Vegetarian

Kimchi Kimbap

Kimchi kimbap is some real Korean home cooking for me. The original recipe more people are familiar with is colorful and has lot of ingredients, which means it takes a lot more time to assemble.

This version is made for a quick meal that uses the sour, delicious, umami infused kimchi that's been fermenting for a while in the fridge. I add the green onions for color, but really you could even leave that out. I also don't use a dipping sauce, which is why I flavor the rice. I know these rolls look like Japanese sushi, but there is no wasabi in sight when I make my Korean kimbap. 

Kimchi Kimbap

Korean Spicy Potato Stew

Ahhhhh. Sick season. 

I'd like to blame having to take public transportation for my most recent sickness, especially since I haven't been honestly sick in many MANY years until I started taking the bus to work, but who knows where it really comes from. 

This is Korean comfort food, reminding me of the times my momma made this when anyone was sick in the house. The amount of ginger and garlic is insane, as it should be when fighting off viruses. The spiciness is also important. Even if you're not feeling ill, eat this for preventative measures, and heck, add some kimchi on the side if you got it. I can honestly say I eat mouthfuls of kimchi out of the jar when I'm feeling just a little under the weather. Heals me every time.  

Korean Spicy Potato Stew

Bokkeumbap - Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is a staple in my home. With an occupancy of two and a half - the half being of the canine variety - I sometimes make too much rice. I can feel "the look" from the husband as I'm typing this ... so let's replace sometimes with always have and always will. 

We're friends, so let me give you some advice: never throw away leftover cooked rice. There's no reason. You can add it into soup, maybe mix a bunch of chimichurri with it, and most importantly, you can make bokkeumbap. 

This dish just so happens to go together beautifully with the soy sauce ginger chicken I made in the last post. And I know what you're thinking. Where the heck is the egg on top?! While I also adopt the #putaneggonit philosophy, when it comes to real home cooking, I don't always feel the need to make my dishes how they're photographed on the internet. Especially since we didn't always have a perfect sunny-side up egg served on top when I was a kiddo. I'm goin' old school. 

Bokkeumbap - Kimchi Fried Rice

Updated Bibimbap

Whenever I say bibimbap to someone that's unfamiliar with Korean food, almost immediately they react with a series of repetitions of "bee-bee-bee", "bee-pid-ee-boo", and "bee-boo-boo". All have a question mark at the end. 

This dish is made on the regular in my home. The traditional concept is the same -  think of this as an "everything but the kitchen sink" kind of meal - but I tend to use fresher ingredients with lettuce and cucumbers. It's morphed into a bit of a rice salad I suppose. 

The vegetarian husband loves this because it's still delicious omitting any animal protein. As long as there is rice, gochujang, and an egg on top, it's bibimbap to me.

Updated Bibimbap

Tteokguk - Vegetarian Rice Cake Soup

Spelling Korean words with autocorrect is the best.

I'm giving this a big 'ol vegetarian label because you'll mostly see this is made with beef to enhance the broth. The soup is also usually enjoyed on Korean New Year to bring good luck and to seal the deal of being a year older. But heck, I'm one to break tradition and would like to receive my good luck any time on the calendar. 

Rice cakes ... can be weird if you're not used to it. Just like tofu, it's best eaten seasoned in a dish instead of by itself. In this soup, they soak up all the flavor and turn into fluffy clouds. 

Tteokguk - Vegetarian Rice Cake Soup

Baked Tofu and Broccoli with Garlic Rice

This meal does have a lot of Korean ingredients, but I wouldn't call it a traditional recipe. I wouldn't even call it fusion. It's really a staple in my home's collection of go-to recipes for a weeknight meal. It's healthier than another frozen pizza, delicious and doesn't make you feel like the Pillsbury doughboy after you eat it.

Speaking of health, I think sometimes we forget just how powerful veggies are. Like with broccoli for instance that's become so common, we overlook how good it is for you. I mean how healthy is it? Well-Being Secrets posted this article with extensive research on broccoli, showing that it's actually more unique than we think. Trust that we could all probably eat more of it, and it's a purposeful ingredient in this meal.  

Baked Tofu and Broccoli with Garlic Rice

Kimchi Pajeon - Korean Pancake

When my husband decided he wanted to change to a vegetarian lifestyle, my mother was stumped. She was concerned, and still is to this day, that there woudn't be enough for him to eat at our family gatherings, or when she came over to drop off food in fear that we were starving. Then we remembered the beloved savory Korean pancake. Success! 

This pancake is not sweet in any way, and is actually great with pretty much any combo of ingredients you'd want to try, like seafood. The base of this dish is in the translation of the name: Pa (green onions) jeon (flour type batter). Mine are thicker and  fluffy - because I use club soda, sorry mom! - with a crispy edge. I usually add tons of garlic and other pungent ingredients to my food, but the sour kimchi takes care of all of that. 

Kimchi Pajeon - Korean Pancake

Portobello Mushroom Casserole

This is one of those dishes you don't need to reserve for the holidays. It's a perfect companion to the Thanksgiving table because it's a satisfying hug in a dish. But really, these flavors are perfect for any gray day - every day here in Seattle minus two weeks - so I like to make this year round. 

Portobello Mushroom Casserole

Spiced Tofu and Carrots

Sometimes I just can't. I've worked a full day retouching images in the dark. The bus was way too packed, which made an odd odor. And I forgot to eat breakfast, so I had an early lunch and now I'm starving for dinner. I think about takeout, or a burger. Or better yet! Order a pizza because I can use the app so I don't actually have to talk to someone. 

Then my stomach reminds me that I need to put that phone down and march into the kitchen, because she feels queasy every time I go down this road. After a quick argument I agree - she's always right - and look for something quick and easy. That's usually when I use lots of spices, put everything on one tray, and pop the food in the oven so there's the least amount of fuss possible. 

Spiced Tofu and Carrots

Crispy Hash Browns

I'll cut to the chase. Grate your potatoes if you want crispy hash browns that cook all the way through. That's the secret. 

Just like the biscuits we've made together that uses grated butter, this simple recipe - is it even a recipe if there are only 3 ingredients? - bows down to the grater that's usually an overlooked tool in the big ol' kitchen drawer. 

I will say the best thing about these hash browns is the fact that it takes less time to make than cooking store-bought frozen potatoes. I've stood in front of the stove for too long, too many times, before I learned my lesson that frozen potatoes never get crispy. NEVER. At least for me anyways.

Crispy Hash Browns

Veggie Patties

Having a vegetarian husband, when I'm a meat eater, has been interesting. We've figured out how have meals together, and even though I eat less meat now, I'm able to buy higher quality steaks, when I have cavewoman cravings. 

But the biggest thing I've taken note of is the "fake meats" sold in grocery stores. In the beginning when I was trying out vegetarianism too - obviously didn't stick - we thought we were making the healthier choice if there were no animal products in the ingredients. We were wrong. So wrong. And we only found this out after we started reading the labels months latter. I never thought so many chemicals magically combined could make something taste like beef. Gross.

So here is a veggie patty that isn't supposed to mimic meat but is hearty enough to be used in a burger. 

Veggie Patties

Spaghetti with Alfredo, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Basil

I get tired of cooking even though I have a food blog. I can power through making work lunches or whipping out a meal from the empty fridge, but sometimes I hit a wall. Hard. 

Truthfully, this round lacking of motivation came from googling how many blogs exist online. For the love of Queen Bey, I'm still really not sure why I did that. I'm the first one to slap the mouse from the WebMD addict, but seeing 27 MILLION on my screen made me panic a little. 

I went into existential crisis mode - no need to worry about me, this happens a couple times a year - boiling down why anyone would want to be a tiny sardine in an unpredictable ocean. 

Writing this post means I got my bearings back. My husband requested a simple meal we usually make on a weeknight for his birthday. He's not a complicated person, which is why I think his food preference reflects that. I wanted to get back in that kitchen, but he let me know that it was also ok if we needed to order out again. 

I said a big "screw that" and off I went to the pantry. 

Spaghetti with Alfredo, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Basil

Potato, Green Bean, and Olive Salad

The side dishes I love to make are the ones that I can throw together pretty easily. Yea, if you're kitchen is empty - I mean really empty, not "I can't find anything to wear when you have a closet full of clothes" empty - then you are a salmon out of luck. But that's why stocking your fridge and pantry with staples makes home cooking easy. 

So I'm putting down a recipe for this salad, but really you can take the measurements and even the ingredients into your own hands. Here's how I map my decision: Start with something that's cheap but the substantial part of the salad (roasted potatoes) add a crunchy veggie (fresh green beans) mix in something briny (olives) add fresh herbs (parsley) and finish with a light dressing (mustard). Side dish. Done. 

Potato, Green Bean, and Olive Salad

Vegetarian Gravy

Ahhh, the gravy. The bow that ties everything together in a meal. 

Usually, you see this made with all of the bits from roasted meats or the odds and ends of whatever animal of choice. Although delicious, that's not an option for the vegetarian husband of mine. Heck, we could just not make it. Creamy mashed potatoes stand on their own ground as far as I'm concerned. 

But if you're a lover of gravy, the absence of it will be greatly noticed. So, I give you here the gravy that is vegetarian and honestly great for anyone sitting at the table. 

Vegetarian Gravy

Sage, Celery, and Walnut Stuffing

Stuffing. The second most important thing - arguably the first - on the table during the day of thanks. Unfortunately, the pressure to be a star can make this dish fall short. Too dry? No thank you. Too mushy? Bleck. The biggest offense? Bland.

So how are we going to get full flavor when this dish is vegetarian. That's right. No animal meat. Even in the broth. We're going to flavor said broth with some umami and use large chunks of veggies and herbs so you can see the ingredients you're eating. 

I always end up using a fresh loaf and dry the bread pieces in the oven. This recipe is still perfect for those of us that remember not to toss the loaf that's a couple days old. 

Sage, Celery, and Walnut Stuffing

Mac and Cheese

This is by far, completely, one-hundred percent, the husband's favorite dish I make for him. Birthdays. Celebrations. Holidays. I know what's a must on the menu. A little friendly heads up that the reason this dish is limited to special occasions, you can guess, is because it takes a few months to work off the caloric intake. 

Meh. Live a little. 

When roux is involved, there is an expectation of difficulty. But, really. It's just melted butter and flour. And I use rice flour because it doesn't usually make clumps. So this recipe's steps are really, make a cheese sauce, put it on cooked pasta, top it with something crunchy and crisp it under the broiler. Easy peasy.  

Mac and Cheese

Pumpkin Curry

It's that time of year again. Where spooky themes are everywhere and mounds of sugar are available around every corner. I'll link to my confession about my childhood relationship to this holiday.

The best thing about this time of year for me is the amount of pumpkins everywhere, in the stores and on the interwebs. Today we're going to use that wonderful fruit - I'll let you google about that yourself - to make a savory and very comforting dish. I'll be the first to admit, the level you can reach with a sugar high around this time of year can be one of the scariest things about this holiday. Feed yourself this curry first to combat the sugar demon child inside you, that unforgivingly crashes when you least expect it.

Pumpkin Curry

Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts

I was a really good eater when I was a kid. Broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms. Bring it on. 

But then there were brussel sprouts. I was so confused how something so cute, that was obviously made as cabbages for dolls, had such a foul smell. When I actually tasted one, the mushy texture caught me by surprise in a negative way.

As with most jarring food memories, we usually discover alternative ways of cooking dishes to our liking and actually become a fan. Or, maybe it's tasting the difference between something fresh instead of in a plastic bag from the freezer aisle, covered in what could be butter. 

Pan Fried Brussel Sprouts

Butternut Squash with Rotini and Ricotta

When the cooler season comes, I tend to turn into a bear eating for hibernation. 

My dishes usually include all things pasta and hearty additions like luxurious butternut squash with pillows of ricotta cheese. What's equally enjoyable for me is using the sage from my garden, because I tend to save them for the holiday months. Running my fingers through this distinct herb in the summer floods my mind with memories of turkey and green bean casserole. With a side of rice and kimchi of course.

This dish can be a show stopper for guests, but is simple to put together for a weeknight meal. 

Butternut Squash with Rotini and Ricotta

Vegetable Lasagna

Nonna, avert your eyes.

I promise no blasphemy of traditional claims will be made. Instead, I just want to share one of the special meals I make for the vegetarian husband. I categorize special as something that takes a little bit of extra time put in, but more importantly, I know that all of the leftovers will be lovingly consumed. 

This dish is also not for the faint at heart when it comes to caloric intake. There's a pound of mozzarella. And I haven't even talked about the creamy ricotta. I guess that would be another reason why this lasagna would be special, as it's a meal to drum up on occasion. Just like Thanksgiving. Kind of. 

Vegetable Lasagna

Endive and Honeycrisp Apple Salad

This is the salad to take to a potluck this fall. 

Full disclosure: I've had really good salads in the past, but I find the harmony of the ingredients to be the same. In this particular recipe, the warmth from the walnuts are married with the creamy goat cheese. The apples dusted with nutmeg make you think of everything Fall, and the endives are dressed with a clean note that ties everything together like a bow. We're ready to party. 

Endive and Honeycrisp Apple Salad

Oven Roasted Carrots

Before I tell you how naturally sweet and delicious this simple recipe is, I have a confession: I used to hate carrots. Before you judge, let me say that my avoidance was the same reason I didn't want anything to do with iceberg lettuce and that tasteless addition of sliced tomato to the salads of my childhood. 

Now, I love to go to the farmer's market in my neighborhood and nab these vibrant beauties. I take a bite of one of the carrots first when they're raw, because sometimes they are so sweet that they don't need the touch of sugar to round out the magical lemon and parsley combo. 

Oven Roasted Carrots