Welcome to Romeo's Food Lady! This blog mainly 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, sometimes tweaked to my taste. 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. In addition to recipes, you may occasionally have to tolerate musings and rants as well. Romeo's Food Lady is named after my friend and cat, Romeo. Romeo is not a vegetarian, but his Food Lady is. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Herbed Rice

I got this recipe from Martha Stewart's Living magazine.  Although the thought of putting that much cilantro on anything does not turn me on and the thought of putting peppermint on rice is about equal in its attractiveness to me, something told me to give it a whirl.  And, of course, it works.  This rice is very fresh tasting, and it goes well with Asian-inspired or Middle-Eastern-inspired foods.

1 2/3 c. water
1/2 c. packed fresh cilantro
1/4 c. packed fresh mint (I used peppermint.)
2 T. minced onion
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 T. olive or canola oil
1 c. jasmine rice
1 t. salt

Purée the water, cilantro, mint, onion, and garlic in a blender until smooth.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Add the jasmine rice, and stir to coat.  Cook until slightly toasted, 1 - 2 minutes.  Add the herb purée and salt.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let stand - still covered - for 10 minutes.  The herbs will have floated to the top of the rice.  Use a fork to evenly distribute the herbs into the rice and to fluff the rice.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beth's Lentils

I got the original version of this recipe from Peta's cookbook The Compassionate Cook, which I highly recommend for great vegan food.  I don't know who Beth is, but her lentils are great!  And the ease of a one-pot meal is welcome on work nights.  Serve it with cornbread for a perfect cool-weather supper.

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
between 1/2 and 1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced
crushed red pepper, to taste (optional - This dish is good with and without this ingredient.  Decide whether you're in the mood for something spicy tonight!)
1/2 t. dried thyme
3 c. vegetable broth or water
1 c. lentils (I used the tiny black French lentils, which gave the dish an elegant feel, but the the plain green lentils work fine, too.)
1 t. salt (or to taste)
2 14-oz. cans of chopped tomatoes (or maybe even the fire-roasted type of tomatoes)
4 or 5 large sprigs of fresh oregano (You can substitute 1 T. dried oregano if fresh is not available.)

Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven or large pan over medium heat.  Sauté the onion, carrot, and crushed red pepper (if using) in the oil until the onion is transluscent, about 5 minutes.  Add the thyme and sauté one minute longer.

Add all remaining ingredients except oregano, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook until the lentils are tender, about 50 minutes.  Add the oregano after simmering 40 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

I've mentioned these muffins before but just gave you a link for the recipe on Ocean Spray's website.  Allow me to type it out for you here with my slight modifications.  These muffins are deliciously seasonal.  They're sweet in an earthy way, not a cloying way, because they're sweetened with brown sugar and molasses instead of refined white sugar.  I made them last weekend.  Maybe they would be a perfect breakfast for your family during the coming weekend!

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking soda (not baking powder)
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg (OK in this recipe, even though I don't like it in savory recipes!)
1/2 t. salt
1 c. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 c. (or more or less - you decide) fresh cranberries (Ocean Spray suggests using 6 oz. sweetened dried cranberries.  I think that would be fine during those times when fresh ones aren't available, but I like the fresh ones better.  I buy them when they're available and freeze them for the coming year.)
1/2 c. canola oil
1/4 c. rice milk
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg (Vegans can use Ener-G's Egg Replacer.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 12-muffin tin or line the muffin cups with paper baking cups.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  Combine the wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just moistened.  Fold in the cranberries.

Divide the batter equally between 12 muffin tins.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove muffins from tins and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tempeh Sliders

Here's a delicious dinner:  tempeh sliders garnished with tomatoes, avocado, and onion with a side of waffle fries!  Recipe for the sliders here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Homemade "Jalapeno Poppers"

Ok, I know there's nothing healthy or admirable about seeking out a recipe for homemade "jalapeno poppers."  I mean, they're fried, and they're full of cheese.  But I had a bunch of garden jalapenos that I needed to do something with since I didn't get around to pickling them, and a person can only eat so many fresh jalapenos the hard way.  So I submit to you, this recipe, which I adapted from one on www.allrecies.com by hlsands.  This made enough for Scott and I to eat them at 2 meals.

3 oz. organic cream cheese, softened (I like Organic Valley brand for cheese products.)
2 oz. organic shredded cheddar cheese
1 T. minced onion or vegetarian bac'n bits (optional)
4 - 5 oz. fresh jalapeno peppers, halved, deseeded and deveined (NOTE:  Wear gloves to handle the jalapenos unless you want your fingers and under your fingernails to burn for days afterwards.  If you don't have gloves, try putting sandwich bags over your hands.)
1/2 c. rice milk (Well, we have to try to be healthy and reduce dairy consumption where we can, don't we?!)
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. panko bread crumbs (maybe a little more)
canola oil for for frying
salt, to taste

In a small bowl, mix the cheeses and onion or bac'n bits, if using.  Spoon this into the jalapeno halves.

Put the rice milk, flour, and bread crumbs in separate bowls.  Dip each stuffed jalapeno first into the rice milk, then into the flour.  Roll it to coat well with flour.  Allow the peppers to dry for 10 minutes.

Now dip each jalapeno into the rice milk again, then roll it well in the bread crumbs.  Allow the peppers to dry again.  And then even though it seems like unnecessary trouble, dip them into the rice milk once more and roll them once more in the panko bread crumbs.  Failure to completely coat each pepper will create escape holes for the cheese during frying, and you could end up with a mostly empty fried pepper.

Heat a pan or skillet containing enough canola oil to cover a layer of jalapenos, and bring it to 365 degrees F.  (I used a saucepan, because it took less oil and had nice deep sides to prevent too much splattering.)  I'm sorry to say it, but deep fry the coated jalapenos in batches until they are golden brown.  Remove the jalapenos from the oil and allow them to drain on paper towels.

Salt the peppers as you would French fries, and enjoy your decadent treat.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegan Chili

Here's a photo of the vegan chili recipe (recipe here) that I have been using for years.  As I mentioned in the original post, my sister-in-law, who is a dedicated omnivore, told me this was the best chili she'd had in her life.  She has made it several times herself!

The weather we're having tonight in Memphis is definitely chili weather, so consider this easy and quick chili recipe for dinner tonight...

Potato-Leek Soup

A couple of nights ago I made a version of potato-leek soup adapted from Barbara Kafka and Christopher Styler's cookbook Vegetable Love.  I didn't expect much from it.  The recipe is simple, and I was really just trying to use some leeks I had in the fridge before they went bad.  But wow!  It turned out great!  Vegans, I'm sorry to say that, surprisingly, the cream made a fair difference, but you can certainly make this without it.

I didn't photograph it, because puréed potatoes don't make much of a photograph, but it was still quite delicious.  I served it with bruschetta (recipe and photo here), because we are still getting fresh tomatoes from the garden.  Here it is:

1 lb. white potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 leeks
3 c. water
1 pkg low-sodium miso soup mix (to prepare 8 oz. miso soup...I used Edward & Sons Miso-Cup brand.)
2 T. organic heavy cream (optional - As many of you know, I prefer Organic Valley brand.)
salt and pepper, to taste

Remove the green leafy end and 1 inch of the root-end of each leek, and compost the removed parts.  For the remaining leek stalks, cut them into ½-inch sections crosswise.  Wash them in a basin of water to remove any grit.
In a large saucepan, add the potatoes, leeks, water, and the miso soup mix.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.
Working in batches of approximately 2 cups each, purée the prepared potato mixture in a blender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  (I used approximately 1 tsp. salt.)  Add the organic heavy cream, if using, and serve warm.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Swiss Chard with Potatoes

If you've been reading posts since this summer, you know I've had a ton of Swiss chard on my hands from the garden.  It's been my pleasure to try to find new and interesting things to do with this garden green, because we had great success with it this year.  Here's a delicious dish based on a recipe from Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican cookbook.  I served it as an entrée with a side of black beans and with garlic toasts, but you could easily use it as a side dish, too.

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 fresh jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and thinly sliced
1 (maybe 2 - try it both ways) medium tomato, cored and coarsely chopped
6 small red-skinned boiling potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/4 c. water
3/4 t. salt, separated
1 bunch Swiss chard (about 6 large leaves), stems cut out and leaves sliced crosswise into 1-inch strips

In a large, lidded skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeno and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is lightly browned (about 7 - 10 minutes).  Add the tomato to the pan and cook a little longer to reduce the liquid slightly.

Stir in the potatoes, water, and 1/2 t. salt.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Mix in the chard and remaining 1/4 t. salt.  Cover and cook over medium heat until the greens are tender, about 3 minutes.  Stir to coat the vegetables in the tomato-y broth, and serve immediately.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hillbilly Caviar

My friend, Pam, gave me this recipe.  She called it "Hillbilly Caviar" and said she got it from Southern Living magazine.  It's an attractive, healthy, filling, vegan appetizer, and it makes a very decent amount for a small crowd of 20 or so.  Serve it with scoop-style chips or anything that can be hollowed (like maybe thick zuchinni slices).

1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can niblet corn, drained
1 can chopped tomatoes, drained (I used the fire-roasted kind of chopped tomatoes, and it worked very nicely.)
1 green bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped (white or yellow works fine, too)
vegan Italian dressing, to coat
something to scoop the caviar with (like scoop-style chips or any edible, hollow thing - see intro)

Mix first 7 ingredients, then add just enough vegan Italian dressing to coat everything.  Serve with scoop-style chips (or any hollow edible thing - see intro).

Grace update

Would you believe our precious Grace is still with us?!  She has suffered from kidney failure since a bout of pancreatitis in May, but she is getting a lot of love and medical support at home.  And since the last update, her appetite has rebounded, so she is happily eating 2 meals of real dog-food every day.  We are so thrilled to still have this angel with us!  In related news, we had a health scare with HRM Romeo this month, but I am happy to report that after some surgery, he is doing very well.  Love that kitty!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Pie

This chocolate-coconut-pecan pie is shamefully easy to make and decadent to eat!  I made it recently for a neighborhood block party.  Recipe here.

Corn Pasta photo

Here's a photo of the pasta with corn sauce entree (recipe here).  I topped it with fresh parsley and freshly-ground black pepper and served it with straight-from-the-garden tomatoes and asparagus.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fried Green Tomato Po'boys

Let me thank Southern Living magazine right now for this fantastic idea:  fried green tomato po'boy sandwiches!  I also based this fried green tomato recipe on theirs.  I made these sandwiches for a late lunch/early dinner today, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with the results!  I didn't use rémoulade sauce, but you certainly can if you want.

Fried Green Tomato Ingredients:
½ c. all-purpose flour, separated
1 egg
½ c. rice milk
½ c. cornmeal
3/4 t. baking powder
heaping ½ t. salt
heaping ½ t. freshly ground black pepper
3 medium green tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/3 inch thick
canola oil

Sandwich Ingredients (per sandwich):
6-inch baguette, sliced lengthwise
2 slices fried green tomato
4 slices avocado
thinly sliced onion rings, to taste
shredded lettuce
2 slices red tomato
Tabasco chipotle sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper

To make the tomatoes, set up a dredging station with 3 shallow bowls.  The first will have 1/4 c. AP flour.  In the next bowl, whisk together the egg and rice milk.  In the last bowl, mix the remaining 1/4 c. AP flour, cornmeal, baking powder, heaping 1/2 t. salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat the canola oil in a deep-sided cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Dredge each slice of green tomato in the AP flour first, then in the egg mixture, then in the cornmeal mix.  Place the slice in the hot oil.  It should sizzle but not splatter.  (No sizzle = not enough heat.  Splatter = too much heat.  Be VERY CAREFUL with hot oil!  Protect your skin and clothes!)  Fry each slice until golden brown, about 2 - 3 minutes on each side.  You may have to add more oil as you work through the tomato slices.  Drain the fried tomatoes on paper towels.

Once you have the tomatoes fried, the hard part is over!  Now open your baguette and layer up your sandwich like this or in whatever manner suits you:  2 fried green tomato slices, avocado slices, thinly sliced onions, shredded lettuce, red tomato slices, generous salt and pepper, and Tabasco chipotle shots to taste.  Close up your sandwich and get to work!

Scott and I ate them with cold homebrewed beer and finished up with a chocolate chip cookie from a local bakery.  Tres bien!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Romeo Pretty Kitty

Carrot Mashed Potatoes Photo

Here's a photo of Carrot Mashed Potatoes, recipe here:

Summer Fruit Salad

Here's a simple summer fruit salad that was inspired by a couple of recipes I saw (one in Southern Living magazine and one in Martha Stewart's Living magazine).  They were both twists on the same idea, so I just took it down to the bare bones.  It's delicious!  This recipe serves 2.

1 mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 pink grapfruit, halved crosswise (This way each section will be exposed in each half.  It will have the design of a sunburst, if you're not familiar with grapefruit.  Hey, some people aren't!)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1/2 juicy lime, juiced

In a medium bowl, mix the mango, avocado, and lime juice.  Using a paring knife, make a circular cut so separate the grapefruit meat away from the peel.

Now, hovering over the salad bowl, use the same paring knife to slice each section away from the membrane.  You'll have to cut on each side of each section's membrane.  Let the grapefruit meat and juices fall into the bowl. 

Mix and enjoy!

Vegan Southern-Style Biscuits with Vegetarian Sausage

I previously posted the recipe for vegan Southern-style biscuits (link here).  Scott loves it when I serve them with Morningstar Farms vegetarian sausage.  Unfortunately, the sausage is not vegan, but if you put vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance vegan margarine.) and/or fruit preserves on them, it is still delicious!  You can serve them with pan-fried potatoes for a REAL Southern breakfast, vegan-style.

Italian Bread Pizza Photos

Remember when I forgot to take a photo of the Italian bread pizza (recipe here)?  Well here are some photos now!  I made it again recently, and I made the point to photograph.  This dinner is so easy!  Omit the cheese and add other vegan toppings of your choice (onion?  peppers?  black olives?  capers?  Get creative!) to make it a vegan meal.

Just add some pepperoncini peppers and pimento-stuffed green olives on top, and it gets exciting:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Olive Oil and Black Pepper Toasts

This recipe is RIDICULOUSLY easy to be so delicious.  Perfect with an Italian meal...

I don't think I really got it from anywhere, but maybe I did.  I don't remember, but if I did, I'm glad I did!

French bread
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler of your oven.

Slice the French bread to the desired width.  Pour extra-virgin olive oil into a plate.  Put one cut side of each slice into the oil, then place on a baking sheet, oil side up.  Grind black pepper over the oiled tops.

Broil until the toasts reach the desired brownness.  Watch them carefully, because once they start browning, they brown fast!

Oven-Baked Burritos

You guys know I've got a lot of tomatillo action going on these days, so I have the pleasant challenge of finding new ways of using tomatillos and tomatillo sauce.  Here's another:  tomatillo oven-baked burritos.  Now, even though these are vegetarian and not vegan, you could easily make them vegan by omitting the cheese and adding, say, chopped onions and/or chopped tomatoes and/or vegan cheese if you're into that sort of thing.  These are simple and delicious!  The recipe serves 2.

4 flour tortillas
1 can refried black beans
1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
tomatillo salsa, to cover burritos (click here for recipe), probably 1 cup (ish)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.  Coat the bottom of a baking dish (large enough to hold 4 burritos) with tomatillo salsa.

Zap each tortilla in the microwave just enough to make it foldable (about 10 seconds).  Put 1/4 can refried black beans in a line, bisecting the tortilla.  Add 1/4 oz. goat cheese crumbles over the line of beans.  Fold the tortilla in half over the line of beans, and roll up.  Place the rolled burrito, seam side down, in the baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Pour salsa over the burritos to cover and to coat the ends.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil.  Bake about 15 minutes or until burritos are heated through.  Serve warm, and eat with a fork.

Serving suggestion:  Spanish rice as a side dish.

Strawberry Sorbet

A big thank-you to P. Allen Smith, whose television show featured this recipe.  It's simple, it's healthy, it's vegan.  What more can I ask for in a summer dessert?  Although I only made it as sorbet, I think it would make a boss popsicle for those of you who have popsicle molds.

This is best made the day before, because although P. Allen says it only takes 4 hours to freeze up properly, mine took much longer.

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. frozen apple juice concentrate

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and purée completely.  Pour the purée into a freezer-safe bowl, cover, and put in the freezer.  Wait 45 minutes, remove, and purée again.  Return to freezer.  Wait 45 minutes, remove, and purée again.  The multiple purées ensure a nice, smooth texture.  Return to freezer and allow to freeze completely.

Remove from freezer 25 minutes prior to serving to soften.  Scoop like ice cream.

Serving suggestion:  serve along side a home-baked brownie for a decadent dessert.  Brownies can be made with Ener-G Egg Replacer so that the entire naughty dessert can be vegan!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Blueberry Pancakes with Pan-Fried Potatoes

Here's a photo of my pancake recipe (found here) with the blueberry variation and served with pan-fried potatoes.  Just add syrup!:

Tomatillo Salsa

Yes, another tomatillo salsa.  I have to do something with those tomatillos and jalapenos in my garden, since I'm not canning this year!  This one came from Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican cookbook, adapted to be vegetarian.  (His version is not.)  You could use this salsa in place of the canned enchilada sauce in Cheese Enchiladas (see below).  It is also fine as a condiment salsa, too, of course.  I served it over refried beans at my sister-in-law's birthday dinner last night.

1 lb. (about 11 medium-sized) tomatillos, husked and washed
1 - 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed
2 - 3 fresh sprigs of cilantro, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 T. canola oil
1/2 t. salt, or to taste
juice from one lime (omit if using as an enchilada sauce)

In a 2-quart saucepan (or size appropriate for your produce), cover the tomatillos and jalapeno(s) in salted water.  Boil until the vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain the vegetables, reserving 1 c. of the used boiling water.

Place the tomatillos, jalapeno(s), cilantro, onion, and garlic in a food processor.  Process until smooth but retaining a little texture.

Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot enough to make a drop of the tomatillo sauce sizzle, pour it all in at once.  Stir constantly 4-5 minutes until the sauce is thicker and darker.  Add the reserved cup of tomatillo boiling water.  Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.  Simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, then remove from heat.  Stir in the salt and lime juice (if using).

Cheese Enchiladas

Dangit, dangit, dangit!  I forgot to take a photo of this recipe before we ate it!  Anyhoo, after I made the Swiss chard tacos (see below), I had a bunch of leftover white corn tortillas.  The package was very inexpensive, but it had a LOT of tortillas in it.  I abhor the thought of wasted food, so I needed to find another use for them.  I immediately thought of enchiladas.  I'd never made them before, but with some ideas from Rick Bayless's cookbook Authentic Mexican, I was able to put some together.  They turned out so well that I made them again last night (That's right:  I forgot to take photos TWICE.) for my sister-in-law's birthday.  Here's how it went (The recipe serves 2.  Multiply as necessary.):

4 oz. organic cheddar cheese, shredded (As you may know, I like to use Organic Valley cheese whenever possible.  The animals are raised on family farms and tend to be treated much better than most dairy cattle.)
2 oz. organic goat cheese (Maybe you have some left over from Swiss chard tacos?), crumbled
1/4 c. onion, finely chopped
1 leaf Swiss chard, washed (optional - I told you I need to find uses for that Swiss chard that's going so well in my garden!)
1/4 c. canola oil
6 white corn tortillas
2 14.5-oz cans enchilada sauce

If using the Swiss chard, remove and chop the stem.  Roll the leaf into a cigar shape, and cut slices from the "cigar."  This should make julienned-type pieces.  Combine the cheeses, onion, and, if using, the Swiss chard leaf and stem pieces.  Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the canola oil until sizzlingly hot in a medium nonstick skillet.  Using tongs, add a tortilla to the oil and fry, 3 or 4 seconds on each side.  This softens the tortilla.  It should not get crisp at all - quite the opposite.  Remove the tortilla from the oil and drain on paper towels.  Repeat with each tortilla, adding oil if necessary.

Pour 1 c. enchilada sauce onto a plate.  Coat each side of the first tortilla in the enchilada sauce.  Put 1/6 of the cheese filling in a line down the center of the tortilla.  Fold the tortilla over the filling, and roll it up.  Place the filled enchilada, seam side down, into a baking dish that is large enough to hold all 6 enchiladas.  Repeat with each tortilla until all are filled.

Pour all remaining sauce over the enchiladas, being careful to coat the end edges.  Bake for 10 minutes in the oven.  Serve warm.

NOTE:  These are right at home with refried beans, Spanish rice, and chips and salsa for a complete, delicious meal!

Swiss Chard Tacos

If you're not familiar with Swiss chard, this is a leafy green vegetable with thick, edible celery-textured stems that is related to the beet family.  One can use it like spinach in general cooking, although it can be slightly "wetter" when cooked.  We've had a very successful year with the Swiss chard in our garden, as you can see from the photo below, so I've been looking for new things to do with it.  I'd seen Rick Bayless do Swiss chard tacos on his PBS show Mexico: One Plate At A Time before and had made a mental note of it just because it was a vegetarian recipe.  However, I didn't have an immediate use for it.  Later, I was unable to remember exactly what he did.  You can imagine my delight when I found this recipe for Swiss chard tacos in Martha Stewart's Living magazine.  As usual, I have adapted the recipe, if only slightly, to suit my tastes and needs.  And as always, you can definitely do the same!

1 T. plus 1.5 t. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and separated into rings
3 small cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
5 large leaves Swiss chard (stems removed and composted), washed and coarsely chopped
1 c. cooked pinto beans (canned is fine), drained and rinsed
1/4 t. coarse salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
6 taco-sized corn tortillas (I haven't considered myself a fan of corn tortillas in the past, but I enjoyed them in this recipe.)
1 oz. organic goat cheese, crumbled (optional - omit if preparing a vegan meal)

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Cook the onion rings until soft.  Add garlic slices, and cook 1 minute more.  Stir in the chard, and sauté until the greens are wilted.  Add the beans, and cook until warmed through.  Season with the salt and pepper.

Using tongs, hold each tortilla directly over a gas flame, turning, until heated through with slightly charred edges.  (Alternatively, heat tortillas on a hot cast-iron griddle, turning so that each side is warmed and slightly browned.)

Spoon chard filling into corn tortillas.  Top with crumbled goat cheese.  If desired, also top with Tomatillo and Chipotle Salsa.  Serves 2.

Tomatillo and Chipotle Salsa

Two plants have been extremely successful in our food garden this year:  tomatillos and Swiss chard.  It's been fun and challenging thinking of different things to do with these 2 foods, neither of which are usually a staple of our diet.  I found this great salsa recipe in Martha Stewart's Living magazine.  It's different, delicious, and uses tomatillos!  Tomatillos are a distant cousin to the tomato.  They look like a small green tomato with a papery husk.  I've adapted the recipe slightly, but it's mostly as I found it.  Here we go...

6 or 7 tomatillos, husked, washed, and quartered
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 - 4 chipotles that have been canned in adobe sauce, seeded and coarsely chopped  (Chipotles are smoked jalapenos, and they give this salsa a smoky flavor.  The more you use, the spicier your salsa will be.  You can find chipotles at some grocery stores.  If you can't find them there, try the local international market.  I found them at Whole Foods.)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 t. salt, or to taste

Cook tomatillos and unpeeled garlic cloves in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Turn the pieces occassionally, and continue cooking until they are charred on all sides.  Remove from heat and allow to cool enough to handle.  Peel the garlic, then finely chop the tomatillos and garlic.

Mix the tomatillos, garlic, chipotles, sugar, and salt together.  Serve as a dip with tortilla chips, as a sauce on burritos or tacos, as a condiment on veggie burgers, or as desired.

NOTE:  For those of you who are not vegan, this salsa is also excellent mixed with plain cheese dip.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grace update

Thank you for all the good thoughts for our sweet Grace.  She's hanging in there!  Our biggest challenge with her condition is lack of appetite, but the vet said that is to be expected.  We're preparing homemade foods for her now to maintain some interest in eating.  As you can see in the photo, which was taken yesterday, she's gotten very thin, but she's still doing her regular doggie activities like hanging out in the sun with her buddy, Elvis.  Ears up, tail wagging is still very standard.  She still barks at passersby and often brings us a toy to impress us when we first return home from being out.  She is quite a girl!


It's so hot recently that there are days I can barely stand to turn on the oven or stove to prepare a meal.  This bruschetta is the perfect answer on those days.  I do have to turn on the stove, but only briefly.  Plus, it uses the produce that is so perfectly in season right now.  It's easy to think of this is a light dinner (and I often do), but it's definitely not low-cal due to all the olive oil.  It does, however, have a lot of health benefits.  Check out the benefits of eating garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes when you get a chance.  You'll be impressed.  And now, on to the recipe, which was inspired by a scene in Julie and Julia where "Julie" is making some delicious-looking bruschetta for dinner.

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil, plus approx. 1/4 c. more for frying the bread
1/4 c. onion or shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 - 5 fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped (I'd say 3 if you're using slicer tomatoes or 5 if you're using Roma-style tomatoes.)
1 T. fresh basil, minced
salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
1/2 baguette, sliced on a long diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion or shallot, and sauté until the onion is translucent (5 - 8 minutes, approximately).  Add the garlic, and sauté a minute more.  Add the tomatoes and sauté until heated through but still in chunks.  Stir in the basil, and add salt and pepper, to taste.  (I season generously.)  Remove the tomato mixture to a serving bowl.

In the same skillet, add 2 T. olive oil and maintain a medium flame.  Add a generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper, then arrange the slices of bread in the oil.  Allow the bread to brown on the lower side, then turn each slice over to brown the other side.  When you turn the bread over, it may be necessary to add more olive oil and pepper.

Remove the toasted bread to dinner plates.  (This usually serves 2 in our house, but that may be more or less in yours.  Hey, to each their own!)  Spoon the warm tomato mixture over the toasted bread, and enjoy.

NOTE:  If I have leftover tomato mixture after dinner, I might save it for a snack.  Spoon it over buttered (vegan-margarined, really) slices of baguette bread with extra black pepper.  Just stand over the sink to catch the juices, and delight in your messy, delicious snack!

Jalapeno-Lime Butter with Corn On the Cob

Southern Living magazine recently featured a recipe for lime-jalepeno butter that caught my eye.  I have a fascination of sorts with flavored butters.  They are so celebratory!  Scott and I had it with dinner recently, and as the mag suggested, it's fantastic on corn-on-the-cob (either cooked indoors or, even better, grilled outside over a fire).  Let me share it with you!

1/4 c. vegan margarine (which is what I used) or organic butter, softened by allowing it to warm at room temperature
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 t. lime zest
juice from 1/2 juicy lime
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 ears of fresh corn, cooked (grilling outside gives the best flavor, but it's so utterly hot right now that you may be happier just cooking it indoors)

With a fork, mix the vegan margarine, jalapeno pepper, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, and freshly ground pepper until well blended.  Dress hot, cooked ears of corn with flavored butter, and salt each buttered ear to taste.  Ah, summer!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

First, a big thank-you to my neighbor, Kim, who brought this noodle salad to a block party and was kind enough to share her recipe outline with me.  Kim's recipe is very flexible, so I'll give some basic measurements, but you can adjust to your taste.  I made a couple of minor tweaks, but you guys know how I cook...Really, unless you're baking, everything is flexible!

12 to 16 ounces of pasta (thin spaghetti, vermicelli, or angel hair)
soy sauce, tamari, or shoyu:  about 5 T., but flexible
rice wine vinegar:  about 4 t., but flexible
sesame oil (toasted or not):  about 1 T., but flexible
1 t. sugar
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
1 cucumber, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
a handful of shredded carrots, optional

Break the pasta noodles into thirds, then cook them according to package directions.  Once the noodles are cooked, drain in a colander and briefly blanch them in iced cold water (or rinse them with cold water while still in the colander).

Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce (or tamari or shoyu), rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and both peppers in a small saucepan.  Heat over a low flame until just heated through.  (Kim noted for me that if one has not used sesame oil, it is is worth paying attention to the fact that it has a strong flavor.  She suggested I use sparingly and add a little at a time.  I was glad she did, because I was not very familiar with this ingredient other than knowing it is a volatile oil and should be kept in the fridge to prevent a quick rancidity.  Anyway, it's easy to add more, but you can't remove what's added, so use with care!)  Taste the sauce and adjust to your liking, adding more of whatever you feel is missing.

When the pasta is cooked, toss it with the sauce, cucumbers, scallions, and carrots (if using).  Store in the fridge until time to eat.

Thanks, Kim!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Szechuan Tofu

Here's a photo of a variation of the Szechuan tofu recipe I posted.  Here, I used broccoli, carrots, and onion as the vegetables.  Feel free to make your own substitutions!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Indian Dal

I loooooove eating dal at Indian restaurants.  When we lived in Hot Springs, AR, there were no Indian restaurants in town.  Since I really missed Indian food, I decided to teach myself to cook some of it.  This recipe is a sort of mash-up of advice I received for Indian cooking in general and various recipes I found for dal, especially the Dal Makhani recipe from Madhu Gadia's great cookbook New Indian Home Cooking, which is what I used to learn about cooking Indian food in Hot Springs.  Serve this with basmati rice and a side of spinach...and some garlic naan, if you can find it at your market.  I'm making dal for dinner tonight!

1/2 c. urad dal (Don't panic!  You can order this online, which is what I did in Hot Springs, or you can try your local international market.  If you can't find it, increase the amount of dried black-eyed peas and dried kidney beans to 1/2 c. each.  It'll still work!)
1/2 c. lentils
1/4 c. dry black-eyed peas
1/4 c. dry kidney beans
2 t. salt
1 t. turmeric
2 T. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 T. canola oil
1 t. cumin seeds
2 small onions, chopped
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. garam masala (either make this homemade from a recipe you find yourself, or buy it premade at the store.  I've seen a McCormick garam masala, but I can't always find it.  However, I find giant jars of it for very cheap at the international market here.)
1/2 - 1 t. cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cans chopped tomatoes (I like to use petite-diced.  Of course, you can use fresh tomatoes, too.  Canned is just so convenient.)
3/4 c. goat's milk (optional, but the dish is less creamy, of course, without it)
fresh cilantro (optional)
cooked basmati rice, to serve with the dal

Clean all the dried legumes of any foreign material and rinse it in 2-3 changes of water.  Add the salt, turmeric, and ginger to the legumes in a large stock pot and cover well with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 3 - 3.5 hours until the beans and water have melted together to form a creamy consistency.  (I've even been known to get at the legumes with a potato masher to speed this up.)  Add water as the legumes are cooking if the mixture gets too thick.

(Don't forget to start your rice!)  Heat the oil in a medium-sized nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the cumin seeds and brown until golden, just a few seconds.  Add the onion and sauté until transluscent.  Remove from heat.

Add the onion mixture, tomatoes, garam masala, coriander, and cayenne pepper and goat's milk, if using, to the legume mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat back to a simmer.  Cook for 10-15 minutes, or to desired consistency.  Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro, if using.