Category Archives: Food

Daddio

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I know I always talk about how my mom is my rock, my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without her. While all that is very true, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel the same way about my dad.

He is one way rad dad.

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Growing up he was pretty strict with both my sister and I – more so with her than with me. I did get away with a lot more, but he was still very strict about schoolwork, having fun vs. studying, being prepared for college and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.

And it always amazes me how after almost 30 years, he still remembers the tiniest details about my likes and dislikes. I wanted to make sure he knew I remembered one of his likes: blueberries. So I made him scones; the kind he can enjoy with his morning coffee while talking to my mom, or afternoon tea, or sneak a snack in, in between his classes at the university.

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While baking them, I kept thinking about how he and I were when I was growing up. There were a lot of times I wanted to be a stupid, rebellious teenager (and I was at times I’m sure) because I wasn’t allowed to go to dances, or go see my friends band play in downtown Flint while all my other friends went. But when I think back on it now, I realize, “Hmmm…so he didn’t want his 15-year-old daughter hanging out in downtown Flint at 10:30 p.m….and I thought that was weird?” If anyone knows Flint, it’s not horrible, but it’s also not the safest place, especially if you’re rather new to the area, like we were.

But that didn’t mean he didn’t have a sweet spot for kids, because he did! When I look through old albums and see pictures of he and my sister, or he and I, it melts my heart. He really was – and still is – a loving, caring, sweet dad who just wanted the best for his daughters.

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I have really fond memories with my dad, like when he taught me how to skip stones, introduced me to photography, how we’d sing along to The Carpenters in the car on family road trips to national parks, and when I’d take his video camera and conduct interviews with our friends at parties (a journalist from the ripe young age of 8!)

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Regardless, I want to make sure he knows that despite being strict and and the fact that we didn’t always get along when I was growing up because I was a typical pain-in-the-ass teenage girl, he shaped me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t be as neat, clean, a bit of a perfectionist, motivated or driven in my job or life the way I am if it weren’t for the values both he and my mom instilled upon me. I’m a better person because of him and he and I have really grown to appreciate the things we both do.

Blueberry Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze
 
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Scones bursting with blueberries with a light, refreshing lemon glaze drizzled on top.
Author:
Recipe type: scones, breakfast, baking, blueberries, lemon
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SCONES:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling on scones
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cups blueberries
  • 1 tablespoons lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
  • 1 cup half & half, plus 1-2 tablespoons for brushing on scones
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • ½ cup confectioners sugar
  • Juice of two lemons (5-6 tablespoons)
Instructions
  1. FOR THE SCONES:
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large, mixing bowl
  4. Add the cold butter cubes and mix with hands or pastry cutter. The mixture should look like a crumble when you are finished
  5. Fold in blueberries and lemon zest
  6. Make a well in your mixture, and add the half & half
  7. Mix well – the mixture will be very sticky!
  8. Pour mixture out onto a well floured board or surface
  9. Using your hands press out the dough into a rectangle
  10. Cut lengthwise once, then horizontally three times. You should end up with 7-8 squares. Cut the squares diagonally so you end up with 10-14 triangles
  11. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  12. Mix 1 tablespoon half & half with vanilla extract, mix and brush on each scone
  13. Sprinkle the scones with some sugar
  14. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and blueberries are bursting.
  15. FOR THE GLAZE:
  16. Mix the confectioners sugar with the juice of 2 lemons. Mix well until kind of runny. If too thick, add more lemon juice. If too thin, add more sugar until consistency to be pourable.
  17. Drizzle glaze over scones once they have completely cooled

 

Quick Quiche

When people ask me what my favorite meal of the day is (and yes, I do get asked that – ha), it’s always a pretty easy answer for me: brunch.

I could eat brunch any and all the time. I love it. I love the idea of having a nice big cup of chai, and then eating an assortment of pastries, breads, having quiche, crepes, French toast or some kind of Eggs Benedict that is Aparna-friendly. Throw in a bloody Mary and I’ll be the happiest person you know.

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To go along with that, one of my absolute favorite things to do is eat brunch al fresco. I love when it’s so nice outside and REB and I eat outdoors either at our house or downtown.

If you haven’t taken a look at the weather map lately, you should be happy. Unless you live in the Midwest. It’s the second week of April and we’re getting our yearly dose of you-thought-it-was-spring-but-we’ll-throw-snow-back-into-the-mix-because-obviously. Damn weather. It’s making my dreams of eating brunch outdoors a nonexistent one.

So to give Mother Nature a metaphorical F-U, I made quiche (I don’t know how that’s a metaphorical F-U, but just roll with it). I also made it without a crust because I didn’t have any and didn’t feel like going to the store to find a ready-to-use one that doesn’t list lard as an ingredient, and I certainly didn’t feel like making a crust. So maybe it was a Frittata, except I didn’t cook the eggs in the pan before I baked it. OK so maybe it was just an egg pie, but I’m calling it a crustless quiche, kthx.

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Regardless of what I call it, I can call it delicious. Because it was. I ended up using things in the fridge and pantry because 1). They were about to expire and 2). I didn’t feel like venturing out into the cold mess that was outside my patio doors in order to try and make this creative. We were also starving so phone pictures will have to do. The idea was quick, people. I definitely made sure it was and was in my belly in record time.

I hope this weather lets up and the snow really doesn’t show its face. I’m kind of over it and more than ready to start wearing all the skirts and dresses I put in perfect view when I open my closet, and took great pleasure in shoving the sweaters and other crap into the back corner.

Maybe Michigan will play nice and give us one great, warm weather day.

That’s probably asking too much though.

Crustless Quiche
 
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A quick and easy crustless quiche full of veggies
Author:
Recipe type: quiche, eggs, vegetarian
Cuisine: Brunch, Breakfast
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed/warmed and squeezed dry of liquid
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ cup Light soy milk (or regular milk is fine)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Nonstick spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium or large sauce pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes until they just start to soften. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Next add the sun dried tomatoes and cook 3-5 minutes.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, thaw or warm frozen spinach. You may need to microwave it. When it’s warmed through (and mostly unfrozen), place in paper towels and squeeze to let out as much water as possible.
  4. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with Nonstick spray liberally. Spread spinach evenly on bottom of pie dish.
  5. When vegetables are done cooking, pour mixture over the spinach and spread out evenly.
  6. Next add feta cheese in even layer over the vegetables
  7. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add soy milk. Whisk to combine. Next add the black pepper.
  8. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the vegetables and make sure it covers all of them.
  9. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese.
  10. Bake the quiche for 35 minutes until cooked through. Then heat under the broiler for 2-3 minutes just to brown and melt the cheese more.
  11. Serve immediately.

 

 

Lentil Chili

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One my best friends, Allison, lives 752 miles away in Oxford, MS (home of Ole Miss, the Manning’s and my Rebels. Hotty Toddy!). She and I have been friends since we were 12 years old when training bras were a big deal, school supplies translated to Lisa Frank, three-way calling was the “in” thing,  and our crushes on boys only lasted one week.

I hate that she lives so far away! It’s pretty dumb. Then again, she probably thinks it’s pretty dumb I chose to live in a state shaped like a mitten where it gets colder than ever, while she gets to maintain a garden in February like it’s no big deal – pretty badass if you ask me.

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The point is, she’s one of my rocks. I talk to her every. single. day. You heard that right.

Friends are essential. Especially ones you’ve known more than half your life. I was in her wedding, she was in mine. She’s heard me cry, I’ve heard her cry. She’s vented to me about what upsets her and I’ve vented to her (sometimes multiple times a day) about what’s bothering me.

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One thing she and I definitely do is exchange recipes. We’re both big foodies and literally spend hours talking about food, coming up with recipes, giving each other tips or suggestions on how to alter a recipe, what flavors would work and more. We’ve even thought about starting a blog together. She’s all classic-southern-comfort-cooking-but-also-healthy-ethnic-dish (or feasts as I call ‘em) gal, and I’ve got the vegetarian-health-nut-freak-thing on my end. Together, our kitchens are unstoppable!

So this lentil chili was born as a result of one of our chats. It’s her lentil soup recipe and my vegetarian chili recipe. Together they’re married in soup harmony. Equal soup rights, y’all. Support it.

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It turned out boss, and made enough to feed an army. And if I could, I’d fly her up here to eat it with me. Then we could laugh, eat good soup together, talk for hours and it wouldn’t seem like she’s 752 miles away.

Lentil Chili
 
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My best friends lentil soup recipe combined with my vegetarian chili recipe. Together, it’s an unstoppable force of flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: Chili, Soups
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can fire roasted diced tomato
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4½ cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1 cup brown lentils, picked through, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 15-oz. can peeled, crushed tomato
  • ½ cup meatless crumbles (Boca brand or similar)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Start by heating olive oil in a large stock pot.
  2. When heated, add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
  3. Then add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Next add carrot, green and red bell peppers and cook until peppers and carrot are tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add the drained beans and vegetable stock and cook another 10 minutes.
  6. Then add in the lentils, cover and let the soup come to simmer, another 8-10 minutes.
  7. Add your spices: cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and also add in the frozen corn kernels. Give the whole soup a good stir.
  8. Finally add the crushed tomato, meatless crumbles, salt and pepper and stir well.
  9. Cover and bring to small bubble and then simmer 30-35 minutes.
  10. Top with your favorite garnishes and enjoy!

 

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” Primavera

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March has officially become one of the busiest months for me! I have something happening every single weekend this month. Let me prove it (because I know you’re all dying to know ;)…):

  • March 2 – We celebrated our friends birthday last weekend, and had a night on the town. It was so great to catch up with everyone!
  • March 9 – Attending a day conference for work (hooray developing skills!) and then in the evening I get to see Diana from Veggie Next Door!! She and her fiance (squee!) are visiting their friends in Ann Arbor and I’m so excited to see her again, and hopefully make some new friends!
  • March 16 – I’ll be in the Chi for St. Patty’s weekend to visit the seester and my friends out there. Taking a nice long weekend from work to just kick back and have fun.
  • March 23 – SHOOTING MY FIRST WEDDING! Can I even begin to tell you how excited I am to be doing this? One of my best friends and I have been asked to photograph the wedding of someone she knows, and she and I are over the moon about it. I’ve also already planned to assist another one of my amazing photographer friends with weddings she’s doing this spring and summer. Yay! It will be amazing experience and hopefully slowly get my feet into the whole biz ;)
  • March 30 – GARBAGE! I have wanted to see Garbage live since I was in high school! Yes, I’m almost 30 and yes my friends and I will likely be the oldest people there. But then again, maybe we won’t. I’m sure there are still 30+-year-olds living in their 14-year-old bodies who are as excited as I am ;)

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Another happy news announcement: I’m registered for my first 5K! I’m doing the Color Run in Ypsilanti May 11 so I’ve been hitting the gym to run until I reach the 3.1 mile mark. I can’t wait for it to get warm outside so I can do some running outdoors. I think anyone can agree that running outdoors > running on a treadmill indoors.

So yeah, March is going to go by fast I’m sure, and there’s so much more exciting stuff happening almost every weekend after, but I’m ready for all the fun! Plus I’ll get to cross off a handful of things on that lovely list I have going ;)

So to celebrate and live in the fun and also help prep my meals for the week, I decided to make risotto. Since it’s one of my favorite foods, it had to be done. The biggest difference this time was I used Israeli couscous instead of Arborio rice. I just used more couscous, and less stock and added a whole lotta veggies. In the end it tasted like the real deal but wasn’t as heavy. The great thing about risotto is you can add whatever you want to it and it probably won’t taste bad. For this one, I used carrot, zucchini, baby Bellas and asparagus spears. I could see all kinds of veggies going into this though: leeks, artichokes, roasted eggplant, peas, peppers.. have fun with it!

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Hashtag dopeshow anyone?

Yeah, I said it.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Israeli Couscous “Risotto” Primavera
 
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Tastes just like classic risotto primavera, but lighter and creamier!
Author:
Recipe type: Risotto-ish, vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian-ish, vegetarian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 8 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 oz. frozen cut asparagus, thawed
  • 1¼ cup Israeli (pearled) couscous
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large pan over medium high heat until melted.
  2. Add the chopped zucchini, carrot and sliced mushrooms and cook until tender and softened, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, add 3 cups vegetable stock to a saucepan and keep warm over low to medium heat.
  4. When the vegetables are done, remove from pan, set on plate and set aside.
  5. In the same pan, add the remaining oil and butter.
  6. Add the couscous and cook 2 minutes or until lightly toasted
  7. Add the white wine and cook 1-2 minutes or until alcohol is cooked out.
  8. Next add stock about ½ cup (or ladle) at a time, stir until absorbed. When the couscous has absorbed some of the stock, add another ½ cup.
  9. After 2 cups of stock have been added, pour the cooked vegetables back to the pan with the couscous. Continue ladling ½ cup until all the stock is gone.
  10. Add the thawed cut asparagus, cheese, salt and pepper and stir until all combined and the couscous is cooked.

Grilled Tempeh Reubens

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I was sick last week.

I hate admitting when that happens. I hate being sick. I hate feeling useless, not being able to work out, not sleeping well because I can’t breathe, taking half or full sick days and feeling useless at work. The whole thing is just dumb and inconvenient.

I had not been sick since before the wedding. That would be early 2011 – maybe earlier. Remember how I used to travel every two weeks for work and I would be gone for two weeks? Airplanes are the best place for your immune system when you travel a lot. My immune system was amazing and I think now that I’m not traveling as frequently it finally caught up with me and was all, “Trololol. I’m gonna stop working!”

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My immune system was a hag.

No amount of medicine, daily vitamins and water I drank could prevent the nast when coworkers and everyone else don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.

So I’ll get to the point of this post. I made tempeh reubens right before I got sick, but knew my being sick was inevitable. I had a feeling I would lose my sense of taste, smell and lose my appetite.

But on the up side, it was another Meatless Monday success, that’s for sure.

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I loosely followed a recipe from meatlessmondays.com and it was more work than it should have been, but overall they tasted good. You can definitely make necessary shortcuts if you’re pressed on time, because there’s a lot of “combine and chill for 2 hours” crap happening in this recipe.

And when I’m sick, patience is the last thing I have.

I will say this: I have a small issue with tempeh. I realize this was probably the best vegetarian protein to use, but it really is not my favorite or top choice. It’s the taste. I kind of dislike the taste of it. The texture is weird, it looks weird and it has a weird after taste. I might try making these with portobello mushroom caps or something next time just so they taste more meaty than…weird.

Man, I’m making this recipe sound like a whole lot of win, aren’t I? :P
At least REB liked them. In the end, that’s what mattered.

Grilled Tempeh Reubens
 
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A vegetarian twist on a classic deli sandwich. Recipe adapted from meatlessmonday.com
Author:
Recipe type: sandwiches
Cuisine: vegetarian, sandwiches
Serves: Makes 4 sandwiches
Ingredients
  • RUSSIAN DRESSING:
  • ¼ cup Vegenaise (I used this because I don’t like mayo. Never have, never will. You can use mayo if you’d prefer though. Or, use Greek yogurt as a great substitute)
  • 1 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1½ tablespoons capers, drained and finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons sweet whole pickles, finely chopped
  • ½ whole lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE SLAW:
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • *Note: you can buy prepared coleslaw or sauerkraut if you prefer
  • FOR THE TEMPEH MARINADE
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • FOR THE SANDWICHES:
  • 8 oz. tempeh (I used Lightlife brand in the Soy variety), sliced in ½ inch thick slices
  • 8 slices Rye bread (2 slices per sandwich)
  • Nonstick spray
  • ADDITIONAL OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 slices Provolone or Swiss cheese (or vegan cheese of your choice)
  • Vegan butter (or regular if you prefer) to help brown sandwiches
Instructions
  1. SLAW:
  2. combine the vinegar, cabbage and salt. Stir, cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (this will help break down the cabbage)
  3. DRESSING:
  4. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours
  5. TEMPEH:
  6. Slice the tempeh into ½ inch thick slices
  7. Bring 8 cups of water to boil on stove. Add a pinch of salt when boiling then add tempeh and boil for 10 minutes.
  8. MARINADE:
  9. While the tempeh is boiling, combine all spices (coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, allspice, cinnamon, garlic salt, ground ginger) in a freezer bag or large bag. Zip close, and shake to combine. Add water and oil to bag. Once tempeh is done boiling, add to marinade, shake to coat each slice then chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.
  10. TO MAKE THE SANDWICHES:
  11. Heat your stove top grill or pan with nonstick spray over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the tempeh and cook 3-4 minutes on each side until browned and warmed through. Transfer to plate and set aside.
  12. ASSEMBLING SANDWICHES:
  13. Layer a slice of bread with dressing, slaw, cheese (optional), cooked tempeh. Take another slice of bread, spread some of the dressing and close sandwich together. Heat pan again with nonstick spray, or vegan butter. Place sandwich in pan and grill until browned. Or, if you have added cheese, until the cheese is melted. Repeat with the other three sandwiches until all are made.
  14. Additional notes:
  15. You can make the slaw and dressing the night before or well ahead of time and keep in the fridge to keep cool. You can also marinade the tempeh a day in advance to help speed up the process when you want to prepare your sandwiches.

 

 

Greek Stuffed Portobellos

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Meatless Monday is kind of a silly concept in our house since every day is meatless for us. However, I like being able to share recipes for people out there who are joining the Meatless Monday phenomenon and don’t want to eat tofu, tempeh, seitan or Boca.

I make a trip to the grocery store each week at the beginning of the week to check out the fresh produce (our fresh produce days are Monday and Tuesday) and pick up anything that might look good. From that, I try to plan out what meals I can make for the week while also picking up anything else I might not already have. A big thing with my menu planning now is making sure whatever I make will reheat well for REB on days he gets home late from class.

So last week I happen to walk by the mushroom cases and noticed how good the portobellos looked. I was instantly taken back to the summer when we grilled them outside and enjoyed eating al fresco in our new house.

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Then I looked outside and saw the snow coming down.

Then I cursed silently to myself because I knew I had to shovel the damn driveway and sidewalk when I got home.

So I ended up picking up four portobello caps because I wanted to make something that tasted like summer and might make me forget that it’s in the low 20s all week.

Totally worked.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Greek Stuffed Portobellos
 
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A taste of summer no matter the season.
Author:
Recipe type: main dish, appetizer, sides
Cuisine: vegetarian, Greek inspired
Serves: 2 (2 caps per person); or serves 4 (1 per person as side dish or appetizer)
Ingredients
  • 4 medium to large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups Panko bread crumbs (or couscous, quinoa, barley, or rice – your grain of choosing)
  • ½ cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk scallion, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Start by wiping the mushroom caps clean with a damp paper towel. Next, using a spoon, scrape out the gills so the underside of the mushrooms are clean.
  3. Heat a pan or stove top grill on your stove, brush the underside edges of the caps with the olive oil, then grill gill-side down for 3-4 minutes. Brush the tops, then flip and grill the tops for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet gill-side up, and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl combine Panko, freshly chopped parsley, Feta cheese, Parmesan cheese and dried thyme. Set aside.
  5. In a small pan or skillet cook olives, tomato and scallion until warmed through and tomatoes just start to break down. You shouldn’t need any oil since the Kalamatas are oiled already. When finished, pour into the Panko mixture and mix everything together until combined.
  6. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of mixture into each mushroom cap.
  7. Bake stuffed mushrooms at 350 for 20 minutes. Then turn broiler on high and broil for 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
  8. Mushrooms are done when Panko is toasted and cheese is melted.
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. Reheating instructions: Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through, or heat in toaster oven for 5-10 minutes.
  11. Serves 2 (2 caps/person) or Serves 4 (1 cap/person as side dish or appetizer)

 

Cookbook Challenge #4 and #5

It’s time to recap two cookbook challenges I had last week. One was a complete disaster (#4) and one was totally boss (#5). I’m now two cookbooks done and only have 9 more to get through and 17 more recipes to finish!

Let’s talk about the kitchen disaster first. I tried making Isa Chandra’s Samosa smashed potato cakes from her Vegan Brunch cookbook and it failed miserably.

The mixture looks like it would hold!

The mixture looked promising. Looks can be deceiving.

I followed the recipe exactly and even used a blog online that also referenced the recipe and it still failed. The only difference was I didn’t use 4 pounds potatoes because we didn’t need 30 of these potato cakes for just us two. But that shouldn’t have made a difference. Whenever I make any kind of savory cake, I almost always use cooked quinoa, Panko or even an egg as the binder. Since this recipe was vegan, I couldn’t use the egg, but it suggested using flour. Which I used. It still turned into a gloppy, horrible mess, but it tasted great.

Following the recipe method of frying them. Yuck!

Following the recipe method of frying them. Yuck!

Again, this looked promising! They just wouldn’t hold so when I would flip them (waiting almost 6-7 minutes per side; double the time suggested in the cookbook!), they turned into a mess. So I decided to try it again but without any oil in the pan.

More promising - still didn't hold.

More promising – still didn’t hold.

Since it was like samosa filling, it was totally boss. I’m just disappointed the end result couldn’t be classified as food. So we ended up getting takeout since it was already like 8 by that point. Lame. Screw the cookbook. Use Panko or quinoa next time. Lesson learned.

But moving onto Friday, we had our successful recipe! I found the risotto and pea recipe from Giada’s Everyday Italian cookbook and decided to make it. Except, learning my lesson from the disaster the night before, I just made my own version of it. I used my mushroom risotto for two recipe but added peas. Simple enough and oh so delicious.

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I’ve sort of perfected my risotto making process and now it’s foolproof. I do like the addition of peas, too. I didn’t think I would, but it was actually really good. And it reheated well the next day, too! You can’t go wrong with risotto though. It’s probably one of my favorite foods and since I don’t get to eat it all the time, when I do, it’s the most glorious experience. Truly.

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Mushroom Risotto with Peas
 
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Combining my risotto recipe with the peas from Giada de Laurentiis
Author:
Recipe type: risotto, main dish, vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 1 oz. package dried porcini mushrooms (Earthy Delights brand or similar) – soaked in hot water to reconstitute
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 8 oz. Cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the dried porcini mushrooms to some hot water to reconstitute them. Set aside for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Next add 4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth to a medium saucepan and bring to slight simmer over medium heat.
  3. In a large, deep skillet heat the 1 teaspoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.
  4. Add the shallot and cook for 3-5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Next add the sliced cremini and shiitake mushrooms and cook 8-10 minutes or until tender and most of the water has evaporated.
  6. Remove mushrooms from pan to bowl and set aside.
  7. Heat the other teaspoon of oil and tablespoon of butter in same pan.
  8. Add the arborio rice and stir until slightly toasted.
  9. Add the white wine and cook for 1-1½ minutes or until alcohol evaporates.
  10. Then add the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring the rice, and let it thicken. When you notice the liquid is almost absorbed, add another ½ up of broth. Continue this until the broth is used up.
  11. Add the cooked mushrooms to the pan.
  12. With a slotted spoon, take the porcinis out of the water and add them to the pan.
  13. If you need to use more liquid, you can use the mushroom water.
  14. The risotto is done when it is thickened and the rice is cooked and no longer hard – about 25-28 minutes.
  15. Add the frozen peas and cook for 1 minutes to heat through.
  16. Stir in the Parmesan cheese last.
  17. Serve immediately
  18. Optional garnishes: freshly chopped parsley or shavings Parmesan cheese

Superbowl Snacking

The big “Harbowl” is this Sunday!

Who do you have winning? I heard the 49ers are favored by 4 1/2. Hrm. Personally I don’t like either team. But it’s football and the last game of the 2012 season and I won’t see any football until August when it starts up again. If I had to choose, I would probably choose the Ravens, but that’s only because John Harbaugh doesn’t look like he wants to punch everyone like Jim does.

I don’t know if I can root for the Ravens though. I’m mostly upset at the hoopla of Ray Lewis. I can’t stand Ray Lewis. Yes, you’re retiring. We get it. Yes, you’re sad about it. We get it. But dude, you’re almost 40, you had a hell of a career and I wish people would stop making such a big damn deal about it. Athletes retire. Shocking.

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He at least seems like a pretty genuine guy unlike some other pro athletes who say they’re retiring (ahemFAV-RAHahem) and then can’t seem to let go. But if I have to see Lewis cry one more time, or see him do that ridiculous, useless “Squirrel dance” one more time, I think my head will explode.

So instead of praying my head won’t explode, I’ll eat yummy things instead.

Whether you’re a screamer at the TV at a bad call made (that’s me and REB) or you watch simply for the halftime show, food is a must while watching any sporting event, especially one of the biggest ones of the year.

So here are 9 super simple, crowd pleasing snacks or meals you can stuff your face with without feeling guilty because they’re all relatively healthy!

Happy watching!

What are your snacking must-haves while watching a sporting event?

Edamame White Bean Hummus

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Superbowl Sunday is this weekend. I can’t believe football will be over after this weekend. A lot of you know that both REB and I love football and get so sad when college ball is over. But we always have the NFL to carry us through until February. Then it’s all over until August. Sadness.

But as much as I love football, I can honestly say that I don’t have an ounce of interest in the Harbowl this weekend. I didn’t want either team to end up here, but any given Sunday, right? I at least hope the Harbaugh brothers can entertain me and fight on the field or something.

So in preparation for the big game, I started thinking about snacks I probably want to eat while watching. Yes, I do this a week in advance. Don’t judge me. Usually REB and I make individual pizzas with our kick-ass homemade dough recipe, but since we’re trying to be a little healthier and I’m trying to not eat pizza that’s carbed out (although I COULD jump on the cauliflower crust wagon), I was thinking of other things we could make.

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Then hummus came to mind. It’s relatively easy to make, keeps well in the fridge and when you add Tahini to anything it becomes a pile of win. And instead of the boring run-of-the-mill hummus, I decided to 86 the garbanzo bean all together and use white beans and add other yummy flavors.

However the recipe in this post is version 2.0. I made a similar recipe on Sunday except I made it more as a “white bean dip”. It was really good, but it was missing that nuttiness that Tahini adds. That and you can’t call something “hummus” without Tahini (in my opinion anyway). But you can make hummus without garbanzo beans.

I’ve started a love affair with white beans when it comes to dips because I love how creamy they are. They make for a great substitute to using garbanzos!  Then when you pair the white beans with edamame and the Tahini, the world starts making sense. But when you pair that with cumin…?

Well, let’s just say you haven’t lived until you’ve had more cumin in your life.

 

Edamame White Bean Hummus
 
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Creamier, nuttier and healthier – this is not your run-of-the-mill hummus!
Author:
Recipe type: dips, snacks, healthy, vegetarian
Cuisine: appetizers, snacks
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 15-oz. can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (storebought, or you can thaw frozen and shell it yourself)
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste)
  • ½ medium lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until desired consistency.
  2. Adjust salt as needed.
  3. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

Easy Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho

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If any of you follow the weather or look at your smartphones at the weather map, you already know that it has been ridiculously cold throughout the country this week. With wind chills in the negatives and the highs in the single digits, this January weather has not made my morning commutes all that pleasant.

My coworker Rob and I ride the same bus in the morning, and our mean bus driver refuses to drop us off closer to work like other buses do. She has no pity for us and she isn’t a morning person. With our transit center in town being rebuilt, the buses are lined up across the street from it. Not a huge deal, except it adds about 2 minutes of walking to our normal walk to the office. Also not a big deal, except when it’s -6 degrees with a windchill of -20, so by the time you do get to the office, your legs are nonexistent, as is your face.

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And hey, I dress for cold weather. I live in Michigan, I’m not an idiot. But no matter how warm you dress, or how many layers you wear, or how tight you have your scarf, nothing can prepare you for that cold that hits your face gets when you step off the warm bus. Then when you get home your dog, who has a double coat and is made for weather like this, wants to play outside. And since the light is staying out longer each day, you feel guilt if you don’t play fetch with him in the backyard before you feed him.

Routine, people. I’m getting used to it. Cold weather. Also getting used to it. I have to come to terms with the fact that we most likely will not have an unusually warm winter like we did last year. Sad truth. But there are things you can do to help.

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And that’s to make soup. Not just any soup. Vietnamese soup or Pho. So that’s exactly what I did. I’ve never made pho before but I have had it and if I didn’t live in Ann Arbor – the city where hippies and yuppies coexist harmoniously – I might not be able to find decent vegetarian pho that isn’t made with meat broth. There are several places that make some decent pho around here, but I decided to try making it myself.

And you know what? It was PHOnomenal. See what I did there?

Try it. It’s delicious and while I did use a shortcut to make this version, it turned out great, reheated great (for REB after class), and kept me warm while watching Full House reruns. Don’t judge me. I’ll never tire of Uncle Jesse and the whole gang.

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Vegetarian Vietnamese Pho
 
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Easy Vietnamese noodle soup to warm you up this winter.
Author:
Recipe type: soup, noodle soup, vegetarian
Cuisine: Vietnamese, Asian, Soups
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 carton (4 cups) Vegetarian Pho soup base (Pacific natural foods brand or similar)
  • 1 small ginger root, peeled and cut into discs
  • 2 Serrano peppers (jalalpeno is fine), sliced into discs
  • 2 tablespoons Lite soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 8 oz. (half a block) extra firm tofu, sliced thin into strips or squares
  • 8 oz. Stir fry rice noodles
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • Garnishes: cilantro, basil, Serrano peppers and lime wedges
Instructions
  1. Start by bringing a large pot of water to boil – about 20 minutes
  2. While the water comes to a boil, pour the entire carton of soup base into a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the soy sauce, ginger discs and sliced Serrano pepper and heat through stirring occasionally.
  3. In a separate pan or skillet heat the olive oil.
  4. When it is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned and tender, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Remove the mushrooms, transfer to small bowl and set side.
  6. In the same pan, add the tofu slices and cook until browned on all side, another 8-10 minutes.
  7. When cooked, add the tofu to the simmering broth
  8. When the water is boiling, remove from heat and add the rice noodles. Let them sit/soak in the hot water for 8 minutes until softened.
  9. When done, drain and rinse noodles under cold water.
  10. TO ASSEMBLE:
  11. Divide noodles among all bowls.
  12. Ladle some of of the broth over noodles, enough to slightly submerge them.
  13. Top bowls with tofu slices and mushrooms (about 2-3 pieces of tofu per bowl, a few mushrooms)
  14. Add your garnishes and squeeze lime wedge before serving
  15. Enjoy!

 

What foods are keeping you warm this winter?