Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 58 - Asparagus Pepper Pasta

Thursday was kind of a "its almost the end of the week and we are out of money until tomorrow so shopping is limited to the fridge, pantry, and freezer" day. But I'd purchased asparagus and a 3-pack of colored bell peppers earlier in the week, so it wasn't too much of a stretch to put this dinner together.

Asparagus Pepper Pasta
  • 1 lb asparagus spears
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 6 (yes 6!) cloves of garlic, pressed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until slightly golden. Add asparagus, broccoli, and bell pepper and saute until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Serve over penne pasta.
This is so, so easy! And quick. Oh, and yummy!

Day 58 - Weigh In


Perhaps that plateau is in the past?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 56 - Veggie Sloppy Joes

This is actually from Tuesday, which was a really busy day. Not only did we have school, but I had my weekly newspaper meeting and a story to cover at the ball fields that evening. I was supposed to drop Steven off at baseball practice, and I had Bunko. So a crockpot meal was in order. While I was waiting to pick Steven up from Jazz Band, I bookmarked a couple of recipes in 2 of my crockpot cookbooks (Lazy Day Cooking and Best Loved Slow Cooker Recipes). I figured I could vegetize some of them, although there were a lot there were pretty much already veggie. When Steven got out of band, I let him choose which one before we headed to the store, and of course he chose Sloppy Joes.

I plan on looking for a completely veggie sloppy joe recipe, but this works in a pinch. It might even be better if you rehydrate your own TVP--at the very least it would be cheaper. But I have to travel to Vegas for that, so I am stuck with the veggie crumbles at my local store (and as a side note, the veggie crumbles in the produce section are $1 cheaper than the frozen ones!).

Veggie Sloppy Joes (1)
  • 3 (12 oz) pkgs veggie crumbles
  • 1(12 oz) pkg leftover veggie breakfast sausage (hey--it was about 8 oz worth, and I knew it wouldn't get used for anything else!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp veggie Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • hamburger buns
  1. Spray large (12") pan with cooking spray. Crumble in veggie sausage and cook til brown. Add veggie crumbles and cook until brown.
  2. In crockpot, combine ketchup, bell pepper, onion, worcestershire sauce, sugar, mustard, vinegar, and chili powder. Stir in veggie crumble mixture. Cover and cook on low ( crockpot cooks really hot on low, so for 3-4 hours, but crockpots really differ. The original recipe calls for 6-8 hours).
  3. Serve on hamburger buns.
This really makes a lot, so don't be afraid to freeze the leftovers. It is really handy to have frozen meals available, especially since veggie frozen meals (convenience type, I mean) are so darned expensive!

Day 56 - Weigh In


Perhaps this means I'm past this plateau? I sure hope so!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 53 - Tacheen for Breakfast

You might have seen how much of this we had leftover...there is a lot. And I was intrigued by what the Iranians call "Tadig". Tadig is the crusty rice formed at the bottom of the pan--which you can either fry, or, well...I'm not really sure of all the ways that it can be made. But I do know that it is quite popular with those of Persian descent.

So for breakfast I put a bit of olive oil in my small (8-inch) pan, scooped some Tacheen into the pan, and smushed it all down. And let it cook until it was crispy (over medium-high) heat. I ate it with a fried egg atop the whole mess.

And it was yummy.

Day 53 - Tacheen! Otherwise known as Saffron Rice

I spent the weekend reading a series of books by Marsha Mehran. The first is Pomegranate Soup and the second is Rosewater and Soda Bread. The books are about a trio of sisters that escaped from Iran during the revolution in the 70's and ended up in Ireland. They own a cafe that specializes in Persian food, which is simultaneously yummy sounding and extremely exotic. And the books include recipes. :)

One thing that I've noticed is that a lot of Persian recipes include meat. Even those that appear to be side dishes (such as this recipe). This one sounded particularly yummy, though, and relatively easy to convert. Which I did.

Tacheen or Saffron Rice
  • 4 cups cooked Basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • Saffron water (4 strands saffron dissolved in 8 tbsp hot water)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 (10 oz) pkgs baby spinach
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups thick, Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup honey
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and half the saffron water, and saute for 10 minutes. Add garbanzo beans, turmeric, and spinach and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. In a non-metallic bowl, whisk eggs and remaining saffron water. Add yogurt, salt, and pepper. Add garbanzo bean and spinach mixture. Mix well.
  3. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Spoon in half the rice, patting it down evenly. Add half the yogurt mixture. Layer again with remaining rice. Add remaining yogurt mixture. Mix almonds and honey. Layer over the top. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven.
  4. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove foil and cover with a large plate or platter. Carefully but quickly, turn the casserole upside down. Tacheen!
This is how I will make it the next time. Last night's version had a lot more rice and only 2 cans garbanzo beans, and 1 bag of spinach. The flavor is awesome, but it was a bit too starchy because there was so much rice--twice as much as in my updated recipe above. :)

As you can see, we didn't take ours out of the pan. I was too lazy to get out the platter that was big enough, and we were HUNGRY!
You may also notice that this is A LOT OF RICE!! Next time will be different. :)

Weigh In - Day 53


I seem to have hit a plateau...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 51 - Cream of Potato and Asparagus Soup

This recipe is totally based on a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. But way easier. Cuz that's how I roll. There aren't many ingredients, but it makes a soup that is absolutely spectacular. And one that I ate all the leftovers the next day (not all at once! Throughout the day!). Yum. It really is that good!

Cream of Potato and Asparagus Soup
  • 3 lbs potatoes
  • 2 lbs asparagus
  • 8 oz sour cream (choose vegan or not--I used regular)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • milk (unsweetened almond, soy, or dairy) if you need it to thin out the soup
  1. Peel the potatoes. Cut into 1-inch pieces and place in large pot. Cover with water. Cook 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. When potatoes are almost tender, add asparagus and cook until tender.
  3. Using an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender if you don't have an immersion blender), blend potatoes and asparagus together until creamy and light green. If you are my mom, you prefer it more chunky--but I like the creaminess of it almost all mushed together.
  4. Add sour cream and blend in. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. IF you need to thin the final product out some, add milk until soup reaches your desired consistency.
This has a wonderful asparagus flavor. Yum! Sorry, no pics! It was so good it didn't last long enough for pictures...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 44 - Zucchini Pizza

Did I ever tell you I used to be a professional baker? Yep, I did. I've always loved to bake and when times got tough I was hired at the local grocery store in the bakery. I worked my way up (very quickly, I might add) from being a "packager" to actually becoming a baker and eventually assistant bakery manager.

I love to bake.

My kids didn't really like it when I worked at the bakery though because I never baked at home. Now I'm a full time/part time writer and I have a lot more time on my hands. Developing recipes and such. :) For Christmas I purchased a book by Jim Lahey called My Bread. It's a book that gives you the basics of no knead bread. Lahey's hypothesis is that bread has been around forever, so it couldn't have been as hard to make as it is today. One of the many things I learned when I was a professional baker is that bread that has a longer time to develop (in the refrigerator--it slows the rising) tastes better, and Lahey's bread tastes awesome. Lahey includes a no knead pizza dough recipe as well, and some great veggie versions (and some vegan as well) of different pizzas.

Here's what happened: I mixed up the dough (about 5 minutes between classes). Set it in a bowl on the stove for about 2 hours. At around 5:30 I put the boys to work. They shredded zucchini, salted it, and drained it. And they stretched the dough into the pizza pans. And put on the toppings. And baked the pizza. I supervised. And the pizza was AWESOME! I don't think we'll be buying pizza anymore for our Friday pizza nights...

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough
  • 3 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp active yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  1. In a bowl stir together the dry ingredients. Add the water and mix until blended. This dough is stiff, not wet and sticky (just in case you are used to Lahey's other recipes). Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for around 2 hours.
  2. Oil two 11x13 jelly roll pans. Use half the dough for each pan. Gently pull and stretch the dough to fit the pan, using your hands to press it evenly out. Pinch any holes together.
Stretching the dough may take some time. Here is an example for you:

The topping:
  • 3 large zucchini
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 oz grated swiss cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Grate the zucchini. In a medium bowl mix together the salt and the zucchini. Let stand for 15 or so minutes, until the zucchini has released its water.
  2. Drain the zucchini in a colander, and squeeze the zucchini to get out as much water as you can.
  3. Spread the zucchini mixture over the dough. Top with the shredded swiss cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the topping starts to turn golden brown and the crust is pulling away from the sides of the pan.
Can I just say...YUM!!!

*Disclaimer--the boys pretty much did all the work (and all the eating). Even taking pictures. I took the video and (kind of) supervised, but this was really pretty much all them. They even decided on the topping!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 41 - Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup

Yum. It was raining yet again, which of course called for some comforting soup. Steven and I spent ALL DAY schooling (because we pretty much ignored Monday) so it needed to be easy, too. This is an adaptation of Mary Herr's Winter Squash and White Bean Stew Recipe in the Fix It and Forget It cookbook (which has a lot of great recipes in it!). I didn't get it started until late, so it never made it to the crockpot, but it was awesome on the stove.

Butternut Squash and White Bean Soup
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into cubes
  • 2 (15 oz) cans vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 oz) cans white beans (great northern, or whatever), rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10 oz) package fresh baby spinach
  1. In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, cumin, salt, and cinnamon and saute until onions are translucent.
  2. Add vegetable broth, squash, beans and tomatoes to pot. Simmer over low heat approximately 30 minutes. Right before you are ready to serve, add the spinach. Heat until the spinach wilts.
  3. The squash and beans will start to fall apart and really thicken the soup. Yum!
This would be really good with garbanzo beans (chickpeas).

Day 41 - Weigh In


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 40 - Super (Bowl) Veggie Chili

You will never be able to tell the difference! This recipe is a mix between this recipe at All Recipes and this recipe by Rachael Ray. The goal was to come up with a perfect chili that NO ONE would realize was vegetarian. I think the key to that are the veggie crumbles, which, unfortunately, are not a staple at my local grocery store (did I mention that I live in a really small town?). But I had one package in the freezer that I picked up on my last trip to Vegas. And when I went to the local grocery, I discovered some more in the freezer case.

Whitney's Super (Bowl) Veggie Chili
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles, or whole green chiles, diced
  • 2 (12 oz) pkgs vegetarian burger crumbles
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, cook until translucent. Mix in celery, and peppers. When vegetables are heated through, mix in the vegetarian crumbles. Cover the pot, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix the tomatoes in the pot. Add chili powder and pepper. Stir in drained beans. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
Sorry, no picture. Everyone was too involved in the game and the chili was gone before I could take a pic. :)

Day 40 - Weigh In



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 38 - Pizza!

Pizza seems to be a theme at our house. Lately we've been getting it every Friday (may have something to do with having a houseful of teenage boys every weekend). On Thursday we made our own, though. Steven loved it, but we have some picky eaters amongst the teen I don't know how well it would have gone over.

A Very Veggie (and Hummus) Pizza
  • 1 loaf of frozen wheat bread dough, thawed
  • 1 (8 oz) container of hummus
  • 1/2 large tomato, thinly sliced 
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • 3/4 of a 15 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained well
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained well
  • fresh spinach
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Roll out bread dough to desired thickness (ours ended up being about 14" round).
  2. Scoop several tbsp of hummus over bread dough and spread into a thin layer (this is a substitute for the pizza sauce). Sprinkle Italian seasoning over hummus.
  3. Place thinly sliced tomatoes over hummus. Place spinach over tomatoes, and place remaining ingredients over spinach. Top with mozzarella. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until pizza crust is completely cooked.
This was really yummy. I used to work in a bakery and the master baker would make a similar version to this pizza. But instead of any sauce at all, he would use the tomatoes on the bottom. They were so thinly sliced that they would end up making their own sauce. I can never get my crust as crispy as his, but I attribute that to the fact that he always used these awesome french bread pans for his pizza. They have tiny little holes in them that allow the hot convection air to really touch almost every part of the bread dough. The best I can do is my pizza stone, which works, but it still isn't quite the same...

Note my tomatoes are in the wrong position but that is because they were an afterthought.
Don't forget to put them on yours. I promise they make the best sauce! 

Day 38 - Weigh In


It was 187 for so many days I was starting to get worried!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 35 - Weigh In


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 33 - Italian Chickpea Pasta

I have so much food from last week because all the recipes I made were huge (I am so used to doubling recipes!). I didn't really make a plan for this week's dinners--I've just been using what's in the fridge. Today Steven requested pasta. Well, actually spaghetti, but I'm out of spaghetti noodles. I've always made my own pasta sauce, but in the past it has had ground meat in it. This time I threw a bunch of whatever was in the fridge and came out with this--which was really tasty.

Italian Chickpea Pasta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 lb sliced or chopped assorted mushrooms
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (15 oz) cans Italian diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • most of a 10 oz bag of spinach
  • 1 (16 oz) pkg penne pasta
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package.
  2. Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; cook until translucent. 
  3. Add mushrooms and cook until they release their juices.
  4. Add all tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and chickpeas. Cook until heated through. Add spinach; cook until wilted. Serve over penne pasta.

Day 33 - Weigh In




Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 32 - Vegan Jambalaya

My friend Vicki is having a bunch of people over for Super Bowl Sunday. Her husband wants to serve Jambalaya, which sounds quite yummy, but which is also loaded with meat. :)

I decided to experiment last night with a vegan version after my trip to Whole Foods. Which worked out perfectly, because my boys came home from a very cold snow campout. What better to warm them up then the spicy goodness of Jambalaya?

I started with Paula Deen's recipe, making a few adjustments to account for what I had on hand and, of course, veggie substitutes.

Whitney's Version of Paula's Jambalaya
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 6 tbsp dried onions
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 oz) Field's Apple Sage Sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
  • 1 (10.5 oz) box vegan shrimp
  1. In a large pot, combine rice, onion, parsley, thyme, garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper, salt, bay leaf, veggie broth, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. In a medium saucepan, brown sausage. Add to rice mixture in pot.
  3. When rice mixture is boiling, cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked through.
  4. Add shrimp and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!
This was really good. No one was able to tell that the sausage and shrimp weren't "real", and it was very nicely spicy. In fact a little too spicy for Steven, who added a dollop of sour cream* to cut the heat. I would say that it was a successful experiment!

*Steven's sour cream was not vegan, so if you want to keep it vegan and still cut the heat, either cut down the amount of red pepper, or use a vegan sour cream. :)

Sorry, no pictures...the camera was still packed from the campout...

Day 32 - Weigh In