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burgers n’ fries veggie wise

In my pursuit of being more vegetable based in diet, I finally decided to try my hand out at making my own veggie burger. Burgers, to me is the ultimate yet obtainable indulgence, that I need to have maybe, oh- once every couple of months. There’s just something so good about a well-made burger with all the fixings (mayo, ketchup, pickles, onion, and maayyybe a tomato if they’re in season). And of course, on the side a nice pile of fries, and in this case my new found carb-love=sweet potato fries. And, they’re baked!

making patties.

I stumbled upon this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, The Kitchn and decided to try it since it looked easy enough. I loved that they were fried (it’s ok, there’s not meat! haha) and my patties ended up being really salty, a nice remembrance of the meaty flavors found in beef. I also really enjoyed the nuts and the texture that came from it. You can view the recipe for their Beef-Free Bean Burgers here.

baking beauties.

And, on the side I found also this poston their website- a perfect pairing. Mine came out slightly soggy (perhaps I used too much oil, or my wedges were too big) but you can view the easy as heck recipes here on the blog Annie’s Eats.

dinner.

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Meatless Monday: Back in the Habit

Ok, I was on a strong MM kick- I didn’t post any recipes since it was pretty mundane stuff like spaghetti with eggs and tomato. Or it was total disasters that I had to suck down due to the enormous guilt I feel when I waste food- my tofu stir fry with peanut butter noodles would be an example of that.
But last week, I threw any sort of eating caution to the wind in celebration of the holidays. I met up with my best friend from high school for a reunion dinner last Monday and had the world’s best burger at Egan and Sons in Montclair. Of course, it probably isn’t the world’s best burger, but when you don’t have beef for about two months (I hadn’t had it since October probably), it will taste awfully good. Christmas Eve dinner was at my parents, and my family as most Filipino families, are notorious for having  Too Much Protein Syndrome so we had lechon (roast whole pork), salmon, another whole fish, chicken, ham, fried chicken, ribs, beef lasagna, etc etc. Christmas Dinner was my SO’s parents house, and I offered to make a ham, which though was the pre-cooked, glaze-included variety, was very good.

Along with all the sweets like Food for the Gods my cousin gave us (a box of 32 pieces, dear lord), candy, cookies, and the fact that Trader Joe’s (popped my TJ cherry last night) carried French macarons, I am looking forward (so are my newer awesome jeans I bought earlier this month) to detoxing a bit, slowly and getting back to eating lots of vegetables.

I mentioned going to Trader Joe’s, which was my first time ever. What a delightful little place! I couldn’t imagine doing all my shopping there, but I was able to get some fun appetizers for the NYE get together we are having. They also had some adorable little butternut squash, and in my fondness of All Things Autumnal and orange vegetables, I made this version of Butternut Squash Soup.

The only recipe I used to work with was a Barefoot Contessa one that called for a cup of half and half and canned pumpkin and all this other crazy nonsense. I needed something somewhat healthy, so I adapted Fat Free Vegan Kitchen’s Clouds in the Sunset which is butternut squash soup with roasted cauliflower. Trader Joe’s had run out of cauliflower, and I was too lazy to try to go to another market, so here is my Curried Butternut Squash Soup, inspired by Ms. SusanV

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash, about 2 lbs

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large garlic cloved minced

1/2 tsp of ground ginger

1 heaping Tbsp of Curry Powder

1 Qt/4 Cups Vegetable Stock

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and lightly oil a baking sheet. Place the cut side of the squash (I sprayed my slightly with olive oil) down. Place in oven for about 30 minutes (give or take) until flesh is wrinkly and the skin can be poked and pierced with a fork easily.

2. In a larger saucepan, saute onions and garlic until aromatic and the onions are clear, about 3-4 minutes. I sauteed them in a little bit of Smart Balance, because I wanted a slight buttery taste. Olive oil should work fine too. Add ground ginger and curry powder and saute for another minute or so.

3. When the squash can b handled, scrape out the pulp ( I find it easier just to pull the skin off) and if you need to, mash up a bit in a bowl. Add squash to the saucepan and saute to combine all the spices and onions and garlic with it.

4. Add the vegetable stock (carefully!) and bring to a boil, let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. When ready, take an immersion blender/stick blender, and mash up (carefully, again!) all the squash and onions to the consistency you want. I like my a little lumpy, so I didn’t go too nuts.

I ate this with a nice multi-grain roll from Trader Joe’s- a good bread is a must as a companion.  You can also be indulgent and add a little mozzarella or Gruyere cheese on top. I froze the rest of my soup, since this is broth-based (as opposed to a cream based) it’ll freeze nicely.

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Meatless Monday: Hello, Spaghetti Squash

For this week’s MM, I finally decided to tackle the spaghetti squash that I bought several weeks ago. I was slightly intimidated because, as you may all know when you cook a spaghetti squash, the innards cook and become long strands of squash, hence its name. Now what other vegetable does that? Creepy.

So, I decided to go the boil-to-cook method, though my pal told me about roasting it. I really ought to start posting pictures with these recipes, but I’ll continue to be lazy until probably the next year.

Spaghetti-Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2-3/4 cup of your favorite marinara sauce (I do love Newman’s Own)

1/2 c of baby bella mushrooms

parmesan shavings (optional)

1. Split the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out seeds. Immerse in a large saucepan filled with water. Bring water to a boil and cook for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender. When ready, remove from water and ‘probe’ (as the little sticker on the squash said) until your ‘spaghetti’ strands are pulled. I put it in a tiny colander while proceeding with the rest of the meal.

2. In a medium saucepan, sautee in olive oil, your crushed garlic clove until aromatic. Toss your baby bellas in there and sautee until they appear tender. Add spaghetti squash and season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour tomato sauce and bring everything to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Top with parm.

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Orange you glad?

I just realized that I’m making a bunch of orange foods!

Part I: Sweet Potato Savory

I’m trying to be better at cooking with what is in the house, and I realized that I had sitting on my kitchen table, where about 4 large sweet potatoes that I had bought ages ago. Well, three weeks ago. Today at work I decided that today I had to put those sweet potatoes to work for me.

But I had to make dinner! When I hear sweet potatoes I think of sweet, mushy, clumps of sweet potatoes, dripping with butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, marshmallows.Thanksgiving is right around the corner- I’ll have plenty of that business then.

You can’t make that! I said to myself. No, I cannot. Luckily there are geniuses like Mark Bittman.  I found an article of his from last year talking about how the poor, beta-carotene rich sweet potato gets unfairly pigeonholed into the ubiquitous Thanksgiving side dish.

No one puts sweet potato in a corner. Now I had to put the pieces together to make something work. The SO made some spaghetti and neglected it a couple of days ago. The gears began to crank, with the help of Mr. Bittman and some poking around on allrecipes.com.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Spaghetti

1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 lb of spaghetti cooked
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp salt
a nice handful of baby spinach
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan
1/4 cup of diced or slivered almonds (optional)

1. Cook spaghetti. While spaghetti is cooking, prepare sweet potato, onion, garlic, and cheese if you need to grate it.
2. In a large pan, heat olive oil up over medium-high heat. Saute onions,garlic, and salt until onions are clear. Add shredded sweet potato and combine with cooked onions and garlic. Saute until tender and soft, about 5-8 minutes.DSC02533
3. Add handful of baby spinach. I like to tear them up while I adding them. Saute until wilted, about 2-3 minutes.DSC02537
4. Add 1 Tbsp of butter and combine until melted.
5. Add cooked spaghetti and mix until fully combined. You can add the extra tablespoon of butter here if you think your pasta needs it. Add parmesan cheese, mix. Top pasta with mozzarella and nuts if you’re using it. The nuts are a great form of added protein. Serve piping hot!

DSC02540

next…Sweet Potato Pie.

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eggplant puree/melanzana bastardized.

I had this odd craving for…eggplant. I’m not a huge fan of eggplant- its good but something I don’t really make too often. What got me thinking of eggplant was this memory of a PF Chang’s dish- eggplant and ground chicken. Then I thought of eggplant parm. The former’s dish consisted of eggplant half pureed, half intact. Eggplant Parm, of course is pretty familiar.

I looked up recipes, and found out about this Italian preparation of eggplant, referred to as melanzana. The recipe consisted of the eggplant roasted, pureed, with the addition of onion, garlic, vinegrette, salt and pepper. That sounded great, but I in all honesty, I wanted eggplant parm without the mess of frying and something a bit more healthy.

I’ve been a strong vegetarian kick, so this proved to be very filling.

Eggplant Melanzana Parmesan

1 medium eggplant

1/2 onion chopped coarsely

1 large garlic clove

1/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup of prepared tomato sauce

1-2 cups baby spinach/spinach

mozzerella cheese

olive oil, salt, and pepper

1. Cut eggplant lengthwise and brush with olive oil, salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 350 and place a pan in the oven to preheat it, while you’re chopping up your vegetables. When pan is warm, place eggplant flesh down. Cover skin with more olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the flesh is completely cooked. You can tell if the skin pulls completely away from the eggplant.

2. Let eggplant cool. When eggplant is cool enough to handle, spoon out flesh and throw away skins. Add eggplant innards, onion, olive oil, sour cream, and 1-2 tsp of olive oil to a food processor. Puree until lumpy and combined.

3. Add eggplant to saucepan and combine with tomato sauce. Throw in some baby spinach and stir until wilted. Serve with pasta, mozzerella cheese, and fresh basil.

I also added some left over portabella mushrooms that I roasted. You can also omit the sour cream if you want a completely vegan dish. The sour cream adds some creaminess, but isn’t necessary.

om nom nom nom!

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