First Meal of Lent

I found a recipe in the NY Times for Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms.  I am a huge fan of polenta and mushrooms, the hubby – not so much.  Luckily for me, he didn’t remember that he doesn’t like polenta – I told him it was just like risotto, only made with corn, not rice.

Anyway, it was pretty easy to make, I did quadruple the mushroom portion of the recipe after reading the comments from others and my goodness I am SO glad I did.  They are amazing!  There is something about adding butter and soy sauce to mushrooms that elevate it to almost devine status.  Definitely worth making – in fact,  I think they would make the perfect meatless stroganoff recipe.  It certainly isn’t the world’s prettiest dish, in fact, it looks downright boring, but one taste and you will add this to your list of HAVE TO MAKE AGAIN.

salmon, polenta

Since I was pretty darn sure John wouldn’t like the polenta and goodness knows he WOULD ABSOLUTELY not like the mushrooms, I made him salmon and his favorite “salad” coleslaw.  I told him the mushrooms should go on top of the polenta, but he put them on the side.  He loved the sauce, he just wished it didn’t have mushrooms.  It isn’t the taste of mushrooms that bother him, it is the texture.  I know if I make this again, I would have to make a duxelle of the mushrooms for him.

I was very happy to have the polenta and mushrooms as my meal – it made a ton of food, which I shared with two of my coworkers. They both LOVED it and asked for the recipe.  Do yourselves a favor and make this recipe, you won’t be disappointed.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

NOTE: While I haven’t had a chance to blog, I have still been cooking and photographing my meals. Most of these meals were made last week and I am just now getting around to sharing them with you!

I am not a huge fan of leftovers.  In fact, there are very few things I will eat leftover – soup and pasta being two exceptions.  Thankfully the hubby is a HUGE fan of leftovers, but when he goes out of town and there is food in my fridge, I have to find a way to use it up.  I hate food waste!  I have no problem repurposing leftovers.  If I can create something new out of them, I am more than happy to eat them.

I ended up with some broccoli and mac and cheese left over after our ham dinner.  I put the mac and cheese in a pot, added a splash of milk and turned the flame to low.  Once it started heating up, I chopped the leftover broccoli and added it to the pot.  A nice generous pour of buffalo wing sauce and ta da – Dinner for one!

broccoli mac and cheese

Tasty, filling, healthy, and just a bit spicy – all in all, a really good mid winter dinner!

It wasn’t as hard as I expected

To get through the month of January without meat, sweets, or alcohol.  Honestly, I expected to miss having a glass of wine at the end of a long week, but it was meat that I missed the most.  I have always wondered if I could ever be a full time vegetarian, since I eat vegetarian meals quite a bit when the hubby travels.  This month proved to me, that yes, it is possible, but it wouldn’t make me happy.

This was a great experiment, it gave me a bunch of new recipes that we can use during Lent.  It was reinforced for me that I DO HAVE incredible will power.  I feel healthier, the scale certainly agrees that this has been a  worthwhile endeavor.  Will I try this again next year, probably.  Although the hubby is lobbying for February….well…until I mentioned that he wouldn’t be able to have a beer during the Super Bowl.  He is rethinking that plan as we speak.

Will we still eat vegetarian meals, you bet!  Will I have an easier time convincing the husband that it is OK to eat vegetarian once a week, maybe.  It was nice to step outside our normal, to stretch my creative muscle to find dinners that would satisfy us both AND still be vegetarian.  Sometimes you need to try something new to truly appreciate the everyday.

To finish out the month, I made a batch of broccoli cheddar soup to have for lunch – it was AWESOME. Thankfully, the hubby has never objected to a vegetarian soup…of course, he prefers to have a meat sandwich alongside!

broc cheddar soup

The end is here!

Well folks, we made it, the end of January, without alcohol, meat, or sweets!   Of course the hubby couldn’t stick with the whole dry January thing, but he did forgo meat and sweets.  I don’t think it would have been possible for him without the option of seafood, but hey, whatever works, right!?

mexican style stuffed peppers

Our “last” vegetarian meal of January 2018 was Mexican style stuffed peppers.  I cooked up a batch of rice and added a can of black beans, a jar of salsa, a bag of corn, shredded cheddar cheese, sauteed zucchini and onions, and some minced jalapeno’s.   I steamed the peppers, then filled them with the rice mixture.

I whisked together 6 oz of white wine and a large can of enchilada sauce and poured it around the peppers.  I covered the dish with foil and baked it at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  I took off the foil, and let it cook another 15 minutes.  Originally, I was going to add some more shredded cheese to the top of the peppers, but I decided against it.  We certainly didn’t need the added fat or calories in this dish.

They were really good, in fact, the hubby is interested in having them again…..if I add some ground beef to the mix, of course!

Risotto with Asparagus

Back in the beginning of January, I made a big batch of parmesan broth.  I portioned it out into four cup servings and froze it.   It was the perfect base for risotto!   I knew risotto for dinner was not an option for the hubby, he needs (or THINKS he needs) more sustenance than that so for him, I baked a piece of Salmon to accompany the risotto.

salmon risotto

I rounded out dinner with a store bought kale salad mix.   The plate looked so pretty, almost to pretty to eat!

I find making risotto to be relaxing, I know that isn’t the case for everyone.   It truly is easy to make and doesn’t take that long to prepare.  Truly, about thirty minutes, start to finish and you can add some many different vegetables to change the flavor profile.

For this batch, I roasted the asparagus, then cut it into bit sized piece.  While it was roasting, I minced a bit of onion and sauteed it in some olive oil.  Once the onion was soft, I added the rice, stirring to coat it with the oil.  I let that cook for a few minutes before deglazing the pan with white wine.  Once the wine was reduced, I started ladeling in the parmesan broth.   Risotto is usually a 5 to 1 ratio of liquid to rice.   For this batch, I wanted it extra creamy and luscious, so I used a total of 8 cups of liquid.  Four parmesan broth and four vegetable broth.  Once the rice was tender, I added in some grated parmesan cheese and the asparagus.  It was DELICIOUS! If I do say so myself.

Sunday Morning

foggy sunday morning

When your day starts out this cold, rainy, and dreary,  you need a really awesome breakfast to get you motivated.   This morning I decided to throw caution to the wind, skip our standard breakfast of of over easy eggs with toast and potatoes and make some French Toast.

The hubs leaves for a business trip today so it will be our only meal together today.  I picked up a loaf of brioche bread yesterday, one that was sliced slightly thicker than standard bread.  It made for a delicious French toast.

french toast

I’m pretty sure the hubby ate his weight in French Toast, but since he will probably not get lunch today, all is good.

My plan for the rest of the afternoon involves a nice cup of hot tea, a really good book, and my fireplace.   Happy Sunday!

Baked Ziti with Spinach

So the hubby is still hanging in there with me, at least on the vegetarian front.   One of his favorite dinners is baked ziti.  I decided to substitute the meat for spinach.  He would have preferred plain baked ziti, but I prefer to add vegetables whenever and wherever I can when I cook at home.  I KNOW he makes bad food choices when he travels and since he travels approximately 40 weeks a year, I have to make every home cooked meal count!

ziti

I used frozen chopped spinach, which I defrosted in the fridge overnight then drained.   Once the pasta was cooked, I tossed it with the spinach tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, sauce, and garlic.  I baked it for 40 minutes, added some more mozzarella cheese to the top of the dish and baked it another 10 minutes.  I loved it and I will be taking it for lunch at least two days this week.  The hubby was OK with it, this time he didn’t complain about the lack of meat, just the addition of spinach!  Progress folks, progress.