Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Caprese Risotto

About a month ago I got an Aerogarden. I had been looking at them for a long time and Ed finally convinced me to get one when we saw it for more than half off at Sams Club. I started off growing mint, parsley, oregano, thyme, chives, and two types of basil. Well it turns out that the basil grows very abundantly. We have already had to cut it down at least 3 times. Each time I added the cuttings to a glass of water over the sink, determined not to waste them. This weekend Ed took me to Williams Sonoma to have me help pick out my Mother’s Day present. While I was wandering around I came across a Le Creuset french oven that was limited quantity, in fact there were only two left, at a great price. It was a 3 1/2 quart wide round oven. A lot of people might say that this oven is too small to do much of anything with but to me it just screamed risotto. The pans I have been using to make risotto are about 2 1/2 quart and that is just big enough and I have always wanted one with a larger bottom to saute the rice better. This oven would fit the bill perfectly! After thinking it over overnight we went back the next day and got it, Yay!!!! Anyways….the combination of this new “risotto” pan and the basil sitting on my windowsill gave me an idea. I decided that I would like to try and make a Caprese Risotto. I like both components individually so why not try them combined? When I went to make it tonight I decided to only use a cup of arborio instead of a cup and a half like usual because we always end up with so much leftover. Ed didn’t disagree and as he later admitted it was because he didn’t really believe that this would turn out well and he is usually the one that eats the leftovers. He admitted this to me as he was lamenting the fact that he didn’t tell me to go ahead and make the full amount because this turned out very good. In fact I couldn’t get him to come up with anything that should have been changed. From my opinion the risotto was very rich thanks to the chicken broth and trying vegetable broth might lighten it just a bit. I may or may not try that next time as this is a keeper just the way it is.
Caprese Risotto

Caprese Risotto 2 (I couldn’t get the sticker off. Oops.)

Caprese Risotto by Me

1 cup arborio rice
40oz chicken broth – you could substitute vegetable broth to make it vegetarian
1 1/2 tbsps olive oil
1/3 cup white wine – I used a riesling
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 roma tomatoes seeded and chopped
10 basil leaves julienned and cut in half
5 basil leaves torn in quarters

Heat chicken broth in medium sauce pan and keep warm throughout cooking.

Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Add the torn basil leaves and saute for approx. 3 mins allowing the basil flavor to infuse into the olive oil. Remove basil pieces and discard. Add arborio rice and saute for a few minutes until rice becomes opaque. Add white wine and cook until absorbed. Start to add chicken broth to the rice in approx. 1/2 cup increments. Stir almost constantly while allowing each batch of chicken stock to be almost fully absorbed. Continue with this process till rice is no longer crunchy and the rice is nice and creamy.

Remove from the heat and add the mozzarella cheese combining well. Add the basil leaves and tomatoes folding them gently into the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


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Oh My Gosh! I couldn’t stop eating it!!! I have only made quinoa once before. It was at one of my cooking club dinners. I liked it but it wasn’t until later that I learned of it’s amazing nutritional value. After finding out how good it was for you I added it to the list of rice/seeds/grains/legumes that I wanted to experiment with. The box of quinoa has been sitting in my cabinet for a couple of months now just waiting for it’s time to shine. Shine it did! This really hit the spot this evening. It was fresh, light, and tasty. The lime and cayenne complimented each other well. I just kept eating more of it and more of it. Good thing it is so good for you! The only thing I would do differently next time is add a little more of the dressing. If you are looking for an easy, tasty recipe to enjoy quinoa this is definitely a winner.

quinoa and black bean salad 3

Quinoa Black Bean and Corn Salad
adapted from American Institute for Cancer Research
1-1/2 cups quinoa
1-1/2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups cooked corn (fresh, canned or frozen)
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 small red onion minced
1 tsp. garlic, minced fine
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil

Prepare quinoa per directions on package and allow to cool.

While quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl toss black beans with vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.

Add corn, bell pepper, onions, garlic, cayenne, and quinoa. Toss well.

In a small bowl whisk lime juice, salt, cumin. Add oil in a stream while whisking. Drizzle over salad and toss well with salt and pepper. Salad may be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.


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I know, right now you’re thinking to yourself “really, brussel sprouts?!” Well you’d be surprised. I have been wanting to try stuffed shells for awhile now. I’m not really sure how I’ve never made them before but so it is. Anyways, once I decided to make them I was having a hard time deciding what to actually stuff them with. I didn’t want them to be just cheese and the next natural thought is spinach but it just wasn’t appealing to me. I remembered a sauteed shredded brussel sprout side we’d had awhile back and started to think that it would go well with the ricotta cheese mixture for stuffed shells and as luck would have it I had bought a large container of brussel sprouts just a couple of days ago. It turned out that we also had a container of mushrooms in the fridge so brussel sprout and mushroom stuffed shells it was. To Ed’s credit he didn’t even bat an eye when I suggested it. This turned out very good. The only thing I would do differently is increase the amount of the brussel sprout and mushroom mixture in the filling by a half. The recipe below is how I made it today. Give it a try…you just might like it! That means you brussel sprout nay sayers too. Oh, and it is a great way to get the kids to eat some veggies. Gabriel didn’t know what hit him.

Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Stuffed Shells by Me

3/4lb brussel sprouts trimmed, cleaned, and shredded – you may want to increase a little
8oz mushrooms minced – you may want to increase a little
3tbsp butter
32oz ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2oz shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups marinara sauce
4oz mozzarella cheese
12oz jumbo shells prepared per instructions on box
**I forgot to add some garlic which you may want to do.

Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add brussel sprouts and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are soft and have released their juices. Lightly salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, eggs, thyme, and parmesan cheese and mix well. Add brussel sprout and mushroom mixture and combine well. Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9×13 baking pan (note that there will probably be enough shells to fill a smaller pan also) spread a small amount of marinara sauce across the bottom. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture and place in pan. When finished top shells with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 mins or until cheese is melted.


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I joined my first online blogging group. It is called the Barefoot Bloggers. They are dedicated to trying as many of the Barefoot Contessa’s aka Ina Garten’s wonderful recipes as possible. I love Ina so this seemed to be the perfect inaugural group for me. I was very excited about this first recipe for many reasons. First of all it didn’t contain any meat which is a necessity until Lent is over. It will also be my first time using puff pastry and who doesn’t like tomatoes, goat cheese, and fresh basil. The anticipation while cooking was very high and I must say that I was not disappointed in the least! My puff pastry did not rise as much as I expected but other than that these were incredible! They would be perfect on a cool summer evening.Anne of Anne Strawberry picked an awesome recipe. Give them a try.
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

* 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
* Good olive oil
* 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
* 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons dry white wine
* 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
* 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
* 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
* 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
* 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

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Dinner tonight was a combination of potato, cream, and cheese with a few vegetables thrown in for good measure. I had been looking for something to do with some frozen gnocchi we had in the freezer when I came across this delicious looking dish from Food alla Puttanesca. It turns out the it was an adaptation of a recipe from Giada’s Everyday Pasta cookbook. I will post the original recipe here and put my changes in italics.
baked gnocchi

Baked Gnocchi
adapted from Everyday Pasta

2 (17 ounce) packages potato gnocchi – I used 2 14oz packages
* 1/2 med onion chopped
* 1 8oz package of sliced mushrooms
* 2 tbsps butter
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth – I used mushroom broth
1/4 cup all purpose flour
* 2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
12 ounces baby spinach – I used 1 10oz frozen package of chopped spinach
3 ounces fresh goat cheese – I used 2oz
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the gnocchi in a lightly greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cream, chicken broth, and flour over medium heat. Continue whisking until the sauce is simmering and thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and nutmeg and stir to combine. Meanwhile melt the butter in another pan and saute the mushrooms and onion.Add the spinach, mushrooms, and onions and toss to coat in the cream. Pour the cream and spinach, mushroom, and onion mixture evenly over the gnocchi and gently spread the spinach out to cover.

4. Crumble the goat cheese over the spinach. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake until the top is golden in places, about 30 minutes.
baked gnocchi 2


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Black Bean Burgers

Finding new vegetarian dishes has been an interesting process. Having not really cooked vegetarian before I don’t really have a good grasp on flavors and textures that are often involved in cooking without meat. Luckily most things have turned out well, even satisfying Ed and Ksenia. Last night we tried our hands at Black Bean Burgers. I have never had a non-meat burger before and I was just sure that the rest of the family would be just shy of full revolt. Well we were all surprised. Pleasantly surprised that is. These had a wonderful flavor and were very filling. Ksenia even said she would eat them again. The biggest complaint that any of had was that they were a little mushy and fell apart easily. I ended up eating mine with a fork because I squished mine, like I do with all burgers/sandwiches, and it lost it’s shape and broke up a little. I think that this problem could be solved fairly easily just by making smaller burgers. Try these….you won’t be disappointed.
black bean burgers

Black Bean Burgers
adapted from Once Upon a Gourmet Gin

3 14.5oz cans of black beans – drained and rinsed
1/2 jalapeno – seeded and minced
1 tbsp roasted garlic
1 1/2 cup Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs plus enough for coating
2 large eggs
1 tsp of fresh thyme
3 whole scallions – sliced thin
2 tsps ground cumin
2 1/2 tsps onion powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tbsp McCormicks Worcestershire sauce
2 tsps honey
2 tbsps lime juice

In a large bowl combine 2 cups of balack beans, jalapeno, and roasted garlic. Mash together until well blended and you have achieved a fairly pasty consistency. Add remaining black beans, panko, eggs, scallions, thyme, cumin, cayenne, onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, honey, lime juice, and salt and mix until well combined. Form 8 patties. Roll each patty in panko.

Place patties in the refrigerator for approx. 20 mins. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a large skillet. Cook patties for approx. 5 mins on each side lowering heat to med. after flipping.

We served these with an avocado spread on the buns, coleslaw, and tator tots.

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Eggplant Parmesan

I hesitated to blog this as I have no picture and even a mediocre picture often seems to be better than no picture at all. However after a couple of weeks went by I still wanted to include it here so I decided what the heck. I’m sure this won’t be the last such post for many reasons. I like eggplant and have wanted to make eggplant parmesan for awhile now. I haven’t ever really cooked with eggplant before except when adding it to green curry. Ed has always said that he is not a huge fan of eggplant, he doesn’t like mushy squash, so I kept putting it off. I decided that since we were now eating only vegetables that this was the time to try it. We were definitely going to have to start branching out in our main dish repertoire if we were to eat well for the next few weeks. As I said I had never made this before so I did a little recipe surfing and found one to start from. This turned out really well. Ed had seconds, Gabriel asked for more, and Ksenia’s boyfriend couldn’t stop talking about it. Success!

Eggplant Parmesan

adapted from allrecipes

1 3/4 large eggplants – peeled and cut in approx. 1/4″ slices
3 eggs
2 cups italian breadcrumbs
1 cup grated parmesan
6 cups marinara sauce – jarred or homemade, I used homemade
120z shredded mozzarella cheese
4oz shredded parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 400 degrees

Salt eggplant slices and place in a colander for 30 mins to sweat and drain. Rinse well and pat dry.

Beat the eggs and place in a shallow dish and then combine the breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese in another shallow dish. Coat eggplant in egg, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place in single layer on a baking sheet. bake in oven for twenty minutes flipping at 10 mins.

In a 9×13 baking dish place a small amount of marinara sauce on the bottom, enough to coat. layer eggplant, shredded parmesan cheese, marinara sauce and mozzarella twice. on the third layer just use eggplant and the 2 cheeses.

Bake for 30-35 mins until golden brown.

Serve with spaghetti tossed with butter, italian seasonings and parmesan cheese


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When someone mentioned that they were making Black Bean and Pineapple Enchiladas in a What’s For Dinner post on a cooking message board I frequent, I was intrigued and immediately asked for the recipe. It turns out that she had adapted the recipe of a Pillsbury Bake-Off Winner. I knew I definitely wanted to try this but was not so sure of what Ed would think. Well to my very pleasant surprise he was ready and willing to give them a try. These were really good! Gabriel even gives them the toddler seal of approval. I can see them being a kid favorite for years to come.
Black Bean, Corn, and Pineapple

Black Bean, Corn, and Pineapple Enchiladas
adapted from this recipe from Pillsbury

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 med red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 20oz can of crushed pineapple drained well, 1/3 cup juice reserved
1 14.5oz can of black beans, drained, rinsed
1 cup of frozen corn
1 tsp salt
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 1/2 cups shredded Mexican Blend cheese or Cheddar cheese
1 can enchilada sauce
8 flour tortillas (8 or 9 inch)

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, corn, cayenne pepper and salt. Cook until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of cheese mixing well untill combined and cheese is melted.

Spoon and spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon 1/8 of the mixture over sauce and roll up tortillas. Place them seam side down in baking dish.

In measuring cup with reserved 1/3 cup pineapple juice add remaining enchilada sauce and mix well. Pour mixture evenly over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cup and half of cheese. Cover with foil.

Bake 35 minutes and remove foil during last 5 to 10 minutes of baking.

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I thought that this recipe was long lost. I had made it once, years ago, and then forgot where it came from. I however did not know that I forgotten where it came from. I was sure that is was from a cookbook called the
Occasional Vegetarian. I was so sure that when I didn’t find it in the cookbook the first time I looked, I looked at least three more times on two different occasions. Guess what? It wasn’t in that cookbook. I finally found it the other day in The Ultimate Italian Cookbook I ended up modifying it a lot but it turned out to be a nicely flavored and comforting meal. The only issue was that I feel that the sauce was bit too thick so you might want to use a little more milk or mix some of the pasta water in.
pasta with cauliflower and mushrooms

Pasta with Cauliflower and Mushrooms adapted from The Ultimate Italian Cookbook pg. 92

1 med head of cauliflower separated in florets
2 cups milk
1 tsp dried thyme
4tbsps butter + 2tbsps
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup flour
1 cup of shredded italian blend cheese
8oz sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1lb penne pasta

Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Cook cauliflower for 8-10 mins or until tender. Using a slotted spoon remove the cauliflower from the water and reserve the water to cook your pasta in. Cut up the cauliflower into bite sized pieces.

Melt 2tbsps of butter in a saute pan and cook mushrooms until staring to brown.

Add 1tsp of thyme to the 2 cups of milk and heat but do not allow to boil. Melt 4 tbsps of butter in a medium saucepan, add the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 mins. Add the flour to the butter and whisk to combine. Slowly whisking in the warm milk til the sauce is smooth. Allow to cook for 2-3 mins stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, and cheese. Mix until the cheese is fully integrated and melted.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to instructions on the box using the pasta water. Drain the pasta.

Combine pasta, cauliflower, mushrooms, and sauce. Mix well.


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As I’ve stated before I love potatoes. So when I heard of Potato pizza I was intrigued. Intrigued but hesitant. Potato on bread? That seems like a lot of carbs, very heavy, and possibly dry. However every time I heard it mentioned people were saying how good it was. Hmmm…maybe it was worth trying after all. So I glanced at a few sites and decided to give it a go. All the while ignoring Ed’s raise eyebrows. We were all pleasantly surprised with the results, even my 19yr old daughter who is my toughest critic. The one thing that I think I would definitely do differently next time is try substituting melted butter with sauteed garlic for the olive oil on the pizza dough and the potatoes. I think the butter and garlic would add an extra depth of flavor and hopefully keep the potatoes from sliding off the dough when you eat it like they did a little this time.
Potato Pizza with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions

Potato Pizza with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions by Me

1 batch of pizza dough – I used frozen
2lbs yukon gold potatoes – sliced thin
1 smallish red onion – sliced thin
8oz sliced mushrooms
3tbsp butter
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp + 1tsp dried thyme
1tsp + 1tsp dried rosemary
2oz grated parmesan cheese

preheat oven to 400 degrees (or follow directions for your pizza dough

Melt 2tbsp butter in a saute pan over med-medium high heat, add onions, and cook untill caramelized
remove onions, add the last tbsp of butter, melt, add mushrooms, and cook untill they begin to brown

Spread pizza dough on a cookie sheet into a rectangle of approx. 13×10. Brush dough with olive oil – just enough to cover the dough. Now sprinkle the dough with 1tsp thyme, 1tsp rosemary, parmesan cheese, and a little salt. Place the potato slices on the dough making sure you have complete coverage, overlap if you must. Sprinkle the potatoes with a little salt, and the remaining thyme and rosemary. Top with the caramelized onions and mushrooms.

Bake for 20-22mins or until the crust starts to brown.


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