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… 🙂

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 🙂

A Jam by any other name is…. a Spread? a Paste?

cooking, recipe, Vegan
This has been a bizarre week – my entire management chain (up to the guy who runs Marketing and Communications – whom I consider to be a minor celebrity) is taking their summer vacation. So it’s all quiet on the Westchester front.

Too quiet.

I’m working from home these 4 days, which makes impromptu cooking much easier!

During my lunch hour today (aka my 1 hour to try and avoid cabin fever) I stumbled across the White Plains farmer’s market! Don’t ask me why – but the farmer’s market in WP is held on Wednesdays from 8am – 12pm. (Tomorrow is a holiday, hence the reschedule)

Who in their right mind has a farmer’s market in A) the middle of the work week & B) the middle of the work day? – but it was nice. Considering I just spent an arm & a leg at Whole Foods, I bought some sugar plums (YES LIKE FROM THE XMAS STORY!!!) from an Amish farm and was hit on by a Kettle Corn seller. All in a day’s work I guess 🙂

New recipe test for ya’ll!
Blueberry Vegan Spready-Jam* (bberries were on sale at Whole Foods 🙂
Ingredients –
1 pint of blueberries
2 tbsp of chia seeds (OK – so I didn’t use Chia seeds. I used Flax Seed, which came out to about the same thing – I think. You should all know I sort of wing these recipes)
3 tbsp Maple Syrup/Agave/Liquid Sweetner
Dash o’ Vanilla Extract

Directions –
1. Mix the blueberries & liquid sweetner in a small pot on the stove. Mash up the bberries, (use a potato masher – works better than a fork). Leave some bberries for texture. Cook at boiling for about 5 minutes.

Pre-Flax seed. It was a beautiful blue/purple color

2. Mix in seeds (chia or otherwise – the seeds, when combined with a liquid, are used as a thinkener) and cook on a med/low heat for about 15 minutes.
3. Stir frequently. This is muy importante b/c you don’t want the sugar to burn
4. Once it’s been cooked to the desired consistency, remove from heat & mix in vanilla extract.
5. Store in an air-tight container in el fridge. I put mine in a glass mason jar which made me feel super-hippy 🙂

*Fair warning – you may need to add more maple syrup/sweetner to your own taste preferences. My spread ended up not as sweet as jelly/jam (duh) so if you want something sweeter – you may need to add extra.

– it’s an OK vegan substitute – I’ve been wary of foods that could pectin/lecithin/gelatin – as pectin is vegan, but the others aren’t. Plus, some of those jams/jellies have a lot of added sugar. I think it needs something more to enhance the natural sugars in the blueberries. Maybe a mashed banana or some applesauce next time.

Also – LB did not enjoy it. I tried to get her to taste some. Womp Womp. She’s going to stick with raisins and bananas.

Italian Comfort Food – Vegan Version

cooking, Love & Life, recipe, Vegan

After my Vegan Dinner #Fail yesterday – I wasn’t ready to be beaten by the kitchen just yet. I peeled myself off my mattress last night (it was only 8:30 folks – I’m such an old lady) and headed back to the battlefield.

Last Saturday I bought these 2 beautiful tomatoes from a local mom&pop store in a neighboring town. The first went to the awesome arugula salad, & I made my second favorite Italian comfort food (ICF) with the other.

Obviously, my first favorite ICF is my family’s homemade pasta, sauce & meatballs. You cannot do anything for the rest of the day after you eat it, because it takes a solid 8 hours for the bowling ball of carbohydrates to leave your stomach – but it’s so worth it. Every plate licking calorie. The pasta is so good that even our dogs eat it. No joke.

My second favorite ICF is stuffed vegetables – specifically artichokes & tomatoes. My Nonni (Italian grandmother) was the resident cook, and she used to make these for me – if I asked nicely. My Nonni passed away in 2006 – and one of my last memories of her, as the healthy, loving and vital Non she was – was sitting in her kitchen as she baked me a tray of stuffed tomatoes. 🙂

As the cruddy cook I was/am – I never thought stuffed tomatoes were in my realm of ability. They looked so fancy & foo-foo – I thought I would ruin them for sure.

UNTIL! I went to North Carolina and my aunt offered to teach me. I was stoked! I was all prepared with a pad of paper and my cooking hat – to master the finesse & tact required to tackle such an illustrious task as “the stuffed tomato”

……until I realized how dead-a$$ easy they are to make.

Here it is folks – ICF: Vegan Style!

Step 1: Purchase tomatoes. Cut off the little green stems and cut tomatoes in half. Not longways – sideways – this is important.
Step 2: Pick up half of tomato. Mush it. Seriously – pretend you are making a fist around the tomato. This will get messy – but all the little seed pockets will loosen up.
Step 3: Fling your wrist into the sink – without letting go of the tomato! (This does require some practice) But the point is to launch some of the tomato seed pockets into the sink. You can also achieve this in a slightly more civilized manner by using a spoon & removing the seeds.
Step 4: Once each half is seedless – set aside.
Step 5: Make the filling. Dump some breadcrumbs into a bowl (Note: to healthify this – use Panko crumbs, 1/2 crumbs & 1/2 flax seed, really anything that will get a nice crust when baking). Add some parsley flakes & garlic (I used minced – hey – I’m resourceful) and whatever seasoning you’ve got lying around.
Step 6
: Add some EVOO – probably like – 3 or 4tbs (we’re not big on measurements in my family apparently…) Again – to healthify – flax seed & water should do the same thing. Mix well with a fork until the crumbs make a crunchy sort of sound. (again – we don’t do specifics in my family… just mix well – you’ll be fine)
Step 7: Fill the tomatoes! Use a wooden spoon to fill and round the tops of the tomatoes


Bake the tomatoes at 350 for about 10 minutes – depending on the type of oven you have. They’re done when the filling turns golden brown.


Seriously – eat 1, and only 1 tomato out of the oven. Cover the other(s) and put in fridge overnight. They better the next day!

Reheat for 1 minute in the microwave the next day.

Enjoy perfection on a plate. ❤

Vegan Dinner Fail – The First of Many

cooking, recipe, Vegan

Had my first “dinner dump” tonight.

I was just going to sauté up some leftover rainbow chard & these cool little do-dad veggies called garlic scapes (scrapes? Creapes?) I don’t know – but they are basically garlic flowers that you pick and eat. Yet another farmer’s market find!

In a moment of genius (read: stupidity) I thought I could make an impromptu stir-fry/simmer sauce with a little bottle of rasberry wasabi dipping mustard (Homegoods “gourmet” foods isle – delicious!).

So – I heated up some minced garlic and threw the mustard in the sauté pan. I used some flax seed & water – because I read somewhere that that combo can be used as a thickening agent. I also figured the water would give it enough liquid to “cook down” (I have no idea if I’m using these terms correctly -FYI)

I’ll be honest – my rainbow chard was less than fresh. It was sort of wilty – not slimy and brown – just wilted.

This did not transfer well into the pan.

Not only did the chard take on a mushy, snot-like texture – but there was zero – yes – ZERO taste from my mustard concoction. What a waste of perfectly good mustard. The garlicky things were ok – they stayed nice and crispy.

To the garbage it went – and I ate a grilled red pepper.

Sigh -you win some you lose some!

However – Last night’s turnip was a triumph! I think they’re called Japanese White Turnips – and I chopped off the top leafy things and the long tendrils on the bottom and roasted them with olive oil & Italian seasoning at 400 degrees, until they turned brown & tender. They sort of had the consistency of the bottoms of broccoli – the stem part. I paired them with a cut up tomato and the awesome arugula for a salad

Roasted Turnips!

The “awesome arugula” salad!

It’s admittedly easier for me to watch what I put into my body, than what I do with my body. I loathe exercising. Seriously. It’s the bane of my existence. I hate it. I hate everything about it – the sweat, the other people, the heat, the uber perky instructors, did I mention the sweat?

It doesn’t help that I’ve had regular & reoccurring pain in my knees during my exercise of choice – running. I’m getting to the point where even sitting in my desk (with my legs bent) all day is starting to bother me. I stopped running – aside from hating it – but to keep myself from doing any more damage.

While Bikram, or “sit & sweat”, as I refer to it – was nice, it was a logistical nightmare to get to classes after work. What to do, what to do?

My local YMCA was offering a summer special – a discounted rate for 3 months of unlimited access. And they have something my gym didn’t –


What the heck – I signed up.

This morning I swam laps for the first time in, probably 10 years.

I. Was. A. Mess.

Just as an FYI – running prepares you for NOTHING – other than more running. Seriously – I was stopping in between laps, my arms are still aching, ermagahd – ouch.

Totally didn’t help that the Senior Citizens were kicking A$$ in the lanes next to me. It felt like it did during my first 5K when I got lapped by the mom with the tandem stroller… running….uphill…

Again – you win some, you lose some. I went to Dick’s tonight & got a swim cap & goggles. If I can’t ACT the part – I might as well LOOK it!

A Mango Mess, Awesome Arugula & Spinach/Potato Rounds

cooking, recipe, Vegan

When we last checked in on the Broke Vegan (moi) I had just received my first ever Urban Organic delivery. Since we spoke – I tackled the corn cobs that were in the basket. A co-corn-conspirator suggested microwaving an ear for 2/3 minutes (silk removed) then grilling over my gas stove (i.e. open flame).

I removed the husk and (what I thought) all the hairy, silky stuff on the inside. Little did I realize that there are nearly transparent hair like thingys that remain on the corn – even though they are practically invisible to the naked eye. No harm, no foul, until these little tendrils started popping on my corn – nearly giving me a heart-attack and (almost) dropping my corn onto the stove.

Open flame + corn on the cob = popcorn attack & smoke alarm.

While I manged to not set my apartment on fire, it may take a little more practice for me to become a corn-handler extraordinaire.

My Spinach & Potato rounds came out much better (see photo) – Dead easy –

1. Peel & boil potatoes (*Rookie mistake warning – put potatoes in pot BEFORE water reaches scalding temperatures. Dropping hefty potato chunks in boiling liquid results in splatter and kitchen panic)
2. Cook spinach until wilted in pan
3. Once potatoes are half way between firm & mushy (about 6 minutes) – drain & let cool for a minute or two

4. Mash & mix potatoes & spinach in bowl. Pat yourself on the back for getting a good arm work out 🙂

Spinach & Potato rounds – The Mixture
I also froze some of these in rounds for later baking – I’ll figured they were just like alternative french fries – so they should be ok!

5. Roll into balls.
6. Bake until brown.
7. Serve with marinara sauce (like any good Italian)

Delicious right out of the oven! You can reheat either in the microwave or the oven. Oven = crispy & Microwave = mushier

The final unknown ingredient in the delivery was a mango. Yes – I’ve had mango before – however, I’ve never actually prepared one.


If you’ve never peeled/prepped a mango – be prepared for a seriously disappointing first attempt. My mango cutting skills are abysmal – I ended up with some mashed, mush of fruit on my cutting board – nothing like the firm, tender pieces that decorate my seaweed salad from my favorite sushi place. Don’t get me wrong – I still ate it. I actually ate the entire thing right off the cutting board. Mango falling through my fingers and all. Aside from looking like fruit road kill – it still tasted great.

Sigh – getting another in next week’s delivery – cross your fingers for a better show!

In addition to the Urban Organic delivery – I also visited a local farmer’s market on Saturday and found the most amazing arugula. Yeah – I just used bold font here – it’s well warranted. The people selling it said it was a mixture of 2 types of wild arugula – I legit have never tasted a more delicious, peppery, nom-licious green. I’ve been eating it out of the bag like potato chips.

Can you make arugula chips?! Must investigate….

I also bought some white Japanese turnips – which, according to the farmers – are amazing roasted.

I have never eaten a turnip. Ever. In my life.

My experience with turnips is limited to the chapter in the Molly American Girl book where Molly can’t leave the table until she finishes her turnips. (Anyone? Anyone else know what I’m talking about?!)

Needless to say I’ll be tackling those tonight!

It was a Vegetarian Christmas!

cooking, Vegan

Peeps! – Yesterday my first order of Urban Organic came! WHOOO!

So – for those unfamiliar – Urban Organic is a semi-local home delivery service for organic fruits & vegetables. I say “semi-local” because the company gives as much of their business to local farmers as possible – however – they do buy bulk from organic farms all around the country. I’d been looking for a CSA local to Westchester County NY – but it’s been hard. Most farms are in southern NJ and VERY expensive. But if I’m wrong – and someone out there knows of a good CSA in my area – please let me know!!


I knew what I was getting – (they post the list weekly) – but I didn’t know how much I was getting. I ordered the “Original Box” (see photo)- which is supposed to feed 2-3 people. (Read: 1 vegan & a bunny)

No lie – when I opened that box I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Like I had told Santa what I wanted, and even though he SAID he’d bring me what I wanted – I wasn’t 100% sure.

Remember that feeling?!

It. was. GLORIOUS.

I got:

Rainbow Chard – who knew it was really that pretty?!




FYI – this whole box cost me $40 – including shipping & handling! Considering I spend about $55 a week on groceries – I think this is a pretty good deal – I break even and feel better about where/what I’m buying.

While I consider myself an equal opportunity food lover – I’d never had chard. So obviously that was the first thing I made for dinner.

I found a recipe online for sauteed spinach & chard with garlic. I also threw some kale in there for good measure (considering I detest Kale juice). Like any good Italian – I think everything tastes better smothered in marinara sauce – but I managed to restrain myself.

Wow – this looks REALLY unappealing – must take photos in better light 🙂

Seasoned with Indian spices, lemon, ginger & garlic – it was pretty good! Chard stems sort of have the texture of celery – and there was a little bit of bitterness (curse you Kale!) but it was definitely something I’d make again. Sans the lemon juice though – it was a bit overwhelming for me.

Waring: this recipe is very, VERY ahem – “cleansing” – (if you will). Just a heads up

I’ve got a plan for pretty much everything in the box – the fruit I can eat whole, and the greens go either in juices or sauteed for dinner. I found this DANK looking recipe on this cool new website called Instructables (has anyone else heard of this?! All the instructions have photos!! There’s a whole vegan/vegetarian section!!) for (brace yourself)

Fat Free Vegan Potato Spinach Balls.

I don’t know the brilliant mind who created these – but I cannot wait to make them! How delicious do they look?! It seems like an easy way to get rid of the potatoes without having to mash ’em.

The only item I’m really struggling with is two ears of sweet corn. I don’t have an outside grill, but I do have a gas stove, so I could technically grill them. Does anyone have a good suggestion for what to do with them?

On a totally unrelated note – I lost 2.5 of the 5lbs I gained over vacation this week. 🙂

Anyone know what to do with Rainbow Chard?

cooking, Vegan

Aside from still reeling from my “bender” – I’m trying to recover with juicing most of this week. Although this afternoon they did have edamame in the cafeteria – so edamame and a fruit juice it was! (I can’t resist those little pods!)

Keep calm and juice on – isn’t that the saying?

Feet & the Outer Banks

Tomorrow is an veg-tastic day folks – I’m getting my first delivery from Urban Organic – an semi-local organic grocery delivery service! From their website:

  • Here’s how Urban Organic works: We bulk-b uy our produce, groceries and dairy goods from organic farmers’ cooperatives, distributors and individual farmers. We try to give our local farmers as much of our business as possible. All of our supplies are certified organic by the USDA, whose stringent standards ensure that no chemicals have been used in the production process. All of our produce and groceries are Certified Organic!

The idea of someone else doing my grocery shopping always weirded me out for some reason (I’m looking at you PeaPod) but I don’t get the same vibe from Urban Organic. Probably because my “box” isn’t specific to me – it’s whatever is in season. The luck of the agricultural draw, if you will.

This week’s box consists of:

Corn / Carrots / Broccoli / Green Leaf Lettuce / Russet Potatoes / Rainbow Chard / Kale / Valencia Oranges / Nectarines / Cameo Apples / Bananas / Grapefruit / Mango / Packham Pears

That’s A LOT of produce.
Whelp – no choice but to dive right in, right!? Does anyone know what to do with rainbow chard?!