November Menu

I’m a bit behind on my menu. Last night we had grilled cheese sandwiches.

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October Menu

Last month I went back to a more ‘meat-centric’ menu and found myself not really following the menu. In fact I only made four things that were on the menu. This month I’m going to take a better look at what we actually eat and try to make things that would be good for us to eat.

Haystacks – Chili Salad

HaystacksA while ago I made a big pot of chili. Now, I could eat bowls of chili for days, but sometimes a little change is nice. My mom used to make haystacks because it was a quick and easy meal. The best chili is simmered for hours, but the chili on top of the haystacks can be made in half an hour. Just throw your chili ingredients into the pot and bring to a simmer. Or better yet, use leftover chili. Use your favorite traditional recipe or try this vegan chili recipe.
There isn’t really a recipe for haystacks, more like instructions.
Ingredients:
Chili
tortilla chips
lettuce, chopped or shredded
cheese (Daiya cheddar shreds, at our house)
sour cream (Tofutti for us)
avocado
salsa
olives
Instructions:
Cover a plate with tortilla chips (I like to crumble mine), cover with cheese. Spoon hot chili over the chips, cover with lettuce, salsa, sour cream, avocado, olives, any other toppings you like. It is up to you how closely your haystack resembles a salad or nachos.

This is an easy idea to adapt to any special diet. Use vegan chili, and dairy-free cheese and sour cream for a filling vegan dinner. Use dairy products and meaty chili for the omnivores or any combination that works for you.

Vodka Pasta Sauce

I have passed over the Rachael Ray You-Won’t-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta for years. Vodka? Why? Is wine not good enough for you? After my kids ate their bow ties and marinara I wanted something a little more grown up. I don’t know why I didn’t look at my Rachael Ray cookbook, but the computer was on so I searched for Vodka Pasta. The Pioneer Woman came up. I like her stuff. It isn’t dairy-free or vegan or anything, but it’s good and easily adapted. Then I searched for dairy free vodka pasta and putting a couple of recipes together made Dairy Free Vodka Pasta. I was pleasantly surprised. Why had I waited to make this sauce? Maybe it’s because I’m more apt to use vodka in a tincture or facial product than in my food. That being the case I might not make this pasta often, but if I’m cooking for myself or maybe for two I’ll pull this recipe out.

Vegan Chili

I am on the Green Thickie 7 day diet. It isn’t too much of a stretch for me. I went from one thickie to two, cut out meat and alcohol and sweets. I don’t have alcohol or sweets regularly so that isn’t a big deal, (I might be lying) but I’ve had a little trouble with the no meat. The first night I made brown rice and stir-fry. I just left out the chicken, it was pretty good, but I was hungry an hour later. The next night I made chili. Now the recipe from the Thickie lady said it was chili, but she is in the U.K. and chili means something different there. So, I made red, American-style chili. Only I had no idea how to make vegan chili. I mean how do you make chili without meat? Some people don’t even put beans in their chili! Where does the flavor come from? How do you get the right texture? Most recipes I found on the internet used some kind of “veggie crumble” meat-like product. I don’t know about that. I had some left over stir-fry veggies so I popped those in the Vitamix and mixed it in. Luckily it turned out pretty good. My kids didn’t complain, one of then even asked for seconds! (I served theirs over macaroni)  I don’t know if I was just so hungry or if it really tasted that good! Anyway, I think I’ll make it again just for a healthy alternative. I served mine over left over brown rice, topped it with Tofutti sour cream, salsa and avocado. I thought it was delicious! And, I’m hungry again. More water.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

When I was single a lot of meals took hours to prepare (because I didn’t have anything else to do) and often consisted of variations on pasta. Occasionally I had a meat of some sort and odd vegetables left in the crisper. Other times garlic and olive oil was about all I had. I still love pasta and I hope my family does as well. My girls prefer good old spaghetti with meat sauce, but sometimes I like to have Carbonara, Piccata or Alfredo. Yes, dairy-free. Carbonara is pretty easy because you use an egg yolk and pasta water to make the sauce. Parmesan is added at the end, but it tastes fine without it. Sometimes I grate some Brazil nuts on top. but not always. (I use the Rachael Ray recipe Spaghetti alla Carbonara: Bacon and Egg “Coal Miner’s” Pasta.)Piccata may not taste as good without butter, but I just use more olive oil to make the roux. (I use the easy Piccata Toss recipe from Rachael Ray.) Now, Alfredo is a whole other ballgame. How do you make a dairy-free sauce that is supposed to be made from cream, butter and cheese? Hurrah for the internet! Hurrah for the Vegans! I found a great Alfredo recipe called “Hurry Up Alfredo”. It uses cashews to make a creamy sauce. My husband loves it. He asked me not to tell him what it was made of because he didn’t want to risk being freaked out by the ingredients. He was totally fine with cashews. Sometimes I make this with whatever pasta I have on hand, but sometimes I get all fancy and use fettuccine, add grilled chicken and steamed broccoli. This is one of those meals I don’t have to worry about anyone complaining or whining about the food. Luckily both of my kids love broccoli. I never thought about hurting my mom’s feelings when I whined about dinner, but now I know it must have upset her. One more thing you can’t learn until you have kids of your own.