Tag Archives: vegetarian

Day 2: Attempting Positivity

After reading my first two Whole 30 entries, Jared furrowed his brow and mused, “You’re going to be like this all month then?”

I can’t imagine to what he could have been referring; I’m an extremely sunny individual. With that said, I’ve decided all on my own to approach Day 2 from a more proactive stance. In pursuit of that goal, I decided to make a proper lunch for myself rather than graze on garbage snacks all day.

Since my go-to treats, cheese plate and trail mix, are verboten, I have employed the most powerful tool available to me: vinegar. If it stands still, I will be pickling it — this week it’s cucumbers, onion and beets. Next week — the world!

Not sure if it’s my new attitude or my heavy hand with the seasoning but this salad was tasty. I’d say I didn’t even miss the bleu cheese, but no one would believe me because it would be total bullshit — I always miss the bleu cheese. It could be ice cream and I’d miss the bleu cheese. Still, a solidly delicious lunch. I’m amazing. But vinegar is the real star here.

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Veggie Chili & Jalapeño Cornbread

A few weeks ago, it was still winter in NYC so I wanted to make a warm-me-up meal and what does that better than chili? I decided to make a vegetarian 3 bean with black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans. For a little something extra, I decided to try my hand at some home made jalapeno corn bread. But first, the chili:
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This is a lot of chopping, but I’m into that sort of thing. Here’s what’s in this skillet:

1 red bell pepper, 1 poblano pepper, 1 long hot pepper, 1 jalapeno, 1 purple onion, 5 cloves garlic, the aforementioned beans, cilantro, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and the holy quadrinity: salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne.

I used to tell myself that I would cook more if only I had the proper cooking equipment. As you can see, by virtue of the fact that I gleefully make my chili in a skillet on the stove, that I have thrown that nonsense to the wind. It doesn’t take fancy equipment to cook great meals, it just takes a little creativity. For example, I had run out of foil on this particular day and, since it was freezing out, instead of getting more, I did this:

veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipe

And guess what? It flippin’ worked just fine. I let the chili simmer, covered, for 6 hours. It’s pretty good after 4 hours, but the longer, the better so since I had the time I decided to keep it on until it looked like this:

veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipe

This recipe was created in my brain thanks to a few other recipes. I started with 2 cups yellow corn meal, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg and 1 stick of butter. Here’s where it gets controversial: there are at least two schools of thought on corn bread. One is sugar, one is no sugar. I heard Emeril Lagasse makes his with no sugar, so since I’m a sheep, I made this with no sugar. But yes salt, add some salt!veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipe

This batter stays a little clumpy, so don’t over mix it, just do a medium-mixing job and pour it into a greased pan. I sprinkled the jalapenos on top here so that the didn’t all sink to the bottom of the pan during baking:

veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipe

Pop that bad boy into a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until it can pass a toothpick test, whichever comes first. I’m not going to lie, but I am going to brag: this cornbread was pretty good for a first timer (I guess I need to work on my bragging skills). veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipe

I have to admit, however, that I think it would have been better with some sugar. Sorry, Emeril.  veggie chili, chili, cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, vegetarian, vegan, recipeTop that shiz with some fresh onions, cheese and avocado and that’s what I call a warm-me-up meal. POP POP.

 

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Roasted Veggie Gratin Recipe

This has been a week of celebrations for those in the Judeo-Christian faiths and a big part of those celebrations is the food! Easter dinner for me growing up in Texas was almost an identical repeat of Thanksgiving. We would gather, eat turkey, ham, stuffing, green bean casserole and we would watch the Texas Longhorns play.

A few weeks ago I was looking to make a fun side dish to accompany an otherwise unremarkable dinner at home when I stumbled upon a recipe for a Veggie Tian (whatever that means). It was a mixture of veggies and potatoes baked with parmesan so I took a few ideas, created my own version and called it a roasted veggie gratin. Last week, I had the pleasure of joining my person at a Seder for the first night of Passover and I decided to bring this as a side dish.

As most great dishes do, this one began with garlic and onions.

Vegetable Tian, Veggie recipes, vegetarian recipes, tomatoes, zucchini, potato

First I sautéed garlic and onions in some olive oil.

I greased a square baking dish and spread the garlic and onion mixture along the bottom of it.

Vegetable Tian, Veggie recipes, vegetarian recipes, tomatoes, zucchini, potato

Then I cut tomatoes, potatoes and zucchinis.

I cut the vegetables about a quarter of an inch thick and pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees.

Vegetable Tian, Veggie recipes, vegetarian recipes, tomatoes, zucchini, potato

Arrange in a spiral fashion and sprinkle with salt, pepper, etc.

The “etc” here can be whatever you’re into. I’m a cumin-cayenne kinda gal so I added those. I think the original recipe called for thyme and rosemary, so whatever taste you’re going for ought to do just fine. Bake for 35 minutes.

Vegetable Tian, Veggie recipes, vegetarian recipes, tomatoes, zucchini, potato

After 35 minutes add parmesan cheese and pop that baby back in!

Let it bake for another 25-35 minutes or until the cheese has browned.

https://leacraftspencer.com/2012/04/10/a-passover-seder/

Serve immediately and enjoy 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful Passover and Easter!!

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Vegetarian Pesto Lasagna

The crisp autumn wind that blew in last week made me want to cook comfort food. However, since we are heading to Southeast Asia for the first time next weekend, my main mission has been to cook meals to boost our immune systems (a tip I read for combatting tummy troubles while traveling in a new region). So while everyone knows I’d prefer a nice lamb bolognese or beef chili, I’m here to prove I can cook vegetarian meals that fill the “comfort” quota as well.

I settled on a roasted vegetable pesto lasagna. This was a bit of a process, but since I’d rather spend more time and do less dishes, I roasted the veggies separately. If you have a big pan or a dishwasher, it would be easy to throw them all in together, effectively cutting the cooking time down. Totally up to you. Me? I began roasting the red peppers and mushrooms.

roasted red peppers, roasted vegetable lasagna, vegetarian, pesto lasagna, lea craft spencer, lea spencer

Roast red peppers at 500 for 20-30 min.

mushrooms, roasted vegetable lasagna, vegetarian, pesto lasagna, lea craft spencer, lea spencer

Roast mushrooms at 475 for 10-15 min.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mushrooms and red peppers supposedly need to be heated at a higher temperature than the rest of the vegetables I chose, although I maintain that throwing them all in one pan together would work just as well. If they’re a little undercooked, that’s okay, because everything will go back into the oven at the end.

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Roast other veggies at 400 for 20 min.

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Boil the lasagna for 10 min

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to mushrooms and red peppers, I roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red onions and garlic. I also went with a whole wheat lasagna because that’s what we had in the house; whatever type of lasagna tickles your fancy will work just fine. Next up, the pesto:

creamy pesto, roasted vegetable lasagna, vegetarian, pesto lasagna, lea craft spencer, lea spencer

Basil, parmesan, walnuts, garlic, olive oil

creamy pesto, roasted vegetable lasagna, vegetarian, pesto lasagna, lea craft spencer, lea spencer

Then mix and add cream until smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know a lot of people make pesto with pine nuts, but I’ve seen it done many time with walnuts, which are healthier and (again) what I had lying around the house. So I processed the basil leaves with the parmesan, walnuts, olive oil and garlic, then added cream until it was smooth.

(In retrospect, I would have added more salt to the pesto itself instead of just seasoning the veggies as I built the lasagna, but hindsight is 20/20, no?)

roasted vegetable lasagna, vegetarian, pesto lasagna, lea craft spencer, lea spencer

Then start building the lasagna.

After I chopped up all the veggies and mixed them together, I built the lasagna like this: pesto, pasta, veggies, pasta, pesto, veggies, pasta, pesto, mozzarella/parmesan. I read a lot of recipes that included ricotta cheese, but since I was using creamy pesto, I skipped that step. I’d rather have twice the mozzarella if we’re being honest. And I did:

roasted vegetable lasagna, vegetarian, pesto lasagna, lea craft spencer, lea spencer

Top with fresh mozzarella and parmesan.

roasted vegetable lasagna, vegetarian, pesto lasagna, lea craft spencer, lea spencer

Then into a 375 oven until cheese is bubbly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cracked a little pepper, threw a little salt, then popped my super-sexy tin foil lasagna pan into the oven at 375 until the cheese began to bubble bubble. This dish made a great little dinner for me, plus lunch for both me and mi amor the next day.

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Served here with an arugula salad.

Healthy? Check. Comforting? Check. Delicious? Double check. Traveller’s tummy? Bring it on, Thailand; we’re ready. POP POP.

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Lentil Soup a la Loren Lieberman

I apologize for my absence; I’ve been in Texas where I ate all sorts of wonderful food (blog to come) but for today I am going to share a wonderful recipe I was given by the lovely Loren Lieberman, beautiful mother of my dear friend Arielle.

During a happy hour date with Arielle, I expressed my desire to make my own soups, to which she replied that her mother made an excellent lentil soup. I was intrigued. You see, I have recently developed an affinity for lentil soup, which I had been buying in cans from the supermarket. Then a few weeks ago, to my horror, I discovered I had been paying $4.50 per can of soup! Never again!

I was ecstatic to try this soup made with lentils, carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, and a jalapeño.

Add everything to the pot, add parsley, bay leaf, salt, pepper

The recipe calls for any kind of stock, so I used veggie both because that’s what I had in the fridge and to introduce a few more vegetarian meals into my diet. The ratio of liquid to lentils is supposed to be 5:1. If you are in possession of a large pot, this is no problem for you. I only have two small pots, so I ended up adding too many lentils, making this soup a little thicker than intended, but it was still delicious!

I let the liquid come to a boil, then added the lentils while I chopped the other veggies. I then added everything and lowered the heat to a simmer, covered and let sit for one hour.

After an hour, I separated this into two pots, added a little more liquid and it turned out beautifully!

The biggest challenge with this soup was that I needed to freeze a portion of it because I was going out of town and I can’t count on my housemate to eat leftovers. I wasn’t sure how it would freeze, but I am currently enjoying a bowl of the de-frosted soup and it’s just as tasty! I believe I got about 8 portions out of this recipe and the total cost was less than $10. POP POP.

 

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A Passover Seder

This was a very busy weekend for anyone who celebrates either Passover or Easter and an especially busy weekend for people who celebrate both! In my case, we celebrated two Seders and an Easter dinner, all of which were very special. The first of these, a Seder for the first night of Passover, was at the home of my mother and father-in-law-without-nuptiuals, who knowing my love of cooking, were gracious enough to let me help them cook! Mazel Tov to me!

First the veggie stock: onions, carrots, parsnips, water. Let simmer.

Then drop in the matzah balls and let them expand in the liquid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First we made the matzah ball soup. I got the honor of mixing the matzah balls, which we made whole wheat and I also tended to the stock, which was completely veggie.

Salmon marinated in a balsamic reduction with lemons and herbs.

I got tricked into cutting up the beets... purple hands all night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The salmon was the only non-veggie item at this seder and it was tender and delicious. These beets were also used to paint the horseradish red. A little tip, by the way, about dealing with fresh horseradish: open a window, open a door, get some goggles and warn the household, cause that stuff is NO JOKE.

Roasted vegetables, salmon, pesto lasagna, homemade horseradish, Mmmm...

This is the cutest seder plate all filled in. So lovely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pesto lasagna used matzah as pasta, had mushrooms and was insanely delicious. My favorite part of any meal in this home: the spinach salad with homemade tahini-lemon dressing… Mmmmm…

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend and whatever traditions you observe! L’Chaim!

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