Tag Archives: vegetarian

Spring Delights! Asparagus and Morels!

This time of year is filled with so much goodness.  I have been busy with my garden and all of the other 101 distractions that come with spring.  I just love this time of year with all of the plants awakening and blooming.  All of this has led me to neglect posting my recipes.  There are many days where I fix a meal and take a picture but then don’t have the energy to summons writing about it.  Amigo here pretty much captures how I often feel

The other day we took a tandem mountain bike ride through Arcadia.  It was loaded with Trillium and other spring flowers.  It is truly an outstanding trail.  I feel like I am riding through someone’s flower garden for miles and miles.  One of the nicest things about the ride was when we were taking a break, I spotted a morel!  Then we started looking around and found a load of them.  We were with some friends and we all filled our jersey pockets as much as possible.  I think our load was well over 20.  We also picked some wild leeks and with our bounty, I ended up preparing a tasty spring dish.

Here is how I went about the preparation.

1.  Sauted up 4 leeks with a sweet yellow onion for about 5 minutes

2.  Added chopped morels and sauted for another 10 minutes

3.  Then I tossed in some local asparagus until it was tender – 4/5 minutes

Meanwhile I boiled some pasta.

4.  I tossed it together w/ some good olive oil, about 1/2 cup of cream, cherry tomatoes for a little color and a little Parmesean for a touch of decadence.  

More happy things to report are that my Aunt has a new puppy!  He is extremely sweet, smart and adorable.  It was pretty amusing as I haven’t seen her in a while and we both ended up wearing matching skirts 🙂Hope you are enjoying spring’s bounty as well!

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Lentils…failure to fabulous

Last night I was scrounging around in my refrigerator and pantry for a dinner idea.  I had already done a fair amount of exercise mentally and physically and so I didn’t feel like doing something very rigorous in the kitchen.  Plus, I was feeling like there was a lack of inspiration in my pantry.  I finally decided upon lentils and rice.

Lentils are cheap, tasty and very versatile.  It turned out great even though I thought for a couple of minutes I had a failure on my hands.  Sometimes it is hard to believe I can think there is nothing to eat when my shelves have lots of ingredients on them.  According to the Global Poverty Facts, around 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 per day.  My guess, they would easily find many, many meals in my house.  There are times when I don’t appreciate how fortunate I am.

Well, last night there was high drama in the kitchen.  I was intently listening to Boucci, although now for the life of me I cannot recall what he was talking about, when tragedy struck.  I dumped 2 cups of the water I was pouring in for the rice into the lentil pot that really only needed cooking time, NOT more water for the creamy concoction I was anticipating.  After an expletive and doing a bit of crying internally, I was able to deal with my failure.  Among the reasons I love cooking is due to the fact that greater than 95% of the time, I really enjoy the results plus it makes others around me happy.  I like to please people plus I’m a bit of a hedonist especially when it comes to food.   I can’t think of too many things I must do on a daily basis that provide me this much control and pleasure over the outcome.

I ended up turning my soupy mess into a delicious meal by simmering it for an extra 30 minutes and throwing in some extra spices.  For lunch today, I think it was even better.

Here is my recipe – multiple versions to choose from

1 large onion – chopped

3 carrots – chopped

3 celery stalks chopped

6 cloves of garlic minced

3 teaspoons curry powder (if adding 2 cups of extra liquid include an extra 1/2 teaspoon of coriander, cumin and 2 cubes of a decent veggie bouillon)

2 cups of dried lentils

5-7 cups of water, your choice

1 can of coconut milk

1 can of diced tomatoes – I used fire roasted which added depth and flavor

olive oil

salt

1.  Saute onion for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add the carrots and celery and continue to saute for another minute or two.  Then add spices and garlic and toss until fragrant – about a minute.

2.  Add lentils and water

3.  Depending on the amount of water you use, simmer for 30 to 60 minutes.

4.  Add coconut milk and tomatoes for the last 10 minutes

5.  Taste and adjust flavor with salt

If you want a soup add an additional cup of water to thin.  If you want a more creamy sauce use 5 cups of water. 7 cups of water with the 60 minutes of cook time yielded a saucy mixture that was great over rice.  Overnight it thickened even more.  See what I’m talking about with them being versatile?

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Dinner Pronto

Breaking news!  I’m so excited.  I went for a walk tonight after 6 p.m. without a headlamp.  Ye-haw!  Okay, I’m not usually one for using ye-haw in a conversation but the extended daylight and a good dose of sunshine to boot really pleased me.  Snow is in the forecast tomorrow and it is calling for single digits…but still March 1st goes down as being sublime.

When you have one of those days when dinner is running late or you want to stay outside until your stomach rumbles, here is something I like to toss on the table when I need dinner pronto.

Gnocci or in this case it was Gnocchetti, are little balls of potato (sort of like mashed potato dumplings) that cook in just a couple of minutes.  I kid you not, they cook in 2-3 minutes tops.  They float to the top of boiling water when they are cooked.  They come vacuum packed so they keep well in your pantry.  When I shop in a city, I pick up a pack or two as back-up for those nights when I need a meal but time is of the essence.  Pair them with your favorite sauce, a loaf of good crusty bread

and a salad

and you will have happy dinner companions.  In my book, this is also a company worthy dinner.  This gets a multiple fork rating from me because of the easy and quick preparation and the tasty little potato balls are filling and delicious.  I don’t know if it due to my excessive hunger when filling my plate but this is one of the few meals I usually overestimate my portion size and end up having to package up my portion for lunch.  In general, I like voluptuous servings and eat my plate clean sometimes to the point of my tummy pressing on my lungs 🙂  Have I mentioned I love to eat?

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Baked Falafel

With Egypt in the news so much these past weeks, it had my brain thinking about some of my favorite Egyptian foods.  Falafel fritters are one of my favorite foods especially when they are fried up by someone else.  However, given that I live in an area where I can’t run down to a street vendor or a restaurant, I was left to my own devices.   I decided to try out a non-traditional and healthier preparation method by baking rather than frying.   These delicious little burger balls were much lighter but I will say that fried falafel still holds a special place in my heart.  With the condiments I added to my wrap such as sprouts, tomatoes, pickles and tahini sauce, I will say they contributed to the tastiness of the dish and it would be difficult for me to dislike anything with all of those goodies in it.  Here is how I created my heart healthy falafel:

1 can of chickpeas rinsed well

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 onion finely minced

2 cloves of garlic

1 handful of fresh parsley chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

About 2-3 tablespoons of all purpose flour (you may need a little more/less to get your mixture to combine)

1. Preheat oven to 425

2. Pulse chickpeas in a food processor until they are in coarse pieces.  Pulse to combine the other ingredients.  You may need to add a bit of water or adjust the flour to get the mixture to come together.

3.  Place patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 20 minutes flipping halfway through.  They should be lightly golden.

4.  Assemble in a wrap or pita with your favorite additions.  Some of my favorites are sprouts or lettuce, pickles, tahini sauce, hot sauce and tomatoes. The tahini-yogurt sauce I made is definitely a keeper and it really adds to the deliciousness of the falafel.

Combine 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup tahini, 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt and hot sauce to taste.

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Beans and Greens Pasta

I was able to score a lovely bunch of swiss chard a few days ago when I was in the big city.  Produce at our local store is often tricky to find and it is especially the case in winter months.  I’ve had too many times to count when I wanted a pretty common ingredient like zucchini, potatoes or broccoli and I’m stymied.  Some women get very pleased with a lovely bunch of flowers whereas I am excited with a lovely bunch of greens.  When I travel and the GPS locates a Whole Foods or its equivalent in the area, I always stop.  Even if I’m not buying much, it just makes me so happy to see all of that fresh produce.  According to Boucci, I get all glassy eyed and don’t listen to what he is saying.  I don’t mean to ignore him, I simply am smitten with all of the displays, free samples and the amazing array of fresh food!

In honor of my chard, I decided to create a pasta dish for it.  It turned out quite delicious and I ended up eating the leftovers again for breakfast.  I often have peculiar hankerings for real food like pasta/burritos for breakfast.  It was good again even after I re-heated it.

Here is the recipe I concocted:

1 15-oz. cans of chickpeas rinsed and drained

1 cup veggie broth (I’m sure a chicken broth would work well too)

extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons of  Italian spicing (I threw in a little basil, oregano, sage and thyme).

1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 bunch of Swiss Chard chopped.  (I chop the stems very finely and the greens I roll up like a cigar and chop into 1/4 inch strips.

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. long pasta of your choice (I used linguine)

grated Parmesan cheese to taste

Method:

Blend together the chickpeas and the broth in a food processor/blender.  I like it to be the consistency of a nutty peanut butter.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.   Add onions  and sauté till onions are soft and translucent.  Then add red pepper flakes and garlic and saute for another minute or two.

Add chickpea mixture, tomatoes and spices and let simmer on low for about 15 minutes.   Toss in the chopped chard and give it a few stirs as it wilts.  Season with salt and pepper.

Make pasta according to package directions. Make sure you reserve one cup of pasta water before draining.

Add al dente pasta to the sauce and mix together. Add some pasta water to the sauce.  It will help coat everything and the starch in the water helps to thicken the sauce. Taste the pasta. You will likely need  more salt and pepper. Serve up with a healthy dose of  Parmesan cheese.

I thought this recent study regarding full fat dairy and lower weight was interesting.  I don’t like the taste of cheeses that are commercially made to be low-fat anyway.  While this research finding may not be the key to maintaining a healthy weight,  it doesn’t point to anything bad about my cheese consumption and I’ll happily continue to sprinkle on my Parmesan!

Gonna get famous with pictures like this! – 🙂 HA!

It’s pretty hard to get natural lighting for my dinner photos when it is dark at 5:00.

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Blizzard Breakfast

We have had blizzard conditions for the past couple of days.  We woke up yesterday to no power and a very cold house.  About 5 minutes after waking up, I started to worry about things more important than a hot cup of coffee.  Issues like pipes freezing began to fill the mind.  After many hours, the power kicked back on but the telephone and internet services remained off.  Then last night I made some veggie burritos and was about to put them in the oven to bake and all went silent and black again – Argh!!  Luckily we have a camp stove so we pulled that out, lit some candles and heated up some leftover chowder.  This morning things were off to a better start.  It began with hot coffee and hot cobbler.  Here is Boucci’s recipe for making one up.  It is a nice way to enjoy a taste of summer when the weather is white.

1.  Thaw 1 quart of peaches. I usually place them in a bowl on the counter the night before making. Ours are frozen in a very light syrup.  If you use plain peaches, you may want to add a few tablespoons of sugar or maple syrup.  I also toss in about a cup of thawed blueberries for an antioxidant boost.

2.  Put the fruit in a pyrex casserole dish about 11×8.

3.  Make up a batch of the biscuits from this recipe.  Place the unbaked biscuits on top of the fruit.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and about 1 tablespoon of sugar.

4.  Bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven until the biscuits have a nice golden hue.

Cool a bit so you don’t burn the roof of your mouth.  This also makes a nice dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Sandwich to Scarf and Scarf Weather

Winter is here!

What started with a dusting, has turned into drifts.   Zinnie pictured above  is thinking that I need to get on my “good” clothes!  When they are on we can play!

She is very intense about playing games and retrieving.

WEEE!  Glorious Snow

Oh me, oh my!   It has been one crazy week with lots of driving and bad roads to boot.  I cannot believe it is already Thursday and I haven’t really had time to spend in the kitchen.  I stayed up way too late last night cleaning.  One thing led to another and by the time I knew it the date had changed.  I love my bed and sleep is very important to me so I usually go to bed fairly early – like by 10:00.

This morning I got out of bed a little late so I really had to hustle.   My pups need a good 3 walks a day so that the household is sane.  I hear stories about people with dogs having things like their couch eaten.  From my experience, lots of exercise for my pups = no damage.  When I saw the clock this morning, I threw on my clothes and hurried out the door without even a swill of coffee.

There is this guy who I refer to as Cranky Pants.  He walks the same trails with his retrievers that I do and he has been rather rude to Boucci by shouting things and making bad gestures.  I have also observed him walking on the road and shaking his fist at cars and for no apparent reason.  Bicycles and an elderly neighbor that walks his collie also appear to irritate him.  I always wave and smile at him when I pass by in a car or on my bicycle although I am usually rewarded with a frowny face.  I did have a couple of occasions this summer where I forced a wave out of him as I was doing yard work, but his general state is an angry looking grimace.  I think one reason he may be cranky is due to the fact that his pants are exceedingly tight.  I too would grimace if I wore pants that tight but regardless of what is causing his issues, I have NO desire to encounter him on the trails alone.  I do not like to be yelled at and I would be mortified if he said or made obscene gestures.  He is very schedule oriented so I time my walks to avoid encounters.  This morning, I was late out the door and there is deep snow.  I am not inclined to run nor do I enjoy running, but run I did.  I was very stoked that I made it through the loop I normally walk and that it was uneventful.  When I arrived back home, I walked in the sunroom (which we keep just above freezing in the winter so that the plants don’t die) and it felt downright balmy.  I was so paranoid about getting through the trails quickly that I hadn’t really noticed that it was 12 degrees out!  I decided to reward my quick and nimble self with a delicious sandwich.  It really hit the spot!

To create a delicious sandwich like the one I scarfed down, you start with eggs and bread.  These eggs come from my parents’ hens.  They have quite a variety of breeds.  Some are pretty fancy and regal looking.  Did you know that chickens lay eggs the same color as their earlobes?  The yolks on these eggs are almost radioactive looking as they are a deep orange and extremely vibrant.  I think it is due to all their free-ranging and kitchen scraps my mother feeds them.

Here are the goods for the filling of your sandwich:  swiss cheese, avocado and tomato.  It is always handy to have a kitchen helper for instances when you drop something.

1.  Scramble your eggs

2.  Slice cheese, avocado and tomato.  I used 1/2 of the latter.

3.  Lightly toast the bread with cheese so that it softens.

4.  Assemble, add salt, ground pepper and enjoy!

I hope your tongue is getting many marvelous tastes this week!

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