Mar 21, 2012

pasta primavera

The first day of Spring was yesterday. We really enjoy celebrating the equinoxes and solstices at our house. What better way to ring in the spring (besides that annoying daylight savings time deal) than with Pasta Primavera, for which the dish is named after. 

Way back when I fell in love with this dish, my brother was the executive chef of a waterside restaurant. By that time I was already vegetarian. After a long day's work, he would make for me this dish - pasta with creamy sauce and lots of spring and summer vegetables. There are two ways to make Pasta Primavera: one is made using olive oil and garlic and the other is made using butter, cream and Parmesan cheese, essentially a la Alfredo.

Although there is no way to exactly mimic the flavor of butter and cream (at least none that I have come across), the creaminess of the original dish remains and the stars of the meal -the vegetables- still take center stage. 

My brother limited the pasta to summer squashes and cauliflower, but I kind of went overboard and added anything at all that looked good. When I presented my offering to the kids and went into the details of the name, my kids immediately piped up... "tomatoes aren't a spring plant"..."neither are summer squashes"... yeah, yeah. I loaded tons of spring (and summer) veggies and fruits onto this pasta plate, but you are welcome to be as finicky as my kids tend to be, omitting any at will. 

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $3
onion, garlic, carrot, peppers: $3
flour, milk: $1
cauliflower, asparagus, squash, mushrooms, kale: $9
Total to make 6 servings:

Mar 19, 2012

braised vegan sausage and cabbage with horseradish sauce

We had such an amazing time last weekend, but are so happy to finally be home. 

Our Homeschool Conference in the Chicagoland area was tons of fun for the kids, tons of work for David and me. Fortunately along with the work and fun, some of us even learned a  thing or two. We are now back at home and I am again free to blog according to my ability and allotted time.

Since we were away this weekend and since a Patty's Day feast a microwave does not make, I am posting a belated Irish meal - cook at will and worry not about it being St Pat's Day. Enjoy the dish whenever the urge strikes.

This is an easy and quick open-faced sandwich of sorts, Braised Sausage and Cabbage with Horseradish Sauce, a take-off of the Corned Cabbage that the family loves but for which I did not have a whole lot of time to prepare. In its stead, I used a lot of the flavors and ingredients that are in the Corned Cabbage and made them into a quick dish.

The whole process started as a simple Sausage and Cabbage dish and morphed into the Corned-idea after Kate mentioned that it was a too bad that it wasn't going to be Corned Cabbage. That is all it really takes for me - someone lamenting over something I am NOT making - and the original dish veers off in another direction.

I braised vegan sausage, onions, peppers and cabbage in a corned-broth and served it over toasted whole wheat slices, drizzled with horseradish sauce. I also baked up acorn squash, left over from the produce box before we took off for vacation. Spring is here, so enjoy those winter squash while you still can! And partake of this dish whenever you see a scrumptious head of cabbage and a few links of Field Roast sausage calling out to you.

Cost Breakdown

cabbage: $3
sausage: $5
onion, pepper: $3
spices, herbs: $2
bread, vegenaise, horseradish: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

Mar 11, 2012

FNF - scampi with linguine

 I was the one who picked this Food Network Friday recipe, originally by Tyler Florence, and I am the last to post about it. It almost seems as though I am cheating by looking at Tami's Vegan Appetite post before actually making the dish. Although I feel bad that I didn't made the recipe much sooner, life at our house for the past month has revolved around our annual homeschool conference. This year I volunteered to be the sign maker for the conference and all I have been seeing, doing, printing, designing and breathing are signs. I'm a little sign-burned-out, to the point that after washing the dishes tonight, I realized that I had only cooked one meal all week, not including this one. How do I know that, you must be asking? 

One, I haven't been doing any dishes this week. And two, I haven't needed to do any since I haven't actually done any cooking that resulted in dishes needing to be done. Vicious, pathetic and yet intriguing happenstance of events. Sort of like a backhanded complement. Is it good or just in the disguise of being good?

Tyler Florence's Shrimp Scampi with Linguine was ultimately picked by my youngest from a choice of three dishes. She hates the idea of shrimp anything (Arthropods are not an ideal meal choice for her, and frankly I myself wonder at the fact that people actually choose to put bugs on their plates instead of having them accidentally be dropped into a dish by some unsanitary restaurant personnel.) I even purchased veggie shrimp to try out once (later having found out that it contained milk - read your labels! - even if you think the company is vegan) and she was put off by the texture and flavor. I found the fake shrimp quite real tasting and so did David. 

We were one of those shrimp-loving nut jobs in our pre-veg days, as ignorant of the whole bug-thing as we were, no excuses! I was a HUGE scampi lover, one not for the love of shrimp, but because I really enjoyed the garlic, olive oil and lemon combination. This still hold true and I've made Scampi more than once and even made Olive Garden's Chicken Scampi. So, for me, this was a great dish to make. But what, oh! what to use instead of the shrimp? Tofu, seitan (sea seitan would have been great here), vegetables? 

To understand the end I need to justify the means. David has been to the doctor for a well-visit and whenever that happens and blood is drawn and analyzed, our family is hit by a reality check and we always wind up reevaluating our diet. The healthiest plate of food to create contains Power Greens, Smart Protein and Super Carbs. This means that anytime you make a plate of food you should have dark leafy greens (not just salad greens), a protein choice (tofu, legumes, seitan, tree nuts) and appropriate carbohydrates (whole grains, winter squash, sweet potatoes, corn, root veggies). With this in mind, I was formulating a plan for the Scampi dish, threatening the family at every turn that I was going to make Kale and Carrot Scampi. Yum, I thought, but hubby says that if I announce the meal's name over a period of days, but not actually make it, I am threatening not cooking. Hmmm... 

Result? Kale, Carrots, Garlic, Lemon and Olive Oil are a match not yet dreamed up in heaven, but certainly should be. I used Meyer lemon and cut the fat in half. It could have been cut by another tablespoon without any problem (down to 3 from 8). I also tripled the garlic and doubled the lemon juice, but that is all according to taste. We loved it and it wasn't a difficult meal to prepare at all. 

A special shout-out to Tami for being so super patient and waiting for me and my blog post! Thank you!!  

Mar 5, 2012

chicken and dumplings

I know that I have posted of making Chicken and Dumplings before, but I haven't actually given a recipe. That is about to change! Even if the recipe will only be utilized by my kids after they leave home, that in itself is reason enough to write it out.

This is a much requested dish at our home and one that is very versatile. The 'Chicken' can be seitan, tofu, beans or extra vegetables. The biscuit mix is a variation of Simply Heavenly's Biscuit Mix

The broth in this 'stew' uses my VA Chicken-Style Broth Mix and water. 
Really a very simple and easy recipe (maybe because I've made it so often), the only heads-up would be to take care to have enough broth before you add the biscuit mix - it can be deceptive; you think there is too much broth, but by the time the biscuits are done they have soaked up a lot of it. 

Oh, and we LOVE the biscuit part of the dish, so this recipe has enough to satisfy any biscuit-lover.  

Cost Breakdown

oil, celery, onion, carrot, garlic: $2
seitan: $2
broth mix, spices and herbs: $.50
biscuit mix: $2
milk: $1
Total to make 5 servings: