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Mushroom Mozzarella Panini

DSC_0021With Passover starting this week, we decided to use up some bread that was taking up space in the freezer. So Sunday night I whipped up some grilled Mushroom Mozzarella Paninis for a quick dinner.

I started by grilling portabella mushrooms on our grill pan for a DSC_0023 few minutes on each side. Next I spread some BBQ sauce on either side of the bread, topped it with some fresh basil leaves, and a thin slice of soy mozzarella. When the mushrooms were  soft and grilled, I placed them in the sandwiched which I then grilled whole for a few minutes. Voila! I enjoyed this sandwich paired with a spinach salad, while Funk ate it in the other room in the midst of his Fantasy Baseball draft. He did yell from the living room, “This is awesome!” Simple success! DSC_0026

I dined while reading Jillian Michael’s Master Your Metabolism book, which was recommended by my friend Nicole. I love Jillian Michaels, but was skeptical because she’s no dietitian, and I haven’t agreed with everything she’s said about food on the Biggest Loser. Here’s a little blurb about her book from Amazon.com:

Michaels (Making the Cut; Winning by Losing), the strength trainer for television’s The Biggest Loser, here addresses the influence that hormone balance—affected by estrogen, insulin, testosterone, cortisol, epinephrine, leptin, and others—has on weight loss. Various internal and external influences can cause hormones to over- or underproduce, resulting in not only weight gain but serious illness. Michaels’s plan emphasizes natural foods, organically grown and unprocessed. She describes which foods affect which hormones and how plastics and pollutants in our air and water and additives in many different products can also cause imbalances. She makes a good case for not using bioidentical hormones.

I’m just about finished the book and it is very informative, blunt and realistic, and has some darn good information about taking the crap out of our diets. It’s made me more aware of all the lurking plastic, hormones, and junk in our diets. Even my whole mushrooms I bought for the sandwich were wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam tray. Unnecessary! I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to clean up your diet, get your hormones in check, and all-around eat better. 


Vegan Banana Bread


It’s rare when produce goes bad in our kitchen, but after a few days of eating out birthday-style, we noticed the bananas were rapidly rotting in our kitchen. I stashed them in the fridge and came back to them Sunday night when I decided to “whip up” banana bread. When it comes to baking, I hardly “whip up” anything. I’m a disaster when it comes to baking sweets, always make a mess and take a chance when altering the recipe significantly. But I googled “easy vegan banana bread” and fortunately the first recipe that popped up was a winner from Post Punk Kitchen. I loved even more that this was straight-up banana bread – no walnuts, chocolate chips, or other frills were added. Just what I was looking for.

I still managed to alter the recipe because I think the original called for too much sugar and margarine. Fortunately the result was perfect banana bread success and I hardly even made a mess!

8 x 4 bread pan

Ingredients (slightly modified from original recipe)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cups white sugar
1/4 cup margarine, at room temp
¼ cup applesauce
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 8×4 bread pan with non stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with margarine.
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
Cream together the margarine and sugars. Add bananas, apple sauce, soy milk and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Pour batter into pan. Bake for an hour to an hour 10 minutes. (Note: my banana bread was done in about 40 minutes so keep an eye on yours around that time – it might depend on the oven.)

Random Ingredient Dinner for 1

This week I had three glorious posts scheduled to go up on my blog detailing my amazing POM Wonderful Blogger Harvest Tour experience. But with some technical, er, glitches, I have to put them on hold for a bit. However you can check out the beautiful blogs of the following people to read up on all of the fun we had in Cali!

So to fill that suddenly blank blog space, I’ll share with you the dinner experiment I whipped up the other night. Funk was out on the town, and I use those solo nights to whip up dinners made from random ingredients lying around the kitchen. Sometimes these meals are just…eh…and sometimes they wind up being meals I reproduce, even when Funk is home. Actually, the majority of the meals I create for the two of us are big culinary experiments, but with slightly more planning ahead, but I digress.
Last night I parused my fridge and found: a slice of homemade whole wheat beer bread my mom gave me, a bag of kale, a macintosh apple that never made it into the fruit drawer with the rest of them, and some shredded soy cheese. Minutes later – dinner was served!
I sauteed the cut kale in some grapeseed oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. I also diced up the apple and tossed that in and sauteed until the kale wilted. Meanwhile I toasted the beer bread slightly. When all was said and done, I topped the bread with the kale and apples and sprinkled on some soy cheese which melted on the spot. The only thing missing from this meal was Funk. But for a solo dinner on a busy weeknight, it sure hit the spot.
What are some culinary creations (or disasters) you’ve come up with using random ingredients?

Veg Chili and Sweet Potato Biscuits on Pumpkin Plates

Fall has officially fallen in New England! But along with that, my motivation to cook new recipes has fallen as well. I’ve been so busy with new projects lately, work and otherwise, that all my energy has been sucked out of my creative cooking juices and into those projects. So as I rummaged through my cabinets to find something insanely quick and easy to make that’d last a few days as leftovers, I found a box of Fantastic World Foods vegetarian chili mix that my mom bought me well over a year ago. And I’m not afraid to admit the expiration date passed many months ago, but Funk and I are still standing so I think it’s ok. You gotta do what you gotta do when you don’t feel like cooking!

I flagged a recipe for vegan sweet potato biscuits that I read in Megan’s Munchies Blog that looked so simple to whip up, and they were.

1 cup sweet potatoes, pre-cooked and mashed (I bought canned sweet potatoes which made this recipe even easier)
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour for a fiber boost)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Stir together all the ingredients until well mixed.
Form the dough into 6-7 biscuits and place on a cookie sheet or baking pan.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until done.

Easy as (sweet potato) pie. These came out of the oven perfectly baked and piping hot, however I found them so salty! I have actually like foods on the salty side – a habit I’m trying to break – and still found these borderline inedible because of the salt. Funk loved them and said he didn’t really notice the saltiness until I mentioned it. I crumbled my biscuit in my chili to help tone down the salt flavor. Fortunately these biscuits were so incredibly easy to make that I plan on baking them again real soon but will cut the salt at least in half. I plan on using the leftover sweet potato puree mixed into my oatmeal for breakfast in place of the pumpkin puree I’ve been using. They have a simliar taste and consistency and both pack a punch of vitamin A and fiber.

This chili mix is also easy to make and I bulked it up by adding a sauteed chopped onion and a handful of mushrooms. The instructions call for a can of rinsed beans (I used black beans) and can of diced drained tomatoes, add water and simmer. The chili mix contains textured vegetable protein, which is a great vegetarian source of protein.

We enjoyed our little fall festival meal on our fall dishwear. I completely forgot we even had these pumpkin plates and black leaf bowls a friend gave us last Halloween. They’re so cute!