Special Anniversary Dinner (aka random stuff I found in the kitchen)

Today, the hubby and I celebrated 2 years of marriage.  Love you, Iain.  Here’s to many many happy years.

Us two years ago today:

To celebrate, I was planning on making these.  But, after having a long day at work, I had to come up with something pretty quickly when I was walking home.  I thought about Betsy Life’s current Pantry Challenge and thought that I have some pretty good stuff to work with, I’ll just figure something out when I get home.  And it turned out pretty great.  Good thing, because we have enough leftovers for the next 3 days!

Cheezy Orzo with fresh herbs

Recipe at the bottom of the page.

But, the real winner was dessert.  Gwyneth Paltrow’s Brownies topped with Chocolate Chip Banana Softserve.

And it was goooooood.  I mean, it was no White Chocolate Raspberry Wedding Cake.

But it was fast and Vegan – Vegan – Vegan.  (Don’t tell Iain).

Scroll down even further for the recipe.

Cheers!

Cheezy Orzo

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 cups uncooked Orzo (one small box)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 oz vegan cheddar
  • Can of whatever beans you have in the pantry (kidney beans for us)
  • 2 cups of whatever frozen veggies (lima & green beans)
  • Handful of fresh herbs (parsley and basil)
  • Vegan mozzarella

In a large crockpot, heat the olive oil on medium high and stir in the garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the orzo and tomato paste and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add the broth and white wine.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low.  Cover and let simmer 10-15 minutes.  Stir every few minutes to ensure orzo isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Once most of the liquid is absorbed, grate cheddar and stir in.  Add in frozen veggies and beans.  Stir until veggies are heated through.  Toss in herbs.

Dish it up, and top with a bit of shaved Vegan Mozzarella.

Chocolate-Chip Banana Soft Serve

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 Tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Trader Joe’s Chocolate chips

Chop frozen banana into medium chunks and put in a food processor.

Blend until soft serve consistency.  Add in milk, syrup and extract.  Blend.

Toss in Chocolate chips and process until blended.

Spoon on top of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Delicious Fudgy Chocolate Brownies.



Staying healthy and safe during a hurricane – what to buy

I’m no stranger to hurricanes, since I grew up in South Carolina and lived in Florida for 4 years.  They are, pretty much, a Hallmark of late Summer / Fall.   But I definitely didn’t expect to be preparing for one in the NYC / NJ area.  No way.  I think Irene has caught us all by surprise.  And I’m mad because Hurricane Irene thwarted an Annual Girls weekend in Florida this weekend!! Not because she’s barreling down on Florida, because she’s barreling to NYC.  I still can’t get over that!

Nonetheless, we now know in the NYC area that a hurricane is on the way, scheduled to impact our area early Sunday, and we need to start to prepare.   Hurricane prepardness is no joke.  Plan for the worst, hope for the best.  This post assumes that electricity will go out, water will not be available and you’ll be home-bound for 1-3 days.  But, fingers crossed that this will be the worst anyone will suffer.

Stock up on non-perishables AND fill your freezer.  When power goes out, you want your freezer to be chock full of frozen goods so that it takes longer to thaw out.  So YES, this is your excuse to go to the store and PILE up on ice cream.

The hubby and I went shopping last night for some basic supplies (along with the rest of New Jersey). The goal was to stock up on healthy eating items.  Here’s what was on our list:

  • Water (obviously)
  • Bananas (fruit that will be ok at room temp)
  • Bread (tons to stuff in the freezer)
  • Crackers
  • Ice cream!  (We got several So Delicious pints)
  • Lara bars
  • Canned soups (ensure you have a manual can opener)
  • Canned rice
  • Canned beans
  • Almond milk (great because it won’t spoil at room temperature)
  • Candles & batteries (obviously)
  • Apples  (fruit that will be ok at room temp)
  • Pita Chips
  • Garbanzo beans ( I plan on making a big batch of hummus early Saturday)
  • Carrots
  • Green & Blacks Dark Chocolate
  • Board games & Playing cards!

And I most definitely plan on making “Hurricanes” Saturday night.  (come on over !) 

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 limes
  • 1 orange
  • Passion Fruit Syrup
  • Dark Rum
  • Maraschino Cherries

I’ll post the full recipe tomorrow as I make it.  Assuming we’ll have wi-fi!

One last thing.  Precautions to take at home:

  • Bring in patio furniture and outdoor plants
  • Remove A/C units from windows.  (don’t want these flying out!)
  • Fill up bathtub and pots with water for extra provisions.

Stay safe, people!!  And “Constant Vigilance”!  (my two favorite words from the Harry Potter series, appropriate in ANY situation, CV).

Embarrassingly easy Vegan Tostadas with “refried” beans

Mmmmm Tostada…   (last night’s dinner)

A couple of questions for you:

  • Are you looking for a healthy, delicious and easy weeknight dinner?
  • Do you have a can of black beans, corn tortillas and some vegetables in your kitchen?

Then you need to try this out.  It’s husband approved.  (I had a good photo of Iain shoving one into his mouth but, he made me take it down- geez)

Embarrassingly easy Vegan Tostadas with “refried” beans

Serves 2

Total Time: 15 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

  • 4-5 Corn tortillas
  • Spray Oil
  • Refried beans (either a can of Amy’s or from recipe below)
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of greens chopped (I had spinach)
  • 1/2 Avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons salsa
  • 2 ounces Vegan Cheddar Cheese (I wish I had used Daiya which melts much better than the brand I had on hand)
  1. Turn oven on to Broil
  2. Spray both sides of the Corn Tortillas, and cook each in a non-stick skillet until golden brown.  Then lay them out on a baking sheet.   

3.   Spread each tortilla with Vegan Refried Beans                                                             

4.  Top each tortilla with tomatoes, chopped greens, avocado, onion and cheese. (or whatever goodness you have on hand, I put some chicken sausage slices on the husband’s).  Slide baking sheet with tortillas into the oven and watch ( be careful to not let them burn) until the cheese is melty (3-5 minutes).

Top each with salsa and enjoy.  I know we did!

Vegan “Refried” Beans

  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor.
                     2.  Pulse until a hummus (ish), refried beans-y consistency.

Cinnamon Banana Breakfast Scramble

Warning.  I am going to eat A LOT today.  9 mile run this morning and bikram yoga this evening, I know I need to fuel up.  This is one of my favorite ways to get a good start in the morning.  Gooey, banana-y, peanut butter-y, warm, crunchy, messy.  Delicious.

(And my husband’s finger)

Cinnamon Banana Breakfast Scramble

Adapted from The Edible Perspective

  • 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds (I’ll need to write an ode to Chia seeds later)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oats
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk (I Used Almond Milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Banana
  • 1 English Muffin
  • 1 Tablespoon Nut Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Strawberry Jam
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the Chia seeds, oats, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon and mash the banana.  Once the mixture is combined flip into a nonstick skillet and cook on that side for 3 minutes.
  2. While scramble is cooking, toast the English Muffin.
  3. After the 3 minutes, flip the scramble to the other side.  This may be a little messy.  And cook 3 minutes on the other side.
  4. Top one 1/2 of the English Muffin with peanut butter and the other 1/2 with jam and then add the Banana scramble.
Mmmmm.  Good morning to you!!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Green Monster

I woke up this morning “NEEDING” some fruit and vegetables.  ASAP.  A Green Monster was calling my name.

It may have had something to do with eating an entire loaf of focaccia last night in lieu of dinner.   That wasn’t my intention, I just stopped by a local market to pick up the loaf on the way home, and before I knew it; GONE.  But, delicious.  I blame it on the 12 mile run + 4 mile hike I had done the day before.  My body apparently still needed to replenish some carbs.

Anyways, on to the Green Monster.   Thanks to Angela , I LOVE Green Monsters.  Healthy, delicious and easy.  And my friend, Heidi, swears these smoothies result in an immediate improvement in skin tone. What could be better?  Well, the color could be improved.  Green / black smoothies don’t appeal to everyone. 🙂

Chocolate Covered Cherry Green Monster (Vegan)

  • 1 cup pitted cherries – highly recommend getting yourself a cherry pitter
  • 1 frozen banana chopped
  • 1 cup Almond Milk
  • 2 Big Handfuls of Spinach
  • 2 teaspoons Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 Scoop Amazing Grass Amazing Meal
  • 1 teaspoon Agave Nectar
  • 1 Tablespoons Chocolate Chips (vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 – Toss all ingredients in a blender (don’t get weirded out by seeing the Chocolate Chips & Spinach hanging out together)

2- Blend

3 – Pour into a glass and drink your veggies!

First Post – Vegan City Grits

Well, this is my first attempt in the blog world.  I’ve been wanting to post for awhile but, decided I couldn’t have a blog with the name “Nitty Grits” without the first post being about grits. Come on!

Not just grits.  But, vegan grits.

Tough task.  I live in NYC and it is NOT easy to find grits in this town.  After a search of about 3 specialty food stores, I found a box of instant Arrowhead Mills hidden on the bottom shelf of a Whole Foods.  And it was the last box!  I pitty the next person who goes looking for them.

Obviously, instant grits are not ideal.  I usually love Arrowhead Mills but I’ve never tasted any instant grits that are anywhere close to the real thing.  But, if you find yourself in the same predicament (are there many people looking to make vegan grits outside of the south – or anywhere?), this recipe still turns out pretty fabulous.   I love the crunch of the fresh corn mixed in there.  Yum.

Vegan City Grits – Topped with Tomatoes, Peppers and Corn

Serves 2

  • 1/3 cup of instant grits
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (About 1 ear of corn)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Soy Milk
  • 1 oz nondairy cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 strips of tempeh bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Tabasco sauce (to taste)

Heat the 1 tablespoon Olive Oil on medium-high in a large skillet on medium high.

Add onions and cook until translucent.

Add the green pepper and cook until onion browns a little.

Add the tomatoes and jalapeno.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.  Stir often.

While the onion mixture is cooking, bring water to a simmer and slowly add in the grits.  Reduce heat to low and stir constantly so that the grits don’t get lumpy for about 5 minutes.  Add the soy milk, cheese, Earth Balance, salt and pepper and stir until cheese has melted.

While onion mixture and grits are cooking, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet and add crumbled tempeh.  Cook until crispy then lay out on a paper towel to cool down.

Divide grits into two large bowls, top with 1/2 each the onion mixture and 1/2 the crumbled tempeh.

Top with as much Tabasco as you can take and taste the south, wherever you might be…