Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

The recipe for this slow cooker Lentil Shepherd's Pie came from a new cookbook I got for Christmas, 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes. It was yummy... got thumbs up from both myself and my omni hubby. Turned out more like shepherd's mush than pie, but we still devoured it! The prep time was longer than I liked because I made mashed potatoes from scratch, not from a box as suggested in the book. Still, I would make this again... but probably on a weekend when I have more time for the prep.


In other news... this is going to be my second to last post as the "Vegetarian Cookster." I've been struggling for awhile now to find some motivation to keep this blog going. There are so many great blogs out there... fancier pics, better writing, original recipes... I've been wondering where mine fits in and if it's worth the effort to continue with it.

I've decided to put Vegetarian Cookster to rest and start fresh... I have an idea for a new veggie blog, one that is more focused and relevant to my current lifestyle. On New Year's Eve, it seems fitting to go out with the old and bring in the new... so tomorrow I'll reveal my new blog and its URL.

Many thanks to everyone who's taken the time to comment here at VC. I value your input immensely. I plan to leave VC up as an archive since I'll probably refer to it here and there on the new blog.

Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve everyone! :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Babaganoush [recipe]

I'm kind of in recipe hell at the moment. Cookbooks here, veggie magazines there... loose recipe clippings everywhere! I dropped some cash at an office supply store yesterday for some binders, colorful dividing tabs, plastic sheet protectors, etc. in hopes of organizing my growing mound of recipes.

I'm not sure why I keep clipping recipes... I'm fortunate enough to have a nice collection of vegetarian/vegan cookbooks... I really don't need to clip recipes. But I love food, and the draw of the challenge of trying a new recipe is too compelling sometimes... oh all right... ALL THE TIME!

When I moved, I filled a "copy paper" box up with magazines, mostly foodie magazines... all because I hadn't had the chance to go through and clip recipes yet. It's a sickness I tell ya! Now that I'm moved and things are beginning to settle, I sat and tore out all the recipes I was interested in pursuing. I've put them all in a 3-inch wide three-ring binder. What I plan to do is, once I make a recipe and determine it's a keeper, I'll move that recipe to a "tried and true" recipe binder, which will be organized by subject. The T&T binder will be my "go-to" binder... recipes I know that my hubby and I both love and that I can make in a pinch.

This recipe for babaganoush will be one of those recipes in the T&T binder. This was my first stab at making homemade babaganoush and it turned out delicious. Hubby thought so too. However, it doesn't look like it made the two cups stated in the recipe. Maybe my eggplants were not big enough. I did not weigh them before purchasing, I admit. I also need to research other ways of cooking eggplant... this was my first try at that too, and I felt like a failure. It seemed I scraped away too much good eggplant while trying to de-seed it.

Can anyone share a foolproof way to roast eggplant? Also, would anyone like to share how you organize all your miscellaneous recipes? :)

(recipe clipped from a Women's Day magazine)

2 large eggplants (about 3 lbs)
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed through a press (I used the minced garlic in a jar)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degree F. Pierce eggplants several times with a fork and roast in oven on a baking sheet, turning occasionally, for 50 to 60 minutes until the skins are blackened slightly and the eggplants are very soft.

Cut ends off eggplants and peel skins. Cut open and remove long strands of seeds. Cut eggplant in large pieces and strain in sieve over a bowl for 10 minutes to drain excess water.

In a food processor or blender, blend together tahini, lemon juice, oil, parsley, garlic, cumin salt and pepper. Then add eggplant and pulse into a chunky puree. Serve in a wide bowl, drizzled with olive oil, along with warm pitas or veggies.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vegan French Toast, "Chicken" Nugget Salad and Pesto Soup, oh my!

This is a rarity in that I usually don't post all three meals that I make in one day... but a lazy Sunday will do that to you. Actually, the day wasn't all that lazy... hubby and I went to see Wicked the musical, which was just wonderful! We started off the day with a recipe for vegan french toast. My omni hubby loves this recipe... says it's the best french toast he's ever tasted. I'll post the recipe below because I couldn't find it on vegweb, even though I know that's where I got it. I love vegweb... when I don't have my nose in a cookbook, I'm browsing recipes on vegweb. Lots of great recipe finds there! Give it a visit!

Lunch was a quickie... just salads with greens, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, shelled pistachio nuts, dried cranberries, veggie cheese and leftover/reheated "chicken" nuggets chopped up... all that topped with Newman's Own Lighten Up Raspberry and Walnut dressing.

For dinner, I made Fat Free Vegan's "Purple Pesto Soup".... minus the "purple" because all I could find was the green basil. It was delicious and low fat! My hubby said he would've preferred some "chunks" left in the soup instead of all pureed. And, I'm curious as to what it would taste like if I used veggie broth in place of the hot water. Definitely worth some exploration! :)

Here's that vegan french toast recipe, originally found on

2 cups vanilla soy milk
4-5 tablespoons flour
3 teaspoons sugar
dash of cinnamon
bread slices (your choice)
sugar to taste

Mix together the flour, milk, sugar and cinnamon to form a batter. Dip bread and fry in a lightly greased pan until golden brown. The original recipe suggested sprinkling with vegan powdered sugar, but I never have. We top it with pure maple syrup instead!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sweet & Spicy Lentil Chili ... Tomato Soup

Another quick post... have been so busy with unpacking from the move and the upcoming holidays, but I really want to make the effort to post and get back into a blogging groove. Please bear with me with these briefs posts I've done lately.

Both of these dishes were crockpot meals from the book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. I really enjoyed the Sweet and Spicy Lentil Chili... my hubby, not so much. He didn't care for the lentils. He said he preferred my regular vegetarian chili. I would make this again though, even if I'm the only one who eats it... more for me, more for me! Muhahahahah! ;-p The Tomato Soup was supposed to be pureed and poured over Israeli couscous. I had the couscous but I'm such a sucker for elbow macaroni noodles in tomato soup that we chose to add those instead. And, my hubby wanted it chunky, not pureed. So, there you go. We both enjoyed this recipe though. Both dishes were perfect this week during the cold weather we've been having lately... winter is definitely here in my neck of the woods!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cumin Lime Tofu

Made this for hubby and I yesterday... Cumin Lime Tofu from the book Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Hubby confessed that he's never had tofu steaks before... only cubed tofu. I told him that would be changing! LOL We've had some interesting discussions about food since merging our omni/veg household. (Such as... can one eat too many chickpeas?) I think I'll save more of those thoughts for when I make recipes relevant to the discussions.

The Cumin Lime Tofu was tasty and very light... I felt like we should've had steamed veggies as a side instead of the boring rice, which was just poor planning on my part. We were very busy yesterday and I was so focused on the main ingredient that I completely forgot to make a decent side. Ah well. Live and learn.

As far as tofu dishes go, I liked the Cashew Ginger Tofu dish better than this one and would probably make that dish again before I repeated this one.

Tonight, we're having a sweet and spicy lentil chili... stop by tomorrow to see how that turned out! :)

Oh, and I'm excited! I spied the BBC Good Food Vegetarian Christmas magazine at the bookstore over the weekend... haven't given it a proper look-through but I hope to soon. I'd like to make something to pass at my family's get holiday together.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sweet Almond Milk Couscous [recipe]

A short post... I needed a quick lunch/dinner tonight because hubby and I had tickets to see Oasis in concert with special guest (and my absolute fav solo artist) Ryan Adams. I chose this Sweet Almond Milk Couscous recipe I found in the food section of my local paper a few weeks ago. It's actually a Mark Bittman recipe, and it was delicious. As you can see, we paired it with a salad.

For breakfast I made the vegan biscuits and gravy recipe from another one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan with a Vengeance. I love this recipe... it is sooooo yummy. I love the bean-based gravy... it rocks!

--Sweet Almond Milk Couscous--

2.5 cups almond milk
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup regular or whole wheat couscous (I used whole wheat)
2 teaspoons grated/minced lemon or orange zest (I used orange)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 to 1 teaspoon rosewater (optional, I omitted it)
1 cup sliced or chopped almonds
1/4 cup shelled pistachios (optional, I included them)
1 cup chopped dried apricots

This recipe is uber easy! Combine milk, sugar and salt in a pot and bring to boil. Then add the couscous, zest and cardamom. Cover pot and cook for one minute before turning off the heat and letting it set for 5 minutes. After the time has passed, fluff the couscous with a fork and add rosewater if using. Then gently stir in the nuts and apricots. And enjoy! ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vegan Chickpea Patties w/ Shiitake Gravy, Mashed Potatoes

My hubby is home! :) For the past 10 days, my new hubby was in Mexico on work-related business, but he came home today and I wanted to make sure that his first evening home included a delicious home-cooked meal.... vegetarian, of course! :) I chose to make the chickpea "sensation" patties from the book Eat, Drink and Be Vegan... yes, I love this book and have been using it a lot lately! LOL The chickpea patties have been a sensation in the blogosphere ever since the book hit the shelves. And with good reason... they are delicious. My omni hubby doesn't like whole chickpeas, but he does like hummus; I was hoping he'd go for this recipe so I could lose my chickpea patty virginity. He was quiet in the car when I revealed what I was making for din-din... it made me nervous, LOL. I wanted the meal to be special, not unappealing. I started to think I made the wrong choice. But once I started cooking them, he commented that they smelled good... and when he dug his fork into them and took a bite, a reassuring "Oh yeah, these are good" was all I needed to hear... score! :-D I served the patties with real mashed gold potatoes and we smothered both in a vegetarian mushroom gravy I spied at Whole Foods Market. OMG, Whole Foods! That's one of the best things about living with my hubby... he has a Whole Foods just five minutes away. I've been there twice in the past week. My Mecca. I'm a happy woman. :) But back to the gravy... it was awesome but it's not vegan as it contains heavy cream. Not pictured is the yummy salad we had with the meal.

If all goes well tomorrow, I'll be making vegan biscuits and gravy for breakfast, and a new couscous recipe I clipped from my local newspaper for lunch... I'll share the recipe if it's any good! :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vegan "Corn Chowder in Winter"

I made this soup in the crockpot earlier this week, and it fed me a nice big bowl for dinner that night, as well as several lunches during the rest of the week. The recipe is from the book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, which I think will become my Bible for cooking during the week.

I'm officially moved in with my hubby and have a longer commute to and from work now... which means I get home later... which means now by the time I cook, the evening is almost over! I hope to find some decent vegetarian crockpot recipes and perfect them to save time on weeknight dinners. I love slow cooking and don't do enough of it, but this is great inspiration so that I have more quality time with my hubby in the evenings. :)

It's also great inspiration to get back into food blogging so I can chronicle my adventures in learning to cook for our dual (vegetarian/omnivore) household.

As for this soup... it was yummy.. and vegan since it doesn't use any cream or milk... it relies on the pureeing of part of the soup mixture to thicken it.

I've got some great recipes lined up for this weekend... my hubby is returning from a work-related trip, and I wanted to make sure he had some good home-cooked vegetarian food to welcome his omni belly home. ;) So stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cashew-Ginger Tofu

Just a quick post to show you what I made for dinner tonight... Cashew-Ginger Tofu from the awesome book, Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. I almost didn't make this because I was feeling lazy and only cooking for one tonight... but I have a beautiful new food processor sitting on my kitchen counter and the thought of using it turns me on! LOL I powered that baby up to make the cashew-ginger sauce for this recipe (and made a little mess too while still learning the ropes of the machine...but hey, I'll learn!). I served it over brown rice that had been cooked in veggie broth. This dish rocked! The sauce was soooooooo yummy. I'll definitely be making this again for my new hubby! I know he'll like it! :)

Oh, and apologies for the bad photo... I'm still trying to find the best photo spot in my new house and as you can see, I haven't found it yet. :(