Posts Tagged what I bought at the grocery store

VeganMoFo: Vegan Costco Finds

We joined Costco last year after considering the cost vs benefits; we host guests at our house and tailgate a lot, so buying toilet paper and plastic utensils in bulk probably would have been worth it alone!  I also did some research on whether or not I would be able to find food items.  Google “vegan Costco” and see for yourself!

Dave offered to cover a shared membership if I would do the shopping, which worked out perfectly since I’m cheap and he hates shopping.

I don’t go very often, maybe once a month, but I feel like I find something new and fun almost every time.  Recently they’ve added a separate organic section full of amazing things like Dave’s Killer Bread, coconut water, and flax and chia seeds in large quantities for very reasonable prices.  I was in a hurry last time I went, but you can bet next time I will be stocking my freezer with some delicious Dave’s Killer Bread!

Here are the food items I bought the first two times I went.

Clockwise-ish from bottom left:

  • many pounds of organic short grain brown rice – $12.69
  • two pounds organic raspberries – $3.99
  • big box of Mary’s Gone Crackers (two bags inside) – $7.49 on sale
  • box of like 16 double packs of Eclipse gum – $8.99 on sale
  • 1.5L bottle of Yellowtail Shiraz – $8.69
  • four pack of firm tofu – $3.79
  • eight cans of chickpeas – $5.79 (they had sugar in them [blech] but on subsequent trips the beans have been  without sugar)
  • giant bag of organic baby kale – $3.99
  • delicious sweet mini peppers – $3.99
  • big tub of Sabra hummus, like double the regular size – $5.99

  • six pack of unsweetened Almond Breeze – $8.89
  • ten seaweed snacks – $6.99 (Kirkland brand is a little oilier than Trader Joe’s, but also cheaper)
  • sack of red potatoes – $4.79
  • big bag of organic baby kale – $4.49 (it’s practically impossible for me to pass baby kale and not buy it)
  • eight cans organic diced tomatoes – $5.99
  • eight cans of organic kidney beans – $6.79
  • massive bag of roasted pistachios – $14.99 (might seem like a lot, but if you look at the price of a small bag in a regular store, it’s a good deal.  We love these for baseball games.)
  • more Persian cucumbers than I could eat before they started going bad – $4.99
  • many, many snap peas – $5.79
  • big tub of Pita Pals hummus – $5.99
  • frozen pineapple chunks – $6.59
  • frozen organic “supreme” berry blend – $9.99

Lastly, I impulse-bought this set of four melamine bowls with lids, on sale for $15.99.  I love the colors!

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Meal-in-a-Bowl

I’ve been thinking about a full meal in a bowl being a good way to eat a satisfying, healthy and balanced meal.  You’ve got your protein, starch and veggies all playing nicely together.  And, since I’m a guest here and we don’t really use the dishwasher, it’s a good way to cut down on the dishes I have to wash.

I was craving beans in a major way, and had celery and carrot in the fridge, so I made Cajun-style red beans and brown rice which turned out to be more veggie than bean, which is fine with me.  On the side is steamed spinach, and some baby romaine that was on its way out.

I still had most of the gargantuan mango from my last post, and was still in the mood for beans, so I wanted to make some sort of quinoa/black bean/mango dish.  Alas, the grocery stores here are very basic, and there is no quinoa to be found.  I went with potatoes as the starch instead, and relegated the mango to a condiment of sorts.  I consulted my friend Jackie in whether I should call it a relish, pico de gallo or chutney, and we decided it was most like a relish or pico, so Jackie suggested pico de relish.  In the end I decided on relish de gallo, because “relish of the rooster” sounds more fun than “beak of the relish”.  So this is Black Bean and Corn Hash with Mango Avocado Relish de Gallo, topped with hot sauce.

Here we have leftover broccoli in hunan sauce with brown rice with store bought teriyaki tofu.  I may have put it all in a bowl just to go with the bowl theme.  Shhhhh….

Lastly, Hannah’s Sesame Noodles.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly – I couldn’t find soba noodles and used whole wheat spaghetti instead, didn’t have any ginger (thought I did and was very disappointed), used white sugar instead of brown and doubled the quantity, peeled my carrot and zucchini with a normal peeler since my julienne peeler is packed away, added sauteed cremini mushrooms and shelled edamame for some extra oomph, and garnished with cilantro just cause I had some.  This recipe is good!  Next time I will definitely make sure I have ginger, and cut back a tad on the soy sauce since it was just a bit too salty for me.

And now, since not everything can fit in a bowl, here are some randoms.

I made my first real shopping trip to Trader Joe’s.  I stopped by one a few years ago, and after actually shopping there I have the same opinion I did back then.  They have some really cool products and I’ll definitely go from time to time, but some of the items are a bit expensive, and they don’t have enough “normal” grocery items.  Like, the spices were extremely limited and I couldn’t find sesame seeds.  It seems impractical to not carry stuff like that, people don’t want to have to go to two stores.  TJ’s seems like a great place for people who don’t want to or don’t have time to cook, lots of good ready-made food.  My total purchase came to almost $50, although $8 of it was for soy yogurt, which I can’t find in town.

Some home fries made with potatoes I didn’t use in the hash above.  Part of a big breakfast for bf before his first job interview today.  So good with ketchup.

One of my (and probably your) favorite lunches, plain ol’ hummus with pita and veggies.

Up next:  Hopefully a couple uses for the world’s largest zucchini.

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Blueberry Muffins & a Seafood Feast

I had been thinking of making the Very Berry Muffins from Yellow Rose Recipes ever since I got the book, and with a huge bowl of blueberries still in the fridge, last night seemed like a good time for baking.

blueberry muffins

Unfortunately, I didn’t like them all that much.  I was hoping for light, bakery-style muffins, but I couldn’t help subbing half whole wheat pastry flour, and I also used an unrefined sugar I’m not too fond of and was trying to use up, which I think turned them brown and a little gummy in the middle.

blueberry muffins

They’re certainly edible and taste fine, it just wasn’t the muffin I was looking for.  I’ve had good results with other recipes from YRR, so don’t let my muffin results deter you from checking it out…maybe just find a different muffin recipe…

Ever since I saw this post on Vegangelical a couple months back, I’ve been wanting a seafood meal.  Mock seafood, of course.  I started with the groceries.  Celery and corn on the left, broccoli, scallions and dill on the right.  And again, way more fruit than I should eat in the next three days.  There’s so much good fruit this time of year!

groceries

Wheat germ in the little baggie.

groceries

I started with the baked hush puppies from above post.  I didn’t want to buy soy cheese, so I added 2 Tbs nutritional yeast instead.

hush puppies

When I first visualized this meal I wanted to make a crab cake, but last week I came across My Vegan Cookbook and his Faux Fish recipe, and I knew I had to try it.  The store didn’t have Old Bay seasoning, so I found this Old Bay Seasoning Mix recipe which is cool because for some reason I thought you weren’t supposed to eat bay leaves.  Guess that’ll learn me.  Guess that’s why it’s called Old Bay.  Dur.

faux fish

I was really trying to keep the fat and calorie counts down for this meal, so instead of brushing margarine on the fillets I sprayed them with olive oil and patted down the bread crumbs, which worked fine.  I left out the egg substitute because I felt like the tofu and breadcrumbs and everything else would stick it together just fine.  I also added 1/2 tsp of the dulse seasoning I bought for a fishy sea flavor.

I served my feast with boiled mixed veggies, dill and lemon wedges.  I can’t decide which picture I like better, so you get both the horizontal and vertical framing.

faux fish

faux fish

The hush puppies tasted just like I remember, and didn’t lose anything with being baked instead of fried.  I really liked the onion, corn and jalapeno bits in them.  And the fish was good!  I had high hopes for this recipe, and it came through.  You’re not going to pass it as real fish any time soon, but the mix of ingredients and flavors is really interesting and the outside is crispy while the inside stays moist.  The fillets held together well.  I have a hard time getting breading to stick to things, and the method of patting it down on each side just before it bakes worked really well.

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Eggplant Parmesan

For dinner tonight I knew I needed to use up the last of my Teese and the eggplant in the fridge before they went bad, and since I was hoping to try my hand at eggplant parmesan it worked out swimmingly.  A quick trip to the grocery store yielded the rest of the supplies.

groceries

Having never made eggplant parm before, I studied up on the internet.  Unfortunately, I really wasn’t in the mood for the traditional accompaniment of pasta marinara since I had spaghetti for dinner last night, a couple bites cold after packing my lunch this morning, and then again for lunch.  I REALLY didn’t want any more pasta or marinara.  I wanted to beef up the protein in this meal and wasn’t completely against a red sauce, so it became roasted red pepper-lentil-basil sauce.  I still wanted a grain and strongly considered polenta, but I didn’t think it would hold up to the eggplant and the sauce, so I decided on bread.  I like to make my own bread as often as possible, but the scope of this meal was spiralling larger by the second, so I bought the one brand name loaf that I really like.  No HFCS, sweetened with raisin juice!

I normally buy roasted red peppers in the jar, and was feeling lazy and leaning toward it today, but I came across these instructions for roasting a pepper at VeganYumYum so I went for it.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll have a gas range, gotta take advantage of it!

roasted pepper

Yeah, my stovetop is filthy.  Deal with it.  Here’s the molted pepper.

roasted pepper

At the same time, I had already sliced and salted the eggplant to draw out some moisture, and I was cooking the lentils and snapping off the ends of my green beans.

I’m not very good at breading things, so I was worried about breading the eggplant.  I took some tips from here, although theirs still look better.  I think my breadcrumbs weren’t quite fine enough (ground them from a stale half loaf of bread I knew I was keeping in the fridge with a purpose, not just because I’m lazy…), and my eggplant was baked instead or fried.  Anywho, I set up the breading station – I rinsed the eggplant slices, made a cornstarch slurry and microwaved it a couple 15 second bursts, and seasoned the breadcrumbs with nutritional yeast, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper.  Then into the oven at 350 they went for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.

eggplant

Meanwhile I made the sauce by pureeing the roasted red pepper, an undrained can of diced tomatoes and some of the cooked lentils.  I added this back to the pan with the rest of the lentils, added olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and simmered to cook down the liquid a bit.  With a minute or two left I added this pretty chiffonade of basil, just to wilt it.

basil

When the eggplant were cooked, I topped each slice with some of the sauce, almond parmesan and sliced Teese.  Back into the oven at 400 for a couple minutes, then broiled for a couple minutes to melt the Teese.  I toasted my bread, plated everything, and took about 10 pictures.  Hungry and very ready to eat, I realized I had forgotten to add the basil garnish I had set aside for just that purpose.  I’m glad I took the time to take a few more pictures, because having that focal point made all the difference in the world for the aesthetics of the picture.  I didn’t keep any ungarnished photos, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

eggplant parmesan

In the end, this was a worthy use for the last of the Teese log.  The eggplant spent so much time in the oven that it was a tad overdone, but I’d rather have a squishy eggplant than one that’s not cooked through.  While the sauce tasted really nice, it was quite hardy and overbalanced the eggplant a little.  Next time I make this I’ll just not have spaghetti the three meals immediately preceding.

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Teese Quesadilla & Laptop Lunches

I made a quick trip to the grocery store yesterday to buy supplies for two meals.

groceries

I was expecting great things from the XTREME tortillas, but alas, they’re just normal tortillas.  All the other whole wheat tortillas had a list of like 40 ingredients, so maybe the lack of xtremeness ingredients-wise makes them xtreme.

Said ingredients and some stuff from the fridge went into quesadillas – fajita-style mushrooms, onions and peppers, cilantro, and Teese.  I thinned out some leftover black bean dip to make soup, and plated with lettuce, salsa, sour supreme and a couple cucumber slices.  I wanted to make guacamole too, but none of the avocados at the store were ripe.

quesadillas

These were goo-ood, best vegan quesadillas I’ve ever made, probably because they’re the first ones where the cheese actually melted.  If I changed anything for next time I’d put more fillings in since these were a little thin.  I went light on the fillings on purpose – I always overstuff burritos and the innards spill out and make a huge mess.

Here are some laptop lunchboxes I’ve brought to work in the past month.  Lunch is by far the best part of my day, due to these lunches and zooming through the Harry Potter books.

4-11-08 lunch

4-11 leftover rice noodles & veggies from Vietnamese place, split pea soup,
carrot raisin salad, squash pickles, dried pineapple

4-14- lunch

4-14 the fridge was pretty bare these days.  rotini pasta w/ cheesy sauce, kale
chips, carrot raisin salad, dill pickle, sliced veggie dog, dried mango, prunes

4-24 lunch

4-24 rotini pasta w/ cheese sauce, peas & carrots, braised red cabbage,
sugar snap peas& carrot sticks w/ hummus, dried mango, almonds,
dried pineapple, prunes

4-25 lunch

4-25 YRR tamale pie (from the freezer), braised red cabbage, pickled
mushrooms & gherkins, vanilla soy yogurt w/ flax, carrot sticks,
dried apricots, orange slice candy

4-29 lunch

4-29 toasted millet bread, fig bar, lentils tartare, steamed dandelion greens
under alfalfa sprouts, grape tomatoes, mustard dressing, grapes

4-30 lunch

4-30 seared brussels sprouts, tempeh salad, avocado, wheat crackers, brownie

5-1 lunch

5-1 sandwich (millet toast, lentils tartare, alfalfa sprouts), celery sticks,
mustard dressing, brownie, steamed dandelion greens,
grape tomatoes, grapes

5-2 lunch

5-2 tempeh salad, celery & carrot sticks, red bell pepper, avocado,
grape tomatoes, woodstock dressing, wheat crackers,
fig bar, grapes

5-5 lunch

5-5 lentils tartare, alfalfa sprouts, red & green bell pepper, tempeh salad,
mexican slaw, wheat crackers, maya gold lava cupcake

5-6 lunch

5-6 double veggie & edamame fried rice, red & green bell peppers,
pepitas & raisins, dried apple, fig bar

5-8 lunch

5-8 orzo w/ red bell pepper, swiss chard, lemon butter sauce, almond parmesan & toasted pine nuts, pb, celery sticks, grilled patty pan squash, cucumber, carrot sticks, blueberries, fig bar

5-13 lunch

5-13 southern-style dolmades, tahini sauce, goddess pasta salad, avocado, strawberries

5-14 lunch

5-14 two pieces deluxe pizza, carrot sticks, bell pepper, strawberries

5-15 lunch

5-15 wheat bread, pizza sauce, seitanroni & Teese slices, dried mango, broccoli florets, ranch, fig bar

5-19 lunch

5-19 grilled asparagus, marinated grilled portobello, couscous w/ artichokes,
roasted tomatoes, olives & cilantro, rosemary bread, lettuce, cucumber,
baby carrots wherever I could fit them, ranch, kiwi, fig bar

5-20 lunch

5-20 veggie & Teese quesadilla, black bean soup, salsa, lettuce,
sugar snap peas, baby carrots, ranch, dried apricots & pineapple

I really must post these more often so it’s not such a production.  I’m doing well with variety though, there are only two I didn’t post that were basically identical to one of these.

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Southern-Style Dolmades & Goddess Pasta Salad

My car was dead all last week, so I got a new battery yesterday and made a massive shopping trip to stock back up on stuff that I had run out of, and for some fresh produce.  I spent almost $80, which is supposed to be my entire food budget for two weeks.  I’ll just have to be wary on my next trip or two.  Since I’m not driving very much at all these days, I guess I’m saving money on gas.

groceries

Friday night I picked up some dolmades for dinner at my favorite Greek eatery, and it inspired me to make a twist on dolmades that would use up some veggies I already had.  I was going to go super simple, but then I went on my grocery bender and souped up the recipe a little bit.  I thought I was being really inventive and original and was pretty pleased with myself, until something in the back of my mind told me that there was a very similar recipe in VCON.  So I looked it up, and sure ‘nough there is a recipe for BBQ Collard Rolls or something like that.  The directions are fairly similar, but the ingredients are totally different, so I am confident in calling it my own invention.

dolmades

Southern-Style Dolmades with Tahini Sauce

Makes 12 rolls, serves 3-4.

large bunch swiss chard
1 Tbs olive oil
medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 small or 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 patty pan or crookneck squash, cut into 1/4-inch dice
15.5 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
generous grinds black pepper

Sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs water, or more to desired consistency
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Pick out the 12 largest, nicest chard leaves and set the rest aside. Cut the stem from the leaves, making a V a couple inches into the leaf so that no thick stem is left. Set the stems aside. Submerge the leaves in simmering water for 5 minutes. Remove them gently with tongs, transfer to a colander and set aside to cool. Let the water cool a few minutes then discard.
2. Slice across 6 of the chard stems finely, and coarsely chop any remaining chard leaves.
3. In the same pot, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Saute the onion for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add the jalapeno, carrot, sliced chard stems and squash and sate 5-7 minutes more, until vegetables are cooked but still firm. Put a bit of water in the pot if vegetables start sticking to the bottom. Add the chopped chard greens and cook for a minute, until greens wilt. Add the rest of the ingredients (peas through pepper), mix well and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add more water if a thinner consistency is desired.

dolmades

5. Form the rolls. Lay one chard leave flat with the stem facing you and blot off any excess water. Place 2-3 Tbs of the mixture on the bottom of the leaf near the V. Fold up the two bottom points of the leaf diagonally, then fold the bottom away from you, tucking the mixture tightly into the leaf. Fold in the sides, then continue to roll away from you. Press the end of the leaf gently to seal.
6. Serve with the tahini sauce.

Notes:
– The sauce recipe makes enough to have a little dab of sauce with each bite. Any more, and I think the sauce overpowers the roll. Feel free to double the sauce recipe.
– Imperfect leaves (mis-shapen or with holes) can still form a nice roll if you roll it carefully.
– There will probably be filling leftover. I suggest eating it with hot sauce and a spoon.

dolmades

My friend Jackie invited me to her going away potluck picnic, and she knows me well so she told me not to go crazy with the food.  I agreed to keep it simple and planned on a pasta salad and some cookies.  I ran short on time yesterday, so I only made the pasta salad but it was okay because Jackie made vegan cupcakes!

I decided on Goddess Pasta Salad from Yellow Rose Recipes because it looked amazing.  And it was.

pasta salad

Although, if a recipe calls for 2 cloves of raw garlic and your garlic pieces are gargantuan, it’s a good idea to scale back to one lest ye give everyone dragon breath.  Nobody seemed to mind too much though, everyone seemed to like it.  The only change I made to the recipe was using red bell pepper instead of the cherry tomatoes.  No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get down with raw tomatoes, especially the small ones that burst when you bite them.  Yuck.

All packed up for the picnic:

pasta salad

I packed a cooler for the ride because I was going to a coffee shop opening before the picnic, and a show afterwards.  It was the night of the free activities, and that suits me just fine.  Jackie asked in an accusing manner “Erin, are you toting a cooler full of booze in the car?” and I was all “noooo, it’s to keep the pasta salad cool.  But yeah, there are a few beers in there too…”.  One must be prepared.

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Sunday Grilling

Bf and I invited some people over yesterday, grilled, and watched a ridiculous amount of sports on tv.  We tried to do something special with the corn – bf half shucked it, I drizzled on a chili lime mixture (lime juice, chili powder, cholula seasoning, salt & sugar), then we zipped the husks back up.  Most of it came off while grilling, but the corn was really delicious in a subtly different way than normal, so I like to think we had something to do with it.  The grill marks were very nice, at least.

grilled corn

I prepped the potatoes – I cut them pretty small and made the layer thin to try to get them to crisp up.  It didn’t work, but they tasted good.  Still trying to figure out how to acheive crispy browned grilled potatoes without adding too much extra oil.

grilled potatoes

Bf marinated some mushrooms, and he seems to have the same issue with marinades that I do.  They tasted okay, but not great.  We’ll figure it out eventually.

grilled mushrooms

Here’s my plate, with baked beans.

grilled dinner

I had leftovers for lunch, and went to the grocery store after work.

groceries

The greens in the bags are dandelion greens, scallions and parsley, and from the bulk section is red lentils, sesame sticks and walnuts.  I’m most excited to try the pumpkin chips and the Annie’s Woodstock Dressing.

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