Home Cooking

Looking Back

2014 Wrap-Up

Happy New Year!  Not going to lie, 2014 was a rather rough year and I’m not exactly sorry to see it go.  While I was able to accomplish some goals, new job and new features here on the blog, my biggest “goal” was not reached and there was nothing I could do to change that – just have to accept that there are things in life that are impossible to control.   I did fall a bit short on a few of my blogs goal, mostly due to interference from the goal not met -but I’m okay with that because I did the best that I could. I messed around with some new ingredients and new cooking techniques and while I didn’t do every week of /52weeksofcooking I did more than 2013 so that’s something!  September was also the BIGGEST month ever for the blog, which was an awesome birthday present. I can only hope that 2015 sees such incredible support.   With that said, time to talk about the recipes that gave such awesome numbers with the top 5 recipes of 2014.  The top 5 are based off of unique hits as recorded by wordpress, and limited to recipes posted in 2014.

#1: “Sausage” and Spinach Stuffed Shells which was made in May for /52weeksofcooking’s soy challenge.  I love it when a savory recipe takes first place!!!

#2: Taco Bowl an awesome recipe for when you are craving tacos but either don’t want, or can’t have the shell.  Adding more gluten free recipes to the blog was one of my big goals for the year, and more than 30% of all recipes in 2014 were/are gluten free!

#3 Buddha Bowl which is probably one of the healthiest recipes on my blog as it features raw veggies and delicious whole grains.   This was part of the clean eating challenge on /52weeksofcooking and is also a great recipe for starting out the New Year!

#4 Sweet Potato Falafels with Garlic Hummus came from a Secret Recipe Club Challenge, which I’ll be continuing in the New Year.  Posts will be the first Monday of every month as part of the awesome Group A, which occasional guest posts and features sprinkled throughout the year.

#5 Watermelon Feta Salad which is surprisingly the “sweetest” thing in the top 5 – which goes to show that cookies aren’t always #1.  This salad caused a bit of drama when the original post omitted a few key sentences, but it’s an awesome dish and I’ve made it a few times since.

There they are!  The top 5 recipes of 2014 which happen to be all savory – which I wasn’t really expecting.  While I haven’t most as many sweets this past year, just assumed those few would be the ones to take the care. So with that – enjoy your new year!  I have a few posts in progress and will once again be setting the goal of posting three times a week, but we’ll see what life has to say about that little plan.

52Weeks · Asian · Vegan

Ever Wanted

Navratan Korma

Navratan Korma

Every now and then I tend to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to blog challenges, and this week’s r/52weeksofcooking is a prime example.  The theme this week was Indian which is a cuisine I’m familiar with and have done a few times in the past.  However I wanted to try something different so instead of my standard tomato based curry I decided to attempt a yogurt based dish, and then go the extra step in making it vegan.  I researched a variety of different dishes before finally deciding on Navratan Korma which translates to Nine Gems Curry.  For my nine gems I settled on: peas, green beans, Indian Eggplant, green bell pepper, tofu (or paneer), Indian red chilies, shallots, cashews, and carrots.  I debated about using cauliflower or broccoli but it’s still too early in the season for them and couldn’t find any at the local market.  Needless to say this is a very (very!!!) prep-heavy dish with lots of cleaning and cutting.

I started prep work with the tofu in order to give it time to press before moving on to the eggplant, for similar reasons, and then all the remaining vegetables.  To figure out the right spices I looked at a variety of online recipes before finally settling on the below combination.  For a more traditional dish use paneer in place of tofu, just keep it mind it will cook a lot faster than tofu and might require additional vegetable oil in order to brown.

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I served the cashews only on top of mine since I couldn’t find a bag that was marked in such a way to indicate it was 100% peanut free.  This dish might have taken a while to get started but it’s incredibly quick to come together and delicious – making all the cutting worth it!  I also have a feeling this dish would work well in a slow cooker and look forward to testing that theory shortly.

Note: I’m submitting this to the So Delicious Dairy Free Recipe Contest

Home Cooking · Quick Weeknight Recipes · Secret Recipe Club · Vegan

Secret Is

Sloppy Joeys

Sloppy Joey

Time for the April installment of the Secret Recipe Club!!!! This month I was assigned the incredible Ilona’s Kitchen blog which is packed to the brim with delicious treats – both sweet and savory!  As always I had a hard time finding the perfect recipe, something that would be different than the normal and showcase the delicious recipes on her blog.  After much debate I decided to go with one of her two (!!!) recipes for Sloppy Joe’s,  figuring if they were such a hit with her munchkin they would also go over well with my husband.  In honor of the vegan twist on this recipe I’m renaming them Sloppy Joey’s, and my Joey seems to have no issue sharing his name with this incredible dinner!  Other than the vegan twist most of the recipe is as you will find it on Ilona’s Kitchen, as long as your overlook my avoidance of celery in this dish in favor of more peppers.

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These came together in record time, the only trick was finding a vegetarian friendly Worcestershire sauce.  In the end I wound up making my own using this guide from the incredible Martha Stewart.  I have to say this homemade version was far better than any I had before, and used the extra sauce as a topping for the mashed potatoes that I served with my Sloppy Joey’s .  Thanks Ilona’s Kitchen for an incredible dinner idea!


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Creole/Cajun · International Incident Party

Leaving is worse

Vegetarian Gumbo

Good evening!  It is once again time for another International Incident Party hosted by the lovely jeroxie 😀 I was thrilled when I saw this month’s theme of GUMBO.  I have been trying to be more adventurous in my cooking and cajun/creole dishes most certainly fall in that category.  I have attempted etouffe and jumbalaya in the past, but in both of those cases my dish was more in the spirit of.  This time I set out to do something as traditional as possible, minus the andouille sausage of course.  I was orginally hoping to make my own vegetarian sausage but realized that was way out of my skill level, so had to settle with doing everything else from scratch and using tofurkey sausage.  However I didn’t want to go heavy on the soy based products so I decided to add some beans, figuring they would add the right texture/taste to the dish.  I am rather impressed with what I came up with, even more so in the fact that this dish is also vegan!

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (16oz) black or red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp Cajun Seasonings (I used Emeril’s Essence)
  • 1 lb tofurkey sausage

Directions:

  1. In a large dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted whisk in the flour, allow to cook until the mixture has turned a very rich brown color, darker than peanut butter for the best results.
  2. Meanwhile in a large saute pan heat up the olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion, celery, and green pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, until the garlic begins to turn golden and the vegetables are tender.
  3. Once the flour mixture has turned brown stir in the water and vegetable stock, then add the tomatoes, beans, and cooked vegetable.  Cover and simmer for 30minutes.  Add the seasonings, recover and cook an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile dry brown the sausage in a small pan.  Cut into bit size pieces and add to the gumbo.  Allow the mixture to simmer for a final 30minutes.  Serve over brown rice!

I think this dish might be one of the few dishes were celery is acceptable, normally I leave that out but since I was resolved to be as traditional as possible I sucked it up and kept it in.  I’m sure most locals would still turn their noses up at my vegan gumbo but it is insanely dishes and really is a rib sticking dish.

http://www.linkytools.com/thumbnail_linky_include.aspx?id=86320

Quick Weeknight Recipes · Vegan

History Repeating

Curried Chickpea Stew
curriedChicPeaSoup
This past weekend, Joe and I ventured down to my old college for my 5th College Reunion.  I had an amazing time seeing friends from college and it was great seeing how far some of them have come, both in their personal and professional lives.  While the path I’m on is not the one I planned out while I was in college I am glad it’s the path I’m on, even if I don’t use my degree every day.  I also think that many of the experiences I had in college are what allow me to succeed at the job that I do, there isn’t much of a difference between dealing with crazy frat boy and crazy gov’t people.  I’ve also grown appreciative of all the research I did for my Biology degree, very useful for hunting down recipes and for planning various events.  I guess this all goes to show that while things don’t always go to plan they do eventually work out one way or another.
This recipe also falls into the category of eventually working out and has gone thru many evolutions.  The first time I tried doing something with chickpeas and curry was after suffering a horrible allergy attack from eating Chana Masala.  I wanted to find something with that taste but without all the lemon.  This essentially became the base for my chickpea stew, however I always knew that it was missing something.  Fast forward many years later and I found a recipe for something called Captain Stew.  I married the two recipes and this was the end result, YUMMY!
Ingredients:
1 tbsp veg. oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp Garam Marsala
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups carrot, diced
2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup veg. stock
1 1/2 cups water
Directions:
1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the oil and fully coat the pan.  Add the onions, and cook 5 minutes then add the Garam Marsala along with the garlic.  Stir well. 
2.  Add the water, stock, carrots, chickpeas, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 20minutes.  Serve in bowls and top with greek yogurt (optional).  This can also be served over brown rice or with some crusty bread.

Home Cooking · Quick Weeknight Recipes · Soup · Vegan

Need to be a Little Crazy

Pasta e Fagioli

pastafijoule
For some reason this April has been nothing short of INSANE!  I started a new job last week and the film festival at the USHMM has also started up again.  I was also fortunate enough to spend this past weekend in NYC (2nd Top Chef restaurant) and will also be out of town the next two weekends with other fun things.  There is also a very good chance that in the next 24hrs Joe will be an Uncle…did I mention this month has been insane?!? I have still been cooking like crazy and have some great quick and easy spring time recipes that I can’t wait to share with everyone.
During crazy insane times like these I rely on quick easy recipes that involve very little prep and very little active cooking times.  Meals like these are essential on crazy nights, and the best part about this recipe is that is has everything in it for a full meal.  Just add some polenta or some crusty bread and you have a quick weekday night feast!
Ingredients:
2 tbsp EVOO
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb baby carrots, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can cannelloni bean
2 cups low salt veg. broth
1 cup small pasta, uncooked

Directions
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook 3 minutes, then add the parsley, garlic, and carrots. Cook 5 minutes.
2. Add the beans and stock and bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and add the pasta.  Cook, simmering, for 15minutes or until pasta is tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve!


Joe likes to top his with some fresh cheese, be it Mozzarella or Parmesan while I prefer to just add some crusty bread.  Hopefully things will start to slow down soon and I can start posting more regularly.  There is an IIP party this week so I will have a delicious Cake Pop recipe to share on Saturday night.  I have this theory that with all the running around I have been doing any Cake Pops that I eat while recipe testing won’t count.  I mean, that’s how it works right???

Uncategorized

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!