Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Smart Pigs in Cheesy Blankets

Have you ever realized that the pigs in blankets are the first to go at parties? I've seen people lined up outside the kitchen, waiting for batches to come out of the oven. But they're so naughty. And not vegetarian! Why must the vegetarians be stuck with spinach puffs? Spinach is so NOT naughty. And we all like to be naughty on certain occasions, don't we?

Not to worry, there is a vegetarian version of the little pigs in blankets that everyone can enjoy. Just take your Crescents and wrap them around Smart Dogs instead! Fortunately, (or unfortunately) they're not quite so naughty. Only around 60-70 calories each. Sorry!

I made a batch for the Superbowl, and then another so that my husband and I could eat our fill by ourselves. I kind of forgot to write about them, but it's not too late for March Madness, if you're feeling game-day food for that.

Smart Pigs in Cheesy Blankets
Makes 16 pieces

1 roll of Pillsbury Crescents
4 Smart Dogs veggie protein links
1/4 C shredded cheddar or mixed cheese (or use your favorite vegan cheese)

Condiments: Ketchup, Yellow or Grain Mustard, & Sauerkraut

1. Heat oven to 375F.

2. Unroll the crescents onto a baking sheet. Separate the triangles and cut each one in half to make 2. You should have 16 small triangles of various shapes.

3. Sprinkle each triangle with about a teaspoon of cheese in the center.

4. Cut each link into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a crescent triangle and place on a baking sheet, leaving ample space between them.

5. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Serve with condiments for topping.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nutty Orzo Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato stuffed with orzo
I'm a little behind on my blogging. I've been kind of tired. Misty has been very sick. I haven't gotten much sleep, since she's required an extreme amount of bathroom breaks. She's on the road to recovery now, we just hope everything gets worked out by the time we have to leave for Curacao at the end of the month. Nothing an antibiotic, probiotics, dewormer, fluid injections and canned pumpkin can't fix.... we hope...

Animalface, aka Misty, posing with New Bone. Feeling a bit better.
I wanted to do a Superbowl food post. It didn't happen, and I didn't even end up making much. But the Giants won, and everyone (here) was happy, so who cares? That's what everyone will remember, not my vegetarian chili!

About those stuffed yams...

I almost forgot about this orzo dish I made... I can't even remember when it was. The weeks have felt so long, I want to say it was a couple weeks ago. Although, it may have been last weekend. Who knows. It was pretty good though!

Stuffed sweet potatoes ready for broiling
A long time ago, when I was living in London, one of my roommates bought this cookbook of English recipes. That was probably when I really started to play in the kitchen and try out new things. In college at the time, I was familiar with pre-packaged heat-n-eat foods - like frozen vegetables with sauce that you would just add fresh chicken to. These things were either not readily available at Safeway or Tesco in my London neighborhood, or just too expensive for my finite funds. So I picked up my roommate's cookbook and began to learn to cook things from scratch - local things.

One of my favorite recipes has always been "Sweet Potatoes with Nutty Butter". The other roommates loved this one when I made it. I have never been able to remember the exact recipe, but something about melting butter with orange juice, walnuts and possibly honey, to create a drizzled sauce for the baked sweet potatoes. It was simple and delicious.

So I decided to use that as inspiration for these orzo-stuffed sweet potatoes. I added a variety of nuts and orange flavors to the orzo. I also tossed in a half bag of frozen chopped spinach and some cranberries for more color and vitamins. I think the cranberries really made it exciting, and of course the nuts gave it texture and satisfying protein.

Nutty Orzo Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
4 servings

8 Fingerling Yams or 4 Medium Sweet Potatoes or Yams

2 T olive oil
1/4 C onion, diced
1-1/2 C dried Orzo pasta
1-1/2 C frozen chopped spinach
salt, pepper, fresh ground nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 C dried cranberries
1 - 1-1/2 C toasted mixed nuts: sliced/slivered almonds, pistachios, chopped walnuts, pine nuts or hazelnuts
1/4 C crumbled Feta cheese (omit for vegan)
1/4 C grated parmesan (omit for vegan)  

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Poke holes in potatoes with a fork and roast in a baking dish for about 45 minutes until tender. Longer for larger potatoes.

2. Cook orzo by boiling, as per package directions.

3. Toast nuts in a dry pan, or in the oven.

4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté onion about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook another 5-7 minutes.

5. Stir in the cooked/drained orzo and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of fresh nutmeg. Add orange zest, cranberries and nuts.

6. Remove potatoes and turn oven up to broil. Slice down the center of each potato, and fold open. If using cheese, sprinkle each with a teaspoon of feta. Place spoonfuls of orzo over each potato and top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. (Omit step 7 for vegan).

7. Broil about 3 minutes just to brown the tops of the stuffed potatoes. Serve hot.

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