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.

A Casserole Twist

I subscribe to Vegetarian Times’ online newsletter, and a few times a week they e-mail out some pretty awesome recipes. I find myself stock-piling them, trying to get through each one as frequently as a I can. A few weeks ago I received a recipe for an Indian Samosa Casserole, and immediately saved it. Samosa’s are newer to me, as I had my first this past fall when a co-worker brought in a bunch to celebrate Diwali (the festival of lights). The first thing that comes to mind when trying to relate them would be to empanadas, pierogies, etc. They’re usually fried, and absolutely delicious. So when I found a recipe for a giant one that didn’t require a pot of hot oil flying throughout my kitchen, I was game.

Having spent the past few days watching countless hours of TV on the couch trying to recover as quickly as possible, I was excited to get back into the kitchen to make something that required some attention. Saving it for a Saturday evening was perfect, since with prep and cook time, this is easily an hour and a half ordeal. It probably would have taken even longer if I decided to make my own pie crust. But I thought it might be best to err on the side of sanity and buy a pre-made crust. I wasn’t opposed to the idea of spending some time in the kitchen, but I didn’t want it to be my entire Saturday, especially since I was finally starting to feel better.

Aside from using my own pie crust, I omitted the mustard seed (fiancé doesn’t like mustard), and used canned peas instead of frozen, and regular sugar instead of agave nectar. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe, and it was really good! We have three quarters of the pie left, so I’m looking forward to having it for lunch/dinner at least one more time.

And in other news, I think I’m finally healed up and ready to get back to running! Unfortunately with the weather lately my first run will likely be on the treadmill. That’s okay, thought, because I’m going to take it slow and make sure there isn’t any pain. Fiancé still has one more week of required couch potato-ness before his ankle is looked at again. So, the Pittsburgh Marathon is out, but I’m 99.9% sure we’ll be signing up for the Philly Marathon that’s in November, followed by going Goofy in January! Fingers crossed 🙂

Indian Samosa Casserole via Vegetarian Times
– Serves 6 –


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 Tbs. black or yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (1 1/4 lb.)
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tsp. agave nectar or sugar
2 Tbs. soymilk

To make Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together flours and salt in bowl. Stir in oil until clumps form. Add 6 to 10 Tbs. cold water, 1 Tbs. at a time, until dough holds together. Shape into ball, cover with damp towel, and set aside.

To make Filling:
2. Stir together mustard seeds, curry, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes, if using, in bowl; set aside.
3. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, return to pot, and mash, leaving small chunks.
4. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes, or until carrot is tender. Move onion mixture to side of pan, and add mustard seed mixture in center. Toast 30 seconds. Stir in peas and broth. Fold onion mixture into potato mixture; stir in agave nectar. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spread Filling in 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.
5. Roll out Crust dough to 11-inch circle on floured work surface. Cover Filling with dough, pressing down to make sure no air pockets remain. Trim away excess dough, and crimp edges with fingers. Cut X in center to vent steam; brush with soymilk just before baking. Place pie on baking sheet, and bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
6. Frozen cooking instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Place casserole on baking sheet, and bake 75 to 90 minutes, or until Filling bubbles and Crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Another set back plus poblano chile & cheese enchiladas

After writing up a blog post about my injury and taking it easy, I went for a 3 mile run in the rain Monday night. By the end, though, my heel hurt in a way it hadn’t before. Enter a few days later, and I’m hobbling around. Now that my ankle pain is pretty much gone, it’s moved on to my heel (awesome!). Everything I read says plantar facitis, but my lack of arch pain says otherwise. While trying to self diagnose, my fiancé made a good point; a doctor would be able to tell you exactly what it is. So I made a doctor’s appointment and was told to get an x-ray. I decided to try and make an appointment with an orthopedist, but unfortunately they’re booked until the end of the month, so I’m hoping to be better by then but we’ll see.

On top of my nagging injury, I also managed to develop a cold. So, even though I stayed home from work both Wednesday and Thursday, it didn’t keep me out of the kitchen completely. I decided to make Poblano Chile & Cheese Enchiladas, and to for once have dinner ready for my fiancé when he got home. Of course, peeling myself away from wedding shows was difficult, but I managed.

This is another wonderful recipe from Vegetarian Times. I cheated by not creating my own enchilada sauce. Sometimes you just need to cut corners. Thankfully, the sauce was pretty decent, so it didn’t come back and bite me in the bee-hind. The poblano chiles added a nice heat, and I added a habanero for extra. I know, I know, I add habaneros to everything. My fiancé grabs 2-4 without fail every week at Wegmans. So, I just make sure to put them to good use.

There was enough left over for lunch the next day, and they were just as good re-heated. I’ve decided I need to incorporate poblano chiles more into my cooking. After discovering them when ordering a chile relleno, I fell in love. So yes, I may have had a burrito for breakfast, left-over enchiladas, and quesadillas for dinner in one day. I think it’s safe to say I should probably move to the South-West.

Poblano Chile & Cheese Enchiladas

Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
2½ oz. dried New Mexican chiles, halved, stemmed, and seeded
4 medium tomatoes, chopped

Enchilada Ingredients:
6 Poblano or Anaheim chiles
1 Tbs. olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1½ cups queso fresco
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
12 6-inch corn tortillas

1. To make Sauce: Heat olive oil in saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic in oil 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft. Add dried chilies, and sauté 3 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes and 2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until chiles are soft. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes, then purée in blender or food processor until smooth.
2. To make Enchiladas: Preheat oven to broil. Place poblano chiles on baking sheet, and broil 15 to 20 minutes, or until blackened on all sides, turning often. Cool in covered bowl, then peel off skins and remove seeds. Chop chiles into 1/4-inch pieces.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic in oil 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Transfer to mixing bowl, and add queso fresco, 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, and chopped chiles.
4. Spread tortillas on baking sheet. Warm 3 minutes in oven to soften.
5. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Divide cheese mixture among tortillas, and roll loosely. Place filled, rolled tortillas in baking dish. Top with remaining Sauce, and sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until Sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Meatless Monday: Vegan Feijoada

I often hear that vegan food is boring. And I think it’s safe to say that if you haven’t ever had it, just having a general understanding of it, sure, it can definitely sound boring. No real cheese? No animal by-products at all? But what about all the flavor?! Believe it or not, there can be serious flavor with just plant based products!

This recipe comes from Vegetarian Times, which every once in awhile will e-mail or publish a vegan dish. As you know, I’m not a full-fledged vegetarian, so I’m certainly not a vegan. However, I’m always up for new dishes and exciting flavors, so I figured I’d give it a shot; it has black beans, chipotles, and onions in it which are some of my favorite flavors. I added a habanero for extra heat, of course. It also calls for tempeh, which I’d often read about, but never actually tried. Tempeh is made by natural culturing and a controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into cake form, originating in Indonesia (source). It suggested a smoky variation, so I grabed a package of LightLife’s “Fakin’ Bacon” Smoky Tempeh. I don’t think it tastes anything like bacon, but it’s a great flavor on it’s own, not in comparison. I also made sure to grab the 100% vegetarian vegetable broth to stay true to the recipe. Isn’t it amazing that things like vegetable broth aren’t always completely vegetarian? You really need to pay attention to the labels!

When I first read the recipe, I misread the cooking time, skipping down to the re-heat instructions. Originally I thought it was only going to take about 15 minutes to cook once all the other ingredients were ready, but then I realized I actually needed 45 minutes – whoops! So by the time all was said and done, my fiancé and I were ravenous, and managed to forget to take a picture. So, I’m borrowing the picture from Vegetarian Times (source). While mine wasn’t in such a cool pot, it looked pretty much the same.

I decided to make the whole recipe which serves 8, figuring we could bring it for lunch a few days during the week. Since it’s chock full of beans (four cans!) it’s defintely really filling so the entire meal will really stretch your dollar. That’s another thing – everyone assumes eating vegetarian or vegan is expensive. At times, yes, it defintely is. However, this recipe probably cost about $20 – $25 to make, and it’s going to last us for at least three meals, for two people!

Vegan Feijoada
– Serves 8 –

4 1/2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 6-oz. pkg. smoky tempeh strips, such as Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon
1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 rib celery, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tsp.)
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1. Heat 2 tsp. oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tempeh strips, and sauté 2 minutes on each side.
2. Heat remaining 2 1/2 tsp. oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and thyme, and sauté 6 minutes, or until onion is golden. Stir in black beans, tempeh, broth, garlic and chipotle chile. Bring to a simmer, and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
3. To reheat, place feijoada in skillet over medium-low heat. Cover, and heat, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes, or until heated through.

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

Vegging Out

The past few days have been less than ideal to run in since it’s grossly hot by 9am and stays that way all day, and I cannot get myself up to run at 5am. Swimming at 5am was one thing in my youth, but running, I’m still working on it. So I’ve been trying to get runs in wherever possible, but Tuesday night was afforded another no-go, since by the time I got home and was ready to head out, there was a massive rain/thunder storm in the area. This leaves me four days since my last run. I’m signed up for the Firecracker 4 Miler on the 4th of July, which will mark the 1 year anniversary of the beginning of my running “career.” Hurray!

So because of my lack of running, the “veg” part of my title has two meanings! I’ve been super lazy on that front this week, but have managed to get in a serious amount of veggies in it’s place! Tuesday night’s dinner was another veggie delight, this time coming from Vegetarian Times, a magazine my co-worker subscribes to, and I get their newsletters via e-mail. This particular recipe was under the “Dinners for One” section, so I just doubled the recipe for myself and the fiancé. This is a pretty nice twist on a stir-fry and noodle-bowl combo, and I’d definitely make it again.

Since this past Sunday was Father’s Day, I left the shopping in the hands of my fiancé so I could head to my parent’s house early. To be fair, I wasn’t sure what they looked like either, but he bought vegan gluten free brown rice spagetti. The recipe called for rice noodles, and these were close enough, and had a pretty decent taste since they had so few ingredients! Other than that minor hiccup, the recipe was followed and went off without a hitch!

The “sauce” I suppose you could call it was really good – I’m definitely going to use it in other stir-fry like dishes, since it had nice heat and a good flavor between the tangy rice vinegar and salty soy sauce. Hopefully next time I can figure out what the rice noodles are, and grab those too. Maybe I’ll get crazy and mix up the veggies. Who knows!

Rice Noodle Bowl with Broccoli & Bell Peppers
-Serves 2-

3 oz. dried rice noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces
4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp chile sauce
4 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup sliced-thin red pepper
1 cup broccoli
2 tbsp peanuts

1. Bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add noodles. Remove from heat. Let stand 5-7 minutes. Drain, discard water.
2. Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, chile and 1/2 cup of water. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and garlic, stir-fry 1 minute. Add broccoli and pepper, cook 1 minute more. Add sauce mixture and bring to boil for 1 minute.
4. Stir in noodles. Serve with peanuts.

Happy nomzing!

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili w. Dark Ale

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Vegan post, I decided to go veggie two days in a row. Tonight’s selection is from one of Vegetarian Times‘ e-mails I get a few times a week.

As soon as I saw the recipe, I knew I had to make it. I love chili; so much so that my fiancé and I often buy Hormel’s  canned chili just to have on hand in case we run out of dinner ideas. Seeing that this recipe didn’t have too many ingredients and was pretty straight forward, I thought I’d give it a shot.

My thought to make Tuesday night’s dinner on Monday really paid off. For whatever reason, my body has been fighting some sort of cold that comes and goes as it pleases, and yesterday and today was one of those days it decided to come out and play. So, after suffering through Monday, I decided to stay home Tuesday and relax. No point in pushing myself through work when I’ve got a marathon to run in a month!

Most of the ingredients were canned, but you could of course go for the more natural route if you’re willing to spend the time slicing and dicing. Plus, since there weren’t too many ingredients, it was cost effective. I often times hear people complain that eating vegetarian is too expensive. Well, here it is folks! An affordable and filling vegetarian meal! Another draw was the use of beer in the recipe. I knew it’d be a quick sell for my fiancé, and I was all about it too.

Since buying chipotles in adobo for the Chocolate Cinnamon Chipotle Cupcakes and then also using them in my Chilaquiles Fritatta, I had one left, which was exactly what I needed for this recipe! Throw in some corn, garlic, onion, pepper, and black beans which are always on-hand, and you’ve got yourself some vegetarian chili!

The recipe called for a gluten free dark ale, but I went with just a regular dark ale; Flying Fish ESB Amber Ale, to be specific. I enjoy Flying Fish beer on it’s own, so I figured it would definitely work in the chili.

I was a little worried while it was simmering, since all of the beer was soaked up by the vegetables, not leaving any type of broth/sauce. I’m used to at least a little bit of liquid in my chili. But once I tasted the final product, all my worries dissipated! I’m not a huge meat fan, but I definitely don’t think it’s missed in this dish. It was hearty and flavorful, and everything you would expect from chili. Each of the ingredients can be tasted individually, but the combination is really what makes the meal. Everything from the chipotles to the black beans to the beer work perfectly together.

I decided to serve the chili just with two small Pillsbury crescent rolls, and as always, a simple green salad with balsamic vinegar. No, not vinaigrette, just vinegar. Weird? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely.

If you have an hour to devote to a meal, and are in the mood for something hearty without the calories, I definitely suggest this. If you’re a total meat junkie, I’m sure you could add in some ground beef, but if you’re willing to try it meatless, go for it – you’ll be glad you did!

Black Bean Chili w. Dark Ale
(Serves 8)

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained and minced
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. ground cumin
1 large onion, finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced (5 tsp.)
2 14-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
24 oz. gluten-free dark beer
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh or frozen corn

1. Heat oil in 3-qt. pot over medium heat. Add chipotles and cumin; season with salt, if desired. Cook 1 minute, or until fragrant.
2. Stir in onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Stir in beans, beer, tomatoes, and corn.
3. Bring chili to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, 45 minutes, or until thick.

Each serving is under 200 calories with only 5g of fat, 8g of protein, and 10g of fiber!

Happy healthy nomzing!