Let’s Do the…

Vegetarian Moussaka 

Do I really need to finish this phrase? Who doesn’t know the next line to this awesome song? That and with Glee being on tonight I guess that makes it even easier to finish the sentence.  I am one of those Rocky Horror people, I have gone to the midnight showings, I have screamed out the extra lines, and I have dressed in costume.  I have also dragged along unsuspecting friends….and that might because there is a slightly evil streak in me.  Now this has nothing to do with my recipe for tonight, aside from this being a great filling dinner for anyone looking to have a long night out watching Rocky.  This is also an amazingly easy meal that looks very impressive when it comes out of the oven, so a great meal to serve to unsuspecting guests that were expecting a normal moussaka.  (look I found a link after all!) 
1 eggplant, sliced
3 small butter potatoes, sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb baby bella mushrooms (or regular portabella mushrooms) sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes (or 1 lb fresh tomatoes if you are lucky enough to find them!)
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup parm. cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425.  Lightly grease a roasting sheet and place the eggplant in a single layer.  Season to taste and roast 20minutes.  Set aside and turn heat down to 350.
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, stirring until soft.  Increase to medium high and add the mushrooms, cook an additional 3minutes.  Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 5minutes.
3.  Meanwhile melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan.  Add the flour and stir well, until the flour is fully mixed.  Cook for three minutes and then slowly add in the milk, stirring as you go.  Cook for 10minutes over medium heat until sauce thickens, then add the parm cheese and turn heat to low and cooking for an additional 5minutes.
4.  Place a layer of eggplant at the bottom of a large casserole dish, overlapping the edges.  Top with half of the mushroom sauce. Cover with the potatoes, again creating a layer with overlapping edges.  Spoon on the remaining mushroom sauce, then pour the white sauce over the mushrooms.   Cover and bake for 30minutes.  Remove lid and then bake for an additional 15minutes, until sauce is bubbling and browning along the edges.  Serve!

I had made regular moussaka many years ago, and once attempted to do a vegetarian version using a meat substitute but it just wasn’t a good thing.  This time I decided to just switch out the ground veal for mushrooms and it worked AMAZINGLY!  This could easily be a great meatless Monday dish because you can’t tell that meat is “missing”, just add some fresh bread and you are set to go!

Silver, Gold, or Brass

Irish Eggs

So last month I participated in an egg challenge.  This wound up opening the door to the world of eggs, a world that I wasn’t very familiar with prior to the International Incident which in a way was the point of the exercise.  I wound up going thru my cook books and checking out all of the egg recipes I had skipped over, yet I kept going back to baked eggs.  So I decided to keep experimenting with them and seeing what other delicious taste combinations I could find.  Once upon a Thanksgiving ago I found that mashed potatoes and eggs go together really well in the form on a delicious mashed potato omelett.  I decided to take that concept and add to it, while changing it from a cheesy omelett to the power house that is a baked egg.  Some googling let me know that this was actually very similar to a dish known as Irish Colcannon minus the meat…and with some veggie changes.  So in tribute to that ancient recipe I am dubbing these Irish Eggs.


1 lb potatoes, diced
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
1 lb spinach, thawed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 eggs
2 oz cheese, shredded

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, then drain and mash.  Add seasoning to taste along with butter and milk.  
2. Preheat oven to 375.
4.  Spread the mashed potatoes on the botton of an 9×9 pan.  Add the spinach over top.  Create four wells in the spinach/mashed potatoes add crack the eggs into the wells.  Top with cheese
5. Bake for 15minutes, or until eggs are fully cooked.  Enjoy!

Another simple dish that is perfect for a filling breakfast or a light dinner.  I am now officially a fan of baked eggs and I look forward to figuring how many other ways I can prepare them.  I am also going to attempt to do a poached egg as well at some point…maybe…


Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and

Lavender Crepe 
Lavender Raspberry Cream

Confession: I have never eaten or cooked with Lavender before.  I once saw a Lavender Scone at a bakery outside of Pittsburgh but didn’t order it, instead I went for the classic Maple Scone.  So when I saw that lavender was the “secret ingredient” for the International Incident Party I was nervous.  I thought about skipping this month or feigning a last minute illness and then realized that this was a good thing.  I normally stick to recipes that are vegetarian version of the comfort foods I grew up with, or the vegetarian versions of meals I see at restaurants.  This was a chance to branch out and do something different.  So I decided to go all out and not only use a new ingredient but try a new cooking technique.  When I was growing up occasionally my dad would go all out and become a short-order chef for the morning.  Mostly we stuck to simple egg orders but every now and then he would make crepes for us.  Delicious yummy crepes with random stuff inside of them or just a basic crepe with some cream cheese and maple syrup.  So I found an old school recipe for crepes and started experimenting.  After finding the right batter I decided it needed more than just a normal filling, it needed a special lavender infused filling.  So I got out the food processor and had some fun with that as well.  In the end only one crepe survived…something about over greasing and then under-greasing the pan…but just needed one crepe for the picture with the right filling and that’s what we got.
Ingredients for Crepe:
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp lavender, crushed
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
For Filling:

2 oz cream cheese
1 tsp lavender, crushed
1/2 cup raspberries

1. Mix the egg, milk, flour, lavender, salt, and vegetable oil.  Chill in the fridge for one hour.
2.  Heat a lightly greased skillet over medium heat.  Spoon 1/4 of the mixture in the skillet and tilt in order to cover the bottom fully.  Cook for three minutes, until bottom in brown, then flip and cook the other side an additional three minutes. remove
3. Meanwhile cream the remaining lavender with the cream cheese and the raspberries.  Spoon into the cooked crepes, roll, and SERVE!

This recipe should make four delicious crepes if you aren’t a spaz like me.  Enjoy!

You Know You Make Me…

Lentil Bolognese
There has been a lot of action in the Casa de Dancing Veggies lately, lots of cooking and lots of recipe testing.  In theory by the end of tonight I should have two more posts in addition to this one to celebrate two blog parties.  One is the monthly International Incident Party hosted by Jeroxie and the other is a new one courtesy of RSVP Redux.  Both pushed me to the edge and required me to use ingredients that I had either never used before or to use ingredients in a whole new way.  I was also able to add a new cooking technique which is always a positive thing.  Before I get ahead of myself though I figured I should share a recipe that is beyond basic beyond simple and also a great vegetarian dish to share with meat eating friends.  When I went vegetarian over a decade ago I was really on my own when it came to cooking.  I was inspired to go Veggie as a protest to my parents going on the Adkins diet (yuck) because I realized that all the delicious meals I enjoyed were no longer going to be a regular occurrence in the house.   So I grabbed some of my mom’s cookbooks and started messing around in the kitchen…much to my dad’s “enjoyment”.  Once I got to college I start finding recipes online and came across a recipe for lentil bolognese.  At this time in my life I had only heard of lentils, normally in regards to various soups but had never really had them.  This changed shortly thereafter when my dad took my sister and I to get Indian food and I had Dal for the first time.  I decided I needed to revisit that strange bolognese recipe and see what it was all about.  That first experiment was a crash and burn, with a very weak sauce that lacked the flavors I was expecting.  This is when the experimenting really began, going from onions to leeks changing from garlic powder to roasted garlic to garlic cloves.  Adding spices and subtracting spices…trying to get a taste that was more sauce and less soup.  In the end this is what I had:
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, grated
1 red pepper, diced
1 leek, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup red lentils
14oz can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 1/4 cups veggie stock
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp basil
1/2 tbsp oregano
1. In a large saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, pepper, carrots, and leeks and cook for 5 minutes until soft.  Stir often
2.  Add the lentil, tomatoes, stock, and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, and then cover turning heat to low and simmer for 20minutes.
3. Serve over favorite pasta or over brown rice.

Told you it was a simple recipe.  Once the cutting is done everything just gets tossed in together.  This could also be done in a slow cooker starting from Step 2.  Slow cookers are amazing inventions and I don’t know how I would have survived my first apartment without one!

Haunting as a sigh

I apologize in advance for the lack of picture with this post.  I kept meaning to do it, but some how everytime I went to the table to take a picture I wound up just eating a cookie. Which resulted in a lack of cookies for the photo.  I will make this recipe again, probably in the next week or so but I wanted to go ahead and make it available.  I also promise to have some more savory recipes up later this week, lately I have been a baking machine!
These cookies are inspired by the AMAZING Cranberry Bliss Bars available at Starbucks.  They are by far my favorite food item and I remember looking forward to those rare nights when one would be left over and thus available for mark-out.  Alas, this was a rare event so more often then not I had to buy my pastry like everyone else.  I originally wanted to make the bars but after finding the “official” recipe and the official calorie count I realized nothing good would come from that.  So I decided to experiment in the kitchen and see what I could do.  This is one of those recipes were the dough is not the tastiest but everything works out in the end. 

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted margarine, softened
1 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all natural applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Mix the flour and baking soda together in a small bowl.  Set aside.
3.  Cream the margarine, cream cheese, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Add the applesauce and vanilla extract, then mix well.  Mix in the cranberries and white chocolate chips.
4. Drop the cookies onto a non-stick pan, with spacing, and bake for 10minutes. 

This recipe should result in around 40 delicious bites of yumminess.   


Looking for baggage

Smokey Apple Risotto
I must confess, there is something that I love more than cooking…more than baking…more than picking delicious fruit/veggies at the farm.  I love Glee!  I’m not sure if this is a healthy kind of love, because I’m pretty sure this is a one sided relationship.  I count down until Tuesdays at 8PM EST where I can once again spend time with my love.  I have also started a new tradition of baking cookies during Glee, a way to pass time during those evil commercial that try to stand in our way.  Joe has accepted this intruder, and by accepted I mean he is training the pups to bark during Glee so that he doesn’t have to listen to it.  However we have an arrangement, after Glee leaves me (again) for another week (or two!) he gets to play with his birthday present: the XBOX.  This is the other reason for the cookies…eating them somehow helps me block out the wonderful sounds of HALO.  It’s all worth it tho, because Glee makes me smile and reminds of the happier moments of High School.  I wonder if it’s possible to do a Glee themed meal….hmmm…
In other news I have finally used the last of my amazing apples!  After many batches of Apple Chip Cookies and a few batches of my yummy Apple Cider bread I decided to go in the savory direction and do a modified version of a dish my friend Elise made last year.  Her original recipe called for bacon and was lacking in the cheese department…so it needed some fixing.  This is the final result and it was amazingly rich and delicious.
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 1 pound apples, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced KEEP THE SKIN ON!
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated smoked Gouda Cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Directions
    1. In a saucepan, warm the broth and cider over medium heat, bringing to a low simmer.

    2. Warm 1 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the apples, and cook until just soft, about 3 minutes. Remove apples, drain, and set aside.
    3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the garlic and onion. Cook 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in the sherry, stirring constantly until fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth cider mixture to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat, and stir in the apples and gouda. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    If you don’t have sherry feel free to use another type of dry wine.  When it comes to apples I prefer a mixture of sweet and tart, as well as a mixture of colors.  The main thing with the apples is cooking them to the point where the flesh is soft but the skin still has a slight crunch to it, almost al dente if you will. 
    For those of you that want to baconize this recipe, just switch out half of the apples and start cooking the bacon right before you add the apples.  For those of you that want the bacon taste without the bacon, some stores do sell a bacon smoked cheese…have I mentioned before how bacon is taking over the world???