Category Archives: Vegetarian

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers


I’m an Omnivore, I admit it.

But, just cause I’ll eat almost anything or at least try, almost anything, it doesn’t mean I don’t like to eat meat-free from time to time.

Really, I like meat-free meals.

And yesterday I hit it out of the park.   Well, I lobbed a good one.

Wait, it isn’t baseball season just yet, but with the sun and everything outside, I’m getting anxious.

Sorry, my mind wandered a little there, but I caught it before it escaped.

We, as in the Senior Center, were given a lot of Green Peppers earlier in the month.  They were lovely, and we used some in a salad, we chopped up a bunch and froze them, and then I got the bright idea of making some Stuffed Peppers for our seniors.   So we did.

But, there are some vegetarians among us who don’t eat meat, and I wanted to make sure that they were able to have a great meal as well.

So, I made a lovely filling, and stuffed them, baked them off, and served them. This was the solitary one that was left over yesterday, so I took it home and had it for breakfast.

And I have to say, OMG, they were so good, and in fact, I’m planning a repeat, soon.

But this time it will be a private party of one.   And I’m going to go for a little healthier version as well.

I plan on using some brown basmati rice.

I wish I had pictures of the process to go with this, but, I was cooking against the clock, as usual.

I took a couple of carrots, two small zucchini, an onion and a little garlic, sautéed them in a pan with some olive oil until they were soft.  Sprinkled them with a little Badia Sazon seasoning, then mixed them in with about 4 cups of cooked rice.   Stuffed them into some green peppers and they baked for about an hour, then we covered them.   They were served with a dollop of Creole Tomato Sauce.

And I’m going to try to recreate that recipe so I can share the how to’s on that, cause the flavour was out of this world good.

And maybe I’ll add a couple of chopped up mushrooms as well.

Hmmm, the possibilities…

Palak Paneer


I never realized you could actually make this at home.  I’m in trouble now.

Just kidding.

Now that I know how to make Paneer, I can indulge myself.  Well, not really, but how cool is this?  I can make it at home now, Woo Hoo!   I  have to say, you do need full fat milk for this, and no using ultra pasteurized milk or cream.  It doesn’t work, trust me on this.

Really.

Trust me.

I know whereof I speak, cause I tried making some with 2% milk and didn’t get hardly any cheese, and so I went to the store and bought some full fat milk, otherwise known as whole milk.   And the same night I made it with the 2% milk, I tried using some cream I had, and since it was ultra-pasteurized, it failed miserably.  In other words, no curd. That attempt turned into an offering to the Kitchen Goddess.

And of course you need Palak for Palak Paneer so I did a double.  Recipe that is.

So, here goes.  And for those who are interested, using 2 cups of 2 % milk got me 2 oz. of Paneer.
When I used the 4 cups of whole milk I got 5 oz. of cheese.   Just sayin…

Paneer Recipe
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt if you want, I choose not to use it

Bring the milk to a boil, remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes, stir again, you should have some lovely big curds, if not add just a skootch more of lemon juice, and stir again.

Pour into a cheesecloth lined colander or do like I did, cause I couldn’t find my cheesecloth, sigh.  I used an old (bleached clean) flour sack teacloth, and poured it into that.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes or long enough to eat your breakfast, then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth (flour sack) and expel more of the liquid by squeezing it gently.   Place the entire mass of cheese in a press to expel the rest of the liquid.  I used two small plates, on top of a larger lidded plate, and weighed it down with a bunch of cans inside a bowl.  Let sit like that for about hour or so, then peel the cloth off of the cheese and cut into chunks if you’re using it right away, otherwise wrap well, and place in fridge.

Now for the Palak.    I found some spinach on sale (WOOHOO), sorry got excited there.

Palak Recipe
1 lb baby spinach, washed at least three times to remove the grit

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium tomato, diced

2 C homemade paneer

1/2  t cumin seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1/2 t ground turmeric

freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
lemon juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon ghee (I made some last January, so had some in the freezer)

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee and toast the cumin seeds and fennel . Once they are aromatic, add the onion and cook till translucent.

Stir in the tomato and cook until softened and beginning to break down. Season with turmeric.

Add the spinach at this point, and let it cook down for just a couple of minutes.  Cook it too long and it turns a shade of olive which doesn’t look all that great.   If you have an immersion blender, use it here and just buzz the spinach mixture a little.  You want it to break up, but not be too liquid.    Set it aside for a minute.

Take out your paneer and cut it into cubes and depending if you’re using the nice fresh-made warm paneer or using it from the fridge, you will need to warm it up a bit.
You can either brown it a little in some ghee or just warm it in the hot palak for a minute or so.
Serve with some warm Naan and enjoy.  Or do as I did and eat it for breakfast, and it was so good.  And I have enough for breakfast tomorrow, giggle.

Naan


Naan

I got this recipe from Aarti Sequaria and I figure it’s probably pretty authentic. I did put a couple of my own touches to this, cause gee, I’m the cook?
All I know is that they tasted so good.   And they went perfectly with the Palak Paneer I made for Tapas last week.  They were also a little fiddly to make.   I will make them again, but will tweak this a touch.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling,
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Melted butter for slathering on the finished naans
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

In a large glass, dissolve the dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar with 3/4 cup warm water, let sit until frothy, or the yeast has dissolved.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and baking powder into a large, deep bowl.

Once the yeast has dissolved and is frothy, add the yogurt and the olive oil into the glass, and stir it to combine. Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix the ingredients together with a Danish Dough Whisk.  This is a very sticky dough.  Mix together with your hands, and put into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit for a couple of hours.  I use my oven, as it’s draft free.

When you’re ready to roll, make sure you have two bowls on your counter: one with extra flour in it, and one with water. The dough will be extremely soft and sticky-this is good! Separate the dough into 6-12  equal portions and lightly roll each one in the bowl of extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other.

You need to shape the Naan.  Traditionally it’s in a tear drop shape.  This is because they used to roll out the naan, and then kinda throw it at the Tandoori oven which cooked it.  And when you kinda throw a round shape at a curved hot oven, it can become a tear drop shape, or so I’m told.  Shape the naan.  I formed mine into a rough teardrop shape using my fingers and then a rolling pin.

I know they should be about 8-9 inches long and about 4 inches wide, but my pan wasn’t big enough.  So I made them into very roughly shaped pieces of dough 4-5-inches long, 4-inches wide at its widest point and about 1/4-inch thick. Apparently once you’ve formed the general shape, you can also pick it up by one end and wiggle it a little  the dough’s own weight will stretch it out a little. Didn’t work for me though, at least not this time.  The dough was that soft. Next time I’ll try it.  Repeat this method with the rest of the dough.
Warm a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s nearly smoking, and if you do like me and oil the pan each time you use it, wipe out the excess oil.  It can make the smoke alarm go off when the oil gets too hot.  Of course I don’t know anything about that, personally.

Just have a lid ready that is large enough to fit the skillet and have the butter ready and waiting.  Melted butter is good.

You can either dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your naans, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it or pick up a naan, and brush it with a little water using a pastry brush. Which is what I did.

And my ‘teardrop’ shapes, umm, well, let me just say this, they weren’t, teardrop shapes that is.
sigh.

Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble.

After about 1 minute, and I used a timer for the first few, you then flip the naan.  If it’s a little blistered and blackened, that’s a good thing.  You want that little bit of char, cause  that’s typical of traditional naan. Cover the skillet with the lid and another 30 seconds or more.  This side will look more like a typical Naan.

Remove the naan from the skillet, brush with a bit of butter and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt.  Place the naan into a covered dish or wrap them in a clean tea towel, and continue until you’ve cooked all of them.

I used my tortilla warmer bowl, it’s insulated, and has a tight fitting lid.   And it worked, perfectly.

I did have a couple left from Tapas, and they along with some of the left over Palak Paneer are going to be my breakfast.
I will make these again, I think they’re a great quick bread to serve with a lot of different foods, but I think they do require me to make them a few times so I can get the technique down.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Cheese Rellenos with Hatch Green Chiles


I felt like I had to point it out that I’m making Cheese Relleno’s with Hatch Green Chiles.

I was so excited when I saw them at the market last week.  There is such a short window when they are fresh and available and since my three Anaheim Chile plants did very poorly this year, we’ve not had Chile Relleno’s for quite awhile.

I know I’ve posted about how to make Relleno’s before, but I thought I would just go ahead and tell you all about how to make them again.

First off, you need to char the skin off, and I told you how to do that the other day.
Next up is the batter and the cheese.
Batter up!
Sorry got confused there, but these would be great after a baseball game, a little too messy to eat there though.

I made us five Relleno’s from the wonderful chiles I found at the market.   The rest are safely tucked away in the freezer for a few more meals.  I did count how many I had prepared though, 42.  Which by my reckoning means 8.4 meals.   I’ll probably use the extra two chiles in some Chile Verde later on.

Peel and seed however many chiles you’re making for dinner.  Pat them dry, and set aside while you make the batter.

Batter:
5 eggs, separated
5 tablespoons flour

Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold in the flour, carefully.

And there you have it, however, I hate to waste the yolks so I add in about half of them.  Stir the egg yolks together, and add a little at a time, or just dump them in like I did, whoops.

Folding very carefully.   Set aside.

Chiles and Cheese
Slice some Monterey Jack cheese into finger size or larger chunks.   Measure against the chiles, and make them just a tad narrower than the chiles you’re stuffing.

Pick up a chile, and place a piece of the cheese inside.

If you’ve ever put a sock on a toddler or infant,  just think of stuffing a little foot inside of a sock or shoe.   You need to be careful of the foot and the sock.

Don’tcha just love that claw like hand, clutching the green chile?
Prepare each chile, then dredge in a little flour,

then dip into the batter and place in an oiled pan.  I found a trick this time, I picked the chile up from the batter with my meat fork, and then put it into the pan.  Worked like a charm.  Can’t believe I hadn’t tried that before.

I use about 1 tablespoon of oil per chile.  Cause that batter is like a sponge and it soaks up the oil like you wouldn’t believe.  I love my cast iron pan for this.  It holds the heat and yet, because it’s well seasoned, it also doesn’t stick.

Cook over a fairly low heat for a few minutes until one side browns, then flip over and cook the other side.  If my batter is too thin, I’ve been known to drizzle a little more batter on the uncooked side, just before I flip it.  Take out of pan after browning and continue until all the rellenos are cooked.

Serve with your favourite enchilada sauce.

See that lovely oozy cheese in there, sooo good.
We just eat it like this, but you can always make some rice and beans and serve alongside.

Tomato Gratin


I actually made this quite awhile ago, but never got around to posting about it.   Even though I made this with canned tomatoes, I think it could be adapted to use fresh tomatoes. And now with it being almost tomato season, I think it’s time to make this again, plus I think it’s a great take along for any summer potlucks.

So simple to make, and really, really tasty.    Basically three ingredients and you’re good to go.  I used Stewed Tomatoes with Celery and Onion, the No Salt Added kind,  a loaf of stale french bread, and some nice sharp Cheddar.

Pour about a tablespoon of EVOO in the bottom of a baking dish, or maybe a little more, whoops.

Add two cans of Stewed Tomatoes with Celery and Onion, don’t drain them.

The olive oil kinda pooled in the corner there, but don’t worry, it gets used.

Next add your cubed bread.   I used some French Bread, but I think this would be even better with some crusty artisan bread (which I don’t have access to here, unless I want to drive about 60 miles to the good grocery store or I could just use my own No-Knead bread).   Toss it together, and then don’t do like I did, and forget the nice chopped herbs, in my case some parsley and chives, on the counter. 

Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top of the tomato bread mixture and then sprinkle it all with some Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese.   Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or so or until the cheese melts

Serve immediately or do as I did, put a piece of foil over top and then wrap it up and take it to a party.

It was very well received.   And I had a few requests for the recipe as well.   I think the next time I make this I will actually use a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack cheese, as I think the Monterey Jack cheese will melt into the tomato mixture a little better.
Here’s where I got the recipe.

Crispy (sorta) Edamame


I get together with a group of ladies most Friday nights and like to make something fun for them, because I just like to make something fun to eat.

I found this recipe on  Join us, pull up a chair and Heather had lots of great sounding recipes that sounded so good.

Recipes that would fit perfectly for an NPA get together or one of my Tapas Nights or gee, just ones I wanted to try.

I decided to try  Crispy Edamame  because I’m trying to eat a little cleaner, and I love Edamames and since I had some in the freezer, well, it was a natural choice.

I actually made this over a week ago, but it took me til now to tell you about it, cause I just got caught up in life.
Crispy Edamame

12 oz bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, I used the powdered stuff in the jar.  I actually added more freshly grated cheese after spreading the peas out on the baking sheet, but it didn’t coat as well.
salt & fresh ground pepper
Opt. Sliced garlic

Preheat oven to 400 deg.   Take Edamame out of freezer and either rinse it to thaw it or let thaw in a colander.

Once the Edamame is thawed, lay them on a paper towel to dry and remove the excess moisture. Once dry, place in a gallon sized Ziploc bag, add in the tablespoon of olive oil.  Shake to coat.
Then add the 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shake it again.

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pour the coated Edamame. Spread out in a single layer.

 

Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan Cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.
Add the thinly sliced clove of garlic at this point, stir and bake for another 5 minutes.*
Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

 

You can see the little bits of garlic on here.   And don’t put the garlic in until the last few minutes of baking, otherwise it will get bitter.  As it was there was a slight hint of garlic, nothing over powering.

*I found that I needed to bake them longer. And the next time, I will do the initial bake for about 20 minutes, then add the thinly sliced garlic and bake for an extra 10 minutes or so.  These weren’t crispy, but were tasty.

These were so good scooped up in a Lentil chip and eaten out of hand.   Someone else had brought the Lentil chips, so we tried them together, and I would do that again.   And best of all, this is a healthy recipe.

Cucumber Salsa


You ever find food that you love so much you look for recipes that you can use it in?  Or that you can use as a substitute for other things?

That’s Creme Fraiche for me.   I can eat it by the spoonful, straight out of the container, but I usually restrain myself.

It’s so good on baked potatoes, used in Deviled Eggs, I’ve pretty much substituted it for sour cream and greek yoghurt in almost everything I cook.

And it’s not that bad for you either.  It’s got protein and calcium and doesn’t really have a lot of fat, cause the flavour packs a punch.  So a little goes a long way.

Usually.

I saw a recipe for Cucumber Salsa awhile back and the dressing called for Sour Cream.

Yeah right, I thought.   I’ll see your Sour Cream, and raise you some Creme Fraiche.

And I was right.    WOW!  I’m even more in love than before.

I brought this to my weekly Friday gathering.  And those people who could eat cucumber and cilantro liked it, as did I.  Well, actually I think I loved it.  And I will make it again.  Just one warning though, if you dress it too early, you will end up with a fair amount of liquid, but you can just drain that off if you like.  I served this with pita chips, but I think it would go well with just about anything.

Recipe- adjust to your own tastes

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced very fine
1-2 Roma Tomatoes, diced very fine
1/2 red onion, diced/minced
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1-2 Jalapeno’s  seeded and diced finely

Dressing
1/2 cup Creme Fraiche
1-2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1-2 tsp Lime Juice
1/4-1/2 tsp. Cumin

Mix the fresh veggies together and give them a quick grind of sea salt, let them sit for awhile and get acquainted.

I had to take this shot, after chopping, mincing and peeling.  They just looked so purty.

Fresh Parsley, straight out of my garden, how cool is this?

And when you go to chop it up, roll it up into a tight bundle and then cut across it, making a chiffonade, then just cross-cut it.  Makes it a lot easier to chop.

Everyone into the bowl now.

Toss the veggies together.

Mix dressing ingredients together and let that sit in the fridge for a little.

Just before serving, pour dressing over the cucumbers and mix together, serve with crackers or pita bread or tortilla chips.

I think I would make this again, but next time, just wouldn’t add quite so much dressing, and I would definitely add more jalapeno’s and cumin.

I wonder how this would taste on a sub?  hmmm, I think I’m getting ideas.