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Archive for the tag “vegetarian”

Black Eyed Pea & Corn Salad (New Years!)

In the South, New Years Day has food traditions as strong as Thanksgiving or Christmas. For good fortune in the new year, you have to eat corn bread and greens (both symbolizing the literal fortune we hope to earn/win/be anonymously gifted through paypal) and black eyed peas (just for the good luck part, so they say). Generally you make black eyed peas with some kick, some sugar and a good portion of ham hock (or bacon if you can’t find the ever cheap but off the beaten path ham hock). However, this probably isn’t the beacon of health and purification many of us are aiming for in the new year……… enter this salad.

Alright, so I’ve made a bet with a friend to keep us both on our weight loss/health goals this year. This means traditional southern dinners, complete with honey butter and pork bits, are probably not going to be on the menu for awhile. This is, I assure you, very sad. BUT, with challenges come innovation and this salad seriously was an amazing creation, so enjoy it!

What you need:

  • baby spinach
  • 1 can black eyed peas (any kind will do, try to buy some w/o seasoning, but if you can’t find them, that’s ok)
  • 1/2 green pepper (diced)
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tomato (diced, optional)
  • cilantro (just a little bit, but makes a difference)
  • chili powder, adobo, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic salt, black pepper (adobo is optional, it’s pretty much salt, garlic powder, onion powder etc… but it is nice to just add a dash)
  • maple syrup (just a little bit)
  • white vinegar & olive oil (dressing)

Step 1: Drain black eyed peas

Yup, that’s it. Drain them, put them in a bowl.

Step 2: Roast the corn

Toss the frozen corn in your cast iron skillet on high. This will both defrost, but also char the corn a bit which tastes delicious. When the corn starts to brown, toss it into the bowl on the black eyed peas.

Step 3: Lightly cook peppers/onions (optional)

I dislike raw bell pepper and raw onions… I don’t know why. But when they’re cooked a little? Nom. Who knows. So while you may want to throw these into the salad mix raw, I prefer to toss them into the hot pan once the corn is done, with a spray of pam if sticking is a problem, and cook for 3-4 minutes to soften them up a little. Toss the onions & peppers, along with the raw diced celery, into the bowl when you’re done.

Step 4: Cilantro & Spices & Syrup

Dice up a few springs of cilantro into small bits and toss them into the bowl. Then dash in the spices. Of course, I didn’t measure, but I’ll say you can go heavy on the garlic powder and chili powder, medium on the adobo, and light on cayenne, salt and black pepper. Then drizzle on a teaspoon maple syrup.

Step 5: Pile it all on the spinach

Yup, just stir and scoop. Pile a large amount of this concoction on a big old plate of spinach (and the tomatoes if you went with those… which I’d suggest because they add some bite to the whole deal). When you have it set up, pour a mix of about 2 teaspoons white vinegar to 1 teaspoon olive oil. I didnt’ really even mix the two, just drizzled across the outside with both. It just adds a little bit of extra bite to the greens, and gives a little liquid to get the juices from the bean mix throughout.

While it may not be jalapeño corn bread and honey butter — this was one of the most yummy salads I’ve ever made. And even with about 3/4 of a cup of the black eyed pea stuff on top, this salad is still around 200 calories all totaled. So, needless to say, I was damn proud, and I hope you like it too! Best of luck in 2013! Enjoy!

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Glorious Veggie Sandwich

I’ve never been much for sandwiches really. In elementary school I even refused PBJ and for over a year alternated between cheese sandwiches (yup, just a slice or two of cheese…. sometimes even kraft ‘cheese’ folded into a piece of bread) or butter sandwiches (which was really just Country Crock pseudo-butter on a folded piece of bread). God forbid my mom try to make me a ham and cheddar or turkey and swiss. Ew ew ew. And while I’ve grown up a bit in my tastes, I did figure out in college why I didn’t like sandwiches — they were so boring and mono-textured! Soft deli meat, soft cheese, soft bread made softer by mayo or mustard — blah. But add cucumbers or sweet pickles? WOW! Who knew I liked sandwiches?

So, though still not my favorite meal, I’ve endeavored to learn to make sandwiches I enjoy eating. And sometimes, my custom veggie sandwich is everything I’ve ever wanted in a food. Here’s how I (usually) do it…

Ingredients: 

Some decent whole grain bread… I like this one, the boyfriend prefers the oat kind… but some tasty nutty bread is best. If you can make your own, even better.

Fresh tomato and cucumber

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (or whatever flavor you prefer, but this one is the best so pick it)

Plain greek yogurt (totally a stolen photo from http://www.jessicashealthblog.com), mix in a teaspoon of cream cheese if you wish for increased deliciousness, and herbs/seasonings. I go with a little bit of cayenne pepper, garlic salt, cumin or whatever suits my whimsy that day. But really this invented ‘spread’ is the key to sandwich flavor variety.

So spread on that hummus and creamy cheesy herb stuff, and pile on some sprouts (I added yet more after this photo). They add crunch and if you get something like onion sprouts it can add some oomph too.

Then those ripe yummy summer tomatoes…

And then the sliced cukes and a piece of lettuce if you have it around (though it doesn’t add much to the deal honestly)

And TADA…. Veggie Sandwich of Glory!

SEE? Doesn’t it look tasty? (it is trust me)

Though, I do have a warning… it is hard to eat and hard to travel with. This is due to it’s size and amount of uncompromising awesomeness. See? It doesn’t even fit in a normal baggie. It’s a plus-sized sandwich. Even better.

You can also fix this up with various mustards (though they aren’t my favorite personally) or add a slice of cheese (muenster works particularly well here) or even add a meat to the mix. The important part is to get some tasty pestos and spreads in there for a variety of flavors and textures and to make a it mostly a pile of interesting veggies. Use that CSA or garden to your advantage!

Let us know what you like to pile onto your specialty sandwich in the comments! I love to try new combinations.

Tofu: The Stubborn Nemesis

I’ve always liked tofu. When I was a toddler our neighbors owned a Chinese restaurant and my favorite food when we went there was the tofu out of the hot & sour soup. Even boiled, mushy, and spicy – I loved it. Delicious!

Hot & Sour soup – my original tofu love

But sadly, in all my years since then I’ve never mastered tofu (or hot & soup either… the ingredients list for those recipes are way over my head at this point, though good recipes/suggestions are welcome). But until lately, whenever I’ve tried to make tofu stirfry in our wok I ended up with squishy broken chunks of flavorless soy product. Anti-appetizing. I’ve tried squeezing it out, using different knifes to cut it up, marinating and not marinating it… I thought it was hopeless.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came across the blog Rabbit food For My Bunny Teeth. While her story of weight loss is pretty inspiring, I was really after tasty but easy vegan recipes. And to my delight, Spicy Korean Tacos sounded (and looked!) delicious.

Despite my hesitation, I decided to try it out. We went with normal corn tortillas due to what we could find at our local run-of-the-mill grocery store, instead of cabbage we had lightly sauteed celery, carrots and onions, and I did add a tid bit of spicy szechuan sauce at the very end to add a bit more flavor. Otherwise though, I stayed on point. And by that I mean, I made the tofu exactly as she said. I put the soy sauce, siracha and oil in my cast iron skillet (instead of the wok), cranked it up, and dumped in my squeezed (pre-cubed –  more on that in a sec) extra firm tofu. And you know what? It worked. It seared on that soy sauce flavor. I didn’t need to marinate it, or douse it in tons of oil to get it to crisp up. It just happened. Like magic. With a sprinkle of sesame seeds, they were complete.

I loved it, the boyfriend loved it, all were quite pleased with our not-very-Korean, Korean tacos (I mean, seriously, what about these is Korean specifically really?). I made the filling again the other day to eat on top of quinoa, and even bought the not pre-cubed tofu. Extra-firm block was purchased and I was determined to be able to cut it w/o crumbling. So, I set a plate below with a few paper towels, and a plate on top and then the caste iron on top to put on some heavy pressure. In a few minutes I took it out to cube (with a serrated knife) and TADA! Worked like a charm. I cooked it up just like before and it made a delicious lunch.

My suspicion is that my trusty cast iron skillet was highly underutilized in my tofu cooking processes before and made both the squeezing and the cooking MUCH improved. But that’s just an inkling.

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