Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog contains recipes for delicious vegetarian food. Most of these are not recipes authored by me. Rather, this is just a compilation of great veggie food I've found from all over the place, usually tweaked just a little. It's intended to be a reference FOR ME so I don't lose great food I've found nor the changes I've made to suit my tastes, but I'm happy for you to use it, too. After more than 25 years of being a vegetarian, I know what tastes good.
Romeo's Food Lady is named after my friend and cat, Romeo. Romeo is not a vegetarian, but his Food Lady is!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spice Cabinet Heaven

Scott and I have been eating leftovers all week from the Christmas festivities. It's nice not to need to cook to have full meals every day! That's right. Full. Meals. My mom cooked enough for an army on Christmas! However, the dense, homemade bread from Saturday's brunch did not last long at all. Like, I think it was gone Sunday. That was okay, because I had a bag full of my mom's homemade yeast rolls to tide me over, but the end is drawing near. So...

Today, I'm making another batch of the French bread. (Now, I know it's not a proper "French bread," but let's just say it's a long skinny loaf, okay?) Anyhoo, I opened my spice cabinet to get the salt for the bread, and I got a little whiff of heaven. That small cabinet has been my spice cabinet for over 4 years, and it is nice and seasoned, believe me. It smells like love!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Warm Kale and Butternut Squash Salad

I based this recipe on a Martha Stewart recipe. Mine is simpler.

I contributed this dish to my mom's Christmas Day dinner. It's perfect for a Christmas dinner, because kale is still in season in the winter, and butternut squash is a seasonally appropriate winter storage squash.

Martha had it right when she included beans in her version of the dish to make a nutritionally balanced meal. You could definitely toss in a can of beans of your choice for a compact and balanced lunch, or you could serve beans on the side with both dishes playing their part in a larger meal.

1 butternut squash
olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 bunch kale, washed and de-stemmed, torn into bite-sized pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the butternut squash. Cut off the stem and blossom ends and discard. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and veins from the bulbous end of the squash. Cut the squash flesh into 1-inch pieces.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the squash on the paper, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and salt to taste. Toss the squash to coat, then spread to a single layer. Bake 20 minutes, until the squash pieces are easily pierced with a fork. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the shallot and garlic in the oil until the shallot is soft and translucent, if using, or skip this step if omitting shallot and garlic. Add the washed, torn kale to the pan, and toss in the oil to coat. Continue moving the kale over the heat until it is wilted (but stop before it browns, dries, or gets crunchy). Remove from heat, and salt to taste.

Toss the squash with the kale, and serve warm.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Around Thanksgiving, I gave you the recipe for a vegetarian topping for sweet potato casserole. Here's the recipe for the casserole. I got the original recipe from my mom (I'm not sure where she got it from.) and made a few adjustments to suit my dietary preferences. Thanks, Mom!

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 c. sugar
2 free-range eggs (If you want to make this vegan, try using Ener-G's Egg Replacer instead.)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegan margarine (or butter), plus more to grease casserole dish
1/2 c. rice milk (or other milk of your choice)

Bake the sweet potatoes at 475 degrees until easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to cool. Once the sweet potatoes are cool, the skins should peel away easily. Peel the baked sweet potatoes, then use a mixer to purée them. You need 3 cups of the puréed sweet potatoes. (Save any leftovers to add to waffles or muffins later.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add all remaining ingredients to the 3 cups of puréed sweet potatoes. Using the mixer, blend well leaving no lumps. Grease a 9x9 baking dish (I used a 9x11 with no trouble.) with the extra margarine (or butter). Spread the casserole mixture into the baking dish. Top with the vegetarian sweet potato casserole topping (recipe here), spreading over the entire casserole mixture.

Bake the casserole for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Salty Chocolate-Pecan Candy

Here's a recipe you can use for a Christmas get-together. It came from my friend, Pam, who said she got it from a "Southern Living" magazine. It's deceptively easy for how delicious and addictive it is!

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 (4-oz.) bars semi-sweet chocolate baking bars (Pam recommends using Ghiradelli brand, and I can confirm that I have used it with excellent results.)
3 (4-oz.) bars white chocolate baking bars (again with the Ghiradelli)
1 t. coarse salt

Roast the pecans. You can do this in a skillet over medium-low heat. Just shake the pecans around in the pan so that they don't burn. When they become fragrant, they're done. It takes maybe 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal pieces. (Ghiradelli comes pre-sectioned into 8 square pieces, making this quite simple.) Arrange your 48 pieces in a checkerboard pattern of brown and white on the cookie sheet with the pieces touching.

Bake the chocolate at 225 degrees until the chocolate is melty. Remove the pan to a wire rack. Using a wooden toothpick or skewer, swirl the melted chocolate into a marbled pattern. While the chocolate is still melty, sprinkle it evenly with the coarse salt and toasted pecans. Press the pecans into the chocolate slightly to ensure they adhere in the final product.

Chill the pan in the refrigerator 1 hour or until firm. Break the sheet of chocolate into pieces. You can store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kale Calzones

Serve these with your favorite tomato-y pasta sauce (from a jar or homemade), and no side dishes are necessary with this entrée! I wouldn't describe this dish as "easy," but only because it's time-consuming. It is well worth the effort!

about 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 small zucchini, diced (optional - I had one freak zucchini left over from gardening season.)
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced (NOTE: A clove of garlic is one section of the head of garlic. Some people don't know.)
1 bunch kale, washed and destemmed then torn into bite-sized pieces
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
pizza dough for 2 pizzas (This can be your favorite homemade dough or store-bought refrigerated dough. Be sure to check ingredients if you need a vegan dough.)
your favorite tomato-y pasta sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrot, and zucchini (if using) to the oil, and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and some salt, and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the kale and stir to coat. Keep stirring until the kale has wilted down but not dried out. (You may have add the kale in batches, depending on how large your skillet is. If your skillet gets full of kale, let it wilt down some, and add more. Keep repeating until it's all in there.)

Once the kale is wilted down, add the beans and stir so that everything is mixed. Add salt and black pepper to taste. (Remember that too little salt makes a dish bland, so unless you're watching your salt, taste it and add more if it's bland.) Remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to the proper temperature for your pizza dough, just as if you were cooking pizza.

Divide your pizza dough into halves, then divide each piece into halves, then divide each piece into halves again. You should have 8 equal-sized pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll the first piece into a large circle. Put 1/8th of the kale and bean mix in the middle of the first circle, then fold the circle in half so that it looks like a half moon with the kale mix as the filling. Using the tines of a fork, press the edges of the top and half of your calzone together. Prick the top of the dough several times with the fork, and move it to a baking sheet or pizza pan. Repeat this process with the remaining 7 circles of dough.

Bake your calzones until they are golden brown. In the meantime, heat up your pasta sauce.

Serve the calzones warm, covered with the warm sauce.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tempeh Sliders

Last night I made delicious tempeh sliders. Don't know what tempeh is? It's a fermented soy product which, I believe, is indigineous to Polynesia. Anyhoo, whatever it is, it makes a mean vegetarian slider. I use the Garden Veggie variety of tempeh from LightLife. It has peppers in it, and it's yummy. Here's what I did, in recipe form:

1 8-oz. package tempeh
about...4 T. canola oil
about, oh, 1 or 2 T. soy sauce, tamari, or shoyu
a baguette
slider garnish (I used spring mix salad, roasted red pepper, and sliced tomato last night. I know, I know. Tomato isn't in season right now, but Scott wanted some, and it was actually just fine. I prefer to use mashed avocado in place of the tomato.)

Now, you need to slice the tempeh into 6 slider-sized pieces, and that will depend on the shape of your tempeh cake. The way LightLife is shaped, I cut it across the width into thirds, then I slice each third to half the depth so that it's 2 "slices."

Put about 3 T. of the oil and 1 T. of the soy sauce (or tamari or shoyu) into a large nonstick skillet and warm it over medium heat. Once it's warm, put all 6 slices of tempeh into the oil and fry it until it's nice and brown on the bottom. Flip each slice with tongs and do the same to the other side. This is where you may need to add another T. of oil and soy sauce.

In the meantime, use a bread knife to cut the baguette into slider-sized chunks. Each chunk will be a "bun." Slice each "bun" in half lengthwise, then toast it in the toaster.

Once the tempeh slices are brown on both sides, load up your buns with tempeh, and your garnishes. Scott put ranch dressing on his sliders last night, and he said it was good. I'm not into ranch dressing, but you can decide for yourself. Serve the sliders with fries or chips (store-bought or homemade).

PS - Did you know you can print coupons for Terra Chips online? Here's the link I used:

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Be My Clementine!

I'm so happy that clementines are back in the markets now. One rescued me today when I could not stave off the urge to eat a snack despite my resolve to be snackless today. If a snack must be eaten, eat a clementine!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Recipe Amount Conversions

I just found the coolest website! I am trying out a new cake doughnut recipe, and it calls for 8 oz. of sifted flour. Is the author kidding me? I need to know how many cups that is. Well, I used Google to look up converting ounces to cups for flour, and I found this great website that calculates the conversion for me:


So now I know that this is approximately 1.8 cups of flour. My measuring cup has 1/8 cup increments, so I did the math (See? Math is very useful! Even for eating!) and found that I will need to use just over 1 and 6/8 cups.

I figured you might find this website handy, too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving and Sweet Potato Casserole topping recipe

Happy Black Friday to you all! I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday as much as I did yesterday! Scott and I went to my parents' house and feasted! Mom started cooking on Wednesday, then she got up at 5:10 yesterday to get rolling again. Scott and I got there a little before 10am so I could help. Of course, my family is not vegetarian, but let me outline the feast that was available to me as the family vegetarian yesterday: smooth mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, buttery corn casserole, candied yams, speckled butter beans, roasted Brussels sprouts (from the recipe on this very blog), vegetarian cornbread dressing, homemade macaroni and cheese, and store-bought rolls. And that's just dinner. For dessert there was homemade yellow cake with homemade chocolate icing, 2 pecan pies, lemon icebox pie, banana pudding, and chocolate pie from my Granny's famous recipe. It was, truly, a feast, and I took full advantage of the gorgeous Southern food and the warm company of family.

Now, one pickle that vegetarians sometimes find themselves in at Thanksgiving is the issue of the sweet potato casserole. You'll find that the casserole is there calling to you, all nice and vegetarian, but someone sticks marshmallows on top! (For those of you who don't know, marshmallows contain gelatin, and gelatin is not vegetarian. I will spare you the details, but you can search the web for information if your curiosity is piqued.) Here's an alternative topping for a sweet potato casserole that is more seasonal and absolutely delicious! It's what my mom uses:

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar (YUM!)
1 c. chopped pecans
1/3 c. melted butter or margarine (As you may know, I like to use the vegan margarine from Earth Balance. It does not have hydrogenated oils or trans fats in it.)

Just mix the ingredients well and spread in clumps over your casserole. It bakes to a sweet, crunchy, nutty, awesome thing when you bake the casserole. Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Yummy Vegetable Hodge-Podge

Last night I made a delicious dish based on (1) vegetables I had in the fridge that needed to be used and (2) my fond memories from the now-bygone restaurant La Montagne. You can use whatever vegetables you want in this...the main thing is to use a only little bit of each of a lot of things. Try to keep the colors varied and have some type of bean in the mix.

I served it over wild rice last night, then over couscous today with the leftovers. With the rice or couscous (or orzo or other pasta or whatever you want) and some bread, it's pretty much an entire meal. Last night we chose to eat it with toasted baguette smeared with goat cheese and black pepper. It was perfect!

2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 small jalepeno peppers, diced (Again, you can use what you want and don't have to use what you don't want, so don't let the jalepenos turn you off if you don't like spicy food. Maybe try half of a yellow bell pepper instead?)
1/2 onion, diced
2 handfuls frozen chopped broccoli
1 handful frozen green peas
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, diced (Yellow squash would work just as well.)
2 handfuls chopped sundried tomatoes, reconstituted according to package directions (I freeze the water I use to reconstitute them. I pour it into ice trays then transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. Later I use them to add flavor when I make winter squash soup.)
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salt and black pepper, to taste
about 2 T. olive oil
(I also used about 2 teaspoons of capers last night, but I think sliced black olives might have been better. Chopped mushrooms and/or asparagus and/or kale and/or Swiss chard and/or cherry tomatoes would be great in this, too.)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Add the carrots, peppers, onion, frozen broccoli, and frozen peas and sauté lightly until the onions are becoming transparent. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add the zucchini and sauté until it is tender-crisp (or however you like it). Add the tomatoes, beans, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat. When the beans are heated through, serve this over a bed of your choice (rice, wild rice, couscous, orzo, other pasta, etc.) and with bread. Voila! Dinner!

PS - If it tastes bland, you probably didn't use enough salt. You can salt at your plate, too, to fix it. Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Posies!!!

Holy frijoles! Scott and I went to dinner at Bosco's last night (Thank you, Scott!), and halfway through dinner the hostess seated THE POSIES at the next table. I was in the middle of a bite of black bean tamale when I saw some rockstar-looking guy getting seated at the next table in my peripheral vision. I didn't think anything about it, because it's Midtown, for heaven's sake. Scott said, "The Posies just sat down behind you" under his breath. We could barely speak or eat for the rest of our time there. Too way cool. I am, of course, listening to Dear 23 today. Check them out: www.theposies.net. AAaaaaahhh!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cranberry-Apple Crumble

I tried this recipe twice recently, and it's really good. It's not mine, so I'm just including the link. The first time I made it, I did it almost according to Martha's instructions. I substituted vegan Earth Balance margarine for the butter, and it worked fine. Also, I did not chop up my cranberries, and I liked it that way.

The 2nd time, I doubled the recipe, but I didn't double the recommended size of the dish. I squeezed it all into a pan that was smaller and, although it fit, it wasn't as good. The crumble topping really does need to spread out over that area. Also, don't cut down the amount of butter (or, in my case, margarine). I thought it called for a lot of butter/margarine when I made it the first time (only because the quantity seemed like a lot, not because it tasted like too much), so I cut some out the 2nd time, and it wasn't as good. Use the full amount!

Follow this advice, and you'll have a delicious autumn dessert (or breakfast! Why not?!).

Vegan Southern-Style Biscuits

I love to eat biscuits on weekend mornings. This morning I made an especially good batch. I think their texture may have been different than usual, because it is cool and rainy here today. Weather definitely affects baking!
They are delicious served with fried apples or sliced tomatoes and gravy and/or pan-fried potatoes. This morning I ate them alone with a big glass of chocolate soymilk. YUM! You could also serve them as bread with dinner or take them on a picnic to make tomato sandwiches.
1 c. all-purpose unbleached flour, plus more for kneading
scant 1/2 t. salt (You really could get away with 1/4 t. if you're watching your salt, but they don't rise quite as well.)
1 1/2 t. baking powder (Get the kind with no aluminum in it.)
2 T. vegan margarine (I use sticks of Earth Balance margarine, because it does not have hydrogenated oil in it.), cold
1/2 c. rice or almond milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder with a fork. Cut the cold butter into small chunks, then work it into the flour mixture with your fingertips. The butter should be completely incorporated into the flour so that the flour looks crumbly and you cannot identify any chunks of butter. Stir in the rice milk and incorporate.

On a clean kitchen counter, sprinkle out some flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Sometimes the dough might be pretty wet, sometimes (like today for me), it might be quite dry. Either way, knead the dough in the flour briefly. I limit myself to about 8 kneads before patting it out to a 1/2-inch. If you knead biscuits too much, they come out too dense. Use a biscuit cutter (or the rim of a glass or jelly jar) to cut out biscuits, but don't twist the cutter.  This seals the edges and can prevent a good rise during baking.

Put biscuits in an oven-safe pan (I use a nice cast iron griddle.) and bake until the biscuits have risen and the tops are browned. This recipe makes about 5 biscuits of average size and doubles easily.