Sunday, March 23, 2008

Family Food

My parents were in town this weekend and it was, of course, filled with lots of food.


Pre-parents cleaning and food shopping (I should have an empty fridge?!). At the Teet The Pedant and I also bought more ingredients in case we needed an impromptu Baked Beans Huevos Rancheros.


Mother came earlier than Father (because she got Friday off and he did not) and we had a nice lunch at the local Crepeire. She got brie and spinach and I got the "champagne" (tomatoes, zucchini, onions, maybe mushrooms and goat cheese). Very tasty.

My mother took TP and I out to dinner in the city and we ate at a nice Italian place. I got the asparagus, arugula and goat cheese salad and spinach fettichini with wild mushrooms in a cream-based sauce. Definitely not healthy but oh so tasty.


Father came bearing a large wooden buffet (my parents were getting a new dining room set and this was a good hand-me-down piece for us) so although not food related, it will be able to store our china dishes and we can have fancy meals on fancy plates. Yay!

We made a lunch of my childhood: lots of whatever we have around (granted my mom and I bought some things, but...the idea...): hummus, good bread (a substitute for bagels since I refuse to buy them out of NY), swiss cheese, leftover chick pea stew, tuna fish, lettuce, onion, tomato. We then pulled out all the stops for desert: pineapple and bits of chocolate we had in the house.

For dinner, we went to my cousins for a really lovely meal. (And equally good company and dogs.) For appetizers we had a homemade 7 layer dip which was really good plus baked brie and hummus. Dinner was amazing: Cesar salad, eggplant Parmesan and a portobello lasagna that has nuts and lemon zest - really delicious and has a fun kick to it. Dessert was oranges, pumpkin pie and oreo pie...amazing...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brownish Food is Goodish Food

So, yet another good recipe has come out of Vegetarian Times . This month, they did a "spring cleaning" pantry recipe series, which is where we got the Chickpea Stew recipe from (since every good veggie has cans and cans of chickpeas and some (not me!) have cartons on butternut squash soup). They did a Baked Beans Huevos Rancheros as a recipe. It intrigued The Pedant so last night I made it for dinner. Here's the recipe basically:

6 oz. soy "churizo" (used soy sausage instead)
1 cup salsa
1 diced chipolte in adobe sauce (used 3)
30 oz baked beans, drained
6 eggs
6 tortillas.

Cook ingredients together until warm, place in baking dish, crack eggs, bake 13-15 minutes (really 20 if you like your eggs better done). Serve with tortillas.

Honestly, I was worried. Baked beans!? Really? While cooking I remained wary - it was all a brownish color with no life to it.

The prognosis: AMAZING. Like, oh my God, may we lick the pan and risk the burning of our tongues amazing! It was the perfect comfort food: easy, filling, tasty, aromatic, warm, proteined, and delicious. If you ever come to a brunch hosted by me and TP you may expect this.

Now, on another topic - Diet Coke. I wanted to buy Diet Coke for work toady (since I was working 1-9, I knew I needed a pick me up). I went to the store near the metro and paid - get this - $1.39 BEFORE tax. WTF?! It's diet friggin coke!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Spring is slowly coming, and I recall my youth in Massachusetts, when the merry chickadee would make its appearance.

Also, because the Sherbs and I made a chickpea dish out of Vegetarian Times. It was a "chickpea and butternut squash stew," or more accurately, chickpeas in prefab butternut squash soup, over couscous. It wasn't quite as flavor-riffic as I was hoping, but it was tasty, which is more than could be said for the tahini soup fiasco of last week.

I'm having my tuna casserole from last Saturday for lunches this week; it's Campbell's recipe, but with Teet brand condensed soup, baby lima beans instead of peas, canned green and wax beans instead of pimientos (who eats those, anyway?), and extra mushrooms for greater shroominess (we do this with the slow cooker hot & sour soup, too - we add Teet brand canned straw mushrooms, my favorite mushroom of all time).

Finally, this is an accurate assessment of the Wii game Cooking Mama, which I found frustrating.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Big Fat Greek-Style Meal

I don't think The Pedant really got at how bad the Mushroom Tahini soup was - it was just odd. Good thing we had leftover eggplant parmesan to make up for it. The Joyva cookbook does have a recipe for cold noodles and sesame sauce with tahini just like how my mom used to make it. I'm excited to try that out!

Since for this recipe I bought a costco-sized box of mushrooms, we needed to finish them up this weekend. Last night I made the Roasted Mushrooms with Greek Flavors from Cook's Best which did come out really great. It had roasted peppers from the jar which made it tasty without taking away the simple flavors of the roasted mushrooms. I also made a Bean Salad from Mark Bittman's cookbook with the Greek variation. I was supposed to use fava beans but NO fava beans were to be found at the Teet so I settled for Great Northern. It was beans, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. The topper: mint (and some crumbled feta). So tasty and refreshing. If I can't find fava again I think I will use chick peas (maybe even tonight since I have left over mint!).

Speaking of Greek, this New York Times article is very interesting. Growing up in Long Island where every town has an average of 4 diners (the only place cheap enough to go in High School also when you got bored of watching movies in some one's basement) it would be weird not to have the diner. Also, I loved getting the "Greek" selections on the menu: as a vegetarian teenager "Greek Pizza" or Spanikopita at a dinner was amazing

I also made a vegetarian mushroom-green bean strogonoff in the slow cooker (also had costco string beans to finish up). I messed up the recipe a bit (use fresh green beans, not steamed ones on their way to rots-ville; add mushrooms at end for 20 minutes on high with top off to thicken, not in the beginning) but I think it should be fine. Last time we made it, it came out fantastically.

Recipes Good and Bad

Got the new issue of Vegetarian Times this week; the chickpea stew and the recipe using a can of baked beans both look good.

On the flip side, while the Vegetarian Times recipes are usually pretty good, the Joyva official tahini cookbook had a really mediocre recipe for "tahini mushroom soup." Perhaps we just don't like that much rosemary (the basic broth), but its two main flavors were bland and bitter, with the addition of sauteed mushrooms.

The Sherbs used some of the leftover mushrooms last night to make a delicious "Greek style" mushroom dish from the Cook's Best cookbook.

Making a tuna casserole right now for lunch; finished off the fat free American cheese slices as the Sherbs doesn't like American cheese and I was hungry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Always, always eggplant.

The Sherbs and I have been eating a lot of eggplant lately.

First, last week we made eggplant parmesan for a get-together. We made twice as much as necessary (two Pyrex dishes worth), however, so lunch for this week is eggplant parmesan.

Then, we had eggplant at the Chinese place the Sherbs mentioned last post.

Last night, we used the last eggplant, the one that would have made too much eggplant in the parmesan, in a variation on a Cook's Illustrated Best Vegetable Recipes recipe. They want eggplant with pork in peanut sauce. We made eggplant and Morningstar veggie crumbles in peanut sauce.

The Cook's recipes are pretty darned hardy; despite my insufficiently salting the eggplant, replacing low-sodium chicken broth with high-sodium Osem pareve broth, and using sesame oil instead of peanut oil, the eggplant came out delicious. It was like peanutty ma po tofu with eggplant instead of tofu, which basically means it wasn't ma po tofu at all, but sort of had the same mouth feel.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Chinese Feast!!

This weekend The Pedant and I, after a successful trip to my favorite store, decided for the first of two weeks in a row NOT to eat Ethiopian food, but rather, return to our roots and eat Chinese. I know I have said it before that I love Chinese food, and I understand that it is nothing like what they serve in Asia, but I love it. TP and I have been scouring our new neighborhood but just can't seem to find a good place. (One place does good take out, and even has General Tso's Tofu and really great String beans.) But, TP knew of a good place near his ancenstral home and it was amazing. We over ordered by a lot, anticipating lots of leftovers. The run down:

Chinese Spaghetti (aka Cold Noodles in Sesame Sauce): This might be my most favorite food ever. As a kid I called it Chinese spaghetti and it is just so good. Sadly, though, I haven't had it in a while (TP and I got it in China Block once, but it was more like a cup of peanut butter tossed in with the noodles). This however, was fantastic. So gooey and creamy and fatty.

Chow Fun with Beef: For TP mostly. Since I got...

Vegetable Moo Shu: (...which isn't TP's favorite) I love this dish I think for the Hoison sauce. Alone, it's boring, but with Hoison, it's AMAZING.

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce: Very well done. Spicy and oily and fatty and delicious.

The last two made a great lunch Sunday and we still have more.

Another reason I love Chinese food: The whole meal with tax and tip: $30.00. Amazing.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Two Dishes of My Own Creation

I haven't blogged often enough, and certainly not about food, so let me tell you about two recent food inventions of mine (and no, they are far better than the stuff on Trashy Eats).

SATURDAY BREAKFAST: Deli-Style Egg & Cheese "Tartine"

Took a halved segment of whole wheat baguette, toasted both halves in toaster oven. While doing this, sauteed red onion and fresh mushroom. Set aside. Fried egg over hard, melted one of the remaining fat-free American cheese slices on top. Made two strips of fake bacon.

Half an egg with cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions and mushrooms topped each toasted baguette half. Sauced lightly with ketchup. Ate open-faced.

Pretty tasty, if I say so myself.

MONDAY DINNER: Asian Something

The Sherbs was coming home late on Monday, which put me in the solo seat for food preparation, but we also had a standing order to get rid of our remaining tofu before it went bad and to use some of the garlic, because we bought a bag of bulbs at Costco, not realizing that they are packaged there in a quantity more for vampire prevention than for the timely supply of garlic to a couple who do not work in food service.

I realized that, having made a trip to a Fairfax County Asian grocery, that I also had preshredded nori, soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles), and a bag of lotus root. My course of action was clear-
  • Mince garlic
  • Put garlic in pan with mixture of Kikkoman low sodium teriyaki sauce and San-J Szechuan sauce; heat
  • Start water for soba
  • Cube tofu, cut lotus root into quarter-rounds
  • Cook tofu and lotus root in sauce/garlic mixture, stirring until coated
  • Cook soba
  • Drain soba
  • Put soba in bowl
  • Put cooked tofu and lotus root, which have basically absorbed all the sauce, on top of soba
  • Sprinkle on shredded nori and sesame seeds
  • Get lazy about vegetable side dish and use one of those Bird's Eye Steamfresh pouches that I bought at the Teet because we had a coupon

The Sherbs and I both thought it was mighty tasty, but today I realize that, had I just done a little internet search, and stopped by the Teet for some kale, I could have used even more garlic, plus parmesan cheese. Now, I get the powdered stuff in the green Kraft bottle (also from Costco), but if Germany can call it "parmesan," so can I.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Beagles Love Food, Ergo Appropriate Topic

I realize, that while this blog was created primarily about food, The Pedant and I often discuss occurrences in our lives and the like. I have let nearly 2 weeks pass by without one single mention of The Westminster Kennel Club and it's superb winner, Uno. As I have mentioned before, I am a big dog lover. I had a dog for 12 years and she was the best dog ever (I know every owner says this about his/her dog, but seriously, my beagle Tova takes the cake). TP and I have volunteered at a beagle rescue adoption day and I nearly walked home with a few beagles. We even have names picked out for the pooches. I understand that we are no where near ready for a dog (the whole time thing to walk him/her, getting up at 5 am to let him/her out, etc.), but GO UNO!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

In my on going quest to lose weight, I recently decided to kick it up a notch (very Elzar) and not only attend Weight Watchers and exercise with The Pedant at the gym, but take classes and work with a personal trainer. She's very nice and we haven't worked out together yet, we had a consultation session (plus I went to 2 pilates-on-crack classes). In our consultation we talked about weight loss and she suggested I eat continuously throughout the day - about every 3 hours. I'm totally fine with that, since, well, I love to eat (which is perhaps the whole reason for this program in the first place). I promise not to make this blog about my weight loss (there are 3/4 of a million out there already) but I will talk about one thing: BARS. Since I work in an environment where I can't eat all the time at my desk, I have decided to eat "hideable" snacks in the AM and PM, mostly bars and such. I went to a local store to stock up and also bought many 1 and 2 point bars at WW itself. Now, these "bars" aren't the delicious granola bars of my youth (that I mostly had to trade my meager pretzels for because my mother saw right through their "nutrients" and saw their true sugary colors) but mostly Luna Bars, Cliff Bar Products, Kashi ones, WW ones and the like. I was looking for something with lots of protein but not 15 grams of fat. Also, so many of these taste like cardboard I had trouble narrowing it down to tasty ones.

Here's the low-down so far.

Weight Watchers 1 Point Bars:
Pure delight. I found the Dark Chocolate Raspberry ones are the best, but I eat them too quickly. The Chocolate Caramel are inferior, but they take a while to eat. Also, I tried the Oatmeal Raisin which aren't bad. A little less desert-y, but good.

Weight Watchers 2 Point Bars:

Not terrible. Just hard to eat 1/2 and therein lies the problem of a small snack. But the chocolate mint are like a candy bar!

Luna Bars:

Always a winner. They have a direct line into my taste buds. Granted, not low in calorie or fat, but chock-full of protein. I love, love, love the Chocolate Peppermint Stick, but decided not to get a whole bunch of them. The lemon zest, which I started with, are very tasty. Sad note: while most are 3 WW points, the nuts ones are 4. Boo. Silly nuts and their good fats.

Cliff Bars for Kids:

So Cliff Bars are for men and therefore have less chcolate flavors and more cardboard taste. Blech. But the kids bars are so far pretty tasty. The Chocolate Brownie is 2 points for the whole thing and not too cardboardy.

I also bought Kashi bars, but no verdict yet.

In the full fat category, TP and I went to a CakeLove Satellite store for desert on Friday (which is full fat, because as their sign says "Cake without fat is just bread") and was amazing. A bit dense for my taste, but the frosting was tasty.