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.