Quick Weeknight Recipes

Many Licks

Paneer Curry

Paneer Onion Curry

The past few weekends Joe and I have been taking advantage of the awesome weather and getting out of town and just enjoying life.  While I love every moment of this it means that most Thursdays I’m trying to figure out how to use up as many leftovers as possible in order to avoid coming home to a science experiment gone wrong.  The other week we were left with paneer, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and a bit of rice.  Normally this combination has me going to my wok for a stir fry but I wanted to try something different and see if I could make a dry curry.  I searched the web to see what spices would work best and found tons of recipes for Paneer Do Pyaza which is essentially a paneer and onion curry featuring tomatoes.  While I didn’t have enough tomatoes or onion to recreate any of the dishes I found I did have enough total vegetables and so I set off to my kitchen.  Since everything was pre-chopped from the earlier meals this dinner came together in record time – from the time I turned the burner on to when we were sitting down to eat maybe 20 minutes past most of which was waiting for the spices to wake up and the paneer to brown.

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There are few things as amazing as a quick and easy dinner – one of which is a quick and easy dinner that also tastes out of this world!  If I had more time, and wasn’t trying to get things out of my fridge, I would have made some fresh naan to go with this yummy curry.

Baking · Home Cooking · Secret Recipe Club

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Vegetable Stuffed Chapathi

Vegetable Stuffed Chapathi

Greetings and welcome to the June installment of Secret Recipe Club!  I can’t believe it’s already June – this year is just flying by filled with all sorts of delicious treats and fabulous adventures.  This month I was assigned Veenas Veg Nation marking the first time I’ve been partnered with another vegetarian cooking blog!  She has so many incredibly delicious Indian specialties, I think I wound up with seven on my final list of recipes.  This list included dal, curries, wraps, and one of my favorite Indian dishes: Paneer Butter Masala.  After much debate and deliberation, as well as consulting with the hubby, I decided on her Vegetable Stuffed Chapathi.  I love the idea of making a new-to-me flatbread and then filling it with all sorts of delicious vegetables and paneer.  So I got to work chopping away at all the veggies needed for this tasty dinner.

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I love that this dish allows for flexibility with the vegetables, can easily switch things up based on what’s in season.  I can easily see myself making stuffed chapathi over and over again, trying out as many vegetable combinations as possible.

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I Still Do

Pasta with Pepper Sauce

pastaPepperSauce

Greetings! I think Spring has finally arrived and with it fresh vegetables and farmer’s markets!   I believe the first ones in this area open next weekend and I can’t wait! This recipe is perfect for spring and farmer’s markets, where it’s possible to get peppers that really taste like peppers.  I made this recipe a few times in college but it really all came together when I made it for Joe’s family last summer.  I also learned a valuable lesson that day: not all meat substitutes are vegan.  However that’s not a problem because this dish is just fine without it.  The key to the sauce is getting the best produce possible.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 cup white wine ( I used Bloom Reisling)
2 large green peppers, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
1/2 lb linguine

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skilled.  Add the garlic and cook 3 minutes, then add the bay leaf and wine and season to taste.  Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
2. Stir in the bell peppers and tomatoes, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.
3.  Meanwhile cook the pasta until al dente per box instructions.  Drain and return to pan.  Pour the pepper sauce over the pasta and toss well!  Top with some freshly grated Parmesan if desired. 


This dish makes a great simple supper and it can also be easily bulked up in order to provide more protein.  I tend to use Vegetarian Italian Sausages and add them to the pan before the garlic, crumbling them up as they cook.  If you decide to add a meat you will probably need to add 1 tbsp more EVOO during step 2, otherwise things start to stick.  If you are preparing this for any vegans just make sure to double check the meat substitute so that you don’t have any last minute surprises!

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Eggplant with Peppers

Eggplant with Peppers

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I heard something scary the other day…there are people out there that don’t like eggplant.  I can understand not liking broccoli or brussel sprouts (both of which I love) but eggplant?  Eggplant is one of the most versatile vegetables out there, you can do pretty much everything with them.  Fry them for some eggplant parmesan, bake them for rolletinis, saute them…cream them (hello baba ganoush)…the options are limitless.  So I have to wonder if these people have been the unfortunate victims of bitter plant, which I have been guilty of doing.  In fact the first thing I ever cooked for Joe included a few bites of this not so wonderful version eggplant.  When eggplant is not properly prepped, or if it’s kept too long, it becomes a bitter cousin of its true self, and you can’t tell from looking at it.  The trick: salt and press!  Take the eggplant, cut it as desired, lightly coat in salt and then press it between two plates/cutting boards with paper towels to collect the liquid.  After pressing for about 30minutes, rinse the eggplant and dry with paper towels.  I would say this method works 98.9% of the time, because if the eggplant is old this won’t fix it.  The downside of this is that one needs to know somewhat in advance if eggplant is on the menu.  However taking out the risk of the bitter  plant is well worth the extra time!  This recipe is one that really showcases how amazing the eggplant is, taking center stage where it belongs.

Ingredients:
2 tbsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb eggplant, cubed
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 cups mushrooms (shitake if available)
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup marsala
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:
1. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and peppers.  Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.  
2. Add the eggplant and mushrooms, turn heat to medium high, and cook an additional 10 minutes until eggplant is tender.  Stir in flour.  
3.  Add the water, marsala, and vinegar.  Bring to boil. and then turn heat to low and simmer for 20minutes.  Season to taste and serve over brown rice.


Did I mention this is a really simple recipe?  Gotta love anything that was easy to prepare after classes.  Typically I let this simmer while I did some minor cleaning/worked on homework.  Now I let it simmer while I do some minor cleaning/take care of the furry children.  This is also a very simple vegan recipe, which gives it bonus points in my book!

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What would you do?

Eggplant Parmesan Stuffed Red Peppers

So I feel like I should make a comment about how hot it is outside, some joke or other witty statement. However, it’s so hot outside that my brain has basically turned off, something about it being over 100 degrees. The only thing decent about the weather right now is that my pepper plant is growing like CRAZY outside! I have six little green peppers and in anticiption of their arrival I have been compiling all of my favorite pepper recipes. In doing this I realized that my only stuffed pepper recipe is a very “traditional” one that includes ground beef. I thought about going the seitan direction and just doing a direct sub but something about that just did not sound right. So I went online to some of my favorite recipe websites to see if I could get any inspiration and still nothing was getting my attention. By now it had become a mission, I NEEDED to make stuffed red peppers. So it became a WTF moment, or a What’s in The Fridge moment :). Then I saw it lying there in my veggie drawer… an eggplant! That’s when I decided to make up a variation of eggplant parmesan and stuff the red pepper with that and it worked.

Ingredients:
– 4 red peppers, tops off and deseeded
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 large onion, diced
– 1 medium eggplant, diced or cubed
– 4 roma tomatoes, diced
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 tsp oregeno
– 1 tsp parsely
– 1 tbsp fresh basil
– 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan
– 1/2 cup mozzerella
– 8 oz pasta of choice
1. Fill a large saucepan with water 1/4 of the way. Place the red peppers in and turn the heat to high. Boil the peppers for 10 minutes, until they are pliable but not soft. Remove peppers and place in ice bath. Save the boiled water for the pasta.
2. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a loaf pan with tinfoil and set aside.
3. Add the olive oil to a medium saute pan and turn heat to medium. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 5minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, and desired spices and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Stir and turn heat down to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Begin stuffing the peppers with the tomato eggplant mixture. Once the pepper is half full add a sprinkle of the parmesan cheese and once the pepper is fully stuffed top with the mozzerella. There should 2 cups of the eggplant tomato mixture left over to use as sauce for the pasta.
5. Place the stuffed peppers standing up in the loaf pan. Cook for 35 minutes or until cheese has begun to brown and the sauce is bubbling.
6. Cook the pasta according to directions on box. Serve hot

So once again eggplant saved the day…now if only my eggplant would grow as well as my peppers!
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On With My Life

Creamy Double Potato Casserole

Bacon. When I tell people I’m a vegetarian the first food I’m always asked about it Bacon, normally somewhere on the lines of “how do you live without it?!?” When I go on to explain that I haven’t had bacon in well over a decade, long before I even went Vegetarian due to other reasons, the look on their face resembles that of horror. People have tattoos to honor this food, and it’s impossible to go to most restaurants without finding at least one item that is enhanced by its miracle. Bacon also has this amazing smell…a smell that permeates the room it is being prepared in, a smell that can travel up three floors and wake-up a group of snowed-in college students, a smell that makes most people think back to Sunday mornings and family breakfasts. However there is a dark side to bacon, a messy dark side that can last beyond the smell. This would be the residue left behind by this bacon, a residue that is recreated whenever the grease is reheated, a residue that can make a yummy vegetarian (or vegan) dish taste like the latest bacon wrapped food de jour. Bacon ice cream anyone? Or going back to Top Chef what about Bacon foam? I know that right now people are reading this and drooling, imagining crispy bacon sizzling away; however, for those of you about to indulge in this food of the gods I have one request. Please clean the microwave when you are done, there are hungry people behind you that want to enjoy their own yummies sans the bacon aftertaste.

On that note, on to the recipe of the day, one that doesn’t include bacon but rather an odd collection of vegetables including those super “sweet carrots” from the other week.
Ingredients:
3 baking potatoes, cut into 1/4″ thick circles
1 large sweet potato, cut in 1/4″ thick circles
1 large onion, diced
1 large red pepper, cut into thin strips
4 cups white sauce (see recipe from last week, I added nutmeg and cinnamon to mine!)
1/2 cup rutabaga, cut into 1/4″ thick circles
2 cups shredded Harvati cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Layer the potato slices on the bottom of a medium sized casserole dish. Add 1 cup of the sauce and 1/3 of the red peppers and onion. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese. Repeat with the sweet potatoes, overlapping the edges of the rings before adding the peppers, onion, and sauce. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layering with the rutabaga, adding the last of the onions, and red pepper and another cup of the white sauce with 1/2 cup of the cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes and one last cup of white sauce and the last of the shredded cheese.
3. Cover with tin foil and bake for an hour and 35minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 45minutes, the cheese should be bubbling and brown around the edges.

I think Joe had finished his first bowl of this before I made a comment about how amazing the sweet potatoes tasted. He looked at me and said “sweet potatoes? I thought those were carrots…”
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Joe’s Corner: Sweet and sour tofu with vegetables

Slice pineapple. Add vegetables. ’nuff said. I know from experience that once you have a veggie dish with pineapple you won’t soon forget it. This is the first that I’ve made, not the first I’ve had. Maybe it’s cause pineapple has more sugar in it than any other fruit, but I like to think otherwise. This would prolly mix well with some fried rice. Cooking that while doing this was a little beyond my pay grade, so I just made white rice. As per usual I doubled the tofu (so 14 oz), added more red pepper. I also added the Thai Chili Sauce “to taste” aka more than 2 tablespoons.

Ingredients
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic
7 oz tofu
1 med. onion, diced
1 cucumber, sliced
1 red pepper, strips
1 can of pineapple (i used chunks)
2 med. tomatoes
1 tsp granulated sugars
1-2 tbsps thai chili sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.
2. Stir in garlic and heat 1 minute or until fragrant.
3. Stir in tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, until golden brown; remove tofu from skillet and set aside.
4. Add onion to wok and cook adding oil if needed, stirring occasionally, until tender.
5. Stir in cucumbers, red peppers, and pineapple; cook, stirring, 5 mins.
6. Add tomatoes, sugar, chili sauce, and soy sauce, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
7. Stir in water and tofu, heat a few minutes more. Serve over rice.

Not much to say about this dish. It’s pretty easy, but don’t try and cut up the tofu while the garlic cooks… it burns quickly.