Breakfast for dinner: Huevos Rancheros

I finally got around to making the huevos rancheros I had planned for last week, on Monday. It was yet another edition of breakfast for dinner. We still had a bunch of corn tortillas left from when I made fish tacos, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try and finally use them up. For whatever reason, ShopRite doesn’t sell ripe, or almost ripe avocados (at least at the one near me). So, if you want a ripe avocado you need to buy it at least 2 weeks in advance. Unfortunately this meant no avocado on our huevos rancheros, but at least I’ll be able to use them in two weeks… So frustrating!

This is a quick and easy dinner, but can definitely be made any time of the day. I don’t really know much about “traditional” huevos rancheros, so I kind of just did my own thing, based on the flavors I tend to enjoy most in burritos, tacos, etc. I really like the idea of being able to customize the meal depending on what you’ve got in your pantry, and how you feel that day. These would be great for brunch, with a whole bunch of toppings laid out like a finxin’s bar so everyone can pick and choose. I should have a brunch party soon!

Huevos Rancheros
– Makes 4 –

4 small corn tortillas
4 eggs
1/2 cup shredded blended cheese
1/4 cup chunky salsa
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 chipotle in adobo, diced
1 serrano chile, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Meanwhile,  preheat oil in skillet. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add green pepper, serrano, and chipotle chile, cooking for an additional 5-10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Once oven is heated, place tortillas directly on the highest oven rack; warm for 3 minutes.
4. Using the same greased skillet, cook each egg over-easy, leaving on either side just until it begins to crisp.
5. Remove tortillas from oven, and spread salsa evenly between four tortillas. As each egg is cooked, add to each tortilla, top with onion and pepper mixture, and finish off with a sprinkle of cheese.
6. Once all tortillas have been topped, put back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Mind Your Pea’s and Queue’s

Even though it was a whopping 60 degrees last Friday, I awoke to a light dusting of snow on Monday morning. With such a quick change in temperature, I was ready to have something warm for dinner; enter Vegetarian Times’ Smoky Split Pea Soup! I’ve never had split pea soup, so I didn’t have much to compare it to. But as soon as I saw that there were Chipotle chiles, sweet potatoes, and onions involved, I was game.

The recipe called for split peas, since it was split pea soup after all. I however had a bunch of canned peas from Shoprite’s Can-Can Sale, so I decided to use them instead. Due to this change up, the recipe took about half the amount of time it was intended to, which I was more than okay with. I also didn’t have a can of diced tomatoes, so I threw in a can of stewed tomatoes instead. I think it worked nicely, since tomatoes tend to get soft and plump in soups anyway. Other than that, I followed the recipe. So because I didn’t need to really cook my peas, rather just heat them up, I only left the soup on the stove top for about 20 minutes to make sure it was heated through. Oh, and to kick up the heat (because I never learn my lesson), I added a habanero.

And, if you’re totally confused as to why I decided to name this post with queue, that’s just my nerdy side coming out. After telling people all day about things “being in the queue” I giggled to myself when thinking up a name for this post, and had the opportunity to use the word. I mean really, how often can one use the word queue outside of the computer realm?!

Smoky Split Pea Soup via Vegetarian Times
– Serves 6 –

1 cup green split peas
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (3 cups)
2 medium onions, diced (3 cups)
3 ribs celery, diced (1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes

1. Soak split peas in large bowl of cold water overnight. *
2. Heat oil in 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add paprika and chipotle, and stir. Add sweet potato, onions, and celery, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes.
3. Drain split peas, and add to pot with 6 cups water. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour. Add tomatoes, and cook 30 minutes more, or until split peas are tender. *
*Like I said, you could probably cut the time down to about 20-30 minutes of cooking time if you use canned peas. You’ll just want to make sure it’s heated through, and the sweet potato chunks are tender.

Curried Vegetables

On Saturday, I was able to pick up my wedding dress. That’s right, I ordered my dress on January 3rd, and it was ready to be picked up about a week later! Granted, it hasn’t been fitted yet, but still, I’m excited. Now it just has to hang around in my old room at my parent’s for another 7 months and change.

While I was doing wedding related girly things, my fiancé was out shredding the slopes (aka snowboarding). By the time we both got home, we plopped in front of the TV with some chili and spent the night relaxing. We spent most of our time watching TLC, as I of course was first drawn to Say Yes to The Dress. From there, it went on to My Strange Addiction which always grabs my attention, and then the newest show, Extreme Couponing came on. I think it’s safe to say Sunday’s grocery trip was inspired by the show, and we tried to find as many coupons and sales as we could for our weekly grocery trip.

We usually shop at the local ShopRite, since it’s the closest grocery store to us. It just so happened that they’re having their famous can-can sale, so we were able to stock up. It wound up working out perfectly, since the recipes I was planning on making in the next two weeks included things like black beans, chickpeas, and corn. We bought quite a few cans of our usual favorites, and I felt like I was stocking my pantries like the Extreme Couponers! But it really worked out since I was planning to cook with chickpeas that very night.

Sunday’s dinner came about because I’ve been consistently stumbling upon curry recipes, and they’ve all sounded delicious. Indian food is something I have only cooked a handful of times, and have also only had it from restaurants, etc. less than I’ve made it. Since I’ve been meaning to expand my palate in terms of Indian flavors, I thought I’d give vegetable curry a stab. Since we’re back from vacation and trying to eat better, we had this as our main dish, with a side salad. I could definitely see this paired with some basmati rice, or maybe even noodles. But it was definitely delicious all by itself too!

Vegetable Curry
– Serves 4 –

1 cup cauliflower floretts
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and chopped)
1 medium yellow onion (diced)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup vegetarian low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
*Dash of hot sauce/paste to taste (optional)
*Plain yogurt for garnish (I use Greek yogurt)

1. Heat oil in pan, and add sweet potatoes, cooking 3 minutes.
2. Add onion, cauliflower, chickpeas, curry powder, and garam masala, cooking 1 minute, until vegetables and dry ingredients are mixed well.
3. Add vegetable broth and tomatoes, bringing mixture to a boil. Reduce, and set to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Summery Tomato Salad

Aside from having both veggie and regular hot dogs and hamburgers for this past Saturday’s BBQ, I made a bunch of different side salads, and of course cupcakes. I have to admit, aside from my fiancé’s super spicy burgers, I think my salads were show stealers. In addition to the Corn & Black Bean Salad I’ve made a few times, I also made a tomato salad, which was awesome. I think this recipe came from Vegetarian Times, but I don’t remember for sure. I of course made some tweaks to what was available, and doubled the recipe. Thankfully, we had some left over, so I’m looking forward to enjoying some of it with a giant ear of corn later!

These fruit and vegetable salads are some of the most flavorful, and easiest dishes I’ve made! Since neither my fiancé or I are fans of mayo (I can eat things with it, but he can’t even be near it) we don’t ever have potato salad or maccaroni salad. So, I’ve been exploring other cook-out and picnic accompaniments, which have been awesome. This recipe suggests to make the dressing the night before and allow it to marinade overnight before combining it with the tomatoes and cucumbers and it’s defintely a suggestion to heed.

I’ve decided that ShopRite really isn’t cutting it for me these days. Unfortunately, we don’t have many other (better) options, aside from Wegman’s. I’d love to be closer to a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, but I know I’d wind up spending double every trip since they have such an awesome selection. My parents have a Trader Joe’s in their town, so if I’m looking for something specific or just want to treat myself to some yummy goodness, I’ll stop in. My latest problem with StopRite was their lack of heirloom tomatoes. Oh, and the fact that on Friday afternoon when we went after work, they didn’t have any corn left! Thankfully the Stop & Shop near our house had a ton of corn, so we stocked up. Since I didn’t get the heirloom tomatoes, I just used Jersey tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and plum tomatoes – good enough!

So aside from the tomato mishap, the only other difference with this recipe was the cheese. I went with an herb seasoned feta, which was delicious! I also decided not to puree the dressing and just cut the basil into little pieces, and combined it only with 1/2 tsp of oil, leaving out the second two tsp. The salad was a hit, and everyone was asking for the recipe. So here it is!

Heirloom (or any tomato) Summer Salad
– Serves 6-8 –

2/3 cup of fresh basil leaves (and more for garnish)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil

12 oz. heirloom (or other) peak tomatoes, cut in different shapes
1 medium cucumber peeled & sliced
1/4 cup small red onion, chopped
1 1/2 oz. ricotta salata, crumbled

1. Puree basil, garlic, and 1/2 tsp of oil, stir in remaining oil
2. Toss together veggies
3. Pour dressing and combine

Amy’s Organic Breakfast Burritos

I’m a frozen foods junkie. Typically, I stick to them for breakfast and/or lunch, but not dinner, since the little meals are rarely satisfying.

After spending weeks eating instant oatmeal every day for breakfast in an effort to save money and calories, it was time for something new. I did a week of frozen bagels, and a few weeks of different waffle variations. This week, however, I decided to switch it up with Barbara’s Bakery Puffins. Not just any Puffins – the peanut butter kind. They’re so delicious, that I’m almost through my box and it’s only Wednesday.

So, last night I had to stop quickly at Stop & Shop to grab some extra chicken stock for the Southwest Chicken Soup. Remembering that this particular location is Kosher and has A LOT of veggie options, I ran over to the frozen section in hopes of finding Amy’s breakfast burritos. I typically do my weekly shopping at ShopRite, and for whatever reason, they carry every variation of Amy’s burritos EXCEPT the breakfast one! Once I spotted them, I excitedly grabbed two (because I’m always thinking about my fiance), and headed home.

My co-worker that’s vegetarian often has these burritos, and groaned when I excitedly told her I had one for breakfast. That’s how good these things are! They’re completely organic and vegan, but you’d never notice. There’s yummy cheese, tofu, beans, onions, potatoes and tomatoes all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. And at only taking 3 minutes in the microwave, what more could you ask for?!

While the picture I took with my iPhone doesn’t paint it in the best light, it really is delicoius! So next time you’re looking for a quick and easy breakfast option you can bring with you to the office, head over to the frozen section and grab yourself some Amy’s Organic Breakfast Burritos. Maybe grab a box of Puffins too, because they’re equally delicious!

Head over to Amy’s website to see all of the delicious vegeterian and vegan frozen options available!

My first vegan dish!

My co-worker and good friend is a vegetarian, and often brings in vegetarian or vegan cook books and magazines to share with me, knowing I’m a halfetarian. So, I compiled a few recipes that I wanted to try and set out to fit them in my weekly routine.

This week, I decided on not one, but two recipes! One vegan, and one vegetarian. So, here’s the vegan dish first!

This comes from the book, Vegan Yum Yum, which has A LOT of seriously delicious looking and sounding recipes from breakfast, lunch and dinner, to dessert and drinks! So I of course grabbed a few recipes from this book, that I’ll be sure to make in the future. This time, I went with the Seven Spice Udon Noodle recipe.

I have to admit, since I’m becoming more comfortable with cooking, I no longer feel the need to follow recipes exactly. A prime example would be this recipe. This is partially because of limited resources, and also sheer laziness. I’m not too sure where any Chinese/Japanese markets are near my apartment, so I relied solely on ShopRite. They didn’t have dried Udon noodles, so I went for the packaged ones. Also, they didn’t have Japanese 7 Spice, but they did have Chinese 5 Spice. You might be thinking to yourself, this completely changes the dish! The spice count is in the name! My retort? Meh. I also went for a package of shredded veggies (red cabbage, broccoli, carrot, etc.) I also of course added in a ton of red pepper flakes, being the spice lover that I am.

So really, I used this recipe merely as a suggestion. But hey, it was a good suggestion! I really liked this recipe because it was simple. Just a few ingredients and in no time at all dinner was ready. I also loved how customizable it was. Sure, I didn’t stray too far from the recipe, but you could easily throw in some tofu, or completely negate the vegan aspect with some chicken.

I would definitely make this recipe again, however, I’d go for a little more flavor. The five spice just didn’t cut it. Maybe it was those two extra spices from the Japanese seven spice that would have made a difference. At any rate, it was good, and it’ll go in my recipe drawer. Who said eating vegetarian or vegan had to be boring?!

Speaking of delicious vegetarian meals, my stove is currently working away at tomorrow night’s dinner that I had to prepare early due to a busy Tuesday night (gym and meetings). This one is a Vegetarian Black Bean Chili w. Dark Ale. My fiancé just walked in the apartment and said he could smell it from outside. It smells fabulous. So stay tuned for that post!

If you feel so inclined to vegan-out, here’s the recipe (give or take some spices, in my case):

Seven Spice Udon

3 small bunches of udon noodles (dried)
2-3 tbsp oil
5 brussel sprouts, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
1 3/4 tsp Japanese 7 spice (1/4 & 1 1/2 tsp amounts)
3 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar

1. Cook noodles according to package. Rinse & cool, coat with oil to prevent sticking
2. Heat 2 tsp oil, sauté brussel sprouts & carrot with 1/4 of spice till tender (about 2 minutes)
3. In same pan, add 1-2 tsp oil, mix in noodles over high heat for several minutes, without stirring. It should form a “noodle pancake.”
4. Turn noodles, add veggies and soy sauce, rice vinegar & spice

Happy animal friendly nomzing!