The best laid plans…

We’ve been on a roll this week, sticking to our meal plan and chugging through the first week of school (if you think it’s easier as a teacher then think again….) The good news is that B has adjusted much better to the end of summer this year than he did in 2012 😉

A mopey puppy on the first day of school 2012

A mopey puppy on the first day of school in 2012, waiting for D to return home!

By the time Wednesday rolled around, we’d hit a wall. We were both exhausted and the 90 degree humidity didn’t put either of us in the mood for roasting vegetables (not to mention the sweet potato was a tad older than I’d thought…) so we threw caution to the wind and improvised based on what was around. Breakfast-for-dinner has never been so good!

Carrot Pancakes with Breakfast ‘sausage’

Looks like any other sausage and pancake meal, right??

Looks like any other sausage and pancake meal, right??

We followed this recipe for our pancakes, halving it for just the two of us. They were moist, sweet, and healthy!! A coworker had a maple scented candle burning all day in the office, so I had been craving pancakes all day…or really just syrup! The excess number of carrots (CSA bag carrots, leftover grocery store carrots, 2 separate bags of baby carrots….) in our fridge was getting out of control so we found a way to hide some vegetables in this. D literally looked at me mid-bite and said “we should make these for our [hypothetical, one day in the next 5 years] kids to trick them into eating more veggies!” If that’s not a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is! Next time I may try experimenting with replacing some of the flour with whole wheat, because I think the carrots lend enough moisture to do so, but we will see!

My genius D also figured out a way to manipulate what we had in the house to be the perfect accompaniment to our pancakes. Frozen veggie burgers (MorningStar Grillers are the best, but any ‘fake hamburger’ product will do–just don’t try a vegetable-based patty!) are cut into 1/2 inch pieces and sauteed with a sprinkle of sage and some smoked paprika in PAM or oil in a skillet on the stove. The sage and paprika flavors imitate the seasonings in most breakfast (meat) sausages and the house truly starts like a wonderful breakfast feast. By crisping up the burger in a pan, you get the texture of sausage — admittedly I think I’d only had it once in my life before becoming vegetarian (sorry mom!) — but try it for yourself and let me know what you think. I was completely satiated and thrilled that breakfast-for-dinner veggie-style is fantastic!

Purple potatoes make this one visually interesting!

Purple potatoes make this one visually interesting!

Potato Hash and Egg Scramble

Have too much leftover ‘sausage’? Whip up this great veggie-friendly breakfast the next morning to enjoy this newfound treat in a whole new way!

-leftover ‘veggie sausage’ (see above)

-potatoes, diced into small pieces- we used purple potatoes from our CSA bag but red, Yukon, or anything small works too

-diced onion and bell peppers

-eggs

-cheddar cheese (or your favorite egg accompaniment!)

Toss diced potatoes, peppers, and onions with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees in the oven until crispy and brown. Meanwhile, prepare veggie breakfast sausage using above directions or throw leftovers in a skillet to warm with some oil. Whisk eggs in a bowl and add whatever preparations you normally would for scrambled eggs (milk, Almond Milk, cream, salt, pepper, hot sauce, whatever you please!) When sausage is warmed, add the eggs to the hot pan and scramble to your desired consistency/dryness so that the sausage is incorporated with the sausage pieces. About 1 minute before completion, top with shredded cheese and mix into the egg to melt. Serve with crispy potatoes and ketchup!

YUMMMMM. We may start going through a lot more veggie burgers in this house–breakfast for dinner for all!

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Southwestern Tofu with Corn Relish and Black Beans

This week marks the beginning of the school year for us, so in the spirit of starting off the year on a good note, I’m sharing what we have in the works for this week:

Sunday-Southwestern Tofu

Monday-college welcome back cookout, complete with black bean burgers!

Tuesday-leftover Rainy Day Soup

Wednesday- Roasted Root Vegetables with Tempeh-Pesto Pasta

Thursday- TBD

We have been overwhelmed with great produce in the past few days, so tonight’s dinner represents the true essence of summer in the Lowcountry. We have an abundance of jalapenos from our backyard garden, got some ears of corn last week fresh from the farm when S spent the morning gleaning, and have some random tomatoes that somehow survived the crazy weather of this summer. With tofu pressing in the fridge, it was only natural to head to the Southwest tonight! D even popped open a Tecate to complement dinner.

our most recent jalapeno crop- does anyone in the Lowcountry want some!?

our most recent jalapeno crop- does anyone in the Lowcountry want some!?

175 pounds of corn went to needy families and 4 ears came to our house!

175 pounds of corn went to needy families and 4 ears came to our house!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southwestern Tofu with Corn Relish and Black Beans

Tofu marinade:

-lime juice

-vegetable oil

-Worcestershire

-honey

-red wine vinegar

-cumin

-dried oregano

-smoked paprika

Corn Relish:

-2 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob

-2-3 jalapenos (depending on your spice preference)

-red and green bell pepper, cut into a very fine dice

-lime juice

-olive oil

-sherry vinegar

-agave nectar

Black Beans:

-1/4 of an onion

-1/2 tomato

-1 clove garlic

-1/4 of a jalapeno, seeds removed

-olive oil

-sherry vinegar

-1 can black beans (retain liquid, DON’T drain)

-cumin

-dried oregano

-smoked paprika

Mix all marinade ingredients together and marinate a piece of (pressed) tofu for at least 3 hours, ideally longer.

For the relish:

Cut the tops off of the jalapenos, cut lengthwise, and remove all seeds and ribs. Put cut side-down on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil until the skin is blistered, but not burnt (approximately 5 minutes). Remove from oven and place on a flat surface (a cutting board works) and place a metal bowl upside down on top of it to trap the steam- let sit for 15 minutes. The steam will help to pull the charred skin away from the peppers so it’s easier to remove.

While the jalapenos are steaming, put the corn kernels and diced bell peppers and broil them until slightly charred but not burnt. Remove from the oven and add to a small prep bowl.  When 15 minutes has elapsed, use the back of a sharp knife to scrap the jalapeno skin off, then dice the flesh of the pepper and add to the bowl. Season to taste using above seasoning.

For the black beans:

Puree first 6 ingredients together to form a sofrito. Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat then add sofrito and spices. Saute for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the black beans (with liquid) and 1 cans worth of water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beans are creamy.

When ready to serve: grill tofu (ideally outdoors, but a grill pan works) for approximately 6 minutes per side. Cut and top with relish, and serve with black beans. Serve with lime wedge (and Mexican beer, if desired!)

The relish is also delicious directly on top of the beans!

The relish is also delicious directly on top of the beans!

Smoky, creamy, spicy, and just enough bite from the lime. It felt great to be using all local products and to have such a filling but light dinner to end our last weekend of quiet time before school chaos, wedding planning, and the Jewish holidays wreak havoc on our life. This dinner would be incredibly easy to prep over the weekend and then just grill and assemble mid-week, but is also easily doable from scratch in just a few hours. You could add some rice if you like a heavier meal, or quinoa would be a great addition too. I can’t wait to have the leftover beans and relish with lime juice as a lunch this week!

Rainy Day Soup

Charleston is going through an early monsoon season, and this week’s rain came with a 15 degree temperature drop. After my big work event on Sunday I felt myself getting sick, so this week has been full of juice, tea, and advil. That wasn’t quite enough to do the trick, so after seeing a recipe for white bean stew on such a cold, rainy week, I spontaneously stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work and grabbed some ingredients to make GET WELL SOUP!

Get well soup!

Get well soup!

Garlicy White Bean Soup, Based on Sarah Britton’s recipe

We rarely follow a recipe to the T but this one sounded so good I had to trust Sarah. We spiced it up in the following ways, but I believe it would be just as good as is!

-add a dash of curry powder and a dash of cumin when you saute the onions

-add an additional 1-2 teaspoons of smoked paprika in Step 2 (smoked paprika is NOT the same as paprika and will be the best investment to your pantry you can make when you’re vegetarian!)

-add slices of okra in Step 2

-add fresh spinach leaves in Step 2

-instead of serving drizzled with olive oil, top with grated Parmesan

OH MY. The combination of the coconut oil and smoked paprika right from the start gave off the aroma typically associated with rendering down bacon or beef fat (I literally looked at D and asked if he smelled bacon) and those flavors carried through the rest of the soup. The broth is smoky and sweet, and the vegetables throughout are refreshing and add some depth to the soup. We threw in some local okra and spinach from our CSA bag, and I love the extra texture and nutrition it added. The beans are soft and absorb the broth and each bite offers new flavors and textures.

Smoky, sweet, and healthy-- perfect solution for a cold week

Smoky, sweet, and healthy– perfect solution for a cold week

Next week is our first ‘normal’ week in months and on Sunday I’ll share our weekly menu plan for the coming days. What would you like to see VegetarianForTwo cover next week?

The best Philly cheese steak I’ve ever eaten…

True to my word (although a day late) I divulge the secrets behind the best Philly cheese steak I’ve ever had. Admittedly I’d only had a few in my pre-vegetarian days, but when we found ourselves with an abundance of fresh and local bell peppers and a limited pantry of groceries, I knew cheese steaks (or cheese non-steaks, as D has named it), were in our future, and they did NOT disappoint!

I perused quite a few vegan cheesesteak recipes, but since cheese is one of the few ingredients that keeps us vegetarian instead of vegan (Almond Milk and flax eggs are a staple in our house), I knew I wanted to keep the cheese, but this is easily adapted to vegan if needed.

D said I couldn't call it a Philly Cheese'steak' because it was too misleading, but I think it does it justice...

Vegetarian Cheese Steak adaptation (or more aptly named, a Philly wrap)

onion, sliced into thin slices

bell pepper, sliced into thin slices

garlic, chopped finely

olive oil

tempeh, cut into VERY thin slices on the bias (for you meat eaters, think of cutting a cut like flank steak)

vegan Worcester sauce

garlic powder

white and black pepper

smoked paprika (or regular paprika and chili powder)

sandwich thins or pita
Heat oil in a saute pan and cook onions and peppers over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring to prevent charring. Lower the heat to low,  add about 1 teaspoon of Worchester, and cover the pan-let it sit for 4-5 minutes until the onions become translucent and soft. Turn the heat back up to medium-high and add some more oil and the chopped garlic, sauteing just 1-2 minutes until the garlic begins smelling sweet. Push the peppers and onions to the sides of the pan , then gently add the slices of tempeh and more Worchester, plus salt, paprika, and equal amounts of white and black pepper. Continue to cook until the tempeh has absorbed the color of the Worchester and is warmed thoroughly. Top with the cheese of your choice, then cover the pan to let the steam melt the cheese.

Heat the pita or thins until warm and soft, then uncover the pan of peppers. Fill the bread with the peppers, onion, and tempeh, then fold/wrap to keep the filling in. Cheesy but healthy, entirely filling, and a good, balanced meal. It took less than 40 minutes from the time we conceptualized the meal to the time we sat down- completely doable on a busy work night! Best of all, you get the textures and flavors of a cheesesteak without the guilt, health risks, or unnecessary antibiotics  of beef!

Tempeh Philly Wrap

Tonight’s dinner was all set to be stuffed bell peppers, courtesy of the plentiful little gems that are everywhere right now–in our garden, in our CSA bag, in D’s classroom as a “farewell summer” gift from a fellow teacher… until D called while I was on the way home and told me I took the last of the (cooked) quinoa for lunch today. I’m not sorry– it was FANTASTIC with some leftover roasted broccoli and onions and pared with BBQ tempeh! 😉

I didn’t want D to go through the hassle of making a batch of quinoa, so I spent the drive brainstorming about what was in the house and came up with …

D said I couldn't call it a Philly Cheese'steak' because it was too misleading, but I think it does it justice...

D said I couldn’t call it a Philly Cheese’steak’ because it was too misleading, but I think it does it justice…

I’m holding the recipe hostage until this weekend (because I promised D a date night before the school year starts) but if you’re reading this and like what you see, or just like the antics of what happens in our house on a weekly basis, please follow us we’re fun people to be with, I promise!

Just click on the “follow” button in the bottom right corner of your screen (for you WordPress users it’s on the top admin bar) and enter in your email address–you’ll automatically be updated when we post a new recipe! 

I promise to return this weekend with the step by step directions of how to make this non-Philly cheesesteak for yourself; I promise it’s still a quick, healthy, and easy dinner for those busy nights!

When life gives you peppers…

With the end of summer comes long days, hot nights, and the normal back to school chaos. In our household, it also means the beginning of the end– our wedding is in just 75 days!! In addition to pre-marital events (aka D’s bachelor party this past weekend at the largest and most lavish rental home EVER and my upcoming bachelorette party and bridal shower) in addition to general wedding planning stress, we have D heading back to school in just a week and a huge work event for me this weekend. After working 12 hour days most of the past few weeks, dinner has been even more difficult than usual to get together.

Luckily, we always have quinoa on hand, and yesterday I came home to a great dinner surprise. One of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants serves a brown rice bowl with sauteed mushrooms, and my wonderful fiance was savvy enough to adapt it with what we had on hand. One of his coworkers brought us a HUGE bag of local bell peppers last week as a part of the end-of-season harvest, and we wanted to take advantage of such an amazing bounty.

how gorgeous are these!? Our favorite were the white/purple and the yellow/green

how gorgeous are these!? Our favorite were the white/purple and the yellow/green

They are almost too pretty to do anything with–I would have been content to munch on them whole– but what D came up with was totally worth the pepper massacre. I DID save the seeds so that we can plant our own heirloom peppers next year!

Fajita and Quinoa Bowl

-julienned bell peppers, various colors (approximately 1/2 per person–ours were tiny so we used 4-5)

-1 can black beans, drained

-julienned onion

-chik’n strips or meat substitute (tempeh or seitan work)

-cooked quinoa

-cumin

-chili powder

-oregano

-paprika

-smoked paprika

-fresh lime wedges

-plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (optional)

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add peppers/onions and spices to taste, in addition to salt and pepper. Saute until softened and beginning to take on color. Add meat substitute and black beans and additional spices– cook until warmed thoroughly. [D’s note: be generous with the spices–they will coat and add crust to your ingredients so you’ll want plenty. Don’t be afraid!] Deglaze pan with juice of 1/2 a fresh lime. Serve over warm quinoa and top with additional lime wedges and greek yogurt (if desired).

mmmmmmm-the lime really adds a punch of acid to the spicy fajita ingredients

mmmmmmm-the lime really adds a punch of acid to the spicy fajita ingredients

Healthy, filling, and incredibly satisfying– this meal has it all. You don’t miss any of the wheat or carbs that you normally get from rice or tortillas and yet the meal is light enough to not be too heavy. The acid gives a great punch and the Greek yogurt acts just like sour cream to cool the spices down. If you haven’t tried Greek yogurt (the plain stuff, NOT the vanilla!) for cooking, you’re missing out. We’ve been using it for at least a year or so (even pre-veggie!) as a replacement- the protein content is much higher than sour cream and it tastes exactly the same. Quesadillas, chili, even baking– try subbing greek yogurt. If you don’t believe me, take Michael Symon‘s word for it!