Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Very Veggie Burgers

Vacation feels so weird–it’s really hard to allow myself to sleep in (until 8:30!) and read whole books and go to the gym whenever I want.  I feel like I’m letting a whole weekend go to waste without getting tons of stuff accomplished–I guess I’ve gotten used to cramming a lot of work into short weekends.

But I’m getting there.  Tomorrow I might even wake up late, make Fritz a glorious Sunday breakfast, and then sneak in a midday nap, just ’cause I can.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making veggie burgers (since they are so gosh-darn expensive to buy! Why is that?!), and with all my time off and beautiful weather outside, I knew today would be a good day for it.  Using inspiration from my mom, I remembered reading a blog post from Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows about the perfect veggie burger, and I decided to stick with the recipe from a self-proclaimed veggie burger perfectionist.

I just don’t have enough vegetarian experience to experiment on my own at this yet.

Very Veggie Burgers Printable Recipe Card

  • 1 C oats, ground to flour
  • 1 1/2 C bread crumbs (mine were Italian flavor)
  • 1 C grated carrot (I used the small hole on the grater)
  • 1 C cooked black beans, roughly mashed
  • 1/2 C sunflower seeds (roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/3 C chopped almonds (raw)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T olive oil
  • flax eggs: 2 1/2 T ground flaxseed in 1/2 C warm water
  • 1 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/2 t salt

This recipe does take a lot of prep work to get all the ingredients ready, but once you’re there, it goes fast.

Combine all the ingredients and mix well–I started using a spoon but rapidly gave up and dove right in with my hands.  I was shocked and impressed by how delicious the dough was–yum.

Shape into eight large patties, packed really tightly.  To cook on the grill, pre-cook them a little bit in the oven first, so they maintain their shape.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake them on a greased baking sheet for fifteen minutes, flipping them once halfway through. 

Moving to the grill–cook them over medium heat, for just a few minutes on each side.  They’ll get gorgeous grill marks, and you can melt cheese over them once you flip ’em.  These patties are pretty stable, so you don’t have to worry about being too careful with them.

I was surprised by how much I loved these burgers.  As a meat-eater, I can attest that they don’t replace a juicy, freshly grilled beef burger, but they can hold their own in a separate category.  I can actually see myself eating these instead of burgers, since I really liked the taste, but I would never expect Fritz to do the same.

With ketchup, mustard, and cheese, these really hit the spot.  They are also really dense, and since I was starving I managed to eat two, but kinda regretted the second one later.  I was preeeetty full.

As for the texture, I give it a hearty thumbs up!  I wasn’t sure why the sunflower seeds and almonds were necessary, since meat burgers definitely aren’t crunchy, but as I started eating this one it made sense.  Without the nice textural crunch and chew, I think the burgers could rapidly head in the “too mushy” direction.  Ugh.  Reminds me of the first veggie burger I ever had–not the best.

In summary–worth the work and quite delicious! I can’t wait to have round two tomorrow.

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

As my test anxiety was building this week, I developed a very intense need for nachos.

A need for nachos.  Not just your average, “oh, I want nachos”, but a need for nachos.  You can’t ignore those kind of things.  When your body tells you that chips, beans, cheese, and chili powder must be in your belly in 15 minutes or you might die, you listen.

Just like when my body tells me I need to watch Christmas movies even though it’s the middle of June.  I listen and I listen well–and I’m currently watching The Family Stone.  (Please don’t judge me–times of high stress make me do weird things).

But back to the nachos.  I wanted to use up some more of my cilantro, so I decided to spice up my nachos and then cool it back down with a yogurt sauce.  Sound good?

And if you don’t like yogurt sauce, or if the smell/taste/look of cilantro makes you die a little bit inside (hi Fritz!), then you can just skip it.  Fritz enjoyed the nachos quite nicely without it.

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

  • 8 small corn tortillas, sliced into quarters (or corn chips)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4-1/2 C jalapeno slices (depending on how much you love your spice!)
  • 1/4-1/2 C Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 lemon (about 2 T lemon juice)
  • 1/4 C plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • small bunch cilantro (about 2-3 T chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and arrange your corn chips.  Since I had tortillas in the freezer, I microwaved them for a few seconds, sliced ’em in quarters with a pizza roller, sprinkled with a little salt, and baked them until they were crispy, about 15 minutes.  Obviously you can skip this step if you have some chips handy.

These were vegetarian chips, so I used an entire can of refried beans, but you could easily use half or less and add some meat to make them more hearty.  Once the chips are crisp, add the beans on top.  (By the way, I’ve made refried beans from scratch before, and they didn’t quite taste as yummy as the good ol’ canned version.  Reason why?  Third ingredient on the canned kind is lard.  Yeah.  Maybe not so good.)

Sprinkle with jalapenos and cheese.  Be generous.  With both.

Sprinkle on the spices and pop in the oven for a few minutes until the beans are warmed and the cheese melted.

Meanwhile, process the yogurt, cilantro, and lemon juice (lime would probably be even better if you had it!) until smooth.  Drizzle over the top and enjoy!

We both love, love, loved this dinner treat of nachos.  I definitely would have eaten these with some spicy salsa on the side, but we didn’t have any and there was no way my tummy was allowing me to hold off on the nachos.

Experiment with the spices–if you are the hot and spicy type, some cayenne might be just the thing you need.  And if you haven’t already jumped on the smoked paprika bandwagon, now is the time.

Really.  That stuff is good.

In other good and exciting news, we got our fourth CSA box yesterday!  Check out the goods for this week:

I’ve had a lot of variety in my green monsters lately–using kale, chard, and beet greens instead of only plain ol’ spinach.  For those new readers, I am a first-time CSA user from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm on Long Island–read more about their CSA program here.

Plan for tomorrow–up early for the gym, then a doctor’s appointment and spending a large majority of the day reading (for pleasure!) and definitely baking!  I feel like I haven’t baked anything in ages and I absolutely miss having it around. 

Have a great night!

10 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Snacks, Vegetarian

Year of the Vegetable (and Pasta Puttanesca)

I have very exciting news.

News that involves vegetables.  Many vegetables, coming to me once a week in a box from a farm just a little further east on Long Island.  A CSA box.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a system where the consumer (that’s me) buys directly from a farmer (that’s them).  It’s a bit expensive for our budget, but I talked Fritz into letting us try it this year.  It averages out to about $21 a week (our grocery budget is around $50 a week).

From June 1st ’till the end of November we will be picking up a box of CSA veggies from a drop-off point close by our apartment.  I’m really excited because I can’t wait to have fresh-picked local vegetables at my disposal for 26 weeks.  I’m also looking forward to learning how to use some new vegetables that I’ve never had the opportunity to use–the farm grows over 100 varieties of vegetables, and they promise 6-10 different types of vegetables in each box.  Of course, I am a little nervous about getting stuck with a giant pile of kale every week for 26 weeks–but their list of last year’s boxes has a lot of variety, so I remain hopeful.  I also have wanted to really dive into making us eat a lot more fresh and green vegetables this year, so with this system I’m stuck finding a way to use what I’ve been given (plus I hate wasting food and I love a challenge so…).

The farm we are using is called the Golden Earthworm Organic Farm, and here’s their website if you want to learn more about CSA or their farm: thegoldenearthworm.com

In other exciting vegetable news, our baby tomato plants are growing like wildfire.  On some advice from Mom, I knew I needed to thin them out ASAP since a lot more of them were growing than I anticipated.  I bought some peat pots for $1.50 and got to work.

To prepare the pots, poke a hole in the bottom, fill with potting soil, and drench with water until the pots are saturated.  Transplant the babies, and voila!

Obviously I would rather not be transplanting baby plants when they are this small, but the pots got overcrowded really fast and I didn’t have much of a choice.  Hopefully now with more room these 14 plants will prove their worth (’cause I’m dreaming about fresh salsa and canning tomato sauce already).

I think that Henry also considers himself their watchdog/mother/guardian angel.  He’s constantly watching over them, sniffing them, and not yet eating them.

Not yet.

Lastly, here’s a recipe for a fresh  new pasta sauce I tried for the first time ever tonight: pasta puttanesca.  It’s quick and simple (and I left out the anchovies, so it’s not fishy), and I absolutely loved it.  I normally don’t even like olives, but between the brine and the bright bites of parsley that I harvested from our herb garden (already!? I know!!), it was my favorite pasta sauce ever.

Pasta Puttanesca (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

  • 1 box whole-wheat angel hair pasta, cooked according to directions
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (I only had dried garlic so I did my best)
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 C black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 C minced fresh parsley
  • 1 T capers (optional–I didn’t have them)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to directions on box.

Over medium heat, saute the garlic in the olive oil.  Before it starts to brown, add the olives, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes.  Let the sauce simmer until it begins to thicken, then add the parsley.  Flavor with salt and pepper to taste.

Dinner was conceptualized and on the table in less than 20 minutes, including picture time.  Love when that happens.

Light and fresh is really the best way to describe this meal.  Sprinkle some fresh parsley on top for a springtime finish.  We also added a dash of grated parmesan cheese–serious yum.  Fritz did wish that he had some chicken in there.  Sometimes I forget that there are other people in this household who crave meat in their meals–sorry Fritz.  It’s an easy addition for next time, though.

Fritz and I are watching a movie called Creation about Charles Darwin’s life.  I strongly recommend it, even to those of you out there who aren’t giant nerds.  And especially those of you who are (Mom!).

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

We have officially entered the phase of eating from the bottom shelf of the cabinet–that’d be the dry goods shelf.  The non-perishable (for a really long time) food shelf.  It’s where I turn when everything else in the house is long gone, but I still want a healthy meal.

And when I want that meal to be done cooking before I graduate from PT school, I turn to lentils.

Sometimes I just don’t have the patience for dried beans.

To kick it up a notch, I decided to transform this into a pilaf with a Middle Eastern flair.  With a healthy dose of garam masala (recipe here) and some canned tomatoes, this recipe went from lackluster side dish to spicy and exciting main entree.

Well, I find it exciting.  I am aware that not everyone feels as passionate about ground coriander and brown rice as I do.

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C dried red or green lentils (I used red)
  • 1 C uncooked brown rice
  • 2 C broth (I used beef, but you could use chicken or veggie)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1/2 t dried garlic (or 1 clove fresh), minced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until browned.  Once they are ready, add the spices (garam masala, garlic, and cinnamon stick) and toast for a minute or two until fragrant. 

In a separate pot, bring two cups of water to boil and add the brown rice.  Cook until just about tender–a little al dente is best.

Add the lentils and broth to the spices and onion.  Stir and cover, allowing it to simmer on low until the broth is absorbed and the lentils are cooked (this will go faster with red lentils than green).

When the lentil mixture is ready (and the rice cooked), combine the two and stir.  Add the can of tomatoes and stir in.  If you want, you can add a sprinkle of sugar but it’s not necessary.  Cover for a few minutes until the remaining liquid is absorbed and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

My favorite way to eat lentils is to broil a green bell pepper cut in half vertically, and fill with the rice and lentil mixture.

Sadly, we had no green bell peppers.

I ran out of grocery money for the month, remember?

Don’t be like me.

We had to eat it plain–but luckily, it was still delicious (not to mention full of essential amino acids).

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Soba Noodles with Orange-Ginger Miso Dressing

Despite that there were a few flakes of snow threatening my peace of mind yesterday,I was so glad that today was a (chilly) but beautifully sunny day–still light out at seven!  I went to the gym today for the first time since midterm week started, and even though it was hard getting back into the swing of things, it’s nice to experience that post-workout high again (it helped that the sun was just setting as I left the gym).

However, I have to admit something to you about the upcoming recipe.  It’s all about a cold soba noodle salad, with an orange-ginger miso dressing–perfect for a quick lunch during midterms week when Fritz wasn’t around.  Except…midterms week was last week.  I made this an entire week ago.

This isn’t normally much of a problem, except that I didn’t write the amounts of anything that I used, so I have to kind of guess at what actually went into this dressing.  Luckily I have pictures as a reminder.  It was really good though, so I’d like to suggest that you use this recipe as an inspiration for a soba salad of your own–and if you do use my recipe, taste it as you go an adjust accordingly to your taste.

For myself I’ve found that’s true of any recipe using miso–I am still getting used to the strong and salty taste of miso, so I like to go slow as it is.  Miso and I are still taking baby steps as we get to know each other. 

No rushing into this relationship.

Cold Soba Salad with an Orange-Ginger Miso Dressing

  • 6-8 oz uncooked soba noodles
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced (I’d definitely roast the pepper first next time)
  • 1-1 1/2 T miso
  • 2 T grated ginger
  • juice of one small orange (I used a tangelo)
  • 2 T tahini

Cook the soba noodles as instructed on the packaging (it only takes a few minutes in boiling water) and douse them with cold water once they are done to prevent them from overcooking.

Once they’ve cooled off and been drained, add the shredded carrots and bell pepper.

Next, mix the last four ingredients together to make a dressing.

Pour that right over the noodle mixture.

Give the noodles a good toss, and there you have it!

A light but filling (and healthy) salad.  Perfect for a meal on the go, or as a side dish for a heartier meal.

Tomorrow I plan on making a cake in the morning to celebrate our friends Steve and Gill’s first anniversary (congrats guys!) and then Fritz and I are having dinner at the Jensen’s house.  Should be a lovely day.

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

Day number two of midterms week, down.  Yes!

On a more sad note, Fritz went off to California today for a dental conference that he’s presenting research in.  Sad for me, happy for him.  It’s going to be very lonely for the next couple of days, so it’s probably a good thing I have a large stack of textbooks to bury my sorrows in.

Actually, that’s never really a good thing, is it?

My mom (who is apparently the recent MVP of this blog) gave me a recipe for this sweet-potato-black-bean-quinoa-casserole this weekend, and I decided to give it a try because it was filled with a lot of healthy ingredients that I had on hand.  My one complaint was that it was a bit dry, so I’d probably add a 1/2 cup of water or so next time I made it (or an extra cup of salsa–even better!).  It was good as a side dish, and even better as a Mexican-style filling for the omelet I just made for dinner! 

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

  • 1 C dry quinoa
  • 3 C black beans (2 cans, or 1 1/3 C dried beans, soaked, rinsed, and cooked)
  • 1 sweet potato, grated (about 2 C)
  • 1 1/2 C salsa
  • 3/4 grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 eggs or 1 egg/1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed in 3 T water)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the quinoa according to instructions (I used 2 1/2 C water and simmered until all the water was absorbed–I had both red and white quinoa, and red cooks more slowly than white).

In a casserole dish, combine the quinoa, grated sweet potato, and black beans.

Mix together the remaining ingredients in a bowl, using only half of the grated cheese (eggs/flax egg, cheese, salsa).

Pour over the quinoa mixture, and combine thoroughly.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake, covered, on the middle rack in the oven for 25 minutes.  Uncover for another five minutes and let the cheese on the top brown (you can broil it if you like your cheese crispy).

Slice and serve!

Since mine came out a bit crumbly, I was using it as a filling for other meals, which was perfect.  A great way to eat this would be in a halved bell pepper with some extra salsa–mm! 

Between all the studying that Fritz and I have been doing, it hasn’t been very fun around here.  Luckily, Henry always manages to find some way to amuse himself–he was surfing on pieces of paper in the kitchen, jumping from one to another and sliding all over the floor.  Who knew cats were so hysterical?

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

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