vegetarian

Making Salmon on a Light-Eating Day

It’s dinnertime, and time to pull out Giada’s Feel Good Food. I have chosen to make grilled salmon and pineapple with avocado dressing (pg. 169) and quinoa pilaf (pg. 116). I didn’t want to go with a rice, potato, or starch because, for me, today is all about clean eating. So, quinoa it is!

I had to hit the grocer for the salmon. Pre-cut, skinless filets the same price as the family-sized, skin-on whole fish. So, I decided to take it home and cut it myself. I had to skin the fish, but I was able to make nine filets, which saved me a total of $27. I rinsed the remaining filets in cold water, dried them with paper towels, and put them in the freezer for another night of delicious Giada salmon. Now, I think it’s really important, albeit a bit more expensive, to purchase fish from the US. I myself buy my salmon from the Atlantic coast or from Alaska; I’m not a fan of farm-raised fish. I firmly believe in buying anything and everything American made (when at all possible), and I especially love to have my meat as fresh and local as I can find.

I paired the salmon and quinoa with a tomato, basil, and balsamic salad because I wanted something raw on the plate. I would have added onions, but my daughter, Katie, is adverse to the taste of raw onions. Had she not been here tonight, there would have been onions all over that delicious salad! Nonetheless, it’s going to be a lovely addition to a wonderful meal!

My vegetarian daughter, Karlie, isn’t going to be having the salmon, so we’re grilling her up a veggy burger instead. I have found that it is nearly impossible to find gluten free veggy burgers, so I always make them myself from scratch. However, to our surprise, we finally had success in our quest for pre-made burgers for nights like this. Trader Joe’s, we learned, carries the best frozen veggy burgers in town, Dr. Praeger’s. They, in our opinion, taste so much like falafel, which we love! Definitely worth a try. I’m sure they’ll go very well with the rest of the meal. I can’t wait until it’s time to eat!

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Vegeterian Chili Verde for Cool Summer Days

The storm blew through Alexandria last night, and cooled our entire area by a couple of degrees. I spent the night inside of the basement with my sickie daughter, Katie, and it gave us quite the chills. So, we decided that it was the perfect night for Giada’s vegetarian chili verde (page 185 of Feel Good Food) to warm us up while we watched Netflix’s best drama, Orange is the New Black. (We’re addicted, by the way!) I know I was just ranting about what a great idea it is to avoid the stove, but on cool days like this, I am willing to make exceptions.

This was by far the best thing that I have cooked from the book. Well, at least that’s what I think. My husband was not here to weigh in, and I have yet to ask my daughters. Perhaps because of my southwest roots, I love the spice! Anything with cumin can win my heart. It was certainly not lacking on the heat, but we did note that the sugary sweet potatoes were a great addition to cut back on some of that bold flavor.

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I start all my chilis in my favorite heavy stockpot. After chopping all my veggies, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the beautiful summer bounty that goes into this pot. Notice that I keep my chopping board close to the stove for easy transfer. It’s a big time saver, and far more convenient than moving the chopped ingredients across the counter.

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Since I live in a small townhouse, I don’t have a very big kitchen, so making room for everything isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Yet, as an everyday cook, I have lots of yummy ingredients for my meals, so I have to get clever with my organization. I keep my spices all together right next to the stove on my own magnetic spice rack (i.e. the side of my fridge). You can get your own at World Market for $9.95 for five or Ikea for $7.99 for three. It makes it easy for me to just grab that cumin while I’m mixing the pot!

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Now, don’t forget that any town-home dwellers can also keep live herbs around their home, too. I keep all of my herbs in pots outside, making sure they get just the right amount of sun and shade right on my porch behind the house. They make my little back nook look so much prettier (live plants always do), and they smell great when we’re sitting back there on summer days. Tonight, I had to head back there for the oregano for the chili.

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All together, it made for a beautiful, colorful pot, and a delicious chili that I will sure to make again when it’s not too hot outside!

And So it Begins

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It’s dinnertime on day one, and I believe I made the perfect choice for the first meal of the blog. On page 97 of Giada’s Feel Good Food, you’ll find delicious stuffed bell peppers, Italian style and complete with tofu, eggplant, olives, and capers. Yes, indeed, it is the perfect dish for anyone’s vegetarian diet.

I started my afternoon grocery shopping for Giada ingredients that I don’t typically keep in my own home. The list was surprisingly short, so I guess we have similar tastes! That’s a good thing for my wallet. While shopping at Wegman’s, I noticed that the capers were about $4 cheaper in the Italian section than they were in the cans and jars section. So, be sure to look over all the ethnic foods in your local grocer to assure you’re getting the best prices! I also purchased the Wegman’s brand basil sauce for this recipe (I trust anything with a Wegman’s label). I searched high and low for Japanese eggplant, but couldn’t find any; fortunately traditional eggplant made a good substitute.

When I got home, it was time to get cooking! I had to separate the pepper stuffing into two separate pots because I have a couple of picky eaters here who aren’t smart enough to enjoy the decadence of an olive. I did roast the eggplant with olive oil, though, which is not the norm for me. I’ll definitely have to get used to Giada’s different cooking style. I paired the peppers with a mix brown rice and ginger (which I had made for dinner last night) and white rice (from a Chinese restaurant…also not the norm for me). Shh…don’t tell Giada! I visited the herb garden in my backyard and picked out some thyme, oregano, and basil to mill into the rice for added flavor. Talk about semi-homemade!

If first impressions are telling, I already know from this first dish that I’m going to have a blast on my way to a healthier self! I can’t wait to see what the next 90 days have in store for me!