Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Been Over, But ...

I formally ended my flirtation with vegetarianism last Wednesday, but I failed to post my last meal, a spinach pie with pearled barley pilaf. Both were delicious and pretty adorable. Take a gander:

Catch me in about a week when I retool my diet to include a lot less butter and cream. Until then, strictly fashion, sci fi, and music.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sci Fi Wednesday - (Veggie DAY NINE)

Nothing to report on the food front today; I'm eating leftovers for lunch and egg salad for dinner.

I'm more so in the mood for science fiction. Yesterday, while out enjoying the 60 degree weather, I finally read "All You Zombies" by Robert Heinlein. Tomorrow, I'm attending my first Think Galactic book club meeting. I hope it goes well. This morning, there was a Friday the 13th - The Series marathon on. Despite my penury, I'm feeling pretty great. The universe is randomly making my life a bed of fluffy, buttered rolls right now.

Now despite my love for the sci fi genre, I'm not exactly well read. (I've never finished Dune!!!) I have favorite authors, books, stories, and I reread them, over and over. It's really hard for me to step outside of my preferences and give new people/stories a chance, so I've decide to embark on a reading tour of the genre, entitled "WOOOOOooooOOOOO..." (Imagine my hands waving in front of your eyes in a menacing manner.)

This is the most accessible list of sci fi short stories on the web, so I shall go by this. Of the 100, I've only read 14, which leaves me 86 (Square one!!!!!). I can do this y'all. Since I still have to finish the book for tomorrow's meeting and read The Watchmen before the movie premiere, I'm not starting til Friday. Update then.

(Anybody wanna do this with me? Just drop a line.)

Let me take the time, though, to extoll the virtues of "Jeffty Is Five." It is an amazing, amazing short story. The kind of thing that forces you to care about the characters, and finds you cursing at the pages. Good stuff.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spaghetti in Mushroom & Spinach Cream Sauce - DAY EIGHT (?)

Let's make this quick. I spent the day out canoodling, so I had very little time or energy to prepare a meal. Pasta is always quick, and with a little care, tasty. So ...

Spaghetti in Mushroom & Spinach Cream Sauce
about 3 oz dry whole wheat spaghetti (1/4 box)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp flour
about 3 cups milk or half & half
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cups spinach, drained
nutmeg, to taste
black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
Parmesan cheese

Boil the spaghetti until al dente. Drain.

Sweat the mushrooms in olive oil and butter until soft. Add garlic and flour. Mix until lumps have disappeared. Slowly add milk and stir over low heat until the butter/flour paste disappears and sauce is smooth. Add spinach and season with nutmeg, pepper, and salt to taste. Mix with spaghetti, garnish with Parmesan, and eat.

I'm telling you. Bechamel is your best friend. With it, you can customize a pasta dish, start a soup, or create a casserole. There is no reason to ever buy a premade sauce when you can make your own in under ten minutes. It may seem fattening, but consider the awful crap you consume outside the house on a normal day. Horrible, right? Plus, it's only one meal.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Sweet Dumpling Squash w/ Gorgonzola & Creamed Spinach - DAY SEVEN

I was good over the weekend, rest assured. Even though I kicked it with the fam, I avoided meat, even when my order was messed up, and I was brought a big plate of beefy goodness. Anyway, on to the matter at hand.

I got the idea for the squash recipe from Kevin over at Closet Cooking. I'm a lot lazier than he is, so there was no way I was peeling and cubing anything. Instead I just baked it and covered it in cheese.

Sweet Dumpling Squash w/ Gorgonzola Cheese

1 Sweet Dumpling Squash
Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Wash squash, cut in half, and scoop out seeds. (Be careful; these things are tough and you can lose fingers.) Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake in 350 degree oven until soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and return to heat until cheese is melted. That's it.

Very tasty, this squash may take the place of my favorite orange food, sweet potato. Loving the sweetness of the squash with the sourness/saltiness of the cheese.

Creamed Spinach

Spinach ( I have no idea of how to express this in a measurement, enough for two people)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 clove garlic, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
Adobo, salt, or other such seasoning

Unfortunately, I started with fresh spinach, so I had to wash and wash until it was clean. Fresh, frozen or otherwise, make sure your spinach is drained; however a bit of water is fine as it helps create the sauce.

Sweat onion in olive oil. Once it's become transparent, add garlic and spinach. After spinach wilts (fresh) or warms (frozen), add cream cheese and sour cream. Stir until cream cheese melts and is combined with sour cream. Season to taste and remove from heat. You're done.

Love this meal. Obviously, I'm unable to eat without cream being involved. So what? There are vegetables here, and, for the first time, some real color. Commend me, dammit! That other side dish you see is my spicy brown rice from last week. Still going strong, still tasty.

I also made some banana bread. One loaf for me (with chocolate chips and walnuts), and one for Schmoe Diggla (with chocolate chips only). If you're interested in the recipe I used, go here. I follow the recipe pretty closely with a few exceptions: I use half whole wheat pastry flour, half unbleached AP flour; I use butter-flavored shortening; I cut the sugar down by 75 percent; and I cut the recipe in half for two small loaves.

Audi/Outtie 5000

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Broccoli Mushroom Pie and Spicy Brown Rice - DAY THREE

So I failed yesterday. Messing with my mother will have you full of beefy pork juice. However, I managed to get away with fishy poultry. (Not together, but I'm sayin'.) So today, I was back on track. I'm noticing a theme, though. My food tends to be beige as hell, which means I'm still working on getting color (read: vegetables) into my diet. Anyway ...

mushroom and broccoli pie
("we're chopping bra-co-lieeee!!!")

1 bag frozen broccoli (thawed or use fresh) 1 scallion, chopped about 10 medium mushroom, sliced about 1 cup cheeses (i used trader joe's quattro formaggio, white cheddar, and sharp yellow cheddar) 4 tbsp olive oil 4 tbsp whole wheat flour (i use pastry, white is fine too) garlic some milk (about 1 1/2-2 cups) fresh ground pepper garlic salt

crust--if you have them, you can use canned biscuits instead
1 cup flour (i use half wheat, half white)
5 tbsp butter (chilled and cubed)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c boiling water

preheat oven to 425 degrees.

place thawed broccoli in 8x8 baking dish. saute mushrooms and scallions in olive oil. once they've softened, add garlic. add flour and stir until lumps disappear. add milk slowly, stopping when the sauce has thickened to your taste. (it'll take a minute for the sauce to thicken; take it slowly.) add cheeses and stir until melted. season to taste, and pour over broccoli.

meanwhile, mix flour, salt, garlic powder, and baking powder. cut chilled butter into flour mixture until mixture develops pretty uniform crumbs. pour in boiling water and stir just until everything in moist. scoop dough over broccoli slop.

bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until dough browns. (i find that i have to cover until the last ten minutes of cooking so that it doesn't get too brown. it's up to you.)

absolutely delicious. one of my favorites so far.

slightly caribbean rice (aka alton brown's recipe with some stuff added)

1 1/2 c short grain brown rice
1 14 oz can coconut milk ( i used light)
3/4 c broth
1 bay leaf red pepper flakes to taste
curry powder (i didn't measure, use your discretion)
you can use salt but, i'm trying this bragg stuff out (liquid amino acids)

preheat oven to 350 degrees. pour rice into baking dish. bring broth and coconut milk to simmer. add bay leaf, red pepper, and curry powder. pour milk mixture over rice, stir, cover with foil, and bake in oven until all liquid is absorbed (about 40 minutes).

a few notes:
aldi's steamed veggies in a tray are phenomenal. low in sodium, easy to prepare, cheap, and tasty as sin. go thee to the nearest aldi and stock up. (get the spring blend.)

my old people's cake from yesterday was a big hit. i'll be making it again, as i really enjoyed it myself.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


This isn't so hard. Meat can be easily avoided. I've had an epiphany, though. So far, I'm more of a starchatarian than a vegetarian. Most of my meals are rice- or pasta-based. Working veggies in is really gonna be a problem.

Anyway, tonight I made my first risotto. I used a super short grain Spanish rice, and what a mistake. If you ever make a risotto, please use arborio or carnaroli. Your palette will thank you. It still turned out tasty; it just didn't have that signature creaminess.

Recipe (For one large portion or two small ones)
about 2 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c risotto rice
1 scallion, diced
1/2 clove garlic, diced
3 tbsp white wine
2-3 c stock (i used chicken. it was homemade. i rule.)
butter, unsalted
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan, fresh

bring stock up to simmer and keep it there. cook mushrooms in one tbsp olive oil until soft and remove from heat. sweat scallion in remaining olive oil until transparent and add garlic and rice. when rice is thoroughly coated in oil and slightly transparent (about two minutes), add wine and stir until absorbed. now, add chicken stock in small portions (about 1/4 cup), only adding more after previous portion is absorbed. keep stirring. in about 20 minutes or so, you should have a creamy, al dente rice dish. stir in mushrooms, remove from heat, stir in a bit of butter, and season with salt and pepper. garnish with freshly grated parmesan and voilà.

as i said, it was tasty, but next time i'll use Italian short grain. oh, and i must also commend myself on making my own chicken stock. it was mad easy and kills any other stock i've ever had. i just threw a whole chicken in a pot with a halved onion, celery stalks, fresh rosemay, bay leaf, tyme, and sage, covered them in cold water, and boiled for about three hours. after being strained, it was ready to go. people may tell you to get rid of the fat, but i have some very lofty plans for it once this vegetarianism is over.

in other news, tomorrow's my daddy's birthday. i'll be kicking it with the fam tomorrow, and was given the task of making the birthday cake. since my dad is kinda weird in his tastes and probably wouldn't have liked my signature chocolate fudge cake, i made him an applesauce spice cake with cream cheese frosting and walnuts. hopefully, it will get eaten. after all, this is totally an old people's cake.

until tomorrow

Monday, February 02, 2009

Vegetarianism - Day One (Kinda)

Quick explanation -- I eat way too much red meat and pork. Once upon a time, I had stopped, but when I moved back in with my mommy after college, she refused to remember my no red meat/pork rules; plus her boyfriend made THE most delicious rib tips ever, so I failed. Well here it is, years later, and I pop bacon cheeseburgers like tic tacs. The other day, I stepped on the scale and realized that I weigh more than I ever have in my life; additionally, I can comfortably fit into less than 20% of my clothes, so I figured a quick detour into vegetarianism would help. Two weeks of tasty (?) recipes, plenty of water, and back breaking Pilates, join me on my quest to ... FIT BACK INTO MY GEAR!!!!! What's in it for you? Well, recipes, of course, and the potential to share in my triumph or watch me fail miserably.

Okay, so I had tuna for lunch, but I made it on Sunday as a farewell-to-flesh meal and was too full to eat it, so I polished it off today. However, breakfast and dinner were both vegetarian as hell.

I had the most fabulous pasta at Enoteca Roma once, pear ravioli with walnut cream sauce and Gorgonzola cheese. Since then, I've been trying to replicate that taste at home. Tonight, I tried whole wheat spaghetti with walnut cream sauce and pears. (I find spaghetti and like pastas are pretty much the only palatable whole wheat varieties; the other ones are too big and interfere with the sauces.) Anyway, my experiment paid off. It was definitely good, but certainly not low-fat, just low-meat.

cooked whole wheat spaghetti (enough for two portions)
handful of walnuts (toasted and chopped)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1-2 cups milk or half and half ( I used both and didn't measure, just add until the consistency of the sauce suits your taste)
white wine
1 bosc pear (cored and cubed, you can use any sweet variety)
Nutmeg (again, I didn't measure, maybe 1/2 tsp)
garlic salt
This is pretty easy. Toast the walnuts either in a pan or in the oven and chop. I use a mini food chopper. Set aside.

Saute the pears over medium heat in one tablespoon of butter until they're slightly brown and add as much white wine as you like to taste. Let the alcohol cook off some and set the pears aside.

Make a Béchamel sauce by slowly melting the remaining butter and adding the flour to form a smooth paste. Make sure the lumps are gone. Add milk and stir until you reach your desired consistency and add your seasonings. Once the sauce is seasoned well, stir in the walnuts, pears and spaghetti.

Bon Appétit

(From now on, I'll try to take pictures of my meals before I gobble them down.)