Aunt Judy’s Veggie Meatloaf

One of my favorite cooks growing up was my godmother, Aunt Judy. She made the best veggie meatloaf and potato salad. All throughout college whenever there was a potluck after church, I would make this meatloaf and it would be a big hit. Soon, it was pretty much the only thing I would make for dinners that I was invited to, and I did this for two reasons. One, its pretty easy/inexpensive to make; and two, it would give me something to eat at the dinner since it would generally be the only vegetarian dish.

Soo here are the ingredients and I must warn you again that I’m not really good with measurements. I usually just put what looks good to me so forgive me if the teaspoon/tablespoon/cups are a little vague. Also you should know that there are two ways to make it..For bigger crowds, I use Morningstar Griller Crumbles but if it’s a small group, I use the regular Morningstar Grillers and just smash them up with a fork (and it tastes a lil better too). And be careful not to get Griller Prime! I am NOT a fan of that one. Since I made this for just the husband and I, I used the original grillers as pictured below:

note: To smash it up, I heat them in the microwave for like 1 or 2 min and then cut them into fours and then proceed to smash with a fork.

Aunt Judy’s Veggie Meatloaf:

1 bag of crumbles or 4-5 grillers smashed by hand/fork

1 onion or 1/2 of onion

2 eggs

1/2 cup bread crumbs or toast like 3 slices of bread and crumble it up

1/3 cup milk and 1/4 cup water or just enough to even out the dryness of the bread crumbs

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

seasonings (pictured below)

ketchup and sugar for the glaze

Instructions: 1) Sautee onions and meat. 2) Mix meat, onions, seasoning, cheese, eggs, milk, bread crumbs in bowl. 3) Preheat oven 350 degrees. 4) Grease pan (olive oil) and put mixture inside. 5) Mix ketchup and sugar in one bowl and spread on top loaf. 6) Bake for approx 35 min.

note: I use Lactaid milk because of the intolerance thing but you can use real or soy milk if you want. Also, that blue can is Italian bread crumbs.

Mixing everything together..mmm lol

The above seasonings are what I put in pretty much everything including regular salt and black pepper (not pictured)

ketchup and brown sugar mixture..I think I put too much sugar though

Note: Whenever I cook, I have a thing about using as few dishes as possible; so as soon as I put the mixture into the baking dish, I rinsed out the bowl and put the ketchup in it to mix.

I will also share one of my good friend’s recipe for quick and easy candied yams:

^^Found in frozen vegetable section at Walmart

Boil 1 or 2 cups of water with 1 or 2 cups of brown sugar and include a dash of each of the above ingredients: cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, butter, ginger. Pour syrup-like substance over the yam patties and put in oven 350 for about 25 to 30 min. I like mine super soft so I keep it in there until I see it boil.

Can’t have those two dishes without some kinda rice dish right?

Make rice separately (follow box instructions). Put beans, onions and seasonings in another pot and cook for a little. Then mix the two and you have a complete meal!

As you can see I made some frozen brocoli in the corner, so I did have some green in there. The rice was actually leftovers from a previous dinner so the whole meal didn’t take too long to prepare. This veggie meatloaf is one of my favorite dishes like ever, I never get tired of making or eating it and I have my Aunt Judy to thank for that! Hopefully, one of you will enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

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Good Morning Love!

I love John Legend’s voice. It’s so soothing..I’m not a great breakfast cooker but I want to share a simple thing I do. I must warn you that it’s nothing extremely creative and is actually pretty ordinary but its the simple things right.

This past Sunday I had the chance to sleep in a little and when I woke up, I decided to make these croissants with links also known as pig in the blankets. My husband and I both had tests on Monday so we were in for a long day and night of studying. Being a grad student/newlywed I find myself constantly tired. Nobody tells you about this beforehand..it’s definitely not in the university brochures or marriage manual (if there is such thing as one). Anyways, this is one of my comfort foods before and after studying.

   

The hot chocolate was a nice touch..just missing marshmallows. Does anyone know if they have gelatin-free marshmallows? I enjoyed these very much before my tedious study session. But now midterms are over, we have a very brief break before the craziness of November projects and finals in the beginning of December. Does anyone wanna share their favorite comfort foods?

Failed Experiments and the Law of Substitutions

Today, I will share with you some of my past mistakes in an effort to educate and hopefully prevent others from doing the same. I’ve said it before that I don’t like buying obscure ingredients like couscous that I won’t use more than once. But there are some ingredients in recipes that probably are there for a reason…

Black Bean Cakes:

Supposed to look like this,

Turned out like this:

I got this recipe from a yahoo article: Black Bean Cake Recipe

As you can see, my “cakes” turned out to be black bean mush..I tried to make them look pretty by sprinkling some leftover crispy fried onions on top. However, and I hate to say it, they still looked like poo. The white powdery stuff on it is the flour and it turns out just putting flour on something doesn’t automatically make it crispy.

What went wrong, you ask? The recipe was fairly simple..however, it called for 5 large eggs. And when I looked in my fridge, all I had was basically everything else. So I googled cooking without eggs and I found something about using baking powder as a substitute on some random website. It didn’t work..at least not for this but I made some box red velvet cupcakes without eggs and they turned out pretty good but they tasted more like brownies.

The black bean things didn’t taste too bad, just tasted like refried beans..with flour on it. The recipe also called for panko which I’m still not exactly sure what it is or where I could get it. Now is a good time to introduce the law.

The Law of Substitutions states that if you do not have a specific ingredient required for your meal, it is completely acceptable to substitute using similar or, if necessary, multiple ingredients to complete the meal. That doesn’t sound as eloquent as I was trying to make it but you get the idea. However, in the case of major ingredients such as eggs, the Law of Substitutions does not apply. It does apply for seasonings like instead of mustard powder I use a combination of onion and garlic powder. And of course since I’m vegetarian, I substitute meat with either Morningstar “meat” or leave it out all together. I also don’t like the sound of heavy cream so if a recipe asks for it, I just use the half and half that’s in my fridge.

I have another failed experiment to share but it wasn’t because of substituting, it was just a lack-of-common-sense type of mistake. I love potatoes..mashed, fried, sweet, scalloped. So I decided to try this au gratin recipe I found online:   Potatoes Au Gratin Recipe

Turned out like this:

<—This is the complete meal with the spinach tart from my last post, MorningStar Patties, and Texas Toast.

It looks decent right? Let me tell ya, the potatoes were hard as rocks! The recipe calls for you to cut the potatoes raw and put them with the rest of the ingredients in the oven for a total of 50 min. I don’t know if it was the type of potatoes that I bought or what but after heating and re-heating, the potatoes were not as soft as I would have liked them to be. The sauce was good but now I know that next time I will boil the potatoes for a little bit so that they are softer before I cut them.

As I said before, this is a learning experience and I am learning a lot on this journey. Soon I will be a masterful culinary artist! *wishful thinking*

Cookbooks: A love/hate relationship

I own several cookbooks and I’ll list all of them on here sometime..One of my policies is that I never buy anything at the grocery store that I will only use once unless it’s for a special occasion like a dinner party or holiday. Alright, that’s phrased kinda weird..what I mean to say is that I look for recipes that use things that are already in my pantry or if I buy it, I know that I can use it again in another meal..like butter.

I also believe in the Law of Substitutions which mostly came from my mother, but at times, this law can work against you. I will explain the law in another post, but first I have something to get off my chest..

Here is where the love/hate comes in: I love the creativity and diversity of cookbooks and above all, I love the pictures! BUT I hate that I have to search the high heavens for “special” ingredients or buy special kitchen utensils and appliances like a blender or electric mixer (side note: I specifically used a blender as an example because it was on our registry and no one bought it for us so I’m slightly bitter). And above all, I hate that my version of the meal looks nothing like the glossy pictures!

The above cookbook is one of my favorites to love/hate. I picked it up at Barnes and Nobles from the sale table (another philosophy of mine, never buy anything that’s not on sale)..I have tried and failed several recipes from this book but I keep coming back for more in hopes of actually creating something that will impressed people (and by people, I mean my meat-eating husband and myself). It hasn’t been all bad..I have “mastered” some of its recipes. Like the one I am sharing with you today: Cheese and Spinach Tart. As you can see from the pictures, this is very gourmet-lookin stuff..after further research, I’ve found that there is actually a career or art form in food photography! There’s a technique involved! Upon this discovery, I have since decided to not feel bad and to stop comparing my creations with that of the pictures. However, there should be some disclaimer or warning on the inside cover like: The objects in this book are not as they seem when you make them at home (or something more clever). Ok I digress.

Below is the pretty picture with the relatively simple instructions for the tart, I’ve also included a pdf file in case you would like to try this at home:

cheeseandspinach  <—click the hyperlink for the full recipe

The following pictures are my attempts at recreating this tart:

First of all I don’t own a roller, so I used this lovely shot glass to roll out the dough. Also, the dough part required “mustard powder” which I don’t have so I used a lil onion powder and garlic powder (see Law of Substitutions).

I also don’t own a circular baking pan like the one in the picture

Voila! The finished product! Now, the recipe calls for you to cut the remaining dough with a “lattice pastry cutter”..So in comparison, I think I came pretty close right?

All in all, it ended up tasting pretty good. Kinda like a spinach quiche and the dough tasted like pot pie crust. We ate it with instant mashed potatoes (since I didn’t feel like making anything else lol) and my husband said it was good. Ya hear that fancy cookbook people?! I don’t need your stupid lattice cutter!

Some professionals might say that cooking is also about presentation and I agree that presentation does make food look and consequently taste better (in some cases). But to those of us who aren’t that great on the presentation side of things, I say find an awesome food photographer in your area and maybe he can make it look better 😉

That’s it for now, remember to eat and be merry!

(Ok seriously, does anyone have any suggestions on a good signing off catch phrase? Cuz that is not the one)

Quick and Easy

For my first food-related post, I’ve decided to share with you my quick go-to “recipes” that I use..usually on Fridays (btw I put recipes in quotes because not all of them are exactly homemade). Let me explain my schedule real quick: I have classes Monday, Wednesday, Friday; and on Mon and Wed, I stay at school late and get home late. So my husband and I have an agreement that I cook on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and the weekends are up for grabs. (I usually end up cooking Saturday too) The other days are for leftovers or fastfood (since I’m just realizing how much my husband does not like leftovers, but that will be another post for another time.)

On Fridays, I get back from class around 1:30pm and do the cleaning, laundry, etc. I am usually exhausted from the entire week so I try to make a quick meal. A few of my Friday go-to meals are as follows:

baked potatoes with chili or baked beans

frozen pizza

haystacks (I will show a picture later but for those who aren’t familiar..they are also called “frito pies”)

hot dogs (Loma Linda’s Big Franks)

instant mashed potatoes, brown gravy from packet, and Morningstar Grillers with onion

Those are just a few choices..and I know what you’re thinking: that sounds really unhealthy. And I’m not gonna argue..I said “quick and easy” not necessarily super healthy. And I usually add some broccoli, spinach, or salad to each meal.

My veggie meats of choice are all from the Morningstar Farms brand as seen above. I admit that I am a Morningstar fanatic. The product is made out of soy beans and other organic ingredients. They can be a little heavy on the sodium but taste soo good. Let me go ahead and translate some veggie meat terms from Morningstar since some of you might not know:

Grillers- hamburgers (also comes in Griller Crumbles- ground meat)

Stripples- baconlike strips

Chik’n Patties- chickenlike patties (also comes in Chik’n Strips and Chik’n Nuggets)

Patties- sausage patties

Links- sausage links..and the list goes on but those are the main ones I use. They can be found in the freezer section at Walmart or most grocery stores. Sometimes it’s near the frozen breakfast stuff and sometimes its near the frozen vegetables.

Quick and Easy #1 Griller Hamburgers

We received a Panini grill as a wedding present and didn’t really think that we would use it that often. But it turns out a Panini grill can be used for more than just a Panini! We put the frozen grillers on it and then we made the hamburger (lettuce, cheese, etc) and put the whole hamburger on the grill and pressed it (hence the grill marks on the bun). Turned out awesome!

Quick and Easy #2 Fajitas

This just takes onion, bell pepper (yellow, red, green), Morningstar Chikn strips, and taco or fajita sauce from packet (can be found next to the gravy in the store). I like to put it in flour tortillas with lettuce and shredded cheese.

Quick and Easy #3 Bird’s Eye Teriyaki Stir Fry

This pic was actually taken after my husband took his share but it is really quite filling. Bird’s Eye frozen Teriyaki Stir Fry is a frozen mix of noodles and vegetables and includes a packet of teriyaki sauce (found at Walmart). Once you put it all in the frying pan it takes 20 to 25 min tops. I usually add some soy sauce and seasoning but it is really good by itself also. I also make some instant white rice to complete the meal.

Quick and Easy #4 Cheese and Mushroom Quesadillas

I cut up regular mushrooms and green onion, saute in the frying pan with a little olive oil. Place the mixture with pepper jack shredded cheese in a flour tortilla sandwich and place it on our infamous Panini grill (as seen above) and press! I like to eat them with some salsa or sour cream.

Welp, those are a few of my go-to meals..I apologize for the quality of pics, right now I’m only using my phone camera because it is convenient. Maybe if I start getting more viewers I’ll be more professional with these pictures lol.

Well, Bon Apetit is taken so I’m still on the search for a cool catch phrase..maybe I’ll think of one before the next post.

Welcome World!

I have recently taken a liking to this blogging business but I’m not sure about food blogging..apparently I have a lot to learn as shown by the book above. I do know that I’ve always found it easier to express myself through writing than any other outlet. I’ve entitled this “Food Therapy” because the basis of this blog will be vegetarian recipes that I have found or created and I will also include anecdotes or lessons I’ve learned. Being a newlywed, my husband and I discussed prior to marriage that I would be the cook of the house and considering I have only cooked for myself for the past 5 plus years, there is a challenge ahead. Did I mention that my husband is a meat-eater?

I have several disclaimers to make before starting:

1. I am not a professional cook or chef. I have no background in cooking nor have I ever been to a culinary institute.

2. Generally, I don’t use measurements when cooking..I kinda go off instinct or what looks about right, which usually leads to a trial by error approach. But I have received compliments on my cooking from family and friends if that helps.

3. I am not a really healthy vegetarian. I am what is called lacto-ovo-vegetarian, I eat cheese, milk, eggs etc. I try to cut back since I’m slightly lactose intolerant (who isn’t these days?) but none the less, I’m not a tofu or soy milk fanatic. My mom always said I was weird because I was a vegetarian who didn’t like vegetables. Which isn’t true..I always try to incorporate some kind of green in each meal.

Welp, that’s it for now. I have to think of a cool catch phrase to say at the end of these posts…