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Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

…is one of the most wonderful foods on this planet, period.  Make it into mac and cheese, and you have a little (who am I kidding, HUGE) plate of sheer delicious joy.

For gnocchi mac you need:

  • 1 pound purchased or homemade gnocchi
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Basil, for garnish

This is a surprisingly simple recipe, too!  One of the most wonderful things about gnocchi is how quickly it cooks.  So, start here, by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt it, and throw in the gnocchi until they begin to float, which only takes about 2 minutes.  Drain the delicious dumplings and place them in a small (1 1/2 quart) baking dish that’s been greased and heat the oven to 375.

While you’re waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook just until it becomes fragrant, then whisk in the flour until it bubbles.  Whisk in the milk and dijon, and continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.  Then, add the cheese by handfuls, stirring until each addition is completely melted.  Season the delicious cheese sauce with your salt and pepper, then pour over the gnocchi.  Top with a bit of parmesan and pop the dish into the oven for about 20 minutes, until bubbly and slightly browned.

Garnish with basil and be prepared…

…to go to Food Heaven.  I could not be more serious.  Once you make this (and you must, it is not optional), you will never want to return to regular mac and cheese with plain old cheddar and elbow noodles (that is, unless you are eating my aunt’s crockpot mac and cheese, which will also get you in to Food Heaven).  FORGET making mac and cheese out of a box ever again–this stuff is too delicious AND easy.  Try me.

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…has about a billion variations, and we love trying them!  Most recently, we made Rachael Ray’s Spiked Spaghetti with Portobellos and Kale, and it was most tasty.  Boiling pasta in wine is actually an ancient Italian method, and it really adds a lot to this traditional meal!

For spiked spaghetti you need:

  • 750 mL bottle dry red wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, gills scraped and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 lb. kale
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • Grated pecorino-romano cheese, for topping

Combine the wine with 3 quarts salted water and bring to a boil.  Toss in the spaghetti and cook to al dente, about 9 minutes.  When you drain the pasta, reserve about a cup of the liquid.

While that’s going, heat a large skillet and the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the portobellos and brown them for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic for one minute, then wilt in the kale.  Season the veggies with salt, pepper, and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg.

Toss the pasta with the veggie mixture and add just enough of the cooking water to help the two combine.  Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve up a plate of pasta topped with the cheese.

The Italians were really onto something when they came up with the idea to boil pasta in wine–it is such a tasty idea!  This is a great spaghetti, and is a particularly excellent dinner when you are cooking for vegetarians–it is quite hearty.

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Minestrone…

…has been on my list of must-tries for awhile, particularly since it is Winter and my mother and sister-in-law are vegetarians.  Minestrone, I am told, is an absolute must-have for the cold of Winter and is actually a great idea for a regular staple in the vegetarian diet, as it is warm, comforting, and hearty.

For Rachael Ray’s Must-Have Minestrone you need:

  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, 3/4 chopped, 1/4 finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 15-oz. can red kidney beans, drained
  • 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained
  • 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped/chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • Parmigiano-reggiano, for topping
  • Toasted bread, for serving

Heat a large pot over medium heat with the oil.  Add 3/4 chopped onion, the garlic, carrots, celery, and bay leaf to the oil.  Season the veggies with the oregano, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Saute the mixture for 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Add the beans, rosemary, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture smells a bit sweet.  Pour in the wine, cook it down for a minute, then mix in the stock and 2 cups water.  Wilt in the kale and bring the mixture to a bubble.  Toss in the pasta and cook to al dente, about 8 minutes.

Serve a bowlful of soup topped with a bit of oil, the raw onion,  and some cheese.  Make sure to serve some bread alongside to mop up the delicious broth!

I can’t wait to make this for Schatzi’s family–it is delicious!  And, while it is quite hearty, it was a nice break from all the heavy holiday eating we did last week.  Whip up a big bowl of minestrone for your family this week to ward off the cold.

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…are always featured on a menu that gets faxed to my office on a daily basis, and I have been wanting to attempt to make them for quite awhile.  I finally got around to it for lunch this week and, as anticipated, black bean hummus is amazing.

For this pretty nutritious hummus you need:

  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • About 3 cups olive oil
  • Pinch ground cumin
  • About 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • About 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • Pinch ground coriander
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • About 3/4 teaspoon tahini

If you have a food processor, this couldn’t be easier–just toss everything in and puree until it reaches the desired texture; add the oil slowly to judge how much you need.  Schatzi and I did our Christmas early this year, and my gift was an awesome full-size processor.  Ah, he knows me too well, and I have a new best friend in the kitchen!

Enjoy the hummus with some pita chips or wrap it up with some lettuce in a tortilla.

This is a delicious version of hummus and because it is full of protein, it makes a very satisfying lunch.

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…was a completely new experience for me–I had never eaten it until I made Rocco’s version to go with chicken and dumplings.  It is delicious!  Why am I just now jumping on the creamed spinach train?!

For Rocco’s slimmed-down spinach you need:

  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 shallots, chopped fine
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 12 oz. spinach
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the garlic and shallots along with salt, pepper, and nutmeg for about 4 minutes, until the onions are tender.

Increase the heat to high and add half the spinach.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Stir the spinach as it wilts, and when there is enough room, add the rest of the greens.  Continue cooking the spinach until it is tender, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the spinach and stir well.  Cook the spinach a bit more until the liquid has thickened a bit, about 1 minute.  Then, take the pan off the heat and stir in the yogurt.  Season with a bit more salt and pepper and the veggies are done.


Spinach has been one of my favorite vegetables for quite awhile, so I am still shocked it took me this long to try/make creamed spinach!  I could eat enough of this stuff to turn into Popeye, I kid you not.  If you already know you love creamed spinach, you must give this a try–the original version has almost 300 calories, and Rocco takes it to less than 100.  You really can’t go wrong!

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…are a Thanksgiving staple, according to most people.  In fact, Bobby Flay lost his Thanksgiving Throwdown simply because he didn’t make mashed potatoes!  Well, when we had our own after-Thanksgiving/leftover celebration, we made sure not to skimp on the taters and gravy–they are just too good to go without!

For Food Network Magazine’s perfect mashed potatoes you need:

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • Pepper

Put the potatoes, skins on, in a large pot with just enough cold water to cover.  Salt the water and bring the potatoes to a simmer.  Continue to cook them, uncovered, for 45 minutes (until they are fork-tender).  Drain the potatoes and use a dishcloth or paper towel to rub off the skins.  Add the butter and warmed milk to the potatoes and smash them with a potato masher or fork.  Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper.

For Thanksgiving this year, Schatzi’s sister Megan made a delicious vegetarian gravy that we definitely wanted with our leftovers!  I’m not sure if this is exactly what she found, but it is pretty darn close and is delicious.  You need:

  • 3/4 cup white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the onions and mushrooms just for a minute over high heat.

Knock the heat back to medium and pour in the broth and soy sauce.  Slowly whisk in the flour until it is dissolved.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and turn the heat to low.  Then, add the poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper, and continue simmering the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it has thickened, stirring often.

Serve a plate of potatoes topped with rich gravy.

I am so glad Megan introduced us to this gravy–it is absolutely delicious!  And, you really can’t go wrong with these mashed potatoes.  When combined, the gravy and potatoes are absolutely unbeatable!

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…is one of our favorite foods, and my family has, without a doubt, the best recipe for mac and cheese available on this planet.  We make it in the crock-pot with plenty of cheese and milk and it is about as close to culinary perfection as you can get.

For our family’s crock-pot macaroni and cheese you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cup macaroni, cooked/drained
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To start, combine the milk, eggs, and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the macaroni and 2 cups of cheese.

Pour the mixture in the crock-pot and top with the rest of the cheese.  Cover the crock-pot and cook on low for 3 hours.  Enjoy!!

Anyone who has eaten a meal with my extended family and had this mac and cheese will tell you it is the best Earth has to offer, hands down!  And, it couldn’t be easier to throw together.  Try it for Thanksgiving this year–it is sure to be a hit!!

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