

Add the sauce back to the pot and if the sauce tastes acidic add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Simple Meatballs:

1 pound ground sirloin

¼ pound pork or veal

½ cup Parmesan cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Mix all the ingredients with your hands well and make into round balls the size of golf balls. It should make 20 small meatballs. Or you can make larger ones if you prefer. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer on low heat for 1 hour or until cooked through. Boil spaghetti until done and top with meatballs and sauce. I would buy fresh made pasta from an Italian deli, it only takes a couple minutes to cook, and it just taste better.…do it for the celebration of your relationship on Valentines Day.

I hope you have a Happy Valentines Day and you get to share it with someone you care about. Happy 60th Valentine Birthday to my mom Shellie. And remember mom, just the other day our dentist thought you were my sister! I am so lucky you are always going to be my Valentine that I get to shower with gifts and love, on this year and every year…xoWin someones heart today. xoxo

Monday, February 7, 2011

Deep Dish

I just got back from Chicago and the one and only meal I cared about eating was Chicago deep dish pizza. The question was where to get it from and I left it up to my local friends to steer me in the right direction. They did just that.
We ordered a deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati's. Lou Malnati's pizza is not only rich in history but very rich in flavor. Lou Malnati's got his first job at Chicago pizzeria in 1940. He took all he learned and in 1971 opened up his first location in Chicago. Now the family owned business has over 31 locations.
Every pizza is hand made from scratch with the freshest ingredients. The Malnati team hand picks the finest vine ripened California tomatoes every year for the perfect sweet and tangy taste. The fresh mozzarella cheese comes from the same dairy that has been supplying Lou Malniti's for 40 years. The fresh flaky buttery crust is a family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation.When our pizza came delivered and we opened the box it was steaming hot. I mean piping hot. Usually when I order pizza for delivery its totally cold by the time I get it. Not this pizza. Straight out of the oven to our door. And to top it off it was was 7 degrees outside. How the heck did they manage to keep it so hot!?!We ordered The "Lou". Fresh spinach, mushroom, sliced tomatoes, covered with a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and romano cheese. It was delicious! The toppings where flavorful, the cheese was not greasy, and the crust was buttery & flaky.
Living in California I don't have too wait to long to have my next Lou Malnati's pizza. You can order it frozen to be delivered to your home from The Taste Of Chicago. Just bake it in your own oven and get it as hot if not hotter then I got it in Chicago. I just might have to do that sooner then later.
Lou Malnati's

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Superbowl Sunday Funday

Superbowl Sunday is only days away and most of you are planning your menu's for Sundays festivities. I will not be cooking this year as I will be traveling home from Chicago. I will be back just in time for kick off. For those of you who are entertaining I didn't want to leave you high and dry so I decided to search for some amazing Superbowl crowd pleasing appetizers! I hope they come in handy to you and you enjoy making them...and even better, you enjoy eating them!

I hope you have a fantastic Superbowl Sunday and may your team win!
Noble Pig does it again! How good do these wings look? Only 5 ingredient that include pineapple juice, soy sauce, lemon gelatin, poppy seeds and wings! You can see how its done here.
Okay not so healthy but who eats healthy during the Superbowl. This little sandwich looks so good and is made up of Italian meats, 2 kinds of cheeses and roasted red peppers. The bread is Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. I would put a bowl of Tums out with this one. Check out the recipe here.

The Reuben Dip
Nothing like hot Reuben sandwich and how brilliant is a hot Reuben dip? All you will need is Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Ketchup, Spicy Brown Mustard and Cocktail Rye Bread. If you make this one I am inviting myself over! Another one from Noble Pig, check out exactly how to make it here.

Jalaaaaaaa! I mean is this one for real? Look how crispy the panko bread crust is and who does not like jalapeno poppers? This recipe comes from Big Red Kitchen and is super easy to make. Simply spread it on your favorite cracker and enjoy!

This one is my favorite and comes from Noble Pig! Pittsburgh Steeler fans can enjoy some skins that are topped with sauteed onions, kielbasa, sauerkraut, and grated Swiss cheese. Green Bay Packer fans can enjoy some skins that are topped with beer cheese spread, sliced grilled bratwurst, and spicy brown mustard. Hey if you are not a fan of either team enjoy both skins and get the recipe here.
May the best team win. Goodbye football season (sad face).
Until next year.
CHAAARGE! (had to represent)