Welcome!


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!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Homebrew!



Scott's bottling his first batch of homebrew. I think he's so cool right now!






Warm Kale and Potato Salad with Mustard-Lemon Dressing

I tried a new recipe from Martha Stewart last night, and I felt it was worth sharing. Since I didn't really change anything about it, I wanted to just give you the link here, but I can't find it. (I had previously printed it.) The salad is a nice change of pace during the late winter when in-season produce is limited. I thought the dish was very good, but I think I'll omit the mustard the next time I make it...or at least cut it down by 2/3's. Here's the 411:

1.5 lbs. small potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick (I used one huge baking potato that I peeled, because the skin was a little green, then halved length-wise, then sliced into the 1/4-inch-thick pieces. I'm not even sure what it weighed.)
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced (I used a yellow onion, and it was just fine.)
1 T. plus 2 t. extra-virgin olive oil
coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper (I used regular table salt last night, and again, it was fine.)
1.5 t. Dijon mustard
1 T. finely grated lemon zest
2 T. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 lb. kale, trimmed, cut into large pieces, and rinsed well (I just used 1 bunch of kale...no idea what it weighed.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the potatoes, onion slices, 1 T. oil, and 3/4 t. salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with pepper, and toss to coat. Spread mixture in a single layer. Roast, stirring potatoes and scraping the bottom of the pan every 10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until potatoes are brown and crisp (35-45 minutes).

Combine mustard, zest, and juice in a bowl. Heat remaining 2 t. oil in a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown (about 2 minutes). Add kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 6 minutes. Add mustard-lemon mixture and toss to coat. Cook until heated through. Sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt, and season with pepper. Toss with potatoes.

I served it with a side of Great Northern beans, a warmed baguette, and a glass of red wine.


Martha says the recipe serves 6, but I'd say that's only as a side dish. As a main dish, it serves about 3-4. Here's the per-serving info she gives: 268 calories, 1 g. saturated fat, 6 g unsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 48 g carbs, 389 mg sodium, 8 g. protein, 7 g fiber.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tofu Manicotti Florentine

Monday night I was in the mood for...something. I just didn't know what. Scott and I bounced some dinner ideas around, and when someone brought up stuffed manicotti, I knew that was it. I didn't feel like making anything complicated, but once my stomach thought about manicotti, I decided simple wasn't absolutely necessary. Honestly, though, this dish is not difficult. The most challenging part is getting the tofu-spinach mixture into the manicotti tubes!

8 oz. manicotti noodles (These are huge pasta tubes, if you're not familiar with them. I'm sure the giant shells would work just fine, too.)
1 lb. tofu (not the silken kind)
1 stick vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance vegan margarine.), melted
1/2 c. rice milk
1.5 t. salt
2 T. fresh basil, minced (I used basil from a previous gardening season that I had food-processed and frozen.)
1 T. dried parsley
1 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
12 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce

Prepare the manicotti noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cool water so that the noodles are not too hot to handle.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Squeeze as much water as possible from the tofu. Put the tofu, margarine, rice milk, salt, basil, parsley, oregano, black pepper, onion, and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. The mix should resemble the texture of ricotta cheese. Turn the mixture out into a medium-sized bowl.

Squeeze as much water as possible from the thawed chopped spinach. Use a spoon to thoroughly combine with the ricotta mixture.

Pour 1/2 of the jar of pasta sauce into a shallow baking dish that can hold the manicotti noodles in a single layer. Now stuff the manicotti with the tofu-spinach mixture. I held the noodle open and used a small spoon to stuff it in. Place the stuffed manicotti in a single layer on top of the pasta sauce in the baking dish. If a noodle splits open, fill it like a taco, fold it back over into a tube, and place it in the dish with the seam side down. Once all the manicotti are stuffed and arranged, pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the noodles.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and allow to set for 15 minutes before diving in.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spring's A-Coming Pasta

I made a delicious pasta dish last night, right off the cuff. All I knew was that we were going to have pasta and that we were in the mood to eat some REAL vegetables. Like, from the produce department, not from a can or frozen or from a jar or what-have-you. Now, the ingredients may sound kind of run-of-the-mill, but the end result tasted really great. I'm going to tell you how I did it, but you can do it your own way. Want to see fresh peas or asparagus in the veggie mix? Wish there were more carrots and less broccoli? Go for it!

about 1.5 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, cut into narrow wedges
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
1/2 lb. broccoli florets, broken into smaller florets if they are large
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t. salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
2 T. pesto (or if you have some fresh basil from last season that you've processed with olive oil and frozen, that's perfect, too...The pesto will determine if this dish is vegan or vegetarian, so pay attention to the pesto ingredients.)
1 small tomato, cut into narrow wedges
12 oz. fettucine (I used fettucine, because that's what I had on hand, but I think a short, chunky pasta like penne or farfalle or rotini might have been even more appropriate, based on the size and shape of the vegetables.)

Start a large pot of salted water to boil on the stovetop. When the water comes to a rolling boil, cook the pasta according to package directions.
Cover the sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water in a small bowl to reconstitute them. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Bust the onion wedges into individual layer-pieces. Add the onion, carrots, and broccoli to the olive oil along with a generous grinding of black pepper. Sauté for 5 or 6 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and the salt. (I know. It's a lot of salt. What can I say?) You can add more ground pepper, too. I added it periodically, throughout the cooking process. Continue to sauté until the onions are transparent and the broccoli and carrots are tender-crisp. Test the texture of the veggies by biting a broccoli floret and a carrot piece to make sure it's the way you like it.

Once you've achieved the best veggie texture, stir in the pesto. Drain the sundried tomatoes (You can freeze the tomato water in ice cube trays and use it in a soup some other time.) and add them to the veggies. Also add the fresh tomatoes and, if you want, more pepper. Toss and continue cooking until the new ingredients are warmed through.

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and toss it immediately with the vegetable mix. It serves about 4 people for a main dish. I served it with garlic toast, red wine, and cold green tea.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tora Tora and Victorian Trading Co.

People, I know you judge those of us who still love hair metal from the 80s and 90s. I know it's not cool to you, but no way will I let you influence me. I'm listening to Tora Tora's Surprise Attack album right now. The cover art is not very feminist-friendly, I'll give you that. But the music ROCKS!!!!

"Just lift your hands up to the sky and feel the warmth of the sun
keep living for the moment, because your time is gonna come
Oh, Phantom Rider! Please don't take me away!"

Please listen to this album. And when you get to the bluesy song, no, they aren't putting on. These guys are from Memphis, TN. Where Beale Street lives. I remember meeting Anthony Corder several times during the early 90s, and he never remembered me from one time to the next. That's okay.

Order of business #2: I just got the Victorian Trading Co. catalog for the first time today. Good grief, I love all this merch! Fragrance amulets, heart-shaped hot water bottles, Jane Austen hats, lace, cabbage roses on everything, parasols, cameos...I'm in love!

Lastly, do any of you vegetarians miss the chicken pot pies of your childhood? You've gotta try Amy's Vegetable Pie pocket sandwiches. It's a tofu pot pie pocket thingy that should get you what you want. They're not news to me, but I just had one for dinner, and every time I eat one I'm in heaven. Sadly, they have honey in them, so vegans are out of luck with this product. However, I hope to start testing some veggie pot pies soon, and I'll get back to you if one is good. I know I said that about the vegan tart, but I still haven't gotten to it. The recipe I'm going to test requires chickpea flour, and I haven't made it to the international market to look for it. My regular grocer doesn't carry it.

Ok, I need to get working on a document. Ciao, everyone!

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Ok, everyone, I've started a new job this week, and I'm tired! I know I've been kind of M.I.A. recently, and that's why. Anyhoo, are you needing something new for a dinner entrée? Here's something exciting: twice-baked potatoes! You need:

baking potatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
smoked paprika (regular paprika will do but it's not as exciting)
yummy stuff to put in your potatoes like leftover grilled peppers and onions, snipped chives, extra-virgin olive oil, grated or diced cheese, vegan or regular sour cream...use your imagination! I usually like to have something oniony and something high-fat. What?!

To make them:
Scrub the potatoes clean, then bake them at 475 degrees F for an hour. Don't wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil to bake them, because you want the potato skins to crisp up.

Once the potatoes are done cooking, remove them from the oven. Slice them in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop most of the flesh from each potato-skin shell into a bowl. Salt the inside of the shells.

Using a fork, mash the potato pulp like you would any baked potato. Stir in salt and pepper to taste along with whatever yummy stuff you want to add. Like I said, I like to include something with a lot of fat to get a more exciting mouth-feel. That would be, like, extra-virgin olive oil and/or vegan sour cream and/or vegan margarine for vegans and any of these and/or grated or diced cheese for vegetarians. When I made them this week, I stirred in small cubes of
Organic Valley Swiss cheese, chopped grilled onions, chopped grilled bell peppers, and olive oil. The grilling of the veggies really makes this dish outstanding!

Scoop the seasoned pulp back into the potato shells, dividing it evenly among the shells.

Put the shells on a jelly roll pan or other baking vessel, then sprinkle each potato with the smoked paprkia. Pop it back into the oven until warmed through and slightly crisped on the surface.

You can serve this with a green salad or green vegetable, a protein source like beans or tempeh, and a bread like yeast rolls or baguette to make a delicious and balanced meal.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Muffins

Here's a basic muffin batter that you can build several different types of muffins with, along with some ideas of what to do with it. I got the original blueberry muffin recipe (slightly tweaked, as usual) from Peta's Compassionate Cook cookbook.

Making muffins on Sunday morning makes breakfast on Monday and Tuesday a breeze. You just grab a muffin from Sunday's batch, and voila! A healthy breakfast with no effort!

2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 t. non-aluminum baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. rice milk
1/4 c. canola oil (or 1/2 stick vegan margarine, melted...As you probably know, I prefer Earth Balance vegan margarine.)
1 egg, beaten (or use Ener-G's Egg Replacer for an equivalent amount if you need the recipe to be vegan)

To make the muffins, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Either grease (using margarine, canola oil, or nonstick spray) a muffin pan or line the muffin tins with cupcake papers.

Combine the dry ingredients in a 2-quart bowl with a fork. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined.

Fill the muffin tins about 2/3 full (or evenly among 12 muffin tins) with the batter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden-brown.

NOTE: Store leftover muffins in a sealed container in the fridge. Let them cool completely before sealing them away.

Some ideas to add to the batter:
1. 1 c. fresh blueberries, washed; 1/4 t. grated lemon zest; and 1 t. lemon juice
2. 1/2 c. chopped walnuts, 3/4 c. vegan chocolate chips, 1 t. almond or vanilla extract
3. 1 t. orange extract, 1 t. vanilla extract, and 1 c. chopped pecans
4. Use your imagination! Think of chopped pecans or walnuts and/or poppy seeds and/or dried cherries and/or cinnamon and/or craisins and/or grated carrots and/or sprinkle sugar over the surface to make the muffins sparkle. Almost anything goes!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Garden Bed

Scott and I built a new raised bed in the backyard this past weekend. It is going to be awesome! We built it from metal corners we purchased and some cedar boards. It's about 10 feet long and about 2 feet wide, and we're going to use it for salad vegetables and herbs. Since it is just outside the back door, it will be supremely convenient. Here's a photo:





After we built it, we lined the bottom with cardboard. We layered unfinished compost on top of the cardboard followed by a layer of leaves, then a layer of substandard dirt we got for free, then a layer of finished compost. We'll top it off with topsoil from a home center before planting.
We plan to grow lettuces, arugula, green onions, carrots, chives, parsley, thyme, oregano, cherry tomatoes, nasturtiums, and maybe some cilantro in this bed. I'm so excited!

Cornbread

I am a Southern girl. I may have a cosmopolitan set of values or an eclectic variety of tastes, but my roots are true Southern. And nothing - NOTHING - is as quintessentially Southern food as cornbread. It transports me directly back to my childhood when my grandmother would make us a skillet of cornbread and a big pot of white beans for a meal. I still love that meal, so I made it last night. All Scott could do was roll his eyes while I exclaimed my love for cornbread every time I took a bite.

Here's my grandmother's recipe for cornbread (with some slightly modified ingredients to align with today's healthier values). I know some people don't share family recipes, but this stuff is too good to keep to myself.





2 c. yellow cornmeal (Since corn is one of the most common foods to be victimized by genetic engineering, consider getting organic.)
a little more cornmeal to spread in the skillet
1 c. all-purpose unbleached white flour
1 T. plus 1.5 t. non-aluminum baking powder
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
1 stick of vegan margarine (or 1/2 c. canola oil, but the flavor won't be quite as rich)
3 free-range eggs, beaten (or substitute
Ener-G's egg replacer if you need the product to be vegan)
1 3/4 c. rice milk


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the stick of margarine in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, and put the skillet in the oven while it is preheating to melt the margarine. Don't let it burn while you're busy doing other things. (If you're using the canola oil instead, just pour it into the skillet and let it get warm in the oven while it's heating up.)

Mix the dry ingredients with a fork in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the wet ingredients, including the margarine or oil. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Sprinkle cornmeal over the margarine or oil to cover the bottom of your iron skillet. Pour in the batter. Cook at 400 degrees F until the bread is golden-brown on top and has pulled away from the sides of the skillet. Eat warm, with or without margarine. Perfect with a big pot of white beans and, perhaps, some sautéed kale or collard greens!

NOTE: Some people find cast-iron cookware a mystery. You are not really supposed to scrub them out with soap and water, because you want the cookware to become "seasoned." I can't stand the thought of not scrubbing mine clean, so I do so anyway. I then use a paper towel to coat the surface with a thin layer of oil to keep it from rusting. My cookware has still seasoned to a fine, black finish.
Lodge cookware is what I use for cast-iron skillets and griddles.