Friday, February 27, 2009

Vegetarian Pot Stickers

Do not, I repeat, do not be intimidated by the name. If my Savanah came make them, then so can you ladies. Savanah and her dad were watching, of all things, the Food Network and saw Alton Brown making won ton soup, egg rolls and pot stickers. She was intrigued. She realized that we would have to vegetize the insides to the pot stickers, but other than that all we would have to buy would be the dumpling skins.

On our next shopping spree (which is not a spree, for we do it every week like clock work) won-ton, egg roll skin thingies went into our cart. Two nights later we were all woofing down pot stickers (I had 11, but who's counting) So, if you thought these were difficult to make, my 15 year old daughter can do and so can you. I will say that this is not something you can walk away from. This is a have to be there kind of dish. But oh so worth it. To get thee original recipe go to Food Network and hunt for Alton Brown's recipe, you will not regret it or go wrong.

EDIT IN: We used a small amount of chopped tofu when we sauted our veggies, maybe 1/4-1/3 cup?)
1 red onion sliced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (we did not use)
1 cup white cabbage, shredded (we used whatever cabbage we had on hand, it changes from week to week)
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup chopped garlic chives or chives (we used garlic instead)
1 teaspoon white pepper (regular black pepper here)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 package round dumpling skins, also called gyoza (preferably twin dragon brand) (we used won ton wrappers)
Salt to taste
Canola oil
In a wok or large saute pan, add a little oil and saute onions and ginger. Add the mushrooms and stir. Add the cabbage, carrots and chives. Season. When mixture is soft, place in colander to drain. Add the sesame oil and cilantro when mixture is cooled. Check for seasoning.

Using the gyoza skins, make half moon dumplings keeping the bottom flat.( we placed the won ton wrappers as if we were looking at a diamond, then placed our filling inside, the folded it so the final shape was that of a triangle) In a hot non-stick pan,(we used a regular aluminum heavy bottom skillet and it worked just as well) coat with oil and place dumplings. When bottom gets brown, add 1/4 cup of water and immediately cover. This will steam the dumplings. Carefully watch the dumplings and completely evaporate the water so that the bottom gets crispy again and sticks to the pot. We also found that it was better to run 2 skillets at a time, unless there are just 2 of you then you are good to go.

Serve with dipping sauce.


1/3 cup thin soy sauce (we sued tamari)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 tablespoon sambal (did not have so we did not use this one)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Do You Say??

Just recently it has hit me that just about every time Savanah and I go anywhere and there is food involved, we get poked fun of. She takes it in stride, but it bugs me to the point I nearly blow my stack.

I stay calm mind you, for doing so would only bring me to their level. But I get tired of the tofu jokes. I don't sit there and lambaste them about eating an animal who has been cruelly treated and slaughtered just to be on their plate. I could, but I don't.

So how do you people handle all the jokes and ridicule from the same people, all the time about the same old thing. For I am getting tired of it real quick. I just want to have some quick witted remark to smile back at them with, all the while they are scratching their heads and thinking about what I just replied with.

Thanks for listening and am welcoming your responses.

Oh My Stars

I love meat analogs. I know they are processed food, but they serve a purpose. When Savanah goes on a sleepover, she can more easily fit in if she brings her Boca Burgers, or her veggie dogs. But this again is not a main staple in our diet. Just recently we learned to make a Kick -A black bean burger. Wow!

But today I want to thank Morning Star Farms for a great little website. Savanah found Italian sausages at Walmart. I know I cringe every time we shop there, but until my financial situation changes, that is thee only place I can get my money's worth. Anyhow, she found the sausages and I knew what our next available lunch was going to be. So today we had Italian sausages on whole wheat hot dog buns smothered in sauteed onions and sweet peppers. But then I just wanted to check out Morning Star Farms to see what they had in the way of recipes. Oh my stars. I found this great little mayo thing that I literally slathered on my sausage. Check it out here

Again, we do not live on this items, but it is not to be able to join in when others have what we no longer do. And it shows them that we can still eat it, just not the same way you do.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Penne With Vodka Sauce

To say we love pasta is an understatement. It is more my sons favorite. I prefer the Mediterranean diet, and my husbands favorite is Mexican, and Savanah's is Italian as well. Whoa, and to think my husband is Cuban and that is still not his favorite ethnic style food. But this one is wonderful. We had seen a vodka sauce on TV and thought we would try it, so we did. Nine out of ten of them called for heavy cream so we substituted with our non-dairy milk. This one we snagged from Food Network and from Giada. So try this one and see.

1 quart simple sauce (recipe to follow)
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream (almond or rice milk will do)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese(we did not use)
1 pound penne
Simmer the tomato sauce and vodka in a heavy large skillet over low heat until the mixture reduces by 1/4, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Stir the cream into the tomato and vodka sauce. Simmer over low heat until heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted and well blended.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the pan with the sauce, and toss to coat.

Simple Tomato Sauce:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4-6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 T unsalted butter, optional (we did not use this)
In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrot and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to low.

Cover pot and simmer for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. If sauce tastes too acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 T at a time, to round out the flavor. Pour half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce. If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and then pour 1-2 cup portions into a plastic freezer bags. Freeze for up to 6 months. Makes 6 cups Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Black Beans

This I got from a girlfriend of mine who loves to cook as much as we do, in our home. But her black beans take on a different twist. They are a hair sweeter then my Martha's Black Beans. These are not my husbands favorites, but if they are on the table, they go on his plate.

2 lbs. (5&1/2 cups) dry black beans (debris picked out)
3-3&1/2 quarts water, as needed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey (or other sweetner)
1 t cumin
Up to 1 T salt
Cook beans and drain, leaving a small portion of liquid as desired; add remaining vegetables and ingredients; continue cooking for 20 minutes.

This is simple stupid. No extra work needed, nearly a one pot meal. Serve over rive and you are good to go.

True Southern Grits

All I know is that these thinks are delicious beyond words. And I also know that many Northerners do not get it, when it comes to these lovely little gems. I was raised in the South (even though many Southerners will not admit to Florida being in the south) and grew up with this on our breakfast menu many days through the week.

You can eat them savory or sweet. But my favorite is just plain with a bit of butter. We have added some cheddar cheese to thee equation, for that is my husbands all time favorite way of eating the, but he will do with plain if that is how I make them. The recipe is simple stupid and I tweaked them via Paula Deen. She taught me how to add the salt to the dry grits so that they were properly salted as you added them to the boiling water.

1/4 dry grits
pinch of salt
1 cup of water
Bring water to a full rolling boil. Add grits along with salt. Bring back to a boil and keep at a boil until the grits begin to sputter and pop. At that time, turn your grits down to a simmer and cook until desired consistency.

They should be not cloppy thick or runny thin. Somewhere in between. A pat of butter is optional. And cheddar cheese is also optional.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good Stinkin' Waffles

That was Savanah's title on her hand written recipe...I swear to it, no lie. A friend of ours had given us a few recipes when she gave us her hand me down waffle iron (That is by no means a complaint), and we experimented with a few recipes and they were OK, but we finally found this one and sha-BAM, we hit the jackpot. Savanah also veganized it, which is a plus. So here goes. But if you want to see our older version of waffles, go to my breakfast categories and scroll down to waffle time. But trust me these are way better,

2 cups milk (we used almond or rice)
2 t vanilla
1 banana, mashed (the riper the better)
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 cups sugar (we use raw)
Ina small bowl whisk together the milk, vanilla and banana and set aside. In a larger bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then once sifted add the sugar.

Add the wet mixture to the dray and mix well. Pour into preheated waffle iron and let cook until brown.

You will have to play with your waffle irons. What works for us will not work for you. For us it is about 3-5 minutes, depending on how done you like your waffle. But with the banana in the mixture, Ooo La la!

Monday, February 16, 2009

You Know You're In Trouble When..

Your 15 year old vegetarian daughter has trouble cutting sweet potatoes into chunks to boil for mashed potatoes because they all look like animals.

1) A duck flying wild with his wings tucked in (And it did look like it)
2) A whale flopping back into the ocean (Again I will have to side with Savanah on this one)
3) Another bird. But this one I did not see.

She was actually contemplating not cooking them for dinner....pffft, vegetarian teenagers!


I swear it to be true. Savanah and I were grocery shopping yesterday and she was skimming the BBQ sauces. And low and behold she found one with no HFCS...I swear it. I practically snatched the bottle form her hand and read the front of the label and it touted no HFCS. So I flipped the bottle over and Viola! not one drop of the stuff.

We had never seen this in Walmart before, but there it was for the world to buy. Not that anyone would care or even get it. But try Olde Cape Cod BBQ sauce and see what you think. I would have bought it, but I have just made my own from scratch, but who knows. When that is gone, I may just give it a whirl.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It's Not Titanic

You have no blessed idea what this post is going to be about, do you? Nope and I cannot tell you how long I pondered on a title for this post. But here I am.

In my last post about the ginger dressing, I had some greens to get rid of before they began to go bad. So, we used some left over Iceberg (there's your Titanic reference), and some collard greens, and some green kale. I think I added some grated carrots, and possibly a tomato, but then again...maybe not. Add what you people want, you know the veggies you like in your salad.

There isn't a green I haven't met that I haven't liked and this was no different. I thought for sure that I would have some difficulty in using non-traditional greens for a salad. But since watching a Raw Food DVD form the library, skies the limit in the world of food now. I now know form that video that there are SO options out there other than your tried and true 'cooked' dishes.

I have some posts in my head that are growing because of that Raw Food DVD. So stay tuned and see what you can see.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ginger Tomato Dressing

Inasmuch as my last post complained about The Food Network, it does have some redeeming qualities. I snag dressing recipes, dessert, side dishes and such forth. Mr. Cooking Lady was watching the TV with me yesterday and on popped Robin Miller. Now, I do like her strategy in the fact that she plans ahead. She will bake veggies, or chicken and bulk and use it throughout the week. So for working women who still want to cook with whole foods, she is your answer.

She was make this basic salad, but her dressing was a tomato base. My husband called from work, which happens to be in the produce department and he closed, so he called to see what we needed for that dressing recipe. I told him and home they came.

So for lunch today we made the dressing, but what was even better was the salad itself. We used raw greens. Now, you may be thinking, most salads are greens. And I will give you your DUH moment, but I took it a step further. After watching the raw food DVD, and those girls used all sorts of raw greens, I said, 'Why the heck not us?' Low and behold, we had a salad of raw collards, green kale and iceberg. That was all. And man oh man, it rocked the house. Whoa!! So try this dressing and put it on anything your little heart desires. Enjoy...we did!

1 large plum tomato, seeds squeezed out, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (we had them with no oil and re-hydrated our own in 1/8 cup of oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water (plus 2-3 T, play with it)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 cups washed mixed greens (any combination of romaine, red leaf, Bibb, Boston lettuce, mustard greens, spinach)
In a blender, combine tomato, sun-dried tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and vinegar. Process until finely chopped. Add water, salt, and pepper and puree until smooth.
Divide greens evenly among 4 salad plates and spoon dressing over top.

This should be a dressing that is not overly thick or overly thin. But you be the judge in your home. Go with what works. But this one is a keeper and I am pleased to announce that I am finally building my arsenal of dressings.

Mint Me

We love mint. And the one I use most often is spearmint. I was introduced to this lovely herb when I met my husbands extended family in Cleveland Ohio. They are of Arabic decent and well, you can imagine food in their home. That is where I found my love for the Mediterranean diet, and more specifically the Middle Eastern diet.

But the one thing that caught me completely off guard and something I fell in love with wholeheartedly was their Fattoush Salad and this is the one salad my non vegetable eating son will woof down. He loves fruit and could probably be a fruititarian, but this salad keeps bringing him to thee other side.

I had brought back some mint from my family on my last visit from Ohio and my mint flourished greatly, until last year, then my crop just up and died. So this year I vowed to start an herb garden and mint was on the top of the list. And for right now that stuff is taking off like wildfires as is the basil, oregano, curly parsley and we are waiting to see what the sage and rosemary do. they have been planted but do not seem to have taken good root yet. Keep your fingers crossed for them and us.

So yesterday, being good weather and all, I traipsed outside, and took the mint down to the skivvies. Luckily it will grow right back and in full force. I also trimmed the basil back, came in the house and began to dehydrate them. I had 4 trays. One of basil and three of mint. The house smelled so fragrant. What I did forget to do was keep some fresh mint aside to make some tea. But hey, I can walk back outside and clip some more HAH!

This is the picture of my trimmed mint before we stripped it off the stem and laid it in the trays to be dried out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Wrote To The Food Network

Yep, I finally did it, and here was the catalyst. As many of you know, I had major spinal surgery this past summer. And lucky me, recovery is going great. I am not 100% , but that is to be expected. On my last doctors visit, they advised me to take a pilates class. Well, due to the fact that I am still unemployed, I thought I would swing by the library and scour their DVD section to see if I could find one on pilates. Low and behold there were none. But I did come across a DVD on raw food. I read Kristen's Raw, but wanted to see real folks in action dealing with raw food. They had people talking about their experiences, and then some recipes. I snatched that bad boy up and home I went. My husband and I both watched and and as always learned tons of new information.

But as I was watching the recipe section of the DVD, it hit me that there was nothing, and I mean zip...nada, zero, zilch, get where I am coming from. But in defense of the Food Network I will say that Ellie Krieger is the closest thing we have to a healthy cooking show. So I sat down and typed out a letter to Food Network. I had Savanah edit it (as I do so many times for her) and she approved. So, print I did and slapped a stamp on thee envelope and it is now sitting in my mailbox, anxiously waiting for Mr Mailman to come and whisk it away.

I wanted you all to see what I wrote them and as soon as I get any word form them I will be posting it here. You always here of people being pro-active and I have envied them for years. Well no longer will I be the equivalent of a letter-writing couch potato. So here goes and hope you all enjoy it, for I certainly did:

Greetings Food Network,

I have been a staunch follower of your network for some time now. I am pleased to say that there is many a show my family and I watch. We also enjoy the diversity of programs you offer until just recently.

I have a 15 year old daughter who is a vegetarian and decided to do so at the ripe age of 8 & ½. Who does that? I, having been vegetarians in the past, supported her whole-heartedly. Her’s was for the reason of the animal cruelty.

So as we sit and watch your channel, it baffles us as to why you do not have any show related or connected to vegetarianism, veganism, raw foodists, macrobiotics. Do not misunderstand me. You offer a wide variety of themed shows, if you will. You have Southern, Italian, semi-prepared, down-home, in your face, ethnic, grilling…the list is endless. And they are a tribute to their cooking abilities. But for those of us who do not consume meat, we can only take meat dishes so far, and then it is a done deal. And in as much as we would like to make meat dishes vegetarian, that is not always possible.

Most people see being a vegetarian as a door closing in the world of cooking. I happen to disagree. We see it as an opportunity to explore new foods that most people have no clue about. I would say the most common question we get asked as vegetarians is, ‘What do you eat?’ And my new-found answer is, ‘Everything you do not!’ And it’s pretty darned accurate. It still amazes me when people have no idea what Swiss chard is, or Cous Cous, or wheat bulgur. Again the lists of food people are clueless about are endless. Omnivores see our lifestyle as a lack of foods, when in all reality is an open door for an abundance of foods.

I do have to give you credit where it is due. We enjoy Ellie Krieger. But she still uses quite a bit of meat in her dishes. And I have heard from those of us who are vegetarians, who do appreciate her show in the fact that she does give us someone to turn to, but rarely.

I think there is a market out there for us. But here is where it gets hairy on your end. Most of the time we as vegetarians are depicted as free loving, dreadlock donning, bare-footed, tie-dyed shirt wearing people. Oh so wrong are we perceived. We are much more than that. We are main streamed people who are trying to fit into an omnivore’s world, (and do quite well if I do say so myself). But what I think we want people to see and understand is that we do not live on tofu and twigs. There is more in our food spectrum then the average public suspects. Our options open up the minute we let go of meat. And trust me when I tell you that my dinner table is loaded with choices. And that even a die-hard meat and potatoes person would be hard pressed to say we have limited choices when it comes to our menu.

I guess what I am asking, is that you take into consideration those of us who chose to leave meat by the wayside when choosing your next new show. There is a market out there and I think you would be surprised to find out just how many of us are out here waiting for the right show to explain to the unsuspecting world what we have to offer as non-meat eaters.

Thank you for your time,
Danette Jalil

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beef...It's What For Dinner


But I got your attention didn't I? But I did have this thought running around in my mind and wanted to see what you guys thought. And this goes for you omnivores as well. So put on your thinking caps. Most of my followers are either vegetarians (or trying to be) and or vegans.

Now, let's say you have invited some dinner guests over and they are devout meat eaters. I'm talking steak and potatoes type of folk. But you know that you can easily put on a spread that would knock their socks off and that they would never view vegetarians as twig eaters ever again. And I am talking soup to nuts type of dinner.

What would you cook for them? I am still throwing around a menu in my head. So I will either update here and add it on as an edit in, or comment on my own blog. But let's hear it folks, what would you cook as a vegetarian for a meat eater. Bring it on ladies...and gentlemen. Bring me your game faces.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

You Have Got To Ask

Yes, that means you. Go to your produce departments and ask for throw-aways, second hands, older produce. It's worth it. You would be surprised at what your produce department is throwing away. Now, you may have to go in late at night or early in the morning to pick it up, but it can be worth it if you are canning or bulk cooking.

I go for the bananas. Since trying to give up eggs (moreso in my baking/cooking) we have gone to using bananas. And in our house, the fresh ones go rather quickly, but the ones that don't end up hitting the freezer. Once they thaw down, they are like super mush and oh so easy to work with. It takes a bit of planning, but pull them out that morning before you start your baking and viola, you are good to go.

So go on, get to your produce department and ask them for what they are about to throw away and if it is too far gone, there is always your composting bin. So, it is a win win for everyone.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl Food

The big day has come and gone. Woo Hoo (that was sarcasm). I love watching football, but if it left the airways I would not need a therapist. I think it is over rated, over payed and it's not really football. Soccer came first and...if you need all that protective equipment, then where's the sport in that. I mean come on. Michael Phelps seemed to have won what, 8 gold medals and all he wore was a Speedo and a skull cap.

But I got distracted here a bit. We do however love the food we make on this day. It's a healthy version of junk food. I just love saying that. But on to what we ate. There are no definitive recipes, we WINGED IT!

We made a platter of Ultimate Nachos:
Cover the bottom of a pizza pan with chips (we used organic blue)
Then layer in any order you so choose and add or delete items you do not care for:
green olives
refried beans (we made our own)
jalapeno cheese (we used real dairy cheese)

Pop in a preheated oven of 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes and viola!

And our other dish of the night was chili dogs. I had been needing/wanting to clean out and rearrange my pantry. So what do you do with a half a cup of stray beans? You make chili out of them...all of them. I know I had 3 beans in our chili and one of them was black beans, but other than that I have no clue.

about 2 cups of dried beans, pressure cooked until tender.
1&1/2 T chili powder
1&1/2 t salt
1/4 t chipotle powder
1/2 cup veggie ground beef
1 small can of tomato paste + one can of water
1/2 can 28 ounces whole tomatoes, chopped
Water to thin out.

Serve over veggie dog and add fixin's as you see fit. Enjoy, for we certainly did.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Heart Attack Grill

A friend of mine sent this to me and I was debating on whether or not to post about this but I decide to go on ahead and do it. It is a wonderful reminder as to why I do what I do and why I make the choices I make. Meat eaters can jest all they want about us living on sprouts, but I will be laughing all the way to the doctors office. HAH!

Go visit Heart Attack Grill