Friday, October 5, 2012

Eggplant pesto (a little late for last month's challenge)

It's very judgmental of me, but I generally try to avoid blogs with names like ""  We only occasionally eat meat and often our meals our vegan, but something about a blog name like that makes also think that the recipes are also taste free.

So for the challenge, I found one of the first pins I posted on Pinterest and whipped up some eggplant pesto.
I feel like I should also get points because I made pasta and I really don't like pasta that much.  The pesto turned out to be pretty good.  There was no oil, but the roasted eggplant made and excellent binder.  The could-be bland pesto was helped along with almonds, sun dried tomatoes, and garlic (quantities of which i doubled) and the real winner- a generous helping of nutritional yeast.  Add some tomatoes and it might a nice little vegan meal- though I wouldn't object to some grated Parmesan on top.

Friday, September 28, 2012

KALE...who knew?

I never thought I would like greens so much.  My parents always made turnip green, but they cooked them and I really don't care for cooked greens...even steamed.  Turns out I like them raw pretty well.  Especially Kale.

I love kale.  I really enjoy it with lemon vinaigrette.  Here I have it with onions, feta and toasted almonds...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Fresh 20, week 2

So, last week, I followed The Fresh 20 vegetarian meal plan.  I was pleasantly surprised that their meals did not have an abundance of cheese.  For this week, I decided to try a combination of the classic (meat (but organic) and gluten free meal plan.  First up, Chicken Tortilla Soup:


Man, organic chicken is expensive.  However, this was one I was able to make up before hand, and then just serve for dinner. 

Audible:  Added a roll.

Day 2:  Turkey meatballs - Not pictured. 

It is really too bad I didn't take a picture.  I think this was one of the best meals.  I made up the meatballs before hand.  It also called for a nice gravy.  I served it with roasted brussell sprouts and mashed potatoes.

Audible:  I baked the meatballs instead of saute.  They would have fallen apart!

Day 3:  The one vegetarian meal.  Tosadas.  I know, what is a tostada?  It is like a taco on a really big tortilla chip.  You lay out all the options:


And then top at will:


The kids are always excited about something like this, but end up putting a few beans and cheese on it.  Eh.  I might do this again. 

Audible:  I added spanish quinoa.

Day 4:  Steamed tilapia over winter greens and tomato couscous


I did two things to trick my kids into eating this meal.  One, I can't stand steamed greens.  I had every intention of making the recipe as written and then when it came down to it...I just couldn't.  YUCK.  So, I had a kale-off.  I made kale the way I like (kale chips) and then kale the way my husband likes (saute).  Both kids were actually really excited about trying both and giving their opinion.  The result?  "I like Mommy's.  No, Daddy's!"  Ok, then it came out that they didn't like either, but they did try it.  The other thing is that I told my kids that this fish was "meat" and I might even said it was "chicken"  Oops.  James ate the whole thing and Andy was eating it, when I let the cat out that it was actually fish.  They thought it was funny and kept eating, but I am not sure if they would eat it again.

Fairly large audible:  Not only did I switch the greens,but instead of steaming the fish, I coated it in cornmeal and oven fried.  Glad I did.

Result of this week.  I learned two things:  My family did not really eat the meat meals much better than the vegetarian ones and these recipes are super super bland.  Have they not heard of cilantro?  All in all, I can see myself buying a meal plan from this company, but I want to check out some other options first.  Also, my CSA was on a break, but they are back, so I have all these peppers to deal with again...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Fresh 20 - Week 1

So, like I said.  All of a sudden, meal plans started sounding like a great idea.  However, I have all these "rules" about food and how would I know which meal plan would be best.  Turns out, most meal plans, although fairly inexpensive, really wanted me to to make a commitment, and I wasn't ready to do that.  Finally, I found on The Fresh 20 a couple of sample plans and I am going to report on the vegetarian (not vegan) one.  I was able to get a shopping list and was in and out of the grocery store in 30 minutes.  I spent $100 which included normal weekly needs like milk, etc.  Here was my menu for the week:

Day 1 - Lemon Thyme Potato Pancakes, Brussel Sprouts, Apple Sauce, Greek Yogurt.


This was a lot of food, but it did come together pretty quickly.  Per the instructions, I made the mashed potatoes ahead of time, and went ahead and did the apple sauce as well.  Mark and I liked it pretty well, James did ok, Andy picked per usual. 

Audible:  Roasted the Brussel Sprouts, added cinnamon and a bit of honey to the apple sauce, I had some flavored greek yogurt so I used that instead.  Turns out my kids hate greek yogurt...

Day 2 - Braised Parsnips with Golden Raisen Walnut Couscous.


So, here is one of the good things about this meal plan:  You try foods you normally would not make!  I have never made parsnips and I usually don't use walnuts.  However, this was a meal where you realize, oh, this is why I don't use these foods...nobody likes them!  I knew that they were parsnips, but I guess everyone else though they were potaotes and were horrified when they ate one.  They are pretty spicy.  The walnuts were ok., but eh.  No one really liked this.

Audible:  I followed the directions on the recipe for the couscous and should have followed the one on the package.

Day 3 - Mushroom Pasta with Side Salad.


I was really looking forward to this because not only does it use mushrooms, it also made a creamy white bean sauce to coat the pasta.  Just sounded cool.  Not so much.  With the mushrooms, it wasn't so bad, but alone, it just taste bland...and beany.  I thought it was ok.  Mark did not like it.  James and Andy had plain pasta.

Audible:  I used cremini's instead of portabellos.

Day 4 - Vegetarian Chili and Fuji Apples


This one was nice because I made the whole thing the night before.  I also made cornbread muffins as a bonus.  It was definitely a vegetarian chili in the fact that it had lots of veggies in it!  Pretty good.  Mark and I liked it, the kids picked at it.

Audible:  Doubled all spices and I still felt it was a little bland.

Day 5 - Portobello Pizza Blanco


This recipe used a portobello mushroom in place of the crust of a pizza.  Then you made a spinach/white bean puree and put it on top, then ricotta mixed with oregano, then tomatoes.  I liked it, but Mark did not.  I made the kids regular pizza.

Audible:  I added basil and garlic to my puree AFTER dinner.  I ate it on crackers.  Wish I had done that before.

All in all, I was happy with this week.  There were definitely more misses than hits, and I felt most of the meals were pretty bland.  But it was an opportunity to try some new things and it did take some stress off.  I hope to do this again this week with another free plan. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

September Challenge - Never Say Never

First of all, ignore the last post.  It was an accident.

Second of all, I know it is not quite September yet.  I am giving everyone who won't post extra time.  AND, I have already started this challenge, so let's go!  What have you said that you would NEVER do?  Buy cupcakes from the grocery store, cook with spam, eat cole slaw?  This challenge is for you to do what you said you would NEVER do.

Case and point:  I can't remember when I first heard of meal plans.  I think I got my dad a cook book with meal plans, which was good for him, but I don't need that!  Fast forward a couple of years.  I am busy, my CSA is taking a break, and my 100 days of real food blog keeps mentioning new sponsors who are meal plan companies, and I am dismissing and judging. I mean really!  (#whitepeopleproblems) (who does that?) (#amItoooldtousehastags?)  Last week, all of a sudden it hit me that it might be kind of nice if someone just told me what to make, and then I made it.  So I will be posting a week in the life of a meal plan.

Happy cooking!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Crunchy Quinoa Salad

I know, I'm not a huge fan of quinoa either, but I keep buying it cause everyone else I know keep telling me that is good for you. I decided to try this recipe from my blog crush, the lively kitchen. Have to say, it was pretty good! The crunch really adds a lot and it was strangely additive. I will definitely make again!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's official...

I'm taking a break.  I will leave the site up for now because I apparently haven't printed out recipes in like 5 year...I just keep them on here!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Orange Glazed Tempeh


This recipe is another one from Color Me Vegan.  (I renewed it AGAIN!!)  I really liked the flavor of this one and it came together quickly and was on the table in less that 45 minutes.    I served it with a grain mixture from Trader Joe's and some steamed carrots to give it some extra orange color.

I did some search but did not come up with the recipe.  Let me know if you want me to type it in!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Summer on a Plate

I know, it's still "technically" still Spring, but here in Texas, we have been hitting the mid-nineties (and a few unfortunate souls out in Hill Country have actually seen triple digits already).  This was a perfect meal for a hot, humid evening.  I guess this meal doesn't exactly fit this month's challenge since none of the ingredients have a "color" name, but the result was so colorful that I had to take a picture and share.  My husband was a little skeptical of the Strawberry Roasted Chickpea Salad with Cinnamon Dijon Vinaigrette, but he was pleasantly surprised by the cinnamon vinaigrette.  The kids weren't as adventurous and went with a bottled raspberry vinaigrette.  I served it with oven-roasted corn and ciabatta rolls.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Being more specific

My sister asked me to be more specific regarding this months challenge.  How about this....use ingredient with a color in the title:  blueberries, blackberries, collard greens, red onions, yellow cornmeal, white peaches, etc, etc, etc. OR if something you make just has a nice color, please share!

Linguine with purple cabbage

Did you know there was a blogger app? Now I do!

Mark is a huge fan of red cabbage, so when I saw this recipe I thought there was a good chance he would like it. I love red onions do it was a win win.

I liked it and will make it again, although, when you cool the cabbage and the onions as directed, it gets a little and ended up a little sweet for me.  But still a nice healthy meal with a salad.

And Mark liked it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kale Pesto and Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

I've borrowed heavily from Rachael Ray this week, but I usually modify her recipes to be vegetarian or to use what I have on hand. 

The first recipe was inspired by her recipe for a Caesar-style Kale Pesto.  After looking the recipe over again, I don't know that I really followed the recipe at all.  I blanched the kale in boiling water as directed and subbed it for the basil in my usual pesto recipe (minus the pine nuts, which I didn't have).  I tossed it with penne and tomatoes for dinner last week.  I froze the left-overs, which we used for pizza this week.  The kids loved it both times and it used up a bunch of the kale that is still going strong in our garden.  Be prepared for more green recipes in the coming weeks...

We'll file this next recipe under yellow.  It was adapted from Rachael's Pumpkin Cheddar Mac and Cheese recipe.  I omit most of the seasonings and sweetness that play up the pumpkin and just use this as a way of sneaking a veggie into mac and cheese.  I used 2 cups of pureed butternut squash that I froze from the last time I made this.  One large squash should easily get you 2 recipes worth of puree.  I omitted the cloves/allspice and honey, subbed skim milk and topped it with reserved cheddar and panko.  It's creamy with just a hint of sweetness from the squash.  This one gets requested every other week by our pickiest eater.

I like this recipe because the sauce doesn't "break" on me like a lot of other mac and cheese recipes I've tried, even though I use skim milk.  It's a good base recipe to play around with and customize since it seems to be pretty forgiving. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tempeh With Cherry Balsalmic Reduction Sauce

Apparently Blogger has a new interface, so forgive any layout issues! Photobucket So, this was a fancy one. This one is from that Color Me Vegan book under the red section. I think it turned out kind of purple. It is a variation of your basic chicken, rice, and sauce. It was pretty good, not great, but I may make it again if I had all the ingredients on hand. Photobucket

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Better late than never: new challenge

I know I am behind. The reasons are two fold. One, sometimes it is just SO MUCH EFFORT to open the lap top, and boot up and log I right? The other, I have an idea for a challenge, but it might be lame. I checked out this book from the library called "Color Me Vegan" It lists all recipes in order of color. I think there is a reason for this, but haven't read enough of the beginning of the book to know why, but we have done color challenges before, and thought it would be fun to try. Cook and share recipes that are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, White, or Brown/Black. We will have this challenge go through the end of May.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kale Salad With Roasted Chickpeas (again)


Since someone raved and raved about this salad, I decided to try it. This time, I did use the correct type of kale. It wasn't called Tuscan Kale, but it turns out there are like 10 names for this same type of kale. I think the one I bought was actually labeled lacinato kale. Again it is a raw kale salad. I thought this one was ok. Maybe I just don't like raw kale. But again, Mark thought it was great. I served it with roasted red pepper and pesto pizza.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Yam Hua Plee

I don't know if this counts as a green, but it was exciting to try something new. I picked up this banana pod at the Indian grocery store on a whim.
It's sort of like an artichoke, except when you peel back the leaves, there are little groups of 10 blossoms. And those are what you eat.

The final product was Yam Hua Plee- a Thai salad made with the blossoms, tofu, shallots, spring onions, peanuts, garlic, coconut, ground chilies, fish sauce, and tamarind juice. I didn't have the tamarind juice, so I had to riff it with diluted vinegar and brown sugar (what did we do before the internet?). It was sweet, tangy, and salty all at once. In short, delicious, though the banana blossoms didn't add much more than crunch.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kale, Italian Style

I loved that salad so much that I followed the author's recipe on how to cook kale Italian style.  Unfortunately, I think I just don't like sauteed/steamed greens.  For me, it is kinda like sauteed carrots.  I just don't like them.  I only like raw or boiled carrots. 

So, I tried it, but I wasn't crazy about it...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunshine Salad

We made this from Peas and Thank You last week. Wait a sec, by we, I mean I. We who?


This is a raw kale salad I had bought some curly kale "just incase" and although this recipe specifically mentioned, "don't use with curly kale" I decided to chance it.

Mark loved it. I thought it was ok. Probably because I thought in the back of my head it was supposed to be made with a different kind of kale! But Mark, he said everything he was suppose to. Cesear-ish. He liked it. I can't wait to try again with the correct green!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

HOLY COW!!!  I Loved this salad.  I loved that I can just whisk together some olive oil and lemon juice/zest with some salt and red pepper and have a wonderful vinaigrette.  I loved it sooooooooooo much...

That I made the same thing the following night with toasted pine nuts and pecans instead of chickpeas and it was AMAZING!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sesame Bok Choy

Any time I make Tofu in Black Bean Sauce from my Moosewood cookbook, I sautee some bok choy to go along side. It really goes well with the pungent flavor of the black bean sauce, and I love the texture of the stems. Plus, it's very pretty with the dark green leaves and white stems.

3 Tbsp sesame seeds
4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp toasted/dark sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1 head of bok choy, rinsed well and sliced on the bias into 1/2 inch pieces (stems and leaves)

Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet until lightly browned. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil and honey in a small bowl and set aside. Heat a few tsp of oil in a large skillet with a lid. Add bok choy to skillet, stir to coat with oil and cover for 4-5 minutes until greens are wilted, stirring occasionally. (Since my husband returned from the store with the world's largest head of bok choy, I had to do this in 2 batches. Keep in mind that it doesn't cook down as much as other greens.) Once greens are wilted and stems are tender-crisp, toss bok choy with sauce mixture and sesame seeds. One mistake I made was not draining off the extra liquid from the greens before doing this. It was a little diluted, but still very yummy!

Pasta with Asparagus and Lemon

I finally got over my fear of commitment this year and did something I've been reluctant to do. I planted asparagus. Since it is a perennial vegetable, you have to decide where you want it to be for the next couple of decades or so. It also tests one's ability to be patient, since you aren't supposed to harvest stems for the first couple of years after planting. Here's someone else who's eagerly awaiting the arrival of those tender stems:

Foo Foo (as in Little Bunny Foo Foo), who adopted us last year. Sweet bunny, but if he gets any of my asparagus before I do... Fortunately, even though my asparagus looks like this now:

it was on sale for $0.97/lb this week. I usually roast it in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper, but I found this recipe in my Moosewood cookbook and it intrigued me since it basically sounded like an asparagus pesto.

1 1/2 lb asparagus
1 lb penne
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, prepare asparagus by washing, removing and discarding tough ends, and trimming 1 1/2 inches of tips (reserve). Chop remaining stems into 1 inch pieces and reserve separately.

When water is boiling, blanch asparagus tips for 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside. Blanch chopped stems 6-7 minutes, until tender. Remove and place in food processor or blender along with lemon juice and olive oil. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water to thin the sauce if needed. Toss pasta with puree, asparagus tips and cheese.

I topped ours with sliced sauteed portabellos seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

This dish has a lot of potential. I did have a few issues, though. I guess I prefer the cleaner taste of lemon zest to lemon juice, which comes across as bitter to me, so I would probably swap a Tbsp or so of zest for the juice next time. I also felt like the puree needed something to balance out the acidity. I added a few splashes of cream to add some richness and the portabellos seemed to be a step in the right direction, but it wasn't quite where I wanted it to be. If I make it again, I might go for really woodsy Porcini mushrooms and a bolder, richer cheese (I used parm in this one). Any other suggestions?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Black Eyed Pea Stew With Rice


For New Years Day, I normally don't participate in the hoppin' john/green tradition mainly cause I don't really like either of them. However, last year I decided I needed all the help I could get and made Black Eyed Pea Stew with Rice from Michelle's Blog. And it worked, I finally ended up getting a job! When New Years 2012 rolled around, I knew I had to keep it going and made the same recipe. This year, however, I couldn't find the nice fresh black eyed peas for some reason, so I cooked up some dried and had half the package still in my freezer. Since it is still stew season here, and with this challenge, I decided to make it again.

There is a lot of different stuff in it, so it ends up being a very hardly soup. Very healthy too.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Challenge-Going Green

This month let's see what we can do with kale, collards, chard and other greens. I'll even throw in asparagus, since it's coming into season, and any other creative or unusual preparation for common green veggies.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tortellini Soup

I think I started making this soup from a recipe a few years ago, but I changed some things, made it a little easier, and now I just throw everything in a pot. You can seriously have this on the table in 20 minutes or less. This time I subbed kale and Swiss chard from the garden for the spinach and I forgot to add chickpeas, but this is how I usually make it:

2 cans vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 10-oz package frozen spinach
1 package frozen or dried tortellini (I think my package was 19 oz-frozen)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for serving

In a medium pot, heat broth, tomatoes, water and spinach (I don't even bother thawing it first) over medium-high heat. When simmering, add tortellini and chickpeas. Cook until tortellini are tender and heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan cheese.

We had veggie sandwiches to go along side. Here's a picture of our fixin's with our resident quality control expert.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This RECIPE said it was "easy"...and I guess it wasn't difficult unless you have 3 kids and you don't have all the time in the world to cook.  It took me a while.  You first have to make the Toasted Spice Rub.  Then, the Roasted Winter Squash was time intensive as well..

Then you make the soup and puree.

I thought it was pretty did AM, but no one else really liked it:)  I froze half and am looking forward to a cold snap to have it again!

Carrot Cashew Ginger Soup

I know sometimes you have to try them even though they sound weird.


Sorry about the bad picture. I forgot to take a good one. This is another recipe from Peas and Thank You. I was interested in trying it because I always seem to have carrots on hand and thought it would be good to make when we didn't seem to have anything else. In the book, it is billed as a comforting soup....a vegetarian chicken noodle, but it actually has some very strong curry flavors. I used my favorite "Hot Curry Powder" from Penzey's, but it turns out, it makes it a bit too spicy in this case. I was actually feeling under the weather when I ate this and although it wasn't necessarily comforting, it did clear my sinuses for a brief time.

It was ok. I would have to be in the right mood to make it again.

Lemon Lentil Soup

One of the best things about moving back down to Texas is that we can garden year-round. As our winter (can we even call it that?) garden winds down, I've been looking for recipes that use our last greens of the season. I got this recipe for Lemon Lentil Soup from Peas and Thank You and decided that it was worth a try.

At first, I wasn't sure if I liked it. The lemon was definitely a dominant flavor, which I guess I should have expected. After several bites, my palate adjusted to the tangy flavor and it wasn't bad. I'm not sure if I would make it again, but it was a decent soup.

I plan on using more of our kale tonight and will post it tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup

Since I forgot to take a picture of the Macaroni and Cheese soup, I thought I would redeem myself by making another soup.  I have been making an attempt to keep our Monday's meat-less.. ish.  I think that since I use beef or chicken broth I can't exactly say it is meatless.  Anyway, I'm a huge soup fan and have been aching to try my hand at garlic soup.  It just sounds so intriguing! I love garlic. I love soup... to me its just a win win!
I found a recipe here  on the food network website.  I did want to shake it up a bit; I wanted to roast my garlic first.  The cheese adds just the right bite to it and takes this soup over the top!

Creamy Roasted Garlic Soup
adapted from the food network
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onions, thinly sliced
2 heads of garlic, roasted
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 cups of French bread, 2-inch pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

To roast the Garlic: cut head of garlic in half.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil and wrap in parchment paper or tinfoil.  Bake at 375 Degrees F. for about thirty minutes.

In a large soup pot add tablespoon of olive oil; add onion and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes.  Add roasted garlic to pot and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes; the onion and garlic will begin to caramelize.
Deglaze the pot by adding the wine and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes.Remove from the heat and add the bread cubes. Allow the soup to sit without heat for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Using a hand held blender, puree until smooth. Add the cream and adjust the seasonings. Serve garnished  with the cheese.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Classic Tomato Soup

This recipe for Classic Tomato Soup from Everyday Food is one of our easy go-to soups on a busy weeknight. It tastes way better than the stuff from a can, and it's so easy I know I'll never go back to that other stuff.

My dear, sweet husband took President's Day off to stay at home with our 3 kids. After dragging them along on numerous errands, finishing up some projects at home, and taking them on a glass-bottomed boat ride at Aquarena Springs, he managed to have this ready when I got home from work (see--I told you it was easy). We ate our soup with avocado, tomato and mozzarella melts on homemade ciabatta (from Cook's Illustrated's Baking Illustrated cookbook--an awesome purchase if you're into baking). Definitely a cut above you're average grilled cheese and tomato soup meal!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wonton Soup


Sometimes I make these wontons. I usually fry them and serve with brown rice, edamame, and sweet chili sauce, but in honor of this challange, I decided to use them to make soup. But I am getting ahead of myself. First I had to make the wontons.

This recipe is really great, but it takes awhile. The good news it makes about 100 wontons, so a batch in the freezer will keep you happy for while. First you combine all the filling ingredietns:


Then, set up a work station with a floured cutting board, wonton wrappers under a wet paper towel, a small dish of water, and your filling. It is helpful if you have some tunes on as well. I listed to 90's pop on Pandora. It was awesome. Barbie girl, anyone?


Lay out one wonton, and put about 1/2 TB on one side:


Dip a finger in water and run along the edges of the wonton:


Fold over and press edges to seal:


In this state, the wontons are perfect fine, but I don't have a lot of freezer space, so I try to compact them a bit:




Then, lay on a tray not touching and freeze for about 30 minutes:


I had like 3 of those trays. After frozen, you can transfer to a plastic freezer bag and take out what you need. A serving ends up being about 8 wontons a person. Again, I usually saute them in a bit of olive oil, but I was making soup. I used a miso broth, which was ok, but I may not do that again. Bring to a boil and add wontons. Cook for about 3 minutes.