Sunday, February 16, 2014

Leftover Chili Baked Eggs

Warning: stupid jokes, dumb writing and made-up words. Apologies in advance.


To begin, I've been terribly uncreative about breakfast, lately. It gets later and later each day. I'm back to my old way of drinking coffee for the first 3 hours, forgetting to drink any water, and ending up starving and thirsty. I actually dislike breakfast food, quite a lot, and delay the meal until I'm desperate. Usually this leads me to resort to my favorite breakfast: an everything bagel. Uh oh! I gained so much weight doing this exact thing in my early 20's, although I blamed that on the abundance of wonderful NYC delis delivering to my office. Now, I only have myself to blame for a freezer full of bagels I bought at Fairway.

My husband picks on me for my two breakfasts of choice: bagels or scrambled eggs. I argue that scrambled eggs are not a choice I like, but just an easy alternative to eating bagels every single day. I honestly don't love scrambled eggs, but my son does, so that's another perk to making them for myself. If he eats an egg with me in the morning, he is all proteined up for a sweet, long, nap!

Today I'm baking bread. So to eat a bagel and look forward to a day of fresh bread seems just a little too gluttonous (and glutenous!).... Elbow jabbing "wink wink"... yeah, we're on little sleep today. 

It happens to be lunch time, and I'm just getting around to breakfast... unless you want to say the two tablespoons of leftover sugary apple crisp I had at 9am counted. Looking into the fridge, I see the eggs looking at me. "We're easy, we're filling, you're starving, eat us!" they call. Ugh, just not in the mood, and it would require toast on the side, yet the bread is not ready. My eyes wander to the more lunchy options... leftover chili? Nah, not ready for hardcore lunch. AHA! Eggs + chili + an already hot oven = Mexican baked eggs! I spy a leftover baked potato, as well, to quarter and bake. A glutenless brunch! 


Just fill a tiny baby ramekin, set it, forget it, and write a blog post that probably nobody cares about! Yay Sunday! 

Thick bean chili, egg, cheese, bake at 400F for 15 minutes (for firm yolk). Top with hot sauce, sour cream, and cilantro.
Amazeballs! That looks so good for the amount of effort I put in! Next time you come stay at Hotel Mehta, you'll be getting this for breakfast! Exclamation point Exclamation point!! 

I need a nap.


Friday, February 14, 2014

"Meaty" Vegetarian Galumpkis: A Twist On a Famous Polish Comfort Dish


Two or three major snowstorms ago (that's about one week and 2 feet of snow ago), I decided to take a crack at making galumpkis. To be honest, I never really liked galumpkis, because I kinda always hated ground meat. Basically, galumpkis are cabbage stuffed with ground meat and rice, topped with a sweet and sour tomato sauce. So this was a meal I opted out of when I was growing up.

Up in New England, where I come from, there is a lot of Polish influence in cuisine. Although I'm one quarter Russian, a lot of the typical food passed down is very similar or the same as Polish versions. Maybe there are other versions of this particular dish, also, but I never met one that I liked. I guess I didn't inherit a taste for galumpkis.

But, I did get the cooking gene. My dad used to say I must have it, because I could make a meal out of nothing, just like his grandmother. Considering galumpkis and cooking skills in my blood, I should be able to take what I do keep in the house and make a version of galumpkis I actually want to eat. The other requirement was that they be vegetarian for my husband, but I also couldn't tell you the last time I ate red meat, myself.

I wanted to keep the consistency and flavor close to the traditional. Although I hate ground meat, I actually really like the fake stuff, especially Quorn brand made from mushroom protein. However, on it's own it's a bit boring, so I ground up some vegetables and mushrooms to give it more depth, which worked well. Grinding them small helped them blend into the veggie grounds and mingle the flavors. I have attempted in the past to stuff cabbage with healthy stuff like wild or brown rice, and it's just too firm and nutty. So I stuck with basic instant white rice as the filler.

It took a little foresight, and a bit of prep-work to get this dinner to the table. These things I usually lack. I haven't had that sort of time since, not even time to write this post (snowstorms to shovel, sick kid, no sleep). Many times I buy a specific item with a recipe in mind, like cabbage or eggplant or mushrooms, only to lack the time or motivation to make it, and the item goes rotten. My cabbage survived a good week or two before I got to it, luckily it's hardy, but I did it!

The best part of putting in the time, is that we were rewarded with leftovers for days. And these galumpkis reheat so incredibly well. There are no eggs, no pasta, nothing to go bad or watery or mushy. Day after day, the leftovers were as impressively delicious as the first meal. The stuffing and sauce could also be frozen individually, to make into rolls later.



Vegetarian Galumpkis
1-1/2 hrs
6-8 servings / approx. 16 rolls

2 large heads green cabbage

Filling:
1 T olive oil
1 small onion
1 medium carrot
1 medium celery stalk
4 oz can of mushrooms, drained
2 T tomato paste
1 T dry red wine (or water)
6 oz vegetarian ground “meat” (Quorn or Morningstar Farms)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T dried parsley
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

1-1/2 C cooked rice (I used 3/4 C dry instant white rice w/ ¾ C water)

Sauce:
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
35 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 T + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper

1. Heat oven to 350F.

2. Remove the bottom core from the cabbage with a paring knife, and carefully peel leaves off. Set the very large outer leaves aside to use later. In a pot of boiling water, submerge the remaining cabbage leaves and boil 5 minutes. You may need to work in batches a few at a time. Remove gently with tongs to a baking sheet or tray to cool.

3. Make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. Heat through and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Cook the rice according to package directions and set aside.

5. Prepare the stuffing. Place onions, carrot, celery and mushrooms in the small bowl of a food processor or chopper. Pulse until finely minced but not a paste. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook vegetables about 5 minutes to soften. Stir in tomato paste and wine or water. Add the grounds and cook, stirring, about 8 minutes until thawed and heated through. Season with garlic powder, parsley, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Add 1 C of the tomato sauce and mix in the rice.

6. Line a large rectangular baking dish with the outer unused cabbage leaves. Spoon a little sauce over the leaves.

7. Prepare cooked cabbage leaves by cutting the center vein from leaves. Lay each flat, and hold the stem opening closed overlapped a little, and spoon on a fat tablespoon of stuffing.  Roll up starting with the stem edge of leaf, tucking the sides in as you go, like a burrito. Place seam side down in baking dish 1-2” apart. Spoon the tomato sauce over the rolls. Any extra sauce can be kept to top leftovers later.

8. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Serve hot.




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Coconut Almond Pancakes with Warm Pineapples


This morning I made a big stack of pancakes. They were originally intended for my son, Ian. He loves pancakes because they are easy to chew, and stuff quickly into his mouth with his hands. 

Today Ian is feeling really crappy. He woke at 5am with 102F fever, shaking. He's got molars cutting through and may possibly be coming down with a cold. He hasn't been sleeping good for a few days, so neither have I. Diaper rash issues, learning to speak new words, sentences, and concepts like "up and down" have kept him ultra-alert at night. Needless to say, with the extra discomfort this morning he's feeling quite picky. 

Maybe today is a good day for pancakes, I thought. They should be easy to chew. Maybe the sugary syrup would appeal to him and feel nice on his gums. I added the coconut and almond for nutrients and flavor, always a concern with a picky eater. But, I was wrong about the appropriateness of pancakes today. Nothing but coconut water is getting through that boy's lips, so far. Good thing the pancakes came out perfect, since I'll be the only one eating them this time!

Coconut Almond Pancakes with Warm Pineapple
 30 minutes

10-12 pancakes

1 C all purpose flour
¾ C almond meal (almond flour)
¼ C shredded unsweetened coconut
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
¼ C brown sugar

1 ½ C milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg
1 egg white
¼ C vegetable oil

non-stick cooking spray

1 C maple syrup (or desired amount)
2 C cubed fresh pineapple
1/3 C almond slices, raw or toasted

1. Measure 1-1/2 C milk and stir in 1 tsp lemon juice. Set aside for a few minutes.

2. Combine dry ingredients (flours, coconut, powder, soda, salt and sugar) in a medium bowl and mix with a fork to break up the sugar. 

3. Whisk egg and egg white with a fork and add to milk, along with oil. Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. The batter should be a slightly lumpy.

4. Spritz a large skillet or grill pan, preferably cast iron, with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Use a ¼ C measuring cup to drop batter onto the hot pan. Flip the pancakes when the top is completely bubbled (approx. 2-3 minutes) and cook until the other side browns (about 1-2 minutes). Set cooked cakes aside or keep warm in a 200F oven.

5. Meanwhile, measure out some maple syrup and microwave 10-15 seconds on high. Only take what you know you need, don’t return heated syrup to a jar. Set aside. Toast almonds if desired, and set aside.

6. When all pancakes are finished, turn the griddle heat up to high. Cook the pineapple about 3 minutes, turning occasionally.

7. Serve pancakes with toppings on the side, or individually with pineapple, almond and syrup. 


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vegetarian Superbowl Snacks

Nobody is coming to watch the Superbowl at our house this year. Ironically enough, since we moved to a house three times bigger than our apartment, we don't have a great television space like we used to. This old Victorian house has small rooms intended for intimate entertaining, not designed for the sound-systems of 100 years in the future. 

But, if I were hosting this year, here is what I'd feed you at my all-vegetarian Superbowl party:

Instead of classic chili, I'd make a big, easy, pot of hearty Harira Stew (with crusty baguette from the awesome St. Rocco's bakery on the side).

Vegetarian Harira Stew
You just have to have chips and guacamole at a Superbowl party. Make it something to remember by adding a surprise like peas or fruit.

Green Pea Guacamole

Fruit Guacamole
Stuffed Mushrooms are a classic, especially crowd-pleasing with a creamy spinach-artichoke filling.

Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Mushrooms
If I had enough time, I'd make these hearty Beef-less Empanadas. See if the meat-eaters even notice the beef is fake!

Beef-less Empanadas
Everyone knows that pigs-in-blankets disappear as fast as you can bake them at a party. They can be meat-free also, and easy to make.

Smart-pigs in Cheesy Blankets
Don't forget the sweet element - a box of brownies takes no effort at all once you've got that oven hot. And easily made vegan, as well.

Box-Mix Vegan Brownies
Happy Superbowl! Have fun and eat well!

Green Pea Guacamole



To be honest, this recipe idea for guacamole with peas came from a baby-food cookbook. My 15-month old, Ian, loves avocados, peas and anything drenched in lime juice. I figured the adults would enjoy this dip, too.

However, the original recipe from Cooking Light First Foods is both overthought and thoughtless. The way I usually make guacamole is pretty simple, with only a few ingredients. The Cooking Light recipe includes peas, avocado, green onions, salsa, lime, cumin, cilantro and garlic. Avocado, lime, cilantro: absolutely, check. Peas: this goes along with my theory that fruits and vegetables of the same color play well together, so I'm in.  Green onion: also fits the green theme, but definitely getting spit out by a kid with no molars. Plus, aren't there onions in salsa? Oh wait, salsa? In guac? What kind of salsa? There are so many variations and options, how can it be consistent? Skipping it. Cumin... hmmm that sounds good, Ian loves cumin - it's in. Garlic: I initially overlooked the insanity of this inclusion and tossed it in the mix thinking of it's wonderful health benefits in it's raw form. The following two recipes in the book for hummus and peanut dip also call for raw garlic. Must be beneficial, right? 

I doubled the amount of avocado in the recipe, and I did use only half the garlic. I didn't question it until I dipped my spoon in the food processor to taste the guacamole. Whoa! That's garlicky! Wait, raw garlic for a toddler? It did taste very good... but it sure was pungent.

The addition of peas makes this guacamole worth trying again. It's a good, sneaky way, to add fiber and protein to a snack. But it will be a very long time before I give raw garlic to my son again. He was so cranky for hours after I gave it to him. I think he had a bellyache. I ate some with him, and tasted the garlic all day long. I'd be cranky too!


Green Pea Guacamole
4 servings
approx. 3-4 cups of dip

4 medium avocados
1 C frozen green peas, reheated
1/4 C lime juice
1/4 C cilantro
1/2 tsp cumin
*if you really love garlic, go ahead and add a small clove
salt & pepper

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper. 




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