Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps {Crock Pot Recipe}

25 03 2014

Last week when I was in Madison, I spent a night at my friend Sandra’s house. Sandra and I work together and have bonded over some of our common interests: she has two adorable kitties, loves to cook, and has a food blog! After work on Tuesday night, she took me for some good ol’ Wisconsin cheese, and then we went back to her place to make some wontons and potstickers!

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Sandra had already prepared the filling- turkey, bell pepper, mushroom, and some spices and we just had to wrap em up!

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I watched her experienced hands form perfect little wontons, and then took a stab at it myself. Mine most certainly did not turn out as lovely as hers, but as we neared the final few I think I finally got the technique down.

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We boiled some, pan friend some others, and did the same for a few dumplings she had in the freezer.

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We made dipping sauces to our taste- using soy sauce, sesame  oil, rice vinegar, chili paste, and a touch of sugar. Normally there would be black vinegar in there, but Sandra was all out!

When we finally dug in (it took quite awhile to hand-wrap all those wontons!) it all became worth the effort. They were so incredibly delicious, I could have eaten an entire plate! Something about homemade dumplings is just so comforting! I don’t think wontons are something I’d typically make for myself, but if I’ve got an extra set of hands or two, I think they’d make a great party dish!

When I arrived home later in the week, I was craving those flavors again so I decided to make something a bit less time-intensive but with similar ingredients: Lettuce Wraps!

Lettuce Wraps

The filling was tempeh, water chestnuts, red bell pepper, mushrooms with a sauce of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. I let all that cook down in the crock pot while I went for a long bike ride. Dipping sauce was similar, but I added some garlic chili paste to that. Served with some iceberg leaves and some left over rice and voila! Easy peasy!

I’m sure you could make these with ground meat- pork, turkey or chicken would probably work best. You can suit the sauce to your tastes too- you don’t need to stick to my measurements. Play around and find what suits your taste buds best!

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Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

1 block tempeh
4 oz chopped baby bella mushrooms (1/2 a container)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can chopped water chesnuts
2-3 green onions, chopped (add at the end)
1/4 cup soy sauce (more to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 TBS brown sugar
Dipping sauce

How to:

1. Cut the tempeh into cubes and steam for about 5 minutes.

2. While the tempeh is steaming, chop your peppers and mushrooms.

3. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar.

4. In a larger bowl, combine the tempeh, sauce, water chestnuts, peppers and mushrooms.

5. Refrigerate the filling for several hours (you can do this the night before, or I did it in the morning for a few hours before leaving for my ride)

6. Cook on low for about 6 hours in the crock pot.

7. Serve with lettuce leaves, rice, and the dipping sauce.

For dipping sauge, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic chili paste, and sugar to taste! Add less chili paste for less spicy! I typically do mostly soy, about half that amount of rice vinegar, a touch of sesame oil, chili paste, and sugar.





Broccoli, Mushroom, Quinoa Casserole

3 04 2013

One of my favorite side dishes that my mom makes every Easter is her Broccoli Cheese Bake.

Broccoli Cheese Bake

It’s one of those cheesy, creamy, delicious dishes that requires just about everything unhealthy: sour cream, loads of cheese, and condensed cream of mushroom soup. But that’s what makes it taste great, right?

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Unfortunately, this year I didn’t go home to enjoy it or any of the other deliciousness that she cooks up :-( Instead I was here in Tampa, just me and the kitties:-) So, I decided to make a recipe my friend Courtney has been telling me about- a Mushroom Quinoa Casserole from The Best Remedy Blog. I made a few swaps with the ingredients I had on hand: broccoli instead of kale, and goat cheese instead of sour cream. When it was all said and done, I had a yummy and healthy casserole- which was hearty enough to be a meal in itself, or a great side dish. The surprising bonus: it ended up tasting similar to my mom’s broccoli cheese bake!  Though it wasn’t oozing with cheese, the flavor was similar and I didn’t feel guilty about loading up on an extra large second helping!

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So, if you’re looking for a great side dish for your next family gathering, try this out!

Mushroom Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Broccoli Mushroom Quinoa Casserole

Adapted from The Best Remedy Blog

Ingredients:

1.5 cups of dry quinoa
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 heaping cup broccoli, cut into tiny florets
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese (I used reduced fat)
4 ounces (a small log) goat cheese (allow to soften)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

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How to:

Prepare the quinoa. The ratio is typically 2:1 water to quinoa. So in a pot, combine 3 cups water and 1.5 cups quinoa. Turn on the stove and allow the water to start to boil. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and cover. The quinoa should be ready in about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Spray a baking dish (I used a 9 x 9 square dish) with olive oil or butter spray and set aside.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil. Then saute the onions until they are translucent.  Add in the mushrooms and allow them to brown a little and release some of their juices.  Stir every minute or so. Add the broccoli, and let it just begin to cook- it should turn brighter green!  Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute until fragrant and remove from heat.

Add the quinoa to the pan and stir until combined.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, goat cheese, red pepper flakes and salt.

Add the quinoa mixture to the cottage cheese mixture and stir until combined. Pour into your greased baking dish.

Sprinkle with 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more, or until it is hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and serve!





Moroccan Spiced Pizza!

10 10 2012

So the other day I was reading my friend Meghann’s blog, and she wrote a post that I think could win an award for most creative use of leftovers. She made a pizza with brussel sprouts, feta, walnuts, and soup. Yes, I said soup!

Not gonna lie, but my initial thought was one of skepticism- I assumed that the soup would make the dough soggy and the pizza would be gross. But there was no mention of soggy crust, and I pushed my negative thoughts aside. I love all of the ingredients independently, so why not put them together?

Her post was enough to get my creative juices flowing. If soup works as a “sauce,” what else could I use?

Flashback to Mary’s Fourth of July party. One of her friends made a delicious Moroccan carrot dip, and I’ve been dying to make it ever since. I’m a big fan of Moroccan spices- cumin, cinnamon, YUM! and I happened to have a bag of shredded carrots.

The dip’s consistency was a little thicker than a soup, so I figured it would be a great “sauce” for my pizza. I’ve seen red peppers and raisins in other Moroccan dishes, so I decided they’d be two of my toppers, along with some caramelized shallots and pine nuts.

I had no idea what kind of cheese would go well on the pizza. I considered paneer because it is so mild, but then I opted for goat, mostly because I love goat cheese and I had some in the fridge.

Oh, and why not take it up a notch and make the dough extra special?

I followed Ashley’s recipe for pumpkin garlic knots (which I also made for a pumpkin themed Eating Club almost two years ago!)

Topped with fresh cilantro after the pizza comes out of the oven, this baby knocked my socks off.

Yeah baby. Not gonna lie, I ate almost half the pie in one sitting. It was THAT. GOOD.

I definitely learned a lesson in creativity in the kitchen, and it paid off! Thanks for the inspiration Meghann!

Moroccan Spiced Pizza

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Pizza Dough
Moroccan Carrot Dip (I halved the recipe and left out the olives)
1 red pepper, cut into strips,  ~1/8 or 1/4 inch thick
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup raisins, rehydrated slightly
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 oz goat cheese (leave out for a vegan pizza)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Note: my measurements for the raisins, pine nuts, goat cheese, and cilantro are approximate. I was just topping the pizza with what I liked. It’s your pizza, put what you want on it!

How to:

Start by making the dough. While it is rising, you can make the carrot dip and start to caramelize the shallots. When the shallots are done, saute the peppers so they are warmed through.

When you’re ready to make your pizza (aka the dough has finished rising, you’ve got the sauce made, and your shallots have caramelized), preheat the oven to 425°F.

Top your pizza with the sauce, the peppers, the shallots, the raisins, the pine nuts, and the goat cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is starting to brown. The cheese will start to brown too.

Take it out of the oven, and top with freshly chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!








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