Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bought a New Cookbook!!! I think...

I don't recall ordering this cookbook from Amazon but I'm so glad I did. The cookbook is called Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold.  No meat.  No Dairy. I know right?  She is a vegan chef here in Los Angeles.  I was trying to find out where but I couldn't find that information.
This cookbook has everything from breakfast to deli favorites.  Comfort food to bread.  Vegan party essentials and dips to all kinds of sweet things.  Don't let the title fool you.  Although it is "junk food" I don't know too many junk foods with ingredients like carrots, pumpkins and fresh cilantro and parsley.  Seriously.  Last night I stopped by my local Whole Foods and picked up some ingredients I didn't already have and spent less than $25 for dinner.  I adjusted for my own tastes.

Sloppy Joes

serves 4
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill TVP
2 cups water
3 tsps vegetable bouillon base
1 tsp vegan beef bouillon base
1 tbsp oil
1/2 chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot (to save time I went to my favorite section and bought already shredded carrot)
1 chopped garlic clove (I used minced so like WHATEV)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsps brown sugar
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Annie's vegan worcestshire sauce
4 tbsps tomato paste
1 cup tomato sauce
Rudi's whole wheat hamburger buns

heat the water and add the vegetable and beef bouillon base to a boil.
add the TVP and stir a little bit and let it rest for 10 minutes
over medium heat, saute onions and carrots in oil until onions are translucent.
adjust the heat so it doesn't burn.
add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
drain the TVP reserving the liquid.  use a wooden spoon or spatula and squeeze out the excess liquid.
add TVP to the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes.
add all other ingredients except the buns and stir.
add 1/2 cup of reserved liquid and bring to a boil.
turn heat down to medium and cook for 10 minutes.

spoon the joes onto your buns and enjoy.

This you can you freeze so go ahead and double the ingredients.  It was so good I wish I had leftovers for lunch.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Basic Red Sauce

We've been so busy these past few weeks I haven't had the chance to sit down and blog.  The girls have had so much fun dancing, performing, auditioning, and acting. It's been fun watching them having the time of their lives.

The other day I was in the mood for some spaghetti with red sauce.  Something as basic like this is so easy to make even from (almost) scratch.  I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up my basic ingredients and it was so good!

makes about 7 cups

2 tbsps refined coconut oil
1 onion cut into 1/4 inch dice
8-10 minced garlic cloves
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 tbsps finely chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp agave nectar

heat the coconut oil in a 6 qt stockpot over medium-low heat.
add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6-8 minutes.
add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute.
stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste, increasing the heat to high and bring to a boil.
remove from the heat.
stir in the rest of the ingredients.
use immediately or cover and refrigerate or freezer for later.

Adapted from the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch cookbook.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yesterday I decided to take a break from the kitchen.  Sorta.  Before picking my daughters up from their dance and improv class I stopped by my local Ralphs store.  I picked up Private Selection pepperoni and garlic pizza and Private Selection Chcolate Lava Cake.  The kids and the huz LOVED IT.  It's a thin crust with small mozzarella balls. One pizza box came with a serving of 4.  You can cut it into strips if you want and make a dip (ranch, olive oil, marinara) with a nice caesar salad.  The chocolate lava cake was rich and was very much like homemade.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Loss of a Pet

  It was fast and quick.  We had no idea anything was wrong until Sunday.  We figured that we would take her to the vet on Monday but we didn't have the chance. Cupcake, our other guinea pig, knew something was wrong and kept nudging her to eat but she would not.  We tried to hand feed her but she would not open her mouth.
Today my dear sweet tween's guinea pig, Peanut Butter, passed away after midnight today.
Her age was unknown but the time she spent with us was wonderful.  She was loved by her squeaking every time she heard someone opening the plastic bag of cut up fruits or vegetables or when we were opening the bag of timothy hay.  Her running every time we passed by her home always made us laugh.
She will be missed by us all.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Disney Playtesting

For as long as we have lived here in Glendale is about how long we have been testing on a variety of Disney rides, games, etc.  Passing along this email from the person who organizes the playtest...

Hi all!

We have another couple Disney Playtests coming up!

I am looking for NEW families who have either never tested the Disney Playtests, or at least have never tested the Adventure Detective Game.

This is the game where we tested last summer called the Puppy detective game,  that involved going around to different stations to do detective work, figure out things, and move on.

Please let me know if you are interested, and all of the information is below.
I am allowed to take a few families that have tested the Detective "Puppy" game, so let me know if you qualify.

Also, PLEASE feel free to forward this email and post it where you can, as this is the way to get the word out.

THANKS so much!

And please email me your name, CELL phone number, name and ages of kids (9 & up please), and your top 3 time and date preferences.

Playtest Dates:
Tuesday, November 29th, and Thursday, December 1st

Need families with children ages 9 and up.

Playtesting will last approximately 1.5 hours

Playtest Location: 1325 Grand Central Avenue, Glendale, CA, 91201

Playtest times:  Please email Maria your top 3 times and what date you would like to attend.
I will email you back with confirmation, as well as a map to the location.

On November 29, Tuesday:

On December 1, Thursday:

Monday, November 21, 2011

It's WAS beginning to look like Christmas....

by mid-October.
Most of the stores decked the halls with boughs of holly and Santas and blinking lights.
Time for us to spend our hard earn dollars but how many of us are actually participating in this fiasco called Black Friday?  I did many years ago while living in Culver City.  Let's say I was bullied to go with the in-laws.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to bond with my husband's kin.  We went to the now defunct Mervyn's and the experience wasn't all that exciting.  There was no bonding involved.  A lot of pushing and shoving and grabbing.  Not my idea of fun or bonding.
I am like every other girl out there.  I love a bargain.  Sales are awesome.  Shopping is good therapy.  But the fact is there is no fun when other people's kids are running around screaming.  Why are you doing this to your children?  Taking them out of their warm beds for a few dollars off?  I left mine with their father.  They didn't even know I was gone because it was so early in the morning.
There is no enjoyment going into a crowded store to find that special gift.  Gift giving should be fun.  When a someone's birthday is coming and we shop for that special gift, I like to think about what that person would enjoy.  Look at my options and carefully chose what I think would be best for them.  It's something that I enjoy doing because I know when they unwrap that gift and I see that look of happiness in their face I picked the right one.  I just don't go and pick up what's on sale or what has the deepest discount.  My gifts are from the heart and I am mindful of what I give.  Christmas is no different.  I spend sometimes an hour trying to figure out if that someone would enjoy their gift.  Not how much I can save or get back.
It WAS beginning to look like Christmas but it just stinks of greed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Testing the Android blogger app

Because my life is about to get busier. Good thing I've got the sugar-free Rockstar on hand. I recommend this for busy moms. No I'm not getting paid to say this. I have hypothyroid disease and unfortunately one of the affects is me being tired with little energy. Usually after a trip to the grocery I need a nap. Daily naps help some but that only works if I'm home. My kids keep me busy with homeschooling, 3 different dance classes, auditions and filming. Not to mention on the day we are all available the trip to Disneyland. Yesterday, while grocery shopping at Smart and Final, I saw a four pack of the drink and a much larger (20?) pack.  I opted for the smaller pack for now because I am still doing research and trying to figure out if it OK to use. I'm not a daily user. At this point in our lives we're not there yet. My husband, the high school teacher, is thinking about giving it a try. After a day with the inner city kids all he wants to do is veg and not deal with grading of quizzes and tests. Also, I want him to not give the excuse of being too tired to carry the trash.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


A couple of months ago I entered a contest on Commercial Mommy's, mother of Yara Shahidi and Sayeed Shahidi, website.  All I had to do was read her website (which I did.  Invaluable lessons there) and answer a few questions.  I was praying for a miracle.  Living in a one income family and the one income coming from a teacher is not so easy.  And having children with BIG dreams is very hard.

I am not a photographer.  I try to capture the essence of the subject but with a small samsung camera, and absolutely no idea what I'm doing, you do what you can with what you have.  With the pictures I took at home they girls did book a couple of student films and one feature film. They are gaining hands-on experience, for which, we are grateful for.
But this?

This was the awesomest gift we were able to experience.
Afshin Shahidi has been a photographer for over 20 years.  When you see his amazing photos on his website, take deep breaths.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Socks and Sandals wha Wha wha??!?!

Yesterday on Twitter, the topics Puertorican Problems and Dominican Problems was trending in Los Angeles.
For those who do not know, I am half Dominican and half Puertorican.  Which makes me a Dominiqueña.  Which also means I was able to connect with so many Dominicanas and Boricuas in Los Angeles.  I also had the misfortune to come across some racist creeps.  They could not bring me down.  There are SO MANY OF US. Everything from:
no more platanos in the house #DominicanProblem
out of sazon #PuertoricanProblem
and everything from chancletas to using Fabuloso.
Two Boricuas from the East Coast live nearby which is also so very amazing.
I enjoyed reading all the Twitter messages and laughed so hard that my homeschooler peered over gigantic history book saying, "glad someone´s having fun".  WHOOPS!
Two Boricuas from the East Coast live nearby which is also so very amazing.
I might even venture out the next time there is a Puertorican Festival in SoCal.

The other day I made this so delicious Vegan Sancocho.
Westcoasters, you can find everything you need in your local Cuban Market.  When I lived in Culver City, I used to go to El Camaguey on Venice Boulevard. Here in Glendale, I found El Mambi.  Very nice people all around.

1 lb. seitan cut in 2 inch rectangles (think short ribs)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 quarts vegetable stock
1/2 cup recaito
1 cup tomato sauce
1 lb each of calabaza, yautia, ñame, and yuca, peeled and diced in 1 inch cubes (you can find this in the store already peeled in the freezer aisle in the Cuban store. Saves ALOT of time since peeling is a bit of work since the root vegetables are not smooth like a potato)
2 medium green platanos, peeled and cut in 2 inch pieces
3 ears of corn cut into 1 inch pieces (or however small you can find them)
1 packet of sazon
adobo for taste
1 quart of water

in a HUGE soup pot, combine the first 6 ingredients, including ALL of the root vegetables
cover and bring to a boil.
reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer, for 30 minutes.
add the remaining ingredients and bring to another boil.
lower the heat and simmer, covered for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
adjust the seasonings.

My house was warm and smelled so yummy when all was said and done.
Yummy with garlic bread.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Product Review: Tonka XT Ricochet Tricksters R/C Car

I never had a remote control car in my entire life.  My 3 brothers always had them and never let me play.  My son had R/C cars when he was a kid and when I had my 2 daughters they were always surrounded by baby dolls and cuddly bears.  I wish I knew better.  The Tonka XT Ricochet Tricksters is an awesome R/C car.  My teen and tween girls played last night and laughed so hard.  Watching the car flip and make crazy spins.  The Tonka XT Ricochet Tricksters is for indoor use only.  The controller uses 5 AA batteries.  The vehicle already has 1 rechargeable battery. Invest in rechargeable batteries since the Tonka XT will run for 5-10 minutes after 20-30 minutes of charging.  The Tonka XT Ricochet Trickster goes forward, reverse, turns right and left, spins left and right, and giggles the whole time you are playing.  You can play with 2 other boys and girls because it has a maximum of 3 channels.  Each must be set to a different channel or you will have chaos.
I recommend the Tonka XT Ricochet Trickster R/C Car for boys and girls over the age of 5 for lots of fun and giggles.
I received a product sample, coupon, collateral or other special premium from BzzAgent.

Friday, October 14, 2011

World City at the Music Center Program 2011/2012 Season

The 2011/2012 season is about to begin at the beautiful W.M. KECK CHILDREN'S AMPHITHEATRE in the WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL for the World City at the Music Center. It is a wonderful program for everyone to enjoy. Performances take place once a month, usually on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. FREE tickets are distributed on Grand Avenue at 2nd Street. Tickets for 11:00 a.m. performance are distributed beginning at 10:00 a.m. Tickets for 12:30 p.m. performance are distributed beginning at 11:00 a.m. You must get there early because tickets go fast! After the program children and adults can enjoy the wonderful cultural crafts. Take a camera and take pictures of the beautiful artists, garden and the Blue Rose. Don't forget the sunscreen and water!

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the Music Center is one of the three largest performing arts centers in the nation. Stop at Walt Disney Concert Hall and find the perfect something in the gift shop or take a free audio tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and garden.

Homeschooling and living near big cities is truly a blessing. 
Everything from learning rocks and minerals at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles to learning about ecosystems at the California Science Center has been instrumental to my hands-on learner. 
When we can't make it to the wonderful museums in and around Los Angeles we hop on over to  Glendale Library where we pick up books and DVDs from PBS, Disney (Bill Nye, Science of Imagineering, etc.) and others. 
We are so lucky to have the world at our finger tips.  It is my goal to make learning fun at "home".  
It is more than workbooks and heavy textbooks involved in the learning process here at home as well as it should be in the brick & mortar schools. 
How I wish, growing up in the Bronx, we had field trips to art, history and science museums. 
 All I ever remember going to was the zoo and the planetarium.  Speaking of planetariums, I need to schedule a trip to the Griffith Observatory Los Angeles in a few weeks.  We haven't looked through the Zeiss Telescope in almost 2 years! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pad Thai

I blogged about this delicious meal.  I made it a few days ago and I think it was much better the second time around.  I tried to cut down on the spiciness for my tween and it was still aroi.  That is Thai for delicious.

6 oz rice stick noodles
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup mirin
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsps lime juice
1 tbsp sriracha or other chili sauce
2 tbsps refined coconut oil
14 to 16 ozs extra-firm tofu, cubed
1/2 red onion cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 cloves garlic minced (if you find yourself cooking w/ lots of garlic, go ahead and cheat! buy that jar of minced garlic. It will save you time)
3 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups bean sprouts
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, mint, or a combination
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
4 to 8 lime wedges ( I did not use lime wedges. I felt that it was just to make the dish pretty. At then end I have no regrets)

cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the agave, mirin, ketchup, tamari or soy sauce, lime juice, and sriracha, set aside.
heat the coconut oil in a 12 to 14 inch wok or skillet over high. add the tofu and stir-fry for 4 minutes. add the red onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds. add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. add the noodles and agave nectar mixture and stir-fry until the noodles are softened and evenly coated w/ sauce. add the scallions, bean sprouts, and carrots and stir-fry until all the ingredients are well combined and heated through.
serve and garnish w. cilantro or mint, peanuts and lime wedges.

I did use a pot instead of a wok or skillet because 
1. I do not have a wok and 
2. the skillet wasn't big enough.
I do have a wok now but mostly to stir-fry veggies.  Still used the big pot.

This recipe is from the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I love this cookbook. The recipes are easy enough and quick enough for this busy bitch.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vegi soup

Soup. Yes. Yes, please.

The other day going up and down the aisle of  Big Lots and was surprised to see such a great selection of food!  I found Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix for......$3.50!  
Servings per container is 7.  $3.50 for a meal for a family of 4 and then some!  
Freezing the leftovers is a definitely plus for this mom.  You can add your meat or faux meat or more vegetables but honestly there is no need.  It already has 21 grams of protein.  Ingredients are: green split peas, yellow split peas, barley, lentils and vegetable pasta.  
Before I leave to take my chickadee to gymnastics, I'm going to pop some ingredients into the bread machine and by the time I get home I can just relax and eat and get the kids ready for bed.  
No rushing around trying to figure out what I am going to feed the family.

1 1/2 Basic Egg Bread

1 cup milk (I'm using soy unsweetened milk)
1 egg (I'm using ener-g egg replacer)
1 tablespoon butter (Earth Balance has been my favorite for the past few months)
3 cups bread flour (or whatever flour you have.  just check the packaging)
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon active dry yeast or bread machine yeast

follow the manufacturer's directions.  

I can almost smell the yumminess!

Our local library was able to budget the new kids book club.  I was so excited when I received word of this.  My kids loved the club (Snacktime Readers renamed Book Central).  To be able to sit around a table with snacks and drink with a librarian and discuss the book of the month was something we all missed.  Every month discovering a new book to read is always a thrill.  Our local library will be hosting it's annual One Book One Glendale...For Younger Readers featuring one of our local authors Janet Tashjian.  On previous years we have met local authors Kazu Kibuishi and Amy Goldman Koss.  
For my local readers your readers 4th - 8th grades should totally join us  on November 1 7pm  for snacks and conversation about the book, My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian.  If you come by the Glendale Central Library, go upstairs to the children's area and ask the librarian for a copy so that you can join the group.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Not so Spicy Black Bean Chili

Publishing this again since it is "what's for dinner".  
You can make this chili stretch by having it with steamed brown rice.
It's not 80 degrees today (right now in the mid 60s) so we still have autumn feel although it's winter. 


I remember growing up in New York, autumn was a time for new clothes, excitement of school, leaves on the ground, cool weather and lots of hot meals like chili.
Here in California, autumn is still a time of new clothes, excitement of school, leaves on the ground.  Very hard to be excited about the weather since it hardly changes.  For example, this morning when walked up the road to Smart and Final (a little bit like Costco except no membership fees and only items for the kitchen) it was 80 degrees.  Definitely not sweater weather or a hot meal for some.  I had on my attire for a quick trip to the store. NY Yankee shirt, yoga pants and flip flops.  Last year I was able to wear flip flops until November when it started getting 'nippy'.  
But chili.
Chili I can have all year round.  Yummy with a side of cornbread.  I found at my local Big Lots a package of Marie Calender's Southwestern Cornbread.  
Today's meal cost me under $15 for a family of 4.
Nutritious and delicious and totally vegan.

(Not So) Spicy Black Bean Chili
from the Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder (more or less for taste)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 15-oz cans black beans
1 cup water
1 4-oz can diced green chiles, drained
salt and pepper 

Heat the oil in a large skilled over medium heat.
Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cover and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the chili powder and cook about 30 seconds more.
Transfer the mixture to the crock pot (4 quart is good but if you want to double it make it a 6 quart).  
Add the tomatoes, beans, water and chiles.
Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Serves 4.

You can definitely double this and save in the freezer for a weekend meal.  Yummy with brown rice, cornbread or whatever you fancy.
A great meal for Meatless Monday.  Honestly, you won't miss the meat and great to serve to those who think meat makes a meal.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's About To Get Crazy Up in Here!

Ready to fire up your crock pot/slow cooker?  
Starting next week the Glendale YMCA Performing Arts Academy opens!  
I am very excited for this new program.  
Mondays & Wednesdays kids will be dancing Latin Fusion with the awesome Ani Hovhannisyan from 4:30pm to 5:30pm and then learn to Jazz Funk from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays your children will learn and understand the art of Acting and Improvisation with the very cool Jonaton Wynne from 4:00pm to 5:00pm.
Also on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the world renowned Solid Gold dancer, Darcel Wynne-Leonard will be teaching Dance and Motion. 5:30pm to 6:30pm.
Fridays the talented Karl Melero will be guiding the children through Creative and Expressive Art from 4:30pm to 5:30pm.
We are so excited to be a part of this program!
So, because of our packed days, (not only the above mentioned activities but also gymnastics, AWANA, homework, schoolwork, auditions, callbacks, and filming) I will be dusting off my crock pot (I haven't used it for about 2 weeks to cook da beans) and experimenting with new and not so new vegetarian/vegan recipes.  Take advantage of  the fall fruits and vegetables from your local farmer's market and in your local supermarket chose your produce that are grown locally!
My teen (former home schooler) really likes school.  I think she enjoys competing with other students to get that A and she is such a social butterfly.   So far all A's in her class!
Her drama class are doing a fundraiser selling chocolates bars for $1.  I will have them with me starting this weekend.  The goal, to start off, will be 50 bars.  Maybe we will try for 100 if it goes well. So, if you would like to help out Celina and her fellow drama queens and kings buy one.  Sorry I can't ship out.  That defeats the purpose of raising funds for the drama class. 
Money goes towards field trips.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

a great summer

In the middle of cleaning my refrigerator I realized I haven't written.
So many changes here at home.
My middle child is now in public school.  She started the 8th grade is likes it.  The only complaint is how easy the classes are.
My youngest is still homeschooling and is happy with this new chapter of having mami all to herself.
It is a change of pace where it's only one child schooling.
I miss my mini-me like crazy but I am happy for her independence.
Her schedule is hectic with drama, theater, homework, volunteering, and dancing. I fear she will have to drop dancing but I am so glad she had the opportunity to train this summer with the fantabulous Darcel Wynn Leonard and with Eddie Padilla.
It has been an awesome.
Now back to homeschooling and hanging in the kitchen.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

trying a new bean today

I stumbled upon a bean that is not my usual in, of all places, the 99 cents only store.
It is yellow in color and about the same size and shape as a pinto bean.
It is called mayocoba.
Have you ever cooked with it?
I am doing a quick soak and will let it cook for the day.
According to NutrionPedia this Peruvian bean but it doesn't give me anything more than that.
I think I will cook it the way I cook pinto beans with sofrito and adobo and lots of garlic.
Will post tonight or tomorrow...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Search for the Craziest Nail Polish

The other day a friend of my daughter took a picture of her nails.  My daughter should it to me and told me it looked so cool.  I already had in my mind what kooky thing are they doing now.
I fell in love.
So yesterday morning after breakfast we headed out.  We had to go to the library anyway to drop off some books and movies.  We headed out to one place that sells makeup but didn't find what we wanted.  After stopping for yogurt and coffee when I decided to check out our local beauty store.
It looked harmless enough.  There are 7 colors but I opted to buy one now (black) and another later (silver).  It is a bit pricey so I didn't feel to bad buying it.  It is very stylish and I felt like such a young girl sporting my new nail polish .
It's called Shatter by Opi.  You start off by applying 2 coats of a base color so that it pops. When it dries you apply one coat of Shatter.  You have a 2 texture look.  It looks so cool!
My daughters are wearing black shatter with silver moon but I think I will do their nails again with a another color so that it can pop.

Yesterday I was hungry for some mac and cheese.  I have a hard time finding whole wheat macaroni pasta so I decided to have it with  rigatoni.  This is from the Skinny Bitch Cookbook


  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil, melted, or safflower oil, plus more for the casserole dish
  • About 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
  • 1 pound whole-wheat or brown rice elbow macaroni
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash (I could never find this so I just use the canned butternut squash found in the aisle next to the pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 cups soy or rice milk
  • 4 ounces vegan Cheddar cheese, shredded (daiya is the best for this)
  • 2 ounces vegan Jack cheese, shredded  (daiya is the best for this)
  • 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese (Follow your heart is the best vegan cream cheese out there)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil a 2-quart casserole dish; set aside
  2. In a 4- to 6-quart stockpot over high heat, combine 3 quarts of water with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the salt. Bring the water to a boil, add the macaroni, and cook according to the package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine the squash and milk, stirring and breaking up the squash with a spoon until the squash is defrosted. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from the heat and whisk in the Cheddar, Jack, cream cheese, mustard, cayenne, and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of salt.
  5. When the pasta is done, drain it, then return the pasta to the pot. Stir the cheese sauce into the macaroni. Transfer the entire mixture to the prepared baking pan.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and the 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
  7. Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Burdensome Children

Summer means more library times for movies and all the other fun activities for children. Our local library has legos for the young ones, magicians and arts and crafts for the older kids.

What can ruin everything besides the city cutting library budget are moms who feel that the library is the drop-off station for the 3-9 year olds. I am only going to speak out for these young ones right now because they can't really speak for themselves. In the past two weeks I have seen things I shouldn't see and these kids should not experience.  I'm talking about the moms who want to leave their lil ones alone in the children's room or computer center so that they can "go downstairs and read" or gossip with their friends.
Several months ago I witnessed a little girl (maybe 7 years old) who was crying for her mommy because she was gone.  No where to be seen.  I let the girl use my phone so that she can call her mother.  Her mother came back in less than 2 minutes with the phone in her ear.  She looked upset and spewed some words I did not understand and grabbed her daughter by the arm and towards the stairs.
Sorry for interrupting your phone conversation!
School is out and now you have no clue as what to do with your child?  So you want to dump them wherever you can so that you can have some peace and quiet reading or talking on your phone?
Maybe I just don't understand......
This summer we will be enjoying our pool, traveling in-state (staycation), enjoying our city and library activities and experimenting in the kitchen with the kids.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Pool, beach, salads, lazy days....
ahhhh summer.
I've been waiting for you since September!

Sesame Kale Salad (Thank you Harvest Sensations)

1 lbs Harvest Sensations Kale Salad Blend (kale, red cabbage, carrots)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

toss all ingredients together and let it sit 30 minutes before serving.

It is so so good and filling. I've had a few times as a meal.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

breakfast of champions AKA don't bother me I'm still sleeping

Have I told you how much I love my crock pot?
Why did I ignore it for so long knowing all the yumminess that comes out of it when I arrive home to the smell of dinner.
Who's in my kitchen?
Yeah that would be Mr. Crockpot.
Why Mr?
Because it was that damn easy and simple.
Like men.
Yeah I said it.
So waking up to the smell of slow-cooked beans I decided to flip the pages of one of my favorite cookbooks Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.
The most important meal of the day. It is the meal that will make your day. Sleeping in a bit longer is a plus. If you have kids that can serve themselves cereal can surely just take the lid off the crockpot and serve themselves oatmeal.
Yes oatmeal.
You can double the recipe if you are a true oatmeal lover.

This recipe book said it serves 6, go ahead and double it.

Old-Fashioned Apple-Raisin Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats
4 cups cold water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium-size granny smith apple
3 tbsp raisins
1/2 cup granola

combine all the ingredients except the granola in a lightly oiled 4 quart slow cooker.
cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
to serve, spoon the oatmeal into bowls, sprinkle with the granola and serve hot.

Growing up I hated oatmeal. The texture and look made me want to run.
Then I grew up.
I discovered that it didn't have to be so wet.
Then steel cut oatmeal came into my life.
If you've never had it get off the computer and go to any supermarket. It takes longer to cook but the end the result is beyond awesome.

Friday, May 20, 2011

and more beans

Growing up with rice and beans, I did not enjoy them.
We're talking about rice and beans 5 days a week with a break on the weekends when my father would make pasta taste like heaven.
Now as a mom, I appreciate the goodness of this lovely protein.
You can have it with your rice, quinoa or rolled up in a tortilla.
This article from Web M.D. pretty much sums it all up
It is the perfect food for your budget and when you are stepping away from the rotting carcasses. Too much?

Last night I soaked 1 lb. of pinto beans.
It's cooking for the day in my 6 qt crock pot for a weekend of doing nothing but lazying around sans kids.

Southwest Beans
1 recipe (see last post entitled "basic beans...")
1 4 oz can drained chopped green chiles
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika

Drain the cooking liquid from the beans, then stir in the chiles, cumino, paprika, and season with adobo.
reduce the heat to low and cover for 30 minutes.
add some water or vegetable stock if you prefer and saucier consistency.


Monday, May 16, 2011

basic beans in the crockpot

Just to start off, I own 2 crock pots. A 4qt and a 6qt. Some recipes do well in a 4 qt cooker but sometimes you want to cook a huge meal like vegetarian paella or curried cauliflower soup with chutney and cashews.
I am starting my crock pot cooking now that the weather is supposed to get warmer and we are supposed to spend more time in the park or the pool. Supposed to. Yes. Here in sunny California it will be cloudy, rainy and cold like touching 65 degrees this week.
oh sigh!

My first meal out of the crock pot was an easy black bean soup. It was so yummy with tandoori naan.

It takes 2 days to make it but it is so worth it.

Take 1 lb dried beans soak them in enough water to cover plus an inch or two for a 8 hours. I did this in the morning.
drain the beans and replace them in a 6 quart slow cooker. Add 1 large yellow onion cut into quarters, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 2 bay leaves. Cover and cook for 8-12 hours. This was done overnight. Try not to gnaw your arm because your home will smell like someone is slaving in the kitchen. That is the crock pot!

Now the fun part!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-size chopped yellow onion
1 medium-size chopped carrot
1/2 seeded and minced green bell pepper
2 minced garlic cloves
3 cups slow cooked or 2 15 oz cans black beans drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes undrained
4 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsps fresh lemon juice

heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
add the onion, carrot, bell pepper and garlic.
cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
transfer the cooked vegetables to a 4 quart slow cooker, add the beans, tomatoes, and their juice, stock, bay leaves, cumin, thyme, and cayenne.
Season with salt and black pepper.
stir to combine.
cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
remove and discard the bay leaf and taste to adjust the seasonings to your taste.
just before serving, stir in the lemon juice.
puree 2 cups of the soup solids in a food processor or blender and return to the cooker.


The recipe is straight out of the Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson

Thursday, April 28, 2011

missing home

Just the other day I was reminiscing the good ole NY days living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. When I can go to the Koreanos and buy platanos on sale 10 for $1. When buying sofrito down the street and not having to worry about it not readily available because they were sold out. Now I have to buy platanos 69-99 cents a pound which is maybe 2 or 3. Sofrito is sold 3 miles away and if they are sold out I can't buy ingredients to make them from scratch because it is just not sold anywhere. Substitutions are great but not wonderful. I also miss my abuela who is in Santo Domingo enjoying her last days. She used to make mofongo for me whenever I visited her in the Bronx when I was a kid. Yesterday I made a much healthier version and the only fat is what is in the oil for frying the platanos (plantains).

makes 6 mofongos

3 large green plantains
3 cups water mixed with 1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 lbs of veggie bacon (I used Morningstar Farms because they are the most delish. It is not vegan because there are traces of dairy and eggs)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
adobo to taste
1/4 cup corn oil or EVOO

peel the plantains and cut them into 1/2 inch slices, dropping them into the salted water.
saute the bacon and chop coursely then put them to the side.
mix the garlic, bell pepper, and olive oil and season with adobo.
heat the corn oil or olive oil and fry the plantain slices until golden brown.
put a few tsps of the garlic-oil mix in a mortar or a bowl if you don't have.
add 1/6 of the bacon and 5 or 6 slices of plantain.
mash and press firmly into the mortar (if using a bowl get something like a heavy spoon not a potato masher since it is tougher than a cooked potato.
invert onto a plate.
repeat 5 more times

I had this with the leftover asopao but you can have it with any rice dish you desire.

Buen Provecho!

Friday, March 25, 2011


Yesterday I spent an hour trying to figure out what I wanted for dinner.
Bored with the same thing over and over again (rice, beans, pasta) I decided that I felt adventurous and do prepare something I have had a while back.
Black-Eyed Peas and Potatoes
You can find it in a past post dated 1/19/11
I did change it up a bit and instead of white potatoes, I made it with a yam.  It takes a little bit longer to cook but it was equally delicious than what the original recipe called for.

As a BzzAgent I was invited to participate in a COVERGIRL Lip Perfection Lipcolor review.
I received two different shades and this week I tried Coquette.  It is a nice shad of pink/rose and it stayed on and moisturized through 1 cup of tea, breakfast, lunch and lots of water throughout the morning and early afternoon.
My favorite thing about this new COVERGIRL Lip Perfection Lipcolor was how nice it looked.  The lip moisturizer did not feel heavy and it was so beautiful on my lips.  It was like lip gloss but better.  It was like I can walk down the red carpet and look faboulous.  It was like I strut my stuff and look good still in my sweats or jeans.  Yeah.  The feel was like orgasmic good.
I have coupons here with me but for those who don't know me PLEASE go to the website COVERGIRL Lip Perfection Lipcolor and get a $1 off coupon.

BzzAgent Badge

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lent and the loveliness of cheese

Every year I give one more thing for Lent.  One year I didn't open my chocolate drawer.  Another year I turned my nose up when offered candy.  This year is cheese.  For those who don't know me, I love cheese.  Cheese on everything from pasta to rice to toasty bread.  Yes I shouldn't eat the stuff since it makes my stomach ill but if you ever had pesto or a chile relleno you know that it is hard to turn away from that addicting ingredient.  I've had to stop myself and not make pesto yesterday.  On our weekly outing to Pasadena I told the chef to hold the cheese on my spinach enchilada.  It was still good but not as good as with cheese but I know I cut lots of calories and fat from my dish.
Because of my thyroid disease I have to work a little harder than the average person to release of 1/2 pound off the scale.
It should be interesting how I feel after Lent.  Spiritually, physically and mentally.

Now on to a recipe.

I found this recipe on a bag of quinoa.  Quinoa is one of the most nutritious grains out there.  1/4 cup of quinoa dry (it triples in size) is 7 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber.

Quinoa Taboule

2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup chopped Parsley (you know that green stuff on your plate when you are in a fancy restaurant.  it is, in fact, edible)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint (mine from my kitchen window :-) )
1 minced garlic clove
1 tbsp. fresh basil (also from my kitchen)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I always have a bottle of the stuff to safe me time)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 white pepper
diced tomatoes as many as your heart desires

toss together all the ingredients.
chill for about an hour.

Monday, March 7, 2011

unplugged for 24 hours

So I read on the Huffington Post about taking a tech break for 24 hours.
Often accused of spending too much time online, I decided to take this challenge.
Saturdays we usually just stay home and watch movies or go to the local library or museum for a fun activity.
Saturday was the end of a week long celebration honoring Dr. Seuss so the kids did that while I sat there with a book.
I did not take out my smart phone.
I read and helped.
That was an excruciating hour.
The rest of the day was good.
As the day progressed, I hung out with my girls watching movies and reading.
Not bad at all for 24 hours.
On Sunday, I sat down and downloaded my email and hung out on Facebook for a bit.
Then the weirdest thing happened.
On the way to Kairos I realized that I left my smart phone on my bed.
I didn't panic.  I just shrugged my shoulders and said oh well.

What did I learn during my 24 hours of no Internet?
           1. the Internet does not rule my day
           2. a lot of my time is not wasted on the Internet.  I do not Facebook/Twitter stalk people.  I just feel                                        connected with my family and long-time friends and that is not a bad thing.
           3.  being disconnected to the things outside of my walls (worldly and local news) made me reflect on  what's important to me and my family (sorry Charlie Sheen and Qaddafi).

Will I do this again?
I might even go beyond 24 hours on a weekend.

Sauteed Yellow Plantains with Parmesan Cheese

4 tbsps olive oil
3 very ripe plantains peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

heat the oil in a skillet.
saute the plantains slices over medium heat until golden brown.
drain on paper towels and sprinkle the cheese on top.


Friday, March 4, 2011


Social experiment!
no smartphone use and no computer for the weekend!
Will tell you how it goes on Monday.
Wish me luck!

Friday, February 18, 2011

my week in food...

Just in case you don't know, I love my public library.  We are there a couple of times a week and know us by name.  Better than a bar because we always leave with some knowledge of the our world.
I picked up a new (to me) cookbook called Now Eat This by Rocco Dispirito.
He is big on using Greek yogurt in recipes and all of his recipes cut calories and fat by more than half.  Some hits and misses, though.
Greek yogurt gives food a tangy flavor and I am not a fan of tangy flavors.
The kids did like some.  The man child loved them all.

Macaroni and Cheese with a Crusty Crunch

nonstick cooking spray
4 ozs whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 cup onion-garlic puree
1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded 50% reduced-fat cheddar
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (good luck finding this.  I just used regular parmesan)

preheat the oven to 425 degrees
spray an 8X8 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set it aside
bring a large pot of salted water to a boil
add the macaroni and cook according to the package direction
while the pasta is cooking, bring the onion-garlic puree, mustard and cayenne to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often.
whisk in the cheddar until it has melted.
remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt.
in a medium bowl, toss the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce to coat thoroughly.
season with salt to taste.
pour the macaroni into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the panko over the top.
top with the parmigiano-reggiano.
bake until the cheese has melted and the macaroni is hot throughout, about 10 minutes.
serve immediately.

1 large vidalia onion, roughly chopped
9 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

combine the onion, garlic, and water in a microwave-safe bowl.
season with salt and pepper to taste.
cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 minutes.
pour the mixture into a blender and blend until it is completely smooth.
season with salt and pepper to taste.

No Cream-No Cry Penne Alla Vodka

8 ozs whole-wheat penne
2 cups low fat marinara sauce
pinch of crushed red pepper
one 7oz container 2% Greek yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper
6 tbsps grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil
add the pasta and cook according to the package directions
while the pasta is cooking, bring the marinara sauce and crushed red pepper to a simmer in a large nonstick saute pan over medium heat.  
cook the sauce, stirring it occasionally with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until it is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  
remove the saute  pan from the heat
stir about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the yogurt until smooth, then whisk the yogurt mixture back into the marinara sauce
in a large serving bowl, toss the sauce with the drained penne and the basil.
season with salt and pepper to taste.
sprinkle the cheese on top, and serve.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 oz medium whole-wheat egg noodles
2 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced thin
1 small carrot, sliced thin on the diagaonal
3/4 cup shredded skinless breast meat from a rotisserie or roast chicken (not me.  I used Follow Your Heart        vegan 'chicken'.
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
cook the noodles according to the package directions
drain and set aside
while the noodles are cooking, combine the broth, onion, carrots and celery in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat.
cover reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 12 minutes.
add the cooked noodles and the chicken to the soup.  
season with salt and pepper to taste.
ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the cheese and parsley and serve.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I think I can live on this...

who doesn't LOVE LOVE LOVE pizza.
I think I can eat all day long.
So trying to find a somewhat healthy pizza, I came across this recipe from Jorge Cruise's The Belly Fat Cure.
It was a thumbs up from all the kids which means this recipe will be filed and used often.

Quattro Formaggio Pizza

4 Sara Lee Mr. Pita Whole Wheat Pita Breads
8 tbsps. Seeds of Change Romagna Three Cheese Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated provolone
1/2 cup grated fontina
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsps. chopped fresh basil
grated parmesan for serving
red chili flakes for serving

preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Warm pitas on a baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes.
remove and spread 2 tbsps of pasta sauce over each pita.
top each with cheese, equally.
bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
garnish with fresh basil
serve with a side of chili flakes and parmesan to taste.

It is compared to DiGiorno Four Cheese Pizza.  The tomato sauce used on the DiGiorno is high in sugar.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Spicy Chickpea and Eggplant Stew

This is from the Cooks Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking by Linda Fraser.
I came across this recipe when I was looking for something to make with chickpeas and eggplants.
It was very delicious but not as spicy as the title made it to be.
The flavors definitely exploded in my mouth.

3 large eggplants, cubed
1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 ground coriander
3 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
salt and pepper

place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt.
set the colander in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes to allow the bitter juices to escape.
rinse the eggplant with cold water and dry on paper towels (skipped this step.  I didn't feel the need.)
drain the chickpeas and put in a saucepan with enough water to cover.
bring to a boil and simmer for 1 - 1/2 hours, or until tender.
heat the oil in a large saucepan.
add the garlic and onion and cook until soft.
add the spices and cook, stirring, for a few seconds.
stir in the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes.
add the tomatoes and chickpeas and season with salt and pepper.
cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
to make the garnish, heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a frying pan and when very hot, add 1 sliced onion and 1 garlic clove, sliced.
fry until golden and crisp.
serve the stew with rice, topped with the onion and garlic and garnished with cilantro.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Indian Vegan Kitchen BY Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D.

is my new obsession.  I bought it a few weeks ago and I've been perusing the recipes trying to figure out where to begin.
Next to Thai food, Indian food is my next favorite.
The colors, the aroma and the taste makes my mouth happy.

Last night I decided to make this...

Black-Eyed Peas and Potatoes
1 1/2 tbsps canola or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsps ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp almond butter
1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas or if you are not a dried bean kinda person 1 can black-eyed peas, drained and
1 cup potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups water
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

heat oil in a wok (or large skillet) on medium-high heat.
add cumin seeds and cook for a few seconds until darker brown.
add onion and fry 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
add ginger and tomatoes.
cover and cook for about 2 minutes.
using a potato masher or the back of a spoon, mash the tomatoes until well blended.
add turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper, and almond butter.
stir for a few seconds
add the black-eyed peas and potatoes, and stir to coat with the onion masala.
add salt and water.
bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
using the back of a spoon, mash a few potatoes against the pan.
add garam masala and lemon juice.
transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.
serve with rice.

It was so yummy.  The kids felt it had too much flavor.

Seasoned Zucchini (because I wanted some kind of vegetable to complete my meal)
2 lbs zucchini
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
3/4 salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsps ground coriander
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsps cilantro, chopped

trim zucchini ends and slice in 2 length-wise.
then cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces.
heat oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high heat.
add cumin seeds and cook for a few seconds until golden brown.
add zucchini and stir.
stir in turmeric, salt, cayenne pepper, and coriander.
add water.
cover with lid.
reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until zucchini is tender.
sprinkle garam masala and lemon juice over mixture and stir.
transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chopped cilantro.

alot of spices can be found in the ethnic section of the supermarket and are cheaper than what you will find in the spice racks.
also I did not clean my wok between the seasoned zucchini and the black-eyed peas and potatoes.  Seasonings transfer from one dish to another and it's YUMMY.

Popular Posts