Tag Archives: vegetarian

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.

 

 

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

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?

 

 

 

 

Cookbook Challenge #3 – Mushroom Bolognese

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Look at me go. I’m down 3 recipes and still have….19 to go! I’ve finished the two recipes from Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction, so I moved onto a cookbook I own that now doesn’t suit my diet whatsoever: Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis.

First off, I’m not the biggest fan of Giada. I don’t know if I ever was, but I was gifted this cookbook probably because I wanted cookbooks from all types of cuisine and figured “Hey! She’s bone thin and seems relatively healthy, I’ll get her cookbook.” Except, her cookbook isn’t made up of the healthiest recipes, definitely not lower carb and she only eats like 2 bites of food a day so no wonder she’s bone thin.

Either way, I figured I should tackle this cookbook next since carbs are my enemy and I need to just get it over with. So I made a version of her mushroom bolognese.

I forgot how much I love Italian food. I also forgot how heavy it can be. And I also forgot that carbs aren’t my friends and eating a lot of them in one sitting after not doing so for months did not make my stomach feel happy. I just felt full. Talk about carb binging.

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Nonetheless, it was done. Now I can check it off my list and go scouring through the book to find another recipe to make. Maybe I’ll just stick to something simple, like a vegetable appetizer.

Mushroom Bolognese
 
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A heartier version of Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe.
Author:
Recipe type: sauce, main dish, mushrooms
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound (2 8-oz. containers) mushrooms: I used creminis, shitakes and oysters – wiped clean, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Remove peppers and onion from pan and transfer to a bowl and set aside
  5. Add the remaining teaspoon olive oil, then add the mushrooms and cook until softened and tender – 5-10 minutes.
  6. When the mushrooms have reduced in size and most of the water has evaporated, add the peppers and onions back to the pan.
  7. Add the tomato paste, whole tomatoes and crushed tomatoes to pan and stir well.
  8. Add dried oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and stir well.
  9. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until thickened.
  10. Serve over pasta of choice and enjoy.

 

 

Sesame Tofu

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So I’ve been kind of bummed the past few days. It’s nothing major, but it still has me bummed. Due to class schedules of both REB and my sister-in-law, looks like the Vermont trip won’t be happening this year.

My in-laws have their time share every year during the 14th week of the year, which in normal cases would be April 1-5. That’s what we originally planned for. However, the time share folks consider a week to be a full Sunday-to-Sunday week, which in the case of 2013, was Jan 6-13. So long story short, week 14 of 2013 in their eyes is actually April 8-12. That’s REB’s last week of classes for his first term and my sister-in-law’s professor grades based on attendance and that week is a big one for her, too.

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I think REB and I might go some where else the first week of April though, just he and I, so we can still have time together (although we can’t seem to agree on any destination at this point :\). That part doesn’t have me bummed. What mostly had me kind of sad is that I wouldn’t get to see Vermont in the winter or have a full week with my family-in-law since my parents are overseas until mid-April. I’ve seen the place during peak week in the fall, but I’ve heard winters are just as gorgeous. But the great thing about time shares is we can go any year we want.

So the point of this post? I wanted something delicious to eat for dinner after my workout, and I was bored of wallowing, so I decided to make sesame tofu. REB and I have made variations of Asian dishes before, and we usually replace the meat with tofu. So far we’ve been pretty successful; the General’s tofu being the biggest successor.

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I think the sesame tofu either comes in first or ties for first. I see myself making this recipe more. It was slightly sweet, had a hint of spice and that dark smokey taste of the sesame oil really rounded out the whole dish.

The combination of flavors plus the fact I used a pretty new plate I found at Home Goods instantly made me feel better and stop having first world problems. The hug from REB when he got home from class didn’t hurt either.

Sesame Tofu
 
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Slightly sweet, a hint of spice and a dark smokey taste of sesame oil bring this whole dish together.
Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish, tofu
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 block 14-oz., extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup Lite soy sauce (or you can use tamari)
  • 2 teaspoons Splenda no calorie sweetener (or regular or brown sugar is fine; agave nectar or honey would be good too)
  • 1 tablespoon Mirin (or rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon pure sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons whole sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup scallion, chopped (about 2 or 3 stalks)
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2½ teaspoons grated ginger (use less if ginger isn’t your thing)
  • 1½ cups broccoli florets
  • 2 teaspoons ground chili paste (Sambal Oelek brand or similar)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of tofu marinade
Instructions
  1. For the tofu:
  2. Whisk soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and mirin in a shallow bowl until combined. Add cubed tofu and stir to coat each piece. Set aside and let marinade for 20-30 minutes.
  3. In a dry pan, add sesame seeds and heat until toasted and aromatic (about 3-5 minutes). Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. When tofu is ready, reserve 2 tablespoons of marinade, drain the rest and lightly pat the tofu to dry.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large deep skillet and wait for it to get hot. Add tofu cubes in batches and brown on all sides. Transfer to bowl of sesame seeds and toss to coat, and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add the other tablespoon of oil and cook scallion, garlic and ginger until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the broccoli, chili paste and water and cook another 3-5 minutes.
  8. Toss the tofu back into the pan with the reserved marinade and cook everything together for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately over brown rice or quinoa.
  10. Optional garnish: finely chopped scallion, parsley or sesame seeds

 

Cookbook Challenge #2 – Quinoa Pilaf

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I brought Isa Chandra’s Appetite for Reduction cookbook to work with me and read through it as I had my morning cup of coffee. I ended up looking at her recipe for cranberry-cashew biryani and knew I needed to make it.

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However, as much as I love her recipes and love that in this cookbook everything is 400 calories or less per serving, I wanted to change the recipe to fit my taste buds better.

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My sister and I were emailing each other all day talking about recipes, our mom’s recipes, cooking and planning my visit to Chicago in March (hooray!). I told her about this recipe and how I wanted to change it to fit my dietary needs. She reminded me that “biryani” is actually all spice. It does not usually have dried fruit in it, and I wanted to use some kind of dried fruit. So we both realized what I wanted to make, was really a pulao or pilaf.

The biggest changes I made were the cooking process in general, using quinoa over Basmati rice to help keep it low-carb for me, and using dried apricots instead of cranberries.

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garam masala made fresh

If you didn’t know, apricots and cumin are two of the most yummy flavors when combined. Next time you make a curry dish with cumin, add a little dried apricot in there – your world will change completely.

This dish turned out amazing. How do I know that? When REB got home from class and had it for dinner, he said, and I quote, “Whole Foods should have this in their hot bar.”

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This is how I know this recipe is a keeper. And how I know he’s a keeper too ;)

Quinoa Pilaf
 
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A low-carb twist on classic Vegetable Pulao that uses Indian spices, mixed vegetables and dried fruit. Adapted from Isa Chandra (and my mom)!
Author:
Recipe type: vegan, vegetarian, main dish
Cuisine: Indian, vegetarian, vegan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1½ cups frozen mixed vegetable blend (my blend has carrots, peas, green beans and corn kernels)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (I make mine fresh, but you can use store bought)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup unsalted whole cashews, toasted
  • Cilantro (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a rice cooker or medium pot, cook quinoa according to packaging instructions. I used ¾ cup quinoa, with 1½ cups water in my rice cooker.
  2. Add the chopped dried apricots directly to the quinoa so they cook together — the quinoa took about 20-25 minutes to cook in the cooker. May take longer on stovetop.
  3. When the quinoa is cooked, pour into a bowl and set aside
  4. In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil.
  5. Add the mustard and cumin seeds, cover the pot with a lid and let the seeds start to pop.
  6. Next add the minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for one minute.
  7. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, garam masala, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes and stir well for one minute.
  8. Add the tomato paste and water and stir.
  9. Cover the dish and let it come to a boil and reduce so the curry is slightly thickened and most of the water is gone- about 3-5 minutes.
  10. While the curry is boiling away, toast the cashews in a small, dry pan until golden
  11. When the curry has reduced, add the cooked quinoa to the skillet and stir well to combine all the flavors. Give it a taste and adjust your spices if needed.
  12. Toss in the toasted cashews.
  13. Serve immediately with pickle, chutney or additional curry dish.
  14. Optional garnish: chopped cilantro

 

After doing the math, I found that this recipe was only 229 calories per serving, almost 5g of fiber and almost 8g of protein. I think next time I might add some garbanzo beans or mushrooms to up the ante on the protein.

What are some of your favorite cookbook recipes?

Resolutioner No More

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I didn’t make any resolutions for 2013. I have that list of things I want to do before I’m 30 (9 months and counting. I need to step up my game and get crack-a-lacking!) and while some health related items are on there, I think that list is sufficient and as close to resolutions as I’ll get.

I used to be one of those “resolutioners” are the gym. You know, the one who signs up for a membership at big, corporate gym on January 1 and says to themselves, “I’m going to work out every single day, not eat and I’ll lose weight. Hooray!”

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Not so much hooray. It would only last about a month. I have a gym membership now at a much smaller, locally-owned place, sure, but I haven’t been there since the holidays. I’ve been working out at home in our basement gym, attending Russa yoga classes downtown near my work, and trying to change things up to keep the workouts interesting. I am definitely one of those people who gets bored very easily. If I change it up, it actually makes working out tolerable and fun ;)

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I know it’s not easy to get your butt to the gym. One of my friends once told me, “The hardest part is lacing up your shoes.” and once you do that, you’re set. How I feel about working out, especially at a gym now, is a complete 180 from before.

I hated going to the gym back then, and quickly realized that I had signed up for something I wasn’t 100% committed to doing. I wanted to lose the weight, but wasn’t prepared to do anything that comes with wanting that to happen. I wasn’t prepared to up the intensity of my workouts, do both cardio and strength training to get a full body workout, eat healthier, cut out junk, etc. So like a lot of people, I stopped going and then bitched and moaned that they were ripping me off.

A lot of you have read my journey to wanting to be healthy. It wasn’t easy but I’m finally in a place I can appreciate. Do I have bad days? Yes. Do I have great days? Yes. Do I sometimes get too obsessed about caloric intake, lack of protein, fat and carbs consumed and calories burned? Absolutely. BUT! I don’t stop. I work out. I cut out the junk. And I definitely eat better and as a result, feel better. I also know results won’t happen overnight. It took me a LONG time to figure that one out ;)

One way of keeping healthy is one of my favorite things to do: making new recipes that are healthier forms or vegetarian/vegan forms of a classic recipe.

peppers

So now onto the food and real purpose of this post. Stuffed peppers are a classic recipe in my opinion. We have made them before, but we kind of made them blindly and didn’t really measure out ingredients, or think about what kinds of healthy ingredients we could put into them.

I lightened up this newer recipe and it ended up being completely vegan. And delicious.

Stuffed Peppers with Curry-Spiced Quinoa
 
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A healthy twist on a classic recipe using quinoa, meatless crumbles and spices! This can easily be made into a meat dish or just vegetarian with the addition of cheese.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Entree
Cuisine: vegetarian, vegan, main dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 whole medium-sized red bell peppers, halved lengthwise
  • Non-stick spray
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups vegan meatless crumbles (I used Boca brand)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels, warmed or thawed
  • ¾ cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons vegan worchestershire sauce (I use Wizards brand found at Whole Foods)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 dashes Franks red hot sauce (or Tobasco if you prefer)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Parlsey (optional garnish)
Instructions
  1. Cook the quinoa according to instructions on package (I cooked mine the night before) and set aside
  2. Preheat oven to 350°
  3. Fill a large pot with water and let it come to a boil
  4. Stand the bell peppers up and cut down the middle, lengthwise so they are halved. Take out the seeds and membranes. Arrange all 8 halves in a 9 x 13 baking dish
  5. Once the water is boiling add the bell pepper halves (4 at a time) into the water and blanch for 3-5 minutes. Remove, drain the water out and arrange back in the dish. Set aside.
  6. In a large skillet, spray the non-stick spray and let it heat over medium heat.
  7. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly tender.
  8. Next add the meatless crumbles and let them warm through in the pan.
  9. Add the water and stir. Let the whole thing cook away for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Add the tomatoes and corn, followed by the garlic, Worcestershire sauce and all the spices.
  11. Lastly, add the cooked quinoa and stir to combine.
  12. If the mixture gets too dried out, you can add a little more water.
  13. When everything is well mixed, give it a taste and adjust your spices and add salt and pepper accordingly (if needed).
  14. Remove from heat and distribute evenly among the halved bell pepper boats
  15. Bake the dish at 350°F for 20 minutes then heat under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned and crisped.

The best thing about this dish is that it’s under 300 calories per bell pepper. You really can’t beat that! So if you are a resolutioner, start the year off right with this healthy, low calorie recipes that is incredibly filling!

And while I’m not quite the “resolutioner” now as I was way back when, I do still set goals for myself. I just know I can’t expect them to be achieved, or see the results overnight. What I do know is that I plan to make 2013 rock as much as 2012 did!


Do/Did you set any resolutions or goals for yourself for 2013?

Cookbook Challenge #1 – Isa’s Quinoa Salad

Remember that list of 31 things I want to do before I turn 30? The 31 Before 30 list? Yeah, I kind of forgot about it, too. I always do this to myself. I make an awesome list, set of goals, or even resolutions and usually only get 75% done.

So I happened to take a peek at the list, scrolled through it, and came to number #25 and literally said, “Oh shit.”

Read it and weep, Aparna:

Prepare and cook at least two recipes from each cookbook I own.

Now for any normal person, this is not a big deal. This is actually something very easy to accomplish for most. But for someone like me, who constantly forgets she owns cookbooks because she either alters recipes she finds online, puts a twist on her mom’s recipes, or creates new recipes all together, this is a problem.

I don’t even own a lot of cookbooks. I own, like….[counting] 11 cookbooks. So this should be easy. That’s 22 recipes I need to get done in a year. Well, at least 22 recipes (damn technicalities).

The only one I’m kind of pissed and/or worried about is cooking from The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook aka ALL MEAT, BUTTER, FAT AND CARBS RAWR. Quite frankly, I’m not as big a fan of hers as I used to be, and I don’t even know why I have this cookbook or ever wanted it. Her demeanor, her show and her overall premise is not very appealing to me nor do I relate to it in any way. [Pause for gasps and people leaving blog]

But I digress…

So as I was perusing through this cookbook, and on the phone with REB as he was driving home from work, we were playing the “what should we make for dinner?” game. It’s a game we hate and one we play almost every night. I mentioned I was reading Isa Chandra’s cookbook to him and maybe an idea for dinner would come from it. He seemed intrigued. Actually, he didn’t, but he did say, ” Yeah, that sounds good.” I’ll take that as intrigue and interest.

I love Isa Chandra. I love that I relate to her food aesthetic and I love her recipes. I looked through her cookbook and post-it’ed the hell out of it with recipes I want to try. And while on the phone with REB, came across this recipe, which we happened to have almost all the ingredients for in the kitchen.

Isa’s Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds was perfect. Everything in the Appetite for Reduction cookbook is 400 calories or less per serving, uses fresh ingredients and is full of proteinalicious recipes! REB and I are newbs to quinoa, and we can’t get enough of it. It’s easily becoming our favorite substitute for pasta or rice. Plus, anything with cumin seeds? Duh. Has my name all over it.

So one recipe down, 21 (excuse me, at least 21) to go!

Quinoa Salad w/ Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds
 
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Our twist on a low-cal, full-of-protein, fresh-ingredient salad! Adapted from Isa Chandra
Author:
Recipe type: main dish, vegetarian, quinoa
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 4 on-the-vine tomatoes (it’s all we had. I would prefer Roma), finely diced (remove some excess liquid if you can)
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in dry pan
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup scallion, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (more if you need it – we didn’t)
  • Juice of two limes
Instructions
  1. Cook quinoa according to directions on package. Once cooked, put into a mixing bowl, and let it cool.
  2. In a dry pan, toast cumin seeds until aromatic. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, add chopped tomatoes, lime juice, honey, olive oil and cumin seeds and mix.
  4. Stir in the cooled quinoa, add the salt, scallion and black beans.
  5. Enjoy at room temperature or cold!
  6. Optional garnish: chopped scallion or cilantro
  7. Vegan option: use agave nectar instead of honey

Let There Be Light! Please?

UGH. I miss my summer days where the light hung around past 6 p.m., and when that light made the food I cooked look somewhat appealing. Studio lights only work so much. In this case, it has managed to make the spicy black bean cakes over cheddar-jalapeno polenta look like cow patties on sand. I assure you that is not what I made, though.

Don’t let the picture deceive you. They were tasty and were 100% REB approved. The latter is the most important part for me since you know, I married a somewhat picky eater, bless his cute heart.

I know the light situation is only going to get worse in the coming weeks. Can I just, for a second, mention again that it gets dark at 5 p.m., when I leave work. FIVE. That’s ridiculous, mother earth!

The recipe is quite easy to make and a perfect solution for your meatless Mondays woes. Get it? Meatless Monday…! Because, you know, we’re meatless every day of the week. Hmm.

This recipe was just a slightly altered version of my spicy black bean sliders, but bigger and spicier. And with that, here’s the rest.

Spicy Black Bean Cakes with Cheddar Jalapeno Polenta
 
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Author:
Recipe type: vegetarian, main dish
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BLACK BEAN CAKES:
  • 2 cans (15-oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoons Franks Red Hot sauce
  • 1½ fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ⅔ cup Panko
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for cooking)
  • FOR THE POLENTA:
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Vermont cheddar (or your favorite kind), diced or shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Add the drained, rinsed beans to a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash them to your desire consistency.
  2. Next add the corn, onion, garlic, ketchup, cayenne pepper, Sriracha, Franks Red Hot sauce, cilantro, salt, pepper and ground cumin and mix well.
  3. Fold in the panko and mix until combined.
  4. Refrigerate, uncovered for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minute, remove from the fridge, form patties (about 2 inches in diameter) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should get 5 or 6 patties from the mixture.
  6. Refrigerate again, uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.
  7. While the patties are in the fridge, heat the broth in a saucepan over medium high heat until simmering.
  8. Remove the patties from the fridge, heat oil in a large deep skillet and cook the patties 5-7 minutes on each side, or until crispy and cooked through. Set aside.
  9. When the broth is simmer, slowly add the polenta, while whisking. Whisk/Stir constantly for 1 minute until the polenta starts to come together and pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
  10. Add the jalapeno, cheddar, salt and pepper and stir well.
  11. Serve ⅓ polenta mixture on a plate, place two patties on top and enjoy!

Do you do Meatless Monday in your house?