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 28, 2013

Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I know this recipe from Food Network magazine doesn't sound right.  Pumpkin?!  But the truth is this is a great way to sneak another vegetable into your diet, because it tastes great and looks beautiful.  Give it a try!
I actually made my own ricotta using another Food Network recipe, which I'll include here, but store-bought is fine.  The ricotta recipe said it would make 3 cups, but it made about 1.5 cups, so this cheese-making process, which is new to me, may be unpredictable.  It was quite easy, though, and it allowed me to use milk from a local farmer that literally names all his cows.

24 jumbo pasta shells
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
2.5 cups (22 oz.) ricotta cheese (recipe below, or choose a nice organic brand, like Organic Valley)
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 c. plus 2 T. (2.5 oz.) Parmesan or pecorino Romano, grated
1 large egg white
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. fresh basil, chopped
1 T. fresh sage, finely chopped (optional - I used about 1/2 t. dried sage, because I wasn't sure if I would like the taste.  Turns out at this amount, I couldn't even taste it.)
1 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
1 26-oz. jar tomato pasta sauce

Cook the pasta shells according to package instructions, then drain.  Drizzle with the oil, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, stir together the ricotta, pumpkin, 3/4 c. Parmesan or pecorino Romano, egg white, garlic, basil, sage, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread all the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.  Fill each pasta shell with about 3 T. ricotta mixture and arrange in baking dish.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle the shells with the remaining 2 T. Parmesan or pecorino Romano, and bake for 15 minutes more.

Serves 6 - 8.

Homemade Ricotta
1/2 gallon whole milk
1 t. kosher salt
3 T. lemon juice

Line a metal colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, then set the colander in a bowl.

In a large pot over high heat, bring the milk and salt to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add lemon juice, and stir until curds form (1 - 2 minutes).

Using a slotted spoon or small strainer, transfer curds to colander.  Let drain 1 - 2 minutes.

Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.  (This is supposed to make 3 cups, but I got about 1.5 cups.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Grits with Smoky Black-eyed Peas and Collards

Yet another fantastic dish from Food Network magazine.  If you want to make this vegan, just omit the cheese from the grits (and probably increase the salt in the grits, but that is your call).  I know you're going to love this!

1 T. canola oil
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh collard greens, stemmed and chopped
¼ t. cayenne
1 t. smoked paprika
2 15-oz. cans chopped tomatoes (not drained)
2 15-oz. can black-eyed peas (not drained)
1 c. grits (not the quick-cooking kind)
4 c. water 
Heat the canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the bell peppers, onion, collard greens, cayenne, and ½ t. salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly soft (about 8 minutes).  Add the paprika, tomatoes (with liquid), and black-eyed peas (with liquid) and bring to a simmer.  Simmer 15 minutes, then season with salt, if desired.
Meanwhile, combine the grits, water, and ¼ t. salt (or salt to taste) in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cover, turn heat down to low, and simmer 5 minutes or until desired consistency.  Remove from heat.
Divide the grits between 4 pasta-style bowls, and top with tomato mixture.
Serves 4.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower and Pepper Salad

I've been getting a lot of food inspiration from Food Network magazine, and that includes this recipe.  It goes perfectly with the tofu Cuban sandwiches previously posted.

3 bell peppers, seeded and veined
3 T. olive oil, separated
½ t. cumin
½ t. salt, separated
pinch cinnamon
pinch cayenne
1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 T. lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Cut each bell pepper into 8 large pieces.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 T. olive oil, cumin, ¼ t. salt, cinnamon, and cayenne.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss this mixture with the bell peppers, cauliflower, and celery.
Roast 15 - 20 minutes in the preheated oven, toss with remaining 1 T. olive oil, lemon juice, remaining ¼ t. salt, and black pepper.  Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tofu Cubans

I got this excellent Cuban recipe from Food Network magazine...and no, I didn't substitute the tofu for something else.  Their recipe called for it!  Although I was a little skeptical about the combination of the ingredients, these sandwiches were so good last night that we're having them again for lunch today.  YUM.
If you want to make these sandwiches vegan, it's as easy as not using the cheese.  Enjoy!

1 small onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1.5 T. extra-virgin olive oil
juice of one orange
1 14-oz. pkg extra-firm tofu, well drained (Not the silken kind.  I like to freeze my tofu for 24 hours, then thaw it.  It improves the texture.)
4 small hoagie rolls, split (Please use real bread, not the awful eternal-shelf-life bread.)
1/4 c. yellow or stone-ground mustard
1.25 c. shredded cheese (The recipe called for Swiss, but I used mozzarella.  Use whatever you like.  If making vegan sandwiches, omit cheese.)
2/3 c. chopped roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 kosher dill pickle, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
In a shallow dish, combine the onion, garlic, olive oil, and orange juice to create a marinade.  Set aside.
Squeeze the excess moisture out of the block of tofu.  Lay the tofu on a cutting board and cut into 8 equal slices.  Add the slices to the shallow dish of marinade, turn to coat, and marinate 5 - 10 minutes.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Turn the tofu to coat again, then add to the hot skillet.  Cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer the tofu to a plate, then pour the marinade into the hot skillet.  Cook, stirring, about 4 minutes, then remove from heat.
Spread the cut sides of the rolls with mustard and sprinkle with the shredded cheese (if using).  Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
Sandwich the prepared rolls with peppers, pickle, onion mixture, and tofu.  Working in batches, add the sandwiches to the hot cast-iron skillet, then top with another heavy skillet to flatten.  Cook until golden brown and the cheese melts (if using cheese), 2 - 3 minutes per side.  Serve warm.
Serves 4.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Candy Cane Cookies

I don't know where my mom got this recipe, because we've been making and eating it since I was a child.  At that time, we shaped the cookies into candy canes.  That's how the recipe went.  As I've gotten, ahem, older, we changed them to pinwheels.  The candy cane hooks were ornery and often broke off, damaging the appearance - but not the taste! - of these cookies.  The pinwheels give the cookies an impressive, complicated look, but they're not at all difficult to form.

These cookies have a cakey cookie texture, and they are not as sweet as many modern cookies.  Maybe that's why I like them:  the mild sweetness, the texture, and definitely the almond flavoring, which is my favorite.  I hope you enjoy them, too.

2 sticks vegan margarine, room temperature (I recommend Earth Balance or some other vegan margarine that has no hydrogenated oils in it.)
1 c. sifted confectioner's sugar (a.k.a. "powdered sugar")
1 egg (Vegans, feel free to try this with an egg replacer like Ener-G and let me me know how it turns out!)
2 - 2.5 t. almond extract (I go with the extra half teaspoon.)
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 t. plus 1/8 t. salt
1 T. plus 1.5 t. baking powder
red food coloring, to color
granulated sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the butter, confectioner's sugar, egg, and almond extract in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture.

Divide the dough in half.  In a separate bowl, blend red food coloring into half of the dough.  I'd start with about 20 drops, then go from there until you have the color you want.

Now, on a lightly floured surface (Don't worry if the red dough gets white flour dust on it.  It won't show up after cooking.), roll a 6-inch strip of red dough and a 6-inch strip of non-colored dough so that it looks like, well, a worm!  (You can make longer strips, but keep in mind the cookies will be larger and take longer to bake.  I usually make mine bigger.)  Twist the red worm with the white worm so that you now have a single red-and-white twisted worm.

At this point, you decide if you want "candy canes" or "pinwheels.":
(1)  If you want a candy cane, just make the cane hook at the end and move to an ungreased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired.
(2)  If you want pinwheels, shown above, curl the twisted worm in a spiral, and you have your pinwheel.  Move to an ungreased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired.
Either way, repeat with remaining dough.

Bake about 12 - 15 minutes or until risen and set.  Remember that finished cookies look a little undercooked in the oven.  The moment you notice the non-colored dough just starting to brown, it's time to remove them from the oven.  Cool on a rack, then enjoy!

The amount this recipe makes will vary, depending on how large you make your cookies.  I made large pinwheels last year, and I got probably 20 cookies.