Sunday, November 18, 2007

|lentil tacos - who knew?|

My hubby and I have long been fans of the taco. When we first got married, we ate tacos almost every week made out of ground beef. One day we decided to try turkey meat instead and discovered you couldn't really tell the difference. A few years later, when we were losing weight, we tried the "fake meat" kind (made out of the soy-based crumbles you find in the refrigerated section of the store). They were awesome, too.

This past weekend we tried another taco variation and I'm pleased to report that it's delicious. It tastes just as good as the "fake meat" kind - without that odd fake meat flavor - and I'm pretty sure it's cheaper and more nutritious than any of the other kinds. I'd say it'll be our new favorite taco.

Here it is...Lentil Tacos:

  1. Sort, rise, and drain about a cup of lentils. We used brown lentils, but I'm sure any kind would be just fine. The brown ones look the most like meat, though!
  2. Boil them in about 3-4 cups of water until they're done. It only takes about 20 minutes. Lentils are quick-cooking because they don't have to be soaked first.
  3. As they're boiling, saute up some diced onions. Add a small can of diced green chilis and about a half a can of drained corn to the mix.
  4. Once the veggies are heated up, add about 1/2 cup water and a package of taco seasoning mix. If you want to make your own taco seasoning, I recommend a mixture of cumin, chili powder, cayenne powder, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  5. Drain the lentils. Dump them into the veggies. Stir and heat through.
  6. Serve em up on regular tacos shells.
Enjoy! Maybe I should have called this the "ode to lentils" blog.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

|lentils and balsamic - surprisingly delicioso|

Found a nummy recipe in New Vegetarian Cuisine by the editors of Prevention magazine. It's a decent little cookbook I found at the library. Anyway, it called for lentils and balsamic vinegar and I thought - really? But it turned out really good.

Of course that probably has something to do with the fact that I used my bottle of Fini which is the BEST balsamic vinegar in the world. Mmmm. You can get it at Williams Sonoma (piece of trivia - the guy who started Williams Sonoma was named Williams and he added the Sonoma part just cause it sounded hip).

Okay, on with the recipe...

  1. Boil some cubed potatoes and lentils in a pot of boiling water. Add some tarragon to the pot (and some salt, too - I think there should always be salt in a pot of boiling water).
  2. While that's a-cookin', saute some onions, zucchini, and carrots in a bit of olive oil. Cook em until they're soft. Add some garlic in there, too. I highly suggest doing your carrots first and adding the zukes later or they'll get really soggy.
  3. Drain any remaining water off the lentil/potatoes. Add the potatoes and lentils to the veggies. Add some salt and pepper along with a few tablespoons of balsamic. Heat through.

Friday, November 2, 2007

|fun with veggie chili|

Veggie chili is a beautiful thing. I'm not even sure why you need to make it with meat ever. I learned from my mother-in-law that you could throw veggies into regular chili and started adding more and more veggies until I discovered the meat wasn't really necessary. Yesterday was my first time making chili in the crockpot and it turned out pretty good, so I figured I'd post the recipe.

A word about one of the ingredients. "Six Guns Chili Mixin's" is the coolest chili packet ever. I can't find there where I live, so I have to buy them in Kansas. But they are awesome. It comes with several pouches of seasonings, including a packet of masa to add at the end for thickness.

1) Put all these ingredients in the crockpot:

  • Onions (diced)
  • Beans (I used red and black; canned or dried is okay - just pre-soak if they're dried)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (add the juice, too)
  • Corn (canned or frozen)
  • Mushrooms (you can use whatever other kind of vegs you want, but mushrooms are a must)
  • Whole mess of veggies - basically just fill it up with whatever you want...this time I used zucchini, a few carrots, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, and turnips (I can also vouch that celery, all kind of peppers, and okra are all good things)

2) Add your flavoring packets (or a combination of chili powder, cumin, garlic, pepper, cayenne pepper - just add way MORE than you think you'll takes a lot to make it flavorful). Add some water, too.

3) Cook all day long. Check to make sure your beans and vegs are done. Make sure you've got some broth yet.

4) To make it thick and yummy, add some masa (corn flour). Add a couple tablespoons of it to some water until it's about pancake batter consistency. Drizzle it into the chili a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

|i have been empowered to make risotto|

This is an amazingly happy day. The writers of Vegetarian Times magazine have changed my life by teaching me how to make any kind of risotto I want. Any kind. I've always loved risotto, but when I look at recipes I always think, "hmmm, I don't like that one ingredient," so I don't make it. But in Vegetarian Times they had a little sidebar that teaches you how to make any kind of risotto you want. We had about a cup of leftover arborio rice sitting around, so I picked up some vegs at the store and went to town.

You can make ANY risotto you want by following the steps below:

  1. Saute some aromatics in a little oil or butter. I used onions in olive oil. You could also use shallots, leeks, celery, carrots, etc. If you're going to use dried herbs, add them now. If you're going to use fresh herbs, add them at the end. I used thyme, sage, and some celery seeds.
  2. After they are translucent, add the rice (1/4 c. dry per serving). It has to be arborio because it has the right kinds of starch power to make the creamy risotto action happen. Let it brown for a couple minutes.
  3. Add about a half cup of wine (or beer, that would probably be good, too!). Simmer until almost all of the wine is absorbed.
  4. Heat 1 cup of broth per serving. Add it, about a half cup at a time, and let it cook down. Simmer the whole time. It will absorb ALL of the liquid. Just be patient and keep adding.
  5. Towards the end, you'll start to add whatever veggies you want. The key is just to chop them up small and add them according to how much cooking they will need. I added my mushrooms first, then asparagus, then delicata and acorn squash (which I precooked in the microwave). You'll be adding these veggies while the liquid is still cooking down.
  6. Once the liquid is absorbed and the veggies are cooked, you're done. ENJOY.

This is SO awesome because you could literally do any combination you want. Wow. I ate mine while sitting on the cough with my windows open, watching my DVRed "The Office" from Thursday. Does life get any better than this?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

|new way to do pumpkin seeds|

Okay, so maybe everyone else already knows about this, but my friend Nate taught me tonight that you can use cinnamon and sugar on your pumpkin seeds when you roast them. They were yummy that way!

Friday, October 26, 2007

|and then i had some squash soup|

Some things just aren't worth making. I'm gonna have to say that squash soup is one of those things. I should probably start this post by explaining that I love squash....of all everything. It's just such a pain in the patootie to make. And making soup out of it is even worse because you have to bake it, let it cool, scoop it out, cook a bunch of other stuff, and then puree the whole thing. Yikes. Of course, the end result is heavenly.

Fortunately, there is a better way. I just discovered Campbell's has butternut squash soup in those funny little cardboard containers. What are those called? It's the same thing tofu comes in. Anyhoo, I grabbed some at the store last week because a friend had just had the hubby and me over for HOMEMADE squash soup (which was amazing) and I knew I'd be craving it again soon.

So I tried it tonight and it was awesome. Not quite as good as the homemade, but man it was darn close. And since it took roughly 2 minutes to make instead of 2 hours, I think I'll be buying a few more boxes. (Boxes...of soup...feels weird to say).

My friend gave me the real recipe for her soup. From another friend. Based on The Joy of Cooking and I'm sure I'll give it a try at some point. More for the joy of having it homemade than out of necessity. And isn't it nice to have the option?

1) Get in your car or on the bus or put on your walking shoes or get on your bike (don't forget the helmet).
2) Go to your local grocery store and head to the food aisle (if biking, leave your bike outside...same goes for the car).
3) Buy the Campbells butternut squash soup in the BOX. Go ahead and get two. for sure.
4) Go home.
5) Open the box and pour it into a pan.
6) Heat it up.
7) Bliss out.

|i made a potato|

I guess all blogs have to start somewhere. Mine started because I made a baked potato for lunch today. It was super-delicious and, after eating it, my first reaction was to immediately type up the recipe and send it to my friends. But then I realized that my friends are probably sick and tired of getting recipes from me. I have a lot of friends who like food, but it probably still gets a little old after a while. So then I thought - hey, I could start a blog about food. And I could obsess all I want and not worry about boring anyone. And, thusly, "amateur foodie" was born.

And here's the recipe that started it all...

I had some leftover black bean spread that I've been eating on pitas all week, but I was sick of eating it on pitas. So I baked a potato, cut it open, and added the following:
- about 1/4 c. of the black bean spread
- 2 tablespoons of light cream cheese
- 1/2 cup corn
- 1/2 cup other veggies (I used onions and mixed peppers)

I threw it all in the microwave for a minute and stirred. Nummers.

To make the black bean spread, mix the following in a food processor:
- can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
- a smidgen of the bean juice from the can
- garlic powder
- cumin
- some onions
- little tomatoe paste
- some lime juice