Thursday, February 24, 2011

Almost Proud

I was so proud of last night's dinner. Even when I was vegetarian I always made a pasta dish or a faux meat dish for dinner.
Last night I decided to make "Chickpea and Spinach Stew" for 2 reasons.
  1. My husband and I have a cold and needed something comforting and healthy
  2. I had frozen spinach I needed to use and canned garbanzo beans in the cupboard.
I'm REALLY sorry for all the boring simplistic recipes I've been making but I want to cook with stuff I already have.  My freezer looked like it was about to bust. So embarrassing......

Needed to use this in order to leave more space. Coincidentally I still have no space in the freezer.

I gathered all my ingredients. Big can of garbanzo beans, pepper flakes, paprika, garlic, parsley, onion, olive oil, black pepper and chopped tomato's.

Cooked the onion, garlic, parsley and spices with some olive oil.
I added the garbanzo beans and tomato's and let them simmer. Latter added the frozen spinach straight into the pot. Because it's baby spinach I didnt bother to cook it first.

Made some brown rice in my rice cooker and also mashed some garlic in order to make the aioli, which is a fancy way of saying garlic with mayo.
At my household we call it toum, the Lebanese way of saying garlic with mayo.

And badda bing badda boom: Dinner! OH MAN! This was actually really REALLY good! I couldn't believe it! So this is what I was missing all those years I was vegetarian. My husband loved it as well. Keeper recipe!
Because of the spices I couldn't serve it to my daughter so she had brown rice with egg and green beans. Nothing fancy but it did the trick.

 I was so pleased with myself. . .that is until my good friends brought us Tito's Taco's! I just couldn't refuse their food, that would be rude. Not really. I just really wanted that taco. Eh, I tried.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


So not only do I have a mangled finger but I also managed to catch a nasty NASTY cold. Needless to say I haven't been in a cooking mood. But today I'm back!! Well, semi-back. I just had enough energy to make dessert. I decided to make "Pear-Almond Upside-Down Cake" because I wanted to get rid of my pears. Unfortunately I ended up only needing one pear for this recipe.

I started by blanching some almonds. Basically I just threw the almonds into boiling hot water. After a couple minutes I rinsed them and the skins slipped right off.
Next I grind them in the processor. This will later go in the batter.

After this I take a break because my son decided to pay me a lil visit in the kitchen. How cute is he?!?!

Ok, back to work! I start preparing the pears. I peel, cut and place them atop a melted butter-sugar concoction.

I pour the batter on top and I bake it. This is the result!

The cake was delicious! I was a little worried because the batter looked lumpy while baking but once out of the oven it looked great. OK folks, time to hit the hay!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ugly but Good

Yesterday was "Vegetarian Friday!" My husband is Catholic Maronite and they try to abstain from meat and poultry on Friday's. Fish is permitted though, so I guess it's more "Semi-Vegetarian Friday!"
We didn't have Tuna so I made the husband an "Egg Salad with Caper's and Onions" Sandwich.

I gathered all the ingredients I needed.
Ignore the orange and Gatorade.

Boiled some eggs. The brown ones are for my kiddies; they are the expensive organic kind.

And there we are. It was hard trying to make the egg sandwich look pretty so I placed it next to some cherry tomatoes. Too lazy to take 'em out of the box. Still looked kinda ugly but it was pretty tasty!

And speaking of ugly...
These guys needed to be used so I looked in the cookbook and found "Banana Oat Muffins."

Mashed the bananas

 Didn't have buttermilk so i did the milk and vinegar trick.

Grated some nutmeg. I LOVE the smell!

Ready for the oven

Top Row in Pict:  The first batch came out pretty sad-looking and tasted a little bland. I immediately realized the recipe didn't call for salt! Salt brings out the sweet flavor in baked goods.

Middle Row in Pict: I added salt and little bit of white sugar to the next batch. It tasted much better!

Bottom Row in Pict: To the last batch I decided to add some vanilla and a little bit of baking powder. The last batch had a lighter texture, though I think I prefer the more dense texture.

Yesterday was the first time I completely abstained from meat. Our dinner included the mujadarrah that my mother-in-law fixed, hummus with olive oil my father-in-law made and Shanklish my husband made (a combo of cheese, onion, tomatoes and olive oil). I had the hard task of washing the veggies.
My daughter's dinner looked a lot cuter.

And this was our lunch today. Leftover egg salad with pickled jalapenos and carrots on top of a green salad. My daughter had cheese pizza and veggies and my son had hard boiled egg yolk mixed with a bunch of other stuff.  Dinner tonight might be similar to what we had yesterday.
Looks like another meatless day!!! 


Thursday, February 17, 2011

My towed up Finger: War wound from my Kitchen

So this is really embarrassing you guys, but I totally messed up my finger yesterday with my new stick blender. I TOLD myself to be careful and not to mess with it unless it was disconnected, but it only took one second of stupidity to get this:
The food I was blending got stuck and as I was trying to take the food out I accidentally pushed the button. It was super scary because I couldn't see how bad the cut was since it was bleeding profusely. I grabbed the first thing I saw (my sons dirty undershirt that was soaking in the bathroom sink) and wrapped it around my finger. My mother-in-law lives next door to me but she was working. I told my 4yr old to watch the baby while I went downstairs to ask help from my neighbors. After my neighbor poured alcohol we went back upstairs to check on the kids and I called my nurse friend.
She walked me through the process, basically pressure and ice. My neighbors had to go and I was left alone with my 2 kids and a finger that wouldn't stop bleeding. At the moment I felt super alone; it's when I finally lost it and begin to cry.
An hour later a few people arrived to help including my nurse friend and my father-in-law. My friend treated the wound and said that I might not need stitches after all. I was relieved because I don't have insurance.

Anywho, today the wound is looking like it's healing well. Not looking forward to doing dishes with this bandage around my finger, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. I'm just thankful it wasn't worse then it could have been and that I had so many helping hands. Of course, this was the one day my husbands phone decided to blow out, so he had no idea what happened until he got home. He pretty much freaked out because he thought the top of my finger was gone. Craziness.

Well, after that whole gory story I'm sure the last thing someone wants to look at are pictures of food, but here goes anyway.
Yesterday (pre-finger-mutilation) I made Mujadarrah or "Lentils and Rice with Fried Onion." Since my husband is Lebanese we have this often but I've never made it before. This recipe was different from my mother-in-laws in that it had black pepper and much more rice.

I liked the fried onions that go with the dish.
Finished dish

Next up I made "Sauteed Zucchini with Garlic and Lemon."

Adding some lemon with my trusty grater
*Sigh* my index finger looks so pretty in this picture.

Because of the whole finger drama I didn't eat dinner until about 9pm. At this time the food tasted OK. I definitely like less rice in my Mujadarrah. Today my mother-in-law told me she would "fix it," which means make it taste more like hers.  The zucchini was nice, nothing special but a good way to cook it if I'm in a hurry. I don't think I'm going to be cooking tonight. I might make some banana muffins but other then that it might just be leftovers. Yesterday was pretty crazy and I want to take it easy today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Daisy's for Dinner

Today I made "Dandelion Greens with Roasted Walnuts and Hard-Cooked Egg." My husband bought the Dandelion greens thinking they were something else. After a week of seeing them in the fridge I asked him what they were and he responded with, "Oh, my mom told me they were daisy's." I asked him if he was sure they were daisy's and not dandelion greens and he said, "yeah, dandelion greens sound about right."

Husbands say the darnest things.

So first things first, I had to roast the walnuts. Unfortunately my lil woke up from his nap, so by the time I picked him up and finished nursing him this happened!

I ate the walnuts that were still OK and chucked the rest. My husband would be frowning if he were there. He grew up during a war so its very much ingrained in him to never waste food. Ah well, whadya gonna do?!?! My second batch came out much better!
 Next up I boiled some eggs. I only needed 2 but I boiled more for future use. My daughter had one for dinner.
This is she, keeping me company in the kitchen while working on her alphabet sounds.

Smashed some garlic
I made the garlic, red wine vinegar dressing and cooked it for a minute.

These are the dandelion greens  

This is the finished salad.

I really like this salad! If you dont like bitter flavors then this is not for you though. I thought the walnuts gave it a nice sweet taste and the egg made it slightly creamy. The dressing was super yummy though I think next time Im going to add more garlic. I ate this as a side dish but the husband had it as a main dish.
Good stuff!

Starting out Small

So I unofficially started on Saturday by cooking some asparagus the husband brought home. I almost never make asparagus (too expensive!) but when I do I steam them. I like to steam everything.
The recipe I used is simply called "Skillet Asparagus."  The book called for asparagus boiled in a pan with all the tips pointing one way.
I was to cook them until firm but not limp then drizzle with olive oil and add chopped herbs. I only had parsley as an herb so thats what I added. I finished it with salt and fresh black pepper and Wala!

They were waaay better then steamed asparagus. So we obviously had these as a side dish...well, they were meant as a side dish but turned into appetizers since we all just dug in before eating the main dish.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In the Beginning

I was 16 years old when I decided to become a vegetarian. I'm Mexican and I lived in the hood (South Los Angeles to be precise) so at that time I was the only vegetarian I knew. I didn't mind it and since I loved to cook I would spend hours in the downtown library reading vegetarian cookbooks. Yes. I was/am a big ‘ol nerd. 
"Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" quickly became my favorite.  It had so many recipes that I didn't need to bother bringing home other books. I loved the fact that a lot of the recipes were simple and had ingredients I could easily find in my parents fridge or pantry. I was so enamored by this book that in my diary I wrote that if I could dine with any 3 people in the world, Deborah Madison would be one of them.
Fast forward 12 years later, I still love to cook but I’m no longer vegetarian. There are 3 reasons I stopped:
1.       I missed mom’s short ribs and nopales in red sauce
2.       I wanted to try my (then) boyfriend’s favorite Lebanese dishes
3.       I was tired of asking waiters if they were SURE the soup didn’t have chicken broth.

Though I have no plans in becoming a vegetarian, I do feel like I’m eating too much meat. I also feel like I’m stuck in a vegetable cooking rut; the veggies I prepare are either salads or steamed green beans or peas. I would LOVE to get to a point to where I can go to the farmers market and just grab veggies that look good with full knowledge on how to prepare them. In all honesty the farmer’s market intimidates me the way the weight room in the gym used to intimidate me. I wander around trying to pretend I know what I’m doing, that I know what to do with this and that. I fear that others see right through me and wonder what I’m doing there, why I don’t just stick to the cardio machines regular chain markets.

So, in cooking my way through “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone,” these are my goals:
1.       Eat more vegetables and less meat
2.       Get out of my vegetable cooking rut.
3.       No longer be intimidated by the farmers market

I have not set a time limit like that Julie chick that cooked her way through Julia Child's French cookbooks. I have 2 kids, I go to school, I like spending time with my husband and I want to remain sane. And just as a little aside, thanks Honey for being so gung-ho about this!

So here we go! Very excited and nervous about this process....but mostly excited!