Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chipolte-Tomato Cooked Salsa and Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas

Tonight I made versions of two of my favorite foods, salsa and quesadillas. The salsa is a smoky, spicy dip, and the quesadillas were cheesy and delicious!

The salsa recipe is CHIPOLTE-TOMATO SALSA, a easy and wonderful salsa to make. Onions, garlic, and peppers are sauteed until tender, and then tomatoes and chipolte peppers are added to the simmering mixture. After being processed in a food processor, the salsa is cooled to room temperature. Cilantro and lime juice are stirred in right before serving.

ROASTED SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN QUESADILLAS were the main course this evening. These Mexican style grilled cheese sandwiches feature roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, scallions, and monetary jack cheese sandwiched between two flour tortillas. They are cooked in a skillet with a small amount of butter until the tortillas are brown and the cheese is melted.

What a wonderful dinner! I loved the salsa, it was very spicy! I enjoyed this with homemade corn chips, and will make this salsa many more times. The quesadillas were outstanding, filling, cheesy and a little sweet. I am so glad I made extras to have for lunch tomorrow!!!

Spinach Salad with Oranges and Feta Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette and Greek Pasta Casserole

Yesterday afternoon, I got home at 5:00, and decided to make homemade fococcia, a pasta dish, and a salad with homemade dressing-and all this had to be ready at 6:30 (when Mr. Sexy Veggie was scheduled to arrive for dinner!) So I had a crazy busy hour and a half, plus a very messy kitchen, but it was worth it!

The salad I made was SPINACH SALAD WITH ORANGES AND FETA CHEESE. Olives were supposed to be included in this salad, but I don't care for them so they were omitted. Along with the fresh oranges sections and crumbled feta cheese, the recipe calls for CITRUS VINAIGRETTE to top the salad. The vinaigrette is another recipe from the book. The dressing is easily assembled by mixing fresh lime juice, fresh lemon juice, orange juice concentrate, red wine vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper in a jar. The result was tart and tasty! The combination of the spinach and the tangy orange bites, feta, and dressing was wonderful!

The entree for the evening was GREEK PASTA CASSEROLE. It is another easily assembled dish. You boil the pasta, and saute minced garlic in olive oil for 30 seconds. After the pasta is cooked, you mix the garlic oil with the pasta shells and let it cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, chopped roasted red peppers, diced tomatoes, and feta cheese are mixed in. After baking for 30 minutes, the pasta dish is hot and ready to enjoy!

YUM!! I loved this dinner. The salad was a great way to start, crisp and fresh, and the dressing was great. The casserole was excellent, the flavors meld together perfectly to make a warm and satisfying dish. Mr. Sexy Veggie enjoyed both dishes as well, including the vinaigrette, which he doesn't usually care for!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mixed Potato Home Fries

Yes, I know I made fries last Monday. Mondays and Thursdays are my "lazy" nights, Monday being my veggie burger and fries night. This evening I made MIXED POTATO HOME FRIES, a easy baked french fry recipe that incorporates white and sweet potatoes. These sweet potatoes were provided by MOM Classy Veggie, on her recent trip to visit!

The potatoes are peeled and sliced into sections, tossed with onions (onion powder for me-I was out of onions!) and olive oil, and baked for about 30 minutes, turning once during the baking period.

These fries are flavorful and good. The ease of preparation makes this recipe very accessible, and easy to do on any weeknight. I will make these again!

Penne with Garlicky (and oily) Butternut Squash

Last night I made PENNE WITH GARLICKY BUTTERNUT SQUASH. This easily prepared pasta dish highlights an autumn favorite, butternut squash. The recipe calls for peeling and dicing the squash, sauteing the squash in olive oil until golden and tender, then mixing the squash mixture with cooked penne pasta and topping with Parmesan cheese.

This dish was ok, nothing great, nothing bad. I did misread the recipe and tripled the amount of olive oil called for, so I think that has something to do with my overall satisfaction of the dish. Olive oil is good for you, but that much is just excessive! The recipe also calls for nutmeg, parsley, and sage, but the recipe never tells you what to do with them. I just added them to the squash during the last few minutes of cooking

I will not be making this recipe again, even without the extra 2/3 cup olive oil!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vegetarian Chili and Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my all time favorite foods is chili. Especially when it is a spicy chili, rich with tomato flavor. Last night I made VEGETARIAN CHILI from the cookbook. This recipe incorporates onion, garlic, green pepper, bulger and lots of spices.

Added to this base are tomatoes, beans, and water, and the mixture is simmered for 30 minutes. I topped the servings of chili with cheese, and served it with homemade corn chips and carrots.

This was a very good chili-spicy, hearty, and filling. I did double the spices the recipe called for, because I like my chili to be hot! The recipe also called to stir in butter and the end of the cooking period, and I forgot to do that. I am interested in knowing what the butter will add to the dish, and I will add some to the leftovers I have. The bulgur added a lot of texture and heartiness to the chili. I will make this again-it is an easy dish to prepare, and does not require a very long cooking period.

For dessert I made PERFECT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES from the cookbook. These cookies start with a butter dough that is chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours before being shaped into balls and baked for 15 minutes.

These cookies were good, but I would not consider them perfect. The cookbook said to take the cookies off the cooking sheets 1 minute after taking them out of the oven, which I did not do. Therefore, I had a very hard time getting these cookies of the baking sheets. The cookies are rich and flavorful, but they are not the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. I will keep searching for the "perfect" cookie recipe!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Baking Powder Pizza Crust

For this Thursday's weekly pizza, I choose to make the BAKING POWDER PIZZA DOUGH recipe from the cookbook. This is a very quickly assembled dough that requires no rising. Flour, baking powder, salt, and butter are combined in a food processor, and milk is added to make the mixture stick together.

After the dough is mixed, it is rolled out into a baking pan and baked for a few minutes, and then topped with pizza toppings and put back into the oven to finish crisping.

This dough is very biscuit-like, and i did not think I would like it as a pizza crust. However, it was very good, dense and crispy. It will not be my go to pizza crust recipe, but I will use it again if I decide to make a pizza at the last minute and don't have enough time to make a yeast based pizza dough.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Macaroni and Smoked Cheese

Cheddar Cheese
Smoked Gouda Cheese
A Hot Oven


This baked macaroni and cheese is very warm and yummy! It was easy to make, and it makes a lot of food (yay leftovers!). I will make it again, although I will probably use regular Gouda instead of smoked Gouda the next time.

Corn and Red Pepper Chowder

Autumn and soup go hand in hand, and last night I made CORN AND RED PEPPER CHOWDER. The chowder recipe is easy to follow, although it does take about 30 minutes to prep the ingredients for the soup. Chopped onion and garlic are sauteed in melted butter until tender, and then vegetable broth is added to the pan. Once the broth is boiling, chopped celery, red pepper, and diced potatoes are added to the mixture. After simmering for 15 minutes, the corn is stirred in, then part of the soup is transferred to a food processor and blended until smooth. The pureered chowder is mixed back into the pan, along with milk and cream. The mixture is reheated, and seasoned to taste!
The soup was delicious and filling, and the corn gives the dish a slightly sweet flavor. The milk and cream gave the chowder some body, but it wasn't heavy or too filling. Mr. Sexy Veggie stated "This isn't too bad, actually". (It isn't the prettiest dish, so I don't think either one of us had too high of expectations!) The leftovers were even better today for lunch, the corn flavor came through a bit more and it wasn't as sweet.

This corn chowder is warm and tasty, and will be a great addition to any dinner table, especially with a green salad and warm, crusty bread.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hot Potato!

Tonight I played hot potato.......spicy hot and temperature hot! I made spicy potato fries, a great accompaniment to a veggie burger on this chilly evening.
These fries are easy to make. You peel the potatoes (or taters, depending on where you are from), cut them into fry size pieces, arrange them on a baking sheet, and bake for about 30 minutes.

Once they come out of the oven, they are tossed with chili powder and salt, and ready to enjoy!!

I really enjoyed these fries, and ate them very quickly. I did cut them a little too thin (shoestring size) for my taste, next time I will cut them thicker. This recipe gets a thumbs-up from me!

Two Recipes in One Night!

I made two recipes out of Vegetarian Classics last night. The first was an appetizer, Spicy Black Bean Dip. The second was Cheese Polenta with Corn and Green Chilies, a hot and satisfying entree.

The SPICY BLACK BEAN DIP was a smoky, tasty delight. It is quick and easy to make, only requiring throwing the ingredients in a food processor for a few turns around the blade. The recipe calls for chipolte pepper in adobe sauce, and I was afraid the pepper would add too much smoky flavor to the dish (neither Mr. Sexy Veggie or myself like overwhelming smoky flavors). However, the pepper gave the dip depth and a little kick, and was not too smoky at all! The dip was enjoyed with homemade tortilla chips.

The main course dish was CHEESE POLENTA WITH CORN AND GREEN CHILIES. I have never made polenta before, and was interested in seeing how cornmeal can become a yummy dinner. I was impressed!

To make the polenta, the recipe calls for mixing cornmeal with water and milk. Stirring constantly, you bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until thick, about 10 minutes.

After the mixture is thick, you pour half into a baking dish, top with corn, chilies, and cheese, and cover with the remaining polenta. Spicy Monetary Jack cheese tops the casserole.

After baking for 40 minutes, the cheese is melted, and the dish is ready to enjoy!

I was a little uncertain about the mushy consistency of this dish, but the flavor was great. Mr. Sexy Veggie and I both agreed that something crunchy on the side (a cheese quesadilla, perhaps) would have taken the focus away from the mealy texture. However, the leftovers reheated perfectly for lunch today!! I am pleased with my first try at polenta, and will try it again!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First Recipe: Classic Pizza Dough

The first recipe I chose to make from the cookbook was not a very exciting one, but a convenient one. I have a tradition of making a homemade pizza every Thursday evening, and decided to try one of the pizza doughs in the cookbook for tonight's cheesy pie. The recipe is CLASSIC PIZZA DOUGH, and it is an easy recipe to follow.

First I assembled the ingredients, and then let the yeast soak in warm water. Then, I added the rest of the ingredients, and mixed them all together to form a dough. The dough is placed in a well oiled bowl, and is left to rise for about an hour. It should double in size.

After rising, the crust is ready to roll out and bake. After baking it for a few minutes, I topped it with sauce, jalapenos and cheese, and put it back into the oven until the cheese was ooey and gooey!

Since I am reviewing the crust recipe, and not the toppings, I will do my best to concentrate on only the crust! I was impressed with how the crust turned out- it was light, crispy, and flavorful. It was like a cracker-just a little fluffier. It is not a very filling crust, it is quite thin.

Now that I know that this recipe produces a thin, crispy, flavorful crust, I will be making it again. I think it will make a great crust for calzones!

Check back next week to see how the Black Bean Dip and Corn Chowder recipes turn out!