Meatless meals

Last post was a bit heavy so I’m going to keep this one a bit lighter. Actually I need your help!

We’ve been spending waaaaaaaay too much money on groceries lately and since I refuse to reduce my quality of food standards (and I do plan on continuing cooking!), there is only one way to save money. Less meat. [We bought over 3lbs of raw meat this past week, plus bacon and deli turkey – that really added up!]

The problem is that I always feel like if I’m going to make something vegetarian, it has to be super comfort foody (yes, I just made up that word) to make up for the lack of meat. I feel like a vegetarian dish has to prove something, which can only be made up by excessive amounts of cheese or crusty bread. Lean (meat or seafood) protein just seems so much healthier in comparison!

So I’d like to build a library of healthy meatless meals that I can make over and over again. Adam said that because I rarely cook anything twice, he’s always a little scared before I serve dinner (especially if it’s vegetarian). Here is this week’s meatless contender…

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Kale and bean enchiladas with sweet potato sauce (which Natalie actually linked to in my go-to recipes request post… see, I listen to your suggestions!!).

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I didn’t have any zucchini on hand (and of course omitted the onions) but I had mushrooms and a bell pepper so I tossed those into the mixture. I also used black beans because Adam has a not-so-secret obsession with them. Lastly, Natalie’s pumpkin sauce became a sweet potato sauce because Adam is also not a fan of pumpkin (although I really think it would work well here… and it would be zero points!) Side note: have you ever tried pureed canned sweet potatoes? This was my first time and I’m IN LOVE. So sweet and amazing. I think I’m going to buy a few cans and eat it straight up for dessert) The result:

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OMG, you guys. This was seriously incredible!! I used Trader Joe’s low carb tortillas and the recipe made 7 enchiladas for me (they were basically like mini-burrito sized) – 5 Points Plus each (I reduced the amount of cheese to a little over 1/2 cup and used light cheese). The greens, bean and veggie mixture was super garlicky and the sauce was creamy, slightly sweet with a bit of heat… and more garlic. I LOVED this. Adam said it was good but does not deserve to be on the favorites list. Ugh. I could eat it every day, but you know – I have a husband to please. Winking smile

SO, help me find more healthy and balanced meatless meals! I promise to try them if onions are not the star ingredient. :lol:

Belated Hanukkah dinner

After a weekend spent celebrating Christmas, last night I had my parents over for a belated Hanukkah dinner (yup, we celebrate both!). My dad is trying to lose some weight so he didn’t have a proper dinner on the actual holiday, so I figured I’d make a healthy-ish dinner with similar flavors.

The idea actually came to me after seeing Cara’s posts on fun latkes variations. She assured us all that it was ok to eat them even after the holiday, so I took her word for it and planned a whole meal around latkes.

On the menu:

I started with making dessert first… of course! I can’t find the recipe online so here are just some pictures of the process that will hopefully inspire you to get in the kitchen. The rugelach were really fun (and easy!) to make and while I didn’t love the outcome (we all unanimously rated these 3.5/5 – they needed more butter!) given my love for the full-fat version, I know I’ll be trying again. Next year, if not sooner! :)


Easy, right?

Now fast-forward to dinner. I originally wanted to make brisket (the most traditional protein served for Hanukkah) but Whole Foods didn’t have any (maybe they only have this cut during the holidays? not sure…) so chicken it was. I LOVED the sweet dried fruit in combination with the chicken. I used 2 lbs of chicken drumsticks (skinned) + 1.5 lbs of skinless chicken breasts and only 1/2 of the spices, oil/water, prunes and apricots called for in the recipe. I also omitted the onions and any additional sugar the recipe called for. This was super sweet as is. Consider yourself warned. Oh and it only took 40 minutes in total (15 minutes covered, 25 uncovered). I was pretty proud of myself at the end! :D

[My dad and Adam thought it was too sweet. Don't listen to them... they're just silly. My mom and I were all about this dish. :lol: ]

The two-potato latkes gave me some trouble. The first batch stuck to the foil with no way to salvage the cakes without breaking them apart (still yummy though, you know I ate them! ;) ). The next 2 batches went on silpats which worked beautifully. I loved the sweet addition of the sweet potatoes and I didn’t miss the extra grease from the traditionally fried version.

Sweet chicken + sweet latkes needed some salty roasted green beans. Salt, pepper, EVOO at 400* for about 20 minutes. Finished with a bit of soy sauce. Yum!

I was kind of nervous before dinner because I was serving recipes I’ve never tried before (and made modifications, like chicken pieces vs. whole) but it all came together wonderfully. We finished the meal with some rugelach, plus some dessert my mom brought over.

Sour cherry tea cake

… and rabbit shaped coookie sandwiches. Because 2011 is the year of the rabbit. Yes, my family is cheesy like that. :grin:

Do you ever try to healthify traditional holiday meals or indulge in the “real thing?”

PS – If you haven’t already, check out my post on sustainable seafood and enter the RainCoast Trading giveaway. Also I forgot to mention that RainCost Trading is also hosting a giveaway on their site. Enter here for a chance to win a year’s worth of canned seafood for 2.

Acorn squash recipes

I’ve heard there is snow in some parts of the country and over 80* in others. That’s crazy to me! Here in Boston we are in full-on fall mode. That means pumpkins and roasted veggies and apples (although the apple season is almost over. It goes by so fast!). I think pumpkin is the first thing that people associate with fall. Well, at least I do. And I have a confession – I wasn’t always a huge fan. I’m not sure if we really ate pumpkin growing up and it just kind of tasted bland and mealy to me every time I tried it. Of course blogging (and blog reading) has opened my eyes to a lot of things. A lot of foods I’ve never heard of, a lot of ingredients I never cared for… done a little differently and a lot more intriguing. And so with seemingly every blogger’s obsession with pumpkin (and all kinds of squash for that matter) somehow I caught the bug. I am now officially obsessed too! The problem is that Adam hasn’t been brainwashed to the same extent (and by the way, thank you for the brainwashing… I am a very happy member of the clan ;) ) and so I keep drooling over my screen, seeing delicious recipes with pumpkin, knowing that I will get to deal with “the face” even at the mention of dinner starring squash. And so I go on with my day, squash-less. (hehe, “squash-less” actually sounds really funny).

Last week Adam had plans to go out with his buddies and I happen to walk through a farmers market where acorn squash caught my eye. Hey, maybe I can make dinner just for myself with one of these little guys? I was all over that! So I did a quick search in my google reader (I save hundreds of recipes for nights exactly like this… and then maybe make 2 of them a year. Le sigh) and found Bridget’s recipe for autumn chowder. It starred butternut squash (I was sure acorn would be fine), sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, corn and bacon and cheese for peet’s sake! I figured Adam could try it and if he didn’t like it, I’d be happy to freeze the leftovers and enjoy for them for random lunches and future lazy nights. But you know what? Adam LOVED it. There were so many delicious root veggies in this recipe that the squash played a very small part of the dish (I still loved having it there but I knew that Adam wouldn’t even be able to detect it). I omitted the onions, used 2 cups of light cheese, 1% milk and I wish I skipped the flour. It actually completely clumped up but not before adding a weird powdery texture throughout (the was plenty creamy and thick without it). This was hearty, cheesy, sweet and a little salty (from the bacon). I also added a bit of hot sauce to each bowl for a little extra kick. I can’t wait for my leftovers… not that we had much to freeze! :)

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A recipe with squash that even a squash hater will love. Do you have any favorite recipes with “hidden” veggies?

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