Category: homecook

Pepper Poppers!This was a fun little treat that we made after…

Pepper Poppers!

This was a fun little treat that we made after receiving a big bag of baby bell peppers from our CSA.  We wanted to use them up, but 1-2 per omelet wasn’t cutting it, haha.  We love jalapeno poppers, so we decided to make our own play on them.

So, what you’ll need:

 – Peppers (bell, jalapeno, banana, whatever!)

 – Cheese (I’ve used fresh mozzarella, pepper jack, cream cheese, ricotta, even meunster)

 – Bread crumbs (panko, homemade, whole grain, whatever)

 – Egg wash

 – Flour

Start by cutting and cleaning the peppers.  I usually find the direction that will give me the most symmetrical halves of the pepper while cutting down through the stem.  Cut or scrape out the seeds and ribs of the pepper.  NOTE:  If using a pepper with any spice, DO NOT use your fingers to clean out the seeds.  I have made the mistake of doing this and then touching my eye, nose, or other, um…”sensitive” areas, and it burns like hell.

Once cleaned, set up your dredging/breading station.  Get three bowls in a row:  1) flour (if you are ever breading something that allows egg to stick better, like egglplant or okra, you don’t need the flour); 2) egg wash (just egg and water); 3) bread crumbs.  

Add the cheese to the open side of the pepper.  Just cut and stick or scoop in.

Start by coating the pepper with flour, then dipping the pepper in the egg wash.  Let the excess egg wash drip back – you don’t want too much or your bread crumbs will turn into a mushy ball – then place in the breadcrumbs cheese-side-up and press down gently.  Scoop some crumbs onto the top of the pepper and cheese and press lightly.  Remove the pepper shaking gently to dislodge any loose crumbs.  Too many crumbs will mean your pepper and cheese don’t cook and the crumbs will just burn – not tasty.

Bake at 350 until you have golden brown crumbs and you can see cheese bubbling.  You don’t want burnt crumbs, but they can darken as much as you want for crunch/flavor.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Pizza BoatsSo, with our CSA this summer, we got lots of…

Zucchini Pizza Boats

So, with our CSA this summer, we got lots of squash and zucchini.  Since I can only eat so much without craving pizza, I decided to make zucchini pizza boats!  In the first picture, you’ll see the zucchini, cut in half, then brushed with olive oil and salted and peppered.

The second picture is the final product with the sauce and cheese added.  As a vegetarian, I didn’t add any meat or anything, but you probably could add pre-cooked meat to this.

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes (maybe more or less based on size of zucchini) and enjoy!

Pro Tip:  In the future, I will scoop out the seeds to allow for more sauce/cheese.  The way they are here is good, but the overwhelming taste was still zucchini. 

Chickpea “Tuna” SaladBefore swearing off meat, including fish, I…

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

Before swearing off meat, including fish, I ate a lot of tuna salad.  I found it to be a good protein and calorie source while studying and was good recovery food from cycling, swimming, etc.  I would make up a big batch of it and eat it all week.  Now, as a vegetarian, I substitute chickpeas for the tuna and get the same benefit, plus extra fiber!

Ingredients:

 – Dry chickpeas

 – Celery, chopped

 – Carrot, diced or shredded

 – Onion, diced

 – Greek Yogurt or mayo (I prefer greek yogurt since I don’t like mayo very much)

 – Salt, pepper, paprika

Start withe the chickpeas.  Soak them overnight or at least 6 hours ahead of cooking.  I try to use dry beans as much as possible since they are cheaper, not salted like crazy, and don’t sit in cans, which have linings that are questionable.  Bring the chickpeas to a boil, cover, and simmer for at least an hour.  I usually splash some apple cider vinegar in while they cook to aid digestion, but you can use whole garlic cloves, kombu, a bay leaf,and a few other acids to accomplish the same thing.

After the chickpeas are cooked, cool them down under cold running water.  Chop up your celery, carrot, and onion, and dollop on your yogurt or mayo.  Add in your chickpeas and mash the heck out of them with the back of a fork to mix them all up.  The mashing is important because, otherwise, you just get a weird mixture of whole chickpeas and chopped veggies.  Salt and pepper to taste at this point, too.

Serve on whatever you want (toasted baguette in the picture) and dash some paprika on the top for color and flavor.  You’ll never miss the tuna in this recipe.

Condensed Tempeh Reuben Instructions

Here is all of the text for the Tempeh Reubens in one post for ease of reference:

Prior to giving up meat, my favorite sandwich was the Reuben.  Made with corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, swiss cheese….yum.

Once I went meat-free (Hi, I’m Brad, I’m a vegetarian, and I’ve been meat free for 2+ years), I missed only two things:  sushi and Reubens.  I have since learned that it’s not really the fish in sushi that I liked, rather I loved the wasabi, soy, seaweed, and other flavors of sushi, so I find that I am just as sated from veggie sushi (sweet potato rolls FTW!) as I was from fish sushi.  (Post of me making sushi to come in the future.  No promises as to how soon, though.)

But still, those Reubens…  I, from time to time, craved a Reuben.  I had tried vegetarian Reubens at a few restaurants before, but never had one that was quite as good as the real thing.  Then, somehow, I stumbled upon a recipe for Vegetarian Tempeh Reubens that flat out blew my mind.

I have, since the first time I made the recipe, modified it to my own tastes a bit more which has made this my favorite recipe, maybe ever.  (Yeah, yeah, I say that a lot.  I’ll keep saying it, I’m sure.)

The next few posts will describe the steps taken to make the perfect Tempeh Reuben.  Tempeh, if you do not know, is a fermented soy bean food that is often used as a meat substitute, but gets a bad rap because it has some seriously good flavor of its own.  (More here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempeh)  Tempeh typically comes in a long, flat patty/cake in the size of a King Sized Hershey’s cholocate bar.  Fun fact, Tempeh was, traditionally, sold wrapped in banana leaves to give it its shape.  I got mine at Trader Joe’s, wrapped in plastic (one of these days I’ll figure out how to eat plastic-free…)

So, to make the tempeh, you have to slice it thinly and then saute it on both sides.  Tempeh browns nicely on its own, but, in the interest of giving these sandwiches some great flavor, that’s not all we’re going to do to them while in the pan.

To saute the tempeh, heat oil over medium in a pan (I like using steel pans, not tephlon coated pans).  I prefer to use sesame oil for this particular recipe, but I’ve used olive, too, and it works just fine.

Once the tempeh is lightly browned on each side, you will add the “secret marinade/sauce.”

This is what your tempeh will look like after adding the sauce.  Sauce ingredients:

– Soy sauce

– Brown sugar

– Garlic powder

– Onion powder

– Sesame oil

The sugar will caramelize and start to burn quickly, so you want to get this stuff in the pan, coat all of the tempeh, and then start getting it out of the pan as soon as it starts to reduce and get sticky.  While removing from the pan, you will want to scrape the bottom with your spatula so that the tempeh has some of this sticky reduction on it.  Trust me – the flavor is awesome once the sandwich is finished.

Set the cooked tempeh aside and get ready for the next step.  Next, you’ll arrange your sandwiches to be toasted in the oven.  Traditionally, (at least I think) Reuben’s are made with rye bread.  I have made this recipe with rye, pumpernickel, and wheat bread.  Just use a good bread (or make your own awesome bread!) and you’ll be fine.

Once your tempeh is golden-brown and has a bit of a crust (from the caramelizing of the brown sugar), get your bread ready on a baking sheet or pizza stone.  I use a preheated pizza stone because it give a very nice crust on the outside of the bread.  Sometimes, I’ll even toast the bread in the oven on both sides before assembling the tempeh and cheese.

The amount of cheese you use is up to you.  I often put a piece of swiss on each piece of bread, but it’s totally up to you.  Bake the un-assembled sandwiches in the oven for 7 or 8 minutes.  You can do more or less, but you want the cheese to be melted.

After the sandwich halves have baked, add sauerkraut and russian dressing to the sandwich.  I love sauerkraut and the dressing I make is pretty awesome, too.  Use a bottled russian or 1000 island dressing if you prefer, but I like to make my own.  

My russian dressing contains all or some of the following:

– Mayo/greek yogurt (whatever I have)

– Hot sauce

– Horseradish

– Pickles/relish

– Paprika/cayenne

– Garlic powder

– Onion powder

– Ketchup

– Whatever else I feel like using, just make it taste good.

After the sandwich halves have baked, add sauerkraut and russian…

After the sandwich halves have baked, add sauerkraut and russian dressing to the sandwich.  I love sauerkraut and the dressing I make is pretty awesome, too.  Use a bottled russian or 1000 island dressing if you prefer, but I like to make my own.  

My russian dressing contains all or some of the following:

 – Mayo/greek yogurt (whatever I have)

 – Hot sauce

 – Horseradish

 – Pickles/relish

 – Paprika/cayenne

 – Garlic powder

 – Onion powder

 – Ketchup

 – Whatever else I feel like using, just make it taste good.

Once your tempeh is golden-brown and has a bit of a crust (from…

Once your tempeh is golden-brown and has a bit of a crust (from the caramelizing of the brown sugar), get your bread ready on a baking sheet or pizza stone.  I use a preheated pizza stone because it give a very nice crust on the outside of the bread.  Sometimes, I’ll even toast the bread in the oven on both sides before assembling the tempeh and cheese.

The amount of cheese you use is up to you.  I often put a piece of swiss on each piece of bread, but it’s totally up to you.  Bake the un-assembled sandwiches in the oven for 7 or 8 minutes.  You can do more or less, but you want the cheese to be melted.

So, to make the tempeh, you have to slice it thinly and then…

So, to make the tempeh, you have to slice it thinly and then saute it on both sides.  Tempeh browns nicely on its own, but, in the interest of giving these sandwiches some great flavor, that’s not all we’re going to do to them while in the pan.

To saute the tempeh, heat oil over medium in a pan (I like using steel pans, not tephlon coated pans).  I prefer to use sesame oil for this particular recipe, but I’ve used olive, too, and it works just fine.

Once the tempeh is lightly browned on each side, you will add the “secret marinade/sauce.”