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!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Grilled Vegetables

Scott and I grilled vegetables outside last night, because we had some unseasonably warm weather this past weekend. I know most people use gas-powered grills these days, but I just don't think the results or the experience are the same as grilling over a wood fire. You can grill most any vegetable (or fruit for that matter...think pineapple!), but some require advanced preparation or extra-long cooking (potatoes, winter squash). We usually do corn-on-the-cob, bell peppers, thick onion slices, tomato halves, asparagus, and thick baguette slices, and last night was no exception. Thick, lengthwise slices or "steaks" of zucchini and/or yellow squash are also good in a summer grilling assortment. I know it's abominable that we were grilling summer vegetables like tomatoes and peppers last night, as they are totally out of season, but what can I say? The warm weather put me in the mood. At least the corn was frozen from a previous gardening season. I also like to have half a baked potato and some vegetarian baked beans with our grilled vegetables.

Here's a marinade or basting sauce you can use when you grill out vegetables. It's what we use, too.:
extra-virgin olive oil
salt
freshly ground pepper
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
crushed red pepper
minced garlic

You can use whatever proportions or amounts suit your fancy and, of course, modify the ingredient list to your own tastes. The earlier in advance you make your basting sauce, the more infused the oil will be with the seasoning.

Consider grilling extra vegetables when you are already going to the trouble of grilling outside. The smoke-infused flavor of grilled onions and peppers really add an extra dimension of flavor to vegetarian sandwiches, veggie pizza, burritos, and pasta dishes. I especially like to have a lot of extra grilled onions, because they go with everything!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Home Remedies

Ladies and gentlemen, 'tis the season to feel under the weather. The Today Tomorrow household is no exception, so I thought I'd share some of the home remedies we've been using. Most of them come from tips from Dr. Andrew Weil, whose book Natural Health, Natural Medicine changed my life in the early 1990's. I used a tip from the revised edition of that very book yesterday, and I'm going to share that first. I was just sure I was going to wake up this morning on the wrong side of "under the weather," because I was having signs, you know? But I drank this stuff, and it really set me up.

Now, because the world and the people in it today are so ridiculous, I must remind you that I'm not a doctor nor a nurse nor anyone who is licensed to provide medical advice. What I'm telling you here is anecdotal only, and you should, of course, check with your doctor if you're sick or think anything is wrong with you or before you take anything, even natural stuff.

That said, here's the wonderful concoction I whipped up last night. It looks like you're just mixing random stuff together, and I was scared to drink it for fear it would taste horrible. But honestly, when you're drinking it, the ingredients have a certain synergy, and it was not at all unpleasant. Here's what you do:

1. You need:
a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
2 c. cold water
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 of a juicy lemon
1 T. raw honey (preferably local)
1 clove of fresh garlic, peeled and mashed (or, really, I just cut the garlic into small pieces)
2. Grate the fresh ginger into a pot. Add the 2 c. of cold water, and bring this to a boil. Simmer the ginger and water for 5 minutes.
3. Add the cayenne pepper, and simmer for 1 minute more. Turn off the heat and stir in the juice of the lemon, the honey, and the garlic.
4. Once it's cooled down enough to drink, do so.
I drank half of the mixture last night, then heated the other half up again this morning and drank it with breakfast. It literally FEELS healthy to drink it.

Other things I do when I'm sick, mostly from Dr. Weil again.
1. Nasal rinsing for nasal congestion or nasal inflammation. (Mix 1/4 t. non-iodized salt with 1 c. very warm water. Use a bulb syringe - like you use for babies' noses - to suck up the saline solution. Tilt your head back and squirt it into your nose. Now, if you're really good, you will let the saline come out of your mouth. But until you get used to the sensation of water in your nose, just let it run right back out into the sink. Blow your nose gently afterwards and repeat a few times. Don't blow hard, because you'll back stuff up into your ears, which can make things worse. This sounds crazy, but you'll be surprised how good your nose feels aftewards. This is a yoga practice, I believe, and it's very soothing to nasal membranes.) I do this 2 or 3 times per day if I'm having an acute episode.
2. Drink hot tea to relieve congestion in your head. The heat helps liquify the stuff that is clogging you up so it can get out.
3. Make a tea of just hot water with fresh lemon juice and raw honey (preferably local) if you have a sore throat. Drink it several times per day.
4. Gargle in salt water (same as nasal rinsing: 1/4 t. non-iodized salt to 1 c. very warm water) several times per day for a sore throat.
5. Most people don't like the thought of this, but it's powerful if you do it the moment you think you're getting sick: cut 2 cloves of garlic up into pill-sized pieces and take them like pills. Be especially cautious of this if you take any blood-thinning anything or have a problem with bleeding or clotting. From what I have read, garlic thins blood. Check with your dr if you're concerned.

Here's to your health!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

I made some VERY yummy cranberry pumpkin muffins this morning from the Ocean Spray website. Their recipe is here. The recipe has no white sugar in it, so although it was sweet, it was an earthy sweet (from molasses and brown sugar) instead of a refined super-sweet (which, don't get me wrong, has its place). The only things I did differently was I used 1 c. frozen cranberries instead of 6 oz. of Craisins, and I tossed in a generous handful of chopped walnuts. The cranberries were a pleasantly tart juxtaposition to the soft, sweet cake-y muffin batter.

If you want to make the muffins vegan, use Ener-G's egg replacer in place of the egg.

Cranberries are not the kind of thing you can find in the produce department all year long, so during the holidays, buy 2 or 3 extra bags and put them (as is) in the freezer for use later when you can't buy them.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Firecrackers

There is no excuse for this recipe other than its deliciousness and vegetarianness. There isn't anything "nutritious" about them, and they're not low in calories. But dang, they're tasty!
I first heard about firecrackers, because my mom's friend Sharon makes them. They are addictive.
If you need for them to be vegan, be sure to check the ingredients on the ranch dip mix and the crackers to be sure. The ingredients will vary from brand to brand.

1 box saltine crackers
1 package dry ranch dip mix
1 and 1/3 c. canola oil (as if crackers are not fattening enough already, right?)
2 T. cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Put the crackers in a large bowl or container. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over the crackers. Cover bowl or container securely and begin to turn over and over slowly to coat the crackers while not breaking them. Do this for about 4 minutes. Believe it or not, the crackers will absorb most of the oil. (I know I had a hard time believing it when I began.)

Move the crackers to new container to store or serve.

Serving suggestion: If you only need these to be vegetarian, you could serve them with slices of organic cheese to balance the spiciness of the cayenne.

Ayler the Brave's Dogbite Pasta

Normally I'm not really keen on mushrooms, despite their fame as a wonderful vegetarian ingredient. It's their texture. I actually like the flavor, so I decided to try to do something with them where the flavor shines through but the texture takes a backseat. To accomplish this, I chopped them very finely. It takes some time to do the chopping, but last night's results were worth it.

This recipe is based on a recipe from Annie Somerville's book
Fields of Greens.



4 T. extra-virgin olive oil, separated
10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, rinsed and finely chopped
1/2 t. salt, separated
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 c. sherry, separated
1/2 large red onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 - 10 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
a handful (or more!) of chopped sundried tomatoes, reconstituted, 1/4 c. of the tomato water reserved
2 t. capers
2 T. fresh basil or 1 T. dried basil (I am going to list this as a winter dish, because although it calls for fresh basil, I had some of the summer basil puréed and frozen into ice trays in the freezer. You could also use parsley, which some people can grown in the winter .)
1 lb. fettucine

Start a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once it reaches the boil, cook pasta according to package directions. (I find that fettuncine has to be stirred a lot with a little vigor to keep the flat noodles from sticking together and cooking inconsistently.)

In the meantime, heat 2 T. olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped mushrooms, 1/4 t. salt, and a few grinds of black pepper to the oil and sauté. The mushrooms will start to release their juices. After about 8 minutes, add 2 T. sherry and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. The juices may be concentrating and reducing. Move the contents of the pan to to a bowl or plate.

In the same pan, add the remaining 2 T. olive oil, the onion, the remaining 1/4 t. salt, and a few more grinds of black pepper. Sauté until the onion until it is getting limp and transparent. Add the remaining 2 T. sherry and the minced garlic. Sauté 2 minutes more.

Return the mushrooms to the pan with the onions. Add the olives, capers, tomatoes, 1/4 c. tomato water, and basil and toss to mix. Keep warm over low heat.

Once the pasta is finished and drained, toss with the mushroom sauce. Add more black pepper, if desired. Serves 4 - 6.

This paired nicely with a green salad and red wine. Buon appetito!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Swiss Chard with Pasta and a Lemon Shot

Don't judge me, but tonight was the very first time I've cooked with Swiss chard which, I believe, is a member of the beet family. I tried to grow it in my autumn garden this year, but I think I sowed the seeds too late for them to be productive. They sprouted, but then they didn't go anywhere. Maybe I didn't water them enough. I'm a VERY lazy gardener, especially when it comes to watering.

So while Scott's catching up with his very first best friend, Kareem, with whom he reconnected on Facebook (I guess Facebook is not 100% evil.), and while Romeo plays with a bug he found, and while Grace and Elvis sleep despite the fact that they've been sleeping since they "got up" this morning, I thought I'd post my Swiss chard project for the evening. It turned out fabulously!! I can't wait to eat it again! Here goes:


2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. vegan margarine
1 shallot, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard (I got the kind with brilliantly red stems.), washed
1 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I like a generous amount. You may not.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 lb. penne pasta (or, you know, you choose the shape)

First, rip the washed chard leaves from their stems and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Thinly slice the stems, sort of like celery.

Start a large pot of salted water on the stove to reach boiling. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

In the meantime, melt the vegan margarine with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the minced shallot in the oil/margarine combination until it is transparent. (Don't all recipes start sort of like this?) Add the chard stem slices, the salt, and the black pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes, then add the garlic. Sauté a couple of minutes more, until it feels right. Once it feels right, add the chard leaves to the oil/butter/shallot/stem mixture and sauté until the leaves are wilted and coated with the oily sauce that is developing. Chard is a very wet green, and this will make a lot of moisture in the chard mixture. This is fine, so don't panic. Once the leaves are wilted down to a satisfying consistency when you bite one, squeeze the 1/2 lemon over the leaves and mix thoroughly.

Toss this with the finished pasta and serve immediately (with more freshly ground pepper, if you like...I do.). How cool are you for cooking with Swiss chard?!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cheese and Jalepeno Quesadillas

Sheesh! I had to look up how to spell quesadilla. Saying it and spelling it are two different things, even if you have a college degree, it seems. I couldn't decide for sure what vowel went afer the s.
Anyhoo, I made some yummmmy cheese quesadillas yesterday, and I was thinking I should share the EASY recipe with you. I normally don't eat a lot of dairy, but I got some delicious
Organic Valley mild cheddar cheese recently as a splurge and used part of it in this yesterday. Enough jabber...on to the recipe.

2 tortillas (As difficult as it is to find these, I go out of my way to get tortillas that have no lard, no hydrogenated oil, and no aluminum-anything in them. Good luck. The two brands I've found are the Whole Foods 365 brand, which taste best but kind of stink because they always stick together, and Tumaro's Gourmet Tortillas, which don't stick together but are sweeter in a way I don't prefer.)
approx. 1/3 c. organic mild cheddar cheese, grated/shredded
2 thin slices white onion, chopped
about 2 T. chopped pickled jalepeno
2 or 3 T. canola oil

Heat 1 T. canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until the onion is transparent. Remove the onion from the skillet. Add another T. canola oil to the skillet. Top it with one of the tortillas. Spread the cheese over the tortilla (Use more or less, depending on how big your tortilla is and how much cheese you like. I like a modest amount, but you have to have enough to adhere the tortillas together.), then spread the onion and jalepeno over the cheese. Top with the other tortilla. Cook until the cheese is melted and the bottom tortilla is browned and crispy. Flip the quesadilla over. If you notice it's dry under the quesadilla when you flip it, lift the edge and add the other T. of canola oil. Cook until the bottom tortilla is browned and crispy. Remove quesadilla to a plate and allow to set 2 minutes before cutting into wedges (a pizza cutter works well for this).

The recipe makes one quesadilla but can be multiplied for however many quesadillas you want. It's kind of an organic (not in the USDA way, but in the sense of fluidity) recipe, so you have to just go with the flow and use your instincts.

Serve the quesadillas:
1. plain
2. with salsa

3. with pico de gallo (recipe here)
4. with sour cream
5. with guacamole (
recipe here)
6. with any combination of these!

Pancakes - The Quintessential Weekend Breakfast

I have had pancakes BOTH MORNINGS this weekend. Naughty, I know, but when they're as good as these, it's hard to resist. The original recipe I adapted was printed in The Commercial Appeal.

I like to have a side of homefries with my pancakes when I eat them with syrup. I eat the fries with ketchup, and I love how the salty ketchup and the sweet syrup are juxtaposed. This morning, however, I didn't have any potatoes, so I had a big ol' glass of soymilk to foil the sweetness of the syrup I used. Things to think about!

1.5 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda plus another heaping 1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 free-range eggs (If you want to make this vegan, try substituting Ener-G egg replacer. You can probably pick it up at Whole Foods or buy it online.), beaten with a fork
1 c. rice milk
6 T. vegan margarine, melted (As you probably know, I like Earth Balance.)
1 T. fresh lemon juice (optional)

Start heating a greased (with margarine, canola oil, or nonstick spray) skillet or griddle over medium heat. The pan needs to already be hot when you put the pancake batter on it, but don't let the grease start smoking while you're working on the batter. I use a perfect cast-iron griddle that it is already beautifully seasoned and hardly needs any grease at all. It's the same pan I use to make vegan biscuits.

In a medium bowl, use a fork to thoroughly combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, rice milk, and lemon juice (if using). Barely mix ingredients before stirring in the melted margarine. Mix until just combined. The batter will still be lumpy.

Pour 1/4 c. batter onto your heated griddle. Sort of keep an eye on the under side using a spatula. It shouldn't get too brown until the sides of the cake are starting to dry out and bubbles are coming to the surface of the batter. If it's browning too fast, turn the heat down. Once there are bubbles surfacing on the wet side of the cake, the edges are dry, and the bottom side is brown, flip it with a spatula. When the 2nd side is browned, plate it up and enjoy. Serves 2-3.

Cooking pancakes is only part recipe...it's also part art. Often, the first one doesn't turn out while you're getting the heat just right, so don't fret if that's the case. These pancakes are fat and fluffy. Here are some serving suggestions:

1. Serve with warm syrup and possibly some chopped nuts. I don't even put margarine on my pancakes. Honestly, I don't miss anything in flavor without it. I just get to skip all those extra calories and fat grams.
2. Serve the pancakes plain, topped with fresh berries and/or confectioner's sugar.
3. Sneak some chocolate chips in between hot pancakes. Gooey chocolate rocks.
4. Serve topped with vegan yogurt and chopped nuts. This still gives you a rich mouth-feel with more nutrition than syrup.

Variation: Right after you pour the batter onto the skillet or griddle, press a few fresh blueberries into the wet side for warm blueberry pancakes.

Happy weekend!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tired Fruit?

I don't know about you, but sometimes I buy fruit but don't get around to eating it in a timely manner. It ends up looking tired and unappetizing, even though it's still edible, and I just hate to toss it in the compost. I feel like I've wasted my money.

This happened to me recently with some bananas, some fairly expensive organic kiwi, blueberries, and clementines. Here's what I came up with: wash it (apples, strawberries, blueberries) and/or peel it (bananas, kiwi, clementines) and/or deseed it (apples, pears) or whatever you need to do to have it in a ready-to-eat format. Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread the tired fruit in a single layer on the paper. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the fruit is frozen, store it in the freezer in a plastic freezer bag. On a morning when you need a breakfast boost, throw that frozen fruit into the blender with some soy yogurt and/or fruit juice to get it to the right consistency and blend up a fruit smoothie. Voila! Your fruit wasn't wasted, you didn't have to force yourself to eat it in a tired and unappetizing format, and you have a healthy and yummy breakfast. I love it.

Organic Wine!

My friend Christa brought a very nice wine to dinner Saturday night, and it was organic to boot. It's called Santa Julia organica. It was a Argentinian malbec from 2010. Here's a link to another year of the same wine: http://cheapwineratings.com/2009/10/28/santa-julia-organica-malbec/. I'm not anything like a sommelier, so I can't tell you what this goes with or its strong or weak points. I just drink whatever I want with whatever I like, but this was a satisfying wine and appears to be very affordable. The wine label also indicates that it supports social welfare programs, energy conservation, use of green fertilizers, wildlife preservation, and vineyard irrigation from water recycling programs. So there you go!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Leftover Mashed Potatoes Get New Life as Potato Gnocchi

So, as I already told you, Scott and I took home a LOT of leftovers from my mom's Christmas dinner. Two people can only eat so many mashed potatoes, you know? It's great the first few days, but then you start wanting to escape. That's when I came up with a plan that kept the potatoes in circulation (I don't believe in throwing away food when some people are wondering when they're going to get to eat again.): gnocchi. Now, I think I already have a recipe somewhere on the blog for gnocchi, and you just use it as a roadmap for the leftover mashed potatoes. Here's how:

1. Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil.
2. Measure how much leftover mashed potatoes you have. (e.g. I had 3 cups of mashed potatoes.)
3. Measure out half as much all-purpose flour. (e.g. I measured 1.5 cups of AP flour.)
4. Mix the potatoes and the flour together with your hands to make the gnocchi dough. You may have to add a little more flour if the dough is still sticky.
5. Break the dough into sections, 1 section for every cup of potatoes you had. (This is flexible. Whatever feels right.)
6. Roll each section on a floured countertop to form a long tube, about 1 inch in diameter.
7. Use a sharp knife to cut each tube into 1-inch-long pieces. Press your thumb into the middle of each piece to make a dent.
8. Drop gnocchi into the boiling water. Once the dumplings rise to the top of the water, start the timer: 2 minutes.
9. Remove the gnocchi from the water after 2 minutes of floating. (You may have to do this in batches. You can use olive oil to keep the gnocchi from sticking together.)
10. Serve with your favorite tomato pasta sauce over the top and a green salad on the side.

Voila! Dinner! (Note: If your potatoes were made with vegan milk/butter, this is vegan. Otherwise, vegetarian.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Favorite Seed Companies

I'm sitting here eating a breakfast of soymilk hot chocolate, vegan-buttered homemade bread, and a clementine, and I'm thinking about the upcoming gardening season. Oh, I know I still have weeks (months), but winter is the time to start dreaming about it and planning it all. Anyhoo, I thought I'd let you know that starting this year, I'm declaring new favorite seed companies. My old favorite seems to be heading down the flusher, and I've read that it was bought out by some big agricompany, which explains a lot. This year's new favorite seed companies are (drum roll): Johnny's Selected Seeds and Territorial Seeds. I have reviewed their catalogs and like what I see. I'm linking them here on the site. Happy gardening!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!


Romeo and his food lady would like to wish each of you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. Happy 2011!

PS - Don't forget to eat some black-eyed peas today for good luck in the new year. Some Southern folks also say to eat greens for monetary good fortune. Can't hurt!