Tag Archives: Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday: Moroccan Lentil Stew (Crock Pot)

Since I fairly recently made the “Recipes” page of this blog, I had an opportunity to review what we’ve eaten for the last few months.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how many vegetarian dishes I’ve made–looks like my Meatless Mondays paid off!  I believe that we are now officially out of the “forcing myself to do it” and into the “habit/lifestyle” phase.  Even Fritz doesn’t find it unusual to be eating meatless for a few days in a row (minus his lunchtime pastrami sandwiches, of course).  One of my friends posted a “top 30 health foods” list in her blog recently, and I was pleased to see that Fritz and I eat all of them, minus a few–like chard (ew)–on a regular basis.

So one benefit of food blogging–it’s like an intensive, long-term food diary.  Perfect for a little early-March life assessment.

Here’s a recipe for a sassy Moroccan-style vegetarian stew I made in the Crock Pot for tonight.  Set it up before work/school, turn it on low, and come home to a warm bowl of spicy lentils, beans, and vegetables.  Does it get better than that?

(Although I must say that the site I found the recipe inspiration on is written by a woman who apparently ate Crock Pot meals for an entire year.  Um…no.  I like to vary the texture of my meals, thank you very much.  Once a week, tops, is enough for me).

Moroccan Lentil Stew (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 C carrot, diced
  • 1″ piece ginger,peeled and minced (I used a bit more–I love ginger!)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed (or 2/3 C dried beans, which soaked overnight will equal about a 15 oz can)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed (2/3 C dried beans, soaked overnight)
  • 1 C dried lentils (I used red lentils)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 C veggie broth, plus an extra 2 C water (more if you used dried beans)
  • 1 1/2 t garam masala (recipe coming soon!)
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

Set the stage–plug your Crock Pot in.

Done.

Basically, dump all the ingredients into the pot, turn it on low, and go do what you want for a few hours (7, if you had my schedule). 

The more glamorous version is this: chop the veggies first (onion, carrots, and mince the ginger, too), toss those in.  Add the beans and lentils.  Top with spices.  Pour in the can of diced tomatoes and the broth.  Give it a quick stir.  If you used dried beans that soaked overnight, add a few extra cups of water.  Actually, even if you used regular beans, you might want to add some extra water.  Those lentils will suck it right up–but you can always add more when you get home (I did that, too).

The step you didn’t see?  I actually made the garam masala–I’ll show you how to do that in my next post.  Easy, and it smells so good. 

Like I said, cook on low for 6-8 hours, then serve.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

That’s the antique version of Moroccan stew.  Here’s the regular:

Doesn’t that look heavenly?  This stew is nice and thick because the lentils break down as they cook and basically puree themselves (thank you lentils!). This stew also has a sweeter and warmer taste than most stews I make–I think that’s due to the generous amount of nutmeg and cinnamon.  I loved it.  Not overpowering, but definitely distinct.

Want to know the secret to all these patterned backgrounds?  I swore to myself that I would never tell, but I’ll betray my own confidence because it’s such and easy and cheap way to have fun food pictures when you don’t feel like making an elaborate set-up.  I just thought you would like to know.

I bought a humongous book of scrapbooking papers from Joann’s Fabrics at 50% off for $9.00.  There are a couple hundred square sheets of fabulous patterns–I just choose one, rip it out, toss on the table for pictures, and then stick it back in the book for another time.  I literally stumbled across the idea while I was looking for fabric to make pillow covers for the couch.

I love those cheap and easy inspirations, don’t you?

What’s one of the ways that you use everyday items for unusual and creative purposes?

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Filed under Soups/Stews, Vegetarian

Very Veggie Pizza (with Whole-Wheat Dough)

In celebration (yes, celebration!) of yesterday’s Meatless Monday, I made a pizza.  We were tired, and I didn’t feel like going to the gym–but I did feel like playing with my new light box!  By the time I got dinner started it was already dark outside, so you get to experience how food looks in our new box.  It’s not better than natural light by any means, but it is eons better than what I had before.

Start off by making the dough, because it’ll need to rise and you can get all the toppings ready once it’s busy doing its…you know…thang.

Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough  (adapted from In Great Taste by Evelyn Lauder)

  • 1 C spelt flour
  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 C wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 1/4 C warm water
  • 1 T olive oil

First I had to make the spelt flour.  Because my mom is amazing and scatters kitchen gifts in her wake wherever she goes, I have a coffee grinder that also works perfectly to make grains into flour.  You can also experiment here with what kind of flours to use–the original recipe used all-purpose flour for the whole thing and suggested subbing half whole-wheat.

Add all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl, combine, and make a well for the wet ingredients.  Pour them in, making sure the water is warm but not hot enough to kill the yeast.  Mix thoroughly and knead for ten minutes on a tabletop or about half the time with the KitchenAid.

Cover bowl with Saran wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about forty minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare your toppings.

Very Veggie Pizza

  • Whole-Wheat pizza dough
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 C basic pesto sauce (remember this recipe? Get a few cubes out of the freezer!)
  • chopped veggies (I used 1/2 bell pepper, a tomato, olives, 3 scallions, and 1/2 onion–all the leftovers in the fridge!)
  • parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  While the dough is rising, chop the veggies and place the canned tomatoes into a saucepan.  Let them simmer until thickened into a sauce.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two.  Roll out into a circle 10-12″ in diameter, and if you want an authentic feel, dust the bottom with cornmeal.  Place on a cookie sheet and spread with half the pesto, leaving 1/4″ bare on the edges.  Cover with half of the tomato sauce, then layer on half the vegetables and top with a sprinkle of the parmesan cheese.

Repeat with the other pizza.  When the oven is hot, bake the pizza on the middle rack for about 12 minutes until crispy on the bottom and the vegetables are cooked through.  If you want, you can broil it for a minute or two to blacken the toppings a little–but I didn’t want them overcooked.

This crust is my favorite that I’ve ever made.  It was perfectly crisp on the bottom, but still just doughy enough under the veggies to satisfy my pizza craving 100%–I didn’t want a flatbread sandwich, I wanted a pizza!  However, by far the perfect touch was the pesto sauce under the tomatoes.

It was divine.

And the best part is, you get leftovers to bring to school the next day!

What do you think about our lightbox photos?  Pretty crazy background there, huh?

3 Comments

Filed under Breads, Entrees, Vegetarian

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Curry

Today was my first day back at school after five blissful weeks of vacay.

I wasn’t ready.

But it really wasn’t as bad as I expected.  Mostly because we got out an hour early.  The best part, of course, was watching our teachers fill in all of the Fridays we are supposed to have off with field trips (okay, like, two–but I regrettably suspect the number will continue to grow).  I did get to go grocery shopping with the unexpected free time, and now the fridge is stocked with lots of veggies and fruits for the upcoming week.

It was stocked, at least, until I made this Meatless Monday’s (they’re back!) dinner: 

Eggplant Curry  (inspired by Evelyn H. Lauder’s In Great Taste)

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/8 t chili powder
  • 1/8 t ground cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 2 t ground coriander
  • 1/2 t tandoori masala
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 (small) green bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 crown broccoli, diced
  • 1/2 C chickpeas
  • 1 eggplant, diced
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

It’s a long list, I know.  But really all you have to do is use whatever veggies you have in the fridge–I wanted to finish the broccoli, get rid of the chickpeas, and use up the tomato paste before it went bad!

This is a pretty quick-‘n’-easy recipe, not counting all the time it takes to attempt to take decent photographs with a point-and-shoot digital camera in winter light (or should I say dark? absence of any light whatsoever?) with a reading lamp to brighten up the table.  Yeah.  I can’t wait until spring.  Forget the warm weather and cute clothes that come with it–I just want to be able to take decent pictures of my every meal.

Anyway, like I was saying, it’s a pretty easy recipe. 

Start out by heating the oil in a large pot/saucepan/wok on medium heat and adding the spices for a few minutes until fragrant–like any basic Indian food recipe.  Toss in the onions and cook until golden, then add in the garlic and bell pepper.  So far–yum to the max.

Next, add the rest of the veggies:  I started with the broccoli and chickpeas and let that cook for a few minutes, then added the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, lemon juice and sugar.  Once that’s mixed in and bubblin’, top off with the eggplant.  Try not to die of happiness.  Cover and stir occasionally until all the veggies are tender (only about five more minutes).

Serve hot in a big ol’ bowl.  I made 1 C (uncooked) of brown rice and 1 C of a Trader Joe’s brown rice mix (long grain brown rice, black barley, and daikon radish seeds–so good!  Buy it tomorrow!), which I think should last exactly the same amount of time that the curry will. 

This recipe doesn’t have an overpowering curry taste, and you can still taste each vegetable.  Can’t wait to eat it as leftovers tomorrow during school.

By the way, I wrote this while watching Juno.  Since turning off our cable (one of the best decisions we ever made), I like to have a stock of some of my favorite and most girly movies as background for blogging time.  Some of my latest and greatest have been Notting Hill, Music and Lyrics, Where the Wild Things Are, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Once, and, weirdly enough, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

What are some of the movies you can watch over and over again?  I need some new suggestions!

2 Comments

Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Bowl O’ Steel-Cut Oats

First off, I’d like to apologize for the lackluster quality of some of my pictures lately.  The lighting in my parent’s house, combined with my less-than-stellar camera and the gloomy weather all week didn’t end up being the best of conditions.  Not to mention that it gets darks at 4:00 now.  Sorry! 

But we will press on regardless. Today is Meatless Monday, but nothing too exciting was created today because I had to go grocery shopping after class and didn’t have the time nor energy for anything with more than two steps.  We had whole wheat thin spaghetti with a (homemade) tomato sauce with onions, garlic, a tad bit of brown sugar, oregano, and basil.  Not too shabby, although I will admit I pretended to turn a blind eye when Fritz snuck a few turkey meatballs into his bowl.  Men.  You just can’t trust ’em.

Henry wanted to have a little taste:

In other cooking news, I’ve recently discovered a new favorite breakfast food: steel-cut oats.  Unlike rolled oats, they don’t just feel mushy; more along the lines of creamy but still chewy–yum!  They are also very filling and best of all: good for you!

Steel-Cut Oats (serves four)

  • 1 C steel-cut oats
  • 3 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C milk
  • any toppings you want to try!

We bought these at Wegmans in the bulk section (a great place to be).  Bring the water to boil in a sauce pot and add the oats.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer (stirring occasionally) for about 30 minutes, or until creamy.  Add the milk and continue to simmer until the desired consistency.

I added cinnamon for the first batch

When it looks so good that people you don’t even know are crowding around your kitchen in their bathrobes, it’s time.  Pick your toppings (and be creative).

First time, I had cinnamon, dates, and a tiny bit of brown sugar:

the dates were so sweet that extra sugar wasn't really necessary

 The second time around, I chose to go with a dash of maple syrup and banana slices:

That was a good combo.  I think tomorrow’s bowl may involve the last of my pumpkin butter, or maybe apple and coconut.  So many options, so little time…

So, because I miss my family (I’ve been away from them for a whole day!) I thought I’d post a few other Thanksgiving adventures.  On Black Friday Mom, Jordi and I braved the crowds and did some crack-of-dawn shopping (okay, we actually left the house at 11:00 am).

Sometime in the past few years, Jordi got very cool:

not quite sure when it happened...

One of the stores we ventured into was Joanne’s Fabrics, where we found some beautiful fabric, a pattern, and all the trimmings for a nominal fee of around $10!  Very exciting.

The next morning, the entire family was struck with a stomach virus, and we all spent the day puking.  Mom, who appeared the have the strongest immune system, seemed the most healthy (or is that just least whiny?), and she mananged to whip up this amazing little number for me!

She is a talented woman, isn’t she?  Don’t judge my looks there, I had spent the entire day in four layers of sweat pants and blankets, laying on the couch moaning piteously.  And then the dress came and changed my life.

If only I had a fancy Christmas party to go to that didn’t cost $72 a person (*cough* physical therapy formal *cough*).

C’est la vie.

4 Comments

Filed under Breakfast

Meatless Monday: 17 Bean Soup

Yeah, I know it’s not Monday, but I got busy studying last night (seriously!), and didn’t have a chance to post this until this morning.  Just pretend it’s not Tuesday for the next few minutes and we’ll be all set.

I thought it might be interesting to look up Meatless Mondays because my dad mentioned to me that it’s related to a lot of, shall we say, enthusiastic anti-meat campaigns.  I am clearly not anti-meat.  In fact, I am very pro-meat.  Too much, really, since I forget about vegetables and that’s largely why I decided to institute Meatless Mondays in the first place.  That and the cute alliteration.

I thought I was so clever thinking up the name, but it turns out that “Meatless Mondays” was coined during WWI (along with “Wheatless Wednesdays”) by the FDA to encourage families to help with the war effort.  It was reinstated in the second world war, and since then has been used by various campaigns for environmental and public health awareness.  I am all for awareness, but I wanted to differentiate between my Meatless Monday (eat more veggies!) and other campaigns (eat less meat!).  Though I won’t enter the issue of animal rights and ethics (since I’d like to let you have your own opinion), from what I’ve read, eating meat (even red meat) isn’t bad for you–unless you aren’t eating in moderation.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Like my dad wisely said,

“We’ve always known it’s most important to eat with moderation, variety, and balance”.

At least I think that’s what he said.  Something like that.

Anyway,

17 Bean Soup

  • 1 package Trader Joe’s dried 17 Bean mix (or whatever beans and grains you like)
  • 1 (large) leek, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • handful of baby carrots, chopped
  • 2 radishes, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 4 C veggie broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

I saw this and couldn't resist buying--there's no way I'd ever buy 17 bags of dried beans and barley so it was nice to have a mix!

First, soak the beans overnight–cover so there are two inches of water on top of the beans and leave in the fridge.  Next day, rinse the beans with cool water a few times and let them drain.

Peel and dice the veggies, trying to keep them of roughly equal sizes so they cook evenly.  Cook them over medium-high heat in a large pot (that’s a lot of vegetables!) in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they are softened and smell good enough to…well, eat.

Put them in the biggest pot you have, because I always make waay too much soup.

Mom bought me this pot last year and it's perfect for moments just like this

This is the fun part.  The reason I love making soup (and I definitely got this from my mom), is that you can add whatever you want and it almost always tastes amazing because soup is really easy to adjust!  I wasn’t going to add tomatoes at first, but when I tasted it I felt that it was lacking something–then I threw in some bay leaves, thyme, and a lot of freshly ground black pepper.  Sorry Fritz!  I love really peppery soups on a cold day.

I thought you might be amused to see the massive amount of leftovers I have.  Luckily Fritz and I bought some screw-top Gladware that we use to bring soup to school for lunch–hot soup really hits the spot at school when you are exhausted and need a pick-me-up.

wow.

I know.  It’s ridiculous.

Before I leave (to go study more…ugh!), I thought I’d give you a quick peak into the real mastermind behind my cookery.  Have you seen Ratatouille?  Henry is very much like the rat and he really knows how to put a meal together.  Here he is consulting the spice chart that Mom gave me (and I grew up using):

"Thyme? Or is this really more of a sage situation?"

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Filed under Soups/Stews