Menu Planning Complete

Oddly enough, when I started eating meat this year, I got away from the whole cooking thing. All I did each week was stick a couple of chicken breasts into the oven to bake, steam some vegetables, open a can of lentils and call it a meal. 

Now that I'm vegetarian again, I'm enjoying getting back not only to cooking but to menu planning. There's something satisfying about sitting down in front of a spread of cookbooks and magazines and getting to pick and chose what yummy delicacies or hearty dishes I'll make for the week. 

I spent some time this morning sipping hot green tea and looking at menus. I've got a bunch of swiss chard in the fridge that needs to be used so that's the focus of a couple of meals for early in the week. So far, our week is looking like this:

Sunday: Garlicky Roasted Shrimp and Swiss Chard

Monday: Crustless Leek Greens & Herb Quiche

Tuesday: On our own

Wednesday: Sloppy Lentils (on sprouted hamburger buns for Blair, plain for me) and Spicy Coleslaw

Thursday: I'm out with girls which probably means cereal for Blair. 

Friday: Carbo-loading night so some form of pizza or pasta. I found a recipe for cauliflower pizza crust which I may make for me. I thought of trying to slip it by Blair but that could have ugly repurcussions. 

I still have a damn whole chicken in my freezer. Unknown what to do with that. Again, maybe I'll just make it and send it over to my mom. 

Oh! And yesterday's clothes shopping excursion for Blair yielded a really fun new kitchen tool for me from my favorite kitchen store, The Extra Ingredient. Details soon. 



Cooking Diaries: What on EARTH was I thinking?

South American Squash and Vegetable RagoutSo a while back the October issue of Vegetarian Times arrives in the mail. I do my usual thing of flipping through the pages, dog-earing the corners of pages with recipes I think I might like to try. I kind of wanted to try my hand at the South American Squash and Vegetable Ragout recipe. (Mainly for bragging rights so I could say to friends, "What did you have for dinner last night? Hamburger Helper? How quaint. Me? Oh, I just threw together a little South American Squash and Vegetable Ragout...") However, as making the dish would require a significant time investment, I checked in with Blair first. 

"Would you eat this?" I asked, handing him the magazine.

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In Search of the Perfect Meatloaf

Being a vegetarian really isn't hard. There are very few foods I would say that I "miss." Meatloaf, however, is one of them. I love a good meatloaf. Served with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes (from a box - none of that real stuff), it is the ultimate comfort food. 

I have been trying to make a decent vegetarian meatloaf for going on twenty years. I've had some moderate success but nothing that's been a home run. The trick is finding something that offers a little crunch on top. Most vegetarian versions are simply too soft and fall apart on the plate as you serve them. 

I made a new recipe last night and while it's not perfect, so far it's the best of the bunch. It's got some ground walnuts in it, which give that hint of "oh, someone left this in the oven too long" rock hardness I'm looking for. Blair gave it a thumbs up and said he'd eat it again, which can't be said for every meatloaf variety I've tried out on him. 

The recipe is from Vegetarian Times and is called Meatless Meatloaf Sandwiches. Enjoy. 

Spicy Fig & Artichoke Salad

Oh, snap. Do I have a recipe for you! Spicy Fig & Artichoke Salad. I know. Figs, right? Leave your doubts at the door. This salad is soooo good. I made it for dinner tonight and while I enjoyed it as an entree, it would make a snappy "impress your guests with your culinary genius" side salad. Another benefit? It's super-easy to make. Cut up everything ahead of time and just pop it in the skillet every 2 minutes. I make notes on keeper recipes and this one earned a "YUM! Serve to guests or take to parties" note. The full recipe can be found here at Vegetarian Times. 


p.s. I used a combo of watercress and mixed greens, but you could just use the mixed greens if you prefer. I also used maple syrup in place of brown rice syrup. (check me out, giving recipe advice. Woot! Woot!)