Continued Experiments in Vegetarianism – Frittata

This week’s veggie adventure food is a frittata.  There is a bit of prep involved, but this really is a simple recipe.  It’s also a great “kitchen sink” recipe….throw in some extra stuff and see what happens. 😀

Served with broccoli and sliced tomato covered in feta and sliced almonds. Yum!

*veggie bacon (I used 8 strips.)
*1 cup chopped broccoli florets
*6 eggs
*1/4 cup water
*1/2 cup chopped tomato
*1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (whichever type  makes your heart go pitter patter – or mix up more than one type)
*a little olive oil or butter
*salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder (all to taste)
*an oven-safe skillet/frying pan (I like to use cast iron.)   If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, a shallow baking dish will also work.
*large bowl
 
(Take note!  “To taste” means I have no idea how much I used…I just threw some in there and hoped for yum to happen.)
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Prepare veggie bacon in whatever fashion the package indicates.  Crumble up prepared bacon.
3.  Use butter or olive oil to saute broccoli (and whatever other veggies you feel like throwing in).
4.  Lightly beat eggs and add them to the large bowl.
5.  Add all of your other ingredients (including veggie bacon) to the bowl and mix it up.
6.  Pour mixture into skillet. 
7.  Pop in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.  (Use the knife test to make sure it’s done.)
8.  Enjoy!
 
How was it received by my family?  They loved it!  This frittata was gobbled up in a flash.  I’ve tried a few frittata recipes in the past, and this was, by far, the best received.  I didn’t even get any snarky comments about the veggie bacon. 😉

Vegetarian Snacker – Pita Bread and Hummus

I have decided to replace the “vegetarian slacker” bit with vegetarian snacker ideas on Fridays.  Let’s face it, most snack foods (other than pork rinds and slim jims) are meat-free anyway, so this is more about delicious snack foods that aren’t full of frightening, unidentifiable things. 

This week’s delicious snack?  Homemade pita bread and hummus.  Yum, yum, yum!  This got gobbled up in my house within 24 hours!  The true beauty of it?  These recipes have no frightening ingredients and are easy to make.  Win!

Served here with the mustardy tofu from earlier in the week.

Pita Bread:

What you need:

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 packet yeast (if the “rapid rise” variety)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a bit more
  • a baking sheet or baking pan (something you can turn upside down in the oven that will give you a flat, baking surface)
  • 2 large(ish) bowl
  • rolling pin (or something that will serve as one)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 hours to goof about your house

What to do:

  1. In a bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.
  2. Add olive oil and water to bowl.
  3. Stir (with a spoon) the ingredients until they form a ball.  (This doesn’t really take very long.)
  4. Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (or until you just can’t stand it anymore).
  5. Lightly coat a clean bowl with oil and place your ball of dough in it.  Cover with a towel.
  6. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.  It should be about double in size.
  7. Return dough to lightly floured surface.  Punch dough down (that’s always fun!) and cut into 8 (approximately equal) pieces.
  8. Roll each piece into a ball and let it rest on the lightly floured surface.
  9. After all pieces are rolled into balls, cover them with a damp towel.  Let them rest for 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, place your baking sheet upside down in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  11. Roll each ball out into a circle (aim for 1/4 inch thick).
  12. Place the circles on your baking surface (I was using a smallish baking pan and had to do this in stages.)  Bake for 3 minutes.  (Sounds like a really short time to bake, right?  If you go too much longer than that, your pita bread will be on the firmer, crunchier side.)
  13. Remove from oven and marvel at your success!  (Now go make some hummus!)

Hummus:

What you need:

  • 1 can (16 oz.) of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup chickpea juice (the liquid from the can)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini (I’ve read that you can actually leave the tahini out, so if you can’t find, maybe just try making your hummus without it?)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • garlic (to taste) (I used two cloves, but could have probably gone with a bit more….we’re garlic lovers.)
  • salt (to taste)
  • a food processor or blender

What to do:

  1. Put everything in the blender or food processor.  (Only use 1/4 cup of the chickpea juice…..if you use all of the liquid from the chickpea can, it could have catastrophic consequences….runny hummus!)
  2. Blend or food process until smooth.  (This may take 3 minutes or more.)
  3. Eat it up, yum!

If you’re a dork like me, you’ll be very excited to eat pita and hummus that you created your very own self. 😉

Continued Experiments in Vegetarianism – Mustardy Tofu (with “on a stick” option!)

Knowing that men seem to love any food that includes “on a stick” in the title, I thought I would give this Mustardy Tofu on a Stick a try at our house.  Sadly, we actually found it easier to create and eat these sans sticks, but if you’re determined, I’m sure you can make it work.  It was actually quite easy to make, but you do need to plan ahead due to the marinating.  I served them up with some fresh-made pita and hummus (more on that on Friday) and we feasted like veggie royalty. 😉  Read on to the end to see our thoughts on this new-to-us recipe.

Pretty tasty. 🙂

What you need:

*a pound(ish) of extra firm tofu
*1/2 cup sweet and hot mustard (Let me tell you what I did.  I couldn’t find any sweet and hot mustard, so I made my own creation from 1/4 cup honey mustard, 1/4 cup yellow mustard, and hot sauce.  Sounds gross?  It was actually quite yummy!)
*bread crumbs (enough to cover a plate/coat the tofu pieces)
*pepper flakes (to taste)  (If you’re not a fan of spicy, leave them out…it won’t hurt anything.)
*bamboo skewers if you’re so inclined
*a little olive oil
*a baking sheet
*a baking dish (or some dish large enough to hold all tofu)
 
(Take note!  “To taste” means I have no idea how much I used…I just threw some in there and hoped for yum to happen.)
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Cut tofu into 8 “sticks.”  (I cut the block in half, then cut each half in half, and then cut each of those pieces in half…all lengthwise so you end up with something that looks like sticks of butter.)
2.  Use paper towels to gently absorb moisture from tofu sticks.  Gentle!  Those little guys break pretty easily.
3.  Place sticks in a pan large enough for all sticks to be in one layer with a little space between them.
4.  Mix up your mustard creation (or use sweet and hot mustard) and use a spoon or brush to coat each stick (all sides!)…just make a big, mustardy mess of the thing….mustard everywhere!
5.  Cover and marinate for several hours (overnight probably wouldn’t hurt…ours marinated for about 9 or 10 hours and had plenty of flavor).
6.  When you’re ready to prepare your dinner, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
7.  Throw some bread crumbs and pepper flakes on a plate.
8.  Gently take each stick of tofu and coat all sides with bread crumbs.  This is a messy, far-from-dainty process, but the alluring mustard scent lingers on your hands for quite some time….you have been warned!
9.  Put a little olive oil on a baking sheet and spread it about.
10.  Place tofu sticks on baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes (until they look the level of crispy that you desire).
11.  Enjoy!
****If you wish to use skewers, be all smart and stuff and check to see if they’re oven-safe.  If they are, you can pop the skewers into the tofu (gently!) before breading them.  If the skewers are not oven-safe, you can easily pop them into the tofu sticks after they come out of the oven.
 
How was it received by my family?  Well, I intentionally made this one when my stepdaughter wasn’t here….she thinks tofu is one of the four-letter-words that she shouldn’t be saying. 😉  My husband seemed pretty pleased.  No socks were knocked off, but there won’t be any crying-stomping-hissy-fits if this is dinner again sometime.  As with all recipes, we’ll probably continue to tweek this one until we get it just how we like it.  Obviously, if you and yours aren’t fans of mustard, this is not the meal for you.  We’re mustard-lovers here, so we enjoyed the flavors.

Veggie Vittles – Butternut Squash Pie

Okay, I’m back to bringing you vegetarian recipes once a week.  Sorry I got a bit slack there for a bit.  This week’s recipe actually wasn’t a huge hit at our house, but I think families with a preference for blander foods might enjoy it.  All in all, I found it to be edible, but not full of yum.  It was also rather a pain in the rump to make.  So, why am I even sharing it?  Well, because I’m giving the skinny on what it is I made….good, bad, or ugly. 😉  I got this recipe from Whole Foods, so I’ll put things the way they had them with some mild suggestions from me. 😀

Looks pretty. 😉

What you need:

*one large butternut squash (a 3 pounder)
*3 tablespoons olive oil
*salt and pepper (to taste)
*1 yellow onion – sliced  (I would chop it up!)
*2 tablespoons dry white wine (the recipe calls for this, but I don’t feel like it added anything….if you’re not wine drinker, I would consider just skipping it)
*1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (sounds fancy…if I were going to make this again, I’d just throw in some shredded parmesan from a bag)
*1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped  (I think walnuts may have actually worked better here)
*1 egg, lightly beaten
*1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I’m not sure that “fresh” is really necessary.)
*1 frozen pie crust (I suggest getting a deep dish version or all of your stuff won’t fit.)
* a cookie sheet type thing (two would be even better)
*a big bowl for mixing things
*skillet
*patience
 
(Take note!  “To taste” means I have no idea how much I used…I just threw some in there and hoped for yum to happen.)
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Peel the squash and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
3.  In bowl, toss squash with 2 tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper.
4.  Put the squash (in one layer) on cookie sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes….mix it around every once in a while so it roasts evenly.
5.  While the roasting is happening, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.
6.  Add onions to oil and cook (stir a bunch) until brown (7 to 9 minutes).
 7.  Add wine to onions and cook for another minute…keep stirring.
8.  Put the squash back in the big bowl and add cooked onions to the bowl.
9.  Add all other ingredients to the bowl (except for the pie crust, of course) and toss gently.
10.  Add your (now gently tossed) mixture to your pie crust and pat it down gently.
11.  Bake for 40 minutes or until crust is a pretty brown.
12.  Let cool for 10 minutes.
13.  Eat!
 
How was it received by my family?  As I mentioned earlier, we thought it was a bit bland.  I wouldn’t say it was awful, but we didn’t enjoy it enough to make it again.  It may be right up your alley though….if you make this and love it, I’d love to hear from you.  I’d also love to hear if you make any changes to the original recipe.

No Wet Noodles Here! (In the lasagna, that is.)

Last night’s veggie escapades involved a scrump-dee-licious (and meatless, obviously) lasagna.  Served with corn and a bit of bread, it made a fine, fine meal.  My husband summed it up beautifully when he said, “It tastes like that spinach pie stuff, except with red stuff added to it, and I love that spinach pie stuff.”  Yes, he can be quite eloquent like that. 😉  (Side note:  My husband is actually not a moron.  You must keep in mind how stunned he is to be eating food that has not been microwaved or delivered.)  Keep reading to find out how this lasagna came to be….just follow a few easy steps and one of these lovelies will be sitting on your dinner table in no time.  (As long as you consider 1.5 to 2 hours “no time.”)

Yumtastic!

What you need:

*oven-ready lasagna noodles
*1 24(ish) ounce can of your favorite marinara sauce
*20 ounces frozen spinach (the chopped up kind)
*2 cups ricotta cheese
*one egg (I prefer cage-free, organic, brown eggs….I think any egg will do though 😉 )
*salt (to taste)
*ground pepper (to taste)
*oregano (to taste)
*1 cup shredded mozzarella 
*1 cup shredded 5 cheese blend (do not panic if you can’t find this….a 3 cheese blend will work….heck, just more           mozzarella would probably be fine)
*a lasagna pan (don’t strain yourself…something close will work)
*a strainer of some sort
*a big mixing bowl
 
(Take note!  “To taste” means I have no idea how much I used…I just threw some in there and hoped for yum to happen.)
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Thaw and drain your spinach in whatever way you see fit….I ran hot water on top of mine and glared at it until it wasn’t frozen anymore.
3.  In large mixing bowl, combine ricotta and egg.  Mix it up so you don’t see eggy bits anymore.
4.  Add spinach, pepper, salt, oregano, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, and 1/2 cup of cheese blend to ricotta mixture.  Stir.
5.  Use part (about 3/4 cup) of sauce to cover bottom of lasagna pan.
6.  Place 3 or 4 lasagna noodles in sauce.
7.  Spread half of spinach/ricotta mixture over noodles.  (I will not lie.  Swearing happened during this part….apparently spreading spinach is not one of my natural talents.)
8.  Add another layer of sauce, noodles and spinach/ricotta mixture.
9.  Pour remaining sauce on top of your creation.
10.  Sprinkle all remaining cheese on top of your creation.
11.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.  (Really, make sure the foil is on there properly….don’t just flop it on there or your noodles won’t be as noodly as you might would like.)
12.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
13.  Remove from oven and let stand (covered) for 15 minutes.
14.  Enjoy!
 
Well, I’ve already told you my husband’s reaction, so now on to my stepdaughter….she gobbled it right up!  I couldn’t believe she ate something with that much spinach in it! 😀

Can You Believe I’ve Stuck With This For Two Whole Recipes?!?!

Last night I continued my pursuit of yummy, vegetarian options for the family….options that involve combining ingredients and applying heat and everything!  So, what was on the menu last night?  Baked pasta, green beans, and rolls.  The baked pasta is the dish worth mentioning.  (Unless you find something magical about dumping a can of green beans in a pan with a bit of butter…even I was not stressed out by that task.)  So after admiring the picture below (that I almost forgot to take before digging in), keep scrolling down to find the recipe.  Again, I ended up with cheese down my shirt.  Why does this keep happening?  Do other people have this ingredient-in-clothing problem???  Geez.

Nom, nom, nom.

What you need:

*a pound o’ penne pasta
*1 24(ish) ounce can of your favorite marinara sauce
*1 cup ricotta cheese
*ground pepper (to taste)
*oregano (to taste)
*1/2 to 1 cup shredded mozzarella 
*an 8″ by 10″ baking dish (don’t strain yourself…something close will work)
*a strainer of some sort
*a big mixing bowl
 
(Take note!  “To taste” means I have no idea how much I used…I just threw some in there and hoped for yum to happen.)
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Cook your penne (in whatever fashion you are accustomed to).
3.  Drain pasta and set aside while you do the rest of this stuff.
4.  Put a little of your marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish….just enough to cover the bottom.
5.  In the big bowl, mix up the ricotta, pepper, oregano, and most of the remaining marinara sauce until it all has a lovely consistency and pinkish-red color.  Save a little sauce for the end.
6.  Add cooked pasta to the big bowl.  Gently stir things about until pasta is coated.
7.  Add pasta mixture to baking dish and smooth out with loving care.
8.  Pour remaining sauce over pasta.
9.  Sprinkle mozzarella all about the place.  (I like to pretend that I’m the Cheese Fairy….maybe that’s why I end up with cheese in my shirt.)
10.  Bake your new creation for 25 to 30 minutes.
11.  Enjoy!
 
How was it received by my family?  Husband and step-daughter both loved it!  They ate it and everything. 😀  I’d love to hear how it works out for you…

The Easy Vegetarian (No, not that kind of easy!)

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research recently on vegetarian living…vegetarian cooking in particular.  In a quest to not make meals of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, I’ve been scouring the internet for vegetarian dinner options.  (To further complicate matters, I detest beans.)  Here are some facts I have found:

  • Vegetarian recipes frequently call for ingredients I have never, ever heard of and have no idea where to purchase.
  • Vegetarian recipes frequently call for 953 different ingredients in one dish.  Who has the money for that?!?!
  • Vegetarian recipes frequently call for long periods of uninterrupted time devoted solely to lovingly cajoling veggies into submission.

In light of these facts, I’ve decided to add a bit to the blog about “the easy way out” vegetarianism.  Never fear, I’ll still post an actual recipe (be it success or failure) once a week, but I’ll also be bringing you some vegetarian slacker tips.  If ever I were qualified to give advice about anything, “being slack” would definitely be the topic. 😉

My first suggestion?  Visit the frozen food aisle of the grocery store and pick up some pre-made veggie burgers.  (They’re actually quite tasty and most grocery stores carry them….also quick and easy to prepare.)  Pick up some burger buns, cheese, and a tomato (or whatever you like on your burgers, of course), and you have a meal.  Revolutionary?  Nope.  I realize that seasoned vegetarians won’t find this earth shattering, but I’m trying to share some easy options for the newbies…like me. 😉

Yummy!

 

So, Chopping Vegetables….That’s New

I am really more of an “open a box, pop the lid on a can, call the pizza guy” kind of cook, so this vegetarian recipe quest I’ve embarked upon is all very new and exciting for me.  As I type this, I am having a fine lunch of Annie’s Organic Cheese Ravioli…from a can, like nature intended. 😉  So, yesterday was my first meat-free day, and I cooked a dinner that actually required the assembly of ingredients.  What was on the menu?  Eggplant parmesan, fried okra, and rolls.  After some mishaps, some pretty serious swearing, and some cheese down my shirt (don’t ask), I managed to bust out a pretty fine meal. 🙂  Look below the picture for the “how I made it” bits about the eggplant parmesan.

There are veggies in there!

What you need:

*a big honkin’ eggplant
*1.5 to 2 cups of panko or bread crumbs
*2 eggs
*olive oil (a couple of tablespoons should be plenty)
*a 24 ounce jar of your favorite marinara sauce (or homemade, if you’re much more domestic than I am)
*1 cup of shredded mozzarella
*1 cup of shredded parmesan
*a cookie sheet
*an oven-safe dish (approximately 8″ by 10″, but there’s wiggle room here)
*the will to force an eggplant into submission
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Peel the eggplant and cut into long thin strips.  (Bigger than french fries, smaller than celery stalks.)
3.  Spread olive oil onto a cookie sheet.  Make sure you spread it all over….that eggplant will stick like super glue!
4.  Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl and beat them up for a bit.
5.  Dump panko or bread crumbs in a shallow dish.
6.  Cover each strip of eggplant in beaten eggs.  Dunk the eggy eggplant in panko or breadcrumbs to coat.  Place eggy, encrusted eggplant pieces on oiled cookie sheet.
7.  Place in oven for 25 minutes…..take them out midway through (12 to 13 minutes) and turn all of the pieces over.  (Otherwise your eggplant will be crunchy on one side and squishy on the other.  Yuck!)
8.  Remove eggplant from oven.
9.  Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees.
10.  Now the layering begins!  Put some marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.  Add a layer of eggplant pieces.  Add a layer of cheese (mix up both types).  Repeat sauce, eggplant, and cheese layers until you’re out of stuff.
11.  Put your newly layered creation in the oven for 15 minutes.
12.  Remove from oven, let cool a reasonable amount of time, and enjoy!
 
I’d love to hear how this recipe turns out for your family.  My husband and stepdaughter both really enjoyed it.  They didn’t even complain about the lack of meat. 🙂