You don't have to be a vegetarian to love vegetarian food.

Cinnamon spiced hot chocolate

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 11:37 pm December 5, 2009

December has arrived and for most of us the calendar change signals that a month of hardcore cooking and baking is on the horizon.

I have a huge stack of cooking magazines and recipes I have printed out from the internet sitting on my desk as I try to widdle them down to decide what exactly I will be cooking and baking for the Christmas period. You would think after all that foodie focused research I would be settled on a menu by now. The problem is that the more I see the more I want to make but I want to be careful of not biting off more than I can (literally) chew.

One thing I do know is that Christmas cooking period is going to be one of those times where I won’t be sticking strictly to a vegetarian diet. However, I do really want to try as much as possible to be cooking and serving mostly vegetarian Christmas recipes.

The good thing though is that it really isn’t very hard to do that. When you think about it, most of the Christmas cookies and cakes we will munch over the holiday period are vegetarian by their very nature. Then, the normal Christmas dinner trimmings are also largely vegetarian. At least that is the case if you skip doing your roast potatoes in goose fat. Frankly, even when I wasn’t so focused on vegetarian cooking that never appealed to me anyway.

As I make my way through a largely vegetarian Christmas, I will check in and share my vegetarian cooking adventures. Hopefully, it will give some of you also trying to eat mostly vegetarian over the Christmas cooking period of bit of inspiration.

For now though, it is on to finally forming a solid Christmas cooking schedule. So, time to settle down with that stack of Christmas cooking magazines and make my mind up. At least until I change it again.

Of course, I can’t do that research without having a good hot beverage by my side. This month for the vegetarian swap I participate in over at Recipezaar, I picked out this Mayan Hot Chocolate recipe posted by Recipezaar member the80srule

spiced hot chocolate recipe

It turns out this hot chocolate recipe is the perfect partner to planning my vegetarian Christmas cooking. Firstly, the big sell for me, is that it is actually made with soy chocolate milk. I am lactose intolerant so whenever I make a creamy drink like hot chocolate I have to weigh up the consequences. I could make a normal hot chocolate recipe with water, I suppose, but any lover of hot chocolate knows that is simply never the same. Amazingly though, I had never thought of using soy chocolate milk as the base of a hot chocolate recipe but it really did work.

What really makes this hot chocolate recipe special though are the spices that go into the mixture. First in the pot, is a bit of cinnamon which gives a real Christmas feel to the hot chocolate recipe. Then comes the real surprise, a pinch of cayenne pepper. You would think that would make it hot and spicy but really it just adds a back ground warmth to the hot chocolate.

So, make yourself your own mug of this spiced hot chocolate and pull up your own pile of Christmas recipes and join the foodie December ritual of planning your holiday baking and Christmas cooking. Let the games begin!

Baked ricotta-stuffed tandoori potatoes

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 5:27 pm October 7, 2009

Ah, the humble spud. As much as we love the potato, it can get a bit samey if you have them often. Luckily, one of the best thing about potatoes is that they are so adaptable and you aren’t likely to run out of new potato recipes any time soon if you allow yourself to get a bit creative. There is always a potato recipe that is something totally new to try and that is exactly what I thought when I saw Anjum Anand’s recipe for Baked ricotta-stuffed tandoori potatoes in a recent copy of Good Food Magazine.

I won’t lie, the recipe is a bit fiddly because you have to hollow out the potatoes just enough to stuff them with the ricotta mixture. However, I found that once I figured out that an apple corer was the right tool for the job it went much more smoothly. Once you are past that bit it is just a matter of making up the ricotta mixture and the tandoori yoghurt glaze for the outside of the potatoes. Both are pretty darn simple. After that it is just letting them cook in the oven.

Since I am a bit of a spice wimp, I used less chilli in the ricotta mixture. I also left out the cashews to save calories and because my husband isn’t a lover of nuts. I don’t think the dish really missed the nuts, if I am honest. I suppose they add texture but I didn’t eat the potatoes and think ‘hmm, this needs nutty crunch’.

Sliced thickly, these look pretty impressive on the plate and served along with some steamed veg made a great light meal. I think the tandoori glaze would be excellent on chicken or fish too for the meat eaters in the family. As it uses Greek yoghurt as the base, it isn’t even really too calorie loaded either.

Baked bean and veggie burgers

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , — Sarah Jayne @ 3:45 pm September 29, 2009

Beans, beans, the more you eat the more you….erm, feel full? When I decided to start eating less meat, I knew that I still had to get my protein from somewhere if I was going to be eating a healthy diet. This is where my love affair with beans and other legumes began.

I quickly discovered that if I made beans and pulses the main feature of my evening meals that I would feel satisfied and full all the way through the evening and feel no need at all to snack or nibble for the rest of the evening. The reason for this is because they are slow burning and low gi which means that it takes your body longer to break them down for digestion. All of this regulates insulin levels and helps you to feel fuller and sustain energy for longer. All of which is fantastic for me since I am insulin resistant.

Something else I discovered was that beans and other legumes are very flexible and you can get really creative with them in your cooking. Everything from a bean casserole to a bean burger can be whipped up and be both tasty and healthy. What’s more, is you don’t have to be an actual vegetarian to enjoy these dishes, either.

When I saw the My Legume Love Affair food blog event, it sounded like a perfect event for me and the Weekend Carnivore blog. The event is run by The Well Seasoned Cook and is this month hosted by Monsoon Spice.

I thumbed through my cooking magazines looking for a legume based recipe to make and the veggie bean bakes found in a recent copy of BBC Good Food Magazine caught my eye. In the past, my husband has been really receptive to bean burgers and so I was fairly sure he would eat these without much complaint.

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter apart from using panko breadcrumbs instead of fresh ones. That did indeed work well but I think next time I would try the fresh breadcrumbs to see if it makes any difference. I also chopped up some fresh parsley and added it to the mix. For the mixed beans, I used a can of mixed beans that included adzuki beans,cannellini beans and a few other types.

Once the potatoes are boiled, the rest of the bean and veggie patties recipe comes together very quickly. At the stage in which I was forming the patty, I thought that this would actually make a really tasty mashed potato. In the patty form, it wasn’t dissimilar to a bubble and squeak cake. Nothing that I am going to complain about!

The original recipe, calls for them to be served with salsa. We didn’t have any in the house, so I simply served them with a green salad and they went down hubby’s hatch without complaint. Next time, I will try putting some spices into the bean and potato mixture to try to pep them up even more.

Creamy parmesan polenta with garlic kale

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , — Sarah Jayne @ 3:14 pm September 25, 2009

One of the things I love the most about cooking vegetarian food is that there is always some new ingredients to explore. Until I started to follow a largely vegetarian diet, I had never had or cooked with polenta. I am not even really sure that I knew that it was actually cornmeal. Yet, now I love the stuff. I dig how you can have it all mushy like porridge or if you let it sit for a bit it gets nice and solid but tastes just as yummy.

When I saw this recipe over at Recipezaar, I knew I had to give it a try because I had never had polenta combined with parmesan cheese. For some reason, I have mostly kept it sweet. The recipe was posted by Sharon123,  a Recipezaar regular who has tons and tons of very good vegetarian recipes amongst her collection. Really, she is the one that should be doing a vegetarian cooking blog!

creamy parmesan polenta with garlic kaleA

I wasn’t sure about some aspects of the recipe when I first read it. In particular, I wasn’t sure how the raisins would play with the other savoury ingredients. They really did work though to balance out all the rich tasting ingredients that went into the dish. A bit like how it is always nice to add a little something sweet to a curry to balance the spice.

The original recipe – Polenta With Garlicky Greens – called for Swiss chard. I have never been able to find chard in any of the British supermarkets I visit unless it is as part of a pre-packaged salad bag and then only in very small amounts. I did, however, have some curly kale and so I used that instead and I have to say it was a good choice because the dark leafy green really carried the garlic very well.

Truly, this is a great vegetarian comfort food dish and isn’t too dissimilar to eating a big batch of cheesey mashed potatoes topped with rich garlic greens. Mmm!

Incredible lemon pepper nuts recipe

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 2:44 pm September 20, 2009

Every month, I take part on a vegetarian recipe swap over at Recipezaar. The basic idea is that everybody interested in the vegetarian recipe swap puts their name in and at the start of the month you adopt one of those chefs and somebody in turn adopts you. Over the following month you agree to make two vegetarian recipes from that person’s Recipezaar recipe collection. I love this because it is a great way to discover new vegetarian food and you don’t at all have to be a vegetarian to take part. In fact, I think that most people that are involved aren’t actually vegetarians but are just enjoying learning how to cook vegetarian dishes. That can never be a bad thing.

This month, I adopted January Bride. I must have been in a lemon mood because the two recipes I decided to make both had some lemon element to them. The first was the lemon garlic green beans that I blogged about earlier in the month. The second were these amazing Lemon Pepper Nuts .

lemon pepper nuts recipe

If I am honest, when I selected this recipe I wasn’t sure if it would work. I love candied nuts and have had salt and pepper cashews before which I enjoyed. However, lemon pepper on nuts was something totally new.

I am so glad that I tried them though because they were super easy to make – simply put the nuts, sugar and lemon pepper into a pan and heat and then cool down. On top of that, they were just incredibly tasty! There was a background of sweet heat that was perfectly balanced. I am glad I only made the one batch or I would have for sure eaten the whole nut recipe! It is even a vegan recipe so it doesn’t get much better when it comes to snack food recipes.