Archive for the 'entree' Category

23
Nov
10

Everyday is Thanksgiving at our House

We don’t need a once a year holiday to feel grateful or to eat a big dinner.  Katie and I exchange gratitude lists every day and have since the beginning of our relationship of over 3 years.  I often talk about what I’m grateful for at work and my co-workers share in this as well.  It just feels good to talk about the good stuff in life rather than dwell on the crappy side of things.

As far as food goes, I make dinner every night and it pretty much always looks like this.

Dinner is served!

I don’t always have a centerpiece decoration on the table,  but I like it.  There is, however, always a tablecloth and place mats.  I’m just funny that way (Ok, I’m funny in a lot of ways!).  Dinner at our place always has a green salad of some sort, a grain, some sort of vegetarian protein and at least two vegetables.  We’ve cut way back on bread, pasta and cheese, so we tend to eat semi vegan meals.

Tonight I made a quinoa pilaf with toasted pecans and dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, from our garden, paired with Fuji apple and Field Roast Applewood Smoked Sausage (it’s vegan, of course), steamed broccoli and kale and mesclan salad (also from the garden).

 It was delicious!

A full plate of food, we get full, yet never feel stuffed eating like this

Yummy quinoa pilaf. don't worry, I'll give you the recipe.

QUINOA PILAF

serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa
3/4 cup mushroom broth
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
olive oil, salt and pepper

In a small pan, bring broth to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, cover and lower heat to simmer.   Steam for 19 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Meanwhile, in a saute pan, heat a small amount of oil and saute onion until a bit browned.  Add nuts and cranberries.   Stir and heat through until nuts impart a wonderful fragrance.  Stir into cooked quinoa and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Butternut squash, Fuji apple and Applewood smoked Vegan sausage tossed in olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper, place in baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 35 -40 minutes at 350 degrees.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.  Katie and I will probably do our usual routine:  stay in our jammies, make homemade pizza, watch movies, play pool and eat pumpkin pie!

24
May
10

The healthy eating will continue

It happens everyday

I can’t believe it’s May.  It’s difficult to believe that May is almost over.  Portland weather is always entertaining.  One minute the sun is shining, then it turns dark as dusk and the sky opens up and torrential rain is upon us.  Then it turns to icy hail. All at once, it comes to a screeching halt and there is that ol’ sun again.  I love Portland. 

Our garden continues to thrive because of, and in spite of, this weather pattern.  And it saves us an awful lot on our water bill.  I have high hopes that our garden will not only save us money by growing in our yard and not having to make constant trips to the market, but will keep us eating happy and healthy meals. 

We’ve been going strong on this healthy eating path.  We started making healthier choices in December, while Katie was recovering from a surgery.  She threatened to start making her own meals because she needed vegetables.  Well, any of you that read this and know me, know that I wasn’t havin’ any of it.  The kitchen is “ours” but I’m pretty territorial when it comes to food and the production of it.  Plus, I couldn’t have her getting slim and healthy and leaving me struggling along, huffing and puffing and being chubby in her skinny shadow.  No effin’ way! 

So I jumped right on that healthy merry-go-round and I have no intention of falling off.  We are slimming down naturally, without effort, and it feels and tastes so delicious.  I’ve lost 8 pounds since January!  No Weight Watchers, no meetings, no starving.  Common sense and a culinary knack are what I have going for me.  And it’s working. 

So, enough of my rambling.  I want to show you something easy and tasty.  Oh, and it’s healthy, too.  Here’s a picture of a typical dinner at Chez Tolbert: 

It may look like a lot of food, but it is so low in fat and calories

Green salad (lettuce from our garden), wheat berries with cannellini beans and Field Roast Smoked Applewood Veggie Sausage, and Zucchini Ribbon “Pasta” topped with Savory Mushroom Sauce.  Yum. 

I always dug in my heels when it came to eating zucchini.  I never liked it.  At least rarely did I like it.  It’s a texture thing.  People always  over cook it, in my humble opinion.  I discovered it’s not bad when you use thin strips of it as a pasta alternative. 

so simple, so quick

The first time I tried this method, I used my electric slicer.  It’s like the ones the deli’s use, only a lot smaller.  But for the sake of the blog, I decided to use a vegetable peeler this time.  It worked great!  I figured not everyone has a home slicer, but a vegetable peeler, even non cooks have those. 

Really, anyone can make this

See how simple that is? 

Looks kinda like pappardelle, yeah?

I used 2 zucchini for this meal.  Rule of thumb: use 1 zucchini per person. 

So, that’s it.  No cooking.  Set the zucchini ribbons aside and make the sauce. 

Let the sauce making begin!

Thinly slice 1 leek, mince 1 shallot and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a hot  pan and gently saute until softened. 

Mmmm...smells so good

Next, add some sliced mushrooms.  I used creminis, because we like ’em. 

Looking good

You can use whatever mushrooms you prefer.  A combination is always good. 

Once again, I wish computer screens had scratch and sniff!

Continue sauteing until the mushrooms soften.  Add seasonings to taste:  salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil. 

Oh, mamma, these are smelling so good right now

Once the mushrooms have softened and browned a bit, move everything to the sides of the pan, making a circular opening in the center of the pan.  Add a bit more olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon and then sprinkle in some flour, a couple of tablespoons. 

Does anyone else see a cartoon bear face in there?

Cook the flour for a minute or two, till it starts to brown slightly. 

Stir and brown flour

  I like to add some hot sauce at this point.  It’s optional. 

Squirt in some hot sauce of choice - this is Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Now I add some vegetable stock.  You can use home-made or store-bought stock.  I make it every week, so I always have it on hand. 

Add some stock and you have sauce

Add stock about 1/2 cup at a time.  I like to use a ladle for this step. Just add and cook until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. 

This looks, smells and tastes just right

Place zucchini ribbons in a large serving bowl or platter.  Top with hot sauce.  Finely chop some fresh Italian Parsley and sprinkle on top, for a pretty presentation. 

Dinner is served

Then toss gently to combine.  The heat of the sauce with cause the “noodles” to soften, but not get mushy.  It’s fast and easy and best of all, tastes great. 

Damn, that's a healthy looking dinner!

17
Mar
10

Enchilada casserole tutorial

 A few weeks ago we had  a party at our place  and I made a vegetarian “chicken” enchilada casserole.  Everyone loved it!  Some people were very confused, saying “I thought you guys were vegetarian; there’s chicken in here!”  Well, yeah, but no.  There wasn’t any dead yard bird in there, just good ol’ Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips.  I’ve posted a picture of the box a few posts back.  I like using those things.  They are so handy when it comes to doing recipe reduxes involving chicken.  Trying to make mostly vegetable heavy meals now days, I like to indulge in some processed stuff once in a while.  Moderation in everything, right?

The night before last I decided to make the casserole for dinner.  Since it was such a hit at the party, I thought I should share it with my blog audience this time.  So here goes:

The first layer

This is made like a lasagna, in layers.  The first layer I spooned in some green enchilada sauce (yes, from a can!), two corn tortillas (or what ever fits in your dish), sprinkle a little grated cheese (I used pepper jack and cheddar), chopped onion, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, and chopped Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips (I sauted these first in a little olive oil, added garlic powder, cumin, salt and chili powder to taste).

Layer two more corn tortillas

Ladle more green enchilada sauce on top

Add a little grated cheese

Add the chickenless strip chunks, sliced olives, chopped jalapeno, chopped onions

Load the top up with cheese

And bake it until it looks like this!  Preheat your oven while you are building your casserole to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until it is browned and bubbling.  The other night when this was baking I made Spicy Quinoa instead of rice and refried black beans.  I’ve shown you in past posts how I make refried beans so I’m not going to get into that this time.  I am, however, going to show you  a little step by step action with the quinoa.

Before you heat the pan, have a measuring cup with the liquid ready.  I have a 1 cup plastic measuring cup that has all of the cool markings on it.  I put 1 – 2 tablespoons of chili paste or salsa into the cup and add water or stock up to the 3/4 cup  marking.  Add a small amount of olive oil to a small sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat, saute a couple tablespoons chopped onions, add some salt, cumin and chili powder to taste and 1/2 cup quinoa.  Stir often until quinoa starts to brown a little.

  Add your liquid and reduce heat to low and cover pan with lid.  Cook until all of the liquid has evaported, about 19 minutes.  Fluff with fork when done.

And this is what it looks like when it is done!  My lighting is a little strange here, so don’t freak if you make this and it isn’t this color, okay?

Add a  green salad and you’ve got yourself a nice balanced meal.  This is better than any Mexican restaurant and a lot lower in fat.  The whole thing takes less than an hour from start to finish.  And, yeah, we really eat meals like this almost every day.  Just ask Katie!

13
Oct
09

Fried Green Tomato Tacos aka Vegetarian Fish Tacos

I am determined to use all of those green tomatoes in our garden!  Last night’s dinner consisted of fried green tomato tacos, spicy Mexican style basmati rice and black beans.  The tacos are a vegetarian version of a fish taco.  I added  dulse flakes to my fried green tomato coating and whipped up a habanero tartar sauce.  Yummy!  The dulse flakes add the fishy taste without the fish.  Dulse is an edible, coarse textured red seaweed with a pungent, briny flavor.  It can be purchased it in dried, flaked form.  You can find the recipe and directions on how to make the fried green tomatoes on my post entitled Fried Green Tomato Gratin.  Instead of using sliced rounds of tomato, I cut the slices into strips.

Strips of green tomato, waiting to be breaded

After frying, place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil.  They smell so good.

Looking good, smelling good

Looking good, smelling good

I made the habanero tartar sauce by combining Veganaise, finely chopped dill pickle, finely chopped fresh habanero pepper and a small amount of pickle juice, about 2 teaspoons.  Stir until blended.

Fry up some corn tortillas, add a bit of grated cheese ( I used habanero jack and cheddar).  Place three pieces of the tomato “fish” in there.   Top with the tartar sauce.   Add some chunks of avocado and some shredded cabbage.  That’s it!  Serve with beans and rice for a complete meal.

So good!

So good!

I’m hungry again after writing this post.  Wow!  You must try this.  Really.

P.S.  You can make a vegan version by dipping the tomatoes in soy milk instead of the beaten egg.

29
Sep
09

Fried Green Tomato Tart

Well, what do you do with so many green tomatoes?  I’ve really been having fun making different meals with my garden bounty.  I took my chili relleno tart and turned it into something quite different.  This tart can be served at any time during the day, breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The first time I made it was for our Saturday night dinner.  I served it with steamed broccoli drizzled with fresh squeezed lemon.  Sunday morning I teamed the left over tart with fried potatoes and fresh fruit.  Monday rolled around and the was one solo piece left.  It made a great light, quick lunch.

FRIED GREEN TOMATO TART 

CRUST

¾ cup flour

½ cup corn meal

½ tsp salt

½ cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 TBSP ice water 

FILLING

2 green tomatoes

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese

1 cup Asiago or parmesan cheese

2 eggs

½ cup heavy cream (whipping cream)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp cracked pepper

3 tbsp soyrizo (optional) 

Place flour, corn meal, butter, and salt in food processor.  Pulse until mixture resemble course meal.  Add water and mix until mixture forms moist clumps.  Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about an hour.  Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 375

Butter or spray non stick aerosol a 9” tart pan.  Roll cornmeal crust out on a floured surface.  Place crust in pan.  Place tart pan on a heavy sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, until crust turns slightly golden brown.  Set aside and prepare filling.

Slice green tomatoes and prepare as in recipe for Fried Green Tomato Gratin.  Drain on paper towels.

Mix grated cheeses.  Spread 1/3 of the cheese in the bottom of the baked crust.  Layer the tomatoes.  Sprinkle optional soyrizo.  Top with the remaining cheese.  Using a food processor or blender, blend the eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper.  Pour over the tart.  Bake until golden , about 25 minutes.  Can be served hot or room temperature.  

 

Take a peek inside

Take a peek inside

Seriously, you should try this recipe.  Here, take an even closer look.

Are you hungry yet?

Are you hungry yet?




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