Category Archives: Vegetarian

Goat Cheese, Pesto & Caramelized Onion Triangles

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To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to call this.  If Awesome Puffs was a bit more descriptive, I would have said that.  

I recently went to a party that served no food.  A birthday party.  Not even cake.  Just bottled water – and a shortage at that.  Booze would be a distant dream.  I was stupefied.  In all fairness, I do have a tendency to go overboard with the food.  Feeding people is my passion.

With that said, if you come to my house for anything, I will do everything in my power to feed you.  Whether I cook or order in, you will not leave without eating.  If this rouses images from Misery, I wouldn’t blame you.  I even gave my FedEx guy muffins!

Why you ask?  Could it be that my mom will absolutely take offense and give you the stink eye if you don’t eat at her house?  Or could it be that I myself would want to eat if I went to someone’s house?  Whatever the reason, we all benefit with food.  And these triangles.

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What started out as a random experiment turned out to be a family and guest favorite.  These pastries are easy to assemble and easy to store in the freezer for lunch, guests or a great filling snack.

Goat Cheese, Pesto & Caramelized Onion Triangles

yields 8 pastries

Ingredients:

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. Unfold your puff pastry sheets (working one at a time) onto a lightly floured surface.
  3. Most puffed pastry sheets I worked with already come divided in four.  If so, just separate at the perforations.  If not, roll out to about 16 inches and cut into four squares.
  4. On each puff pastry squares (you should have 8), spread with a tablespoon of pesto on one half of the triangle, leaving about 1/2 inch border on the puff pastry.
  5. Top with approximately a tablespoon of goat cheese, tomatoes, and onions.  Just put enough that you can close the triangle without tearing.
  6. Fold the clean part of the triangle over and crimp around the edges with a fork.
  7. Repeat with all remaining squares until you have 8 triangles.
  8. You can freeze at this point in a airtight container or bag.
  9. Bake in a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Allow the pastries to cool on a cookie rack so they maintain their crisp crust.
  11. If you have extra ingredients, make a sandwich! 🙂

8 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, baking, Favorites, Lunch, Vegetarian

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

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I love one pot meals.  I love being able to build layers and layers of flavor in one dish.  And it’s usually in the form of pasta for me.  I usually do meal prep for at least two days on Sundays.  Being able to reach in the fridge without having to do any additional food preparation is really a help with an impatient toddler.  

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This dish is quite decadent.  For a friend lunch I had at home, I was able to serve this with sandwiches and salad, without any leftovers.  It’s a great side dish you would similarly get in a cafe or bistro that you can make yourself at home.

For dinner, this pasta dish would be wonderful with grilled chicken or a great piece of salmon.

Pasta, Pesto, and Peas

adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fusilli pasta
  • 1 and 1/2 cups pesto
  • 1 (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 and 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (I used sunflower seeds because it’s what I had on hand)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the fusilli pasta in salted water to al dente per the pasta instructions.  Drain and cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice.
  3. Add the mayonnaise and puree.
  4. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta.
  5. Add the Parmesan, peas, pine nuts, salt, and pepper.
  6. Mix and test for salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Pasta, Side Dish, Vegetarian

Paneer Bhurji

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I have a bone to pick with my parents.  They never introduced me to enough Indian “street food” or chaat.

A year ago, I stopped off at a local Indian grocery store for a quick samosa and was instantly drawn to the long line at the chaat portion of the store.  I, like usual, watched what everyone was ordering and just went for it.

Who knew an order of aloo paratha with paneer bhurji would be so life changing?  After that, I went on to try aloo tikki, pani puri, golgappa, pav bhaji, etc.

I felt more cheated than ever.  When I asked my mom why she held out, my mom’s only non-responsive response is, “We should try to make it ourselves.”  And, just like that I’m on a new mission to make all my favorites – starting with this favorite.

Paneer Bhurji

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup paneer, grated (you could also try firm tofu)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1/2 serrano, finely chopped (remove seeds if you want less heat)
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 pinch garam masala
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, divided

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Once oil is hot, add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic/ginger paste and serrano pepper and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add turmeric, cayenne, cumin, coriander and garam masala, and cook until the raw smell of the spices is gone, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the grated paneer and stir to incorporate with the onion/garlic/ginger mix.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the paneer is soft.
  4. Add half of the cilantro and allow it to wilt in the heat and mix to incorporate.
  5. Remove from heat and garnish with additional cilantro.

3 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Indian, Vegetarian

Home Fries

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Saturday breakfasts are sorta my thang now.  Sundays are usually donut days, and weekdays are quick toast and egg or oatmeal days.  Saturday mornings, despite the pancake debacle, have become a special time of week for us.  I usually wake up an hour before everyone and get things started without any interruption.  It’s a glorious time – no screaming, no asking for anything, and total control of my kitchen.

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I have attempted home fries many times in the past.  I have usually been left with something of a mish-mash that resembles coarse mashed potatoes.  Nothing about that is right.  I recently attempted it again determined to get it right.  And, huzzah – going into the repertoire.  Under a farm fresh over-easy egg, it’s just heaven.

Home Fries

barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Arrange potatoes in large microwave-safe bowl, top with 1 tablespoon butter, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Microwave until edges of potatoes begin to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes, shaking bowl (without removing plastic) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes until the onions are golden brown.  Transfer to small bowl.
  3. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and pack down with spatula.  Cook, without moving, until underside of potatoes is brown, 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn potatoes, pack down again, and continue to cook until well browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring potatoes every few minutes, until crusty and golden on all sides, 9 to 12 minutes.  Stir in onion, seasonings of your choice and salt and pepper to taste.  Try not to mess with the potatoes too much because you don’t want to break them apart.

8 Comments

Filed under Breakfast, Side Dish, Vegetarian

Blueberry Scones

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Last week was ridiculous.  Between two trips to the emergency room for a baby whose 104-105 fever wouldn’t break for 3 days (with medicine), and work deadlines that didn’t take notice at all of my personal schedule, I’m physically and emotionally spent.

For instance, after 2 days of a high fever, we thought we were in the clear when the baby’s temperature went down to 99.  And, after 48 hours of no sleep, we thought to take a nap at 3:00 a.m.  At 5:00 a.m., turns out the temperature went down to 94, which is bad bad bad.  Helpless is the word.  Oh, and also sleep deprived.

Spent.

As in, I want to hide under my bed covers and sleep for a month….and wake up only for these scones.

I made these scones as a way to use up my frozen blueberries, and to also have a special breakfast treat for several days during the week.  With such a short ingredient list, you’re likely to have everything on hand.  And after a week like mine, I’ll call that a win.  Add a cup of dark coffee, and I can almost see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Blueberry Scones

barely adapted from Tyler Florence

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, make sure its thawed and drained)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. Cut in the butter with a fork until the mixture look like coarse crumbs.
  4. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Be careful and gentle to where you don’t break the blueberries because the color will bleed into the dough.
  5. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough.
  6. Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 x 3 x 1.5 inches. Cut the rectangle in half then cut the pieces in half again, giving you 4 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally.
  7. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown.

2 Comments

Filed under baking, Breakfast, Vegetarian

Lemony Lentil Soup

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My favorite Mediterranean restaurant in Dallas, Afrah’s, serves the most beautiful and bright lemony lentil soup.  I have been attempting to replicate it since I’ve first had it years ago.  Binks ordered it for his whole meal and I scoffed at him for ignoring the other delicious options on the menu filled with juicy grilled meat, soft pita, sauces, and hummus galore.  I have told you before how the old me would never make a meal of soup, let alone order it.  Yet, watching my husband enjoying every bite of his soup made me want to try it instantly.  As if I ever let him eat his meal without stealing a bite.  That’s normal right?  The soup was divine.  Perfectly lemony without being too spiced up, I was determined to find a recipe to closely match the restaurant version.

After trying out a few soups, this recipe has become a family favorite to replace, or dare say replicate, the restaurant soup.  While comforting soups like this are usually eaten during winter for me, the lemon really makes this bright enough to have year round.

Lemony Lentil Soup

adapted from Yummy Supper originally from Soup Love by Rebecca Stevens and Nabil Samadani

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups red split lentils, rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (the juice from the zested lemon should give you enough)

Directions:

  1. Heat large heavy soup pot over medium-low heat.  Add olive oil and heat.
  2. Add green onions, yellow onions, celery, garlic, bay leaves, lemon zest, cumin, coriander, cloves, salt, and pepper.  Saute the mixture until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high.  Add lentils, water and vegetable stock to the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam that develops on the top of the water.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender.
  5. Add lemon juice.  Cook for another 10 minutes over low heat.
  6. Season with additional salt, if necessary.

4 Comments

Filed under Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

Toom Sauce (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)

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If ever there was a recipe that was greater than the sum of its ingredients, it is this one.  This sauce is heaven.  Heaven.  This sauce is worth the garlic breath.  My family and I frequent a Mediterranean restaurant that offers this freely.  And, I take advantage.  I use it on everything – fish, chicken, eggplant, falafel.  At home, I use it on my sandwiches, eggs and samlon.  It’s creamy and rich in all the right and healthful ways.  I had no idea what was in it.  Without knowing more at the time, I swore there was mayo in it.  Then, I found out that this sauce is a mayonnaise .  Just like mayonnaise, toom sauce is an infusion of garlic and vegetable oil.  Just that.  Many recipes add potatoes which is not necessary at all if this recipe is done right.  This sauce is pungent and has a bite like wasabi.  It has a bite that can be reduced with more oil.

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It is imperative that directions are closely followed.  You have to work with a thin stream of oil.  Do not rush it.  Ingredients should be at room temperature.  Use vegetable oil.  Do not substitute olive oil.  Work with fresh garlic.  You will know if it’s fresh by squeezing the whole bulb and it shouldn’t move that much – the garlic bulbs should be firm and tight.  Make sure the lemon juice is free from pulp and seeds.  The better the ingredients and attention to detail at the outset, the better the final result will be. Also, there should be NO water at all in your food processor, or spoons or anything.  It could break the sauce.  Finally, be patient.

Toom Sauce (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)

adapted from Chef Kamal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peeled garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. In a food processor (completely dry – no water, remember), add the garlic and salt and run it until the garlic is finely minced – about 30 seconds.
  2. Stop your processor and using a spatula (without any water) scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Run the processor again in 30 second increments, scraping after each time, until the garlic turns pasty.  This should be done after 4 times.
  4. Scrape the bowl finally and then turn on the processor – this time, you won’t be turning it off until the whole process is complete.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the oil in a thin stream (cannot stress the thin part of this) until fully incorporated.
  6. Alternate to add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a thin stream until its fully incorporated into the garlic mixture.
  7. Then, add the oil in 1/2 cup increment following with the tablespoon of lemon juice until everything is used.
  8. You may notice at this point that the liquid hasn’t come together.  If so, it could be that you didn’t use a thin stream and it broke the mixture.  If this is the case, run the processor for 5 minutes.  If it still doesn’t pull together, turn off the processor, scrape down the mixture and run it again for 5 minutes.  It should pull together to some extent.  But, if it doesn’t, it’s still usable as a great marinade.  This is why I stressed the use of a thin stream.

11 Comments

Filed under Favorites, garlic, Vegan, Vegetarian

Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Dip)

Often, I think about how much my life has changed. From living alone, to being married and living with a Binks, and now with a baby, who needs a full meal in between nursing sessions.

When we were first married, our dinners consisted of chips and dip or appetizers. Full meals were saved for special occasions or weekends when we had time and no work. Or really when I felt like it. Oh the luxury of “feeling like it”. Nowadays, I’m making more of an effort to put a complete meal on the table that’s also good for the baby.

On those rare Saturdays, when the baby actually goes to (and stays) sleep at the right time, Binks and I attempt to recreate those days. We pick a movie, a glass of wine, a cheese with accompaniments. My favorite type is of course, chips or veggies and dip.

It’s no secret that I love Mediterranean food. I love the flavor profile and the use of whole foods that tastes absolutely fresh and light. I also love dip. So, whenever the opportunity presents itself that I can have both at the same time, I jump on it. Baba ghanoush is a very welcome dip in our house. When we have a full on meal, we serve it with hummus, falafel, quinoa salad, tzaziki sauce, pita, rice, and on special occasions, baklava. But, more likely than not, I make a meal out of fresh toasted pita and baba ghanoush.

A glass of red wine on the side and it’s a great meal.

Baba Ghanoush

adapted from David Lebovitz

serves 2-3 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized eggplant
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Poke eggplant all over with a fork, and place on foil lined baking sheet. Roast until very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in a heat-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
  3. After 15-20 minutes, and after the eggplants have cooled, peel the eggplant and place the flesh into a food processor.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and puree in processor until smooth.
  5. Taste for salt and lemon. Add more, if desired.
  6. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, sumac, and/or parsley leaves.

5 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Vegan, Vegetarian

Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup

 

I am not a soup person.  I’m not.  I prefer a hearty salad or sandwich over soup.  But, there are a few soups that make the exception.  First on the list is chili.  Then, we have the bisques.  And, there was a fantastic restaurant in Oklahoma City that served an excellent potato and leek soup.  Then, there of course is the tomato and basil soup.

My better half is the opposite.  Chicken noodle soups, minestrone and anything that’s super watery with bits of vegetables.  I, on the other hand, cannot make a meal out of that.  But, this soup makes a wonderful and satisfying meal.  And, I highly recommend serving this with a crusty piece of bread and butter.

With the baby eating solid foods these days, it’s really important for me to cut down on canned food and make things with fresh whole ingredients when I can.  So, I’m really happy that that this soup is full of fresh ingredients without a can.  Moreover, I really love that this soup is creamy and rich without any addition of cream.  Feel free to add a dash of cream if you want extra richness.

Roasted Tomato Soup

adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Blanch the tomatoes: In a large pot of boiling water, add tomatoes for 2-3 minutes.  Remove and then rinse under cold water.
  3. Peel tomatoes, cut them into eight pieces and place on foil paper.  Roll up on the sides of the foil paper similar to a box.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes.  Bake for 20 -30 minutes until soft and caramelized.
  4. While the tomatoes are baking, in a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the celery, carrots, onion, and garlic, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the roasted tomatoes and its juices, 1 cup chicken broth, bay leaves, and butter.  Cook until everything is very tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add basil and cream, if using.  Please the contents in the blender and blend until smooth.
  6. Return the soup back to the pot with the remaining broth until warm and incorporated.

4 Comments

Filed under Soup, Vegetarian

Perfect Brown Rice

I can’t walk and drink at the same time.  Even with a straw it’s awkwardly done.  I can’t really even walk straight for that matter.  I zig and zag a lot, and have blamed many a missteps on my poor dog.  While I accept that I am clumsy and prone to any accident you can think of, I really just can’t handle the basics.  Whether I subconsciously will myself to fail or if I just can’t understand it, certain basic things are just really hard for me.

If you will entertain me, rice is one of those things.  I don’t know why but I had a propensity to mess it up.  Too dry.  Too mushy.  Undercooked.  Whatever you want to say, it was always off.  And, then I baked it, which I thought was the answer.  It was perfectly cooked and tasted wonderful the day of.  However, leftovers were back to being slightly dry.

Then, I went to my mother.  Why was she the last resort?  If you met my mother, you would understand that I would never hear the last of it.  I haven’t.  But, it was well worth it.  Unlike most people and sites I have checked, my mom does not let the water absorb into the rice (the way I make quinoa).  She boils the rice and strains.  Never mushy.  Perfectly cooked.  And, the test that it works – leftovers are perfect, as well.

Perfect Brown Rice

from my mother

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 5 cups of water

Directions:

  1. Clean the rice by rinsing it thoroughly under cold water.
  2. Bring water in a large pot to boil on high.
  3. Once boiling, add rice, bring back to a boil.  Immediately reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  4. Once ready, remove the pot from heat.  Drain the rice and put the drained rice back into the pot (off heat).  Cover with a lid until ready to serve.

*You can increase the water if you want more rice, of course.  Just make sure the rice is completely and utterly covered and has enough room to boil.  Think similarly to pasta and water.

6 Comments

Filed under Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian