Panzanella

This is the first time I’ve ever made Panzanella and I was really pleased with the results.  The combination of fresh tomato, cucumber, onion, and bread, combined with the dressing works very well together.  The quantity I made was for 2 main course servings or approximately 4 side salads.

I really wish I had some leftover grilled asparagus to toss in it.  While not a traditional ingredient I think it would have added an excellent complimentary flavor.  Another possible toss in would be some fresh mozzarella if you don’t mind dairy.  I kept to a basic recipe for my first time but will try variations in the future.

When making this I used only 1/2 a loaf of bread.  The other half I made a small bread pudding with.  I’ll post that later.  I’m trying to cook appropriate amounts of food with the hopes of having less waste.  It seems like a simple concept yet is proving to be quite difficult.  On one hand I enjoy leftovers on the other I always end guessing wrong and still making too much.  Hopefully, I’ll get the hang of it soon.

Ingredients

  • 3+ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes quartered and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced
  • 10+ large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic sliced in half

Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • salt, pepper to taste

Directions

Place oil and garlic in a pan and heat on medium heat for a few minutes, remove garlic and add bread, saute the bread until lightly browned adding more oil if needed

Toss all sliced veggies, bread and basil leaves in a bowl and season

Toss all ingredients for dressing in blender and blend until smooth and pour over salad, gently toss salad until evenly coated

Serve immediately or let sit for up to 1 hour

Hoe Cakes

Hoe cakes are a tasty corn pancake with the texture of traditional cornbread.  They’re a versatile dish because depending on what you toss into the batter they can be a great breakfast or side dish for dinner.

The basic recipe is Paula Deen’s.  She doesn’t make many recipes that I cook due to her love of bacon fat and butter, but this recipe is an exception.  What I love about hoe cakes is that they need no sugary topping poured over them.  They taste great on their own.

We’re up early this morning because my husband had to take our son to the airport.  He’s going to spend a week in Seattle with my brother looking at schools.  My niece is on the east coast of Florida so it’s just me and Bill.  I’m figuring we’ll have a late breakfast so I think I’ll toss in some frozen corn, cheese & chipotle sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup self-rising cornmeal
  • 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I use soy plus 1 teaspoon vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Oil for frying
  • Add ins: a handful of corn, blueberries, cheddar cheese & chipotle sauce,

Directions

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, heat oil in pan on medium high, drop batter in pan about 1/8th of a cup per hoe cake, Let brown on one side and flip until browned on the other side, once cooked lay on a paper towel to remove excess oil and serve immediately

5 more questions

This seemed to be a hit last week so I decided to go for round 2.  Feel free to answer on my blog or at Vegetarilin on Facebook.

1. What is your favorite source of protein? I love tofu.  It’s so versatile and soaks up the flavor of whatever you cook it with.

2. What’s your favorite prepackaged vegetarian product? I don’t eat many of these but I enjoy Morningstar Farms Chipotle Black Bean Burgers from Costco.

3. Do you personally cook or allow meat products to be cooked in your home? Meat is almost always grilled to keep the smell out of my house.  I respect my husband’s decision to eat meat but I don’t want to smell it.

4. If you have pets are they vegetarian? Not totally, but we’re working on it.  We switched over to a veg variety but we (not me) mixed the veg variety in with the old dog.  I need to have them finish this current mixture and then buy another bag and try this again!

5. Is your entire household (humans not pets) vegetarian? As stated above no.  Currently half my household is vegetarian and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Peace, love & greens Lin

Break Time

For those of you who read this blog regularly I apologize for posting so little lately.  I was on a roll of cooking a lot and posting 5+ times a week.  I am finding that is pretty much impossible to keep up with so I’ve decided to scale down a bit.

There’s a couple of reasons for this.  First being my hectic home and work life.  As I’ve said before I work 4 days a week until 8pm and I absolutely don’t cook on those days.  It’s just too much.  I also seem to be so busy trying new recipes that I tend to neglect family favorites.  Last week I made Gluten Free Macaroni & Cheese with all the gluten.  Sadly 1 lb of pasta was devoured in about 36 hours.  I wasn’t counting on that!

Also, my family structure has changed and I’m still working out the kinks.  My niece recently moved in with us and I’m surprised at how much I’m loving having another female in the house again.  It’s all good but she’s not a vegetarian and she’s a picky eater.  She does not enjoy the level of spice my family is accustomed to.  It’s taking some work.  I’m also pretty sure that at this point with 2 young adults in the house they should take some of the responsibility for preparing meals.  I don’t have high hopes on this one.

I’m hoping to have 1 recipe post a week and then just post anything else of interest I find along the way.  I think my “5 Questions” post last week was a hit (minus a little animosity) so I’ll continue that.  We’ll see how it goes.  If anyone is interested in writing a guest post please let me know.  My email is linjohn65@gmail.com.

I have 2 more days of work and then I’m off to Disney for the weekend!  I’m really looking forward to it.  We’re having a girl’s weekend celebrating my mom’s birthday.  The last time we went I was pleasantly surprised that the resort we stayed at offered a reasonably good veggie lasagna with veggie sausage!  Hopefully I’ll fare as well this time.

Peace, love & greens, Lin

Fruity Vegan Corn Muffins

I have not cooked anything new for some time now.  I find the one difficulty with having a food blog is that I’m so busy trying out new recipes that I don’t have time to cook some old favorites.  I guess it’s all about balance.

This morning I got up ridiculously early so I decided to bake some muffins.  I can’t even remember the last time I did that.  My plan was to try a vegan cornbread using applesauce in place of the egg.  To my surprise my applesauce is all gone.  Of course I discovered this after assembling 3/4 of the ingredients!  I did a quick look around and was happy to see an aging banana on the counter.  Next to the banana were some organic apples that aren’t as pretty as waxed chemical filled apples so they’re not being eaten.  For the record I’m eating them but no one else is.

The end result is a sweet healthy muffin made from good simple ingredients.  I ended up with 9 muffins using a cupcake pan and they’re an appropriate sized muffin.  I have no clue as to the calorie count but they are way better for you than the mega sized fat and sugar filled muffins that you can buy pretty much anywhere these days.  I used to love store-bought but I just can’t eat them anymore.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat white flour (or ww pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon  each baking soda & baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 over ripe banana
  • 1 small apple grated
  • 3/4 cup soy or rice milk
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F Lightly grease cupcake pan

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; add in the soy milk, banana, oil and agave nectar.  Mix using a potato masher to break up the banana

Peel the apple and add into the bowl giving a gentle stir

Distribute the mixture into the pan

Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned approximately 20 minutes

5 Questions

I recently saw this on an RV blog I read and found the questions and answers very interesting.  I was thinking about the questions people usually ask me about being a vegetarian as well as my own personal thoughts on the subject.  I’d love to see what you thoughts are on the subject.

1. What’s the most annoying question people ask you? “You can eat fish right?”

2. Do you miss any specific meat? At this point I don’t miss meat at all but I absolutely missed a good barbecue early on.

3. What do you order when you end up in a restaurant with no veg options? This happened to me the other day.  I had a salad and 3 sides.

4. Why or why not vegan? I have 2 reasons.  First I love cheese and it’s hard to give up.  Second, my husband is not a veg and it’s difficult enough working around our different diets.

5.  Do you ever knowingly cheat? I haven’t in over a year but I used to occasionally order vegetable pad thai which has fish sauce.  My rationalization was that it was just a minor ingredient, I wasn’t eating the entire fish or anything!

6. For the non-vegetarians: If you’re reading this you’re obviously interested in a vegetarian diet.  What stops you from going veg?  (no judgement here!)

Peace, love & greens, Lin

Escarole Bean Soup

My sister Sandy makes this soup all the time so I decided to give it a try.  The recipe she gave me was really just a list of ingredients so I really created it with just a basic idea.  I am really impressed with the results.  It’s a thick, hearty soup full of delicious vegetables and it’s super nutritious!

I actually made it a couple of days ago and brought a serving to work yesterday and will do so today as well.  I really need to get a good thermos for soups and such.  The soup is currently being transported in a glass bowl with a snap on lid.  I’m placing 50/50 odds on if the cover will stay on until lunch time!  The price of a simple thermos was pretty shocking to me.  This is old technology, why is a basic single serving thermos around $20?  I really didn’t want to spend that much.

Before I get to the soup we had a family dinner at my parents last night.  My mom made some family favorites which I will post about another time.  She made tzimmes and noodle pudding which I love.  My contribution was Mmmm, Mondel Brodt which was served for dessert and was a hit as always.

Ingredients

I large head of escarole

3 large onions halved and sliced thin

2 cans of vegetable broth,  2 cans of water

2-3 veg sausage links chopped (I used chorizo)

Or use cubed tofu in place of the sausage links

1 can of small white beans drained

A couple of chopped carrots

1 large pepper julienned

A handful of string beans halved

Olive oil as needed

A few cloves of garlic minced

Salt, pepper & seasoning to taste

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot  on medium and add onion, let the onion slowly wilt and brown stirring regularly, it should brown but not burn and will take about 15 minutes

Once onion is starting to brown add the sausage and let it cook in either slices or crumbles, as that cooks add in the other vegetables except for the escarole and let them saute for several minutes adding the garlic for the last minute, season as needed

Add the beans and broth to the pot and stir well, add in the escarole and let it cook down for several minutes, once it’s cooked down and is mixed in with other ingredients it is ready to serve

Peace love & greens, Lin