Main Course, Quick and Easy

Vegetarian Crock-pot Irish Colcannon

This may be a good idea, I thought a while ago. And it was. This actually turned out pretty great and I’ll be making it again the next time I have a head of cabbage laying around without a plan for its life. It’s a good time for crock-pot recipes here in Fresno California. The weather is hot and I swear the air conditioning can barely keep up. It’s really nice to have a crock-pot option rather than adding more heat to the house by running the oven. This recipe would go really well with some sausages…vegetarian or otherwise.

Crock-pot Irish Colcannon
6 medium potatoes, chopped
1 small cabbage, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter or margarine
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup soy milk
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup white cheddar cheese

  1. Combine everything except the milk, eggs, and cheese into a crock-pot. Set on medium for 6 hours.
  2. Turn off the heat on the crock-pot, add in the soy milk, and mash the contents using a potato masher.
  3. Pour the eggs on top of mixture in the crock-pot and turn to high for 2 hours till the eggs are set.
  4. Very quickly, so as not to lose too much of the captured heat, sprinkle the white cheddar on top and replace the lid.
  5. Continue to let it cook on high 2 hours, or till cheese is melted and eggs are cooked through. To make sure the eggs are cooked, merely tilt the crock-pot slightly and see if the mixture on top wiggles.

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Main Course, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes

Carrot-Cheddar Casserole

I really love my More-With-Less Cookbook. The recipe below is from it, though I have altered it slightly to make it one little bit easier (it was already a pretty simple recipe). As for crackers, I recommend Ritz. I’m particularly found of their buttery garlicky ones for this. Just a little extra decadence. This was really yummy. It tasted just a little bit like a quiche, but not quite. Because of that, it would be great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Perfect for a brunch, actually.

Carrot-Cheddar Casserole
3 cups cooked, mashed carrots
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/3 cup crushed crackers
2-3 tablespoons butter, softened
salt and pepper, to taste
parsley, chopped
topping:
more crushed crackers

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a greased baking dish, combine the ingredients and mix well.
3. Top the casserole with more crushed crackers.
4. Bake 30 minutes, or till top is nicely browned and a knife in the center comes out clean.

 

 

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Carrot-Cheddar Casserole

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Main Course, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Gratin

I really loved this recipe for Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Gratin from the Vegetarian Times website. Spaghetti squash is one of Jake’s least favorite squashes. He’s not a big squash guy. So if I find a good way to cook one up that he’ll eat I take it and run with it. Unfortunately he caught me cooking the squash so he was tipped off as to its inclusion in this particular casserole. But I like to think that if he hadn’t realized it he would’ve liked this a lot more. I certainly loved it. The original recipe called for way more spaghetti squash and less broccoli, but I adjusted the quantities since I know Jake isn’t a fan. I also used cottage cheese rather than ricotta, a trick I learned from my mother. This would be a great brunch dish as well as a dinner one. The picture I managed to get doesn’t do this particular dish justice. I loved how all the flavors melted together in this one. It was rich without being overpowering.

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Gratin
1 medium spaghetti squash (1 ½–2 lb.)
4 cups small broccoli florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Coat a 2-qt. baking dish with oil.
2. Pierce the spaghetti squash in several places with knife. Microwave it for 3 minutes on high power to soften. Slice off the ends, and cut straight down the length of the squash. Remove the seeds with spoon. Place halves cut side down on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until the squash yields when pressed.
3. Cool the squash cut side up 10 minutes. Scrape the squash halves with a fork to release the strands. Transfer the strands to large bowl.
4. Toss broccoli with oil in bowl, then add to squash along with 1/4 cup Cheddar.
5. Whisk together eggs, milk, cottage cheese, green onion, and mustard in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, then stir into the squash mixture.
6. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Cheddar. Drizzle with olive oil.
7. Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake on the top oven rack for 25 minutes, or until center is set and top begins to brown.

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Main Course

Macaroni Soufflé

Macaroni Souffle

Macaroni Soufflé

I’ve been meaning to try this recipe from the “Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking” for two years now and just never got around to it. For one, I don’t actually keep macaroni on hand at the house. Which means I have to remember to put it on the list so I buy it at the store. I’m terrible at these things. I should be more used to looking at my cookbooks to see what I’d like to make for the week and then writing down a list of all the things I need for each recipe. But my life being one of necessary frugality I usually shop by buying what’s on sale–not always what I would like to get. And so this recipe has lived in its cookbook alone, waiting patiently till my cookbook flipping coincided with a sale on macaroni at the grocery store

Macaroni Soufflé
3 oz. elbow macaroni
melted butter, to coat
3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
6 tablespoons grated Cheddar or Gruyere cheese
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper, to taste
3 eggs, separated

1. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain well and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 300F.
3. Brush the insides of a soufflé dish with melted butter and then coat evenly with the bread crumbs. Shake out any excess crumbs.
4. In a saucepan, bring the butter, paprika, flour and milk to a boil slowly, whisking constantly till the mixture has thickened.
5. Simmer the sauce for a minute and then remove it from the heat and stir in the cheeses till they’re thoroughly melted.
6. Season well with the salt and pepper and mix in the macaroni, making sure to coat all of the macaroni with the sauce.
7. Beat in the egg yolks.
8. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites till they form soft white peaks. Spoon a quarter of the egg whites into the macaroni mixture, beating it gently to loosen it up.
9. Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
10. Bake in the center of the oven for about 40-45 minutes, until the soufflé has risen and is golden brown. The middle should be just slightly wobbly and the soufflé should be lightly creamy inside.

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Main Course

Cheese-Free Stuffed Shells

Let's slap some foil on these babies and get 'em tossed in the oven!

Let’s slap some foil on these babies and get ’em tossed in the oven!

I am not vegan. Though there are some vegan practices I adopt for one reasons or another. And I always love trying vegan recipes. So when I saw this recipe for Cheese-Free Stuffed Shells I was curious to see how it would turn out.  The cheesy part of these is actually well-seasoned extra firm tofu. When you blend extra firm tofu it has a really great texture, similar to ricotta. Although I had a healthy amount of skepticism going into this one, this recipe actually turned out great. I have to say it was tasty and I absolutely love it. Does it really taste like cheese? No, not really, but it carries the same weight as cheese. That is to say that the tofu mixture holds up well on its own. And here is what I love about this recipe and why I think, even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, you should work this into your meal rotation. Cheese has a good amount of fat in it. This recipe is an amazing way to get the kind of stuffed shell recipe that is really tasty and satisfying with only a mere fraction of the fat and calories that you find in cheese. And if you DO eat cheese….then you can sprinkle real cheese over the top of these shells. That way you can have the best of both worlds: you can have the lower fat of the tofu stuffed shells with just a little dab of the real cheese taste on top. I think that’s a great way to make an exception while still cutting a massive load of fat from your meal. Give it a shot this week!

Cheese-Free Stuffed Shells
16 jumbo pasta shells
½ jar marinara sauce(about 13 oz.)
1 15-oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained
½ medium-sized onion, peeled and quartered
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach (about ½ cup), thawed and drained
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ cup shredded Cheddar-style soy cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Cook the pasta shells according to the package directions. Drain, and rinse under cold water.
3. As the pasta is cooking, spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.
4. Put the tofu and all remaining ingredients except the soy cheese in a food processor and purée.
5. Transfer the tofu mixture to a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag.
6. Snip off a bottom corner of bag and squeeze about 3 Tbs. tofu mixture into each shell.
7. Arrange the shells over the sauce in the baking dish.
8. Drizzle the shells with remaining sauce and cover tightly with foil.
9. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil, sprinkle shells with cheese and bake another 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. If you want, you can turn on the broiler for this last step, to get a little bit of brown crust on your nice cheese.

Cheese-Free Stuffed Shells

Cheese-Free Stuffed Shells

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Appetizers, Main Course, Quick and Easy, Snacks

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas

I love easy recipes. This one for Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas definitely fits the bill. I’ve made Zucchini-Corn Filling for tortillas before, but never quesadillas. (That’s also a super-easy recipe, by the way). You may want to note my trick for making quesadillas. I use TWO flat skillets and rather than try to flip the quesadilla with a spatula (which ALWAYS seems to end up in me ruining the perfection of said quesadilla somehow, I put the second flat skillet on top of the first and flip them upside down then use that one to cook the second side of the quesadilla. I do the same kind of thing to get the quesadilla onto a plate. Works every time, plus it allows you to have two quesadillas cooking at the same time, which expedites the process.

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for frying
1 small white onion, sliced into 1/8-inch slices
1 medium-sized zucchini, grated
1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
2 teaspoon minced jalapeño chile with seeds
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 6-inch corn tortillas
lime wedges for garnish

1. Warm 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until golden.
2. Stir in zucchini, corn and jalapeño. Cook until zucchini is tender, stirring often.
3. Remove from heat and add cheese and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Place 1 tortilla in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Top with 1/4 zucchini mixture, and set second tortilla on top. Cook until cheese begins to melt, pressing down with a spatula, about 2 minutes.
5. Flip, and cook 2 minutes more, or until browned.
6. Repeat with remaining tortillas and zucchini mixture. Serve hot with lime wedges.

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Main Course

Zucchini Quiche

Look at that brown top!

Look at that brown top!


Once upon a time I needed to go to the grocery store for a bunch of stuff. But we still had some veggies. And then from this odd grey area came a light. The soft yellow light of a baked quiche. And it was good. And so is this quiche. I learned a trick from my pal Giovaninna about using sliced potatoes as a crust for quiche. It saves a bit of time mixing up a dough crust and it tastes just yummy! I’m making sure to post this on a Friday so you can go to the grocery store before you head home from work this evening. That way you will be able to get up Saturday morning and whip this right up for your lunch. Note that this is a good basic recipe. Add your own spices and even other veggie or meat additions to really make this quiche your own. I have always thought that there are some things everyone should have their own created recipe for. Quiche is one of these things. Also on the list is chili, spaghetti sauce, pizza, and a good chocolate cake…to name a few.

Zucchini Quiche
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 small Russet potatoes, sliced into discs
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, grated
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
black pepper, to taste
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups soy milk
paprika, optional

1. Cover a glass pie pan with the canola oil, then arrange the potato slices on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. If there are any spaces left then dice up a slice of potato to fill it. Sprinkle with salt.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Slide the potato covered pie pan into the oven while it is preheating to pre-cook the potatoes a bit.
3. In a skillet, melt the butter on medium heat and add the onions and garlic, sautéing till just tender.
4. Add the zucchini, basil, nutmeg, and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes.
5. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the soy milk. Then mix in the cheese.
6. Remove the pie pan from the oven and let it cool about 5 minutes.
7. Spread the zucchini mixture in the pie pan evenly and then pour the egg and cheese mixture over the top. Sprinkle with paprika.
8. Bake 40-45 minutes or till the eggs have cooked all the way through.

Zucchini Quiche

Zucchini Quiche

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Main Course

Spinach Bread and Butter Casserole

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven


Here are two things Jake doesn’t like…this recipe includes mushrooms and he also really hates the consistency of bread and butter casserole. You may remember when I tried it before, which was actually the last meal I made before heading down to Tucson for a weekend to look for an apartment to move here. Time flies. Anyway, I talked about being worried about having too much moisture in it and I can assure you that this one turned out BETTER than all right. In fact, it was far superior to the previous one. I guess that’s what you get when you use a recipe out of my favorite cookbook, the “Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking.” I think it also made a difference that this time I bought and sliced a REAL ciabatta loaf, and didn’t use one of those precut bread loaves you use for sandwiches and regrets. I was going to wait till after the holidays to post this recipe. But then I realized that this is the perfect recipe for the first day of the New Year…and the inevitable glimmer of hangover that looms. I couldn’t deprive you of this.

Spinach Bread and Butter Casserole
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 ciabatta loaf, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 oz. Cheddar cheese, grated
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
nutmeg, to taste

1. Grease a long casserole dish with a drizzle of olive oil. Spread the butter on the slices of bread and arrange them in the bottom and sides of a long casserole dish.
2. In a small skillet or saucepan, fry the onion and mushrooms in the olive oil till tender. Add the cumin, spinach, salt and black pepper and mix thoroughly over low heat.
3. Spread a layer of half the spinach mixture in the casserole dish, then a layer of half the cheese, then a final layer of spinach and one of cheese.
4. Beat the eggs and milk together. Gradually add in some salt, black pepper and nutmeg.
5. Pour the mixture slowly over the whole dish. Set it aside for an hour to allow it to soak into the bread.
6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.
7. Bake the casserole 40-45 minutes or till risen, golden brown and crispy on top.

Spinach Bread and Butter Casserole

Spinach Bread and Butter Casserole

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Soups

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

I’ve been giving the eye to this recipe from my “1000 Vegetarian Recipes from Around the World” cookbook since last winter. It’s one of those recipes I always say I want to make but always forget about for some reason. Well I finally made it. And it gets official, noticeable props from Jake. There was an exclamation of happiness when he put the first spoonful into his mouth. Jake usually never has a problem with what I make and he usually likes or loves all of it (not very often that we have to veto a recipe here, but there are those that he likes more than others). However it’s very rare for him to utter a rapturous “Yum! This is SO GOOD!” when eating something for the first time. He’s so diplomatic about his food. I’m usually the one to offer raptures and haikus on how great that casserole/soup/bread/whatever was. So this is a keeper recipe right off the bat. I think you’ll all agree if you give it a shot. As usual this called for blending which I did NOT do. I LOVED this mashed with a potato masher. No reason why you need to dirty your entire blender for this. Want to do this up differently at your house? Try a different kind of cheese! Mozzarella contains less fat than Cheddar, which is always a good thing to shoot for. If you’re not a vegetarian you could try this with chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. Or add some different spices with this; throw in a few red pepper flakes. The world belongs to you and it’s MUCH better than Campbell’s!

Broccoli and Cheese Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 pound potatoes, peeled and grated
2 fresh tarragon leaves
7 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into small florets
6 oz. Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon parsley
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Melt the butter in a medium pan. Add the onion, parsley and tarragon and sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and mix well. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring.
3. Add just enough vegetable broth to cover and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or till the potatoes are tender.
4. Meanwhile, bring the remaining veggie broth to a boil in another pan. Add the broccoli and cook till tender.
5. Remove the onion and potato pot from the heat and add the contents to the vegetable broth. Mix well. Turn the heat off and let the mixture cool slightly.
6. Using a potato masher, mash the contents of the soup to your desired consistency.
7. Grate the cheese into the soup pot and heat gently so the soup doesn’t boil, mixing to incorporate well.
8. Serve immediately.

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Main Course

Cauliflower and Cabbage in Walnut Cheese Sauce

Cauliflower and Cabbage in Walnut Cheese Sauce


Oh no! My post is a bit late today. It’s 6:30pm here in Tucson and my newest recipe which features roasted carrots is in the oven at the moment. This recipe, however, is a lot simpler and a lot more friendly on those too-hot-to-turn-on-the-stove days. It’s from my “Vegetarian Cuisine” cookbook, which you can see beneath the bowl in the picture above. It’s all doable in the microwave. I know a lot of you are gasping. I too, refrain from using the microwave all the time. In fact I didn’t even own one until I met Jake. I used to heat leftovers up on the stove. It was no problem. I was determined to live life microwave free. And honestly, it’s not that difficult. But then that Old Jake came along and just INSISTED that we have one because it made things SO much easier. So now we have one. Oh well. And every once in a while it’s fun to test out these microwave recipes. Obviously you can make this on the stove if you’d like. Just boil or steam the cauliflower and cabbage in some water till tender and make the sauce in a pan on the stove just like you would any cream sauce. It’s easy enough to alter. That said, you may also need to adjust your microwave times compared to the ones below. Microwaves can be calibrated to higher or lower powers depending on the brand, etc. So don’t be surprised if you need a little extra time to do some of these steps. My steaming took me 5 extra minutes, for example. But I’ve left the recipe pretty much the same below so that you can go from the original as you make your dish. I also want to take a minute to warn my readers about the peculiarities of storing foods. Some things are easy. You know you can keep onions and garlic and potatoes outside the fridge (at least until you break into them). But did you know that you should also refrigerate your walnuts? I stupidly left mine in a cupboard for some reason over the summer. Even though I know better. Tucson being the desert and usually 90-100+ degrees over the summer, that was a WAY stupid move. When I got back OF COURSE the walnuts had gone rancid. I had to throw away half a bag and it killed me! So this is my reminder to all of you out there who don’t know better or who have a tendency to do things without thinking (like me…oops!). Keep your walnuts pleasantly cool and they’ll be pleasant for you to eat.

Cauliflower and Cabbage in Walnut Cheese Sauce
1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 small green cabbage, shredded
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
2 1/4 cups soy milk or regular milk
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup shelled walnuts, chopped
nutmeg, to garnish

1. Put the cauliflower and cabbage in a large microwave-safe bowl with 1 cup of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pierce with a knife to create ventilation holes.
2. Cook the veggies in the microwave on high for 10 minutes or till they are cooked but still slightly crunchy.
3. Place the butter and flour in a microwave-safe bowl and mix together. Blend in the milk and cook on high for 2 minutes.
4. Add the cheese and walnuts to the sauce mixture and mix thoroughly. Cook on high 2 minutes till the cheese is melted.
5. Drain the vegetables thoroughly and transfer to a microwave-safe serving dish. Pour on the sauce and cook on high for a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

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