Sloppy Joe, Slop, Sloppy Joe.

That’s right, we just jumped in my kitchen time machine to return to the early 90s for a little Lunch Lady Land dance off. Thus concludes this post.

Just kidding.

No, you might remember that Drew and I, inspired by the Meatless Mondays Movement and our checkbook, are making an effort to eat more vegetarian meals during the week and I thought that I would share one of my recipe triumphs with you.

Tempeh Sloppy Joes. Now if Tempeh sounds like a destination in Arizona to you, and not something edible, just use ground beef in place of the tempeh and go forth and be merry. This is an awesome Sloppy Joe recipe, and a great way to sneak veggies in, so whether you go meat or veggie, I highly recommend it.  This is my modified combination of a couple of recipes, so as with everything I post, by all means, make this puppy yours by adding or taking away anything that doesn’t suit you.

Amelia’s Tempeh Sloppy Joes
Serves 6 (or 4 really really generously)

1 TBS Olive Oil (If using beef or bison, you shouldn’t need this, but with ground turkey, you might still want it)
1 small zuchinnini, ends trimmed
1 carrot, top trimmed
1/2 small onion
1 stalk celery
2-3 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your taste)
16 oz Tempeh or 1 lb ground beef etc
1 TBS steak sauce
2 TBS red wine vinegar
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
16 oz (2 c.) tomato sauce
2 TBS tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce (we use Sriacha, you can leave this out if you don’t want the heat)
Healthy dash of Italian herbs
Toasted Buns of your choice

Cut Tempeh into quarters and steam for 8 minutes according to package directions. Meanwhile, using the grater blade on your food processor, (or just the regular blade, but that grater blade is just awesome for this if you have it) grate zuchinni, onion, carrot, garlic, celery. Remove tempeh from steam, grate it directly in with the veggies.  Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.* Add veggie/tempeh mixture and steak sauce and cook through, about 5-8 minutes.  Add vinegar, worcestershire, salt and pepper, herbs and hot sauce and toss to coat.  Add tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Allow mixture to simmer for about 10 more minutes depending on how thick you would like it to be (because of the tomato paste, it will thicken as it simmers), stirring regularly.  Toast buns, and serve it up!

*If using meat in place of tempeh, obs skip the steaming step, add your meat at this stage and brown.  Once meat is brown and crumbly, add veggie mixture. Everything else is the same.

So that’s it! I know that this seems like a lot of work for a weeknight meal, but I can get it all done in about 30 minutes, and if you don’t have a food processor, or just don’t want to use it, you could buy a bag of that broccoli/carrot pre-chopped slaw, give it a quick coarse chop and then just mash your tempeh with a fork after steaming and combine.  Also, this makes quite a bit so it’s a great one to make at the beginning of the week to have for lunches, or to freeze for another night.  Also, I tried to double this recipe once and it did not work (it never got thick) so if you do that, plan for lots of extra simmer time, ok?

Alright: the pictures.  They’re pretty bad, but I took them, so I might as well share!
Here’s what it will look like in the pan:

And then on the plate:

These gorgeous plates were a gift from my stepmother and little sister, they carried them all the way back from Japan for us, and we LOVE them!  We ate our Joes with roasted cauliflower (toss with 1 TBS each soy sauce, honey, curry powder, olive oil and season with salt and pepper, let that marinate for about 20 minutes and then roast at 450 for about 20 mins on a foil lined pan…so delicious!) and called it a night.

Now a quick note about Meatless Mondays.  This is a movement to get families all over the world to eat vegetarian just once a week, which seems reasonable enough.  Here are a couple of the environmental reasons why:

  • REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . .far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
  • HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
  • SAVE FINITE RAIN FOREST SPACE. For each quarter-pound hamburger made from Central American beef, 55 square feet of tropical rainforest are destroyed for grazing land. When the cleared trees are burned, 500 pounds of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere. We import approximately 135 million pounds of Central American beef each year.

Obviously, buying your meat locally or raising it yourself negates a lot of these concerns, but despite the pig that’s in our neighbor’s yard, Drew and I aren’t quite to the cattle rearing phase of our lives.  Most impressively, according to Michael Pollan, if everyone in America cut out meat ONE NIGHT/week, it would be the equivalent of taking 20 MILLION MID-SIZE SEDANS OFF THE ROAD.  That totally blows my mind. Plus it’s saving us an average of $15.00/week (we’re eating vegetarian quite a bit right now) or about $750.00/year.  That’s almost a family vacation.  The thing I like about this is that it reminds us that making a small change can make a big difference.  If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of gal, could you go one day a week without meat knowing that a turkey sandwich is waiting for you tomorrow?  I like these kinds of middle of the road campaigns.

Anyhow, I will stop ranting, and for those of you that are here strictly for Asher content, there’s lots of that coming your way very soon, I promise!  Thanks for playing.

Soup season.

You know how dinner and a glass of wine or two often leads to a lot of good ideas that wind up going down the drain with the soap suds as you clean up at the end of the night?  Well recently some friends of our were having such a dinner, had a brilliant idea, cleaned up at the end of the night but kept the idea going, and now it’s a reality!  Fall and Winter are unquestionably soup season, but sometimes there’s not enough time to make soup, or like Drew and me, you can find yourself in a bit of a soup rut making the same two or three over and over.  Enter the Cville Soup Group!  Every Monday a different soup arrives on our doorstep, taking care of dinner and the desire to have something steaming and comforting on these cool days.  In turn, we’ll make and deliver soup when our week comes around, and the good soup times will keep on rolling.  We’ve been going for about a month now, and all of the soups have been amazing so far!  I wanted to collect all of the recipes in one place, so I tossed together a website with the recipes so far and will continue to update it as the weeks progress.  If you’re in the mood for soup and want some recipe ideas, you can check it out here, or by clicking on “soup group” on the right hand side over there.  Yea for our clever friends and comfort food!

yum yum.

I wanted to post some pictures and mention a few things about the weekend, but I’m a bit rushed for time at the moment, so I’m borrowing something from another blog that popped up in the ol RSS feed yesterday that I thought would be of interest…

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This picture is from a website called Tartlette and is, as the title indicates, dedicated to all things petit and tart-like in the dessert world.  This is just one of the random things that the World Wide Web has ushered into my life, and now I’m dreaming about rasberries coming into season so that I can make these…

Pumpkin Seed Mascarpone Mousse and Raspberry Tartelettes:

For the tart shells:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (93 gr) powdered sugar, unsifted
1 large egg
1 1 /2 cups (190gr) flour
2 tablespoons (20 gr) cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
pinch of salt

For the almond cream:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 gr) granulated sugar
1 cup (100 gr) ground almonds
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream

Pumpkin Seed Mascarpone Mousse:
200 ml heavy cream
4 oz (120gr) mascarpone, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
1/3 cup (80gr) raw pumpkin seeds, ground

2 cups fresh raspberries

Prepare the tart shells:
In a mixer, whip together the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Do not work the dough while in the mixer or it will toughen it up. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between the sheets of plastic. You will need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes. The other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for up to 3 months. Cut out eight rounds with a 3-inch pastry ring. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

Prepare the almond cream:

Place the butter, sugar, almond powder, and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir it in carefully instead of whisking it (you do not want to emulsify it or it will rise while baking). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Place the 8 baked rounds of dough in eight 3-inch pastry rings, divide the cream evenly among the rings and bake 20 minutes at 350F. Let cool.

Prepare the mousse:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks and reserve it in the refrigerator while you prepare the mousse.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and sugar with a spatula (really no need to put your mixer to use on that one). Add the ground pumpkin seeds and mix thoroughly until incorporated.
Carefully fold the reserved whipped cream into the mascarpone base by placing your spatula in the center of the bowl, scooping the bottom over the top. Give your bowl a 45 degree turn and repeat until the batter is smooth.

Assemble the tarts:
Place the mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a large dollop of mousse right in the center of the tartelettes, leaving a small border all around. Place raspberries all around the mousse. Refrigerate until ready to serve.