On Patrol

Spinach and Shells

spinach_and_shells

Trying something new with my site, in theory things should now be MUCH faster and hopefully posts/updates will stop disappearing.   Today’s post is a healthier twist on my standard lazy night dinner, a recipe that started back in college as it is easily double and can be made on little to no sleep.  Just requires some pasta, a leafy vegetable, and shredded cheese of some form!  In college this normally meant thin spaghetti, frozen spinach with onions, and whatever fake stuff was on sale.  Now that I have a bit more money, and still no time, I’ve been able to upgrade this recipe while reducing the sodium that goes along with fake cheese and fake (or canned) vegetables.  It still comes together in under 30 minutes, so perfect for late nights after work or for a late lunch when the day is slipping away.   As a bonus – it’s a green dish perfect for St. Patrick’s day!!!

Shells with Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/2 lb shells
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, then add the garlic and onion and cook for an additional 10 minutes before adding the basil.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta per instructions then reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Return the pasta, water, and garlic/onion mixture to the pasta pot.
  3. Stir in the spinach then top with cheese and season to taste with pepper and Enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/on-patrol.html

I’m also sending this over to /r/52weeksofcooking for their hangover challenge as I’m fairly certain the first time I made this in college that was the case.   This recipe is also a great way to clean out the fridge or freezer, and no need to stick to just one vegetable!

Thinking Outloud

Sugar Cookies

sugar_cookies

Not a surprise to anybody who knows me in real life, but I’m a HUGE fan of reading – and have been from a very young age.  Reading was a way to escape to a different time or place or both and whether it be a galaxy “far far away” or a war between cousins, I’ve always had an appetite for expanding my world via the written word. Which is why I was BEYOND thrill to see /52weeksofcooking was doing a challenge based on book inspiration.  The hard part was finding a book to pick from the hundreds on my shelves, but in end I had to go with one of my favorite “YA” books.  Eleanor & Park is technically a YA book, but it’s also a great “remember when” book for anyone that grew up in the 80s – or anyone still bitter about the cancellation of My So Called Life (or Freaks and Geeks) during the 90s.  Without giving too much away, we’ll just say that Eleanor’s home life is bit rough and while she loves her mom things aren’t always the best between them.  However one happy moment between the two takes place in the kitchen when her mom dabs vanilla extract behind her ears as a cheaper perfume option.

'I do it,' her mom said, 'because it's cheaper 
than perfume, but it smells just as good.'

This smell is the one Park remembers, lingering while they are on the school bus – causing him to think of sugar cookies and other vanilla treats.  However, I knew that I couldn’t just make any sugar cookie to represent Eleanor & Park, it needed to have some sort of a twist.  So I decided to merge my favorite snickerdoodle recipe with my favorite sugar cookie recipe in order to create and sugar cookie with a bit of added texture and just slightly cracked.

Sugar Cookies

Serves: Yields 48 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually - then blend for 10 minutes. Add eggs one at time, mixing well between additions, then add in the vanilla.
  2. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt gradually to the creamed mixture, and combine until just mixed. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or baking sheets.
  4. Roll dough in to two inch balls then place on the sheet - do not flatten!
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8 -10 minutes or until cookie has a golden appearance
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/thinking-outloud.html

These cookies didn’t last long, becoming a treat for my co-workers to celebrate a recent achievement for one of then.  Before anyone gets concerned. I did allow Joe to have the ones in the photo as it’s only right to pay the photographer!

Pain in to Power

Persian Raisin Cookies

raisin_tea_cookies

Hello and welcome to March’s Group A SRC reveal!  I was soooo excited to see that this month I was partnered up with a “new to me” blog: Della Cocina Provera which is run by the awesome Francesca a DC ex-pat living in Amsterdam.  Her “poor kitchen” is stuffed with delicious Italian and Iranian meals reflecting her background.  I knew from the start I wanted to go for a Perisan dish, growing up in an Italian family I knew most of those recipes and part of the fun with SRC is branching out and trying new things – so Persian it was!  Eventually I was able to narrow it down to 5 options, including a yogurt dip, an eggplant stew, some raisin cookies,  and two not so Persian dishes that just sounded fantastic: Blue Cheese Pasta and Cauliflower cous-cous.   In the end my need for sweets won out and I went out to get some raisins for some delicious cookies.  I was a bit nervous with these cookies as they are missing some of the more traditional ingredients (salt, baking soda, etc) but that’s part of the reason why these cookies are that easy!

Pain in to Power

Serves: Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 1/3 cups flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking sheet.
  2. Add the melted butter, oil, and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream, then add in the eggs ones at time.
  3. Stir in the raisins and then fold in the flour.
  4. Drop a tsp of batter on to the sheets being sure to leave at least 2 inches between cookies.
  5. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly golden.
  6. Allow the to sit on the sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Allow to finish cooling then serve and Enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/03/pain-in-to-power.html

I hope to make these cookies again when my oven is cooperating as I had a bit of trouble getting these to cook properly.  Regardless of if they bake “correctly” they were fantastic, and went perfectly with iced coffee.


Fix What’s Broken

Mulligatawny Style Curry

mulligatawny_stew

I have a curry addiction, I’ll admit it – it’s totally true.  I love the spice, both the heat and the flavor, and the fact that it warms me up on even the coldest day.  With the Siberian Vortex currently coming down on the Mid-Atlantic a bit of heat and spice is very much needed and appreciated.  Still in shock over how low the temperatures have been and are going to be, just totally ridiculous especially since I’m technically in the south.  Anyway, enough about the weather cuz it’s time to time to focus on the curry.  I can’t remember the first time I had mulligatawny stew but it had to be years ago as it involved chicken.  Which is why I set out to create a vegan version, no chicken involved!

Fix What’s Broken

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 shallots, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 16 oz tofu, well pressed and cubed
  • 1 pink lady apple, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven then add the shallots, green pepper, and carrot. Cook for 5-7 minutes, then stir in the curry powder and cook for an additional minute before adding the tofu. Continue cooking the tofu until golden on all sides.
  2. Add the apple along with vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low then simmer for 25 minutes before stirring in the greek yogurt and the golden raisins. Cook for a final 5 minutes then Serve and Enjoy!
http://dancingveggies.com/2015/02/fix-whats-broken.html

 For dinner we enjoyed the stew as is, while I added lentils the next day in order to make it go a bit further.   For those who don’t want all the spice feel free to drop the cayenne powder – or switch for something milder.  Whatever works best for you!

Rain Starts

Cheese”burger” Mac & Cheese

seitan_mac_cheese

When I first went vegetarian, I thought I could just make up a box of something and just leave out the meat – then I started reading labels and realized how so not healthy that option was.  With that I started experimenting to see what “out of the box” options I could come up with that would have the same great taste but healthier (i.e. less sodium).  It took a bit of time until I could figure out the right method, but now I have down to a science!   Even better, this dish can be adapted for vegans and all cooks up in one pot.  The one pot paste took a bit of time to get used to but the trick is to add less water than you think as seriously much easier to add more water later than to eat a soggy mess (trust me).

Rain Starts

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasonings
  • 1 cup seitan crumbles
  • 1/2 lb elbow pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 10 minutes, then add the Italian seasonings and cook for an additional 5 minutes - stirring to prevent sticking/burning.
  2. Add the seitan along with the pasta and water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn heat to low add the tomatoes and the shredded cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese melts. Add a bit of milk if too dry, give a final stir and keep on low heat for a final 5 minutes.
  4. Serve and Enjoy!

Notes

Vegan Option: sub the cheddar cheese with Daiya meltables

http://dancingveggies.com/2015/02/rain-starts.html

For an added crunch, add some fresh spinach at the very end – or some kale!  To add an extra punch, I used tomato pasta which also gave the dish a fantastic shade of red.  I’m a huge fan of flavored pastas, especially ones that I don’t have to make myself, even if I know they aren’t as healthy as they might advertise to be.  All the flavors of a cheeseburger, minus the meat!