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Wine Didn’t I Think of That? February 23, 2012

Filed under: Main — thehalfassvegan @ 8:43 pm

“You’re still doing that thing, huh?” Yes. Mostly. Today I had McDonald’s chicken nuggets for lunch with Peter. That’s not anywhere on the spectrum of  vegan, pescatarian or even that healthy. But, boy, were they good. I don’t even feel bad about it. What fun would it be if I couldn’t emphasize the “halfass”?  Though if I keep that up, I’ll have to substitute “fat” for “half.”

I will admit that after another round of semi-delicious non-meat tacos last night, I was craving good ole beef tacos. I told Matt that I promised to keep cooking sans meat for as long as he wanted to eat this way but that if he ever felt even the tiniest desire to go back to the way of cows, pigs and chickens (oh, my!), I would be right there with a steak knife in my hand. Yes, I am weak.

But, every time I start to get weary, there seems to be a redeeming light. And this week, the light was in the form of none other than white wine. Now, I’m not a huge wine drinker. In fact, it has to be so sweet that most people wouldn’t even consider it “real” wine for me to enjoy it. But, recipes made with white wine always seem to be extra tasty, rich and decadent. So I came across a shrimp fettuccine recipe that called for chicken broth. I usually just substitute vegetable broth but one recipe reviewer said that she used white wine instead of the broth. Shrimp, white wine, butter and garlic. Never a better combination of ingredients in my book. There were more ingredients but these are the four that made me drool.  There was so much butter, I was hoping it melted before Matt saw how much went in the pan. Sometimes it’s better just not to know. Overall, the recipe was pretty good. Probably a four on a scale of one to five. But the real star was the freedom to use more than just vegetable broth. And, when a bottle of the cheapo stuff is only $2.49 at Aldi, it’s comparable to the cost of broth. I’m not a very good cook so I’m not exactly sure when you can substitute wine instead of broth but I’m up for trying it out.  Not when the recipe calls for 4 cups of broth. Wowsa!

Another winner was the Roasted Sweet Potato Pizza with Spinach and Caramelized Onion. We ended up staying home with a sick kiddo on Super Bowl Sunday and decided to still party it up. So I made this pizza and Chex mix just for the two of us. You can’t really have a Super Bowl party without those two things.  It turned out really well! It was a little heavy on the dough so I might scout out a lighter, thinner crust. But the flavors went well together and I was impressed. The tell-tale sign of a winner is when the leftovers get eaten and they definitely did.

But it’s not all roses in the land of veggies and beans. I was so proud of myself one day for putting the ingredients in the crockpot that morning. Peter and I gallivanted about town for the day and I got home 10 minutes before Matt but dinner was ready and the house smelled good. It was the perfect plan. I scooped it out. We sat down. One bite each. Gracious Matt didn’t say anything but I practically spit it out. Bleh. Bland, mushy, ugly. Brown rice, you have gotten the best of me again! On the food hate list, brown rice is one step higher on the hate list than lentils. I have half a bag left and one more option for cooking it that I pinned on Pinterest. If that doesn’t work, I’m done with thee, brown rice! I don’t care if you’re healthier. So, after our two combined bites, I dumped the whole thing in the trash. The only saving grace was that I had used a crockpot liner and was able to put the whole thing in the trash with no mess. The only thing worse than a flopped meal is cleaning up after it. So, we quickly grabbed option B – veggie stir fry – and placated our palates with some teriyaki sauce. All better.

Bleh. Flop.

Arch nemesis of the brown rice,

The Half-Ass Vegan


Substitute “lazy” for “half” if you must, just not “dumb” January 27, 2012

Filed under: Main — thehalfassvegan @ 7:46 pm

You know it’s been a while since your last post when you can’t remember your password. Then, when you reset it, you realize it was because you were typing in the wrong username.


I’ve been lazy with posting but I haven’t been lazy with experimenting with new and tasty options. Well, usually not lazy. There have been these tasty little treats I found at Aldi. Fusia Shrimp and LoMein. Seven minutes to heaven. Sounds scandalously like one of those junior high party games. I’ve tried a few of the veggie only stir fry options as well and it’s nice and easy for those days when Peter doesn’t want to help cook. Imagine that.


If I wasn’t already pissing off the true vegans, the fact that we’ve definitely added dairy and fish back into our diets will likely put them over the edge. We’re barely pescatarians much less vegetarians or vegans. Ha! I guess that makes us Presbyterian Pescatarians.


But whatever you call us, this has broadened the horizon and made meal time easier. My biggest problem has been with textures. I felt like I was eating bird seed on some days. Lentils, I still only love you boiled and pureed to oblivion. I don’t really want to see your face. If you sneak in, that’s fine.


To list our favorites and flops over the last however many months would be boring, but I do want to highlight a few that have made the “make it again” list. First up, my friend Beth sent me a recipe for Red Lentil Soup. Lentils are appropriately hidden and delicious. We’ve made it twice so far and did make it truly vegan. We substituted vegetable for chicken broth and bowtie pasta for cheese tortellini. We barely had leftovers and even that was eaten quickly. A good sign.

Red Lentil Soup 3/4 cup chopped onions 2 tsps minced garlic 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes 1 cup chopped red bell peppers 1/2 cup chopped carrots 1/2 red lentils 1 tsp dried basil 4 oz fresh or frozen cheese tortellini  1. In a nonstick saucepan sprayed with vegetable spray, cook onions and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden. Add stock, sweet potatoes, red peppers, carrots, red lentils and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook covered, for 15 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender.  2. In a food processor or blender, puree soup in batches. Return to saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Add tortellini; reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes or until tortellini are tender.   Makes 4 servings


Second, salmon with veggie sides. And not just any salmon. My friends at Aldi have great deals on four individually wrapped salmon fillets that are wild caught and then my favorite new way to cook them is the maple salmon recipe on Yum! My mouth is watering. These goldfish crackers I’m sharing with Peter right now are not going to cut it.


And finally, for now, perhaps my saving grace lately has not been one particular recipe so much as finding creative ways to cook my favorite foods in a modified manner. I’m stocked up on vegetable broth and then I’ve been using the vegan patty recipe ( in other recipes. I froze the leftovers from the burgers and recently made tacos with one pound of that recipe serving as my “meat.” I just added taco seasoning and water and viola! Real live tacos. Sort of. Matt loved them and even liked it better than the tacos we made with Morningstar Farms meal starters. I also used another pound of the vegan patty mixture (These two pounds and 4 burgers all came from a half recipe! Crazy!) to make my mom’s lasagna recipe. Instead of the meat, I just crumbled the patty mixture into the sauce. It was delicious!


Having a few staples that I know will be tasty is what keeps me going. They’re my security blanket to go out and try new things without giving up when and if they flop.


Still holding on to my undeserved moniker,

The Half-Ass Vegan


If you are what you eat, I’m bland October 9, 2011

Filed under: Main — thehalfassvegan @ 11:38 pm

Maybe that’s a pessimistic start. Okay. That’s a for sure pessimistic start. There have been some winners these last few weeks sprinkled among the flops or the just plain blahs. But I’m obviously not starving to death so something is working.

One of the most exciting results since this whole shenanigan started is that I actually lost weight. Now, before I patent and package this to make millions, let’s take a step back. Here’s the need to know.

  1. It was only two pound (in about four weeks).
  2. I also ran out of Oreos during this time. Coincidence? I think not.
  3. Beans and fiber will do that to a girl. TMI? Probably.
  4. The thought of baking on top of actually cooking (as opposed to glorified reheating) is too daunting.
The latest favorites that have risen to the top are Butternut Squash Soup, still the Squash Enchiladas (made these for a second time and have the ingredients to make them a third – two words: YUM-ME), hummus and homemade veggie burgers. Edible but not likely to be repeated? Smoky Grilled Tempeh, Spaghetti Squash Plus 9 Other Words Recipe and Black Bean Vegetable Soup aka Dirt Soup (actually, not so so bad…it’s a maybe).
(there should be a space between these paragraphs but the editing is ticking me off so I’ll put dots)
Peter’s First Birthday was also today and some people asked if I was keeping the eggs and milk out of the cake and so forth to make it a vegan celebration. The half-ass side of me thinks that is an oxymoron but that’s not fair. I’m sure there are delicious options out there. I’m not determined enough to find them. So, no. Peter’s cake/cupcakes were full-out, sugar-loaded, egg-included, cholesterol-filled deliciousness. I guess I did keep the milk out but that’s because the box didn’t call for any.
(there should be a space between these paragraphs but the editing is ticking me off so I’ll put dots)
As much as I’m skeptical, I have to admit that I feel pretty good. I’m cooking healthier and feeling the internal effects. My hair shines brighter, my teeth are whiter, my skin glows, my nails are stronger. Nope. That last sentence is a lie. Just checking to see if you’re paying attention still. We read (actually skimmed…actually just read the title and heard about the gist of it) an article that questions the validity of the science in Forks Over Knives and we’re not surprised. That’s why we’re willing to sneak some dairy in occasionally and have decided to add fish back in (this is sounding less and less vegan and barely even vegetarian but I’m not changing the name of this thing now). There is no miracle to it but in moderation, we do the best we can. And hopefully we can enjoy the flavor of the experiment along the way.
(there should be a space between these paragraphs but the editing is ticking me off so I’ll put dots)
Yep, still,
– The Half-Ass Vegan

Lentil Next Time September 23, 2011

Filed under: Main — thehalfassvegan @ 5:02 pm

Well, it’s been an interesting week. I started off with a two for three record. I scrambled to eat the leftovers of the squash enchiladas and there weren’t any leftovers from the acorn squash. The rest of this week has fallen pretty squarely in the “meh” category. (With one colossal flop.) Here are the major hurdles I’ve encountered:

1. I like butter. We’re not talking sticks but a couple of pats go a long way. It’s technically a no-no (enter cheat number one).

2.  I like flavor. Is that too much to ask?

3. I like cheese. It goes along with number two. Again, it’s worth the occasional cheat but it kind of defeats the purpose of the experiment if I dump a whole bag of shredded cheese on top.

This week also brought two new-to-me ingredients into play: lentils and tofu. The lentils and I had it out. We fought back and forth and I’m not sure who won. You be the judge (see photos below). I’m not sure we really understand each other yet. Maybe I’m just not a lentil girl. When I went to the store to buy the tofu, I had to ask where it was. I then wanted to explain that I wasn’t one of those granola-eating, tree-hugging hippies. But then I thought, “Shoot! Maybe I am one!” Not exactly, but it did take getting over my ego a bit to actually buy tofu. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Granted, it was pureed and well-hidden in the Spinach-Noodle Kugel. (One idea that arose for a post title was “Kugel Exercise.” I won’t say who suggested it but it wasn’t me and it wasn’t Peter.)

Below are the recipes I’ve tried thus far. I’m leaving out the lentil recipe because a) it‘s from a family member and b) it was fraught with user-errors and completely flopped. Perhaps pink lentils and regular lentils are not interchangeable.

Lentil next time,

The Half-Ass Vegan

P.S. The recipes didn’t get saved or something. Maybe I’ll post them later….



And So It Begins September 19, 2011

Filed under: Main — thehalfassvegan @ 4:52 am

Last week, Matt told me he wanted to watch a movie on Netflix. I was thinking action, comedy, maybe even a romance. Nope. Documentary. That’s okay. We like documentaries so even though it wasn’t what I was hoping for, I was game.

“Forks Over Knives.” I’d never heard of it but halfway through I thought, “Sh…oot! He’s going to want to do this!” The film advocates a whole foods, plant-based diet. Matt has a family history of heart disease and eating WFPB would supposedly reverse the effects of heart-clogging tendencies. But I like a good juicy steak. And ice cream. And sugar. Even though I know I should eat healthier at times, I generally eat things in moderation. Good, right? But how do you argue with a husband that just wants to live longer to be with you? Cute, huh? Although the next day he said, “I never thought that maybe you actually just wanted some time to yourself after I died.” Ha! Nah. I’ll keep him around for as long as I can.

So, here we go. A semi-experiment. I say semi-experiment because come to find out, the meat eaters are over here on one end, then come the vegetarians, then the vegans, then the WFPB folks. I don’t know about no refined sugars at all. What am I going to do with my stockpile of brownie mixes? Vegan is closer but personally, I still want some occasional ice cream and whatnot. In fact, I’ll be honest, I’m probably going to cheat. And I’m okay with that. But, as Matt pointed out, I tend to do the groceries and the *cough* cooking (if you count grilling and microwaving cooking) so if he’s going to do it, he needs me. Well, that’s what it sounded like and I like to feel needed (most of the time) so, onward.

The game plan is this: Eat as close to vegan as possible. This should be just enough to piss off our meat-eating family and not quite enough so that we end up pissing off real live vegans (not on purpose but it’s bound to happen).

This blog is to chronicle the adventure and keep track of the recipes I like, the recipes that make me want to eat a whole tub of ice cream to make up for lack of flavor and what we learn along the way. I ordered two cookbooks online and looked up a couple of recipes as well. Flipping through the book that came on Friday, two recipes stuck out: Lentil Loaf and Lima Bean Surprise. Wow. The first sounds like the fruitcake of the vegan world where you show up to a party and say, “Thanks for inviting me. I brought you this delicious Lentil Loaf to show my gratitude.” “Uh, thanks?” And the latter…I don’t typically like surprises in my food and if there is one, I don’t want it to be a lima bean. (Lima bean! That’s another great option for Bohnanza! Why didn’t they use it? You’ll understand if you’ve played this game. If not, just move on.)

Here’s what I know thus far. I don’t like spice but I do like flavor. Matt doesn’t like mushrooms. Spice and mushrooms appear to be two main ingredients to make these recipes fly. Shoot.

Here’s what I don’t know. Everything else.

I’ve tried three recipes thus far. Squash Enchiladas (thanks, Aunt Dawn!), Vegetable Curry and Acorn Squash something or other (thanks, Kira!). Two hits, one meh. Thankfully the meh was from the Internet and not a relative. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I thought.

But either way, I remain,

-The Half-Ass Vegan