Getting Your Cooking Groove Back

IMG_2519As I mentioned in my last post, I had hit a wall with my cooking. The vegetarian aspect only made it slightly more challenging. I took some time off from fretting about it, then I was ready to move forward. Time to get the cooking mojo back. Like anything you do regularly, it’s easy to get tired of it or frustrated with it. Exercise routines, work, dinner. All things that can quickly run into a rut which makes you want to give in completely. Sometimes you need to take a break or try something new to get your inspiration back.

I combed through these cookbooks, checked blog posts I had liked, and gave some thought to what would taste good to come up with some new dinner ideas.

Here’s the list of what I’ve got on the cooking docket.

Wednesday night I made a (another) tasty rice casserole from the Super Natural Every Day cookbook by Heidi Swanson. It had cottage cheese, wild rice, and chopped mushrooms in it which made it rich and meaty. It was topped with Gruyere cheese which made a crispy, cheesy topping. Everyone liked it, no one knew there were mushrooms in it. Definitely a win.

Coming up next is an Asparagus Quiche with Goat Cheese. I try very hard to stick with in-season, locally grown produce. But I spied some tasty asparagus in the grocery store and couldn’t resist. It will still be a few weeks before we see any asparagus here. And we’ve got to eat. This will make a lovely dinner and I can carry the leftovers to work for lunch. Or breakfast. Goat cheese is good for any meal.

Deborah Madison doesn’t write a bad recipe, so I’m looking forward to trying some Cabbage Parcels with Sweet and Sour Sauce. However, the filling seems a little labor intensive for weeknight cooking and I’ve got several cups of cooked wild rice leftover from the rice casserole. So my plan is to create my own riff on the filling while using her recipe for sauce and cooking method. After I give this a whirl I’ll share the recipe and let you know how it turned out.

Black bean burgers are also on this week’s Must Eat list. I’ll googled around until I found this recipe from Sandra Lee. Based on the comments, the recipe looks pretty solid. I may not make it exactly as written, but I’ll let you know what I do and how it turns out. I like the idea that it comes with instant leftovers for another meal.

In my back pocket for when the weather gets warm (IF the weather ever gets warm!) I’ve got some taco recipes that I’d like to try. And I’ll be so glad when some salads come back into the rotation! Salad is great but I crave hot food in the winter. I’m also looking forward to having this for lunch this week. It definitely looks like one of those meals I could eat many days in a row until I make myself absolutely sick on it.

Here are the cookbooks I’m using for inspiration. Do you have a favorite cookbook? A favorite vegetarian cookbook?

How do you get out of a cooking rut? What are you cooking these days?

See where I began here. Post your ideas on Twitter using #40dayvegetarian. And checkout my other blog, 3oclockproject!



Vegetarian Hits & Misses

By jammmick [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Swiss Chard! By jammmick [CC-BY-2.0 (
licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 My better half has complained that all he can find on the road is a vegetable plate. I don’t doubt that’s true. But I don’t think that’s what most vegetarians eat on a daily basis. In the summer a plate of tomatoes with mozzarella and basil can certainly make a great meal. But we’re still in the grasp of winter. We need food that is hot and sticks to your ribs.

This weekend I set out to prove that the vegetable plate is not our only option. And most of what I made was great! Not every recipe can be great one, meat or no meat. Here’s what we’ve eaten lately and what we would make again.

Friday night I made a great Broccoli, Cheese, and Wild Rice Casserole from smitten kitchen. It was hot, tasty, easy, and everyone loved it! I served it with a simple green salad. Highly recommend.

Saturday night we celebrated our anniversary with dinner at Bonefish Grill. I hadn’t had any fish since Lent began so I was glad to have the opportunity to enjoy some trout.

Sunday night I rolled out another new recipe. Let’s just say this one won’t be going into the dinner rotation. I had seen this recipe for Tortilla Espanola in the March 2014 issue of Cooking Light.  I chose it because it was a recipe tested by kids, they had rated it very highly, and since Cooking Light is one of my go-to sources for tasty, healthy recipes. We ate and were glad to have it. But, without putting too fine a point on it, it was gross. You can’t win ’em all.

I was hopeful I could redeem myself Tuesday with something tasty and this Healthy Mexican Casserole with Roasted Corn and Peppers from a pinch of yum was definitely a WIN! Yummy and hot, creamy and cheesy, it was perfect on a cold night. It was great Mexican food without being heavy or greasy. While my daughter did pick out all the peppers and assemble a tiny mountain of them to the side of the plate, she also ate it without complaint. It will make great leftovers too! The only thing I would change is the size. The recipe is for a 9×13 baking dish. When I make it again for our little tribe of three I will make two 8×8 pans and freeze one. Then we would have one set aside to eat later or to share with another family when we need to take a meal.

I’m planning to make some tomato soup later this week, but otherwise I think we’ll finish up the few leftovers we have from the last few meals. Sadly, I think the leftover Tortilla Espanola will languish in the back of the fridge unless I get desperate for lunch.

What have you made lately? Any hits? Misses? Where do you find the best new recipes to try?

Check out some other wins here. Use #40dayvegetarian to share your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. You can also check out my other blog on tumblr!

It’s Not Summer Yet Salad and Other Things

Salad!I made Joy the Baker’s  It’s Not Summer Yet Greek Pasta Salad tonight and it is sooooo good! She’s right, it’s not summer yet, but we’ve had a few summery days and this pasta salad is perfect for a light lunch or dinner. Add a few shrimp or a pita sandwich and you’ve got a nice meal.

It’s been fairly crazy around here so there hasn’t been much cooking. I did make Smitten Kitchen’s Stuck Pot Rice Sunday and it was great! I would definitely add the recipe to my regular cooking rotation. I think it would be even better with additional spices. We managed the last five days with that one meal, cheese plates, Qdoba, and leftovers. I’m looking forward to making something new to eat this weekend!

As easy as it has been for us here at home, my other half travels for work most weeks and he has been struggling to find things to eat. Currently he’s staying in a one horse town with very few options for food, much less meatless. Do any of you vegetarians have suggestions for eating on the road? There’s not even a grocery store in the town where he’s staying, so it’s hard to cobble something together in desperation.

If you have trouble finding meatless meals here’s another post you might like from milesforthought!

Check out where I started here. And follow along on Twitter using #40dayvegetarian.

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