Tag Archives: bell peppers

Quick & Easy Weeknight Dinner – Grilled Vegetables & Rice!

1 Sep


Two staples that will pretty much always be found in my kitchen: vegetables and rice. Since we haven’t ventured to the grocery store in far too long, dinner had to be whatever we had on hand! After a rather laborious dinner the other night, I was in no mood for drawn-out dinner shenanigans, so N got some rice cooking while I was on my way home. I whisked together a quick+simple marinade for the vegetables (soy sauce, ginger, sesame seed oil, LOTS of garlic, agave nectar, & chili paste), sliced some zucchini and green bell pepper and let sit for a few minutes while the grill was heating. The awesome thing about vegetarian marinades? They can also be used as sauce after everything is cooked without worrying about contamination from raw meats! Nom nom nom. While the vegetables were grilling and the marinade was looking a little lonely, I sliced up some beefsteak tomatoes and let those soak up the lovely sauce for a bit. No need to grill the tomatoes, these tasted great raw! Once done, everything gets thrown in a bowl to commence devouring.

Notes:

  • Need protein? Use Quinoa instead of rice. Thought of doing this after the rice started cooking, unfortunately…
  • Turn this all into a wrap! Add some beans & cheese and you got yerself a burrito.

First Time Trying Polenta!

25 Aug

My tastebuds no longer find polenta shrouded in mystery. I’ve seen polenta in so many vegetarian recipes, but have had yet to try it and experiment with it. At its most basic, polenta is just corn grits that is boiled until a thick paste and can pretty much take the form of whatever dish you’re thinking of (sweet or savory!) I just picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill corn grits, googled for some general advice/ideas on what to do with polenta and pretty much just made it to see if I would even like it. This really isn’t a recipe or specific dish per se because I just wanted to use up some veggies I had sitting around. And the avocado was staring deep into my soul, beckoning me to devour it. So it goes. I am loving all the roma tomatoes I keep picking from our garden! They are small, sweet and beefy and I seem to be eating them with every meal. Yay lycopene! Overall, I really enjoyed the polenta! It was creamy and I can see it having much potential to develop into any sort of dish. I baked my polenta because I wasn’t too in the mood for mush! This went well with some roasted veggies on the side.

Basic Polenta

  • 1 cup corn grits / meal/ polenta stuff
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups milk of choice (I used almond)
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Spices of choice (i.e. onion powder, garlic, chili powder, sage, rosemary…depends on the dish you’re looking to make!)
  • 1 cup of shredded vegan cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Tbsp of favorite sweetener (this was an afterthought to the dish–just a hint of sweetness would make this even better)
Bring liquids to a boil in a large pot. Slowly whisk in corn grits and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until thick, being sure to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. The polenta can be eaten this way or fried in a pan for a few minutes, spread into a thin layer on a greased baking sheet and cooked for about 10-15 minutes, flipping once during that time. There are also many other ways to prepare polenta! Just do some googling and experimenting. Leftover polenta is awesome. I think I will be slicing some of mine up and grilling it! Yum.


First week of fall semester has been conquered! Just 14 more…eeek! I really think I’m going to enjoy my “Religious Movements of the US” class. I am constantly fascinated by the objective study of religions, their ideologies and effects on society and truly get sucked in by learning about cultural taboos, similarities between all religions and their historical background, whether rooted in fact or fiction. This can be a touchy subject for many people, but I love this sort of controversy and seeing what it stems from. Thank you, anthropology! πŸ™‚ My professor for the course is definitely a button-pusher–from the moment she made her grand entrance into the classroom, she’s been dropping f-bombs, pushing boundaries and forcing us to think about our own beliefs. I really feel I learn the most from eccentric, critical professors that force your to think outside the box. Classes such as this one make me feel like the amount of money I’m putting toward my education is worth it. πŸ™‚ But now, it’s late and I have to get up early! Goodnight moon!

French Bread / Grilled Vegetable & Pesto Paninis

11 Aug

Ah, the beloved crusty french bread. A seemingly difficult task to recreate this fluffy/crispy dichotomy, it turns out to be a rather simple recipe with a few basic ingredients. When I stumbled across this recipe at “Gourmet Mom On the Go”, I immediately knew I had to try it. Such an easy approach to making something I would typically buy in the store. I pretty much followed her recipe exactly, except I made it even easier…by utilizing by bread maker. Lazy lazy, I know, but it got the job done without me worrying if I had killed the yeast! I also didn’t roll the dough out like she did…I just kind of blobbed it together until it was a nice shape. Sidenote: shape it into a boule and you have an AWESOME breadbowl for a hearty soup! Might have to try this in the winter… This bread was perfect for what I had in mind for dinner: PANINIS!

We’re getting to that awkward point in the week where it’s too soon to go to the grocery, yet you have to use some creativity to figure something out for dinner. Zucchini squash, heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, bell peppers, and a quick spinach pesto make these hearty paninis. The squash and bell peppers were tossed in some olive oil + salt/pepper and grilled for a few minutes. I whipped up the spinach pesto using a couple handfuls of fresh baby spinach (feel free to sub some fresh basil in there), walnuts, garlic, salt+pepper, and olive oil. Whizzed it in the VitaMix until pasty and spread it on the sliced french bread. I bought a couple heirloom beefsteak tomatoes the other day from a little farm that’s across the street from the library I work at…in the middle of the neighborhood! Such a neat little farm. The tomatoes tasted SO good fresh, no need to grill or prepare them any other way. Layered the grilled vegetables on top of everything and whipped out the panini press. It’s always nice to kind of feel like you’re justifying having a ridiculous amount of kitchen gadgets by actually using them. If you don’t have a panini press, just make them like you would a grilled cheese. Or even throw them on the grill if you’re looking for those authentic grill lines. Quick and easy dinner using ingredients I already had. Love it.

The bulk of my day tomorrow will play out as such: up early to go to a couple intriguing estate sales to scope out some Pyrex, whip together a fruit salad for a pot luck at work tomorrow, work, rejoice at being one day closer to having the children out of the library and back at school, and finally, come home. Relax. Possibly do something with the butternut squash that’s been sitting on the counter. Perhaps. But now? TO BED!

Seitan (Carne) Asada & Spanish Rice

10 Aug

I always forget to put an apron on. I have a perfectly awesome apron that my mother made just for me! BUT I ALWAYS FORGET TO WEAR IT. My vigorous stirring of Arborio rice left me with tomato splatter all over my shirt. The things I do for good food!

Seitan is definitely my favorite out of all the meat-alternatives out there. It’s chewy and flavorful, but isn’t soggy and strangely textured like some of those “others” out there (*ahem* tofu). I’ve made it a few times before, but always find it to be an annoying process even though there’s only a few steps involved. There are so many different ways to prepare it and I decided to use the Bible of all the vegan cookbooks: Veganomicon. It’s a basic seitan recipe that you can shape to your own tastes or to match whatever recipe you’ll be using it for. Definitely better than store-bought!

Seitan Recipe (in Veganomicon & The PPK)

The only changes I made to the recipe were spices, in order to complement the carna asada marinade that I would be using for the seitan. I added lots of garlic powder, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and omitted the lemon juice. Prepared as the recipes states, except I just left my hunk of gluten in one blob instead of dividing into two.Β  I wanted something that I could make slices out of and felt this was a good approach.

Carne Asada Marinade

Seeing that I was missing quite a few vital ingredients to the carne asada marinade and didn’t feel like meandering to the grocery store, I winged it. I combined elements from recipes on AllRecipes and Simply RecipesΒ to come up with a quasi-carne asada marinade. If you have a reliable and authentic recipe, use that. The marinade I whipped up was great, but needed a bit more spice to it (jalapenos would have solved this problem). Also, I was only able to marinade the seitan, zucchini and bell peppers for an hour. The longer the better! Two very essential ingredients to the marinade (in my humble opinion): fresh garlic cloves and fresh cilantro!

Slice the seitan into long strips and place in non-reactive bowl with sliced zucchini and bell peppers. Pour marinade over and let sit for at least a couple of hours. Fire up the ol’ grill and cook until desired crunchiness in vegetables. Roll in a whole wheat tortilla, drizzle with some leftover marinade and serve with fresh avocado, pico de gallo or spanish rice!

Spanish Rice

When I learned that one of the best ways to prepare rice is to saute it in some garlic and oil before adding water, rice became a whole lot more exciting. For spanish rice, I prepared some arborio rice (the stuff you use for risotto) using a can of unsalted diced tomatoes and low sodium vegetable stock. Towards the end I stirred in more garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and chili powder. Easy! Not particularly authentic, but delicious.

 

Wednesday already? Hard to believe that my classes start in 12 days…and I’m running the Warrior Dash in 11 days…eek! This also means that the kids that incessantly loiter at the library will also be back in school very soon…yeeeeeessssss…! Happy Hump Day, everyone! πŸ™‚ The weekend will be here soon!

Garden Updates

7 Aug


The community garden we are a part of (located conveniently at the library I work at) has helped us learn the ins and outs of gardening by means of trial and error (and the occasional words of wisdom from the more experienced crowd). So far, we’ve had quite a few very sweet little strawberries to munch on over the summer, but they’ve all been taken over by the sprawling pumpkin vines that are acting like they own the place and make themselves comfortable wherever. The snow peas died off awhile ago, a result of a week of massive thunderstorms and flooding. I could have sworn I had planted heirloom tomato seeds, but the tomatoes that are growing look like romas! No complaints here, just a bit bizarre. Can’t wait to have fresh tomatoes to make salsa & sauces! The little jalapenos that are popping up will pair nicely with those tomatoes. I’m a bit scared of the habaneros, so those will be going to my sister! The bell peppers are so cute and doll-sized at the moment. I just hope that critters stay away! It’s funny how animals know exactly when things are ripe and at their best and chomp on them.

After watering the garden this morning, I was greeted with the wonderful smell of banana-walnut waffles! Yum. They tasted just like fresh banana bread, but in waffle form. Dense, but lovely! While taking pictures of the waffle-goodness, someone wanted to take a bite…Izze really likes banana peels, so no wonder she wanted to sniff these waffles! The original recipe for these came from the glorious Veganomicon. Truly a grand resource for all things vegan!

Now, to continue my lazy Sunday by reading the rest of the Julia Child biography, planning some recipes and finishing up that bottle of Pinot Noir…

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal & Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

5 Aug


Looks like I have some bloggin’ to catch up on! Yesterday morning had me craving something sweet and filling…and oatmeal easily fulfills that task! Oats are high in fiber and help lower cholesterol…and taste good. Always remember to use rolled oats and not quick! I’ve been inspired by Kath over at Kath Eats Real Food because she always has such great looking oatmeal! Check out her “Tribute to Oatmeal” page for lots of tasty variations!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal with Sliced Raw Almonds, Chia Seeds and Wheat Germ

  • 1 apple, chopped
  • Lots of cinnamon! 1-2 tsp
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite sweetener (i.e. honey, agave nectar, etc)
  • pinch of salt
  • Nutmeg, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk (or water or any non-dairy milk you prefer)
  • Any toppings you like. In this case I used sliced raw almonds, chia seeds, wheat germ

Throw chopped apple + spices + sweetener into a saucepan. Let cook for a minute or two…then add rolled oats, stir, and add the almond milk. Bring to a low boil and let simmer for about 15 minutes (though everything takes longer at high altitude!) or until you have your preferred consistency. Top with tasty things and enjoy in your favorite dish (in my case, in my UGLY mug!)

Yum. So many different things you can do with oatmeal! This made enough to split between two people (I get so full after eating oats).

I had some green bell peppers sitting on the counter form the farmer’s market this past weekend and they were just on the brink of being too far gone, so I had to use them! I was able to whip this meal up in under an hour. Lots of protein from the quinoa and a variety of veggies make this a healthy, hearty dinner.

Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 4-5 Bell Peppers, tops cut off and seeds/innards cut out
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (or use fresh!), not drained
  • Small can of sweet peas
  • Small can of sweet corn
  • 1/2 medium sized zucchini squash, chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder (I LOVE GARLIC)
  • Vegan shredded cheddar cheese (highly recommend Daiya brand)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Parboil the bell peppers for 5 minutes, drain and set aside. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the inside of each pepper.

Prepare quinoa per your brand’s instructions. Add diced tomatoes, peas, corn and chopped zucchini. Mix spices in!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an oven-safe dish (PYREX IS AWESOME), place bell peppers upright. Carefully spoon the filling in. About halfway, add a layer of shredded cheese. Continue to fill up to the top and then add more cheese! Breadcrumbs would be tasty too. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until everything is looking cheesy, goopy and delicious.

Notes:

  • Want more protein? Add some black beans to the mix! Cilantro, jalapenos, onion and cayenne pepper would make this a great spicy dish!
  • No quinoa? Use rice or couscous!
  • Looking for a meaty version? Add your favorite veggie crumbles, like Gimme Lean!

Yesterday was tasty, I must say. So glad it’s FRIDAY! Most likely going GARAGE SALE-ING (sailing? yes. like on a boat.) tomorrow to try and find some interesting things. Estate sales are the best! Just have to weed through all the crap to get to the good stuff. Happy Friday!

Leftover Surprise

26 Jul

It’s always fun to take whatever you have in the fridge, throw it in a blender and hope for the best. Quite the adventure! I had some leftover mashed potatoes from the pierogies last night and a crap load of vegetables just on the brink of the point of no return. Since I have yet to get a food processor (definitely would have made this a bit easier), I used our trusty, ridiculously powerful VitaMix to create a mash of vegetables: broccoli, red bell pepper & zucchini. I came up with a sort of hybrid vegetable fritter/potato pancake thing. Super easy and quick to make using any vegetables sitting around in the fridge. I don’t have any sort of real measurements, mostly just winging it!

These were great complemented with some ketchup and hot sauce! And a side of iced chai tea... πŸ™‚

Potato/Vegetable Fritter Pancake (Pancatter? Fritcake?)

  • Leftover mashed potatoes (These had chives, garlic powder, almond milk and some Earth balance buttah)
  • A variety of hearty vegetables (In this case, I had zucchini, broccoli and red bell peppers)
  • Garlic!
  • A tablespoon or two of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Place all the vegetables (except the potatoes) in your food processor or blender. Blend until you get desired consistency (if ya like chunks, go for it). This should be kind of a thick paste.

Dump vegetable paste in with the mashed potatoes and mix until it becomes an even thicker paste! How exciting. Add any more spices you like to the mix. Next, add the flour and baking powder. Mix with your hands (more fun) until you are able to make them into patties that don’t completely fall apart on you. They shouldn’t be super sticky, but somewhat moist. If too wet and falling apart, slowly work more flour in until they stick.

Have a skillet ready on medium heat sprayed lightly with canola oil. Form the fritterthings into balls then flatten in your hands. They turn out with a nicer consistency the thinner you make them! Let cook in pan for a few minutes each side or until they are brown and smelling amazing. EAT.

Notes:

  • Mine held together pretty well, but if you find yours falling apart too much, Vegetarians can add an egg to the mix and Vegans can use water + flax seed blended together to bind the mix a little better.
  • Shredded carrots would add a bit of sweetness and great color
  • Might be interesting grilled…
  • Used minced garlic instead of powdered
  • Onions would give a flavor boost
  • Try adding some jalapenos and cheddar cheese! Mmm spicy!
  • Cholula (hot sauce), ketchup, and sour cream pair well with these

Hearty, easy breakfast, my favorite. Looks like it’s going to be another hot one today. Hopefully the air conditioning at the library won’t be on the fritz again! It was 84 in there yesterday! I’m surprised the books didn’t melt.

To the library I go!