Category Archives: Recipes

Weekend Cooking: Summer Smoothie (48/99)

Smoothie - Banana BlackberrySmoothies are one of those things that I probably should make more often, but I don’t. I’m not sure why; it’s not like they are overly difficult or I don’t usually have the ingredients on hand.  That’s a bit more challenging in the winter, true, but there’s no excuse in the summer with the abundance of fruits and berries.

And what’s worse is sometimes I even buy certain things when they’re on sale — like extra bananas, raspberries, and blackberries — with the INTENTION of making smoothies. I don’t have to tell you what usually happens.

A few mornings ago, I was making The Boy’s lunch for a camp field trip and I grabbed a bunch of bananas on the counter.  They were a little overripe, and the entire bunch broke off at the stem and became partially unpeeled. I threw the bananas in the freezer and decided to do something with them later.

That afternoon, the four of us happened to be home when the summer afternoon seemed to scream smoothies. I remembered the frozen bananas from that morning and turned to the pile of cookbooks I’d recently borrowed from the library.

Sure enough, the perfect recipe was found in Dinner Solved! by Katie Workman.

Berry Banana Smoothie (makes 2 servings)

1½ cups strawberries, blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen  (I used raspberries and blackberries)
1 banana, fresh or frozen, sliced into chunks
1 cup (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt  (I used regular plain yogurt)
½ cup milk  (I used almond milk)
3 to 4 tablespoons honey, to taste
1 cup crushed ice

Smoothie - Banana Blackberry 21. Place the berries, banana, yogurt, milk, honey and ice in a blender. Pulse a few times, then puree to desired texture.

2. Pour into glasses and serve.

Definitely a very refreshing summer drink!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #48 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

 

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feeding the mother of all adrenaline crashes

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Holy mother of all adrenaline crashes.

When I tell you that I am in a nearly comatose-like zonked out state from my Listen to Your Mother experience this weekend, I am not exaggerating.

Well, okay, maybe a little. But Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, am I exhausted. I feel like I could sleep for the rest of the week. The month.

Hell, make that the rest of this year.

I don’t know how you people who do things like run marathons or perform for thousands are able to function after this kind of rush. I really don’t. I took today as a vacation day from work and after doing some errands, I spent most of the afternoon in bed.

I know this is the aftermath of an intense week, which included heightened stress — some good (pre-show prep) and some that I could have done without, thank you very much. I’ve had a jackhammer of a headache since Thursday.  I haven’t been sleeping more than a few hours per night nor eating very well. It’s Mercury retrograde. And this weather — steel-gray sky, colder than usual even for Pittsburgh — ain’t helping matters.

No wonder I want to retreat to my bed.

Time to recharge the batteries, starting with tonight’s dinner.

I wanted soup, something hearty and healthy and fast. Enter this bowl of deliciousness, right here.

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Tortilla Soup from Cook the Pantry: Vegan Pantry-to-Plate Recipes in 20 Minutes (or Less!) by Robin Robertson.  (Note that the addition of shredded cheddar is my doing.)  I really like Robin Robertson’s recipes for their simplicity and speed.

I couldn’t find the exact recipe online and since I noticed that other bloggers include a publishers’ permission when posting Cook the Pantry recipes, I’ll refrain from posting it here because I’m not interested in being sued. It’s pretty basic; you probably have something similar in your culinary repertoire.

All these ingredients are staples in our house — olive oil; garlic; chili powder; salsa; diced tomatoes; frozen corn (I used canned because our frozen corn has been recalled); vegetable broth (I used homemade stock); and black beans.  I didn’t have scallions and we didn’t miss them.  I did have an avocado and vegetarian chicken strips, which I substituted for the Soy Curls listed as optional in the recipe.

Tortilla Soup and Salad - 5-9-2016It came together quickly, as promised.  I served the soup with a simple green salad (lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, with a slight drizzle of olive oil for dressing) which was last night’s leftovers.

The Husband and I liked the Tortilla Soup. The kids, as expected, didn’t want anything to do with this.  Whatever. Their loss. They opted for leftover rotisserie chicken and nothing else. They’re 14 and perfectly capable of making their own dinner if they didn’t like what was offered.

Simple, convenient and fast. Can’t ever get tired of recipes like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekend Cooking: Toasted Avocado and “Chicken” Sandwich

Toasted Avocado and Chicken Sandwich

Every summer seems to bring its own particular food or simple meal that I become completely obsessed with and crave nonstop. Before going gluten-free, it was pasta salad  – which I still love, of course, but it’s been difficult finding the right GF pasta that can make it into a second day of leftovers. There also was the summer of hummus, cucumber and tomato sandwiches. So good.

This year belongs to the avocado. More often than not, my go-to dinner is smashed avocado and tomatoes (a humble guacamole, nothing fancy) for dinner with tortilla chips. That’s it. I don’t need much more than that.

Avocado toast is all the rage on many of the food blogs I read.  I hadn’t really been swayed to try it one way or another, but it certainly wasn’t out of the question because, avocado, yo.  I’ve been instituting “Buffet Night” once a week  – usually a Saturday or Sunday – where dinner becomes a free-for-all, a smorgasbord of still-good leftovers where at least one damn thing on the table is bound to meet the approval of everyone in this picky-eater family.  So one night we had some leftover mock chicken strips but not quite enough to make fajitas for all or something resembling a meal.

I had an avocado that had just reached perfection, and I looked at it and the fake chicken strips and thought, hmm … this has possibilities. And so, the Toasted Avocado and “Chicken” Sandwich was born.

(This is definitely not a Melissa Original, by any means; a Google search on “avocado and chicken sandwich” yields 2 bazillion hits, but I certainly felt like a brilliant five-star chef.)

It’s so easy. And so good. All you need to do is toast some bread (I used Aldi’s gluten-free white bread), and mash an avocado. Spread on the toast.  Add chicken. I used Beyond Meat’s Lightly Seasoned Chicken Strips. You can add tomato, as I’ve done on several occasions.

A simple and satisfying summer sandwich.

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page.

 

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Weekend Cooking: Homemade Gluten-Free, Tofu-Free, Mock “Chicken” Noodle Soup

Melissa's Gluten-Free Vegetarian No Tofu Mock Chicken Noodle Soup

Just in time for a holiday weekend, I’ve caught a nasty case of (what I am fairly certain is) bronchitis. We didn’t have any plans for this Memorial Day, but I was hoping to do a few things around the house other than cough my way nonstop through the weekend. Instead, I sound and feel miserable (“Mom, you sound like you’re coughing up a hairball,” The Boy told me last night. “Or maybe two cats.”)  He has a way with words, that kid. And he’s right.

Last night, I wanted a bowl of chicken noodle soup in the worst way possible. This is easier said than done when you’re gluten-free and vegetarian. Fortunately, after finding some recipes on Pinterest and taking scraps from here and there, I was able to throw together a steamy, soothing bowl of what I’m calling my Homemade Gluten-Free, Tofu-Free Mock “Chicken” Noodle Soup. I made this up as I went along, so forgive the imprecise measurements. I also have no affiliation with the products mentioned; I’m just a happy customer.

Homemade Gluten-Free, Tofu-Free Mock “Chicken” Noodle Soup

2 tbsps. olive oil

onion and garlic (I used about 2 or 3 cups of Birds Eye Recipe Ready Chopped Onions and Garlic, as I wanted a lot of both)

a few dashes of dried thyme

a few dashes of dried parsley

8 cups hot water

4 cubes Not Chick’n boullion (I like Edward & Sons)

about 2 cups small-shaped gluten-free pasta (I had a choice between elbow macaroni and medium shells; I went with the macaroni)

I had about 1/3 of a package of Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned chicken strips remaining in the freezer, so I decided to add them

Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in pot.
Add onion and garlic blend along with the dried thyme.
Saute for a few minutes till it is nice and sizzling.
Add 8 cups hot water, then the Not Chick’n boullion cubes.
Stir and bring to a boil. Sprinkle in the parsley.
Add pasta and continue to boil for the package directions (mine was 7 minutes)
Microwave the Beyond Meat chicken strips and toss in the pot.
Add salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t add salt, as it didn’t seem to need it.

This seems flexible enough to add carrots, celery, or peas if you choose. I hate celery and didn’t have carrots or peas, otherwise I would have probably added those.

The result was exactly what I’d hoped for – a very soothing, comforting bowl of a classic favorite.

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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Weekend Cooking: The China Study All-Star Collection: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes from Your Favorite Vegan Chefs

The China Study All-Star Collection

The China Study All-Star Collection: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes from Your Favorite Vegan Chefs
by Leanne Campbell, PhD.
BenBella Books 
2014 
304 pages 

When T. Colin Campbell and his son Thomas M. Campbell published The China Study ten years ago, the possibility that the food we eat (particularly animal products) might be affecting our health was seen as somewhat radical.  A decade later, being vegan is practically in vogue.

While some may choose to dismiss The China Study either because of the controversies surrounding its research methods or skepticism or personal dietary preference, there’s no question that more people are more cognizant of what they are eating.

I’m one of them.

As regular blog readers know, I’ve been a vegetarian (well, pescetarian, if we’re getting technical) for almost 19 years. During the past year and a half, I’ve been adapting to a gluten-free diet to help with stomach woes and migraines, both of which have greatly diminished. I follow a lot of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan blogs and of course I can’t resist checking out any cookbook from the library that might offer a few new recipes fitting those categories.

The China Study All-Star Collection was a cookbook that recently caught my eye because two of my favorite vegan chefs, Dreena Burton of Plant Powered Kitchen and Lindsay Nixon of Happy Herbivore fame, have recipes in this book. The author, Leanne Campbell is the daughter of T. Colin Campbell, who advocates eating “whole, plant-based foods, with little or no added oil, salt, or refined carbohydrates like sugar or white flour” (from Whole, pg. 209).

Not all the recipes are gluten-free, but many offer suggestions for modification – or, if not, could probably be made GF with some minor adjustments. The photography is well-done throughout the book and nearly every recipe includes a photo.

What I Made: Haven’t had the chance to try any of these yet.

What Looks Good (all of the recipes I listed below seem to be naturally gluten-free or easily modified):

Apple-Swirl Loaf, by Dreena Burton (pg. 15)

Caesar Salad, Jazzy-Style, by Laura Theodore (pg. 80 and 82) ~ with a tofu-based Caesar Salad Dressing recipe also provided; this one is GF except for the croutons, which could be easily substituted

Fresh Corn Salad, by Leanne Campbell (pg. 86)

Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes, by Dreena Burton (pg. 106) ~ this looks perfect for the fall!

Everything Minestrone, by Lindsay Nixon (pg. 114)

Mellow Lentil “Sniffle” Soup, by Dreena Burton (pg. 117)

Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Soup, by Chef AJ (pg. 121) ~ another one that I want to try this fall

Sneaky Chickpea Burgers, by Dreena Burton (pg. 127) ~ the oats in these would need to be GF

Barbeque Portobello Sandwiches, by John and Mary McDougall (pg. 128) ~ obviously, the buns would need to be GF

Blue Corn Chickpea Tacos, by Lindsay Nixon (pg. 134)

Savory Mushroom Stroganoff, by Laura Theodore (pg. 162)

Most of the recipes are accompanied by bright, well-done photography and none of the directions seemed particularly cumbersome.

Weekend Cooking - NewWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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Weekend Cooking: Vegetarian Beef Stew

Odd, I know, to cook up a batch of stew for Labor Day weekend. There will be plenty of time in the months ahead for that. No need to rush things, right?

But it’s the kind of holiday weekend here that’s cloudy and rainy with rumbles of thunder on-and-off, and I’ve had a craving for beef stew for the past week (which is a bit of an issue when you’re a vegetarian), and I didn’t get to the farmer’s market this week for any fresh veggies, and we’ll be traveling next Sunday when I usually make a pot of soup in honor of The Opening Day of Regular Football Season (also known as The Official Start of Fall) … and so, beef stew for dinner it is.

The vegetarian version, that is.

I’ve recently discovered the gardein brand of foods and these are now my preferred go-to substitute meat products. The Husband and I are the sort of vegetarians that, even after 15 years of this, we still miss certain foods.  Gardein is pretty damn authentic. (They’re not paying me to say any of this, by the way. I’m just a happy customer.)

I made the homestyle beefless tips over rice with green beans and soy sauce the other night, and that was a big hit in this house. I think that’s what sparked the beef stew craving, because that opened up whole door of possibilities.

I found this recipe for Beefless Stew on the gardein website, and that’s what I made for dinner.

1 package gardein beefless tips
3 tbsp vegetable oil
10 oz pearl onions, peeled  (I used regular chopped, as I didn’t have pearl onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (omitted, as I hate celery)
2 medium carrots, ½ inch diced (I just threw in handful or two of baby carrots)
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried rosemary  (didn’t use; The Husband dislikes)
3 tbsp flour
3 cups vegan “beef” broth
(try better than bouillon brand) or roasted vegetable stock  (I used Better Than Boullion)

1 cup dry red wine such as cabernet sauvignon (omitted … but then I remembered I had some leftover merlot and wondered if that would have worked)

2 medium potatoes, ½ inch diced (I used a bit more, as I had some new potatoes to use up from a previous farmer’s market visit)

to taste salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat, add beefless tips and brown on all sides. Remove from saucepan and set aside. Add pearl onions, garlic and celery to saucepan and cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots, thyme, and rosemary and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Sprinkle in flour, then slowly add broth and wine while stirring.Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.Add beefless tips back in and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The Husband and I really liked this. The stew was incredibly thick and filling, just like any regular beef stew would be. The kids originally said they liked it, but Betty changed her mind after several spoonfuls. Boo gave it 3.5 stars out of 4. Not sure why the .5 point was deducted, but I’ll take it.

This goes on the roster of soups/stews that will be making an appearance at our table this fall and winter.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs.

 

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Weekend Cooking: Farmer’s Market, Food on the Table, and Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas

What I bought from the farmer’s market on Friday afternoon.
Photo taken by me on August 3, 2012

Since my first attempt at vegetable garden didn’t do all that well this year (that’s a whole separate post I’m working on), I’ve started doing the next best thing – visiting our local farmer’s market. And by “started doing,” I mean that Friday was the first time in THE ENTIRE ONE YEAR that we have lived here that I’ve gone to the farmer’s market. Which is all kinds of ridiculous, because there’s no reason this should have taken me this long. They set up in two locations: on Fridays, they are in the parking lot where the LIBRARY is (I mean, hello!) and on Saturdays, they are in the parking lot of the township building.

Anyway, so I picked Betty up from gymnastics camp on Friday afternoon and we had some time to kill before picking up Boo. We meandered over to the library and then to the farmer’s market. Betty immediately started yammering to the sellers about how we were going to be doing all of our shopping there from now on because the food is local and tastes better because it doesn’t have so far to travel. My girl. Taught you well.

I was just buying whatever looked good and whatever I knew our family would eat. All the produce in the photo above came to around $30. (What’s not pictured is an additional 6 ears of corn and a couple cherry tomatoes that rolled off the table while I was, as The Husband says, channeling my inner Annie Leibovitz by photographing produce.) I generally spend around $20-$25 in the supermarket for much fewer fruits and veggies than what I got at the farmer’s market.

Meal Planning with Food on the Table
I’ve been trying to be more conscientious about meal planning, given my unemployed status recently. Have you guys tried Food on the Table yet? I’m LOVING this site. Food on the Table integrates the sale items at your supermarket with your menu preferences AND GIVES YOU IDEAS FOR WHAT TO MAKE! And it is damn accurate too. Yes, I checked … because a) I am crazy that way and b) I’d be pissed as hell if the site told me that something was on sale at Giant Eagle and it wasn’t.

But it WORKS and it works beautifully and it is fabulous.

(Food on the Table isn’t paying me to say any of this, by the way.)

I actually had an honest-to-God meal plan last week. (OK, I picked up sandwiches from Sheetz mid-week because I didn’t have anything planned, but hey … 4 out of 5 days ain’t bad!) I have a meal plan prepared for this week, too.

Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas
Tonight’s dinner combined my bounty from the farmer’s market along with my new meal-planning prowess thanks to Food on the Table.  I made Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Quesadillas, with some changes and one notable addition: I included one package of MorningStar Farms Meal Starters Chik’n Strips.

As I was chopping the veggies, I had water boiling for the beautiful corn that was picked yesterday morning.

Back to the quesadillas:

Ingredients

1/2 (cup) red bell pepper, chopped  (I used one green pepper, which wound up being 1 cup)
1/2 (cup) zucchini, chopped (I omitted; the kids and husband aren’t zucchini fans)
1/2 (cup) red onion, chopped (I used half of one of the large onions)
1 (tablespoon) olive oil
8 (9 inch) whole wheat tortillas (we had flour tortillas to use up)
1 1/4 (cup) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (I may have added a bit extra cheese)

Directions
In a large nonstick pan, cook red pepper, zucchini, and onion in olive oil over medium to medium-high heat for about 7 minutes, or until just tender. (This is an untouched, straight out of the camera photo. Don’t these onions and peppers look gorgeous?)


My note: I added the Chik’n Strips in the middle of cooking this. See?

Remove vegetables from pan.

Coat the same pan with cooking spray, and place one tortilla in pan. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese evenly over tortilla, and layer 3/4 cup of the vegetable mixture over the cheese. Sprinkle another 1/8 cup of cheese on the vegetables, and top with another tortilla. Cook until cheese melts, flipping once.

(FLIP ONCE??!! Like, as in the WHOLE QUESADILLA??? That made me SO NERVOUS, yinz. Like, Olympic performance nervous. Because, you know, I do not flip food. This is not a skill that I possess. 

The results? The judges (i.e., my internal critic) deducted some points for movement and shiftiness of the quesadilla, but overall the quesadilla stayed intact.) 

Repeat until all ingredients are used.

The Husband and I loved the quesadillas. Boo’s not a fan of onions, so next time I need to decrease the amount for him. The kids also had a hard time finishing an entire quesadilla along with a corn on the cob; one quesadilla might be sufficient for both of them, with two pieces each.

But, you know, they tried this and ate about half of it. Which is HUGE in this house.

This one goes into the regular rotation … as does a visit to the farmer’s market (which is open until the first week in October!)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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