Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hot Cocoa Cookies

Yes, I am still alive.  and yes, I am still cooking new recipes all the time. 

here's some proof: try out these delicious puppies I made last night:

Hot Cocoa Cookies

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Scones

I seem to bake when the hubs is out for the day, uninterrupted time in the kitchen is a nice way to spend a Saturday morning. Follow it up with a warm cup of coffee, a warm baked good, add a cooking show, and it equals a pretty good day. If the hubs is home in time to enjoy them with me it makes it even better.

Strawberry vanilla bean scones were the result of a lovely half pint of late summer strawberries from the farm. I used my favorite base of oat scones, omitted the orange, added vanilla bean paste, and folded in diced strawberries at the end. 

I also love to freeze my baked goods to prevent me from eating them all in one sitting, and prolong the tastes of summer.  It makes for a great grab-and-go breakfast on those days when the mornings are frosty and those warm covers just seem too good to leave. 

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Scones

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups rolled oats
1 T vanilla bean paste
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup coarse turbinado or Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
1 c diced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, combine the first 4 ingredients and on lowest setting, add in the butter, mixing until the butter ins incorporated and it looks like sand.  Stir in oats, then milk and vanilla bean paste.  Fold in strawberries on lowest setting just until incorporated. 

Bring the dough together with your hands. If the dough is still too crumbly, stir in more buttermilk a tiny splash at a time, but try to avoid over mixing.

After bringing the dough together, cut int into two and gently pat it into two 8-inch rounds. Cut into triangle shapes (see photo) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet with some room between each scone. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.

Bake for 12 to 15 minute or until the bottoms are deeply golden.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No-Knead Bread and a Muffaletta

I have been trying to make bread more often instead of buying it...you know exactly what is in it, save money, and what beats bread still warm from the oven? One of the first recipes introduced to me by Mark Bittman was for a bread that you seriously mix together until barely combined, then let it sit for a day, and bake it.  Now, this is my kind of bread. 

For some reason, I have put off trying this recipe, though I must say that any reason to not make this bread seems a little paltry considering the amount of time dedicated compared to most other yeast breads.  I finally decided to make it (the one down side is waiting a day and thus having to plan a day ahead) for a muffaletta.

Try it tomorrow, the no knead bread recipe, or try watching the video if you happen to be a more visual learner.  Or simply watch it for the sheer wonderfulness that is the ease of making this bread, it really is simply barely mixing the ingredients and then letting it sit.

Now, I made the bread for a muffaletta but it wasn't quite tall enough for the general idea, so I sliced the bread and made what I could of the sandwich (every time I make it tends to turn out in a mess).  The hubs came home after I ate dinner, so I left the fixings out for him to pile his own sandwich.

I grilled onions, peppers, eggplant, and mushrooms, but do you see that pile in the left foreground of the photo?  That is the skin that I peeled off the peppers and left there until I could make it to the compost bin.  And despite my best intentions, I forgot to warn my less-than-observant husband that it was not something he should eat.  Upon walking into the kitchen while my husband was assembling his sandwich, I noticed a huge pile of pepper skin on top of his sandwich, and proceeded to lose it.  He stared in confusion until I was composed enough to tell him that he shouldn't eat the skin, to which he replied, "Why not?"  Well folks, I guess that is a legitimate question...and the answer is probably just that it doesn't have as pleasing of a texture, but if you are so inclined, go for it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Menu Planning

I know I have posted on this before, but I keep running into people who want to start menu planning but say they don't have the time.  I can understand being rushed each day and not really wanting to sit down and figure out what you are going to eat a week in advance.  I like to have freedom each night to cook what I am in the mood for and not feel boxed into what is on the menu, yet having a loose plan helps in those nights when you just can't figure out what to make or when you are pressed for time.  On top of that, menu planning really helps to cut grocery bills significantly, something that has let me start working on buying more organic foods while still even cutting our grocery bill. 

My goals in menu planning probably go in this order:
1. use all of the vegetables from the farm that week
2. make as many meals from whole ingredients as possible (making as many parts at home as possible)
3. have meals that are appropriate for the schedule of each day
4. mix it up and  try new things
5. have at least 3 vegan meals per week
6. incorporate as many organic and fair trade items as possible
7. stay in budget, and if at all possible, get as under budget as possible
Now, I love to cook, and I love to browse cook books so menu planning isn't something I generally have trouble working into my schedule because I enjoy it.  For many, cooking is a hassle that just makes another mess to clean up, and another responsibility to add on to your plate.  But I find that by taking at least a half hour to create a menu each week really allows me to be creative in my cooking and use cooking as a creative outlet.  By using new recipes each week (at least 1-2), I have gotten to learn different techniques and a lot about how to pair ingredients.  The more new recipes you use, the more familiar you will become with spices and ethnic foods.  It takes time, but you can eventually use recipes as a starting off point, and really look to your ingredients to determine your meal. 

When I do not have a box of food from the farm, I do try to look to vegetables that are in season.  This not only is easier on your wallet, but it is also better for the environment and you get tastier vegetables since they are local and not grown in the wrong situations.  Tomatoes were just not made to be eaten in December fresh, and the flavor just isn't there in January.  So in January, if you are hankering for a fresh vegetable, look up what is in season in your area.  Some cookbooks are even separated into seasons, giving you seasonal recipes that highlight the best your area has to offer. 

So, I encourage you to give menu planning a try.  I bet you can even start with 10-15 minutes if it is something you truly dread. 

Grab a pen and pad of paper and start by browsing your fridge and pantry, do you already have a can of black beans or a half-eaten jar of spaghetti sauce?  Write those down to the side of your paper so if you crack open a cook book or magazine, you have in your head those things you don't want to waste. 

Using a cookbook or magazine may add some time, or it may significantly reduce your time spent menu planning, depends on if you need the inspiration.  A cooking magazine will already be pretty seasonally organized for you and make it easier to stay within budget. 

Next, write down each day of the week and note the activities you have that evening, keeping in mind if you have to get home and leave within a half hour.  Don't plan a lasagna for that night, you know that it takes at least an hour to prep and bake.  That night would be a good night for tacos, burritos, pizza, or sandwiches. 

With that half jar of spaghetti sauce, can you add a can of tomatoes and make soup or eggplant parmesan?  Those black beans are a good start to a big pot of chili (which also calls for a can of tomatoes- so get the bigger can, it's cheaper).  Maybe you have 10 green peppers in your fridge (like me right now)...perhaps sausage and peppers is in order that week, and chili, and gumbo.  Use up what you already have, and see if there are areas you can make once, use twice.  A few weeks ago I made cashew cream for the lime-agave tofu recipe, and knew that I would have a lot left over, so I also put on the menu creamy tomato soup to use up the rest.  Not only did I not waste the rest, I also cut my prep time for tomato soup night by about 15 minutes. 

What if you don't have much food in the house at all?  Start fresh, and create a menu that sounds good to you.  If you have a hard time getting started, flip quickly through that cooking magazine or cookbook.  What if you hate cooking and menu planning even moreso?  Start by writing down why you cook: providing nutritious meals for your family, preserving family dinner time conversation, saving money as opposed to eating out, etc.  I cook for my family because for me sharing a meal with someone and feeding them is a sign of love and care.  Food is a sign of that no matter your culture, to feed someone is to show your care for them.  If you hate cooking or dislike spending all the time, start small, and paste the person's picture for whom you are cooking above the sink or the stove.  Show them you care so much about them you are willing to take time at an activity you'd rather not do to serve them. 

What's in season this week?  Greens (spinach, swiss chard, lettuce), eggplant, apples, pears, winter squash (butternut, spaghetti, delicata), bok choy, potatoes, etc. 

Do you have any menu-planning tips?  Any other vegetable that is in season I let out?  Why do you cook for your family?  Or yourself?

Chickpea "Crabcakes" and Three Bean Salad

I must begin with a disclaimer, I don't think I have ever actually had real crabcakes.  My mother in law would balk at that, I am pretty sure it is one of her favorite foods if done well.  But these cakes turned out pretty tasty in my book, so perhaps I should just call them Old Bay Chickpea cakes. 

I also made the tartar sauce to go alongside them, though I cannot think of a more odd combination of ingredients than tartar sauce: pickles, lemon juice, hot sauce, greek yogurt.  I paired them with a three bean salad of sorts, simply dressed in a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, and herbs.  Needless to say, we had a lot of beans that night. 

This is a great and simple recipe for a fast weeknight dinner loaded with flavor and protein.  I also came across a few recipes adding shredded zucchini to the cakes, a unique way to use up all that summer squash!

Friday, September 30, 2011

White Bean Escarole Soup

And again, another vegetable that us vegetarians over here don't particularly care for.  Escarole.  If you remember last year, we tried it and promptly decided to eat something else.  But this one topped the cake. 

Side note: I am watching Top Chef Just Desserts right now and drooling, you may see something pumpkin and chocolate coming up soon. 

Escarole belongs to that class of bitter vegetables that apparently we Americans are not all too fond of.  I think the trick in this soup was not only the simmering of the greens, but also the strong flavored ingredients which must balance out the bitter.  I also think that the addition of a bit of acid helps plead escarole's cause.  Even if you don't like escarole, please make this and let me know what you think!

White Bean Escarole Soup (based on Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen)

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
6 c vegetable stock
2 t fennel seeds
1 head of escarole, sliced into 1" strands, then chopped
3 T tomato paste
rind of parmesan
1 T dried basil
salt and pepper
seperately sauted sausage (we love morning star farms breakfast sausage)

Heat T of oil in a large pot, then add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the broth, parmesan rind, and escarole.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Add broth, rind, and escarole, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about a 1/2 hour. 

If using sausage, especially vegetarian sausage, I strongly suggest cooking it until browned in a seperate pan, then adding to each bowl right before serving.  Imitation meat tends to soak up all the liquid  so it should be left out till the last minute.  But, if you use vegetarian sausage- no cholesterol!  And no leftover parts used!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grilled Eggplant and Lentil Salad

Eggplant does not always have the most pleasing flavor, and let's just admit it, when it gets mushy it gets just plain gross.  I have been trying out different recipes this summer with our eggplants, even slicing it super thin and using it as layers in a lasagna.  The lasagna was ok, but the texture of the eggplant was so-so, and despite salting it some pieces still had a bitter taste.  So far eggplant parmesan is really the only way we really enjoy it, and I would still rather make zucchini parmesan. 

But OH.MY.GOODNESS char-grilled eggplant was amazing.  I grilled up some eggplant, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms and topped it with my regular staple lentil salad.  This idea was supremely better than putting it on top of spinach. 

So go ahead, try lentil salad on top of some grilled eggplant, and maybe even learn to like eggplant a bit more ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Griddle Cakes: Making Deliciousness out of Leftovers

Who says pancakes have to be sweet?  Generally, I do.  I love sweet things for breakfast, mostly because I love coffee with my breakfast and savory does not go well with coffee (at least for my taste buds).  

Good think Bittman labeled these griddle cakes and not pancakes or I may have had a hard time eating them.  Remember that fiesta we had for Labor Day?  Well that week we had a ton of leftovers, turns out some boys don't eat as much as you think they would.  One of my meal planning goals as of late has been to not throw away any food in my fridge, using every leftover and vegetable.  So, it was Mexican week in our household, and I wanted to make some things a little new.  We did of course have burritos the first day, and a tortilla soup, and then finally a day of griddle cakes. 

I had about a cup of rice, 3/4 c of black beans, salsa, guacamole, mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and sauteed onions left over, with no clue what to do with such tiny servings. 

In comes the Minimalist with his wonderful base recipe ideas.  I perused his cookbook index for the ingredients I had on had, then browsed the recipes listed underneath until I found one that suited my needs/ingredients.  This worked well with Bittman's cookbook since it is so large and comprehensive, though I do this with my magazines and other cookbooks as well, it just takes much much longer.  Thank goodness for Bittman.  This recipe is based on his, but suited to my kitchen.


Griddle Cakes

2 eggs
1 c rice
1/2 c milk
1/2 c cheddar cheese
1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
salt and cayenne to taste
a few tb canola oil
salsa and guacamole to top
Heat an electric skillet to 375.

Mix everything together well, getting a medium thick batter.  Pour 1/4 c of batter onto the skillet for each cake, cooking on each side until browned, around 3 minutes per side.  Serve topped with some salsa and guac.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu with Jalapeno Cheddar Grits

It has finally been cooling off out here in Philly, which makes it much more pleasant to cook in my kitchen.  It also makes me much more inclined to eat spicy meals.  I don't tend to shy away from cooking if it is hot out, but this summer had some doozies.  So thank goodness for 65 degree nights! 

The last time we had these grits we tried them with fried green tomatoes...that didn't work out so well but boy those grits were tasty. 

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu (from Veganomicon)

1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and pressed (frozen then defrosted for ultimate texture)
1 c almond or regular milk
2 T cornstarch
1 c cornmeal
2 T chilie powder
1 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne
1 T lime zest
1 1/2 t salt

Slice the tofu into 8 slices.  Combine milk with cornstarch in a shallow bowl and mix well.  In another bowl, toss cornmeal with the remainder of ingredients.  

Heat about 1/4 inch or less of oil in a large skillet (I love my big rectangle electric skilletfor this) to medium heat.  Drop one piece of tofu into the milk mixture then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.  Cook the tofu in batches if necessary so you don't overcrowd the pan.  Fry the tofu for about 3 minutes per side till browned on each side.  Drain on paper towels.

Jalapeno Cheddar Grits
1 c grits
3 jalapenos, diced
3/4 c sharp cheddar

Cook grits according to package directions.  When there are 5 minutes left in cooking, stir in the jalapenos and cheddar.  Easy peasy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fiesta Spread

Labor Day weekend was great, packed with lots of good people and music.  We had some friends over for a picnic/bbq Monday in between two shows with the hubs and his band.  I didn't really take any photos, but luckily the hubs took one with his phone before we ate. 

I wavered in what to serve mostly meat-eaters, and not knowing if my group would be 8 people or 15.  After thinking about a traditional bbq menu with fake hotdogs or grilled pizza, I settled on a quesadilla bar.  I bought a ton of cheese and tortillas (of which we are still eating leftovers), and served a plothera of fillings like beans, tomatoes, sour cream, mushrooms, and onions.  All in all it ended up working in my favor as we had an unexpected vegan in the mix yet the meat-eaters still seemed to enjoy it.  On the side I made a black bean sald, mexican rice, and friends brought chips and salsa. 

The black bean salad was heavy on the farm-veggies with tomatoes, onion, and peppers either from the farm or my garden.  I mixed black beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, and red onion with salt, pepper, olive oil, cilantro, and a splash of red wine vinegar.  Nothing fancy to let the veggies take center stage. 

Party-goers assembled their quesadilla at the table on a plate, the plopped it on the grill which was on for two rounds of quesadilla making.  Overall this was a great party idea, and very veg friendly as everyone made their own quesadillas. 

What are your ideas for when vegetarians/vegans come for a meal?  Or vice versa, what are your ideas when picky or meat-eaters come to a meal?

Monday, August 29, 2011

BBQ Seitan and Coleslaw

As I write, it is a cool and breezy evening and the sound of the Phillies playing in the background.  We have the windows open and no damage from the hurricane that recently ripped through the northeast.  Today was beautiful and we had a lovely dinner.  Not this dinner, but a lovely one nonetheless and we have much to be thankful for.  This dinner was inspired by the only menu item that lures me into choosing the same thing every time I go to the restaurant. 

The hubs and I love Home Grown Cafe in Newark, Delaware and despite the distance, we end up going there at least every other month. I love their menu where almost everything can be made either vegan or vegetarian with then even choices of protein.  Somehow though, their "sloppy joe" gets me every time and I end up eschewing other options for a trusted favorite (the bahn mi was another inspiration for a recipe on the blog). 

As promised, I am finally talking a bit about seitan.  "What is seitan?" you may ask.  Well, for starters, it is oddly pronounced like "satan" with the second a sounding a bit more like "on." (sorry grammar people- i never learned phonetics).  Seitan is made out of wheat gluten and is a more convincing meat substitute as far as texture goes.  We don't eat it very often, but is great for an occasional treat.  I have never made it before this recipe, though I have bought it frozen before with less than desirable results. 

I loosely used the recipe in Veganomicon for seitan, found here though I omitted the lemon and veg broth because I was out.  I am sure it will taste better next time if I use a good quality broth.  I prefer Trader Joe's brand of concentrated liquid bouillon but they haven't been carrying it for quite a while. 

BBQ Sauce  (adapted from Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen)

1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T tomato paste
1 pt cherry tomatoes, seeded
1/4 c maple syrup
1 T olive oil
3 t dry mustard
2 large cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes to taste
1 t liquid smoke
salt and pepper to taste

In a blender, mix all ingredients together.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Pour into a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes for tomatoes to reduce. 

BBQ Seitan

Slice the seitan cutlets into 1/2 in thick slices and sear on a cast iron griddle on all sides.  Toss into bbq sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve with good rolls and a better cole slaw than the one pictured above (I spared you the recipe, no point in making you suffer the poor quality slaw as well- find you favorite blog and use theirs). 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

When the husband's away...

 I will eat tomatoes, lots of them.  In a sort of continuation post, this is just a teaser of a few things I have been doing with my abundance of tomatoes.  When the hubs is gone I tend to not really want to cook (it is no fun with no one to share it with- plus, I cook too much food for one). 

So, aside from my tomato and boursin sandwich which was my dinner of choice last summer, I have had quite a few BL"T"'s, and made up a batch of bruschetta that I ate practically all by myself.  Hey, I used less oil and it is mostly veggies right (nevermind the crackers). 

We are fans of Morningstar Farms fake bacon, though to be honest we haven't really tried any other kind because that is what good ol' Trader Joe's carries. 

What are you making with your tomatoes?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Canning Attempt

A few weekends ago I attempted to can tomatoes.  The farm let us pick as many tomatoes from the field as we could, so the hubs and I filled a grocery bag.  G gave me some large canning jars so I thought fresh packing tomatoes would be a great way to preserve them. 

My grandma gave me a Ball canning book last time she visited and I have only tried one jam recipe until now.  I had some pectin in the cupboard and a lot of blueberries and strawberries.  True to form for my learn by trial and error cooking- I discovered that jam has a lot of added sugar.  The recipe I found to use asked for 7 cups of sugar, and if I didn't want to sit and let the fruit reduce without pectin (I didn't- wanted to can in less than 2 hours), I would have to add that much sugar.  Another future option is low-sugar pectin, but boy was the pectin useful!  Last time I canned preserves it took me 45 minutes to cook down the fruit. 

The canning book is helpful, but I think supposes that you already know some key things, like the temperature preserves need to be to gel (not found anywhere in the book- thank goodness for google).  Canning tomatoes however has a two-page spread complete with drawings, and step by step directions that are pretty helpful. 

Basically, I put the jars and lids into the dishwasher and skinned the tomatoes.  Then I quartered them and packed them into a jar, topping it off with simmering water. 

Nothing about this was in the book though:

I did use used jars, but I did test them all and removed the ones with cracks- apparently I missed this one.  I came over and saw that the jar was floating, which depsite my canning novelty, I knew was wrong.  I grabbed the tongs and pushed it down, only to have it pop back up.  The next action was suprising, I pulled up the jar to investigate and all the tomatoes fell out into the pot!  This resulted in a slew of exclamations, mostly consisting of me repeating, "Oh no!  Oh no!" 

I scooped out the tomatoes into a bowl that later on became salsa, and let the rest of the jars just keep on cooking.  I think they turned out fine, though no one who has seen them has canned tomatoes before.  Anyone have thoughts as to the odd layering affect? Tips for future canning?

Aside from the busted jar and having to fish out the bottom from a pot of boiling water- it was relatively easy.  From start to finish it only took me about 2 1/2 hours, and boy was the dishwasher helpful!  And after getting the jars as a wonderful gift, the tomatoes as free surplus, a great cost-effective activity. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vital Wheat Gluten and Tomatoes

I am pretty sure I may have tomatoes coming out my ears.  I have been working it feels like non-stop to preserve the summer goodness that is tomatoes.  I do have to mix cherry tomatoes into something quite tasty though to get the hubs to eat them, and even then it isn't all that willingly.  
Last night I made some cherry tomato marinara sauce, with a couple of tomatoes from my garden.  It took some work, but mostly only when I decided to drain out the sauce, leaving the skins and seeds behind.  Once I did that though, the sauce was alright, but a bit acidic still.  A good first attempt. 

I ventured into my first foray with vital wheat gluten last week, making a recipe from Veganomicon.  I made chickpea cutlets which just sounded like they were asking for a gravy like chicken friend steak.  I didn't have any dairy in the house though so I made carmelized onions with a touch of vinegar and maple syrup, so yummy, and paired it with a simply cucumber and carrot salad dressed with some red wine vinegar. 

Overall, they were really tasty and not very difficult.  I am attempting homemade seitan this week.  What is seitan?  Stay tuned and find out...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Menu Planning for the Week

Being Tuesday, I have already obviously cooked a few times since our pick-up on Friday.  Alas, my photos didn't turn out very well, nor did some of my recipes.  I attempted a sort-of Nicoise sandwhich and it just ended up tasting quite weird, not bad, just weird. 

We got an interesting variety this week, with waaay too many cherry tomatoes.  We still have some in the fridge, hopefully to be used tonight, and more growing on the vine in the backyard.  Oh boy.  I have to cut them up and hide them in other things that the hubs likes in order for him to choke them down.  The veggies we got:

swiss chard
cherry tomatoes
tomatillos (saving since they keep well in the fridge to make a salsa verde)
hot pepper
green beans
ground cherries

So, my plan for this week:

Mexican lasagna (using refried black beans, leftover corn tortillas, swiss chard, and some salsa)
black bean burgers and grilled watermelon
blackbean salad
chickpea cutlets and carrot salad
naked fajitas (no tortillas)
nicoise sandwhich and israeli couscous and tomato salad
huge batch of salsa for many of the recipes

What sounds interesting to post the recipe?  Chickpea cutlets? Grilled watermelon (planning on dressing with feta and mint)? 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Agave-lime grilled tofu with asian slaw and mashed sweet potatoes

Now I have a bookshelf overflowing with cookbooks, and I have a relationship with them much like a young child would have with their toys, or a teenager with their fashions.  When I get a cookbook, I tend to go back to it multiple times per week, skipping complicated recipes, and using it's recipes over and over (see previous posts sources, i.e. my mark bittman obsession).  Then, when a new toy or piece of clothing comes along, I tend to forget about the cookbook I was so recently distracted by.

I got Tal Ronnen's cookbook recently from the hubs when the first round of Border's closed and never really made anything out of it because the recipes seemed so complicated.  Many of them also needed unique ingredients that are used often in vegan cooking but no one else would really ever have in their pantry/fridge.  I decided to give it a new try the other week after browsing through it one evening (yes, I read cookbooks for pleasure and during down time). 

I just got a few new cookbooks with this second, sad round of Border's closing for good.  It is a sad day that our date night place is closing ;(  Alas, Barnes and Nobles will now likely be our relaxing date night place.  Though I must admit that the hubs and I probably contributed to the downfall of our bookstore.  We would spend date nights there, buy a coffee, grab a stack of books/magazines to parouse, and then put them back.  If a book struck our fancy, we would buy it (if we had a coupon), or go to Amazon to buy it (more often the case).  Byebye borders, we will miss you on Friday nights! 

Back to Tal and his amazing tofu. This recipe was one of the easiest in the cookbook but still a bit complicated with lots of steps.  The cookbook is not set up as I would prefer, and the table of contents for each section is difficult on the eyes.  And finally, my last complaint, there is a lot of faux meat being used in here...not my cup of tea all the time.  But whoa, was this recipe tasty.  The adobo mashed sweet potatoes: yum.  The asian mariande for the tofu: divine. 

Agave-Lime Grilled Tofu with Asian Slaw and Mashed Sweet Potato

1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced into 12 slices
1/4 c agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 c soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs thyme
1 t pepper
2 limes, juiced
1 1/2 T brown sugar

3 T rice wine vinegar
1 t agave nectar
1/2 t salt
2 T lime juice
1 t soy sauce
1/2 mild flavored oil (i used olive because it was what i had)
1 large carrot, julienned
1/2 diakon radish, julienned
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 scallion, julienned
1/2 t sesame seeds

sweet potatoes:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 c cashew cream (see below)
2 T earth balance (vegan margarine)
1 canned chipolte pepper, seeded and minced
salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients for the tofu and marinate it for at least 2 hours. 

Tal's recipe says to bake the tofu here, I pan fryed it on high heat until brown on both sides, probably 5-7 minutes each side.   Pour the remainder of the marinade into a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce until syrupy. 

For the slaw, prep the veggies and in a seperate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients except for the oil.  Once mixed, slowly add the oil while whisking until emuslified. 

For the sweet potatoes, cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water until soft but not mushy, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain and put the sweet potatoes in a bowl to mix with the remainder of ingredients. Whip with a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. 

To put together, place 1/4 of the mashed potatoes on a plate, top with a 1/4 of the slaw, and 1/4 of the tofu.  Drizzle some of the marinade on top.  Enjoy!

cashew cream: (prep night before)
2 c whole, raw cashews rinsed well under cold water

Put cashews in a bowl and cover with water to rest in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, drain and rinse the cashews.  Put cashews in a blender and just cover the nuts with water.  Blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth.  If your blender is not high-powered, run the cream through a fine mesh sieve.  This recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of it....so get creative with the rest!  I added it to some marinara sauce....yummy. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Menu planning and trying new recipes

The last two weeks at the farm have yielded a nice variety of veggies, not too much of anything, and no preserving required.  I have heard a few people say they have a hard time using up the last bit of veggies each week, often leaving a few scraps here and there.

I must confess that I an often guilty of the same thing, not preserving that half a head of cabbage, and not using it either.  That half a head of cabbage went into the compost yesterday, wilted, dry, and browning on the edges.  Such a thing is sad, especially with a vegetable that keeps so long.  My main goal each week is to menu plan after getting home from the farm each week, listing the veggies we received, and place them under each meal heading so I know I hit every one. 

My menu plan is generally a Saturday to Friday since I tend to grocery shop Saturday mornings.  I leave it loose so that I can make what I feel like that evening, creating easy meals for nights we have things to do.  I also try to use the veggies that spoil easily first, leaving the longer lasting ones to the end of the week.  Last week it looked Mexican heavy, like this:

Black Bean tacos and slaw
Gazpacho and tempeh with corn tortillas and cheese
Grilled Mexican Pizza and salad
Grilled sweet potatoes and black bean burgers
Beet Salad and Squash Pizza
Tofu with Slaw and Mashed Adobo Sweet Potatoes
Chocolate zucchini cookies
Lemon Fennel Sorbet

The tofu and sweet potatoes was a recipe from Tal Ronnen's cookbook, "The Conscious Cook", post to follow shortly ;)

I made pizza dough twice (easy as long as you plan ahead at least an hour), and some lovely cookies.  We didn't have beet salad though as I may have forgot about them in the oven (I did turn the oven off though), and they got a bit moldy.  And we also didn't get to the black bean burgers, Thursday night we had a busy evening that ended up being a Pei Wei evening.  Throw in a lentil salad and there was our week.  We've been eating out a bit too much since getting back from vacation, I have yet to get back into my groove (note that I have only worked out twice since getting back from vacation: fail). 

This week, we got another host of veggies from the farm. 

carrots, beets, eggplant, squash, celery, onion, tomato, strawberries, cantaloupe, purple basil

On the menu for this week:

sweet potatoes with lime vinaigrette and black bean burgers
Asian noodle salad (using tofu, eggplant, carrots, and squash)
huevos y frijoles
lentil daal
potato salad and grilled sausage
beet and white bean salad
heirloom tomato soup, fresh baked baguette and brie

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Escarole Mexican Pizza- Do Not Try This at Home

Escarole does not go well on top of Mexican pizza.  Just in case you didn't know that already. 

I made a Mexican pizza last night, topped it with some shredded zucchini (putting that stuff everywhere!), and then must not have grabbed the right head of green stuff out of the fridge, because boy, was that pizza bitter!  Luckily, it was easily saved by simply removing the greenery.

On a separate note, apparently my pup, who does not eat vegetables, has discovered a new affinity for green cherry tomatoes from the vine.  He came in with a yellow head earlier this week, and then the hubs caught him in the act yesterday morning.  Silly dog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sushi Bowl

Now, I have never had sushi, well, real sushi.  I have gotten the pre-made sushi from Trader Joes, and it is decent.  From what I have heard, their sushi is passable, but nothing like the real thing. 

Well, the other day I was craving sushi.  Where this craving came from I have no idea, especially given the fact that I have never actually had real sushi, and even if I had, it would be the vegetarian kind (given).  I had some ideas in my head about doing sushi without the rolling part, more like a salad or fried rice, and many ingredients on hand.  What luck, I also found a recipe to bounce off of from Vegetarian Times, though I must confess that this bowl needed some punch.  Future attempts will include some crushed nori or other type of seaweed, which will hopefully boost the sushi factor. 

The hubs did not think there was enough wasabi so he put a chunk on the top of the remaining half of his bowl.  Big mistake.  His mouth was on fire...so in case you don't know, a tiny bit of wasabi goes a loooooong way. 

I made the rice in my rice cooker with a bit of extra water so that it didn't dry out (my rice cooker tends to lean on the dry side).   And I marinated the tofu in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil, then baked it until almost crispy. 

Sushi Bowl

1 c rice cooked according to directions (add a bit of rice vinegar if desired)
6 T soy sauce, divided
2 T sesame oil
1/4 t wasabi (or more to taste)
1 15 oz pkg firm tofu
2 c baby peas
1 c shredded carrot
1 avacado, diced
2 T pickled ginger, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Mix 4 T soy sauce and sesame oil.  Press tofu for at least 10 minutes, then slice into 8-16 pieces and place in a shallow dish.  Pour soy sauce over tofu and let marinate while you prepare the remainder of ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook rice according to directions (the rice cooker is your friend).  Prep vegetables and any other vegetables you desire. 

Place slices of tofu into the oven and bake until crispy on the outside, about 30 minutes. Once completed, cut into little cubes.

Whisk together soy sauce, 1 T water, 1 T sesame oil, and wasabi.  Mix together the sauce you just made, veggies, and tofu, then serve!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Zucchini Bread

I know, I know, enough with the Bittman recipes, but every one (other than the nut cream sauce which was my fault) has been so good and generally unique that I can't help but turn to it with each new harvest.  With the start of the abundance of zucchini we get from the farm, I needed something to do with it all.  I think I have made 5 loaves so far, and will probably make another one tonight.

I remember growing up making my grandmother's recipe for zucchini bread with bran cereal.  My mom and I would heat it up in the microwave and put a little slab of butter on top.  A loaf wouldn't last very long, and even my vegetable-picky dad would gobble it up. 

This bread, I hesitantly say, is a bit better than my grandmothers, and a bit cheaper to make (who has bran cereal just hanging out in their pantry regularly?). 

Zucchini Bread

4 T cold butter, cut into bits
2 c flour
1 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
3/4 c fruit juice (oj or apple) or milk
1 T grated orange zest
1 egg
1 c raw, shredded zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

Stir dry ingredients together, then cut into the flour mixture (can use a food processor or stand mixer) until pieces are no larger than a pea. 

Beat together zest, juice, and egg and mix into dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Fold in zucchini and pour into bread pan.  Bake for about one hour and cool.

A Classic Stand-by and a Fail

Last week I came across Bittman's nut cream sauce with arugula and loved the thought of a creamy, nutty sauce over noodles.  And what better to go with it than zucchini parmesan, which I was totally in the mood for. 

Well, my sauce came out looking like this:
It broke somewhere along the way, not sure what the specific cause was though.  I may have kept it on the heat for too long, or added the cream a bit too quickly.  I was super disappointed, there is little more disheartening in the kitchen than a recipe gone wrong. 

Luckily, I still had the zucchini parm, noodles, and spaghetti sauce in the cupboard.  Thank goodness, meal salvaged.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paneer, Spinach, and Indian Tomato Sauce

The hubs and I are going out of town this weekend for 10 days on tour with his band.  We are having some friends split taking care of our dog, and I am entering my busy season at work (summer programs for teenagers).  Thus, my days have been filled with working late, going in early, and then coming home to clean my dog-filled house and prepping for camping/living out of a car for over a week. 

So, until I get a chance to update you on a few tasty treats (easy zucchini bread, homemade rolls, temepeh bbq, etc), I wanted to tempt you with a great Indian dish using up my spinach from last week.  Again, this recipe is from Mark Bittman's book, and I hesitate putting up too many of his recipes for your consumption.  Go buy the cookbook, it is worth it,  trust me, even if you don't buy the vegetarian one (though the recipes I am sure will be cheaper!). 

The dish begins with an Indian spicy tomato sauce flavored with curry and my own additions of dried fenugreek (best indian addition ever).  Then I wilted some spinach in the sauce and laid it in a baking dish.  I topped it with chickpeas and cubed paneer cheese.  This was great, and relatively easy (though next time I will double the sauce and freeze half), and wonderful with some Indian flat bread.  I must confess that Bittman's flat bread recipe fell well, flat in my book.  It was too hard and was too dry to bite into by the next day, even with reheating.  I think I will stick to my naan recipe for future dishes. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fancy Shmancy Salad

We have a lot of greens right now and tend to shy away from too much salad.  So what do we do?

Make a unique salad combination! 

Leafy Greens
dried pineapple
homemade balsamic vineagrette

Trust me, it is tasty!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Second Farm box

This week our lovely farmers must have known that I was craving zucchini parmesan because we got several. 

Along with those we got some spring onions, radishes, turnips, arugula, spinach, and tons of lettuce.  Look at that beautiful large, purple head of lettuce. 

My menu this week will include zucchini parmesan, pasta with a cashew cream sauce and arugula, taco salad, salad with brie, cashews, and dried pineapple, and a spinach mushroom pizza.  Yes, there is a lot of salad on our list this week, hence the creative brie salad.  I'll let ya know what I think of it, and what dressing I choose. 

What late spring veggies are you using this week?

Friday, June 10, 2011


G and I have talked a little bit about this green, leafy vegetable.  Her hubs is not quite a fan, nor are many people.  I would lump arugula along with those bitter tasting vegetables that most Americans tend to not enjoy, much like escarole.  I must say, I enjoy arugula 10 times more than escarole.  Though I am willing to give escarole another chance this year (and be sure to have a plan B dinner ready in waiting).

It is high in Vitamin C and potassium, and considered an aphrodisiac in the Mediterranean (thanks wikipedia).  It is also called rocket in many places.

Well, we had a good, large bag full of arugula to use this last week, and another one today.  I hauled out my new Mark Bittman cookbook (you are probably going to see many recipes from him as the novelty of this cookbook has yet to wear off), and found a tasty sounding recipe.  Well, it sounded tasty, but also potentially not all that tasty.  Grits Gratin with Garlicky Arugula. 

Let me explain.  I have a slight gag reflex for certain foods, off the top of my head, polenta, some types of cooked eggplant, big beans, and large piles of wilted greens.  This is mainly due to feeling ill shortly after digesting such foods and the mental connection has yet to dissapate.  I apologize if this is tmi, but it is really how I felt about this recipe.  Potentially great, potentially gag inducing.  But it sounded so unique I wanted to give it a try.  I chose the option Mark had to add white beans (uh-oh, three reflexes in one dish) to satisfy my hearty food-loving hubs. 

This recipe was 10 times better than expected.  The hint of balsamic vinegar paired with sharp asiago cheese and mounds of garlic was amazingly delicious.  The slight bitterness of the arugula was well offset by the sharp cheese and sweetness of the vinegar.  I would use less olive oil next time, though that could be a preference. 

Grits Gratin with Arugula, White Beans, and Garlicadapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups arugula leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can  white beans
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 recipe Polenta, made with grits and molded according to Grilled or Fried Polenta
1/2 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart gratin dish or oblong baking pan.

In a large, deep skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and starting to color.  Turn off the heat.  Add the arugula, beans, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir gently a couple of times.  Spread the contents of the pan onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Drizzle with the vinegar.

Turn the grits out of the pan and slice into 1/2 inch slices (I had to clean the knife off halfway through, it got all gummed up with grits).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Carefully lay them on top of the arugula, overlapping if necessary.  Drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake for about  25-35  minutes, or until golden and bubbly.  Serve with lots of black pepper.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

First fruits!

This week was our first farm pick up.  I got off a little early so the hubs and I could make the trek with G and the kiddos.  It was a beautiful day for a farm trip, sunny, breezy, and about 75 degrees.  We probably could have stayed all afternoon if we weren't ready for dinner.  G and I took a photo of all the spoils before we left so that you could get a taste of just how much we got, even for the first week.  I am hoping to get a photo of all of our share on those weeks later this summer when we get 30 cucumbers or 25 squash. 

Late spring brings us a lot of greens, all in all we got:
spinach, arugula, spring greens salad mix, bok choy, turnips, radishes, kale, squash, lettuce, green onions, and some herbs. 

For the next evening, I made a BLA with a side salad, and homemade honey mustard dressing.  I have been hankering for honey mustart dressing and trying not to buy dressing lately.  I was impressed with the simple recipe: 1/3 c olive oil, 2/3 c honey, 3 T mustard, 1-2 T lemon juice or a vinegar (i used white wine vinegar because it is what I had).  Add a little salt and pepper, wonderful.   

Stay tuned for a Mark Bittman recipe using the arugula. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Cookbook Review beginnings

Product Details

I just ordered for my sister-in-law Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything."  I am the geek who sat and read most of it during the 3 days between receiving it and giving it to her as a present. 

It was ground-breaking.  Well, at least for me.  I do not own any generic cookbooks that cover every topic, mostly vegetarian cookbooks that pretty much stick to appetizers, entree's, and desserts.  I do own a crepe cookbook found at a rummage sale, a pretty crummy mexican cookbook that should probably be called tex-mex, and about 100 cooking magazines (after giving away about 50 in the last few months).

Mark really does cover almost everything.  I was disappointed last night when he gave a pizza dough recipe but not a tortilla recipe, perhaps because I specifically needed a tortilla recipe and thought it could be part of 'everything', but that is besides the point. 

Mark's vegetable section literally goes through each vegetable (within reason), and supplies a handful of simple, fresh recipes.  He provides basic foundational recipes like stir fry, cheese sauce, or grilled cheese, and bestows upon us at least 10 ways to mix it up and throw in some changes.  Mark tells us how to make our own cheese, artisinal bread with no kneading, and so much more.  I love his fresh, minimalist perspective and if you are a more visual person (no photos is one drawback), check out his New York Times videos, if you can cook a bit, you can watch his videos and just make the dish. 

I may have ordered it the day after we gave the regular one to my sister-in-law.  I may have sat reading this cookbook as well the last few days. 

Look out for many recipes to come once we get our first boxes.  I hear rumors of June 2nd!!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Jamaican Night and Cookbook Review

When a Borders near my house was closing, my wonderful hubs went with a friend and graciously looked through the vegetarian cookbooks for me!  And I didn't even have to ask, so sweet. 

There he found many sub-par books, and many without photos for every recipe (a big must for me to really enjoy my cookbook).  Amongst the picked through remains he came across a book I had long since asked for: The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour .  On Amazon, it has a great Look Inside! feature that allows you to browse the recipes, some even in their entirety.  I had a list of recipes I wanted to try from the get-go, and have done the following (sans photos-sorry, I know, I am a slacker). 

* Spinach and Feta Crostada - easy and very good- wouldn't use the vinegar next time
* Stuffed Shells with Winter Ragout- again, easy and pretty good though I didn't use stuffable pasta- bit too 
    tomatoe-y for the hubs
* Jerk Tempeh and Zesty Pineapple Salad (pictured)

So, before I started writing this post I thought I had made many more, only to realize they have been on my menu plan for quite some time only to get knocked aside from a busy schedule. 

Many of the recipes have more ingredients than I care to use on a weeknight meal.  I have been desperately trying to get our grocery bill to a lower level while also trying to have more whole foods in our diets.  On the latter point, the book is handy as everything is homemade, from the crusts to the sauces.  *score*  Our weeknights have been booking up and on nights with activities, the hubs is in the door at 6:30 and we are out of it by 7:00.  I am lucky enough to get home by 5 at the latest, and some days I exercise, some days I make food (consuming instead of expending). 

Another meh point for the cookbook is that it is carb-heavy somewhat, though you are obviously by no means limited to the menu planned for you in the book- it just helps. 

And final critique, I know few hardcore meat-eaters who would try tempeh or tofu.  My parents and siblings to start with...though my mom may venture one bite.  My in-laws will try it, may even eat it, but probably ask not to have it again (i.e. the Easter dinner tofu curry scenario).  The only people I know to be willing to try/enjoy such substitutions are those who are generally flexitarian anywho or are adventerous in their eating. 

No worries though, there are many faux-meat-free dishes throughout the book, many bean heavy.  I am anxoius to try the tempeh-hoagieletta, homemade falafels, and the pot pie (made it to the menu several times only to be bumped off due to crust making time crunch). 

The recipe pictured above was delicious.  I actually used the last of the jerk sauce last night and paired it with bell pepper slaw (good though I would not put in the dijon mustard next time- the spicyness killed it). 

While the tempeh was tasty, the pineapple salad was a-mazing.  I would eat this once a week it was such a good balance of flavors. 

The jamaican style peas and rice I used black beans (we like them better than black eyed peas) and accidentally added the entire can of coconut milk.  We had rice and beans for days, the portions were a bit off in that respect. 

Overall, great meal, and I will use both the jerk sauce and the pineapple salad recipe again and again. 

Look out for more recipes from this cookbook in the future.  And look out for our first CSA box, probably in late May or early June!  I am going to try to get to the farm tour and take some photos.  But I am so excited for this season to kick off- plus more friends joined this year!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Oh My!

I am working on a post, but have to collect a few more photos as well as finish writing, but for now, revel in this beauty:
Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Go to Closet Cooking and make this simple but oh sooo tasty jalapeno popper grilled cheese.  I made it Saturday night, and it was so worth it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Indian Style Mustard Greens Pizza

I have been inspired as of late to attempt to create Indian dishes at home.  Now, this has led me to one thing my husband dreads. 

Buying spices.

Now, let me clarify.  The hubs loves trying new food, he loves ethnic food, and he has no problem supporting my habit of trying new recipes.  What he does have a problem with is budget-breaking grocery store trips.  And let me tell you, spices can get expensive. 

That is, until recently.  Until recently I frequented grocery stores for my spices, places like Trader Joe's and Giant.  While good ol' TJ's is not as pricey as the main line grocery stores, it is still on average $1.99 for a jar of spice.  And why pay so much the next time if I already have a jar?

As of late I have been purchasing my spices at a local bulk store, the Head Nut (highly recommended).  I usually get 3 oz for under $2.  Mind you, those jars I purchase from the store are usually 1 oz, and at Giant or Target could cost upwards of $5-6.  I can get smoked paprika, hungarian paprika, mexican oregano, garlic powder, cardamom, and more!  I love getting a spice that is 39 cents per ounce! 

I also have been getting Food and Wine magazine for free through a survey company online.  Great stuff.  And inside of a recent issue, they interviewed an Indian Chef who gave some favorite recipes.  This was pretty easy, super tasty, and a wonderful way to get a ton of greens into your diet.

I made Indian Style Mustard Greens and put it atop some naan that I made for the first time! After topping with mozarella, which is an easy substitute for paneer if you don't have access to an indian grocery store,  I baked it in the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes, just until everything was hot. 

For the naan recipe, go here.  The best/most important thing about the naan was to put it on top of my gas burner for a minute or two (with close close watch) to get the char that you get at indian restaurants.  It does get a bit hard day 2, so I am trying out a new recipe soon, or reheat in the oven. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Leftover HodgePodge

What do you do with leftover red rice and beans, collard greens, butter tofu, jalapenos, and sweet potatoes? 

Try to make enchiladas!

At least that was what I did.  I am trying to be better about using up leftovers and remnants of food in my fridge (especially veggies).  This week, I had a TON of leftovers.  The sweet potatoes weren't quite ripe when I needed them to make fries so the super hard-middles got put into a tupperware with some water and into the fridge.  The collard greens only came in a 2 1/2 pound bag (of which the remaining uncooked 1 pound is still currently languishing in my bottom drawer).  And the butter chicken was too acidic for my tummy the night we had it (growing, annoying problem since I love tomatoes). 

Hopefully this post inspires you to make over your leftovers, highlighting keynote ingredients, and making a completely different dish out of them.  It is possible!  And saves money!  (this was made with leftovers and we got 3 meals out of this!) 

What do cajun style red rice and beans and butter tofu have in common?  Lots.  Cajun and indian cooking have many similar ingredients to mexican cooking: jalapenos, cumin, cilantro, onion to name a few.  So I got the weird idea to blend the tofu chicken mixture and adding what was needed by taste.  This ended up being a can of tomatoes with habaneros, jalapenos (ok- so this ended up too spicy for me, could have done without them), chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and cilantro.  I probably added things 3-4 times and tasted after every addition.  Key lesson learned from Top Chef: Taste your food.  Every time. 

Sauce accomplished.

On tastespotting I found a few black bean sweet potato enchilada recipes, so I boiled the sweet potatoes, mashed them, and added cumin, paprika, and black beans. 

Filling #1 accomplished. 

I also had leftover sauted leeks and collard greens (recipe here).  So again here, I added cumin and paprika.

Filling #2 accomplished. 

Last, but not least (and oddly my favorite), I added similar spices to my leftover red beans. 

Filling #3 accomplished. 

The night before (I spend a lot of time planning food, thus the night before making), I made homemade tortillas off Pioneer Woman (recipe here).  I stuffed the tortillas with a bit of cheese and the fillings (each seperate), topped with the sauce, and baked at 350 for 40 minutes (the fillings were cold and needed time to heat through). 

Voila!  It does not look pretty, but it tasted mighty nice with a cilantro sour cream. 

"Meat"ball Subs

Occasionally the hubs and I crave comfort foods from before we went veg.  Comfort foods that tend to contain very few vegetables.  Macaroni and cheese.  Cheese steak.  Hot wings.  Meatball subs.  And we try not to eat them often, eating fake meat as a vegetarian seems counterproductive.  And goes against eating more "whole foods" because the imitations are so processed.  But hey, we all need to give in sometimes right?  And 22 years of meat eating leaves some remnants in a person, no matter how strong your convictions.

I had intended to try a new recipe I found on the Tasty Kitchen for lentil ricotta "meatballs" but forgot to buy ricotta, so plan B came in the works.  Using what was on hand, I made my own "meatballs".  And boy, I think they were better than the kind we buy at Trader Joe's or Giant.  They didn't mush together on the bun like the veggie kind do, and they had a pretty distinct texture if I do say so myself. 

The trick to a meatball sub staying together I learned from my friend Todd while he was preparing a sub for his kiddos.  He removed the inner breading of the roll, thus creating the perfect pocket in which the meatballs could rest. 

To make meatballs, start by mixing 1 pkg. lightlife breakfast sausage, 1 pkg boca burger meatless crumbles in ground beef style, 1 egg, 1/4 c bread crumbs.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Form into 1-2 inch balls, depending on your preference and patience (mine tend to get bigger as they go because i get bored of rolling).  Pan fry until browned on all sides or bake at 350 for at least 20 minutes, topping with sauce 10 minutes in.  

"Meat"ball Subs Printable Recipe

To assemble, hollow out the roll, top with provolone cheese and toast bread in oven (works well alongside meatballs while they are cooking).  

I am a sauce person, so I like mine extra-saucy.  The sauce works best on the side though, dipped into so the roll doesn't get too soggy.  The first night I served it up with some Brussels sprouts, yum, and they helped to balance out the sort-of unhealthiness of the dish. 

We had a friend over to watch the Flyers the next night, and I think he just might have forgotten while eating it that we were vegetarians.  Maybe.