Tuesday, July 27, 2010

DIY Night Stands

About a week and a half ago, I went a little crazy with DIY design projects around the house. I moved furniture, hung artwork, and created new pieces. It was honestly difficult to stop myself short of painting every room in the house.

When I moved furniture around, I swapped out the nightstands in the master bedroom, but had nothing to swap back in. The remedy? I found cheapo little nightstands/end tables at Ross with potential. And by "potential", I mean they were hideous, but I knew I could summon my inner artist and revamp them.

I gave myself a clean palate by spray painting the entire thing black. Inspired by the many Russian and Kazakh folk art pieces already in my house, I painted a new design using acrylic paint.

Here are the before and after pictures, respectively:

Bonus Recipe

Just to piggyback on my most recent Veganiville recipe, here's a variation on tofu scramble that's unique, spicy, and fun!

To preface the recipe a little more: I picked up two tomatillo plants when we were first planting the garden, and they have turned into massive, fruit-producing plants. Tomatillos are the little guys commonly used to make salsa verde. Not many people realize that tomatillos are actually not little green tomatoes, but more closely related to gooseberries, kumquats, and persimmons. They're not very pleasant to eat raw, so you have to cook them to break down the tough skin and fibrous interior. But once you do that, they have this fabulous lemony flavor. (They also have this papery outer husk you have to peel before cooking)

Anyway, onto the bonus recipe of the week:

Green Tofu Scramble
1 c. firm tofu, crumbled
1/2 c. tomatillos, chopped
1 T. garlic, minced
1 serano pepper, chopped
1 T. oil (veg. or olive oil)
Fresh cilantro

Sautee tomatillos, garlic, and the serano in a pan with oil. Cook until tomatillos are very soft. Add tofu and cook until hot. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

This recipe has so many dynamics between the lemony tomatillos, spicy serano, and perfect fresh compliment from the cilantro. Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Last week in Veganville

This past week in Veganville was pretty boring. We have an overabundance of tomatoes coming out of our garden right now, so I've been trying to come up with different ways to use them. I made pasta sauce, I made chilli, I made salsa, and I ate them raw. But this past week I had jury duty for 3 days and went in a different direction with the tomatoes - mostly out of convenience, and party out of craving.

When I lived overseas, my Chinese friends would make this dish that consisted of tomatoes and eggs. They would sautee the tomatoes and then crack eggs into the pan so the eggs kind of poached and scrambled at the same time in the stew-y tomatoes. It was Yummy, with a capital "Y".

Since I'm not eating eggs, I pondered how I could recreate this dish. Duh - Tofu! This week, I ate this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I ate it with toast, I ate it with chapati (Indian bread), I ate it with homemade oven fries. I'm even craving it as I write this.

Tomatoes and Tofu
1 block firm tofu
2-3 medium tomatoes, cut into 8ths or 16ths (depending on the size of the tomatoes)
1 tsp. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 tsp. garlic powder (you could also substitute fresh minced garlic)
1/2 tsp. ginger
salt (Kosher) and pepper to taste

Heat EVOO in a sautee pan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes; sautee until stewed-looking. Add the tofu, breaking into small crumbles as you mix in. Add garlic powder, ginger, salt, and pepper. Sautee until tofu is hot.

This takes about 10-15 minutes total to throw together. It's super easy, super healthy, and super filling. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Like Two Peas in a Pot

Sometimes it's hard to wrap my head around the extremely long growing season here in Middle Georgia. Last weekend, I started planting for fall/winter veggies. I had two large planters and two trellises left over from our wedding that I was finally able to put to good use. In one, I planted English peas, in the other, pole beans. After only a few days, I have germinating seeds! I haven't been this excited about germinating seeds since my 8th grade science fair project! (Which, by the way, was about how bacteria affects seed germination). Here are some photos of this little gardening project:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

DIY Potpourri

And I mean "potpourri" in the literal sense, not as a synonym for "miscellaneous".

Anyway, our herb garden has gotten a bit out of control. Trust me, I love (and I mean really, really love) fresh herbs, but our plants have become a viscious mass overgrowing the bounds of their raised beds. I don't even bat an eye when I run over them with the lawn mower. They just keep growing! I've been challenged to use them on a daily basis, but there are only so many ways you can get creative with pesto and only so many times you can make it.

So I finally decided to start drying them. Perfect! I'll never have to buy a dried herb ever again.

But I got a little distracted. The herbs looked so pretty hang-drying in my kitchen window. And the smell was so lovely, I just wanted to bottle it up! So I did. And voila: Potpourri!

Steps to simple DIY potpourri:
1. Pick fresh herbs (I used mint, lavendar, and rosemary)
2. Hang-dry herbs
3. Once dry, hand-crush and mix herbs together in a jar
4. Beautify the jar

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DIY Dog Treats: Update

So my mother, who is the author of many great and creative ideas inspired me to take my dog treats to another (i.e. more cute and convenient) level.

Instead of putting the yogurt-banana mixture on a baking sheet and freezing them, she suggested freezing the mixture in ice cube trays. Brilliant! I was all about finding traditional ice cube trays, but stumbled across these at Walmart and thought they were too cute to pass up:

And because I think I can't have too many pictures of my dogs, here's another picture of the happy customers:

Last Week in Veganville

Last week was full of delicious and satisfying recipes, unfortunately I did a horrible job of keeping track of them. Last week I also tried to create my menus around what was ripe in our garden, which meant a lot of dishes with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant!
Here's one of my favorites:
Curry Tofu Scramble and Sweet Potato Hash Browns
1/2 block of firm tofu, drained on paper towels for 10 minutes
1/2 c. green bell pepper, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 c. yellow or white onion, chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Muchi curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray

Coat a skillet with cooking spray. Cook onions and peppers over medium heat until soft. Add tofu and break into crumbles with spatula. Add curry powder and tomato. Stir until heated all the way through and tomatoes are soft. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the hash browns:
1 sweet potato, peeled and shredded (*I like to use my food processor's special attachment to shred the potatoes - it's so much easier than using a grater)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
cooking spray

Coat a skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium. Toss the sweet potato shreds with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Add sweet potato to the skillet. Cook until bottom is golden brown and crispy. Flip and cook until bottom is brown and crispy. *I like my hash browns really crispy. If you like mushy hash browns, keep an eye out and cook yours less.

The finished product:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

DIY Dog Treats

Since going vegan, I have an overabundance of unconsumed yogurt in my refridgerator and I've been trying to come up with ways to get rid of it without feeling like it's been wasted. My yogurt-loving dogs would gladly take it off my hands, but I'm afraid of what "too much of a good thing" might do to their precious digestive systems (and consequently my hardwood floors). In the spirit of "everything in moderation", I decided to make little yogurt snacks for my dogs.
I decided to combine plain yogurt with one of the only other things in this world that make my dogs salivate uncontrollably: bananas. (Cheez Whiz also makes them salivate uncontrollably, but it seemed a little overkill to include that too)

Frozen Yogurt Puppy Pops
(it was the first thing that came to mind - feel free to suggest alternate names)
1 whole banana, peeled
1/2 c. plain yogurt (I used what I had on hand - fat free - but any plain will work)

Blend banana and yogurt in a food processor until smooth. On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop half dollar sized dollops of "smoothie" onto sheet. Freeze for about 1-2 hours. Serve cold to your furry children.

The finished product

The happy customers

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Last week in Veganville

Albeit, 4th of July weekend was an epic fail in Veganville. However, I did stay "clean" all week long. Here is, by far and away, my favorite recipe from last week.
Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Citrusy Black Beans
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 can black beans
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
zest and juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

fresh avocado slices
crushed plantain chips (I LOVE Trader Joe's Plantain Chips)
chopped fresh cilantro

Boil sweet potato until tender. Drain and smash with cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Drain beans. In a saucepan, combine beans, lime juice, lime zest, cayenne pepper, smashed garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat over low heat until hot and fragrant. Serve beans over smashed sweet potatoes. Garnish with one or any combination of the above suggested garnishes.

Friday, July 2, 2010

DIY Granola Bars

I will never buy granola bars again. These are SO yummy and easy. The best part is that you can get creative with ingredients, swapping one thing for another. Here's what I did:

Vegan Granola Bars a la moi

2 c. oatmeal (not quick cook)
1 c. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
3 T. vegetable oil
2/3 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c. dried apricots, chopped
1 c. flax seed

Heat oven to 350. Toast oatmeal and pepitas for 10-12 minutes on baking sheet, stirring every few minutes. Reduce oven heat to 300. In a small saucepan, combine oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir continually to dissolve brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and combine with oatmeal mixture, cinnamon, apricots, and flax seed in large bowl. Line 9X13 baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread mixture evenly on lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 300. Let cool for 2-3 hours before cutting. (I found using a pizza wheel to cut the bars works best)

Here's the finished product

Enjoying the finished product