Smarter Than Pancakes

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hoppin John for Luck (Do I get double luck if I ate two servings?)

Filed under: Hoppin John,Main Dishes — shaye3 @ 7:08 pm
Hoppin John for luck.  Greens for money.  Cornbread because it's goood.

And don't try to tell me that Jiffy cornbread mix is just as good as homemade because you're wrong. Homemade is almost as easy and has no lard. Lard is yucky.

I’m going to go ahead and use the phrase “New Year’s Resolution”.  I know it’s so gauche, but I’m doing it anyway.  You know you’ve “set goals” or “have ambitions” to be more healthy in the new year.  Let’s just call a spade a spade and say they’re resolutions.  Sure, we’ll eventually break them, but why not start out the year on a positive note when it comes to eating habits that we want to install in ourselves?


Actually, my big plan is to allow myself enough leeway that it won’t actually be “cheating” or “breaking my resolution” when it happens.  I recently discovered  I completely agree with everything I’ve read so far.  I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know!  Go take a look at their article “Being Healthy Is a Revolutionary Act: A Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed Up World”.  It’s pretty awesome.

Two ideas that I particularly like from their manifesto are the idea of filling 75% of your plate with veggies, then leaving the other 25% for other things; and focusing on eating healthy 85% of the time and cutting yourself some slack for three or four meals a week.  I’m going to try to do both.  I’m also thinking about going back on the old Weight Watchers.  I’m not willing to pay Weight Watchers for all of the new PointsPlus info, and I know well enough that a three point Twinkie isn’t as healthy as three points worth of produce.  I haven’t officially decided yet.  Let’s see how this 75% produce thing goes.

Ok, so as I understand it, corned beef and cabbage is a thing in the northern U.S. for New Year’s Day luck.  It used to be our tradition to make Reubens for New Year’s Day lunch every year.  I don’ t know if it worked or not.  I do know that we’re not eating corned beef since we went fully veg back in the beginning of 2010, so we thought we’d try on a New Year tradition from the south this year.  I hear they believe that black-eyed peas bring luck and greens bring money.  We could use both, and I could make all of the above vegetarian.  Besides that, it was gooooooood.  I’m not adding how many servings it makes because it makes a lot.  Maybe 8-10 servings.  Next time I’ll pay attention.

And so, without further ado, HOPPIN JOHN! (Converted to vegetarian because that’s how we roll now.)

Hoppin John
(Converted to Vegetarian)

Nonstick spray coating (I used olive oil from my handy-dandy Misto)

7-oz soy sausage (I used Gimme Lean)

1 cup chopped onion (I probably used a little more than a cup. We like onion.)

1 cup chopped red pepper (About 1 pepper. I used red because I hate green. You can use green if you want.)

1 cup chopped carrots (Two or three carrots?)

2 cloves garlic, minced

8-oz (1 1/4 cup) dry black-eyed peas

5 cups vegetable broth (I used 3 cans of Kroger brand veggie broth.)

1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed

1/2 tsp salt free seasoning (I used Penzey’s Mural of Flavor. Use whatever you want.)

1/8 tsp ground pepper

1/8 tsp ground red pepper

1 bay leaf

1 1/4  cups long grain rice

1.      Spray olive oil in a 4-quart dutch oven with nonstick coating.  Cut the Gimme Lean into smallish pieces and brown in hot oil until golden on all sides.  Remove from pan.  (If you throw the sausage in with the veggies, it gets squished.  It’s much better to cook first so it holds the little sausage ball shape.)

2.      Squirt more oil into the pan and add the onion, bell pepper, carrots, and garlic.  Cook the veggies until they start to soften a little.

3.      Add the fake sausage back to the pan, and then add the rinsed black-eyed peas, broth, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

4.      Stir in rice, then cook for 15-20 minutes more until the peas are done and the liquid is absorbed.

5.      Remove bay leaf before serving with collard greens and homemade cornbread—because Jiffy is gross.

I have every intention of posting at least once a week this year, and with two I’ve already posted 1/3 as many times as I did last year.  I got a new bread machine for Christmas, and there’s naan dough rising in there right now.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stir-Fried Shiitake Mushrooms with Tofu and Bok Choy from VT

Happy Pancake Day, everybody!  We had blueberry pancakes this morning, but I don’t want to be cliché, so I’m not posting a pancake recipe.  Instead, I’ll post a recipe for a stir fry that I got from the latest Veg Times.

This stir-fry was really good!  I’ve been trying all kinds of vegan recipes from that issue, and I can’t believe how good they are.  And surprisingly filling!  I figured that we’d be hungry again in about an hour, but we haven’t been at all.

You can tell that I'm no food stylist. I didn't notice the sauce on the rice in the pink bowl until I uploaded the picture. Now it's going to drive me nuts, so promise me you'll just ignore it.

Stir-Fried Shiitake Mushrooms with Tofu and Bok Choy
Vegan – Adapted from Vegetarian Times Feb 2010 issue.
Serves 4 – 6 WW points per 1 cup serving

1 tsp cornstarch

2 Tbs soy sauce

2 tsp minced fresh ginger

2 tsp Thai chile sauce, such as sriracha (I had never had sriracha before—it’s really good. It doesn’t make the dish super-spicy like you’d think.)

2 cloves garlic, minced (I used about a tbs.)

1 tsp sesame oil

3 Tbs canola oil, divided (I used peanut oil.)

1 14-oz pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-sized cubes (See draining directions below.)

1 lb bok choy, washed and cut into 1 1/2 –inch pieces (I love me some bok choy.)

2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms (It took all of a 3.5 oz. box of shiitakes.)

  1. (To drain tofu—take it out of the package and put it on a plate.  Put another plate on top, and put some kind of weight on top of it for a little while—I’ve been known to use canned goods for weight.  Every so often, go back and pour off the water that has collected on the plate.  Tofu is like a sponge, and if you don’t do this step, it won’t soak up as much flavor.)
  2. Stir the starch into 1 tsp of water; then add the soy sauce, ginger, sriracha, garlic and sesame oil.
  3. Heat 1 Tbs of canola (or peanut) oil in large skillet or wok over med-high heat.  (I used my electric skillet.) Stir-fry the tofu until golden brown, then put it on a plate.  (I put mine on paper towel to get rid of more oil.)
  4. Add one more Tbs of oil to the pan; then throw in the bok choi for about 4 minutes.  Move that to the plate with the tofu.
  5. Add remaining 1 Tbs of the oil, then cook the mushrooms for about 2 minutes, or until tender.  (I don’t think I added all the oil each time.  I don’t think it needed it–my electric skillet is nonstick.)
  6. Add the bok choi and tofu back in with the ‘shrooms, then pour the sauce over it.  Cook that all together for about a minute–or until hot.
  7. (I served mine with basmati rice—because that’s what I had.)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rainy Day Picnic

A few weeks ago, we had tickets to Symphony on the Prairie; but just about the time we should have been leaving the house, the sky opened and we considered ark building instead. I’m not kidding you, there was so much rain that all of the neighbors’ yards were under water. The street was even under water a little ways down from us, and that never happens. The amount of water was crazy!

Of course I had already packed a fabulous picnic dinner, so we were forced to have a picnic on the living room floor instead. (It’s probably for the good of the blog that the concert was rained out because it didn’t occur to me to take pictures of the food until I was plating it on boring old plates to eat in our boring old living room.)

But just for you…

Most of our picnic fare on regular old plates!
Goat Cheese & Tomato Salad Wraps, Lemon & Quinoa Salad, and a simple Spinach Salad with Raspberries and a Red Wine Vinaigrette. (We had a few other things, like berries in spiced yogurt and peach lemonade, but I didn’t take pictures of either so I’m not going to post those recipes right now.)

Quick Lemon and Garlic Quinoa Salad
Serves 4 – 6.2 ww points per serving (But you’ll get in your healthy oil for the day!)

This recipe originally came from my good friend Ginny, but I tweaked it just a little to make it easier.


1 cup dry quinoa (Rinse in a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the bitter coating that quinoa sometimes has.)

2 cups water

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup carrot, chopped

1/3 cup parsley, minced

1/4 cup sunflower seed


2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used part Tamari and part Braggs Liquid Aminos.)

  1. Throw the quinoa, water, and pinch of salt in a 3 qt. microwavable container with lid. Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until the water is almost entirely gone.
  2. When the water is gone–stir, re-cover, and let sit for five more minutes.
  3. Prepare dressing in a small bowl.
  4. Add carrots, seeds, parsley, to the cooked quinoa, and toss well.
  5. Pour dressing over the top, and stir until well combined.

Simple Spinach Salad with Raspberries and Red Wine Vinaigrette
The Dressing makes 14 (1 Tbs.) servings and has 2.3 ww points per tbs.

My sister Dawn first made a version of this for me about 20 years ago, but I think her version had sliced strawberries and some other salad toppings. I had just gotten the spinach and fresh raspberries from my friend, Costco; and I wanted to keep the rest pretty simple for travel.


fresh baby spinach

fresh raspberries


1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup (scant) sugar

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dry mustard

  1. Combine dressing ingredients
  2. Arrange and serve

Goat’s Cheese and Tomato Salad Wraps

Serves 4 – 4 ww points per wrap

4 1/2 oz goat’s cheese, crumbled

1 1/3 cups tomatoes, seeded & diced (I used one red and one yellow for color.)

1 1/3 cups cucumbers, seeded & diced (I also peeled mine.)

5/8 cup green onions, chopped

2 1/16 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 1/16 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 flour tortillas — about 25 cm (Nuke them for a few seconds to soften before rolling if necessary)

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas.
  2. Divide mixture evenly between the 4 wraps, and enjoy!

(Here’s my hint for wrapping—Put the filling in a little line along one side of the tortilla. Fold the short side over and then fold the ends over. After that, fold the sides of the long side over by just a little—maybe half an inch. Then roll it the rest of the way up. It you do it that way, the filling won’t fall out.) 😉

Friday, June 27, 2008

Chik’n and Apple Curry (Vegan)

Filed under: Chik'n Apple Curry,Main Dishes,WW Points — shaye3 @ 7:03 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday was my mom’s 76th birthday, so we brought her over from the nursing home. We also invited my eldest sister and her fiancé to join us for dinner. I had asked Mom what she wanted for her birthday dinner; but she couldn’t think of anything but chocolate cake so I had to think for her. I tried to make all of her favorites; so I made bbq ribs, my great-grandmother’s recipe for German potato salad (that has a lot of bacon and bacon grease), fried green tomatoes, sliced cantaloupe, and of course–chocolate cake. (Not the healthiest, but she gets so sick of the institution food at the nursing home, and I gave her a really good salad earlier in the week.)

After all of that heavy food last night, I’ve felt like I’ve had rocks in my stomach. I decided that for lunch today I’d make something much lighter and meat free. I didn’t actually figure out that it was potentially vegan until I was figuring out the nutrition information so I could calculate the WW points.

I found the original version of this on an internet recipe site, but decided today that I wanted to make it meat free. It turned out really well, if I say so myself! This is another one of those recipes that I can usually make from food I already have no hand. (I LOVE recipes that don’t require an extra trip to the grocery!!)

Chik\'n Apple Curry

Chik’n and Apple Curry

4 Servings – 10 WW Points per serving

1 tbs olive oil

8 oz. Chik’n Strips (I used Morningstar Farms Meal Starter Chik’n Strips)

2 tbs butter (To make this vegan, replace with another oil.)

2 ribs celery , chopped fine

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 tsp curry powder (or to taste)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cumin

2 tbs flour

14 oz vegetable broth (I used Kroger brand canned broth.)

4 cups cooked basmati rice

  1. Heat oil over medium heat, then throw in chik’n strips and stir fry until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Add 2 Tbs of butter (or other oil if you’re going vegan) and cook celery and onion over medium low heat until softened.
  3. Add the garlic and apples and cook 5 minutes more.
  4. Add bell pepper, curry, cinnamon and cumin and cook 1 minute.
  5. Stir in flour and cook over moderate heat 3 minutes.
  6. Add broth and simmer for 15 minutes, then increase heat and boil sauce 3-5 minutes, or until thickened slightly.
  7. Add the chik’n strips and taste. Add salt and pepper if required. (Be sure to taste first because there’s a lot of sodium in the fake chicken and in the broth.)
  8. Serve over rice. (Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if you have some. I didn’t.)

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