Crash Test Vegetarian

Vegan to Omnivore outreach program


I don’t generally talk about my personal life on my blog.  Typically it’s a little bit of an escape for me.  But lately, the overwhelming sadness has taken over our lives.    I haven’t actually cooked much of anything in weeks, other than just plain vegetables so I’ve been trying to spread out the recipes I’ve made as much as possible.

So I’m not sure exactly why I’m typing this now.  But here it is.  A cry to the universe for some answers or the tiniest sprinkle of peace.

Also, I ask for your forgiveness in advance for the potentially morbid future posts.


9 months ago a little man came into our lives.

That was the day after we met him.  Cute, isn’t he?  Well, we think he is.

The funny thing is, I didn’t want kids.  I was horribly abused as a child by people that were supposed to love me, and I was afraid I didn’t have the capacity the love a child.  But when we walked into the trailer he was living in, my entire world turned upside down and inside out.  I fell instantly and unequivocally head over heals in love with him.

We were asked to bring him home and raise him as our own.  Not really sure what to do or think other than that he needed a home and that he didn’t even recognize his own mother and she didn’t want anything to do with him, we did.  We bought him his first crib, and he’s been with us ever since.

A number of months passed and his mother never once asked after him.  Never contacted us.  We tried to get medical release papers, every person in the family asked, and she couldn’t seem to make time for it.  Until she needed money, then she asked for some in exchange for giving us the ability to take her son to the doctor and get him the shots he never got, and the checkup he hadn’t had since he was born.   After we said no, we didn’t hear from her again.  And nobody could get in touch with her.

My whole family was supporting us, “Let her hang herself,” they told us – meaning not to call DCF until she had no chance whatsoever of getting him back.  They didn’t want him going back to her.  After all, she smoked pot in the same room as him, she smoked in the house with him, she let him eat a cigarette butt and laughed it off.    And we could count on one hand the number of times he’d been OUTSIDE.

We just wanted to do what was right for him.

When we finally called DCF, she decided to perk right up and suddenly be interested.  Oh?  Interested now that someone is looking?  Where were you the past how many months when we needed to take him to the doctor?

She got her case plan in November and has been following it.  APPARENTLY taking a bus to parenting classes shows dedication.  

We are the ones that have stayed up all night with him when he was sick/teething.

We are the ones that comforted him through the pain of his first tooth.

My husband is the one he took his first steps to.

He ran for the first time to me.

We got him his first book.

We got him his first crib.

We took him to the library for the first time.

And to this day, he still doesn’t recognize his “mother.”   He still reaches back for us when we take him to visitations.  He squeals and runs to us from her when we go to pick him up.

But we’re not his biological mother.  We have no rights.  Nevermind the fact that he doesn’t KNOW her despite weekly visits and the fact that he supposedly “needs his mother.”

We’re nothing, other than a place holder in his life.  Could we get a lawyer?  Maybe.  For what?  To lose thousands of dollars that we don’t have on a situation we never had a hope to win.

After all, Florida is about “keeping families together.”  At all costs, especially the child – the one the “system” is supposed to protect.  And we have absolutely no recourse.  We’ve offered to adopt him, but nobody cares – the mother is the one that has all the rights.  We’re essentially just foster parents.

We have learned that children are possessions and that while we’ve been fighting to love and protect this little person, while the court has been trying to return property to the original owner.

He’s our world.  He’s our heart.  He’s everything we never wanted or expected in our lives.

We KNEW from the beginning that we would be hurt.  We chose to love him with our whole hearts, not holding back for one moment because we knew he deserved better.  We knew a day might come when he’d go back to a home where he’s note even wanted, much less loved.

What we didn’t know is that our whole family would turn against us once we called DCF, and that I would end up along except my husband and the family I married into (and love very much).

What we also didn’t know, is just how much this would hurt.

We’ve been living for months with this hanging over our heads.  We knew for a while we’d be losing him soon, but we have been trying to live every day in the moment as much as possible.  We’ve been hanging onto some small sense of false hope that the stars would align themselves and protect him from this trauma…. of being pulled away from the people he knows as his parents to be given back to a girl he doesn’t know, that doesn’t know him, that abandoned him.  

But the fact of the matter is, we’re losing him.  And the time is almost here.   Less than 3 months to go.  In just a few short weeks he starts overnight visits.  No, she doesn’t have a roof for him, but my also-abusive aunt (remember the one that told us to let her hang herself so she’d never get him back) does, and that’s good enough for DCF.

Working, taking care of a child, and trying to keep your head just above the most earth shattering depression is more difficult than it sounds.  We know we have to be strong for him, and thankfully when he’s near us we are blessed with near super-human strength.  

But the moment he’s out of our sight, the tears flow and our just-barely-glued-together hearts crumble, heavy with the knowledge that after court on 6-20, we will see him walk away from us for the last time.

Support and love welcomed.  Questions are not.


Lemon Garlic Oven Roasted Asparagus

I can’t be the only vegan/vegetarian/person on the planet that can happily shovel away a plate full of NOTHING but vegetables and walk away happy.

*crickets chirping*

Really? Nobody?  Chime in if you’re with me.

Well, that’s just what I had for dinner tonight.  I had a big ol’ plate of asparagus that was perfectly (honestly, no matter how it was cooked, if it wasn’t canned I’d probably adore it) cooked asparagus.

It helped that I picked up a couple bunches for $.99 each!


I’d never cooked asparagus before this batch, but I did recall that you need to chop the woody ends off.



Then I broke out my handy dandy roll of non-stick foil.

Drizzle the asparagus very lightly with oil and sprinkle it with garlic and salt and roll it around.



Roast at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, or until desired tenderness.  Splash with some lemon and eat a whole plate full of it for dinner. 🙂




No Bake Crack Balls

No, they aren’t the testicles of crack cocaine, they are little balls of concentrated awesome that just so happen to have crack-like addictive properties.

Ok, maybe that’s a LITTLE bit of a stretch.  But not much!!  I made these for the first time 2 weeks ago and have had to make them 3 time since.

These little bites were an answer to my poor little one’s cry for something to eat.  He hit his picky-as-hell phase, but he was always hungry cause he wouldn’t eat ANYTHING.  So I made these, hoping he’d enjoy them, and enjoy them he did.    The original recipe included mini chocolate chips, but that seemed a bit overboard, and after tasting them – I agree that it would have been.    These are extremely rich as they are, they’re high in fat, so these are not a snack on a few hand fulls of them kind of treat.

Prior to these, the only thing he would eat is tofu cubes that I’d bake with my Tofu Lo Mein recipe or Tofu Rice Casserole, which I was totally sick of.

Thankfully he’s doing better now.  For some reason after he tasted these, he seemed to trust my cooking again.  =P

My husband pops them here and there when he refuses to eat cause he’s too busy with whatever.  And I bring 2 or 3 of them to work for a quick breakfast.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know how I feel about complicating recipes that really do not need to be complicated, and this super easy recipe is going to be no different.

So here it is:

Mix the dry team together.  And don’t get any of sweetened coconut crap from the grocery store, you need to get some quality unsweetened shredded coconut.  I got mine in bulk from the local health food store.

Mix the wet team together.  You can use honey, agave, or even maple syrup – but you need a nice sticky liquid sweetener.  And, if you use natural, unsweetened peanut butter, you may need to taste it and add a pinch of salt or more sweetener.  I used standard store-bought peanut butter, which I think is perfect for this.  You also may want to microwave the peanut butter and sweetener for about 30 seconds or so to soften it and make mixing easier.

Mix it all up.

Now that you’ve got it all mixed up, let it sit in the fridge for 30 – 60 minutes to firm up a bit, and press (not roll, it will just fall apart) into little balls.

Store in the fridge.  Eat sparingly. 🙂


Happy colcannon day :)


Blackbean Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

I love taking leftovers to work.  Generally at the beginning of the week, we plan what we call a “pot” meal.  It might be soup, stew, casserole or something of the sort… anything that reheats well in a microwave, and holds up well over a few days.

This week didn’t exactly work out as planned.  I had one failed recipe, and one the hubby figure didn’t particularly care for – this one.

I’m the cilantro and lime lover in the family, so it wasn’t the recipe’s fault.  Don’t blame it.  That’s not nice.  It was his dumb tastebuds.

I gotta admit, I’m kinda happy he didn’t care for it.  I’m loving the hell out of it.  This is my current favorite salad.

Behold,  work lunch made with leftover Blackbean Hash and Cilantro Lime dressing.

UPDATE: Even though the Blackbeah Hash didn’t quite win my husband over, he did enjoy it in the salad with the dressing.

Warm, comforting, earthy beans heated then nestled into a bed of cool, crisp lettuce and vegetables.

Drizzled with my tangy and refreshing cilantro, lime and orange dressing.

It’s hot and cold, it’s comforting and refreshing, its sweet, sour, tangy, earthy and perfect.


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Hash

A long, long time ago (The song “American Pie” comes to mind),  I made Black Bean and Soyrizo hash and heard of other people using different things like kale and sweet potatoes so I was on a mission to make another – just as easy – version.  Things didn’t work out, exactly as planned.  I spent a week looking for Kale at my local supermarkets and produce stand, and I have yet to find any.   My husband didn’t care for this recipe, cause he’s not a sweet potato fan, and after accidentally mixing stuff up on my plate, I decided that the best way for me to enjoy this was topping my favorite salad greens and drizzled with the cilantro-lime dressing I also tried that also failed the hubby test.

So the instructions include the sweet potato – if that’s your thing, but I highly suggest making a big ol’ tex-mex salad out of it all.

Incidentally, a few of the recipes I found included coriander – which if you don’t know is the seed counterpart to cilantro.  I get ALL my spices from the local natural food store (I highly suggest this, it’s waaaaaaaaaaay cheaper and fresher), and my husband and I smelled coriander for the first time and decided that it absolutely did NOT belong on any food products in our home.  I even gagged a little.

So um, if you like coriander, add some.  Maybe I’m just not ready for it.  Granted, the first time I tried cilantro I spit it out…. guess tastes change.

For the Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette:

In a food processor whip together

1 cup cilantro leaves (or more to taste)
1/4 cup orange
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
pinch or two dry mustard (optional) to emulsify – this adds no flavor

For the hash:

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  When warm, add a drizzle of oil and heat until shimmering. When the oil is shimmering, add
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced

Cook until the onion and green pepper are browning, about 3-5 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, peel and cut 1 medium to large sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes.  Add sweet potato to pan when the onions have browned.
Continue cooking until sweet potato has browned a bit, about 3-5 minutes.  You can also skip this and just move on to the next step.

Add to the skillet
1 1/2 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tsp chili powder (again, or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 cloves garlic, minced

Stir around and cook for about a minute or so, then add
3/4 cup chicken flavored (I used Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base) or vegetable broth

Scrape the pan to make sure there’s nothing sticking and let the potatoes cook in the broth.  The broth will completely cook down while the potatoes cook, but be sure to test them when the pan gets dry to make sure you don’t need to add some more in.  Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated then add in
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup corn (if using from frozen, no need to defrost first)

Cook until heated.  Serve topped with cilantro and lime, or drizzled with the vinaigrette in a salad.


Pesto and White Bean Pasta – Meal Idea

I do not have a pesto recipe, I actually happened upon a jar of vegan pesto that was on clearance at my local mega-mart for $1.29 (originally $8.99), so I snatched it up.   I actually held on to it for a while, because I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with it.  I can’t just eat a plate of pasta without some sort of protein.  Finally I found a recipe for white beans in pesto, so I figured we’d give it a shot.  It was a winner.  Unfortunately my pesto to pasta ratio was a little low because I didn’t listen to my husbands suggestion, so I would suggest 10 ounces of pasta to a 6 ounce jar of pesto.

Did I mention my awesometastic husband made this? ❤  And it was both husband and toddler approved.

Pesto with White Bean and sun dried tomatoes

Most pesto’s contain cheese, so be sure to read the ingredients!

While the pasta is cooking (or rather the water for the pasta is heating)…

In a warmed non-stick frying pan drizzle a small amount of the oil from a jar of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (optional, you can use olive oil of course).
When the oil is shimmering, add
1 medium onion, minced

Whilst the onion is cooking, slice about
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes and add to the pan 

Sautee until onions are translucent.  Add:
3-5 minced garlic cloves
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 

Stir spinach in the pan briefly, then cover until wilted – about a minute or two.

When the spinach is wilted, and pasta is drained, mix them all together along with ze jar of pesto.



Kony 2012

Yes, this is a food blog.

But if you’re anything like me, odds are you sometimes ignore things on Facebook, the news, in the papers, or things that your coworkers are talking about, because you’re often in your own little struggling-to-get-by world.

If you have a little one of your own, or one that you care for dearly, you will be especially heartbroken by the thought of that little bundle of perfection being snatched from his or her warm bed to fight a fight of pure power and nothing else.  I didn’t know about Kony before today, and you might not have either.  But for 26 years he’s been abducting, mutilating, raping and killing perfect little angels.

300,000 of them.  

But it’s Uganda, who cares about Uganda?


Oatmeal topped with Apples

{cubed apples – sprinkled with cinnamon and microwaved for 2-3 minutes – over your favorite oatmeal, topped with soy milk}

baby approved

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Caramelized Onion and Mushroom [vegan] and Garlic Pizza

My husband has declared this as “probably the best pizza I’ve ever made,” which is pretty gosh darned high praise considering how much pizza I make.     After making the Mujadara, I wanted more caramelized onions.    I also had some leftover sauce, so I decided why not!?

The ingredients are pretty obvious.  I caramelized some onions, sauteed some mushrooms in garlic and topped a Daiya drenched crust with it.    Was muy yum.


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