11.01.12_Roasted Veggie Soup with Herb Dumplings

Phillip found a recipe for Roasted Vegetable Soup with Herb Dumplings and immediately added it to our "must try" list. Growing up in Ohio, I guess he had a fair share of chicken and dumplings as a kid (a dish that to this day I still have not had) so needless to say he was excited to have dumplings again.

I'm not gonna lie, this soup took a fair amount of work. None of it was hard by any means, but it definitely took time since I had to roast all the vegetables first, then blend them, simmer the puree, then make the dumplings. The end result was well wroth the effort though. The recipe makes a TON of soup. I gave some of the leftovers to my vegetarian cousin Hannah and we still have more than we know what to do with. So I highly recommend cutting the recipe in half, or freezing half of it for another time.

Roasted Veggie Soup with Herb Dumplings
Adapted from The Kitchn

For the soup:
  • 1 medium butternut squash (I bought already peeled and cubed)
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 medium daikon radishes (The recipe called for parsnips but Whole Foods didn't have any)
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 large leeks
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • S&P
  • Chile powder
  • 7 cups veggie stock
  • 1 bay leaf 
For the dumplings:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 TBSP oregano
  • 1 TBSP parsley
  • 1 TBSP thyme
  • 1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 400º. Peel and chop the butternut squash, carrots, radishes, and sweet potato into large chunks. Chop the white and light green part of the leek into large chunks as well. Peel and quarter the onion and leave the garlic cloves in their skin. Toss all the veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of chili powder. Spread veggies onto baking sheets and roast for 30-40 minutes. 
2. After the veggies are roasted, remove the garlic from their skins. Blend the veggies a little at a time until they are well pureed, adding veggie stock as necessary to make the puree nice and smooth. I used an immersion blender for this but I'm sure a regular blender would work equally as well.
3. Add the remainder of the stock to the puree and bring to a boil in a large stock pot. Lower heat and simmer.
4. While the soup is simmering, prepare the dumplings. Thoroughly mix all dry ingredients. Add the butter to the mixture and use your fingers to mix the butter in. You don't want big clumps of butter. Keep massaging the mixture until it is well incorporated. Add the milk and fresh herbs and stir until combined. 
5. Drop TBSPs of the dough into the soup. Cover the pot and let simmer for 10 minutes or so until the dumplings are cooked. 

10.14.12_Veggie Pot Pie

I love pot pies. I honestly don't know anyone who doesn't. As a kid I would order the pot pie at KFC and, even now, I occasionally crave what is arguably one of the worst things in the world for you, Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pies. Considering those have over a thousand calories in each pot pie (and now that I don't eat meat), I try to avoid these at all costs. But when Phillip suggested making pot pies for dinner, I thought it'd be a great excuse to use my ramekins again!

The pot pies were super delicious and I can safely say contained fewer calories than any pot pie you're going to get in the frozen food aisle. There is no butter in the filling and the crust is brushed with egg whites. I also used milk rather than cream so all things considered, it could be called relatively healthy...right? Almost?

Veggie Pot Pies 
Serves 2

For the Crust
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
2 TBSP milk

For the Filling
olive oil
2 small red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 small onion, minced
2 cups frozen peas and carrots
1 cup frozen corn
1.5 TBSP flour
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup milk
fresh or dried parlsey
fresh or dried thyme
fresh chives
salt and pepper

In a food processor, pulse together all the dry ingredients.  Add in the butter a little at a time and pulse until the butter has broken down into tiny balls. Separate the egg and reserve the egg white for later. Beat together the yolk and milk then add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough comes together. It may look very crumbly but once you remove it and form it into a ball with your hands it will stay together.Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400º. While the oven is preheating, and the dough is chilling, make the filling. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the frozen vegetables, cooking just until heated through. Season the mixture with the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and cook just for a minute to get rid of the raw flour taste. Pour in the wine and cook until it has fully been absorbed by the vegetables and evaporated. Add the milk, lower the heat, and simmer for another 5 minutes until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat.

Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4" thick. Place an empty ramekin upside down on the dough and trace cut around the ramekin, leaving enough space for the dough to fall over the edge, about 1/2". Divide the mixture evenly between two ramekins and drape the dough over each. Fold the edges down, then brush the dough with the egg white. Cut a slit in the top and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown!

*We had a little extra dough so I baked that too for extra crust! Definitely a good call when you get to the bottom of the ramekins!

10.11.12_Zucchini Burgers with Herb Goat Cheese

My friend Steph (finally) moved to DC last week! She and her mom drove a Penske truck all the way from Massachusetts and then her mom stayed in DC for a few days to help her unpack/hang out. I invited them over for dinner on Thursday so I could catch up with Steph and get to know her mom better. Steph is a vegetarian so I knew they'd be up for it!

A few months back I had seen a few different recipes for squash croquettes and decided to take that idea and make squash and zucchini burgers. As always when making meatless burger patties, I was worried that they would fall apart and these seemed especially precarious. Luckily they stayed together for me in the pan and they came out great! As you know, I LOVE goat cheese (see Buffalo Fried Goat Cheese and Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche) so I made an herb goat cheese to go on the burgers and topped them with some fresh arugula and a slice of tomato. The goat cheese was a great addition and though they may have been a bit messy to eat, were a huge hit!

Zucchini Burgers
Makes 4 large patties
  • 2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 yellow squash, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • oil for frying
1. Grate the zucchini and squeeze as much of the water out of it as you can. Toss the grated zucchini and the squash with a tsp of salt in a colander and let it sit for about 20 minutes to draw out even more of the liquid. If there is too much water the patties will not stay together!
2. In a large bowl combine the zucchini, squash, cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic, flour and egg. Mix until well combined.  If the mixture still seems too wet, add a little extra flour and/or breadcrumbs.
3. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes before dividing into four equal parts and forming into patties.
4. In a separate bowl or on a plate, combine the corn meal, cayenne pepper and salt. Carefully coat each patty with the corn meal mixture. 
5. Heat oil in a deep sided skillet and fry each patty for a few minutes per side, until golden brown. Serve with the herb goat cheese (recipe below), arugula and tomato, or any of your favorite condiments!

Herb Goat Cheese
  • 4oz log of plain goat cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 TBSP Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 TBSP fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh chives, minced
  • S&P to taste
1. Leave the goat cheese out on the counter for about 30 minutes before making the herb goat cheese so it is easier to mix. 
2. In a small bowl combine all ingredients and combine well with a fork. The Greek yogurt gives the goat cheese even more of a tang but feel free to leave it out.

10.03.12_Nectarine and Brie Pizza

I used to not be very adventurous with pizza. The only fruit I ever allowed on my pizza was pineapple, and even that took a while for me to warm up to. A few years ago I had a pear and Gorgonzola pizza while in New York and it was amazing, so when I found a recipe for a Nectarine and Brie pizza I knew that I wanted to try it. To make things easier for myself, I used store bought crusts from Whole Foods after multiple miserable attempts with dough. The only things I changed about this recipe was that I used Greek yogurt instead of Creme Fraiche (we couldn't find any) and I sprinkled sea salt over the entire pizza instead of just the crust.

This pizza was unbelievable. I made two pizzas because our friend, McKinsey, was joining us and Phillip and I can usually put away a whole pizza just the two of us. For the two pizzas I ended up using 3 nectarines and 3 wedges of brie. The hardest part of this recipe was cutting the brie because it was so soft and creamy. Yum. The brie melted so nicely and the sweet nectarines, combined with the peppery kick of the arugula with the honey and salt worked so well together. Apparently I just love honey and salt...also I love how pretty the pizza looked after laying out the nectarines.

10.01.12_Baked Falafel Salad

I'm not sure if this is a national trend or just a DC thing but there are so many create-your-own salad concept restaurants now. One of the local places, Sweetgreen, has a salad called the Chic P that which is amazing. On Monday I was randomly craving it and deciding I would try to create my version at home. I decided to go all out and make my own pita chips to crumble over the top and a homemade lemon tahini dressing. I pulled a Sandra Lee and made the falafel semi-homemade my adding mashed chickpeas into a boxed mix before baking them off in the oven. The salad was super delicious and definitely satisfied my craving.

Baked Falafel Salad
Serves 3-4
  • Lettuce mix
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I put half into the falafel mix and the rest onto the salads)
  • 2 packages of falafel mix (depends on the brand but two packages made 12 falafel for me)
  • pita chips (recipe below)
  • homemade lemon tahini dressing (recipe below)
1. Follow the instructions on the box for the falafel. Once you form the balls, bake them in a 350° oven for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway.
2. While the falafel cool, prep the rest of the ingredients.
3. Build the salad with all the ingredients then break the falafel into pieces on top (I used 3 falafel per salad).
4. Top with crumbled pita chips and homemade lemon tahini dressing!

Homemade Pita Chips
  • Pita Bread
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse Sea salt
1. Cut each pita into 6 equal triangles, then split the pita open so you end up with 12 separate chips from each pita.
2. Put the pita onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and flip to make sure both sides are evenly coated.
3. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake in a 400° oven for 8-10minutes, flipping once. Keep an eye on them and bake them until desired crunchiness!

Homemade Lemon Tahini Dressing
Yields approx. 1/2 cup
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP tahini
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • dash of cayenne
  • salt and pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add more oil and/or water if you desire a thinner consistency.

09.29.12_Vegan Buffalo Pizza

Photo credit: nofaceplate.blogspot.com
Let me start by apologizing for going almost an entire month without posting! I cannot believe that it is already October. Time has been flying by. I started a new job this month which has been keeping me super busy and Phillip also got to travel for his job so needless to say, we've been all over the place. With that being said, I also cannot believe that this is our 100th post! We are still having a great time cooking vegetarian meals and blogging whenever we get the chance. Thanks to everyone who has read any of the posts of the past year or so and continues to read the blog. Now, onto the post!

While Phillip was out of town I went over to have a relaxing night in with Caitlin. She told me she had found a recipe for a Vegan Buffalo Pizza that sounded like it was right up my alley. Caitlin told me that she had to "make the cheese" so I was intrigued to see how this all worked out. The "cheese" itself was a cashew cream with garlic and nutritional yeast which apparently is what gives it the smell and taste of cheese. Caitlin took the lead on this but it seemed simple enough.

Once I got to her place, we roasted slices of tomatoes and mushrooms in a 400° oven for 20 minutes. We tossed the mushrooms in hot sauce before roasting. The recipe calls for Franks Red Hot (mine and Phillip's favorite) but Whole Foods does not carry that so Caitlin bought a different hot sauce. And boy was it hot. It was super delicious but had a serious kick! While the vegetables were roasting, we rolled out store bought dough and chopped up some celery sticks and carrots. We brushed the dough with olive oil then spread a good heaping of the "cheese" out to act as the glue. We topped the pizza with the mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots and celery, before dropping globs of the "cheese" around the pizza.

The pizza baked for about 12-15 minutes in a 450° oven. While the pizza was baking we made the jalapeno parsley puree that got drizzled on top. After I pulsed all the ingredients together it seemed a bit runny, so I added a few TBSP of flour to thicken it up. The pizza was surprisingly delicious though incredibly spicy. I think a large portion of that can be attributed to the hot sauce we used because we even took out the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno. Caitlin made some Fall Sangria to go with it, making for a fun and relaxing night with my best friend! For some reason my pictures turned out terrible (blurry and super dark) so I had to steal one from the original recipe. Thanks nofaceplate!

09.24.12_Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli Pasta

Hello all, this is Phillip again. It's been hard to keep up with the blog recently with our new jobs. Even with the recent changes in our lives, we make sure to stick to our vegetarian home cooking lifestyle, even if we eat dinner a little bit later.

A couple weeks ago, Jonathan had to stay at work late, so I made our dinner. As with everything I cook, the easier the dish is, the better. Jonathan sent me this recipe for Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli and said it would be good to toss into pasta with some olive oil and lemon juice. Here's our version of Ina's great dish:

Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli Pasta
Serves 2

For the roasted broccoli:
  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 TSP lemon zest
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBSP julienned fresh basil leaves
  • 1 TSP red chili flakes
For the pasta:
  •  1/2 lb fettuccine
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

I cut the broccoli florets from the stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets - per Ina's instructions. I cut all of the florets in half, long-ways, and laid them flat on the baking sheet. I tossed the broccoli with the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, and roasted them in the oven for 25 minutes.

While the broccoli was cooking, I boiled the pasta. After draining the pasta and setting it aside, I pulled out the broccoli and tasted a couple florets. I don't ever remember eating roasted broccoli before, but it tasted a lot like the kale chips I like to make. There's just something I must love about roasting dark greens until they're about to char.

I tossed the hot broccoli with a little bit of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan and basil. Once I completed the roasted broccoli, I tossed it throughout the pasta, adding the remaining lemon juice and a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper.

This is a simple meal that was incredibly delicious. Next time, I would add even more broccoli, because I was so obsessed with it.

09.09.12_Spinach Burgers and Potato Wedges

Caitlin posted a link to a recipe for Spinach Burgers on my Facebook wall the other day. She told me that when she made them they fell apart a  bit but that hopefully using real eggs instead of egg replacement would hold the burgers together better. I've had a lot of bad luck with "burgers" falling apart when trying to flip them. I did not want to take any chances with these so I decided to take the recipe and adapt it a bit so that they would hold together better.

The burgers stayed together great and tasted amazing. My mom makes this Spniach Souffle/Casserole that I LOVE and the burgers reminded me of that a lot. We served the burgers on regular buns, and topped them with some hot sauce; you know how much we love hot sauce (see Buffalo Fried Goat Cheese, Tofu Buffalo Wings, Buffalo Popcorn Chik'n). I had a leftover burger for lunch today and put ranch on it since we were out of hot sauce and it was equally delicious. Phillip made some potato wedges as a yummy side dish.

Spinach Burgers
Serves 4  
Adapted from The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook 
  • 1 10oz bag spinach
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cub panko bread crumbs (or regular if that's what you have)
  • 1 TSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • Extra virgin olive oil

1. Defrost the spinach and squeeze out all the excess water. I usually wrap the spinach in paper towels when doing this.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the spinach, cheese, egg whites, egg, onion, garlic pepper flakes, salt, flour and bread crumbs until everything is incorporated. I used my hands for this. Also, I minced the onion super fine because Phillip isn't a huge fan of onion still and I also did not want huge chunks of almost raw onion running throughout the patties. If the mixture seems a little too wet, you can always add more flour or bread crumbs.
3. Divide the mixture into four equal parts and form them into patties.
4. In a large skillet, add some extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat, and cook the patties about 4-5 minutes on each side. Cover the pan so that the patties will steam a bit, helping the cheese melt and the onions soften.
5. Serve plan or with a dash of hot sauce, ranch, or any other toppings you like!

Potato Wedges
Serves 4  
  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TSP fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place potatoes in pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Remove potatoes and place in an ice bath for a minute or two, to make them easier to handle.
4. Cut potatoes into about eight equal wedges. Place wedges in large mixing bowl.
5. Coat potatoes with olive oil, and mix in with the rest of the ingredients. Toss well to make sure it is evenly coated.
6. Place wedges on baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping half-way through.

    08.26.12_California Benedict

    I LOVE Eggs Benedict. I would say that 90% of the time we go to brunch I end up ordering some variation of it. For some reason, I had never made it for myself though. Maybe it was the fear of poaching eggs I had until we made the Poached Eggs on Ricotta Toast, or maybe it was the thought of making a sauce with eggs that only get cooked from acid and indirect heat. Either way, I decided I needed to try and make it at home, including the hollandaise sauce. As you know, I have an obsession with avocado (it's in my top five favorite foods) so to make this benedict vegetarian, we skipped on the Canadian bacon and added avocado to make our own version of California Benedict. It was a little overwhelming, trying to make hash browns from scratch, while constantly beating the hollandaise sauce and poaching four eggs but in the end it came out great. If it's your first time poaching eggs or making the sauce, I definitely recommend making the potatoes in advance and keeping them warm in the oven or taking some help from the store and buying the frozen kind.

    California Benedict
    Serves 2
    1. Fill a high-sided skillet with water and bring to just under a boil.
    2. While waiting for the water, prepare the hollandaise sauce and set aside in a warm place, occasionally stirring.
    3. Toast the English muffins right before you poach the eggs as they take very little time.
    4. Once the water is just under a boil, crack each egg into a small bowl and drop the egg into the simmering water. Allow the egg to set up, then repeat until all four eggs are in the water.
    5. Place a few slices of the avocado onto each half of the english muffin. After the eggs are cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs and place on top of the avocado. Spoon a generous helping of the hollandaise sauce on top and serve.

    Tyler Florence's Hollandaise Sauce
    Full recipe yields 1 cup 
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1 TBSP fresh squeezed lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
    • pinch of cayenne
    • pinch of salt
    1. Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel bowl and until the mixture is thickened and doubled in volume. 
    2. Place the bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water (or use a double boiler,) the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Continue to whisk rapidly. Be careful not to let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble. 
    3. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and doubled in volume. 
    4. Remove from heat, whisk in cayenne and salt. Cover and place in a warm spot until ready to use for the eggs benedict. If the sauce gets too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water before serving.

    08.25.12_Chèvre and Fresh Herb Pizza

    Making vegetarian pizza is not the easiest thing when the person you are sharing it doesn't eat a lot of the toppings you would typically put onto a vegetarian pizza (i.e. onions, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, feta). We were looking for inspiration online and saw a few pizzas that used fresh herbs as the topping. Phillip likes herbs and I LOVE chèvre so I thought the combo of the two would make an incredibly easy and delicious pizza. Instead of red sauce I made an olive oil glaze. This turned out to be one of the best pizzas I have ever had. I think this will become a staple in the Stamper-Halpin household and if you grow herbs then you literally only have to buy cheese. Amazing.

    Chevre and Fresh Herb Pizza
    Serves 2-3
    • One store bought pizza crust (we used Boboli Thin Crust)
    • Extra virgin olive oil
    • powdered Parmesan cheese
    • Red pepper flakes
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
    • 2 oz Chèvre
    • 2 TBSP fresh basil, minced
    • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, minced
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
    • 1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
    1. Preheat the oven to 450°. If you have a pizza stone put the stone in before you preheat the oven. Using the stone will make the crust even crispier!
    2.  To make the olive oil glaze, combine 1/2 cup of olive oil with 1/4 cup of powdered Parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Finely mince or grate one glove of garlic into the mixture. Spread over the pizza like you would sauce. If it seems like too much oil, don't use it all! It depends on the size of your crust.
    3. Sprinkle the pizza with the mozzarella and all the fresh herbs. Crumble the chèvre over the top.
    4. Brush the exposed crust with a little olive oil then bake on the pizza stone or directly on the oven rack for 8-10 minutes.

    08.24.12_Buffalo Popcorn Chik'n

    Phillip's new job is located right by a Hooters and a Nando's Peri Peri. Recently the smell of chicken at lunch time has been hard to resist so he told me we needed to make something with Buffalo Sauce ASAP to curve the craving. We contemplated making the Buffalo Friend Tofu that we have made several times but instead decided to use, you guessed it, seitan instead. Since the seitan comes in little bite size pieces I thought making popcorn chik'n would be a great idea.

    I very rarely fry things and when I do I am often not satisfied with the crispiness I end up with. Luckily for this, the little chik'n/seitan bites came out with a nice, crispy skin. These would also be great served just plain with ketchup or BBQ sauce but because Phillip had specifically requested buffalo, after I fried them I doused them in a mixture of melted butter and buffalo sauce. Obviously they weren't as crispy after the soaked up the sauce but they were still insanely good and definitely satisfied Phillip's craving!

    Buffalo Popcorn Chik'n 
    Serves 2
    • 8oz box seitan cubes
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1/8 tsp cayenne (more or less based on preference)
    • 1.5 cups flour
    • 2 TBSP baking powder
    • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
    • 1/2 cup water
    • oil for frying
    1. Drain the seitan and rinse it thoroughly to remove any of the preserving liquid from the packaging.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, garlic powder, pepper, cayenne, and baking powder).
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and water. Add 1/3 cup of the flour mixture into the wet mixture to create a very loose batter.
    4. Coat the seitan cubes in the wet batter, then drop them into the dry mixture. Toss until the seitan cubes are thoroughly coated in the flour mixture.
    5. Put about a cup of vegetable or canola oil into a 2qt sauce pan. Once the oil starts to ripple, drop the seitan cubes into the oil. Let the seitan fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are nice and golden brown.
    6. Remove the seitan from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
    7. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of melted margarine and 1/2 of buffalo sauce. Toss the fried seitan in the buffalo sauce and serve hot!

      08.17.12_Baked Mac and Cheese with Smart Bacon

      Apparently we've been busy because I have not posted in weeks! Last summer we had a weekly tradition to have friends over for dinner where we watched game shows on TV and made a new cocktail. Somehow this entire summer had almost passed without us reinstating our weekly gathering, but we finally had our first Wild Wednesday Thursday of the summer!

      Phillip recently started a new job and at his going away party from his old job, everyone got him gifts under the purview of "eat well, drink well, live well." One of the gifts we got were ramekins from his coworker Rabiah. I had literally been shopping for ramekins the weekend before and could not find ones the size that I wanted, but luckily, Rabiah read my mind and found the perfect ramekins. I had yet to use them so Phillip suggested I make a baked mac and cheese for this weeks Wild Thursday.

      I did some quick Googling and found a recipe that incorporated bacon. I decided to base my recipe off this one, but sub the bacon for Lightlife's Smart Bacon. It actually worked quite well, except the "bacon" stuck together when it came out of the package making it virtually impossible to separate it into individual strips. I think it was just this package though because I don't remember having this problem when I used it in our Coq-au-vin-less Coq-au-vin. Anyway, the mac and cheese was DELICIOUS and I served it with a simple salad with craisins, sliced almonds, cheese and a homemade lemon vinaigrette. Yum.

      Baked Mac and Cheese with Smart Bacon
      Serves 4
      Adapted from Emeril's Three-Cheese Baked Macaroni
      • 1/2 pound macaroni
      • 5 slices vegetarian bacon
      • 2 cloves minced garlic
      • 3 eggs
      • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
      • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
      • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (I used fresh grated)
      • 2 cups grated Cheddar Jack Chees
      • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (1 ounce)
      • olive oil
      • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
      • 1 TBSP melted butter or margarine
      • salt and pepper
      1. Preheat the oven to 475°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni for 6-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
      2. In a small saute pan, cook the vegetarian bacon in a little olive oil until it starts to get crispy. Add the minced garlic and saute another minute or two until fragrant. Add mixture to the cooked pasta.
      3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, evaporated milk, spices, salt and pepper and cheese. well then add the pasta and bacon to the cheese mixture. Stir well until it is completely incorporated.
      4. Scoop the macaroni into greased 4" ramekins. Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly.
      5. Combine melted butter and breadcrumbs in small bowl. Carefully remove the ramekins from the oven and top each ramekin with a quarter of the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle a little olive oil the top.
      6. Turn the oven to broil and put the ramekins back in the oven for another 2-3 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes then enjoy!

      07.29.12_Homemade Perogies

      I had two plans for the day on Sunday: 1) Stay home and watch the Olympics all day and 2) Make homemade perogies. I randomly had a craving for them last week and decided to find a recipe for them. Since I was making everything from scratch I thought it would make a great weekend activity so I would have plenty of time to make them.

      I started by whisking together flour and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, I combined all the wet ingredients (eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, butter and oil). Next, the wet and dry ingredients were mixed together until all the flour had been incorporated. I then set the dough aside, covered with a towel.

      As the dough sat, I brought a large pot of water to a boil before dropping in 8 peeled and dice potatoes. Once the potatoes were tender (about 15 minutes) I drained them, then Phillip mashed the potatoes with 1 cup of cheddar cheese and 2 TBSP of Cheez Wiz. I'm not sure why the Cheez Wiz was necessary. If I were to make these again I would just up the amount of real cheese and omit the processed.

      Next came assembling the perogies. I cut the dough in half and rolled it out on the counter which I had lightly floured until it was about 1/8-1/4" thick. I do not own cookie cutters so I used a mason jar lid to cut out the circles of dough. I scooped about a TBSP or so of the potato mixture onto each dough circle then used a basting brush to rim each circle with water. To form the perogies, I folded the dough in half, then pinched the edges closed with my fingers. Finally I reformed the perogies into a nice crescent moon shape and smoothed out the edges that I had pinched shut. I placed the perogies onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper before popping them into the freezer for a few hours.

      Once we were ready to eat that night, I brought a large pot of water to a boil before dropping in 10 of the perogies. The perogies cooked for about 6-8 minutes before the floated to the top of the water which is how you know they are ready. To get some extra color and crunch, I heated a combination of oil and butter in a large skillet. After the perogies were done cooking in the boiling water, I transferred them to the skillet and cooked them for a few minutes on each side until they were nice and golden.  Then it was time to eat! I served the perogies with the Lightlife's Italian-Style sausages with caramelized onions we had tried when we first started the blog. The perogies were incredibly delicious and much better than any frozen brand I have tried. They took some effort but were well worth it. The recipe made about 40 perogies (half of them are in our freezer for another time) and would be great with any kind of filling you want! Our friend Meghan came over for dinner and even though she's not a vegetarian really enjoyed the Lightlife sausages too!

      07.17.12_Pizza Hut Breadsticks and Zucchini Sweet Corn Pizza

      I'll be honest. Pizza Hut was never my favorite pizza chain. I preferred Domino's or Papa John's (who doesn't love that garlic dipping sauce) but I loved Pizza Hut as a kid for two reasons: 1) Book It: Pizza Hut's Reading Incentive Program and 2) their breadsticks. Lucky for me, Pizza Hut's have popped up in convenient locations, such as Target and in one of the UVa dining halls, where you can buy just an order of breadsticks. I had planned on making this Zucchini Sweet Corn pizza for dinner some time this week already when I came across a recipe for Pizza Hut style breadsticks. I knew immediately what I would be having for dinner that night. The only thing I had to buy was a can of tomato sauce and Italian seasoning!

      These breadsticks were amazing. As you know, I don't have a stand mixer so I made the dough by hand and they still came out great. Thank you US Masala for this amazing recipe. I will definitely be making these on a fairly regular basis and will never have to make a trip to Target just for some overcooked breadsticks sitting under a heat lamp again! The Sweet Corn and Zucchini pizza was incredibly easy and a yummy alternative to the typical pizza. It was certainly lighter and paired quite nicely with our Pizza Hut breadsticks!

      Pizza Hut Style Breadsticks
      Makes 10-12
      From US Masala 
      • 2 cups all purpose flour
      • 1/2 cup warm water
      • 1/4 cup warm milk
      • 1 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
      • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
      • 2 TBSP melted butter
      • 3/4 TBSP sugar
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
       For the Seasoning
      • 1/2 tsp oregano
      • 1 tsp garlic powder
      • 3 TBSP Parmesan powdered cheese
      • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
      For the Dipping Sauce
      • 1 cup tomato sauce
      • 1/2 tsp sugar
      • 1/2 tsp oregano
      • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
      • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
      • salt to taste
      • red pepper flakes to taste
      1. Mix the yeast, sugar, warm water and milk in a large bowl. Let it stand for 3-4 minutes then add salt, butter, and garlic powder.
      2. Slowly add the flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. If the dough seems a bit sticky, add a little bit more flour. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes.
      3. Pour the oil onto a 9x13 pan and spread it out evenly. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about the same size as the pan. Transfer the dough to the pan. I used my hands at this point to squish the dough so that it would be exactly the same size as the pan. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise for about an hour in a warm spot.
      4. For the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pot and let it simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or so.
      5. Preheat the oven to 450°. Once the dough has risen, cut it into 10-12 breadsticks with a pizza cutter or a knife. Brush the dough with some olive oil then sprinkle all of the seasoning ingredients over the top.
      6. Bake the breadsticks for about 15 minutes until the they are golden brown and the edges are nice and crusty! Serve fresh out the oven and revel in the fact that you just made Pizza Hut Breadsticks at home.

      07.14.12_Warm Toast with Honey Butter and Sea Salt

      Ok so this post is probably unnecessary but I feel a need to share this new obsession of ours with the world. For my birthday we went to Estadio, a local Spanish tapas restaurant for brunch. One of the options was Warm Toast with Local Honey Butter & Sea Salt. It was honestly one of the best things I have ever eaten for brunch. So simple, yet ridiculously delicious. I have been raving about this to our friends ever since and decided that I needed to recreate this at home. It is just as easy as you would imagine. I soften half a stick of butter then use my hand mixer to mix in 1-1.5 TBSP honey into the butter. I then let the butter reset for a few minutes in the fridge or the freezer (depending on how much of a rush I'm in) and then serve the butter with toast made out of good, crusty bread, and sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt. So. Good. We have now made this 3-4 times and served it the other weekend when my old roommate Liz and our friend Christina came over for brunch. Even with quiche, fruit, and mimosas on the table, the toast with honey butter and sea salt was still by far my favorite thing. 

      Toast with Honey Butter and Sea Salt
      Serves 4-6

      • 1/2 a stick butter
      • 1-1.5 TBSP Honey
      • Coarse sea salt
      1. Soften the butter by letting it sit out or by popping it into the microwave for about 20 seconds.
      2. Add the honey and use a hand mixer to get the honey completely incorporated into the butter.
      3. Put the honey butter into the fridge or freezer to reset while you make the toast.
      4. Spread the butter onto the hot toast and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. Become addicted.

      07.11.12_Veggie Tales Pad Thai

      I have been making this dish since my second year of college. Now that I think about it, I think I have made this dish more than anything else actually. I call it "Pad Thai" because it was what I was attempting to make in the quickest and easiest way at the time but Thai Peanut-Buttery noodles may be more appropriate. Over the years the recipe has changed a little, and depending on my mood I included different things, but overall the basics have stayed the same. Noodles, a peanut butter-based sauce, and a protein. I got the inspiration after watching an episode of a cooking show on Food Network (I can't even remember which one now as its been too long) and then combined several different recipes, eventually ending up with my own. This dish has always been one of my "go-to" meals when I need something super quick and incredibly easy but still delicious and fresh. Because of our new-found love for seitan (we have now used it 3 times in the past 2 weeks, see CPK Copycat BBQ Chik'n Chopped Salad), we decided to use it in my Pad Thai. In my opinion seitan has an Asian undertone (at least the brand we buy) so I thought it worked incredibly well in this dish. The recipe can be made vegan using the right kind of noodles and omitting the egg.

      Veggie Tales "Pad Thai"
      Serves 2-3
      • 1 box of Pad Thai noodles (Fettuccine also works)
      • 1 box of seitan or any protein you want
      • 2 TBSP peanut butter
      • 2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
      • 2 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
      • 2 TBSP warm water
      • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
      • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
      Optional ingredients and garnishes:
      • 1/2 cup crushed peanuts
      • 1 egg
      • handful of mung bean sprouts
      • shredded carrots
      1. Combine the tamari, rice wine vinegar, water and red chili flakes in a medium size bowl. Marinate the seitan in the mixture for 30mins to an hour.
      2. Bring large pot of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package. Pad Thai noodles typically take 4-5 minutes.
      3. Remove seitan from sauce with a slotted spoon and cook in a small skillet over medium-high heat, until seitan is warm all the way through. Do not get rid of the sauce as you will be using it to dress the noodles later. 
      4. If you are using egg, mix it in a bowl before cook it in the same pan.
      5. Whisk the peanut butter into the tamari, rice wine vinegar, and water mixture until the peanut butter has broken down and formed a sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, feel free to add more tamari or water.
      6. Drain the noodles and combine them with the sauce and seitan. Toss in the cilantro, saving a little bit for garnish.
      7. Add any of the additional toppings and enjoy. Serve with a side of steamed edamame! 

      06.29.12_Spring Veggie Pasta

      Phillip and I always try to eat something a little more substantial on Fridays before going out for the night. Too many nights in college taught me light meals (ex: soup, sushi, etc) do not cut it when you plan on drinking. One of the things I like about vegetarian cooking is that typically the meals are lighter, but when the objective is a heavy meal it can be tricky. I turn to pasta a lot when I want something more substantial, and this dish, though light with all its veggies, was definitely filling. I think I even saw Phillip eat a mushroom or two...

      Spring Pasta with Snap Peas
      Serves 3-4
      • 1/2 pound farfalle
      • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, halved
      • 1 TBSP olive oi
      • 1 lb mushrooms roughly chopped
      • 1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
      • 1/3 cup dry white wine
      • a few handfuls fresh spinach
      • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
      • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
      •  1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
      1) Boil a large pot of water then cook pasta. When there's about one minute left, add snap peas and cook 30 more seconds. Drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water.
      2) In same pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sautee the mushrooms until they become tender. 3) Add cream and wine and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the Parmesan and spinach. Stir until the spinach wilts.
      4) Return the pasta and peas to pot and slowly add the pasta water until the sauce is at your desired consistency.
      5) Finally toss in the basil and season with some S&P.

      06.25.12_CPK Copycat BBQ Chik'n Chopped Salad

      So I am obsessed with the Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad at California Pizza Kitchen. When Caitlin Skyped me from Thailand to tell me she was going vegan one of my first responses was, "What about CPK?" It was a devastating blow to hear that she and I could no longer split the BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad and the BBQ Chicken Pizza (can you tell I love BBQ Chicken...really its BBQ sauce which is in my top 5 favorite foods). Anyway if you haven't had it, this salad is amazing. It has sweet corn, black beans, jicama, cilantro, basil, tortilla strips and Monterey Jack tossed in homemade herb ranch dressing. Topped with BBQ chicken, tomatoes and scallions (add Avocado for an additional charge).

       Throughout college (before Caitlin was vegan) we tried to recreate this salad on many occasions. One time I went as far as Googling copycat recipes for the salad dressing and made it. Since then I have come up with a simplified version of the salad that used to be a go-to meal. We don't eat salads that often since Phillip is not a fan of salad dressings (or any condiments for that matter) but the other day I decided it was time to have this. Obviously I had to come up with a chicken substitution so I thought we should give seitan a try because he had not used it yet in any of our recipes. All I did was cut up all the veggies, heat up the seitan on the stove then toss it in a store bought BBQ sauce before assembling the salads. I always drizzle Ranch dressing and a little extra BBQ sauce then sprinkle with cilantro before serving. It definitely satisfies my craving and saves me a trip to CPK!

      P.S. If you haven't used seitan before I highly recommend it. I like the taste of it before even dousing it in the BBQ sauce. The texture was great which is always my biggest issue when it comes to tofu or fake meats. I will definitely be using seitan a lot more in the future.

      CPK Copycat BBQ Chik'n Chopped Salad
      Serves 2-3

      • Lettuce (amount depends on how big of a salad you want)
      • 1/2 a tomato, diced
      • 1/2 cup corn (I used canned)
      • 1/2 cup black beans (strained and rinsed)
      • 1/2 jicama (I subbed cucumber this time because we already had some in the fridge)
      • 1 avocado
      • 1 package of seitan
      • BBQ Sauce
      • Ranch Dressing
      • Tortilla chips (for garnish)
      • Cilantro (for garnish)
      • Monterrey Jack cheese (we used mozzarella, again, because we had it on hand)
      1. Dice the tomato, jicama, and avocado. 
      2. Heat seitan in a skillet (only takes a minute or two), toss with BBQ sauce and season with salt, pepper (as needed) and some dried cilantro.
      3. Assemble the salads (lettuce, tomato, jicama, beans, corn, seitan and avocado). Drizzle salad with Ranch Dressing and extra BBQ sauce (if desired).
      4. Top with crushed tortilla chips and a some cilantro.

      06.21.12_Pesto Pizza

      I ended up going to two Nats games this week, one for Father's Day and one with coworkers. If you know me at all you know going to one baseball game is a lot for me so this was a kind of big deal. The game on Thursday was a night game so Phillip and I decided we wanted to eat a little something before we went to the game so we could just buy snacks and beer rather than our entire dinner there. I did a quick survey of things we had around the house and decided that a Pesto pizza would be the quickest and easiest solution. 

      As I've written about in past blogs (see Pineapple Pizza) I love these pizza dough packages from Kroger where all you have to do is add 1/2 cup of water and voilà you have pizza dough. I always spruce it up a bit by adding some grated Parmesan cheese and cracked black better into the dough, and this time I added a little dried basil as well to go along with the pesto theme. Obviously you can make this pizza with a pre-made crust like Boboli, use store made dough from Whole Foods, or be really ambitious and make your own dough if you aren't in a hurry like we were. After I readied the dough, I used leftover pesto from when we made the White Bean Kale and Pesto soup for the sauce. I mixed in a little extra olive oil to make it more easily spreadable, then topped the pizza with a combination of mozzarella and shredded four cheese blend, and finally sprinkled some pine nuts and a little more dried basil to finish. I always keep my pine nuts in the freezer so as Rachael Ray taught me, the oils won't spoil. Into the oven for 10 minutes at 475º and we had a perfect pre-game pizza!

      06.19.12_Giada's Campanelle with Spicy Mint Sauce

      Phillip has been getting a lot more alone time now that I have to stay at work until a normal time while he continues to get off at 4:00pm. One day while I was stuck at work, he watched the Food Network without me (I found this somewhat surprising) and he saw Giada making this Campanelle with Spicy Mint Sauce. He found the recipe and sent it to me. It looked super simple (per usual) and sounded really good. I'm always intrigued by savory dishes that use mint since we typically associate mint with dessert. Anyway we added it to the list and decided to make it one weekday when I didn't get off right at 5:00 since it seemed so simple to make.  Basically you boil pasta and then make a sauce similar to pesto, but instead of using basil and pine nuts, you use mint and a Serrano pepper. Delicious. We'd recommend adding a little salt and pepper to help season the pasta as well. A little S&P never hurts!

      As a side I decided to make some homemade garlic bread since we had leftover bread from when we made the White Bean Kale and Pesto soup. I took a few slices of crusty bread, and lathered both sides with a mixture of melted butter and garlic powder. I sprinkled some dried parsley onto both sides and then baked them in a 400º oven for about 8-10 minutes.

      Giada's Campanelle with Spicy Mint Sauce

      • Salt
      • 1 pound campanelle pasta
      • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
      • 1 ¼ cups chopped fresh mint
      • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
      • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 large serrano chile, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
      • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

      1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.

      2. Combine the mint, cheese, oil, chile and garlic in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

      3. Drain pasta and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the cheese and toss until coated.

      4. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss until coated.

      06.15.12_Veggie Tales' Lo Mein

      Lo mein is one of my favorite dishes to order when we get Chinese carryout. Something about the endless takeout box of greasy noodles is just so good. I decided I would try to make my own Lo Mein and did a little Googling to see if I could find a recipe. Each recipe had something I didn't like or wanted to sub out so in the end I just merged several different recipes to create my own. I didn't realize it at the time but that the dish is actually vegan (except for the honey we used was not).

      Like spaghetti, the name actually refers to the noodle, not the actual recipe so this dish ended up being less like Chinese restaurant Lo Mein than I had hoped for, but it definitely had good spice and tasted great. The dish was sweet but had a nice kick from the cayenne and an unexpected flavor from the curry. We had our friend McKinsey over for dinner that night and she brought over some vegetarian egg rolls as a side.

      Veggie Tales' Lo Mein
      Serves 5-6

      • 1 package Lo Mein noodles (can sub spaghetti)
      • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
      • 1 cup shredded carrots
      • 1/2 cup sliced red bell peppers
      • 1 onion, sliced
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts 
      • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger 
      • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
      • 1 cup veggie stock
      • 2 tablespoons honey
      • 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce
      • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
      • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

      1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook lo mein noodles according to directions on package (approximately 8 to 10 minutes).

      2. While noodles are cooking, heat oil in a large wok or saute pan. Stir fry carrots, peppers, onion, ginger and garlic until tender.

      3. Mix cornstarch and chicken broth in a large mixing cup or small bowl. After cornstarch has disolved, stir in honey, tamari, cayenne pepper and curry powder.  Add to vegetable mixture and cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. 

      4. Remove from heat and stir in bean sprouts and add sesame oil. If you add the beans sprouts too early they will basically dissolve.

      5. Finally, toss the cooked noodles with the stir fry and dinner is served!

      06.13.12_White Bean Kale and Pesto Soup

      I know I say this in every blog post but talk about easy. Seriously I don't know why people don't make homemade soup more often. It is so simple, tastes great,  and there are endless possibilities. I have bookmarked a lot of soups but never really got around to making them (except for the Roasted Corn Soup and Matzo Ball Soup) but when I saw this recipe for White Bean Kale and Pesto Soup I knew we had to try it sooner than later. 

      Normally on Wednesdays during the summer Phillip has softball with his colleagues after work. He had asked me to come watch this week so I decided I would go ahead and make the soup the night before so that when we got home from the game, dinner would just need to be heated up. I thought this would be a good recipe to make the night before since soups and stews always seem to get better the longer they sit as the flavors marry.

      All I had to do was cut up 4 carrots, dice an onion, and mince 4 cloves of garlic. After that laborious (italics=sarcasm font) prep work was complete, I put a couple of TBSP of oilve oil in a big stock pot over medium heat. I dropped in the carrots and onions and cooked them until they started to soften, about 5-8 minutes. Next, I added in the garlic, oregano, parsley, and cooked for another minute until until everything was nice and fragrant. Finally I poured in 4 cups of veggie stock, the white beans (which I had strained and rinsed), and the kale. Whole Foods had frozen kale so I opted for this so that I would be able to use as much as I wanted without worrying about left overs. So often kale is sold in those massive bags so I thought the frozen would be a better option since I didn't have a need for 2lbs of kale today, but I digress. Finally, I brought the mixture to a boil, lowered the temp and let it simmer for 15 minutes.

      Normally what you would do next is remove the soup from the heat and mix in 1/2 cup of grated cheese and 1/2 cup pesto, top it off with some fresh nutmeg and you'd be all set. Since we weren't eating it until the next day I stopped here, then when we were ready to eat it the next night, I reheated the soup on the stove, and mixed in the cheese and pesto then. I used store bought pesto because I was being lazy but obviously you could use fresh and it would probably taste even better. I would have never thought of mixing pesto into a soup like that but it added that extra flavor to make the soup special. We served the soup alongside some crusty bread for dipping. Scrumptious. Here's the recipe.

      White Bean Kale and Pesto Soup
      From Katie at the Kitchen Door

      Serves 4 to 5
      • 2 TBS olive oil
      • 1 onion, chopped
      • 4 carrots, sliced
      • 4 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
      • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
      • 4 c. veggie stock
      • 1 1/2 c. frozen kale (I ended up putting in almost 3 cups of frozen kale because it just didn't seem like enough/we love kale)
      • 1 can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
      • 1/2 c. pesto
      • 1/2 c. grated pecorino cheese
      • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
      1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add onion and carrot, and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes, or until vegetables have begun to soften.  Add garlic, oregano, and parsley, and cook 2 minutes more, stirring.
      2. Add chicken broth, kale, and beans, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until kale and carrots are tender.  Remove from heat and stir in pesto, cheese, and nutmeg.  Serve hot with additional grated cheese.

      06.10.12_Soba Noodle and Raw Veggie Salad

      For our monthly dinner party last month our friend Katie made us these Soba Noodles and Raw Veggie Salad. She told us that it was super simple and that she makes it pretty often in large batches because the leftovers are great for lunch. This weekend after a lot of time in the sun and a lot of drinking, Phillip and I were both in the mood for something light and refreshing. We thought these soba noodles would be a perfect detox dinner. As if the recipe weren't easy enough, I got super lazy and bought shredded carrots and red cabbage from the salad bar at Whole Foods to speed up the process. Seriously, this could not have been any easier.

      Here's the recipe:
      • 8 ounces soba noodles (we used the entire package which was 9.5oz)
      • 1/2 cup tamari
      • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
      • 2 tablespoons canola oil
      • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
      • 1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
      • 1 bunch green onions (I halved this and only put it into part of the noodles since Phillip isn't a big fan) 
      • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
      • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
      • 1/4 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced (I used about a cup, cup and half pre-shredded)
      • 3 whole carrots, shredded with vegetable peeler (again I used about a cup, cup and half pre-shredded)
      • 2 cups shelled edamame, steamed
      • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
      • one lime juiced (optional) 

      Cook the soba noodles in a big pot of water. They do not take long at all, usually 3-4 minutes. While the noodles cooked I whisked together the tamari, sesame oil, canola oil, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. I quickly toasted the sesame seeds before I chopped the onions and red pepper since I bought everything else shredded and then when the noodles were done tossed everything together. They noodles were just as delicious as we remembered and were even better cold the next day for lunch. Definitely a great go-to easy meal when you want something super quick but super delicious.

      06.08.12_Korean Bibimbap over Rice

      Jonathan got a new job a month or two ago. You may have noticed a quick dip in our content around that time, but we are definitely back on track. Though his new job is a great opportunity for him, it sometimes keeps him at work late. The disparity in our schedule was very obvious on Friday, as I got off work at noon, and he left at 6 p.m. I was feeling rather daring, so I decided to take on the Korean Bibimbop.

      I have never had this dish, but it took one look at the ingredient list on the wonderful blog, Queen of Quinoa, for me to know how much I'd love it- Carrots? Zucchini? Asparagus? A FRIED EGG? Yes, please, on all accounts.

      We made very few modifications to this dish. We doubled all of the ingredients, and (after realizing we did not have any quinoa in the house) served it over rice instead of quinoa. My friend Meghan left work early to come over for our periodic "wine-time" - does anyone but Jonathan work until 5 on Fridays? - and ended up staying for dinner, which is why I doubled the recipe.

      I started by prepping all of the vegetables. I could have used a mandolin for this, but I was content using our knife. After julienning the carrots and zucchini, I removed the ends of the snap peas and set these vegetables aside for later. Finally, I chopped the asparagus into 1" pieces and tossed them in olive oil, S&P and red pepper flakes, and laid them out on a baking sheet.

      I roasted the asparagus at 400 degrees for ~20 minutes. While that was cooking, I set up the rice cooker to make four servings of rice. I threw the peas, carrots and bean sprouts into the steamer basket and let them cook above the rice.

      Once the asparagus and the steamed vegetables were cooked, I sauteed the zucchini for a few minutes. I then added the asparagus, steamed vegetables and tamari to the pan, along with a couple teaspoons of Sriracha for some much needed heat. I let this cook for a minute or two.

      To prepare each dish, I put the cooked rice in the bottom of each bowl and placed the vegetable mixure on top and added some scallions. For the finishing touch, I cooked three delicious sunny-side-up eggs and laid them over the vegetables. Traditionally, this dish is served with each vegetable in its own separate section of the bowl, but let's be honest- we're going to stir them all together anyway.

      This was an incredible dish. It takes a lot of prep and includes many different cooking methods, but it is definitely worth it. Our guest Meghan enjoyed it, too. It's always a good sign when two midwesterners - she and I - go crazy about an asian veggie stir fry!

      I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Vegetarian Blogs.

      06.05.12_Spinach and Ricotta Whole Wheat Empanadas

      There is a place down the street called Julia's Empanadas that is A-MAZING. They are super cheap and we love getting them late night after going out. They have two vegetarian options there, one of which is this Spinach Empanada. When trying to come up with meals for the week we remembered that we had some whole wheat dough from Whole Foods leftover from another night. I decided to try and recreate Julia's empanada, but make it a little healthier by using the whole wheat dough and baking them instead of frying. Obviously if we had fried them they would have been even more delicious, but they were still really great baked, just not as flaky and buttery as a normal empanada. They were super easy to make since I used the store bought dough. If you're feeling extra adventurous you could definitely make the dough yourself.

      Spinach and Ricotta Whole Wheat Empanadas
      Makes 4 empanadas
      • 1/2 package of refrigerated whole wheat dough (if you want to use the full package just double the rest of the ingredients)
      • TBSP olive oil
      • 3/4 cup of frozen spinach
      • 1/2 cup ricotta
      • 1/4 grated Parmesan 
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1/2 medium onion
      • Salt and pepper
      • Freshly grated nutmeg
      • 1 egg (I didn't have an egg so I used a mixture of butter and milk instead of an egg wash)
      1. Preheat oven to 450°.
      2. Defrost the spinach and ring out the extra spinach.
      3. Heat a TBSP of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion and cook until they begin to get translucent. Add the garlic and defrosted spinach and cook until the spinach is heated through. Set mixture aside to let cool.
      4. In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan and the spinach mixture. Add in salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Taste the mixture to adjust seasoning as necessary.
      5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until its about 1/8-1/4" thick. Use a small bowl to cut out circles of dough. Half a package should easily make 4 empanadas.
      6. Scoop 2-3 TBSP of the spinach and cheese mixture onto each circle of dough. Fold the dough in half and crimp the edges of the empandas with a fork.
      7. Place the empanadas on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Brush each empanada with an egg wash. Cut an X into each empanada to let steam escape while baking.
      8. Bake the empanadas for about 15 minutes and then enjoy!

      06.04.12_Oven Parmesan and Pea Risotto

      Ok, so the coloration of this picture is terrible. I'm not sure what happened. But trust me, it was delicious. Anyway, several months ago I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa where she made "risotto" in the oven. I had been waiting to make it because I did not have pots that were oven-safe. Now that I have my new Calphalon pots though it was time to try this recipe out! We invited our vegetarian friends, Eric and Horia, over for dinner so I thought this would be a perfect recipe to try.

      Technically speaking it was not a risotto since risotto actually refers to a cooking technique. Regardless, the end product came out creamy and delicious like a real risotto but was so much easier. Literally there is no way to mess this one up and no one would ever know you cheated. All I had to do was put 1.5 cups of arborio rice and 4 cups of stock (the recipe called for chicken but I subbed veggie for obvious reasons) while the oven was preheating to 350°. The pot went into the oven for 45 minutes until almost all of the stock was absorbed. I then mixed in 1/2 cup of white wine, another cup of stock, 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp of black pepper.  I'm sure Ina would have been disgusted by the wine I used since it wasn't a goooood white wine but Whole Food's Three Wishes Chardonnay did the trick for us. I stirred everything together for 2-3 minutes then added a cup of frozen peas and stirred until they were defrosted.

      After plating I added a little extra cheese and fresh cracked black pepper before serving. Eric and Horia brought a baguette and a bottle of wine and it made for a perfect meal! I was really surprised how good it was and how insanely easy it was. If you have been afraid to make a classic risotto definitely give this one a try. I think I'll be using this technique from now on just because it was so easy and then I can add in whatever I want. Maybe I'll make Butternut Squash Risotto again this way...

      05.29.12_Dal Palak

      It has been a while since we made an Indian dish so when I came across a recipe for "Very Simple Dal Palak" which is vegan, I thought it would be a good one to try out. The original recipe said it made 8 cups which seemed like way too much so I decided to half the recipe. And I'm really glad I did because we still had more than enough for two dinners and two lunches. I am continually surprised by how easy these Indian dishes are. They are always super simple, they just use spices that you might not normally have on hand. The only unsual spice this recipe called for was Garam Masala, which I had from when we made the Paneer Tikka Masala, otherwise the ingredients were very straight forward. Here's the recipe cut in half:
      • 1/2 large onion, diced
      • 1 packages (about 8 ounces) mushrooms, roughly chopped
      • 1 medium-sized red or white potatoes, cubed
      • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
      • 3 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 teaspoons coriander
      • 1/2 Tablespoon garam masala
      • 1 teaspoons red chili powder
      • 1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
      • 5 ounce bunch of spinach (or more if desired)
      • 1/2 cup lentils (the recipe called for red but I had black on hand and used those instead)
      • 1/2 cups of water or broth
      • 1 Tablespoons salt
      • 2 scallions, chopped
      For my birthday my parents got me new Calphalon pots and pans so I was super excited to use them for the first time making this recipe. In a large soup pot, I sauteed the onion and mushrooms in some olive oil. While those were browning, I diced the potato then added it to the pot. After a couple of minutes and the edges of the potato started to become translucent, I made a well in the middle of the pot and added the garlic, ginger, and all the spices. I stirred everything together before adding in the tomatoes (and their juices), the lentis, and the spinach. I tossed everything together so that all the spinach would start to wilt. Finally, I added the water and brought to a boil, before reducing the heat and simmering for about 45 minutes. At the very end I tossed in the chopped scallions, reserving a few for garnish. 

      We served the Dal Palak over a bed of rice with some store bought naan on the side. The apartment smelt so good while this was cooking and the end result was super delicious. I think this would actually be a great recipe to try and cook in a slow cooker because it seems like the type of dish that would only get better the longer it cooked. Definitely a good recipe to try if you want to try a very easy Indian dish that doesn't hit you over the head with a ton of spices.

      05.23.12_Raw Vegan Wraps

      Ok so I'm not going to lie. When people stereotypically think about what vegans eat, I would say this meal falls into that category. While it was tasty and the first meal I've made that involved essentially zero cooking, it felt like we were eating vegan considering it was raw vegetables. Delicious. But raw. If we were to go vegan I feel like this type of meal would be the exception, considering we have made a ton of meals that were either vegan, or could easily be made vegan, that were much more involved and did not feel like a vegan meal (i.e. Coq-au-vin-less Coq au Vin, Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas, etc). That being said, I still recommend trying them. I think they would make a great quick and easy lunch for sure.

      The only "cooking" involved in this recipe was making a pecan paste. I took 1 cup of raw pecans, a TBSP of tamari, and a tsp of cumin and olive oil and blended them together in my Cuisinart. That's it. Then I sliced up a red pepper and avocado and it was time to construct the wraps. The recipe I found called for using collard greens as the wrap but we decided to use tortillas since I'm not a huge fan of collards. I spread the pecan paste onto the tortillas, then topped with sprouts, the red pepper, and avocado, then squeeze some fresh lime juice over top. That's it. I did bake some sweet potato fries so we would have a side, but again, that was hardly "cooking."

      05.07.12_Homemade Samoas

      The Braised Coconut Spinach and Chickpeas we made last week called for shredded coconut as a garnish. I forgot to tell Phillip that it should be unsweeted so when he came home from the store with a big bag of sweetened coconut, we decided we'd be doing some baking in the near future. While recovering from Cinco de Mayo, Phillip found this recipe for homemade Somoas, my favorite Girl Scout Cookie, so we decided baking would be a good way to spend the day.

      The whole process took a while so it was a good thing we did it on a lazy Sunday with no plans. The trickiest part was spreading the caramel and coconut mixture onto each cookie...super sticky. They came out delicious though. They did not taste exactly like real Samoas but they definitely did the trick and satisfied my cravings. One recipe we found suggested using store bought shortbread cookies to save time. I think I would do this if I were to make them again to speed up the process a bit, but we wanted to make them from scratch for our first attempt. I never bake so I do not have cookie cutters. It was fun being resourceful and finding different things to cut the cookies out with. We ended up using a small tupperware for the cookies themselves and then a metal Slurpee straw I had from college to make the smaller circle on the inside. They didn't end up quite as pretty as we had hoped but whatever, they tasted good!