Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Easy Breezy Empanadas

Totally inspired by my need for both easy, and low-cost tasty fare, I turned to a college student inspired book.

I know- who reads a book for college students when they are not a college student anymore? The lame outrage. But no, really, I have found a ton of great vegetarian ideas - all simple, and easily altered to better suit my specific vegetable tastes. To start with, empanadas have never been that exciting to me- until I made my own. It's a bunch of foods stuffed in warm, clever, half-circle pocket.

Pick your veggies, simmer than via stovetop- usually add some diced tomatoes so your veggies don't end up too dry. Then stuff into a doughy pocket and bake until light golden brown, a little crispy, and presto!, your dinner is served.

Now, the College version includes chopping some zucchini, potatoes, and onion. Throw them in a pan and saute with a teaspoon of oil for about 10 mins. Add a drained can of diced tomatoes, whatever seasonings you love (plus salt and pepper to taste), simmer another 5 mins. Bust out the rolled-up pie crusts (refrigerated, then sat at room temps for about 15 mins), cut them in half. Or totally attempt making your own easy pie-crusts! Stuff the pie-crusts with your cooked mixture, press the edges closed (a fork helps), cut a slit in the top for aeration, and back in the oven at 350ish for about 20-30 minutes.

*If pie-crusts are too sweet of a flavoring for your hearty veggies, I've experimented with buying those big Pillsbury Grands (buttery version!) biscuits and rolling them out to desired size.

I also experimented with adding chopped sweet potato in the veggie mix, and a good dose of turmeric and cilantro. Onions and turmeric marry together well. If you don't have time for potatoes, or don't usually keep many in the house, substituting a 3/4 cup of frozen potatoes o'brien has worked for my recipes a few times and give it some added pizazz with small bits of red and green bell peppers.

When they're all baked and golden brown, your dinner is done. Plus, these pockets reheat well for tomorrow's lunch. If you have some leftover filling, it makes a great topper over rice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tabbouleh This, Tabbouleh That

Tabbouleh This, Tabbouleh That

On my never-ending quest for quick, easy, and tastefully scrumptious lunches (i.e. Not microwavable plastic-wrapped particles), I realized Tabbouleh was the treasure I had yet to discover. Sure, most people make this as an appetizer, or a side item to a dinner. It can fulfill many other niches in your lunching life.

But the time is now, to reclaim your vegetarian taste-buds (yes, that includes sans fake-bacon). Quite a few people have been appalled at the sad fact that most dehydrated bacon toppings are in fact made of soy (ahem, Betty Crocker's Bac-os). Which technically makes them vegan, right? I, myself, am appalled because the mere flavor of bacon conjures to mind an image of "Zuckerman's Famous Pig" Wilbur.

Wilbur aside, tabbouleh is a great dish that you can rework in hundreds of ways. Tabbouleh is pretty much a salad, usually encompassing a variety of *Fresh* herbs and/or lettuces, veggies, and pretty commonly tossed with quinoa (a protein rich rice slash pasta). Cookbook photographs I've seen usually include the all-American salad ingredients: tomato and cucumber, and usually without the freshly chopped herbs. But I've learned some fresh chopped mint leaves, cilantro, and basil, can make crunchier veggies all the more appetizing.

Cook your couscous, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and toss with some colorful chopped veggies. Viola! It's awesome. It can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days and provides a hearty side, or work-day meal without reheating per the microwave. Oh, and don't forget the chick peas (aka garbanzo beans) either, they marry well with the quinoa and lemon juice.