Not Just Tofu

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Recipe: Meatballs and Mushrooms

In Food, meat substitutes, pasta on October 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

While searching for a picture Nate’s Meatless Meatballs, I came across a blog based solely to meat substitutes:  This blog post reviews on a multitude of meat substitutes and has introduced me to new products that I am now looking for. I am not the biggest fan of meat substitutes but every now and again I create a dish that works well with a meat substitute.  Not a lover a meat substitutes?  You could make this recipe with mushrooms only, the whole wheat pasta adds to make this dish very filling. 

One of my favorite substitutes is “Nate’s Meatless Meatballs” which I use to create Meatballs and Mushrooms.  Why does this recipe work?  The combination of mild meatballs and the meaty mushrooms fills that need to have meat, especially for those in transistion.  I took this dish to the office and it received good reviews by meat eaters and those who would like to add vegetarian dishes to their diet.  I hope this works well for you too.

Meatball and Pasta  


  • 4 cups of Whole Wheat Pasta, Cooked
  • 2 caps of Portabello mushrooms, cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cups of Green bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup of Scallions, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 20 Meatless meatballs
  • 1/2 cup of Half and Half
  • 3/4 cup of Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 cup of reserved water from the cooking the pasta
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of flour
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of no-salt seasoning
  • salt and pepper


  1. Large Frying Pan
  2. Wooden Spoon
  3. Measuring Cup
  4. Cutting Board


  1. Heat the olive oil in the frying pan of medium heat
  2. Add to the pan, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, scallions  
  3. Melt butter in the pan after the oil is soaked up
  4. Coat veggies with flour
  5. Slowly stir in  the vegetable broth until a thick rue is made, reduce heat
  6. Trickle in  half and half to the rue, mixing often to make a creamy sauce
  7. If the sauce is too thick, add reserve pasta water a little bit a time
  8. Season with no salt seasoning, salt and pepper
  9. Add the meatballs, cook for 5 minutes
  10. Finally add the cook pasta and continue to cook for 7 to 10 minutes
  11. Top with grated Parmesan cheese


My New Tool

In Cooking Tips, Cool Stuff on October 18, 2010 at 5:22 am

Do you buy PAM cooking spray?  Would you like to save a few bucks?  While shopping at TJ Maxx, I found my solution to buying cooking sprayforever.  Misto Olive Oil Mister allows cooks to turn any oil into a cooking spray. 

Before buying this gadget, I would buy different version of cooking spray.  If I wanted to save a few dimes, I would buy the store brand over the others.  Sometimes I would be annoyed that I didn’t replace the empty can during the process of cooking dinner.  You know what I am talking about. Purchasing a mister allows you to create you own cooking spray with just a few pumps.  The pumping of the oil is also a good stress reliever because when it is ready to be used, it tenses up.  I have used olive oil in my mister, but it could be used for canola oil on a grill pan or vegetable oil when you are baking something that needs a neutral oil.  The possibilities are endless and best of all it is a green gadget.  Not contributing to the ozone let’s me feel that I am doing something right for the earth and my family.  Cooking sprays are an essential to those of us who are trying to lose a few pounds.  Lightly coating your pans instead of flooding them with grease is one easy step with a big payoff. 

I bought my Misto mister for $5.00 in clearance, but have researched this brand on Amazon which goes for about $9.00.  I think if you look around, you will find that they are more popular than you would think.  I give 2 thumbs up to adding a oil mister to your collection of cooking tools.  It is right up there with my garlic press….we will talk about that next time.

Recipe: Quick Rice and Peas

In Cooking Tips, Recipe, sides on October 18, 2010 at 4:58 am

I think I mentioned before that I was raised by Jamaican parents.  God bless them, they are 2 of the best cooks I know.  I can honestly say it is because of my parents why I love to cook.   West Indian  have great vegetarian dishes that I hope to share with you.  For those of you who have had the opportunity to visit Jamaica you probably have tasted one of the nation’s staple side dish of rice and peas.  I get asked this question all the time, “Why is it rice and peas and not rice and beans?”  I don’t know, it is just what we do.  Unfortunately I don’t have time to make the classic version of rice and peas so I make a quick version which beats eating plain white rice anyday.  The original recipe requires cooking dry small red peas for two hours and adding rice, coconut milk, allspice, thyme and a Scotch Bonnet pepper aka Habanero pepper. I am too busy for that.

My recipe is delicious and best of all it is quick.  I use canned beans instead of dry beans that will cook with the rice.  The original dish of rice and peas has a tint which doesn’t come through with canned beans so I add paprika.  Whenever you make Rice and Peas, remember my mother’s advice “season it like you would season meat” that way it always taste great.  The true test of really good rice and peas is that it can be eaten all by itself. 


  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 1 can of small red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 green scallion, whole
  • 1 branch of Thyme or 1/2 tsp of dried Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp of Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp of Paprika
  • 1 tsp of Seasoning Salt
  • salt and pepper


  1. Medium Stock Pot
  2. Wooden Spoon
  3. Measuring Cup


  • Bring 3 cups of water to a boil
  • Add rice to the boiling water, return to a boil
  • Stir in coconut milk, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika(for color) seasoning salt
  • Tuck into the rice the thyme and scallion that you beat with the wooden spoon
  • Cover and reduce heat to medium low (the sugar in the coconut milk can cause the rice to burn, watch your fire)
  • Cook till liquids have evaporated and rice is tender.  Add water if necessary

Restaurant: Tapas as Carino

In Local Eats, New York, Restaurant Experience on October 18, 2010 at 4:14 am

Carino of Brooklyn is a cozy eatery off the beaten track.  As you enter, it is not hard to imagine yourself taking a siesta in Spain because the atmosphere is so relaxed.  The service greets you with a smile and helps to explain the menu.  The menu is a Mexican based but familiar to the average foodie and vegetarian friendly.  Since the lunch service is mostly tapas, it is a great experience for a bunch of friends.  Sharing is encouraged, so don’t worry about if you don’t like it, chances are someone at the table will. 

The only salad on the lunch menu is the Carino salad made of carrots, celery, jicama, beets and baby spinach dressed with a jalapeño dressing topped with smoky pumpkin seeds.  The salad is so pretty, you feel bad destroying it.  Trust me this salad will be destroyed! The dressing isn’t overly spicy and the smoky pumpkins seeds add an interesting note of flavor which confuses your taste buds. 

Small plates include Picaditas which are tortillas topped with salsa verde and a Mexican cheese similar to queso blanco. These are not tortillas as you know it; they are crunchy outside with a smooth and creamy inside.  If all your friends are not vegetarian, they offer Taquitos Dorados which come in potato or chicken.  The prices range from $4 to $10 for each dish. 

Oh don’t forget to try the Elote which is grilled corn on the cob rubbed with butter and rolled in chili powder.  Can you say YUM?  While you are there, don’t drink the same old thing; try their imported Mexican soda or their fresh juices. 

As for dessert, ask the waiter what is available because not everything on the menu is prepared for the lunch service.  By the time the meal is over, the small plates make you feel like you ate a great plate.  Tapas are a great lunch break from homemade salads and vegetarian frozen meals.

Recipe: What’s For Lunch?

In Cooking Tips, Recipe on October 14, 2010 at 3:04 am

Lunch for a vegetarian can become boring if you don’t think outside the box.  Yesterday, I made a veggie burger, a MorningStar Farms® Grillers® California Turk’y Burger.  I love the Griller Original but sometimes it just does not excite me.  So I tried this Turk’y Burger and decided to take it to another level.  First I cooked the burger for 1 minute in the microwave. While the patty was in the burger, I toasted my whole grain sliced bread.  I heated my mini cast iron pan with olive oil and sauteed green bell peppers, yellow onions, 2 cloves of minced garlic and 3 slices of pickled jalepeno peppers.  Lastly, I took the nuked patty and placed it into the pan, covered it with the veggies and covered it with a pan after a drizzled some water to create steam.

The assembly: Dress the toast with Dijon mustard and lowfat mayonnaise on one side.  Place the patty and the veggies on top of the slice of toast, add sliced tomatoes and sprinkle of shredded Cheddar cheese.  Top with the other side of the toast and walla!  Plate with some Sun Chips and lunch is served. If a picture is worth a thousand words…here is 1000 words worth.

You may not like the Turk’y Burger, my husband didn’t.  My husband is a big mushroom lover.  I created an open-faced mushroom melt for him to enjoy.

Where to shop?

In Editorial on October 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Many times people will ask me “Where can I buy vegetarian products?”  This question ranges from seasoned tofu to mock duck (gluten product).  Over the last couple of years, grocery stores have increased the variety of vegetarian products which make it easier for dual- diet households. I know that Shoprite offers the Red Mill line of goods which includes TVP.  I have even been able to find Morningstar and Boca in Target.  Even with all their improvements, there is still a limit on what you can find in your grocery store.  I know of a couple places that carry a great variety of what you might need to maintain your vegetarian lifestyle.

Fairway truly lives up to its slogan; they are like no other market.  Not only does Fairway have the biggest variety of vegetarian products that I have seen, it also has a great variety of produce.  Whenever I am looking for a unique vegetable, this is the first place I look.  All the brands listed on my meat substitutes page are available at Fairway.  It was there that I first found the Quorn mock turkey roll which is similar to turkey breast, ideal for Thanksgiving. They also sell the condiments like soy cream cheese, cottage cheese and mayonnaise that are not readily available in all grocery stores.  Fairway opened in Paramus, NJ about 1 year ago but it has locations in New York too.  For more locations visit their website:

We have all become familiar with Whole Foods because they have been popping up all over New Jersey.  In Bergen County alone, they have 3 locations.  What is so great at Whole Foods?  First, they only sell organic produce.  Secondly their bulk grain bins lets you try a little bit of everything, from quinoa to flax seeds.  Third, they too offer a great range of vegetarian groceries that extend into the prepared foods department.  Don’t have time to make dinner?  They offer the BEST salad bars and prepared foods that range from quinoa salad to vegetarian corn and potato chowder.  Be careful if you are on a budget, the salad bar can easily come up to $10.00 per person.  Regardless of the price, I love Whole Foods. To find a location near you visit

Trader Joe’s has also been popping up in Bergen County over the last 2 years.  With 2 locations in Paramus and Edgewater, shoppers have a chance to try their off the beaten path brands.  I especially like to buy their Dark Chocolate covered Cranberries.  Trader Joe’s is also great for frozen vegetarian groceries.  You can buy vegetarian tamales,  frozen gluten-free pizza and international packaged meals.  Prices are not bad on some things, I wouldn’t buy produce in there because a lot of the time they charge per piece. For a Trader Joe’s near you, visit

If these grocery stores are not available where you are, try your local health food stores.  In northern Bergen County we are fortunate to have Alyward, Aquarius and The Health Spot which offer vegetarian groceries.  I know that Alywards (located in Englewood and Hackensack) offers both Worthington and Loma Linda frozen and canned vegetarian meat substitute lines. I suggest that you keep your eyes open wherever you shop, you might find something you missed before.

Vegetarian Friendly: Teaneck ,NJ

In Editorial, Local Eats, Restaurant Experience on October 1, 2010 at 3:17 pm

I always brag about how vegetarian friendly Englewood, NJ is.  I guess it must be contagious because the neighboring town of Teaneck offers vegetarians a variety of great places to eat.

Meat Substitute King

 My Veggie Heaven is located right on Cedar Lane, the main shopping street of Teaneck, but they have a location in Montclair, NJ too.  Vegetarians can choose from tofu to mock shrimp at this place.  Veggie Heaven is the king of meat substitutes.  The first time I went to this restaurant, I ate a plate of mock fish, lobster and shrimp in a garlic sauce over brown rice.  I am still not a fan of  brown rice but I was pleased with the meat substitutes.  As a person who is not a vegetarian, I would suggest Veggie Heaven because it looks like meat but is a lot healthier.  The prices are moderate, you definetly need a few bucks to eat here.  I do not suggest the vegetable rice, it lacks flavor and a variety of vegetables.  When you order here, order things you wouldn’t make at home.

Indian Cuisine

As a lover of international eats, I have to suggest Taj Palace which offers Indian cuisine.  It is public knowledge that Indian cuisine is vegetarian friendly because of their Buddhist beliefs.  According to everyone I know who has eaten there, they would refer it to their friends.  I have not had an opportunity to eat here, but definetely have it on my list of places to try.  

Kosher Vegetarian Eats


Shelly’s offers kosher vegetarian cuisine, which makes this place unique.  What is so great about Shelly’s is that you can order homestyle food to go.  When I am short on time to create dinner, I depend on Shelly’s and places like it to help me get dinner on the table quickly.  The prices are moderate, but the food is quality.  They offer fish on their menu which is great for pescatarians. One day I aim to eat in their dining area which reminds me of a 1950’s soda shop.

 A lot of the times when I go out with friends or my husband, it is out to eat.  I am always challenged to find places where both carnivores and herbivores can share a meal that they can both enjoy.  Over the last couple of years, I have had some real luck finding some great place to eat.  If you know of local eateries that are vegetarian or vegetarian friendly, please share in comments.

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