Meatless Monday Recipes for Starters!

IMG_20140916_203133One of my favorites: Spinach, Feta & Potato Gratin with Carrot Salad (#4 below)

 

I started doing Meatless Mondays after watching the documentary Food, Inc. and continued research into America’s farm industry. If you haven’t seen the documentary on Netflix, here are the highlights. My mother grew up on a farm; her family raised their own cattle, pigs and chickens, which were slaughtered by a local butcher. She would tell me how the cows were like dogs, with big brown eyes and wagging tails. Betsy lived a good life before her slaughter. Those days seem to be long gone, and Americans are eating more meat than ever. To keep up with this demand, the family farm has transformed into the industrial farm.

What really bothers me most about industrial farming is the conditions animals are kept in, and the fact that they are not respected as animals, but are considered food from day one. They stand in their own manure, live in cramped areas, eat food unnatural to them, and are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. We are becoming too far removed from what we eat. There are also many other reason’s (more facts & sources) for going meatless: the environment, your health, and the welfare of farmers.

As much as Food, Inc. and other documentaries (Forks over Knives, Vegucated, Fresh) have convinced me that there are a multitude of issues surrounding meat production, I still love meat. Especially bacon. I’m an omnivore, and I don’t think I can change that. So, instead of beating myself up about not being a vegetarian, I decided that Meatless Monday was my answer. It has now progressed into about 2-3 days per week where our dinner contains no meat.

Most of the recipes here were successful for me and my meat-loving significant other for one BIG reason: we did not substitute the meat. No soy crumbles, garden burgers, or tofu. We just embraced the dishes we loved without meat. And boy were we surprised!!! Here are our favorites so far…

*most all of these are on my Pinterest boards

  1.  French Onion Soup with Gruyere-Sourdough Bites and a side salad
  2. Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole and Pioneer Woman’s Fresh Green Beans
  3. Nachos with cheese, black beans, refried beans, Mexican rice, avocado, pico de gallo, and sour cream
  4. Spinach, Feta & Potato Gratin and Carrot Salad
  5. Southern Dinner (one of my faves!): Pintos, cornbread or hoe cakes, yellow squash & onions, and greens. I do not have recipes posted for these, but if you want them, just comment below or search on Pinterest or the internet.
  6. Quesadillas with goat cheese, spinach, & caramelized onions and a side of black bean or corn salsa and sliced avocado
  7. Paula Deen’s Corn Casserole and a vegetarian chili
  8. Eggplant Parmesan with spaghetti and a side salad
  9. Homemade pizza (the vegetable & cheese topping combinations are endless!)
  10. Mediterranean “Tacos”: pita, hummus, artichokes, red onion, black olives, feta cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce & Greek dressing
  11. Caprese Summer Salad with Cannellini Beans and baguette
  12. Pad See Ew or Pad Thai without the meat
  13. Cheese Ravioli with Lemon Basil Butter Sauce and a side salad
  14. Vegetarian curry with noodles, rice or Naan bread (there are a bazillion recipes for these! My favorites are Thai and Indian)
  15. Cuban Black Beans & Rice and Spicy Sweet Roasted Butternut Squash
  16. Vegetable Kabobs with baked beans and macaroni & cheese
  17. Thai Coconut Soup  (without the chicken) and vegetable spring rolls or dumplings

That is all for now! I will be updating this page as I develop new favorites! For me, the key to getting on board with meatless was to embrace the dishes you already love instead of trying to substitute with fake meat. Think of it as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without the ham or turkey. We all love those sides and veggies, and I often wish during Thanksgiving that I could just load up on green bean casserole, cheesy squash, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and cranberry sauce without even touching the turkey. Maybe give it a try once a week and see how it goes?

Please feel free to share your favorite meatless meals in the comments below!

 

Advertisements

Flatbread Pizza Night!

PhotoGrid_1396981469454

As part of my Snack Night Initiative , I bring to you…make-your-own flatbread pizza night simplicity! This has to be one of the easiest, most versatile recipe ideas. All you need is a pack of flatbreads and some toppings! In the colder months I make these on the pizza stone in my oven, but in the summer try throwing them on the grill!

Here are some of my favorite combinations:

  • Tomato, fresh basil, red onion & mozzarella
  • Ricotta, baby spinach leaves, garlic & red pepper flakes
  • BBQ sauce, grilled chicken, Gouda cheese, pineapple, jalapeno, red onion & cilantro
  • Marinara sauce, Italian sausage, sweet peppers, onions & mozzarella
  • Goat cheese, roasted zucchini & squash, garlic, fresh parsley & Parmesan cheese
  • Marinara sauce, roasted eggplant, sweet peppers, mozzarella & Parmesan cheeses
  • Ricotta, bacon, caramelized onions & roasted red peppers

20140308_203242

What can you come up with?

French Onion Soup with Gruyère-Sourdough Bites

frenchonionsoup

I recently endeavored to learn how to make French onion soup before the winter was complete. Apparently I didn’t need to rush because we just had an ice storm yesterday. Yes, this is weird for North Carolina. Proof: today it is 65 degrees. So, I decided it wasn’t too late to post this delicious recipe, in case those of you with extended winters (unusual or not) would like to make French onion soup before it warms up too much outside.

While I searched and searched for the best French onion soup recipe, I noted the major differences between most recipes. Some use one type of onion, while others use 2-3 types. Also, some use either white wine & chicken stock or red wine & beef stock. I decided to opt for a hearty flavor in my French onion soup: 3 types of onions, red wine & beef stock it is! I also noticed that the traditional way of serving it was topped with French bread and Swiss cheese. I altered these to fit my tastes–Gruyère cheese and  sourdough bread.

onions

Ingredients:

-2 tbsp butter
-2 large Vidalia sweet onions, chopped
-2 medium yellow onions, chopped
-2 leeks, white parts only, chopped
-48 oz beef stock (1 1/2 boxes if using Swanson; homemade preferred)
-1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
-2 bay leaves
-1 tbsp thyme
-fresh parsley
-salt & pepper
-sourdough bread (not sandwich bread; in the store bakery section)
-shredded Gruyère cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat Dutch oven to medium and melt butter. Add in the onions and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Do not stir the onions too often. You want them to stick to the bottom and make yummy brown bits. It takes at least 30 minutes to caramelize onions–don’t try to rush this step!
  2. Scraping up the brown bits, pour in the red wine and stock. Add the bay leaves & thyme. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. While simmering, place the sourdough slices topped with Gruyère into the broiler to toast. Once finished, remove from oven & cut into bite-sized cubes.
  4. Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Pour soup into bowl, topping with cheesy sourdough bites & fresh parsley.