Welcome!

Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog contains recipes for delicious vegetarian food. Most of these are not MY recipes, 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 you can consult again and again rather than a daily inspiration. 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. Enjoy!

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
salt
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 poatoes. 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.

Christmas Day Brunch for Four

Happy December 26th!!! I don't know about you, but I am thankful to see the end of the caloric and financial excesses of the holiday season! Now that the chaos of the holiday schedule is behind us, I have time to post some recipes for you.
Yesterday Scott and I hosted a small brunch. The menu turned out great, so I'm going to share it with you here in case you're thinking of having a little brunch on New Year's Day.

brunch menu:
quiche (If you're hosting a vegan brunch, substitute a vegan tart for the quiche. I don't have a vegan tart recipe for you right now, but I've got one in the wings I'm going to try soon. I'll let you know if it's good.)
pan-fried paprika potatoes
fruit
homemade yeast bread
mimosas

Quiche-
I got the basis for this recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com/ just searching for "spinach quiche", but I ultimately designed my own using the blueprint from that website.

1 stick vegan margarine (or real butter...This recipe isn't vegan AT ALL, but I like to minimize dairy use when possible.)
1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
6-8 ounces of frozen chopped broccoli or frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I used broccoli.)
4 ounces organic mild cheddar cheese (I used Organic Valley.), diced into 1/3-inch cubes
3 free-range eggs
3/4 c. organic heavy cream (Again, I used Organic Valley.)
salt and pepper, to taste
1 frozen 9-inch pie crust

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium skillet, melt the margarine (or butter) over medium-low heat. Sauté the onion, shallot, and garlic in the melted butter until the onion and shallot become translucent. Turn off the heat. Mix the thawed broccoli (or spinach) into the onion and butter mixture. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Add the heavy cream and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix it again with the fork until everything is blended.

Stir the cheese cubes into the broccoli (or spinach) mixture, then spread this mixture into the frozen pie crust. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli (or spinach) mixture in the crust, allowing the egg mixture to penetrate the broccoli mixture thoroughly. Set the pie pan on a cookie sheet with an edge (or a jelly roll pan) to catch anything that bubbles over, then set the cookie sheet in the preheated oven. Cook 50 minutes or until center of the quiche is set. Remove from oven, and allow to set for 10 minutes prior to serving. Serves 4-6 as an entrée.

Pan-Fried Paprika Potatoes-
This is based on a recipe in January's Living magazine from Martha Stewart Enterprises. I modified it slightly.

2 large baking potatoes, scrubbed clean
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/3-inch thick and separated into rings
coarse sea salt
1/4 t. paprika (or more, as needed or to taste)

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces, leaving the skin on. (The only exception is this: If you notice a green tint under the skin of the potato before or after you cut it, remove the skin and the green tinted flesh.)

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the potato pieces to coat with oil. Cover the skillet, and cook for 5 minutes. (NOTE: If you don't have a lid for the skillet you're using, you can cover it with aluminum foil.) Remove lid and add coarse sea salt to taste. Stir to coat in oil again, re-cover, and cook another 5 minutes. Remove lid, add the onion rings and paprika. Stir to coat everything in the paprika. (You may have to sprinkle in a little more paprika to coat. Use your own judgement.)

Re-cover the pan and allow potatoes to continue to cook. Remove the lid every 5 minutes to stir to coat and to test for doneness. The dish is ready to serve when the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the onion rings are translucent and golden. This takes a total of about 30 minutes. Once they reach this stage, turn out onto a platter or serving dish and serve hot. Serves 4 as a side dish.


Fruit Platter-
3 large clementines or 5 small clementines, peeled and separated into sections
1/2 c. blueberries, washed
1/4 c. pomegranate seeds

To get the seeds from a pomegranate, first cut off the flower end of the fruit. Next, score the flesh superficially so that the exterior can be opened to reveal the seeds. In a medium bowl of cool water, gently work the seeds free from the fruit using your fingertips. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the rest of the flesh will float to the top. You can compost the flesh and exterior.
NOTE: Pomegranate juice will stain things, so take care when opening the fruit and seeds.

I just mixed the fruit and served it as is. Serves 4 as a side dish.


Homemade Yeast Bread-
This recipe comes from Peta's The Compassionate Cook cookbook, which I highly recommend. It's the simplest "French bread" I've ever made.

1 T. plus a heaping 1/4 t. active dry yeast (or 1.5 packages yeast)
1 T. sugar
2 c. lukewarm water (When touched to the inside of your wrist, it should be neither hot nor cold.)
1 T. salt
about 6 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
olive oil
cornmeal
water to brush over loaves

In a very large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water, allowing the yeast to grow for 5 minutes.

Mix the salt with 3 cups of the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir the first cup of salted flour into the yeast mixture until blended. Now add 1/2 c. of the salted flour at a time to the yeast mixture, stirring with your wooden spoon between each addition. When you've used all the salted flour, start adding 1/2 c. of the remaining flour in the same way until you have a stiff dough. Stir with a wooden spoon at first, then your hands when necessary, after each 1/2-cup addition. You'll probably only need to add about 5 c. flour before the dough is stiff. Sprinkle the rest of the flour on a clean counter. Turn the dough out onto the floured counter and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, about 10 minutes. Add more flour, if necessary, until you reach this non-sticky stage.

Pour enough olive oil into your bowl to grease it, and return the dough to the bowl. Turn the dough over so that it is covered in the olive oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and leave it in a warm place for the dough to rise. (I will often, especially in winter when the house is chilly, turn the oven on 200 degrees for 30 seconds or a little longer to make it a "warm place" and let my dough rise there. Don't forget to turn the oven right back off, though!) The dough should rise until it is doubled in bulk, which takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

Sprinkle cornmeal over a cookie sheet, 3 T. or so. Punch the dough down with your fist, then divide it into 2 equal portions. Return the first portion to the floured countertop and pat it out into a flat, oblong shape. Starting at one of the longer sides, roll it into a cylindrical loaf. Place the loaf seam-side down on the cormealed cookie sheet. Now do the same with the second portion. Brush each loaf with water using a basting brush.

Put your cookie sheet into a cold oven, and set the temperature to 400 degrees. Every 10 minutes or so during cooking, pull the sheet out and brush each loaf with water again to help form a nice crust. Allow the loaves to cook until they are golden brown and hollow-sounding with tapped with your knuckles (about 30 - 40 minutes). Makes 2 loaves.

Mimosas-
1 bottle champagne
1/2 gallon orange juice

In individual champagne flutes, mix your favorite ratio of champagne and orange juice by adding the champagne first, then topping off with orange juice.

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:
http://www.terrachips.com/promos-offers/coupons

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!