Wednesday, May 30, 2007

California Pizza

Bill is a cyclist. On Wednesdays he goes on a training ride straight from work so Kay and I usually fix something for dinner that he doesn't like. Tonight nothing was sounding good though so I started digging through cookbooks. I decided on this recipe in an old cookbook of my mom's called "Lean, Luscious and Meatless". From what I can find, it is probably out of print.

Our 90+ degree weather is back so we decided to have a picnic in the backyard. Here are some very goofy pictures!

California Pizza

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 flour tortillas (I used fancy whole wheat roasted red pepper ones)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium tomato, sliced
sprinkling of Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, and broccoli and cook 5 minutes or until tender.

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet. Spread the vegetables evenly over the top. Sprinkle with oregano and garlic powder.

Arrange tomato slices over the top. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake 12 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Kayleigh's version

She used a plain flour tortilla, a thin layer of pizza sauce, and a mixture of mozzarella, cheddar and Parmesan cheese with ground pepper. She then ate some of my broccoli on the side.

Kay: I really liked this recipe because it was quick and easy. I could make this as an afternoon snack.

Mom: The original recipe didn't call for broccoli and had green peppers instead of red. I like my version more! There wouldn't be much to it without the broccoli. After eating it I was thinking that a little pesto would have been good too.

This was a nice quick meal that I'm sure we'll have again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Spinach Rotini

Yum!! This is my favorite meal! My friends will be shocked to read that this was first made by Bill when we were dating. Yes, it is true. No matter what he now claims, he does know how to cook! He even had to adapt the recipe because the original had bacon in it. So now his secret is out!

I figured it was time to post a spinach recipe since in the very first post, we talk about how Kay loves spinach. To prove it, I tried to take a picture of her eating spinach. That ended up being harder than we thought! This was the best I could do.

I made it small so that her green tongue isn't quite so obvious (although I guess that is proof that she ate a lot of spinach)!

This recipe is a bit of a cheat for me because although I love it and Kay does love spinach, she prefers her spinach raw. So she is allowed to take just a little bit of the meal (she some how manages to get mostly just pasta) and then a handful of raw spinach to go with it.

Spinach Rotini

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped green chiles (I use canned)
1 red bell pepper, chopped in big pieces
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 - 5 cups chopped spinach
1/4 cup Bacos
1/2 pound rotini (or whatever shape you prefer)

Cook the pasta according to the box.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, chiles, red pepper, and garlic and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add half the Bacos and cook an additional 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook until it just starts to reduce, 1-2 minutes. Add ground pepper to taste. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the skillet along with the remainder of the Bacos.

Kay: I like it but I don't like the cooked spinach. I add raw spinach to mine. That's much better.

Mom (Dana): We love Bacos! If you aren't so fond of them and/or you eat meat, you can use actual bacon. The original recipe called for the vegetables to be cooked in the bacon fat. I would never suggest that but if that's your kind of thing, go for it!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Baked Potato Soup

Cooking was very frustrating when I first got married because my husband and I grew up on very different types of food. His family was more the pork chop and mashed potatoes type whereas I'm a vegetarian. I slowly won him over to my side though. It is really amazing the food he eats now. I don't think he would have believed it 15 years ago!

I was always trying to find recipes that he would like. This was one of my biggest successes. He always talked about the potato soup they served at the rest stops for one of his bike rides in Michigan. One day I was telling one of my friends about this supposedly amazing soup and he said "Your's is better". I almost collapsed!!

This is a great recipe because each person can adjust the toppings to their taste. The picture is of my bowl which had pepper, green onions and bacos. Kayleigh likes cheese and bacos and Bill likes pepper and cheese.

Baked Potato Soup

6 large potatoes

1/3 cup margarine

1/3 cup flour

4 cups milk (skim and soy work fine)

1 cup sour cream

Bake the potatoes either in the microwave or oven (you can do this the day before if you'd like). In a stock pot, melt the margarine over medium-low heat. When it is melted, add the flour and stir for about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, about 1 cup at a time, stirring to remove any lumps. Once all the milk is added, leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the insides. Mash about a quarter of the potato. Add the potato to the soup and cook until heated through. Add the sour cream and cook one additional minute.

Top the soup with anything that you would put on a baked potato.

Kay: I like it very much. I put Bacos and cheddar cheese on mine.

Mom: This past week our weather went from 90 degree days to barely making it to 50. This is a great recipe to pull out when the weather turns like that because I usually have all the ingredients on hand. One time I was out of sour cream so I used plain yogurt. It wasn't quite as good but that worked fine as well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stuffed Shells

And we're back! Ever since that storm last week our phones have been filled with static. This has also caused our Internet service to go in and out as it pleases which was very irritating so I gave up on posting completely. But finally after several days, they made it to our house and fixed the problem.

I have read several recipes where tofu is used in place of ricotta cheese. I was very skeptical but finally decided to give it a try. Kay and I both like tofu so I figured we would like it even if it didn't taste like cheese. Her dad is not so easy. If he got even a vague hint of tofu, I expected very dramatic hysterics! Unfortunately for him, his body does not seem to be very receptive to dairy anymore so I was willing to take the risk.

I used my basic recipe and just switched out the ricotta for tofu. I was very happy when I asked Bill to name the secret ingredient and he said, "I have no idea. It just tastes like regular stuffed shells." Yes!!

(before the spaghetti sauce)

3 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tsp Italian seasoning
sprinkle of ground black pepper
14 oz block of firm tofu (I used lite)
1 egg
20-24 jumbo shells
Spaghetti sauce of choice

Cook the shells according to the package. I always throw in a few extra just in case some of them break.

Place all ingredients except the shells and spaghetti sauce in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Place about 1 -2 tablespoons of filling in each shell. Arrange in a 9 x 13 pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with warmed spaghetti sauce.

Kay: I didn't know there was tofu in it until I asked my mom. I really thought it was cheese and that's it. But it wasn't. It was tofu! The next day when we warmed it up it tasted like tofu which still tasted ok but not like cheese.

Mom: You could bake these with the sauce on them and maybe a little extra shredded cheese. As I've mentioned before, Kay doesn't like sauce so we put it on our individual servings.

These did not warm up very well. They were OK but more of the tofu flavor came through.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

What a crazy week we've had. We've all been busy with work, school, soccer, and various other special projects. Then, in the middle of the week, the weather decided to get exciting. It had been very hot and humid for a few days. We knew a storm had been predicted but didn't expect anything like this! It came through so fast and so hard that I thought for sure it was a tornado. For once, I was actually glad Kay was home from school with a bad cold. If not, she would have been on the bus when the storm hit and I would have been an emotional wreck!

We lost power for about 8 hours but luckily didn't have any major damage. As you can see from these pictures, the trees in our neighborhood didn't do very well. The next day on my way to work I saw that almost every house in our subdivision had huge tree limbs filling their whole front yard. I didn't notice any house damage though, so that is the good news. Almost everything is cleaned up now.

So now I have a backlog of recipes that I can post. I thought I'd start with the dessert! A few weeks ago, we were sitting around after one of Kay's soccer games discussing cookies. (We had just had these for a snack and they are awesome!!) My dad (aka Grandpa) was saying that he really likes peanut butter cookies and oatmeal cookies and he wondered it you could combine them. I was more than willing to take up this challenge!

I combined several recipes and gave it a try. Kay and I did taste tests through every step of the process and were very happy with them. We decided to make a surprise trip down to Grandma and Grandpa's that night so we could get instant feedback. SUCCESS!

1/2 cup mixture of margarine and shortening (I put a thin slice of Crisco in the bottom of the measuring cup and filled it the rest of the way with margarine)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk (we used soy)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
2 1/2 cups oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Blend together the margarine and peanut butter until smooth. Add the egg, sugars, milk and vanilla and mix well. Slowly add in the flour, oats, soda, and baking powder until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the chips.

Using a tablespoon, drop the cookies onto a parchment lined pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Kay: They are awesome!!! They are really crunchy.

Dana: I think they are more chewy than crunchy. She might be saying that because she just ate one and they are a couple days old! I also considered adding chopped peanuts which I think would be really good also. I probably would have used all chocolate chips normally but I had some peanut butter ones so I figured I may as well throw them in.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Coconut Sweet Potatoes

What a surprise success I had tonight! I hadn't planned to post anything today. This is the night when I pull out any produce left in the refrigerator and try and figure out what in the world I can make with them. I came up with yet another broccoli and pasta dish (why exactly did I buy so much broccoli this week?). But the real surprise was the side dish.

I had one really large sweet potato which would have lasted but I felt like we needed something to go with our pasta to break up the boredom a little. My favorite way to have sweet potatoes is mashed with maple syrup and that is what I had planned to do. I'm the only one who really likes it so I wasn't overly concerned that there was only one potato. Then I spotted a partial container of coconut milk and I had a brainstorm!

Much to Kay's horror, I made her try a spoonful of the potatoes. Then, much to my surprise, she ate every speck of it off her plate and said that she liked it! I live for meals like this!

Please excuse the picture. It was very much an after-thought!

1 large sweet potato
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt and pepper

Peel the sweet potato and cut it into chunks. Place it in a pot with just enough water to cover it. Cover and boil until the potato is soft and most of the liquid is gone (about 30 minutes).

Drain any remaining liquid and mash the potato. Add the coconut milk (adjusting to the creaminess you desire) and the seasonings. Mix well and serve.

Kay: I didn't want to even try it because I hate sweet potatoes made other ways. But this was actually good. I thought it was sweet. I was surprise that there was coconut milk in it because I hate coconut.

Mom: I was pretty sure I would like this because I'll eat just about anything if it contains coconut milk. Kay does not share my love so I refused to tell her what was in it until after she tasted it. Of course I've tried to use this as an example of why she should try everything but I think maybe I was just lucky this time!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Peanut Butter Noodles

I know, I know. This meal looks really similar to the last one we posted. It tastes completely different though, I promise!

I actually planned to post two other recipes over the past week but life has been crazy and I never got around to it. So here we are having broccoli and pasta again.

I love this recipe. This is one of the recipes that my mom sent me off to college with. I'm not sure where she got it from but she used to have tons and tons of those little cookbooks you get in the checkout line at the grocery store so I'm betting it came out of one of those. It's real name is South Pacific Pasta and Vegetables but ever since Kay was about 3 years old, it has been called Peanut Butter Noodles!

You can use any vegetables you like. I usually use cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots but tonight all we had on hand was broccoli and that worked fine too. Zucchini, bell peppers and asparagus are really good as well.

3-4 cups steamed vegetables
1 lb pasta (I used vermicelli)

1 tbsp peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce

In a small saucepan, saute the garlic in the oil for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and whisk until well mixed. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring often.

Top the pasta with the steamed vegetables and then cover in the peanut sauce.

Kay: I used to really like this but sometimes it gives me a funny taste in my mouth. I like to eat the vegetables on the side instead of with the noodles and peanut butter. If you like peanut butter then you will probably like this recipe.

Mom: I know it seems like a strange combination but you have to try it. I love this recipe. It is really fast, I usually have the ingredients on hand, and it tastes fantastic. I lived on this in college and even got one of my roommates hooked on it. When Kay was little, our neighbor was over playing around dinner time so I offered some to him. I'm sure his mom was surprised when he went home and said he had spaghetti with peanut butter on it but he loved it!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Broccoli Stir Fry

I just discovered a nice benefit that this blog is going to provide to my mom (aka Grandma). She often asks me for recipes only to get very irritated when I tell her all the things I changed in the recipe. It is made worse because I don't usually measure, I just judge by looks. This makes it almost impossible for her to recreate my meals. Now that I am posting them here, though, I am forced to actually measure out my ingredients and be a little more precise. I realized this tonight when I pulled out what I had originally written years ago for this recipe. I was shocked to find that it wasn't anything like how I make it now!

I'm not sure when we discovered that Kay likes broccoli but I'm sure glad we did. I vaguely remember a few years ago making something with a variety of vegetables in it and noticing that she was picking out the broccoli. Unlike other recipes, there isn't much she actually helps with when making this. She does get to use the fancy chopper for the garlic though.

1 cup chopped onion

1 pound broccoli florets

2 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 T ginger, grated

1/3 cup vegetable broth

1 T soy sauce

1/2 T sesame seeds

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 pound vermicelli

Prepare vermicelli according to the directions.

Saute the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in the oil over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until it turns bright green (about 5 minutes). Stir in the soy sauce, ginger, and broth and cook 2 additional minutes.

Top the vermicelli with the broccoli. Add the sesame seeds right before serving.

This recipe serves the three of us with no leftovers so you may want to double the recipe.

Kay: If you never tried broccoli, you should eat the flower part first and you may like that. And then you can eat the stem part because it doesn't have as much taste. I didn't think I would like broccoli when I first tried it but it was actually good. I like to put butter on mine and with parmesan cheese too.

Mom: Bill doesn't think he likes soy sauce or sesame seeds but he eats this without a comment!

One time I thought I was doing Kay a favor by cooking her broccoli separately just in some oil. She tasted it and asked me if I could put the "seasoning" on it so I guess I didn't do her a favor after all! Finally, a recipe all of us eat exactly the same!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Chocolate Waffles

We often eat breakfast foods for dinner. They are nice and fast and we always have the ingredients on hand. A few years ago I came across a recipe for chocolate waffles and I thought that would be a nice treat. Big mistake. Now Kay and her dad will only eat chocolate waffles. I've come up with tons of other interesting waffle options but I end up eating them alone while they make their own separate chocolate batch!

In order to ease my guilt over serving what basically amounts to dessert for dinner, I did two things. First, I insist that they call the topping "vanilla syrup" and not "frosting". I know it is a minor detail but I feel better if the word frosting is not part of our dinner! Second, I messed with the recipe trying to add a little nutrition to it. I figured any little bit would help!

So here is our not-quite-so-dessertlike recipe for chocolate waffles.

(Kay loves any recipe involving sifting!)

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped fine (or any other nut of your choice or it can be left out completely)

1/3 cup sugar

1 T baking powder

3 T cocoa powder (we use a mixture of the regular and the dark)

1 tsp expresso powder (optional)

2 eggs

4 T melted butter or margarine

1 cup milk (we use soy)

1/2 cup plain yogurt (we use low fat)

Sift together all the dry ingredients except the walnuts. Stir in the walnuts. Beat together the wet ingredients and add them to the dry. Cook according to your waffle irons directions. Our's uses about 1/2 cup of the batter.

Vanilla Syrup

1 T softened butter or margarine

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 T milk (again we used soy)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix together. Add extra milk if needed to make it thin enough to drizzle.

Kay: This recipe was kind of dry before we added the yogurt. Now it is very soft and chewy. I thought this would be good made with chocolate soy milk but Mom said no! I really want my own frosting bowl so that I can put as much as I want! Sometimes I help Mom and other times I make these all by myself.

Mom: Kay, it isn't frosting, it is syrup!!!

She really does make these herself a lot of the time. Usually she'll ask for them and then I whine that I don't feel like making them so she gets up and does it! But to prove that I'm not the worst mother ever, I usually do get up and at least clean the dishes as she uses them!