Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I won't lie to you. Right now I am starving. I know half of it is psychological, and the other half is just the feeling I must endure for a while as my stomach shrinks after I overloaded it during the holidays, but my mind can't control the overwhelming, innate, and carnal craving...


Being a vegan for a week in central Kansas is downright brutal, but the good news is that I've already seen a pretty nice change on the scale. The fact that it took me half an hour to find bread that didn't have milk in it probably had something to do with that--when you have to physically hunt for food, rather than just gather, it must trigger some sort of neanderthal-like increase in caloric consumption.


So, as I sit here and munch on carrot sticks, I think back to the glory days of food-o-plenty, and in particular, Christmas Eve, when I got to use Dad's kitchen to cook up a pretty sizable feast.

My dad is a cherry pie fiend, so I decided to make him one. The problem was I had never made a cherry pie in my life, so my good friend Darlene sent me her recipe which is fast, easy, and ever soooo yummy!!

All you do is use the Pillsbury ready-made dough, 2 cans of cherry pie filling, sprinkle everything with sugar and bake. Viola!

It didn't hurt that we ate it warm with vanilla ice cream on top, either.

Before we indulged on dessert, though, I made a our traditional Christmas Eve Mexican meal. Everyone's favorite part of the meal always seems to be either the salsa or the taco sauce, so I thought I'd share my world famous* recipes!

*in my own little world, that is.

For the salsa, all you need is a can of Rotel, jalapeno peppers, cillantro, red onion, garlic, and lime. The Chief's cookie jar is optional.

Amounts are all according to taste, so feel free to experiment. I like to add them, in this order, to my food processor, setting the processor to chop between each ingredient:

Red onion (about 1/8 cup as I usually don't like onion)
2 Jalapenos (remove the seeds if you don't like it hot)
1/2 cup of roughly chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
1 can of Rotel

I usually make up a batch of salsa first, and then cover and let it sit in the fridge while I make the rest of the meal. Letting it rest in the fridge seems to really marry all the ingredients together versus digging into it right away. It's a tough temptation to resist, but trust me, it's worth it.

Since this salsa has cilantro in it, it will only keep for a couple of days, but I've never had any problems with having it go to waste! With the fresh taste of the cilantro and tomatoes, I also prefer this salsa on chicken dishes, like chicken fajitas!

Then, because cilantro is just so amazingly awesome, I will add some to the fajitas as well. It's just the kind of girl I am.

In our household, we only use Le Dixie Fine China.

Now for the taco sauce:

I really made way too much, so go with only one can of tomato sauce at first. I like to use low-sodium and just add my own salt to taste, but our lovely little store out here in the boonies had nothing like that left, so generic it was!

Then you'll need vinegar (any kind will do, but I do like the sweetness of the apple cider vinegar), chili powder, salt, sugar (which I forgot here), and basically whatever other spices you can find in your pantry.

Using a sauce pan, warm up the tomato sauce slowly (or it will splatter) and add about a quarter can of water, a splash of vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Then throw in a lot of chili power--I've never actually measured it, but make the sauce dark with it! Then use whatever else you have--garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, seasoned salt, black pepper, etc. I even throw in a bit of hot sauce for a kick of heat!

If you keep the sauce warm enough to allow it to reduce, be forwarned--it intensifies the flavors and especially the vinegar, so be careful with it!

I really like this sauce on beef dishes, like sanchos.

This post has done nothing to subdue my ravenous cravings for anything non-vegan. Milk, cheese, and eggs--oh my! I can't even have a coffee because I only like it with milk in it. Right now I'm pretty sure veganism was originally created as some sort of form of torture in the middle ages, resurrected by well-meaning, but totally unrealistic hippies in the 70's.

I really miss meat.

Actually, scratch that last sentence. That doesn't sound very proper at all.

Until we meat meet again,


Annette said...

Are you half way through the week yet? Your salsa is making me hungry! I don't think I could do the vegan thing. Live without meat, tough but do-able. Live without cream or butter... never!

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Those Pillsbury ready made crusts are the real deal. Haven't made pastry once since I discovered them :)

Thanks for sharing your recipes. Can I find out about the vegan decision in your archives? (vegetarian for close to thirty years now)

Jessie McCandless said...

Oh Annette, I didn't start until Tuesday so I feel doomed! LOL Surely the second day is the hardest and it will get easier? I keep telling myself that, anyway.

Calm, I am only going vegan for a week to support Horses Plus Humane Society who earns money with each person who adopts a vegan lifestyle for a week. See my post on 1/4/11 and feel free to join in if you'd like! I admire you for being a vegetarian--it's something I've considered for a while but have never commited to, mainly due to convenience.

Alan T Hainkel said...

The salsa looks good, except for one thing... the cilantro...

See, I'm one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap... makes going to a place like Chipotle a big ol' PITA (Pain In The...).

Jessie McCandless said...

Dang, Alan. You were perfect until then! LOL

Just kidding! I've heard some people can't tolerate cilantro. I'm one of those people that can eat it straight. I put it on salads and sandwiches, too.

Alan T Hainkel said...

Does it count if I want to eat it? ;)

Jessie McCandless said...

Yep, as they say, it's the thought that counts! :)

Grey Horse Matters said...

Wow, this sounds really hard. My daughter is a vegetarian but I can't do it. I really hate veggies. Anyway that pie looked yummy.

Good luck on your new weight loss venture and I hope you make lots of money for the Horse Humane Society.

smazourek said...

So are you just torturing yourself now, or what?

That Rotel is great stuff, we have to hunt for it up here in NY but it's worth it once we find it. Interesting factoid: my husband got his PhD growing hot peppers. We eat a LOT of Mexican food.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Just stumbled on your adorable blog! I've been a Vegan for about 2+ years. Just decided to do it b/c my pants were TIGHT ;)
Anyway..the first 3 weeks are the toughest and then it gets so easy and fun, and cheap and SO healthy ..IF u decide to stick with it. My husband is a meat eater but eats Vegan with me during the week to stay trim.
Missing meat happens but when u stay w/ Vegan and go tastes like DEAD. Swear to god and I was a huge meat eater. I still cheat every now and again for lamb (I'm Greek, it's in my blood) and sometimes it tastes great and other times, Eyuck.
Eat beans! They will fill up and provide more protein than meat. Eat w/ rice and you have a perfect balanced meal. Lentils too
Good luck :)

Jessie McCandless said...

Hi Kristen, thanks for finding me! I have to especially thank you because I LOVE both your blogs. I have OTTB-envy in the worst way (but in a good way) and I LOVE your design blog.

It's funny that you should mention how being a vegan feels as I've really noticed a change today. It's easier for me to find things that I like now and I've even discovered some new recipes because of it. I have survived on beans as I'm a big protein person--it makes me less hungry and helps so much with dieting. I love veggies, too, so I'm discovering new ways to combine those, and then a little rice and voila! :) Anyway, I have felt MUCH different today--I woke up earlier and got chores done much faster, had more energy and feel more rested and "clear." If this is what it feels like to be vegan, I might just convert yet!! :)

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Oh that's great to hear :)
I'm not a pushy Vegan and don't get overly upset if I want to cheat..I just get back on quickly b/c now my body responds so much better to being Vegan. SO MUCH better!
Here is a great website for recipes, etc:;start=0;sort=views;desc