Dish #29 – Shrimp and Asparagus with Couscous

My husband and I aren’t big on seafood, but we do like shrimp scampi, so when I came across this healthy hack from Fitness Magazine, I decided to try it.

Recipe: Lemon-Garlic Shrimp & Vegetables

I didn’t follow it exactly because I didn’t have cornstarch, peppers or parsley, and I substituted veggie boullon with water for the chicken broth. Everything came out, except the shrimp and asparagus really didn’t taste like anything. In the end, I had to saute them in pesto to complete the dish.

I’m torn about pesto. As something who needs to avoid tomato-based foods (like marinara sauce), it really is a lifesaver. It is perfect atop pasta and broccoli or asparagus, or as a marinade for tofu before grilling for sandwiches. I love the stuff. It’s made with olive oil so it’s not great calorie-wise, but I would wager that, in moderation, it’s better than pouring butter all over your shrimp scampi per the normal recipe. Once I get a food processor, I’m going to try to make my own.

Anybody out there have experience with lightening pesto, or can you recommend a different sauce/seasoning to replace it?

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Filed under Non-Indian, Seafood

Dish #28 – Quinoa with Latin Flavors


After having a great quinoa side dish at Vspot in Brooklyn, I decided I wanted to start making it myself. I bought it from Trader Joe’s and let it sit in the cupboard until I could find a recipe that looked tasty but easy and wouldn’t require me to buy tons of ingredients. Today, I was finally able to make my first quinoa dish – “Quinoa with Latin Flavors” from Fitness Magazine.

     

I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand, but I’m not one to fret over that. (My mother-in-law can make an amazing curry with a jar of pasta sauce if we don’t have tomatoes. It’s called improvising!) I left out the cilantro and green chiles, substituted olive oil for canola, and instead of chicken or vegetable broth, I dissolved a vegetable bouillon cube into boiling water.

This was actually a really easy dish to make. The longest part was letting it simmer for 20 minutes, during which you can walk away and do other things.

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Filed under Non-Indian, Quick and Easy, Vegan, Vegetarian

The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year and a half since I started my cooking journey and this blog. I would like to have more recipes and dishes to show for it by now, but it can be difficult to lead a busy life and make time for cooking at the same time. Living in New York City, where restaurants, take-out places and delivery abound, makes it even harder. After a long day at work, I can buy a delicious $2.50 falafel sandwich from across the street, or I can spend 2 hours in the kitchen… hmmm.

But, as I wrote here before, I do see the value in cooking and eating at home, from so many angles. It’s less expensive. It’s better for your health. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment. It can bring couples together to prepare and eat a meal together instead of watching TV and stuffing your faces from Chinese food cartons. It’s a beautiful thing that connects me to the history of women everywhere – great grandmothers who prided themselves on nourishing their families with the fruit of their labors.

This weekend I’ve been reading Chapter 8 of my friend Kate’s classic book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to HomemakingChapter 8 is entitled, “Cooking at Home: Step Away from the Takeout Menu” 🙂 I highly recommend the book and especially this chapter to those of you out there who want to conquer your fear of the kitchen. (Exciting news: Kate is currently working on book 2, The Hip Girls’ Guide to the KitchenYes!)

Kate, even all the way from Austin you are guilting me into doing the right thing! 😉 My husband and I try to eat a mostly plant-based diet, so we tend to buy a lot of vegetables. Sadly, we get lazy and many of them go bad. (I know I’m not the only one guilty of this.) So I just took stock of my fridge and made a list of the newly purchased ingredients I can make use of. Internet/Pinterest… do your magic!

What recipes do you want to try? Have you tried any lately with success? Share, share!

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Filed under Cookbooks and Blogs, Vegan, Vegetarian

Acid Alkaline Diet

I’ve been reading up on Alkaline diets recently. Some people say that it’s a crock, but my stomach has not gotten along with acidic foods for years so it makes perfect sense to me. During a recent rather severe bout, I started reading up. The belief is that your body suffers from having a PH imbalance, so you need the right combination of alkaline (80%) and acidic (20%) foods. Can you guess which foods are acidic and therefore not good for you? That’s right – coffee, chocolate, meat, dairy, and everything else remotely tasty! 🙂 The Alkaline Sisters (great name) have put together a food chart for us: Alkaline Foods Chart

My doctor has been trying to get me off coffee for a long time with little success. Did you know that coffee, as well as alcohol and cigarettes, burn in your stomach for 48 hours? I didn’t either.

I’m only sharing this as part of my culinary journey, and you can expect some alkaline recipes coming soon. Fortunately, it fits rather well with my vegan lifestyle except that I love Indian food (spicy), coffee, chocolate, wine and desserts. So… going to have to figure that part out.

This is an awesome video that lays it all out for you:

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Filed under Food Issues, Vegan, Vegetarian

Dish #27 – Tempeh Tacos

Ever had a TLT, or even know what it is? Vegetarians often eat this version of a BLT that replaces bacon with tempeh. It’s delicious, and one of our regular veg spots recently took it off their menu for who knows what reason. So I decided to buy tempeh and just make some at home, but didn’t know what to do with all the leftover tempeh after that.

Tempeh is super easy to cook – heat up a pan or skillet with a spoonful of oil and then saute the tempeh for a minute or two on each side. That’s it.

Tempeh Tacos are made by putting tempeh and whatever else you’d like into a tortilla.  We added lettuce and homemade guacamole, but you can do cheese, sour cream, grilled peppers and onions – whatever!

P.S. I had no idea tempeh originated in Indonesia.

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Filed under Non-Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Dish #26 – Curry-Roasted New Potatoes

Did anyone else catch Julie and Julia on TV yesterday? We were at the gym so I got to catch a bit on the elliptical machine. Love that movie. (It helps to have a nerd crush on Stanley Tucci, who narrated Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Championsand Meryl Streep is phenomenal.) Loved the book too.

I’ve been going through all of the vegan cookbooks I checked out from the library and finding recipes to try. This one seemed really easy and involved ingredients I already had. In fact, I had a bag of small new potatoes that weren’t going to last much longer anyway, so it was a perfect time to roast them!

Curry-Roasted New Potatoes

*I didn’t make the chutney because we always have chutney in my house (woohoo!).

Do you eat Aloo Chaat?  That’s what this tasted like. My husband loves chaat so it was a home run.

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Filed under Quick and Easy, Vegan, Vegetarian

Agree or Disagree? “Cooking Isn’t Fun, But You Should Do It Anyway”

My friend, the very talented author Kate Payne, recently shared this Slate article with fans of her book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking: Cooking Isn’t Fun, But You Should Do It Anyway.  There’s some discussion around whether or not we should be calling cooking a chore and then telling people to do more of it.

What I do like about this article is its honesty. As I’ve written here before, cooking is not always the fun, easy thing that some people who have the natural talents and inclination for it make it out to be. For the rest of us, it can be a drag, especially when you start out excited and energetic and after two hours you can’t eat the thing because you’ve screwed it up somehow.

The second myth is that cooking is easy. Making food quickly and well is easy once you know how to do it, but it is a learned skill, the acquisition of which takes time, practice, and the making of mistakes. To cook whole foods at a pace that can match box-meal offerings, one needs to know how to make substitutions on the fly; how to doctor a dish that has been overvinegared, oversalted, or overspiced; how to select produce and know how long you have to use it before it goes bad; how to stock a pantry on a budget. Without those skills, cooking from scratch becomes risky business: You may lose produce to rotting before you get the chance to cook it, or you may botch a recipe and find it inedible. Those mistakes are a natural part of learning to cook, but they will cost you and your family time, ingredients, and money without actually feeding you.

[…]

When the stories we tell about cooking say that it is only ever fun and rewarding—instead of copping to the fact that it can also be annoying, time consuming, and risky—we alienate the people who don’t have the luxury of choice, and we unwittingly reinforce the impression that cooking is a specialty hobby instead of a basic life skill.

What do you think? Do you love cooking, or hate it? Is it somewhere in between? I personally love the idea and romance of cooking (Did anyone else watch/read Julie and Julia and immediately want to cook through that cookbook too?) but don’t always enjoy the execution and hard work involved. I’d also probably jump out of my 4-story apartment window if I had to do it every night. (Thank God for a talented husband who actually enjoys cooking.) But I do like taking a new recipe on a weekend when I have a lot of free time and trying it out, especially when the results are good! 🙂

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Vote For Your Food Hero!

I’m currently enjoying my husband’s most excellent chana dal. He also made gobi (cauliflower) – wayyy too spicy – but I just dumped it in the dal and everything is sublime. This is what happens when you marry an Indian man, you can never keep up with his spice tolerance.

I got a great email from the Vegetarian Times that I wanted to share: Tell Us About Your Food Hero!

Here’s the info:

TELL US about the food hero who inspires you most  in 125 words or less. Be sure to explain how he or she is making a positive difference in the food world. Submit your nominations using the form below between August 13 and September 3.

VOTE Stop back after September 12 to meet the top 10 finalists selected by Vegetarian Times editors and to cast your vote for the winners.

MEET THE WINNERS Readers’ choice food heros will be featured online November 15!

Thinking of anyone you might want to nominate?  Go for it!

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Dish #25 – Seitan Gyros

When I was growing up, my best friend was Greek-American. I was lucky enough to be introduced to amazing Greek food through her!

As I was reading Nava Atlas’ vegan cookbook, I came across a recipe for gyros made with seitan instead of lamb. It seemed easy enough, so I tried it today, though I bought tzatziki sauce instead of making a vegan version. I also made a simple chickpea salad as a side (chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice and spices).

It came out pretty well!  It’s definitely a good thing to eat if you are a vegetarian with a serious gyro craving 🙂

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Filed under Meatless Monday, Non-Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Dish #24 – Stuffed Mushrooms

I’ve been making stuffed mushrooms with my Mom as a Thanksgiving side dish for ages. She fills them with diced mushroom stems mixed with blue cheese dressing and topped with bread crumbs. Since we are mostly vegan and don’t have blue cheese dressing or anything like it in the house, I improvised an Italian-style stuffed mushroom that came out quite good!

After washing the mushrooms and dicing up the stems, I mixed in sliced basil leaves, Daiya vegan mozzarella shreds, a few spoons of tomato sauce and some Italian seasoning. I then stuffed the mixture into the mushrooms caps, topped with panko breadcrumbs and drizzled with olive oil.

Above is a shot of the mushrooms pre-oven. I cooked them at 400 degrees after Googling a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis for guidance. I paired them with a mixed salad drizzled in olive oil and topped with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, and a serving of Trader Joe’s Arugula and Parmesan ravioli (okay, not completely vegan!).

Yum! And pretty simple. What are you cooking up these days?

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Filed under Meatless Monday, Non-Indian, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian