Opinions on food, drink and articles/TV shows involving them

Posts tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Quesadillas and Bacon Lasagna

Lately, I’ve focused on some simple, quick and easy recipes, as well as the occasional more complex one. In this post, I’ll address both of these categories.

We’ll start with quick and easy. One night, after a hard workout, I was very hungry and didn’t have a lot of time to make dinner. So, I checked the fridge and thought: quesadillas. I sautéed some peppers and onions with a little salt and pepper. I used whole wheat tortillas, but any tortilla of your choice will do. Put the tortilla in a pan that has been sprayed with a little cooking spray. On top, add the peppers, onions, and other vegetables of your choice, along with cheese (I used a Mexican cheese blend), pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Place another tortilla on top. Heat on medium low until tortilla browns slightly, then flip and heat again. Slice into wedges and serve with salsa, sour cream, tomatoes, guacamole, cheese, or any of these you have in your refrigerator.

I’ll give this recipe 3 stars. It’s quick and easy and can be tailored to your likes and dislikes. The cumin gives it a nice Mexican flavor. Meat, such as chicken or steak, or beans can also be added to made a heartier quesadilla. Enjoy!

Carla Hall, from Top Chef, recently appeared at the White House Easter Egg roll and made quesadillas. She mentions that quesadillas should be the new peanut butter and jelly and I agree. They are nice and easy, have less carbs and sugar and are packed with veggies. Here is a link to her blog where she makes quesadillas in the first video: http://www.carlahall.com/2011/04/25/white-house-easter-egg-roll/

Now, on to something a little more complex. The other day, I had some friends over for dinner. I made a couple of types of lasagna and I’m going to talk about the one containing bacon.

The past couple of times I’ve made lasagna, I’ve made lasagna rolls instead of a pan of lasagna. They are slightly more time intensive because instead of putting layers in the pan, you have to roll each one individually; however, in my opinion, they are easier to serve. They are a little messy to make, but you simply add the ingredients spread out on a cooked piece of lasagna and roll them up. Then, add them to a lightly sauced and greased pan or casserole dish, add sauce and cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered.

For this recipe, I used whole wheat lasagna noodles and balanced out the healthiness with a velvety cream sauce. For the base of the sauce, I used Mario Batali’s bechamel sauce recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/bechamel-sauce-recipe/index.html. Bechamel is basically a fancy way of saying cream sauce.  Start by using a frying pan to sauté finely chopped shallots and mushrooms (about 1/2 cup and 1 cup respectively) until almost cooked, then add 1 small bag of spinach and cook until the spinach is cooked. While that is cooking, chop about 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomato and 1/3 cup of roasted red peppers. Cooked about 10 pieces of bacon until crispy and chopped them into small pieces (reserve some of the bacon grease and add it to the cream sauce for an extra bacon kick). Then I add all the vegetables to the sauce. I used about 1/3 cup of sauce per piece of lasagna and added a small slice of goat cheese before rolling it up. I also added some extra goat cheese and sauce to the pan on top of the rolls and cooked them as directed above.

Here is a picture of the sauce just as I added the bacon:

I don’t have a picture of the finished product, but I can tell you that it was very popular and went very quickly. I’ll give it 4 stars. I’m not sure that the goat cheese was able to shine through amongst all of the other flavors, but it might have been more prominent if I had used more of it or if it was used with a tomato sauce instead of a cream sauce.


Quinoa and Riesling

What the heck is quinoa? It’s pronounced “keen-wah” and is a grain that nutty and full of protein! It contains all of the amino acids, making it a complete protein, so it is excellent for vegetarians. Quinoa is also gluten-free, so those who are not able to digest products with gluten may enjoy quinoa as well. If you’ve never eaten quinoa, it’s similar to couscous or brown rice and is slightly crunchy in texture. Pictured below is a red quinoa dish that I made:

For this dish, I did not have a recipe, but made it up as I went along. I cooked 1 cup of quinoa with the recommended amount of water, as well as 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I try not to use a lot of salt in my cooking) and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. I love the taste of smoked paprika and think it makes a great addition to many foods. While the quinoa was cooking, I sautéed 1 diced green pepper, 1 diced onion, and 1 package of mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle pepper powder.

After the vegetables were tender, I added some chardonnay (because I had some in the fridge) and allowed it evaporate a little bit. When the quinoa was cooked, I added it to the vegetables, mixed, added some smoked paprika on top, and it was ready to serve. It was pretty tasty for a quick meal, but probably could have used a little more chipotle pepper powder. I added some extra chipotle powder as well as some more smoked paprika on top of the dish pictured below:

With the meal, I drank the wine pictured below. The smoky flavor of the paprika made the Riesling more tart. I’ll give my meal 2.75 stars.

A nice German Riesling: Pfalz, 2007 Burrweiler Altenforst. I’m not going to try to pronounce the name as I have no knowledge of the German language; however, I’ve been told that halbtrocken translates to half-dry or semi-dry. This wine is bright, crisp, and wonderful.  It starts out slightly sweet and fruity and finishes with a nice citrus quality that makes your mouth water for more. I’m going to give this one 4.25 grapes, but I will say that I’m biased to this one as I’ve enjoyed it a couple of times before.

Pumpkin bonanza

The truth is that soup is really hard to photograph. Taking pictures of liquids in general is just boring. Soup also comes in a bowl, so you can’t exactly take pictures from that many angles. You definitely need to add garnish to make it look better, which I tried by adding the cilantro in the above photograph. I’m not really sure that this photo does it justice to make it look as good as it tasted, but I’ll move on to discussing food.

This Thai Coconut Soup is from Better Homes and Gardens http://www.bhg.com/recipe/soups/thai-pumpkin-soup/. I used 2 jalapenos instead of one and thought the spiciness was perfect. The soup was a nice blend of sweetness, spiciness, and creaminess. The vegetables give it a little bit of texture, but this soup could also be pureed into velvety goodness. I’ll give it 3.5 stars.

Next, watch this soup magically transform into something completely different: Thai Tilapia.

The day after I made the soup, I decided to make tilapia. I found this recipe and made a few modifications to it: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/thai-style-tilapia/Detail.aspx. I pureed the Thai Pumpkin soup from the above recipe and added some turmeric to it. Then, I cooked the tilapia in the pureed soup mixture according to the recipe. It can be served alone or with some basmati rice and Sriracha sauce. (Note: the vegetables pictures are simply from a frozen steam bag). I’ll give the pumpkin tilapia 3 stars.