Pasta with (low-fat!) creamy sweet potato sauce

By | July 31, 2014

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Pasta is a real staple in our home, so I’m always trying to find new things to put on it. Roasted tomato sauce, roasted red pepper sauce, alfredo sauce, and the beloved vodka sauce, among others, are all up here already, and some more half-baked (half-cooked?) ideas are waiting in my email drafts. I’ve been making different versions of this sweet potato sauce for months now, and I’m finally ready to share it with you.

Depending on the season (and the fluctuation of produce prices), I’ve made this sauce with butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato. In fact, it might seem eerily familiar if you’re a fan of the creamy roasted butternut penne that I posted back in December 2011. You’ll find, though, that this one is much more streamlined — no roasting, no onion, no baking at the end, and an overall simplified ingredient list.

For a thicker sauce that pretty much oozes creaminess, you can use actual heavy cream (see the note in the directions below). But you know what I’ve discovered? You can replace that completely with milk (even 1%!) and get the same full-bodied flavor, thanks to the magic that nutmeg, garlic, and butter bring out in sweet potatoes. True, a milk + sweet potato sauce won’t have quite the creaminess you’d get from a cream + sweet potato sauce, but it’s still creamy, not to mention lower in fat, lower in price, and still really excellent in taste. My verdict: Unless I suddenly get gifted with a bunch of cartons of cream (hey, feel free, you know where I live), I’m going to be making the milk version for a long, long time.

Green eggs and ... cheese

By | July 29, 2014

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That’s right, no ham here. Instead, I’ve got a nice fat omelet filled with lots of green things and cheese. And what could be better than green things and cheese, right? I chose greens that I tend to have on hand: scallions, peas, and fresh parsley and dill. But an omelet is a blank slate, so you could toss in spinach or swiss chard or broccoli. Or leeks or cabbage or zucchini or peppers. Non-green things would be good, too, you’d just have to change the name.

I made my first green eggs omelet by accident. One night the other week, it was suddenly 6:30, my toddler’s dinner time, and I didn’t have anything on hand for him. So in the couple of minutes that it took for my husband to cajole him into his highchair, put on his bib, and snap on his tray, I haphazardly threw a few eggs in a skillet with some cheese, frozen peas, and random spices. I wasn’t really thinking, I just opened the freezer, saw the peas and cheese sitting there, and grabbed them. Impressive, right?

Later, my husband tasted some of the leftover eggs and said they were really good. I didn’t think too much of it until I tasted them myself the next day. Huh. They were really good. I played around a bit, came up with a less-random version, and here you have it: a quick, easy, filling, delicious, nutritious dish. And it’s good for the 9 Days.

Plus: You can eat it in a box! You can eat it with a fox!

78 lunches & dinners for the 9 Days

By | July 28, 2014

9 days roundup

After spending the entire month of May glued to the calendar, expecting to give birth any minute, June and July zoomed in and zoomed out and I hardly noticed what day it was at all. Now July’s practically over and we’re starting the 9 Days, with the war here in Israel becoming more and more serious. Neighbors, friends, and so many others across the country have been called up, and it just feels plain weird to be all “okay guys I have the most amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing recipes for you for the 9 Days!”

At the same time, we all still need to eat, and this is one of the times during the year that you guys come here the most. What good is a vegetarian blog if it doesn’t help you plan meatless meals, right? So if you’re wondering what to feed yourself and your family when meat is off-limits, here are 78 convenient links (I counted them) all in one handy blog post.

May we merit miracles this Av.

* Need some menu-planning help? All of my weekly menus can be used for the 9 Days, and there are more than 60 available on the main menu plan page. *

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Bread

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Soup

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Pizza, etc.

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Sides & Salads

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Burgers & Latkes

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Quiche

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Fish and Other (Awesome) Mains

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Pasta

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Kid-friendly

Kitchen Tips: How to make (and freeze!) caramelized onions

By | July 22, 2014

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These days, it takes a lot of advance planning to make dinner. The first step is putting away yesterday’s clean dishes. The second step is washing the dirty dishes that are still in the sink, even though I thought I washed them last night when I should have gone to sleep already. Eventually I might get around to step 3, which is dicing and sauteing an onion…right, so you see how it takes forever to produce an actual meal. Sometimes we eat really late, and sometimes we eat really really late.

If I can sidestep even one thing in the dinner-making process, it makes my day that much simpler. And this is why I love caramelized onions so much: because (1) you can make them ahead and freeze them in small portions, so you get a head start on any dish that starts with a sauteed onion (or that features them), and (2) they are so.full.of.flavor. If you’ve never tried caramelized onions, you’ll probably be shocked that ordinary onions can have such a depth of flavor. I feel like I’ve said that before, but it’s so true.

onion collage w numbers

A few pointers, based on my personal onion experiences:

  • Material: Stainless steel pots work. Cheap-o pots do not.
  • Oil: Olive oil works. Canola oil does not.
  • Onion-to-oil ratio: Use ½ Tbsp oil per onion.
  • Stirring frequency: You want them to cook undisturbed so those brown bits start collecting at the bottom of the pan, but not so long that they burn. For most of the cooking process, one stir every 10 minutes is just right; at the end, check them more often to avoid burning.
  • Covering the pot: I have successfully caramelized onions in both covered and uncovered pots, but my favorite method is to cover the pot for the first 10 minutes and then leave it uncovered after that.

Okay, you convinced me. I caramelized some onions, now what do I do with them?

Caramelized onions just not your thing? That’s okay, I still like you. Try these instead: