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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Now ain’t that just the healthiest title ever!! Since discovering that I like quinoa I’ve been playing with it a bit, and wanted to make it the star of a recipe.  I’ve seen a handful of popular ones lately on blogs I love- most recently by Heidi of 101 Cookbooks.  I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go with them and I wanted to try to keep them gluten-free.  I also used a bit of inspiration from Kate and this recipe. I ended up with a ridiculously healthy and easy recipe.  Sweet potato- black beans-and cooked quinoa.  That’s it. (Of course with seasonings).

I actually forgot- I started with a bit of sauteed onion as well-

A little fuzzy- but cooked quinoa (about 2 cups) and the onion went into a large bowl.  I then added a sweet potato that had been boiled and mashed (about 1 cup mashed) and a cup of black beans.

I mashed everything together, added cumin, chili powder and salt, and formed into patties

Using a non-stick pan and a bit of canola oil spray I cooked the patties until brown & crispy.  I topped them with a wacky dressing of light mayo and salsa.  Don’t ask me how that sounded like a good idea… but it worked.

I think this is hands down the healthiest thing I’ve ever cooked.  It was insanely easy and includes some super foods.

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Ahh, the gorgeous leek.  Why did I fear you for so long? Maybe fear isn’t the right word- but it definitely wasn’t something I saw in the grocery store and said, “oh, yes, I need leeks this week.” Anyway, when I finally tried potato leek soup I was no longer afraid. It’s been on my cooking bucket list for awhile and since soup has been my go-to lunch these days, I decided it was time.

I searched for a simple recipe- no cream, nothing too heavy, and David Lebovitz’s recipe was perfect! I said to one of my co-workers this week about it: “Well, if things are ever really bad and I only have $5, I can make soup.”  Potatoes, Leeks, water. That’s it.  (Of course there is seasoning involved, but I tell ya, this is easy and hearty.)  I supposed you could use chicken broth, but I honestly did not notice a difference without it.  I love this soup.  I want to snuggle with this soup.  Though that might get messy, I’ll leave the snuggling to the fat cat.

Soften the leeks…

Get your potatoes ready

Potatoes & leeks meet each other in the big pot

Seasonings, water, bay leaves

Puree with immersion blender (or regular) and enjoy!

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I totes cheated on this one.  I had a nearly full container of Whole Foods Nut N’Honey Granola, but I was tired of it on its own, and granola bars were the next best idea…

Granola, cinnamon chips, canola spray and the pan ready to go!

However, the honey I had to use to hold it all together was a bit, err, crystallized.  I boiled a pot of water and poured it into a bowl with the honey container and left it to melt.

When everything was mixed, I turned it out onto the pan and formed a sort of square, using a well oiled spatula.

Into the oven (350 for 20 minutes) and occasionally took it out and smooshed it with a spatula to make sure everything was sticking together.

And here we have granola “bars.”  Hmmm… we’ll see how they taste!

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Yes. More soup.  It’s cheap, easy & healthy.  A veritable trifecta in the kitchen.  I have been seeing squash and squash recipes everywhere lately so I wanted to tuck into a nice warm bowl of squash soup.  It’s funny, because a dear friend of mine, Ms. Kate, (please please please read her blog here, it’s phenomenal) made squash soup the same day.  We hadn’t spoken in awhile (she now lives in Vermont) but she called with some good news and we chatted and laughed about how we both are making the same things lately.  I was planning to make chili this weekend, but it didn’t happen and when I checked out Kate’s latest entries, well whadya know, chili!!  One of the many reasons we are friends.

 

Anyway, back the soup going on here in Boston.  I discovered a great squash soup recipe last year, made it for a dinner party with friends, and for my family’s Thanksgiving, but I wanted to try something different.  And, I again didn’t want a big bowl of cream.  I discovered this recipe, and tweaked it just a bit.  I used dried ground ginger, and only used a teaspoon, I added a touch of nutmeg and ground cloves for some extra oomph.  It made plenty for dinner, lunch the next day, and a couple of guys ready for the freezer.

Next up, I’ve been meaning to share with you some culinary adventures… Since Bri-guy’s new place is oh-so convenient to some of Boston’s best restaurants, we’ve made an effort to start crossing off some of them on our list.  You know, the mental list you keep of everything you want to try?  Now that most of them are a stone’s throw from his condo we’ve been  trying to go to a new place every other week or so.  This past weekend we tried Addis Red Sea.

I’ve heard about it for years, and we kept walking past.  I reintroduced him to Indian recently down the block at Mela, so we thought, ok, let’s go Ethiopian next.  Sure, why not.  Let’s just say, at least we tried it.  It wasn’t bad, but it won’t be a the top of our favorites list.  Some people really love new flavors & textures, but,  I have such a boring American palate.

The next day after a long trip to the ‘burbs for skis and more furniture, we had a very late lunch/early dinner down at Picco.  Now this is what I’m talking about…

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First up… Pumpkin Almond Muffins…

As many things go around here, this wasn’t the muffin I intended to make.  I was hoping to make these delicious looking pumpkin millet muffins care of Whole Foods, however, when I went to use the millet, I realized it had gone bad.  I figured it was like any other grain- or more like rice, I guess, and that it wouldn’t have gone bad.  Whelp. It did.  So then I got to thinking, what else could I use? I could make plain pumpkin muffins, but I’ve done that and the crunch of the millet was enticing.  I opened the ol’ freezer and decided to substitute slivered almonds for the millet.  That was a good decision.

I also substituted Greek low-fat plain yogurt for the sour cream (because I didn’t have sour cream) and low-fat milk instead of whole.  I don’t think any of my substitutions adversely affected the muffins, because boy are they delicious!  They’re fluffy, and comforting, and all the things you want out of a muffin,  heat one up with a cup of tea today!

Next up… Pumpkin Pancakes…

Now, seeing as the muffin recipe only called for 1 cup of pumpkin puree, I had about another 1/3 cup or so left in the can.  I thought maybe I could make a cream-based pumpkin sauce for pasta, but then I decided the way to go was pancakes.  I feel like that could be a new life motto… when in doubt: Pancakes.

Pumpkin, meet flour.

I didn’t take notes while I was working – sometimes my multi-tasking isn’t the best- but I can tell you I used the buttermilk pancake recipe from Joy of Cooking, and cut the recipe in half, added a dash each of cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and the pumpkin puree.  The result was a fluffy and tasty breakfast version of pumpkin pie.  A-mazing! I invited a couple friends over for Sunday brunch (because who can eat 12 pancakes alone!- no judgement, just usually not the case!) and we tucked into these lovely things…

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Tomato Soup

The brisk of New England fall has officially set in.  And with that, comes one of my favorite times of year- time for soup.  This is strange seeing as 3 years ago you might hear me regularly say, “I’m not a soup person”- I think I’ve told you this story before- but anyway.  Times are a’changin’ and yes my friends, I love soup.  It’s easy to make on a Sunday to have for lunch all week, it’s warm, and as long as you stay away from the cream based ones- they’re generally pretty healthy.

I had just the other morning gone through my folder of recipes- I have a small, 1/2 inch binder with recipes I’ve printed from things I liked online, but there are also ripped pages from EveryDay Food, Martha Stewart Living, and The Best of America’s Test Kitchen magazine.  I admire ATK so much- I love what they do- I love how they do it- why didn’t I think of that as a career path at the age of 18? Culinary arts, so I can play with food all day, testing recipes, re-working them for the ultimate result?  I will be sure to tell my 18 year old self the right way to go once I get myself a time machine.

Anyway, onto the soup!  This weekend I opted for a tomato version- I was really craving a grilled cheese and tomato soup, the ultimate comfort lunch.  I took the tomato soup recipe from ATK- their Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup.  I had the ingredients, I had the hand blender, and I had the craving for a smooth, velvety tomato soup, sans the cream.  (There would later be enough cheese in my grilled cheese to make up for the lack of calories in my soup. Gotta take it where ya can, right?)

I got the base of the soup ready- olive oil, garlic, onion, bay leaf:

Add the tomatoes: (two 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes, which were on sale, nice!)

The secret to making the soup creamy without the cream, as the ATK article explains, is bread.  So while the tomatoes are cooking down, prepare your bread- 3 slices of good quality white bread- I used part of an Italian loaf.

Feel free to eat the crusts while things are working away if, like me, you are starving while you’re cooking.


Mash the tomatoes with a potato masher (be careful for splashes, it’s hot!) then stir in 1 tb brown sugar and the torn bread pieces, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 5 mins.

This is the point at which I used my hand blender (once the bay leaf was removed).

I then added 2 cups chicken broth, and let the soup return to a boil.

While that was boiling away I went to work on my grilled cheese.  I ended up going for an adult tuna melt-Cabot sharp cheddar, Cabot monterey jack, and spinach.

I then put a scoop of tuna on top and a couple more slices of cheese, and buttered up the bread.

And because I’m nothing if not resourceful around here, I used my substitute for a panini: my grill pan, and then my cast iron skillet as a weight.

Once the soup was ready and the melt all melted it was time for lunch:

This was awesome. That is all. 🙂

 

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Not too shabby for a Tuesday night, eh?

I told you last week I made an alternative pesto, right?  But I wasn’t going to share it with you until I did something interesting with it.  Whelp, I finally did! I started with cilantro and ended with enchiladas. Trust me, it works out.

I made cilantro pesto this time….

Look at the beautiful color…

Now… what to do with it?? I made BBQ Chicken Tacos again last week- oh hey Crock Pot… super easy, but still had about a cup of this pesto leftover.  I froze it for a rainy day.

Well folks, it’s been pretty darn rainy here lately so it wasn’t long before I was defrosting my pesto nuggets.  I thought it would make a nice herbal addition to brown rice, black beans & corn.  And it did- but it was still pretty bland.  At this point, I was stuck with a huge tupperware of this rice, bean & corn mixture and debating what to do… Enchiladas.  Yes. Add tomato sauce & cheese and everything will be right with the world.

I didn’t follow an exact recipe but I followed the method for my chicken enchiladas.

Green pepper, serrano chile, onion... dice & add to pan. Chop & drop as Rachel Ray would say.

 

There's the drop.

Once softened add your liquids & spices- 1 80z can tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 Tb cumin, 1 tsp chile powder, 1/2 tsp salt, bring to a boil and cook down.

Strain sauce over large bowl, reserving sauce and put onions & peppers into the mixture for your filling

Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved sauce and as much cheese (monterey jack) as your heart desires, and stir.  Heat up your tortillas in the microwave then assemble!

Pour remaining sauce over the top, top with more cheese and bake for 20 mins at 350 degrees F.  Also use a 3 Qt baking dish- the 2 Qt, though adorable, was not large enough. Also, cover with foil for the first 10-15 mins of cooking, then remove to let the cheese brown and the edges crisp up a bit.

Oh hi friends.

 

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