Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Not a lot of food stuffs to write about today. Last night was leftover risotto for me, some pasta with jarred sauce for the girls, and I think a bowl of ice-cream for Rob. It was Tuesday, so you know by now, our busy dance class night.

Tonight was Halloween, and no cooking happened here again. We ordered take out pizza and had some friends over before we took Dorothy and The Wicked Witch of the West trick-or-treating. We of course have enough candy to last us until next year. Stella's been diagnosed with a peanut allergy, so that pretty much eliminates all of the candy she got, save for a few suckers. And Mairin scored big since she got all of Stella's goods as well!! We allowed Mairin to eat ALL OF THE CANDY SHE WANTED......she ate about 5 pieces and was done......what a good girl!

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I was going to make myself a meal from ED&BV, but my mom offered to take me out to eat, so we're going to Buca di Beppo instead. So, stay tuned for the orange sesame tofu and coconut lime rice early next week.

I got two early birthday presents from my friends. Both of them cookbooks, my friends know me so well. So, there will be some delicious new recipes in the coming weeks from Super Natural Cooking and Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking. Actually, I got 3 early dear husband and children gave me a Manduka Mat.

I will be taking the aforementioned Manduka with me on my yoga retreat this weekend. This too is a present from my family, and one that I am looking forward to more than you can imagine. So, what this means is you won't be seeing any posts, at least cooking related until my return on Sunday.

I hope everyone enjoyed a safe and fun Halloween, and that you all have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back with vegetable orzo soup (if things go as planned) on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mushroom Risotto

Last night I made mushroom risotto. It wasn't anyone's favorite, but it was good. Rob doesn't particularly like mushrooms, and the girls were both in a picky mood last night. I, on the other hand, love mushrooms and I love risotto (I had a fantastic risotto in Italy, tomato and basil, it was phenomenal), so it was a winner for me (and hey, I do the cooking right?? Sometimes they've gotta just eat what I like, plus, we needed a break from ED&BV!!). I started by heating 8 cups of vegetable stock in a saucepan. While the stock was heating I sauteed 1/2 a medium onion (chopped), and 3 cloves of garlic in about 2 Tbs of olive oil. Once the onion was soft and translucent I added in 4 oz of chopped mixed mushrooms (mine was a mixture of baby bella, oyster, and crimini) and sauteed those until they started to soften and get a nice brown color. Once the mushrooms begin to brown, I added in about 2 tsp of sea salt and a few turns of the pepper mill, 1 Tbs Spanish thyme, a pinch of oregano, and 1 bay leaf. I stirred all of the herbs in and added 3 cups of Arborio rice. I stir around the rice to coat it with the oil and then let it saute until it gets slightly brown and nutty smelling. Next, add in 3 cups of warm stock and stir. Let rice simmer, stirring frequently. As stock is absorbed add in more stock by the ladle full, stirring and simmering as rice becomes creamy. Keep adding more warm stock as the old stock is absorbed, until you've used all 8 cups. Once the rice was tender and creamy I added in 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and stir it in to combine. On the side I served rainbow chard, sauteed in sesame oil with a splash of tamari.

Once you've gotten the basics of risotto, namely, adding warm stock continually, creating a creamy texture, you can basically add anything you prefer. Just cheese is nice (and Rob's favorite risotto). Tomatoes are another nice thing to add to risotto. A while back I made a butternut squash risotto, that was perfect for fall, and I think next I'll be trying pumpkin risotto.

Risotto's are a very nice filling and warming dish. Just remember, if you decide to make this, or any other risotto, they do require a lot of stirring and attention, so it's not one you can put on while you are tending to clingy children. This one works best when someone is home to occupy the kids for awhile (try it as a Sunday dish sometime).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lazy Sunday Morning Becomes Lazy Sunday Evening

Well, the slow and lazy morning became afternoon, and then it became evening. Yep, it was a full day of lazy. At 5pm we finally decided we should take our pajamas off and go outside for awhile. So, we threw on some clothes and caps and hauled our butts outside. We took a walk and played on the swings for awhile before coming in to make dinner.

Again, dinner came from ED&BV (and I promise to lay off of it for awhile after this, my next 3 days of meal plans do not involve opening this book!!). Tonight we had Bean and Corn Tortilla Lasagna with Avocado. I changed the recipe slightly because we didn't need a 9x13 sized dish of this for just the 4 of us. So, I halved the amount of tomato sauce used, halved all of the spices, but kept the original amount of garlic, beans and avocado, then assembled it in a small Corningware dish. I didn't measure the amount of corn I used, I just sprinkled some on until I thought it looked right. I also didn't measure the amount of cheese I used, again, just sprinkled it on until it looked right (by the way, I subbed shredded cheddar jack for the vegan cheese). Then I baked at 400 until the cheese was melted and bubbly.

It was incredibly easy to make and tasted fantastic! Rob claimed to not be hungry prior to dinner, but somehow managed to eat 2 pieces of this lasagna (go figure). Stella didn't approve upon first try, but eventually decided that she loved it and couldn't get enough. Mairin flat out refused to eat hers. But when faced with the possibility of getting a cupcake for dessert she quickly decided that she'd eat it, and lo and behold, she even liked it (oh, the wonders of bribery!!)

This is definately one for all of you meat eaters to try. It's going on my list of meals to make when my non-veg friends come over (wait, I guess I mean when anyone comes over, as I don't actually have any veg friends.......except you HM-D, but I don't expect you guys to be over for dinner anytime soon, although we'd love to have you!!)

A Lazy Sunday Morning

Sunday morning is pancake morning at our house. We have pancakes for breakfast nearly every Sunday morning. It's something Rob started doing for me when I was pregnant with Mairin. We've kind of kept at it, except that now I fix the pancakes.

Typically it's just 365 brand pancake mix from Whole Foods Market topped with maple syrup. Sometimes we mix it up a bit and use strawberry sauce to top them.

Today, we tried something totally new. We had Banana Cream Pancakes from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan (no, it's not the only cookbook I own, but it's the newest in my collection, so I'm trying as much of it as I can) topped with Warm Raspberry Sauce (you guessed it, also from ED&BV!!). The batter consists of spelt flour, bananas and coconut milk. They were delicious, and a very nice change from the norm. Mairin ate hers topped with whipped cream. Stella didn't eat hers at all. She loves pancakes, but she was less than thrilled with these. It was quite humerous to see her look at the pancakes (which look like your run of the mill pancake), pick it up to eat it, and get angry and spit it out when it didn't taste like the pancakes she knows and loves. But, don't let her reaction be your judge, get the book and try them for yourself, I think you'll like them.

After breakfast we proceeded to prep some green beans we got from the farmers market yesterday. Mairin and I snapped and washed them all. Then we blanched them, threw them in an ice bath, laid them out to dry and bagged them to be frozen.

Following green bean prep was pumpkin carving. I love pumpkin carving, there's something so nostalgic about carving pumpkins. One of my favorite parts is sticking my hand in the pumpkin and pulling out all of the goo. I love the way it feels and the way it smells....mmmm.

Apparently Mairin doesn't like it as much as I do. In her eagerness to help, she stuck her hand in the pumpkin and quickly let out a blood curdling scream, as she pulled out her hand covered in goo. We couldn't get her to the sink quick enough to satisfy her. Anyway, the carving continued, and the end results were quite nice. The princess of course belongs to Mairin, and the traditional jack-o-lantern is Stella's (it has 3 teeth, just like her!!).

While I did the carving (I know, it's typically Daddy's who do the carving.....I'm too much of a control freak to let that happen here), Rob washed the goo off of all the pumpkin seeds. We then laid them out on a baking sheet to dry for a bit. Before they were completely dry we sprinkled them with brown sugar, a touch of granulated sugar, and some cinnamon. Then we roasted them at 350 until the sugar carmalized and the seeds were crisp.

They taste like fall. And an added bonus was that our house smelled absolutely fabulous as the seeds roasted.

By then lunch time had rolled around. I know what you are thinking, and yes we did spend our entire morning in the kitchen.

We had left-over chili and hummus from last night. The girls had grilled cheese and tomato soup that was left over from Whole Foods Market yesterday. We eat lunch at WFM every Saturday and Mairin loves their Tomato Dill soup. This was Mairin's creation -----------> tortilla chips crumbled into her tomato soup. She insisted that we photograph it to post on the blog. And she's sure that you will all try this tasty concoctions yourselves.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Nice Evening for a Bowl of Chili, and a Bonfire

It was cold today. And worse than that, it was cold and gray. It was truly a stereotypical fall day. It was a perfect day for a bowl (or 2) of chili. We'd been invited to a Halloween/Fall party and bonfire and we were to bring a dish to share. Chili was what I brought to share.

I make a Vegetable 3-Bean Chili. It's my adaptation of a recipe that I got off of a Rachael Ray episode. I know how a lot of my fellow bloggers feel about RR, but I like her. Granted she doesn't make a lot of vegetarian friendly meals, but she does inspire a lot of people to cook at home (and remember, I'm just recently vegetarian, so I myself have made a lot of her meals). And she's just so darn personable. I mean, when you watch her on t.v. she feels like someone you went to high school with or something, ya know?

Anyway, I don't know the exact recipe (I've been making it so long I kind of know it by heart now), and I don't have exact measurements because I basically just make it by taste, but here's a pretty close guesstimate:

2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO in Rachael Ray speak)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (or hot pepper of your choice), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced.
sea salt
1 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs chili powder (plus more to taste)
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cooked kidney beans
2 cups cooked black beans
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
1 can vegetarian refried beans

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Saute peppers, onion and garlic until vegetables begin to soften. Season with salt, cumin and chili powder and cook for about a minute more. Deglaze pot with vegetable stock. Then add in kidney beans, black beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Let simmer for awhile (I don't really know how long, just until you are about ready to eat I guess). Stir in 1 can of refried beans to thicken chili. Taste and season accordingly with more chili powder and/or salt.

Since we aren't vegan we like to eat ours with a dollop of sour cream and a little sprinkling of cheddar cheese. I also add in some chopped cilantro leaves when I have them.

I also made the Chipotle Lime 2-Bean Hummus from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan to bring along and share. I let Rob have a sample after I whirled it up in the food processor, and he couldn't stop eating it. It really did turn out delicious, and we have plenty left over (I made a double batch) to snack on tomorrow. I think next time I will add slightly more chipotle hot sauce, but other than that, it was perfect. We dipped tortilla chips in it, but we're going to be trying it very soon as a burrito filling.

The Unaverage American Diet

Last week fellow food blogger, The Dalai Mama, posted about her weekly grocery purchases after reading an article showcasing an average weeks worth of groceries around the world. I found her post very interesting, and thought it would be fun to post about our weekly purchases. Like The Dalai Mama, one thing that struck me about the article was the amount of money some of these families were spending on their grocery bill in just one week. The other thing that I noticed when flipping through the pictures was the amount of unhealthy and highly processed food that the average American purchases weekly (not that we don't purchase anything unhealthy or processed, but compared to the photographs in the article, we look like pillars of health!!). Another thing I noticed was the amount of soda a lot of the families had out with their purchases. We purchase soda only for special occasions, like summer bar-b-ques, and various other social gatherings, but never as a weekly staple.

We will be consuming most of what you see here this week. Of course, it was time to stock up on some staples like olive oil, rice, tahini, and coffee. But the rest of the food will be used throughout this week. Yes, we really will go through that many bananas (and more if I bought them, the girls LOVE their 'nanas.......and their Nana too!!)

Friday Night Pizza

I'm a few days behind in posting, so we'll start where we left off. Thursday we had left-overs of the One Wild Chick Soup from Wednesday night. Usually I think soup is better the second day, not so with this one. It was still good on the second day, but it wasn't nearly as good as it was fresh from the pot on Wednesday.

Friday was going to be quesadillas, but when Friday rolled around that just didn't sound good any more. So, I pulled a ball of pizza dough out of the freezer and let it thaw. Later that evening Mairin and I rolled out the dough and topped it with a little tomato sauce, some mozzarella cheese, sliced roma tomatoes, salt and pepper, and a little bit of fresh basil. It was plain, and simple and incredibly delicious. Since our trip to Italy, pizza just hasn't been the same. American pizza is too doughy, too saucy, and just too much. This pizza came pretty darn close to the pizza margherita we came to love.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Soup's On!!! (and cookies too)

After nearly a week with ED&BV sitting on my shelf, I've finally gotten around to making something from it!! I must be the only person who owns ED&BV that didn't start cooking from it right away. It's that whole menu planning thing, you know. I had my weeks meals already planned before I purchased the book, so it kind of set me back a bit on getting to try some of Dreena's tasty creations.

Last night was cold and rainy, again (I think it's been raining for a week now). I'm trying really hard not to complain. We were 10 inches behind normal for rainfall this year and in the past week we've gotten 8.36 inches, so we're nearly breaking even now. And, I've been hoping for awhile now that soup weather would get here. However, the grey rainy days are starting to get about chilly and sunny for a change.

Anyway, it was again, another perfect night for soup, so I finally pulled out ED&BV. One Wild Chick Soup was what caught my eye. I followed the recipe pretty close, however, I didn't have any wild rice. I did have a combo of long grain and wild, so I used that. I also threw in a vegan vegetable bouillon cube to amp up the flavor a bit. I left out the fresh herbs and used slightly more (on Dreena's recommendation) dried herb. And finally, I had a bunch of red kale in the refrigerator that needed used up, so I chopped it up and threw it in too. The result was savory and delish!! Rob thought it tasted like Thanksgiving (isn't it funny how anything with sage reminds us of Thanksgiving). This one was comfort food for sure, and it will be frequenting our dinner table this winter.

Yesterday started off kind of rough for us. Mairin hates getting up in the morning and getting ready for school, it's a battle every time. Thank heavens it's only 3 days a week......we're in for it when she starts kindergarten next year, oy.

So, to make everyone feel better, I thought baking cookies together would be a good idea. What kid doesn't love baking cookies with their mama? And who can feel bad when there's chocolate involved? So, we settled on Chocolate Chunk Spice Cookies (also from ED&BV).

I didn't have everything for this recipe either, so we winged it, and they turned out fabulous. I didn't have any dark chocolate chunks, but I did have semi-sweet chocolate chips, so I subbed those. I also didn't have any barley flour so we used all-purpose baking flour. And, believe it or not, I didn't have any baking soda (I used the last of it to scrub my bathroom last week), so I had to skip that. Otherwise, we followed the recipe. They were so gooey and chocolatey, and without all of the sugar that regular cookies have they felt so "unsinful".......I had 2!!

It's left-overs tonight, so I'll be back with more in a few days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Crowd Pleaser

As I've mentioned before, Tuesday evenings are quite hectic for us. Miss Mairin has dance class, and it's one of my teaching nights. Usually on Tuesday Rob takes the girls out to dinner before dance, but tonight we tried something different. I made a meal in the slow cooker that was ready for them when they got home. They were able to eat, clean up the kitchen, and make it to dance.........I thought it was pretty impressive!! Now, I wasn't here to see the reactions but I got good reports from Rob. Apparently Stella ate two bowls, and Mairin nearly finished hers (which, for those of you who know Mairin, it's no small miracle for her to come near to clearing her plate)!!

You're asking, what is this delicious, kid-friendly, slow cooked meal??? It's none other than Slow Cooked Ziti Casserole from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Being that it came from a cookbook, I can't post the recipe here, but you can buy the book (or if you are one of my IRL friends, you can always just ask). I did make a few minor changes......I used vegetable broth instead of the dry white wine the recipe calls for. I also used penne pasta because I didn't have any ziti. The end result was good, but it seemed to be missing something. I'm going to have to play around with this one for awhile and see if I can adjust it to our taste (although, the kids did eat it, so maybe I should just leave well enough alone, right?). I used the recommended amount of garlic, and my first adjustment will be to at least double that amount.

This is one you guys definately have to try (you meat-eaters won't miss the meat at all)!! It's definately going on my list of meals to feed my non-veg friends when they come to dinner. The picture doesn't do this one justice, Rob didn't take any pictures when he and the girls ate, so this is a picture of my bowl that I nuked when I got home and I'm not much of a photographer (although, the black bean pizza pictures are yours truly, and I have to say I did a damn good job on those!!). And, yes, I realize it looks quite pathetic that we didn't have any sides with it, of course had it been a family meal I would have served a salad and bread with it. But hey, Rob and the girls had a homecooked meal on a night mommy was gone, what more can you ask for?
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Tomato, Basil Panini

This is one of our quick and easy go to meals when we don't have a lot of time or energy for cooking. Last night was one of those nights. We've been up and down every few hours at night with Stella, and none of us are getting much sleep. I was exhausted last night and didn't feel like doing much of anything. Plus, it was cold and rainy, and that really didn't give me much of a boost. All I really wanted to do was take a shower and put on some cozy pj's. As I've mentioned before, I do all of my meal planning on Saturday's and each week I plan in 1 or 2 quick and easy meals (usually spaghetti, quesadillas, pizza and the like), that I can use on days like yesterday.

So, our two quick and easy's this week were panini and quesadilla. Last night seemed like a panini night. The panini is made on ciabata that I bought from WFM. I slice it open, spread on some basil pesto (and last night I even used pre-made pesto from a tube.....I always keep some on hand for those nights that I don't feel like getting the food processor dirty), layer it with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and some fresh basil leaf and salt & pepper. Put the top on and stick it in the panini press until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese is begining to melt.

When we have these in the summer we usually have a nice green salad or pasta salad with the meal, but last night seemed to need something warm. So, I sauteed up some zucchini that I'd bought at the farmer's market, onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and voila, a delicious (and simple) side. We paired it with a gigantic organic apple for some sweetness.
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Monday, October 22, 2007

Busy Weekend = Little Cooking

We had a busy weekend, so there wasn't a lot of cooking going on. Friday night we took the kids to the Zoo for the World's Largest Halloween Party. They had a great time. Mairin took her friend with her, so we took the kids out to dinner before we went. We went to our favorite quick and kid friendly Mexican fast-food, Q-doba. They have a few vegetarian choices, the vegetarian nachos seem to be my favorite at the moment (although they are loaded with fat.......I guess we all deserve a little fat now and again don't we??).

Saturday was/is errand day for us. So, our day started at the Farmers Market. Next week the market goes on hiatus for the winter, and it's slim pickin's there this time of year. I got some peppers that I needed for the chili we'll be having later in the week. I bought up all of the lima beans that they had left so I could freeze them. We got a few zucchini, a few potatoes, and some green beans. I wanted to get some eggs, but I didn't need them and we had a long day of errands left to do, and with temperatures in the mid-80s it didn't seem like a good idea to let eggs sit in my car all day. Next week we'll hit the market with the intention of buying everything we can that will freeze well and use it over the next few months.

Next we hit the bookstore to use some gift cards our girls got for their birthdays. And, while we were there, I picked up my copy of Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan. So, expect to see a few meals by Dreena in the days and weeks to come!

Rob has taken up biking, so after the farmer's market, we headed to the mall to pick up some gear that Rob needed for his big bike ride on Sunday. By that time it was lunch, so we decided to eat at California Pizza Kitchen. They too have a few vegetarian choices, so it wasn't difficult finding something to eat. I had the Mediterranean salad, which was delicious. Of course, I did get the standard "are you sure you don't want chicken on that?". Am I the only one that gets that "you must be crazy" stare when you order a meal without meat??

Finally, we made it to Whole Foods Market to finish our shopping. I really need to start doing my shopping at Rainbow Blossom and support local business, but Mairin would be devastated. Whole Foods is one of her favorite places to go, when asked if she wants to go out to eat, and where, the answer is always "Whole Foods".

Well, by the time we finish all of this it's evening already, and I don't feel much like cooking. So, we had our old stand-by, spaghetti with sauce from a jar. I could make this everyday and my whole family would be happy. My kids and my husband eat spaghetti like it's going out of style. While it's a really boring meal, and completely uninspired, I love that all I have to do is boil some water and open a jar and I have a meal that puts a smile on everyone's face.

Sunday, my mom and I went outlet kids were in desperate need of some fall/winter clothes. I knew that after a day of driving and shopping that I wouldn't feel like cooking when I cam home. However, we'd had more than enough junk, what with all the eating out we did this weekend. I really wanted to make my family a home-cooked meal. Enter, the slow cooker. We had No Hurry Vegetable Curry, from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, however, I didn't have any ground coriander, so I skipped adding the 1/4 tsp of that. I also added 1 cup of coconut milk, instead of the 1/2 cup that the recipe calls for. When I got home I could smell the curry from the garage. It smelled like a wonderful Indian restaurant. I cooked up some basmati rice, while Mairin put on a fashion show with all of her new clothes.

We ate the curry over rice, with a little mango chutney on the side to mix in. I'll have to say, it wasn't the best curry I've ever eaten. But it wasn't the worst either, and the fact that the slow cooker did most of the work makes it a sure bet that I'll be making it again, although I'll do some adjusting to the recipe next time. The addition of the sweet, hot chutney really made the difference, and I think I'll just add it directly to the curry as it cooks.
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Potato Soup

Tonight was the first time cooking in a few evenings. Tuesday's are busy for us, with me teaching and Mairin dancing, so I almost never cook on Tuesday. Usually Rob takes the girls to get dinner before dance class and I find something on my own after my own class. This week both girls were sick on Tuesday so we didn't take Mairin to dance. Instead Rob and I ate black bean quesadillas made with some beans I had left from Monday nights pizza, and the girls ate soup from a can (if you can call the few bites they actually got to their mouths eating!!). Tuesday wasn't a completely useless cooking day however. I did make 27 cups of stock that afternoon. My bag of veggie scraps that I keep in the freezer was getting so full I could barely close it, so I decided it was a good time to get them in the pot and get the stock made. I didn't take a picture of it (though Rob said I should have, and I now wish I had). I simmered it for about 8 hours and it turned out so nice, dark, and rich.

Wednesday was my night to have bunco, so again I was off the hook for actual cooking. I decided to have an Italian themed bunco, with vegetarian antipasti and wine. We had bruschetta with tomato spread, sundried tomato crostini, assorted olives, marinated artichoke hearts, marinated mozzarella balls, smoked provolone, plain mozzarella, giardiniera, and sweet peppers. For dessert we had puff pastry filled with canoli filling. It was a bit of a change of pace from our usual bunco food, but it was delicious, and I had plenty left-over for lunch today.

That brings us to today, and the potato soup. It wasn't a particularly good soup day since the high temp today was 84. But, it was cloudy and rainy all day, and by the time we actually ate, a storm had moved through and the temperature had dropped nearly 12 degrees. None the less, the soup was fantastic. Rob and I both ate two bowls. I made the soup start to finish in the crock pot, so it didn't heat up the kitchen, and even better, it didn't dirty a lot of dishes. I'll provide the recipe best I can, but I just did this off the top of my head and didn't really measure anything, so I'm just estimating here.

Potato Soup
1 Tbs olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into half rounds
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
2-3 tsp dried tarragon leaf
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups homemade or other good quality vegetable stock
2 cups half and half, whole milk, heavy cream, or plain soy milk

Heat olive oil in crock pot on high. Add carrots, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in celery, onion and garlic. Add tarragon, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let veggies sweat on high for one hour. Add vegetable stock and potatoes, reduce heat to low and cook for 5-6 hours. Add 2 cups of half and half and continue cooking for another 1-2 hours.

I served the soup with fresh baked french baguette (previously frozen) and apple quarters. I had considered adding some corn starch to the half and half to thicken the soup a little, but it really was perfect the way it turned out (if you prefer a thicker potato soup go ahead and add the corn starch). This one is definitely a keeper for the winter-time "soup library".

Monday, October 15, 2007

Black Bean Pizza

Tonight was a throw-back to our college days. While attending IU Bloomington Rob and I ate A LOT of pizza! Tonight I made my re-creation of Cuban Black Bean pizza from Aver's Gourmet Pizza. I've been making my own pizza crusts for quite some time now, and it's always so time consuming.......all the kneading and waiting and kneading and waiting. So, the past few times we've had pizza I've made the dough in the bread machine. I'll never go back to making the dough by hand. We still get the same great, satisfying taste of homemade pizza crust without the work. I've been using a recipe that was on the back of a yeast packet, but I'm in search of a whole wheat version for the bread machine if anyone has one they want to share.

So, to make the pizza, I topped the dough with cilantro pesto. Layered with with black beans, shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced roma tomatoes, sliced onions and a few pepperoncini rings. I can't really give you much of a recipe, as I didn't measure anything, but I can give you the method and you can create your own from there.

For the pesto I just threw one bunch of cilantro, about 1/4 cup of pine nuts, and 2 cloves of garlic in the food processor. Chopped it up really fine then with the machine running, drizzled in olive oil until it looked the right consistency. I smeared this over the dough then layered with black beans. Again, I can't tell you an amount, but it was about a cup of beans. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, add tomatoes, onions and peppers and bake at 425 for about 10-15 minutes.

This pizza is delicious, and you have to try it. It wasn't exactly like Aver's but it was pretty close.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Quick and easy Indian

I was lazy today. We had a long night awake with a sick baby Saturday night, then Mairin had a birthday party to go to this afternoon, so I didn't have a lot of energy or time for cooking. I took a little help from a jar of simmer sauce and a box of frozen naan.

I had some chickpeas frozen from a few weeks ago, so we had chickpeas and onions simmered in Taj Gourmet brand Dehli Korma simmer sauce. I also added in about 1 Tbs of mango chutney to sweeten it up a bit. The korma was served over white basmati rice that I spiced up with a dash of turmeric, cumin, and mace. On the side we had garlic naan from Tandoor Chef. Simple, quick, and delicious!!!!

Farmer's Market Day

Yesterday was farmer's market day for us. Just 2 more weeks and we'll be back to buying our produce from WFM. I guess we'll be back to mostly organic, but I sure will miss the local produce.

There really wasn't a lot at the market tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, and lots of root vegetables. Hence, our dinner, Roasted Root Vegetables with honey glaze, a side of sauteed red kale and beet greens, and some corn muffins I had left from the night before.

For the roasted veggies I used 3 large carrots, 1 lb of parsnips, about 4 (1 lb) golden beets, and about 1 lb of turnips, all cut into bite sized pieces. In a small bowl I combined 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup local clover honey, about 2 tsp dried thyme, a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Put the veggies in a baking dish, pour the honey mixture over the veggies, cover with foil and bake at 425 for about 45 minutes or until veggies are soft. Then remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes to glaze the veggies. While the veggies are glazing, saute the greens. In about 1/4 veggie oil saute 3 cloves of garlic, add greens (I used red kale and the greens from my beets, but you could use any dark leafy green) and saute until the greens are evenly wilted. Remove greens from heat, sprinkle a few shakes of red wine vinegar on and season with salt and pepper.

Rob and I thought the meal was delicious. The kids were a little less than enthused by it, but they did eat some. Mairin liked the carrots and corn bread, and Stella gave it all a try.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Veggie Pot Pie

After what seems like a never ending stretch of temperatures soaring into the 90's, it's beginning to feel like fall around here. It was cloudy today, with temperatures not even getting to the 70's, and a perfect day for some good old fashioned comfort food. Of course, it was purely a coincidence that pot pie was on our menu for tonight, I plan my meals for the week every Saturday, so we were having pot pie regardless of the weather. Lucky for us, the chill in the air made pot pie a perfect dinner

I've been searching for a good veggie pot pie for a few weeks, and have found many recommendations. I didn't follow any one particular recipe line by line, but this is the recipe that I based my potpie on. I didn't use the recommended pastry for the pie, instead used a pate brisee that I got off of Martha Stewart about 7 years ago. It's the crust I use for pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving, and I know it by heart. It was so buttery and made a delicious crust for a savory pie.

So, here's what I did, step-by-step, to create this delicious fall meal.

I started by chopping all of the veggies for my pie:
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
About 2 cups of cauliflower florets
About 1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed and broken into about 1 inch pieces (frozen would be fine here too)

After chopping the veggies I started on the crust:
Preheat oven to 425. Add 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp sugar to the bowl of your food processor. Process for a few seconds to combine. Add in 1/2 lb very cold butter, cut into small chunks. Process until mixture resembles a coarse meal. With machine running slowly stream in ice cold water just until dough holds together. Remove from processor, roll into a ball, cut in two. Shape each half into a disk, wrap individually in plastic and freeze for about 15 minutes.

While the dough was freezing I started my filling:
Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large pan. Saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery until onions become translucent. Add cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes. Pour in 3 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Here I seasoned with salt and pepper. I also added in about 1 tsp of dried tarragon leaves and stripped a few stems of thyme of their leaves as well. Reduce to simmer and cook until veggies are almost tender, about 15-20 minutes.

While veggies cook begin to prepare pie:
Remove dough from freezer, place one disk in refrigerator and place one disk on a lightly floured clean surface. Roll dough to fit a 9 inch pie plate, with about an inch overlap. Press crust into greased pie plate, use a fork to poke a few holes in the bottom of the crust and place in oven to bake for about 5 minutes, just until crust starts to puff up and become slightly brown.

While crust is baking:
In a small bowl, mix together about 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbs cornstarch, and about 5-6 shakes Braggs. Whisk to dissolve cornstarch and then pour into veggie mixture, stirring ocassionally until sauce thickens.

While sauce thickens:
Remove 1st crust from oven. Remove 2nd crust from refrigerator, roll out to fit over top of pie, again overlapping edges so the pie can be sealed. Spoon mixture into pie until pie is completely full. Cover with 2nd crust, roll edges of top crust under bottom crush, pinch to seal and then flute.

Cut 4 small slits in top of pie and bake for about 30 minutes, until top crust becomes slightly puffy and golden brown. When pie is done, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

(Remember, these are step-by-step instructions, so it's not a complicated as it looks!!)

As a bonus, there was enough filling left to fill a large soup mug, and enough trimmings from the crust to cover it and make a nice single serve pie for lunch tomorrow!! Rob and the girls loved the pie, and we finished off our meal with chocolate silk ice-cream (yes, I know, not exactly a dessert you'd expect on a brisk fall night, but it was oh-so-delicious!!).

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Allow me to introduce myself

I'm Carrie, mother to two beautiful daughters (Mairin and Stella), and wife to one fantastic husband (Rob). We became vegetarian about 4 months ago (OK, well, I became vegetarian, my daughters and husband are vegetarian by default because I prepare their meals). I decided to try a vegetarian diet as a personal challenge (we've tried before and failed) and it has since grown into an ethical and health related decision.

We live in Southern Indiana where a meat and potatoes diet abounds, so it hasn't always been easy. Most of my family and friends haven't quite wrapped their heads around it yet, and I still get offered invitations to eat lots of meat based meals.

I will be 31 next month, so as you can imagine, after 30 years of being an omnivore, making the switch has been quite an adventure. I've had to relearn how to cook, learn about a lot of interesting ingredients I would have never dreamed of cooking with before (quinoa and nutritional yeast for instance.....I didn't even know either of these things existed before a few months ago), and learn how to maintain a balanced diet free of meat. Preparing meals other than spaghetti and salad has also been quite an adventure. So, inspired by some mama's at MotheringDotCommune, I've decided to start this food blog to share my adventures with you. I hope that by sharing I will be inspired to create a more varied menu for us, and inspire a few of you who aren't vegetarian to take the plunge and attempt to eat more ethically (that is if anyone is actually reading!!). I'll tell you with fair warning that I am not extremely creative in the kitchen, so a lot of our meals are borrowed from cookbooks and other food blogs. I'll give credit when and where I can, and if I've borrowed a recipe from you without giving you credit, I apologize in advance, it's because I can't remember where I got the recipe in the first place.

I hope you enjoy our vegetarian adventure............Happy Eating!!!