Saturday, March 31, 2007

Last March post- a mishmash and a giveaway

GIVE-AWAY UPDATE (4 April 2007, 12: 10 a.m.): Thank you, everyone, for trying to guess the object in the picture! Some of your more creative guesses made me giggle- you guys have imagination!

Some of you did guess correctly! I entered everyone who mentioned the word ... (drumroll, please) are you ready for this... TAMARIND in their response into a drawing. These included Aiyana (congratulations on having the first correct guess!), Nikki, Brooke, Kati, and Village Vegan.

And the winner is... Nikki! Congratulations! I will get your address and send you the package of goodies ASAP.

I have to say, I love tamarind, especially straight out of its pod as a sour-sweet-tangy snack. Of course, there are tons of recipes using Tamarind in sauce, paste, or liquid form. There are even tamarind candies. Try some today!


I have minutes before the clock strikes midnight and I have a lot of random pictures and things that I want to blog about. So this post lacks coherence or unity, but I hope it makes up for it with fun things to see!

A romantic dinner for two. As you all might have realized by now, I've absolutely fallen in love with fennel this past year. Here was a really simple, but very delicious meal: whole wheat penne pasta with a sauce of sauteed fennel, diced tomatoes, and black olives. To accompany it, some candlelight and a nice chianti. (No liver of fava beans, though- ha ha!) Although I like fennel raw (and it's a great digestive that way), the mellow, caramelized flavor it takes on when gently cooked is incomparable.

I don't know what to call this dish- not quite chilli, not quite soup or stew, but delicious. We took some homemade pinto beans, added crushed tomatoes, chopped onion, bell pepper and carrots, a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, bay leaves, coriander, and a few other spices, cooked them together and got something that is difficult to categorize, but easy to eat! The combination of spicy and earthy flavors came together well, and the ground coriander added a nice tang.

Here I am with Bijou... we were both feeling a bit silly on this day!

** GIVEAWAY!! **

Finally, last Sunday, Daiku and I went to the annual health fair, put on by our local health food store, NaturTyme. This was my first visit to the New York State fairgrounds! Yes, the state fair is held minutes from where I live, but I've never had an interest in visiting the "let's gorge on sausage and glorify the dairy industry" crap-fest that is the State Fair. Blech. The health fair was much more fun. There were talks, cooking demonstrations, even makeovers and massages! But best of all, there were hundreds of companies giving out samples of food, vitamins, and health and beauty products. Did I mention all the free food? Not only did Daiku and I get to munch on the spot (breakfast!), but we brought home an embarrassingly large stash, some of which you can see above.

Since we are up to our ears in vegan items- teas, shake mixes, supplements, chocolates, lotions, drink mixes, vitamins, power bars and more- I decided it would be fun to have a giveaway to share the wealth. To the winner, I will send a large package of fun little samples. If you want to participate, simply identify the subject of the picture below:


Once you know what this is, leave a comment, naming it and letting me know that you want to participate in the contest. On Tuesday, April 3 at midnight (EST), I will put the names of all the correct guessers in a hat and draw out a winner to send the samples to.

Ready, set, go. Good luck and happy April!


Friday, March 30, 2007

Anatomy of a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Last weekend, we decided to indulge in a home-made deep dish pizza. From start to finish, this process took close to 4 hours, but was SO worth it.

(A little long bit of back-story first... I've loved Chicago-style pizza ever since the 7th grade. I was on the video yearbook crew, and was chosen to go along and film a prize trip for students who had sold the largest number of something for a fund-raiser. This was cool because I never sold a single ____ (frozen pizza, wrapping paper, insert inane fundraiser here). My own parents never bought anything from me! To this day, the only kind of job I don't think I could ever do is sales. Asking someone to buy something? So not my nature. Anyway, the highest-selling 5 students had won an "awesome" prize- a limousine ride to lunch at the Pizzeria Uno. So I got to ride in a limo for the first time and eat Chicago-style pizza for the first time, and I didn't have to sell a thing. Score! When I took my first bite of the ooey, gooey pizza, I was amazed. The crust was so buttery- it was like a biscuit! Now, the crust has always been my favorite part of the pizza- not only am I not the kind of person that leaves their crusts on their plate, but I will eat the left-over crusts other people leave behind. So I love crust, and Chicago-style pizza is practically an homage to the crust. What's not to love?)

I found this recipe for the dough. I was so excited- it was inspired by Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet! Does anyone remember the Frugal Gourmet? Way before the Food Network existed, I was watching him and Martin Yan on PBS.

After 2 rises, this dough was enourmous. I cut off half for our pizza and saved 2 balls of dough to freeze for future use.

Here I am stretching the dough. The resemblance to human flesh was frightening.

We baked it in one of our trusty cast-iron pans, stretching the dough up the sides.

Here are the toppings. Pizza sauce, with extra fennel seed and other spices, courtesy of Daiku. Roasted, peeled red pepper. Black olives. Red onions. Chopped garlic. Tofu ricotta. (Just a blend of firm drained tofu, miso, lemon juice, garlic powder, and dried basil) Roasted mushrooms. (We roasted them so they would give off liquid first instead of soggying up the pizza. We squeezed them to get every last drop out. It turns out, we needn't have worried much. This crust was STURDY!)

Oh, do you notice the magical hovering pizza sauce at right? I was holding it up, but the photo doesn't include my hands. The result is pretty hilarious.

Into a hot oven. We layered toppings in this order, trying to stay traditional: cheese, toppings, cheese. (I'll conveniently ignore the fact that traditional would probably also entail a pound of mozzarella and 4 pounds of meat...)

Out from the hot oven. (You'll notice that 1/4 of the pizza has dairy cheese - Gruyère - for Daiku on top)

Did I mention this crust had HEFT??

There you have it, a vegan chicago-style deep dish pizza. After a brief cooling-off period, it was ready to be sliced and go into our bellies. This dinner was satisfying! And the one pizza was enough for lunch and dinner for the two of us the next day. SO worth it.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Big 2-8

Well, today was my birthday. I thought I'd share some of it with you in the form of photos...

Early this morning, Daiku brought me breakfast in bed: soy yogurt and granola parfaits, bananas, juice, coffee for him, Teecino for me.

Don't these blueberries make the yogurt look like it's smiling? It's a good thing we ate breakfast, too. It's a tradition for Daiku and me to go to the gym together on my birthday, and today I wanted to try a spinning class for the first time. The workout was *wow*. But now, we're in severe pain, including some of our unmentionable spots! In any case, we needed the energy that our breakfast gave us!

It's a spring miracle! I love this time of year so much. My real name, in Farsi, means "spring" so I've always felt a connection to this time. First, the new year, then, my birthday. And, surprises like seeing our flower bulbs peek out for the first time!

I only noticed these a few days ago- in a matter of days, we went from snow and ice to budding flowers. I think as much as I complain about the snow in Syracuse, it is undeniably responsible for bringing on a lush, beautiful spring. (These are the bulbs we planted way back when...)

The cats got to celebrate spring, too! Here they are coming back into the house after their first field trip to the backyard to munch on some grass. They loved it.

Daiku works very late on Tuesdays, and often grabs a late lunch at work. This gives me the perfect excuse to have my kind of dinner on these nights- light and fresh. Tonight's birthday dinner was some potatoes and chard cooked with garlic and red pepper flakes, topped with some truffle oil. Behind it, you can see a simple spring salad. I know it's still not exactly the right time for them, but when I saw vine-ripened tomatoes at the supermarket, I couldn't resist buying some.

I also decided to bake myself a birthday cake- a vegan pound cake!! Pre-veg, Sara Lee pound cakes were my absolute favorites, but I'd never tried my hand at a vegan version until I came upon this recipe. Thanks to Tracy's blog, because this cake was kickass. I let it bake a little too long (60 minutes instead of the suggested 50- I didn't realize it would keep baking a bit even after it came out of the oven.) I also used both vanilla and lemon extract, instead of choosing between the two.

The results were very very good anyway. Here's the cake right after I'd blown out my candle- no way was I going to try and fit (and light) 28 candles on there! I didn't want so many holes in my perfect little pound cake!

To serve it, I made a sauce using frozen mixed berries, lemon juice and zest, a drop of orange juice, and sugar. I finished it off with a dollop of soy yogurt.

All in all, a pretty good day. I received some nice gifts (I'll post about them later) and we are planning on getting out and celebrating some more this weekend. Stay tuned!


Friday, March 23, 2007

Protest Canada's Seal Hunt

I won't make this post wordy. (In reality, this isn't a subject I can talk about without having a complete emotional breakdown.) In about a week, the slaughter of baby seals will begin in Canada. Last year, over 350,000 seals were brutally clubbed to death. Most of these seals are babies who are too young to know to run away from human beings. By the time they realize they're in danger, it is too late.

Please make your outrage and protest known to the Canadian government and spread the word. Some of the most effective things you can do include: boycotting Canadian seafood and restaurants and stores that sell it, refusing to wear fur and leather products, and signing pledges of protest.

Humane Society Information and Boycott Pledge

IFAW's 300,000 actions for 300,000 seals campaign

PETA Information and Petition Site

One of the best ways to learn more about what goes on is to go to
YouTube and search the phrase "seal hunt." There are many dedicated activists and organizations taking the time, effort, and risk to make videos exposing the cruelty.

Let's band together and maybe this unbelievably barbaric and unnecessary practice will end in our lifetimes.

UPDATE 3/24:
I think it's important to educate ourselves on both sides of the issue, even if we ultimately decry the hunting of the seals. Here's a good website that brings together some links that could be described as "pro" seal hunt:

It's always helpful to be well-informed, so we don't come off as "hysterical" activists.
Oh, one last point, which may be controversial to some. While I really appreciate what most animal rights groups do in defense of the seals, I don't give money directly to their anti-seal hunt campaigns. I feel that these campaigns often exploit the cuteness of the baby seals and are otherwise way too sensational. That is just my personal opinion, and I do make donations to various animal rights groups at other times of the year. I'd love to hear everyone else's comments and opinions!

The above photo is a baby harp seal. Here is a photo of a hooded seal, another species that gets hunted. I think non-baby seals are just as deserving of protection, don't you?

Image courtesy of:


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Syracuse Vegan Society Dinner!

Last night, Daiku and I had so much fun at the Syracuse Vegan Society's first dinner, held at Steve's Cantina and Grill. (Click here to see the official flyer at Trac's Blog.) Trac and Bridget, fellow Syracuse bloggers, went through so much time and trouble organizing the event, and it was a blast. Thank you, ladies.

First up, appetizers: chips with fresh salsa and guacamole, plus a house salad with lime/cilantro dressing. The salsa was magnificent, very fresh and tangy. The guacamole was also divine, when our table finished ours, we ate another table's guac too! The salad was good, but we wished we had more dressing!

Next up were the entrees- we had the choice of black bean or soy enchiladas. Daiku and I got one of each, so we could split and try both.

Here's the black bean enchilada, it came with a side of rice (with lentils) and one of veggies (corn, beans, peas, zucchini).

And here's the soy enchilada- our whole table was amazed at how realistic the meat filling was! Both enchiladas were smothered with a deep, rich, smoky chipotle sauce. Daiku and I loved ours, but it might have been too spicy for some.

The chef at Steve's Cantina had worked really hard to come up with this vegan menu, and we all really appreciated his cooking talents!

For dessert, Trac surprised us with these margarita cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I loved these- so refreshing and lime-y. I have now officially tasted 7 cupcakes from this book- when will I try all of them??

A photo of the blogging buddies: (l to r) Bazu, Trac, Bridget. What a fun night- hanging out with and meeting cool people, eating specially prepared vegan food, drinking some potent drinks, and best of all, the proceeds went to People for Animal Rights, a local Central New York animal organization.

I can't wait to do this again!

Restaurant Information:

Steve's Cantina & Grill
401 Milton Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13204


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Norooz!

Image courtesy of:

One of the most fun things about Norooz, or Iranian New Year, is that it it tied precisely to the moment of the Vernal Equinox- when Winter turns to Spring, and day and night are exactly the same length.

So you can figure out exactly when that moment comes in any given year, and know that your friends and family all over the world are celebrating at exactly the same moment. For me in New York, that moment will be 8:07:26 p.m. tonight.

Do you want to know exactly when spring will come to your neck of the woods? Click here:

It is customary to call all your closest friends and family soon after the ringing in of the new year to wish them a happy Norooz. Usually, younger people call older people as a sign of respect. And, for the next 13 days, people visit each other and adults give children "eidi" or new year's cash. Leading up to today, Iranians all around the world have been spring cleaning, buying new clothes, creating their "haft sin" tables, and getting excited about the holiday. It's a pretty sweet time of the year... especially if you're a kid!

More to come soon!


Monday, March 19, 2007

stuck in the snow!

Evil Icicles Hanging Perilously From Daiku's Office...

So Daiku and I bundled up to head out into the snow to do some grocery shopping for Norooz, which is the Iranian New Year and a celebration of the first day of spring. (Scheduled to occur this year on Tuesday, March 20, sometime in the evening on the East Coast). Ironic that the first day of Spring, usually celebrated with flowers and herbs and sunshine should find us buried in snow and sub-freezing temperatures... but I digress. As we slid down our icy front hill, we realize with horror that neither of us has keys. No car keys... no house keys. The sun is about to set, there is snow coming down, and we are LOCKED OUT! After scaling our property and ensuring that, unfortunately, our house is pretty secure, we are stuck with no way of getting in. Our neighbors are gone to Florida. The only person who has keys to our house, our cat-sitter, is at least 30-40 minutes away, and probably still at work. Long story short, we end up having to break a basement window to get inside our house. By this time, we're lucky we can still feel our extermities. Suffice it to say, we didn't make it to the grocery store. I'm sorry to be a grinch, but Norooz has to be postponed this year... I promise to give you a post sometime this week with lots of good food and tradition and cheer. As soon as I thaw out that is...

In the meantime, enjoy the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, and the beginning of the season of renewal and hope tomorrow.

P.S. My husband is my hero- in addition to his many talents, I have now witnessed him jimmying and breaking his way into a house like a world-class criminal!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

some baking, some comfort food

Today's high temperature in Syracuse was 68 degrees- yay!! Most of our snow is gone, gone, gone. Oh, just one thing- tomorrow, we'll be back in the 30's and 40's and we are even going to get some more snow. On the bright side, that means there is still plenty of time for baking and comfort foods to fight off the chill...

Susan V's carrot spice muffins. These muffins were so delicious, I couldn't believe how truly healthy they are- and they were so easy to bake! Make these if you want a satisfying new breakfast or snack option. They tasted so much like carrot cake that I wanted to slather on some sort of cream cheese frosting, but then that would have defeated the whole point, no?

Whole-wheat bread. I saw this recipe, originally from the Frugal Portland Living blog, on Crystal's blog, and I was intrigued. Yes, this was posted back in October- you can see how long it takes me to get around to trying recipes sometimes! (I still haven't gotten around to making no-knead bread yet!) I used white whole wheat flour and the bread turned out really well- although mine had a strange pumpkin orange color to it that I didn't see in Crystal's pictures. No worries- the bread itself was tasty and soft and great toasted with some margarine.

Here is the bread being served with some beans and greens, courtesy of Daiku. This meal was not just comfort-food, it was *really* homemade- the beans were made from scratch, as was the bread! Now if we'd only grown the chard ourselves...

Speaking of comfort foods, I adapted Kathy F's recipe for winter vegetable stew with mustard and chive dumplings- I left out some ingredients I was missing because this recipe looked so good I wanted to try it as soon as I read about it- no time to go shopping for ingredients. I loved the dumplings!

With comfort food like this around, I can handle another week or two of cold weather, I think...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rockin' it old skool

I want to tell you about a meal that brought Daiku and me an inordinate amount of pleasure recently. It was that time of the week when our refrigerator was looking pretty empty, and we had to raid our pantry to make something for dinner. I grabbed a box of this tofu burger mix and set about making patties, thinking we'd have burgers. However, that plan changed as we tried to come up with a vegetable side. We had a couple of carrots and half a bag of frozen peas. Daiku remembered something his grandmother used to cook with these ingredients- we sauteed the sliced carrots, and then added onions and peas. We took the other half of our onion and roasted it in the toaster oven. We realized that these were very old-fashioned sides. So we decided to make our entree old-fashioned as well. As the patties stayed warm in the oven, we added some cheese to the top (veggie mozzarella for me, dairy cheddar for Daiku). The result looked amusingly like an old salisbury steak t.v. dinner right out of the 1950's. As we had dinner that night, we kept giggling at how ridiculous yet sublime our old skool meal was. I think mixing gourmet foods with more simple, kitschy ones is a great way to keep things interesting!


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Oh Spring, where art thou?

I've been a little lazy about blogging lately because, frankly, the weather has been depressing! I find that the end of winter is the hardest part. The beginning is exciting- changing weather, holidays, winter produce... but now I'm ready for warmer weather. And here in Syracuse, spring might not get hear for another month. Or two. I mean, it's March, and it is gray outside. I'm not used to that yet!

A good way to remember the summer is to taste it- literally. Starting way back in September, I used our basil to make and freeze pesto for future use. (Thanks for the idea, Crystal!) So the other night, we had some

Trader Joe's Trottole pasta with home-made pesto genoese.

On the side, we had some roasted veggies (eggplant, canned tomatoes, onions, with dried thyme, basil, and oregano, finished off with some balsamic vinegar). The shape of the pasta, along with its thick texture, picked up the pesto perfectly. This is one of the best pastas at Trader Joe's, and they have a lot to love! Artisan-style pasta is just unbeatable.

Here's Marble. We brought some groceries home in a box and left that box in the kitchen. Well, it's become Marble's favorite playground now! She has learned that if she jumps in and acts really cute, she just might get a treat or two. So now we have a constant companion in the kitchen while we're cooking.

Ah yes, snow. Here's Daiku heading out of the house. Notice that the snow comes up to his knees.

This is what I want. This photo is from our garden, taken some time last summer. Come back, sun! At least tonight brings this year's extra early time-change, so tomorrow will bring an extra-late sunset. (Americans, don't forget to re-set your clocks to "spring forward" before going to bed tonight.) Yay!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

chili and the dish that had no name

Today, I bring you two recipes. One is for a wonderful chili that will surprise your tastebuds and the other is for a vegan Iranian dish that, sadly, has no name! But you'll love it nonetheless.

Daiku's Sweet 'n Smoky Chipotle Chile

Chili is a great meal that can be prepared quickly. We love to experiment with flavors and ingredients. One thing we usually don't include is t.v.p., since the taste and texture are not among Daiku's favorites. This week, Daiku made this chili, sweetened with just a hint of raisins and molasses to offset the spicy, smoky chipotle heat. The flavors play off each other superbly-- not too sweet, not too hot, just right. You couldn't get much healthier or more filling than this, and all in under 30 minutes.


olive oil
1 TB cumin
1.5 TB chili powder
black pepper to taste

1 medium onion, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced

1 15 oz. can diced tomato
1/2-3/4 cup frozen corn

1 28 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
water, as needed

handful chopped cilantro (we used frozen)
handful raisins
2 TB molasses

1/4 cup refried bean mix


Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add cumin and chili powder to toast and bring out flavors. Sprinkle in some freshly cracked black pepper.

Add in the onion, chipotle pepper, and carrots, and sautee until softened slightly, or around 5 minutes. Add corn and tomatoes.

Add beans and as much water as needed to get the desired chili consistency. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

When the chili has warmed through and the flavors are melding, add cilantro, raisins, and molasses. We don't often have fresh cilantro available, so when we get a good bunch, we puree some of it with water and salt and store in the freezer. For recipes like this, we break of chunks of the frozen puree, but of course if you have fresh cilantro, use it.

In the final moments of cooking, add in about 1/4 cup of dried refried bean mix and water, enough to thicken the chili to your preferred consistency. Dried refried bean mix is one of those time-savers in the kitchen- you can reconstitute some for a quick lunch burrito, or use it to thicken and flavor chilis and other bean dishes. It is a completely natural product, and we buy it from the bulk bins in our food co-op.

Garnish with avocados, soy sour cream, fresh cilantro, and/or oyster crackers to serve. Enjoy!

* * *

Next, I bring you another vegan Iranian recipe. If you are thinking that I've been eating a lot of eggplants lately, you are right! I found a super deal on organic eggplants at the market- one of those great moments when the organic produce looks better and even has a better price than its conventionally grown counterpart. So I bought 2 big ones and now you get my unending string of eggplant recipes! Did you know that eggplants are great for your skin and help to counteract the signs of aging? Maybe I've subconsciously been gobbling them up because I have a birthday coming up... sigh.

So here's an Iranian dish that is naturally vegan. After my mom finished describing it to me and giving me detailed instructions on how to make it, I said, "that's great! what is it called?" We were both surprised when my mom couldn't remember! So either this dish has no name, or we are being forgetful!

That Iranian Dish That Kinda Reminds You of Baba Ganouj


1 cup raw walnuts
1 clove garlic (2 or more if you're brave and don't have to go to work or school the next day!)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2-1 tsp. angelica powder (click here for a previous post where I describe angelica and show a photo of it)
water, as needed

1 large eggplant
salt and pepper to taste


To make walnut paste, combine walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and angelica in a food processor (or the magic bullet!). Add enough water to make it into a thick paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this stage, you can store the paste, covered, in the refrigerator. The flavor will only improve.

To make the eggplant, you can roast it, but to get a truly smoky flavor, it is best to broil it, or even better, charbroil it. This is where it comes in handy to have a gas stove, but the clean-up is a bit of a drawback! If you like eggplant as much as I do though, the smell of its skin being charred to a smoky crisp is like heaven. I put it over a medium flame and cooked each side until the skin was burned to a crisp. I then tilted it so the end was also cooked. (You might have to finish the eggplant off with a couple of minutes in the microwave depending on the thickness of your particular eggplant.)

Let the eggplant rest. When it is cooled off, the burned skin will come off easily.

Mash up the eggplant and mix with the walnut paste. Add salt and pepper and a final squeeze of lemon juice.

The basic walnut paste is a base to many Iranian recipes. There are many variations, using ingredients such as pomegranate juice or molasses, olives, bitter orange, cinnamon, etc. but the angelica is absolutely essential. It is a great master recipe to have in your repertoire, and can also serve as a dip or sandwich spread.

Traditionally, this eggplant dish is eaten as a condiment or side, but we made it the focal point of our dinner, served with brown basmati rice and a side of steamed Chinese broccoli. I am still trying to perfect the brown rice pilaf technique, and will share it with you once I have it.



Monday, March 05, 2007

New Look

Hi everybody,

In the spirit of renewal, I'm doing a little spring cleaning around here. I've switched to a new Blogger format. Hopefully this one will be a bit more legible and easier on everyone's eyes! I'm now in the process of importing all my old links, etc. to this new blog. All the information should still be here! Thanks for bearing with me through this change.

If anyone knows how to retrieve old page elements and links please let me know-thanks!


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Thank you, fellow bloggers!

I just wanted to share some quick food photos with you. This past week was interesting, because our meal ideas and recipes came almost exclusively from fellow bloggers. Everything tasted so good- you guys are super impressive! How did I ever live without the recipe clearinghouse that is the blogosphere? With each description, I will link to the orignal recipe so you can all try these for yourselves.

First off is the quinoa jambalaya from Eat Air. I wanted to make something like this last week to celebrate Mardi Gras even though we couldn't have a proper party this year. Ever the New Orleans purist, Daiku was a little skeptical of this untraditional recipe, but when we tasted it, all of that faded away. This is a savory and hearty dish, with layers of warming flavor.

One night, we had a very green dinner chock full of veggie goodness. The entree was this creamy kale soup from VeganYumYum. As soon as I saw this recipe, with its combination of kale, quinoa, lentils, and best of all, tahini, I knew I had to try it. My result wasn't as bright green as the original photo, but it had a deep, comforting, and healthy taste. I used soy yogurt for the drizzle topping instead of the tahini called for in the recipe because my tahini never got quite the right smooth consistency (there was some tahini in the soup itself, though). No matter, this was a serious soup! Next time, I might tinker with the ingredients a little to increase the spiciness and bring out the flavors more.

To go with it, brussels sprouts with toasted breadcrumbs and lemon from Food "Blogga." Words can't begin to describe how good these were- we gobbled them all up, even though I was sure I had made enough for copious leftovers. Susan designed this recipe to give a make-over to the under-appreciated cruciferous wonder veggie that is the brussels sprout. I didn't think this applied to me, since I already love them, but this dish takes things to a whole new level. If you don't like brussels sprouts, or are just on the fence about them, please try this recipe! Something about the combination of lemon, garlic, butter (I used Earth Balance) and breadcrumbs- mmmmm.

Here's a recipe I'm testing for Melody: far east spicy tofu and green beans. Oh my goodness, this dinner was so savory and extra spicy and good! Have you been to Melody's blog lately and seen some of the gorgeous things she's been cooking up? What are you waiting for?

I'm one of those people who loves to bake, but sometimes freaks out when a recipe calls for, say, 3/4 cup of oil, or 1.5 cups of sugar. That's why I get so excited when I find recipes like Diann's oat bran muffins. Made entirely with oat bran (no flour), and sweetened with just a touch of agave nectar, these are healthy and easy to make. I added some frozen blueberries and sunflower seeds to Diann's recipe for even more flavor and nutrients. Oat bran is a baking revelation! I went out and bought 2 more pounds of it from the bulk bins, and can't wait to experiment with these again!

They worked so well for breakfast, topped with some margarine and jam or agave nectar.

Ever since I read Urban Vegan's recipes for "punka" pie (and apple pie), I knew I'd eventually try both. I've tried the apple pie a couple of times, but only recently made the punka pie for the first time. Holy cow! This is the best pumpkin pie I've ever had! This is no exaggeration- before going veg., pumpkin pie was never one of my favorites, but it is now. The filling is so firm yet creamy and custardy. Do yourself a favor and bake up a pie now! Next time, I'd consider adding a bit of molasses or a touch more spice to kick up the flavor even more.

I made the pie late one day, and refrigerated it overnight. The next morning, this slice made the world's perfect breakfast.

My next recipe didn't come from a fellow blogger, but rather my mom. Last night, I was tired, it was getting late, and I just didn't feel like cooking. I called my mom, who suggested an easy simmered eggplant and tomato dish. I kicked it up by adding capers, olives, and hot sauce, and served with with the world's fastest and easiest grain: whole wheat couscous.

There were enough leftovers to have an easy lunch today made up of a baked potato smothered with the eggplant mixture. This was so flavorful- thanks mom! Oh, I want to take this opportunity for an additional shout-out to my mom- she has agreed to go meatless for March, even starting before the month officially did! Yay, veggie mom! (Click here for more information on Meatout March- it's not too late to give this a try and see how you feel in a few short weeks!)

I leave you with a photo of this menacing and gigantic black squirrel who found his way to our porch yesterday. He hung out for a long time, enjoying the thrill of aggravating our cats to death! I swear he was taunting them from behind the security of a tightly locked door! Cute.