Tag Archives: Vegetarianism

Vegetarian Friday: Cheddar soup

I’ve seen various versions of this recipe floating around online. Most of them are obscenely high-calorie, unduly complicated, make way bigger batches than anybody really wants to eat, or can’t be accessed without scrolling through somebody’s elaborately monetized blog that takes forever to load, so as usual, I glanced at ingredient lists and photos on Pinterest and then riffed on the general idea. Ron liked the results, and he never likes cream-type soups.

Ingredients
12 baby carrots
1 small potato
2 leeks
3 ribs celery
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. flour
1 bottle Newcastle or similar ale
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 bay leaves
2 c. skim milk
2/3 c. veggie broth
4 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar

Chop up carrots and steam in the microwave until soft. (The easiest way to do this: Throw the carrots in a bowl with about a tablespoon of water, cover with a saucer, and nuke for 5-6 minutes.)

Chop the leeks and celery (note: Just use the white and light-green parts of the leeks — not the leaves) and saute in olive oil until soft. Add 2 tbsp. flour and cook over low heat until flour starts to brown, stirring constantly. Deglaze the pan with part of the beer, then add the rest slowly, stirring as you add it. Add salt and bay leaves.

Bring beer-leek mixture to a boil over medium heat. While beer is cooking, dice the potato and cook it in the microwave until soft. (I just poked a hole in mine, stuck it in there on the baked-potato setting, and then diced it, using a clean cloth to handle it so I didn’t burn my fingers. The peel came right off that way, and it was easier to cut.)

The carrots give the soup a yellowish tinge even before you add the cheddar.
The carrots give the soup a yellowish tinge even before you add the cheddar.

Add milk and veggie broth to the pan and simmer over low heat until the bay leaf starts to release its flavor. (You’ll know this is happening because it will suddenly start to smell awesome.) Add cream cheese and let it melt, stirring occasionally.

Remove bay leaves, stir in diced potato and cheddar cheese, and serve. Makes about 4 big servings.

Hot, thick soup and a heavy-bodied beer make a nice dinner on a cold day.
Hot, thick soup and a heavy-bodied beer make a nice dinner on a cold day.

This soup is especially nice on a cold day, accompanied by a good English or Irish beer.

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Mashed potatoes and green-chile gravy

On vacation in 2014, I ordered something called a green-chile parfait at a little diner in Gallup, New Mexico, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Said parfait was a Coke glass in which the cook had layered mashed potatoes, green-chile sauce, and shredded cheddar cheese. The execution was kind of mediocre (I think they made the parfait and then microwaved it in the glass, because it had some hot and cold spots in it), but the idea? Brilliant.

I don’t have any parfait glasses, so I just made a bowl of skin-on mashed potatoes and topped it with green-chile sauce and shredded cheddar. It was delicious. Here’s how to make it:

1. Click over to the Visit Albuquerque website to get the green-chile sauce recipe I used. I forgot where I’d stashed my plain cumin, so I subbed a tablespoon or so of my usual homemade taco-seasoning mix for the cumin, and I upped the garlic to three cloves because I grew up in a town full of Italians, and if you’re going to use garlic, you might as well do it right. For the broth, I used a cup of water and three of those vegetable-stock cubes I froze last summer. It turned out very well.

Green-chile sauce is basically brown gravy with onions and green chiles in it. It's good on just about everything.
Green-chile sauce is basically brown gravy with onions and green chiles in it. It’s good on just about everything.

2. Bake two potatoes, cut them into chunks, and mash them up, skins and all. (Time-saving tip: Potatoes bake well in the Crock-Pot. Wash them up and cook a bunch at once; when they’re done, you can dice them up or mash them and freeze them for later use.)

3. Layer potatoes, green-chile sauce, and shredded cheddar in a bowl and nuke until the cheddar melts.

Serves two, with enough green chile left for a batch of huevos rancheros or a couple of wet burritos.

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Stocking the pantry

This time of year, some of you will be making New Year’s resolutions. If yours involves losing weight, reducing your meat consumption, saving money, or some combination of the above, you’ll be much more successful if you plan ahead and cook at home as much as possible. About a year and a half ago, we switched from eating out four or five days a week to eating at home five to six days a week.

The transition from eating in restaurants most of the time to cooking at home most of the time could have been a real pain, but I learned early on that the key to sticking with it was making sure eating out was a bigger hassle than making dinner at home. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share several of the tricks I used to accomplish that. Today, we’ll start at the beginning: with the grocery list. The stricter your dietary restrictions, the more important it becomes to have appropriate ingredients on hand at all times.

Below are my suggestions for shopping on a vegan diet; a lacto-ovo diet, which allows eggs and dairy products; and a pesco-pollo diet, which eliminates red meat but keeps fish and poultry — not really vegetarian by any definition of the word, but a good way to lose weight, fuel an athletic goal or start phasing out animal products gradually.

If you’re planning to go vegan, it’s useful to have on hand:

Canned goods:
* Beans — red, black, pinto, garbanzo and blackeyed peas
* Diced tomatoes
* Black olives
* Chopped green chiles
* Salsa
* Marinara sauce
* Tahini (sesame paste)
* Peanut butter
* Pickles
* Lemon juice
* Lime juice
* Cider vinegar

Condiments: relish, giardiniera, Nayonaise, hot sauce, enchilada sauce, wing sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce (or Bragg’s liquid aminos)

Oils: extra-virgin olive oil for sauteing and a heat-stable oil for frying

Grains and dry goods:
* Old-fashioned oats
* Cornmeal
* Rice
* Couscous
* Quinoa
* Dried TVP
* Nutritional yeast
* Flour (all-purpose and whole-wheat)
* Pasta
* Tortillas (large flour, small flour and small corn)
* Breads: hamburger buns and sandwich rounds
* Tortilla chips
* Pita chips
* Leavening: baking soda, baking powder, yeast, cheap beer

Frozen foods:
* Trinity (peppers, onions and celery — buy separately)
* Vegetable blends (Mediterranean-style and stir-fry)
* TVP crumbles
* Veggie burgers
* Berries
* Cut okra

In the fridge:
* Crescent rolls
* Margarine
* Silken tofu in aseptic package
* Soy or almond milk (plain and vanilla)

Produce:
Avocados
Mushrooms
Garlic
Yellow or white onions
Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Celery sticks
Baby carrots
Whatever’s in season for salads

Snacks:
Dried fruit
Nuts and seeds (soynuts, sunflower kernels, mixed nuts, Spanish peanuts, raw cashews)
Clif Bars (most, if not all, are vegan)

From the above ingredients, you can make chili, chili mac, tacos, taco bowls, pasta, stuffed baked potatoes, burgers, Philly sandwiches, nachos, hummus, falafel, hoppin’ John, red beans and rice, fried pickles, burritos, beans and cornbread, minestrone, tortilla soup, smoothies, sloppy Joes, barbecue, and a host of other meals.

If you’re planning to go lacto-ovo vegetarian, you can add to that list:

* Egg noodles
* Grits (yes, they’re vegan, but I only like them with cheese)
* Swap the margarine for butter
* Frozen cheese tortellini or ravioli
* Eggs
* Greek yogurt
* Sour cream
* Cheese: shredded cheddar and mozzarella, cream cheese, string cheese, Parmesan
* Buttermilk or kefir
* Frozen buttermilk waffles

This list will add baked pasta, casseroles, stuffed breadsticks, stroganoff, quesadillas, omelets, fritattas, egg sandwiches, loaded baked potatoes, cheese grits, enchiladas, seven-layer burritos, stuffed mushrooms and huevos rancheros and several other options.

If you’re easing in with a pesco-pollo diet, add:

* Frozen chicken breasts
* Frozen seafood (salmon and shrimp)
* Canned tuna
* Canned biscuits
* Smoked turkey sausage

This extends your options to include tuna salad, chicken and waffles, chicken and dumplings, tuna marinara pasta, seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits, salmon and salad, chicken casserole, chicken-noodle soup and more.

You don’t have to have all of these items, but I try to keep most of them on hand so I can get dinner on the table fast. Stock up on shelf-stable items when they’re on sale, and adjust the list based on what your family enjoys eating.

Happy cooking, and good luck with your goals, whatever they may be.

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Quinoa salad

This fall, we attended a family cookout at my in-laws’ house, and their next-door neighbors — a pair of world-class back-to-the-land hippies — brought this great quinoa and black bean salad that tasted like a cross between tabouli and Texas caviar. Ron and I both liked it, but the cool hippie neighbors left before we had a chance to exchange email addresses with them, so I did some Googling, ran a few Pinterest searches, and cobbled together something I think is pretty close to what we had at the cookout. As always, feel free to adjust proportions to suit your personal taste; the only really important part is that you have a 2:1 water-to-quinoa ratio.

Ingredients
1/2 c. red quinoa
1 c. water
At least a dozen cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 bell pepper
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 bunch scallions
2 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Cumin and chili powder to taste (I used my homemade taco seasoning)
1 can black beans

Several hours before you plan to serve the salad, put quinoa in a strainer and rinse thoroughly. (Don’t skip this step, or the quinoa will taste bitter.) Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed — about 15 minutes.

While quinoa cooks, prep your vegetables: Rinse the tomatoes and halve them if desired, dice the pepper, and mince the cilantro and scallions.

Drain and rinse beans and stir them into the finished quinoa, along with the olive oil, lime juice, and spices.

Chill the quinoa-bean mixture for several hours. Stir in the vegetables just before serving. (If you add the vegetables while the quinoa is still hot, they’ll wilt.)

Makes about four big servings. This salad makes a good lunch all by itself, as quinoa is very high in protein.

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Tomato-pepper soup

I found this recipe from Budget Bytes by way of Pinterest.

I riffed on it only slightly, so rather than plagiarize someone else’s recipe, I’ll just tell you the bits I changed, and you can click on over to the link above to get the full recipe, including tips for making it vegan without losing much flavor.

Here are my modifications/notes on the recipe:

1. Saute the onion until it’s translucent BEFORE you add the garlic, or you’ll scorch it. Garlic should never be sauteed longer than about 30 seconds — as soon as it starts to smell good, take it off the burner.

2. Diced tomatoes are fine if you can’t find crushed or don’t have any on hand.

3. If the 16-oz. jar of red peppers is cheaper than the 12-oz. jar, it’s fine to use all of it.

4. Remember that vegetable stock we made a while back? Two of your frozen cubes and a cup and a half of water will work well here.

5. I’m lazy and like my flavors assertive, so I used a tablespoon of my Italian seasoning blend in place of the basil and thyme. If you prefer less spice, start with the original recipe and go from there.

6. Skim milk is fine in place of whole if you’re counting calories (or just don’t have any skim milk on hand).

I love tomato soup. Ron usually doesn’t, but he really liked this recipe, which I served with pesto, some leftover crostini I’d bought for another project, and a generous helping of Parmesan cheese, so we’ll be having it again in the near future.

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Southwestern cornbread

Mom's cornbread turns out lighter than mine. That's because she generally uses white cornmeal instead of yellow, while I lace mine with plenty of cumin and chili powder.
Mom’s cornbread turns out lighter than mine. That’s because I use yellow cornmeal instead of white and lace my batter with taco seasoning.

I’m posting this recipe mostly because today was sort of drizzly and chilly and a bowl of chili and cornbread sounded good, but it also occurred to me that some of you might be making homemade cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving, and a good cornbread recipe would come in handy. This is based on my mom’s cornbread recipe; the spicy additions are mine.

If you’re making cornbread to enjoy with beans or chili, use this recipe as-is. If you’re making cornbread to use in your turkey stuffing, you should probably leave out the taco seasoning and green chile. If you double the recipe, don’t use two eggs; just swap the small one for a large one.

Smear plenty of butter on there. Now is not the time to be responsible about your fat intake.
Smear plenty of butter on there. Now is not the time to be responsible about your fat intake.

Ingredients
3/4 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried minced onions
1 tbsp. taco seasoning (find my recipe here)
1 small egg
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 roasted green chile, chopped (OK to use canned, but frozen or freshly roasted will taste better)
1/2 tbsp. shortening or butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Melt shortening in a small iron skillet, coating sides and bottom evenly. Mix other ingredients in order. I stir the dry ingredients every time I add something, taking care to break up any clumps in the baking powder or soda, and then I stir in the eggs and buttermilk before adding the melted shortening from the skillet. (Mom’s instructions are slightly different, but I’m always afraid the hot butter will start to cook the egg if I don’t mix the batter before I add it.)

Pour into hot skillet and bake 15 to 20 minutes. (If you double the recipe, use a bigger skillet and bake for 25 minutes.) It’s ready when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let cornbread cool in skillet. (Or, if you’re me, cut out a slice while it’s hot and burn the snot out of your fingers trying to put butter on it because you can’t be bothered to wait until it cools.)

Enjoy!

Emily

Vegetarian Friday: Soyrizo and eggs

I don’t have a photo of this week’s recipe, because I forgot to take one until we were halfway finished with our meal. Oops. I’ll try to remember to take a picture the next time I make this. On the up side, that should give you a pretty good idea of how much we liked it.

Anyway. The first time I had chorizo and scrambled eggs was at a diner in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, on our first trip west. I loved it, but when I tried to make it myself, it always turned out too greasy. A former student told me that was because I was using way too much chorizo relative to the number of eggs.

Chorizo is a type of Mexican sausage that’s used in tacos, breakfast burritos, and various other dishes. This recipe calls for a product called “Soyrizo,” which is a very convincing soy-based substitute for chorizo. It’s made by a company called Frieda’s, and I’ve found it in the produce case at just about every conventional supermarket I’ve been in. If you can’t find it locally, pester your local health-food store to carry it. It’s a good product, and one I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to sell.

Ingredients

6 large eggs
1 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/4 link Soyrizo
1-2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 roasted green chiles, chopped (OK to substitute canned if necessary)

Crack eggs into a measuring cup or bowl and stir until the yolks and whites are mixed together thoroughly. Stir in taco seasoning and set aside.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil, add Soyrizo, and mash it until it’s crumbled up. (The Soyrizo will come in a plastic casing. I just snip off the end of the casing and squeeze out as much of the sausage as I need. You can freeze the rest for later use.)

Add the eggs, green chile, and shredded cheddar to the pan and stir. Cook over medium heat until eggs are set, stirring frequently to scramble the whole mess together.

Salt to taste and serve with warm tortillas and salsa. (If you’re watching your carbs, you can skip the tortillas, but a chorizo breakfast burrito is worth the extra calories.)

Emily

P.S.: As always, nobody gave me anything to post this.