Thursday, October 13, 2011

Luscious Loaf

There's something about fall that causes this palpable shift in what we crave and what our bodies are telling us to eat. The moment the leaves turn, I want apples, squash, pumpkin and savories. Even in the middle of a 75-degree day, I'm wishing for meatloaf.

I remembered the tastes I liked best about traditional meatloaf and ramped it up a bit. There were some leftover baked beans sitting in the crockpot, so I dumped them in. The result was unexpectedly terrific.

Meatless Loaf with Baked Beans

1 cup or less ketchup (I used bottled "tomato sauce" from the Indian store)
1/2 package veggie burger crumbles
1 green pepper, chopped finely
1 cup or more canned vegetarian baked beans
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbl. fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 Tbl. fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 325F/165C. Grease a loaf pan or an 8x8 pan.

Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl, adding ketchup a little at a time. Make sure your final product clings together and isn't too soupy. If it is, add a bit more of the bread crumbs.

Put it into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. At this point, cover the top with some more ketchup, if you like, and cook for 15 minutes longer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Sweetest Potato

I love sweet potatoes. But I'm a little tired of eating them candied, sugared, or casseroled. So why not soup?

Here's my version of sweet potato soup that got rave reviews here at home. It's super low fat, and it's got this great mixture of flavors that make you feel like you're being treated instead of deprived of fat.

Sweet Potato Soup
Oil for frying (or water if you want to go oil-free)
1 large yam or sweet potato (about 3 cups), peeled and cubed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbl. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. frehly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Adobo seasoning
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Topping ingredients:
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 Tbl. lemon juice
2 Tbl. maple syrup

Heat the oil or water in a saucepan and add the potatoes and Adobo seasoning. Brown and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add broth, maple syrup, and spices. Cover and cook until potatoes are soft.

In the meantime, mix together the topping ingredients. If you'd rather use fresh apples, dice a pie apple, such as a Granny Smith.

Puree the soup. Now either add the topping directly or spoon it on top of the soup after it's in the bowl.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Vacation with the Carnivores

Probably the toughest meal situations I've had to deal with have revolved around family. My parents and siblings are die-hard carnivores, though my sister is much more vegetarian-friendly than the rest. Mom tries to cook for me, but she still thinks roughing it means going without meat in her spaghetti sauce.

So it's up to me. We spend time at their cottage in Ontario. I bring the food and I cook. Not much of a vacation for me, but it's how we manage to eat as a family without forcing tofu on my parents. Here's what I cooked this year:

Progresso soup for the evening we arrived

Mark's Favorite Chili

My Risotto with Smoked Gouda

However, Dad can't eat cheese and doesn't like rice. Plus, I take my ingredients along, so I have to have non-perishable things. You can't take fruits and vegetables across borders, so I do buy those when I get there, but the fewer things I need to buy, the better.

And did I mention they have a great stove, but a hand pump for water? If we want hot water to wash dishes, we haul it across the cabin from the bathroom sink (the only real plumbing is in the bathroom), so we try to keep dishes to a minimum.


Here's what I think I'll take along next time:

Tortilla Pie

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
1 10-oz package frozen corn, thawed (or 1 can)
1 cup mild salsa
2 cups Pepper Jack cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
4 10-inch tortillas

Preheat to 450 F.

Mix all ingredients except tortillas and oil together in a bowl. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Brush both sides of a tortilla with a little oil - heat until golden on each side for one minute.

In an oiled casserole dish or baking pan, put one tortilla, then top with some of the filling. Alternate two more layers the same way, ending with a tortilla. Press the top tortilla down gently to meld the layers a bit.

Bake for 12 minutes. Cut into wedges.