Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Lasagna

I was a bit skeptical about pumpkin lasagna, but I must say it is really good. I came across the idea when looking at a cooking magazine my friend Liz had. So, I went online to find the recipe. It really was yummy. The only problem I had was the center noodle "buckled" and was therefore a little brittle. I don't really know what I could do to keep this from happening. I followed the recipe as written except I chopped the mushrooms rather than just slicing them. I recommend this recipe. It's especially good this time of year.

As you can see I paired the lasagna with peas and a slice of warm multi grain bread. I also made brownies for dessert. It was quite a comforting dinner.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pasta & Chickpeas

Tonight we had a recipe I found in the book Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. On page 67 you can find the recipe, which I copy for you below. It was quite tasty! And, it couldn't be easier. So, I'll count this as another winner and add it to the list of repeats. We had stewed tomatoes and 5-cheese Texas toast. Michael made a cherry cake with cherry icing, so that was dessert. All in all a fulfilling dinner.

Pasta and Chickpeas
with plenty of parsley and garlic

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus extra to finish
1/2 large onion, diced
a few pinches of hot red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, liquid reserved
1 big bunch of flat-leaf parsley, the leaves stripped from the stems (I used freeze-dried parsley, about 1/4 cup)
3 plump garlic cloves
small handful of sage leaves (I used about 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound whole wheat pasta shells (I used a box of tri-colored rotini)
freshly grated Parmesan

1- Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
2- Heat the oil in a wide skillet and add the onion and pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes, then add the chickpeas. While they're warming, chop the parsley, garlic, and sage together, then toss a third of it into the pan. Season well with salt and pepper, add a little water or chickpea broth to the pan, and cook slowly, adding more liquid as it cooks away.
3- Salt the pasta water and cook the pasta. When done, drain and toss it with the chickpeas, the rest of the parsley mixture, and extra olive oil to taste. Taste for salt and season with freshly ground pepper. Grate some cheese over the top and serve with additional pepper flakes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Potatoes, Mushrooms, & Eggs

Tonight's dinner was terrific! The inspiration recipe came from the book Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. On page 120 is a recipe for eggs baked on a bed of sauteed mushrooms and croutons. I changed it up a bit. I wanted to use a couple of baked potatoes we had in the refrigerator instead of croutons. Here is the recipe as adapted by me:

2 tablespoons butter
2 baked potatoes, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 container sliced "steak" mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 generous teaspoons tomato paste
3/4 cup burgundy wine
4 eggs

1- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set it on a sheet pan.
2- Melt half the butter in a medium skillet, add the cubed potato, and toss it about the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until it's golden and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes, but not hard. Put the potatoes in the baking dish.
3- Heat the oil and remaining butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic. Raise the heat, then add the mushrooms, most of the herbs, and a few pinches of salt. Saute until the mushrooms have started to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the wine and immediately scrape the pan to release the juicy bits. Lower the heat and simmer until a few tablespoons of juice remain. Season with salt and pepper and add the mushrooms to the baking dish.
4- Break the eggs over the mushrooms and add a pinch of salt and some pepper. Bake until the whites are set, about 15 minutes, and the yolks are as firm as you like. Remove, sprinkle the rest of the herbs over the top, and serve.

We had sides of asparagus and komato tomatoes, along with a nice sourdough bread. Yummy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Hmmm...another good meal. Mom and Dad really enjoyed the new dish. I thought it was fine, Michael hasn't had it yet - he's out watching football. I don't know if I'll make this again, though. It is fairly labor intensive; there are quire a few steps and it takes more than an hour of constant cooking (not counting prep time). Having made this I just might try to tackle real risotto some time.

Have a good week and I'll let you know what's for dinner the next time I cook!

Reverse Risotto

For some reason I've always been intimidated by the thought of risotto. I like risotto, have had it once or twice in a restaurant and enjoyed it, but have felt it will take more patience than I have. That is until I came across this recipe. Also, my friend and hairdresser, Karen tells me she is confident I could handle risotto. So, I'll start down the risotto path with this recipe that is in the October 2011 Vegetarian Times magazine.

The recipe comes from Chef Keith Pooler of Bergamot restaurant in Somerville, Mass. It incorporates garlic, green beans, mushrooms, fresh thyme, shallots, sweet potato, parsnips, and (of course) rice. It sounds lovely.

Tomorrow is Mom and Dad's 52nd wedding anniversary. Wednesday is Michael and my 20th wedding anniversary. Sunday dinner will be our celebration together. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Mmmm, that was different. Good, but different. I should have added salt to the water when I cooked the lentils (I didn't use canned lentils). Michael felt something was missing. Also, we ate the Eggplant Lentils by themselves: no pasta, rice or other grain. It really didn't need anything more. And, it was quite filling. I may make this again with a few minor adjustments.

As you can see, we also had corn on the cob and a tomato salad. For the salad I cut up three farm fresh tomatoes and a cucumber, added salt and pepper, sprinkled about 2 ounces of feta cheese on top after putting a little bit of fat-free Caesar Italian salad dressing. Such an easy and truly delicious dish!

So, while not a complete hit, dinner was pretty good. And, as stated above with a few minor tweaks this could make another appearance on our dinner table.

Skillet Eggplant and Lentils

I came across this recipe recently and thought it sounded good, so today I'm trying it. Skillet Eggplant and Lentils - sounds intriguing. I think I'll also make some type of tomato salad.

Yesterday my sister and brother-in-law hosted a "last pool party of the summer." We had a terrific time! Our friends Liz and Darren, Andrea and Aleah, Cassy and Timmy and our Aunt Linda and Uncle Richard all stopped by; of course, Mom and Dad were poolside too. Liz made a fabulous tomato, cucumber and feta salad that I'm going to try to replicate today. All the food was really god - that salad just stood out for me and I'd like some more.

I hope the folks on the East Coast are fairing well. The weather in Midwest has been beautiful this weekend! In a few weeks Liz, Darren, Michael and I are taking a trip to the Grand Canyon. We will be celebrating my 50th birthday (earlier this year) and our 20th wedding anniversary (we've actually been together for thirty-two years, we just waited awhile to get married). We're staying one night at Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim of the Canyon, then several nights at The Orchards Inn of Sedona. We're all very excited for this trip!

Anyway, as ever, I'll be sure to let you know how dinner turns out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

My that was tasty! It's too bad, though, that mom didn't feel up to coming over for dinner. There is plenty leftover; I may have to take some to them tomorrow.

This was a wonderfully easy dish to make with ingredients I already had on hand (oh, okay, so I might not normally have fresh grilled tuna steaks on hand, but canned tuna might do in a pinch). Michael and I both enjoyed tonight's dinner.

I don't know what will be up for dinner next week, but when I figure that out I'll let you know. Have a great week!

Making It Up - Mediterranean Tuna Pasta

I didn't make Sunday dinner last weekend; instead we went over to Cindy's & Dave's house and enjoyed a really nice summer Sunday. While the weather is nice again today, I am making Sunday dinner and bringing Mom and Dad over to enjoy it. I'm needing a fairly low-key Sunday.

So, I've made it up myself today. Michael grilled some tuna steaks the other day; they are in today's dinner. I'm calling dinner Mediterranean Tuna Pasta. Here are today's ingredients:

Cheese tortellini
Marinated artichoke hearts, chopped with marinade
Sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
Medium-size black olives, halved
Tuna - chopped

The artichoke marinade is the sauce (with a little of the sun dried tomatoes marinade - just however much looks right). Everything, except the tortellini, goes in a large bowl. Add the tortellini right after cooking and draining so that it warms all the ingredients. Serve.

I could easily also add:
Red onion, chopped finely
Fresh spinach, chopped
Parmesan, mozzarella, feta or goat cheese
Pine nuts
Cannelloni beans

Green beans with sliced almonds is our side today. Sounds yummy! I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

OMG! The fresh tomato pasta is wonderful! It is lovely; if you like tomatoes try this recipe. The locally grown tomatoes gave the pasta a slightly sweet taste. I used fresh spinach for my greens. It truly is a mouth-watering recipe.

We also had a sliced cucumber brother-in-law David gave us. Oh, and bread - I picked up a loaf of Artisan "take, bake, & share" Italian peasant bread. The bread was nice and crispy on the outside and deliciously warm on the inside.

To top things off I made brownies from a Ghiradelli mix - yum.

Have a great week.

Summer Tomato Pasta

My friend Laura posted on facebook the link to this Perfect Five-Minute Raw Tomato Pasta Recipe that just makes my mouth water! So, yesterday, I stopped at a roadside stand and a farmer's market to pick up some homegrown tomatoes. I can hardly believe we didn't get a garden in this year, but that's how it goes sometimes. I think all the early rain and then the plunge into heat and humidity kept me from doing any gardening.

I didn't post my after dinner thoughts last week, and for that I apologize. Let me just say the slaw was wonderful. Marinating the mushrooms in Adria's steak sauce was a real winner! I highly recommend trying it - it compliments the mushrooms quite nicely.

I'll be sure to let you know how this weeks dinner turns out.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chinese Slaw Salad and Grilled Portobellos

My brother-in-law, David is being inducted into the Knights of Columbus this evening, so Cindy, Chris, and David are attending a special induction dinner tonight. Congratulations David!

I'm making dinner today instead of tomorrow for Mom and Dad. We're having Chinese Slaw Salad, grilled portobello mushrooms, and Quick Tiramisu Trifle.

I've made Chinese Slaw Salad before and it is yummy! I use a recipe I got from one of those local church or school cookbooks that folks put together for fundraisers. I don't know which book it was from because I cut the recipe out to put in my keeper file. Here's the recipe:

Evelyn Glaze's Chinese Slaw Salad
1 large head cabbage or 1 lb bag slaw mix
5 green onions, chopped
1 stick butter or margarine
2 (3 oz) pkg. dry Ramen noodles (use only the noodles, not the flavor pack)
1/2 Cup slivered almonds
1/2 Cup sunflower seed kernels
1/2 Cup sesame seed
1 Cup oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 Cup cider vinegar

1- Mix chopped cabbage/slaw mix and onions; set aside.
2- Melt butter in a skillet; add the crushed noodles. Cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Watch carefully as the noodles burn easily. Add almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seed. Toss until lightly toasted. Let set to cool.
3- Combine oil, soy sauce, sugar, and vinegar. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate.
4- When noodle mixture is completely cooled, toss with the slaw and pour soy sauce dressing over the salad just before serving.
Serves 6-8

Note: I purchase already toasted sesame seed that can be found in the Chinese section of the grocery; it is a lot less expensive than the sesame seed found in the spice aisle. Because the sesame seeds are already toasted, I add them after the noodles and nuts have toasted.

The portobellos are marinating in Adria's steak sauce and I'll just grill them. Sam Andria, the creator of the sauce, is a friend of my Dad. Sam used to operate Sam's tavern in Granite City when I was a little girl and he used to tease my sister and me when we went there with Dad. When he opened his Steak House restaurant we would go there from time to time and enjoy a truly terrific meal. The sauce is available in our local grocery; I think it may work quite well with the mushrooms.

The Tiramisu recipe is from the most recent Vegetarian Times magazine. It includes mascarpone, sweet Marsala wine, sugar, espresso, whipping cream, pound cake, and bittersweet chocolate. Mmmm...should be good. You can find it on page 42 of the September 2011 issue.

It all sounds good to me. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back from the Girls' Float Trip!

Every year a group of really wonderful women get together and go on a trip together - a relaxing time of friends, cocktails, and lots of laughs. Two years ago we went on a float trip down the Meramec River in Missouri. Last year we went to Cancun, Mexico. This year we went on another float trip on the Meramec. We stayed at a pretty nice place called Bird's Nest Lodge just outside of Cuba, Missouri. They have a great package deal: two nights, a six mile float, two breakfasts, and one dinner. There were ten of us this year and we truly had a terrific time! We made dinner the first night - Cindy made Italian Chicken, Debbie L. made mostaccioli, and Liz made a green salad like Pasta House; I brought pretzel buns. We also make our individual lunches to take on the river. This year I made a Mediterranean Pressed Picnic Sandwich that I shared with Debbie L., Rhonda, and Liz. It was yummy! We got back from our trip yesterday, tired and relaxed. I didn't do anything the rest of the day.

Today I got up early and made a Mediterranean Orzo Salad that I've made a few times in the past and a Tomato Bread Salad that I've also made a few times in the past. I'm taking them over to my sister's and we're going to continue relaxing in her pool. I'm sure the salads are going to be just as great as they've been in the past. Oh, I added something new to the Orzo salad today: I toasted a few pine nuts and tossed them in.

Here's how I made the Tomato Bread Salad today:
The photo is without the croutons
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved or sliced in thirds (if the tomatoes are large)
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped (fresh from Dave's garden)
2 cans sliced black olives, drained
1 small red onion, slivered
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil mixed with
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 package Cheese & Garlic Croutons

Toss all ingredients except the croutons together. Let sit in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When serving, add croutons to individual servings (this way leftovers don't get soggy bread mixed in).

I've included photos of the dishes already, and unless something goes amiss I'm just going to count on these being just as delicious as they've been in the past and so won't be posting after dinner thoughts today. Instead, I'll let you know what's on next Sunday's menu as soon as I figure that out. Have a great Sunday and a great week!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts all was yummy tasty! I was quite pleased with the Pierogies Caprese; that turned out even better than I expected. Mom and I really ate it up. Dad ate a little, but not much. We're going to have to figure out what to do about Dad's eating. He's not eating enough these days and that has us quite worried. I think he liked what he tasted, but something is keeping him from eating well at all. Michael didn't eat - he said he wasn't interested in what I prepared tonight. Oh well, you can't make everyone happy all the time. I'd like to reiterate: Mom and I really, really liked tonight's meal.

The Three Bean Salad was as terrific as I remembered. I also sliced a cucumber from my brother-in-law's (David's) garden. I added a small cup of Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper and had an extra side dish. The creamy cucumbers were good too.

And, then there was the giant cupcake. Everyone liked it! Michael ate a slice, Dad ate a couple of bites, Mom ate hers and finished Dad's, and I had a small serving too. Yummy!

I don't know what's going to happen for Sunday dinner next weekend. I'm joining ten of my best girlfriends for a float trip on the Meramec River in Steelville, Missouri at the end of the week (Thursday through Saturday). We're staying at the Bird's Nest Lodge and are really looking forward to it. We arrive Thursday, float on Friday, and return home on Saturday. So, I don't know if I'm really going to feel like cooking. Also, we've been spending most Sundays at Cindy and David's house - enjoying the pool, grilling, just kicking back. A few Sundays ago I made a grilled asparagus, crab, and avocado salad; it was mouth watering! So, if I don't cook a full Sunday dinner, I might be making at least one dish - or not. We'll see. If I cook I'll be sure to share a review about the results. Have a great week!

Pierogies Caprese & Three Bean Salad

Today's menu began with the Three Bean Salad I made a few weeks ago. It is so yummy that I just wanted to make it again. I follow the original recipe except I don't put the rosemary in it - I just don't seem to be a big fan of rosemary. Then, I tried to figure out what to make along with the salad. That was a much harder task than I expected.

After thinking about it Saturday night and most of Sunday morning, I decided to go with Mrs. T's pierogies because I happen to have them on hand. After looking through the recipes on Mrs. T's Web site, and not being exactly thrilled with any for today's meal (there are some recipes I might try another time, though), I decided to go with a caprese. It's a riff on Insalata Caprese, which basically is comprised of sliced fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese with salt and olive oil (this is one of my very favorite dishes). I intend to prepare the pierogies according to the package directions, slice a nice big tomato, add some fresh mozzarella pearls I have on hand, and sprinkle a bit of basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil over it all. I'll put some balsamic vinegar on the table for those who like it to use it also (Michael does not like most vinegars). It won't be exactly the same as the caprese salad, but instead a dish inspired by it.

I'm hoping this all works out and that everyone enjoys Sunday dinner. My dad was recently in the hospital. The hospital staff made some unfortunate mistakes while dad was there and he is not eating much since he got out. I am hopeful that he might eat and enjoy some of today's dinner. I'm pretty sure he'll enjoy dessert - I was at River City Casino yesterday and unfortunately I didn't win. But, I had a good time and I used a food voucher they sent me for my birthday month to pick up a strawberry chocolate cake that looks like a giant cupcake! It certainly looks appetizing.

I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BBQ Kidney Patties, Zucchini-Tomato Gratin and Grilled Caesar Salad Tartines

It's one of those rare occasions when I know what I'm going to make for Sunday dinner long before the weekend. This Sunday's menu revolves around the Grilled Caesar Salad Tartines recipe found in the July/August 2011 Vegetarian Times magazine. When I saw this recipe I knew I wanted to make it. Having been grilling veggies for recent dinners it is only reasonable that I'd be up for grilling salad. I'll be doubling the recipe since the original serves four and there are usually eight of us for dinner.

With that decided, I started thinking about what might complement the grilled salad. I also had been wanting the Kidney Bean burgers that I've made a few times in the past; I think the last time I made these was on June 12, 2010. But, because there is bread involved with the salad, I don't really want burgers. Also, I want to change the taste up a bit. So, I'm going to use a Classic BBQ Rub recipe in with the kidney beans mixture and just make patties for our protein.

And, I felt we needed just a little something more. When I came across a Zucchini-Tomato Gratin recipe from the July/August 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times magazine, I thought "perfect." I'm also going to make the Blue Ribbon Stuffed Crust Blueberry Pie which I've made a few times - yummy.

I guess that all in all I'm cooking a lot for dinner this Sunday. But, it really shouldn't be too big of a deal. I'll prep the kidney bean patties, make the gratin, and have everything but grilling the romaine done for the salad before going to my sister's house. I'll also have the pie already made. When I get to my sister's all I'll need to do is grill the patties and romaine and dinner will be served. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out!

Grilled Caesar Salad Tartines
Serves 4

Vegetable Oil, for brushing grill
3 1/2 Tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 Tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1 oz for shaving into curls
1 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 romaine hearts, each halved
4 large slices crusty Italian bread (1/2 inch thick)
1 clove garlic, halved

1- Brush grill grates with oil, and preheat grill to medium.
2- Whisk together yogurt, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Stir in 3 Tablespoons Parmesan; season with pepper.
3- Whisk together olive oil, remaining 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and remaining 2 teaspoons mustard in separate bowl. Brush oil mixture over romaine halves. Grill 6 minutes, turning once, or until brown around edges. Transfer to a platter.
4- Grill bread 1 minute on each side. Rub garlic halves over toast slices. Spread yogurt mixture on toast slices, and top with grilled romaine halves. Shave Parmesan curls over top.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Today I made Cheesy Italian Tortellini again. I last made this dish on December 27, 2009, for my Dad's birthday. On that blog I commented on the original recipe and the adjustments I made that day. Below is how I adapted the recipe today.

Cheesy Italian Tortellini

2 jars of Tony's in Saint Louis Pasta Sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
10 oz sliced baby portobello mushrooms
10 oz sliced white button mushrooms
10 oz sliced steakhouse mushrooms
2 carrots, sliced into coins
3 stalks celery, diced
About 1/2 red onion diced
About 2 Tablespoons Garlic Pepper
2 16 oz packages frozen tri-colored cheese-filled tortellini
4 cups shredded Mozerella/Provolone blend cheese

1- In large skillet, saute carrots, celery, and onion in approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add mushrooms, brown, stirring occasionally, until juice cooks off.
2- Spray 4 to 5 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Combine mushrooms, marinara sauce, garlic pepper, and tomatoes in sprayed slow cooker; mix well.
3- Cover; cook on low setting for 3 to 4 hours.
4- About 15 minutes before serving, add tortellini to slow cooker; stir gently to mix. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover; cook on low setting for an additional 15 minutes or until tortellini are tender.

This dish always turns out to be quite delicious and incredibly easy to make! Cindy, my sister, made a lovely salad. And, we had the nutella crescents and the raspberry filled crescents. Everyone enjoyed everything.

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day

Tomorrow is Father's Day and I'll be going over to my sister's house. I'm either taking the meal already prepared or cooking the meal at her house; I haven't decided that yet. Today I'm deciding what to make and visiting the grocery to pick up any ingredients I don't already have on hand.

Last things first - I know what we're having for dessert. The original recipe is from Pillsbury and is called Chocolate-Filled Crescents. My friend Becky made these for Bunco with a slight adjustment. I'm following Becky's twist: instead of chocolate chips, she used a layer of Nutella topped with a thin layer of almond paste for the filling. YUMMY! Becky baked them for 13 minutes at 350. I'm also thinking of making a few Raspberry Crescent Twists.

While figuring out dessert has been a snap, the main dish is harder for me to come up with. I have been cooking these past two Sundays, I just haven't blogged about it.

Last week I made grilled cauliflower and a simply delicious Three Bean Salad. Each dish was really good. The three bean salad is going to be my go-to recipe for potlucks this summer; I may even make it for the girls float trip I'm going on in July. Grilled cauliflower was a real hit too. I sliced 2 cauliflower heads, thinly coated the slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then grilled them to a nice carmelization; I also grilled some large baby protobello mushrooms alongside the cauliflower. Everything was a hit.

Two weeks ago I made a cheese tortellini with grilled vegetables dish that I was very happy with and that I made up myself!
Cheese Tortellini with Grilled Vegetables
2 1 lb packages frozen cheese tortellini, cooked to package directions, rinsed with cold water
1/4 cup Greek Feta salad dressing
1 medium eggplant, sliced in rounds
1 medium yellow squash, sliced in rounds
1 medium zucchini, sliced in rounds
8 oz package medium baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned and halved
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1.5 inch squares
1 lb fresh green beans, washed and ends trimmed
Olive oil

1- Toss the prepared tortellini with the salad dressing and refrigerate until ready to serve with vegetables.
2- Toss cut vegetables with olive oil. Heat grill to medium.
3- Grill like-sized vegetables together, leaving beans for last. Grill to desired consistency.
4- Toss vegetables with tortellini. Serve warm or cold.

This recipe makes a lot, so if you don't have many people to feed or if you don't want a lot of leftovers, adjust your ingredients appropriately.

So, back to Father's Day. Hmmm...I'm still not sure beyond dessert, but I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Carpe Diem!

Monday, May 30, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Another yummy dinner! I used tofu that I had frozen and thawed then drained and pressed to really get the water out. Then I sliced it, brushed the barbecue sauce on both sides and grilled it on the stove top. I grilled the slices for 4 minutes on each side for the first batch. The second batch was grilled three minutes on the first side, then two and a half minutes on the second side. I think I had my heat up just a little too high. The tofu didn't exactly burn, but the first batch was a just a bit crispier than I would have preferred, especially on the second side. But, I also must say the crispiness truly added to the dish - giving a nice texture. For the corn I used a can of Kumar's Gold and White corn that I rinsed before using. I like this corn, it's got a nice crunch to it, so I decided to use it instead of frozen. Everything came together quite nicely. It was really an easy dish to prepare - the hardest thing was washing, drying, and tearing the lettuce.

For dessert we had cupcakes that were left from Emily's graduation party on Saturday. Our friend Dawn made the cake and cupcakes - they were delicious! Dawn makes the best cakes. When she decorated the cupcakes she spelled out LOVE and PEACE and had peace signs on them. They were very cute.

I don't know what will be for dinner next week yet. When I do know, I'll be sure to share the news! Have a great week. Remember with gratitude those who sacrificed and gave their lives in service to our country on this Memorial Day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Barbecued Tofu and Grilled Corn Salad

I'm off for the next three days and, of course, for Memorial Day Monday - making for just about a week off work. I had planned to put in a raised bed garden this week, but the weather doesn't seem to want to cooperate. I will have a short window of time mid-day today, between thunder storms. Tomorrow may be stormy too. So, we'll see. I'll get done what I can.

With the rain this morning I decided to see what might be on the menu for Sunday dinner this week and I'm thinking BARBECUE! I'm ready - are you? I've probably written before that I subscribe to Vegetarian Times magazine. I signed up for the 28 day Veg boot camp, mostly for the 400 calorie menus and for new recipes. Menus are the hardest thing for me to put together for some reason - I guess because I really don't want to give up the time to sit down and think about it. So, when someone promises to give me menus I'm there!

However, the recipe I'm planning for Sunday dinner did not come from the boot camp menus. Instead, one link led to another and Vegetarian Times has a whole lotta Easy Entertaining Menus (with recipes) that are a goldmine if you ask me!

In perusing these entertaining menus, I picked How to Pack the Perfect Picnic, which honestly makes my mouth water. And, then I'm back to barbecue with the Barbecued Tofu and Grilled Corn Salad recipe. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm. I can hardly wait! And, it's only 351 calories per serving - what more could you ask for? Well, accompaniments for one (chuckle). Yeah, I don't know what we'll have with it yet, but when I do I'll tell you all about it in the After Dinner post.

Stay safe - those storms have been much too dangerous this year. My heart and thoughts go out to the people in Joplin, Missouri; if you are inclined to help out, the American Red Cross is asking people to stop sending items to Joplin and instead to continue making monetary donations.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

MMMMMmmmmm...another winner! This was really easy to make and it tastes quite fresh. I used a bit of fresh basil in the salad. I made cornbread muffins to go along with dinner and they were a nice complement. The only problem with dinner is that there is a LOT left over. Since the black-eyed pea dish doesn't seem like one that would freeze very well, I think we'll be eating it several times this week. Luckily it really is yummy. This would be a great dish to take to a pot luck or summer picnic; there's nothing in it to worry about should it stay out for any length of time. It also would be good with either grated cheese or crumbled feta or goat cheese (although those would certainly up the calorie count). I also made a lovely fresh fruit salad: pineapple, cherries, a plum, green grapes, and blueberries. Loved it!

Have a great week and I'll let you know what's for Sunday dinner once I figure that out.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

I spent the morning at an outdoor high school graduation today. It was a lovely day with a nice breeze. So, of course, I got a little sunburn. I hadn't thought to put sunscreen on this morning so now I'm suffering. I've been putting aloe on ever since, hopefully the sting will soon go away. The ceremony was quite nice and I got to see my friend Emily graduate! I've known Emily since she was born - she's my best friend's daughter. That doesn't have anything to do with Sunday dinner, but everything to do with a terrific Saturday and I just felt like sharing.

I don't know about you, but I really, really like black-eyed peas! I came across this recipe for Summer Black-Eyed Pea Salad and just knew that's what I need to make for Sunday dinner.

I receive Alanna Kellogg's A Veggie Venture in my email, this recipe was sent back in April, but I'm just now getting around to making it. She often has intriguing recipes and this one just made my mouth water. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

"You definitely have to make that again, soon," said Mom about tonight's dinner. It was easy, quick, and yummy!

For the frittata I used one bunch of asparagus that I peeled and cut into bite size. Mom had read somewhere that peeling asparagus helps to keep it tender; you don't peel all of it, just the lower stalk. I used a small jar of marinated quartered artichoke hearts that I chopped a bit more. I also chopped one yellow pepper. I sprayed a non-stick skillet with Pam and sauted the vegetables for about 5 minutes. I beat 7 eggs and poured them over the vegetables and cooked on the stove top for approximately 3 minutes. Then put it all in the oven (400) for just over 10 minutes. I shook the skillet back and forth to loosen the frittata and "poured" it onto a plate to serve it. When served, I grated some sea salt cheddar cheese on top. OMG - this was delectable!

I also made Green Bean Medley, which we have had many times before. This time, however, I omitted the mushrooms. I cut the ends from some fresh green beans and cut them into bite sizes. Then I cut 2 carrots into matchsticks and cut a couple of slices of onion that I then cut in half. I steamed these vegetables for about 12 minutes over a low boil. I then took the steamer out of the pot, drained the water, put the vegetables back in the pot and added 1/2 teaspoon of seasoned salt and about 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. YUM!

And, finally, I had cut up a pineapple and some strawberries earlier in the day. I added some fresh blackberries and dinner was complete! Truly delicious! I know I've discussed the pineapple wedger from Pampered Chef before on this blog and I must repeat that this tool is one of the best kitchen tool investments I've ever made. I would very rarely purchase fresh pineapple in the past because of the difficulty cutting it. Well, those days are over - with the pineapple wedger, cutting up fresh pineapple is a snap. And, honestly, I don't think there is anything more flavorful than fresh pineapple.

And, then there was dessert. I had made a punchbowl cake Thursday evening for my bunco group Friday night. There was a bit still leftover. So, while it wasn't pretty it was still tasty. The recipe I have for punchbowl cake is basically assembly - there's no cooking involved, just putting several ingredients together and letting it meld overnight. I got this recipe from one of the church ladies that was serving lunch after a funeral I attended a few weeks ago. I went up to the ladies and asked who made the cake and when she identified herself, I asked for the recipe; she said people ask for that recipe all the time. So, here it is...

Punchbowl Cake
1 angel food cake, torn into bite size pieces
1 can crushed pineapple
2 pints frozen strawberries, thawed
2 medium bananas, sliced
2 cans Thank You vanilla pudding
1 small container cool whip
1/2 cup pecan chips

Assemble in a big bowl in the following order:
half of the cake pieces
half of the crushed pineapple
half of the thawed strawberries
slices from one banana
1 can of pudding
other half of the cake pieces
other half of the crushed pineapple
other half of the thawed strawberries
slices from other banana
other can of pudding

Put cool whip on top over all, sprinkle pecan pieces over all. Let sit in refrigerator overnight. This would also be good with some chocolate syrup on top - kind of like a banana split.

That's it - that's what we had for dinner tonight and every one of us really enjoyed it. No telling what's for dinner next week. When I figure it out, I let you know.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


When having my hair cut the other day, Karen, my hairdresser, showed me the following recipe from one of the magazines in the shop. It sounds just perfect for dinner tomorrow. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Dinner Frittata
In an oven-safe skillet, toss asparagus, drained artichoke hearts, and chopped yellow pepper. Cook and stir until heated through. Pour 6 beaten eggs over the veggies and cook for 3 minutes. Pop in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

Sounds like a terrific recipe for a rainy Sunday.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

YUM!!! I really have nothing more to say. Dinner was terrific and everything was truly tasty. I am thankful to be able to share refreshment and most especially time with Mom, Dad, and Michael.

Salmon, Baked Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus, and...

Today's dinner is being prepared as I type this. We are having Simple Salmon, one of our favorite Weber Grill recipes, Perfect Baked Potatoes, roasted asparagus, and deviled eggs. Mom made the eggs for us as well as a lemon cake. I also picked up some Kumato and Sunburst tomatoes that we will slice for a fresh taste; I tasted these in the grocery and they were so yummy I thought they would work perfectly with today's dinner.

To roast the asparagus, I put the spears into a casserole, drizzled extra virgin olive oil over them and then sprinkled fresh ground black pepper and coarse kosher salt on top. I baked them for about the last half hour with the potatoes. Before I put them in the casserole I washed them and peeled the bottom third before cutting any woody ends off. I never peeled asparagus before, but Mom has told me about doing this for some time now. I figured I would try it today since the asparagus spears are fairly fat.

It smells really good. I'll let you know how it all turns out after dinner.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

MMMMmmmmm...that was a taste sensation! I ended up not going to the grocery, so I prepared items I found in my pantry. We had the Chickpea Picatta, Couscous with tomato and Parmesean, and green beans with almonds; I also made a Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie from a mix.

The Chickpea Piccata was a little tart, but once we ate it over and mixed with the couscous it was just perfect. I didn't have shallots, so I used a little yellow onion sliced very thin in the piccata. I also didn't have arugula.

For the couscous I followed a recipe on the box - kind of - the recipe called for asparagus and I didn't have any in the house so I just left that ingredient out. Here's the couscous recipe:

Tomato Parmesan Couscous
Serves 3 1/2

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups fat free & reduced sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 package Near East couscous toasted pine nut
10 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used a can of diced tomatoes that I drained a little)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook garlic for 2 minutes. Add broth and contents of spice sack. Bring just to a boil. Stir in asparagus. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 minute.
2- Stir in Near East couscous; cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.
3- Stir in tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

It was all very good. And, very easy.

Chickpea Piccata

Today we're going to have "Chickpea Piccata" from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I was looking for a recipe with ingredients I already have at home and this looks like it will work. I'm still going to stop at the grocery, though. I want to make mashed roasted garlic and cauliflower as a side and I don't have any cauliflower. I'll just roast a head of cauliflower and garlic, then mash them as I would if I were making mashed potatoes. I don't yet know what will be for dessert.

Here's the Chickpea Piccata recipe:
Serves 4, 190 calories per serving

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 scant cup thinly slicked shallots
6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
a few pinches of freshly ground black pepper
a generous pinch of dried thyme
1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup capers with a little brine
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups aruglua

1- Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Saute the shallots and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add the bread crumbs and toast them by stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. They should turn a few shades darker.
2- Add the vegetable broth, wine, salt, pepper, and thyme. Turn up the heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil, and let the sauce reduce by half; it should take about 7 minutes.
3- Add the chickpeas and capers and let heat through, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and turn off the heat.
4- If you're serving the piccata with mashed potatoes, place the arugula in a wide bowl. Place the mashed potatoes on top of the arugula and ladle the piccata over the potatoes. The arugula will wilt and it will be lovely. If you are serving the piccata solo, just pour it right over the arugula.
Tip: Bulk it up by adding a thinly sliced portobello to the finished dish.

I don't plan to have arugula with dinner tonight. I'm thinking the piccata, the cauliflower mash, and maybe green beans; that will depend on what looks good at the grocery. Whatever it ends up being, I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Well, that was FABULOUS! We really like this recipe. Today we had lettuce, avocado, celery, red pepper, carrot, cucumber, grape tomatoes, cannellini beans, fresh pineapple, and tuna. I made the fresh lime juice, fresh minced garlic, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil dressing; it was quite refreshing.

And, then we had pie! The meringue on the pie was just about mile high! Very, very yummy. Glad we only have this special pie once a year. And, it's a good thing we had salad with that rich pie.

Have a great week. I'll let you know what's for Sunday dinner next week when I figure that out.

Chopped Salad with Tuna

The last time we had this salad was August 29, 2010. It really is one of my favorite salads. Today, Michael is grilling some tuna for us. I have cucumber, avocado, grape tomatoes, celery, and lettuce, as called for in the original South Beach Diet recipe. I don't have radishes because we really aren't that fond of them. I may add carrots, hard-boiled eggs, and cannellini beans and I'm cutting a fresh pineapple that we might add to the salad (or not). Actually what happens is I prepare a whole bunch of ingredients and each person selects what he or she wants on his or her own plate.

Last night was the annual Knight's Brigade Race for the Cure chicken dinner and dance. This event has a huge silent auction and a good size oral auction too. Each year I try to pick up a pie and this year I "won" a lemon meringue pie. That's what we're having for dessert; so it's a good thing we're having salad for dinner!

I'll let you know how it all turns out.

After Dinner Thoughts

So, it was a bit labor intensive what with all the prep work. I personally don't think the artichokes were worth the trouble. Don't get me wrong, they were tasty, but there wasn't much to get from them and it was more difficult to eat than it was worth.

The beets were yummy. This was the first time I ever cooked beets, I always used the beets from a jar in the past. The potatoes and green beans were delicious, as well as fresh tomatoes, the kalamata olives, eggs, etc. I don't think I'll make this exact recipe again, but I will try a Niciose platter again.

The Chocolate-Blueberry cake was pretty tasty, and very pretty!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nicoise Platter

Last Saturday, Cindy (my sister) wanted us to take Mom for pedicures. Of course I said sure! They needed to stop by the veterinarian and a pet store first, so I told them I'd meet them at Borders bookstore; I had a 40% off coupon plus I needed to pick up items for a drawing we are having at the library for National Library Week (April 10 - 16). With my coupon I purchased a couple of cookbooks - imagine that! I picked up 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes and Isa Chandra Moskowwitz's Appetite for Reduction. I really like cookbooks that include complete nutritional information for the recipes, both of these books do that. They both also look like they'll keep me busy for a long time.

For Sunday dinner this week I plan to make Nicoise Platter from the 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes cookbook. Here's the recipe:

Nicoise Platter - serves 4 (424 calories per serving)

12 small red potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds), unpeeled, cooked
2 large beets, cooked
12 ounces green beans, ends trimmed, cooked
4 Braised Whole Artichokes (recipe follows)
2-4 hard cooked eggs, halved
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
3 cups mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup halved ripe olives
4 teaspoons drained capers
1/2 cup salt-free, fat-free Italian dressing with herbs
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tofu Aioli (recipe follows)

1- cut potatoes into fourths; peel and slice beets. Arrange with Braised Whole Artichokes, eggs, and tomatoes on greens-lined plates; sprinkle with olives and capers. Drizzle with combined Italian dressing, shallot, and garlic and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Serve with Tofu Aioli.

Braised Whole Artichokes

4 medium artichokes, stems removed
2-4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1- Cut 1 inch from tops of artichokes and discard. Place artichokes in medium saucepan and sprinkle lightly with salt; add 1 inch water to pan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until artichokes are tender, about 30 minutes (bottom leaves will pull out easily). Drain. Holding artichokes with a towel, brush bottoms with olive oil; return to saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium to medium-low heat until bottoms of artichokes are deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

Tofu Aioli

1/2 package (10 1/2 ounce size) light firm tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon each: tarragon vinegar, lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and white pepper, to taste

1- Process all ingredients, except salt and pepper, in a food processor or blender; season to taste with salt and white pepper. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

This recipe actually has quite a few steps if you consider all the ingredients that are already prepared in the ingredients list. Someone has to prep them too (that will be me). But this just sounds yummy to me. Ms. Moskowitz also has a similar salad in the Appetitie for Reduction cookbook. Hers is called Goddess Nicoise and uses chickpeas in the salad; it is also listed as 250 calories per serving. It looks really good too. I probably should go for the recipe with fewer calories, but I'll try it another time and let you know which I prefer.

So, for tomorrow it's the recipe listed above. I also plan to make the FatFree Vegan Kitchen's Chocolate-Blueberry Cake. I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Oh, and FYI, our pedicures were great - even if we had to walk out in flip flops into a snowstorm! Boy, was that a surprise.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Today we had veggie enchiladas. I, of course, surfed the Internet looking for recipes and came up with a few. However, after looking at the various recipes I found, I ended up making up my own.

Veggie Enchiladas
1 10 box frozen spinach, thawed an drained with excess liquid squeezed out
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 4 oz can diced mild green chilies
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
pinch crushed red pepper
10 corn tortillas
2 oz low-fat cream cheese, divided into 10 small pieces
1 cup (more or less) shredded cheddar cheese

1- In a large bowl mix spinach, corn, beans, and chilies. Set aside.
2- In a medium size sauce pan, heat olive oil. Saute onion until just beginning to turn golden; add minced garlic and saute for about 1 more minute. Add tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, red pepper. Cook to blend, but do not boil. Set aside.
3- Wrap tortillas in moist paper towels and microwave for 1 minute. Prepare a large casserole by spraying it with non-stick spray.
4- Take one tortilla at a time, put spinach mixture in middle of tortilla and add 1 piece of cream cheese. Roll tortilla unto itself, place onto prepared casserole seam side down. Repeat with all tortillas.
5- Place any spinach mixture left over all tortillas. Spread tomato mixture over all then shredded cheese.
6- Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Makes 10 servings, more or less.

It was pretty good. But the tortillas got a little tough on the seam side. Next time I will make more sauce and put some down in the casserole before putting the enchiladas in. They were tasty though.

We also had corn fritters from Whole Foods - these were yummy - and some edamame succotash. I was not fond of the succotash myself. Mom liked it and gets to take it home with her.

I also made a Ricotta Cheese cake from the Eating Well Dessert Cookbook. It was good too.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Portobello Thoughts

I still didn't know what exactly was for dinner until just before I made it. I figured something with Portobello mushrooms would probably work out. So, I asked Michael to make a salad and to pick up some portobellos and mozzarella cheese at the grocery while I went with my friends Debbie and Suzi to the River City Casino this morning. We didn't come home winners, but the dinner I made was a winner!

My recipe was kind of a portobello parmesan/pasta bake.

6 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned with stems and gills removed
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup walnuts, chopped fine
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley
1 Tablespoon Italian seasonings
fresh ground pepper
salt to taste
2 cups shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese, divided
freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 bag no yolk egg noodles
1 jar pasta sauce

Prepare the mushrooms. Mix the walnuts, garlic, parsley, seasonings, 1 cup mozzarella, and about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.

Wrap a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray. Brush olive oil on mushrooms. Place mushrooms on cookie sheet. Put 2 Tablespoons mixture on each mushroom. Broil in oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook noodles according to label instructions.

Prepare a large baking dish by spreading about 1/2 cup of pasta sauce over the bottom of the dish. When noodles are cooked drain them and place them on top of the pasta sauce. Place broiled mushrooms on top of noodles. Spread the remaining pasta sauce over all. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over all. Place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

We ate the mushrooms dish with a fresh salad and warm bread. It was terrific! And, really easy to prepare. I will definitely make this again.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

I think I've only had quinoa one other time; so, of course, this was my first time cooking it. The verdict: I'll cook it again, and I'll make this dish again. I thought it was pretty yummy, and not too hard to pull together. Mom and Dad both liked dinner tonight. Michael - not so much; he said he wasn't fond of the texture. He also said, "it's not terrible." I liked the flavors with the sesame oil and the soy sauce - not too heavy.

The cucumber was good. I used an English cucumber for the first time. It might have a little less taste than the common cucumbers I am used to eating. Not that cucumbers have a big flavor to begin with. Overall, a good dinner.

So, after my tantrum about desserts a few weeks ago, I gave in and decided to make a pie. I made Lucky Leaf's Lemon Sponge Pie recipe. It's a winner! I will definitely make this again. Because the recipe calls for the egg whites to basically be whipped into a light meringue then folded into the lemon mixture, it made a delightfully light pie. I also picked up some Meyer lemons at the grocery yesterday and I cut the peel and pith from two lemons and sliced them; then I added a tablespoon of sugar to the lemons and let it all mingle together in the refrigerator for awhile this afternoon. Mom and I used a little of the Meyer lemons/sugar mixture on top of our slices of pie - yum!

I don't think I'll be making dinner next Sunday. We have a home party to go to and I have a gift certificate for dinner for four at a local restaurant. That's what I expect we'll be doing next Sunday. When I make Sunday dinner again, I'll be sure to share with you!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A 500 Calorie Meal

In January I joined Club Fitness with several of my girlfriends (Andrea, Cindy, Liz, Rhonda, Cassy, and Dawn). I have been going faithfully several times a week to Zumba and Pilates classes, and to meet with a trainer twice a week. So far I've lost 5 pounds; this makes me happy but it's much too slow. I know my biggest hurdle at this point is what I eat (and how much). While we really do eat quite healthy for the most part, I do have my downfalls. Interestingly, I had to work quite a bit extra this week and only got to the gym once - and still lost weight! I figure that's because I was so busy working I didn't have time to graze.

Nancy, a co-worker of mine, gave me a recipe for a Broccoli & Goat Cheese Souffle, which looks pretty good; she actually gave me the Eat Healthy magazine to look at (a magazine put out by The Commissary). In the magazine the recipe is part of an article on "Healthy Week: the un-diet diet: 500-calorie menus." I'll try the souffle sometime, but not this week.

Well, that got me surfing a bit to see what other 500-calorie meals are out there. Apparently this is a big push from Eating Well magazine. The souffle is on Eating Well's Web site too (I don't know which came first - the chicken or the egg, but I have my suspicions the recipe is originally from Eating Well). Anyway, I also came across this menu for Toasted Quinoa Salad with Scallops & Snow Peas served with Japanese Cucumber Salad and a glass of White Wine - that just sounds absolutely divine to me! So, that's what I plan to make. I needed to know before I go to Zumba this morning so I can stop by the grocery on my way home. When I get time, I'm going to browse through all five weeks of 500-calorie menus to see what other treats we might try.

Well, it's off to Zumba! I'll be sure to tell you all about Sunday dinner.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

I finally came across the tofu Parmesan recipe I used in the past, it's from Eating Well and is called Tofu Parmigiana. While I was searching online, I came across two more recipes that sounded good: Emeril's Tofu Parmesan and Tofu Parmesan from I Found Happy. So, what did I do? A mash-up of course! Here's what I did:

I followed Emeril's recipe with the exception of cooking and adding the onions and mushrooms like in the recipe from Eating Well. I did bake the dish like Emeril's called for as well. It was good, but Michael and I like the Eating Well recipe and method better; it keeps the tofu crisp. In Emeril's recipe the tofu doesn't stay crisp during the baking process.

The potatoes and portabellas were good. I would maybe try that company's frozen mixtures again, however it's probably just as easy to cook the same mixture with fresh vegetables. The fresh asparagus was very yummy!

I'm happy to share tofu parmigiana with you. It is a recipe we like and I'm just surprised I haven't shared it before. Have a great week and I'll share our next Sunday dinner plans with you, once I figure them out.

Tofu Parmesan!

I have been looking everywhere for a tofu Parmesan recipe I made some time ago. Mom requested it for dinner today, so that's what we're having. I thought I had made it and blogged about it; I must have made it before I started blogging because I can't find it on this blog anywhere. I've also looked through the printouts I have for a variety of recipes, some I've made and some I'm planning to make someday. I still can't find it. I'm going to go workout for awhile, then I'll come back and look around some more. If I can't find the recipe I made in the past I guess I'll just find a new recipe.

We're also going to have fresh asparagus I picked up at the grocery yesterday. I'm going to roast the asparagus in the oven. And, I picked up a package of Alexia roasted red potatoes & baby portabella mushrooms with green beans, onions, and a thyme-infused oil blend; I found it in the frozen vegetables section and it just sounded good. So why not?

Who knows what will be for dessert. I'll be sure to tell you all about it, though.

After Dinner Thoughts

Mexican vegetarian was pretty tasty! We actually make the taco salad quite often at our house, just not usually on Sunday. Also, we don't usually put tofu in it. Adding the tofu was okay, I don't think it enhanced the taco mix at all, but it also wasn't detrimental to the taste. The triple decker tortillas were really easy to make and yummy. They will be an easy bite to make when time is short - maybe good for lunch on their own.

So, now it's time for me to confess - I am not a baker. I can try all I want, but I will never be known for cakes, cupcakes, pies, or anything that requires mixing and baking. You might be able to guess that the cupcakes didn't work out. It's up to others to come up with dessert if it needs to be baked.

So, two good, and one not so good. Oh well, I never said I was perfect. I do like to cook, though, so I'll keep making Sunday dinner and telling you all about it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mexican Vegetarian

I love Mexican food! Or, I should say I love American-Mexican food. We make a pretty good taco salad at our house based on a recipe we got from an Arkansas cousin probably close to 35 years ago. It uses tomato soup as a main ingredient. I'm going to make the taco salad like we usually do, with a little twist, I'm adding tofu (the original recipe calls for ground beef, we usually use Boca crumbles). I'm also going to make Triple Decker Tortillas.

Here's the Taco Salad recipe as I am making it tomorrow:

1 package Boca crumbles
1 can ranch-style black beans
1 block frozen extra firm tofu, thawed and drained, cut into small cubes
1 can tomato soup
1 package taco seasoning
1 cup water
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small chopped onion
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil

Saute vegetables in oil, add crumbles, beans, and tofu. Stir in soup, taco seasoning and water. Allow to simmer well to meld flavors.

Lettuce, torn
Corn chips, broken
Tomatoes, chopped
Shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
Light sour cream
Chopped green onion
Black olives

Use any or all of the above ingredients to make a salad bed; add cooked taco mixture.

I'm also going to make the Strawberry and Mascarpone Filled Cupcakes I didn't make for my last blog post. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Well, things changed. We had Sunday dinner on Saturday. Cindy, Dave, and Chris went to a Special Olympics dinner and dance Saturday night, so Mom and Dad came over that night. Then, they all went to Dave's sister Suzi's & family's house for Superbowl on Sunday. It all worked out (I went shopping). And, since I did go shopping I didn't feel like going so extravagant on the cupcakes - I made a yellow cake box mix and used already prepared frosting. I'll think about making the filled cupcakes in the coming weeks.

I decided to adjust my mom's Beef Stroganoff recipe.

[Original Recipe] *My adjustments

[2 lbs round steak (cut into 1” to 2” cubes)]
1 package Boca crumbles*
1 lb baby Portobello mushrooms, quartered*
2 cloves garlic, minced*
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
[1 to 1 ½ cups sour cream]
1 to 1 ½ cups light sour cream*
Reames Frozen Egg Noodles, cooked according to package directions

[Brown round steak in oil] Sauté onion in oil, add garlic* and mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are browned. [Return meat to pan] Add crumbles* to pan along with all other ingredients EXCEPT sour cream. [Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours over medium heat.] Simmer about 1/2 hour over medium heat to allow flavors to blend.* Add sour cream and heat over very low heat until heated through (do not boil or sour cream will curdle).

Serve over egg noodles or rice.

I hope the brackets and asterisks aren't too confusing. I just thought it might be easier to follow my changes if I wrote it this way.

The stroganoff turned out to be really good. It wasn't exactly the same as Mom's, but it was close enough.

Thinking About Cupcakes

I belong to the local Rotary. Rotary = Service Above Self; there is a four-way test regarding the things we think, say, or do:
1- Is it the TRUTH?
2- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
4- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Rotary strives to end polio worldwide and to provide opportunities to our communities. As a Rotarian, I participate in fund raisers. On Tuesday, February 8, we are hosting an all-you-can-eat Chili Day. The proceeds from this event will support our local youth fund: a 3rd grade dictionary program, the High School After Prom Party, students of the month, and foreign exchange students. I'm making 2 dozen cupcakes to take to the event and have been trying to decide what to make. I'm going to have to make the cupcakes on Sunday and I'll make enough for dessert with Sunday dinner.

I'm not a big cupcake maker (to say the least). I have some canned pie fillings at home and would like to make some cupcakes that might incorporate pie filling. So far I've found two recipes I'm considering: American Pie Cupcakes and Peaches and Cream Cake that I would bake as cupcakes. I also was looking at two more recipes: Boston Creme Cupcakes and Strawberry and Mascarpone Filled Cupcakes. I think I may make one of the peach cupcakes, the Boston creme and the Strawberry/Mascarpone cupcakes and then take whichever turn out the best.

So, what should I make for dinner if I'm also going to be making cupcakes? friend Laura recommends something warm and hearty. I'm thinking stroganoff. My mom makes a fabulous beef stroganoff. Now we all know I won't be making a beef stronganoff, but I might make a portobello mushroom or a vegetarian crumbles stronganoff. Or maybe I'll just take my mom's recipe and tweek it to be vegetarian. We'll have a lettuce salad as well as some good bread. Easy, warm, and hearty! A stroganoff should fit the bill.

Whatever I end up making, I'll be sure to let you know how it all turns out!

Monday, January 24, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

High raves for the Chili-Glazed Tofu over Asparagus and Rice! Mom said, "This is a real success. Put it in the regular rotation." Here's how I prepared it...

I first drained the tofu then placed it on top of paper towels on a cookie sheet with paper towels on top, then a cutting board, then a cookbook (for weight). After the tofu drained for over an hour, I cubed the tofu into small - maybe 1/2-inch - cubes. I cooked it in the peanut oil until it was lightly browned all around.

I cut the asparagus and carrots into bite size pieces (I didn't used shredded carrots, instead I used fresh that I sliced to be about the size of the asparagus). Then I roasted the vegetables in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes.

I doubled the sauce and when I cooked it I let it reduce quite a bit. I didn't have hot chili sauce with garlic, so I used sweet chili sauce and added a couple pinches of red pepper flakes. Additionally, because I doubled the sauce, instead of using 2 teaspoons of minced ginger I used 1 teaspoon ginger and 1 teaspoon minced garlic.

I didn't mix the rice and vegetables together. Instead I kept the rice separate so I added the sesame oil to the vegetables. I made more rice than the recipe called for and I wanted to be able to use the rice for another recipe later this week.

This was a fairly easy recipe to prepare and truly tasty. Yes, I will make this again.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hmmm...something with Tofu

I stopped by the Grocery last week and picked up some extra firm tofu since I haven't had any for awhile. So, I knew I wanted to make some kind of tofu dish, but wasn't quite sure what. Yesterday I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some fresh asparagus (from Chile), some yummy fresh carrots (I can't seem to pass carrots up whenever I visit Whole Foods), and some baby bok choy. But, I still didn't know what I wanted to make.

This morning I searched the Internet for "tofu asparagus rice" and found a Chili-Glazed Tofu Over Asparagus and Rice recipe that is highly rated. I think this is what I'll make. As an extra bonus, I actually have all the ingredients on hand!

I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

After Dinner Thoughts

Mmmm...I like black eye peas! This Hoppin' John recipe is terrific and I believe I will make it again sometime. Also, everyone truly enjoyed the bok choy. I don't think mom or dad had ever had bok choy as a separate dish before; I know I've used it as an ingredient in other recipes, but not as its own dish. They both really enjoyed it! I'm glad.

For dessert I ended up making a trifle. I used two of my Weight Watchers cookbooks to make a mash-up. Below is the recipe I made. I must say it was mighty tasty. Very easy too. I will definitely make it again!

1 package vanilla-flavored instant pudding mix (the size that serves 4)
2 cups skim milk
1 cup frozen light whipped topping (thawed)
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (I used the zest of 2 oranges)
1 angel food cake, cut into cubes (I used a store-bought cake that looked like it was prepared in a bundt cake pan)
1 cup orange juice
1 20 oz can unsweetened pineapple tidbits, drained
4 small navel oranges, peeled, sectioned, and cut into chunks
3 ruby red grapefruit, peeled, sectioned, and cut into chunks
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons shredded coconut
1/4 cup sliced unblanched almonds

1- Prepare the pudding mix with the milk according to package directions. Stir the orange zest and whipped topping into pudding mixture.

2- Place 1/2 of the cake cubes into a large bowl. Pour 1/2 cup orange juice over cake cubes. Spoon 1/2 of pudding mixture over cake cubes. Add the fruit from 2 oranges and 1 1/2 grapefruit, 1/2 of the pineapple tidbits, and 1/2 of the blueberries on top of pudding mixture.

3- Follow step 2 with the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

4- Shortly before serving, toast the almonds and coconut in a large non-stick skillet. Toast the almonds first for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the coconut and stir for about 2 more minutes until both are lightly browned. Transfer to a heatproof dish to serve from.

5- Just before serving, add a bit more whipped topping to individual servings and sprinkle with toasted almonds and coconut.

FYI...when I section citrus I use a knife to cut the peel away and then cut the sections out to only have fruit and to leave any membrane or pith behind. It's a bit messy to do it this way, but totally worth it!

We got at least 8 servings from this dish. Very good!