Posts tagged ‘vegetarian’

Room For Improvement: “Mac ‘n’ Goat Cheese”

Last week was the final week (I hope) of last minute menu planning and food shopping.  I decided to make a recipe without reading it through and, as a result, found it to be less than I’d hoped for.

The recipe, Mac ‘n’ Goat Cheese, is from Everyday with Rachael Ray.  I liked it because it’s simple and includes some of my favorite ingredients: pasta, garlic, cherry tomatoes, spinach, cheese (we replaced the goat cheese with feta) and walnuts.   Plus it was vegetarian and I really need to work towards deliberately planning vegetarian meals.   Now, before I shower Rachael with criticism, I must confess that I didn’t follow the directions completely.  I cooked a pound of pasta (because I hate having a box with just a little bit of pasta in it!) but I neglected to increase all the other ingredients.

The dish came out fine otherwise however, and since we had tons of leftovers, I cooked up more spinach and garlic for the second night and added it in.  The problem with this “Mac ‘n’ Cheese” is that it isn’t really mac and cheese…it’s more like pasta salad.  The dish never gets baked (despite the misleading picture of the macaroni in a baking dish in the magazine) so the cheese doesn’t melt, and there’s nothing crunchy.  For a pasta salad, it was good.  But I wanted to make mac ‘n’ cheese.  In fact, my Man and I ate the leftovers cold. Granted, if I’d read the recipe all the way through before cooking it, I would’ve know this.

If I wanted to make this pasta salad again, I’d probably increase the amount of garlic, cheese, nuts and especially tomatoes and spinach even further.  I think a few sliced black olives would be a nice addition as well.  I’d also switch out the pasta for whole wheat pasta, which would leave me feeling less guilty for eating the same meal for dinner three nights in a row.  If you’re craving really good mac ‘n’ cheese instead of pasta salad though I would definitely re-recommend Cheese Lovers 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese.


July 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Updates and Confessions

Two and a half weeks into my new life as married woman, Massachusetts resident (though technically not official yet) and head cook of the household, I’m not doing as well as I thought I’d be.  I have a couple legit reasons for this and a lot of mediocre excuses.

I haven’t been eating very well.   Lunch has generally remained vegetarian (though not necessecarily healthy: I had tortilla chips with cheese and salsa as my entire lunch the other day) and I’ve had some vegetarian meals for dinner, but I feel like more meat has appeared on our plates than I intended.  But meat is easy: you only have to heat up a ham steak or a keilbasa.  Anything involving vegetables or beans or most grains requires more prep than that.  And sometimes I don’t feel like cooking.  (Side note: My Man does, has and will cook if I ask him to…or if I’m asleep at dinner time, which has happened…but I’m supposed to be the one all excited to do so)

I didn’t expect planning meals and cooking to be as draining and difficult as it is.  I was so excited to cook a week’s worth of meals, but it’s so much more work than just cooking one dish and eating it for lunch all week.  It’s a lot of effort to pour throught the supermarket fliers and try to find the best deals.  I have a small collection of cookbooks I love and a binder of miscellaneous recipes I want to try.   Yet it’s easier to make things I’ve made before or that I know my Man likes than to try something new.  Actually, that’s a pretty lame excuse.

I want to cook.  I want to maintain this blog.  I want to eat healthier than I have been.  I need to start working out…at least walking…again.  I think it’s primarily a matter of getting into routine: finding out what works, what doesn’t, what ingredients are great but not too expensive, remembering that I really do love cooking and being in the kitchen.


-Find more quick, easy, delicious and healthy (because a big pot of pasta every night is not healthy) vegetarian recipes

-Make recipes using the ingredients we already have

-Limit dinners with meat to once or twice a week

-Go for a walk every day

July 16, 2009 at 8:22 am 2 comments

There Goes My Money…

I may have just decided where all my money is going to go.

I also just had an amazing whole wheat bagel with delicious sundried tomato cream cheese.

If my Man notices in a few weeks that we’re out of money, brewhaha, in downtown North Adams, may be to blame.  It’s adorable.  It’s delicious.  And they have vegetarian/vegan offerings!  They offer loose, organic teas!   Not to mention coffee and baked goods.

If you’re in the area and looking for breakfast or lunch, I highly recommend it.

Finally leaving the house today was so worth it.

July 9, 2009 at 11:57 am

Mom’s Blueberry Muffins

muffin tower

How could I say no to “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” blueberries at the supermarket last week when I knew I had the perfect recipe for them?  My mom has the most delicious blueberry muffin recipe, and after waiting a couple days for her to email me the recipe (my recipe binder is with my in-laws in Connecticut with the rest of the stuff we couldn’t fit in our cars!), my Man also understands why we needed to buy blueberries last week.  Plus, it gave me the chance to use my new KitchenAid mixer!

Mom’s Blueberry Muffins

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½  teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup milk
2 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease & flour 12 muffin cups and grease tops of the tins between the cups.(Or, do what I do: Use baking cups instead.  It’s much, much easier)
  2. Mix together flour, powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, beat butter a few minutes until fluffy. Beat in sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs thoroughly; add the vanilla.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture about half at a time, alternating with milk, half at a time. Stir in 2 cups of blueberries.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared cups, filling them to the top. Sprinkle with the nutmeg sugar.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden. Let muffins cool about 30 minutes in pan before removing. (Or not…I’m pretty sure I didn’t…)
  7. Enjoy!


July 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Saturday Dinner: Cheese & Onion Enchiladas, Mexican Black Beans

Enchiladas are so simple to make it’s ridiculous.  I couldn’t find a recipe that I was really excited about so I made one up from various others, including this one found on Cooks. com and this one from All Recipes.  Now, mine probably won’t win any awards, but they were easy to make and satisfying.  I used my new food processor (!!!!) to shred some Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese (about a block total, but I didn’t measure).  I dipped 8 tortillas in canned enchilada sauce, filled them with cheese and chopped onions (food processor, again!), rolled them, put them in a big Pyrex dish, and covered them with more sauce and cheese.  Easy, eh?  After spending half an hour in my 350 degree oven, this was the beautiful result:

After my success with Spicy Black Beans (aka “bowl of mush”) and realization that black beans are really yummy, I wanted to try making something else with them.  I thought this recipe for Mexican Black Beans from Bon Appétit by way of Epicurious sounded appetizing.

The recipe is great because, in addition to being easy, almost all of the ingredients were already in my cupboards.  However, I did make a few alterations.  First, I used dried beans for the first time, following the “Cooking Beans, the Quick Soak Way” instructions from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I was really pleased with the way they came out and I hope to continue to use dried beans instead of canned in the future.  (Have you ever looked at the salt content on canned beans?  It’s pretty unbelievable).

I substituted vegetable bouillon for the chicken broth the recipe called for, thereby making it vegetarian.  I also only half-seeded the jalepeno, because if you remove all the seeds then the dish has no spice, and what’s the point of making Mexican food if there’s no spice?  Finally, I didn’t really smash the beans, mostly because I didn’t have a good tool to do so.

I was really pleased with the look of the meal, and the ease with which it was created.  My Man was equally happy, he loved the meal.  The spice in the beans was really good, as was the texture.  The enchiladas were moist and delicious.  Despite our happiness with the meal, new ideas immediately began surfacing: adding tomatoes to the beans, adding various vegetables to the enchiladas, serving the beans with rice.  It was the sort of meal which lends itself to tons of variations.

Best part?  There was enough leftover to serve for dinner tonight.

July 5, 2009 at 6:38 pm 1 comment

Covert Operation

Something amazing has occurred in my house.  My father ate something with chickpeas in it–and liked it!  We’re definitely making progress.

Last week, Matt of NoMeatAthlete posted a recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes which he found on Fine Cooking.  I’m pretty over salads at the moment, but the couscous cakes looked pretty good.  Plus they’re wicked simple: they only require  8 ingredients and  I had all of them except the lemon already in the house! I made them last night as a side dish to accompany the cube steaks my mom had planned for supper.  The cakes, which are made mostly of couscous, parsley, chickpeas, lemon zest and garlic, were incredibly easy to create.  I had about the same experience Matt did–they fell apart a little and didn’t brown as well as I’d hoped.  But they taste really good.

The ultimate success came at dinner however.  I served up the cakes and, when dad inquired about the ingredients slyly forgot to mention the chickpeas.  Dad, my strongest critic and hater of all things in the bean family, was quick to praise the couscous cakes.  Mom also though they were tasty.  I was so thrilled to expose the secret chickpeas to Dad.  He didn’t have much to say in response to my gloating and victory: he just smiled and finished eating his cake.

I will say that the side dish did get one negative review in my house: my sister (who I forgot doesn’t like couscous to begin with) thought the couscous cakes were bland and tasteless.  No one else in my house particularly understood that review, but I guess they’re not for everyone.

I, for one, would make them again in an instant.  And I plan to continue spreading my love of beans and other healthy foods to my parents.

May 31, 2009 at 8:15 pm 1 comment

Delicious Bowl of Mush

If there one thing I have a hard time with it’s taking good photos of my food.  I realize the image above looks like a bowl of mush.  It is a bowl of mush.  But it’s an incredibly delicious bowl of mush.

The recipe from Real Simple is called “Spicy Black Beans”; my future brother-in-law tweeted it to me over the weekend when I was begging for a good vegetarian recipe to make (have I mentioned I love Twitter lately?).  I haven’t made anything with black beans before, but I figured it was worth a try.  Oh, it totally was.  Not only is it good but the recipe only requires 7 ingredients: sundried tomatoes, white onion, jalapeño, canned black beans, canned tomatoes (I used diced), salt and cilantro (which I left out, because I usually leave out salt and shockingly, our supermarket didn’t have any cilantro!)  It’s pretty much a matter of chopping everything up and cooking it in a skillet.  Super easy.

And super delicious.  I was surprised how good it is, even though it’s pretty much a pile of mush.  I will say, its not remotely spicy, despite the recipe title, but it is yummy.  Doesn’t need salt, or cheese, or anything additional.  Originally, I was going to try putting the beans on a wrap for lunch, but it’s a little too liquidy for that.  On top of rice it is perfect, however.

Thank you, Kevin, for providing me with the best vegetarian meal I’ve made in weeks (months?).  If you’re looking for something healthy, fast, delicious and easy, this is it.

May 20, 2009 at 8:38 pm 2 comments

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