CrockPot Diaries: Tandoori Spiced Potatoes and a Whole lotta Greens

cooking, crockpot, recipe, Uncategorized, Vegan

I have to say – this is probably one of my favorite recipes to come out of my crockpot experiments. Probably (read definitely)  that is because I actually followed the instructions in my cookbook, and didn’t try to get fancy by substituting ingredients.

It’s like I actually…..followed directions or something?!

This recipe came from one of my Christmas cookbooks, “Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking” by the incredibly talented Carla Kelly. Carla does a great job of not over-complicating the prep work involved in crock-potting (yes – it’s a verb now) – and she’s traveled around the world – so many of her recipes are internationally inspired. Since I adore Indian food – I thought I’d give this a whirl! I was not disappointed!


1/2 onion (diced)

2 garlic cloves (minced – which is really like dicing but OK)

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (ahem – I used powdered ginger – it was fine)

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 potatoes – cut into 1/4 inch cubes. Guesstamate on this – just keep them relatively uniform (Yukon is recommended for their firmness – but if you like a mushier dish – you could probably use sweet potatoes)

3/4 cup veggie stock/broth

1/2 cup coconut cream or full fat canned coconut milk (OK – so – my local grocery store didn’t have a ton of selection – so I just picked up (the only) can I could find. It seemed to work – a little runny – but it was close enough for government work)

4 cups spinach – chopped


1. Dump everything into crock pot! (Except spinach) – Apologies in advance, and, the #1 reason you should by Kelly’s cookbook is that she does a much better job in explaining all this than I do. Consider my blogs the “spark notes versions”

2. Stir – some veggies will be left uncovered by broth – DON’T PANIC!! it’s ok 🙂

3. Cover & set to low for 6 hours

4. Do grad school homework and play with family pet.

6 hours later…..

5. Add the spinach (bet you forgot about that – didn’t you!) – I added more than 4 cups. Way more than 4 cups. I like spinach – Don’t judge me!

     – Add the spinach a little bit at a time, stirring between each. You want to let it wilt down before adding more.

6. Post-spinach – VOLIA!






It was good – it was really, really good. I ate the entire thing in about 3 days. Nice and spicy – but mild thanks to the coconut milk.

It cost me about, maybe 8 bucks for the whole meal, and it was 4 decent sized servings. That’s $2 per serving!

The Broke Vegan strikes again!!


CrockPot Diaries : Hodge-Podge Soup

cooking, crockpot, recipe, Vegan

After the emotional roller coaster that was this week – I’m not really up for cooking. And since I don’t have a dishwasher in my shoebox-sized apartment, I’m not thrilled about the possibility of cleaning either.

Luckily – I had some leftover “Hodge-Podge Soup” in my freezer, easily defrostable and microwavable for a hearty & filling meal, either alone or with a side of rice. This recipe isn’t an exact replication…. I took some creative liberties with this interpretation 🙂 I used the proportions from THIS (non-vegan) recipe – and modified it based on the ingredients of my pantry.

The beauty of hodge-podge is that it’s so versatile. Don’t have a sweet potato? Use butternut squash. Don’t have chickpeas? Use lentils. Don’t have vegetable broth? Too bad, you’re out of luck. 🙂 (but seriously – you have to have that….)

FYI – you will need some sort of “smoothing” tool – an immersion blender works best & is the least messy, but if you’re in a pinch, (and don’t mind the extra clean-up) you can use a food processor or a blender. But not a potato masher, that will not work. Just warning you….

It was good! I swear!

Ingredients :

  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 (or 3 – whatever) cloves of garlic – minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth/stock (what is the difference between a stock and a broth? Anyone?)
  • 1 decent sized sweet potato (cubed, skin on or off, whatever you prefer)
  • diced onion (depending on how much you like onions)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (drain ’em danno)
  • dash o’ parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of “Italian Spice Mix” (this is negotiable – but remember, the “main” ingredients are all pretty mild in flavors, so go easy on the spices, you don’t want to over-season)

Directions : 

  • Put all ingredients into the crockpot.

Look! All the ingredients in the crock pot!



  • Put soup on “low” for 6 hours (or until potatoes et. al are very tender)
  • Celebrate excellent soup-making skills with a trip to Starbucks for a unsweetened-soy-green-tea-latte, and admit to yourself that you’re a 2013 hippie

6 hours later…..

Soup is ready for it's close up

Soup is ready for it’s close up – also – stir it. Don’t leave the spices floating at the top….







  • Get out your handy-dandy smoothing tool. (And let’s all take a moment to appreciate that I actually HAD/HAVE an immersion blender!)
  • Use it on soup (I left some texture in mine, so it was more stew-esque, rather than soup-esque)







I’ll be honest – the flash on my camera makes it look more orangey than it was. It was more brown (thanks to the black beans) – so don’t panic if yours looks more like mud. It’s still good.

  • NOM on your delicious soup!!!

One side note for those of us who like any excuse to add more greens to a meal – for this soup, that is not a good idea. When I tried reheating it on the stove, I added in some kale for an extra boost of vitamins… for some reason I thought, “this time my greens will be good in soup!”.

I was wrong. Yet again – greens in soups/stews turn into stringy green snot and I hate them. (whaaa!)  I’m thinking that next time I’ll juice the greens and substitute the green juice for some of the broth first, instead of adding them in at the end.  Unless one of you lovely folks has a better idea… 🙂

Celeb Buzz : The (Not So Green) Golden Globes!

Celeb Buzz

This post initially appeared on One Green Planet, on Jan 15th. Enjoy!


Last night kicked off every fashionista’s favorite season – Awards Season! Its here in full swing, and if last night’s Golden Globes were any indication, it should be a great one!

If you haven’t already heard, fellow veg-heads Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain won for “Best Supporting Actress” and “Best Actress” (I don’t think that’s a coincidence people!)

Hathaway’s co-star Hugh Jackman took “Best Supporting Actor” and, the always stoic, Daniel Day Lewis took home “Best Actor”. You’ve got to love beautiful people in beautiful clothing – but my favorite moment? Tina Fey & Amy Poehler’s opening monologue – do yourself a favor and (re)watch it – clearly these SNL alums haven’t lost their touch.

Does anyone actually watch these shows for the awards? Let’s all admit it – no, no we don’t. Now that we’ve got that out of the way – on to the best parts!

The Fashion : Last night, actress Julianne Hough of Rock of Ages fame, caused me to “bug out” at the sight of her jewelry. You’ll excuse my horrible pun, but you can’t excuse her choices. Jewelry designer Daniela Villegas created a pair of beetle earrings and a stick bug cartilage piece made from… you guessed it… ACTUAL beetles and an ACTUAL stick bug. Her rational to E!’s Giuliana Rancic? “We decided to go a little bit more edgy…” Really?! No. Words.

Bradley Cooper dons an “eco-friendly tux” created by Tom Ford. It’s actually the third tux he’s designed for eco-conscious celebs, he was also the mastermind behind Anne Hathaway’s thigh-high, dominatrix-inspired boots at the Les Mis premier. If the “Sexiest Man Alive” says it – I think we can all agree, Green is Sexy! I wonder how it would look on my boyfriend….

As if being on the “Best Dressed” list isn’t enough – Anne Hathaway rocked another pair of vegan shoes, this time by Aldo. Now – where can I buy a pair? A non-vegan nod to my personal, “Best Dressed” of the night – Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery looking flawless in Alexandre Vauthier Fall 2012. Anne Hathaway can do no wrong, but Michelle stole the fashion spotlight in my book.

The biggest fashion moment of the night? No, not a “wardrobe malfunction”, and no, Angelina Jolie’s leg didn’t return. It was that no one (let me repeat) NO ONE wore fur. Times are a’changing people!! Bunnies around the world are celebrating!

The Food : The celebrities did their cruelty-free part, what about the venue? You’d think that if Best Actress (Jessica Chastain) and Best Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway) were coming, you’d make sure at least one menu option was veg-head friendly. Nope. Perusing The Beverly Hilton menu – not a single vegan option in sight. I bet you think they whipped something up special for these ladies -(again)- Nope. Mayim Bialik reveals in her blog that she had to nosh on some vegan mac & cheese before hitting the red carpet. Not to mention Woody Harrelson and the darkly handsome Joaquin Phoenix also went hungry. When will people learn? All we need is some kale!

The Fun : What’s an awards show without some good old fashion snark? My personal favorite? Taylor Swift’s stink-eye stare at Diva/Mom Adele after she won “Best Song” for “Skyfall”. I’d recommend watching her entire acceptance speech (who doesn’t want to be this woman’s best friend?) but skip to :50 for the token “mean-girl” look from Taylor. I’d watch your back Adele – next thing you know you’ll join the ranks of Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer and have a sassy tween-girl anthem written about you.

The talk of the town (and my twitter feed) was Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. No one is really sure what, exactly, she was trying to say. Something about privacy, and perhaps she was coming out of the closet, and/or going back in? I laughed, I cried, I admired her toned arms, and, at the end of 7 minutes, still had no idea what she was talking about. (Do we see hints of activism in your future Jodie?!) The one thing I did understand, was that she loves her family. And really – what more do you need to know?

Up Next : Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) Awards – (I hear it’s just one big party!!)

Of Love, Loss & Car

cooking, Love & Life

2013 is turning out to be quite the year!

As you all know – I’ve been dealing with a pulled muscle in my hip, taking the prescribed pain medicines & muscle relaxer only as-needed. It turns out it was a good thing I had some left over –

Last Wednesday (the 16th) I was in a gnarly accident on my way to work. Don’t panic – both myself and the other driver walked away with no injuries (thank god) but our cars weren’t so lucky. My poor Hyundai lost traction on the slushy highway, and spun out – the other driver wasn’t able to stop in time, and hit my car along the rear passenger side.

My mini tank (Elantra) took it like a champ – the damage seeming relatively superficial at the scene. The other driver’s 2010 Audi looked worse, having hit me head on. Turns out, looks can be deceiving. The damage to my car was worse than we expected – the suspension was off, the break hose destroyed, the tire dangling from it’s frame – and that was only the damage they assessed. My insurance provider broke the bad news on Friday that my car; passed down to me after the passing of my beloved Nonni, which drove me back and forth to college, down to North Carolina & back, took me on countless road trips and late night adventures, and who’s old-lady status protected me from the laser beams of speed police, was totaled.

I was, and continue to be, devastated by the loss of my car. While I continually remind myself that the important thing, and the the thing my grandmother would be most concerned with, is that I am safe and sound – I’m still mourning the loss.

My car was the biggest (physical) piece of my grandmother I had left – and, initially, it felt as though I was losing her presence in my life. It felt like I wasn’t going to have her protection over me anymore – because, for as long as I had my car, she was in my mind every day, every time I got in the car, she was there. Losing the car felt like loosing her.

The more I thought about losing this physical reminder of her – the more pieces of her I found inside my apartment. I have the blanket from my alma mater she bought when I was accepted to college. I have 1/2 of the necklace she wore every day – a small gold heart that I wear daily. I have (and you’re not going to believe this) her old toaster – which still works like a charm. I found the letter she wrote me when I went away to college – in the drawer of her 1920’s sewing machine/end table.

More importantly – and this is something I’ve only discovered recently – I have her cooking skills. While it never interested me before – I’m not too shabby around the kitchen. Like her – my measurements aren’t always exact, I make a mean home-made pasta, and I always end up with sauce on my shirt.

The car wasn’t her – I wasn’t under her guidance only within it’s metal frame. She’s watching, protecting, following, and loving regardless of what I’m doing, where I am, and whatever I’m cooking.

Excuse me – I can hear my pasta water boiling 🙂

Dancing, Hips, Hospital!

Love & Life

Sounds like the newest dance craze, or a line from a Shakira song, doesn’t it? Areba!!!

But it’s not a dance craze. Funny story actually…..

Last Saturday (the 5th) I cashed in on one of my Christmas presents from my BF – tickets to Fuerza Bruta in NYC If you’re in the area (or – like the couple from Rochester we met in the coat check line) willing to drive a couple hours – the show has recently been extended for a few extra weeks.

Its cray-cray. Its a combination of Cirque du Soleil, a rave, Australian house music and live theater. Annnnd it’s the reason I ended up in the emergency care unit of the Westchester Hospital on Sunday morning.

Ok – so I realize that requires an explaination. At the end of Furza Bruta, it’s a huge dance party. And yes, there’s glitter. (There’s also water, so wear shoes/clothes you don’t care about.) Do you think that I stayed away from the watery-glittery mass of dancing people?

No – of course not. The BF and I got right in the thick of it. (Did you really expect anything less?)

And, as it happens, one part of my body went to the left (the top half) and the other part of my body went to the right. And my poor left hip got caught right in the middle of it. All of a sudden, mid-dance move, I felt a sharp pain in my hip – and realized I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. I thought it was just a pinched nerve – but I ended up limping all the way back to Grand Central.

Thinking I would just take 2 Advil and call it a night – I went to sleep with a heating pad… only to wake up the next morning with excruciating pain in my hip & leg. The BF decided it was time to seek professional help.

Diagnosis? Pulled muscle in my hip. Treatment? Pain medication, muscle relaxer, heating pads, and AT LEAST 1 week of no yoga.

I am currently on day 8 of no yoga. The hip is slowly, but surely, healing. I’m off the muscle relaxer, and down to once a day on the pain killers.

Really 2013? Really…..

Crock Pot Diaries : Pasta Salsa Bake

cooking, crockpot, recipe, Vegan

Do you know what I asked for for Christmas this year?

I asked my mom to go to Homegoods and clear out their Clearance Foods section. If you’ve never perused the clearance food aisle of one of these stores (including Marshalls & TJ Maxx) – you’re missing out. Depending on where the store is located – they always have a crazy assortment of spices, pre-measured baked goods, condiments, olive oils – just the most random collection of stuff for your kitchen you could possibly imagine. I, being the equal-opportunity nommer that I am, can’t help myself.

Like the adoring madre that she is – my mom made a pit-stop at the local Homegoods and filled my stocking. Do you know what she filled it with!?

4 jars of salsa.

I kid you not. 4. jars. of. salsa.

Need I remind you – I live alone. LB does not like salsa. Let’s add these 4 to the already-opened jar I had in my fridge! I now have salsa until the apocalypse. I could bath in salsa at this point.

Salsa selection includes:
– Brad’s Organic Salsa (hot)
– Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa (caution: scary hot)
– Mrs. Renfro’s Mango Habanero Salsa (medium hot)
– Guy Fieri Chipotle Salsa (smokey)

Well – at least I got a variety….

What’s a single girl to do with salsa coming out of her ears?

While reading through one of my 3 new vegan cookbooks (thanks bro!) I found a recipe in “Vegan Slow Cooking” by Carla Kelly for “Pasta Salsa Bake”. It looked simple enough – and I really needed to get rid of some salsa.

It called for ingredients you’d expect – spices, salsa, onions, peppers & crushed tomatoes. Here’s where my attempt went array, and the reason why there’s not a photo to accompany this post.

I could only find a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, but the recipe called for only 15oz. So….I had to guestimate. (Probs not my greatest idea). I also used two different kinds of pasta – (I had to get rid of the open box I already had!) I used Quinoa Barilla, and then a Barilla veggie pasta (spinach) – both fusilli type.

Again – not my finest cooking moment.

The quinoa pasta cooked much, much faster than the veggie pasta, basically disintegrating into the crock pot. Plus – too much crushed tomato paired with the liquid-y consistency of the salsa meant that the (remaining) pasta didn’t absorb enough of the liquid while cooking. It was a bit too watery for me…. and really anyone else who would have tried it.

I ate 2 servings of it – there’s an entire tupperware of it frozen in my freezer. I don’t know if it’s ever going to get reheated….. it may go right into the trash the next time I clean the fridge.

Hey – I got 2 meals out of it – which is 2 more than I ever got when I tried cooking oatmeal 🙂

In Today’s “Obvious World News” : Bikram Yoga is Hot

Love & Life, Yoga

Bikram yoga is hot.

Very Hot. Ghost Pepper Hot. Florida in August hot.

Part of my 2013 New Years Resolution (which I swear I’m actually going to keep) is to do the Bikram 30 Day Challenge. Which (obviously) is completing 30 consecutive days of Bikram yoga. And if you’ve never done Bikram, it seems fairly easy. You may think, “People go to the gym for 30 days all the time!” (For an example – please see any topless Ryan Gosling photos).

However – Bikram is not the same. At all.

First, it’s 90 minutes – which is longer than most folks go to the gym. And it’s 105 DEGREES with 90% HUMIDITY. Do you know what that means? That means your body is crying sweat the moment you walk in the door. Your body looks like you swam the English channel about 5 minutes into the class. I bring 2 (count ’em, 2!) towels.

And then, there are the positions themselves. Have you ever tried to touch your nose to your knee, while standing, with your legs at a 90 degree angle?

I have.

I can’t do it, per say, but I’ve tried.

All that being said, last night, I went to my first Bikram class in about 8 months. I knew what to expect. I drank a lot of water during the day, I didn’t eat anything 2.5 hours before class, and, as mentioned, I brought extra towels. I thought, “I may not be able to do all the postures perfectly, but at least I’ll be able to do the class”

Nope. Not even close.

(What follows is a pretty accurate re-telling of my internal monologue)

Minutes 5- 7 : “Huh – it’s hotter than I remember in here…”

Minutes 7 – 10 : “Maybe I’d better sit this set out”

Minutes 10 – 12 : “What is this tingely sensation in my fingers & hands?!”

Minutes 12 – 15 : (cue wave of nausea)

Minutes 15 – 17 : “Annnnnnnd I’m seeing stars. I should probably leave now…..”

Needless to say, I stumbled my way out of the class room. What a flattering impression I must have made on all my new classmates/yogi. After a 5 minute cool down on the icy tiled floor of the ladies locker room, I decided to go back in. The nausea had passed, and while I was willing to let my fear of public vomiting stop me from going back, my fear of “not being able to do it” wasn’t.

I washed my face, attempted to tame the frizzy mess of hair on my head, and tramped back into the studio.

My yogi gave me 2 thumbs up.

And I’m going back tonight 🙂

Justification of an Absence

Love & Life

It occurred to me that I owe readers (who am I kidding, there are 0 of you) an explanation as to why there’s such a gap between my last post, and today’s.


OK – I don’t really have a reason. I just didn’t blog.

I don’t believe in making excuses. If I had really wanted to write, I would have made time for it. I just didn’t make it a priority – and for that, I apologize (to you, my imaginary readers).

Here’s to a re-commitment, and a happy 2013 🙂