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Mushroom Spinach Lasagna
きのことほうれん草のラザニア

I like noodles and I make pasta a lot, but lasagna is a different story.

For some reason, it’s something I only make for a special occasion.

Well, for one thing, it includes multiple steps, a lot more than a simple pasta dish.

So I made lasagna for dinner, but of course it took longer than I expected, and it was too dark for me to take pictures when it was finally ready.

So the pictures had to be wait until the next morning.

With a few pieces missing (lol).

But actually the lasagna tastes better the next day, if you ask me.

The layers are beautiful!

You take a piece, microwave it, and it’s ready to go.

No wait!

We have to get the table ready first.

This is one of my favorite retro plates.

I like the color and the design, but I like to use this plate for blog pictures because of its unique size, not too big and not too small.

I found these cool glasses at a restaurant that we had dinner at in Door County, WI, a few years ago.

The food was not that memorable unfortunately, but I loved these glasses, and luckily I was able to buy them at their little souvenir shop.

To me this carbs x carbs is a “no-no”, but I understand some people like to have a slice of bread with lasagna (or any dish).

We use these glasses mostly for drinking wine.

For some reason we hardly ever use an actual wine glass with a long stem.

Oh, I know why “I” stay away from those glasses; I’m always afraid that they tip over easily.

Mushroom Spinach Lasagna

red sauce
-olive oil
-5 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cans tomato sauce
-2 cans tomato paste
-1 large can crushed tomatoes
-sugar
-2 bay leaves
-Italian seasoning
-onion powder
-salt and pepper

homemade vegan cheese x 2

olive oil
3~4 cups chopped mushrooms
1 large bag spinach
salt and pepper

no boil lasagna noodles

chopped fresh basil

1. Make red sauce. Sautee garlic and onion in olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients. Boil and then simmer.
2. Make vegan “cheese”.
3. Sautee mushrooms and spinach in olive oil. Salt and pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 475F.
5. Assemble in a 13×9 lasagna pan. A little red sauce at the bottom, lasagna sheets (1/3), red sauce, mushrooms, spinach, “cheese”, lasagna sheets (1/3), red sauce, mushrooms, spinach, “cheese”, lasagna sheets (1/3), red sauce, cheese.
6. Cover and bake for about 1 hour (or follow the instructions on the lasagna box; mine said 45 minutes, but it needed to cook a bit longer for the lasagna noodles to be fully cooked). Uncover and cook for another 15 minutes.
7. Serve with fresh basil.

Mocha Pancakes with Salted Caramel Maple Syrup
モカパンケーキ

Happy weekend everyone!

We decided to have pancakes for breakfast the night before.

These mocha pancakes are beautiful.

It’s not too shabby for weekend breakfast, is it?

Some of you might have noticed the dark color of the syrup, but this maple syrup from Trader Joe’s is “salted caramel infused”.

When we saw it we had to buy it.

Terry’s homemade cold brew is a must for weekends.

Mocha Pancakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
3 tablespoon cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/2 cup soy milk with 1.5 ~ 2 tablespoons instant coffee granule, dissolved
1 tablespoon canola oil

canola oil for cooking

1. Combine all the ingredients.
2. Lightly coat the griddle surface with oil. Cook pancakes for a few minutes each side.
3. Serve with vegan butter and maple syrup.

Lately I like my coffee with almond milk.

It was so warm and beautiful yesterday, and we visited The Willow River State Park.

I had a T-shirt on and it was perfect!

I so wish this kind of weather lasted for a few more weeks.

Soboro Bento Box
テンペそぼろ弁当

Today it is well known that Japanese people eat with chopsticks.

But did you know that they “cook” with chopsticks, too?

For cooking we use larger sized chopsticks like these.

I do cook with tongs and wooden spoons, but my go-to cooking utensil is still my old chopsticks that my mom got for me.

I was in a mood for a Japanese Bento lunch.

This Bento is called “Soboro” Bento in Japan.

Typically ground meat is cooked with soy based sweet sauce and then placed on top of rice along with eggs and vegetables.

My version is 100% plant-based, so what you see here are tempeh “soboro”, sugar peas, cumin tofu, and carrots.

This is how you use the big chopsticks (called “Sai-Bashi” in Japanese).

I can’t think of using any other utensils to do this.

Voila!

The colors are so appetizing.

If you take it to work, school, or a picnic, you want to wrap it like this.

The best part of having a Bento is this moment.

It’s always exciting to open it (especially when someone else made it and you don’t know what’s in it).

Well even when I know exactly what’s in it, it’s still a fun moment (lol).

This Soboro Bento is relatively easy to make, as you can prepare some of the toppings the day before.

And it’s nutritious enough as it is, so you just need some fruit or soup to bring with.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Biscotti: Orange Cranberry Pistachio / Chocolate Walnut
ビスコッティ二種:オレンジクランベリーピスタチオ&胡桃チョコレート

Yesterday we had company at our house for lunch, and I didn’t forget about dessert.

My initial plan was making something different whose main ingredient was avocado.

I did get avocados a few days before, but they were not ripe enough at the time I needed to make the dessert.

Avocados are difficult in that way.

It takes time for them to ripe and when they are ripe, they don’t stay long at their best condition.

I could almost hear them saying “I’m not ready, not yet, not yet, not yet, not yet…. Now I’m ready! Now!”.

So the plan was changed, and I decided to make biscotti instead.

Don’t ask me why.

I guess I was simply in the mood for it.

I baked two versions.

One was Orange Cranberry Pistachio, and the other one was Chocolate Walnut.

They turned out great.

This was my first time making biscotti vegan, but I don’t think anyone noticed any difference.

Terry and I liked them, and our guests seemed to enjoy them, too.

The biscotti is crunchy, and very different from the typical American cookies, but it’s nice to have something different once in a while.

This biscotti has little fat and not much sugar, which I liked, too.

I’ve had this cup for many years, and I no longer remember where I bought it, but it’s still one of my favorite cups.

I think it’s elegant and whimsical at the same time.

The biscotti is a nice after-meal dessert or it can be an anytime snack.

Vegan Biscotti – adopted from this recipe

260g all-purpose flour
50g almond flour
2 tbsp flax seed meal
180g soy milk
90g sugar
20g coconut oil, melted
1 tsp baking powder

Orange Cranberry Pistachio version: 8~10 dashes orange bitter; dried cranberries; pistachio nuts
Chocolate Walnut version: semi-sweet chocolate chips; walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all the ingredients well.
2. Make two rectangular-shaped flat logs.
3. Bake for 20 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven. Let them cool for 5 minutes or so.
5. Slice the dough into about 1/2 inch thick slices. Place them with the sliced side up.
6. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Flip the biscotti over and bake for another 10 minutes or so until they are crunchy.

We went to the farmers market to get some fresh flowers yesterday morning.

The excuse was that we should make the house look good for the guests, but I always love having fresh flowers in the house.

Vegan Lunch with Non-Vegan Guests
ヴィーガンじゃないお客にヴィーガン料理を出す

Now we are on a 100% plant-based diet.

Since we switched from 95% to 100% a few months ago, there really haven’t been any major problems.

We’ve attended some family gatherings, and we’ve learned to bring a dish (or dishes) that we can eat to such occasions.

No problem.

But yesterday we had a new situation.

We had some company over at our house and we volunteered to prepare lunch.

After having some discussion Terry and I decided to serve food that we eat.

That means no dishes would contain meat, seafood, or dairy.

We initially thought about having a meat option for the guests, but it just didn’t seem right, especially when we knew we would probably talk about our new diet and we would tell them that we made the decision for health reasons.

And I came up with this menu…

– Mushroom Lentil Chili
– Salad with Mustard Dressing
– Corn Bread with Vegan Butter

I got my red dishes out.

The real color is a bit darker than how it looks in the picture (at least on my computer screen).

I like to use this set of dishes when we have people over, not only because we have 8 of everything, but also the color red is supposed to help stimulate appetite, and more than anything any food seems to look better on this plate or in this bowl.

I didn’t have time to take pictures yesterday, so this is a plate I re-created this morning.

I thought I made too big of a batch of chili, but this was all left!

This corn bread is moist and flavorful, but not too sweet, and accompanies chili very well.

This was served with my my homemade vegan butter.

All the guests tried it, and they told us that they would have not known it was not the real butter if we had not told them.

The guests told us that they liked the food.

Some of them went for the second helping, asked me for the recipe, and we had a fun conversation about food in general.

I was grateful for their open-mindedness and their willingness to try new things.

Now I relax and enjoy my morning green tea.

Happy Sunday everyone.

Pizza Toast
ピザトースト

Growing up in Japan, pizza was not a big part of our diet, particularly a few decades ago.

I don’t even think there were any restaurants that served pizza in our little town when I was a child; now pizza has become a lot more popular and there is even an awesome Italian restaurant a few blocks from my parents’ house that specializes in pizza.

However, what I remember is a pizza toast that my mom sometimes made us for a snack.

The other day I was in a mood for pizza but I didn’t want to spend the time to make dough, so I thought about making a pizza toast.

I happened to have homemade whole-wheat bread in the freezer.

I got my veggies ready.

And lucky me, I had frozen homemade vegan pepperoni.

Doesn’t it look good already?!

But it looks even better with my homemade vegan cheese.

When it was cooked in the toaster oven, I added more cheese and pepperoni, and then sprinkled chopped fresh basil.

It was such a great snack!

And it definitely satisfied my craving for pizza.

 

Go-chi-so-sa-ma-de-shi-ta.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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