Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the menu tonight: Stuffed Peppers

You know, I don't think I've ever eaten stuffed peppers until tonight. I've had chile relleno, which is similar in regards to being a chili pepper stuffed with something, but I guess that's where the similarity ends. I made them once a long time ago for husbinator, but since I made them with real beef, I did not partake.

Earlier this week, I was looking through my little recipe binder for dinner ideas and came across the printout for the stuffed peppers I had made. Intrigued, I decided to put it on the menu for the week, with veggie beef of course.

I made them tonight, and it wasn't too hard to make. The only annoying part is that they take an hour in the oven, and that doesn't include prep. So while those were roasting away, I thought about a side. We had lettuce that was starting to wilt, so I made a simple salad with red onions, but I wanted more, so I made cheesy (Dayia) garlic bread.

I LOVE garlic bread. Want to know a trashy secret about me? I kind of came up with a shortcut. I am THAT lazy. Get a small glass pyrex bowl or tupperware or whatever. Add a stick of butter or margarine. Microwave on low until softened (I usually do 20 seconds on 30% power for margarine). Add some minced garlic (I usually cop out and buy already chopped or minced garlic from a jar). Mix. Stick it back in the fridge until you want garlic toast. Then the next time you want toast, you just stick some bread in the toaster and spread on your garlicky spread.

ANYWAY. That's basically what I did for cheesy garlic toast. Sandwich bread, garlic spread, and daiya cheese in the oven.

Lo and behold, tonight's dinner:
Stuffed Peppers

Looks kind of plain just sitting there like a lump, until you cut into it.

Stuffed Pepper Stuffing


Recipe changes: I mixed diced red pepper in with the beef instead of onion powder, and I omitted the Worcester.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Three new recipes, or three new uses for noodles

A few weeks ago, while still on my "expand my food horizons" kick, I decided that I wanted to try some new recipes for the week. After doing a google search for "vegan menus," I found a great little site called Veg Cooking. It's run by PETA, and while I don't 100% condone everything PETA does, I do like that they are a great resource for vegetarian/vegan information. I browsed their menus and made my shopping list for the week. Anyway, as I think I mentioned before, I do all my grocery shopping on the same day, which requires trips to at least 3 grocery stores. I think it's easier that way, although the food might not be as fresh as it could be. At least I know what I am going to be cooking for the week and I don't have that moment standing in front of my fridge thinking "crap, what should I make..." Anyway, as I was shopping for these new recipes, I was proud of myself for buying stuff I rarely ever cook with, like artichoke hearts, green onion, fresh bell peppers. Yes, this is out of the ordinary for me.

So the first recipe I tried was Creamy Pasta Salad With Artichoke Hearts.
Creamy Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts
I've never made pasta salad before, but how I known how easy it is, I would have started a lot earlier. Super easy, fresh, lemony. I made it for lunch on a hot summer day so it was perfect. I tried recreating it the following week with some chopped up frozen bell pepper strips instead of the artichoke hearts, but I think the chokes add to the flavor much better.

My second recipe that week was a Hamburger Macaroni Casserole.
Hamburger Macaroni Casserole with Daiya Cheese
Now this recipe I was skeptical about. Tomato soup? French fried onion strips? And what does corn have to do with hamburger? Still, it sounded kind of good. And it WAS. Not just kind of good, it was really good. We did make one addition to the recipe. My sister had some leftover Daiya Cheese, so we sprinkled it on top. Now, the thing with vegan cheese is, one it is hard to find a good brand that really tastes and melts like cheese, and two, it is expensive. Daiya cheese is about $10 a pound, so it's too expensive to make a ton of cheese enchiladas with. It is so creamy and yummy though. (edit: It's November and since this original post, Daiya has become much more affordable and accessible to me! Yay!) If I could only find a good bacon substitute that is fatty and greasy like real bacon, I would be set. But really, I loved the recipe. I'm assuming it's a vegan hamburger helper knockoff. I did use 2 cans of tomato soup instead of one (it looked like it might have turned out dry with just one), and a whole can of corn. Another bonus: it makes a lot, so everyone in the house had leftovers for lunch the next day.

The last recipe of this blog is "Better than Beef" Stroganoff.
Better than Beef Stroganoff
Looks kind of gray and bland huh? I will admit, I had high hopes for this recipe, and it wasn't bad, I just don't think I would make it again. It tasted OK, but I think the canned mushrooms mixed with the canned gravy just made everything taste like it came out of a box. Lots of sodium. I was also out of onions, so they didn't make it to the pan. On the bright side, the sauce was creamy and the recipe was super easy.

So those are my three recipe reviews. I would definitely recommend the first 2, even if you use real mayo and beef instead of the vegan stuff, and if you think you can dress up the Stroga-not, let me know how it goes.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quick project: Quick blog

Oreos + Chocolate chips + double boiler + sprinkles + cupcake liners = this

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I love you, mushrooms. Not the drug kind, the food kind.

Ever get tired of cooking the same thing over and over? I do. I'm not an expert chef by any means, so I lack creativity in my weekly menus. And by weekly, I do mean weekly. I usually plan my meals for the week, and buy the ingredients to make them on Saturday or Sunday. It helps us save money grocery shopping. I make the list and I stick to it, that way I'm not grabbing as many impulse "maybe I can make this" types of purchases.

Last week was a big week for me, cooking wise. I wanted to branch out and try to cook new things, add more to the rotation. After looking at a few sites, I decided my new dish attempt would be mushrooms. I usually don't cook with mushrooms, and when I do, it's the plain white button kind. Anyway, I know there's a million ways to make portabella mushrooms, but I wanted something foolproof. Enter my vegan cookbook and their roasted potatoes & carrots with mushrooms. Seemed easy enough.Well at my weekly grocery shopping trip, I picked up some lovely looking portabella mushrooms. Huge suckers. I also picked up an eggplant for the first time ever, but that's a different post. I also grabbed a marinated tri tip for my husband. What a lucky guy. :p I had leftover potatoes anyway, I picked up some carrots and I was good to go.

It went pretty well. I didn't have little red potatoes, so I used regular peeled russet potatoes. I made it earlier this week with little dutch potatoes and it was equally good both ways I think. I also didn't have rosemary (rosemary is a "fancy spice" so I don't own it yet) but all in all, it was easy and yummy. Wanna see?

With tri tip:

Vegan style:

For dessert, we had some yummy macadamia nut kahlua coconut drinks. I know I mentioned them multiple times on facebook, but I thought you might wanna see how yummy they look.


After settling. Pretty :)

Hope I made you hungry!