Posts Tagged ‘ vegetarian ’

Acorn Squash Risotto

Β  I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that are both vegetarian and healthy – as those two are not always synonymous. A friend of mine gave me this recipe and it quickly became one of my favorites. I tweaked the recipe to be both healthy and vegetarian. It’s perfect for this time of year when squash are abundant and as it’s a heavier dish that warms you through and through during these increasingly cooler days.

Below is the original recipe, plus my changes in parentheses. I like to serve it with fresh salmon and grilled asparagus.

Acorn Squash Farro Risotto

1 cup farro (I use risotto)

4 cups water, divided

2 medium acorn squash, cut in half, seeds and pulp discarded (I add an extra squash if making it for company)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream (I use non-fat milk)

2/3 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (I love the tang this sharp cheese adds so I use the full amount, but obviously it can be decreased if desired)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium shallot, finely chopped (shallots add such a great flavor I normally use 2 or 3 depending on their size)

2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and stems discarded (dry works fine too)

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I use veggie stock)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the farro and 2 cups of water. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain well and reserve. (I never do this…)

2. Preheat the oven to 400ΒΊ. Place the squash halves cut sides up on two foil-lined sheet pans. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Bake until squash is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before scooping out the insides into a medium bowl, taking care to leave a 1-inch boarder of flesh all around the edges. (I only leave an edge on the squash I serve the risotto in, scooping out the entirety of the other halves.) Add the heavy cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano to the flesh in the bowl; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the butter and 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Sire in the reserved farro and thyme leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the farro is toasted and fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the wine has been absorbed. Combine the chicken stock with the remaining 2 cups of water. Add 1/2 cup of the mixture to the farro, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed. Continue adding the mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until the farro is creamy and cook through, about 1 hour. (I add the mixture all at once and turn up the heat and it cuts the time in half.) Stir in the reserved acorn squash mixture and season with salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the finished risotto into the reserved acorn squash halves, top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve immediately.
Enjoy! πŸ˜€

Eat & Run and the Allure of Vegan Living

  I recently finished Scott Jurek’s new memoir, Eat & Run. I love reading memoirs, especially ones that center around sports or athleticism of some kind. Jurek is a renown ultrarunner (ie. running longer than a marathon distance, 26.2 miles). He’s won many events he’s entered such as the Western States 100, Badwater (135 miles through Death Valley), and the Hardrock 100. In his book, Jurek chronicles his adventures and passion with ultrarunning and the people that most influenced him on his journey to ultra-greatness.

What’s even more impressive than not only finishing, but winning all these races is that Jurek does it all on a plant-based, vegan, diet. No meat. No dairy. Nada. Wowee! Before Eat & Run, I read Finding Ultra about another ultrarunner named Rich Roll. He also competes at an elite level while basing his diet completely on plants. Both these men make compelling arguments for living a vegan lifestyle. They also both impressed upon their readers how simple and, more importantly, profoundly healthy it can be, Jurek even includes recipes at the end of each of his chapters. But when I see a pancake recipe that calls for seven (SEVEN!) different types of flour, I’m a little hesitant that this is the lifestyle for me.

I’m a vegetarian, so perhaps I’m a little unjustly judgmental here, but I’m not sure I could ever convert 100% to a vegan diet. While I don’t eat a ton of dairy I definitely eat enough of it that it would be a big change for me. As I read these books I contemplated making the switch, but at the end of the day between the time it would take to find and learn how to make non-diary meals, the hassle of not having as broad a menu selection when eating outside my home, and knowing that I buy 99% of my dairy at local or family owned farms, I don’t think it’s worth it to me. But that’s really the crux of it, while it’s not right for me I can see why people would chose to switch to vegan living and I give them props for taking the time and energy to live what many deem a healthier lifestyle.

Happy Running! πŸ™‚

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. Want a good book to read? Stop by and see what’s new in the world of literature!

Another amazing weekend! Not only did I get to go to my favorite trail for my long run, but I also went to NYC to watch the half marathon. Members of the American Olympic running team, Meb Keflezighi and Kara Goucher, participated as well as other amazing runners from around the world.

We got front row spots right along the finishing chute and were able to see the runners sprint (SPRINT!) past us then run back within touching distance with the flag of their countries draped across their shoulders in a victory jog. Incredible. I felt a runner’s high just from watching. πŸ˜€

I have to admit, I’ve been too distracted by bright and shiny cookbooks to finish any of the novels I posted last week. I love cooking and I wanted to integrate more seasonal ingredients into my dishes and find more fun vegetarian recipes to try. Here are some of the books I picked up this week:

Β  Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon – First, this cookbook might sound a little gassy, but it is chock filled with dips and stews and salads that are filled with healthy goodness that look and sound delicious! Second, how can you not read a book by someone named Crescent Dragonwagon? I mean, really.

Β  Cooking Light: Cooking Through the Seasons – A perfect start to more seasonal cooking, this cookbook offers a wide selection of dishes that make use of the freshest ingredients in every season. While this book offers a selection of meat based meals, it also has recipes like Roasted Baby Spring Vegetables and Banana-Rum-Coconut Cookies. Yum!

Farmstead Chef by John Ivanko & Lisa Kivirist – Highlighting foods that can be homegrown or farm fresh, the authors are the owners of the Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast and want to bring their passion for eco-friendly foods to people everywhere. This cookbook has recipes from pancakes to breads to pizza, pasta and sandwiches.

Β  Welcome to Claire’s by Claire Criscuolo – A collection of favorite recipes from Claire’s Corner Copia, a vegetarian restaurant in New Haven, CT. Some of the 350 recipes include: Spicy Thai Sunflower Noodles, Summer Tomato and Basil Quiche, and Grilled Cheese Florentine. I may need to run to the grocery store soon!

Despite all the healthy, fresh ingredients found in the pages above, all this food makes me happy I run regularly! πŸ™‚

Happy reading!

Whoopie! Pies

Β  Fall is here (according to me) and that can only mean one thing – pumpkin recipes! πŸ˜€

I love anything pumpkin and I while I love making my favorites from years past, I also enjoy discovering new ways to add pumpkin to my recipe repertoire. I was working at the library when I stumbled upon a new book all about making whoopie pies. While I wasn’t a big fan of the chocolate, white-cream filled ones of my youth, the pictures gracing the cover looked so appealing I just had to check it out.

The book was dedicated to whoopie pies of all kinds including a tasty looking pumpkin cream cheese filled whoopie. Yay!!! My girlfriend and I were invited to a friend’s house for Sunday football and I decided to make the pumpkin whoopies then take them over for some taste testing. They were a huge success! I’ve been asked for a repeat soon as well as orders for several other flavors after posting my success story on facebook. πŸ™‚

Here’s the recipe, but I recommend getting the book too as it is chock-filled with other tasty whoopie treats. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Pumpkin Whoopies

Β  (My notations in italics)

1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened

1 c light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 extra large egg

2 1/3 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground allspice or nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

pinch of salt

1 c canned or fresh pumpkin puree

2 tbsp buttermilk (I used regular)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray like olive oil – worked great and didn’t change the taste).

2. Put the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in an electric mixer bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.

3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and salt into the bowl and stir together. Add the pumpkin and milk and stir until combined.

4. Drop by the heaping tablespoon 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. (These should be about the same size so you can match equal halves together later and look like the back of a turtle shell – smooth and round.)

5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes (make sure to check because less is more). Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

6. When the whoopies are cold, match equal whoopie halves and spread cream cheese filling in between (I used a palette knife like you would ice a cake with and it was very easy). Press together and enjoy!

Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 c regular cream cheese

5 tbsp butter, softened

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar (I just added this until it was the taste/consistency I liked – not nearly the amount called for…)

1. Put the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.

2. Sift in the confectioner’s sugar and beat together until well combined. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.

Whoopies! by Susanna Tee

Garden State

Β  For some reason New Jersey gets a really bad rap from the rest of the U.S. Not sure how that originated, but I must admit that I definitely have laughed at NJ jokes before. I still think it’s funny that NJ gets mocked, but now I give more of a “hey, NJ really is a great place to live” response.

But one of the things I enjoy most about NJ is that it really is the Garden State. Everywhere I go there are farm stands and fresh “Jersey Fresh” produce. When you’re in NJ you have your pick of any kind of fruit or veggie that strikes your fancy. Most are way better than the shipped in, chemically bland, glossy produce that lines the bins of the local supermarket, so for me it’s like hitting up the candy store and having my pick of whatever flavors I want.

The other day my girlfriend and I stopped at one of our favorite farm stands only to find it closed. Bummed but knowing that there were stands aplenty in the area we drove around until we came to a farm we had passed many times but had never stopped at. (That’s a picture I snapped on the left.) Despite it’s advertisement for produce galore we had never seen anyone working there or any visible produce. But, desperate to find fresh legumes, we drove down the long gravel driveway and parked in front of their barn. Tiny donkeys – including an adorable baby donkey complete with a bedhead – grazed to the left of the barn. When we walked inside the barn our eyes feasted on bins of green peppers and eggplants and onions and corn. Containers of brightly colored tomatoes were stacked on the shelves next to tiny cloves of garlic. Large glass fridges lined one wall and were stocked with fresh jams, tomato sauce, eggs, and greens.

Talk about vegetarian heaven!!!

After we wiped the drool off our chins, we looked around for someone to pay. On an old wooden table stood a jar filled with coins and bills to make change as visitors paid through the honor system. So of course we loaded up with as much as we could carry, paid, and left knowing we had found our Produce Nirvana. πŸ˜€

Braving Brooklyn

  The first time I set foot in Brooklyn was just this past spring when I did the Five Borough Bike Tour. I’d always heard great things about the NYC borough with its cultural treasures, cute shops and eclectic collection of peoples. Though my visit was brief, it left me wanting to go back to see what the fuss of Brooklyn was all about.

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I decided to kick off the three day weekend with a visit to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Museum of Art participates in the Target sponsored “First Saturdays” where entry is free after 5pm and features a cash bar, music, and other special events. I’d been to a free Saturday event before at the MoMA and it’s wonderful. A community of people coming together to celebrate the arts and mingle with each other.

We decided to plan our day around the museum visit and headed into town early to walk around the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Fortunately, we had a perfect, sunny day to tour the gardens. We meandered through the Japanese Tea Gardens, past rosebushes and ornate fountains with other visitors of like mind. I snapped a bunch of great photos and got to see a huge sculpture made of living roots and vines that reminded me of something out of Star Wars.

After the gardens we ate lunch at a tasty vegan restaurant with a great ambiance called Dao Palate. Our meals were creative without being pretentious and I had the best ginger ale (made with real ginger) I’ve ever tasted. From there we journeyed north to hit up the Brooklyn Brewery to continue our quest to visit as many breweries around the globe that we can. As one of the first microbreweries in the states it became one of the forerunners in a growing trend of breweries around the country and remains as such today. We waded among the hipsters to snag a pint glass and jump on the last tour of the day. While the tour was one of the more interesting with stories of robberies and mafia and eccentric logo designers it was held in a cramped room packed to the gills with people who don’t appreciate personal space. Yikes!

By the time we crossed the brewery off our checklist and wandered around a bit (stumbling upon a hipster hive and barely escaping with our uncool lives), it was past five so we made our way back toward Prospect Heights and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Apparently first Saturdays are THE event and while we enjoyed our museum tour, we spent most of our time sitting outside on a low wall eating frozen yogurt and people watching. As the sun set, illuminating the sky in a brilliance of color and the lights of Brooklyn twinkled on, we both basked in the beauty of our lovely day in Brooklyn.

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Best Falafel Recipe Ever

Mmmmm….falafel. I love trying different kinds of foods and try to sample different ethnic restaurants whenever I can. So when a new Greek/Mediterranean restaurant opened up close to my home I had to stop by. My favorite item on the menu is by far their falafel sandwich. It’s not only a great example of how falafel should taste, but it is topped with a delicious cilantro yogurt sauce, lettuce and tomato to make it a mighty fine treat.

Before you prepare, be warned that this food is up there on the no-nos of first date foods as it has many ingredients that, although delicious, will render your breath more suitable for keeping vampires away than kissing. πŸ˜‰

Here is my favorite Falafel with Cilantro Yogurt recipe:

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup chopped onion

5 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 15-oz cans garbanzo (aka chickpeas) beans, drained

3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 large egg

olive oil

4 warm pita breads with top third cut off

sliced tomatoes & green lettuce (if desired)

Cilantro Yogurt Preparation

Whisk yogurt, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup onion, 1 garlic clove, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in medium bowl to blend. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Falafel

Blend garbanzo beans, 3 tablespoons flour, cumin, remaining 1/2 cup cilantro, 4 cloves garlic and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in food processor until almost smooth. Add egg and remaining 3/4 cup onion and blend until onion is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to bowl and shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Turn patties in remaining 1/2 cup flour to coat on both sides.

Pour enough oil into large skillet to coat bottom of pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook until crisp and golden, approx. 8 min. each side. Open pita breads; add one falafel patty, sliced tomato and lettuce. Spoon cilantro yogurt mixture inside pita. Enjoy!

Tip: There’s a new restaurant that’s popping up a lot of places called Maoz. It’s vegetarian and specializes in falafel sandwiches. I’ve eaten here a number of times and have enjoyed it very much. It’s kind of a healthy alternative to fast food – Yum! πŸ™‚