Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What the Frack Does a Vegetarian Eat?

Sorry about the title...I'll bet you can tell I just finished watching Caprica...a pilot for a new spinoff series from Battlestar Gallactica. I just had to use "frack" somewhere!

It's my Spring vacation. A week off to sleep in, catch up on some gardening and get back into a fitness routine (again). Indulge in some good eats as well. You'll see that the food life of a vegetarian can be a truly flavorful adventure! Veggie food is not bland and boring at all!! I may be posting some of these recipes soon...so stay tuned! :-)

Of course, my morning just can't begin without my cuppa fair trade organic coffee (ya, I know coffee's not that healthy...but it's my only real vice). Today, my java was paired with a vegan chocolate chip, banana muffin-top made by my hubby yesterday, from the vegan cookbook "Get it Ripe" by Jae Steele. Oh so good!!

A little bit later, I had the rest of my breakfast...a whole wheat english muffin slathered with this wonderful cranberry-raspberry-merlot jelly that I received as a gift from some friends who had picked it up at the One-of-a-Kind craft show recently. You can actually taste the wine in the jelly. Yum! A mango-strawberry-banana fruit salad with a small dollop of organic 2% plain yogurt and breakfast was officially done.

Fresh whole wheat linguine with homemade spinach-walnut pesto and toasted walnuts and pine nuts. Need I say more?

First course included a pear and organic honey mini pizza on a Greek pita with goat cheese, mozzarella, xtra-old cheddar and parmesan cheese. Hot pepper flakes added a kick to this sweet dish.

Go easy on the cheese...these are strongly flavored cheeses so a little can go a long way. I try to find organic, free range dairy products whenever I can for both health and ethical reasons. The commercial dairy industry treats cows and their offspring like manufacturing inputs and the cruelty these bovines endure is beyond belief! Smaller scale, organic free range dairy farms are a more humane alternative without all the additives.

Second course consisted of a scrumptious fennel and pear salad with toasted walnuts and goat cheese with a honey-citrus dressing over purple and green baby romaine. The goat cheese, honey, and greens are all organic. Pure heaven!!

For dessert, one luscious truffle left over from my birthday box of truffles! Yum!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fast Food-->Orzo with Feta and a Rose Sauce

Last week I needed a quick-to -prepare dinner that didn't require me to go to the market for ingredients.

I was thinking chick peas. But chick peas were the one type of legume missing from my pantry. Darn!

White kidney beans (or cannelini) are another favorite of mine and I had some on hand, so I decided to build a quick pantry dinner around the white beans.

An unusual ingredient (for me anyway) is a prepared marinara from a jar. You know, those cool, tall Italian jars of crushed tomatoes? I use these all the time, except this week by mistake I bought one that was actually a prepared crushed tomato marinara flavored with basil and garlic. I prefer to make my own marinara, but since I wanted a quick meal, I thought I'd use it in this dish. And it turned out great. But, if you don't have a prepared marinara on hand, crushed tomatoes with some dried oregano should work just fine.

2 cups dried orzo, cooked according to package directions
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 fresh tomato, diced
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable stock
12 oz tomato marinara (about a cup)
1 regular size can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

25 ml cream or half and half
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 oz crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heal the olive oil in a skillet with high sides over medium heat and add the onions. Saute the onions for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and chopped tomato, oregano, salt and pepper and saute for 3-5 more minutes over medium-low heat.

Add the beans, stock and marinara sauce to the skillet, stir to combine and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add the cream, parmesan cheese, feta cheese and parsley, then add the drained, cooked orzo and stir gently to combine, simmering for 1-2 minutes or until the orzo soaks up some of the creamy-tomatoey goodness. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Baked Sweet Potato Frites with Spicy Dipping Sauce

The other night I was out having dinner in a restaurant, which I (far too) frequently do. I ordered the main which usually includes sweet potato frites and a spicy dipping sauce. My order arrives with white potato french fries and no dipping sauce!! Distraught, I asked the waiter what happened and he told me that the dish had been changed.

So, of course, the next day I rush home from work and make my own sweet potato frites (mixed in with some white potatoes, too) and came up with my own spicy dipping sauce. Take that, restaurant! Nyah!

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
2 medium white potatoes, cut into strips
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Spicy Dipping Sauce
3 T Vegenaise or mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 tsp paprika
1/4 to 1/2 tsp tabasco or other hot sauce
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium-large bowl, mix the sliced sweet potatoes and potatoes with olive oil and spices until evenly coated. Spread out in one layer on a large cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 425F for about 30 minutes or until slightly browned and crispy but still tender inside. Flip with a spatula about half way through to ensure browning on all sides.

For the dipping sauce, whisk together all the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and let sit while the frites bake to let the flavors marry.

This makes a great side with a portobello burger or veggie burger and a light salad. YUM!