Monday, May 25, 2015

Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen - Cookbook Review

Our lives are a whirlwind of graduation, award ceremonies, resident hall registration with Kayleigh and planning for Bill's return to Tour of America's Dairyland.  On top of all this, we still have to work, do laundry, go to the dentist, etc. so I'm a little all over the place right now.  I knew I wasn't going to be creating any new recipes and probably wouldn't have much time to think about anything really.  So, when I received this book in the mail I thought a review was the best solution to a blog post as well as what we are eating for 2 weeks!

I first heard of the author, Kathy Patalsky, when she was in a You Tube video with Eco-Vegan Gal last Christmas.  I started following her channel and shortly after that, she came out with this book.

Before jumping into the details, I'll give my overall opinion.  I tested a lot of recipes in this book and really liked pretty much everything we tried.  I think we will get quite a bit of use out of it.  Kathy's cooking style and taste seems similar to mine which is good but also means that I already created my own favorite versions of the meals included in this book.  But you can always find something new and in this case, there are two recipes that we have already repeated because we liked them so much the first time.  I've also replaced two of my old versions of recipes with hers as our new favorites. These alone make the book well worth the money!  There is nothing fancy here but there is plenty of really tasty "normal" kinds of foods that anyone would like.

One of my favorite things from the start was that this book stays open, no matter what page you open it too.  I hate having to prop cookbooks open.  It is so frustrating!

The book starts with a three part introduction which includes some background information, suggestions for kitchen items (tools and ingredients), and 10 wellness tips.  Nothing new here for me but I always enjoy reading these sections in books, if for nothing else, to be able to make sure I'm not missing out on anything new and exciting.

From there the book has 14 chapters of recipes and a final chapter of suggested menus.  I made something from just about every section.  Keep in mind that we are currently in late spring and the weather is finally warming up so that influenced which recipes we picked,  Plus, for most of the meals, Kayleigh was doing the majority of the cooking.  She had no problem following the recipes except for one night which was not the book's fault and I'll explain below.  Also, it was very rare that we were all home at the same time and everything warmed up well later in the evening or the next day.

Garden Veggie Frittata - I've seen a lot of recipes for vegan frittatas but never tried one before.  We had this the night that we ordered Kayleigh's open house invitations.  That process took 3 hours, no joke, so it was good that this was easy and could be eaten while sitting at a computer.  It also warmed up well the next day at work.

Easy Cheezy Hash Browns - The morning I made these, I was absolutely starving.  This was actually my third breakfast.  I love hash browns and nutritional yeast and these were definitely easier than frying hash browns but the taste was just OK.  Not bad, but not very memorable.

Pretty in Pink Lemonade Parfait - Really depends on your strawberries I think.  It was good but I think it would be better later in the season.  It's still a little too early for strawberries here.  I only have a picture of the pudding ingredients in the blender for some reason.

"Save the Day" Toast - This was breakfast number two on that same day.  Yum, yum, yum.  I wasn't able to keep my banana in long slices but it was still delicious.  Obviously, I made two!

Maple Bar Baked Donuts - They are donuts and the picture in the book was so happy looking, we had to try these.  We might make the frosting again but we didn't find the donuts to be too thrilling.  Kayleigh  tried adding sprinkles to hers to perk it up but she could taste the bananas too much.   I was just kind of underwhelmed.

Chipotle Tofu Sandwich - We had this on a night that I wasn't expecting Bill to be home.  Then it rained and he got to eat a big slab of tofu!  In his defense, he tried it and managed to eat about half.  That doesn't normally happen.  Kayleigh and I love tofu and both liked this but thought we should marinate the tofu first next time to get more flavor in it.

Turmeric Hemp White Bean Burger Patties - Dinner this night was just me and Bill.  We both liked this.  The last thing we need are more burger recipes but we got one!

BBQ Peanut Burgers - I loved this.  I'm a big fan of BBQ anything so this made me happy.  I ended up putting extra sauce on mine but Bill ate his plain.

Veggie Sides
Roasted Beets with Ginger and Citrus - Bill heard that beets help you recover after a bike ride so he keeps asking for them. Therefore, I jumped on this recipe because I was getting tired of plain roasted beets.  These were pretty easy and a nice change.

Cakes Balls and Fritters
Green Island Fritters - Mine weren't really fritters because I baked them.  Bill and I thought they were OK.  These are Kayleigh's kind of thing but she had to work that night so I'll have to make these again sometime.  They were really crumbly but not in a bad way.  It mimicked the texture of fish fritters.

Maple-Mustard Raw Chard Salad - Another recipe that only Bill and I tried.  Bill was pleasantly surprised because he doesn't like chard.  It was somewhat bitter but went well with the rest of our meal.  I took the leftovers to work the next day and they were terrible.  Definitely much better when fresh.

Farmhouse Ranch Chickpea Peach Salad - I couldn't find any peaches so we used mangoes instead.  None of us are big on salads but we all really liked this.  Creamy dressing and chickpeas make a salad much better!

Blueberry Farro Spinach Salad - As I was preparing this post today, I came across this recipe and decided to add it to our dinner.  We were working in the yard and Kayleigh had a friend over so I was very distracted and completely forgot about the almonds.  They sound delicious but it was still really good without them.

Cajun Tempeh Sweet Potato Bowl  - Here is the big winner in this cookbook for us.  This is also the recipe Kayleigh somewhat messed up just because she didn't read it all first.  She didn't realize two sauces needed to be made before making this recipe.  Luckily I got off work early and so we had time to get it all done and it ended up going faster than we thought.  We both loved this recipe.  Bill didn't eat until after 10 that night so he had the leftovers and really liked it as well.  Actually he liked it so much, a few days later he asked to have it again.  It was just as good the second time around.  Kayleigh and I had it on couscous, Bill on rice.

Appetizers, Sides, Snacks, and Party Platters
Pink Beet Walnut Dip - More beets so I had to try it.  I made pita chips to go with it and we liked it but I don't know that I'll make it again.  The texture bugged me a little.  By the way, we didn't think it tasted like beets or walnuts so that may be a plus for some people!


Favorite Vegan Mac and Cheese - This recipe is well named because, after trying at least 10 million vegan mac and cheese recipes, this really is our favorite.  It is super creamy and warms up well the next day.

Lemon-Pepper Fettuccine Alfredo - Vegan fettuccine Alfredo is another thing I've tried over and over and this is the first version that I've liked.  Kayleigh also enjoyed it.  I want to make this again for Bill to try.  This warmed but surprisingly well at work. ( Yes, I forgot to take a picture until I was almost done with dinner!)

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles with Veggies - Here's our big dud.  Kayleigh and I have a great fondness for peanut sauces but something was off with this one.  We ended up throwing it away and making something else.  I don't know if we did something wrong or it just wasn't too our taste but this was a giant no for us.  Plus I forgot to take a picture so it was a bad night all around.

Rainy Day Tomato Soup - I already had a favorite tomato soup.  This one is better!  I had a picture but it didn't look anything like in real life and, really, it is tomato soup.  Everyone knows what that looks like!

Kathy's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies - These are now Kayleigh's favorite. This was the first thing I made and last night I revealed to her that I had froze a couple cookies.  She was ridiculously happy!  They didn't actually taste like chocolate chip cookies to me.  I'm not sure how I would describe them but they were good.

Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies - Ginger and molasses?  I have to try them!  Very good, as expected.

Peanut Butter Brownies - I knew I had messed this up somehow when the recipe said to "pour" the batter into the pan but I had to press mine like a pie crust!  I continued on though and they actually tasted good even though I don't think they were at all what they were supposed to be.  Still haven't figured out where I went wrong.

Drinks, Sips and Smoothies
Watermelon Frosty - I remember watching one of Kathy's videos where she talks about putting frozen watermelon in a smoothie.  My thought was "there is no way I'm buying a watermelon, chopping it up, and freezing it".  Then Kayleigh's friend stayed the night and she likes watermelon so I ended up buying one.  Since I had it, I figured I may as well freeze some of it and try this smoothie out.  Seriously?!?!  I've now bought two more watermelons and have had this almost every morning since.  I can't even describe the taste other than to say it is delicious and perfect for the warm weather.

For The Kids
This is the only section we didn't try anything from.  More evidence that my kid is now officially an adult.  I feel old.  Better go make more chocolate chip cookies to cheer me up!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Potato Salad

A few weeks ago I came up with several ideas for blog posts so I put the ideas on little post it notes and scattered them through my calendar.  Unfortunately, that did not motivate me to post.  Instead I kept moving the stickers forward until pretty soon, my calendar looked like this:

Despite all those ideas, I decided to post something else today.  Last week I had a terrible stomach thing which resulted in a day of resting and recuperating.  I wanted some kind of potato which usually means baked fries (that's on one of those post it notes for a future post!) but this time I wanted something different.  Maybe I should get sick more often because I threw this recipe together and I've been obsessed with it ever since.
This is what one pound of potatoes looks like.

It is super easy so I've been able to give in to my obsession and have it almost every day!  I even have time to make this in the morning before work.

Tastes better than it looks.  Not the most photogenic recipe!
I hate to call it potato salad because it is so much better than a normal potato salad but in the end, that is really the best name so I'm stuck with it.  I found that I like this better at room temperature than straight out of the refrigerator but both ways are good.  This serves one person if that person is me and it is lunch time!

Potato Salad

1 pound small Yukon gold potatoes (or your favorite - a few days ago I used a combination of all the left over potatoes in the bottom of our drawer).

Boil until a fork easily pierces them.  Usually about 20 minutes.

Mix together in a large bowl:
2 T Dijon mustard (I've also used sweet and spicy mustard which was delicious)
1 pickle spear, thinly sliced
2 T pickle juice

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them and add to the mustard mixture.  You want them to still be a little warm so they soak up the flavors better. Add salt and pepper to taste and then mix everything up.  If it seems too dry, add more pickle juice.  Let chill for at least 30 minutes.  

If this is too vinegary for you, add about a tablespoon of vegan mayonnaise.  Personally it is perfect for me without the mayo but I love mustard and pickles.