Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pork Chops

While I'm happy to be primarily vegetarian most of the time, I still enjoy dabbling in meat eating. So when Helby was recently out of town, I took the opportunity to fix myself some pork chops.

Start, of course, by rinsing the meat. Put some whiskey in the bottom of the Pyrex dish -- maybe about four shots -- for some spicy flavoring. Add roughly the same amount of water to that (maybe a little more water than whiskey). Flavor the tops of the chops with your preferred herbs. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, to keep the meat moist.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Poke about five sets of fork-prong holes in the aluminum foil (in the pattern of five on dice) to allow alcohol vapor to release harmlessly as it warms. Allowing the vapor to build up under the aluminum could cause a fire or a dangerous blast.

Cook at 350 degrees for two hours. Then remove the aluminum foil and cook an additional 15-30 minutes, to tan and crisp the outside. A baked potato on the side makes this a traditional meat-and-potatoes meal.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lots of yum

Busy, busy day in my kitchen! I started the day with dessert making. Oreo crumble cupcakes. These were super tasty and vegan to boot (well, they're vegan as long as you don't use the icing I used. I generally don't have soy milk hanging around in my fridge, so I used a basic fluffy white frosting and added in the cookie crumbles). I failed to note the "makes 36 servings", and was confused as to why I had so much batter (most cupcake recipes I've made make 24 cupcakes). Having only two cupcake trays (and not wanting to do dishes right away) I ended up with two dozen cupcakes and a 9-inch round cake.

Oreo Crumble Cupcakes

4 1/2 cups flour
3 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/8 cup vanilla extract
3 cups strongly brewed coffee
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. vinegar

•Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
•Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda until well combined.
•Add the vegetable oil and vanilla and mix until just combined. Slowly add the coffee, mixing for a few minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix again until very smooth.
•Add the vinegar and mix for 1 minute.
•Fill each cupcake liner about two-thirds full.
•Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

Oreo Crumble Icing:
3 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup soy milk
10-15 crumbled Oreos (I used 10 for mine and it was more than Oreo filled. The more crumbles you add the harder it is to ice the cupcakes.)
18 Oreos for garnish

•Using a hand mixer, combine the sugar, margarine, and vanilla. Mix in the soy milk.*
•Stir in the crumbled Oreos.
•Top each cooled cupcake with 1 tablespoon of icing and garnish with half an Oreo.
*Note: You may need more or less than 1/3 cup.
Makes 36 servings

And while those were baking, I put on a slow cooker full of homemade sauerkraut from our local butcher. Apparently not only do they have the best local meat, but also the best fermented cabbage. I let it simmer for 6 hours, and then added in some turkey kielbasa (I don't like the texture of beef kielbasa) and let the whole shebang cook for another two hours. Just before we were ready to eat, I made spaetzel and was surprised at how easy they are to make. And they went great with the rest of the meal.

Faux Tuna Salad

I am a HUGE fan of sandwiches, but it can be hard coming up with ideas for what to do for veggie sandwiches. That's why faux-meat recipes can be absolute lifesavers! Just change an old classic into something new and voila! A tasty chickpea salad sandwich (served on toast for extra YUM!). If you want to make your own, check out this recipe.

Veggie Mash-up

As I'm fighting my first cold of the season, I figured I need to get as much nutrition as possible. I emptied my crisper, threw it all in my food processor, and this is what I got:

Beet, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, tomato, red bell pepper, mixed greens, and mozzarella.

Then, to soothe my sore throat, I whipped some Tomato Bisque from Trader Joe's, with cheddar cheese and fresh basil

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stuffed peppers

I surprised Steve with one of his favorite dishes the other night. Stuffed mandarine sweet peppers from the garden (stuffed with beef, rice, onions and tomatoe sauce), pasta in a garlic cream sauce and sweet corn sans cob. Simple but tasty.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I happen to have the best husband ever...

I had requested a double order of Lion's Head meatballs. One for us and one for a healing coworker. Now, if you have any affinity for pork this recipe is a must try. The Asian flavors are just incredible with the meat. We usually use soy milk as the recipe requests, but this time we substituted rice milk which worked great.

It might work with tofu too. The texture might turn out odd, but I can't imagine it wouldn't be tasty.

As a bonus Jon put together a side of Swiss chard cooked with garlic, ginger, and some homemade yellow curry paste, finishing it with some sambal and a bit of chicken stock. Yum!

Bonus number 2: a zippy bottle of reisling. Hooray!

Eggplant Parmesan

Guest contributor Dena returns with a new dish:

I used Shake 'n Bake for the breading, as I am on Weight Watchers and it is fewer points than traditional breading (and frying). I used high fiber white pasta (my husband Matt didn't know he was eating healthy pasta, now that they make it in white). And yes, the sauce was homemade too. Of course I was the only one who ate the eggplant. I "shaked and baked" chicken too. We had a healthy and delicious meal for a couple of days.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Veggie Frittata

I normally don't follow recipes off of the food box, but this one I couldn't pass up.
Brought to you by Morningstar Farms:

I also added to the pepper love with my chunky pepper bread - Green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese on top of rosemary bread. Yum.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wine of the Week - Aquila D'Oro Chianti

This week's wine is a chianti -- something I realized I haven't had in several months. Aquila D'Oro. A quick little cheapie from Trader Joe's, described as having a grape taste with a tannin finish. Read more.

Project: Grape Jam

Posted via web from jonumami's posterous

Friday, September 18, 2009

Check It Out: VegCooking Blog

If you can't get enough mouth-watering goodness here, you should check out the VegCooking Blog. They consistently post recipes that are simple but elegant.

For instance, today's post had me salivating with this delicious picture of Spanish Style Home Fries:

They also have very unusual recipe ideas, like the one earlier this month for Tomato Gravy. Doesn't that sound tasty?

Find more awesome recipes at VegCooking Blog!


I looked up an omelet recipe a very long time ago, and I'm sure my methods have changed a lot from the original. But three things that I know I've kept the same are: 1, use three eggs per omelet; 2, add an ounce of water per; 3, preheat the pan on high heat for a full 5 - 10 minutes before cooking the mix.

It's simpler than it may seem. Choose the "insides" of your omelet first -- any meats, cheeses or veggies that fit your taste -- and dice them all into cubes. Do this first; you'll want them ready to go before you heat the pan. Personally, I like prosciutto, avocado, tomato, spinach, and mixed cheese. For my vegetarian girlfriend, red and green peppers, tomato, onions, spinach, and light on the cheese. (Or, if we have Trader Joe's chunky salsa, prep time gets cut in half!)

Just beat the three eggs and water in a bowl. Sometimes I like to add ground pepper. For some extra flavor, add a dash of garlic salt or powder. Preheat the pan as described above. (A 9" pan will suit you better than a 12".) Coat the pan with a slab of butter (or an alternative, if you must). Don't let the butter burn in the pan. Once it starts tanning, reduce the heat to 1/3, and add the egg mix.

After a couple minutes, the bottom will cook solid while maintaining a liquid top. Make a mental diameter, and add your diced ingredients to one half of that. Then flip the "clean" half on top, and cook until the entire egg mix is solid. The flipping can be difficult. Joe's tip for successful flipping: use two spatulas. Seems simple and obvious, but nobody thinks of it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Orange-cranberry Scones

The day was crisp and cool, and it put me in the mood for baking.
I was craving something sweet yet didn't want the guilt of a cookie. So I tried this recipe! The orange juice gives the dough a sweet flavor, while the cranberry adds "tarticity."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eatin' My Veggies

I like to eat starchy foods that fill me up in the evening, so around lunch time I try to eat my veggies. Today's lunch was cobbled together with leftover green beans, just slightly steamed and seasoned with garlic butter, and a fresh red pepper (my favorite veggie) I sliced for my munching enjoyment. Nom nom nom nom nom.

Lemonade (pronounced Lemon-ah-day)

I'm posting this on behalf of my husband the lemonade lover and sugar hater. By looking at some recipes online and using common sense, he put together a mighty tasty batch of lemonade. Which was followed by this one (aka the one I remembered to photograph).

Modified simple syrup: 1/2 cup of sugar mixed with 1 cup water, cooked on the stove until the sugar dissolves.

Mix simple syrup with 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Then mix in 5 more cups of cold water.

Garnish with lemon slices.

This will be less sweet and more tart than most store-bought lemonades, but it's exactly the way he likes it. If you like it sweeter, use up to 1 cup of sugar to make your syrup.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Breakfast, ole!

I am religious follower of Lifehacker, which has brought much technological goodness into our lives (i.e. boxee, how to create a laser out of a mini-flashlight, etc.). They do also have some awesome general productivity advice and life hacks (get it?). This year they have fairly consistently had great content on food and nutrition.

While the recipe I use for these breakfast burritos comes out of the Radomski family classic How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, the idea to take this four serving recipe and extrapolate it into a full on assembly line effort was all Lifehacker (yes, Lifehacker reads Mark Bittman, as should you).

There are several variations on the base recipe. We start with a ton of scrambled eggs and usually refried beans, which are surprisingly easy to make from scratch. For this production we also have pickled jalapenos, cilantro, tomatoes, spinach, and summer squash.

Usually when I make these I do no less than 10 and freeze most of them. They freeze surprisingly well. I had Jon to help, so we upped our game and ended up with about 25. The process goes much faster with two people.
Here is the finished array of burrito goodness:

Wine of the Week - Line Shack Sauvignon Blanc

I'm not a big fan of white, but I try to expand my tastes. This comes to me from my Wine of the Month Club. It's a 2008 sauvignon blanc from Line Shack. It tastes of fresh herbs and lime, with a tart and herbal finish.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall's a-Comin - Time for Apples!

Labor Day has come and gone. Kids are back in school. Soon the air will get brisk and cool. Time for some seasonal recipes!

Taken/altered from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (mine is an older version), here's my fave recipe for Apple Walnut Bread:

  • 3 cups wheat flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups shredded, peeled apple (I used Fuji this time, but I've used Granny Smith before)
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Grease the inside of a loaf pan with shortening. Combine the dry ingredients (except for sugar): flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of flour mixture.
  2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, apple, and oil. Pour this apple mixture all at once in the open well of the flour mixture. Stir until moistened. Fold in the nuts. Spoon the batter evenly into the loaf pan. (I also sprinkled some nuts on top of the dough.)
  3. Bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baked Zucchini

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the first item from our new guest contributer, my sister Dena. Take it away, Dena.

This is a dish Grandma Jean told me about from one of her Italian cookbooks. I made mine in a 9x9 dish, she made hers in a 9x13. Coat the bottom of baking dish with a little olive oil. Layer the following in thin slices: potato, zucchini, tomato and onion. Sprinkle with your seasonings (I used Italian seasoning, garlic salt and pepper) and grated cheese. Repeat layering (I did 2 layers). On the very top, drizzle olive oil. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about an hour (until potato slices are soft). Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until top is golden brown. I made it for my mom and we both liked it. As grandma would say, "It came good!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Big Salad Bar

Sometimes it's just too hot to cook or even imagine eating hot food. On nights like that, we make Big Salad, named after the best salad at the diner on Seinfeld. Big Salad used to be mixed all together in one giant bowl, but I decided that was no longer okay because it made any leftover salad taste weird. So now, because of that and the fact that we just had too many greens, each component is separated. Which also means each person gets exactly what they want. This was a very typical Big Salad Spread for us:

Greens (Red Leaf Lettuce, Arugula and Red Cabbage)

Italian Seasoned Tofu, from Vegan with a Vengeance/Veganomicon (to be fair, this was cooked, but well in advance)

And a very special appearance by our new favorite Roasted Shallot Dressing. Our usual dressing bar consists of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Bragg Liquid Aminos, salt & pepper.

My finished salad (no celery!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

End of Summer Picnic

This Labor Day weekend, we had the joy of experiencing John Williams conducting the LA Philharmonic to his own movie compositions. Fantastic concert:

The lovely thing about the Bowl is that you are allowed to bring in your own food, plus there are several picnic grounds in the area, which we took full advantage of. Food bloggers Steph and Helby documented the occasion:

Helby's meal:
BBQ tofu sandwich on garden-herb bread and stuffed peppers (Yves ground meat, orzo, mexican-mix cheese; I was out of tomatoes!).

Steph's meal:
Raw Corn Salad, which a friend made for me recently and I had to steal
from him because it was too delicious. Raw corn, halved cherry
tomatoes, red onion and avocado with olive oil, lime juice, salt and
pepper. Picnic Pasta Salad, with a few adjustments – different kind of pasta, because it was just too cute, plus some blanched broccoli florets. And for dessert, another batch of Peanut Butter Cookies.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wine of the Week - Zunio Cabernet Sauvignon

This week's wine comes from my Wine of the Month Club (the birthday gift that keeps on giving, courtesy of Helby). It's a 2006 cabernet sauvignon by Zunio of Monterey, CA. The Club sends tasting notes, and describes this one as cherry with hints of earth and spice; a berry, smoke and vanilla finish.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dinner, vegans cover your eyes

This is as simple as it gets. Buffalo steaks with salt & pepper. Awesome inky purple eggplant from the port townsend farmers market with salt, pepper, and finished with white wine vinegar. Eggplant grilled till gooey, steaks still mooing a bit. So, so good!

Posted via email from virtuallymeg's posterous

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chickpea and Spinach Salad

Vegetarianism has taught me the deliciousness of simplicity. I love that I can take some spinach, throw some chickpeas and raspberry pecan dressing on there and suddenly have the makings of a serious belly orgasm.

Simple is tasty!

Two Day Pickles

Matt's been hankerin' to make pickles for months, but hasn't been able to get his hands on any dill, which is a very important ingredient. We got lucky on our recent trip to Omaha and met a lady who is big into pickling who gave us some, finally allowing Matt to fulfill his pickle destiny!

The empty (of pickles) jar on the left lets you see the dill and garlic he had in there. (And you can see he's keeping it classing with the PBR drinking.)

It was taste-tastic!

If anyone's interested in the recipe, let me know and I'll make him share it.

Egg and Chickpea Mash

I'm trying to cut down on how many eggs I eat and inch closer to veganism while still being a somewhat lazy vegetarian, but sometimes eggs just hit the spot! Last night my honey scrambled eggs with blended chickpeas (garbonzo beans) with tomato and fresh basil for a delicious, filling plate of warm and yummy. I ate it with toast because I am in love with toast and eggs just seem to beg for it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tomato Pesto Wrap

I've been trying to be a little more creative with my lunches lately, avoiding packing dinner leftovers or yogurt. Then I came up with the idea to make one of my favorite sandwiches from a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant near where I work called Mozzarella. Et Voilà...I present you with the Tomato Pesto Wrap...

I tweaked it a bit from the original menu item, so mine includes: Tomato, tomato pesto, arugula, sliced AND shredded mozzarella, and sprinkled parmesan on an olive oil wrap.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Double the Bittman, Double the fun!

Due to Jon's facial plight, we've been eating few solid foods. Today, we're moving back into the land of three dimensional foods. From How to Eat Everything Vegetarian: North African Couscous Soup, from How to Eat Everything: Swiss Chard With Currants. For added protein for a healing Jon, some frozen pork product from the freezer, seared then finished in the oven with garam masala and a bit of tomato paste to make a sauce.

Posted via email from virtuallymeg's posterous

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Squash Soup... Radomski style!

There are many awesome Roasted Squash soups that are vegetarian, (we have even tried some that are vegan) but this is not one of them! Our acorn squash (which was acquired from a location not to be disclosed) was roasted with a pat of butter and a healthy slice of prosciutto on top. Even better, the recipe is super easy.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from virtuallymeg's posterous

Scenes from a Farmers Market

Helby and I have gotten into the habit of picking up as much of our food as we can from the Farmers Market in Culver City every Tuesday. The fruits and vegetables tend to be fresher. And, of course, it's always good to support local businesses and vendors. If you have a farmers market near you, I recommend checking it out.

Here in Culver City, they close off one block of Main Street and set up their tents.

Local musicians add to the atmosphere.

Here's Helby buying a fresh-made veggie crepe:

And here's what roughly $17.50 worth of farmers market goods looks like (NOTE: $4 was spent on the honey alone. That's a premium product):