Category Archives: Vegetarian

Vegetarian Stir Fry

This is one of my favorite go-to meals because: 
a) it is quick
b) it is easy 
c) it is cheap
d) it is different and delicious every time! 
Stir fry is great because it is so versatile. Basically it’s rice and whatever else you want to put in it! I’m sure I will be stir frying a LOT this summer, because I’m working on an organic CSA farm (http://www.facebook.com/schoonerfarms) and will have a ton of fresh veggies once the growing season gets into full swing. Also, I’m trying to eat at least 2 full days a week vegetarian, for health purposes. So anyways, here is the stir fry du jour.
Ingredients
1/2 cup white rice ($2 for 24 oz)
2 large baby bella mushrooms ($1 for the pack)
Handfull snow peas (Free from the farm)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped ($1 for pepper)
1/2 large carrot, shredded ($1 for 1 lb bag)
1/2 cup small broccoli pieces ($1 for a head)
1 stick celery (~1 for 2 lbs)
2 tbsp each soy sauce, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce
Garlic salt
Total cost: ~$2
 
Step 1: assemble ingredients, put oil in a frying pan on low. Boil water for the rice.

Step 2: Dice up all the veggies while the rice cooks.

Step 3: Begin cooking veggies, toughest one first. I put in the broccoli for about 2 minutes alone, then the celery and peppers, then the carrots and peas, and finally the mushrooms. It helps to add a few tbsp water and cover tightly to steam them for a few minutes.

Step 4: Add the cooked rice and sauces, fry everything together for a minute or 2, and enjoy! There are endless variations of this, you can add as much sauce and different kinds or none at all, you can scramble an egg or add meats if you like. This is also very frugal and budget-friendly because you can use up all the odds and ends of vegetables in your fridge before they go bad!

Mini quiches

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These were made for my thesis defense because it was at 10:30 in the morning and these are breakfast-like, plus I had all the ingredients already on hand. And they turned out amazing!!! The best part is, the dough is super easy and cheap, and you can fill them with just about anything.
Dough (makes about 4 dozen):
3 1/3 cup Bisquick
2/3 cup butter or margarine
6 tbsp boiling water
Fillling (fills about 4 dozen):
Crab
1 can crab meat
1/2 block cream cheese
Lemon pepper seasoning
Vegetarian filling:
4 cups shredded zucchini and squash
1 bag shredded mixed cheese
Nature’s seasoning
Custard (makes ~8 dozen):
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk or half and half
sprinkle of nutmeg
Step 1: Mix the Bisquick and butter together. Add the boiling water and mix well. Roll 1 tsp. dough into a ball and place in a mini cupcake pan. Even out the bottom using a wooden tamper or a shot glass.

Step 2:  Mix whatever fillings you are going to use. Add about 1 tsp to the dough.

Step 3: Mix the custard well. Then add 1 tsp of the custard on top. If it covers the top of the dough, it’s fine. But be sure to use a VERY tiny amount, because if you put too much dough or custard in, they will explode.

Step 4: Add cheese and/or seasonings on top, bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Step 5: Let them cool before popping them out of the muffin pans with a butter knife. Then enjoy! They are good to warm up the next day, or even at room temperature. These flew off the trays! I will absolutely be using this recipe again, and getting creative with the fillings in the future.

Kidney bean and quinoa burgers

Well, this one came from a combination of boredom, hunger and a determination to not go to the grocery store this week. I had half a can of kidney beans in the fridge, and some googling brought up this blog’s recipe: http://sweetbeetandgreenbean.net/2009/02/04/kidney-bean-and-quinoa-burgers/

So of course I made my own version of it.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup kidney beans
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
Garlic salt, burger seasoning, Nature’s Seasoning, and cumin

Step 1: Add the chicken stock to the quinoa and microwave for 10 minutes. Then add the rinsed and drained kidney beans, and microwaved another 10 minutes.

Step 2: Mash the beans and quinoa together, and add the spices, flour and olive oil.

Step 3: Put some oil in a frying pan, shape 4 patties from the mixture, and fry them for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Step 4: Drain the patties on a paper towel, and man they are delicious! 

You seriously need to try this. I put a patty on a slice of whole wheat bread with baby romaine and grilled bell peppers. Seriously, try it!

Meatless Mondays

 

For those who haven’t heard, “Meatless Mondays” is a newish eating trend. I’m not sure when it started, but basically you devote one day per week to a fully vegetarian day of meals. Typically Monday, but it can be whatever day you choose.

This trend has several very strong positives:

  1. Meat is more expensive than grains and vegetables, therefore eating less meat saves you money
  2. Meat is more of a burden on the environment to produce. It costs much less to grow one crop of grain or vegetables versus raise a cow or pig and butcher one pound of meat. You save water, energy, and the grain that would have been fed to the cow for one meal can now be fed to you directly instead.
  3. A whole food vegetable based diet is MUCH healthier overall for you. This way of eating lowers cholesterol, makes losing weight easier, decreases risk for cardiovascular disease and hypertension, etc.

Look it up for yourself, or watch “Forks over Knives”. I’m not saying go cold turkey vegan, but adding in more fiber-filled fresh fruits and veggies plus 100% whole grains can never be a bad thing.

Mostly because of the health benefits, I’ve decided to try to incorporate one day a week as a meat-free day. No guarantees, but I have also been making a conscious effort to add in more whole foods to every day.

Today I pulled off a meat-free day without even realizing it.

Here’s an overview:
Breakfast: 1 small slice of banana bread and a Tropical Fruit Smoothie. Mango, pineapple, banana, orange juice. Delicious and refreshing, plus it is portable. 2 minutes in the blender and I can take it with me to the lab.

Lunch was a large salad consisting of a romaine leaves and spinach tossed with 1 plum tomato, 1/2 cucumber, 2 tbsp sunflower seeds and Italian dressing. I had a side of Quinoa & Veggies

Snacks: To work I brought a baggie full of 1 cup of cantaloupe and 1/2 cup of baby carrots. They also made popcorn in honor of National Libraries Week, so I had about 3 cups of popcorn.

Dinner: I had soaked white navy beans overnight and had leftover Easter ham and made myself some Ham & Bean Soup*: At only ~150 calories per cup, you can have a bowl for dinner and another as a snack when you inevitably get hungry a few hours later!

The whole day covered all the major food groups, provided lots of fiber and nutrients, and was under 1500 calories, my ideal calorie range to maintain or lose weight.

 

*Note: going back and re-reading this years later, I just realized I said ham and bean soup is vegetarian… LOL @ former me’s writing. Clearly NOT 100% vegetarian. But hey, life is a learning process.

Hearty Fruit & Nut Toast

 

Breakfast is reportedly the most important meal of the day. I know I function best with a full stomach right off the bat. But we rarely have time to cook a well-rounded, 30 minute breakfast, enjoy it and clean up, and still get to work on time, right? So I came up with some better alternatives. You only need a few minutes to throw these together, and they are even portable (as long as you bring a napkin as well and maybe don’t mind peanut butter on your car seat…)

#1: Strawberry almond delight
Toast a piece of wheat/whole grain bread to your liking. Spread with 1 tbsp strawberry jam. Sprinkle a handful of slivered almonds on top.

#2: Elvis toast
Toast 1 piece of bread. Spread with 1 tbsp peanut butter. Top with sliced banana. (This one’s my favorite!)

#3: Mediterranean breakfast on-the-go
Toast 1 piece bread. Spread with 1 tbsp Greek yogurt. Top with thin slices of pear or grapes. Drizzle a little honey on top.

#4: Sweet treat
Toast a slice of bread. Spread with 1 tbsp Nutella. Top with sliced pear or other fruit.

These are just the ones I’ve tried, of course the possibilities are endless. Try blueberries and crushed walnuts with almond butter, or applesauce and raisins with some flax sprinkled on top.

The point is to try to use spreads which are low in fat and pair with at least 1 fruit and 1 type of nut if you can. Start every day this way and I’ll bet your mood and productivity increase, and your weight will likely decrease because you will be less hungry later on in the day!

Spinach fruit & nut salad

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Well as you may remember, I am eating healthier this year. Working out has been kind of off and on due to sickness, school visits, and I admit, laziness. I have been pretty good about eating better overall though. So today I decided to make a super healthy salad.
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Spinach is one of the best greens out there, with tons of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Then I added some fruit for natural sweetness, and nuts & seeds for healthy fats. The only thing that could make this better is some grilled chicken breast to top it off!
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Ingredients:

2 cups fresh, washed spinach
1/2 kiwi
4-6 strawberries
1 roma tomato
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tbsp. sunflower seeds
Balsamic vinegar & olive oil

Step 1: Cut the peel off the kiwi and cut into slices. Slice the strawberries as well.

Step 2: Put a big pile of spinach leaves on a plate, cover with diced fruits & nuts. Add dressing, enjoy!
Here’s to eating healthy and enjoying it for life!

Baked Potato Soup

As stated previously, cold weather is made for soups and stews. But you can only throw meat, vegetables, and some kind of stock together so many different ways. Sometimes I need a soup of a different texture.

Given that the days of grilling and baked potatoes are slowly fading, I decided to make the soup adaptation of baked potatoes. It is creamy, cheesy, thick and filling. Not to mention it is relatively cheap to make (especially if you skip adding the bacon, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

The way I made it, you will make the mashed potato base, and then both thin and thicken it with the broth and dairy and add-ins.

For soup base:

  • 6 medium baking potatoes
  • 3 cups of chicken broth or 3 bouillon cubes (for vegetarian use veggie broth)
  • Approximately 12 oz cheese (I used marbled cheddar and colby jack)
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Soup additions/toppings:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon
  • Handful of chives
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Step 1: Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into quarters and add to 3 cups chicken broth. Either boil for 1 hour, or put on hot in a slow cooker for 4 hours. Then liquefy the cooked potatoes in a blender and put into a soup pot on the stove. Add the cheese and cream cheese and put on low.

Step 2: While the soup simmers, combine the milk, chives, bacon, garlic, onion and the rest of the cream cheese in a blender. Liquefy all of the ingredients, and then add to the soup pot.

Once the soup simmers and begins to thicken, taste the soup and adjust to your liking. Then if you want to be all fancy, you can serve it with a sprinkle of cheese and bacon, a dollop of sour cream and a piece or two of chives.

Lentil soup

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
This soup was inspired by the place I waitress at for the soup base (which I forget the fancy name of) and a version which adds sausage. Omit it if you want something vegetarian. It is healthy and hearty, perfect for a nippy fall evening. It makes quite a bit, so be prepared to share, store or eat it for every meal for a few days!
Ingredients:
1 medium potato, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2-3 mild sausages, sliced (omit for vegetarian)
2 cups lentils
3 cups water or stock of your choice
3 celery ribs
1/2 medium onion
4 sprigs parsley
4 cloves garlic
a handful fresh basil
a few tbsp olive oil
black pepper to taste
 
1. In a large pot, get the water or stock boiling.
2. While heating the water, in a blender, combine the celery, herbs, onion, garlic and a few tbsp olive oil and liquefy into a paste. This is the base of the soup, and adds an indescribably fresh and delicious flavor!
3. Add the base to the pot, along with all the veggies and 2 cups of lentils.
4. Brown the sausage (loose or sliced, I cut mine into slices) in a pan. Add those to the pot.
5. Let the whole thing simmer at least 1 hour. Alternatively, you can put all the same ingredients into a Crock Pot on high for 4-6 hours.
6. Enjoy! It tastes even better after sitting in the fridge overnight or a few days!
 

This recipe submitted to the May 2014 “Cooking with Herbs” challenge!

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Caprese Pasta

If you’ve never had a Caprese Salad, you’re missing out. Layer toasted french bread, thick slices of fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and you have a simple and delicious summer treat.

I decided to adapt that idea into a pasta dish. I have a Basil plant which is on its last leg, some cherry tomatoes from my a friend’s garden, pasta in the pantry, and chicken in the freezer. All I had to buy is the mozzarella.

 
Ingredients:
1 boneless skinless chicken breast (omit for vegetarian)
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup pasta (garden mix rotini)
1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Handful of basil leaves, rinsed
1/4 cup mozzarella
 
Boil enough water to fully cover pasta. Once at a rolling boil, add in the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, melt a few tbsp butter in a frying pan. Cut the chicken breast into chunks. Fry on low heat until the chicken is fully cooked, no pink in the center. Add in diced garlic cloves and turn off heat.
Once pasta is al dente, about 8-10 minutes, drain and put back in the pan. Add the cooked chicken and garlic to the hot pasta. Use the now vacant pan and add cherry tomato halves, a little more butter, basil leaves and cheese cut in cubes. Stir until cheese melts and everything is well mixed. Pour over the pasta and chicken. Mix well and enjoy!
 
 

Homemade Minestrone soup

Fall is finally in the air. The temperature is cooling off but the sun still shines. The best season of the year, in my opinion, not too hot but not yet cold. It makes me want apple cider, bonfires, and pumpkin pie.

And my personal favorite thing about the weather cooling off is having soup and stew nearly every day! They are so easy to make, usually the cheapest recipes around, and have endless creative possibility! Look forward to plenty of soup recipes coming up.

So a few days ago, I took stock of my pantry and saw I had 1/2 box of mini shell pasta, a bag of frozen mixed veggies, some potatoes that need used soon, and a can of kidney beans. Add in some garden-fresh tomatoes from a friend’s mother’s garden, and we have inspiration for a minestrone soup!

You’ll need:
1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup mini shells
1 can kidney beans
2 small potatoes
4-5 tomatoes
Garlic
Black pepper
Chicken bouillon cubes (or veggie stock)
6 cups water

Into a large soup pot, pour the water and about 3 chicken bouillon cubes and bring to a boil. Peel the potatoes and dice them finely. Add those in. Dice up the tomatoes, add those. Pour in the can of kidney beans, juice and all, and as much of the vegetables as you want.
Then add in the shells, season and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This made about 5 servings for me, 2 of which I ate immediately. The rest was put in the fridge in Tupperware for lunches and dinners throughout the week.
It can also be made in larger batches and frozen for days when you don’t feel like cooking. You can as always experiment with pasta shape, vegetables included, spices, add some tomato paste or basil. Make it your own and enjoy!