Quinoa!

Confession: Before a couple of weeks ago, I’d never cooked with quinoa before, but had been wanting to for a while. Well, I decided to finally go for it and found this tasty little number while perusing the interwebs. This warm bean and quinoa salad is perfect for these colder winter months and the chipotle pepper gives it a little extra kick. The yellow pepper adds a little crunch while the beans and quinoa add the chewiness factor. Can you tell yet that I’m a big texture person when it comes to food? The sherry vinegar that I found was $6 a bottle and, me being the little frugalista that I am, decided to substitute balsamic instead since we already had that at home. I think it turned out just fine. Anyone else have any experience with quinoa, good or bad? Any favorite recipes? Please do share if you care to!

Yummm

March 1, 2011. Dinner, Vegan. 1 comment.

Chilaquiles Casserole

So this one was made a little while back, but it’s been one of Bill’s favorites so far, so I thought I’d share it. The recipe can be found here. I did make a few modifications and we thought they worked out quite well for us. Here’s what I did:

• Omitted zucchini (not that I don’t like zucchini at times, but I just wasn’t feeling it for this recipe)

• Added chopped jalapeno (throw in as much or as little as you like)

• Added a tad (yes I just used the word tad) more cheese over the top layer

And here it is in all of its saucy, cheesy glory (I know the picture looks a little different. I took it with the awesome Hipstamatic app.)

This made a nice amount of leftovers for us too, so Bill was able to take it for lunch a couple of times. If you try it, let me know how you like it!

February 7, 2011. Casseroles, Dinner, Meal. 1 comment.

Curried Potatoes with Cauliflower and Peas

So I know it has been too long since I posted last, but with the arrival of our wee one things have been a little crazy around here. However, I am now going to try to get back into the swing of things. My posts still may be a bit less frequent, but I will at least try to stay consistent.

So on to to the actual food part of this post. A few nights ago, I made my first attempt at cooking an Indian inspired dish because I love, love, love Indian food! The recipe was sourced from the Jan/Feb issue of Vegetarian Times magazine. It was a simple, healthy dish quickly prepared in the pressure cooker. Seeing as how we recently invested in this Cuisinart pressure cooker, this seemed like the perfect time to try this dish.

I think it turned out great. The leftovers the next day were even a little better in my opinion as the spices had time to further infuse into the veggies.

We enjoyed some store bought garlic naan with this dish. I think next time I’m going to try navratan korma (my absolute fave!) and homemade naan. Does anyone else have any favorite Indian dishes they like to make?

January 18, 2011. Dinner, Quick and Easy, Veggies. Leave a comment.

Creamy, Chunky Potato Soup

Last night Bill and I were both really in the mood for some “comfort food” for dinner. Having just bought a 10b. bag of potatoes coupled with a need to use up some celery, we figured, “Why not soup!?” So that’s just what we made. The recipe can be found here or by reading below:

Grove’s Potato Soup

Ingredients:

1 ea Yellow onion peeled and diced
1 ea Carrot peeled and diced
1 stalk Celery finely diced
3 tablespoon Butter
6 ea Potato peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (we left the potato skins on)
6 cups Chicken broth (I substituted veggie broth made from Better Than Bouillon vegetable base)
1 teaspoon Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Sage
1/2 teaspoon Basil
1 teaspoon Black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 cups Half-and-half cream
2 tablespoon Parsley fresh, chopped

Melt the butter in a stock pot and saute the carrots, celery, and onion for about 8 minutes, until the mirepoix is tender.

Add the broth and potatoes then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.

Removed from heat and stir in the half and half cream.

Garnish with parsley and some home made garlic pepper croutons

This went together quickly and easily and we enjoyed it so much that we each went back for seconds!

December 21, 2010. Dinner, Main Course, Quick and Easy, Recipe, Veggies. Leave a comment.

Simple Peppers and Pasta

Last night for dinner I decided I wanted something warm yet on the lighter side. I had just scored a great deal on some Healthy Harvest pasta at Kroger, including spaghetti, so I decided to do a mixture of peppers, onions and garlic in olive oil and spices and toss it with the whole wheat spaghetti. The result? A super quick and easy to put together meal that was delicious and healthy!

Here’s what I used, but you could of course do more or less with it depending on your tastes.

Ingredients:

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green pepper, thinly sliced

2 colored peppers of your choice, thinly sliced (or in my case I had a container of a bunch of small, sweet red, yellow and orange so I sliced em up and added them all)

A few dashes each of oregano, basil and thyme

Salt and Pepper to taste (I used both crushed red pepper and ground black pepper for extra fire)

About 2-3 TBSP olive oil

1 box whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta of your choosing)

Cook the pasta until al dente and drain. While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds. Add peppers and spices and continue to saute for a few more minutes until all veggies are crisp-tender. Return pasta to pot and add in pepper and onion mixture. Toss all together and enjoy!

I know, I know, our plates are pretty hideous. I plan on replacing them at some point. The funny story about those is that I’ve had them almost 10 years now and I originally purchased the whole set (dinner plates, salad plates, cups and saucers, etc.) at KMart for $19.99 I believe. This was when I first planned on moving out and getting an apartment, which didn’t happen for another couple of years anyway. Hey, I was ready though, so when I did move out they were there! Now my husband and I have been together for 7 years and we’re still using that same darn set. Oh well, whatever works. Anyway, happy cooking!

December 20, 2010. Dinner, Main Course, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Recipe, Vegan, Veggies. Leave a comment.

Luscious Lemon Cream Cupcakes

WARNING: This dessert post contains no mention of chocolate (aside from the warning). Ack! I know. Very unlike me. But hey, I’m trying to expand my culinary horizons here.

So because I had such an easy dinner planned for last night as well as some cream cheese and a lemon that I wanted to use up, I decided to try making lemon cream cupcakes from this recipe that I found. Is it the healthiest thing I’ve ever made? Hell no! Do I care? Not really. It’s the holidays, so it’s time to live it up.

I’d say they were pretty tasty overall. Bill and I really enjoyed the cream cheese filling.

You may notice that I decided not to frost these. I figured that the heavy cream cheese filling would probably be enough to allow these puppies to stand on their own.

One little thing that I noticed was that these were yummy, but they came out pretty dense compared to other cake items I’ve made. Perhaps this had to do with the method that they listed? Maybe they are supposed to be that way in order to accommodate the heavy tablespoon of cream cheese filling that goes in the middle? It may be worth trying to whip the butter and eggs with a beater or mixer as opposed to mixing with forks and wooden spoons. Then again, I’m not a pastry or baked goods expert so I can’t say for sure. If I make them again, I think I’ll try it that way though. If you try these, please let me know how they turn out for you and what you think of them.

December 20, 2010. Dessert, Recipe. Leave a comment.

Easy Chickpea Salad

Tonight for dinner we tried a twist on an old classic – egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad, whatever you wish to call it. We had chickpea salad sandwiches and a cup of good old hearty tomato soup! It was a simple meal that was filling and quite tasty. I got the idea for the salad from this lady. Let me first say that she gets kudos from me for doing her site in iWeb and secondly, I love all the cool ideas she has for vegan recipes. There are some recipes on her website, but this one I got from watching her video, which is on Netflix.

To make the sandwiches, we simply toasted some whole grain bread and spread the salad mixture on. Bill left his open like in the picture. I chose to top mine with another piece of bread.

You may notice I grated a lil bit of the Sarvecchio that I used earlier in the week for this dish onto the soup. It could easily be left off and this meal would be entirely vegan. That may beg the question, “But Elizabeth, how is that creamy chickpea salad vegan?” Well, you could use a product like Veganaise, an eggless vegan mayo substitute (which is in my opinion quite tasty). Or, you could make your own mayo substitute out of tofu by following a recipe like this one.

A little trick that I found to work well for me is to save a few jars and tubs from products you’ve used previously. Remove any labels if possible and using a piece of painter’s tape or masking tape, you can write what the item is, when it was made and about how long it should last.

I think this “mayo” made a good substitute for the real thing and it’s much healthier for you too!

If you come across this post and have found another non-dairy mayo substitute or recipe that works well for you, please let me know about it. I love trying new things!

December 17, 2010. Dinner, Quick and Easy, Vegan. 4 comments.

Tempeh Goodness

Last night Bill’s mom came over to visit so I cooked dinner and dessert for all of us. I didn’t do anything too adventurous, but it was still yummy. So what was on the menu you ask? Well, we had braised and marinated tempeh, garlic sesame sauteed kale and herb roasted potatoes. I was really excited about this meal because I love tempeh and kale for their nutritional value. Tempeh is packed full of protein, fiber and B vitamins, and kale is a great source of calcium.

As the potatoes had to cook the longest, I started them first. I just made my own concoction on this one. Here’s what I did, but obviously this can be tweaked in many different ways to your liking. The herb measurements say about because to be honest I eyeballed most of it and just went with what I thought would work. It’s really all about how much or how little flavor you want to add, so use what works for you! What I really liked about making this dish was that all of the herbs I used were grown right here at home.

Elizabeth’s Herb Roasted Potatoes:

2-2.5 lbs. russet potatoes, skins intact,  cubed into 1-1.5 inch pieces (most any variety would work here – I like using reds a lot too)

2 cloves garlic, minced

about 1 TBSP parsley

about 1/2 tsp. thyme

about 1 tsp. oregano

about 1 tsp. rosemary

sprinkling of salt and fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently stir to coat all potato pieces. Spread out on a flat pan such as a pizza or jelly roll pan and bake at 400º for about 45 minutes. I stirred mine a couple of times throughout cooking time.

Voila! Flavorful, crispy potatoes that serve as a nice side dish.

Next, I got to work on the tempeh. I had 2 cakes of it, and as it wouldn’t all fit in the pan at once anyway, I decided to prepare it 2 different ways for a little variety.

The first was a braised tempeh, which I made by following the recipe from this podcast. It is veeery flavorful.

The next version I wanted to go a little lighter on flavor, so I again concocted my own little marinade and cooked it using that. My method was quite simple. I prepared the tempeh exactly as in the other recipe by cutting it into smaller pieces and browning to a crisp on both sides, and then added in my marinade. I don’t have exact measurements, but this is what I used.

• water

• reduced sodium soy sauce

• splash lemon juice

• vegetable oil

• a little toasted sesame oil

• dried ground ginger

• dash of sugar

I continued to cook over medium heat until most of the liquid had reduced down and been absorbed. Delish!

The lighter one was cooked in my marinade, and the darker one is the braised version.

Finally, I cooked up the kale, which is super, super simple to do! I chopped and washed the kale leaves. Next, in a large skillet I sauteed crushed red pepper and 2 cloves minced garlic in olive oil for not more than 1 minute. I proceeded to add the kale to the skillet with a little bit of water (I’d say not more than 1/4 cup). Once the kale had wilted and cooked for several minutes, I transferred it to a medium serving bowl. To finish, toss with a 1-2 tsp. toasted sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Another great side dish!

So that was our dinner, which Bill and his mom both seemed to like, so I was happy. For dessert, we just had plain ole brownies, so I didn’t even bother to take a picture. They were still delicious though! :)

December 17, 2010. Dinner, Main Course, Sides, Vegan, Veggies. Leave a comment.

First Post and Baked Spaghetti

During the winter months I love making comforting foods like soups, stews and casseroles. This evening was no different and I found myself trying a new one that I found on the Big Oven iPad app. Heidi’s Baked Spaghetti recipe can also be found on Big Oven’s website. I did make a few minor modifications to the recipe, which I love doing in order to customize it to our tastes. Here’s what I did:

• Added 1/2 small onion, finely chopped

• Added 2 cloves minced garlic

• Added some additional herbs – oregano and thyme

• I couldn’t find a vegetarian Italian cheese blend, so I purchased a bag of mozzarella and a wedge of this parmesan (one of my favorite cheeses) at Whole Foods market to make my own cheese blend. The Sarvecchio adds a nice, nutty, sweet and sharp flavor to the dish.

• Instead of using ground beef, I opted for Morningstar Farms Sausage Style crumbles to add to the sauce.

I baked the spaghetti mixture first. The directions say to bake 20-30 minutes. I know every oven is different, but for me 20 minutes was just right.

I worked on heating up the crumbles and sauce while the spaghetti was baking. Here was the end result:

Bill and I both really enjoyed this dish and have plenty of leftovers to use. I may even freeze a couple of servings for something quick and easy to heat up for after the wee one arrives. I’d also say this is one I’d probably make again. Until the next adventure… Ciao!

 

December 14, 2010. Casseroles, Main Course, Pasta. 3 comments.

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