Faker!

Tonight was our first in the world of fake meat.  Tonight we had Morningstar Chik’n Nuggets.  These little nuggets made, primarily, of textured soy protein.  Sounds tasty right?

ChickUN Nuggets with Broccoli Alfredo Pasta

ChickUN Nuggets with Broccoli Alfredo Pasta

I stressed all afternoon about eating these.  In fact, I think I didn’t want to cook last night because I was afraid of making these and not liking them.  More importantly:  I was afraid Eric wouldn’t like them.  I hate seeing him struggle with foods he doesn’t like.  He gets this awful face when he eats something he doesn’t enjoy and I just hate seeing him unhappy.

But…I sucked it up and took the plunge tonight.  I made Broccoli Alfredo Pasta as a side, just in case.  I figured, worst case scenario we could just eat the pasta as a meal, rather than a side.  It’d be like college all over!

Luckily, it didn’t come to that.  With my first nugget generously dipped in my trusty Sweet Bay Ray’s barbeque sauce, I took my first bite.  It tasted….like a chicken nugget.  Imagine that!  There really wasn’t a profound different.  Come to think of it–chicken nuggets hardly taste like chicken, so this shouldn’t surprise me.  The only difference was that the filling tasted a bit “heavier” or “fiber-y” (as Eric claimed) and the look of the inside was a bit different–darker in color, for one.  Mostly though, I could hardly tell the difference except for the fact that they made me full much quicker than a normal nugget.

Cheers to Morningstar!

P.S.  Today’s picture is courtesy of Eric, rather than me–my pictures didn’t come out very good today and Eric’s such a good photographer, he deserves some attention!  You can click on the picture to visit his full photostream.

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An Evening Out

We cheated tonight.  No, no, we didn’t eat meat.  We went out to eat.  I wasn’t in the mood for cooking and Chinese sounded exceptional.  So, we headed off to the local Ho’s Dynasty.  I always enjoy their food and the service is great.

Their menu has many vegetarian options, as I suspect most Chinese restaurants do.   We decided to just order a variety of things to share.  For starters, we shared a cup of egg drop soup, and some fried wanton.  I also ordered a vegetable spring roll.  I worried all night, after eating the egg drop soup that it might have been made with some type of broth–a quick google search put my mind at ease, however.

After our starters we had vegetable fried rice and vegetable lo mein.  I’d be interested in trying one of the other veggie dishes (where vegetables, rather than rice or noodle, is the main ingredient), but since Eric’s still warming up to vegetables, I figured these were safer bets.

Fried Rice Leftovers

Fried Rice Leftovers

In the end, it was way too much food and we had plenty of leftovers to stock our fridge with.  Right before he brought us the check, the server asked us, “Are you Vegetarian?”  For the first time in my life, I answered yes to this question.  It felt weird saying it aloud like that, for some reason.  When he returned with a plate of orange slices and fortune cookies, the waiter fanned his hand over the plate and said, “no meat here.”

P.S  Forgot to bring a camera to the restaurant, so you’ll just have to settle for a shot of the leftovers!

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Taco Tuesday

Plated Tacos

Plated Tacos

For tonight’s dinner we took a page out of our old recipe book and then shook things up a bit.  Typically, during our carnivore days, Eric and I would make tacos each Tuesday (hence the clever title).  We’d buy a pound of either ground chicken or beef and cook it up in the skillet.  When the meat was done, we’d add a special mix of spices and about a cup of water, stir and let it simmer until all the water had evaporated.  We’d then fix our tacos withmeat, cheese, sour cream and salsa.

To keep this recipe alive, we needed to rethink the taco filling.  A taco with just cheese, sour cream and salsa is…well, basically just a quesadilla.   I decided to try to saute up some veggies (yellow and red pepper this time) with our same mix of spice in place of the meat.  Still worried that the tacos wouldn’t have enough filling, I decided to add refried beans.  When I went into the fridge to grab the cheese and sour cream, I noticed our leftover olives, a few tomatoes and some lettuce sitting innocently at the sour cream’s side.  Couldn’t hurt, I thought.

So, tonight’s tacos were filled with sautéed peppers, cheese, sour cream, tomato, lettuce, olives, salsa and refried beans.  I

Taco fixings

Taco fixings

actually found I liked these better than the standard meat, cheese, sour cream and salsa combo I’d enjoyed in the past.  There was more bite and crunch to the meal for one–I’m not sure why, but I’ve found crunch makes a meal oddly more satisfying.  Makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, perhaps.

I think Eric on the other hand still missed the meat.  I’ve heard there are meatless protein crumbles (flavored chicken or beef) that you can use for such an occasion.  I think next week I’ll get some from Trader Joe’s and give them a try.

To console himself in his moment of longing for meat, Eric made some nachos with the taco fixings and some Hint of Lime tortilla chips.  That seemed to help him forget his blessed ground meat!

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Nicoise French Bread Pizza

After enjoying last night’s supper for lunch this afternoon, I was excited to take my next adventure with my new cookbook.

Tonight, Eric and I decided to make Nicoise French Bread Pizza. I was interested in this recipe from the time I read the name. I can hardly imagine the thought process that went into the recipe:Niciose French Bread Pizza

Let’s take an Italian meal and make it as French as possible. First we’ll add French Bread instead of Italian, then we’ll take a French Salad (Nicoise) and throw the ingredients on our French Bread! Clever!

It really was just about that simple. First we boiled a couple of eggs–well, hard cooked them really, but that’s a discussion for another day. As the eggs were cooking, we roasted some veggies in the oven. We used tomatoes and green peppers. The recipe called for onions too, but Eric has a strong aversion to onion, so we skipped them. We coated the veggies in Italian Dressing (ironic considering my statements above) before we put them in oven.

The recipe tells you to roast the veggies for 12-15 minutes. We took ours out at 12 and probably could have taken them out several minutes earlier. I think perhaps we sliced them more thinly than what the recipe had in mind, but the tomatoes were pretty well stewed when we retrieved them from the oven and they were hard to remove from the foil covered cookie tray.

Once the vegetables were scraped of the pan, I coated the French bread, which Eric had sliced, with Italian Dressing. Then, we loaded the bread with the vegetables and slices of the hard cooked egg. Next came a layer of sliced olives and then mozzarella cheese. Then, our completed pizzas went back to the oven for 8 minutes.

The result was quite impressive, but odd at the same time. In some ways it was like eating a regular veggie pizza, but in other bites (those with a good amount of egg) it was like eating an omelet. I love pizza and omelets, so it was a good deal, if you ask me. Eric enjoyed his with the added ingredients of crushed red pepper, parmesan cheese and a dash of salt/pepper.

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The First Supper

I’ve now been vegetarian for a little over two weeks.  My husband, Eric, has joined me in this venture, but has had a few “flex” days along the way.  The first two weeks were interesting in many ways.  The first week, to me, was easy because I was eating at home and I found myself making the same meals I normally do, but without meat.  Tacos for one; spaghetti for another.  The next week we were on vacation in Tampa.  As a result, Eric and I were dining out just about every meal.  Options were limited at most restaurants–it was a week of soup and salad for the most part.

Lemon-Pepper Pasta and Asparagus

So tonight I was ready to get started with the recipes from my new cookbook:  Betty Crocker Easy Everyday Vegetarian. We have a number of the recipes from the book planned for this week, but for tonight we decided to kick things off with the “Lemon-Pepper Pasta

and Asparagus.”

It was quite easy to make.  All we had to was cook two cups of farfalle pasta while we cooked asparagus, red bell pepper, lemon peel and salt/pepper in some oil in our skillet.  Once the veggies were tender, we added lemon juice and navy beans.  When the pasta was finished cooking, we stirred that in and were ready to eat.

As we cooked, I was nervous about the end result.  First, I was nervous because the dish had very little seasoning in it–just salt,

Eric Eats Asparagus!

pepper, and lemon.  I was really used to dishes that called for teaspoons of basil, parsley, garlic and oregano.  But none were mentioned in this recipe.  I was concerned that we would just be eating bland mush.  Then, Eric remedied that concern–as he was struggling to get the sea salt from its canister, the lid popped off and the entire pound of salt dumped into my skillet of veggies.

After only some mild panic, we decided to rinse the veggies in a colander and then start again.  The salt cleaned off nicely in the colander and we got back to cooking as normal.  I worried a bit that it would taste overly salty, but there didn’t seem to be very much salt visible on the meal, so I hoped it would be okay. When we sat down to eat, I kept going back and forth about what to expect.  Would it be too bland?  Would the remaining salt over power?  Neither of these turned out to be true.  The lemon flavored the dish in a powerful, but not overwhelming fashion.  It was a combination of flavors that I’d never tasted together and I was pleasantly surprised.  But the real test had not come yet; Eric had not yet sat down to eat.  Eric has been struggling with the vegetarian diet.  He’s been a true meat eater all his life and has found few vegetables that he’ll consume without hesitation.

Much to my surprise, he enjoyed the dish as much as I did.  He finished the entirety of his plate, right down to the last piece of asparagus.

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