Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beets with olive oil

When I think about how I've embraced this meatless diet, I almost have to laugh at myself. Seriously. It's very funny. When I was growing up, we were a meat eating family for sure. My mother was raised that way and it would have been unheard of not to have meat in your diet. In fact, I think she found all vegetarians to be far out hippies from California. But I detested ALL vegetables with the exception of corn. My mother made the standard veggies: corn, carrots, peas, green beans and spinach. Many a summer evening I remember having to sit at the table, long after my brothers were excused, staring at a plate of cold, slimy spinach until I finished it. There were some things even she never ventured in to: beets, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and rarely broccoli. I love my mother to pieces but she killed vegetables in boiled water. It wasn't until I was an adult with a changed taste palette that I learned how to prepare veggies in different ways to make them actually good. But I digress. Recently, we were at my step son's house and he had prepared beet salad. I wrinkled my nose up when he offered me a taste. Breen challenged me so I took a bite. It was really quite good. He had them drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper. They kind of taste like a slightly sweet white potato. I made them last night as a side vegetable. Not only are they a gorgeous shade of purple-red, they also have great nutritional benefits.

Beets with Olive Oil, sea salt and pepper

one bunch of beets (about 5 nice medium sized roots)
Olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

1. Rinse the beets, and cut the leafy stems off
2. In a large pot, fill it with water and bring to a boil
3. Drop the beet roots (unpeeled) in to the water
4. Cook on low boil for 25-30 minutes
5. Remove beets from water, let them cool and peel away the skin
6. Slice the beets in to thin slices and toss with olive oil, sea salt and pepper

Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lemon Orzo with summer vegetables

I've got to give credit where credit is due. Somehow, I stumbled upon a wonderful blog called Short Stop. She features some of the tastiest recipes. Since I was just writing about reinventing the wheel for my side dishes, there was no way I could pass this one up. It was so tasty and it makes for great leftovers the next day. You can serve it any temperature you like and I imagine that you could add any variation of vegetables. This is a great way to enjoy some of the fresh summer produce!

Lemon Orzo with tangy lemon vinaigrette

5 ears fresh corn
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Add orzo and cook for 7 minutes. While orzo is cooking, remove corn from cob, carefully cutting corn off of the cob with a with a knife or corn zipper. After orzo cooks for 7 minutes, add corn to the pot and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Drain corn and orzo in a colander and set aside.

In a large bowl, using a whisk combine the juice of one lemon, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon rind from the juiced lemon and beat with a whisk until thoroughly combined. Add orzo and corn, peppers, basil and parsley. Toss to combine.

Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

reinventing the side dish

I'm not sharing any recipes today; just some random thoughts I've been having about food this morning. It's been a few weeks since I got back up on the meatless wagon and I've managed to stay there, which I'm proud of. Yesterday, we attended a 50th birthday party for my brother. His wife had ordered all sorts of smoked meats and pulled pork. This is usually what a meatless eater encounters at parties. Thankfully, there was macaroni and cheese, baked beans, corn bread and salads. The meat smelled good but I looked at it and didn't long to have any of it on my plate. I guess I'm making some progress.

This morning I woke up and found myself thinking about food. When I was eating meat, it became the main attraction of my meal and the side dishes took a back seat; almost an afterthought. But now that I'm eating meatless, the side dishes have become my main dishes. I no longer look at a mound of plain rice as a complete meal. I'm almost forced to reinvent the wheel so to speak. I have to find new ways to incorporate more items in to the rice. When I was eating meat, I would get bored to tears if I ate chicken every night. The same goes with tofu. I love it, but I get bored eating it all the time. One thing that has been helping me immensely is to look at meat recipes and exchange the meat for mock beef strips or tofu. I enjoy getting creative with my cooking and finding solutions to keep meatless eating a satisfying and healthy experience.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies and a product review

I keep a binder in my kitchen that holds all of the interesting meatless recipes that I find on the Internet. It was a rainy day yesterday and I thought it would be the perfect day to bake something. I tried these Chewy Peanut Butter Brownies and I have to say that they are delicious. Not too sweet. Made with whole wheat flour. Very dense and moist. Perfectly paired with a glass of cold vanilla soymilk. When I make these again, I think I'll melt some milk chocolate and swirl it through the batter for an extra touch of sweetness.

1/3 cup margarine, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees Celsius). Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together margarine and sugars; add eggs one at a time, and beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in peanut butter, vanilla, and water.
In a separate mixing bowl, mix together flours with salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir into peanut butter mixture and blend well. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Cool and cut into 16 squares.

Let's talk presentation for a moment, shall we? Every desert deserves to be elevated to new heights..literally. Here, I took an old glass candlestick and an old plate that I found at a thrift store. I took some epoxy and glued the two together. Let the epoxy set for a few hours (even overnight) and the result is a fabulous cake stand for all of your sweet treats. People will think you spent a small fortune for it at a little swank kitchen shop but you know that all it cost you was an old plate and a candlestick. I've seen this done where people actually managed to drill through the china and embellish the plate with old crystal chandelier pieces. Let your imagination do the work. In addition, you can bring this as a hostess gift to your next dinner party or luncheon.

Now on the product review. Yesterday, I stopped at the grocery store for a few items and I found these luscious yogurt treats. I've been to this Acme a million times and I've never seen this brand before. Bonus: it was on sale. How could I resist such names as Relax: Vanilla Chai, Calm: Plum Honey Lavender and Exotic: Orange Strawberry Mango? Each one has lived up to it's Delicious name. I'm going back for a few more today while they're still on sale. I took it upon myself to do a nutrition comparison with the Wegman's brand that I buy for Breen.

Rachel's: Wegman's:
Calories..150 170
Total Fat..2.5G 2G
Fiber......1g 0G
Sugars.....23G 31G
Total Carbs..25G 32G
Protein....8G 7G

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blog Video of Kale Chips

My son Max has started to take an interest in making little movies. We've decided to team up and make some cooking videos. Here is my first attempt to show you how I make Kale Chips. After we posted this on Youtube, I found several other videos for kale chips as well. Most of them are geared towards raw food eaters as they never raise the oven above 200 degrees. With this recipe, I roast them in the oven for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. You could always cook them for 20 minutes in a 200 degree oven if the raw food aspect is key to you.

Mock Beef Stroganoff

I've been walking the walk of shame since I started this blog. Honestly, I had the best intentions to go meatless. But once I fell of the vegetable truck, it was so hard to get back on it again. My honeymoon was spent in California recently. I got my fill of meat there and then some. On the plane ride home, I had hours to sit and think about my eating habits and nutrition. Since I've been home, I'm proud to say that I've gone meatless again with the exception of one little tiny slip when my son made an amazing dinner for all of us and I tasted a bite of his Chicken 1890.

Recently, I found a list of 40 easy recipes on Most of them were meat but I realized I could simply substitute the meat with tofu or mock beef wherever it was called for. Last night, I made a delicious and quick mock beef stroganoff. I poured it over a plate of warm and fluffy egg noodles. It was comfort food personified.

1 12-ounce package egg noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
1 package of beefless strips from Trader Joe
1 8-ounce container sour cream
2 1/2 tablespoons steak sauce


1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper (if using) and cook for 5 minutes. Add the beefless strips and cook until warmed through, about 8 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and steak sauce and stir the mixture into the beef and mushrooms. Divide the drained noodles among individual plates and top with the stroganoff.