Saturday, September 3, 2011

Easy, Cheap and Fairly Healthy

I don't really like to cook. Baking is ok now and then, mostly because I want somewhat healthy baked sweets, not because I actually enjoy the act of baking. But cooking is usually too much effort for too little results. I do not make meals, I make dishes that serve as meals. Pasta, for example, is a one-dish meal. My family is lucky if I make a salad with it. I will never do a whole spread with meat, pasta, salad, bread, dessert unless company is over which is maybe once a year.

All of that being said, I have been hitting some homeruns in the cooking department lately. Homerun meaning at least 3 out of 4 of the solid food eating members of my household like it and it requires minimal work and preferably creates leftovers. My husband has been out of town for work, which means I have to actually attempt cooking (he usually does it), because my kids are not happy living off of oatmeal, fruit, granola bars, salad and cookies like I am (no really, they turn down cookies).

I discovered, where you can input the ingredients you have in your kitchen and it will spew out recipes that use those ingredients.

This is colcannon, which is an Irish version of mashed potatoes (come to think of it, they probably invented mashed potatoes in the first place). Anyway, in my quest to make as many things as possible vegan, I think next time I will use coconut oil instead of butter.

The girls have been asking for pancakes every single morning since I started using this recipe. They are vegan, whole wheat and fluffy, which sounds like an oxymoron, but it's true! It's the massive amount of baking powder that's the secret.

Egg salad with rice to make it stretch. (We were at my mom's for dinner and she said she was going to use rice to make the chicken grow. E looked out the window at grandma's garden and said "You grow chicken?!" Grandma explained that no, chicken is an animal, we are just using the rice to make it stretch.... No. Wait. We aren't really stretching chicken either. And we wonder why it's hard for people to learn English when they move here!) Anyway, the girls and I liked it in a flour tortilla with ranch and lettuce. (Yes, I'm a total hypocrite talking about trying to eat vegan and then chowing down on eggs and ranch dressing).

Latkes are potato pancakes and we had them for the first time at a Hanukkah party. Serving them with applesauce is key, they just aren't the same alone or with ketchup.

My oven broke, so I was looking for microwave cake recipes and found a few that I combined into my own. They turned out more like granola bars, but they are sweet enough for dessert.

Mix in a bowl:

1/2 cup oil
1 1/3 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar (next time I'll try honey and see how they turn out)
2 eggs (I skipped them one time I made this and just added a little water and they still turned out good)
1 t vanilla
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg

Then add:

1 cup chocolate chips


1/2 cup cranberries (this makes them really tangy and yummy

Microwave for 6 minutes or until firm. If you do it longer, they are more like crunchy granola bars. If you do it for less time they are a bit chewier.

One of my favorite dishes is pasta with alfredo sauce and I've missed it since I stopped eating dairy. I finally learned how to make a good, vegan white sauce and it's so easy. Just make roux with olive oil instead of butter and rice milk instead of cow's milk. Since I never know what seasonings to use, I made it with vegetable broth instead of rice milk. At that point it was no longer anything like alfredo, but with some chopped spinach and sundried tomatoes on top of egg noodles, it was delicious.

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