Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 50: Broccoli, Garlic and Spinach with Parmesan Polenta

Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum, Yum
This morning, I made two big pots of soup, one pot of lentil and one pot of split pea. We had soup for lunch, and there is plenty left for the rest of the week. I was looking for something simple for supper and this dish fit the bill. Broccoli and baby spinach, cooked in vegetable stock with lots of garlic, sit atop a mound of polenta mixed with Parmesan cheese and butter. My kind of comfort food. I cut the 1/4 cup of olive oil the recipe called for (the veggies cook in a vegetable stock and olive oil mixture) down to 1 teaspoon and the 5 tablespoons of butter in the polenta down to two, but the result was still extremely tasty and satisfying. We all agreed that this one is a keeper.

Tonight's recipe was from a cookbook called Kitchen Seasons, by Ross Dobson, that I recently received as a gift (Thank you E.). The book is divided  into sections, one for each season, and this recipe is in the Winter section.  It calls for instant polenta - which I know is sacrilege for purists, but it is a big part of what makes this recipe so easy. Another thing that made it easy was the fact that there was broccoli in the freezer.
Back in the summer, when each week's CSA share seemed to arrive before I had a chance to take a breath after the sorting, cleaning, prepping and preserving of the last weeks veggies, I gave only a brief thought to what I would eventually do with all the produce I was freezing. I was determined not to let any of the beautiful vegetables and fruit from our share go to waste. Some weeks, when there was just too for us to eat in seven days, freezing was the easiest way to prevent that from happening.  I have been using that frozen bounty more and more over the last few weeks, but tonight's dinner was a beautiful example of the payoff of putting something by for later.

Because the broccoli came out of the freezer in ready to put in the pan sized florets (nice separate pieces, because I froze them on a cookie sheet before I put them into the ziplock bags), the prep time for this meal was reduced considerably. The vegetable stock came out of the freezer as well. This is a great recipe for frozen broccoli because its lack of crispness does no harm here - the broccoli and spinach are not mushy, but soft and that makes a perfect companion to the polenta.

Day 49: Macaroni and Cheese

On our tent camping trips when the kids were little I used to make macaroni and cheese in one pot on the Coleman camp stove by melting slivered American cheese slices over hot cooked pasta and mixing in some milk and butter. It was easy and quick and filling and cheap I've cooked many versions since then, this one has fresh mozzarella cheese slices - something I've never tried before. It stacks up as interesting, probably a keeper, but not our number one favorite.

this is yet another recipe from the Vegetarian suppers cookbook. It calls for cheddar in addition to the fresh mozzarella cheese, milk, butter and fresh breadcrumbs. The milk is heated with a slice of onion, a bay leaf and a pinch of thyme, which caused everyone who walked through the kitchen to ask if I was making some kind of milk soup. I used Barilla Plus elbow macaroni and Calendra's whole wheat panella bread to make the bread crumbs for the top. This recipe was fairly easy, heat the milk, cook the pasta, make the roux, add milk, heat the sauce, pour over the elbows in the baking dish add the cheese, top with breadcrumbs and bake. The result was tasty (3/4 of a recipe that said it was enough to "feed a crowd" was polished off by four people) but a little bland for our taste. We decided that next time, more cheddar, less mozzarella would be in order. I used to make a mac and cheese that had chopped onions in it and I think that might improve this recipe. I might even consider the addition of a little mustard. We had this with a salad of Romaine, grated carrots, radishes, avocado and olives.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 48: Brussels Sprout and Mushroom Ragout with Herb Dumplings

Thanks to my new Photo Editor  - SRK - for the photo improvement!
Another recipe from the Vegetarian Suppers cookbook (see Day 47). A lot of work, but worth it. I had not quite a pound of brussels sprouts to use up. I don't really like them (L. does) but in this ragout, they actually tasted good.
Brussels Sprout and Mushroom Ragout with Herb Dumplings
from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Suppers
my slightly modified version:FOR THE RAGOUT: 
2 3/4 cups of mushroom stock made from the recipe in Madison's book (dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 3 cups water, 2 tsp olive oil,1 onion & 1 carrot chopped, 1 clove garlic minced, 2 mushrooms sliced, 2 tsp tomato paste, 1 tablespoon flour, chopped fresh parsley, 1 tsp dried tarragon, S&P,  1/2 cup white wine - I used  Four Sister's Winery Vidal Blanc 2007)
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
3/4 lb white mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 large lemon
1 pound brussel sprouts, halved

1 cup all purpose flour (I used a little more than 1 cup because the batter seemed too thin. The dumplings were good but a little heavy - so I will try to use less flour next time and see if that makes them lighter)
1 teaspoon baking powder
about 1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup milk, heated with 1 tablespoon olive oil (original recipe called for 3 tablespoons - but I just couldn't)
3 tablespoons mixed chopped parsley and tarragon
1 egg

Bring a pot of water to boil for the brussel sprouts.  In another pot, make the stock, then drain off all the vegetables.

Heat the oil in a wide nonstick skillet.  Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until aromatic and nicely colored, about 10 minutes.

Once the onions are a rich color, raise the heat to high and add the mushrooms, herbs, and garlic to the pan.  Squeeze lemon juice over the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are soft and slightly browned, 5-7 minutes, then reduce the heat to low

Add salt to the boiling water, then add the brussel sprouts.  Boil until nearly tender, 4-6 minutes.  Check by piercing them with a fork.  Drain, then add them to the pan with the mushrooms.  Pour in the stock.  At this point you can turn off the heat and let the vegetables stand until you're ready to make the dumplings.

For the dumplings, mix the flour with the baking powder and salt.  Pour in the heated milk, herbs, and egg and stir quickly together with a fork.  Add the dumpling batter by spoonfuls to the ragout.  It may be a little tight, but you should be able to fit them all.  Cover the pan and bring everything to a simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes.

For sides we had a grated carrot salad with calamata olives and parsley and Balsamic vinagrette and some sliced baked tofu with leftover packaged mushroom gravy.

Day 47: Cabbage & Leek Gratin with Red Lentil Stew

The Cabbage & Leek Gratin with Mustard Cream recipe is from a lovely book called Vegetarian suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen

A lovely book, full of beautiful pictures. The recipes are a little more work than I'm usually willing to do on a work day, but the ones I've tried have been worth the work.

There was still half a green cabbage left from the last CSA box of the season, so I picked this recipe to use that up and bought some leeks to go with it.  I added some crumbled Feta cheese. The gratin is rather mild and creamy (the ingredients include sour cream, eggs, flour and the veggies) and the mustard cream is an excellent compliment (I used Annie's organic Dijon mustard and Pulaski grated horseradish in the mustard cream - and it had some zing). The recipe is out there on the web if you search for it

Deborah Madison suggested serving the Gratin with cannellini beans and braised carrots, but I had some red lentils on hand and remembered a recipe I used to make from a book I picked up sometime in the 80s on a discount book table...

The Color Book of Fiber Cooking
A few of my favorite recipes come from this book. I've gone back to it again and again over the years. It was published in 1979 - before the fiber craze really got started I think. Now it is listed on as a collectible.
Lentil Stew
2 teaspoons olive oil (original recipe called for 2 tablespoons)
1 carrot, diced
2 leeks diced (original recipe call for them to be thinly sliced)
1 onion diced
2 stalks celery thinly sliced
2 cups Jersey Fresh crushed tomatoes (original recipe called for 1 x 14oz can tomatoes)
2/3 cup stock (I used 2/3 cup water with a generous teaspoon full of the Verdurette I made at the end of August - this is a fabulous thing - I have mentioned it before - check it out on Leda Meridith's blog)
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup red lentils
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the carrot, leeks, onion and celery until soft. Add the tomatoes, stock, seasoning, parsley and lentils and simmer gently for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Serves 4

Day 46: Christmas Day: Pasta

I worked on Christmas, as I have pretty much every year since I started working in a hospital pharmacy. I worked until about 5:30 pm, so D. made dinner. He sauteed some garlic and onions, added some broccoli from the freezer (from a summer CSA share box)  and some bottled pasta sauce. He served that over spiral pasta (we often eat Barilla Plus, for the extra protein and fiber) with some Calamata olives and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. We had a little Calandra's Panella bread to mop up the sauce.

Day 45: Christmas Eve: Veggie Burgers

I was scheduled to work 2:30 - 10 pm at the hospital - and was called back to the hospital again last night - so I slept in and did a few things around the house - but no time to cook. I packed a Morningstar Farms Veggie burger, a slice of

cheddar cheese, two dill pickle slices, a piece of Calandra's whole wheat sliced panella bread wheat

and some ketchup. And I had a lovely navel orange with that. I am not sure what the family had for dinner; grillers, I suspect.

Day 44: Vegetarian Chili & Cornbread

I was not feeling well, just started on an antibiotic, and after a callback to the hospital in the middle of the night, I was a little tired as well, so I slept in and went to work a little late (5:30 instead of 2:30 pm). Before I left, D. & I made a quick supper of chili and cornbread. I made the chili, he made the cornbread.
about 1/2 a leftover red onion - chopped
about 1 cup chopped green pepper frozen from the summer
about 1 cup corn frozen from the summer - defrosted
about 1 cup Jersey Fresh crushed tomatoes left from something we made earlier in the week

1 ring of hot pepper - Serrano maybe? from the Hot Peppers Pickled in Vinegar jar - chopped
1 can of organic kidney beans, drained
1 can of organic pinto beans, drained
chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper to taste
Saute the onions in a little olive oil, add the peppers and cook a little longer, then add everything else plus 1 bean can of water and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. Serve over brown rice with a bit of shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top.
D. mad the cornbread according to the recipe on the Bob's Red Mill cornmeal
package - you can see the back of the package on the website

Our dinner discussion centered around the different flavor imparted to the chili when I use frozen fresh corn versus commercial canned corn. S. likes the chili better with the canned corn, it gives a sweeter flavor to the chili that she likes. We also commented that the chili suffered from the omission of the chopped zuchinni that I usually add (none on hand at this time). This batch was voted tasty and perfectly edible but not the best ever.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 43: Pumpkin Gnocchi

On my last trip to Alstede Farm Market to pick up some local eggs and some of the wonderful Vermont cheddar cheese they stock, I picked up the  Holiday/Winter 2010 edition of the Black River Journal ( and found a recipe for pumpkin gnocchi that sounded doable. Last night I went shopping after work (I got out at 10 pm - the store was open until midnight). When I got home I put the ricotta cheese in some cheesecloth, set it in a strainer with a heavy bowl on top of it and put it in the refrigerator to drain overnight.  I use Sorrento brand because it is pure cheese, no xanthan or locust bean gum. There are lots of recipes out there. This one called for 8 oz drained ricotta, 8 oz pumpkin, 1/2 c parmesaen reggiano, 1 cup flour, 2 egg yolks, minced sage, salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg. I used pumpkin I had roasted and frozen back in late September. The recipe called for 1 stick of butter to fry the gnocchi in after they cook in boiling water (until they rise to the top) - I used about 1/4 stick. I used sage I had hanging to dry from the Thanksgiving CSA share. We had this with a salad of Romaine lettuce with carrots and calamata olives. I broke down and brought the lettuce at the grocery store - from California I guess - but it looked really good (and it was) and we have all been craving a good salad.  The gnocchi was voted a success and a keeper- that's number two this week! I still have 1/2 of the container of ricotta cheese (I drained the whole thing) and another bag of defrosted pumpkin - so I'm thinking I will make another batch tomorrow and freeze them.
8 oz pumpkin (roasted and mashed)
8 oz ricotta cheese (drained overnight in refiig.)
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1 c all purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 tsp minced sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 stick butter ( I used 1/4 stick and it was just fine)
20 or so fresh sage leaves- cut into chiffonade with dome left whole
pasta water

Combine pumpkin & ricotta , egg yolks, flour, 1/2 c Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg and minced sage and mix until stiff, but add as little flour as possible; the less flour, the lighter the gnocchi. The mix will seem still too wet to work with, but if you use a well-floured surface with well-floured hands you can roll it into a rope without sticking.
Cut into 1 inch gnocchi and place on a well floured surface (freeze them if you are not going to boil them within 1 hour)
Cook the gnocchi in boiling salted after till they float. Melt the butter and add the sage. Add the cooked gnocchi to the sage butter and fry for a minute or two. Add a ladle or two of pasta water and boil it down to create a sauce - add the rest of the grated Parmesan.

Day 42: Lentil Soup

Lentil soup. Simple. Humble. Nourishing. I feel like I have read here and there over the years about monks cooking lentil soup and I can see why that might be. This is food for the soul.

I had to work 2:30 - 10 pm. I made a pot of lentil soup in the afternoon - very little effort required for the delight of a supper of lentil soup. No pasta in this one, just lentils and vegetables, made according to Mollie Katzen's recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook. L. came by the hospital to have dinner with me. I packed us a supper of lentil soup (with a little red wine vinegar), whole wheat bread with Laughing cow cheese, and leftover applesauce. Warm, satisfying, yum.

Day 41: De-constructed Gado Gado

“We neither make a value judgment nor do we make a categorical statement,” said Eshel, an Assistant Professor in Geophysical Sciences. “We say that however close you can be to a vegan diet and further from the mean American diet, the better you are for the planet. It doesn’t have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan. If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you’ve already made a substantial difference.”

When I looked through my blog entries for the first 30 days, I noticed that we had not had any tofu in all that time, so I went looking for a tofu recipe. I found this one on - probably my favorite recipe site
The tofu I had bought was "sprouted" tofu and that, combined with the peanut sauce, made me think of my first experience with food outside of the realm of the spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf and pork chops that were the standard fare of my childhood. My college roommate and I went to visit her parents at their tiny lake-front cottage. Her father made dinner; Gado Gado, an Indonesian recipe I think, consisting of cabbage and other vegetables, bean sprouts, eggs maybe? and I seem to remember that there was tofu - but that may be a false memory - in a peanut sauce. It was absolutely delicious and like nothing I had ever tasted.  That dish was one of the things that set me on the journey of food exploration and discovery that I am still on.

The Tofu Triangles in Nut Butter Sauce with Scallions recipe is excellent. I went very easy on the oil, but browning the triangles is essential. I used a little toasted sesame oil mixed with some olive oil to fry them - a little more than 1 tablespoonful. I used chunky peanut butter for the sauce. I stir fried (in 2 tsp oil) some shredded cabbage (and there is still 1/2 a head left!), the other green pepper from Trader Joe's and a couple of carrots and I cooked up some long grain brown rice. The vegetable mix complimented the tofu nicely and the peanut sauce was tasty on everything. This is a keeper by unanimous decision - everyone loved it.

Day 40: Smashed Beans and Squash Bottoms

Yesterdays dinner brought up the topic of napkins (barbecue sauce is messy). I have exiled paper napkins from the household; not everyone was pleased initially. Some family members were reluctant to use them, afraid to get them dirty, worried that food stains would not come out in the wash. Most everyone has come around now, out of necessity mostly, there are no paper napkins available, so the choice is to use cloth or wipe your fingers on your jeans. I have no trouble getting them clean most of the time. I use mostly 100% cotton napkins (I like the way they feel better than polyester or blends - and they clean up better in the wash). I do all the kitchen linens (tablecloth, place mats, dish towels, skoy cloths ( a great replacement for paper towels and/or sponges  - see  below and and napkins once or twice a week. I use Oxyclean (or an equivalent peroxide based stain remover) and 99% of the food stains come out easily.

I made the switch because I became convinced that it was more ecologically sound to use cloth, but now I wonder how I ever went along with the premise that paper napkins are better. A good quality cotton napkin feels better in your hands, it feels better on your face, it makes every day meals feel special. I don't think I will be using paper again any time soon.

As for tonight's dinner, it began with a search for something to do with the bottom end of a butternut squash leftover form the Chick Pea Stew we made the other night. I found a recipe for Black Bean and Butternut Squash Tacos I used 2 cans of black beans to make re-fried black beans with 6 cloves of garlic and a little oil.  I only had 5 shallots, so I quartered the recipe for the pickled shallots - and I didn't have any wine so I used a little grape juice and some water instead. The pickled shallots were very tasty and an integral part of the dish - I would make more next time. I didn't have as much butternut squash as the recipe called for - but I went ahead anyway. I left the chilis on the side - one of us does not like spicy things. I made 3 "tacos" each - the corn tortillas are small. I layered the beans, squash cubes, pickled shallots, and sour cream and rolled them up. They were very tasty, the squash and black beans make an unusual combination, there was a nice hint of cinnamon, and the pickled shallots add a little "wow". We had the tacos with a Nile Spice rice pilaf mix and a salad of avocado, tomato and red onion.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 39: Coleslaw

"If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast."
Steven L. Hopf in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

There is STILL cabbage in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator from a CSA share sometime in November. L. and I went to the new Trader Joes in Florham Park today - WOW, I love that store - why can't they build one here in Budd Lake? I bought lots of things to try - among them a refrigerated soy-based product called "not chicken, Pulled Barbeque Chicken" or something like that and some lovely rolls. There were also quite a few apples in the fridge that were past their prime - to say the least. Here is how all that became tonight's dinner.

I cut out all the bad spots and cooked up the apples into applesauce (just a little cinnamon - no sugar - just perfect). I made coleslaw out of half of the head of cabbage (shredded the cabbage, added 1 chopped fresh green organic pepper - from Trader Joe's, 2 grated organic carrots and a dressing of lo-fat mayo, sugar and vinegar). I heated up the pulled not-chicken stuff and served it over the fresh rolls with thinly sliced red onion and a sliced avocado. The not-chicken stuff got a grade of B+ but the coleslaw and the applesauce both got A+ s.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 36:Broccoli, Mushroom, Onion Strata

Family Dinner - the whole family is here tonight.
I started with this recipe
But I only had half a package of portobello mushroom slices and I did not have any asparagus or goat cheese. I did, however, have some freshly dried sage from the Thanksgiving CSA share and lots of broccoli in the freezer, so I substituted broccoli for the asparagus and used cheddar cheese. I also only had 6 eggs, so I cut everything else down to about 2/3 . Final result was pretty tasty - there are no leftovers. Next time I would up the mustard and sage though. I served it with some packaged vegan mushroom gravy and a Waldorf Salad (a family favorite: apples, grapes, celery, raisins, dates, cheddar cheese cubes - usually add dried apricots but did not have any - used plain Greek yogurt for the "dressing".

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 35: Chick Pea and Vegetable Stew

A repeat performer from Day 11. I chose it then to use up some turnips - same reason today - there are still quite a few of them in the refrigerator. I used the same recipe. I didn't have any vegetable stock so I used water and 2 teaspoons of verdurette (see my post from Day 1). I used Israeli cous cous again. This is a very tasty stew and the best way I've found so far to sneak in a few turnips. Next time, I think I will use a bit more verdurette and a bit more crushed red pepper. A little squeeze of lemon adds brightness to the flavors. There was some complaining that you cannot tell the potatoes from the turnips (until you bite into them) so you can't avoid the turnips unless you are willing to give up the potatoes as well - exactly! The consensus was that it is a very tasty dish in spite of (who knows, maybe because of) the turnips.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 29: Black Bean & Polenta Casserole

I like one dish meals. This one has many variations, depending on what is in the house at the time. You can make this with the polenta that comes in a roll, or the "quick" polenta mix in a box, or you can make your own polenta. There are also many versions on line. Here is tonight's version.

Black Bean and Polenta Casserole

1/2 a leftover yellow onion - chopped
4 "spring onions" from the Thanksgiving CSA share - chopped
1 medium zucchini - chopped
1 cup chopped green pepper from the freezer
1 cup corn from the freezer
2 cans black beans (Goya organic)
1 can chopped tomatoes with mild green chilies
1 clove garlic - chopped
olive oil
chili powder, salt, pepper to taste
1 polenta "roll" - purchased - sliced into 12-14 rounds
shredded cheddar cheese  - 1-2 cups - depending on how cheesy you like it - and calorie count

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Saute the onions and garlic in about 2 tsp olive oil for about 3 minutes, add the zuchinni, cook about 5 minutes more, add the frozen corn & peppers, cook 3 minutes. Add everything else except the polenta and cheese. Add about 1/3 can of water with the tomatoes. Let this cook together over med-high heat while you prepare the pan & polenta. Spray a casserole with olive oil spray. place half of the polenta slices in the bottom of the casserole dish (or 8 x 8 baking pan) sprinkle half the cheese over the polenta. You can either put all the bean and veggie mixture over the cheese, top with the remaining polenta slices and the remaining cheese OR put 1/2 the beans & veggies, then the polenta slices, then the other 1/2 of the beans & veggies,& top with the remaining cheese (which is what I did tonight). Cover and bake about 1/2 hour at 350 F. This makes about 6 good size servings.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 27: Potato, Zuchinni, & Feta Latkes

It is the fifth night of Hanukkah and I have not fried anything in oil yet. I made something I will call Latkes with a Greek Twist - or Twisted Greek Latkes.

2 potatoes
1 onion
2 small/medium zucchinis
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
salt & pepper, oregano, basil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
olive oil

Grate the vegetables together - always put onions and potatoes together in the food processor chute to keep the potatoes from turning that ugly grey/brown color. Squeeze out the excess liquid.  Beat the eggs, then mix them into the vegetables with the flour and seasonings, then add the cheese and mix that in. Heat a heavy pan, coat with thin layer of oil, drop tablespoons of batter - keep the latkes small so they cook through. Cook until brown on both sides. Keep warm in the oven until you eat them. These are a little soft - as opposed to crunchy - because of the zucchini and the feta - but very good.

To go with the Twisted Greek Latkes:
Chick Pea Salad (1 can chick peas, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1 cup chopped celery, 1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley, S&P, 2 tsp EV Olive oil, some balsamic vinegar)
Braised Red Cabbage with apples and onions from the freezer (prepared and frozen in August)
Apple and Cranberry Chutney from Thanksgiving

Day 24: Pasta with Cauliflower, Kale & Onions

It was the second Night of Hanukkah and I was scheduled to work from 2:30 until 10 pm. My husband usually stops by the hospital on his way home from work (and the gym) and has dinner with me. Now, Hanukkah is a minor festival - but it is a holiday, and we we ate out on the first night,so I wanted to have something a little more special than cafeteria food. There are still lots of veggies left from the last CSA share of the season, luckily they are winter vegetables and they keep well. I decided to use a head of cauliflower, a bunch of kale and some onions - that looked kind of like this

The list that came with the CSA share says they are pearl onions, but they look like spring onions or bulb onions to me. In any case, I halved a bunch of them (quartered a couple that were larger) and put them in a pan with some EV olive oil to cook for a few minutes while I washed the cauliflower and broke it into florets. I added the cauliflower to the pan and let that cook while I re-washed a bunch of Kale and chopped that up. After the cauliflower began to soften a bit, I added the Kale. I re-hydrated a handful of sun-dried tomatoes and sliced them up, and quartered a handful of Kalamata olives. I added those to the pan, along with a little dried basil and oregano and some salt and pepper. I let this cook while I boiled a pot of water and cooked some orichette pasta (just short of al dente). I transferred the pasta to the pan with the vegetables using a slotted spoon. I added about a cup of the pasta cooking water and simmered everything together until the pasta was done. Then, I added about a cup of crumbled Feta cheese and  about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and tossed. I packed two portions of that pasta up and took it to work. I re-heated it when we were ready for dinner and it was pretty fabulous.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Day 22: Leftover Vegetarian Chili plus

This batch of chili was so good - we wanted more the second day - but there wasn't quite enough to go around - so we each added our own little something extra. I had a little chili with this sandwich on lightly toasted tomato basil bread:
fresh mozzarella cheese
sun-dried tomatoes - re-hydrated in hot water and sliced
a handful of calamata olives, chopped
a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
arugula and red leaf lettuce

Day 21: Vegetarian Chili - My Version

It probably would not win a chili cook-off, but this recipe is one of our family favorites. It is comfort food to us, a favorite cold weather dish. Some of us are sensitive to spicy things, so I usually keep a dish of hot peppers or salsa on the side to mix into my portion.

Karen's Vegetarian Chili

Olive oil - 2-3 tsp
1 onion - chopped
1 small or medium zuchinni  - chopped
1 bell pepper (any color) chopped
1/2 - 1 cup fresh, canned or frozen corn
1 can of tomatoes with jalapeno peppers or 1-2 cups chopped tomatoes and chopped jalapeno pepper
3 cans of beans, rinsed and drained (Kidney, Pinto - or a combination of both- or just black beans)
chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt & pepper to taste
Water - about 1 cup
optional additions: Cashews, or Morningstar Farms "crumbles" or crumbles sausage patties
Grated cheddar cheese for topping

Heat the oil. Add the onion and cook a few  minutes. Then add the zuchinni and cook 3-5 minutes more, then the peppers for another 3 minutes. Then, add everything else (except the grated cheese) to the pot, cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook over medium for 30-60 minutes (depending on how much time you have - the longer you cook it the more the flavors blend - but you can do a quick version in as little as 20 minutes). I serve this over brown rice, or cous cous, or crushed tortilla chips - or all by itself. It is even better the next day and leftovers can also top a baked potato or be made into another family all-time favorite - Chili-Mac (see below). On this particular day, I used chopped green pepper and corn from the freezer (from the CSA share - frozen in the summer), the rest of the leftover chopped tomatoes from the Thanksgiving soup, and a hot pepper (I have no idea what kind at this point) from the hot pepper in vinegar jar in the refrigerator (I learned about the hot peppers in vinegar at a food preservation class I took with Leda Meredith ( and decided to try it out when my CSA share included 6-8 hot peppers of various varieties for two weeks in a row - we just don't eat that much spicy food around here and I hated to see them go to waste). The instructions were to cut the peppers up into quarters or slices, pack them in a jar and cover with white vinegar. I did that in August, the pepper jar is in the refrigerator (with the Verdurette) and I have been using them whenever I need to add a little zip to something. They are holding their color nicely.

To make Chili-Mac:
Mix the leftover chili with an equal amount of pasta sauce (your favorite) in a microwave-proof dish or sauce pan and heat until it is hot but not boiling. Cook some spiral pasta al dente and mix with the chili-sauce mixture, in an oven or microwave-proof dish. Use just enough pasta so thing look very saucy - about equal parts pasta and chili-sauce mix. Cover the top with a healthy layer of grated cheddar cheese. Then cook on 70% power in the microwave for 10  minutes - or in the oven at 350F or so for about 35 minutes. the pasta will soak up the sauce and get fat and soft and yummy,  tucked in between the tasty pasta will be beans and bits of vegetables, and the melted cheese sends it over the top. This has been one of our favorite quick suppers for about twenty years.

Day 20: Lentils and Rice

I had to work from 2:30 to 10 pm and the hospital cafeteria is not open on Sunday night. I left the family to their own devices (there were still Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator) and made myself a quick supper to take with me from leftovers that didn't make it onto the Thanksgiving table. I had some extra lentils and rice from the stuffing I prepared for the Portobello Mushrooms on Friday and some chopped tomatoes from the Autumn Vegetable Soup preparations ( I chopped what the recipe called for, but it seemed like too many tomatoes for the perfect balance of that lovely soup - I have been making it for years  and I know how I like it, so I left some out). I mixed some lentils with some rice and the chopped tomatoes in a glass bowl. I added some chopped arugula from the CSA share and some dried basil, and oregano, salt and pepper. I grated some Parmesan cheese and packed that separately. When it was time for dinner, I heated the lentil mixture in the microwave and mixed in the cheese. That is my idea of a perfect dinner.

Day 18 : Thanksgiving #2

We traveled to visit my husband's mother - and brought some vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes with us. Once again, the family voted,  and this time it was a split decision, the boys wanted squash with a nut stuffing and the girls wanted stuffed mushrooms.  I made both. First, I modified  Chloe Coscarelli's vegan Harvest-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms ( by adding a bunch of fresh spinach, chopped, to the onion, cashew, and garlic sauté. Then I added  some grated Parmesan cheese to the finished stuffing mixture. The flavors blended well and the result was very tasty.

For the squash, I started with a nut stuffed Delicata squash recipe from Sunset Magazine ( We had acorn squash from our CSA share, so I used that. I wasn't sure I would like the nut stuffing (and it is a little too high in fat and calories for me) so I stuffed my squash with the stuffing I made for the mushrooms - making a total of three different main dishes. For sides, we had the roasted left-over winter vegetables that I made earlier, a big green salad made by grandma, and some of the apple cranberry chutney.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 17: Thanksgiving

I assembled and baked the lasagna in the morning before we left for my sister's house - about an hour and a half away. We brought the Autumn Vegetable soup - ready to re-heat - and the chopped tomatoes, chopped collard greens, some frozen chopped kale from earlier in the season, some frozen chopped red and yellow peppers,  lemon juice, spices, etc, to add and cook a bit before serving. We also brought the Apple Cranberry chutney I made the other day and a jar of Sweet Corn Relish I canned in October (my second try at canning - a story for another day).
Everyone brought something and everyone helped. Our Thanksgiving menu looked something like this:

Starters: veggies & dip & Red pepper Hummus
assorted cheeses & crackers & grapes
goat cheese rolled in cranberries

Autumn Salad (greens with celery, apples, dried cranberries and candied pecans and balsamic vinagrette)
Autumn Vegetable soup with grated Parmesan cheese
Turkey & Dressing
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed parsnips and carrots
Perfectly cooked green beans with sauteed onions and sliced almonds
Baked Sweet potatoes
Cranberry sauce, Chutney, Corn Relish
Apple, pumpkin, & pecan pies, cranberry bread, chocolate chip cookies & Jello - because we always have Jello.

Everything was very, very good.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 15: Cavatelli & Broccoli

Spent the day cleaning and shopping for Thanksgiving. Picked up the last of the CSA shares for this season. I made stock for the soup I usually make for Thanksgiving (Autumn Vegetable Soup from Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu cookbook) and Cranberry Apple Chutney (tried a new recipe from the NYT Well website). Cavatelli & Broccoli is one of our favorite dishes and it is so easy to prepare - and there was broccoli in the CSA share. I sauteed a bunch of garlic cloves in oil (2 tsp oil per person). I cut up the broccoli and threw it in the pasta pot - before the pasta - for 3 minutes, then transferred it to the pan with the garlic & oil using a slotted spoon. I boiled the cavatelli in the same water - then transferred them to the broccoli - added salt & pepper and Parmesan cheese, with more on the side. We had that with some semolina bread and a salad. After dinner, we finished making the Thanksgiving soup - everyone helped chop the many, many vegetables that make it taste so wonderful (leeks, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, carrotts, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes). I left the last few ingredients (tomatoes, swiss chard, red & yellow bell peppers, tamari, dill) to be added when we re-heat it on Thursday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 11: Winter Vegetable Stew with Chick peas and Apple Slaw

We have received turnips in our CSA share for the last three or four weeks and they are all still in the refrigerator. I finally found a recipe that includes them, and some of the other winter vegetables that were part of the last few shares, and sounds tasty. We also have a surfeit of radishes, both red and purple, and no one will eat them, and we still have half a head of red cabbage (not to mention an entire head of green cabbage) and this weeks share was full of apples. So...

Chickpea and Winter Vegetable Stew

I used 1 1/2 cans of chick peas, I couldn't find the harissa, so I left it out. I used Israeli cous cous. My husband said he would have liked bigger pieces of onion. It was very good.


Apple Slaw

I used less oil (4 teaspoons) + 2 tablespoons water. I didn't have any more honey, so I used maple syrup. I chopped the cabbage but grated the apples with the food processor. It was very tasty.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 9: Lentil soup and Grilled cheese

The Lentil soup - final container from the freezer of the batch I made a week or so ago. I used the recipe from the original Moosewood cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Tonight, I added some  mini bow-tie pasta and Parmesan cheese.

Grilled Cheese: 2 slices whole wheat Lanella bread, 1 1/2 slices low fat Swiss cheese, 1 roasted pepper from a jar (Organic Mediterranean) sliced, olive oil cooking spray.

Hit the spot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 8: Veggie Strata

On hand: red onion & broccoli from the CSA share, mushrooms, fresh eggs from a friend at work, stale ends of white & whole wheat Calandra sliced Lanella bread, various cheeses to choose from.

What to make?  Strata

How I did it:

  • Diced the red onion, sliced the mushrooms, sauteed them in 1 tablespoon olive oil till starting to brown
  • chopped the broccoli - smallish pieces. steamed it till bright green and still a little crisp and mixed it with the onions & mushrooms and added 1 tsp Annie's Organic Vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • cut the bread into cubes
  • grated 1 1/4 cups low fat cheddar and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • sprayed a large shallow casserole dish with Olive oil cooking spray, then layered: 1/2 bread, 1/2 veggies, 1/2 cheese - repeat
  • Whisked 1 3/4 cups almond milk, 6 eggs, 1 1/2 tablespoons Annie's Organic Dijon mustard, and a little more  Worcestershire sauce, then poured that over the bread and veggies.
  • Put in the fridge for about 5 hours, then baked at 350F for 1 hour
Result: "Tastes like dinner and dessert at the same time"
I don't know what that means - but the strata was good.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 5: Pasta with Kale, Arugula & Beans

I was going to make a mushroom strata - but I forgot that it has to sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before baking and it was late, so I made my usual standby, pasta with whatever is in the fridge. I had kale still left from last week's CSA share and arugula from this weeks share. I was thinking greens and beans, so I googled a recipe and found this one:

I added a chopped white onion - sauteed with the garlic. I used kale and arugula, a can of cannellini beans, just a little chopped red pepper from a jar, more Parmesan than the recipe calls for, and I left out the lemon juice. I used a little of the pasta cooking water to moisten it up a little. It was quick, tasty and filling

Day 4: Black Bean Chilaquile

I was too tired to type when I got home from work last night, so here is last night's entry.

I am a book person. I love them, and I have a lot of them. I have a bookshelf full of children's books in the guest bedroom even though my kids are grown. I have a full set of the "classics" given to me by a favorite aunt and uncle, all the books from my french literature class at college, two shelves of books on Jewish topics, and lots of paperbacks (including the full Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch).  I have forty-seven cookbooks on a little blue bookshelf in my kitchen, a dozen more on the top shelf of one of the cabinets and six or seven more that I never use (but can't seem to part with) on a shelf upstairs (in the guest bedroom with the children's books).

Everyone tells me that books are obsolete. I know I could put more books on one of the new electronic readers than I have on every bookshelf in my house. I know I can find just about every recipe in every cookbook I own somewhere on the web, but I like books. I can't part with the books I read to my son and my daughter in the rocking chair, I really do re-read the books I love every once and a while (have I mentioned my notoriously bad memory? Sometimes it's like reading them again for the first time).  I love to read the inscription that tells about the typeface, I love the way a new book smells, I love the way a book feels in my hands.

I have a lovely wrought-iron cookbook stand and when I cook from a recipe I prop the book up on the stand. My kids bring their laptops into the kitchen, put the recipe up on the screen, play some music from their i-tunes library, and look up the definitions for cooking terms they're not familiar with. I'm not there yet. I'm stubbornly old fashioned, yes, and I don't have laptop. Instead, I have two college educated children and four cars. Maybe by the time I can afford to buy the laptop, I will be ready to give up the cookbook on the pretty wrought iron stand...maybe I'll get a Kindle too.

The long awaited point here is that I followed a recipe for last night's dinner. I made Black Bean Chilaquile from the MooseWood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook. Of course the recipe is available on the web ( - here's one place, I'm sure you can find more). I used spinach from this week's CSA share, CSA corn I froze in August, Garden of Eatin' baked tortilla chips and low-fat instead of fat free cheddar. I used store-bought salsa. I took the chilaquile out of the oven just as I was leaving for work; took my portion with me and re-heated it in the microwave a couple of hours later, it was a little jumbled together but tasty. The family verdict was that I should make it again sometime - and I can do that - because I pretty much followed the recipe for once.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 2: Pizza with broccoli, red onions, olives, feta & sun-dried tomatoes

Two more reasons I'm doing this - my terrible memory, and my very short attention span. As my family has known for a long time, I never make exactly the same thing twice and I will have forgotten what I made for dinner tonight by this time tomorrow. This is probably because I tend to make things up as I go along, I get bored easily, I don't write down what I do, I don't always measure, and I'm likely to substitute what I have on hand for what I don't (also, I have a notoriously bad memory). I'm already excited that I can make the cauliflower risotto again because I wrote down how I made it here last night. Of course I can't promise it will be exactly the same, even with the recipe recorded here in the ether forever (because I tend to make things up as I go along, I get bored easily, I don't write down what I do, I don't always measure, and I'm likely to substitute what I have on hand for what I don't).

And  - - - - I just thought of another reason! Next week when I am wondering how long  a container of leftover something or another has been in the back of the fridge, I won't have to guess! and I won't have to argue with those who insist it has been there longer than I think it has. This will be, to quote FB, "Cool".

Day 2
Let's Use the Broccoli before it goes to seed Boboli Pizza

The CSA broccoli from last week still looked pretty good - it is amazing how much longer things last here in my refrigerator when they haven't spent weeks traveling across the country in a truck and days sitting in the grocery store - and I'm betting there will be more in tomorrow's share, so I was looking to make something with that. We had cavatelli & broccoli (my absolute favorite thing to do with broccoli) earlier this week, so I was thinking of making some kind of veggie mix to put over polenta. This idea was vetoed by a family member who shall remain nameless - and I found a thin crust, whole wheat Boboli pizza shell in the freezer, so...
  • I pre-heated the oven to 450 F - as per the instructions on the Boboli package
  • I sliced a red onion, fairly thin, tossed it with a teaspoon of olive oil, put it in a roasting pan and put that in the oven to soften and sweeten it up a bit. The oven wasn't up to temperature yet - I put it in anyway - on the bottom shelf.
  • I cut the broccoli up into florets and threw it in a large heavy pan with a tablespoon of oil and a few cloves of garlic - the unmentioned family member said I should just throw the raw onion and broccoli onto the shell and be done with it - but I wanted them a little soft - and not mushy or steamed soft - but flavorful soft - Red onion tastes just wonderful after a little time in the oven but I thought that would dry out the broccoli, so I opted for a short stay in the sautee pan.
  • While the onions and broccoli were cooking,  I took a handful of sun-dried tomatoes out of the freezer (they keep longer in there? I've been told - we'll see) and put them in a bowl with hot water. I chopped up the 8 or 10 calamata olives (from the olive bar) left in the refrigerator into quarters, then chopped up the sun dried tomatoes.
  • By this time, the oven was up to temperature. I spread the onions on the shell, then the broccoli & garlic, olives, sun dried tomatoes. I spread some feta over the top but I was worried it would be too dry - so I drizzled on a tablespoon of olive oil, then I was worried there wasn't enough cheese - but the block of Parmesan in the fridge has funny white spots on it and we are out of mozerella, except for a couple of "sticks" - so I cut up two of those and threw them on top too.
  • Things were piled pretty high on the shell. I put the "pizza" on the pizza stone in the 450 F oven and cooked it about 12 minutes.
  • We made a salad with Red leaf lettuce, red pepper, chick peas, and green olives to go with the pizza.
Family Consensus: Pretty Tasty!
PS - Lunch today was Lentil soup made from Mollie Katzen's recipe in the original Moosewood Cookbook, very simple, very, very tasty, one of my favorites - I made a pot last week and put half of it in the freezer - don't forget the vinegar.
PSS - I'm thinking I should run these recipes through the WW calculator and get points totals on them - I am only two months into my lifetime membership, still near goal weight, and I see counting points in my future if I want to stay here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 1: Risotto with orange cauliflower, onions, garlic, and asiago cheese

I've been procrastinating. I'm going to try to blog about 365 days of vegetarian dinners, starting today. I was supposed to start on the first of the month, but today will do just as well, I suppose.

I've been a vegetarian of one sort or another for more than thirty years now and the first question that non-vegetarians ask me has not changed in all that time; "What do you eat?" I'm going to try to answer that question here.

What I eat has changed over time. In the seventies, every vegetarian recipe took out the meat and put in lots of butter, and cream and cheese, as if we had to compensate for what we'd lost. Frances Moore Lappe told us we had to eat the right combination of proteins at every meal, so I built menus around the best amino acid matches. There were no frozen veggie burgers, only TSP (textured soy protein), tempeh and tofu.

When the frozen food industry discovered the vegetarian market, I was seduced by the variety and ease of the new products appearing every time I visited the grocery store and went through a period of building meals around the latest and greatest frozen soy protein - Gardenburger, Boca, Morningstar Farms, and Amy's burgers, various veggie hot dogs, pseudo chicken patties, fake Italian and breakfast sausage, even Quorn "roasts" and tofurky.

I worked my way through every Mollie Katzen cookbook. I've tried ethnic recipes from around the globe and I am a big fan of Lately, I've joined in on the newest craze; I have a CSA share and for the last twenty four weeks I've been building meals around what is in the box I pick up every Thursday. That has been more fun than I could have imagined, and more work.

For thirty years or so, though, one thing hasn't changed, each evening I answer the question of "What's for dinner?" and the answer never includes meat. So, here goes.

Day 1
Risotto with orange cauliflower, onions, garlic, and asiago cheese

There was a lovely head of orange cauliflower in last Thursday's CSA box. Tonight it morphed into an even lovelier risotto. Here's how it happened.

  • I didn't have any stock around, so I put a potato, 3 old small carrots, part of a turnip, half an onion, a handful of green beans, some parsley, and a teaspoon of Verdurette (see below) in a pot with about 6 cups of water and set it to boiling.
  • I rinsed and cut the cauliflower into florets which I put into a roasting pan, tossed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and some salt and pepper, and put into a 400 degree oven.
  • While the stock boiled and the cauliflower roasted (I stirred it around every once and a while), I minced 3 small cloves of garlic and a leftover half of a white onion and began to sautee that in about a teaspoon of olive oil
  • When the onions were soft and starting to brown, I added half a box of arborio rice and sauteed that for a few minutes with the onions and garlic, then I began to add the hot broth (I left it on low and scooped out liquid from around the vegetables with a measuring cup) 1/2 - 1 cup at a time, stirring pretty constantly
  • In between stirrings, I grated some asiago cheese - about 3/4 cup I'd say.
  • After about 20 minutes or so, the rice was cooked and the cauliflower was starting to brown but not yet mushy. I mixed the cauliflower into the rice, then mixed in the cheese and a little salt and pepper.
  • We added a spinach salad (spinach from the CSA box, dried cranberries, walnuts and a little feta cheese, balsamic vinagrette) and that was dinner.
  • Yummy!
Verdurette is a recipe to preserve vegetables with salt, French, as you can tell from the name. You can find many versions if you search on-line. I leaned to make this at a food preservation class I took with Leda Meredith her recipe is basically 4 parts vegetables (1 part each leafy greens, root vegetables, alliums, & fresh herbs) and 1 part salt.