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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spinach and Red Pepper Quiche

This lovely quiche was devoured at our Christmas Eve brunch.  It was beautiful on the plate alongside pan-fried potatoes, Southern-style vegan biscuits (recipe here), and goat's milk gravy.
The idea for this recipe came from a fritatta in Annie Somerville's cookbook Fields of Greens.  You might like to serve it at your New Year's Day brunch.  In the Southern US, we say that eating greens on New Year's Day will bring money in the new year, and eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will bring good luck in the new year.  May you have both in 2013!

1 T. olive oil
16 c. (packed) fresh baby spinach - Yes, that is 16 cups!  It is amazing how much volume the spinach loses during wilting.  I used 2 large bags of prewashed baby spinach to make this easier.  If you are using fresh mature spinach, be sure to wash and remove large stems first.
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped - You can roast it yourself or buy it pre-roasted in a jar or from your grocer's olive bar to save time.
2 scallions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese (I found vegetarian Parmesan at Whole Foods.)
3/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 t. dried rosemary, crushed
2 t. fresh lemon juice
7 eggs, beaten
1 8-inch or 9-inch pie crust (I used a frozen crust from Whole Foods, but if you're keen to make your own, please do!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Wilt the spinach with 1/4 t. salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the garlic.  You'll likely have to do this in batches, adding more as room becomes available due to spinach volume wilting.  Once all the spinach is wilted, remove from heat immediately.  Transfer the spinach to a colander to drain and cool.  Once cooled, squeeze out the excess moisture and and coarsely chop.

In a bowl, combine spinach mixture with chopped pepper, scallions, Parmesan, feta, rosemary, and lemon juice.  Stir in the eggs, another 1/4 t. salt, and a few more grinds of pepper.

Pour the eggs into the pie crust.  Sit the filled pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet to catch anything that bubbles over.  Bake 40 - 50 minutes or until the eggs are set in the middle.  Remove from oven and allow the quiche to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cajun Rice Pilaf

Here's another dish I got from The Food Network magazine.  There recipe called for pork and sausage, but it was fine without the meat. As you can see, I served it with crowder peas, collard greens, and cornbread for an excellent meal.

1 c. wild rice blend
2 T. olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 T. fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 t. tried thyme)
1 t. Cajun seasoning
1 large paste tomato, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
salt, to taste

Cook the wild rice according to pkg directions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bell pepper, celery, and thyme and cook until the vegetables are tender, approximately 7 minutes.  Add Cajun seasoning, the cooked rice, the chopped tomato, and the chopped scallions and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes or until heated through.  Season with salt, to taste.

Serves 2 - 4 as a side dish.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Southern Collard Greens

I hope each of you enjoyed a happy, relaxing Thanksgiving with some great vegetarian food!
I'm so excited that I finally have a good vegetarian recipe for Southern collard greens, and would you believe it came from Food Network Magazine and not from family or friends?  See, the deal is that most people in the South make their greens with ham or other meat seasonings.  In fact, the magazine's recipe called for bacon (What recipe does not call for bacon these days?) and chicken broth, but I just decided I'd go for it without any meat seasonings and see if it turned out.  There were plenty of other seasonings in the recipe, so I felt it would probably be ok.  And it is!  Here's how I did it, adapted from their recipe:

2 bunches collard greens, washed
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 t. Cajun seasoning
4 c. vegetable broth
4 c. water (and more, if needed or desired)
apple cider vinegar, to taste
hot sauce, to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


First, tear out the large stems from the greens and discard.  (My dogs like to eat them.)  Chop the greens into, oh, about 1 - 1 1/2-inch pieces. It doesn't have to be perfect.

In a large pot, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped collard greens in batches, allowing each batch to get coated in oil and wilt down enough to accommodate the next batch.  Add vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the greens are tender, about 1 - 1.5 hours.

Add vinegar (I only used a couple of splashes.), hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.  Serves 4 - 6 as a side dish.

Greens are delicious and outrageously healthy.  I served them with crowder peas, cornbread, and a Cajun rice pilaf (which I'll give the recipe for soon).  Hope you enjoy the greens!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Forest Cookies

Here's a good recipe from waaaaayyyyyy back at the beginning of the blog:  Black Forest Cookies (recipe here).  You can consider them sort of "seasonal", because they have cranberries and nuts in them.  Hey, that makes them kind of healthy, too!

I'm taking these to take to my mom's house for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Happy Thanksgiving from all the Today Tomorrows!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Frederick Today Tomorrow

The Today Tomorrow family recently welcomed a new member.  We adopted our foster dog, Frederick.  He'd been with us for several months without getting adopted by anyone else.  By that time, he felt like family, so we made it official.  Here's happy Fredland Morris (his nickname, a tribute to Stevie Wonder) with Elvis.  Welcome to your forever home, Fred!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cranberry-Cherry Sauce for Holidays

Does your family serve that congealed, gelatinous cranberry sauce from a can at the holidays?  It may even have gelatin in it, rendering it non-vegetarian.  If so, here's a fix from Country Living magazine!  It's got fresh cranberries, it's completely vegan, and it's simple to make.  Happy holidays!

1 (12-oz) package fresh cranberries
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 navel orange (with skin), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/4 t. salt

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently until sauce is thick, about 20 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature and remove remainder of orange slices before serving.  This can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks, then brought to room temperature before serving.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Curry Roasted Cabbage

Here's another bit of inspiration, thanks to The Food Network magazine.  I've labeled it an autumn dish, but it's really got to be early autumn when cherry tomatoes are reaching the end of their season and autumn cabbage is beginning its season.  Hope you like it!
1 T. olive oil
1 t. curry powder
1/4 t. salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 head green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
On a rimmed baking sheet, pour in the olive oil, curry powder, and salt.  Add the garlic, cabbage, and cherry tomatoes, and toss so that everything is coated with the oil and seasonings.  Spread to a single layer, and roast until the cabbage is tender, about 25 - 30 minutes.
This serves 2 - 3 as a side dish and doubles easily.  I served it with a spicy red bean dish and broiled cheddar toasts:


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sparkling Spider Cocktail

Here's a lovely autumn drink to serve at your Halloween party tonight, courtesy of The Food Network magazine.  The recipe is theirs, but the name came from us!

sparkling apple cider
cinnamon schnapps
sparkling white wine

In flutes or coupes, fill your glass 1/3 - 1/2 full of sparkling apple cider.  The balance will be alcohol, so determine your amount of cider with that in mind.  Next, add 2 splashes of cinnamon schnapps, and top it off with sparkling white wine.  Beautiful and seasonal!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Waffles

Feeling autumny yet?  Here's a great weekend breakfast to get you in the mood:  pumpkin waffles!  It's a recipe I adapted from a very inspiring book called The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash.  She makes this with mashed sweet potatoes, but canned pumpkin makes it super convenient.  Let me know what you think!

1/4 c. butter or vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance vegan margarine.)
1.5 c. all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 T. baking powder (try to find aluminum-free baking powder)
1 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
cinnamon, to taste (optional)
3 eggs (or vegan egg replacer, like that by Ener-G)
1 c. almond milk (or rice milk will work fine)
1 c. canned pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

Melt the butter or margarine, then set it aside to cool slightly.

Using a fork, blend the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center, and add the eggs, almond milk, and pumpkin.  Using a hand mixer, start mixing the ingredients on low, and pour in the melted butter or margarine while the mixer is going.  Mix on high until the batter is light and fluffy.

Cook on a preheated waffle iron as instructed by the manufacturer.  Serves about 4.

Note that these waffles are moist and may require additional cooking time if you prefer a crisp exterior.  Served with breakfast potatoes and cranberry juice or hot cranberry tea, this is the perfect autumn breakfast!

Monday, October 8, 2012

New Orleans, LA!

Scott had a milestone birthday last month, so we celebrated by going to New Orleans, LA, his favorite city in the U.S.  Now, New Orleans - or NOLA as I prefer to call it - can be unfriendly for a vegetarian, but we did make some great discoveries that I'll pass on to you.  The city is so great that you musn't let the task of eating well daunt you!
1.  The Jazz Quarters (http://jazzquarters.com/ ) bed and breakfast in Tremé, just on the edge of the French Quarter, is vegetarian-friendly.  Just let the innkeepers know your special dietary needs, and they will absolutely work around them at breakfast - beautifully.  We enjoyed couscous boiled in orange juice with dried fruit and nuts and optional yogurt at breakfast each morning before our entrée.  One morning we had Haitian bread pudding with praline sauce (with bacon crumbles for Scott) and a Zydeco wrap with chipotle cream sauce (with sausage and eggs for Scott) the next.  Both were absolutely delicious!
2.  The Gumbo Shop (http://www.gumboshop.com/)  on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter not only has vegetarian food, but it has vegetarian food with local flavor.  Here's me enjoying the heck out of some Cajun-seasoned white beans with rice and, although you can't see it, some locally-brewed beer.  They had this offering as well as vegetarian gumbo, and you can't beat that!
The Gumbo Shop sells a cookbook with some of their vegetarian recipes in it, but since you're already supporting them by eating there, buy their cookbook at:
3.  The Kitchen Witch (http://www.kwcookbooks.com/), a cookbook shop on Toulouse Street in the French Quarter where doggie hosts Sophia and Scout will greet you and show you around the shop.  I got an autographed copy of The Gumbo Shop's cookbook here.
4.  La Davina Gelateria (http://www.ladivinagelateria.com/), also on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter has vegetarian food AND homemade gelato and sorbetto (a vegan-friendly "ice-cream-like" treat that is very welcome during the hell-like heat of NOLA summers) along with cold sodas, waters, teas, etc. when you need them.
5.  Finally, there is a wonderful place on Frenchmen Street where you can get vegetarian food before seeing a great, great show at Snug Harbor:  The Three Muses (http://www.thethreemuses.com/).  The food is not of local flavor, but the ambience is, and it's absolutely beautiful.  I recommend it!
We also tried Central Grocery, home of the original mufaletta, when we heard they had "vegetarian mufalettas".  But unless you are hungry for a pound of cheese and a hint of olive spread between 2 pieces of mufaletta bread, I'd look elsewhere for a good vegetarian version of this classic sandwich.  "Original" does not always equal "best".  If anyone from Central Grocery is reading this, your vegetarian sandwich could be improved by vastly reducing the cheese, upping the olive spread, and adding some vegetables like lettuce and tomato.


Consider topping your trip off with a stop at Café du Monde (http://www.cafedumonde.com/).  I know it's cliché, but dang!  The beignets are so good!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The King's Favorite

Today is the anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.  In his honor, why not have grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches for dinner tonight?  Make it with vegan margarine, and you have a vegan treat fit for The King!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Watermelon Margaritas

Here's another great idea for produce from the farmer's market.  I got the recipe from The Commercial Appeal, and they cited Arlen Gargagliano's Mambo Mixers as their source.  In any case, we made this with a luscious watermelon we picked up at last Saturday's farmer's market, and it was fun and refreshing!  There are no photos of the frothy pink drinks, because we were too busy enjoying them to photograph them.

4 T. fresh lime juice plus 1 lime wedge and 2 full-moon lime slices for garnish
2 t. Kosher salt OR 2 t. granulated sugar (for the rim - you choose)
3 oz. tequila (El Mayor is a good brand that isn't expensive.)
1.5 c. watermelon, seeded and diced
1.5 t. Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
2.5 t. superfine sugar, or to taste
2 c. ice cubes

Rub the rims of 2 chilled (optional) margarita or cocktail glasses with the lime wedge.  Pour the salt or sugar (whichever you chose) on a plate and press the rim of the glasses into it, turning gently until the rims are evenly coated.  Shake off excess.

Combine the lime juice, tequila, watermelon, superfine sugar, and ice cubes in a blender.  Process until smooth.  Pour into the prepared glasses.  Garnish with lime slices, and serve.  Serves 2.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Salad

First, let me apologize for my long absence.  I started a new job this summer, and it's been exciting!  Beyond that, as everyone knows, life is busy and sometimes it's hard to balance everything.  I hope in the meantime you've been taking full advantage of the farmer's market near you while the summer produce is at its peak.  Even though I haven't been posting, I've been eating well!  For example, check out this incredible heirloom tomato salad.  Serve it with crusty bread and lettuce for a light meal for one or as a side for two to something more substantial.

3 medium to large heirloom tomatoes, preferably 3 different colors (I used red, orange, and yellow, but tomatoes also come in pink, purple, striped, and even white!)
1 thin slice of white onion, halved and separated into strips
1 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (optional - omit if making vegan salad)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)
1 T. red wine vinegar (or to taste)
2 sprigs tarragon
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized wedges.  Remove leaves from tarragon sprigs and discard stems.  Toss everything together until all coated, and enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chipotle Mashed Potatoes

Here's an idea that I tried recently, and it turned out deliciously!  When I make mashed potatoes, I use a hand mixer to "mash" them to ensure no lumps.  Just before this mixing recently, I put in 1 deseeded chipotle pepper (I used the kind that is canned in adobo sauce.) for every 2 potatoes.  It gave the potatoes a smoky flavor with a mildly spicy kick.  YUM!

Here's another idea I haven't tried yet:  using these chipotle mashed potatoes to top a vegan pot pie or shepherd's pie.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Roasted Carrots

While this recipe from Dash magazine looks too simple to be very exciting, this is a case where looks are deceiving.  Even if you are just so-so on carrots, give this recipe a chance.  Carrots don't usually make me feel much one way or the other, but Scott and I were scrapping for the last of this bunch!

2 lbs. carrots, peeled, ends trimmed, and halved lengthwise (Believe me:  You want to make the whole 2 lbs.  I made just over 1 lb., and I was sorry!)
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  In a shallow baking dish, toss the carrots in the olive oil, salt, and pepper so that the carrots are coated.  Roast the carrots at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees F, and carefully toss the carrots in the oil again.  Continue to cook at 325 degrees F until carrots are soft and browned.  Voila!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dilly Spinach Dip

A big thank-you to my neighbor Kim who gave me this recipe from Real Simple magazine.  I've made some minor tweaks, but it's pretty much as originally given to me.  This vegan dip is delicious, healthy, and filling.  Spread it on crackers or crostini, dip it with tortilla chips or pita chips, or do like I did today and spread it onto crusty European bread with sliced tomatoes and roasted red peppers for a delicious vegan lunch.

1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, coarsley chopped
1 15.5-oz. can white beans (cannellini, Great Northern, etc.), rinsed and drained
1 12-oz. bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/4 c. fresh dill sprigs (or to taste)
juice from 1/2 juicy lemon
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1.  In a small saucepan, heat the oil with the chopped garlic over medium heat until fragrant, 2 - 3 minutes.  Let cool.
2.  Squeeze the excess water from the thawed spinach.
3.  In a food processor, combine the garlic, oil, beans, spinach, dill, and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper, and purée until smooth.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

A big fat THANK YOU! to my very good friend Christa who turned me on to this recipe from Oprah's website.  It is, in a word, outrageously delicious.  OK, that's 2 words.  And not only does it taste great, it includes sweet potatoes, which I'm trying to work into my diet more frequently.  Yay!  This recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the cheese from the corn toritllas.  Just brush both sides of the tortilla with oil (instead of only one, as in the instructions), and brown both sides.  Either way, it makes 12 6-inch really yummy tacos.

1.5 T. canola oil, divided
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 chipotles (from a can and in adobo sauce), minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 + 1/4 t. salt, divided
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
12 (6-inch) corn toritllas
additional canola oil
2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded (omit if making vegan tacos - I used Organic Valley brand.)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 t. ground black pepper (optional - I didn't use it.)
salsa, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 T. canola oil, then diced onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until transparent.  Stir in chipotles, garlic, and 1/2 t. salt.  Add sweet potato, remaining 1/2 T. canola oil, and another 1/2 t. salt, and stir to coat the potatoes with oil.  Cook one minute, then move the skillet to the oven and roast potatoes 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the tortillas.  Heat a frying pan or griddle (I used another cast-iron one.) over medium-high heat.  Brush 1 side of a tortilla lightly with oil, and place the oil side down in the pan.  Scatter a generous spoonful of shredded cheese over the center of the tortilla, and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly golden brown on the underside but still flexible.  (NOTE:  If making vegan tacos, omit the cheese, and cook the other side of the tortilla in the same manner.)  Place the tortilla on a cookie sheet, and repeat with the remaining tortillas.  If the potatoes are still cooking when you are done with the tortillas, lightly oil a piece of foil and use it to cover the cookie sheet and tortillas.

Remove the skillet from the oven and immediately stir in the black beans, black pepper, if using, and up to 1/4 t. salt, to taste.  Top each tortilla with the sweet potato mixture and a spoonful of salsa.  Try not to eat too many!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vegetarian/Vegan Event at Felicia Suzanne's in Memphis

According to Jennifer Biggs in the local Commercial Appeal paper, Felicia Suzanne's in Memphis is celebrating their 10th annivesary with several events including a vegan/vegetarian dinner on March 22nd.  Here are the details from today's paper:

At 7 p.m. March 22, the dinner is vegan/vegetarian and features an optional pairing of sustainably grown wines from A to Z in Oregon, Paul Dolan in California, and Rex Hill, also from Oregon. $55; $35 for wine pairing. Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to Project Green Fork.

It's not often enough that local restaurants have vegetarian and especially vegan events!  Take advantage of a good one while it's around.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Introducing the newest member of the Today Tomorrow family:  Cha-Cha!  Pictured here with Elvis...

This precious girl was found on the mean streets of Memphis.  She was homeless, pregnant, and hungry, but her story has a happy ending.  She was rescued and put up for adoption through Streetdog Foundation, and now she has a permanent home with us!  If you think you have room in your family for a rescued canine, click on Streetdog Foundation's link in my Links list to see all the angels that need homes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spinach and Potato Soup

Remember when I said I was trying to incorporate more sweet potatoes into my diet?  Well, ditto for leafy greens.  This recipe has both, and I am able to take credit for this one myself.  It's been a fairly warm spring in Memphis, but we had a cold snap last night.  Soup was a warm and comforting supper, and this recipe is super easy!

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
water or vegetable broth (I used water plus some leek broth I had in the freezer.)
salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
1 12-oz. package frozen crowder peas
1 can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 12-oz. package chopped frozen spinach

In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until transluscent.  Add the garlic, and sauté a minute more.  Add the diced potatoes plus water/broth to cover.  Add 1 t. salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

Raise heat to high and bring the water/broth to a boil. Add the frozen crowder peas plus additional salt, if desired (I used anotehr 1/2 t. and honestly could have used a little more.), and return to a boil. When the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and the crowder peas have a proper cooked texture when bitten, add the can of diced tomatoes with juice and the frozen chopped spinach.  Add more water/broth, if necessary.  (The soup will be very spinach-y.)  Bring the soup briefly back to a boil to ensure all soup (including frozen spinach) is thawed and warm.  Adjust salt/pepper to taste, and serve warm with crackers, cornbread, or some other tasty bread.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sweet Potato Lasagna

Let me preface this recipe by saying I really do not approve of dishes that are mainly CHEESE.  That having been said, I have been looking for ways to incorporate more sweet potatoes into my diet, and this idea struck me as a good one.  I can't take full credit, because I know I've seen a recipe somewhere for sweet potato lasagna.  But I didn't have one to follow, so I made this up.  It can be used as a main dish or a side dish.

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin with a mandoline
15 - 16 oz. organic ricotta cheese (I used Organic Valley brand.)
2 free-range eggs
1/2 t. salt plus more, to taste
1/8 t. freshly-ground black pepper
6 - 8 oz. organic mozzarella (Again, I used Organic Valley.), shredded  (TIP:  Mozzarella is a soft-ish cheese.  Putting the block in the freezer for about 10 minutes before shredding firms it up and makes the shredding easier.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Put 2 T. olive oil into an 8 x 11-inch baking dish.  Using a paper towel, grease the entire dish with the oil.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil over mediumheat.  Sauté the chopped onion until transluscent, about 5 - 8 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix the onion, ricotta, eggs, 1/2 t. salt, and black pepper to make the ricotta custard.

Layer 1/3 of your sweet potato slices in the bottom of the greased baking dish and salt to taste.  Top the sweet potato layer with 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella.  Spread 1/2 of the ricotta custard over the cheese.  Layer another 1/3 of the sweet potato slices over the ricotta (salt to taste), then another 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella. Spread the other half of the ricotta custard over the cheese.  Top with the last 1/3 of sweet potatoes and cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake the lasagna at 400 degrees F until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.  Remove the foil and sprinkle on the final 1/3 of the mozzarella.  Continue baking, uncovered, until the top layer of cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

I served the lasagna with broccoli, speckled butter beans, and cornbread:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Savory Vegan Breakfast - Spicy Black Bean Potatoes

Memphis has a famously great breakfast restaurant called Brother Junipers, and you should visit it if you haven't already.  I love their potato dishes.  The "P1" is my favorite, and I usually order it without the cheese.  This weekend, I didn't have the time to wait for a table at the popular restaurant, so I took a stab at the "P1" at home.  I think it turned out pretty well!

1 T. canola oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch chunks
1.5 c. salsa (I used 1 can of Kroger's diced salsa-style fire-roasted tomatoes.  They have some kick!)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed


In a large nonstick skillet, preferably with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat.  Toss the potatoes in the oil, and cover the skillet with either the lid or aluminum foil.  Allow the potatoes to cook in the oil until they're softening, about 8 minutes.

Remove the cover and pour the salsa over the potatoes.  Try to have the salsa spread out enough to touch all the potato pieces without disturbing the potatoes.  Pour the black beans on top and recover.  Cook until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork.  Remove from heat before the potatoes are too mushy to hold together.

Serve the potato dish with a piece of whole-grain toast and green tea for a healthy, savory vegan breakfast.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Vegetable (Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian) Lasagna

First, let me say, this recipe is not vegan.  If you're looking for a good vegan lasagna, see my previous post (here).  But if that's not important to you, this is a great recipe.

The ricotta custard recipe is modified from one in Annie Somerville's Fields of Greens cookbook.  The rest is moi.  Remember that lasagna is a slight ordeal to make, but it can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, and popped into the oven for a no-fuss dinner or dinner party.  So roll up your sleeves and have at it.

1 16-oz. tub of organic ricotta cheese (I used Organic Valley brand, which was only 15 oz., and it worked fine.  Try to find organic, because it tastes better, it's healthier, and the animals that produce it usually get treated better.)
2 free-range eggs (For humane reasons, free-range is better than cage free.), beaten
1/2 t. salt plus additional, to taste
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 12-oz. package of frozen chopped spinach leaves
1 box lasagna noodles (or the correct amount for whatever brand you're using to make 4 layers in your 9 x 13 baking dish...different brands of noodles are different sizes)
2 jars of your favorite tomato spaghetti sauce
6 - 8 oz. shredded organic mozzarella cheese (If you're buying a block of organic mozzarella, like Organic Valley, it's difficult to shred because it's soft.  Even my food processor didn't like it.  Try putting the block in the freezer for 10 or 15 minutes to firm it up, then shred.)

I like to get each layer's ingredients ready to go, then boil the noodles, then put the lasagna together.  Here's how I do it.

Make the ricotta custard by mixing the ricotta cheese, the 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 t. salt, and 1/8 t. freshly-ground pepper.  Refrigerate mixture until ready to use.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the onion until transluscent, 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove the onion from the skillet.  Add more olive oil to the skillet, if necessary, and sauté the carrot coins over medium heat until tender-crisp, 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove the carrots from the skillet.  Add the frozen chopped spinach and move around in the oiled skillet over medium heat until thoroughly thawed.  Add 1/2 of the sautéed onion to the spinach, and add salt to the spinach, to taste.  Mix well.  Separately, combine the sautéed carrot coins and the remaining sautéed onion and add salt to taste.

Now cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.  In the meantime, if you're cooking the lasagna immediately after preparation, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the noodles are drained, cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with spaghetti sauce (about 1 c. ?) and cover the sauce layer with 1/4 of your lasagna noodles.  Follow this with another layer of sauce.  Spread the carrot-onion mixture over the sauce.  Remove and reserve 1/3 c. of your mozzarella cheese, and spread half of what is left over the carrots.  Layer another 1/4 of your noodles over the cheese.  Spread the ricotta custard evenly over the noodles, then make another layer of pasta with 1/4 of your noodles.  Cover the pasta with another layer of sauce.  Now spread the spinach-onion mixture over the sauce and sprinkle on the other half of the mozzarella.  Top this with a final layer of noodles covered generously with another layer of sauce.

At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the lasagna, covered, or you can cover it with aluminum foil and pop it into your 350-degree oven.  Bake 20 minutes, then remove the foil.  Sprinkle on the reserved 1/3 c. mozzarella, and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread, and you have a filling, delicious vegetarian meal on your hands.

This recipe is tailored for tailoring, so feel free to do your will with it.  Top with tomato slices or fresh basil, sautée your onion with some chopped jalapeno pepper, use a different cheese, substitute bell peppers for the carrots - use your imagination!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Garlicky Red Lentil Dip or Spread

I think I've mentioned before how I will sometimes get a good recipe and hang onto it for quite a long time before trying it.  I don't always have the emotional or creative space to try out something new, and when I do, that recipe might not fit the bill for that moment.  Well, this is one of those recipes, but I'm so glad I finally got around to trying it!  My friend Elaine, who lives in Tampa, mailed this to me a few years ago.  I'm not sure where she got it, but I'm glad she shared it!

This recipe is for a garlic-y red lentil dip that can easily be used as a spread for crostini, canapes, or even, as below, a sandwich!  The dip is hummus-like, but it does not have garbanzo beans nor tahini.  It's deliciously vegan and makes about 2 cups or maybe more.

1 c. red lentils
1.5 c. water
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t. salt
1.5 t. ground cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. hot red pepper sauce (or more, to taste)

Place the lentils, water, and garlic cloves in a medium saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Boil for 3 minutes, then remove the pan from heat.  Cover and let stand for 12 minutes or until the lentils have absorbed the water.

Put the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, cumin, chili powder, and hot pepper sauce in the work bowl of a food processor.  Add the lentils and garlic, and purée until smooth.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately as a dip - or spread over crostini, canapes, or your sandwich bread to build something else delicious.  (I made a sandwich on baguette bread and stacked up the spread, mild banana pepper rings, avocado slices, arugula, and tomato slices, and I served it with crinkle-cut fries.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spinach and TVP Calzones

Here's a new, DELICIOUS vegan calzone recipe!  It takes some time, but it is so worth it.  The recipe for the dough is a slightly modified version of the vegan pizza dough in the cookbook Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville, but the filling is mine.  This recipe makes 8 calzones.

dough ingredients:
1 T. yeast
1 1/4 c. lukewarm water
2 T. cornmeal
1/2 c. olive oil
1 t. salt
3.5 cups AP flour, plus more for kneading and rolling out dough

filling ingredients:
1 c. TVP
1 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
7/8 c. boiling water
1 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
12-oz. bag frozen chopped spinach
8 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 jar of your favorite jarred tomato spaghetti sauce (like Newman's Own or Muir Glen!)

Mix the yeast and lukewarm water, and allow the yeast to soak until foamy, about 5 minutes.  At the same time, mix the cornmeal, salt, and olive oil in a 2-quart bowl so that the cornmeal can be softening.  When the yeast is ready, mix the water/yeast mixture into the 2-quart bowl with the cornmeal/olive oil/salt mix.  Stir until mixed.

Begin adding AP flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon between each addition.  Once the dough is too stiff to stir, turn out onto a floured countertop.  Knead in the remaining flour and add any necessary flour sprinkling to keep the dough from sticking while you are kneading it.  Once the dough has reached a smooth, firm consistency (It should feel the same way your earlobe feels when you pinch it.) and is not sticky, form it into a ball and return it to the bowl.  Pour in a little olive oil, then turn the dough over so it is coated in the oil.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 35 - 40 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 500 degrees Farenheit.  Mix the TVP, 1 t. salt, garlic powder, and boiling water.  Allow this to sit 10 minutes to hydrate.  Warm the spaghetti sauce in a medium saucepan over low heat (enough to top 8 calzones).

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté the chopped onion in the warm oil until the onion is transluscent (6 - 8 minutes).  Stir in the chopped spinach and continue to sauté until the spinach is no longer frozen.  Stir in the chopped olives and TVP until thoroughly mixed.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch it down with your fist.  Divide the dough into halves, then divide each half into 4 equal parts.  Roll one of the dough parts into a 6-inch circle.  Put 1/8 of the spinach filling over half of the dough circle.

Fold the other half of the circle over the filling, and seal the edges with the tines of a fork.  Prick the calzone with a fork several times to allow heat to escape while it is cooking.  Move the calzone to a baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining 7 dough parts.

Bake the calzones for about 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove the calzones from the oven.  Plate each calzone topped with tomato spaghetti sauce.  Be careful, because they are hot!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pumpkin-Banana Muffins

This is a muffin recipe I got from a friend maybe....15 years ago?  I modified it to have pumpkin and chocolate chips and nuts.  It makes the muffins more interesting and more healthy!

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder (Try to buy the kind that does NOT have aluminum in it.)
3/4 t. salt
1 egg, beaten (If you want to make these vegan, use Ener-G Egg Replacer.)
1/2 c. almond milk or rice milk
1/3 c. canola oil
1/2 c. canned pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 banana, peeled and mashed with a fork
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, but delicious!)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 12-muffin tin (or line with cupcake papers).

In a 2-quart bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-blended.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the egg, milk, oil, pumpkin, and banana.  Mix with a wooden spoon until just blended.  Fold in nuts and chocolate chips, if using, until just evenly distributed.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin tins.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

NOTE:  If you don't have any canned pumpkin, you can omit the pumpkin and just use 2 mashed bananas.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hot Chocolate Mix

Even though we've had a pretty warm winter, there have been chilly mornings and evenings that were still just right for hot chocolate.  Here's a recipe I got from Martha Stewart that allows you to make your own hot chocolate mix.  As her publications point out, you can make this mix and have enough to last you through the hot chocolate season.  It's economical, and it allows you to make vegan hot cocoa.

3 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 c. cocoa
1 T. salt
soy milk or almond milk, for serving

In a large bowl, sift the ingredients together.  Store them in an air-tight container.  To serve, pour 1 c. soy milk or almond milk into a microwave-safe mug.  Zap the milk to the desired temperature, then add 3 heaping tablespoons (or more or less, to taste) of the mix and stir well with a fork to break up all the powdered lumps.

To make a larger batch, heat the soy or almond milk in a saucepan, taking care not to boil it.  Add 3 T. of the mix per cup of milk used.