Saturday, January 8, 2011

On the Menu....

It's bugging me that the little corner fruit and veggie market 1/2 mile from my house is closed now. They close on Christmas Eve and don't open again til March. Their produce is really fresh, organic, for the most part, and much cheaper than Whole Foods. My goal for next year (as it was last year, but I blew that one....) is to grow more of our food ourselves. We have some friends who are very generous from their garden, but I really want to do better this year!

Each week I plan my menu - and make my grocery list - on Thursday or Friday. Then I shop on Friday afternoon after work. Okay, I gotta tell the truth. Most of the time, Paul does the shopping for me. His work is much closer to Whole Foods and I get a little wigged out by traffic.

So today I'm posting the menu for the entire week for your reading pleasure. And even though I have planned the menu, that doesn't mean I will stick too closely to it. Seems like there's always at least one curve ball during the week and we end up going out or eating leftovers.

So here is what I plan to make for the week. I'm not saying which day I'll make what, because that always depends on how I feel when I get home from work! Green Smoothies and fresh fruit are on the menu daily, and most main course recipes are served with a green salad or other green veggie.

Creamy Lasagna Casserole
Vegan Pizza with Daiya vegan cheese
Basic Lentil Dahl
Bean and Barley Stew
Cajun Chickpeas (based on this recipe, with a number of changes)
Ethiopian Cabbage

Hopefully I'll find time to follow up on the results of each dish that I actually make. The only thing on this week's menu that I haven't made before is the Ethiopian Cabbage. I'm not worried about how this will turn out, though. Every single ingredient is something we love, so how could it fail?

Each week I try to make one big "pot o' something" that will provide lunches for us to carry through the week. This week it is the Lasagna Casserole. This is loosely based on this vegan lasagna recipe from I have made this as lasagna, but I find that the casserole is much less time consuming and much less messy!

Creamy Lasagna Casserole

16 oz rotini pasta, cooked half as long as pkg directions
1 cup red lentils

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and chopped (or use an 8 oz jar of prepared roasted red peppers)
1 onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
3 large clove garlic, minced

oil, as needed
4 cups tomato pasta sauce (jarred or homemade)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pkg Daiya mozzarella style vegan cheese

White Sauce
3 tablespoons Earth Balance
2 tablespoons flour, plus more as needed (I used chickpea flour and it works great)
1 tbs nutritional yeast

pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups nondairy milk, divided

I roasted my red peppers on top of the stove this time, directly over open flame. I'd never done it this way before, and I probably won't do it that way again. It was kinda neat and novel, but much messier than the way I usually do it, which is to halve the peppers, remove the seeds, and put them on a baking sheet under the broiler. Which ever way you choose, freshly roasted peppers are delicious and much better than the jarred kind.

r directions on how to roast fresh peppers, go here.

Roast the peppers, place in a paper bag, and set aside to cool.

In a medium sauce pan, cover the red lentils with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. REduce to a simmer and cook until they look mushy.

Cook the rotini per package directions, but only half as long.
drain and set the pasta aside.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add onions, celery, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook until onions are translucent.

Peel off the blackened skins and chop the roasted peppers. Add them to the pot.

Add lentils, tomato sauce, and seasonings and stir to combine well. Reduce to a slow simmer, cover, and let cook while you prepare the white sauce.

Put the Earth Balance, flour, and nutritional yeast in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until Earth Balance is melted and the mixture is bubbling. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Whisk in 1 cup of the milk. Continue to whisk gently to mix. When the the mixture is very thick, remove from heat and add the other cup of milk, whisking until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Add the prepared pasta to the tomato sauce. Stir gently until pasta is even distributed.

Add the entire package of Daiya and again stir gently until cheese is evenly distributed.

Now pour the white sauce over the mixture, once again stirring gently to distribute the sauce throughout the casserole.

Transfer the casserole to a baking dish. You may want to set the whole thing on a cookie sheet to prevent spills in the oven. Mine bubbled over.

Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the casserole is bubbling. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

The finished product!

Not sure what I'm doing wrong with my camera these days, but my pictures keep
coming out blurry. I'll keep working on it.....

The plan may already be changing. I'm thinking about a creamy pumpkin risotto recipe I saw recently. Stay tuned.....

1 comment:

  1. No matter what type diet a person is on, your post tells the not very secret story of success. You have to make a plan, and then go out and get the things that you need to make the plan work. So many commit to one diet or another, but they don't stock up on the things they need to make it work. Next thing you know, they're eating things they shouldn't, because without the right groceries, the things they should be eating are not easy to come by. Short of being wealthy enough to have someone do the shopping and cooking for us, your way is the right way.

    In a sense, the same thing goes for eating out. If I am watching my intake, I try to pull up the menu for a restaurant I will be visiting, and I pick out foods friendly to my diet and satisfying to my stomach before I go. Using my brain when I am not hungry and before I get there keeps me from letting my eyes and stomach take over the ordering at the table.

    I also apreciate your mention of fruit. It's the one thing I know I'm not doing right. I need to put in the effort to find fruit of good quality that I will enjoy, or I just won't eat enough fruit. I've got to do it!

    Good post.... Thanks.