Category Archives: Vegetarian Cooking

Meatless Monday is now scheduled for Thursday this week

There are weeks when our meatless meals just do not happen on Monday. I try not to beat myself up about it. This week, we’ve been coasting on leftovers from the impromptu super bowl party held at our house. I had made a huge salad of spinach, fresh corn kernels, avocado chunks, green onions, cherry tomatoes, carrots, dried cranberries, feta, and a home made lemon garlic vinaigrette. It was so good that our friend Mike ate three bowls of it before he even touched the amazing chili that another friend had prepared.

We enjoyed steaming bowls of chili that my friend Paige had made from scratch–bursting with tomato and fresh veggies–and fragrant squares of green chili cornbread.

For dessert, I had prepared a Harvest Pear Crisp from Cooking Light Magazine that was out of this world and oh so perfect for the cold weather.  I had gotten a huge bag of pears from Costco and this was the perfect way to showcase them.

Harvest Pear Crisp

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 6  cups  Anjou or Bartlett pears, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 3 pounds)
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  cornstarch
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/3  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 3  tablespoons  chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3  cup  regular oats
  • 1/4  cup  coarsely chopped walnuts

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine pears and lemon juice in a 2-quart baking dish; toss gently to coat. Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; stir with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pear mixture; toss well to coat.

Note: I got to use my food processor on this one! Joy! If you don’t have one, simply cut the butter into the flour using two knives or a pastry cutter –available at most grocery stores or kitchen stores.

I’ve done it for years and it works just fine….it just takes a few more minutes.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until combined. Add chilled butter; pulse 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add oats and walnuts; pulse 2 times. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over pear mixture.

Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until pears are tender and topping is golden brown. Cool 20 minutes on a wire rack; serve warm or at room temperature.

** I highly recommend serving warm. You can heat it in the microwave just before serving if necessary. It makes a difference!

So I will do my best to make up my mind what to prepare for Meatless…ahem…Thursday. It’s still freezing here in the southwest and I have custody of the cold that J and I have been passing back and forth for weeks. I think it might be soup!

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Filed under food processor, kitchen gadgets, Meatless Monday, Planning Family Meals, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Cooking

Meatless Monday: Mujadarrah aka “lentils and rice with caramelized onions”

One of my memories of attending school in the north east is this fabulous middle eastern restaurant that sprung up in our small ocean town. The owner was proud of his fresh ingredients: zesty lemons, ripe cucumbers, delicious creamy hummus, and this fabulous dish of deep brown caramelized onions with lentils and jasmine rice. I used to drag my entire aerobics class to this place after a hard workout to feast on the mellow garlicky fare.

I found the recipe for Mujadarrah (spelled different ways in different cookbooks) in several of my vegetarian cookbooks and settled on Deborah Madison’s version.

Ingredients:

  • 6 (yes, SIX) tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.25 cups green lentils, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 quart water (I realized after making this that I would much prefer vegetable stock)
  • salt/pepper
  1. heat oil over medium flame in large skillet. Add onion and cook until brown and caramelized (12-15 min) stirring rarely. Too much stirring interferes with the browning process
  2. meanwhile, add 1 quart salted water (or veg stock) to large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add lentils and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Add rice to lentils and add enough water to cover. Cover pan and simmer 15 more minutes–adding water if necessary until rice is tender.
  4. Season with more salt and add pepper to taste.
  5. Add 1/2 onions to lentils and rice and stir.
  6. Serve garnished with remaining half of onions.

This recipe is so easy and so cheap! It is also delicious and full of fiber and heart healthy fat from the olive oil. I estimated that it provided 6 generous servings.

We served this with a bright green salad with lemon vinaigrette and lots of fresh parsley to keep the middle eastern flavor going. I also garnished with a mixture of marinated green and ripe olives and feta. You can hold the feta for a vegan dish.

We also toasted some Naan and enjoyed it with the meal.

Verdict? My favorite!! Jeremy thought it was so/so…he’s not a lentil fan. He did love the onions and had two helpings of the salad. Morgan tasted it but was more into his plate full of carrots and ranch. I wonder if it would work pureed for Leighton?!?

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Meatless Monday: couscous and chickpea pilaf

So I’m sipping a beer and chastising myself for not blogging for so long…it’s been a busy few days.

We took a weekend road trip to Cloudcroft, NM and stayed at a haunted hotel called The Lodge. I scared myself silly listening to the bartender tell crazy tales of the red-headed ghost, Rebecca, that haunts the place. I ended up scanning our hotel room every few minutes all night long…looking for any evidence of the  supernatural. We’d been told that a couple left in the middle of the night because the ghost was offering chocolate to their child while sitting on his bed. EEK!


I sat up googling on my phone and found numerous sightings of this particular ghost–including a few that occurred in our room. Let’s just say I didn’t see anything…nor did I get any sleep.

The Lodge was truly lovely, though. The staff was great with the kids and the restaurant was awesome. I just wish that my imagination and fears hadn’t run wild!

We cleaned out the crisper drawer for Meatless Monday and ended up with a keeper.

I’m calling it Green Couscous Pilaf with lemon Dijon vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

1 cup couscous

1 cup vegetable broth or 1 cup water and 1 veggie bullion cube

1 english cucumber, peeled and chopped

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 c chopped red onion

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

2 broccoli crowns, chopped and steamed

Feta Cheese (crumbled) ***optional

1/4 c chopped fresh dill

Dressing:

1 lemon–zested and juiced

2 Tbs dijon mustard

1/3 c olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp all purpose seasoning (I used trader joe’s every day seasoning, but I think any mix you like would work here)

2  cloves garlic, pressed

1/3 cup water

Instructions: Prepare couscous according to package directions, using broth for water.  Place prepared couscous in fridge to chill while chopping/prepping the remaining ingredients.

In large bowl, combine chopped veggies, steamed and cooled broccoli, beans, and cooled couscous with chopped dill

For dressing: using wisk or hand blender, emulsify ingredients and pour over top of salad. Stir gently to combine.

Chill 1 hour to allow flavors to combine. Stop here for a vegan dish or garnish with feta cheese.

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Meatless Monday: Black Beans and Coconut Lime Rice Again!

We’re making our favorite dish tonight–Southern Living’s Black Beans and Coconut Lime Rice.  There is just something so delicious about the toasted coconut rice with fresh lime juice! Each week I make out a menu for the family meals and this is usually Jeremy’s first request.  During the winter, we top ours with sliced radishes, cilantro, green onions, jalapenos (well–just me!) and some low fat sour cream. In the summer we like to add the fresh mangos suggested in the recipe.

This recipe is easily made veg friendly by substituting coconut milk or veggie stock for the chicken stock called for to cook the rice.

I’m very excited today! My new food processor and baby food trays have arrived and I will be posting some home made baby food recipes in the near future. I’ve made a few things with a basic steamer and mini-chopper, but unfortunately, my 15 year old mini chopper had an accident when I attempted to sterilize it by using one of my Medela breast pump/bottle steaming bags….

:0 Whoopsie.

We’ve been enjoying Earth’s Best Organic baby foods, but I cringe over the 75 cent price tag for each 2 oz jar….knowing I could do it by hand for less and hopefully make something that tastes great.

I confess to letting myself be intimidated by food processors….something about multiple sharp blades and stern instructions not to use one while under the influence of alcohol! Since I’ve always lived by the phrase “I love to cook with wine, sometimes I even put it in food” I found this daunting. Ha! No really, they are one of two appliances that scare me. The second is a standing mixer. I don’t bake and it’s too small to hang laundry on if  I don’t use it. Can’t justify that one…even if it would be so pretty and shiny on my counter top!

I went through a gadget phase in my early 20’s and my tiny apartment kitchen was littered with rice cookers, steamers, juicers…you name it. I found that most of the time it was more trouble to clean the gadgets than spend an extra few minutes processing foods by hand.  Then I went through my self described “Quaker Phase” where I cooked with nothing more than a paring knife and the occasional use of my ten dollar mini chopper. I might also add that this was my living solo vegan phase where I made earnest whole grain dishes and tortured my mom with tempeh.  I was happy mixing batter by hand and smooshing mashed potatoes by hand…but as my family has grown so has the arm work.

Recently, I have began to acquire a few kitchen gadgets. I received a new mixer and hand blender for Christmas and am now producing cupcakes and beautiful salad dressings with ease. Then, I made the mistake of watching the food channel while feeding the baby and my eyes glazed over as Paula Dean and Rachel Ray whipped up some tasty treats with a food processor. Muffins! Salads! Dressing! Soups!

I contemplated the Beaba Baby Cook Steamer that I had been none too subtly hinting to Jeremy about. It steams, it mashes, it looks so cute! He gently reminded me of the cost per use and it just didn’t add up for the 3-5 month window of time that I would actually use it.  With a “real” food processor, I wouldn’t have to shelve a $150 appliance when my child fully progressed to finger foods. I could move on from tasty purees to anything my little heart desired.

Over the years I have matured as a cook. I feel like I can conquer my fear of the  food processor. Think of all the slaws and chopped soups/salads that I have been missing out on?!? Dishes like potato latkes from the Veganomicon could become a “do” now that I don’t have to dread the thought of shredding potatoes by hand.  Oh sure…I even bought a mandolin once, thinking I could go low tech and still achieve the same results…but after nearly taking my finger off a time or two I decided that grating my own vegetables would not be a good idea. My family needs me 🙂

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Meatless Monday: Vegan Black Bean and Butternut Squash turn overs

It all started with the black bean and acorn squash empanada recipe from the Veganomicon.

As usual, I had the wrong squash…and no time to prepare the pastry dough…no time to roll it out…and nothing in the freezer to substitute except for some phyllo dough that I had intended to use for appetizers over the holidays. I knew that I could still make it work.

Meatless Monday had already been pushed to Tuesday due to an over stock of homemade chicken soup from Sunday. I wasn’t going to push it back even further given Jeremy was on call and both kids were doing their best to see who could make me crazier.

Ingredients:

Phyllo dough-thawed (needs at least two hours to thaw so think ahead.)

1 small butternut squash-steam in microwave 10 minutes and allow to cool

1 c black beans

1 T olive oil

1 small vidalia onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

cumin

salt

1 lemon

2 tsp maple syrup

Cooking spray

 

Directions:

  1. Thaw Phyllo dough (Brand used: Fill O)
  2. Roast or Microwave Squash * I did this the night before, but you can do it quickly in the microwave or go old school by brushing with olive oil and roasting in 425 degree oven for 40 minutes
  3. sautee chopped onion and garlic
  4. add chunked squash, black beans and heat through
  5. add 2TBS fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp maple syrup, salt to taste  * Original recipe called for chopped jalapeno and coriander seeds but I made this one kid friendly
  6. lay out 3 sheets phyllo dough–spraying cooking spray between each layer. Cut dough in half down the middle. Add 1/3 cup filling to each half and do your best to make a a pretty triangle. Mine were as unattractive as can be…but tasty!
  7. Lay triangles on cookie sheet  coated with spray and use cooking spray over the top of each turnover.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees until browned and crispy
  9. Best eaten warm

Verdict: as I mentioned above, this was not very pretty due to my poor turn over making skills. I liked the crispiness that the phyllo dough added to the recipe rather than the pie like texture of pastry crust, but that was the cook book author’s original plan and I know it would be delicious.  Morgan was extremely skeptical based on looks alone, but once I got him to taste the  turnover he said “Oooh Yummy!” and ate one and part of mine and part of his dads 🙂

We served the meal with mexican cucumber salad: chopped cucumber, chilled romaine hearts, red bell pepper, scallions, cilantro  and sliced avocado. A simple lime/olive oil/ salt and pepper dressing would be great or you can roll like Morgan with Ranch Dressing!

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Meatless Monday: Black Bean and Veggie Soup from Veganomicon

Last night I made Veganomicon’s Black Bean and Veggie Soup–I modified it a bit, but used the proportions below and omitted the chopped jalapeno that the recipe called for and added sliced jalapenos as a garnish instead. I hate chopping jalapenos and never have the presence of mind to buy gloves so I usually add pickled jalapeno as a topping.

1 lb black beans, rinsed and soaked over night

pinch of baking soda

2 bay leaves

4 cloves garlic-pressed or minced

2 med onions diced

1 green bell pepper diced

1 Chopped carrot

1.5 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

4-5 cups veggie stock

 

* boil beans with dash of baking soda and bay leaves in 6 cups water for 1.5 hours/drain and remove bay leaves.

* Add 3 tbs olive oil to pan preheated to med high. Sautee garlic, onion, peppers until softened. Add carrot and continue to saute 3-5 minutes. Add broth, spices, and beans and bring to a boil. Simmer 45 minutes. Mash beans or puree 1-2 cups cooled soup for a thicker soup or serve as is garnished with chopped jalapeno, lime wedges, avocado, cilantro.

Verdict: I live at a high altitude and needed to cook the beans for nearly another 2 hours. We ended up lucking out and eating some cheese/jalapeno tamales that my neighbor had brought over. Tonight, I added more veggie stock and cooked the beans (again) and served with cheese grits and roasted veggies (mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, squash). The beans were AMAZING and so worth cooking from scratch. However, next time I will prepare this in a slow cooker and let the beans simmer for an entire day.

Jeremy enjoyed both the tamales and the black bean soup but pointed out that 2 days in a row of vegetarian cuisine was more than he wanted. Morgan ate the tamales but didn’t want the soup. Sigh. For such a delicious dish this one was a lot of work!

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Meatless Monday: Sopa!

While at the grocery store this weekend, I spotted a nifty little plastic bag with the ingredients for veggie soup.  I grabbed it thinking it would be great to have everything that I needed for 3.99 and no need to waste any veggies by buying more than I would  need.

The kit contained: 1/2 sweet onion, 1 turnip, 1/4 head cabbage, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 large red potato, a squash, 1 lemon, 1 jalapeno, and a handful of cilantro ( Did I mention I live on the border? SOPA!)

I washed and chopped the veggies (omitting the pepper, lemon, and cilantro)  and put a pot on the stove with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Then, I sauteed everything for 10 minutes and added 8 cups of veggie stock. I let everything come to a boil and then lowered the heat to simmer for 45 minutes.  I then added the cilantro and removed from the heat.

To serve: fill soup bowls and garnish with lemon wedges and sliced jalapenos.

Delicioso!

**I didn’t take a picture because frankly the soup wasn’t pretty to look at. It tastes WONDERFUL, though! I plan to reheat this tonight with some cornbread and salad.

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