Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Celebration

We splurged last night and had Baked Shrimp Scampi.  It's an Ina Garten recipe from Food Network.  It was VERY yummy.  I didn't butterfly the shrimp, just put them in a pie plate.  Very quick and easy, too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New book . . .

What the Dead Know is an excellent crime novel.  It really is a CRIME novel, not a suspense, thriller, or who-done-it.  Lippman is a great story-teller.  She gives wonderful descriptions of characters and settings.  I like the way her novels jump from the present to the past, slowly filling in the blanks.  It was just a very satisfying read.

Now I am going to read Little Bee, which I am really excited about.  I've heard lots of good things about this book-- it's been on the best-seller list, and I had to wait a couple of weeks to get it through inter-library loan.  Must be good . . .

Monday, March 29, 2010


My sister is a Jimmy Buffett fan and asked me to stitch on a sweatshirt.  I covered up an old logo with the parrot patch on the front and stitched the margarita on the back.  I think she is going to add some iron on jewels to the back, also.  I thought it turned out pretty good.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quick Vegetable Noodle Stir-Frey

This was a fun dish to make, using ramen noodles, which I think I will start using more often.  Cheap, and I really like thin noodles/spaghetti.  We didn't like the baby corn.  I've had it in restaurants before and really liked it.  Maybe it was just this brand, but it was tasteless.  The "cobs" were also very big -- I cut them in half and they were still much bigger than anything else in the dish.  They do look pretty in the picture, though.  Next time my husband suggested water chestnuts -- also tasteless, but at least a crunchy texture.  He says it needs more cashews too (also adds crunch.) This was a very tasty dish.  The recipe came from the Just One Pot cookbook that I have been using quite a bit lately.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fake Chicken

I made Spicy Chicken Cakes with Horseradish Aioli from my Cooking Light cookbook.  I don't like horseradish, though, so I just put some Cajun spice in the mayo and also served them with guacamole.  Oh, yea, and I used Match Ground Chicken instead of real chicken.  Even my son liked it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I have to stop!

I have read 61 pages of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and I've had enough.  I get it.  It's exactly the same story as the original, but a desirable trait in the women is the defensive arts.  Every journey they make, they have to stop and avoid or kill some of the "undead."  They are also very flippant about the many deaths of friends and acquaintances at the hands of the zombies.  There doesn't seem to be any concern or mourning.  It is just weird.  Maybe, if I read farther something significant would HAPPEN involving the zombies, but I felt like I was reading Pride and Prejudice again, and although it's been a long time, I'm just not up for that right now.  Not with my reading list as long as it is.  So  . . . next on the list is What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman, a classic crime thriller.  I'm hoping I get to finish it. 

Recent cooking . . .

I made a few things this past week that I wanted to tell you about -- just haven't had time!  First, last Thursday I made Cream of Potato Soup.  I started with a recipe from my Just One Pot cookbook.  But I changed it quite a bit, so I'm just going to give you my recipe below:

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic
8 medium potatoes
1 tsp allspice
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
2 cups soy milk
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in the oil and butter until tender.  Add the spices, potatoes, and flour, stirring well, then add the stock and milk.  Cook 15 - 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the bay leaf, and use your immersion blender to puree the soup (or transfer it to a regular blender.)  Add the parsley, and cheeses and it's ready to serve!

We had a birthday party for my son this weekend.  Of course, I had to make traditional lasagna -- with meat -- but I also made a vegetable lasagna that I thought turned out pretty good.  The only change I made to the recipe was that I used fat-free cottage cheese instead of the ricotta and I added mushrooms to the vegetables.  Also -- whole wheat lasagna noodles.  It was a hit.  No one could tell there was tofu in it!

Last night, I made a Black Bean Burrito Bake, which was also very good.  The change I made to that recipe was that I used soy yogurt instead of the sour cream (I would have used soy sour cream, but I didn't have any -- you couldn't tell the difference.)  And, I put cheddar cheese INSIDE each burrito, instead of on top.  I love the smoky flavor of the chilies in adobo sauce -- try them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Already finished . .

I finished The Smile yesterday.  Loved it.  Just a really nice historical romance, with some true historical events.  Also, the main character's family are silk worm farmers, so found out a lot of how labor intensive that is!  Very interesting to hear all the artists names before they were famous and about how the people felt about their work.  Of course, the true story of the Mona Lisa isn't known, but Napoli comes up with a very plausible, interesting story.

Now I'm going to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I don't know if this qualifies as adult, but it was on the top 10 list of books that college students are reading.  It's been very popular in my library too.  I read Pride and Prejudice a long time ago, so I hope I can remember enough of the original to fully appreciate this book.  The cover is very catchy too, isn't it?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Can't Resist Historical Fiction

Finished Born to Rock and it was a light-hearted, enjoyable read.  Very far-fetched, but lots of fun.  It reminded me of Korman's Son of the Mob books, which have the same tone, and are easy to recommend to boys, especially.

I know, I said I was going to read an adult book -- but I found this book, The Smile, by Donna Jo Napoli, and it had the Mona Lisa on the front, and I just had to find out what it was about!  (Isn't that cover irresistible!)

Monday, March 15, 2010


We tried Tempeh tonight with positive results.  I made Seitan and Broccolini with Clementine Teriyaki, but used Tempeh (a soy product) instead of Seitan (a wheat gluten product, that I can never find.)  Both of these are meat substitutes. The tempeh has a good meaty texture, but kind of a grainy taste.  The orange sauce on this dish is delicious, so that really helped.  I don't think the "broccolini" is necessary.  It's hard to find and it just tastes like broccoli.  I also used rice noodles instead of rice, since we just had a fried rice stir frey last night.  I will definatly try tempeh again.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I went to Whole Foods Market yesterday -- what a fun place!  I wish there was one closer to me.  I bought some Match Ground Beef and wanted to try it right away.  So, I pushed it to the limit, and made Swiss Steak from a recipe on the Match website.  We were pretty happy with the result.  It DOES really have the texture of meat, which is what we've been missing from some of the other veggie meat products we've tried.  The flavor was a little bland, though.  I think, instead of just sprinkling seasoning on the outside of the patties, I needed to mix it throughout the meat.  I did this when I made burgers or meatloaf with real meat, and I think it would help a lot with the flavor of the Match.  I will definately try this product again, and now I want to try the chicken, and other products they have.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A rock 'n roll book

I finished Perfect Chemistry and thought it was a really good teenage romance book.  Has everything you could want -- guy from the "wrong side of the tracks" falls for the prom queen.  Fairly predictable, but still keeps you reading.  The guy is in a gang and doesn't want to be, so that is an element that could educate some teens about a world they aren't familiar with.  A good message about being who you really are, as opposed to who people think you should be.

Now I'm reading something lighter called Born to Rock by Gordon Korman.  It's a quick read, too.  I'm getting the urge to read something "adult" so I think that will be next on the list.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yummy Mexican Casserole

I made a Mexican Casserole that was in the Cooking Light magazine.  It was a big hit.  Tasted good.  I'm thinking the key to using those veggie crumbles is to make sure you don't add too much liquid (this recipe had NONE) and don't cook them to long.  They retain their meaty texture better that way.  I didn't have baked chips, but I used the whole grain ones -- which I love, and I think they added a nice flavor.  I used a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella instead of the Monterey Jack cheese.  I also garnished with Toffuti Sour Cream.  My picture isn't as good as the one on the web site, but it's realistic!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vegetarian Crock Pot!

One thing I've missed since cooking vegetarian is using my crock pot.  So, I found a recipe for Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Curry in a book called Just One Pot, published by Reader's Digest and decided to try it.  It has A LOT of ingredients, and some unusual combinations, but it is a curry, so that was to be expected.

I thought it was wonderful, but my husband didn't like it.  I've come to the conclusion that he doesn't like Indian spices.  I made a wonderful mulligatawny soup a while back, with many of these same flavors (and meat!) and he didn't like that either.  So I guess I will stay away from those dishes.  Too bad -- this was really tasty (and made a HUGE batch, so I'm going to have leftovers for a while.)  My daughter is home this weekend, if she likes it, maybe she will take some back to school with her.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Time for a Teen Romance

I finished Deadline. At first, I really didn't think I was going to like it, but then I told myself, "Get over it.  Suspend disbelief!"  Because I really couldn't believe that a senior in high school could find out he was going to die and not tell anyone about it.  So, after I suspended disbelief, I thought the book was pretty good.  Definitely a message in there.  Something about not judging people by what you THINK they are -- giving people a chance, taking time to learn about them, and care about them, and things like that.  Good book for promoting some good discussions among teens.

Now I'm reading Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles.  I've read her book Leaving Paradise and enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to this one.  It's been very popular, and hard to get at the library.  As a matter of fact, I need to hurry and finish this one becuase there's a hold on it (someone else is waiting for it.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegetarian Chili - Very GOOD

I made Black and White Vegetarian Chipotle Chili and really liked it.  Sorry I didn't take a picture.  Here's the changes that I made:  I didn't have Rotel tomatoes, so I used another can of diced tomatoes and a 4 oz. can of chopped green chilies.  This made the heat a lot less, which I think was fine since there's a chipotle in adobo pepper in this -- and they are WAY hot (in my opinion.)  I had to add some vegetable stock, since it wasn't "juicy" enough for me.  Part of the reason was that I added about a cup of left over bean dip.  So, I need to tell you a side story about the bean dip.  I made this and I loved it.  It's like baked beans, only in a dip.  No one else liked it very much, and it made a big batch.  I thought it had many of the same flavors as the chili I was making, so I threw some in so it wouldn't go to waste.  My husband liked the chili too, but he thought it could use some more substance, like some pasta or barley.  So next time I will try that.