Friday, July 31, 2009

Cheater's Chili

Yet another easy recipe. Normally I'll cook something exciting at least once a week, but it's been months since we've had chili. I typically like to avoid "winter" foods during the summer months. Plus, with all the fresh summer veggies, why make something with no fresh ingredients? I'll tell you why -- it's that good. We crave this. It's quick, easy, and tasty as leftovers too.

Maybe one day I'll work out my own chili recipe. In the meantime, this one is super tasty, and This one uses Bush's chili starter (in a can), lots of onion, Morningstar crumbles, a large can of crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, and some frozen corn tossed in at the end. Serve with Fritos (really), shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.

I make this extra easy by cooking the onions in a skillet and then dumping everything in a crockpot for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A new way to eat portobellos

Of course I am a fan of the portobello mushroom in a variety of recipes -- grilled, with goat cheese, in a sandwich, in fajitas -- and I almost always include some mushrooms with my pasta. So I was delighted to find a new, albeit obvious, way to enjoy these big mushrooms. Mushroom Parmesan! I do like eggplant parmesan, but I've had bad and bitter eggplant. Even better, this recipe is quick and easy and doesn't require frying.

I got the idea from my favorite television chef, Giada De Laurentis, whose show I enjoy because she makes a good number of dishes that are vegetarian or in which the meat can be replaced or omitted. I followed her recipe with a few additions.

First, I started the pasta water boiling as this always seems to take a long time on my stove. I wanted to serve the mushroom parm with pasta and a green salad, and I can't think of anything that would have been better.

I cleaned and dried the mushrooms and drizzled a little Italian dressing in them. This wasn't in the original recipe but I like the mushrooms a little moist and I enjoy the kick of the vinegar and spices. Next, I grilled them for about 5 minutes per side on the grill pan. Of course there needs to be a little oil on each side.

I used jar pasta sauce -- Newman's Own -- and just poured some in the bottom of my baking dish, then place the mushrooms in upside down. Then I dolloped some more pasta sauce in each mushroom, covered it with slices of fresh mozzarella, and then topped it with shaved Parmesan. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. I finished this with a short broil because my husband likes his cheese browned.

This was very tasty and was healthier than the fried eggplant. The mushrooms don't need a lot of cheese to pack a flavor punch. My husband told me that this was his favorite parm dish hands down, but sometimes he might feel like ravioli.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Starting slow and easy

I've been thinking about starting a blog to record my food and remember what works and what doesn't. There have been more interesting recipes I've made lately, and some that could make for a prettier photograph, but it's time to start somewhere.

I'm not trying to be a cookbook chef or make my own recipes. I'm trying to record the things I've cooked at home, after work, with basic ingredients for the most part. With nutrition and variety in mind, I'm setting out to compile some ideas for the veggie life.

Dinner one: "Meat" and Potatoes

This dinner is super-easy; the hardest part is preparing the potatoes.

Packaged seitan; prepared barbecue sauce; red potatoes; sour cream; fresh baby spinach; garlic; olive oil; salt; pepper

1. Open the seitan and rinse the package juices. Place in saucepan and cover with barbecue sauce. Heat for 5-7 minutes just before serving. Seitan only needs to be heated through, not cooked.

2. Peel or scrub the potatoes. I like to leave some skin on, removing the eyes and any ugly spots in the peel. Dice and boil in salted water until tender. Mash with sour cream, salt, and pepper to taste.

3. Heat garlic in olive oil; if you like less garlic flavor remove it before adding the spinach. I like to add the spinach with the garlic and oil, cover and cook for 1 minute and then turn off the heat. The greens will be slightly wilted. Salt to taste. If you prefer another green, swap this out. Sometimes we'll use broccoli too.

I like to serve the seitan and sauce over the potatoes. My husband loves the sauce -- we use a sweet, thick barbecue sauce. This meal is very easy and similar to our favorite comfort foods.