Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Accidental Vegetarian

Exactly two weeks ago, my 14-year-old DD announced she was converting to vegetarianism. That was fine with me, because I think it's a pretty healthy way to eat. Funny thing is, I ended up liking what she was eating so much that I, too, haven't had any meat/fish/poultry in the past two weeks. I didn't see that coming!

The first week, her meals were adaptations of the rest of the family's. For instance, if the guys were having hamburgers, my daughter and I had veggie burgers, and we all ate the same side dishes (salad and waffle fries). When I made meat sauce for pasta, I left some sauce meatless. Pepperoni calzones were easy to adapt - no pepperoni for the girls, soy cheese for me, regular cheese and 'roni for the guys. We always have loads of steamed vegetables, salad and beans to round out the meals. Nothing fancy, but definitely nutritious and easy.

Week 2 arrived, and I was starting to get bored, so I bought a copy of Vegetarian Times. Inspiration hit and I made Cheesy Cauliflower and Tomato and Fennel Soup from the magazine, and created my own Quinoa-Vegetable dish, Tofu-Mushroom-Spinach Stroganoff and Refried Bean Tacos. Of course we had pasta one night, and pizza on Friday. Those two favorite meals are very easy to adapt to please both vegetarians and meat-eaters.

Yesterday, I picked up a couple of vegetarian cookbooks at the library and am overflowing with ideas for the coming weeks. From the Joy of Cooking's All About Vegetarian Cooking cookbook, I've already made a double batch of vegetable stock to use for soups and other dishes, and have put Kasha Varnishkes, Couscous with Chick Peas, and Stir-Fried Vegetables with Lentils on my "to try" list. We just dined on Falafel sandwiches, couscous salad and red grapes for lunch. Since my muse is going out with her friends tonight, I will probably have the leftovers for dinner.

As we enter the third week of her vegetarian diet, I have never felt better, or eaten more produce, in my life. Who says you can't learn a thing or two from your children?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Poached Etruscan Salmon

This amazing dinner had one of us licking her plate clean (I'm not going to say which one), while the other two family members were showering her with compliments about the meal. Picky Teenage Son was at work, which was just as well as he does not enjoy seafood.

The recipe (and the photo above) come directly from the Wegmans website, which I have found to be a very reliable recipe source. If you're not watching your carbs, serve with bread or a little pasta or rice to soak up the scrumptious sauce.

BTW, as far as using a "braising pan:" a 4- or 5-quart straight-sided skillet with a lid that holds the fish without crowding or a Dutch oven would do the trick.

Poached Etruscan Salmon

Serves: 4
Active Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 30 mins


2 Tbsp Wegmans Basting Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons finely diced shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups Kitchen Basics Seafood Stock
1 cup Italian Classics Grandma's Pomodoro Sauce
1 Tbsp capers, drained
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
4 salmon fillets (about 6 oz each), skinned
Salt and pepper


Heat basting oil in braising pan on MEDIUM-HIGH. Add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring, about 1 min, until soft but not browned. Add wine and crushed red pepper; cook 3-5 min until liquid is reduced to one-third. Add seafood stock, pomodoro sauce, capers, olives, and rosemary; heat to 170-degree simmer. Reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW; simmer 5 min to combine flavors.

Season salmon with salt and pepper; place, skinned side up, in pan. Return to 170 degree simmer. Cover; poach 5 min. Turn salmon over; poach, covered, 5-7 min, until internal temp reaches 130 degrees (check by inserting thermometer into thickest part of salmon).

Remove pan from heat; let rest at least 2 min.

Calories: 480
Nutrition Info: Each serving (1 salmon portion , 3/4 cup sauce) contains 480 calories, 8 g carbohydrate, (2 g fiber), 41 g protein, 27 g fat, (4 g saturated fat), 110 mg cholesterol, 1750 mg omega-3 fats, and 730 mg sodium.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Just cook!

Today's post is brought to you by your refrigerator. And your grandmother (or great-grandmother, depending on your age).

Your refrigerator would like you to use up its contents before you open another cook book, watch another cooking show, or print out another recipe from the computer.

And your grandmother would like you to put down the cookbook and cook from the heart. Make something you like, without a recipe, and without making another trip to the supermarket. Like grandma, use the contents of your "icebox" and pantry to create soups, pasta and bean dishes, stir-fries and other simple family fare with little waste and no added expense. If you can boil water, turn on the broiler and chop a vegetable, you've got the skills necessary to make something edible.

Sometimes in my house I ask a family member to name three ingredients from our pantry and fridge, and I make a meal from those. It might be a pasta dish, a soup, a big salad or some grilled meat. I season according to what I know we like (not too spicy), cook in healthy method, and dinner's ready.

In the new year, please JUST COOK. You don't have to be Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray or Bobby Flay - be yourself and create food you'd like to eat. It's that simple. And you'll make grandma very, very proud.