Sunday, March 11, 2012

Harisa's Quinoa Salad

aka my camping savior during No Meat March!  My coworker and friend Harisa brought in this amazing salad a few weeks ago to share (apparently her husband and son only eat "real food" and this did not meet their criteria, so she had a ton of leftovers).  It was extremely delicious so I had to get her recipe.

Thursday night, I made a huge batch to bring along with the boy and I on our weekend music and camping adventure.  We stayed down south at a music festival that his band played for.  Normally, these sorts of events draw tons of hippies and therefore, tons of vegetarian/vegan food options.  However, this was so not the case this time around and apparently my gut knew it before I did.  This recipe definitely helped me get my fill of veggies & protein, eat delicious food, and not break my No Meat March challenge...again.  Yes, I broke it Thursday night at Krystals around 1AM after the boyfraaan's gig.  Being an almost-rockstar girlfriend is so hard, ya'll!  Luckily, the NMM diet is quite cleansing so I couldn't feel gross about it for too long and was immediately back on the wagon Friday morning!  Anyway, who cares about that?  You don't.  You just came here for the recipe!  But first, a picture! :)

Harisa's Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, cooked & cooled
1 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can of corn (optional--I did not take this option)
1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 - 1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold water
1 or 2 avocados, chopped into bite-sized pieces
juice of a lemon or a lime (or both if ya wanna be like me and go crazy)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

While the quinoa was cooking, I did all my slicing and dicing.  Since I knew I would be eating this all weekend, I squeezed the lemon & lime juices directly onto the avocado to keep them green for as long as possible (it worked).  Once the quinoa is cooled, just mix everything together, cover and chill for an hour before serving.  If you want to add a bit of a kick, it would be yummy to mix some sliced jalapenos in there as well.  Makes 6 - 8 delicious, delicious servings.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bonnie's Veggie Potstickers

My good friend Bonnie showed off this gem a few days ago and I decided to get a little overzealous and be awesome like her.

I've never made potstickers before and admit that just by name alone I had no clue what they even were.  But then here comes Bonnie smack at the start of No Meat March saying, "OMG I MADE THIS AMAZING VEGGIE DISH, EVERYONE!" so I had to give it a try. I did edit this recipe some to keep it vegetarian and omitted an ingredient or two I did not have but they still turned out deeeeelish!

Some things to take note of before you start making potstickers: It is not all that quick.  It took me an hour and a half.  Maybe it shouldn't have, maybe I'm just dumb at potstickers, who knows.  Also, once you stuff and fold your potstickers, do not put them in a bowl all on top of each other unless you do not mind trying to wrestle apart a giant mound of veggie-filled dough later when attempting to place them in the pan.  Just place them directly into the pan after you fold them.  This might actually save a good 20 minutes, now that I think about it...

Bonnie's Veggie Potstickers
6 oz mushrooms
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 bunch of fresh spinach or 10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I used fresh)
2 large eggs (1 for mixture, 1 for gluing)
1 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
Squeeze of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt 

30 won ton wrappers

Sautee the mushrooms, carrot, and celery.  In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients (minus the won-ton wrappers, ya'll--do NOT mix in the won-ton wrappers!).  Mix in the the sauteed veggies.  Mound small amount of the veggie mixture into the center of each won ton wrapper and brush egg on two sides of wrapper and fold over to seal. Fold the pointed ends together and seal.

In a nonstick 10 or 12" pan add a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil and place the potstickers in the pan starting in center and working out in a concentric circle fashion. Turn heat to medium high and cook until everything is nicely browned on bottom.  Add about 1/3 cup of water, reduce heat to medium and place a lid on pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, remove lid and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes until all liquid is evaporated. Place a large plate upside down on pan and flip potstickers onto plate.

But what good are they without the proper dipping sauce?  Here's what I wound up with:

Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a small/medium bowl. Whisk or stir well to dissolve the sugar and salt, and mix everything together into a thin, smooth sauce.
My own finished product:

So yummy!  I served these with a side of Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n which was also pretty delicious and satisfied my desire for the real deal. I'm absolutely thrilled that it made a lot because with all the time it took, I've eaten off of these about 4 times now and am finally finishing them off today.  Makes up for the time spent, I suppose!  So basically, if you have 70-90 minutes to kill, COOK THIS!

***EDIT! To say that Bonnie normally makes these potstickers as a non-vegetarian dish!  For the omnivore population, replace the mushroom/carrot/celery veggies with either chicken, pork, or shrimp and in the overall mixture add 2 teaspoons of fish sauce!  I have not tried this version but I'm pretty sure Bonnie is completely unable to cook a bad meal, so I would not doubt it is equally as amazing as the veggie version!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

No Meat March

So the scale at the gym appears to be broken.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it actually moved in the opposite direction it was supposed to last week, saying I've actually gained rather than lost weight since January.  I've yet to discuss this with my trainer, but I definitely think it's time they invested in a new one.  However, in the event that they do not replace the scale any time soon, I've decided to take on a bit of a challenge as a backup plan.  So far, I'm on day four:

Yes, ladies and gents, No Meat March is a 31 Day Challenge to Go Meat Free.  And yes, I've already been called crazy and un-American.  I am not the biggest meat-eater, but every now and then I love a good slice of bacon or 10 and I've had a severe chicken-wing craving on and off for about two months.  I am once again bidding good-bye to my late-night (post-bar) Krystals combos which is as exciting as it is sad (I'll miss you!).  Walking by the fresh-made fried chicken at the grocery store yesterday to grab my veggie sub was also a huge challenge.  Alas, I'm determined to make this the full month and better yet, to do it right. 

I am most excited to learn new things to cook.  I won't lie, I'm pretty terrible at incorporating fruits and veggies into my diet on the reg...unless wine counts--does wine count?  Because that's pretty regular!  My goal out of this challenge is not necessarily to become a vegetarian.  I'm not a huge fan of labeling myself anyway.  However, I would like to create better eating habits for myself, hopefully for good finally!  I'd love to be able to find healthy, balanced meals simple enough to cook and yummy enough to eat on a normal basis without me preferring to be lazy and order a pizza instead (dinner on day #1, breakfast & lunch on day #2).  Luckily, the NMM challenge also includes a jam-packed calendar of events to learn about different types of food and cooking classes.  My friends at Grassroots Natural Market were also a huge help with suggestions on tasty vegetarian alternatives to burgers and fried chicken (so I feel less un-American and crazy).  My inability to get to and from work without passing by their store also helps make things easier.

That being said, this month's blog entries are bound to be full of new and exciting meat free meals and tidbits of education along the way.  Get excited!  And for you full-fledged omnivores, I'll try to keep it entertaining and tasty enough for you as well. :)

And now, I'm off to the farmer's market!  Wish me luck!